Pretty Man (also known as Bel Ami) is about an extremely handsome man (Jang Geun Suk) who uses his looks to get money. When trying to succeed in a business, he is tasked with a mission to “seduce” 10 women and learn their keys to success. Helping him is an ordinary girl (IU) who has had a long time obsession with him.
Pretty Man was such a fun drama! You know that genre mix I like? Well, this is it! It leans towards being a romantic comedy, but it has a pretty nice melodramatic side. This drama also came out in 2013, and I do have a soft spot for this time period. I like the feel of romantic comedies of this period, and this drama encapsulates a lot of what I like.
Jang Geun Suk plays our super handsome man Dok Go Ma Te. Ma Te is considered to have perfect looks and is desired by everyone. He uses this to his advantage in order live a life of luxury with rich women. But when he finds himself needing to take on a powerful family, he needs to learn the skills to succeed in business.
Now I’m a pretty big fan of Jang Geun Suk. He’s an incredibly talented actor with a wide ranges of acting capabilities. I’ve enjoyed him in many diverse roles, but he is sort of known for playing the very handsome and jerkish type characters in dramas such as You’re Beautiful and Love Rain. And Pretty Man is another to add to the list.
But the fact is, he really plays those characters well. He just fits them with his demeanor, good looks, and overall style. He brings them to life and makes them very memorable. And I greatly enjoyed seeing this type of character from him again. (Though I would argue that all three of the characters I have mentioned are still fairly different from each other)
IU is our ordinary girl Kim Bo Tong. She fell for Ma Te at first sight and has been obsessed with him ever since. And IU was so adorable in this role! I loved how bright and spunky she was. She tended to get herself into trouble some, but she is so warm-hearted and ready to help. She is an important part of Ma Te’s life.
Also, don’t be too scared off by her character being “obsessed” with Ma Te. Yes, her love for him is a bit over the top, but this is mostly played as funny since this series is based off of a comic. It’s exaggerated. But even then, she has her own journey, and we really see that at heart she is just a very loyal, kind, and loving person.
Lee Jang Woo plays Choi David. He’s just about the nicest second lead you could hope to have. He falls for Bo Tong almost instantly and is quite adorable. But the funny part of the scenario is how Bo Tong is doing whatever she can to help Ma Te while David helps her help him! This poor guy is the epitome of the sweet second lead.
Han Chae Young is Han Yoo Ra. Yoo Ra has set her sights on Ma Te to use him to take revenge upon her ex-husband’s rich and powerful family. Her mother-in-law is terrible and works as the villain of the drama. But Yoo Ra is a viable opponent and is more than ready to take her down with the help of Ma Te.
Well, I loved so much about Pretty Man! First, I just loved the characters. Jang Geun Suk, IU, and Lee Jang Woo were all humorous in their own way, and I so enjoyed their story. The main characters each have their own journeys of growth to go through.
But the main story really focuses on Ma Te’s journey. On the surface, the drama might sound shallow with him needing to “seduce” women. But it’s a bit more complicated than that. There are all of these little lessons that Ma Te learns along the way. In the process of him getting to know the ten women, he learns valuable knowledge from each of them.
The drama really plays up the fact that Ma Te is incredibly handsome. It allows for a lot of humorous scenarios where the ladies are mesmerized by him. Now he is very conceited and knows just how good looking he is which is why he uses it to his advantage.
I really got a kick out of how he liked to position himself in poses that drew attention to his good looks when he wanted something. Sometimes he would wait for hours in these poses so he could get the desired effect from a woman. That’s some dedication!
But a key thing to know about Ma Te is that he is pretty honest and straight forward about his love for money with the women. Most of the time they want him despite this, and some of them are out to simply use him too. But he actually grows to care for these women and they frequently ends up working together to achieve things.
It allowed both parties to get something from the relationship and especially for Ma Te to grow into a better person and really see what is important in life. It was a journey of growth that I greatly enjoyed since he really does go through a transformation. And Jang Geun Suk absolutely put forth so much emotion and really drew me in to the character. It was another wonderful performance from him.
Now there are some things to be pointed out for those considering watching this drama. The big one is that the main romance between Ma Te and Bo Tong is a very slow burn and really is more of a subplot. While she is helping him in his business adventures, the two mostly stay in the friends category. Of course, she really likes him, and he starts showing signs of jealousy and liking her, but he is pretty busy with other things, so it’s like the main romance sort of takes a back seat to Ma Te’s personal journey.
