She Was Pretty continues its strong start with a second episode that’s as good as the first, giving us a little more information about our characters and their frustrating situation. Sung-joon and Hye-jin get off on the wrong foot at work, creating a lot of frustration and misunderstanding. It doesn’t help that Sung-joon has a secret of his own, causing him to behave out of character and confusing Hye-jin even further. He’s not the sweet first love she remembers, so maybe it’s best for now that he doesn’t know who she truly is. EPISODE 2 RECAP
Sung-joon speaks on the phone in English to a man who warns him that he only has three months, and only “three shots” at… something. We discover that he’s back in Korea for the first time in fifteen years, and he tells his cabbie vaguely that he has some things to do, and one thing he has to find — his umbrella.
We get a flashback to the elevator incident, when someone had shoved Hye-jin off in favor of a pretty girl. The pretty girl gets tapped on the shoulder, and simpers when Sung-joon asks if she’s busy, assuming he’s asking her out. Instead he invites her to go find her conscience since she’s not busy, HA. She’s pushed out, and it’s a grinning Shin-hyuk who invites Hye-jin back onto the elevator while Sung-joon melts into the background.
Sung-joon is introduced to the Most staff as the new deputy editor, and Hye-jin nearly swallows her tongue in surprise. She tries to hide under her desk, but Sung-joon’s words that he’s glad his friend turned out to be a cool person echo in her head.
All the girls in the office swoon over Sung-joon (who can blame them?) except Elevator Girl, who’s horrified to recognize him. Her name is HAN SO-RI, and she hilariously tries to hide behind her hair during introductions. Only Shin-hyuk notices Hye-jin making a run for it as she heads for the stairs to catch her breath.
She’s so shaken up she can’t even form complete sentences, and when Ha-ri calls, both girls freak out that Sung-joon would show up at Hye-jin’s work, of all places. Hye-jin worries that he’ll recognize her after all — surely there’s something about her that still looks like her old self? Somehow Ha-ri’s assurances that she was sooooo pretty back then and there’s absolutely nothing the same now, aren’t very comforting.
Of course there’s her name which will at least catch his attention, but Ha-ri reminds her that her name is pretty common… besides, he thinks he’s already met his first love as an adult, so it shouldn’t occur to him to look twice at this Hye-jin. I think they’re severely underestimating Sung-joon’s intelligence.
Hye-jin is still nervous to death, so there’s only one thing left to do — ask for her transfer to be canceled. But no matter how much she screams and begs, even laying on the floor kicking and crying, the Most editorial department has too much clout and there’s no way out of it.
As it turns out, the eccentric Chief Editor Kim is the chairman of the company’s sister. She pretty much does nothing but shop all day, but as the chairman’s sister, she gets whatever she wants. And she requested Hye-jin, so if Hye-jin wants out of the department, she has to resign.
She goes back to the Most headquarters and peeps in the door, looking for Sung-joon, and nearly scares Shin-hyuk half to death. At least he remembers her now, asking about her tooth and welcoming her to the Editing Team.
Hye-jin asks if he’s the one who requested her transfer to his department, which he confirms in his roundabout way. Hye-jin isn’t as grateful as he assumes, and starts to ask him to cancel the transfer, but she’s interrupted when the hard-nosed Reporter Cha asks to see her privately. (It’s hilarious how Shin-hyuk keeps calling Hye-jin “Michael Jackson” because of her white socks and black shoes, hee.)
Hye-jin finally gets a glimpse of Sung-joon from the editor’s office, so she’s distracted answering Reporter Cha’s questions about her near-perfect editing job. There’s a twentieth-anniversary edition of Most coming out in three months, so they’d like her to stay and work until then. Hye-jin tries to decline but she’s refused, even when she flat-out calls herself an idiot.
Hye-jin panics when Sung-joon walks right into the office, first jumping under the desk then just fleeing the area. Sung-joon barely seems to notice her, but Shin-hyuk does, wondering if she’s got stomach issues.
