Sara (played by Han Ye-seul) is one of those amazing beauties you only see on-screen that manages to attract a giant crowd of onlookers through the sheer magnetic power of her appearance. This is a dumb joke and "Birth of a Beauty" takes it to a really weird extreme. That coupled with the lack of any apparent plot had me frequently scratching my head at the beginning of this drama, wondering what exactly the storyline was even supposed to be about.
Then we get to the story of Geum-ran (played by Ha Jae-sook). And I really, honestly, cannot understate how incredibly bizarre the tonal shift is. We're coming in right at the end of one of those old fairy tales where the ugly person is about to turn into a beautiful person and thus reward all the wonderful folks in their life who have been so kind and understanding about true beauty really being on the inside.
Ugh, I can barely even write that sentence without rolling my eyeballs. Everybody knows that's a bunch of malarkey. Except Geum-ran, who's left to find out how horrible the world really is in regards to physical appearances. Everything about her story is amazingly strange and demented. If this is a fairy tale, it's a fairy tale told by someone who wants to give the child social anxiety and visceral fear for the rest of their life about how evil people really are and that anything which seems too good to be true probably is.
And what does any of this have to do with Sara? Well, that part gets...implausible, to say the least. Tae-hee (played by Joo Sang-wook) isn't a wizard or anything implausible like that. But his backstory would have made a lot more sense if he was, in fact, some kind of magical creature. The strained logic used to set "Birth of a Beauty" up is convoluted to the point of incomprehensibility.
But then, so far this drama looks more like a fairy tale gone wrong than anything that resembles reality in any way, so I'm not really that worried about the premise. I'm more kind of perplexed as how a balance is possibly going to be struck with the tone. This is going to be a comedy about the crazy things people will do for beauty, and also a revenge thriller against Prince Charming? How is that possibly supposed to work? Well, my interest has been piqued, so "Birth of a Beauty" at least has a strong hook going for it.
Review by William Schwartz
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via email@example.com.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Birth of a Beauty" Episode 1"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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