Kang Mi-rae was a fat and ugly girl who was bullied by kids and nicknamed “The Hulk”.
Even losing weight doesn’t help her to change her social status.
Confessing her love to a boy, proves to be the wrong move as he rejects her love and makes fun of her along with his friends. This is the breaking point for Mi-rae.
Before she starts college, she decides to have plastic surgery to changer her facial features, and turns into a beauty.
While her mother supports her, her father, Kang Tae-sik who’s against plastic surgery and thinks that his daughter is pretty, doesn’t know about it.
Naturally, when he finds out about, after not being able to recognize his own daughter, he gets really angry and feels betrayed.
The main problem though is that the kids ridicule, traumatized Mi-rae who despite the operation, still has a really low self-esteem and doesn’t see herself as a beautiful girl.
She constantly rates the faces of the people she sees, grading them by how beautiful they are.
At her college orientation week, she bumps into Do Kyung-seok, that she knows from school and he’s reminded of a girl that he studied with in middle school, while watching her dance.
I found it a bit silly that Kyung-seok could recognize Mi-rae because of the way she dances.
I mean, this is one weird way to recognize someone but oh well, he had to feel something for her in order to help her.
Kyung-seok is very handsome but also very cold to people, as a result of his parents troubled marriage that ended when his mother left his father for a younger man and vanished from her children’s lives.
Despite his good looks and being considered cool, he was a loner in middle school, just like Mi-rae.
Kim Chan-woo who’s Mi-rae’s senior in the chemistry department behaves very rudely towards her, making her uncomfortable by hitting on her in public and forcing her to drink at the orientation party.
Since Mi-rae is not used to drinking, she feels sick and steps outside.
Chan-woo who follows her out, suggests rest in a secluded room and plans to force himself on her but Kyung-seok spoils his plans and bursts into the room, after he saw Mi-rae and Woo-young entering it.
Even after this incident, Chan-woo keeps on making Mi-rae uncomfortable with his advances and Kyung-seok keeps protecting her.
Oh Hyun-jung is Mi-rae’s best friend and roomate, she’s in the psychology department but aspires to be a hip-hop star.
She develops a crush on Woo-young but accepts the fact that he likes Mi-rae better.
When Kyung-seok asks Mi-rae if she’s the girl that he remembers from middle-school, Mi-rae asks him not to tell anyone about that.
Hyun Soo-ah is what Mi-rae calls a natural beauty, a beautiful and friendly girl that all the boys are interested in.
Soo-ah plays the innocent girl but her intentions are not pure and she aims to hurt Mi-rae.
She’s hitting on Kyung-seok who doesn’t like her but also flirts with other guys in her department, one of them being Chan-woo.
At the semester beginning party, she not very innocently makes people realize that Mi-rae had plastic surgery and makes Kyung-seok angry with her because of it, she then rejects Chan-woo and makes him think that it was because Mi-rae is in love with him.
Chan-woo who is angry at Kyung-seok for being unkind to Soo-ah and at Mi-rae for spoiling his chances with Soo-ah, confronts her and calls her a Ganganam plastic surgery monster. Mi-rae then hits him.
Shocked from the insult and the encounter, Mi-rae bumps into Woo-young.
Yeon Woo-young is a college senior and Mi-rae’s TA at the Chemistry department.
As he tries to help Mi-rae and understand what’s wrong, Kyung-seok pops up again and tries to take over the situation.
Mi-rae who’s distressed by Chan-woo’s insult, rejects the help that she’s offered by both guys and escapes the scene.
Later on, Kyung-seok asks Mi-rae why she had plastic surgery and she gets angry at him when he discovers that she tends to rate people and evaluate them according to their faces, and criticize her for it.
Chan-woo is eager to take revenge on both Mi-rae and Kyung-seok but after bullying Mi-rae in the toilets, he finds himself on the ground again, with a mop on his head, when Kyung-seok comes to Mi-rae’s aid.
As the story spreads around the college, Chan-woo becomes the laughing-stock of the department.
Do Sang-won is Kyung-seok’s father, he’s a congressman and is in the race to become the mayor so being proper and doing all the right things is pretty important to him as he’s trying to promote his image as the person of the people.
He’s also raising Kyung-seol and Kyung-hee as a single father, ever since his wife left him.
Despite doing what he thinks is best, he doesn’t know how to be a supportive and loving father and focuses more on advancing his career.
Kyung-seok’s mother, Na Hye-sung comes back to his life when she becomes the CEO of Kellun, a big perfume company.
