Genre: Melodrama, Romance
Written by: Choi Ho-chul
Directed by: Boo Sung-chul
Starring: Soo Ae, Ju Ji-hoon, Yeon Jung-hoon, Yoo In-young
Number of episodes: 20
Average rating: 10.1% (TNmS)
Original network: SBS
Before I start, I want to say that this drama is one of the best I’ve watched in 2016 and I’m not exaggerating. This one captures almost everything I want to see in a K-drama: romance, mystery, and suspense. I think I love everything about this show except for the ending. Not at all I consider this show has a bad ending, it just slightly slipped a bit from my expectation, that’s all.
It tells about 4 different people who wear 4 different masks in their lives. The first man wears a mask to hide from his family. The second man wears a mask to hide from his wife. The first woman wears a mask to hide from everyone. And the second woman wears a mask to hide from herself.
What to expect?
- A really well executed show from the start
- Characters development
- Really good performance by the cast
- Strong and determined female leads
- A few plot holes and a lot of twists and turns
- Being kept on the edge of your seat all the time
What not to expect?
- Lot of kiss scenes (it’s like only 3 times if I remember correctly)
- Stunning visuals
- Addicting soundtrack (I could barely remember any songs being played)
- All of your questions being answered
- A satisfying ending
My long review starts here
I want to talk about the ending first. I’ve complained about this many times above, do you feel the same? I don’t really mind a predictable ending honestly. I think most of the people want to see a happy ending including me. What makes me upset is this drama shows a lot of potential consistently since the beginning until it slipped a bit on toward the end and I really wish the final episode could make it up for me but it didn’t. I know very well that at the end Ji-sook and Min-woo would end up happily together, but what I’m rooting for is how. The ending left me nothing but disappointment.
Now that I’m done with my rant, I’m going to talk about how awesome this drama is. This show almost has it all: the fast-paced suspense and really strong main characters.
I’m going to start with our heroine, Byun Ji-sook. She started as a weak and emotional character that annoyed me a little. Her situation was indeed difficult, plus she didn’t really know what’s going on at the moment. I was afraid that she’ll continue being Seok-hoon’s submissive dog until the end but fortunately her character’s developing as the story goes on. She learns not to being threatened by anyone and stand on her own feet to protect both Min-woo and her family. Soo Ae stands brightly in the spotlight by her own charms.
My heart’s with Min-woo throughout the show. I think he’s someone who has worn a mask for too long and he truly needs someone to stay by his side and take off that mask. Growing up as a illegitimate son in a wealthy family must not be easy and he has no choice but being strong to keep his position in the family. He’s a really good and warm person behind his cold and buttoned-up mask. What I like about him is how well he handles the situation when he discovered the truth about Ji-sook. When the truth comes out, our characters don’t go all crazy like “How can you do this to me? I hate you so much that I want you to die but I already fell for you so what should I do?” but instead they remain calm and think logically with a clear head.
Have i mentioned earlier that Chang-soo is such an adorable guy? Well, probably not so I’m going to say it now.
Although both Soo Ae and Ju Ji-hoon did a really good job here, I think the real spotlight should be given to Yeon Jung-hoon (Min Seok-hoon) and Yoo In-young (Choi Mi-yeon) instead for their wonderful characters portrayal. I love how both of them aren’t just black or white but they are sometimes black, sometimes white, and sometimes just a thousand shades of grey. Seok-hoon is manipulative and controlling, but he doesn’t really know what he’s doing. I feel like when his plans started to fall apart one by one, he seems lost with no solid direction anymore. This one isn’t entirely his fault but I feel rather confused by what’s going on in his mind. He started with:
I’ll help create a world where even those without power and money can be happy. And in order to do that, I must gain power.
And what he ended up doing is taking revenge on Chairman Choi who once smiled. I can’t find the correlation at all. But Yeon Jung-hoon really embodied our evil and villainous Min Seok-heon here.
My favorite out of the 4 is Choi Mi-yeon who’s always unfathomable. I said earlier that both Seok-hoon and Mi-yeon are grey characters. While Seok-hoon can destroy anyone standing in his way, I believe that he truly loves the late Seo Eun-ha and he cares for Mi-yeon as well even after learning that she caused the death of his lover. Whereas, I think Mi-yeon’s vulnerable and weak. She never truly wished evil for anyone, she only takes her actions too far. Toward the end of this show, I think Mi-yeon is the main villain. Everything’s based solely on her decision whether she loves Min-woo more or Seok-hoon more. Her performance is really amazing that I can never predict what her next action is. It’s kind of sad though to see how she ended up that way.
This show left me a crucial unanswered question: are Seo Eun-ha and Byun Ji-sook really doppelgängers?
I wished that this isn’t just simply doppelgänger issue after we learnt that Byun Ji-sook actually has a dead sister. But sadly, they didn’t do something out of this event. I want to see that Seo Eun-ha is actually related to Byun Ji-sook and learn more about Seo Eun-ha’s life beside her relationship with Seok-hoon.
Also I feel like Min-woo’s secret room could actually be explored more. What’s with those news articles pinned on the wall? Why did he think his dad and stepmom actually have something to do with his mom’s death? Why didn’t they dig into this particular part more?
Last but not least
You probably saw that I complain more than I praise above. But truthfully I really enjoy watching this drama. They did a good job with the characterisation and plot.
Isn’t the storyline similar to Bride of the Century? Yes and no. It’s indeed also about 2 people who look exactly the same and they’re “forced” into a marriage to benefit the villain. But at the same time they both stand out in their own way. In my opinion, Mask’s stronger with its complex and devious characters. Some parts are a bit off and forced but you definitely should check this one out, right now.
And feel free to leave me your thoughts about this drama and recommendation of your favorites below!