Synopsis: Byun Ji Sook has always had a hard life with her father constantly going into debt and being chased by loan sharks. A series of circumstances brings Ji Sook to Eun Ha, a woman from a wealthy family who strongly resembles Ji Sook. She will assume Eun Ha’s identity and marry a young chaebol- Min Woo. How long can Ji Sook keep up the charade and hide her true identity?
Country: South Korea
Genre: Drame, melodrama, romance
Casting: Soo Ae, Joo Ji Hoon, Yeon Jung Hoon, Yoo In Young, Hoya etc….
Mask seemed to be one of this year’s gem. The plot was for the least origina,l with its game of doppelgänger and revenge. I totally fell for the firsts episodes to be honest. It was thrilling from the start and really aesthetic, well-filmed. I was mesmerized by the quality of writing (even if there were some flaws), making and the outstanding performance of the actors (especially Yeon Jung Hoon). I was addicted. But somehow the spell suddenly stopped working on me.
The main reason of that sudden change of heart was the romance (which became way too present in the second half of the drama). I just hated everything that was linked to it: the ost, the dialogue, the chemistry between both characters- EVERYTHING looked and sounded too cheesy (for example Min Woo and Ji Suk’s first dance. The scene was splendid in term of making but I just hated how they wrote it). In my opinion their scenes contrasted too much with the rest of the story. If at first I was a bit moved by their growing attachment, it then quickly became a cause of boredom and frustration for me. The scriptwriter constantly played the push and pull card before turning their relation into a whole lovey-dovey dimension. I understood why Ji Suk, at time, gave in to Min Woo’s never-ending advances while wholly rejecting him five minutes later. It was consistent considering her character, but soooo frustrating. As a result Min Woo seemed to be the only running after her and for me that kind of writing is the worst you can do for a romance. I might have felt like that since the revenge was from far more intense, on the other hand. The dialogue, the instrumental, the details, the performance of the villains were a pure delight. I was actually more pleased with Seok Hoon and Min Yeon’s writing than Min Woo’s one, whereas he was the main lead.
As you’ve probably already understood, I had mixed feeling for Min Woo (Joo Ji Hoon). I was at first really thrilled by his character. He embodied a rich chaebol for the least original. I wasn’t expecting to have a hero mentally “sick” and I was completely under his charm. The scriptwriter managed to arouse my curiosity in the space of a moment and I was ready to give him a chance, even with Seok Hoon in the background. Unfortunately that characteristic quickly disappeared and his past story and hallucinations became a second-hand matter. As a result Min Woo lost all his originality and became a plain, classical hero (a cold and rich chaebol who becomes nice thanks to loooooooooove). Even his lines became less interesting, letting place to cheesy dialogue (“don’t hurt yourself at work, it hurts to see that” awwwburp. Where did the scorpion and frog’s story go?). His character quickly fell into a repetitive and boring loop. He was the only character who didn’t see the true nature of Seok Hoon and remained completely passive to the plot made against him. It was frustrating to see him constantly back off concerning his wife business and never ask anything. It was consistent in his writing since it was his character that wanted that, as well as the story (after all, their relation was only a business one at first) but so boring. By behaving like that he only appeared weak. In the end it felt like his spot had been completely stolen by the other character. He was the weakest link of the drama. I had some hope to see him go back up, when he started to fight back but unfortunately, it was also the time when the romance became really present. And you already know what I felt about it. His feeling for Ji Suk/Seo Eun Ha were too obvious and he always behaved like a spoilt-child. Once again that was a consistent writing: since he never received any kind of love in his life, it was actually a good idea to make him that clumsy and awkward when it came to love. But on the other hand it made his character completely dull to my eyes.
Just like for his character, I had mixed feeling for Joo Ji Hoon. I can’t really say that I know well that actor -considering I’ve seen only two of his projects- but here he disappointed me. In the end I couldn’t say if it was because of his character’s writing that I wasn’t moved or if it was because of him. I guess it was a mix of both them.
Byun Ji Suk (Soo Ae) was the happy medium between Min Woo and the villains. She was almost as good as Seok Hoon and Min Yeon when it came to plotting against others, while she was as sweet (and annoying even though at a lesser extend) as Min Woo when it came to romance. Overall I would say that I liked her nonetheless (even though more and more flaws appeared in her character along the episodes). She perfectly pleased my sadistic side with all her sufferance and struggle, her attachment to her former life, tears, innocence and secrets of the firsts episodes. I could feel once again the writing of Secret’s scriptwriters and I felt perfectly happy about it even though it was sometimes a bit redundant.
