Recap: “To the Beautiful You” Episode 1
I like! It’s not as zip and zany as I expected and the trailers suggested, but it’s still fun, light-hearted, and sweet. And I love the heroine! She might be the most feminine out of all the adaptions but she’s got the (figurative) balls to make up for her lack of male physicality.
The story starts off with our hero Kang Tae-joon (Minho) winning the gold for the high jump in the IAAF World Junior Championships. Our heroine, Goo Jae-hee (Sulli) watches him jump from a hospital/medical care facility in the U.S. Presumably she is sick but we don’t yet know with what.
Next we see Jae-hee cutting off her hair with her friend asking her if she has to go this far. Yes, she does. (Only in K-drama do people give themselves perfect haircuts with large paper scissors.)
Goo Jae-hee lands in South Korea, dressed as a boy.
In South Korea at the Genie High School, soccer athlete Cha Eun-gyul (Lee Hyun Woo) scores a point during a game while Song Jong-min (Kwang-hee) cheers him on. Eun-gyul is too busy running to the sidelines to tweet a picture of himself to celebrate with his fellow teammates. Two things we can take away from this scene: Eun-gyul is a bit of a soccer narcissist and Song Jong-min is Eun-gyul’s fanboy.
An excited group of high school girls wait excitedly out the gates of Genie High School. A trio of girls stand out among the group. They seem particularly stalkerish with their huge professional cameras.
Tae-joon and his manager Jang (Lee Ah-hyun) are heading to Genie in their celebrity fan. Manager Jang informs Tae-joon that there is a high jump scene in commercial he is going to film tomorrow. Tae-joon thought that there would be none. Manager Jang assures him that it will be fine since he’s successfully completed his rehab.
Unfortunately for Jae-Hee, who is trying to get past the mob of girls and into Genie High, Tae-joon’s car pulls up to the gates and she is shoved toward his van and crushed into the car window.
Jae-hee struggles up the steps with her heavy suitcase. The locks slowly become loose and her clothes fall out, including her teddy-bear underpants. Jae-hee notices and starts to pick up her clothing. She doesn’t notice that Tae-joon is also on the stairs. Tae-joon picks it up the teddy-bear underpants and comments, “You have peculiar taste.” This is how Goo Jae-hee comes face to face with Tae-joon for the first time. (I facepalm for this girl.) In her haste to grab the underwear back, she falls back onto her open suitcase, which then starts to slide down the stairs with her riding it. Tae-joon tries to stop it to no avail.
Goo Jae-hee heads into the teachers’ office. Lee So-jung (Lee Young-eun) is Jae-hee’s homeroom teacher. Teacher Lee looks over Jae-hee’s records and compliments her on her various medals in track. Jae-hee thinks to herself, “They were all in the female division.”
Jae-hee changes into her school uniform in the locker room. She then heads to her classroom. She tries introducing herself but her classmates ignore her. Notably, Eun-gyul, Jong-min, and Min Hyun-jae (Kang Ha-neul) are in the same class as her. One of the other boys throws a banana peel at Jae-hee. Eun-gyul feels sorry for Jae-hee and calls her over to an empty seat next to him. Jong-min does not like this. He goes over to Jae-hee and tells her that there is a test that all newcomers must take.
Jae-hee walks cautiously toward a doghouse that is surrounded with warning signs. An adorable and large white dog is inside the doghouse. When it sees Jae-hee, it charges at her. Jae-hee falls back in fear.
The dog is licking Jae-hee all over the face. (So cute! The dog is the star of this drama.) Jae-hee wonders at all the warning signs. The dog is friendly. She gets up and crawls into the doghouse to fetch a chewed-up tennis ball.
Tae-joon greets and pets the dog, calling him Sang-chu (means lettuce in Korean). Tae-joon tells him that there is a high jump scene in the commercial tomorrow. Tae-joon asks if he should just not show up for the commercial and give up high jump while he’s at it. Jae-hee, who had been hidden inside the doghouse, crawls out yelling, “You can’t!”
