International Dramas: ‘The Beauty Inside’ Review

Screenshot image of (left) Lee Minki and (right) Seo Hyunjin. Copyright goes to JTBC.

Hi! It’s Annie!

I hit another break in my usual K-Drama watching, simply because I was so overwhelmed with the choices and had absolutely no idea what to watch next. And, rather obviously, all of my attention has recently been stolen by ATEEZ. Completely. I still don’t know how I focused so long on this drama and I can guarantee that there were a lot of ATEEZ videos in between episodes. Anyways, the entire reason why I decided to watch this drama was because it was recently put on Netflix due to its popularity and an ATEEZ fan that I follow recommended it. So I had to check it out. Also because it is near Valentine’s Day and around the usual time that I wallow in my singleness every year. Admittedly, I am a little tired of the rich love interest meets the other rich love interest storylines. It’s really hard to relate to because it feels like with so many of these dramas out, they are neglecting the majority of fans who are obviously not rich. I’ll talk more about that later. But this drama was also really surprising to me in many ways. It tackled situations and thoughts about love that most don’t. I actually do recommend it, but I’ll get into my more specific thoughts now. MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

Synopsis: Han Segye is a famous actress with a fairly bad reputation as she is known for running away and writing week long breaks into her film contracts. Nobody knows that for a week every month, her face changes and she lives the life of an entirely different person. Seo Dojae is the CEO of an airline company who seeks out Han Segye, who had modeled in a commercial for his company, after a breach of contract. He has face blindness disorder after he was involved in an accident ten years prior and recognizes people only by their clothes and mannerisms. What happens when she changes her face and he still recognizes her?

The Good:

Han Segye- It isn’t often that I like the main female character in a drama. I don’t know why that is, but it’s happened for me a lot that I just can’t get behind the thought processes of the main female character. Mostly because I often feel that her personality is sacrificed for the sake of focusing on the romance and the ideal boyfriend. I’m happy to report that this doesn’t happen here. This drama is actually very very good at making strong female characters, and they don’t care how their female characters might look by doing it. Another reason why Han Segye has the bad reputation that she does is because she often stands up to men who act creepily towards herself or other women and she also often stands up to interviewers who cross lines with their questions. She is never apologetic about it and never regrets having her reputation. She stands up completely for others, and her primary objective in the drama is to help. I especially loved when she turned into a teenage boy and helped a girl who was being bullied by a guy who supposedly said he liked her. It was so sweet! That doesn’t mean I’m entirely happy with her character, but for the most part I really liked her.

Seo Dojae- His life is unmistakably difficult, and the drama doesn’t shy away from this. It doesn’t act like he lives exactly like everyone else with his disorder, but it also doesn’t act like he can’t function because of it. He often accidentally insults people that it is necessary for him to do business with because he can’t recognize them. He also finds himself depressed after he falls in love with Segye and can’t recognize her face. The drama also doesn’t hesitate to show him talking with a therapist and actually improving after he develops depression because of his accident. He is such a sweet main character and it’s difficult to not fall in love with him because of how attentive he is. His concern is always the farthest away from himself, sometimes even to an unhealthy degree. But his sweetness is difficult to get over.

The Romance- This drama makes a lot of points about unconditional love, and some of them are extremely needed and bold. Seo Dojae loves Segye because it is her no matter how she looks. And Segye must come to terms with the fact that he’ll probably never know her true face. They don’t let either of these things get between them (for the most part). Most importantly, I loved how this drama went more deeply into what love should be than most dramas do. It talked about how your significant other should feel like home to you, and that’s a concept that I found to be very touching. Most dramas don’t do this much deep thinking into relationships and I really appreciated it.

