미남이시네요 (You’re Beautiful)

The group "A.N.JELL"- L-R: Lead Singer Taekyung (Jang Geun Seok); New member Go-Mi-Nam/Go-Mi-Nyeo (Park Shin Hye); The loveable if slow Jeremy (Lee Hong-Ki); and ultra-perceptive and quiet Shinwoo (Jung Young-Hwa)

The group “A.N.JELL”- L-R: Lead Singer Taekyung (Jang Geun Seok); New member Go-Mi-Nam/Go-Mi-Nyeo (Park Shin Hye); The loveable if slow Jeremy (Lee Hong-Ki); and ultra-perceptive and quiet Shinwoo (Jung Young-Hwa)

Overview:

“Taekyung is A.N.JELL’s arrogant and inssuferable lead singer. Guitarist Shinwoo is too perceptive for his own good, and happy-go-lucky drummer Jeremy is just plain slow on the uptake. Into the boy band mix comes A.N.JELL’s bumbling newbie, Mi-Nam. But what the fans don’t know is that he’s actually a she! Roped into posing as her twin brother, Mi-Nyeo has to hide her true identity. Bust secrets have a way of coming out, especially when her bandmates start falling for her!”

–Amazon.Com

Plot: 5/5

I really love this drama, I think I’ve seen it all the way through 3 times, probably more! It’s wonderfully quirky and Hong-Ki as Jeremy offers the perfect comic relief!

For the story you have Mi-Nam, a boy who has trained for years to become famous so that he can find his mother or father, who abandoned him and his twin as very young children on the steps of an orphanage, the idea being that if he becomes famous enough, she’ll regret giving her children up and come find them.

As part of his quest for fame, he undergoes in secret double-eyelid surgery (it’s a really common plastic surgery thing in Korea where they have their eyelid surgically altered to look more like Westerners, I don’t understand it either), but there are severe complications and he has to remain in the hospital for several months. His manager enlists the help of Mi-Nam’s sister Mi-Nyeo, who is a nun with the dream of going to Rome to work in an orphanage. She agrees to pose as her brother after much praying and different things, then goes to the entertainment company dressed as a boy.

Fairly early on, ShinWoo, the guitarist, figures out she’s a girl, but he doesn’t let her know that, how else could he casually make her fall for him? TaeKyung is the group’s leader who is on a destructive spiral, and he hates Mi-Nam. It has to do with his mother, who was too famous to ever bother with him- she even refused outright if anyone ever asked if he was her son, so he grew up bitter and hateful.

Mi-Nam (or, rather, Mi-Nyeo) brings out the better side of TaeKyung bit by bit, and he starts to fall in love with her. He, too, realizes fairly quickly she’s a girl, but doesn’t draw attention to it, lest the entertainment company President, a very friendly and laid-back guy, force her to leave. The only one who doesn’t realize by the end of like ep 2 that Mi-Nam is a girl is Jeremy, who resents the attention the new baby of the group is getting (I’ll explain in a minute), and who starts to find himself attracted to her as well!

It’s a love story,  and a comedy. The writing is perfect, the story is always quick in pace and there is great music! I highly recommend checking it out, as I said, I think I’ve watched this more than any other Korean drama!

Please read through to the “Fun Trivia” section, I’ll explain some Korean cultural themes that come up that will probably clear up a lot of confusion if you were to just jump into the story. I lived in Korea for a time, so I know how tough it can be, figuring out the culture, and this story is heavily entrenched in the Korean entertainment culture especially, which is VASTLY different from the Western music scene, it’s very interesting 🙂

Acting: 9/5

A.N.JELL led by group-leader TaeKyung, 6+ feet of walking, talking mommy issues.

A.N.JELL led by group-leader TaeKyung, 6+ feet of walking, talking mommy issues.

Park. Shin. Hye. She’s incredible. Every drama I’ve seen her in, she plays a different type of character, and she’s ALWAYS perfect. I’d have to rank her as one of my all-time favorite actresses (the all-time favorite actor being Lee Min Ho, who actually co-starred with Park Shin Hye in “The Heirs”, which I will review as soon as I finish watching it!!!). She rocks it as the lead Mi-Nam/Mi-Nyeo, and is really entertaining to watch!

Jang Keun-Suk plays TaeKyung, the male lead, and he is HYSTERICAL! Taekyung slowly transforms from an outright jerk to a rather impish guy under Mi-Nam’s influence, and Jang Keun-Suk plays that wonderfully. He is funny when he needs to be, a jerk when he needs to be, and emotional, all at the right moments. This is more of a comedy than a romance (relatively, it is very very strong on the comedy, and very strong on the romance, so it’s not a chick-flick-esque show).

