“Mindy…did you just push back doing Real People Stuffs again?” Yes. Yes, I did. Q~Q
I apologize fam. It’s been hella busy and I’m suddenly going back home for about 2 weeks. I swear I am working on Real People Stuffs, but it might take me a while to post those. I also would like to apologize for not posting anything last Sunday. Due to some last minute family plans, I found my myself suddenly going back home in Florida for about a week.
Today I’ll be talking about the Korean webtoon 내 ID는 강남미인, or My ID Is Gangnam Beauty. The series is by Gi Meng Gi and published through Naver Webtoons in 2016. The title may sound familiar to my fellow K-Drama fans, as there is a live action drama coming out at the end of July. It’ll star Lim Soo Hyang as the female lead. The male lead will be portrayed by Cha Eun Woo of the K-Pop group Astro.
Kang MiRae is timid and has a complex about her appearance. She’s had to deal with people being ruthlessly cruel to her, due to her weight and appearance. When she was younger, she was cruelly rejected because she was “fat and ugly”. She worked hard to change herself by losing weight. However, that wasn’t enough because people would still constantly reject and degrade her for being “ugly”. Mi Rae decided she was going to change. She worked hard to pay for a complete makeover via plastic surgery. She’s now seen as beautiful. However, her complex is still there. Despite being beautiful, she’s still degraded for being a “Gangnam Beauty” (Someone who gained their looks from plastic surgery; More info on that later). MiRae’s life starts to change as she enters university. She somehow (unwillingly) gets closer to Do KyungSuk, the quiet and cold hottie in her department. She also starts to get attention for a popular and handsome sunbae (upperclassman) from another department. However, the big question is whether MiRae can really change. Can she overcome her traumas and allow herself to be loved, and most importantly learn to love herself?
Okay. I know. I sucked at this plot summary…but I tried. I won’t lie. I originally wasn’t planning on really getting into this when I first started reading it a while back. I just picked it on a whim (I’m starting to see a pattern here…). I didn’t think I’d care for it at first due to the art not really being my style, and I thought it was going to be a hella typical story. However, I did start to get more interested in the series the more I read it. What interested me is how it addresses the issues and complexes regarding one’s appearances. It showed the societal pressures that many people, particularly young women, often go through. Sure, it’s a bit more on the dramatic side. It is a webtoon afterall. However, it’s also because it specifically touches more on the expectations and societal pressure of beauty standards in South Korea. South Korea is very much about beauty and aesthetics. It’s very obvious in it’s dominating and popular beauty industry and the popularity of Korean media. If you didn’t know, South Korea is also very well known for plastic surgery. Apparently, cosmetic procedures are pretty common. Some people get plastic surgery as their graduation presents. The most common procedure is getting double eyelids. South Korea does put alot of expectations on one’s appearance. Especially with the rise of Hallyu, or Korean pop culture (Movies, dramas, K-Pop). The expectations and pressure on appearances have grown, and that’s why South Korea’s plastic surgery industry has boomed even more. These days, people are more open about their procedures. However, there is still judgement. Much like how MiRae, the main character, is as she’s referred to as a “Gangnam Beauty”. I know you’ve all heard of Gangnam from Psy’s “Gangnam Style”. Gangnam refers to a rich and expensive district in Seoul, South Korea. It’s like Seoul’s Beverly Hills? It also happens to be where many plastic surgery clinics are. Calling someone a “Gangnam Beauty” is basically the equivalent of calling someone a “Plastic beauty”. It’s a phrase meant to acknowledge that they’re pretty, but it’s also saying that it’s obvious that they had things done.
[Some Spoilers Ahead]
I’m just going to mention the main ones.
Kang MiRae. In the past MiRae was considered fat and ugly. After working hard to lose weight, she was still bullied in regards to her appearance. Because of the bullying and harsh judgement around her, MiRae developed a complex in regards to her appearance. She ended up saving money to have a complete make over with plastic surgery. Despite now being a beauty, MiRae still has a complex. She knows and still feels hurt that people call her a Gangnam Beauty. Due to this complex and judgement from those around her, MiRae has pretty low confidence and self-esteem. Based on her new appearance, MiRae looks like the bold type. However, she’s incredibly shy and full of doubt. She does seem to also judge people by appearance at first. However, she starts to realize it’s not a great thing and she starts to change her perspective. Her dream is to be a perfumist. She loves perfumes. She unwillingly starts to get closer to KyungSuk. They originally had very poor impressions of each other. However, his bluntness helps her change. She’s also somewhat naive, and again, has incredibly low self-esteem and confidence. Even when a handsome sunbae (Korean for “upperclassman”) obviously states his interest in her, she doesn’t believe it. She believes that’s she’s beneath everyone and not worth loving.
Do KyungSuk. At first glance, he seems intimidating and looks like a player. However, KyungSuk is a quiet and pretty cold dude. He’s pretty anti-social since he doesn’t care for getting involved with others. KyungSuk’s social skills kind of suck. He makes pretty blunt statements and doesn’t really have a filter. Unlike other people, and despite his good looks, KyungSuk really doesn’t care for appearances. He really prefers associating with people based on personality and heart, rather than appearances. He seems to have a brief connection to MiRae before her transformation. He’s also the only one who can see through SooAh’s antics and fake personality. He does speak a big carelessly at first, often hurting MiRae. Again, he has no malicious intentions. KyungSuk is just ignorant of the things MiRae has dealt with. Still, he learns and tries hard to avoid repeating his mistakes. He recognizes that she was a victim. They start closing the awkwardness in their relationship and start to become seemingly close friends. All in all, KyungSuk is a good guy. As with typical romance tropes, he obviously starts to develop feelings for MiRae.