Hye-jin hides in the restroom and overhears the girls from Most going gaga over Sung-joon’s looks. She texts Ha-ri that begging for a transfer cancellation failed, so now she’s hiding, so Ha-ri dispenses some tough love… get out of the bathroom and stop being such a chicken.
So Hye-jin girds her loins and marches herself confidently back to the Most room — until she spots Sung-joon, and goes right back into flail-and-panic mode. She finds herself alone in the elevator with him anyway, so of course the elevator malfunctions, and Hye-jin gets so frantic that Sung-joon finally grabs her wrist to calm her down.
He does notice her name from her badge, but he doesn’t make an issue of it and only asks her not to damage the elevator door. Hye-jin twitches and gasps while they wait for help, making more of a spectacle of herself than if she just waited patiently. She’s so freaked out that she forgets how to breathe and nearly passes out, so Sung-joon assumes she’s claustrophobic.
As Hye-jin kneels gasping for air, Sung-joon silently puts an earbud in her ear and she hears “Close to You,” the same song she used to calm him down all those years ago. It works and her breathing slows, and Sung-joon softly tells her that someone taught him this trick. Is it too early to swoon? Because I’m swooning so hard right now.
For just a moment we see little Hye-jin and little Sung-joon in the elevator, looking at each other and smiling, then the doors open and Sung-joon calmly goes back to work. Hye-jin is left frozen in place.
Ha-ri is at work too, where she declines a call from “That Woman,” then looks up to see the caller standing in front of her. The woman, whom I’m assuming is Ha-ri’s mother, tells her to answer her calls from now on, and the two speak to each other in that tone that’s so chillingly polite that it circles right back around to rude.
Sung-joon meets with Chief Editor Kim, whose eccentric behavior seems to irritate him, and he insists on sticking to discussing work. She basically admits she’s gotten this job through her connections and informs him that his job is to also do her job, but he’s already well aware of this situation.
Sung-joon has his own condition for doing this job, which must be kept secret from the rest of the team. We don’t hear what it is, but I assume it’s got something to do with that mysterious phone conversation from his cab ride, where he was told he has “three shots at it.”
Later Sung-joon observes a photo shoot, thankfully unaware that Hye-jin is morosely observing him. She’s called to bring the models some water but, unfamiliar with the set rules, she accidentally makes scuffmarks on the photo set with her shoes.
Sung-joon angrily lights into Hye-jin for this breach and yanks her off the photo set, only now recognizing her from the elevator. At least Reporter Cha takes responsibility for not telling Hye-jin the rules, but when Sung-joon asks if she’s a regular team member and hears that she’s not, he says coldly that it’s a relief. Ouch.
Hye-jin is scrubbing the floor when Chief Editor Kim makes her entrance (I have a feeling she always Makes An Entrance wherever she goes) and summons her. Somehow Hye-jin’s hair is making Chief Editor Kim nauseous and her fuzzball-covered clothes are objectionable as well, and she tells Hye-jin to look “more Most” in the future. Interesting how Sung-joon perks up when Hye-jin mentions her “malicious curls.”
After a long day doing grunt work around the photo shoot, Hye-jin finds herself at the bus stop next to a huge “Most” poster, and stares at the beautiful model longingly. Ha-ri finds her there and immediately knows something is wrong, but just seeing her best friend worry about her cheers Hye-jin up a bit.
On the drive home Hye-jin despairs that the next three months are going to be like today, when she couldn’t even breathe right around Sung-joon. She hangs out the car window for fresh air and Sung-joon pulls up next to them, but a scooter carrying flowers pulls between them and neither sees the other.
Sung-joon works late into the night until it begins to rain, triggering his memory of young Hye-jin using a shirt to shelter him from the rain. The humidity had caused Hye-jin’s hair to snarl into a ball of frizz, and she’d had to go to her stylist to have it straightened. She’d told young Sung-joon that she inherited her father’s “maliciously curly” hair, which explains why adult Sung-joon looked around at that phrase earlier today.
