She Was Pretty (Series Review)

Who should she have picked?

swp11 Characters:

  • Hwang Jung Eum as Kim Hye Jin
  • Park Seo Joon as Ji Sung Joon
  • Choi Si Won as Kim Shin Hyuk
  • Go Joon Hee as Min Ha Ri


  • Korean
  • 16 episodes
  • Original run: September 16 – November 5, 2015

Quick Rundown:

Kim Hye Jin and Ji Sung Joon were unlikely childhood friends. When Sung Joon immigrated to the United States, he lost touch with Hye Jin. Years later, he returns as the chief editor of Most magazine, also hoping to relocate his first love, the beautiful and kind Hye Jin. However, what he doesn’t know is that life has taken a toll on her and she is no longer the pretty girl she once was. Will they be able to rekindle their romance or will memories remain just that?


Estelle’s Take

I know this post is long overdue because She Was Pretty ended quite a while ago, but between my grad classes (at least one paper due every week!!), a full time job and recaps every Thursday I just couldn’t find enough time to dedicate to this as I had wanted. Anyway, enough complaining and onto the real subject here – the drama!

Never had I felt so much love for a second lead! Nope, not even the heartbreak of Reply 1994 can outdo this one. Sure Chilbongie was adorable and so perfect in so many ways, but boy did Siwon’s character Shin Hyuk top that and so much more. I loved every bit of Shin Hyuk, from his easygoing personality to the fact that he could care less about appearances to his genuineness towards Hye Jin even when she was “ugly.” Never did he shriek at the thought that she was an embarrassment when almost everyone else felt that way, and never did he think she was foolish at a time when even her OTP love judged her. Shin Hyuk is thoughtful; he can be serious when the situation calls for it and he is capable of using humor to diffuse any awkwardness. He is himself and that’s what made him shine. Sure in the end he turned out to be this super awesome rich guy (like all second leads…), but even then, he was still just Shin Hyuk to Hye Jin and that was that.


Sung Joon and Hye Jin’s love story paled a little in comparison. Yes, I did want them to end up together because I knew they were the OTP from the beginning and they were pieces that belonged in the same puzzle. But a part of me kept on thinking how great of a twist it would be if Hye Jin end up choosing Shin Hyuk! Finally, a kdrama that breaks the myth of first loves! Alas, that wasn’t where the writers wanted the story to go and that’s fine because Sung Joon and Hye Jin had plenty of wonderful sweet moments together to solidify their relationship. Still, I couldn’t shake the feeling that Sung Joon “fell in love” with Hye Jin again because she had such an impact on him as a child and he has been hanging onto that image of her ever since. I wonder if it’s the idea of her that he loves or the present Hye Jin that he wants to spend the rest of his life with. I know he ended up with Hye Jin and declared his undying love for her, but he was so ready to be with Ha Ri when he thought she was Hye Jin. It wasn’t until he confirmed that Ha Ri is not Hye Jin did he actually break up with her, despite his suspicions and obvious interest in the real Hye Jin (again, because she reminds him of his childhood friend).

I guess this goes to say we are all chasing some image in our mind, either a real person or a figment of our imagination. I wouldn’t fault Sung Joon for coming back to find Hye Jin – in fact, I find that admirable because how many of us would do that? Maybe that speaks to how much he loves her and how much he wants to be a part of her life. Lucky for him that it worked out because Hye Jin remained unmoved by Shin Hyuk’s attempts at winning her heart. I’m not sure I would be able to do the same if I were her!


I also liked that the series explored female friendship in a way that was markedly different from the past. I was so scared that we will have yet another friend-turned-foe kind of scenario, but ultimately Ha Ri and Hye Jin’s love for each other won. Can we have more #sismance like this? I know it doesn’t roll off the tone like #bromance does; but seriously, we girls can have just as much love for one another!

Before I wrap this up, I must comment on Hye Jin’s changes over the series. Though I had waited for her transformation eagerly – because I wanted her to wow everyone! – I wondered why me, her and the writers thought she wasn’t good enough already. Nothing about her changed besides her appearance and yet that seemed to make all the difference to everyone around her. At least she made her changes herself and it wasn’t a makeover thrust upon her.  However, when she reverted back I wanted a reflective moment about how she realized that she can be herself and still make the same kind of impact.

Overall I enjoyed this drama very much. It is a lot more true to life than the typical chaebol storyline, but it still kept intact the idea that it is a drama and yes it might just be a fairy tale after all.


This & That:

  • Hwang Jun Eum debuted as a part of South Korean girl band Sugar. She broke up with Kim Yong Jun of SG Wannabe May of this year, and began dating pro-golfer/businessman Lee Young Don in August . She recently starred in Kill Me, Heal Me opposite Ji Sung.
  • Park Seo Joon played Hwang Jun Eun’s character’s twin brother in Kill Me, Heal Me. He acted with another veteran actress in Witch’s Romance. He debuted in 2011 by appearing in Bang Yong Guk’s music video for “I Remember.”
  • Choi Siwon is a member of popular boy band Super Junior. He is currently trying to break into the Chinese market by appearing in TV series Fall in Love with You Again. He is also going to appear in two Hong Kong movies this year – Hellios and To the Force. He enlisted in mandatory military service on November 19.
  • Go Joon Hee was in Can You Hear My Heart? with Hwang Jun Eun. She was on the big screen in Red Carpet, a 2014 romantic comedy and Intimate Enemies, a 2015 thriller.



5 thoughts on “She Was Pretty (Series Review)

  1. Yes! that “sismance” was one of the best parts of the drama.Well that and Shin Hyuk. He was delightful – funny, sweet and in love with our lead lady for all the right reasons. I couldn’t help but hope that she would choose him, I would have.


Join the Drama

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s