Beautiful Man


Reviewed by: sukting

July 13, 2014

Rating: three-point-five

How long
16 episodes

Foreword
It is based on the Manhwa of the same name as a romantic comedy drama. Ma Te is the most beautiful man in the world. He is an ambitious man who wants to make a lot of money using his beautiful appearance. Do you wish to see how Ma Te enters the lives of 10 women? Can his neighbour, Bu Tong make Ma Te love her?

Story/Introduction on characters
1. Jang Geun-suk as Du Gu Ma Te
He is a 27 year old man who discovers as early as kindergarten that he is prettier than most and could get special treatment because of it. During his school years he never once has to bring a lunch to school, and now only has to glance at designer things in stores for rich women to purchase for him.

Many have described that he uses his face to earn a living but the blood in him hates his biological father who ditches him and his mother. He meets You La, the ex-daughter-in-law of a rich family which owns MG marketing when he is still with Zai Xi. She recognizes his ambitions and becomes his mentor. From then on, he cuts his locks and shorts a shorter hairstyle.

You La gives him a mission to seduce 10 different women – the 1% of the upper class. And also a warehouse of socks to clear. He has to sell all of them away. The women have all succeeded in different fields and he is to glean their special abilities. Ma Te later learns that he is the illegitimate son of the family. He can't follow his late mother's wish and reveals his identity. By wisdom and through the hard way of learning, he sets up Normal, a sock company and is finally a pretty man with brains.

He wants acknowledgement from Ji Shi and works hard. He later learns that Ji Shi is not his father and it takes him some time to accept the harsh truth that his foster mother isn't his mother but his enemy is. Yes indeed, Geun-suk is the perfect poster boy for this drama – his acting has also improved in heaps and bounds. He changes like a chameleon in dressing and also looks, sometimes bespectacled, sometimes in dark suits to tempt the different women.

2. Lee Jang-woo as David Cui Jun He
He is the young, friendly Marketing Director of MG who falls for Bu Tong and helps her out in selling the socks. He isn't restricted by anything as he is educated in the US and is attracted to Bu Tong when she tries selling her items on the street. Initially, he doesn't even wash his car and allows dust to accumulate but she uses socks to clean for him.

He believes that she is the woman in his life and helps her. That includes working in Normal as a manager. In reality, he is Ji Shi's illegitimate son and owns a sizable percentage of shares. He doesn't sleep in his apartment as it reminds him of his mother's suffering without his father as she dies due to an over-dosage of sleeping pills. He himself needs sleeping pills to fall asleep and he has slept in the tent for 5 years, leaving the room for Bu Tong to sleep by renting to her. Bu Tong cures him and he steps into the apartment again.

When his identity is exposed, he buys a car and playfully sticks a sticker that a child is on board. You La comes to get his help to keep Wen Xiu's company position when he is wronged for taking drugs as framed by Hong Lan. He hopes that by helping Ma Te, he can get Bu Tong but later understands that Ma Te needs Bu Tong most so he lets her go. Ma Te trusts him and passes Normal to him and Bu Tong to manage. He and De Sheng choose to open a small eatery in his hometown to lead a quiet life.

Jang-woo is another poster boy suitable for the role. However, he doesn't show much of Jun He's sorrowful side and doesn't seem to be the person with a dark past.

3. Dokgo Young-jae as Piao Ji Shi
He is the chairman of MG Marketing. He takes a back seat after suffering from cancer. He feels that he owes Jun He too much and tries to make up to him. Jun He does not want to work in MG as Ji Shi marries Hong Lan to forsake his mother. He also wants minimal contact with him – they only go fishing together.

He also feels that he owes You La too much so he gives her a café to manage. Hong Lan cancels Ma Te's invitation card to meet Ji Shi in their company reception dinner but Ma Te manages to convince Gui Zhi to bring him there. To Ma Te's amazement, Jun He also turns up as Ji Shi sends him the invitation beforehand. Ma Te wants to leave Ji Shi a good impression but Ren Zhong makes him to be a womanizer to shame him.