The Secondary Romance- I almost liked this romance more than the main one. This took place between Ryu Eunho, one of Segye’s best friends, and Kang Sara, Dojae’s sister. Sara begins the drama attempting to either take over or overrule her brother’s say in the company, not wanting to be looked down on just because she’s a woman. Eunho feels called to be a Priest, devoting his life to God and forbidding himself from marriage. And with them this drama makes a point that I’ve actually talked about recently. Sometimes your dreams don’t have to be staked in your career. Both of them, in the process of falling in love with each other, realize that they don’t really want what they’re pursuing as much as they want whatever it is they have. And they both sacrifice for the other. She learns to respect his religion despite not being religious herself, and she dismisses her want to overthrow anyone. He turns his back on his career path. They were so cute and I just couldn’t get enough of them.

The Friend Group- Segye, Eunho, and Woomi were so close and you could feel it. When Segye’s mother dies, they’re there for her. When she changes her face, they already know. They constantly spend time together at Segye’s house to discuss their lives. This drama acknowledges that a romance is not going to be your only relationship in your life, and makes sure to show the strong bonds of friendship as well.

Mental Health- They don’t shy away from talking about how dealing with certain things in your life can lead to poor mental health and how it can always be overcome. As I said before, they present going to therapy in a very good light and they also discuss the importance of unconditional love in those situations. There’s an understanding every character has for each other, even when they don’t quite understand fully.

The Bad:

Episode 14- This was the only episode of this drama I disliked, but I can say honestly that I very much disliked it. Han Segye, quite suddenly and for no reason, decides that her problems are far worse than Dojae’s and that he can’t possibly understand her. She then decides that she’s going to quit her entire life and go and live somewhere secluded for the rest of her life. This leaves Dojae reeling because she’s one of the only people he can recognize well and leads him to plunge into poor mental health. Making her act rather selfish. She only comes back when Dojae has had a very risky surgery ensuring that his disorder is cured. This goes against so much of what the drama had been teaching up to this point and I thought it was so out of place. It made Han Segye feel like she didn’t actually consider his issues and it really did feel like it came out of nowhere. I’m glad it didn’t last long at least.

Rich- As I was saying before, the main characters both being A-List rich people is not relatable. Not even a little bit. There’s an implication with all of these dramas that you can’t find love unless you’re extremely famous and successful. I resent this thinking so much and don’t think it should be shown as much as it is. I hope to see far more dramas at least involving one person who isn’t famous and rich.

Threats- There’s an antagonist in this show, a rival actress, who attempts to out Segye’s secret after finding it out herself. At this, Segye actually threatens said actress with murder, saying that if she murdered her with a different face than no one would ever know. The rival actress loses her career and becomes paranoid as she constantly thinks that anyone could be Segye coming to fulfill her promise. What? In a show like ‘Vincenzo’ this would have felt normal. But she’s not a mafia character. She’s supposed to be a kind character. Threats of murder are never ok in any capacity, and the fact that it was used here felt like it wasn’t completely thought through.

The Car Accident- Woomi, who is also Segye’s manager, blames herself for the rival actress discovering Segye’s secret. Especially because she kind of got tricked into revealing it. So in order to protect her secret at a pivotal time, she purposely gets into a car accident. Not only is this not properly addressed, but there aren’t really a lot of consequences for it. The show almost makes this action seem noble, and it really shouldn’t be seen that way. This action is not only dangerous, but also kind of disturbing. It should be treated that way.

Cure- I always have an issue with dramas that establish a well known disorder and then cure it at the end. I didn’t as much mind the implication at the end that Segye would stop changing faces, because at least her disorder is fictional. Dojae’s disorder isn’t fictional and often isn’t curable. It’s hard to get over the fact that the reason why he could probably afford the rare surgery in the first place is because he’s rich. It would have been much more powerful to show him learning to live happily with his disorder. That’s still a happy ending.

Overall, I really liked this drama. Specifically the way it talks about love in general. It could use some upgrading though and it does suffer from throwing a wrench in the drama rather than focusing as much on the couple as a couple. It isn’t my favorite drama that I’ve watched. I’ve certainly seen more wholesome dramas with better well-rounded characters. But it is cute nonetheless and I enjoyed watching it. Particularly for the messages they successfully get across. It’s pretty cute!

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

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