Based on a webtoon, Netflix’s latest dark Korean thriller delves into the lives of a young lady who works as a flamboyant streamer at night and as a mousy office worker during the day.
Kim Mo-mi travels to work every morning, just like hundreds of other South Koreans do. She rides the underground, sits in her cubicle, gossips with her coworker, looks longingly at her boss, and endures the inane taunts directed at her appearance. At night, Mo-mi leads a double life as an internet broadcaster. She transforms into Mask Girl by donning a mask and wig and performs live on streaming platforms, leaving her audience—who seem to be primarily men—in a lustful daze. After a particularly unpleasant day, Mo-mi gets wasted one evening and does a striptease on her live broadcast. Mo-mi’s life becomes chaotic after that. The subsequent events are recounted from the perspectives of other people, each with their own special insight on Mo-mi.
This series explores ugliness through beauty, with breathtaking cinematography by Joo Seong-rim and exquisitely styled locations. Ryu Seong-hee, Mask Girl’s art director, has worked on some of the most eerie K-dramas of the past year, including Park Chan-wook’s Decision to Leave (2022) and Little Women. The production injects subtlety into a number of clichés by means of exquisite graphics and strong performances from an outstanding cast. It’s doubtful that Mask Girl offers anything to help dispel stereotypes about being ugly given the horrible things people do, but many of the misogynistic characters have a satisfying redemption story. Furthermore, the show’s numerous turns eventually point to a very clear target: Christian extremism. Even though there isn’t an official religion in South Korea, evangelical Christians have long had political sway there. Right-wing coalitions have included a number of Christian organisations, and the storyline of Kyung-ja, Mo-mi’s main adversary, aptly illustrates the rise in popularity of evangelical Christian doctrine in recent years.
Mask Girl Mydramalist: Who’s Who?
The office worker who transforms into Mask Girl Mydramalist in the first episode is played by Lee Han-byeol as Mo-mi. The man who sits in the stall next to Mo-mi’s, Oh-nam (an unrecognisable Ahn Jae-hong, most memorable as one of the male protagonists in Be Melodramatic), turns out to be her stalker and colleague. When Oh-nam accidentally finds out that Mo-Mi is Mask Girl, he becomes convinced that he is her defender. on fact, he kills a man on the pretext of saving Mo-Mi. Later on, when Oh-nam tries to rape Mo-mi, she kills him with a knife and runs off.
Finding her son’s killer becomes an obsession for Oh-nam’s distraught mother Kyung-ja (K-drama veteran Yeom Hye-ran, from The Uncanny Counter and The Glory). After doing extensive research both online and offline, Kyung-ja discovers that Mo-mi has had plastic surgery to alter her appearance. She is confident that Mo-mi was the reason behind Oh-nam’s descent into perversion. After tracking down and kidnapping Mo-mi, she discovers she has the incorrect woman. Chun-ae (Han Jae-yi), a trussed-up woman who works with Mo-mi at a hostess bar, is the one Kyung-ja is aiming a gun at.
following plastic surgery Nana, a former idol who is now an actor and appeared in the K-drama romance Into the Ring, plays the beautiful Mo-mi. Chun-ae tells Kyung-ja that she despises Mo-mi for taking her clients away. Chun-ae is, as it turns out, lying. Although Chun-ae made up this tale of animosity to get Kyung-ja off Mo-mi’s back, she and Mo-mi are genuinely pals. Together, the two friends make the decision to flee: Mo-mi from Kyung-ja and Chun-ae from an abusive partner, whom they both kill. At the conclusion of the fourth episode, Kyung-ja is submerged in a lake, and Chun-ae has perished while attempting to defend Mo-mi from Kyung-ja. Following a year of evasion, Mo-mi turns herself in to law enforcement.
The Mask Girl Mydramalist “Good” Christian
In the fifth episode, we find out that Mo-mi was raped by Oh-nam and became pregnant before she gave herself up. Mo-mi, who is on the run, has a daughter named Mi-mo. She hands the baby over to her mother. Mi-mo has a difficult childhood due in part to her cold and uncaring grandma as well as the bullying she endures in school for being the daughter of Mask Girl. The elderly woman who stands outside one of Mi-mo’s schools and sells snacks is her sole consolation. Mi-mo is unaware that the elderly woman is actually Kyung-ja, who has undergone plastic surgery to give herself a new look in addition to surviving Mo-mi’s attempt to drown her. Not only does Kyung-ja pursue Mi-mo, but she also makes sure that the identity of Mask Girl’s Mydramalist daughter Mi-mo is known to all the schools.
In the meantime, Go Hyun-jung is portraying Mo-mi, the elderly prisoner. It dawns on Mo-mi that Kyung-ja is not dead in the lake when a gang of Christian volunteers show up at the jail. For Kyung-ja’s son’s death, she is still alive and intends to kill Mi-mo because Kyung-ja wants Mo-mi to suffer just as much as she did.
From the beginning, Kyung-ja is portrayed as a devoted Christian, and the programme gently hints that her devotion may not be entirely real. Similar to Mo-mi, she is concealing various forms of ugly beneath her exterior of morality and decency. But Mo-mi’s disguise has an innocence about it that allows her to be the person she wants to be without fear of rejection. Behind Kyung-ja’s mask comes a terrible and dark aspect. In Mask Girl, Christian virtue simultaneously serves as a defence for causing suffering and a sign of hypocrisy.
The Mask Girl Mydramalist Demise
Even though Kyung-ja knows that Mi-mo is her own granddaughter and innocent, in the last episode, Kyung-ja tries to kill her by smothering her to death in an underground cellar. This is how she holds Mo-mi accountable for Oh-nam’s death, even though, by now, rational thought has clearly fled Kyung-ja’s mental palace. Thereafter, there is an awful cycle of violence in which mothers have to endure horrible suffering in order to save their daughters. Mi-mo’s mother, grandma, and the one friend she met at school manage to free her despite Kyung-ja’s unwavering determination.
When mother and daughter believe they are safe, Kyung-ja, full of murderous purpose, comes out of her lair and discovers the police have surrounded the area. (They are searching for Mo-mi, who broke out of jail in order to save Mi-mo.) When Kyung-ja notices the police cars’ bright lights, he gets excited and delirious and exclaims, “Wow.” The army of My Lord has arrived! When Hye-ran lifts her gun to aim at Mo-mi and Mi-mo, two rapid rounds are fired. One strikes Mo-mi, who protected Mi-mo with her body. The other, Kyung-ja, is taken by the police. We can safely assume that Kyung-ja is not going to be able to resuscitate herself out of this one as she falls to the ground with blood spurting from the bullet hole in her temple.
At the conclusion of Mask Girl, Mi-mo moves in with her friend’s family. In the epilogue, she watches old footage of Mo-mi performing in front of an audience and enjoying the cheers.