Debt-ridden department store clerk, Ji Sook (Park Soo Ae) is forced to assume the identity of her privileged doppleganger, Eun Ha, and enter a marriage of convenience with mentally unstable chaebol, Min Woo (Joo Ji Hoon). She secretly protects her family who mourn her loss after receiving Eun Ha’s body. All the while, Ji Sook must contend with her vengeful blackmailer and brother-in-law, Suk Hoon, her hostile sister-in-law, Mi Yeon, and a growing attraction between her and Min Woo.
Junggugeo Kaenada 중국어 캐나다: ★★★.5
Only 만: ★★★.5
Only 만: I initially started watching “Mask”, because all the chatter on Twitter painted the show as completely crazy. I have to say, it didn’t disappoint.
Junggugeo Kaenada 중국어 캐나다: Yes, I started watching, because you said it was crazy. Actually, it turned out to be less outlandish than what I imagined, but it was insanely addictive.
Only: Agreed. It might have had something to do with excellent pacing. The story-telling was consistently engaging. I never had time to stop and think how ridiculous each plot development was before they moved on to the next. It was really well done.
Only: Or, maybe it was the increasingly ridiculous excuses for Joo Ji Hoon to take his shirt off. Though, sadly, both that and the pacing tapered off in the second half.
But, let’s start with what we liked about this show.
Junggugeo Kaenada: As you mentioned, the pacing was excellent. For most of the series, there was no lull from one melodramatic plot development to next.
What I really grew to appreciate was the female lead. Ji Sook started out as a naive victim of Suk Hoon’s psychotic machinations, but she slowly grew a backbone, and consistently figured things out on her own.
Only: I agree with you on Ji Sook, but I also enjoyed how totally useless Min Woo was, aside from providing cuteness and eye candy. It was a surprisingly entertaining role reversal from the usual K-drama plot. And, Suk Hoon (Yeon Jeong Hun) was such a fantastic villain throughout the show that I was almost disappointed when he was slightly redeemed at the end.
Junggugeo Kaenada: I was surprised at what a good job the writers did with the villains, Suk Hoon and Mi Yeon (Yu In Young). They were spectacularly villainous, but they managed to remain sympathetic. I pitied Suk Hoon for becoming lost in his need for vengeance, and Mi Yeon just wanted to be loved by the husband she married despite the fact that he had neither status nor wealth.
Only: Well, one thing I appreciated about them was that while they had plausible back stories, that didn’t stop them from chewing up the scenery. I mean, for pure entertainment value, you can’t beat Suk Hoon’s evil sneers, or Mi Yeon’s sad monologues while drinking a glass of wine with a straw. They were a drama match made in heaven.
That said, I have to admit, I had little time for most of the side characters. Ji Sook’s family was pretty uninteresting, as were the co-workers. I enjoyed the loan shark, but only for his fantastic mop top.
Junggugeo Kaenada: As much as I loved the melodrama, I started craving romantic development of the lead couple as the series went on. Park Soo Ae and Joo Ji Hoon had chemistry, but the show never bothered to develop it. This was especially disappointing after their titillating nude cuddle of necessity in the back seat of a car. Given the age of the actors, I had hoped for more heat rather than the chaste relations that we were given.
Only: Their kiss was pretty good, I thought, but the rest of the time they seemed more like cuddly roommates than anything else. I will admit to shouting, “You’re married, damn it!” at the screen more than once.
Junggugeo Kaenada: Being mostly a fan of romantic comedies, the lack of romance in “Mask” was a big deal for me. I think this show could have become one of my all time favourites if they just allowed the lead couple to kiss more or gave them more excuses to get naked with each other.
I will say that Min Woo at least covered the comedy part. Joo Ji Hoon’s crazy eyes and weird affectations actually made him increasingly attractive in my eyes.
Only: Joo Ji Hoon was a big draw of this show, for sure. Min Woo started out crazy, but ended up surprisingly dorky. It was enjoyable, but I think his transition might not have been beneficial to the story. Once Min Woo and Ji Sook had all their secrets out in the open, a lot of the dramatic tension in the show drained away, with nothing to replace it, not even the sexual tension from earlier episodes.
Only: And, when Suk Hoon and Mi Yeon started tag teaming their villainy towards the end, I lost track of what was going on more than once.
Junggugeo Kaenada: “Mask” does make me rethink my aversion towards melodramas.
Only: I wouldn’t call “Mask” a melodrama. It’s more like “Dynasty” meets Vertigo on crack.