Ji Shi knows that his life is ending so he wants to set things right soon. He does not want Hong Lan to have any regrets in life so he passes Ma Te to Mei Shu to bring him up. He reveals this to her much later and doesn't explain initially when she demands to know how many lovechilds he still has.

5. Lee Mi-young as Li Mai Zi
She is Pu Tong's mother who owns an eatery. Her wish is simple – to want Pu Tong to marry well but she can't tolerate how smitten she is with Ma Te. She is grateful to Jun He for taking care of her so she often cooks for him. She even gets to open a branch with his help.

6. Yeo Hoonmin as Jin De Shi
He is Pu Tong's younger brother. Pu Tong becomes boyish due to him as they often wrestle at home and he often helps out at the eatery.

7. Kim Young-jae as Piao Wen Xiu
He is Jun He's weak elder brother. He marries You La but later divorces her as Hong Lan opposes to her poor background. He is the director of the company but listens to Hong Lan's bidding all the time. After seeing how You La wants him to be strong, he begins to retaliate to support Ma Te. He wishes to reconcile with You La but she prefers not to be tied down by his rich family.

8. Yang Mi-kyung as Kim Mei Shu She is Ma Te's foster mother. She is deeply in love with Ji Shi so Ji Shi trusts her. Ji Shi passes Ma Te to her care after he is born. However, he later finds it wrong as she is still single to want him back. Mei Shu is thrown out by her family because of Ma Te. Still, she rejects Ji Shi as she is unable to part with Ma Te. Ma Te cries whenever he doesn't see her and he has grown attached to her.

So is she to him They then stay in the remote village. Ma Te blames himself for not being with her often after knowing that she is critically ill. You La seeks them out and sends her to hospital as she is dying of cancer. Before she dies, she gives You La a password that he can relate to Ji Shi. You La gets the wrong idea that Ma Te is Ji Shi's son and starts to control him with the password. After knowing the truth, Ma Te still thinks that he is Mei Shu's son and is grateful to her.

9. Kim Ji Han as Zhang De Sheng
He is Ma Te's junior that he befriends in the army. He becomes Normal's employee but is bribed by Hong Lan to sell him out. Ma Te doesn't blame him as he shows remorse. Both finally settle to start a new venture.

10. Piao Mei Li
She is You La's seven year old daughter. You La has not seen her since her first month. To fight You La, Hong Lan even threatens to send Mei Li overseas so that she can't see her. After Hong Lan's retirement, both finally get to meet each other often.

The other 10 women in Ma Te's life
10. So Yoo-jin as Zai Xi
She is the real estate property queen who makes Ma Te realise the importance of money. Money is a living thing that must be controlled or the reverse will happen. She graduates from business high school and goes through plastic surgery to look pretty. Being a property agent is her first job and she earns a lot through her foresight.

Ma Te is about to use her wealth to buy a shop to sell the socks when she gets involved in an accident. You will laugh upon seeing how he puts up with a pose to attract her but she gets a long time to reach home. The accident causes her to wear a neck brace as she shields Ma Te. It also wakes her up as she has to pass half her riches to him if she gets married. So she breaks off her engagement.

12. Kim Ye-won as Electricity Fairy
She is the one who discourages Zai Xi to marry Ma Te. Ma Te is so mad that he comes along with Zai Xi to see her. She is a psychologist who is very observant. Many queue to see her for advice. However, she has a weak side as she needs to support her street hawker parents for a living. Ma Te does not believe that she can't succumb to him and he brings her out for a walk. In fact, her heart beats fast whenever she sees him and she is attracted to him.

She is also bribed by Hong Lan to deceive You La that Mei Li will die if she continues to carry on opposing her. She is won over by him and teaches him how to control people. Everyone has a button and needs to be pressed. He needs to be very observant but must also give the person some room to react.

