In the Mood for Melodrama, Pt. 1 of 2: “Mask” Q1 Commentary

I originally started watching Korean television for the charming romantic comedies. But gradually I’ve grown fascinated with the melodramas as well. It’s harder to explain their appeal—vicarious suffering shouldn’t be as entertaining as vicarious laughter. Why do I find them so interesting?

The currently airing series Mask and High Society are great examples of how to construct a compelling melo. I’d recommend both, with a few cautions. We’re several episodes into each series, bringing us to the end of the first quarter (Q1). It’s too early to say if they will remain good. But both shows depict complex characters in tough situations.
Mask med4web

Mask gives us straight-up melodrama of the most exaggerated kind, just as we’d expect from Choi Ho-Chul, the writer who brought us the 2013 Secret (the one with Ji Sung and Hwang Jang-Eum). The emotions are big. The plot is implausible (though constructed from plausible details). When working class heroine Ji-Sook (Soo Ae) confronts a desperate situation, she’s forced to choose between her own death and an outrageous crime of impersonation. She decides to take on the identity of injured heiress Eun-Ha, just before Eun-Ha’s marriage to the wealthy—and possibly insane—Min-Woo (Joo Ji-Hoon).

To add to the Gothic nature of the scenario, the mastermind behind the strange impersonation plot is Eun-Ha’s former lover Seok-Hoon (Yeon Jung-Hoon). Ji-Sook finds herself trapped when he takes over her parents’ large debt in order to blackmail her more effectively.

The first scene of the series is one of the best in medias res K-drama openings in awhile. Ji-Sook has a car accident, goes off the road and dangles from a high cliff over the ocean—and then we see that she’s hand-cuffed to the wheel. She starts recording a last message to her family, a message almost as angry as it is tearful. Just at this moment, a mysterious person calls her cell phone and offers her a chance at life.

mask episode two underwater
The story starts with the heroine going off a cliff, literally.

It takes two episodes to learn how she got to that literal cliff-hanger, but like most K-drama heroines, money troubles and family responsibilities play a big part.

As in Secret, the characters in Mask are running on pure emotion. Rational thought doesn’t live here any more. At least Ji-Sook’s emotions are kindly meant. She acts out of concern for others, frustration with her life, and sometimes pure courage and compassion. By contrast, her tormenter Seok-Hoon is driven by envy and anger. He’s a smart, ambitious man from a humble background who married into wealth and wants more power in the family corporation.

Choi Min-Woo forms the third point in the toxic central triangle. His emotions are wildly unpredictable, as we might expect from the writer who brought us Min-Hyuk, the creepy anti-hero of Secret. Min-Woo is the out-of-wedlock son of a rich CEO who has never felt welcome in his father’s house. He also has strange hallucinations and spells of anxiety, which make it hard for him to succeed. He dreads his upcoming arranged marriage to heiress Eun-Ha, who he despises. And in an imaginative twist, it’s possible someone in his family is deliberately causing some of Min-Woo’s symptoms of mental illness, by adulterating his food and medications.

mask episode one ji sook
Soo Ae plays two characters, the part-timer Ji-Sook and her doppelganger the wealthy Eun-Ha.

Doppelgangers are an old melodrama staple from A Tale of Two Cities to those nineteen-eighties mini-series starring Susan Lucci and her look-alikes. To make the conceit work once again, Mask occasionally winks at its own genre with scenes like the one where the heroine Ji-Sook jokes about having a wealthy identical twin. More importantly, perhaps, Mask embraces the over-the-top aspects of the plot without irony. Its good production values—particularly in that opening car crash—also help to keep the exaggeration grounded in reality.

Director Boo Seong-Chul (You’re Beautiful, My Girlfriend is a Nine-Tailed Fox, Heirs) seems to understand that Choi Ho-Chul’s story-telling is influenced in part by Gothic horror. He delivers new variations on horror scenarios, like a scene in which Seok-Hoon’s henchman tries to get a corpse out of a hospital without anyone noticing. Nothing like a mysterious corpse to keep the tension wound tight! The director’s proven comic talent also gives us occasional, perfectly-executed moments of humor. But more importantly, Boo Seong-Chul depicts the characters’ emotions in all their overwrought extremes.

mask promo poster

Mask also makes unabashed tugs at our heartstrings. Joo Ji-Hoon isn’t the most versatile or charismatic actor, but here as in 2007’s Princess Hours (Goong), he plays a cold, isolated hero, a part well-suited to his low-key style. Even when Min-Woo threatens to kill Ji-Sook, we can see how desperately he fears himself and the people around him. He believes he’s losing his mind and control of his actions.