Which is also why second lead syndrome could be a huge danger in watching this drama. David and Bo Tong spend a lot of time together and just seem like they are made for each other. Their relationship is explored pretty well, and they have so many adorable moments between them. It’s one of those cases where he treats her so wonderfully that you just might wonder why on earth she keeps liking Ma Te. So be prepared for that.
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While it takes awhile for Ma Te and Bo Tong’s relationship to really blossom, I personally liked how it played out. We are able to see the different stages of their relationship and the all important process of Ma Te realizing his feelings for her. It’s not something that happens overnight, but rather a gradual learning of what love is and what she means to him. It takes pretty much until the end of the drama for them to officially get together, but I thought it fit the overall story well. And they do make a pretty cute couple!
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The drama also does that thing where it gets more melodramatic as it progresses. The angst ramps up and there are some interesting secrets that get revealed. I love this sort of thing, but I know some get disappointed when their rom-com turns more melo. It does continue to have plenty of lighthearted moments through out though.
Pretty Man seems to have received mixed reviews from fans. For many, it seemed like a love it or hate it kind of drama. I think one of the key things going in is knowing what to expect about the romance like I mentioned above. The other is that it takes some attention to detail to fully appreciate the lessons and how they connect to Ma Te’s personal journey.
I noticed some thinking this drama was shallow, but it’s really far from it. You just have to look past the more glitzy exterior. Sure, there is plenty of fun to be had from the quirky characters, humorous situations, and the glamour, but there is also a lot to be appreciated from the finer details of this story. And Jang Geun Suk really nailed his portrayal of Ma Te and showed the many facets of his personality.
Overall, Pretty Man was a nice treat for me. It took me back to a style of dramas that we don’t see as much anymore, and I found that quite refreshing. It’s meant to be a fun drama, but it still has a nice story and plenty of life lessons for our characters to learn. I thoroughly enjoyed it on many levels.
My Rating: 9/10
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I love a little Rom Com with my drama!!…. Here I am, been gone for almost a month. I’m back one day and you’ve already had me add 2 new shows to my list… YOU’RE KOLLING ME! 😂😂
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Same here! Rom-com-melos are my favorite genre 🙂 You know I warned you how dangerous it was to read my posts. You’re list will never be the same! lol 🙂
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I’ve added to the list! Anything you give a 9/10 rating to is must see for me 🙂
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Oooh, I would definitely be interested to see what you think of it. It’s one of those dramas that I understand why some really dislike it, but it sure ticked off all the right boxes for my personal preferences. It’s a product of its time when dramas like You’re Beautiful, Boys Over Flowers, and Playful Kiss were a style that was really popular. Though I do think this one is much deeper but still all around fun 🙂
Uh oh, you just named 3 of my love/hate kdramas! but I get what you’re saying. There’s just something about the dramas of that time that are required viewing. Maybe it makes me appreciate how far kdramas (and some actors) have come? Either way, always worth a watch for me if you like it!
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Yep, they are definitely those kind of dramas for most people, lol. I do think Pretty Man is objectively better quality though especially concerning the character journey depicted for Jang Geun Suk. But the drama had a lot of similar traits in style to those dramas. I’d say it’s closer to You’re Beautiful’s style since that was a fun rom-com with a nice dramatic side and pretty great characters.
I don’t recall if you’ve seen Entertainer, but Pretty Man is from the same writer. They are very different dramas, but I noticed a lot of similar story telling between them. A lot of people hated Entertainer too, but I loved it, and it just made me so happy. Even gave it a 10, hehe. The upcoming drama Boyfriend with Park Bo Gum and Song Hye Kyo is also from the same writer. But if you do try Pretty Man, I’d recommend about 3 eps and you will probably have a pretty good idea if the tone and feel of the drama is right for you 🙂
I started Entertainer when I was going through my Ji Sung phase and for some reason dropped it after a few episodes (also dropped Royal Family). I’m going to have to go back to it now that you said you gave it a 10! I was just scrolling through your review (not going to read it yet) and saw some photos and recognized quite a few faces so will definitely double back 🙂
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I think we all have a Ji Sung phase 🙂 Definitely lots of familiar faces. It was my first time seeing Gong Myung too. For me, it was just such a feel good drama with the main focus on the boys in the band. A lot of people were really disappointed in the Ji Sung/Hyeri pairing though. I don’t mind Hyeri and had no issues with the pairing, but I think I’m in the minority concerning that.
Like in a Pretty Man, the romance feels secondary to the story of the band. I think for those who want a strong romance with a lot of chemistry, Entertainer is not good. But if you just like feel good underdog stories and don’t mind more of a bromance, it’s fantastic. It really just comes down to taste though 🙂
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