Jae-hee wants to know why Tae-joon wants to quit. Is it because his ankle injury is not healed yet? Tae-joon tells her to mind her own business and leaves.
Jae-hee brings back the tennis ball into the classroom, strutting with success. The other guys admire her; only Jong-min is unimpressed and calls her “soon doo-boo” (soft tofu).
Tae-joon enters the classroom. Jae-hee is too happy to see that he is in the same class as her. His seat is behind hers. She stares like a fangirl. Tae-joon is a bit creeped out by this.
Lunchtime! Goo Jae-hee sits down with her own plate of food and starts to eat. The boys around her scarf down their food like a pack of wolves.
Jae-hee goes to the bathroom next. As a girl disguised as a boy at an all-boys school, she always has to use the stall. When she comes out of the stall after finishing her business, she trips over Jong-min’s legs and accidentally pulls down another student’s pants as she falls. She apologizes but he is angry. The muscle guy grabs Jae-hee to hit her but she ducks. The other male students and Eun-gyul have gathered at the bathroom to watch the fight.
Jae-hee is ducking left and right, forcing the muscle guy’s hands into the urinals. Yuck. Jae-hee runs into a stall and pulls out a toilet plunger. She expertly defends herself with the plunger using some fencing techniques. The plunger eventually ends up sucking the face of the muscle guy. Eww. Seriously.
Ha Seung-ri (Seo Jun-young) (I love this actor personally, from “Kimchee Cube Radish”) comes to stop the fight. The students disperse. Eun-gyul remains to compliment Jae-hee on her fighting skills. She tells him that she learned fencing from her older brother.
Eun-gyul leads Jae-hee to the dorms. Eun-gyul wonders at the fact that Jae-hee was able to bring back the ball from Sang-chu. Sang-chu attacks all males who come near him. Eun-gyul calls Jae-hee “softy” because she feels cushy. Except her chest. That’s rock hard. Did she only work out her chest? (Horrible thing to say to a girl. Even if she is binding her chest and you have no way of knowing.)
Eun-gyul describes the organization of the dorms.
Dorm 1 is led by Jo Young-man (Yoo Min-kyu; “Flower Boy Band”). He is captain of the tae-kwon-do team. Symbol is the eagle.
Dorm 2 is led by Ha Seung-ri. He is head of the track team. Symbol is the white tiger.
Dorm 3 is led by Na Chul-soo (Kim Yi-an). He specializes in figuring skating. Symbol is the blue dragon.
The competition between the dorms is fierce. Lots of blood and sweat. And there is a sports competition coming up soon.
Jae-hee asks Eun-gyul if Tae-joon will participate in the sports competition. Eun-gyul responds that Tae-joon hasn’t been doing sports lately, after his injury. Eun-gyul asks Jae-hee why she keeps on asking about Tae-joon. She just says it’s because they are classmates. Song Jong-min watches this with jealousy. He lathers his lips with gloss.
Manager Jang is apologizing to a photographer at a studio for Seol Han-na’s tardiness. Seol Han-na (Kim Ji-won) shows up late to her photo shoot because she overslept. She pulls out the aegyo to appease the angry photographer. He falls for it.
During a break between shoots, Han-na asks Manager Jang if Tae-joon will show up. Nope, he won’t because the concept changed. Seol Han-na storms off, angry that she woke up early to come to photo shoot to see Tae-joon.
Eun-gyul shows Jae-hee her room, Room 303. She marvels at the room ( and so do I. Real life seems so unfair when compared to dramas). Jae-hee asks with whom she is sharing the room with. Eun-gyul tells her it is better that she doesn’t know.
Jae-hee happily jumps into her bed. She thinks about her meeting with Tae-joon. “He seems to have a bad personality.”