I think this was the acting debut of Jung Yong-Hwa, who is a singer for a group called C.N. Blue (I think this show came out as the group was debuting, actually), but if it was or wasn’t, he gives a truly incredible performance as the second man. Lee Hong-Ki, the lead singer for F.T. Island (a kind of brother group to C.N. Blue with the same type of makeup but different music style) is HYSTERICAL as Jeremy. He’s played bad guys, he’s played good guys, and while Jeremy’s hair style choices make no sense, Lee Hong-Ki brings an extra layer of comedy to the performance without over doing it. And whenever Jeremy gets serious, Lee Hong-Ki plays that beyond perfectly.

It’s an all-star cast, even if some of them were relatively new names, and there isn’t a single lacking performance.

Age Rating: 13+? 10+?

It’s not a high-tension show, there isn’t any sex or much (if any) cursing, so if you can focus on the subtitles, then it’s fine for your age group. It is really a very simple and brilliantly done show.

Fun Trivia/ Korean Culture Explained

Trivia stuff first:

There are 3 professional singers in the show: Lee Hong-Ki (From F.T. Island), Jung Yong-Hwa (From C.N. Blue), and Uee, who plays the female antagonist, who is from the group “After School” (or at least she was when this was airing, I don’t remember if she’s rotated out of the group yet, the older members started being replaced with younger ones a couple years ago).

Mi-Nam and Mi-Nyeo’s surname is “Kko” (I think in the drama they use the spelling “Go”). It is a play on words that other characters sometimes tease Mi-Nam/Mi-Nyeo for. Go-Mi-Nam is Korean for “Handsome Boy” and Go-Mi-Nyeo is the same for “Beautiful Girl”. The literal translation, if it comes up, is “A boy/girl with flower-like beauty”.

Mi-Nyeo's tendancy to push on her nose when she is stressed quickly earns her a nickname and mascot from TaeKyung, which he takes his frustrations out on whenever he does not want to confront her--

Mi-Nyeo’s tendancy to push on her nose when she is stressed quickly earns her a nickname and mascot from TaeKyung, which he takes his frustrations out on whenever he does not want to confront her–

The title of the drama is a REALLY clever play on words: In Korean it can be “You’re Beautiful” (Or, perhaps more accurately “You are becoming beautiful”), where the word for “beautiful” is “Mi-Nam”. Mi-Nam can be slang for “beautiful” or, more accurately, just “attractive” (it’s not “beautiful” in the same sense as English, where the word is more commonly referring to something feminine). In Korean, “Nam” means “Boy”, and “Yeo” means “Girl”, so Mi-Nam and Mi-Nyeo’s parents named them “Beautiful Boy” and “Beautiful Girl”. When you take that into account with the title, and break it apart as if “Mi-Nam” were referring to the character instead of the word “Beautiful”, it goes from saying “You’re Beautiful” to “Becoming Mi-Nam”, like the sister is becoming her brother to help him out.

Well, I find that kind of stuff interesting at least.

KOREAN CULTURE EXPLANATION

You’ll come across a lot of confusion if you don’t know this kind of stuff, so I recommend paying attention. I had my Korean friends explain some of it to me when I watched the drama.

Hyung– Korean guys call guys older than them this. It literally means “Older Brother”, but unless it’s preceded by “Chin” (meaning “Real”), it’s just referring to any guy between a year or 8 years older than them. Beyond that they use the world “Ahjussi” normally (meaning “uncle” literally, or just any old man).

Oppa– The girl form of “hyung”. Only girls refer to older boys by that title. You’ll hear “Hyung” a hell of a lot more in the drama, but whenever someone says “Hyung” or “Oppa”, the subs will just put the name of that character. In Korean, the titles take precedence.

Maknae– Korean culture is centered around a strict age hierarchy. The eldest is the most respected, but to a degree the youngest, or “maknae” gets away with murder. The “Maknae”, as the youngest, gets kind of taken care of by the older members of the group- they buy the Maknae snacks or just treats them really nicely. The Maknae, in return, does the same for the rest of the group. The main duty of the Maknae is called “Aegyo”, it means “Acting Cute”, basically, in the drama it’s why Jeremy acts like a child. The cute act is supposed to cheer up the elders, give them something to laugh at when things get stressful.

When I lived in Korea, I was the Maknae (or one of them, a few of us were the same age, but in a group of 40, there are a lot of Maknae) of our Study Abroad program. I was always the Maknae of the Americans, but often I was younger than all the Koreans too, or the same age as the youngest by Korean standards (they use the lunar new year as a dividing line, so, for example, I had a roommate who was one month to the day older than me, but because lunar new year comes between our birthdays, I had to refer to her as if she were one year ahead of me). As Maknae, I just had to be bright and cheerful. It’s really not as hard as it sounds. The elders could pick on me, but never anything mean, it’s a lot of joking. You see it in the drama with Jeremy becoming jealous of Mi-Nam’s status as the new group Maknae.

Noona– I don’t think this comes up much, but just FYI. Like how “Hyung” is the Korean term for an older male (only said by a male, remember that), “Noona” is the title for an older female.

