A figure carries a birthday cake into a room but drops it in shock as another unknown person commits suicide by hanging herself.
Su-kyoung is lying on an operating table ready to undergo plastic surgery. She is extremely nervous and is being comforted by her friend Hyeon-su, whose parents are divorced. Hyeon-su leaves and talks to her mother Yoon-hee, a successful and talented plastic surgeon. The two have a good mother-daughter relationship. Meanwhile, Su-kyoung is panicking alone in the operating room. She sees a frightening image of a girl in a dark blue dress and long dark hair. Yoon-hee begins the surgery, telling Su-kyoung that it is time to become pretty. A day later, on Hyeon-su's birthday, she argues with her mother about where to have the party and finally decides to do it in her home.
Hyeon-su is later in her art class, making a sculpture of Su-kyoung's face. Many girls in the class comment saying that Su-kyoung looks much more attractive than she did before. Hyeon-su accidentally cuts into the face of her sculpture and a large cut subsequently appears on Su-kyoung's cheek. She screams and flees in terror. A mysterious voice shrieks at her saying she wants her face back. Su-kyoung's cut and blood later vanish. Hye-won, another friend, decides to get an eye job from Yoon-hee.
Meanwhile, Hyeon-su, Jae-hui and Su-kyoung wait at a bus stop while an old woman gives out fliers for her missing granddaughter. Su-kyoung is distant, troubled by earlier events. The bus arrives but Hyeon-su waits for her friend Sung-eon to come. Jae-hui shows instant dislike for Sung-eon, who is tomboyish and closer to Hyeon-su than her other friends: she also hasn't undergone plastic surgery.
The girls all celebrate Hyeon-su's party and Su-kyoung gives her an expensive doll for a present. When lighting the cake, the same ghost girl that Su-kyoung saw appears next to Hyeon-su, but no one else can see her except Su-kyoung. The candles go out. In a hasty panic, Su-kyoung gets in the way of the cake (which was to be thrown at Hyeon-su) and then goes to the bathroom to wash her face. Su-kyoung admires her face for a second before she sees her face shredded in the reflection. She screams and runs from Hyeon-su's house.
Later the two girls look through a photo album and laugh about what they used to look like. Hyeon-su then tells Sung-eon that she has no childhood pictures. Yoon-hee listens through the door and then walks away.
Su-kyoung meanwhile has locked herself inside her room for days and refuses to see anyone. Her mother calls Yoon-hee and Hyeon-su to come and help. Su-kyoung lets Hyeon-su in and she tells her that there is something wrong with her face and that she can't help wanting to mess it up. Su-kyoung hears a voice say "pretty" and fearfully forces Hyeon-su out. The ghost girl appears and evilly says "I'll make you pretty." Su-kyoung's face begins to violently cut open. Hyeon-su and the other women manage to enter the room after Su-kyoung's screaming stops. Hyeon-su finds the dead Su-kyoung face down and flips her onto her back, revealing her face, now cut off on one side.
During art class the next day, Hye-won blames Hyeon-su for Su-kyoung's death. Hye-won has had surgery from Yoon-hee. At their home Yoon-hee discovers that Hyeon-su is into Vivaldi and has been calling her father. Later Yoon-hee gives Hyeon-su a facial. While Hyeon-su sleeps a pair of hands begin to caress her face before trying to gouge out her eyes. Hyeon-su panics and tears off the face mask, sees no one with her and her mother then comes to comfort her. Her mother places her face mask in a box.
Hyeon-su then goes into the basement where she was told never to go there as a child. She finds a picture of a child with a severely burnt face and the words, Hyeon-su before surgery. The girl with long hair has been watching Hyeon-su but vanishes when her mother comes down and scolds her. Hyeon-su then becomes distant and refuses to speak to her mother properly. Hyeon-su then leaves the house to see her father. Yoon-hee follows.
As Hyeon-su talks to her father, Yoon-hee has a flashback. Many years before, she tells Hyeon-su to wait in the car while she delivers a file to her husband. She promises a trip to the park for Hyeon-su. As Yoon-hee leaves, the car's engine begins to smoke. Yoon-hee finds her husband and a woman engaging in oral sex, hits him, and leaves. The car's engine explodes, horribly burning Hyeon-su and leaving her comatose. Yoon-hee weeps over her disfigured daughter. She then later visits a church and a little orphaned girl grows attached to her, addressing her as mommy.
