200 Pounds Beauty (K-Flim): Frankenstein's Beauty

So I was waiting for my food at a new local café and started watch the TV it was a Korean film a rather old Korean Film, 200 Pound Beauty or something like that. So yeah I kind of loitered at the restaurant until it ended ordering a few more things and eating slowly. Good thing it was a slow day and yeah I tipped better that day too. At any rate it was a good film and I admit I nearly got teary eyed in public at the end but was able to hold them back by summoning all the hatred from my being.

So like every Korean romantic comedy it starts out fairly light hearted and getting kind of serious at the end. The story centers around a heavy weight singer named Hanna whose voice while excellent is not enough to make her desirable or even marketable as pop star as I guess in East Asia ad contracts make more money than selling music given the rampancy of piracy in those parts. Pity perhaps if she were American she could have been another Arethra Franklin, though, in the modern era such a replay of history is rare and the Queen of Soul was once an average sized lady. Such is the pathetic state of her weight that even her father with his failing memory is wondering why she gets larger. Even her best friend says she is fat and the public face of her voice idol, Ammy, uses Hanna’s condition as a weapon to ridicule her and frustrate her advances on the producer. In the end after being humiliated and accepting the truth that she was being used Hanna tries to commit suicide once again. Thankfully her other job as a sex phone operator brings her into contact with a customer who happens to be a plastic surgeon.

Yeah he’s that kind of asshole.

Opting to change her life rather than end it Hanna convinces her customer to perform an operation on her. The doctor resists at first and tells Hanna that she might die from the amount of work needed. In this light the doctor is not wrong given that there is a mandatory 2-3 month recovery time between operations and the risk of death is ever present. Now I am not sure if there was a message intended by all this on whether or not Hanna was being vain or weak for wanting the operation. The way I see it is Hanna needed a crutch in life like all people. Hanna had her unrequited love and once that was dashed she had nothing else. Not to mention that being called ugly and fat by a person you thought was trustworthy is going to hurt one way or another. Hanna did not take my kind of action and get even and cut off Ammy’s nose to spite her face, but being the kinder gentler soul that she is, she wanted to get a new lease on life.

Hanna’s solution was dangerous, but ever since I met people who under went involuntary plastic surgery to put them back together again after combat or other unforeseen accidents while on duty I am now far more hesitant to condemn this sort of thing. I use to think it cowardly but after being regaled by stories of what these brothers in arms told me it takes some courage to go under the knife or at least overwhelming desperation. I suppose even the bravest of us fear getting slowly cut up on some table while having you innards exposed while the doctor operates on you as you are asleep but alive with those awful looking instruments. More over there is always the fear that you might wake up in the middle of it or be aware of the operation but immobile and helpless. If we suppose that it is what is on the inside that counts then it should by standard reasoning that even if the outside was surgically modified it is irrelevant because what was on the inside was not altered, i.e. the soul. Contemporary sentiment is that plastic surgery is for beautifying the rich and not about democratizing beauty and leads to a more shallow society. Perhaps this is somewhat true but if we look at those who undergo plastic surgery we can usually tell who they are (e.g. Micheal Jackson and Janet Jackson). In this film women who do undergo plastic surgery are for all intents and purposes become Frankenstein’s monster. A being that is not human any more but born of human artifice rather than being the work of nature or some higher being.

Go Fortuneteller Guy only in for the first five minutes and yet still able to score a bit of poster space.

Hanna was obese and had she continued being obese then complications would have set in that would have made life difficult, arthritis, diabetes, heart trouble, etc. I won’t mince words and I think that people who are obese are just as fool hardy as those who opt for plastic surgery given the health risks inherent in both. I am glad that they are happy with themselves in either case, but in the case of obese people I cannot help but feel that they are devaluing their lives by remaining in their condition. It’s not right that they get ridiculed for being fat, but I think that ridicule for being foolish is in some ways justified given the health complications, more so if they have a family to raise. I am part of a military tradition that demands physical fitness because running around in the sand box with a full combat load and body armor requires endurance and those who are sluggish or tired will probably get themselves killed and/or get others killed as well.

I’ll say this much just because you have plastic surgery does not mean your beauty is guaranteed. Even then it is in the eye of the beholder. While society holds some unrealistic standards for beauty and desirability somewhere deep inside due to our ancient genetic programming man the creature is programmed to find the healthiest mates to procreate. It’s not simply vanity, but it is coupled with the biological desire to have spouse of sound fitness levels so that they might produce fit offspring. If you doubt the savagery of man you need look only at war to realize how despite civilization man has not moved completely beyond his more savage instincts.

