Monday, August 3, 2015

Drama Review: Mask (2015)

Korean Title: 가면
English Title: Mask
Rating: 8.5/10
Main Cast:
Soo Ae as Byun Ji Sook/Seo Eun Ha
Joo Ji Hoon as Choi Min Woo
Yun Jung Hoon as Min Suk Hoon
Yoo In Young as Choi Mi Yeon

The Plot:
A woman from poor background is brought to replace her dead lookalike, marry 2nd generation chaebol and enter his life. Despite being in constant fear of being caught and threatened by the villains, she is able to find love and heal the man she is married with.

“A drama where illogical, improbable and ridiculous things thrown out and patched to create a story, but somehow that does work on some extent, especially the romance.” 

I would love to give “Mask” ratings 9 out of 10, but that means I would turn a blind eye for some big points, and that’s a tall order. For the record, I would give 9.5 score for romance, 10 for the leads’ acting, but only 7 for the plot.

“Mask” brings out happy memories when I look back to write this review.. But when I watched the drama, it brought all kinds of feelings and emotions, sometimes sad, sometimes happy, funny, sometimes annoying to the point I wanna pull my hair out or head-desk. This drama is called melodrama not for nothing, as almost all scenes (except cute scenes) were shot as if to bring out the most dramatic moments. From the very first scene (the car falling off the cliff scene) till the very end, the drama was written in a way that will bring visceral reactions from the viewers, and that really works. The cliffhangers also nicely done, the ones that brings out curiousity for viewers to look forward the next episode. That’s why this drama is very entertaining to me, except few scenes, there’s no boring episode and thank God, every one of the four leads is interesting in their own way that they could stand out so much and not just mere backdrop for other character(s) to shine.
“Mask” has one of the best OTPs in kdramas this year, Byun Ji Sook and Choi Min Woo. This OTP will sit atop along my list of favorite kdrama OTPs. Thanks to the actors, Joo Ji Hoon and Soo Ae, their characters don’t fall flat and instead they have built wonderful chemistry and sweet romance. If the actors somehow lack chemistry I might drop my interest in the drama. But they didn’t, they completely perfectly complement each other. I always enjoy their romance story, the cute parts, and even wanting more (more REAL bedscene :p). Seriously, for two adults in their 30s their romance definitely more on cute, innocent side, than fiery passionate one. (Did I say innocent? Then where did the cute little girl come from?). Definitely a lovable couple with so many sweet scenes it can give you diabetes *smiling at Min Woo, Ji Sook and Min Sook*. With or without grand confession, their love is shown and proven throughout the whole episodes.
Of course it’s not all rainbows and unicorns for them. Ji Sook and Min Woo both have many obstacles, Ji Sook coming from poor background and was threatened by loansharks/villains/sister in-law, Min Woo having mental health issues, etc. Not to mention the whole Seo Eun Ha switch fiasco and the villains who always ready to kill them at any opportune moment. Funnily, whatever the villains did to harm them, actually bring the OTP closer. For instance, when Ji Sook almost hit by Suk Hoon’s car, when Suk Hoon shot Min Woo and Ji Sook saved him so the bullet only graze his arm and when (again) Suk Hoon paid someone to break off the lights on the podium but Min Woo rushed to save Ji Sook from any injury. Any time the villains does something bad, it’s not only backfired, but also benefits our couple to finally realize their love to each other.
Whereas for Devil OTP aka Mi Yeon and Suk Hoon I must applaud them for being the craziest husband and wife in dramaland. Again, it’s the case of wonderful actors playing great characters, so the credit should go to Yun Jung Hoon and Yoo In Young who done so much more to bring the characters to life. Character-wise Mi Yeon and Suk Hoon are more interesting most of the time than Ji Sook-Min Woo. They’re the one who bring the thrills and fear and drive the story forward.
The best part for me, unlike other villains in kdramas that will join forces to destroy main couple/OTP’s family, Suk Hoon and Mi Yeon are against each other most of the time. Their plan best described is to destroy each other’s plan as they have somewhat different goals. Suk Hoon’s goal from the very beginning is to get revenge on Choi Family and to kill Min Woo, but Mi Yeon’s goals somewhat evolved, from wanting to harm (and unintentionally kill) someone, to protect Min Woo and then to protect Suk Hoon from becoming a murderer. Mi Yeon is not totally evil, but actually aware that she’s doing evil things, unlike Suk Hoon that has convinced himself he did nothing wrong. Their last scene together is really sad, and it actually doesn’t make sense at all but I cried when Suk Hoon reads Mi Yeon’s letter and she is on the verge of suicide. I would still afraid if I have in-laws like them, but they bring out the romantic side of me, of the love that can’t be, a couple that would only suffer if they’re together.
Character-wise, I’ve felt the actors have done great job and justice to their characters. The four leads especially all have contributed to the stellar acting performance. It’s my first time watching Soo Ae and I’m glad she’s up to my (and viewers’) expectations. Soo Ae plays 2 characters here, Byun Ji Sook and Seo Eun Ha. Both have similarities and differences but she plays both characters with clear definition so we know in an instance whether she plays Eun Ha/Ji Sook. While Joo Ji Hoon continues on my good actor’s list and he plays his charact as the weak, vulnerable, OCD, clean freak, sometimes stupid Min Woo with a charm that makes him impossible to hate. We’d found him easily likeable and unlike dramaland’s jerk male lead, Min Woo never shows up as jerk, he’s just cute, funny, lovable and romantic guy, although he himself is the weakest among the 4 lead characters and needs protection.
Some viewers say Yun Jung Hoon’s character Min Suk Hoon is also impossible to hate despite his evil acts throughout the drama, largely thanks to the actor’s interpretation of villain. In the hand of lesser good actor, Min Suk Hoon may become a carricature, laughable villain, because almost all his attempts ended up futile. But here our Min Suk Hoon becomes a central character that’s impossible to ignore and at the very least, his menacing stares are threatening. Yoo In Young continues her roles in several dramas as badass shady bad girl, here her character Choi Mi Yeon is miserable because continued negligence from her husband and that result in somewhat conflicted, volatile woman who is unpredictable in her actions.
Plot-wise, there are some serious issues with plot holes in “Mask”. The plot maybe the only weakest link for the drama. Writer dropped many hints and plot points but so many of them still not answered/half-answered by the end. For instance, doppelganger, so Eun Ha and Ji Sook are actually doppelganger? Why no one ever ask why they look so similar? Even Ji Sook never questions why she and Eun Ha are look alike and it seems everyone in this dramaverse also accepts readily that there’s someone who look like Eun Ha, that is Byun Ji Sook. In an attempt to wrap up the story, the writer also write rushed closure for Eun Ha’s death and her father, Min Woo’s mom’s death, Suk Hoon’s revenge motive, etc. Illogical and unrealistic things are aplenty in this drama so be prepared to roll eyes and head-desk at any given moment. Makjang is not bonus, but the main ingredients here, so your viewing experience may depend on how much tolerance level you have on makjang. Fortunately, many things happen “Mask” will only remain in kdrama, not in real life because so many of them defying logic that I tried so hard not to over analyze it in case I get headache.
Overall, despite so many shortcomings and illogical things happen, I’m still very much in love with “Mask”. I would still remember it fondly as the show I’m addicted to and the show I love with some great acting. Also, the show I discover Soo Ae and Yun Jung Hoon, fall in love again with Joo Ji Hoon, and enjoy watching Yoo In Young.
Random notes:
  1. The power of love can heal everything, from your water phobia, to OCD and hallucinations. 
  2. Don’t even attempt to pursue a career in law/justice system, as every lawyer/prosecutor/police is either corrupt or useless. 
  3. Steak is the staple food for the rich in Korean. (I’m 99% sure the steaks are 100% PPL from a steak restaurant nearby)


