When watching for enjoyment, the criticism a show must weather is much less harsh that of a critic watching for quality of the different elements that comprise a good drama. "Miss Korea" is a show that is best in the watching. It has many issues that reach a large number of people, but it doesn't follow through well on any of them.
The big issues in this show (the IMF crisis, the industry of the beauty pageant, re-establishing a broken relationship, family, the institute of familyhood) are fantastic, juicy issues that people love to watch unfold. They are mostly very relatable issues in that they play on human emotions and that a lot of us (the viewers) have lived through the hardships of the 90s. With twenty episodes to work with, there has been plenty of time to address everything, entwine them, and make them relevant to the romance of the main couple. Instead, we get a disjointed show that plays up nostalgia, revelry and cute moments between couples and neglects proper development. The IMF crisis it not given enough time. That time is given to loan sharks beating people up and trashing Hyung-joon's factory. Yes, loan sharks did increase because of the IMF crisis, but this depiction isn't showing that - only bloody lips.
One thing this show has done well is by subverting the usual ploys and tropes that Korean dramas tend to fall into. One of the biggest ones is what reviewers and recappers like to call "noble idiocy". It is when a character gives up something, or does something for the good of the person they love. In actuality, it's just an idiotic move. Seon-saeng stopped Hyung-joon from idiotically removing himself from Ji-young's life for her "own good". He also takes Ji-young's hand, rather than her wrist. It's more intimate and less brutish.
Hyung-joon's ability to put Ji-young first it what makes her so ridiculously loyal to him. He's making up for straying from her side in the past. In return, she nearly worships him. That's not a good thing, but it is something she can learn from. In the meantime, she will be making major mistakes because of it.
What makes "Miss Korea" consistently watchable, though, it that it is able to take the small moments in life and draw the viewer in. When Ji-young wins "Miss Korea", she is unable to sleep and keeps popping up in bed to smile and enjoy the victory. It's endearing, adorable, and the emotion is incredibly relatable. "Miss Korea" needs more of this.
"Miss Korea" attempts to be deeper, but in reality is a fluff piece. It's about the fluffy outsides that make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. There is nothing wrong with that. But, as a reviewer, I need some substance to deal with and this show skirts that.
Written by Raine from Raine's Dichotomy
Follow on Twitter @Raine0211
Journalist, drama lover, and foodie, Lisa enjoys exploring Korea, speaking the language, and soaking in all that dramaland has to offer. Her Korean husband laughs that she knows more than he ever will about dramas and K-pop. Lisa Espinosa can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Miss Korea" Episode 16"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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