Gangnam Beauty Im Soo-hyang tells all
Actress Im Soo-hyang gave an interview on her JTBC drama that recently ended, My ID is Gangnam Beauty. It was based on a popular webtoon about a girl named Kang Mi-rae who was reborn through plastic surgery after she was bullied for many years for being ugly. The drama explores her early college years as she learns to adjust to campus life and finds her inner beauty.
Im Soo-hyang plays the main protagonist who has an overwhelming insecurity about her appearance, which leads her to make the decision to permanently change her look. With a face that has clearly went under the knife, she’s constantly compared to her classmate Hyun Soo-ah, played by Jo Woo-ri, who is a natural beauty. However, her scars begin to heal under the warm protection of two knights-in-shining-armor: her childhood friend Do Kyung-seok, played by Astro’s Cha Eun-woo, and her sunbae Yeon Woo-young, played by Kwak Dong-yeon.
“I think a lot of people identified with Mi-rae’s plight, thinking ‘Was I ever like that?’ Mi-rae’s situation is very different from heroines of other dramas because she’s not wealthy or pretty or knowledgeable, and she doesn’t have everything going for her. She’s kind but insecure about herself. She judges people’s appearances because she’s wrapped up in her own trauma. I think because we all have our own scars that are similar to Mi-rae’s, everyone rooted for her to overcome them.”
Initially, some people may have found Mi-rae to be frustrating because of her passive personality and victimhood. But by the end of the series, she finds her voice and rightfully expresses her anger when confronting Soo-ah, who continuously antagonized her throughout the drama.
“I thought this was the most important scene highlighting the entire premise of the drama, and I wanted to perform it well. But I don’t know if I did because I only had one hour of sleep the night before, and I think I could have prepared better. I didn’t know that I would cry that much. ‘Why do we have to do that? I’m going to find a way to live happily,’ were lines that showed Mi-rae’s growth. I remember the scene well because it contained the message we were trying to deliver. I hope it was conveyed well to many people. It was also the highlight of Soo-ah’s arc, and I think the dialogue played out well so that Soo-ah became more relatable and gained more fans too.”
My ID is Gangnam Beauty wasn’t merely a college drama, it put societal issues like image obsession and hidden cameras in the spotlight.
“In my profession, I am constantly judged on my appearance, probably more than a thousand times a day. So there are times when my self-confidence goes down. In those times, I try to concentrate on something else to find my mental balance. I internally firm up, or resolve it some other way, so I identified a lot with the drama. And even though I know strategies to mitigate it, I think I also obsess about my appearance sometimes.”
“I want to become pretty and I like hearing that I am pretty. And my profession is one where I do have to be concerned about my appearance. But through this drama, I reaffirmed and realized again that appearance is not everything. So while I was filming this drama, I also was comforted and healed by it.”
Image obsession and plastic surgery are hot topics in Korea lately. This drama provided an outlet for people who related to these struggles to express their opinions.
“Younger viewers who were having difficulty in school because of their appearance said that they were encouraged by Mi-rae. And viewers who were already in the professional stage of their lives, who felt isolated and lonely, also expressed that they were comforted by Mi-rae. Students who are going through a time when they begin to be aware of their appearance normally write a lot of comments asking how to become prettier, but I think after watching this drama, their perspective may have changed a little bit. I tried to communicate a lot throughout this drama with fans by writing replies to comments. I felt my heart becoming warmer, and I’m grateful that our viewers expressed they were healed through the drama.”
“Plastic surgery is an individual choice, so I don’t think there is a right or wrong. There is no guarantee that you will become prettier through surgery. Although Mi-rae’s appearance changed through plastic surgery, she didn’t feel pretty for a long time. Because she was a beauty created from plastic surgery, she was ridiculed and teased as a plastic surgery monster. So plastic surgery is not the solution to everything. However, if one makes that choice and is comforted and happy with it, as long as it is reasonable, I respect that choice.”
“I received a lot of positive energy from people’s love and interest in the drama. I also had some depressing parts of my life, but playing Mi-rae, who is so lovable, allowed me to become brighter. It felt refreshing. In terms of acting, I was able to show a side I hadn’t been able to show before. Because of the tone, I tried to loosen up in my acting, and I tried to relax while acting. After relaxing, I felt like I was able to see myself—my charisma and individual color—more clearly.”
“I, like Mi-rae, also have obsessed about my appearance, and I think that’s something I’ll have to deal with for the rest of my life. As a woman, I think it’s a given that we want to become pretty. But in truth, this drama is not about stopping that desire to be pretty, but to also realize your inner strength, beauty, and individuality. Everyone’s standard of beauty is different. Trends change all the time, and you can’t change your face each time. After this drama, I think that if you have your own inner strength, even if not everyone likes you, there will be at least one person like Do Kyung-seok who will stick by your side. I grew up a lot through this drama.”
With regard to her next steps after My ID is Gangnam Beauty, Im said, “First, I’d like to follow through on the ratings promise I made earlier. At an interview at the beginning of the drama’s run, we promised to give out song-pyeon [Korean traditional rice cakes]. As the leader of this promise, I collected money from the actors and staff to provide food for the needy, and prepared 700 servings of song-pyeon. The rooftop members will all be going with me to distribute the food. I’m trying to make Kwak Dong-yeon my second-in-command.”
“After that, I’m planning to go to my home in Busan. Then I’d like to be on some variety programs, and to return with a new project that’s bright and cheerful. I promise to come back with a good new project, and while I’m resting I will study more piano and English.”
Awww, I’m definitely a little sad to say goodbye to the cute Mi-rae and Kyung-seok couple. But I’m looking forward to Im Soo-hyang’s new projects now that I’ve seen what she can do with a good script.
Via Chosun Sports