Jang Manager meets with a ST (company name) representative. He tells her that ST is reconsidering its contract with Tae-joon because of his injury. Jang Manager reassures him that Tae-joon is all better. He will do the high jump tomorrow at the photo shoot. Also, Tae-joon chose ST, not the other way around. Consider themselves lucky.
Unfortunately for Jae-hee, the next class is swim class. She claims that she didn’t bring her uniform. Song Jong-min offers his old ones with a hole in them and tries to force Jae-hee to change but Eun-gyul stops him.
Eun-gyul can’t open his locker door. The stalker trio burst outs of the locker and run. Jong-min chases after them because they took Eun-gyul’s picture.
Jae-hee is not participating in the swim class, claiming an allergy to chlorine. She asks Eun-gyul about Tae-joon’s absence. Eun-gyul calls Jae-hee Tae-joon’s “bba-do-ri” (basically, a Tae-joon worshipper).
The school doctor, Jang Min-woo (Ki Tae-young), is in his office looking at pictures of Bae Yong-jun. He quickly closes his screen when Tae-joon comes in. Dr. Jang tells Tae-joon that they are going to a big hospital to get examined later in the evening.
Tae-joon and Dr. Jang are at the hospital. Tae-joon receives a call from Manager Jang. She tells him that Coach Holton will be at the commercial shoot tomorrow. This means that Tae-joon has to jump. No, he will want to jump.
Jae-hee is setting up her space in her room. She replaces some of Tae-joon’s things with hers (girly things). She also tapes a photo of Tae-joon on a bookcase. She hides her feminine products underneath her clothes in her drawer. Jae-hee takes a shower, not realizing that door didn’t lock behind her.
Tae-joon is outside Sang-chu’s doghouse. He looks at the ring necklace in his hand and asks out loud, “What should I do?” He receives a call from his father, Kang Geun-wook (Sun-woo Jae-duk). Geun-wook gets angry when Tae-joon implies that he does not want to high jump tomorrow.
Tae-joon enters his dorm room. He notices all the new things. He angrily rips off his picture from the bookcase wall. Jae-hee is just getting out of the shower when she notices the slightly-ajar door. She quickly grabs a towel and wraps it around herself before Tae-joon comes in. He asks what the hell she is doing here. She informs him that she is his new roommate.
Tae-joon is sitting on his bed telling Manager Jang that he will jump tomorrow. Jae-hee is now out of the bathroom, completely dressed. Tae-joon pushes her suitcase toward her. “Get out.” Jae-hee stands her ground. She has no reason to leave. This is her room too! But Tae-joon just pushes her out.
Min Hyun-jae is alone in the gym practicing his high jump. He fails and fails until he finally succeeds. He goes to change, and on his locker room door, hangs a picture of Tae-joon. Tae-joon is Hyun-jae’s rival, it seems.
Jae-hee is outside talking to Sang-chu. She feels hurt but she is determined. She won’t back out now after coming this far.
Seung-ri runs into Jae-hee and brings her back to the dorm. He yells at Tae-joon for kicking Jae-hee out. (The charisma! I love him already!)
Jae-hee happily jumps into her bed. She thinks, “There was an ocean between us yesterday but now you are where I can reach you.”
Tae-joon wakes up the next morning. He sees a note (with cute drawings) next to a group of vitamin water bottles. It is a note from Jae-hee, saying she didn’t know what flavor he liked so she bought different varieties. Tae-joon is only annoyed by this. Another note waits from him in the bathroom, wishing him a good bowel movement. (Hahaha!) Another is in his shoe cabinet, telling him to dress in the uniform he won the gold medal in. Tae-joon goes up to Jae-hee’s bed to yell at her but only sees another note saying that she left early because she knew her presence would only annoy him. (Smart girl.)
Jae-hee is asleep in the doghouse, using Sang-chu as a pillow. The cute!
Tae-joon is at the doctor’s office. Dr. Jang tells him the results came back from yesterday. Tae-joon’s perfectly healed. Tae-joon says that it’s great but he doesn’t look it. Dr. Jang asks Tae-joon for Seol Han-na’s signature. (So he’s interested in both men and women?)
