K-Drama Review: A Girl Dresses as a Boy and Attends an All-Boy School in ‘To the Beautiful You’

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Let’s Find out More About To the Beautiful You

In the entertainment industry, it’s fairly common to find a film, drama, or song which tells a story about a girl who masquerades as a boy to achieve her dream. Examples include You’re BeautifulSungkyunkwan Scandal, Coffee Prince, and so on. One drama of this type which is well worth talking about is To the Beautiful You, a Korean drama that carries on the a-girl-turns-masquerading-as-a-boy theme by remaking the Japanese drama titled Hana Kimi which is actually came from a manga with the same title.

This 2012 drama starred many artists from SM Entertainment, from the lead actors to the soundtrack’s singer, which made fans really excited to see their SM idols in the drama. Some of the artists were Sulli as the main actress, Choi Min-ho as the main actor, and the boy-group EXO both had a cameo and performed the soundtrack.

Would you like to know if this drama is worth a watch? You can find out all about it in this article, so keep reading!

To the Beautiful You: Review

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To the Beautiful You aired on SBS in 2012 every Wednesday and Thursday with 16 episodes. It starred Sulli, Choi Min-ho, and Lee Hyun-woo as the three main artists. Special for this drama, Choi Min-ho, who played a role as a high jump athlete was trained personally by Kim Tae-young, a Korean former high jump national athlete.

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SM Entertainment, as the production house for this drama, successfully made To the Beautiful You become the first Korean drama that applied the “bullet time” technique which has been popularized in the Hollywood film, The Matrix. The technique was applied during filming on July 20th, 2012, in the World Cup Stadium in Daegu by using 105 different cameras to shoot the scenes of Choi Min-ho doing the high jump that becomes the first scene in the first episode of To the Beautiful You.

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The drama itself is a story about a girl named Goo Jae-hee (Sulli), a Korean girl who lives in the United States and gets bullied by her friends at school due to her looks. One day, she sees a sports competition on TV that leaves her amazed by the high jump athlete who wins the gold medal, Kang Tae-joon (Choi Min-ho). She begins to idolize Kang Tae-joon and gets inspired to join in sports by his persistence and his words, “Miracle is another name for hard work”.  That phrase becomes Goo Jae-hee’s motto. But, Kang Tae-joon suffers an accident that has the potential to end his career as an athlete. Goo Jae-hee, who really wants to see Kang Tae-joon in a high jump competition again, decides to transfer to Korea to attend the same school as Tae-joon, Genie High School. However, she has to transform herself into a boy to attend that all-boys school.

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Genie High School has three dormitories with a different leader in each dormitory. The lucky Goo Jae-hee is assigned the same class and dormitory as Tae-joon. Since attending this school, she made some new friends who are really unique; Cha Eun-gyul, who is a soccer player who likes to post his selfies on Genie Social Media, Song Jong-min, who is usually called lip-gloss boy and is interested to Eun-gyul, Ha Seung-ri, who is a leader of dormitory two and has a hard character, yet soft to girls, Min Hyun-jae, who is Eun-gyul’s roommate and also a high jump athlete, and many more.

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At first, Kang Tae-joon doesn’t like the fact that Goo Jae-hee is his roommate. He has done everything to make Goo Jae-hee move to another room, starting with being generally grumpy to Jae-hee and trying to drive her away, until he makes a deal with her; he will accept her as his roommate if she can make one goal in a soccer match. Unfortunately, Jae-hee falls down and faints in the middle of the match. Tae-joon, who sees Jae-hee collapse, immediately takes her to the medical clinic.

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At the clinic, the doctor knows that Jae-hee is a girl. Goo Jae-hee, who really scared that she will be expelled from the school, finally begs him to keep it a secret from everyone. The doctor agrees to do that, but he also gives time to Goo Jae-hee before the secret will be revealed by itself.

Because of the accident, Goo Jae-hee becomes more careful, she doesn’t want her real identity is revealed before seeing Tae-joon in a high jump competition. With the time she has, she tries to convince Tae-joon not to throw his dream away of becoming a superb athlete.

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On the other hand, Cha Eun-gyul, who’s becoming closer to Goo Jae-hee, begins to doubt his sexual orientation. The more he gets close to Jae-hee, the greater his love for Jae-hee, so he starts to believe that he’s gay. He’s still confused about it until the truth about Jae-hee is revealed.

So, the final verdict about the drama is that we love it! The background scene of this drama is colorful and enjoyable. By watching the drama, we discovered that the Hankuk Academy for Foreign Studies, where the drama was filmed, is really majestic. The school has complete sports facilities, a spacious canteen, magnificent dormitories, and other wonderful features.

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Now jump to the cast’s performance. In our opinion, the acting power of each artist is good, except Choi Min-ho who didn’t do a great job of expressing his character as a cold-seeming, but-warm-inside man, he still looked a little bit stiff. On the other hand, Sulli, who acted as two different people, is pretty natural. Lee Hyun-woo has the best acting in this drama, his cheerful and funny character is really suitable for him, he brought a joyful vibe naturally whenever he came on the scene, especially with his wide smile! Then, Hwang Kwang-hee acted as the lip-gloss boy, who is often annoying, but also makes this drama feels complete. Kim Ji-won as Choi Min-ho’s object of affection, also gives us good emotion in the drama. Seo Jung-young seems very suitable for his role as the leader of dormitory two, he hit the brave-but-weak-for-girls leader character really well. Kang Ha-neul, as Choi Min-ho’s competitor, is really good in conveying his emotions to the audience.

