Webtoon Analysis: True Beauty, A True Disappointment

Spoilers ahoy!

True Beauty by Yaongi is a romantic comedy following the life of Jugyeong Lim, a relatable, young student who’s physical appearance is… well average. Jugyeong is no model, but she’s a cute lady who knows how to work the brush. Make-up brush that is. Her face painting skills allow her to ascend to the upper echelons of society, garnering her friends and male attention she previously lacked.

However, none of her friends know what she looks like without make-up, leaving her insecure and using make-up as a mask to hide her “ugliness”. Jugyeong is always on guard, afraid her carefully curated world as the hot girl summer will crumble once others discover what she looks like beneath the mask.

Then, a wild Suho appears!

A wild Suho!

Suho is conventionally attractive, smart, and sort of rude initially. A lover of horror and comics, he runs into a bare-faced Jugyeong at the comic store and the two eventually bond over their shared love of all things creepy. An interest that soon blossoms into love as Suho is drawn to her “true beauty”: the Jugyeong who’s awkward, likes horror, comics, and late night talks on benches while eating snacks in sweats. A Suho who encourages Jugyeong to be better, to study hard, and pursue her dreams. The feelings are mutual too.

True Beauty was sort of cheesy and not typically the sort of thing I enjoy reading, but it was light-hearted and had a semi-positive message: ladies, find a guy who likes the true you. A guy who shares your weird hobbies, isn’t put-off when you’re just chilling in sweats, and who pushes you to be better. But most importantly, a guy you’re entirely comfortable being yourself around.

Alas, all good things must be ruined by love triangles… and poor writing.

The story introduces Seonjun, who initially is very much your average bad boy type character, clad in jewelry and all.

A wild Seonjun!

He’s sort of a jerk to Jugyeong at first (or his friends are – birds of a feather, if you will) and Jugyeong is terrified of showing him her face. Unlike Suho, Jugyeong doesn’t really have much in common with Seojun. Nevertheless, for whatever reason, Jugyeong finds herself interested in him aided by the fact that right as her relationship with Suho was blooming, the author put him on a boat and ships him away. Literally. Suho disappears from the story entirely for vague reasons and then the reader gets what feels like a very lengthy filler episode, depicting Jugyeong’s relationship with Seojun. Suho eventually reappears, but is basically reduced to wangsting over Jugyeong.

Seojun’s introduction essentially marked the end of what little character development Jugyeong was experiencing and what little individuality she possessed too.

Episodes later, Jugyeong never develops beyond that insecure, young lady wearing a mask because she’s terrified of her natural appearance, and her relationship with Seojun seemingly makes her regress into an even more insecure individual, obsessed with looks. And while she quickly grew comfortable around Suho bare-faced, it took her some 90 episodes before accidentally showing Seojun her face. Fortunately, he’s fine with it but still. It’s a terrible way to start a relationship and an unhealthy message to young girls.

Rather than coming to understand what true beauty means, Jugyeong seems to have become a stereotypical “pretty girl”, vain and obsessed with her appearance. And whereas at least her relationship with Suho showed Jugyeong she didn’t need to be all dolled up to obtain meaningful relationships with others, her relationship with Seojun just sort of exists as a plot device to drag the story along endlessly, with no clear ending in sight.

While True Beauty’s not over (and it’s been made into a drama apparently), it should’ve ended long ago. Yaongi seems to have either lost the plot, or is dragging the story on because it’s successful (which get the bag, but personally I do appreciate authors like Carnby Kim who create very tight, well-paced plots without filler (to be fair – those are two different genres, but even compared to “Odd Girl Out”, another ongoing manwha centered around a young woman going through life, True Beauty is lacking as the Main character Nari develops tremendously throughout the story, whereas Jugyeong does not)).

In Yaongi’s defense, the Korean title seems to be “A Goddess Descends” or “The Secret Angel”, so it’s entirely possible English translators set unfair expectations for readers by naming it “True Beauty”. Even still, it lacks character development, the male leads are static, and the story’s initial, more interesting premise about a young girl learning about the meaning of true beauty seems to have ditched in favor of a more stereotypical, love-triangle-ish story about a young women obsessed with looking pretty for the sake of others.

True Beauty Rating: 6.5/10

Webtoon Reviews: Lookism Is a Mess

Major Spoilers.

Lookism, by Park Tae-joon, is an ongoing manwha that chronicles the woes of Daniel Park, who’s name is actually Park Hyung-seok but apparently webtoon thinks we can’t read Korean names.

Daniel is fat, “ugly” (he wears glasses), bullied relentlessly by his “peers”, and is low-key a jerk to his mother. He moves schools, moves homes, is still treated badly but bam! He wakes up one day with a second body aka Hot Daniel – taller, muscular, naturally athletic – perfection. When he falls asleep, he wakes up in his fat body (or whichever body isn’t awake).

Lookism | WEBTOON

Lookism began as a really interesting commentary on, well, lookism in Korean society. How people are treated vastly differently solely because of their looks. This is seen clearly in how Hot Daniel rapidly obtains friends, benefits, friends with benefits, expensive clothes, even gets a job as a model solely because of his immense hotness. All things his portlier self struggled to obtain. Not only is he attractive, but his natural, athletic abilities and fighting skills allow him to curb stomp the very bullies who once tormented him.

Author Park Tae-joon does a good job letting Fat Daniel grow as a character too and not just side-lining him. Fat Daniel also levels up; he begins working out, eating well, gets a job, realizes how poorly he treated his mother. Rather than begrudge the fact his more attractive version is treated better by society, he uses his time as Fat Daniel to better himself physically and socially, and consequently gains some of the things he always wanted (admiration of Zoe, his own harem of amigos).

