Synopsis: She was Pretty is a 2015 sixteen episode Korean drama about two childhood friends (he was chubby, she was pretty) that lose touch. When he returns to Korea and wants to reconnect (he is handsome, she isn’t as pretty), she avoids the re-connection pressing her best friend to stand in for her. Fate intervenes. They end up working at the same magazine and slowly connect.
Nutshell Summary: Our couple’s friendship was rooted in childhood. When he moved to America they lost touch. Now on assignment to revive a floundering magazine he returns. Eager to reconnect, at their meeting spot, he unknowing insults her when he assumes another attractive woman is her. She convinces her best friend to impersonate her. Hiding her identify from him is her choice. They both work at the magazine. At first he derides her but comes to recognize her value and starts to like her. She is pursued by a writer at the magazine. Will they make a romantic connection?
1. The leads had a backstory that demanded they reconnect and rediscover that soft sweet love as adults. The leads previously worked together in lead roles in Kill Me, Heal Me. That is on my watch list, so I had not seen these two actors interact before. They had “it” – the connection, the longing, the kindness, and the believable evolution to love.
a. Our leading lady, Kim Hye Jin (Hwang Jung Eum) embraced the physical comedy and never wavered from the kind heart of the character. She was appealing and selfless. She came alive in interactions with the second lead. She had good chemistry with the leading man.
b. Our leading man, Ji Sung Joon (Park Seo Joon) could be cold but there was always a vulnerability. His idolization of their childhood friendship was sweet. The puzzle was a cherished possession. His discomfort with rain and the trauma of losing his mother were vulnerabilities that drew you to this character.
2. The second leads were likable and compelling. I thought the second leads were right for each other but the writer did not go there. I felt like that was a missed opportunity. I could see the four leads evolve to be close friends at the end.
a. Our second leading man, Kim Shin Hyuk (Choi Si Won), was wacky in a good way. I discovered Choi Si Won’s comedic talent in the series King of Dramas, where his character was funny and adorable. He has the same charm in She was Pretty. Si Won spun the pet name “Jackson” for the leading lady, had a running underwear gag with the leading man, was funny and tender when he took care of the leading man at Hye Jin’s request, made me laugh with his character’s mooching ways, and had excellent powers of observation. This was my favorite character of the series.
b. Our second leading lady, Min Ha Ri (Koh Joon Hee), was the best friend and had a flair for comedy too. She couldn’t take her best friend’s man even though she was drawn to him. The writer dropped the ball and never resolved her story line.
3. Bottom Line – I enjoyed this series. It was lighthearted and fun. I liked all the characters, even the deliberately quirky ones -though the Italian spouting editor, Kim Ra Ra, was a bit of a stretch at times. The first two thirds of the series was strong and I looked forward to each episode. The latter third of the series petered out a bit. I felt the lack of story and screen time for the second lead in the latter third. Our main couple had a couple of victory lap in the final two episodes; which is fine, but the story tension is gone.
1. Missed opportunity to strengthen the second leads. The writer Jo Sung Hee wrote an enjoyable series. Sung Hee missed a golden opportunity to pull the second leads into a couple when it was evident that the main leads were enamored of each other. That would have made better utilization of these characters in the latter third of the series, where both second leads had reduced story impact. Even if romance couldn’t develop in that short time frame, integrating them as friends to make a foursome would have given their characters a boost. Imagine the fun the four of them would have had hanging out together!
OST: The OST was released during the series run as a 6 part OST then a 2 Disc compilation OST (Disc 1 12 tracks, Disc 2 28 tracks). My favorite vocal song was light and soft “You’re the One/ Only You” by Si Won.
The playlist I’ve selected is the 6 part OST. Check it out via the link or the embedded video below.
* Shout out to the K-Pop World blog, with the article on the Cosmopolitan pictorial with our primary and secondary leads of the show.