February 10, 2014     
                                         I guess I'm going into...   
 The Korean television show,                SPOILERS
 "You're Beautiful" is right                
 up there with greats like                                                                                    
 "Coffee Prince" in             WHERE_ANGELS_GO_NUN_FOLLOWS
 popularity-- at least among                
 American fans.                 
   From what I understand, it actually
   didn't get very high ratings in Korea...
   but it *did* inspire multiple
   different remakes in other countries.

   While "You're Beautiful" is the
   most common title translation, a         The title "You're Beautiful",
   much better one is the less              has very little resonance
   frequently seen "He's Beautiful":        with anything in the story.
   a nun-in-training crossdresses to
   take her twin brother's place in                The closest point is a
   a boy band.                                     throwaway line, where the
                                                   male lead's mother (a famous
The bit I want to talk                             star of years gone by)
about here has to do with                          enters a room, and someone
the back-story of one of                           greets her saying "Ah,
the main characters...                             you're still beautiful."

Let me try starting with
an inverted family tree:

      Our heroine:                          Our hero:

      A young nun-in-training,              The lead singer/
      with a twin brother who               composer with
      is a singer about to join             that idol group,
      an idol group...                      "A.N. Jell"

     _________|________                    _______|__________
     |                 |                   |                 |

   Mother:          Father:              Mother:          Father:

   Folk             A composer           A famous         A composer?
   singer.          of songs.            singer.          Or unknown?


                             An affair,

  The foreground story of this
  cross-dressing comedy:
  The twin brother is hospitalized overseas,      
  his manager is worried he'll lose the slot      
  in the idol band if he's a no-show, and so        (They do a fine job of
  the manager hits on the solution of               downplaying the
  convincing his sister the nun to become an        insanity of this,
  "A.N. Jell"-- She passes herself off as a         playing it broadly
  boy to join the idol group, where she             but not *too* boadly.)
  gradually becomes romantically entangled        
  with the lead.                                  
  We eventually learn that the nun's father and the
  lead's mother once had an affair in the distant     Korean dramas often
  past (I mentioned the insanity, right?)....         coincidences like this to
                                                      the point where it feels
                                                      like a genre convention.
Getting the past events straight
is a little difficult: the love
life of this famous singer was
quite complicated-- she has a
reputation for promiscuity.                  It does seem that this
                                             incoherence serves a role in the
And one of the main sources we have for      story, it creates an ambiguity in
this woman's sexual biography is her own     the stormy love relationship of
statements, and it's hard to tell how        the foreround characters.  Is
much we can trust what she says about it:    there a possibility that they're
all we really know is that she was           half-brother and half-sister,
involved with a married man (while his       with the same father?
wife was pregnant), and that caused a        
rift in that relationship, and then she          The audience is supposed to
was involved with some other man, and            be worried (or enthralled?)
bore a son by him, but ever afterwards           that a brother and sister
she was obsessed with the first man (the         is falling into an
song-writer, the nun-turned-singer's             incestuous relationship.
father), and wanted to believe this was      
reciprocated.                                       In the tradition of
                                                    Oedipus, they're
   We don't seem to know much about                 unaware of the details
   this second man, the father of the               of their parentage.
   male hero.  He does talk on the          
   phone a few times with his "father"              I have a complaint about
   (who may or may not be his                       this (a common one with
   biological father).                              me, though no one else
                                                    seems to care): this is a
      We're told that this woman had                concern the audience may
      lots of boyfriends, and I have                have, but it is not a
      the dim impression that they                  concern of any of the
      implied that the male lead's                  main characters: we know
      father may be someone else (but               more than they do.
      don't remember in detail).         
      I got the impression that                 
      everyone in this history seems            
      to die (tragically) once their            
      role has been played, but if              
      this biological father is dead,
      we're told nothing about it.              
And now, here's what I think is
the interesting thing: given            Maybe this is a common solution
this tangle of relationships,           when incest looms in Korean soap?
the fans of this show seem to           "You're father is *not* that man!"
have concluded that the male            But it's not needed in this story.
main character was the product
of a rape-induced pregnancy.
                                              Perhaps there's another
   This is not stated in the story, and       genre convention: slutty
   I don't believe it's actually              women are always raped
   implied...  it looks like an attempt       (punished by providence?).
   at imagining a story more coherent       
   than this one actually is, perhaps an             A friend of mine who
   attempt at sanitizing the biography               lived in Japan in
   of this woman...                                  the 80s described a
                                                     TV show she thought
   There's very little in the story                  of as "the rape
   that even hints at making this woman              show", where in
   a sympathetic character, though.                  every episode, the
   I would've said that the author's                 same young women
   intent was "nasty piece of work".                 would hang around in
                                                     nightclubs and end
       Indeed, with all the major                    up getting raped,
       female characters in this                     and the same man
       story, if they're at all                      would step in to
       intelligent and capable,                      save them, closing
       they're also completely evil.                 with a finger-
                                                     waggling lecture:
                                                     See what happens
                                                     to Bad Girls!