She ends up having a beer with Mi-rae, who won a ticket to the launching of a new Kellun perfume.
Hye-sung doesn’t know that she has met Mi-rae once before and was the reason why she has chosen to study chemistry.
While they are having a drink at Berlin bar, owned by Woo-Jin, Kyung-seok’s friend, Kyung-seok, who came to help his friend, walks by and sees them.
This meeting starts the process of Hye-sung’s return to Kyung-seok’s and his sister Do Kyung-hee‘s lives.
Kyung-seok is always there to protect and support Mi-rae and she in turn, makes him feel less lonely and secluded.
Their friendship becomes stronger but despite falling for him, Mi-rae is sure that a handsome guy like Kyung-seok can never be interested in a girl like her.
Why did I like it:
To start things off, it’s just a very good story and it’s well written.
Despite having only 16 episodes, most of the characters are well developed or at least convincing and you can really like them, despite not knowing a lot about them.
The series deals with the way Korean society treats girls and women who do not fit society’s beauty standard and so we have Mi-rae who was supposedly ugly and fat, Kim Tae-hee, who’s being teased because of her weight, Kwon Yoon-Byul the tomboy who’s being constantly teased because she refuses to put on a dress and grow her hair long and Choi Jung-Boon who can’t get work at the coffee place because she’s too plain looking.
Other than that, there’s Kyung-seok and his very strong character.
He was saying what he thinks and wasn’t taking shit from anyone.
He wasn’t standing aside when the person he likes suffers and he had no problem telling the people he dislikes that he dislikes them and to kick some ass.
Admirable not just because of his looks, girls and boys.
when looking at Na Hye-sung, you can easily see where her son got his spunk and honesty.
She’s a good example of a strong, successful woman and she didn’t let the abuse that she suffered make her give up her career and dreams, she didn’t let her personal tragedy weaken her and she ended up getting what she wanted.
The last scene with Do Sang-won is truly epic.
The subject of sexual harassment and male domination is also discussed with Chan-Woo’s problematic behavior towards women, the way the guys decide to dress the girls who serve the drinks at the party and the fact that only girls are supposed to serve drinks, the way Sang-Won assumes that Hye-Sung will leave her job and become a housewife and mother instead of developing her career and Soo-ah’s candid photos that are being posted online.
As a whole, I really liked this series because it deals with the interesting issue of plastic surgery, which is very common in South-Korea, as seen from the Korean point of view.
I was pretty surprised to discover that the women who get plastic surgery have to worry not only about the operation being successful but also about not looking too beautiful and perfect so the operation will not look too obvious.
Soo-ah is a “natural beauty” but there are quite a few celebs that I’ve seen, who claimed to be natural beauty when it was obvious that they had some (or a whole lot of) work done of their faces.
I remember watching a variety show where an idol claimed to be a natural beauty and then after being questioned, it was revealed that she had work done on her eyes, nose, lips and face and the other guests wondered if she knew what the words “natural beauty” actually meant.
The fact that poor Mi-rae moved from being “Kang Hulk” to being “Gangnam beauty” reveals the impossible beauty standards that women have to live up to. Be beautiful but not too beautiful.
The series also deals with the fact that being beautiful doesn’t necessarily means being happy.
Why I didn’t like it:
There were two attempts to make the audience like two baddies, two of them failed for me.
Revealing Soo-ah’s past problems came too late and felt forced and she bounced back to her own bitchy self at the end so what was the use of trying to make us feel sorry for her?
As for Kyung-seok’s father, there is no excuse for the way he behaved to his wife so I didn’t feel bad when he ended up with nothing bot professionally and personally.
Favorite moment 1 – Mi-rae dancing to Psy’s New Face
Favorite moment 2 – Kang Tae-sik remembers how he took Mi-rae’s photo, that he hanged in his taxi.
Favorite moment 3 – Kyung-seok Gets jealous and invites himself to Woo-young new apartment, along with Mi-rae and Hyun-jung
Favorite moment 4 – Eating popcorn with straws 😀
Favorite moment 5 – It’s actually a few moments and not just one but Kyung-seok’s lack of money, especially when he tries to take the bus or goes to buy food, really made me feel sad.
Favorite moment 6 – Kyung-seok and Woo-young are having a discussion over washing the blankets 😀
Favorite moment 7 – “What’s a guy like me and what’s a girl like you?”
Favorite moment 8 – A little dental hygiene scene with Kyung-seok and Woo-young.