True Beauty is about Lim Jugyeong who got bullied in school for “being ugly.” Since she was little, she was ridiculed because of her looks. When she got the chance to transfer to a different school, she found a way to transform herself through make up. In her new school, she got involved with two men, Lee Suho and Han Seojun, who also have issues of their own.
True Beauty is more than a story of inferiority complex, bullying, anxieties, and insecurities. It showed us how someone views herself can really start from home; that our sense of self can be rippled no matter how gentle the waves are. It gave us the beautiful meaning of friendship, acceptance, letting go, reconciliation, and that hope to see a better tomorrow; a better version of oneself.
Lim Jugyeong (Moon Ga Young) is bullied because of her looks. Growing up, her mother kept telling her to just study hard, so she would have good grades at least. Her bullies caused her so much pain and trauma that she changed herself completely, thinking that she would be loved and have friends when she’s pretty. She transformed herself into a beautiful lady using makeup and finally made friends in her new school. But she carried with her the fear of people finding out her true looks underneath all the cover up.
Lee Suho (Cha Eun Woo) is the top student of Saebom High School, where Jugyeong transferred. He is known for being aloof, asocial even. He is the quiet, mysterious type who doesn’t let people in. Until he met Jugyeong. The two shared a past that was gradually revealed in the series. Suho deals with his own issues of guilt from losing a friend (Seyeon) to suicide, but despite that, he is there to help Jugyeong lift her own baggage.
Han Seojun (Hwang In Yeop) is known as the cool, wild, and “bad boy” student of Saebom High. Despite his tough façade, he is soft and sweet, especially towards his mom and sister. Seojun hated Suho thinking that he caused the death of their friend, Seyeon, who also wanted to be an idol like him. Seojun gave up on becoming an idol, ended up having feelings for Jugyeong, and falling into a deeper conflict with Suho.
My Thoughts In General
💭 I have been screaming about True Beauty (webtoon) with some friends so expectations were kinda high. I was one of those people who also hoped for Kim Seokjin to play the role of Suho. Came the announcement of the cast, I was like “okay.” And forgot about it then. 😅 I didn’t start watching until Episode 8 was uploaded. I didn’t want to watch when I saw people talking about how True Beauty completely changed the adaptation for the most parts of the story. When a friend said it’s different but amazing, I gave it a try. I can now say that the actors really did well portraying the webtoon counterparts. And the fact that Hwang In Yeop really looks like Seojun? I’m in awe.
💭 I don’t really want to talk about how much the drama differs from the webtoon. I know many people hated the fact. I like how the drama added more depth into the story, though. The way Jugyeong and Suho met in the rooftop + their childhood (which really gave away the endgame already 🤣). True Beauty also highlighted how dangerous it can be for idol/trainees if the CEO does not care enough about them.
💭 Once again, I hated how people fight over Team Suho and Team Seojun (just like in Start Up). Many people I saw online were invalidating Suho and Seojun’s pain or what they are going through just to sail their ships. Some calls Suho toxic because of the way he acts when he’s jealous. Others are saying that Seojun’s pain is only about him not being with Jugyeong and he has a loving family anyway, unlike Suho. As if Seojun didn’t lose a friend too. It bothers me so much how people can judge a character and downplay their sufferings just like that. Doesn’t it bother you that you focus more on the endgame than the actual lesson of the story??
💭 In fact, True Beauty showed us different kinds of friendships. What people can do for this so-called “love” but actually just hurting themselves in the process as well as the people around them. We saw how bad it can get when someone hates to lose.
💭 Jugyeong’s family is the best example of this quote from Reply 1988 saying that one’s family is the most oblivious. Sometimes, we can’t take it against people if they don’t know we’re having a hard time especially if we don’t say anything. But in this case, Jugyeong’s mother just really didn’t listen to her. (Her mother’s reaction to make up is relatable, though. That’s how boomers think. Hahaha!)
💭 True Beauty ended gender stereotypes when it gave us Hee Kyung.
💭 Since it is mostly set in school, I appreciate how they made sure that there is a talk about how grades, however important, are not everything. True Beauty probably has many young viewers, so I hope it will be one of their takeaways from this. Also, it is nice to address bullying and standing up for oneself.
💭 Now, let’s talk about ✨character development✨ I’ve been wondering if people are so obsessed about certain ✨glow up✨ because we don’t always see it in ourselves. LOL It’s so hard to achieve. I always say that yourself is your greatest enemy. Does the essence of the story depends here? Is the story considered bad if the characters didn’t have any growth? We were all waiting for Jugyeong to finally be able to love herself and embrace her bare face. I think at some point, she has learned how. When she finally decided to take makeup classes, I thought that it’s nice that she finally found out what she wants to do in life. One of the many reasons we feel lost and have low self-esteem is that… we don’t know what we want, where we are going, or what we are doing. Her choosing makeup as a career is a start. Some of you might think that “meh, she’s just doing that so she can keep covering her face with cosmetics”. Yea, sure. But we should also consider the fact that not everyone who wears makeup is insecure. Some people just really love to do it and have it done. If she finds her worth in making sure that everyone feels good about themselves, I don’t see any problem with it. Wearing makeup doesn’t mean you are fake, yano? It doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t love yourself.