I know the feeling, every time I walk around with flak and rifle, lots of stares and a wide berth…

Though in all probability they writer probably did not intend for the audience to ponder so deeply given that they had to redo the nose the first time around. Hanna’s new jaw also had some kinks to work out as well. Truth is if the doctor was that good he’d be making mad money. In any case Hanna’s reasons were not easily condemned because her previous existence wasn’t great and by that time she could no longer look at herself in the mirror and be happy. She wanted to transcend into another existence and in a way she became a butterfly though by means of a man made cocoon. I was a chunky fellow before I signed my ass to Uncle Sam and it is not easy to lose weight at a whim. It took a long time and two angry intimidating drill instructors to get my fat ass in shape, and now I am capable of running, jumping, and shooting to standard. Besides it was the only time in my life in recent memory that I had an abundance of free time to involuntarily work out, and it really did help that they pushed us all to our physical limits.

The scene where Hanna is enjoying her new corporeal form was understandably happy in over tone. I know I was happy when I came back home after basic an me mum no longer berated me for being fat and lazy. Now it’s just for being lazy. When she got her new dress I knew that she probably felt better than me when I needed new pants. Her new more gorgeous self did get a lot perks early on to the point of absurdity. Though it is true Hanna’s new look was something that money could not buy; only black mail could that. I found it funny how Ammy the typical idol was manufactured and yet the all natural beauty is some how still prized. Oh the delicious hypocrisy. I am glad Hanna didn’t lord it over her friend Jung-min that much about her new form factor. I was delighted when that sleazy salesman got his just deserts. In a way that doctor was right beauty is attitude, supposing that you at least look average.

Despite the mandatory big lie that comes mandatory for this kind of tale Hanna stayed largely true to herself. Given that Ammy was AWP camping at her dad’s place. The whole near love scene was masterfully done. Hanna was so afraid of being found out that it killed the mood in short order. I like how they worked in her old phone sex operator talents to skirt the whole thing. When Hanna’s lie was unraveled it was poignant how even though she was pretty now that she was still stigmatized. The final reconciliation with her dad was touching along with her admission of who she was. The songs were pretty good, though it was rather obvious that they used a fat suit as the way she carried herself was not accurate. It was a happy ending for Hanna as she could now dance with the dad in the light of day. My favorite minor character would have to be Dr. Lee though because the man has mad skills. His advice was awesome, especially how he berated Ammy as being a terrible actress and a woman who opted for less than perfect surgical methods. All in all it was good film that nearly extracted tears from this soulless monster.

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22 Comments

  1. Posted May 7, 2008 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    Hmm, I can’t decide on which one. The left or the right one?

  2. Leviathan
    Posted May 7, 2008 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    No. Just no.

    also it was done before: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betty_la_fea

  3. Kururu
    Posted May 7, 2008 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    o_o;

    These types of stories have been done many times before already.

    >_>

    <_<

    yea

  4. Cherubium
    Posted May 7, 2008 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    I’m just concerned for those people who do opt for plastic surgery to lose weight as they won’t learn the necessary lifestyle techniques. This would mean that they will return back to the obese state and will have zero benefit and you would lose a few thousand to tens of thousands depending on what you get done and where in the world you do it.

    This sounds like a nice movie, I’ll go and try to find it. Thanks

  5. Posted May 7, 2008 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    @bakaneko
    Mk I is tested an proven, Mk II is prone to breaking down. Decisions will have to be made, none of them easy.

    @Leviathan and Kururu
    Oh course its been done elsewhere, nevertheless I found this one to have a charm of its own. It depends on whether or not you can claim that an author is capable of coming up with original ideas without ANY outside influence. As far as I am concerned originality it by an large a rarity if not all together dead. Macross and the Legend of Zelda have been done many times over, but it is still a fun ride nonetheless. Give it a shot at least you might like it.

    @Cherubium
    Plastic surgery or any kind of major surgery requires a strict and monitored diet and lifestyle regulation before, and during surgery otherwise you freaking die on the table as complications arise. It is not a thing to be taken lightly and doctors do enforce dietary regimens because any deviation will create a liability level that they do not want. After all that pain only a fool would want to go through that all over again.

  6. KaeBoo
    Posted May 7, 2008 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    From your summary, it seems to be pointing out that society will always be cruel to those who do not “fit”. Obesity is usually coupled with depression and those who suffer from them grow even deeper into it because of the complications.

    oh, but it’s another one of those Korean movies! >_<

    I have started developing some aversion for Korean movies after seeing so many of them being dubbed in our national language serially shown on local TV… It’s like an over dosage of Korean-language movies, big time!

  7. Posted May 7, 2008 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    omg. I watched it while I was still in the army. That giddy show got the rest of my company to scream ‘Ave Maria’ for a week. There was this sergeant who even shed a few drop of tears. (=.=)

  8. Kururu
    Posted May 7, 2008 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    Yea, I actually gave it a shot and it was surprisingly entertaining XD. Shame, that the emotional impact didn’t really hit me for the last part. Could be because I stopped for a while to eat or because I pretty much knew how the whole ending was going to play out =/. I’m also curious if peoples faces are really that fragile in real life? or did they just over-exaggerated it?(like the jaw and noise thing).

    Anyway, it’s a good movie and I do recommend too that everyone gives it a shot.