Actress Soo Ae makes Ji-Sook sympathetic but not weak. Even when she grows depressed in episodes 5 and 6, you can sense the strength propping her up in despair. If she begins to help Min-Woo fight back against his family, she’ll make a formidable ally.

And for a real treat, second lead Yeon Jung-Hoon (the Vampire Prosecutor himself) plays the baddie Seok-Hoon as a sexy, scary psychopath. His character is a close cousin to Ji Sung’s vengeful Min-Hyuk in Secret. Seok-Hoon’s attempts to control Ji-Sook are particularly unsettling because her heiress double, Eun-Ha, was his secret lover. Like Min-Hyuk in Secret, he hates the heroine, but feels attracted to her in spite of himself.

mask episode two joo ji hoon
Joo Ji-Hoon is the tortured, possibly insane hero, Min-Woo.

With Joo Ji-Hoon’s Min-Woo as a potential hero, however, Mask may turn out ultimately less creepy than Secret (could anything be creepier than Secret?). It remains to be seen if Mask can tell as interesting a story as Secret, however. The characters’ intense emotions can be fascinating if the story can make us doubt our assumptions about love and hate, as certain moments in Secret did. Or the emotions can become exhausting.

Mask has clear villains and heroes early on. So far we’ve seen little in the way of internal conflicts, except in Min-Woo, who agonizes over his hallucinations and lost memories. Min-Woo’s struggle is drawing me along for now, but Mask may need to provide its characters with further internal conflicts down the road. Min-Woo and Ji-Sook both have some growing up to do and their inner stories will be important in balancing the makjang plot elements.

Part II, concerning High Society, here.

Full cast information for Mask at Drama Wiki and Asian Wiki.

Mask airs Wednesday and Thursday nights on SBS in South Korea, and Viki releases it for subtitling the same day.

41 thoughts on “In the Mood for Melodrama, Pt. 1 of 2: “Mask” Q1 Commentary

  1. I never could get into Secret (I really did try agin after your review, honest) but I liked the feel of being a fly on the wall in a mad house that Mask gives me. It keeps me baited, but ultimately has yet to deliver what I liked most about it. I remain torn in between episodes about whether I should keep going or not. Vampire Brother in law keeps me saying yes so far.

    To explain, I agree that the leads need more internal conflict. Min-woo’s characterization doesn’t seem consistent. Yes we’re getting “growth” but his neuroses comes and goes. Same with Ji-sook’s spine or lack thereof. And I wish when a person pretends to be someone else in dramaland, they would put more effort into the pretense of pretending to be someone else. Ji-sook not really trying to be Eun-ha is leaving too many gaps for me.

    Seok-heon and wifey are consistent. His domineering need to control Ji-sook for his plan and out of a growing obsession is well played. Not to mention the cruelly efficient emotional yo-yo he plays with his wife. I do like and feel sorry for wifey though I wish they’d give her a little more to do. The actress was more fun when she was channeling Rasputin in The Three Musketeers. I bet Seok-hoon would really dig her then. (Which leads me to a rabbit trail where Mask pulls an Orange Marmalade and Seok-hoon ends up in that show’s universe and they plague Joseon as an evil power couple together!)

    • “Fly on the wall in a mad house”–yep, that’s what it’s like. I’m not always sure I want to watch more, but as soon as it starts, I can’t turn away. It’s like slowing down to look at a traffic accident. (Speaking of which, how many cars have they wrecked for Mask so far?) But I agree with you about the characters’ inconsistency.

      Vampire brother-in-law and Lady Rasputin would be the most awesome Joseon power couple! In fact, could they just guest star as villains on Orange Marmalade for an episode or two? Also, I like thinking of all the shows that could have been livened up by “pulling a marmalade.” What if Naiel’s Cantabile had suddenly gone Joseon in the middle? Or maybe Hyde, Jekyll, Me could have sent everyone back in time, since they didn’t use the circus setting much anyway.

  2. darn you. Making me consider Mask. I really enjoyed Secret but I find traffic accidents and tense shows equally hard to watch. Grrr.

    • Trust me erin. If there’s a makjang to watch, I recommend this one. Its very enjoyable for me. Unlike Secret, i’m not a blubbering mess all the time. Its a makjang but it has a nice touch of lightness to it. But it never lets u forget what it’s abt.