13. Cha Hyun-jung as Jin Ren Zhong
She is a socialising public relations manager and knows many rich people. She comes in top in the insurance industry and she teaches him the importance of relationship management. Jun He manages to fight a time slot for Ma Te to sell the socks away. However, sales come in slow and Ma Te becomes anxious as he has betted with Hong Lan that he will retreat once he loses the race.

Ma Te has no choice but to beg Ren Zhong for help. Ren Zhong helps him and Ma Te finally finds a partner to manufacture socks in bulk. He is intelligent to find a person who has a weird personality. Ren Zhong's fingers keep brushing on him. Ma Te discovers that the power of man is bigger than he imagines. He has knitted his own spider web but is trapped in it. Thus, he finds another plan – to get Miao Mei to intercept her. He keeps going out with Miao Mei to act as her boyfriend to get away from Ren Zhong.

14. Park Ji Yoon as Miao Mei
Miao Mei is a Top model Star who is famous. However, it is strange that she listens to Ren Zhong's bidding all the time. Ma Te finds her very moody and isn't someone who is proud of her success. It puzzles him further when he learns that Miao Mei even goes to a remote town for the opening of Ren Zhong's relative's shop.

After winning an award, she reveals that she has a 10 year old son and has him out of folly when young. Ma Te realises that Ren Zhong has been threatening her with this secret. Due to this, Ren Zhong becomes despised and has to beg Miao Mei to change her account or she can't survive.

Miao Mei teaches Ma Te how to make use of chances. Timing is very important. When he is at the losing end, he must be humble to strike back at the right time to get a surprising result. She feels sorry when she has to guard her future to betray Ma Te later. Gui Zhi gives her a chance to shoot a movie in France so that she can get close to Ma Te. Ma Te can't contact her and realises why but doesn't blame her for his plight.

15. Kim Bo Ra as Gui Zhi
She is the only daughter of SS shopping channel. She gets whatever she wants and is determined to get Ma Te after seeing his interview on television. Ma Te doesn't have a good impression of her after knowing what he has done to Miao Mei. More so when she sends a box of money to Normal Company.

He has a meal with her – just to return the money to her and also deliberately splashes the sauce on her face. At this time, Hong Lan tries to ruin Ma Te by retracting all his business contacts and forbidding him to sell the socks at MG Mall. Ma Te then asks Gui Zhi's father to let him have a share in SS shopping channel in exchange of him not seeing Gui Zhi again.

Gui Zhi insists of meeting him so Ma Te has no choice but to go out once with her. They are at a shop and she steps on a woman's shoe. The woman demands replacement and she proudly says that she can handle any brand. This kind of events have happened more than once and she normally uses money to silence the victim but not this time. The woman snapped that she buys the shoe from a gypsy in Russia in a market. How is she going to find exactly the same one? Ma Te tries hard not to laugh when Gui Zhi goes speechless so he apologises for her.

Gui Zhi's father is involved in a tax scandal and Jin is after his blood. Jin detains him so Gui Zhi then decides to go overseas to study Economics. Ma Te is surprised when Gui Zhi's father makes him the CEO of SS. He also wants Ma Te to weaken Jin. This time round, he makes the initiative to meet Gui Zhi after watching her television declaration.

Gui Zhi apologises to those whom she offends in the past and promises to be a better person. She vows to make SS a better company. He treats her to a proper meal this time. Although Ma Te lets her know that having someone to back up is important and making oneself feel that he belongs to the upper class, others only respect you due to the backer. But he is nothing without a backer.

Ma Te is stressed when the other directors ask him for his qualifications and look at him only as a poster boy with no brains. Jun He lends him some management books and advises him to read up. Ma Te is grateful to him and is transformed to give the directors bright ideas so that approval is given.

16. Jang Shan Jing as Li Jin She is a righteous public prosecutor who is still single at 45 years old. Her parents die when she is young and she has to support her grandmother and siblings through school. Ma Te is impressed by her track records and tries to bribe her with toy bears. That doesn't buy her over and he is made drunk by Jin instead. He is also surprised that she stays in a small apartment.

Jin knows that he is searching for the truth but is not Ji Zhe's son. She is successful in napping crime and becomes the head attorney general. Ma Te sends over his congratulations. However, her record is not flawless and Ma Te is shocked when she suddenly resigns. He comes to see her and she confesses that this is due to a pen knife sent to her.

The culprit is a high school student who injures a thief. In order to save his future, Jin throws it away and thinks that no one will know about it. The person grows to become a secondary school teacher and is grateful to Jin. However, she also keeps thinking what if she makes the wrong decision and he might end up killing someone else. She sets up her own law firm and Ma Te goes to her for help when Hong Lan wants to ruin him.

She helps Ma Te to look for evidence and goes with him to see Wen Xiu. Wen Xiu finds Hong Lan overbearing and makes a public apology to pay Ma Te the damages. Ma Te is grateful to her for this.
17. Lee Seung-min as Yu Min She is the one who sends the penknife to Jin. She is also the person who tells You La that Hong Lan has a son when she is in New York. You La immediately gets Min to continue checking as she has thought of her to be childless and single to marry Ji Zhe.

Although she learns that Ma Te is Hong Lan's son, she doesn't know how to tell him. Even though she knows that she will earn a big sum by telling the paparazzi, she chooses not to. She herself is a lovechild to be despised by her own mother so she understands well. She even alerts him that Hong Lan is a scary person not to be offended. He initially doesn't believe it till she kidnaps Bu Tong. He fails to get Bu Tong to leave him and both decide to face the fate together.

18. IU as Jin Bu Tong
She is the 26 year old average girl from Ma Te's neighborhood with a one-sided crush on Ma Te since junior high. She graduates from a normal university and daydreams of marrying him. She is shattered upon knowing that he intends to marry Zai Xi and is overjoyed when he fails. She is later in a love triangle with Ma Te and Jun He. Bu Tong helps Ma Te a lot so that he can succeed.

She can use a Christmas tree thrown away to wrap up and use again. She can even use her brother's clothes to wear as a singlet. Ma Te finds it humiliating to stand beside her although she claims that this is her style. She can bear with his insults to be close to him. To her, Ma Te is the only truth of men.

However, she is disturbed by You La's appearance. Due to You La, Ma Te is with different women but she is determined to be beside him. Bu Tong is no longer normal as she helps him a lot in his company. She is very cute! I like the dreamy way she shows when thinking of Ma Te to want to swim in his collarbone or to be the bottle of water that he is drinking but can be too much when she keeps mentioning how much she likes Ma Te in front of Jun He.

19. Han Chae-young as Hong You La
She is the glamorous, successful woman Ma Te wants but can't get. She makes a game of “training” him and tells Ma Te to seduce ten of the most eligible bachelorettes in the city first. She is perfect in looks and brains. She has a strong sense of pride to be very serious at work and learning.

She marries Wen Xiu not because of money but she uses her wits and efforts to help him in his career. This gives the indecisive Wen Xiu improvement. But she becomes the pain in the neck for Hong Lan. Even Wen Xiu doesn't trust her to divorce her. She is heartbroken when she has to leave Mei Li with them. She is only given a house to stay alone.

Before Mei Shu dies, Ma Te is still an immature person. She tells You La about the password – it is Bu Tong and Ma Te is supposed to bring Bu Tong to see Ji Zhe. You La analyses that if Ma Te uses his anger to be the pushing power as an assert, he is a jewel. Ma Te becomes her chess piece to deal with Hong Lan.

Ma Te gives Bu Tong the pocket watch Mei Shu gives him as his love token. Upon seeing that, You Lan realises that Ma Te is Hong Lan's son as she has a similar pocket watch too. She then shifts her focus to Jun He for help. She is not exactly evil to totally make use of Ma Te as she wants to protect her ex-husband and daughter. Chae-young is pretty and oozes charm throughout. She has the foxy lady look to command all to listen to her.

20. Kim Bo-yeon as Na Hong Lan
She is the iron lady of MG. She has full control of it. She wants to control Wen Xiu like a puppet since he is not her biological son. When Ma Te goes to her impulsively to claim as Ji Shi's son, she chases him out. You La shakes her head as Ma Te shows his cards too soon. Slowly, Hong Lan discovers that he isn't as simple as she thinks. She has totally underestimated him. Thus, she has her mind set to ruin him.

She finally knows why Ma Te irks him – he is her biological son and he reminds her of her ugly past. She is abandoned by her handsome lover and her family also forsakes her. She hides her past and marries Ji Shi. She then gets rid of her brothers out of business to claim supremacy. She even wants Ma Te to be away from Korea by kidnapping Bu Tong.

Even so, she has her soft side. She makes two pocket watches and puts one of them on Ma Te when she abandons him. Unknown to her, Ji Shi passes Ma Te to her love rival, Mei Shu. Ma Te is aware that his presence affects her and chooses to fade away. He gives back the watch to her but she sends it back to him. She chooses to resign from the company and accompanies Ji Shi in his remaining days.

Interesting facts
The filming crew was the same which shot 'Goong' and 'Boys Over Flowers'. They wanted to look for artistes who can present themselves to be well-liked by the audience. Many were enthusiastic to find out how it went. Geun-suk had thought of it to be the usual romantic drama. He was hesitant upon seeing the title - will this be doing the same as he had in the past?

After reading the script, he liked the role and took it up. He did not have to think twice. He cut his long hair that he had kept for 4 years. He hoped to let others see the many faces of him. Being an actor meant that he had to wear many masks. That was his target and Ma Te was another mask to him.

Jang-woo knew that he had to become an entirely free spirit to get immersed into the role. When both men went to Japan with IU to promote this drama, many found him more like the pretty man instead of Geun-suk. Geun-suk looked tired after the long flight while he looked energetic.

IU was chosen as she looked like the girl next door. Like Geun-suk, she also cut her hair short. She doesn't want to be the usual demure lady and dresses like a country pumpkin.

Chae-young was the top choice and the director had not thought of anyone else. He was overjoyed when she agreed right after giving birth to her son.

On Korea's promotion day, Geun-suk's fans all over the world sent him many flowers to congratulate him on his comeback to the small screen. Some used egg shells and milk powder to create. His Japanese fans made 10,000 paper cranes to wish him well. The rice they made to create the flowers was used to donate to the poor.

The 25 year old was in showbiz for 20 years. He wanted to continue his acting journey and worked hard. He hoped this drama allowed others to see how responsible he was. He did not wish to be called a star but an actor. Many were indeed captivated by the many faces of Ma Te that he presented. However, the result was not what all expected. It only got about 4% in viewership each time as many rushed to watch 'Which Star Are You From?' and 'Medical Top Team' which were shown at the same time.

2013 KBS Drama Awards Nominations for :
Best Actor Jang Geun-suk
Best Actress Han Chae-young
Best Couple Award Jang Geun-suk and IU
Best Drama Pretty Boy

Most favourite character
Ma Te, he grows from an immature chap to a sensible man. Initially, he only knows to use his looks but later he knows how to make use of his brains.

Most hated character
Hong Lan, I have no idea why she hates Ma Te so much. She is not even grateful to Mei Shu for bringing him up. What kind of mother is this to tell Ma Te to go away as far as he can?!

Conclusion
This is the success story of Ma Te on the false beautiful picture of life. It also shows the harsh reality of the working class but also tells of the beauty of men. Every man has a good and ugly side. Although Ma Te and Bu Tong are not compatible in looks, they are compatible in nature. Ma Te has learned that external beauty and money is not everything but getting a soulmate is the most important thing of his life.

If not for the strong rivals, I believe this drama will have better ratings due to its unique storyline. The ten supporting actresses complement him well with their different characteristics. He is no longer raw when facing all of them and knows how to deal with them separately. Geun-suk makes a breakthrough in his role so I encourage all to give this drama a shot to observe how he has matured in acting over the years.

Sukting's ratings :
On acting : ***1/2 (Scale of 5)
On story : ***1/2 (Scale of 5)


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