    “My favorite minor character would have to be Dr. Lee though because the man has mad skills. His advice was awesome”

    Indeed….he possesses the “God Hands”! >=D

  9. 13Sugars
    Posted May 7, 2008 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

    Ah, Crusader-san, awesome people like you (born on the 7th of may) just have awesome tastes. ^^

  10. Posted May 7, 2008 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

    @Kaeboo
    Well humans do define themselves first by defining the “other.”

    Korean films like all things should be taken in moderation.

    @The Sojourner
    Yeah towards the end it gets all mushy… I take it your COCO was fond of “Ave Maria” as well. ;)

    @Kururu
    I saw it in one go I guess it only holds the audience only on a continuous viewing. Post surgery is a dangerous time, the patient has yet to fully heal and their immune system is weakened. Depending on what was done fragility is not that far fetched.

    Glad you decided to give it a shot.

    God Hands indeed.

    @13Sugars
    (High fives fellow fan.) Indeed May 7th is a blessed day to be born. XD

  11. guest
    Posted May 8, 2008 at 1:10 am | Permalink

    The actress singing ‘Ave Maria’ for the movie and OST —> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_xvt8VnUYQ
    The original group (who composed and performed the song) singing ‘Ave Maria’ —> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtWVs9hkuOA
    *this one is English version by the way.

    Posted just in case someone is interested. I think they have their unique strengths. I personally prefer Loveholic’s version though.

  12. Posted May 8, 2008 at 5:05 am | Permalink

    I think this story has been done a lot, but it was shown at a good time where koreans consider “plastic/cosmetic surgery” to be nothing more than something that is essential for natural beauty.

  13. Posted May 8, 2008 at 6:34 am | Permalink

    I watched this loong ago lols and it was really funny and good :D I particularly like the songs she sings, although the first one (I think) she was lip (something) it? But if you liked watching this (I watched this twice) then you should also probably check out The Art of Seduction. It’s also a KMOVIE but it’s absolutely hilarious!

  14. Posted May 8, 2008 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    @guest
    Thanks for the links.

    @Impz
    Really now? I am unaware of actual Korean sentiment on the issue, it’d be interesting if it were true.

    @blissmo
    Will do!

  15. Anca
    Posted May 14, 2008 at 6:02 am | Permalink

    *twitches* this movie hits too home, from your summary.

    It’s not easy to lose weight, not because of the hard exercises and regime, but because of the depression ravaging the person’s willpower while trying. It’s one thing to have two angry, buff guys hovering over you in ‘do it or die’ thing, and another to do exercises alone, then look into the mirror and go out, nothing having changed.

  16. yakuri
    Posted May 15, 2008 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for reminding me about this movie. I had mixed feelings about watching it, mostly because the theme was way too personal for me, and I tend to get very frustrated or angry when it comes to my own issues.

    I also have this thing with korean stories, most of them rub me the wrong way (way to defend my cultural heritage), but I decided I should give this one a go, because unlike Kim Sam Soon (a korean series with an overweight character; mind you, like 5 or 10 pounds overweight) this character has actual serious weight issues.

    Unlike in US, Korea (to give an example I know of) has super/uber/colossal “ideal figure” peer pressure. I tell you, I didn’t even grow up there and it’s still CRAZY. I get these “get/gotta get-thin” vibes from my parents, friends, relatives, heck even coworkers. Fortunately, I’m hard-headed and living in America (both souh and north) helped to prevent falling entirely in that crap, but it gets pretty depressing. That’s why I get so frustrated with Hanna (not at), she reminds me of unpleasant things.

    Like Anca said, it gets into a never-ending depressing cycle to the point you don’t really care or start thinking spending your money on surgery is a pretty good deal. I don’t have the money, but believe me when I say that at one time I would have gotten liposuction and all kinds of surgery just to “fit in”, had I had it. Heavens bless my cheapskate nature.

  17. paulynn
    Posted January 31, 2009 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    at long last, i’ve found the movie ….
    i’m from the philippines, and i’ve seen this movie in one of our uhf channel. i loved the story…. but i dont have a copy yet….

  18. Claire Jan
    Posted November 18, 2010 at 2:53 am | Permalink

    wohooooooooooo !!! i really Love this show …. I watched it again and again but still, I dont know the title …. hahaha

  19. joshua
    Posted November 21, 2010 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    wahahahha:))
    i like that movie sooo much..

  20. seiya_zyrex 04
    Posted December 26, 2010 at 5:16 am | Permalink

    Everytime i watch this movie,i cant help myself imagining as if i’m the one who act it………..
    and i love all the songs in this movie…….i wish i could have all the copies.

  21. shiee
    Posted March 24, 2011 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

    난이 영화를 사랑
    확실히 인생의 의미에 대한 우리를 가르치고 우리가 모든 사람이받을 수있는 일을 바꿀 필요하지 않습니다
    어디에 둘 시리즈 …

  22. erikajoyingalla
    Posted October 2, 2011 at 3:12 am | Permalink

    i Like the song ave maria of hannah or jenny so very exiting and it,s so very lovely song of ave maria
    and the other part is so funny

    thankyou =)

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