      • Well I gave in and started it late last night. I laughed when it started with a car crash. It reminded me of a car ad from a couple years ago. So when she went over the embankment I started to laugh. I am not very far into it but so far the laughter has continued. It is so makjang that it seems like a parody.

        I am ok about car crashes in TV shows. But the scene at the highschool reunion was too much for me. I skipped a few minutes. Secret really did it for me. I was amazed I could watch the sad scenes because I often feel as you described above. Everything about that show was so wrong and yet I was utterly hooked. Perhaps it was just the power of the leads.

  3. I’m so loving this show right now! Imho it makes more sense than Secret and feels so much more inviting. Secret really rung me out w all those sad scenes. I had to even skip an ep bc it was just too much. I was like, when will the heroine get a break? That character was really unfortunate. And while Ji Sung was quite attractive in his role, he was a pretty dark dude. So the romantic aspect had me sometimes scratching my head at the character’s decisions. Boy was it (oddly) addictive tho. I think Mask will be much stronger. I’m already loving our cast. No one here is one-note. I’m loving our otp to bits. Never seen so much trust from a male lead before. And the heroine’s tenderness for her husband feels so touching. It reminds me of Jang Na Ra’s ‘Mi Young’ in Fated to Love You. This show is my ‘Ex-Girlfriend Club’ right now. I cannot wait til next week and will probably re-watch couple eps to pass the time.

    • I can see why Erin says it almost feels like parody–the plot goes so far that you could watch it just to enjoy seeing how far it goes. It totally reminds me of a 1980s mini series.

      At the same time the OTP have a really sweet thing going on, and the “I’m married to you but you don’t know who I am” thing is pretty sexy. I think of it as like Secret, but for people who found Min-Hyuk (Ji Sung) too much of a “dark dude” :).

      Work is insane right now and I’ve fallen behind in dramas. Strangely, when I had to choose between “Mask” and “High Society” this week, I went with High Society. Not sure why. Perhaps because I’m trying to figure out the Sung Joon character. I know who I’m rooting for in “Mask,” I know I like it, and I can always binge-watch it when it ends. But with High Society I can’t even figure out if I like it or not and that’s bugging me.

  4. Look like we both being grounded by work (hhahaha, or just ,me)
    Monday and Tuesday now is exceptionally worth waiting,
    not to add your extra blogging time, but I reccomend Remember You/Hello Monster, even I actually watch because the buzz in D.O’s (EXO) role but I liked it. Like Criminal minds special mini episode with love line and more back story. not really dark, lovely and bright editing but great acting so far.

    As fan of Secret and Mask, I found that Mask character is definitely like refined Secret character,
    Min Woo (who is great at his work and get thrown by all of this because of Suk hoon’s plot is like HJE in Secret who is being used but also has part of JS in term of family and wealth)

    This drama is secretly refreshing because it makes Makjang back to the surface with higher quality and not some crazy plot with overacting. Their interaction is insane, especially Suk Hoon (you don’t know how many times I wish they just kiss just because the tension can reach me just over small screen). Min Woo just like Ji sung character gradually becomes likable and relatable when Suk Hoon just like bae soo bin becomes more evil, frustrating but still makes me sinfully like his smile. It just Soo Ae character is in some part just so weak compared ti HJE in secret, partially because HJE character is let everything loose and just followed by Ji Sung as her stalker to life when Ji Sook (Soo Ae Character) is always under pressure all the times but never tried or have the upper hand after all the hints the drama gives about her upbringing.
    It hurts me when they just nee to talk and they can join hand (like dragonball or power ranger or even Kamen rider) to solve a question like : who is the bad guy, what is his plan. how he executed his plan, who is the target, but the drag it and I feel why??.
    Not to compare but in secret, their secret is known but the real play behind is not reveal to any of main pair while in here both Ji sook and Min woo got enough information to strike back,
    Well maybe this week ….^-^
    anyway don’t work too much, take care of yourself

    • Hi A.V.! I caught up on Mask this weekend and was totally hooked again. Even though it doesn’t tell a new story, it always comes up with new ways of making things happen. I’m excited that Soo Ae’s character is starting to take a tougher position. And Vampire Brother-in-Law is ridiculously repellant and attractive at the same time.

      I hadn’t thought about how Min-Woo has some qualities of HJE’s character in Secret, but he does, doesn’t he. Everything keeps going wrong for him and he gets angry, but he never hurts anyone else deliberately. I hope I can find some time this coming weekend to keep up with the next episodes. That envelope with the fingerprints!!! Aaa!!!! Thanks for the smiles and good luck, take care of yourself, too!

