kooriyuki had the chance to catch the preview of Beauty Inside earlier this August, and although I somehow fell asleep towards the end (but I woke up before the last Woo Jin appeared!), Beauty Inside is definitely one of the most interesting Korean movies released this year.

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The biggest draw of Beauty Inside is the vast number of artistes playing Woo Jin; we have 21 main actors and actresses, and several dozen more who appeared in flashes as we see how Woo Jin spends each of his days as a different person. Beauty Inside is on the whole a romantic comedy, but of course, it is not free of the melodramatic bits and noble idiocy, but they were validated as we, the audience, watch along.

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The protagonist, Woo Jin, is a guy who wakes up as a different person everyday, kinda like a metamorph. He is like your everyday guy, sometimes having a one night stand (tsk tsk), but it totally served the comedic effect as we see how he was a hot guy the previous night, and the next morning, he could be a balding fat guy, or an elderly man. It’s not limited to changing into the appearance of another man, Woo Jin sometimes wakes up as a woman (ie Park Shin Hye), or a Japanese (Ueno Juri), or a Caucasian, or even a little boy. Thus Woo Jin has a habit of video recording himself at the end of each day, to keep track of who he had been everyday.

Woo Jin is a furniture designer and a carpenter, and his only friend Sang Baek (Lee Dong Hwi) had a hard time initially accepting Woo Jin’s condition. That flashback scene was utterly hilarious, as Woo Jin was an ahjumma when Sang Baek visited his house, and Sang Baek thought Woo Jin’s Mom looked different. Anyway, Sang Baek became the only outside world contact that Woo Jin had, and I think they run a small company selling Woo Jin’s furniture.

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So one day, Woo Jin came across Yi-soo (Han Hyo Joo), a sales person at a furniture store, and is smitten by her. He goes to see her everyday, wondering how to confess to her despite of his chameleon-like condition. The day of confession finally comes, when Woo Jin finally morphed into a handsome young man (Park Seo Joon), and he made himself stay in that skin for three days by not sleeping. He was however overcome by fatigue, and fell asleep on the train on the fourth night, becoming a balding man (Kim Sang-ho).

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Beauty Inside is essentially a love story, exploring the theme of loving one for who he/she is, not for one’s looks. It’s easier said than done in this context, as Yi-soo soon realises the difficulties she’ll face, when people ask about her boyfriend, why she keeps changing boyfriends (when it’s actually just Woo Jin in different skin), and Yi-soo sinks into a helpless depression. Of course the movie has a happy ending, although we know that problems aren’t so easily resolved. We’re also not told (or at least I think so, since I watched this without subs) why Woo Jin has such a condition, except that his Dad had it too, and his Mom also faced the same problems Yi-soo is facing, and it took alot of courage to continue living as Woo Jin’s closest ones.

Do catch Beauty Inside if you can, as it really is pretty hilarious and a rather easy watch! Plus, there’s Yoo Yeon Seok doing the narration with his lovely voice!

sab‘s take on it:

Right, I watched Beauty cos there wasn’t anything else to watch on drama recently. Beauty is currently airing in Singapore’s theatres, and interestingly, when I told my hub about it — him being a rom-com lover and all — he was surprisingly annoyed with the premise. So much so that he refused to watch “this ridiculous show” as he puts it.

Ok, it IS weird. If you consider the logic (or lack thereof). For one, to attain full chameleon status, the human’s genes would have to undergo MASSIVE changes. And when Woo-jin morphs into another being, the new body is someone he doesn’t know, hasn’t seen. Plus, his brain also morphs — he suddenly spouts Japanese, Italian, etc in his new body but doesn’t understand the language when Yi-soo converses with him in it. He is even more mutant than X-men’s Mystique. At least Mystique had to study her subject before she can fully take on his/her skin. And given Woo-jin’s constant flux in appearances, I also wonder how in the world he can make a passport…he ends up travelling to Czechoslovakia at the end of the story. (and since hub is an engineer, i think the entire lack of logic in Beauty‘s premise turned him off)

So if you can seriously suspend your disbelief, the core of Beauty is very prosaic. Beauty asks the same question which love struck fools or philosophers have asked for ages — is love ever constant. Will you still love me if I change (i.e. grow old, grow ugly, grow fat, etc) one day? Then Beauty stretches this age-old question to its limit — and beyond. Interestingly, Woo-jin’s profession and interest as an artisan furniture craftsman is the exact opposite of his chameleon exterior.

His works, which are usually single pieces, are clean and minimalist in nature. And he likes the use of wood, which symbolises consistency and reliability. Of cos, the wood also metamorphosed from a living tree to a chair/table, which is in line with the idea of flux in the movie. And Yi-soo subconsciously recognises Woo-jin’s association with wood, and that special touch — almost like his fingerprint, the ONLY constant thing about him — in his furniture.

Thus, although Beauty may have a ridiculous premise, its answer to the age old question on whether Love can withstand Change is a resounding “Yes”.

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