200 pounds beauty (Korean movie) review, contains ending spoilers

It’s been almost 3 months since I started working on Talk to Me in Korean! Remember? So how am I doing? You’ll have to wait till the 20th to find out! In the meantime it doesn’t do to just study in a vacuum so I’ve been watching a few dramas and TV programs here and there to keep my hand in. All subtitled, of course, at least for now.

200 Pounds Beauty (미녀는 괴로워) is a Korean comedy/romance movie about an overweight woman named Hanna with a beautiful voice who is the real voice behind a K-Pop superstar. When she overhears her crush and manager making fun of her at a party, she goes underground, gets a ton of plastic surgery and reemerges as “Jenny”, ready to take the music world by storm!

…We wish. The movie I would have liked to watch is one where Hanna reinvents herself either so she can start a new life away from those who insulted and put her down or so she can get revenge on them. This movie features neither. Hanna just gets surgery because she doesn’t want to be ugly any more (although despite a hideously fake fat suit and bad teeth she was actually rather cute).

She doesn’t have any drive or motivation or purpose so she just walks right back into the same situation she walked out of. Instead of confronting the people who belittled her, she tries her hardest to please them. Instead of boldly being herself as Hanna, she comes up with a lame background story as Jenny – the only thing lamer than her cover story is the brains of the music industry people who never bothered to check it.

What is he looking at down there?

But 200 Pounds Beauty isn’t a story you watch for its cleverness. I at least was watching to see whether Hanna would ever get together with her crush Sang-Jun. Yes, the same crush whose cruel insults drove her to desperation. That guy. Does she? …Probably? It’s left ambiguous at the end. What’s also ambiguous is how Sang-Jun really felt about Hanna all along. There were strong hints that he actually liked her, overweight and all, and only put her down to please his protege (the lip syncer Hanna was really singing for). Now that Hanna = Jenny, the viewer will never know for sure whether Sang-Jun liked her for who he was, or just liked her voice, or if he’s now only attracted to the beautiful Jenny.

On Hanna’s part she doesn’t seem to have forgiven him for his cruelty to Hanna, and while she still seems to like him, it’s clear that something has cooled in their relationship. Plus as a successful singer in her own right now, she has far more options and a far busier schedule to deal with than just being Mrs. Sang-Jun. Whether they will end up together at some point or not is left up to your imagination. I like to hope they won’t. He doesn’t deserve her and she has a lot of issues to work out any way.

As for the message of the film concerning plastic surgery, what the characters say and what the movie actually promotes are two different things. Hanna/Jenny eventually gives a tearful speech about how she thought surgery would make her life better but it didn’t… except it totally did. Before she was broke, fat, made fun of, lonely, afterwards she is beautiful, slim, dressed in the latest and hottest fashion with thousands of adoring insta-fans, a growing music career and a very handsome not-quite-boyfriend. It’s clear she got all this by completely changing her image.

In the end the main character spends 5 minutes saying “Plastic surgery won’t solve your problems” while the movie spends 90 minutes saying the opposite. Who are we supposed to believe? You can draw your own conclusions, but it’s telling that even after Hanna’s heartfelt “confession,” the movie closes with her best friend sitting in front of Hanna’s plastic surgeon (now rich and famous) and begging for a procedure as well. As I said, draw your own conclusions but the meaning is obvious.

Despite the wackness of the message and the fruitlessness of the romance, I did quite enjoy 200 Pounds Beauty. I’m not quite sure why, but I suppose it had some charm to it. Rags to riches plots are a timeless classic for a reason and I wanted to see how things would work out between Hanna and pretty boy. If you’re not the type to take movies too seriously and you don’t have body image issues, it’s worth a watch. Preferably with a buddy so you can roll your eyes together when things get a bit ridiculous.

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