This drama, ‘Birth of a Beauty‘ is what sparked my love for Joo Sang Wook.
‘Birth of a Beauty’ began airing in late 2014 and led into 2015 on SBS, and is one of my favorite dramas. It has 21 episodes, which at some points I felt weren’t necessary and the storyline could have fit into 16, but it was good all the same.
I started watching this drama because it reminded me of ‘200 Pounds Beauty,’ one of my favorite Korean movies.
Synopsis: As the heir to a large company, Han Tae Hee (Joo Sang Wook) has everything he could possibly want — except for his long lost love. But instead of nursing his heartache like a sensible person, Tae Hee enlists Sa Geum Ran (Han Ye Seul), whom he transforms from an overweight ugly duckling to a gorgeous bombshell named Sara. In the process of falling in love with his “creation” he discovers that even though it appears that money can buy just about everything, it can’t buy love or heal emotional scars.
I would just like to say, that this summary does not do the plot justice. Because the main focus is actually on Sa Geum Ran, who is originally played by actress Ha Jae Sook, and THEN, after an attempt on her life by (spoiler alert) her husband, Lee Kang Joon (Jung Gyu Woon)after she figures out he’s cheating on her with a co-worker, Yoo Chae Yeon (Wang Ji Hee), only then does she go to Han Tae Hee, yes, SHE goes to HIM BEGS for him to change her so she can live a new life.
Sa Geum Ran is a dedicated housewife who lives with her rich in-laws who treat her like poo. Except the dad, but he’s cold towards everyone. Not necessarily Sa Guem Ran, I mean she does everything taking care of the house-wise, so he’s kinda nice to her.
Her husband is always away on business, but he finally comes back to Korea after a long time in America, so she goes to see him. As she waits for him in her hotel room, she hears someone come in. In a panic, she hides in the closet and witnesses her husband…having sex with his co-worker.
After that, she confronts him and Chae Yeon. She threatens to go to the press and make his adultery public. After that, she is run off the road and her car is THROWN OFF A CLIFF, and she somehow is able to get to safety.
After that, she finds the home of a chaebol, who she mistakes for a famous plastic surgeon Gyo Jihoon (the doctor (In Gyo-Jin) hosts a makeover show and is Tae Hee’s adoptive brother, hence why Tae Hee is in his house) and begs him to change her so that she can take revenge on those who wronged her and move on from her tragic past.
He agrees, partially because of his own motives, then makes her sign a contract, and the makeover begins. Sa Geum Ran goes from ‘ugly duckling’ to ‘beautiful swan’ over several months, and is given a new name: Sara.
What she doesn’t know, is that he’s not a plastic surgeon, HOWEVER, he is CEO to a company of his own making, as well as being heir to a bigger company…that is, if his scheming half brother Han Min Hyuk (Han Sang Jin) doesn’t ruin it all.
I mean, I do feel bad for Min Hyuk because he and his mom live with his and Tae Hee’s grandmother, Mrs. Park (Kim Young Rim), who detests them both and accuses Min Hyuk’s mother of getting her son drunk so she could take advantage of him and get his money.
A lot of times I ask myself why the two leads are in love with each other, but I didn’t ask myself this time around because the writers did it right and developed a relationship over the course of the series rather than having a moment where they fall in love and boom! That’s it.
The chemistry between the actors rubbed off on their characters and made for a great relationship, which made me root for them from the beginning.
What DID irk me about it was when they tried giving Sara a love triangle with Min Hyuk. Min Hyuk had that, ‘wow she’s beautiful, I think I’m in love with her now’ moment and there was no chemistry between the character to even make that BELIEVABLE, so the whole thing was just a huge waste of time in my opinion.
As for villains, there’s many. Not just Min Hyuk and his scheming mother, not just Kang Joon and Chae Yeon, but someone close to Tae Hee’s family. With all these villains you’d expect a ton of drama, right? But the overall feel of the drama is rather light hearted despite the reason Sara opts for a makeover anyway.
Chae Yeon plays a really big part in the overall drama, such as trying to ruin Sara’s family (who believe her dead) and exposing her secret, but Sara has plans of her own, such as ruining Chae Yeon’s marriage to her murderous husband.
But Tae Hee, oh Tae Hee, has soooo much drama of his own. When he was a child he witnessed the murder of his parents, ran away from home and was raised by Chae Yeon and her brother (the surgeon) Gyo Ji Hoon (In Gyo-jin). He fostered a love for her, that she pushed aside and ignored, even as he warned her about Kang Joon before her marriage. Though, unbeknownst to him, she already knew.
So as she tries to ruin Sara, she also goes after Tae Hee romantically. However, at this point, Tae Hee no longer fosters feeling of love towards Chae Yeon; he only has eyes for Sara.
So with all this drama, they still stick together and they work through job troubles and end up finding things out about themselves and each other that they would have otherwise oppressed or let ruin them before.
As the drama begins to end around 14-15 (this is when we got the episode extension) everything seems to be wrapping up real nicely, right? WRONG!
~Spoiler alert time~
Min Hyuk makes a last ditch effort to get rid of Tae Hee by sending assassins to a warehouse where he’s trying to figure something out (it’s been awhile I can’t remember the specifics) and he’s ambushed by a group of men who try to murder him, but Sara saves him and kicks everyone’s butt (Yeah!).
Turns out, Min Hyuk’s mom put the hit on Tae Hee’s parents with the help of Mrs. Park’s secretary, who was in love with Min Hyuk’s mom. He does it because he loves her but she does this to secure Min Hyuk’s future (though they did not foresee Tae Hee running away), and as Min Hyuk gains power within the company despite his grandmother’s opposal to him ascending to the top, he finds some dirt on her and has her PUT IN PRISON, so she can’t stop him and as a strategy against Tae Hee.
Tae Hee learns about this and after his incident and during a shareholder’s meeting he exposes Min Hyuk and his mother, who are then taken away, and, I assume, taken to prison. Now he’s the only heir and gets his grandma released from prison.
Sara does some revealing of her own. After making a name for herself under the same company as Chae Yeon, Kang Joon and Min Hyuk, and since Min Hyuk has been taken care of who is left? Kang Joon and Chae Yeon of course.
Sara reveals that Kang Joon ran her off the road and almost killed her, and that Chae Yeon knew about it, and they were both continuously blackmailing her.
While Chae Yeon is arrested immediately because, well she’s at work and convinced that Sara wouldn’t open her mouth.
Kang Joon on the other hand, is in the process of running away. However, they find him at the airport and confront him after he tries to use a fake ID that Tae Hee gave him in exchange for him leaving Sara alone. He tries to run again, only to be captured by police.
The drama ends with Tae Hee and Sara (now going by Sa Geum Ran) getting married. AWWWWW.
So there’s a ton of details I left out because I binge watched it as it was ending (end of 2014-beginning of 2015) and it’s a little blurry. For the most part it’s pretty upbeat and funny. There are plenty of moments to chuckle at and make you go ‘awwww’ endlessly but there are also times that the characters make you wanna pull your hair out and throw things at the screen.
Out of 10 I’d give ‘Birth of a Beauty’ a 9.5. Almost everything went right except for when they got the episode extension and decided to drag everything out rather than adding new situations and additions to the plot.
Watch the trailer here: