Beauty Inside: Episode 1
The awaited drama adaptation of the sentimental film presents a comical twist on the original Beauty Inside and introduces us to a compelling spin-off story. We meet our leads, both misunderstood because of their special circumstances, and their immediate bickering promises some great chemistry in the works. With a great cast and trustworthy director at the helm, expect plenty of hilarity, relatable characters, and fun cameos as the cherry on top.
EPISODE 1 RECAP
Billboards and magazines are covered with pictures of HAN SE-KYE (Seo Hyun-jin), a celebrated actress, and we’re introduced to her on her way to a film award ceremony. Se-kye complains to her manager and high school friend, YOO WOO-MI (Moon Jee-in), about attending the ceremony, but Woo-mi reminds her to be thankful that she wasn’t fired for disappearing once a month during filming. When Se-kye shares that she feels a bit strange, Woo-mi freaks out that it’s that time of the month, but Se-kye assures her that it’s next week.
Se-kye glides elegantly down the red carpet to the award ceremony, where Kang So-ra (cameo) announces the award for best actress. Se-kye wins, but while walking onto the stage, she suddenly stops, looking stricken. Something’s happening. She abruptly turns in the other direction, runs out of the building, and loses a heel in the process. She doesn’t have time to retrieve it and runs barefoot into her van.
Manager Woo-mi swerves through the streets and looks back to find an unfamiliar large body squeezed into Se-kye’s gown. It’s Se-kye in a man’s body (cameo by comedian Kim Joon-hyun), and (s)he has a van-shaking tantrum about leaving her limited-edition heel behind at the ceremony.
Se-kye narrates that her symptoms began when she was 20 years old on a trip to Europe with Woo-mi. She woke up in an elderly woman’s body (cameo by Son Sook) and ran through the streets hoping she would wake up from her dream. She was almost hit by a car, but an unknown man shoved her out of the way, taking the impact himself.
Se-kye’s last memory before falling unconscious was of her savior lying in the road, bleeding into his white shirt. She believes that this lasting symptom may be her punishment for that incident.
As they watch the news of Se-kye’s ceremony dash later that night, Se-kye and Woo-mi drown in their misery with soju. Se-kye considers retirement, and her childhood friend and aspiring priest RYU EUN-HO (Ahn Jae-hyun) asks if she can afford the penalty to breach her contract. He proposes that she sell her house and expresses practical concerns about Se-kye denying reality.
Their attention turns to the TV at the mention of a rumor that Se-kye has a hidden child. The entertainment news reveals a clip of a child playing with a dog at Se-kye’s house, and Eun-ho recognizes the child as Se-kye from two months ago. Woo-mi’s phone immediately lights up with reactive messages to this news, and she reveals that Se-kye lost thirteen ads but gained two: diapers and milk formula. Se-kye drunkenly plans to move back with her mother to farm and then passes out on the couch.
Airline executive SEO DO-JAE (Lee Min-ki) receives a briefing from his secretary, JUNG JOO-HWAN (Lee Tae-ri), about terminating their contract with Se-kye, their airline model. Do-jae doesn’t seem interested and asks what his secretary wants for lunch. Secretary Jung emphasizes the importance of their codeshare business deal, but Do-jae isn’t concerned with the deal or his critics because he’s untouchable as the owner’s son.
Speaking of his critics, he spots Director Kim and approaches him tepidly. With his managers, Director Kim criticizes Do-jae for his arrogance and lack of experience. As they walk toward each other, Secretary Jung identifies the men to help with Do-jae’s face-blindness, but a quick switcheroo results in an awkward pivot of Do-jae’s outstretched hand for Director Kim.
Looking to the new airplane with Se-kye’s face on it, the director and managers blame Do-jae for causing this hindrance. After a brief look at the airplane, Do-jae randomly says that he’ll have seolleongtang for lunch and save budaejjigae for the weekend. He hands the director his personal credit card to buy lunch and tells him to buy an airplane while he’s at it.
As they walk away, they run into airline executive KANG SA-RA (Lee Da-hee) dressed as a flight attendant, and Do-jae glances at her nametag for identification. They’re clearly rivals, and they dispute the future owner of the airline in icily formal tones.
Then they drop formality to speak familiarly, revealing that they’re half-siblings — Sa-ra advises Do-jae to change their airline model but also welcomes his faults, figuring she could win their grandfather’s favor.
Do-jae watches Sa-ra work as a flight attendant for the press, and he comments that everyone’s out to get him. He orders Secretary Jung to find Se-kye to make her take responsibility for this mess.
In her hospital room, Se-kye poses for photos to post on social media, and Woo-mi orders her to “be sick” while her company settles the scandal. Se-kye still supports the farming alternative, but Woo-mi turns it down and tells her to get a thorough medical check-up, since she’s worried about this month’s early transformation.
Secretary Jung traces Se-kye’s location through her social media post, and Do-jae immediately turns his car around to catch her before she runs away again. At the hospital, a doctor gossips with nurses that Se-kye didn’t get any plastic surgery, including her breasts, leering as he gestures at his chest with his hands. The nurses don’t find sexual harassment funny, and neither does Se-kye, who throws a tangerine (swiped from a nearby patient) at him after overhearing his remarks.
The doctor isn’t apologetic and taunts Se-kye about her mysterious child. His taunts hit a nerve, and Se-kye denies this rumor and throws the rest of the tangerines at the doctor. Then she regains her calm and calls Woo-mi to buy replacement tangerines for the patient she took them from.
On the hospital roof, Se-kye cries about the unfair misunderstanding and receives a call from her mother about her escape from the award ceremony. It seems her mother doesn’t know about her condition, and Se-kye quickly hangs up as she continues to sob.
Do-jae notices Se-kye crying on the roof and offers her a handkerchief while calling Secretary Jung. He doesn’t recognize her and tells Secretary Jung that Se-kye isn’t at the hospital, wondering if they should search clubs and hotels. His comments seem strange since she’s standing right in front of him, and Se-kye looks offended. She signals the universal two fingers of “I’m watching you,” but he misinterprets that as sign language. He continues with his call and suggests that they search any child care spots to track down Se-kye.
Not understanding what he’s playing at, Se-kye angrily confronts him, and Do-jae asks for her name, since he’s forgetful. Taking it as mockery, Se-kye throws Do-jae’s phone off the roof and tells him to bill her. Unfortunately, Do-jae doesn’t know who to bill and later tells Secretary Jung that he can’t remember her face.
Secretary Jung provides him with a new phone and asks about the condition of his fish, which seems to be an exercise to improve his face recognition. Secretary Jung booked another appointment for Do-jae, but Do-jae doesn’t seem hopeful in curing his condition, acquired post-accident.
Secretary Jung reports that their airline codeshare partner prefers Se-kye to remain as their model because their partner’s daughter is a big fan. Do-jae seems relieved that they won’t need to track down Se-kye, but Se-kye has already terminated the contract from her side. He has no idea why and commits to winning her back.
Woo-mi barges into Se-kye’s hospital room and gives her a big hug for her great deed. Eun-ho joins them and commends Se-kye for her large donation to the children’s fund. Se-kye claims that she had nothing to do with it, but Woo-mi insists that the donation was in Se-kye’s name. Woo-mi celebrates that the secret-child rumors have given way to talk of Se-kye’s generous invitation of the recipient children into her home.
Woo-mi drags Se-kye to the donor reception, where they overhear recipients complaining about this event publicly embarrassing poor students. After Se-kye obediently accepts her award with other donors, the students line up for their picture and a donor creepily comments on a female student’s “maturity,” joking that she could be his girlfriend and wrapping his hand around her shoulder. He insists that he’s treating her like a daughter, but everyone knows he’s being slimy. Ick!
Nobody speaks up, however, so Se-kye declares that she can’t take it and says it’s uncomfortable to glorify donors. Confronting the donor pervert, she pats his butt and grabs a handful of his ass in front of the cameras. He’s taken aback, but Se-kye innocently explains that she just treated him “like a father.” Then she points out that fathers are careful about touching their own daughters and accuses him of violating the student. The donor pervert storms out, and a horrified Woo-mi drags Se-kye out after him.
The donor pervert yells at Se-kye for deprecating him in public and threatens to cut off all funds for these students. Se-kye calls him vulgar, and just as he’s about to hit her, Do-jae interferes. He introduces himself as a donor who will provide the funds he’s cutting, and when he reveals his name, the pervert concedes to him. When Do-jae takes off his sunglasses, Se-kye recognizes him from the hospital. After leaning in to get a closer look, he recognizes her and requests money for his phone.
In his office, Do-jae tries to threaten Se-kye into signing the model contract with an email that would reveal the truth behind the donation. Se-kye bluffs that she’s retiring from showbiz anyway, but Woo-mi begs on her knees to save them from bad press. Se-kye can’t stand to see Woo-mi begging and grudgingly signs the contract, only to have Secretary Jung accidentally send the email anyway. When Se-kye gapes in horror, Do-jae reveals that the email was sent to him (not some media contact), chiding her for not checking her facts before signing a contract. They’ve been fooled!
Do-jae also points out that she hasn’t read the contract carefully, directing Se-kye to the last page, which requires her to accompany him on necessary business trips wearing a red dress. They have an immediate business trip, and Do-jae offers to cover half the donation if she joins him. Se-kye arrives at the airport wearing a red dress and tells Woo-mi over the phone that Do-jae’s red dress requirement seems like a fetish. Woo-mi dismisses these concerns and tells Se-kye to behave, since they need that money.
Se-kye marvels at the airplane cabin staff formally welcoming Do-jae onto the aircraft, but Do-jae arrogantly says that he’s used to it. Noticing his lack of eye contact, she asks if he’s nervous sitting next to the beautiful Han Se-kye, but he scoffs and tells her to be quiet so he can focus on reading. Se-kye sniffs that the cabin staff likely suffers because of his bad personality.
Do-jae offers his hotel room key after sending all their luggage to his room, and Se-kye asks if he’s a pervert. He clarifies that he’s keeping her luggage to ensure that she doesn’t run away before their meeting tomorrow. Despite his attempts to hold her hostage, Se-kye leaves in a taxi to enjoy her pastime. Since Se-kye’s money was with her luggage, she calls Eun-ho to cover her and bribes him with twice the amount to keep her wandering a secret to Woo-mi.
Se-kye enjoys the night view of Anapji, an ancient palace she bookmarked in the tourist booklet, but she’s surprised by Do-jae. She demands to know how he found her, and he reveals Se-kye’s booklet from the plane. He gives her five minutes to decide her commitment to the contract, and she uses that time to enjoy the view.
Do-jae says that her interest in historical sites is unexpected, and Se-kye explains that she’s jealous of the unchanging nature of these sites. Do-jae mentions that this site was reconstructed, to which Se-kye argues that the foundation is still there. He warns her not to get angry at her creditor and says that her five minutes is up.
In the car, Se-kye complains about her uncomfortable outfit and asks why the red dress. Do-jae responds that he can easily spot her, and Se-kye realizes the red dress puts her in shackles. They insult each other — her calling him sarcastic and him calling her dramatic — and Do-jae asks if she wants to step out of the car. Se-kye obliges, and he swiftly drives away, to her annoyance — she hadn’t really thought he’d leave her here.
Tired and hungry, Se-kye walks for a while before sitting down on the curb. She can’t find a taxi, but fortunately, Do-jae returns to retrieve her. He fakes a helping hand, and she stumbles into his arms. In close proximity, Do-jae asks if she wants to eat something and clarifies that he’s hungry.
Do-jae treats Se-kye to a meal and asks for a preview of any future escapes, but she says that they’re always impromptu. He claims that he has too many responsibilities to be carefree and unruly like her, and he tells her to stop clamoring for attention during business. She seems offended by this perception of her and asks what role she needs to act for their meeting tomorrow. He needs Hallyu star Han Se-kye as his business partner, so she offers to bring that to the meeting.
Then, Do-jae asks if Se-kye actually has a child, and she vehemently denies this. She calls him mean for his intrusive questioning, and Do-jae says that he has no reason to be nice to her. She notes with bitterness that he seemed like a good person when he offered to sponsor the children in the fund, but now she realizes that he’s not a good person to her.
That night, Se-kye cries angry tears in her bed, and violently curses Do-jae for being a jerk. She’s feeling raw and unjustly maligned, and yells, “Are you listening, you jerk?!” On the balcony next door, Do-jae comments that the jerk is listening.
The next morning, Se-kye and Do-jae meet with the potential airline partner and his daughter, who looks delighted to see Hallyu star Se-kye. The partner explains that changing the airline model does not appease his demands, and we see that his concerns are regarding his deaf daughter. Se-kye notices the girl signing to her, and she signs back fluently. The partner looks pleased by his daughter’s excitement in conversing with Se-kye, who lights up to receive a gift from the girl, and Do-jae promises to provide accessible services, including sign language, to all passengers.
On their return flight, Do-jae asks why Se-kye learned sign language, and she responds that she learned in case she couldn’t talk one day. He admits that he didn’t expect her to show up, and she claims that she actually doesn’t like to run away. He affirms this and thanks her for a successful meeting. Then, he apologizes for being rude to her thus far, explaining that there were extenuating circumstances. She accepts and apologizes for running away.
Se-kye falls asleep on Do-jae’s shoulder, and we see his finger tremble ever so slightly. Aw, is he nervous? Then, Se-kye suddenly opens her eyes, feeling a change coming on, and rushes to the bathroom. When she takes off her sunglasses, she sees an older woman (cameo by Kim Sung-ryung) in the mirror.
The crew announces everyone to return to their seats, and Se-kye panics. The flight attendants knock on the bathroom door for Se-kye, and when she doesn’t respond, Do-jae ends up breaking open the door. Se-kye huddles in a corner, hiding her face, and grabs Do-jae’s sleeve, desperately begging for help. Do-jae senses her urgency and calls for a blanket to cover her with — and as he drapes it over her head, he makes eye contact with a transformed Se-kye.
I’m into this. I trust Seo Hyun-jin wholeheartedly with this character, and she’s already drawing me in with her irresistible charm and relatable flaws, which are clearly her strong suits. Se-kye does feel like a familiar character, especially with Seo Hyun-jin playing her, but I love an unapologetically outspoken female lead regardless. The body transformations were a fun vehicle to explore Se-kye’s insecurities and painful misunderstandings, and I’m looking forward to seeing how these abrupt transformations and her temper get her into more trouble.
Lee Min-ki is a delightful deadpan counterpart to Seo Hyun-jin’s dramatic antics, and I enjoy his subdued portrayal of Do-jae. I fell in love with him in his last drama (Because This Life Is Our First), and I’m ready to fall for him again. The literal face-blindness cracks me up, and I love how it’s completely different from yet compatible with Se-kye’s condition. It’s smart and hilarious that he makes Se-kye make a red dress, and I’m curious to see how many versions of a red dress Seo Hyun-jin’s stylist can pull off for this role. Fighting!
I haven’t seen the original film, but I think this drama adaptation veers enough from the film to be an independent production. The fantasy elements are different, and I think that completely changes the dynamic of the show. Se-kye’s once-a-month transformations resemble that of a werewolf or gumiho, and that gives more room for us to explore how this condition interacts with her celebrity spotlight to precipitate unfair misunderstandings. I’m anticipating a fun and heartfelt story, and I trust this production to embrace the changes and run away with it (hur).