The only point that frustrated me for a bit at that time, was her conflicted personality when it came to courage. She stood against Seok Hoon quite fearlessly but at the same time ran away and made silly mistakes with former acquaintances because of her fear…hmm. I don’t understand why, from the beginning, it never crossed her mind to say “yes I heard that I look like a certain Byun Ji Suk but I assure you I don’t know her. I’m Seo Eun Ha, end of story”. She could have avoided so much trouble! Because of that her character started to totter. But it wasn’t her main flaw and she finally made up for that point with her fight against the whole family. Her game of power and tricks against Seok Hoo and Min Yeon was of the most exciting. She learnt from the best and turned against them as soon as she could to protect Min Woo. The weak Ji Suk let place to a cunning Ji Suk. The only thing that I didn’t understand was why she never tried to fight them with the help of Min Woo near the end. They were all aware of the situation yet both Min Woo and Ji Suk kept on fighting (and failing) on their own while they would have been stronger together from the start (fortunately they understood that at the very end of the drama, otherwise I don’t how all that would have ended). I guess it was because neither of them wanted the other one to be hurt -once again this romance getting in the way. If Ji Suk was a lot more bearable than Min Woo in that area- even when she was all lovey-dovey- I can hardly forgive her behaviour towards Min Woo. From the start she was planning to get a divorce to protect him. That was a cool thought. What I don’t get is why she completely gave in to her husband’s sweet advances since she had taken that decision. They tried to make us believe that it was for Min Woo’s happiness that she was answering to his love but for me it only appeared as pure selfishness and cruelty. She seemed to act only for HER happiness.
Soo Ae played her role with great naturalness and softness. I’m waiting for her next role with curiosity.
Min Seok Hoon (Yeon Jung Hoon) was from far the best character of Mask and I think Yeon Jung Hoon’s performance had a lot to do in my enthusiasm for him. I really hope that role had made him more popular, cause that actor really deserves to be more often praised. Here he perfectly played the role of the villain and easily overshadowed all the other characters and actors. His impenetrable icy gaze, his fake smile and lively look, his pain, tears, smirk, anger…his composure when saying his lines, his every expression were perfectly calculated and made your heart raced or gave you the chill. Seok Hoon was the character that embodied the best the idea of “mask” (even better than Ji Suk who was supposed to be the one putting on a mask the most, considering she had to pretend to be Seo Eun Ha). He truly played the game of double personality. He was everywhere at once, chasing his preys like a real shark.
He was a born liar to the point that in the end it became impossible to perceive the truth from the lie (>>>SPOILER- when he said that he had never loved Min Yeon for example. He said that to her but at the very end we saw him cry her death and truly regret his actions towards her. Beautiful -SPOILER<<<). Seok Hoon was deliciously complex: torn between his thirst of revenge and his love for Seo Eun Ha, we saw him lose control little by little.
That was the most exciting and moving part of his character. He brutalised Ji Suk, threatened her life and family, excessively made use of her and yet wavered more than once because of her likeness to Seo Eun Ha. What I liked was the fact that the scriptwriter didn’t make him, for all that, fall in love of Ji Suk. I was really afraid of that point but fortunately Seok Hoon knew how to differentiate both business and feelings and the two women. The overall writing of Seok Hoon was subtle whether it was his motive, story or his dialogue. Thanks to that it prevented him to become a drag like most villains in dramaland and made him entered the first position of my “best villain” list. A mind-blowing character for a mind-blowing actor I would say to conclude 😉
Choi Min Yeon (Yoo In Young) was a total lunatic. I thought she would annoy me at some point, considering her character had the tendency to go round and round, but she actually didn’t. She was stuck between her love for her brother (that I really appreciated) and her love for Seok Hoon. Unable to forgive Seok Hoon for what he did against her brother she nonetheless never really acted against this latter despite her words. She only threatened him to reveal the whole truth but never actually did it. She loved him more than what reason could afford. She was the saddest character of the drama in that way. She became a monster out of love. She constantly lied to herself and preferred to hear Seok Hoon tell her that he loved her rather than hear the truth she already knew. She preferred to take actions against Ji Suk rather than him, even though she knew -deep down- that she had nothing to do in the whole Seo Eun Ha/Seok Hoon affair. I was for many reasons deeply moved by her even though she was most of the time completely irrational. She was both at the same time human and monstruous. In the end she showed real remorse when she schemed against Ji Suk and (>>>SPOILER- murdered Seo Eun Ha– SPOILER<<<) and her pain touched me more than any sufferance Ji Suk had gone through.
Yoo In Young was flawless once again. She is made for that kind of role anyway. Both prickly and touching, you want to hate her as much as understand her character.
Mask was both at the same time splendid and disappointing. I can’t deny the fact that the second part of the drama profoundly bore me because of the romance. For the revenge, the actors, the overall instrumental (if you put aside the one linked to the romance) Mask would deserve a 8.5 -if not more!. But for the rest…my overall feeling tells me 7.5. I’ll therefore give it a 8/10.
Note de Dushbadou: 8/10
Note de Whoovy: /10
Note finale: 8/10