Unnie- Again, exactly how “Oppa” is what girls call older boys, “Unnie” is what girls call older girls.

-- the most recognized character from the drama: the Pig-Rabbit. You can buy these anywhere in Korea, I have one keychain-size and a little doll. TaeKyung creates it as a joke for Mi-Nam from a bunny and pig stuffed animal sent to the group by fans. After his "Emergency Transplant Surgery", TaeKyung emerges with this.

— the most recognized character from the drama: the Pig-Rabbit. You can buy these anywhere in Korea, I have one keychain-size and a little doll. TaeKyung creates it as a joke for Mi-Nam from a bunny and pig stuffed animal sent to the group by fans. After his “Emergency Transplant Surgery”, TaeKyung emerges with this.

The Entertainment Scene

In the US, you make a group, get “found” by a manager for a record label, and rake in the dough (ideally), but in Korea it tends to be a VASTLY different process. You actually audition at a talent agency, singing, dancing, or playing an instrument, whatever, and then they basically put you through singer bootcamp to weed out the weak. And it’s a wide range- it can take a few months to get placed in a group, or it can take 7-8 YEARS of near-daily training, and if you miss your window, there are a hundred others in the company ready to take your place.

Once you get into a company, you have to take extensive lessons in dance, singing, acting, and whatever language they want you to take. Eventually, you end up on a “team” of other trainees. You might go from one “team” to another for YEARS before you are settled, and then, the favorite “Team” is chosen to debut as a band. So, bands rarely pre-form, they are carefully crafted by the record labels themselves and put through every test imaginable to make it even to the shadow of debut. Most can’t stand the strain and quit, or fall into obscurity. There is a lot of trading between companies.

So when you see the group reacting so negatively to Mi-Nam/Mi-Nyeo, it’s because they’ve probably been together for nearly a decade, including training time, and putting in a new member can sometimes mean someone is being pulled out and released. There are lots of cases where that doesn’t happen, but it’s still a touchy area for most groups.

You also see the President of the company as being very very hands-on. That’s because most presidents of Korean entertainment companies are former singers themselves, and I believe he was supposed to be one as well. That’s why nearly every scene where they are training or preparing takes place within the company- it’s how things work there.

Also, in Korea, a singer doesn’t just release a CD. Releasing the CD is just a small part of promotions. The group HAS to be able to perform it live. If a group can’t do live EXACTLY as it sounds on the CD, they get swept off to the side. One way groups “compete” in this area is through numerous weekly live music programs where they get up, perform 1-2 of their songs, and then the fans can vote. Most of the voting is done through chart sales, whoever sells the most albums tends to win, but there is also a small online and on-site voting from the live fan audience. The winner gets the weekly trophy.

Fans can be pretty intense in Korea- they’ll camp outside of the dorm the members of the group live in (Companies basically buy the band members an apartment to share, so that their sense of unity stays strong. This starts in their trainee days) and follow them, though those fans are known as “crazies”, more or less.

The most popular group of Korean singers are known as “Idols”, they’re the ones in the bands on the music programs, for the most part, and tend to be younger groups (for example, Psy of “Gangnam Style” fame (and 6 years previous worth of music) wouldn’t be considered an “Idol” singer). “Idols” are held to the standard of their name- Korea is hyper-critical of their behavior and they have to be perfect at all times, so kids can idolize them and they are someone parents will allow their children to idolize- so no heavy drinking (Korea has a drinking culture, but no drunkenness where fans can see), no smoking, be nice to EVERYONE, and absolutely, positively, WHOLEHEARTEDLY NO DATING OF ANY SORT DON’T EVEN LOOK AT A GIRL/BOY TWICE. That last one is more fan-enforced, but it can put major strain on a group if that kind of “scandal” erupts.

Also, even though it is only true for like 15% of Korean singers, ABSOLUTELY NO PLASTIC SURGERY. Not like it matters, but if it comes out a singer or actor had plastic surgery, the “Anti’s” (or anti-fans) get FURIOUS. That’s why Mi-Nam had his eyelid surgery in such secrecy. Korean netizens will actually hunt down baby pictures of celebrities to compare and see if they had plastic surgery. Though, fun trick, if you see a Korean with a pronounced nose bride, like how a westerner has (Korean noses tend to flatten near the top so it’s less pronounced), it means 95% of the time that they had a nose job. The only actors/singers I can think of who have the nose-bridge and are “safe” in terms of plastic surgery are all ones who got into horrific car accidents and basically had to have their noses re-set anyways, so see if you count that.

That ugly side of Korean entertainment explains the relationship between TaeKyung and his mother, so it’s a biggie.

So that’s pretty much what you need to understand what’s going on! Most of it you’ll pick up in the drama just by watching, but if you’re ever wondering “Why the hell???”, hopefully this has explained that.

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