      • From the text preview and unsubbed video preview (from Soompi), it looks like our heroine JS will seriously wear her mask as EH. But poor MW looks so upset. On the flip side MY steps up to the plate. She is shown in several scenes in the preview. Maybe it’ll be her ep? Idk.

        The preview was pretty short tho. Apparently, the crew didn’t finish filming til 6 am. And that answers y the preview came out late. Anyway, looking forward to the new ep. Hope the actors don’t burn out them selves.

        And Odessa, dont work too hard! Make sure u get enuff sleep. All the best chingu!

        • I LOVE the twists and turns in this week’s episodes! I have so much hope for our OTP. And MY and SH’s twisted relationship just gets creepier and more fascinating. But so many people know about EH’s secret identity now!!

          Now I need to get to work so I can have time for some of that sleeping stuff tonight. Take care!

  5. Caught up on the latest episodes of Mask (still have to see 1-8).. wow, just wow. Ultra makjang! I agree Su Ae is not a scared little kitten in ALL the scenes, but you’ve gotta give it to Mr Vampire Prosecutor and Milady. A crazy couple to beat all couples. Worse than the second couple from Secret.

    • I do suggest watching 1-8 if you have a chance. The growth of ji Sook is quite marvelous. She is getting more and more confident.

      (very slight spoiler for last weeks episodes)
      “Ultra Makjang” is the perfect description of this show. I had to laugh when last week everything was going wrong for JS. Everything was so ultra over the top and then they top it all off with her running out of gas. Such a mundane thing that could happen to each of us was elevated to makjang level and I laughed. Perhaps my sense of humour is slightly off kilter.

  6. A few quick questions and small comment

    1) Why is the brother-in-law nicknamed “vampire” by you fine folks?

    2) Why do k-drama men have such short pants? It is worse than the boater hat.

    3) What are people watching and enjoying right now. I need some suggestions.

    Odessa – please do get enough sleep. I know you like to do the uncaps when you can and we all enjoy them. But I also am enjoying this free flow discussion. Perhaps not what you envisaged when you started this blog but I think you might want to consider this format for shows you do not have the time or interest to uncap.

    • Erin,

      If you like murder mysteries with a touch of paranormal, I do recommend watching Vampire Prosecutor (yes its a Korean drama) and see Seok-Hoon rock the guyliner and fangs 😀
      Mi-Yeon previously played the character of Milady de Winter in korean version of Three Musketeers.

      The short pants is weird. I guess its because they have slimmer profiles in general than western actors.

      I am currently on the mend from a drama slump. I am only following High Society and Mask. Catching up on Heard it though the grapevine. Considering “Oh my ghostess” for something light and fluffy. Also considering “The Time I loved you” because I have a weakness for crinkly eyed guys (there! I confessed)

      @Odessa, do get enough rest!

    • Hi erin!!! Looks like all the questions are answered but I add my imput for qestion #2: the world may never knw. I have made piece with the whole short pant + sockless feet combo. I just pass it off as another cultural thing I’ll nvr get :).

      I also find myself only watching the same 2 dramas u mentioned. I mean what else is there? Orange Marmalade? No thanks. Truth is these 2 are probably the best thing on right nw. ‘I Remember u/Hello Monster’ is cable so its going to b hard to find. And im glancing suspiciously over my shoulder w tvN’s Hidden Identity since its well, tvN. Their shows possess charm but after the stunt they pulled w my beloved ExGC im nt gonna trust them so easily again.

      I think ur idea re: this discussion type format sounds good too. Its fun and less pressure on Odessa.

    • Thanks for suggestions Pranx and Camille. I think I will give Vampire Prosecutor a try. I am waiting a bit on The time I loved you. I liked Lee Jin Wook in Miss Granny and I feel no shame in confessing to liking the crinkly look. Oh My Ghostess and Hidden Identity are not catching my interest at this time but that may be mainly to do with the tvN issue. If either of you watch any of these do let me know how they are.

      I seem to be starting and stopping quite a few things. I have had a lot of airport time on my hands lately and it seems to be conducive to starting a show but not finishing. Or maybe i have just not found anything I really wanted to watch in the hotel room. I have just now caught up on Orange Marmalade. it was one I started in the airport thinking it was a nice easy to watch show for the trip. I purposely avoided period pieces and then boom I was looking at funny hats. I was not amused. I have managed to keep watching warm and cosy which is pleasant enough but not breathtaking – well except for the scenery.

      I am glad I am not the only one noticing the short pants. While I mostly am just taking it as some weird Korean thing they still jar, though I may have to retract on them being worse than the boater hat. I went and looked at it again.

      @Odessa – the hat is pretty bad. Okay it is really bad. But it only occurs very briefly and short pants are pretty continual. Seemed like almost every outfit of Director Jo in Ex GF Club made me cringe with the short pants. And that is not the only show. If you have not been noticing them up until now I bet you will now. I’m sorry.

      @pranx – did you watch 1-8? What did you think?

      • @erin, unfortunately life got very busy this week… havent had a chance to catch up on dramas. But i’ll be back with my thoughts on ep 1-8!

        @odessa, is there a way to show comment count on posts? This is a question to everyone actually… How do you keep track of new comments?

        • There must be a way to show comment count…but as you can see, I have trouble keeping track of comments even when it’s my site! I think clicking “notify me of new comments” when you reply is probably the best way? In August I’ll see if there’s a straightforward piece of code for showing comment count. 🙂

  7. @ pranx and erin: Thanks! I’ve got 24 hours off work for the Fourth of July and I’m spending as much of it asleep as possible. I’m enjoying reading everyone’s comments and restraining myself from writing a lot–another nap is calling.

    But I have to say one thing: NOTHING is worse than the Boater Hat.

    Do all the guys get stuck in the weird ankle-length pants or is it only Min-Woo in Mask? I feel like Evil Seok Hoon is always wearing the perfect tailored three-piece suit. Then Min-Woo shows up in those weird pink fashion victim outfits with no socks (though at least I’m seeing fewer sandals + suits combos than last summer, for ex. in That’s Okay It’s Love). Another sign that Min-Woo’s still not totally sane.

    Seok-Hoon and wife were a creepy makjang masterpiece in the latest episodes, which I admit I sacrificed some sleep to watch as soon as they came out. Talk about destined for each other.

    Happy weekend!

    • The latest eps of Mask were good, esp ep 14. That cliffhanger will make me suffer til nxt wk. Why does 1 wk feel so long? Whe? Anyway, u hit the nail on the head with our evil couple. They’re so dysfunctional. They’ll ruin eachother b4 everything’s over. MY’s already showing early warning signs of hw desstructive each will be later on. MY wants to play with fire but she’s nvr been on the receiving end of SH’s crazy. She’ll get burned.

      • I also hope the otp will weather the storms to cum. The shw can get very makjangy when it wants to. But the writer is smart with the switch btwn cute, humour and makjang. It can feel very unbalanced tho at times.

      • I think the best thing about this week’s installment of Mask was Min Woo’s smile. While I have enjoyed the sweetness of Min Woo and Ji Sook’s relationship I have found his face a wee bit sour but that smile really made me warm up to him. While I like the two of them together I have to say that I think the chemistry is actually between Soo Ae and Yeon Jung Hoon. I completely believe Seok hoon was in love with Eun ha, and when she is playing Ji Sook the tension between them is palpable. They are my two favourite characters and I sort of don’t want him to be destroyed in the end. Though I think that chance of that not occurring is pretty minute.

        Agree with Camille that Mi Yeon will be on the losing side in a battle with her evil husband. And what is she thinking getting into it with him? She can only lose if it is revealed that she killed EH. And why has mister manipulator not been telling her that he was simply protecting her from being arrested? Given her penchant for believing his lies that one is pretty good, plus it also works as a subtle threat.

        I feel it would be out of character for Min woo to freak out about the lab results without speaking to his wife first. After all she has told him she is going to share all her secrets with him when he gets home. But as that does not allow for delayed ending I suspect we are in for a bumpy makjang ride next week.

        • erin, I share ur sentiments regarding MW’s reaction to the lab results. When I was rewatching MW’s face as he looked at the test results tho he really looked baffled. But I doubt he’ll just go with that alone. He has been trusting her til nw so I can’t imagine that he won’t ask her abt it. With all they’ve been through I don’t suppose he’ll just flat out distrust her all of a sudden. I mean, if one uses her words and actions alone as a measure of sincerity, he should knw that he can trust JS despite this deception. I suspect the ep will tackle this revelation. But you nvr knw w this show. Anything can happen with the crazy couple meddling. Let’s hope it all works out.

        • Thanks so much for posting so we can keep talking about these shows!

          Both had such well-done cliff-hangers this week. High Society put both our OTPs in seriously suspenseful situations, and Mask–whew!–what an ending. Episode 14 jumped around oddly at times–with our heroine suddenly running to the hospital (no spoilers)–but all the elements came together well at the cliff-hanger. I’m with Camille in feeling confident Min-Woo won’t jump to a conclusion, but that makes me really curious how he WILL feel when he learns the situation. I mean, he trusts Ji Sook, but what a weird thing to learn, right? “The woman who is supposed to be your wife is actually dead–murdered by your sister–and she’s being impersonated by this other woman who you’re actually married to, but whose name you don’t know and who broke into your safe to incriminate you for fraud and drug abuse, before saving you from being committed to a mental institution because she, in fact, has fallen in love with you–although she might have to divorce you to save you from your homicidal, vengeance-seeking brother-in-law.” I look forward to finding out what part of this bothers him most.

          Mi-Yeon’s latest tactics don’t make much sense to me, but I can’t wait for more Mi-Yeon versus Seok-Hoon. They’re both crazy enough to kill each other, and I have a feeling at least one of them won’t make it. I have to agree with Erin that Yeon Jung Hoon and Soo Ae are really awesome together, in the pure electricity department–YJH just has ridiculous quantities of charisma. Our OTP are sweet together, but Min Woo does tend toward the sour. (And in this show the K-drama “good times”–the corny dating stuff–doesn’t don’t interest me as much as the makjangy “bad times.”)

          @ Erin: the hats! 2014 really turned out to be the year I make peace with the Joseon-era hats. I started Orange Marmalade with no idea it would turn into a costume drama. I’m behind on it now (where they heck can this plot go?) but it’s the first sageuk where I haven’t immediately been giggling at the hats. Perhaps I’ve achieved desensitization!

          And you’re totally right about Director Jo’s trousers in Exes Club. They were pretty awful. And paired with the man sandals, ugh, it does make me shudder.

          I’m hard at work today on a Saturday, but I did have lunch at a Chinese place where the waiter was the cutest flower boy I’ve ever seen. He could get a part in an ensemble drama any day. That made me smile. I hope you guys are keeping well!

  8. Odessa unni, ep 16 WAS DAEBAK!!! Ep 15 was awesome, beautiful, intense, sad, makjang – all the best recipes for a strong ep. Shows usually fizzle out towards the end and yes Mask did have a fluffy ep or two. BUT this weeks eps tho!!! Be prepared for a surprise at the end of ep 16 but did I already say too much…? Darn…I believe that these eps are the strongest eps til now. Also be prepared for some trust-testing for our otp. I can’t say too much til everyone else has seen the ep. Enjoy the present that is ep 15 and 16.

    • really? I had the opposite reaction to most of it. Once others have had a chance to watch I shall be quite interested in you expanding on what made you like them. I felt like there was wayyy too much filler. I really am becoming a fan of yeon Jung Woo though. Everyone’s acting was good but he was stand out. he “smiled” at one point and it was so different than other smiles I have seen on him but it was perfect for the situation. Plus the ending was good just as you say.

      • erin, you are right abt the filler. But for me that was mainly for eps 13 &14. They were slower paced. Coming from ep 14 I was impressed w the way the intensity was kept through out the ep. Usually, the 1st ep that airs in the wk has a mountain of expectation comin fr the wk b4. And what Mask usually does is to resolve the previous ep’s cliffhanger rather quickly. And then things go gack to normal. With ep 15 I was really enjoying the pacing. Never wanted it to end.

        The transition btwn scenes in ep 16 was kinda fast. In restrospect, I would’ve loved to hav seen the moment in which MW not just decides to *spoiler* keep JS by his side but rather I would’ve preferred to see him really realize hw good she was to him. And then make his decision. His statement at the end of ep 16 wasn’t as romantic for me as ep 7 when he kissed her. *end spoiler*

        (I think some comments here cud b spoliers) My only disappointment was with MW’s character. The way he handled things was not at all what I expected. I really did trust his character to go to his wife 1st when it all went down. Aside from that I understand his feelings. This was the guy who had put a mountain of trust in a woman he had barely known but grown to love. He was also the guy w major trust issues.

        Currently im starting to wonder hw exactly one is supposed to interpret some characters in Mask in light of everything up to ep 16. The characters do some things that 1) are contradictory or 2) just plain illogical. MW is pretty dense tho I kinda get why he’s like that. I’d love love love to c him seriously investigating and getting his much deserved answers. Every1 tries to protect him like a child but he’s a man. He needs to take charge of things. I mean, JS suffers too much carrying her burden. I understand where she’s coming from. But it looks like noble idiocy sumtimes.