Hyeon SooAh. She seems like a cute, sweet, and natural beauty. She’s basically the Chemistry department’s beauty. She seems sweet and really pretty. However, she’s basically a snake. She has all the guys wrapped around her finger and manipulates people. She acts super nice and close to MiRae, but she’s definitely scheming something. She also seems to say things to manipulate situations and people around her. She fakes modesty. Often times it’s in order to make herself seem superior to MiRae. She seems to be aiming for KyungSuk, however, it seems like she’s just aiming for him to inflate her ego and one up MiRae. Yeah, that bitch is a snake.
Yeon WooYoung. He’s a sunbae. He’s known as a campus hottie. WooYoung used to be in the chemistry department, but switched to the biology department. He’s handsome, outgoing, and seems to have a really playful and nice personality. He is all about looks though. WooYoung fell for MiRae the instant he saw her. He’s infatuated with MiRae because she fits his ideal beauty. However, he doesn’t care whether or not she’s a natural beauty. He’s still interested in her all the same. He mostly interested in MiRae due to her looks, however, that doesn’t mean that’s the only thing he’s interested in. He also at least has the decency to have some respect. For example, he waited to find MiRae in order to ask for her contact info. He stated that he couldn’t casually ask for her info from other people without her consent. He does, however, lack sensitivity when he constantly talks about looks to MiRae. However, WooYoung has no malicious intentions. He’s just more ignorant when it comes to MiRae’s feelings and her complex.
Yoo Eun Yi. She’s also in the chemistry department. She meets MiRae and KyungSuk at orientation. She seems to become one of students who’s closest to MiRae. She also seems to understand MiRae a bit more than other people. Eun Yi seems to be a good friend with MiRae’s best interest in mind. She’s suspicious and on guard when WooYoung sunbae expresses his interest in MiRae. She also tries to help push KyungSuk when it comes to MiRae.
Yes, there are alot of characters that follow very typical tropes and character types. Still, the characters have their own charm in (Not you, SooAh). However, for me the real appeal of the series is how it highlights the criticisms and pressures people face to reach certain beauty standards. Not just the main characters. The series shows alot of different aspects and criticisms everyone faces. I don’t know what your opinions on plastic surgery are. When I was younger I used to not understand why people felt the need to get procedures done. However, now I feel like it’s their choice. If it makes you happy then go for it. It’s your body and life, and ultimately your choice. I have no say in it, so don’t worry about what I think. As I got older and met many different people, I started understanding how insecure and unhappy people could feel. This series, though a very dramatic version, shows that kind of mindset as well. You see how MiRae feels and everything she went through. Unfortunately, just like real life, people’s judgement and harassment doesn’t end. You can’t always please everyone. Although dramatic, it still pretty real. The pressure of judgement from everyone is can sadly be very real. When I was in university, a bunch of friends found out that many guys we knew were part of a secret group that judged and rated many of the girls they knew. This included many of my friends; All of whom were very upset and hurt (understandably so). I don’t know if I was on that list, but I really don’t wish to know. They all thought it was a secret, but many of us girls knew. Some girls found out due to people not logging out of their Facebook accounts around friends and girlfriends. I heard there were some vile and hurtful things. People can be cruel man.
I feel like everyone can relate to constant judgement and pressure when it comes to their appearance. I’m sure many of you have also dealt with comments in regards to appearances as well. At least I do. When I was younger, I was basically the only Asian kid in my classes, or the only one out of 3-4 Asian kids in the school. I’d been made fun of before because of my looks and made to feel as if I wasn’t pretty because of my natural features. As with typical Asian families, I’ve also always dealt with alot of comments and criticism regarding my appearance and weight. I’ve constantly dealt with alot of pressure and had low self-esteem before. I still do at times. Although, now I’m learning to love myself despite what people may think or say. I’m a fat potato and I’m okay with that. Whatever your stance is on cosmetic procedures and make-up, and however you feel your appearance may be…do what makes you happy. Fuck what other people say or think. You do you boo. I just hope you’re happy and that you can love yourself.
I apologize for being slightly off tangent. All in all, the series may seem hella basic, but it has interesting and charming points. I enjoyed reading it to understand the characters and see them grow. I feel for MiRae. It sucks to constantly be judged. I know women deal with that kind of pressure everyday. Sure, the art wasn’t my cup of tea. However, I grew more interested in the story and so the art grew on me. I know some people complained about the art and said things like “I just can’t see how anyone can see MiRae as being beautiful.” Just accept it buddy. Don’t think to hard. Again, she’s supposed to look beautiful, but people still see flaws in MiRae. Either way there is an obvious lesson in the series: Beauty and appearance isn’t everything, and it’s not always what it appears to be. SooAh is considered really beautiful, but her manipulative and twisted personality makes her really ugly. MiRae is seen as like a monster and though her personality may also come off as a bit bad at first (for constantly rating people), she’s shown herself to be a good person still. Despite getting surgery and being “beautiful”, MiRae still isn’t really happy. Though, she’d rather be miserable like this than go back to how her life was before. So yeah, don’t be dicks. Don’t judge and bully people. I’ll also repeat it again. I don’t care what your stance may be on cosmetic procedures or make up. All I hope is that whatever you do, I hope you can be happy. The important thing is to do what makes you happy and to love yourself. Take care BAYOG fam.