Little Sung-joon had gotten his hair curled too but he hadn’t liked it, though Hye-jin told him it looked good. She’d asked him to keep her frizzy hair a secret, and adult Sung-joon smiles at the adorable memory.
Depressed, Hye-jin asks Ha-ri if she really should resign, but when she turns to her computer to start job-hunting she shrieks to see an email from Sung-joon. It’s a sweet little “thinking of you” message, and he asks if the frequent London rain doesn’t bother her, since she hates the rain.
Luckily, Ha-ri has been to Europe, so she sends a message back with a photo of herself in London. Now he really will think Hye-jin is in London, and even the coincidence of working with another Kim Hye-jin won’t raise any red flags. Hye-jin can go to work and relax that he won’t figure out who she really is.
She marches into work the next day confident that Sung-joon won’t recognize her, until he stops right in her path. He calls her by name and gets in her face, insulting her education from a no-account school and asking if she thought she could get away with hiding forever. He says that if she was like this (gesturing at her hair and face), she should have stayed hidden and not gotten caught. Augh, his disdainful expression is just so hurtful.
Ohthankgoodness, it was just a dream. I didn’t want to believe Sung-joon would really look at Hye-jin that way. But it’s enough to prompt Hye-jin to write a resignation letter, though Ha-ri catches her with it and gives her a stern lecture about giving up.
Hye-jin explains that her friendship with Sung-joon was something special that she’s not willing to ruin, even if it means quitting her job to avoid doing something that will fracture those memories. Ha-ri pretty much calls bullshit on that, and takes Hye-jin’s resignation letter away.
Hye-jin doesn’t expect Ha-ri to understand, but every time she sees Sung-joon she feels like her holey sock — like she’s poor and damaged and needs to hide — and she doesn’t want to feel that way anymore. Ha-ri looks hurt to hear that, but she can’t argue with Hye-jin’s feelings.
Hye-jin drops off her resignation letter the next day, then wanders over to the Most office to work her final day, where it’s Shin-hyuk’s turn to scare her to death. She blames him for this situation and snarls at him, taking offense to his using banmal with her, but he just teases her some more and gives her an expired triangle kimbap. He’s so adorably weird.
Hye-rin happens to be wearing a knockoff of the designer sweater So-ri is wearing today, and So-ri gets twisted out of shape when a coworker thinks they’re wearing the same outfit. Sung-joon calls a mandatory meeting and Hye-jin is assigned to take the minutes, so she tells herself to just endure it for today.
It’s a planning meeting to discuss articles for the twentieth anniversary edition of Most, and the team are startled when Sung-joon actually uses a timer to make sure nobody talks too long. He nixes every single team’s ideas, then calls on Hye-jin for her opinion.
She’s taken aback, unprepared to answer questions since she’s only here to take notes, but her hesitation gives Sung-joon an opening to be mean to her again. He insults her several times and says that if she’s not here to help then she should leave. Even though Shin-hyuk takes up for her, Hye-jin quietly goes.
Sung-joon continues the meeting by tearing up copies of Most, informing them that of all the countries in which Most is published, Korea is the only one where it’s not the top magazine. Tomorrow there will be another meeting, where he expects to hear their solutions for fixing the problem.
Hye-jin mopes over Sung-joon’s callous treatment of her in front of everyone, while in his office he softens when he looks at the picture of Ha-ri in London. But he turns harsh again when he catches the team playing a game to determine who buys lunch, and he slaps his credit card down and says to have lunch on him if it will cut down on the wasted time.
Chief Editor Kim shops and talks on the phone to her nephew, the company chairman’s son. who apparently also works secretly at Most. Whatever he reports to her ruins her mood, and she doesn’t realize that So-ri was nearby and heard every word.
Hye-jin takes delivery of a package in the company parking lot and runs smack into Sung-joon, who does the swoony slow-catch… then drops her. He leaves her there on the ground, which makes it even more delicious when he’s so absorbed in his tablet that he walks into a glass door. HAHAHA. You deserved that.
