She Was Pretty tells the story of Kim Hye Jin (Hwang Jung Eum) who was beautiful and popular as a child, but she becomes unpopular and unattractive when she grows up. Ji Sung Joon (Park Seo Joon) was the opposite in that he was overweight as a child, but he grows up to be handsome and successful. The two were childhood first loves who meet again as adults.
Because Hye Jin is embarrassed by how she looks, she asks her best friend Min Ha Ri (Go Joon Hee) to pretend to be her for a one time meeting with Sung Joon. But things get complicated when Hye Jin starts working at the same company as Sung Joon and has to pretend she doesn’t know him. Sung Joon also runs into Ha Ri again, and she ends up continuing to pretend to be Hye Jin.
She Was Pretty quickly pulled me in with a funny and charming first episode that introduced us to all of our characters. Hye Jin and Sung Joon had an adorable first love story where Hye Jin was kind and helpful to Sung Joon when no one else was. She was his first real friend.
Hye Jin was so excited to get to see Sung Joon again when they grew up, but when she realized she was completely different than she was when they were kids, her fears of his reaction caused her to hide from him. Of course, this sets in motion a series of problems to come.
I absolutely adore Hwang Jung Eum, and she was hilarious in this. She went all out and didn’t hold back. Although I still wouldn’t call her ugly, she certainly looked unkempt with her crazy hair, red cheeks, and bad sense of style. A lot of people complain that Hwang Jung Eum overacts and screams too much, but I have never thought this. I think her comedic abilities are amazing. It may help that I really enjoy exaggerated and over the top comedy, but I love her crazy facial expressions and reactions to what’s going on around her. Comedy is her forte in my opinion. And I thought she was beautiful throughout the drama. She really captured her character’s kind and loving heart.
I really enjoyed Park Seo Joon in Kill Me, Heal Me where he played Hwang Jung Eum’s ‘brother’. They had such a fun connection in that, and if anyone other than Ji Sung were the lead, I probably would have been rooting for him. Park Seo Joon took a bit more for me to warm up to in She Was Pretty. He is rude and insensitive to Hye Jin at work. He doesn’t know who she is, and all he sees is a clumsy and dysfunctional annoyance. But he does eventually warm up to Hye Jin, and even finds himself being drawn to her even though he doesn’t realize she is his first love.
Then we have Go Joon Hee as Hye Jin’s best friend Ha Ri. Originally, she gets pulled into the situation and only wanted to help Hye Jin. But it becomes difficult for her when she starts to unwillingly develop feelings for Sung Joon. She had never had feelings like that before and wanted them to continue, but her guilt over what she was keeping from Hye Jin proved to be to much for her.
But I must say I really loved the relationship between our two best friends. They were so supportive of each other, and they always had a good time together. It was nice to see this sort of relationship in dramaland. It is also refreshing that Ha Ri is not some one dimensional other woman out to steal the guy. She loves her best friend, and it was evident from start to finish.
And then there is our charming second lead, Kim Shin Hyuk, played by Choi Siwon. What a treat he was! He was full of witty one liners and loved to playfully annoy Hye Jin. Their interactions were the highlight of the drama and provided too many laughs to count.
And in the process, he even develops feelings for her. He would be a hard one to resist! I would frequently go from feeling warm and fuzzies watching Sung Joon and Hye Jin and then immediately switch to heartbreak watching Hye Jin not return Shin Hyuk’s feelings. She Was Pretty did a wonderful job with our love square.
There were some really fun supporting characters too. I loved this couple’s little side romance as well as the flamboyant Chief Editor Ra Ra. Good times to be had all around.
I did really love our main couple though. Sung Joon slowly warmed up to Hye Jin and eventually fell in love with her. I think the drama did well in handling the issue of Hye Jin’s looks. Sung Joon never indicates that he dislikes her looks, and his feelings for Hye Jin develop before her makeover. And he doesn’t change how he acts towards her afterwards. Towards the end of the drama, he even seems pleased to see her again with her rosy cheeks without her makeup. Our love birds had plenty of cute and sweet moments.
On a side note, I found it pretty amusing that Hwang Jung Eum received back hugs from all three of the other main actors in this drama (see the pictures throughout this review). Now how often does that happen? You can never have too many back hugs!
She Was Pretty maintained some wonderful charm and comedy all the way through. I was never bored and laughed so much. It also pulled at my heartstrings on multiple levels. Our characters were well developed and all marvelously acted. This drama wraps up the ending like a beautiful present tied with a big red bow. She Was Pretty is everything I love in a drama.
My Rating: 9/10
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