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Besides the acting, there are a couple of drawbacks to the drama in our opinion; first, the drama doesn’t go into Jae-hee reason for why she really wants to see Tae-joon in the high jump competition at the beginning, thus, it leaves you wondering until the middle of the series if it’s about a sasaeng fan or not. Next, we think that the appearance of Min Hyun-jae isn’t really necessary. Even though we’ve said that his acting is really good, his character in the drama is not as strong as the others and not too attached to other casts, even though the drama’s writer gives us a good ending with him being a nice friend to Tae-joon.

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But overall, To the Beautiful You is worth the watch. If you love a drama with a light romantic story and a little bit of comedy in it, this drama is made for you. But if you love a drama with many conflicts, this one will be refreshing, for the fabulous background scenes, the good looking artists, and the interesting plot.

To the Beautiful You: The Cast

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Goo Jae-hee

Played by Sulli, Goo Jae-hee, who was prone to depression, finally sneaks in as a student to an all-boys school then gets her cheerfulness back. Because she’s kind-hearted and easy-going, she easily adjusts the all-boys school environment and could masquerade as a boy for a long time, even though it was difficult for her at the beginning. She never gets tired of encouraging Tae-joon to back to the high jump competition.

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Kang Tae-joon

Played by Choi Min-ho, Kang Tae-joon is a high jumper that has a cold and quiet character. Suffering from a serious ankle injury makes Tae-joon quit working on becoming a high jump athlete. But, after Goo Jae-hee comes to his life, he gets his passion back.

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Cha Eun-gyul

Played by Lee Hyun-woo, Cha Eun-gyul is a cheerful and funny boy who likes to upload photos on Genie Social Media. At school, he’s Min Hyun-jae’s roommate in the same dormitory with Goo Jae-hee, Kang Tae-joon, and the leader, Han Seung-ri. This soccer player is also into Goo Jae-hee, which makes him start to think he may be gay.

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Seol Han-na

Played by Ha Ji-won, Seol Han-na is a gymnast who calls herself the Nation’s Fairy. She’s Tae-joon’s childhood friend and a friend who knows everything about Tae-joon. Because of their closeness, Seol Han-na has a sincere affection to Tae-joon.

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Han Seung-ri

Played by Seo Jun-young, Han Seung-ri is the leader of the dormitory two, who is a good leader and humble to everyone, especially to girls. He’s liked Seol Han-na since he saw her crying.

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Min Hyun-jae

Played by Kang Ha-neul, Min Hyun-jae is Kang Tae-joon’s competition in the high jump field. He’s a dreamer and a hard-worker who seems to have a cold character but actually, he’s a kind person.

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Song Jong-min

Played by Hwang Kwang-hee, Song Jong-min is a good friend of Cha Eun-gyu’sl. Even though he often annoys Goo Jae-hee because he’s jealous of the closeness between Jae-hee and Eun-gyul, He’s actually a warm-hearted person.

To the Beautiful You: The Soundtracks

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The original soundtracks from To the Beautiful You have been combined into an album titled To the Beautiful You. The album contains ten songs that were produced by SM Entertainment with its artists lending their voices for the soundtracks.

Track Listing

  1. Butterfly – sung by Jessica and Krystal

The lyrics are written by the SM Entertainment songwriter, Kenzie, while the music is composed by Matthew Tishler, Andrew Ang, and Susan Markle.

2. 일어나(Stand Up) – sung by J-min

The lyrics and music are composed by Groovie K.

3. 나야(It’s Me) – sung by Sunny and Luna

The lyrics are written by Lee Sang-yeol and Park Geun-cheol, and the music is composed by Zig Zag Note.

4. In Your Eyes – sung by Onew

The lyrics and music are composed by Lee Sang-yeol and Park Geun-cheol.

5. Rise and Shine – sung by Kyuhyun and Tiffany

The lyrics are written by Cho Yung-yeong, while the music is composed by Johanna Elkesdotter.

6. SKY – sung by Super Junior (K.R.Y.)

The lyrics and music are composed by Lee Sang-yeol and Park Geun-cheol.

7. Closer – sung by Taeyeon

The lyrics are written by Kim Jeong-bae and the music is composed by Kenzie.

8. Maybe We… – sung by Dana

The lyrics are written by Lee Sang-yeol and Park Geun-cheol. The music is composed by Lee Sang-yeol, Park Geun-cheol, and Kim Jae-hyun.

9. U – sung by Taemin

The lyrics are written by Kim Woo-joo, Zua, and A Real Man. The music is composed by Zua and A Real Man.

10. Butterfly (Acoustic Ver.) – sung by Jessica and Krystal

The lyrics are written by Kenzie. The music is composed by Matthew Tishler, Andrew Ang, and Susan Markle.