Art for Healing: Looking for The Beauty Inside

The Beauty Inside is a 2015 Korean film in which Kim Woo Jin, the main character, wakes up everyday in a different face, body, race, and sex.

The Beauty Inside is a 2015 Korean film in which Kim Woo Jin, the main character, wakes up everyday in a different face, body, race, and sex. Each day, he stares at a completely different person in the mirror. Only he himself knows that despite having different physical appearances, the faces staring back at him are the same Kim Woo Jin. Then, on a day where he wears the features of a handsome young man, he meets a girl whom he falls in love with and to whom he tells his secret. Despite the seemingly peculiar storyline, The Beauty Inside addresses, through an honest and artistic lens, a prominent issue in South Korean society: the dilemma surrounding appearances.

When I first watched The Beauty Inside, the film struck me and prompted me to consider how accepting we are of a society where physical appearances define over inner selves. We are so used to judgement on a superficial level and it happens so regularly that I have come to accept this as part of the norm of everyday life. However, a sense of displeasure and disapproval has always remained within me. South Korea, the country I was raised in, holds heavy expectations towards physical appearances, such as weight, height, clothing, and makeup.

Generally, people are exposed to these beauty standards through the film and Korean pop music industries, where mostly good-looking celebrities are publicized. Audience members compare themselves to these commercial images and hold themselves to similar standards. People are often pressured to wear trendy clothes; it has even become common knowledge that girls should weigh below 50kg (110 lbs). There are even times when TV show hosts deliberately belittle their guests by joking about their appearances. It is clear that these artistic industries are reinforcing stereotypes and superficial judgments in Korean society instead of building a culture of diversity and respect.

Personally, I believe that although appearances can temporarily increase the likeability of a person, what ultimately defines a person are their thoughts, actions, and heart. Therefore, through listening and understanding with an open mind, I leave myself the chance to amend my prejudices against others. The Beauty Inside resonated with me in this aspect because although the girl fell for Kim Woo Jin due to his kindness and personality, his changing appearances prevented her from recognizing him the following day. To uphold their connection, she could only rely on him recognizing her first. Through this, the film explains that the pursuit of the inner self must never be one-sided. One must be willing to actively express oneself, and on the receiving end, people must be willing to accept and respect that expression. The plot emphasizes how true connections are formed when one reaches for something deeper, something substantial beyond physical appearance.

The film, in its raw and honest portrayal of such a superficial society, endorses the idea that finding the beauty inside is a difficult, self-healing process that will certainly reap its rewards. It showed me that accepting others and embracing self-expression are valuable ways to heal. People are able to heal through videography and film because many promote positive concepts such as love and success, to which the audience can exemplify and relate to on a personal level. However, to achieve this healing effect, the film industry has a lot more to improve upon. By diversifying their casts, addressing social issues, and deviating away from the standard rom-coms, Korean films definitely have the potential to reach and impact a larger audience.

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