K-Drama Review

True Beauty: On overcoming inhibitions, accepting oneself, and rolling with laughter

Cha Eun Woo, Moon Ga Young, and Hwang In Yeop bring the WEBTOON “True Beauty” to life and in every sense possible! 

The new tvN rom-com “True Beauty” is based on a popular WEBTOON by Yaongyi. The webtoon stayed No.1 on the charts for a long time and had fans wishing for the drama. Their wish was granted as the widely popular digital comic turned drama aired on networks from Dec 9, 2020, to Feb 4, 2021.

What To Expect

The drama is filled with moments that will have you laughing out loud and frequently squeal with delight thanks to Suho (Cha Eun Woo) and Seojun (Hwang In Yeop). But we can all agree Ju-Gyeong (Moon Ga Young ), Soo-Jin (Park Youna), and Im Hee Kyeong (Im Se Mi) had us swooning equally if not a little more.

Although, it is not all laughter; it illustrates real youth problems such as bullying and suicide. Nonetheless, the drama has more reasons than one for you to see it through to the end. 

Keep reading to explore the intricacies of “True Beauty

Ju Gyeong minus the makeup

Plot

The story revolves around Ju Gyeong who has an inferiority complex due to the constant negative comments being passed on her appearance. She is bullied in school which even drives her to a point where she considers giving up on her life. 

It is said that the greatest adversity paves a new way; for her having to move back to their old hometown served as a blessing. As she is determined to turn her life around, the situation allows Ju Gyeong to re-invent herself. She is all set for a fresh start at a new school armed with her now acquired makeup skills that change her appearance drastically and make her look more appealing. 

Her new life seems to be looking up until she bumps into Lee Su Ho, the boy who rescued her in the past. He initially doesn’t recognise her because of all the makeup and Ju Gyeong is determined to keep it that way. Future certainly does not go her way as she gets entangled with Suho’s ex-best friend and current arch-enemy, Han Seo-Jun, and lands herself in a love triangle with the duo. 

Cast 

Moon Ga Young plays Ju-Gyeong who is far from the conventional female lead. She has a goofy personality and enjoys horror comics, metal, goth and of course make-up. 

Cha Eun Woo plays the tsundere Lee Su Ho who is opposite in nature but shares the same liking for horror comics. 

Han Seo Jun, the second lead, is played by Hwang In Yeop. He comes off as an unbothered delinquent but is a warm person. 

Kang Soo Jin plays the role of Park Youna, she is the goddess of Sae-bum High school. She is admired by everyone for both her beauty and her strong yet kind personality. 

Im Hee Kyeong plays the role of Im Semi, the elder sister of the main character, is breaking gender stereotypes. She doesn’t believe in holding back and being a demure girl. She is seen pursuing Jin Woo (Oh Eui-Shik) who is Ju-Gyeong’s homeroom teacher. 

Highlights from True Beauty

  • Touches upon Youth Problems

Bullying is real and so is the pressure to look a certain way. Nowadays the pressure has only increased the tenth fold with the advent of social media. Feeling undeserving of the best experiences just because you don’t look a certain way is just plain sad. 

Ju-Gyeong suffers from low self-confidence and the turmoils of it. Her character evolves slowly as she learns to accept her beauty that lies beneath the face. 

Soo-Jin on the outside may look like she is at the top of her game, but she suffers at the hands of her extremely demanding and abusive father. She is driven to a corner trying to keep up with his unrealistic expectation and ends up breaking free by serving as a global volunteer.

Suho suffers from the anxiety of losing his friend who commits suicide and blames himself for not being able to save him. Whereas, Seojun grieves in his way and channels his anger towards Suho. The characters go through various ups and downs and manage to tackle their own battles. 

  • Team Suho vs Team Seo SeoJun

The show is energetic with their endless bickering, bromance and epic battle scenes. 

Suho is a straight-A student popular for his handsome looks and has an unapproachable demeanour. Courtesy to the comical scenes, Eun Woo ticks off everything on the female fantasy bucket list; right from Vampire to a Prince on the white horse.

Seojun is serving visuals of the Idol that he is and embodies the rebel yet charming persona splendidly. At this point, I am sure that Seojun bagged the crown of second lead syndrome for so many of us. 

Take your pick!

Ju-Gyeong dancing to Maria
  • Unforgettable Dance Scenes

Caution Ju-Gyeong dancing to Hwasa’s Maria can keep you up at night. Meanwhile, Seojun gets caught jamming around the house to Minho & Zico’s ‘Okey Dokey’. He is embarrassed to be seen in nothing but his bathrobe and leopard print boxers but tries to play cool. 

True Beauty Album
  • Soundtrack 

For me personally, every single OST from the show stood out and I immediately found myself adding it to my playlist. Cha Eun Woo, Hwang In Yeop, Chani, and various artists are featured on the album. 

The TRUE BEAUTY 여신강림 OST is set to release on 10 February. The CD comprises 50 songs on 2 discs and has a quirky packaging. The album deserves an entire review of its own, but below are honourable mentions from the show. 

  1. It Starts Today – Hwang In Youp
  2. Love so Fine – Cha Eun Woo (ASTRO)
  3. Starlight – Cha Ni (SF9)
  4. Call me Maybe – SAya
  5. I’m in Mood for Dancing – YUJU (GFRIEND)
  6. How Do You Do – Cha Ni (SF9)
  7. Happy Ending – Car, the garden
  8. Before Today is Over – HYOJIN (ONF)
  • Set Design & Production

Ju Gyeong goth themed bedroom is goal worthy, but the comic book store tops it off. The bookstore feels straight out of a comic book and will make you want to cosy up with a good read. 

The shouty captions around their head and comic book-themed intro feels quirky and adds more zing. The scene where Ju Gyeong explores the world of makeup has been taken to the next level with delightful graphic elements. It is aesthetically pleasing, to say the least. Everything from the dynamic set and wonderful costumes contributes to the charm. 

  • Guest Appearances 

Chani from SF9 makes a cameo, playing Suho and Seo Jun’s late best friend. Kim Hye Yoon (Eun Dan Oh) & Lee Jae Wook (Baek Kyung) from the drama ‘Extraordinary You’ make a guest appearance in episode 4. Followed suit by Kim Young Dae who plays Oh Nam Joo and Jung Gun Joo plays Ryu Hyung Jin, the Baseball player who was pursuing our leading lady’s interest. A ghost makes a cameo too!

Final Thoughts

Admittedly this drama might not be everyone’s cup of tea, especially if you hate typical high school tropes. The ever-present threat of her secret being revealed keeps the show running.The plot is not exactly unique, but the cast & production makes it worth our while.

The drama has deviated from the original webtoon and added its twists, which is a disappointing factor but can be overlooked. It is entertaining but I would recommend reading the webtoon, it is even funnier.

It is good to see Ju-Gyeong finally accepting herself with this new self-confidence, rather than a temporary solution like makeup. The drama would be bleak without Ju-Gyeong’s family members, who are quite wholesome. And I must admit that Hwang In Yeop playing Seojun steals the thunder. 

For a highly anticipated drama straight out of comic, True Beauty does not disappoint. 

Overall, it is a very vibrant and joyful drama, simply perfect to unwind!

IMAGE COURTESY – tvN Drama

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