All the good dramas seem to be popping up all at once because out of all the dramas I’ve seen this year, the ones I really like are the ones from this past two month, and I’ve got another one to add onto my list. I’ve been hearing good reviews about She Was Pretty and caved in, marathoning through 15 eps in one day, and despite my current commitments, I have no regrets because it is just as good as everyone says it is. It’s a drama that has not only has both substance and fluff, but has them in perfect proportions. SWP is everything that I want from a drama and so much more and that is what makes it so great.
SWP is a story about two childhood lovers, Ji Seong Joon (Park Seo Joon) and Kim Hye Jin (Hwang Jung Eum) who got separated in their childhood due to unforeseeable circumstances and now 15 years on they get to chance to meet each other again. Seong Joon was a shy and chubby boy who got bullied by his classmates but grew up to be a very smart, attractive, diligent Deputy Chief Editor of The Most magazine, while Hye Jin was once the most attractive girl in school and was from a very wealth-off family. However, her father’s business went bankrupt and she lost her beauty as well. One of the first thing that Seong Joon does when he returns to Korea is arrange to meet with his childhood lover, but embarrassed by her current situation, Hye Jin gets her best friend, Min Ha Ri (Go Joon Hee) to meet him on her behalf. It was supposed to be this one meeting and that’s it, but this one meeting evolved into a number of complications that only got more complicated with time. She finds herself working under him and that one meeting lead to more and more meetings between Ha Ri and Seong Joon and unexpectedly, Ha Ri finds herself falling for him. Added in the mix is Hye Jin’s superordinate, Kim Shi Hyuk (Choi Si Won), who complicates matters even more. You can check out a podcast from my friends, Sofia and Gab, over at K-drama Addiction Therapy for more of an insight to this drama.
Beauty in our current society can be so superficial. Beauty not only lies externally but also internally but with so much emphasis placed on external beauty, it’s difficult for anyone, especially women, to ignore this factor which defines us. Hye Jin’s decision to get Ha Ri to step in her place to meet Seong Joon was a very reasonable one. When she saw him completely walk pass her, she knew that she could meet him in her current state. She did not want to ruin his perfect image of her and more importantly, she didn’t want to lose him like this. She just wants to be that perfect picture in his mind and although it hurts her, she would much rather him retain that perfect image that to ruin his memories. When she gave herself a makeover, she did so for her own personal and professional growth and not for the sake of a man. She did it out of her own will, taking charge of her life and steering in a positive direction. It was never about looks, but rather about her finding her own inner confidence. Beauty is not just about external appearances but also about the internal heart and this was what this show really drove home.
The one Seong Joon likes is Hye Jin, the Hye Jin from 15 years ago, the same Hye Jin right now and there’s nothing that can change that, not even the fact that her looks are incomparable to how they once were. He, too, once had a very difference appearance and while everyone bullied he, she became his friend and his shoulder to lean on. Despite not being very fond of her when they first worked together at The Most, he very quickly warmed up to her and his heart started to flutter during those times. He started to worry for her and just wanted to see her happy and smiling. The feelings that he had with her when they were little all comes flooding back whenever he is with her. She gets him in a way that no one else does just as he gets her. Without knowing her true identity, his heart subconsciously still falls for her. She had already won his heart long ago and despite how anyone tried to convince him otherwise and how he tried to deny it, those are feelings that he cannot shake off.
Seong Joon and Hye Jin have a long history and it is a history that brings them together again 15 years on. They had already won each other’s heart 15 years ago and this time around it helped them to reassert their feelings and fill in that missing hole in their heart. It took quite a while for Seong Joon to realise that Hye Jin is his Hye Jin but it allowed him to realise that she genuinely likes him for who he is. She slowly won her way through his heart once again and stood by his side when he needed someone there and started to realise that it is the person now that matters. He came back for his first love but he was willing to lose the girl who meant everything to him for Hye Jin who completely won his heart without him even realising it.
Shi Hyuk is such a standout character. He is not only nicely written but his character is also very nicely developed too. He is a very comedic character and I just love how carefree he is. Hye Jin first caught his attention being a quirky girl who was vulnerable. He started to befriend her and started to look out for her. He started to see her as a friend and then he started to see her as someone more than a friend. He likes her but doesn’t push her to be with him. He offered her numerous opportunities to change her mind but she declined time after time and despite that obviously not being the outcome he wanted, he respected her decision. I feel that with so much focus on Hye Jin and Seong Joon, he gets sidelined as a character and while that is true in some ways, he is in fact a very valuable character. He is vital to the pacing of the show and really helps to chug along Hye Jin and Seong Joon’s relationship. I feel that as a secondary character, his character was excellently written and very well positioned in the drama, though I do feel that the ending could have been better for him.
The friendship between Hye Jin and Ha Ri is so beautiful and hearty and really love how they are like family to one another. They share a really close bond between them and nothing can break their friendship. I love how supportive they are of each other and just how understanding they are of each other. When Hye Jin found out that Seong Joon and Ha Ri did not meet, Hye Jin dropped everything and ran home to check on Ha Ri. She didn’t push Ha Ri for an explanation for why she did but rather, she chose to wait, to wait for Ha Ri’s explanation. She would have accepted it regardless of what the reason was. Also, when she found out that Ha Ri likes the same guy she does, she was was willing to give up on her love for her best friend who is her family.
For Ha Ri, the closer she was getting towards Seong Joon, the more wronged she felt towards Hye Jin. It’s understandable why she is so fond of him though. He is probably the first guy in her life to treat her with respect. He genuinely cares about and treats as her an equally unlike the guys she has been out with who are all just toying around with her. The more he treats her like that, the more she finds herself wanting to reach closer to him and every move forward that she takes comes with pain, pain for breaking Hye Jin’s heart. She just wants to love and Seong Joon gave her that opportunity to do so but she just couldn’t do it, not when it meant breaking her best friend’s heart. She came to realise that what she did was wrong and took a very determined step forward to change her life for the better.
SWP is a very satisfying rom-com that hits all the right notes from start to finish. It’s a show about beauty from within and that’s what really showed through. Seong Joon and Hye Jin, separated by fate found each other again by fate but never did their feelings for each other diminish. There were obstacles in their relationship but they jumped through it all and finally came to see each to realise that they bring the best out from each other. The show wrapped up nicely and I was very satisfied from what I got from it. It’s definitely a drama worth watching.
Click here to watch She Was Pretty.