Netflix Korean drama, Mask Girl, is set in the late 2000s, and the first observation one can make is how it’s even shot in the same manner. The first episode is extremely enticing and very quick-paced, leaving no room for distractions. The titular character, Kim Mo-Mi, is an ordinary girl with an ordinary life, but there’s something she’s hiding. Mask Girl follows the story of an ugly woman who wanted to be a celebrity all her life. As an adult, she still loves the applause and cheers of an audience and continues to be an excellent dancer. This leads her to use her talent in a new kind of way, where she can hide her face and continue to live her dream at night while working a terribly boring day job with overtime and a terrible boss. From the first episode, you can understand that Mask Girl really speaks to the many prejudices in Korean society regarding beauty and work. Let’s quickly get straight into the show.
What Happens In The Episode?
Kim Mo-Mi has loved to dance since she was a child. She had the talent of an idol, but her looks would make her stick out like a sore thumb. When she was young, she performed many times on stage, and as she got older, the comments about her appearance kept worsening. Wow, she’s so ugly, Get out of here, people would say. Even her mother would say those looks would get her nowhere. She’d say, You can only be a celebrity in your dreams. In high school, Mo-Mi realized she couldn’t turn a deaf year to the hate she was receiving and stopped performing. From the audience, she’d watch her better-looking peers do half-hearted versions of the dances she could’ve done fantastically.
At 27, now working as an accountant at a firm, Mo-Mi’s life is exactly what she didn’t want it to be like. She isn’t great at her job because that’s not what she’s interested in, and her senior colleagues are terrible people who harass their female juniors without realizing it. She has one friend in the workplace who may be considered ugly by conventional standards too. Mo-Mi and her friend get through the day by chit-chatting with each other about everyone in the office and sharing gossip. This is the only reason she can continue to work there. On the other hand, at night, she livestreams her dance performances in provocative clothing to continue to live her dreams in a new way. The same claps and cheers, but no hate, because her face is covered and her talent (and occasionally her assets) is all the viewers can see and appreciate.
Mo-Mi has a little office crush on her team manager, Mr. Park, who happens to be very handsome and well-respected in the office. She can’t stop staring at him at work, and she trusts that he’s a good man because he always puts work first. In actuality, what Mo-Mi doesn’t know is that Mr. Park sits and edits his social media posts during work time and pretends to be a hotshot. There’s a young woman at the office who is her junior, and she happens to match the Korean beauty standards. She makes coffee for her colleagues, and Mr. Park stops her from doing that because it’s not part of her job description. This makes Mo-Mi fall for Mr. Park even more. After a company dinner, Mo-Mi gets a ride in the same cab as Mr. Park because they’re going in the same direction. On the phone, Mr. Park tells his wife that he’s alone, making Mo-Mi feel like there’s something more to their dynamic than just being colleagues. In her performance that night, she mentions this story to her viewers, and while some agree that he may like her back, others call it a bluff.
A few days later, Mo-Mi leaves work late, and her junior is the only one who is still at work. Mo-Mi forgets her wallet and returns to the office to find Mr. Park coming back too. She secretly follows him to his office and finds him making out with the junior. Mo-Mi is shattered by her discovery, and that night she gets extremely drunk, giving a mind-blowing performance to her viewers that ends with her going completely nude at the end of it. This led to her streaming being suspended for some time.
Mo-Mi is enraged and blames her junior for this whole mess. To take revenge, she tells some female colleagues what she saw that night and ends up spreading gossip about Mr. Park and her junior. It gets so bad that they get reprimanded by the HR team, and Mr. Park decides to quit work. While leaving the office that day, Mo-Mi is met with a strange man who wants to talk to her, but the elevator shows up before he can say anything. Outside, Mo-Mi finds a drunk Mr. Park pretending to try and kill himself. She tries to take him to his neighborhood so he can point out where he lives, but it’s futile, so she ends up taking him to a motel. Mo-Mi tries to get him out of his clothes and ultimately falls asleep next to him. When Mr. Park wakes up, he’s shocked to see her face in front of him and leaves immediately.
What Email Does Mo-Mi Get?
Mo-Mi reaches work late that day and finds out that Mr. Park has left the office. She’s supposed to send some sales numbers to her senior when she sees an email from an unknown sender with the subject, I, You. She clicks on it, and it’s a picture of the nude mask girl with the words I know who you are, Mask Girl. Mo-Mi is completely shocked and rushes to the toilet to see the email again. She’s been hit by all the negative comments on her livestreams and the consequences of the thing she chose to do for fun. Mo-Mi just wants to be free, but that doesn’t seem to be working out too well for her. In the subway, a man touches her inappropriately, and she stands up for herself, taking him to the police. He says she’s too ugly for him to do something like that, but she’s certain of what he’s done. She assaults him at the police station and tries to join the dots herself. She thinks he’s the man who stalked her after sending her that email and then touched her without permission. The police tell her to let it go because she assaulted him too.
Back at home, Mo-Mi opens the application she uses to do her streams. She sees a person with the username prince in a previous life and starts a chat with him. She’s happy that at least one person still thinks of her in a positive light (yes, this is a very problematic situation). Mo-Mi tells him that she needs to stop streaming because nobody loves her. On the other side, the guy replies that she should continue giving her amazing performances. It turns out it’s actually the guy Mo-Mi was standing next to while waiting for the elevator. He wants her to forget Mr. Park so that he can be by her side forever.