The Orphaned Girl loves Yoon-hee very much and the two are shown to have a loving mother-daughter relationship. Yoon-hee's husband then goes to the hospital to find Hyeon-su missing.
Back in present day, Yoon-hee confronts her ex-husband and tells him that he has no right to see Hyeon-su. Her ex-husband then argues saying that she isn't Hyeon-su and that she is the Orphaned Girl. As Yoon-hee leaves, Hyeon-su tearfully says "Mom" and hugs her.
Yoon-hee takes her home and tells her to have a bath. The doorbell rings and Yoon-hee goes to see who it is, horrified to find out it is Hyeon-su ringing the doorbell. As she lets Hyeon-su in, the two get into an argument in which Hyeon-su tells her that she isn't her real mother which causes Yoon-hee to slap her. As Hyeon-su locks herself in her room, Yoon-hee notices the floor is soaking wet and then hears the tap in the bathroom running. The bath is overflowing. Footsteps leave the bathroom and head towards Hyeon-su's room. Hyeon-su's door opens on its own and as Hyeon-su checks it out and sees her mother walk down the far end of the corridor, her bed suddenly becomes wet. Hyeon-su sits on it, notices the wetness and finds a tangled bunch of wet long hairs on her back and screams. She pulls back the covers to reveal the girl in the blue dress lying soaking wet under the sheets. She screams again and the girl disappears.
The next day Hyeon-su shows the picture of the missing girl from the old woman to Sung-eon and then shows her a photo given to her by her father. Sung-eon notices that they look very similar but have different eye colors. Meanwhile, Jae-hui and Hye-won are painting self-portraits. Hye-won goes to the toilet while Jae-hui washes her paint brush. She notices it gets stuck in the middle of the bucket of paint-water. As she inspects it a hand shoots out of the bucket and forcefully pulls her head into the bucket by grabbing her face. Jae-hui accidentally tears her picture. Sung-eon gets a call from Hyeon-su's mom. Hye-won returns and is shocked to see the painting ripped and scratches on Jae-hui's face, who now seems to be almost catatonic and in a trance-like state. Next we see the two girls sitting face to face and smiling in a possessed way as they draw lines on their faces, telling each other which parts of their faces need improving. They then lift up two scalpels and begin to slowly cut each other's faces up, both uttering "I'll make you pretty" at the same time, with their feet in the bucket. Hyeon-su and Sung-eon both enter the room to find both of the girls soaked in blood with shredded faces, smiling at the two of them. The ambulances come and the paramedics carry Jae-hui's and Hye-won's bodies away. Sung-eon is taken downtown to answer questions about the two girls.
Yoon-hee comes to the scene of the crime and leaves with "Hyeon-su". The real Hyeon-su returns home and her mother locks her in the basement. Yoon-hee puts what she believes to be Hyeon-su to bed and leaves her room before she has another flashback. Hyeon-su, still with her face burned off, begins to show signs of improvement and Yoon-hee then performs an operation. Yoon-hee then removes the girl's oxygen mask but cannot bring herself to kill her and then quickly gives it back as she sobs with guilt-ridden sadness for her "daughter"; the faceless girl lovingly strokes her mom's hand. Later, the little faceless girl (head wrapped in bandages) watches the other girl play with a friend (Sung-eon?) outside and she comments on how pretty she is. Yoon-hee tells her that she is "way prettier" but the little Faceless Girl accuses her mother of liking the other girl better. Yoon-hee then lovingly tells the Faceless Girl that she will make her a new face. Unfortunately Yoon-hee didn't fully keep her promise, and only made the girl very realistic masks of her daughter's face (the face mask seen earlier in the film was used). The Faceless Girl (now in her late teens) sneaks out of the basement and witnesses Hyeon-su's birthday party with all of the friends who would later have surgery. Yoon-hee then hastily leaves the room and locks her back in the basement. The Faceless Girl screams, begging for a birthday party and a pretty face as Yoon-hee breaks into tears on the other side of the door. Later in the day, Yoon-hee prepares a cake (the beginning of the film) and takes it to her, finding out that she has hung herself.
