Mask /가면 (2015) Korean Drama First Impressions : A fist full of Doppelgangers

Mask /가면  (2015) Korean Drama First Impressions

A fist full of Doppelgangers


Keywords: #Mask #가면 #SooAe #수애 #YeonJeongHun #연정훈 #JuJiHoon #주지훈 #Yu In-Young #유인영 



Hello. This is Prof. AKIA with a Review of the first 2 episodes of a new Korean drama “Mask /가면” (2015) starring “Soo-Ae /수애“, “Yeon Jeong-Hun / 연정훈”, “Ju Ji-Hoon/ 주지훈“, and “Yu In-Young /유인영

For those who are new, I talk about Korean dramas on Akiatalking.com. I also talk about Korean movies on Kmovietalk.com.
                                                                           
This review is done after watching the first 2 episodes of the show!
So my thoughts can change as the show proceeds.



Introduction
Doppelganger is an interesting concept in literary fiction.  According to dictionary.com, it is “a ghostly double or counterpart of a living person”. From the description itself, it has some ominous connotations usually related to death.

It may be a sign that you are not long for this earth.



In pop culture, it can be equated to one’s figurative “evil twin” that wants to kill you and take your place. With its strong focus on familial bonds, Doppelgangers tend to become actual biological “twins” in Korean dramas. Usually, this involves either adoptions or baby swapping.



A recent Korean drama example of this is “I Summon You, Gold! / 나와라, 뚝딱!” (2013) in which “Han Ji-Hye /한지혜played the identical twins in which the poor twin replaced the twin married into a rich family. The tone of that show was a light family “makjang” soap opera.


The new Korean drama “Mask” (2015) deals with “Doppelgangers” in the more traditional and ominous sense. However, since this is a Korean drama, they could still be long lost twins. Who knows?

The show actually mentions this in the episode albeit in a sarcastic manner!



The show seems to be actually self-aware of what kind of story its telling which I am not sure works with the tone of the show which is very… let’s say “
Operatic”!



The Plot
The first two episodes are somewhat of the prologue to the show as it sets up the backstory of what will be going on. You have the poor girl played by “Soo-Ae /수애“ who I will call “Poor Soo-Ae” . As it is with Korean dramas, her family is under a pile of debt and she is the only responsible one of the lot.


Poor Soo-Ae


“Soo-Ae /수애“ seems to play a lot of those roles!

In Korean dramas, a character with this backstory is either a “candy” who is an energetic naïve girl or the “Worn Down” gal just desperate to get out but still is too responsible to ditch her family totally. In the latter case, she needs a kick in the behind to just jettison her burden.

Poor Soo-Ae” is the latter case!

“Poor Soo-Ae” ends up having a Doppelganger that is a daughter of a politician. I will call this one “Rich Soo-Ae”. She is a disaffected and disenchanted rich girl who is not your typical “Rich evil bitch” but is still very irritable with her situation. As with this type of character in Korean dramas, she is being arranged to marry into another rich family.

Rich Soo-Ae


The fiancé is “Crazy rich guy” played by Ju Ji-Hoon who seems to suffer from Obsessive–compulsive personality disorder (OCD) at best and Schizophrenia like Psychosis at worst. He is another character in the line of mentally troubled rich men Korean dramas seem to be hot on now.



Oh and he is a literal bastard also!

It seems that just being an antisocial “Mr. Darcy” archetype is not good enough for Korean dramas nowadays. You have to go for the extreme “Mr. Hyde” archetype to get one’s kicks on. Sometimes literally.

Remember  “Hyde Jekyll, Me” (2015)?
Yuck!



In any case, the “Rich Soo-Ae” becomes incapacitated and  thus unable to marry the “Crazy rich guy” as planned. “Poor Soo-Ae” is offered to replace her and escape from her life.


It’s Operatic!
From what I have seen, Mask (2015) is not a light fun show. It is not even a light makjang show in the vein of “I Summon You, Gold! / 나와라, 뚝딱!” (2013). The tone is dark and depressing with all of the characters under considerable stress and all having shady motivations at least.

This includes evenPoor Soo-Ae”

At the same time, the characters are loud and prone to act in the extreme which means things can get crazy. Even the basic setting of Doppelgangers and body doubles are over the top. As a result, I would call this show “Operatic!”

Puccini anyone?
Or do you prefer Wagner?

The question is whether this over the top nature is enjoyable. I would have to admit that there is a sort of enjoyment about tiptoeing around the building tension.  However, the show sometimes veers over line towards “Too much” and took me out of it which can be a problem.


For example, the sequence of events that led up to “Poor Soo-Ae” accepting the job of replacing “Rich Soo-Ae” is silly and somewhat rushed even for this type of show.

Do we really need that whole sequence of events that was not believable?



Soo-Ae…
I have a rather complicated relationship with the actress “Soo-Ae /수애“. I fell hard for her over “9 Ends 2 outs” (2007) with her mature but energetic character portrayal. However, I did not like any of her roles afterwards which leaned towards more subdue and self-repressive characters.

In Mask (2015), she continues with that trend. Both her characters in the show are very subdued, low energy, and flat. As a result, she is in contrast with the other characters in the show who are more over the top. While this may work for the show in concept, I do not really think it does.  “Soo-Ae /수애“ seems somewhat irritated and bored a lot of the times.



In fact, I think she is miscast as the role seems too young for her in general although I am not totally sure how old the character is intended to be. I guess she is in her late 20s. Looking up the show’s homepage…

And she is set to be 29 years old!
I guessed it right.

In real life, “Soo-Ae /수애“ is in her mid-30s and somewhat feels like she is in her late 30s on screen.


In regards to other actors, they are decent although they are not doing anything new. “Ju Ji-Hoon/ 주지훈“ is your typical crazy rich guy. 




Yu In-Young /유인영“ is the crazy rich guy’s sister who is your insecure rich girl who has been deprived of love and thus clings to her husband played by Yeon Jeong-Hun / 연정훈”.  




“Yeon Jeong-Hun / 연정훈”, as the guy who married into a rich family, is the basically doing the evil version of his typical character.



Overall, I do not have as much complaint with them as I have with Soo-Ae.



Conclusion
I do not really know how the show would develop after seeing these two first episodes. There is not even much hint of the typical melodramatic romance you would expect from Korean dramas yet. 


In a lot of ways, you can totally cut these episodes out without much issue. Do you really need to know the whole backstory surrounding the characters from the start for this type of show?

Isn’t getting to find out their story as time passes one of the joys of this type of show?

I have a feeling that the show would end up being too reliant on the twist and turns of the over the top crazy plot turns. And that is not welcomed! It is too easy for a Korean drama to spiral out of control.

In conclusion, the first two episodes of “Mask /가면” (2015) okay as a prologue. It was somewhat bumpy but had enough interesting to make me watch at least 4 more episodes before I decide to drop it or not.  However, there are enough problems shown in these episodes to feel uncertain of whether I will finish the show.

I give the first two episodes of “Mask /가면” (2015) a B-.

Score: B- or 6/10

This was Prof. AKIA talking about my first impressions of “Mask /가면”.

Created by AKIA Talking
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