We are introduced to Kim Hye Jin, our female lead. It's very clear from the get-go that she is hard-working and has an incredibly kind personality. We see her working her tail off in a bar only to be snubbed for a "prettier" waitress. Now I have to put this disclaimer out there before we get any further in the drama. This drama works off the concept that Hye Jin used to be pretty as a girl, but has since turned into a bit of a mess and is no longer considered pretty. This is a lie. She was pretty then, and she was pretty now. Frizzy hair and a bit of rosacea can't hide the fact that Hwang Jung Eum, the actress who plays Hye Jin, is beautiful. I mean a little bit of bb cream and some hair product and you've got a knockout. That being said, I'll play along and pretend Hye Jin is ugly, even though she isn't.
Our introduction to Hye Jin is paralleled by the introduction to her best friend, Joon Hee, who is out clubbing and being fawned over by dozens of men. While Hye Jin is considered ugly, Joon Hee is considered stunningly beautiful. the parallel is highlighted by different songs for each character. Joon Hee dances along to an EDM song and Hye Jin runs around clearing tables while Hyukoh plays in the background. Can I just take a moment and say how much I love that they played Hyukoh? They are one of my new favorite bands and if you haven't heard them yet go Youtube them right away! This drama is quickly making a fan out of me from music selection alone.
While, one might worry a pretty and popular girl like Joon Hee might snub a friend like Hye Jin, but on the contrary we see Joon Hee's loyalty to Hye Jin when one of her many suitors calls Hye Jin a mess when she arrives at Joon Hee's birthday party. Joon Hee stomps on the guy's foot and gives him the boot for judging her friend. That's the kind of friend that I like to see! Their friendship is clearly one of the better Kdrama friendships in existence. In all honestly, there are very few good friendships in Kdramas.
While at the party, Joon Hee falls in the pool and every guy in sight jumps in the pool to "save her". Hye Jin is worried about her friend and goes toward the pool but then falls in the pool as well. Is it just me or do people on TV have horrible balance? They're always falling into the pool yet I've never seen someone fall into the pool in real life. Sadly, while the men are falling over Joon Hee and helping her out of the pool, no one notices Hye Jin. She drags her wet self out of the pool and head home alone while people on the way stop and make fun of her for being soaking wet. Man, right out of the gate this drama is showing us the sadly accurate portrayal of the emphasis society puts on physical beauty. I can tell we're in for some real feels for the next 15 or so episodes.
When Hye Jin and Joon Hee wake up in the morning we see that they are roommates and can tell that they have been friends for a long time. At the age of 30, Hye Jin is still looking for full-time employment and is off to yet another in a long series of interviews that she's taken. She constantly faces rejection as companies favor girls that are prettier and have better educational backgrounds than her own.
The interview doesn't go as well as she's hoped, especially as it starts to rain right as she's leaving. Hye Jin hates the rain and it's no wonder as it does unspeakably horrible things to her already frizzy hair. Man, can I relate to that.
As she returns home after her interview she catches Joon Hee making out with a guy in a car outside their apartment. She chastises her, asking if she ever has loved any of the guys she becomes romantically involved with. Joon Hee answers back that she doesn't believe in true love.
At home that night, Hye Jin gets a big surprise when she sees her old childhood friend, Ji Sung Joon has emailed her. He tells her that he's coming back to Korea and he wants to meet up. We see a flashback to the chubby and very shy little boy that Hye Jin befriended as a child. She is thrilled beyond belief to meet him again since she hasn't seen him since they were kids. Hye Jin reveals to Joon Hee that he was also her first love.
Hye Jin and Sung Joon agree to meet up in a park near a fountain. Hye Jin gets there and sees a chubby man eating a snack on a bench and assumes it's Sung Joon. He hits him on the shoulder and jumps up and down with excitement with him, only to learn that it is not Sung Joon. Why the man who is not Sung Joon jumps up and down with Hye Jin anyway is never explained. Lol. Anyway, Sung Joon calls her and says he's near the fountain and she says she's there too. He thinks he sees her and hangs up and then Hye Jin sees Sung Jon walking toward her. She is shocked to see how absolutely gorgeous he's become and is frozen in her steps. But then Sung Joon walks by her, thinking the pretty lady behind her on the phone is actually the real Hye Jin.
Hye Jin has a moment of panic as she realizes that the last time Sung Joon saw was when they were kids and she was much different then. We see a flashback to her in Elementary to see that she was beautiful and the most popular girl in school. If that's what Sung Joon remembers of her, then of course he would expect that she would be beautiful now. When Hye Jin realizes this she takes off before he can see her. She doesn't want to see the look of disappointment on his face when he sees that his first love is not as he remembers her.