💭 Let there be no Season 2, please! The webtoon is not yet done and there might be a possibility that they will milk out more views and money from this story. 🙄 I hope not, though! If they want S2, they should have followed the webtoon in the very beginning. It just doesn’t make sense at all if there is S2 and still Suho endgame.
💭 Suho and Jugyeong has too many kissing scenes with no spark (don’t come at me, LOL) but Jugyeong and Seojun still has the best chemistry.
Here we are now in my favorite part of my reviews, the spoilers. I love to discuss the characters and why they act the way they do. And that requires some detailed interpretation of the scenes that may spoil you if you haven’t seen True Beauty yet. So, you may stop reading from here. 🏃🏻
I am not the one to choose between teams. I used to think it’s no use knowing who the endgame would be, anyway. I want to save myself from so much pain. 🤷🏻 I also had to think it through if I’m leaning more into “Team Seojun” because I like Inyeop as an actor or do I really like his character? Do I really like Seojun in this drama or I am clouded by the thoughts of Seojun in the webtoon? After rewatching (yes, I rewatched the whole thing after its finale), I can say now that I really really really do like his character. Like A LOT.
Seojun doesn’t stop Jugyeong going to Suho. Rather, he always encourages her.
(When Suho went to Jugyeong’s part-time job so they could talk (they have been fighting) but Jugyeong obviously couldn’t leave then. Seojun offered that he would cover her shift since there weren’t too many customers anyway. And so, Jugyeong left.)
(When Jugyeong wanted to talk to Seojun but he claimed that he’s busy with his training and lied to Jugyeong that Suho is actually going back to the States. So of course, Jugyeong walked away and went to Suho. Ouch)
Others may argue that Seojun didn’t have a choice, anyway. That he couldn’t force Jugyeong to stay because she likes Suho, not him. And that’s why I respect him more. He didn’t insist it. He tried but never impose anything. Remember when Suho and Seojun fought and Suho told Seojun to give up on Jugyeong? Seojun said that Jugyeong’s feelings matter, implying that it’s not about them liking her. It’s about who she likes back. He knows when to give up and let go. I really love him for that. He Iet her go not because he doesn’t love her as much as Suho does, he just respects Jugyeong’s feelings and his friendship with Suho more. He didn’t become Soojin. He even apologized to Jugyeong for telling her how he feels because it might have confused her feelings.
I was also scared to see another Junghwan (Reply 1988), but he confessed. He tried. I would like to believe that there are no regrets on his part. He did what he could, and I’ll find peace in that.
Suho, on the other hand, always feels threatened when Seojun is near Jugyeong. I think he is that bothered because Seojun is his friend. But still, I don’t like how he always acts out.
(Of course, I didn’t like it too when Seojun kept on blaming Suho for Seyeon’s death. He needed someone to blame. It’s not an excuse for treating your friend like that, but then again, I can’t possibly know how to handle that kind of pain myself.)
I don’t have a problem with Suho endgame, though. I think it makes sense. They feel safe with each other, and that is really important in a relationship. But please don’t go with your bullshit that it is Suho endgame because Suho accepts Jugyeong for who she is. First, Seojun does too. Second, when Suho discovered Jugyeong’s cover up, it is by chance. It is not Jugyeong’s choice to show him her “true” self. She didn’t go to Suho saying, “Hey, you know what? I like you. Here’s my face without makeup.” Nuh uh. Jugyeong never let anyone sees through her by choice.
When do you think Seojun started liking Jugyeong? Some people might think that Seojun only developed his feelings for Jugyeong when he started annoying Suho by getting close to her and telling her “I’ll only listen to you from now on.” I think Seojun likes Jugyeong way before that. When he asked Suho if he liked Jugyeong, I think Seojun knows that he likes her too. He asked Suho to know where should he stand between his best friend and the girl he likes. SEOJUN BEST BOY.
I am glad that they at least made Seojun an idol. Even though he is hurting from the unrequited love, I think he finds peace knowing that his best friend is happy and that he finally got to do what he and Seyeon wanted to do. So, I will also find peace knowing that he can always sings his heart out. It starts today, right?
By the way, when I said I am “Team Seojun”, I don’t necessarily want him to be the endgame. Jugyeong doens’t deserve him. Seojun deserves better. ✌️
That’s it for my review! Let’s discuss in the comments. While I admit that there are other dramas that are way better than True Beauty, it is still close to my heart because I have been attached to the webtoon and I come to love Hwang In Yeop. SO MUCH. Please like Hwang In Yeop Philippines on Facebook. I can’t wait for his future projects too. :’)
Thank you for reading. While you are here, please buy me a coffee. 🥺
I hope my words reach you,
[Featured Image courtesy of TVN]
Here are some screenshots of my conversations with friends about True Beauty webtoon lol