  1. Blog of The Wind Says

  2. This is by far the most Makjang drama I have watched since getting hooked on K-drama about a year or 2 ago and I am thinking I need my head examined. Because in spite of a terribly silly plot, 2 dimensional villains and endless cliches I find myself practically marathoning through this ridiculous drama. It is possible I may suddenly get fed up and stop watching, but for now I am wishing I could sort of "speed read" my way to the end. I seem to be bitten by the what next bug.

    Maybe part of my fascination is with the over the top situations that are actually quite funny. Is Mask an intentional or unintentional comedy? Suk Hoon is such a melodramatic villain that all he lacks is a black cape and the line "You will pay the rent! You must pay the rent" from classical 19th century melodramas. He does seem to be a pretty good actor, and if the role were a bit better written I might be convinced that he is really a morally hollow frightening psychopath.

    And finally, I must agree that our two leads are fun to watch together. Soo Ae has to date (8 episodes) not been given much emotional range in her role as the recipient of rage from nasty men. But in spite of this I find she can make the most absurd situations almost believable. That is admirable acting. Plus it is a pleasure to watch an actress who has a refreshingly distinctive look about her. She is certainly pretty, but is not so sculpted that I would have trouble distinguishing her from all the other pretty Korean actresses in a line-up.

    So for now I will continue to watch. I am tempted to blame your review for my starting this silly Makjang. But after all, I could have stopped watching after just 1 episode. I have made a serious effort to avoid this sort of drama. But as long as I can laugh at the laughable and enjoy the rest I will continue to watch this one. So thanks for your review.

    1. Thanks for visiting my humble blog..

      I love reading your thoughts about this drama.. Well, yeah, for some parts this drama has over-the-top ridiculous, makjang things thrown at in front of us. It's ridiculous, but enjoyable ride.. I've never been so addicted to a drama for a while. And like you said, the characters are actually behave like they're in some 19th classical novels.

      Someone said "There is good crazy-plot-holes-unbelievable dramas and bad crazy-plotholes-unbelievable dramas. And Mask was definitely one of the good ones."
      Mask is like that.. unbelievable, crazy drama.. but a good drama regardless and worth of your time..


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