Cute boy index rating: 3 out of 4
Apocalypse index rating: 1 out of 4
So this is my favorite Korean drama* of all time. Minami Shineyo (“He’s Beautiful”), a.k.a. “You’re Beautiful”, is a story about an orphan girl named Go Mi Nam (“mi nam” means “handsome”, and obviously the title is a play on her name) who’s a novice nun who gets called to impersonate her twin brother as the newest member of a pop band. Hijinks ensue, of course, and her three bandmates end up falling for her.
(This was actually the first Korean tv show I’d ever finished watching. The honor was initially going to “Iris“, but somewhere after the first couple of episodes, I checked out You’re Beautiful, and couldn’t watch anything else until I’d finish it. As a matter of fact, I couldn’t do anything until I’d finished it — work, sleep, go out. Korean dramas are made to be addictive, so consider this a warning to anyone who’d attempting to watch one for the first time.)
Yes, this is a comedy. The plot is ridiculous, but the script and the characters were so well-written, the show was so much fun to watch. It also featured some fine performances from everyone from the leads Jang Geun Suk (Hwang Tae Kyung), Park Shin Hye (Go Mi Nam), Jung Yong Hwa (Kang Shin Woo) of the kpop band C.N. Blue and Lee Hong Ki (Jeremy) of kpop band F.T. Island, to the supporting cast, particularly Uee of kpop idol group After School who plays Mi Nam’s romantic rival Yoo He Yi.
Does Park Shin Hye pull off looking like a boy? I think so.
This is what she looks like normally.
Shin Hye has pretty good with the physical comedy. She’s rather pa-cute here, but it was surprisingly not annoying.
This was only Uee’s second stint as an actress, and she held up her own as the kind of girl you love to hate, opposite the 17-year acting veteran Jang Geun Suk. Also, because her character is a pop star, she gets to prance around in fabulous outfits. Because Uee’s gorgeous, around 5’7″ tall, and has legs that go on for miles, that was quite a sight. (I adore tall girls.)
YB has a lot of the usual k-drama tropes:
- The heroine is poor, and either plain-looking or she’s pretty but she has to pretend to be a boy. This is important because when her love interest falls for her, we have to know it’s because of her kindness, courage and what have you. The “girl disguised as a boy” trope presents the audience with an, uh, enviable situation where the heroine is constantly surrounded by hot boys. However, since she’s disguised as a boy herself, she does not come off as a slut. Because the heroine must, above all, remain completely virtuous throughout the story.
- The heroine’s primary love interest is rich and handsome. He has a kind heart but people think he’s a bastard. This is the Mr. Darcy syndrome. It’s a guy who’s cold and indifferent one moment, then goes and does something ridiculously romantic like chase you down the highway on foot for two miles because you’re stuck on the top of a moving truck. See also “Boys over Flowers“.
- There are three cute males vying for the heroine’s interest. This is called the “reverse-harem”. See also “Sung Kyung Kwan Scandal” (or “Secret Love”, as it was called when it got shown on local TV). This is to up the kilig factor and present additional conflict.
- The heroine’s romantic rival is beautiful and rich and, by society’s standards, an ideal match for the heroine’s love interest. But she is evil (or shallow/stupid), and she will of course lose out to the heroine.
“Minami Shineyo” proved to be so popular that the Japanese made their own adaptation, called “Ikemen desu ne“. Jang Geun Suk made a cameo in it. Now they’ve just wrapped up a Taiwanese version called “Fabulous Boys”. I’ve seen “Ikemen”, and from the looks of the trailer of “Fabulous Boys”, the latter will be more faithful to the original story. I do like that they made some story changes to “Ikemen”, although I still look forward to seeing “Boys”. The trailer also features Park Shin Hye’s hilarious cameo.
Incidentally, Park Shin Hye will be coming to Manila in March for a fan meeting. Please check out the Fangirl Asia website, or call (+63-2) 341-3389 or (+63-922) 856-3663 for ticket inquiries.
*A “drama” in Korea or Japanese means a TV show, that’s fiction and about 16-24 episodes long. Contrary to what we normally know as “drama”, these shows may also be comedy.