Hye-jin has had it with Sung-joon’s treatment of her and catches up to him to give him a piece of her mind. She apologizes for her mistake at the photo shoot, but tells him clearly that she’s newly here on Most’s request, so that meeting was a surprise to her. She tells him firmly that he has no right to insult her like he’s done without knowing her circumstances.
Too bad that was all in her head and she chickens out once she’s face-to-face with him. She tries again in the elevator but she’s so nervous she ends up making no sense, stammering so badly that he asks if she has a disability. Whoa, what a jerk.
Hye-jin is so shocked, she just asks why he hates her so much. Sung-joon lists her bad work skills, her unprofessional behavior, and most of all, “That somebody like you is named Kim Hye-jin. It’s a name that’s too good for you.” Oh wow. Wow.
Hye-jin goes to the restroom to splash water on her face, but she can’t stop his harsh words echoing through her mind. She thinks to herself that this isn’t the sweet, innocent Sung-joon she knew, and tells herself that precious memories won’t feed her or pay her bills. She renounces him as her first love — he’s now just a stranger with the same name. She’ll never give him the satisfaction of firing her!
… which is when she remembers the resignation letter she left on her boss’s desk this morning. He’s out of the office until two o’clock, and it’s nearly two now, so Hye-jin runs to his office. She sees him just picking up her letter, and screams at him to stop, rushing over and tearing it up.
So-ri is eaten up with curiosity over who on her team is the chairman of the company’s son, eyeballing each of the men suspiciously. Of the three men named Kim, she dismisses the slovenly Poong-ho right away, but thinks it’s possible it could be Joon-woo or Shin-hyuk. Whoever it is, she decides to figure it out quickly and snap him up.
Chief Editor Kim wants to have a party to welcome the new deputy editor, but Sung-joon makes it clear that he’s going to be too busy for a party, ever. He leaves for a meeting and the beauty team girls gossip at his rudeness, and Hye-jin adds that he’s got a terrible personality.
She gets on a roll and doesn’t notice when everyone starts to wave frantically that Sung-joon is right behind her, and when she does see him she can only scream and stammer. He retrieves the file he came to get (that she’s sitting on) and leaves in silence, to Hye-jin’s dismay and Shin-hyuk’s amusement.
Chief Editor Kim took Sung-joon’s rejection of a party in stride, but she’s more serious later as she thinks over his earlier revelation, the one she’d promised to keep secret: in three months, Korea’s Most will be discontinued. That is, unless they can reach the top spot in the industry in that amount of time — and he’s here to make that happen.
In his opinion it can be done with the current team, and he intends to push them to their utmost potential. He had asked her to let him have free reign to accomplish it whatever it takes, because he knows that if such a long-running magazine were to be cancelled, the team working on it when that happens would never work in the industry again. His own job is also on the line, so he’s committed to making sure that doesn’t happen.
Sung-joon goes to a meeting at a hotel, which happens to be the one where Ha-ri works, and they narrowly miss running into each other several times. But as he’s driving away he glances in the rearview mirror and sees Ha-ri, and he rushes back to the hotel. Calling out, “Kim Hye-jin!” he grabs Ha-ri’s wrist and whirls her around, and they both stand in surprise to see each other.
So much fun, I’m just loving it to death. I was hoping for a sweet and happy drama with She Was Pretty, and I would have been satisfied with that… but I’m so happy that that’s not all we’re getting. It’s not just a show about a girl who grew up unattractive and her friend who grew up handsome — it’s about the value judgments that society places on people, and how it’s wrong to assume that someone’s attractiveness gives or takes away their worth as a person. It’s a beautiful message, and I’m already deeply moved and we’re only two episodes in. I can’t wait to see where this show takes us, and the messages it has to deliver.