Oh man, this is so sad yet so true to real life. I know so many people who look different or have put on weight since high school and will avoid people that they used to know because of this. This drama is definitely hitting on something that is so familiar to so many people. The thing that makes this extra sad, though, is the fact that she so earnestly loved him despite his outward appearance and yet doesn't expect the same treatment in return. My heart breaks not only for her but also for all the people who feel like this in real life. Love yourself! Appearance is only outward and so easily fades as this drama shows. I'm hoping this drama will teach us all something about learning to love people for who they are, not how they look.
Deflated, Hye Jin heads home and runs into Joon Hee on the way. She tells Joon Hee what happened and Joon Hee encourages her to meet Sung Joon anyway. Joon Hee says that fact that Sung Joon is now drop-dead gorgeous is even more of a reason for her to try to snatch him up. Hye Jin explains she doesn't want to spoil the memory of their first love by disappointing him. Then Hye Jin comes up with an idea; she sends Joon Hee in her place. Does anyone else think this is a bad idea? Because I think it's an absolutely horrible one! It would have been better to just call him and explain why she wasn't going to show up. Wouldn't it hurt more to see him excited that his first love is still as beautiful as he remembers?
So anyway, Joon Hee goes to the fountain where Sung Joon is still waiting and pretends to be Hye Jin. Together, the two go to a restaurant to catch up. Hye Jin has feed information for Joon Hee to give Sung Joon so that he'll believe it really is Hye Jin he's talking to and, in the meantime, Hye Jin overlooks their dinner from a nearby table using hilarious hand signals to guide Joon Hee in conversation.
The next morning, Hye Jin gets some good news to offset the bitterness of (not) meeting Sung Joon, and learns she got the internship with the company she interviewed at. Joon Hee and Hye Jin celebrate together with an awesome dance party.
She arrives at work in a good mood determined things are going to go her way when she has an unfortunate encounter with an easy-going guy that crosses her path(played by the flawless Si Won) and falls on her face.
As she's leaving he takes note of the fact that she's wearing white socks with black loafers, Michael Jackson-style. Already, I am totally digging Si Won's character. He's super laid back, a little goofy, and hilarious. When will I get a drama with him as the lead? Someday, hopefully, someday.
I digress, anyway work goes relatively well for Hye Jin. The boss sends her on a number of different tasks, but she completes them all and he seems pleased by her work. She goes home exhausted, but excited that she's finally an employee.
The next day goes by in the same manner- she spends all day running around completing menial tasks. At the end of the day, the boss expresses his satisfaction in the fact that he chose to hire her. She is surprised that it was her manager personally that made the decision and he reveals that he wanted to hire her because he knew she'd be a hard worker and wouldn't be distracted by dating men like other female employees. Instead of acting offended, like she had every right to, Hye Jin laughs it off. An a-hole chauvinistic boss, what's new? But at the same time he was the only one to give her a chance. At least he isn't giving all the credit to the pretty intern instead of her.
The boss asks her to complete one last task for the day, which is bringing some supplies down to the magazine department of the company. She gets there to drop off the supplies and is mistaken for a freelance proofreader that was supposed to arrive. All the employees at the magazine keep giving her documents to go over and Hye Jin, wanting to make a good impression at the company she was just hired at, does everything she's asked. It turns out Si Won's character works at the magazine and knows that he recognizes Hye Jin, he just can't remember from where. After Hye Jin completes all the tasks she's been given she goes home even more exhausted than ever. Only once she's gone do the employees realize she wasn't the freelance proofreader, but they also realize that all of the work she completed was done correctly and quickly.
When Hye Jin gets to work the next day she finds out that the magazine has requested that she be transferred to their department and as it's the most important department in the whole company her boss sends her there. They greet her warmly and give her a desk. While she's getting situated, an incredibly fashionable ahjumma enters to introduce the magazine's new editor-in-chief. As he walks in Hye Jin sees that the editor-in-chief and essentially her new boss is no one other than her old friend and first love, Sung Joon. At the same time Si Won's character finally realizes how he recognizes Hye Jin.
Oooo....lot of intruige. Something tells me that Sung Joon wouldn't have been disappointed to meet Hye Jin the way she was. We know little about him, but he doesn't seem like the type to judge others by their appearances since he knows what it's like. It's only one episode in, but I am enjoying this drama so far. I have high hopes and I don't think I'll be disappointed since not matter what happens, it's going to give me a good dose of Si Won and I think we all could benefit from a little more Si Won in our lives.
Stay tuned as I continued to cover the rest of the series and drama on my friends! You can link the homepage for this drama below.
She Was Pretty