        MY is another can of beans I can’t open right nw. Sometimes I see glimpses of emotion and then she just does the cruel thing. SH and her will really destroy each other. If that’s love, I don’t want what they’re on.

        Hope everyone’s holding up! All the best chingus! 🙂

        • I finally got to catch up with *last week’s* episodes of Mask! The logic of the character’s actions remains entirely based on emotion, so I shouldn’t have been surprised that it took them so long in eps 15 and 16. I was annoyed at a certain amount of filler, but also pleased with a few moments that made me shout at the screen. My favorite thing might have been seeing how our 2nd couple spends quality time together–at the shooting range. Those two are so daebak. The nightmare couple who must destroy each other before the end. Mi Yeon goes totally off the deep end in this one and makes no sense, but she also has that desire to defend her little bro.

          Although I felt there was some filler, I did understand why it took time for our OTP to work things out. I like that their problems in eps 15 and 16 were presented more or less as a marital quarrel, where each wants the other to understand them better, not as a major conflict of interests. They both have the same goals, but I can see why they were reluctant to trust each other right away. Ji Sook wants to go by her own name now and she wants Min Woo to like her under her own identity. And of course he’s hurt that she didn’t trust him sooner, or didn’t ask him for help, and that she still won’t. So it’s a good lover’s spat. I just could have done without the violin playing.

          This show’s still soooo fun!

  9. Anneyoung Odessa unni! 🙂 How have u been doing? Been a while since I commented. Ive started my summer job now so im usually so tired these days T_T But I love sharing here so here I am!

    Ive just seen ep 18. And I liked it. Awesome cliffhanger as usual. But I wasn’t as impressed by ep 17 tho there were cute otp moments. Perhaps its bc I knew it was all too happy and rainbows. U knw the kdrama rules: too much current happiness = a butt load of future sadness. Yh, nvr will undrstand that math either haha.

    I think these eps were good tho not as daebak as last wk. Just remember to turn off ur logic and u’ll be fine. I stopped taking the show seriously a looonng time ago. It amazes me hw enjoyable Mask is even when we see the lack of logic and plot consistency. That’s y I gotta giv writer-nim props. U gotta b a little talented to sell a shw that is still riveting inspite of its craziness.

    Now unto ep 18:
    SH’s evil plans are back. He’s good when he’s good.
    Then there’s MY. My thoughts can be summed up in 3 words: tsk tsk tsk. Girl has no loyalty, except for her lying, evil, two faced – u get the point.
    On another point, I can’t believe that my otp still falls for SH’s lies. Ugh, smh.
    Where MW is concerned all I can say is SWIM BOY, SWIM!!!

    Anyway, hope ur wk is going ok. All the best chingu! Fighting! 🙂 😉

    • Hi Chingu! I had to wait for ep 20 subtitles so I could finish the whole thing at once. Dynamite final twists and turns! Have you seen it?

  10. just managed to finish this show, minus the few minutes that are not translated yet. But I ceased to even care that I could not understand at the end. Which was a bit weird because I mostly enjoyed the series but I just felt like I was watching filler for 90% of tis final episode. The only thing I thought was engaging was the fact SH actually did love MY. I had a feeling he did and that part felt right to me. And why exactly was MW fully clothed when he woke up after spending his last night with JS? How did they make a baby fully clothed?

    • I hope the OTP had enough sense not to make a baby who would then be born in jail. Or is that their diabolical plan in order to get Ji Sook a reduced sentence? 😀

  11. Finally finished this too. I don’t recollect having seen a KDrama where the female lead essentially mothers the male lead so much. He was such a nincompoop (my word of the day today)
    But kudos to actors playing MY and SH. Especially MY, who managed to eke out a tear from me. Despite all the deaths she had directly/indirectly caused. I feel like the price she paid was not so much to pay for her sins but the ultimate thing to get SH to finally acknowledge her. And acknowledge he did. I don’t think he ever loved her or suddenly came to love her in the final few minutes, but mostly he saw her as a kindred spirit. To me their tragic story was more compelling than the naive male lead and his mothering wife.

    Yeon Jeong-Hun can rock the socks off an angst-ridden male lead. I would love to watch a sequel where he decides true atonement is not to die but to live with the burden (this is from rurouni kenshin)

  12. Woo hoo! Just finished! I like the twists in the last few eps. I thought it couldn’t get tenser (I mean, we already knew two of our characters were murderers) but next thing you know there’s a house on fire, a missing body, etc. This show really kept ramping up the insanity. I’m not sure why the evidence at the end is finally the right amount of evidence to scare Seok-Hoon (maybe he knew it was episode 20?) but the ending had all the poetic justice I was looking for. Mi Yeon was an awesome character, and she and Seok Hoon definitely had the more compelling story.

