I rarely jump into recapping a drama midway through but Miss Korea is just that good and that compelling it calls to me. Episode 9 was even better than the stellar episode 8, setting up nicely for a transition to the next phase of Ji Young and Hyung Joon’s pursuit of the Miss Korea 1997 crown. While episode 8 gave us (and them) a taste of what’s to come by using the local Miss Seoul pageant as a dress rehearsal of sorts, this episode deals with the fall out of Ji Young not making the top-3 and thereby her dreams are at an end. She’s 25 years old, at the top age limit for entering the competition, without even her dead end elevator girl job to go back to. But Ji Young’s disappointment and tears are not for herself only, she cries over Hyung Joon’s predicament that she can no longer solve with the same solution. The Vivi gang continue to face the reality that it’s over for their hopes and dreams even if they have the next big beauty breakthrough in their hands. The secondary OTP of Dr. Ko and gangster Teacher Jang are as intense to watch as ever and now she’s aware of the pressures he’s under to collect back the debt.
Ji Young’s family remain the epitome of awesome, tough and soft love doled out in equal measures to protect the apple of their eye. If you think the writer is going to waste episode 9 on tears and finger-pointing, think again as instead the episode is spent on burrowing deeper into the past of Hyung Joon and Ji Young’s relationship and allowing the brink-of-failure intensity of the recent episodes to take a breather. In learning why Hyung Joon and Ji Young broke up, all I know was that I was nodding my head at both of their feelings and how difficult it is move past conundrums built from different expectations. It was even more moving to see present day Ji Young both acknowledge how painful that break up was to her, and how she cannot afford to love Hyung Joon again because another break up will kill her. While their high school relationship was played for cute laughs in flashbacks, their present stirrings of the heart and soul being together again gunning for the same goal shows us that it was something real and deep that drew them together long ago. When Ji Young calls him Oppa in her flirty way, her angry way, and her resigned way, my heart twinges in pain and expectation for them to keep on sticking by each other this time around. The Miss Korea pageant turns out to be both an important goal for everyone involved, but also a worthy race that will change the lives of the characters I’ve come to care about immensely. Continue reading