The boys are playing soccer. Min Hyun-jae tackles Tae-joon. They exchange intense stares. Hyun-jae helps Tae-joon up. He comments that he’s been seeing a lot of Tae-joon these days. Tae-joon asks Hyun-jae if he knows why Hyun-jae can’t never beat him. “It’s because you think about too many useless things.”
Tae-joon scores a goal. Jae-hee cheers even though she is on the opposite team. Tae-joon tells her to vacate the room by tonight. Jae-hee refuses. She wants to stay. Give her a chance! Tae-joon tells her that he will think about it if she scores a goal. Jae-hee takes the challenge.
Manager Jang, Han-na, and Coach Holton are heading over Genie High, where the commercial is going to be filmed. Han-na skipped her classes to come. Manager Jang warns her to be careful of scandal. Han-na doesn’t mind a scandal with Tae-joon.
Jae-hee plays hard. Eun-gyul asks her why she’s trying so hard. She tells him that this game is very important. Eun-gyul asks the gym teacher if he can switch positions. He had been a goalkeeper for this game since he is a soccer athlete and that wouldn’t be fair to the other students but now he want to be running on the field.
Eun-gyul tries to help Jae-hee. Everyone notices how fast Jae-hee is. (Really? I get this from the expression but can Sulli try harder to look like she is a fast runner?) Jong-min gets jealous and tackles her. Jae-hee falls and passes out. Tae-joon and Eun-gyul run to her. Tae-joon carries Jae-hee to the doctor’s office.
Dr. Jang checks Jae-hee. She’s just fainted. Tae-joon leaves to go shoot the commercial. He fingers his ring necklace. “This might be the last.”
There are reporters, Tae-joon’s dad, and Min Hyun-jae at the commercial shoot too. Tae-joon prepares.
Jae-hee wakes up. Dr. Jang walks toward her, saying there is something weird.
Tae-joon takes off. He jumps but knocks off the high jump bar. Everyone looks shocked.
At the same time at the clinic, Dr. Jang demands “Why is there a girl at a boys school?!”
I’m starting to love Goo Jae-hee already. In comparison to the Japanese version, Sulli does not try at all to physically act like a man. Thus, she appears more feminine to me than Maki did in Hana Kimi. But the character itself is someone I can root for. Jae-hee is not feeble female (as we can see in the bathroom fight), nor is she over-the-top or abrasive like many “strong” women tend to get portrayed in Korean dramas. Jae-hee has the thick-skin without being dumb and annoying. She needs that kind of skin to survive in this all testosterone environment. She also stands her ground with Tae-joon. She doesn’t back down from a challenge, even though its a physical one. I really hope Jae-hee only grows more awesome and doesn’t degrade into a weeping, blubbering mess when the angst comes. And we all know the angst is coming.
I can already predict that I will be shedding some tears for Eun-gyul when he doesn’t get the girl. Kudos to Lee Hyun-woo for quickly pulling me to his side. He doesn’t sparkle like Nakatsu in Hana Kimi but he does twinkle.
This drama was surprisingly not as comedic as I thought it would be. Not saying that it was boring, although the pace was a bit slow, but it wasn’t what I expected. Like I wrote before, Jae-hee doesn’t try to act like a man by changing her voice or gait, or saying “manly” things. Which means the drama loses out on some of the funny that can come from this. I was expecting more hilarity and over-the-top but instead, this drama feels mellow. Like autumn, not summer. And I was expecting a heated youth-drama. I guess with the drama’s ambition to deliver a story of “hope and miracles,” it’s got to take a more serious tone. I hope this is an indication that this drama will deliver a good portrayal of character growth and growing-pains.
I’m not sure if I can keep recapping this drama along with Faith. Let’s see how episode two turns out. Perhaps it will be good enough to keep me distracted from my wrist pain.