I mostly love the characters, and their capacity to strongly care for one another. Hye-jin and Ha-ri’s friendship is a lovely thing to see in a genre that so often has women pitted against each other, vying to be The Prettiest (and therefore the one who matters most). But Hye-jin and Ha-ri have a wonderful loving relationship, where just seeing the other can brighten their day. I adore them, and I adore that their looks, on opposite ends of the attractiveness spectrum, mean absolutely nothing to their love for each other.
The thing I love most about Hye-jin is her refusal to let her looks (or rather, the way society responds to her looks, because her actual looks aren’t that bad) get her down. She knows she’s a person of value and worth, that she deserves a good job and a happy life. I went into this show expecting her character to have low self-esteem because of her looks, and it’s the thing I’m appreciating the most about her, that she grew up with her self-worth intact. A portion of it may be bravado, but hey, don’t we all cover up our insecurities with a bit of bravado sometimes? Hye-jin does too, but thankfully not to an unhealthy extent, and she seems to accept her current looks with dignity.
So it’s hard to see her self worth being broken down now with Sung-joon’s appearance as an unexpectedly-hot guy. She wasn’t scared to meet him when she thought they were on the same level looks-wise, because she approached the first man, the one who looked as she expected Sung-joon to look, with all kinds of excitement. But the real Sung-joon’s transformation threw her for a loop… in that one moment when Hye-jin saw how handsome he’d grown, then watched him walk right past her as if she didn’t exist, Hye-jin’s confidence that she deserves good things took a nosedive. I can’t really blame him for expecting her to be pretty any more than she expected him to be a big man in glasses, though — they both went into the meeting with preconcieved expectations based on the person they remembered.
But I hate that Hye-jin let her disappointment lead her to making a bad decision to have her friend pose as herself, especially since it’s so clear to us that Hye-jin and Sung-joon’s friendship means as much to Sung-joon as it does to Hye-jin, even now. We know that no matter what she looks like, Sung-joon wouldn’t care and would cherish their bond as much as he did back when he was the ugly duckling. What I want for Hye-jin, more than anything, is to have faith in that bond they shared, to feel confident that he would care for her just the same. If he was so special back when they were kids that she was able to see who he truly was, then he’ll be the same person now and won’t care what she looks like.
Of course, he’s not helping his case by showing his most hard-assed self on the job, though I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that he isn’t that way in his personal life. Clearly he’s here to make sure the serious problems Most is having are fixed, and there’s no room for making friends when he’s got such a hard job to do. Not to mention, Hye-jin is pretty flaily and distracted around him at the office, so I can’t blame him for being annoyed with her. I can’t even get mad at him for being harsh with her (though some of his hateful comments went too far), because her actions at the magazine have been pretty ridiculous and from his point of view, she’s not contributing much to the magazine’s success. He has a limited amount of time to get this magazine to the top spot, and he can’t afford any dead weight. In his mind, not only is she dead weight on the team, but it seems more personal to him because she shares the same name as his perfect first love, and that’s causing him to turn anger on her that she doesn’t deserve.
I don’t condone it, but I can see why Sung-joon would feel that way. I can also see how Hye-jin would interpret his frustrated reaction to her at work as an indication that he would dismiss her on a personal level as well, if he knew her true identity. From her point of view, when he grew up and grew handsome, he let it go to his head. She has no way of knowing that the magazine is floundering and that he’s under pressure to get it fixed in a very short period of time. All she sees is that her old friend and first love is a jerk now, and she’s probably feeling glad that she hid her identity from him.
But I also love that Hye-jin immediately hated feeling like she had to hide herself, and decided to take action. She didn’t just accept that she should be concealed — she knows that if this situation makes her feel that way, then it’s wrong. I wish her answer to the problem wasn’t to quit, but to go in there and blow them all away with her abilities, which we know are considerable or they wouldn’t have requested her in the first place. I just want her to want Sung-joon to know that about her. But even though she didn’t come to it on her own, I’m glad that his behavior towards her at work finally caused her to get angry, and I hope that rather than give up, she decides to show him how awesome she can be. Because I want him to like her for who she is now as well as who she was then, and Hye-jin is in the perfect position to make that happen.
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