    @pranx: You said exactly what I was thinking! Aargh, the mothering! The weak part of this show was most of the scenes in which the OTP are happy together. Because she never stops mothering him. He keeps trying to help her out, but she keeps making all the decisions for them. I expected him to get really pissed off at some point. Let the man put on his own sunscreen! And maybe let him express an opinion about your legal problems, too.

    Re SH/MY, “Kindred spirit” is a good explanation. I wouldn’t have bought it if SH said he loved her. But I totally believed that he realized she was his link to the human race, his chance at atonement. Though I wouldn’t mind watching him try to atone. Yeon Jeong-Hun–Wow.

    @ Erin: the clothing thing made me laugh, as always. Why do they wake up with their clothes looking so neat and tidy and unwrinkled?

    But then, this writer is much better at inventing creepy dysfunctional couples than happy, healthy couples, so I have to admit, most of the OTP stuff in the final few episodes made me laugh! Whenever they appeared, it was a parade of K-drama cliches. Thankfully, Mi Yeon and Seok Hoon got a lot of screen time, and they got crazier and crazier. Like the messed-up OTP in Secret, they kept me riveted wondering how they would try to hurt each other next. Now if only some day this writer could team up with a writer whose heroines aren’t creepy mother figures!

  13. @Odessa, good to see you back! I agree, MY was SH’s link to humanity.
    @Erin, I LOLed when MW got up fully clothed with shirt tucked in!

    I don’t think we should try to make sense of the plot anymore. Why the evidence was suddenly enough and why the press conference couldn’t be called earlier, who knows? And who cares? I will just wait for Yeon Jeong Hun’s next outing. And YIY too.

  14. Haha. “I don’t think we should try to make sense of the plot anymore.” is both good advice and funny too. well said.

    I do think SH and MY were kindred spirits but I had many moments throughout the show where I was watching them and thought “oh I think he actually cares for her”. Now I am wishing I could remember them in better detail so as to give a better example. But I also thought that he could not allow himself to enjoy or express that as he needed to be cold and not care so as to continue with his revenge plans.

    thanks for watching this together. It has been fun.

    • Seok Hoon was so focused on his schemes that I think it’s only at the very end that he realizes he actually has emotions. It’s well done, though, to keep us wondering what those emotions actually are. He clearly cares about Mi Yeon. That scene at the airport was pretty awesome. They don’t need to show us anything more for us to understand why he doesn’t flee the country. I love how the ending totally flipped my expectations for them–I thought one of them would probably kill the other in a crime of passion. And instead, we have an ending without murder, and an emotional reversal, yet it makes perfect sense. Well done, writer-nim!

      I was thrilled that Yoo In-Young was so awesome here. She played a really irritating character in My Love from the Stars. Thanks to her, I’ve bumped up 3 Musketeers to the top of my watch list. I hope she gets some more good parts! Yeon Jeong-Hun… I’ve actually now watched a couple episodes of Vamp Prosecutor because of that man. It’s every bit as awful and absurd as I expected. But YJH does some Olympic-level brooding and angst. (And occasionally smiles, which is so surprising after seeing him play Seok Hoon that I don’t even recognize him.) Can’t wait to see his next project!

      Thanks for watching with me this summer! You guys made sure I didn’t work all the time! Now I’ve got to catch up and figure out what’s out now…

  15. I meant to post a comment here, either it got lost or I slept before hitting “post” 😀
    I wanted to just say a big thank you to you Odessa for this forum where we can discuss and try to understand Kdramas from our westernized view 🙂

    I find Dramabeans to be too crowded (thats a given since its THE Kdrama blog). I love AKP’s snarky blog, but she doesn’t always recap. Plus who else but you Odessa to recap hidden gems like Pride and Prejudice 🙂

    I have started with “I remember you” which feels like a Korean version of “Mentalist”. Jang Nara looks a lot like Robin Tunney. Lets meet again in some drama soon!

    • Hi Pranx! A huge thank you to YOU for reading and chiming in! I’m feeling a bit adrift without any new shows picked out at the moment. I’ve heard good things about “I remember you” (I liked the Mentalist!) so I should check it out. I also started watching “Heard it through the Grapevine” since I missed it this spring. And maybe I have time now to watch “Punch”!

      But it’s more fun to watch a currently airing show so we can gossip about it together. I hope we’ll find one of those again soon! 🙂

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