Hyeon-su then discovers the girl's room and explores finding a cupboard filled with the masks she wore over the years and a diary filled with sadness and hate towards Hyeon-su and her friends. Hyeon-su then discovers a fridge-like device which Yoon-hee kept the Faceless Girl's body in after her death. Sung-eon, now free of the police visits Hyeon-su's house and breaks in, unlocking the basement door and the two separate to search for Yoon-hee. Sung-eon then sees what she believes to be Hyeon-su but it is actually the Faceless Girl who shocks Sung-eon to fainting by pulling her own face off like a mask. Hyeon-su finds the unconscious Sung-eon; her mother then appears and drugs her.
Hyeon-su lies on an operating table next to the corpse of the Faceless Girl, who is wearing a mask that resembles Hyeon-su's face. Yoon-hee removes the mask, revealing the faceless girl's gruesome visage properly for the first time. Hyeon-su begins to panic, but she can't move because of the drugs. Yoon-hee tells Hyeon-su it's time to give her face back and begins to operate with a scalpel but stops when she remembers how much she loved her. Yoon-hee collapses to the floor in grief but the corpse of the faceless girl gets up and tries to cut off Hyeon-su's face screaming "I want my face back!". Yoon-hee stops her, telling her that she's her precious daughter and that she's sorry for all she did to her. The ghastly faceless corpse reverts into the child she once was. The Faceless Girl was The Orphaned Girl all along, not the real Hyeon-su, and the operation had been a face swap. Yoon-hee had cut off the Orphaned Girl's face and had given it to Hyeon-su. Yoon-hee then repents for her sins and leaves with the Orphaned Girl to go onto the Afterlife. However, the final scene shows the Orphaned Girl, back in her faceless long-haired form suddenly appearing by Hyeon-su's bed with her hands reaching out before the credits roll, perhaps meaning that she was not yet satisfied and still wanting her face back.
The title "Cinderella" is directed towards the orphaned girl, the black haired ghost in the story. She can be dubbed Cinderella because she was illegally adopted after the original Hyeon-su suffered near-fatal burns and disfigurement from being in a car explosion. The orphan loved her "mother" very much but after the original Hyeon-su began to recover, their mother did an operation to have the orphaned girl's face removed and attached to her biological daughter. Hyeon-su, having no memory of the incident, was spoiled by her mother while the faceless orphaned girl was kept in the cellar.
Making connections back to the original Cinderella story, Cinderella was also treated badly by a stepmother and was locked away in her room while her two stepsisters and stepmother obtained all of her father's fortune.
The adopted daughter was never given any birthday parties, was never allowed to go to school, and was left inside the basement writing in her diary, hoping that one day her "mother" will make her a new face, as she promised but never did. As she grew older, she felt more betrayed after watching Hyeon-su, the real daughter, grow up, becoming beautiful with her face and having birthday parties with her beautiful friends and thus ended up committing suicide in the basement, writing about how much she hates Hyeon-su, her friends and how she wishes she could kill them all. Unfortunately, the mother finally decides to throw the orphaned girl a party and brings her a cake, only to discover that she had hung herself. Feeling it be Hyeon-su's fault, she begins haunting her friends until they go crazy with thoughts of being ugly. With those thoughts, they commit suicide by cutting up their own faces, or inflicting facial disfigurement on each other. Also, the orphaned girl truly loved her mother and wanted nothing more than to be with her forever. In the end, Hyeon-su's mother agrees to go onto the afterlife with the adopted girl to save her real daughter and bring peace to the orphaned girl's torturous life.
In South Korea and other parts of Asia, there is an extreme preoccupation with beauty and achieving it through plastic surgery. This film seems to address that issue through horror and dark satirical themes and imagery.Do Ji-won - Yoon-hee
Shin Se-kyung - Hyeon-su
Ahn Gyu-ryun - Sung-eon
Ahn Ah-young - Jae-hui
Jeon So-min - Hye-won
Yoo Da-in - Su-kyoung
Jo Sung-ha - Hyeon-su's father
Kim Do-yeon - friend
Kim Ji-na - young Hyeon-su
Lee Won - swimming pool waiter