Then, there was the added mystery of why is Daniel waking up in a different body? Where did this body come from? T’was a nice touch of the supernatural in a story that was very much grounded in reality.

However, at some point Lookism went from being a critique of lookism to seemingly a critique of Korean society as a whole to a fight manwha. We get an arc on the perils of social media, an arc on stalkers, an arc on cults, multiple references to bullying and drug usage, a Hostel arc dealing with youth homelessness and human trafficking, yet until Jiho’s arc (which is really a critique of the jail system) the story managed to maintain some semblance of it’s original premise.

When Hot Daniel was put on a boat after Jiho tossed him out a window, Lookism became too overly focused on side characters who should’ve been spin-offs or something (Jiho, Jake, Johan) and descended into something like a typical, fight manwha revolving around gangs, money, and turf wars with Daniel nowhere to be seen. The quality of the story is still high – but the plot is seemingly very far off from it’s original premise and those who were drawn to Lookism because of it’s focus on lookism would probably lose interest.

Anyway, here’s how I’d fix it.

1.) Remove the long arcs featuring other characters

Jiho, Jake, etc. While these arcs were good, they feel like filler episodes in the overarching plot. The two big questions are why is Daniel waking up with another body, and where did that body come from? And while I’m not fully caught up on the story, having stopped about ep. 340, we seem no closer to resolving these issues than when the story first began.

These side characters should’ve been side stories or spin-offs, not part of the main storyline.

2. Have tighter POVs

The story began pretty tightly from Daniel’s point-of-view and mostly stayed that way save for occasionally focusing on Daniel’s friends (like the cult arc, Zoe’s balloons, or Jay and his pups) to focusing on tons of side characters, usually for very lengthy periods of time.

Limiting the POVs in the story to a handful of characters would help the plot seem less messy. Again, it’s not that these characters aren’t interesting, it’s just that Jane Kim isn’t the reason I began reading Lookism.

While overall I’ve enjoy Lookism for what it is (an interesting critique of various facets of Korean society + I honestly like seeing people beat each other up), it’s beginning to read like a fanfiction of itself and I often find myself waiting for the story to progress a bit before picking it up again. Ultimately, it was the original, simpler premise that drew me to the tale of Daniel Park. In the absence of that, it’s become a much more generic story about gangs fighting one another over money, rather than a poignant commentary on lookism.

Lookism Rating: 8.5/10

Rating Kpop Songs I Didn’t Hate in 2021

Not sure why I’m still trying to blog 3x a week because I don’t have anything meaningful to say.

Anyway, I listen to Korean music. Thus, I’m going to rate the Korean songs I didn’t hate last year.

All ratings are my own opinions and my opinions are absolute trash.

“STEREOTYPE” (STAYC)

  • blue outfits are super cute
  • super catchy chorus
  • the arm dance is cool
  • the blonde lady with the short hair has a great voice
  • i barely understand Korean and don’t trust subtitles, but the song seems to have an empowering message
  • the concept isn’t too infantilizing, but also not girl crush

Stereotype” Rating: 9.5/10

“LILAC” (IU)

  • city pop!
  • it’s IU
  • she has a great voice
  • her white dress and purple top are really cute
  • “only love me til the spring – LILAC”
  • basically perfection

Lilac” Rating: 10/10

The Feels” (Twice)

  • the Korean version. I cannot stand English kpop songs because the English is so nonsensical
  • very Twice-esque – it’s bubbly, bright, and fun
  • “you have stolen my heart”
  • these outfits are cute
  • Momo’s hair cut is cute

The Feels” Rating: 9/10

“After School” (Weekly)

  • really like these outfits. they look comfortable
  • this song is a straight bop
  • they look like they’re having fun
  • the vroom vroom dance in the chorus
  • nice hats

After School” Rating: 10/10

“Narcissism” (Sunmi)

  • not sure what the title track for this album was but this song is better
  • very dramatic and moody
  • catchy chorus
  • feel a bit attacked she titled a song after me

“Narcissism” Rating: 9.8/10

“Abittipsy” (Youha)

  • this song is a straight bop
  • city pop vibes
  • Youha is really underrated
  • she has an interesting voice
  • her outfits are nice

“Abittipsy” Rating: 10/10

Swipe (ITZY)

  • didn’t like this at first but it grew on me
  • they have great stage presence
  • Chaeryoung has great hair
  • like whatever is going on with Ryujin’s two-toned hair too
  • makes me want to swipe left on every dude on Tinder despite never having used it

Swipe” Rating: 8.5/10

“My Universe” (BTS)

  • it’s not really a BTS song but I wish it was
  • “We are made of each other, baby”
  • Coldplay is great though
  • a bop
  • the lyrics are cute

My Universe” Rating: 10/10

“Savage” Aespa

  • “don’t you know i’m a savage?”
  • not sure if i like the chorus, or repeated listens have brainwashed me
  • they have really pretty voices
  • the pre-chorus sounds really good
  • the bridge is weird but cute
  • the outfits are kinda whack but they manage to pull them off

“Savage” Rating: 8/10

“Bad Sad And Mad” (BIBI)

  • the title is basically the energy i brought into 2022
  • BIBI is great
  • mv is cool
  • this song is lit

BAD SAD AND MAD Rating: 10/10

“Nakka” (AKMU with IU)

  • happiness for my ears
  • nice newtro vibes
  • “oooh show how we love”
  • IU
  • the chorus is really catchy
  • bass is lit
  • i like the lyrics

“Nakka” Rating: 10/10

“Dun Dun Dance” (Oh My Girl)

  • the mv is really cute
  • “i feel the disco rhythm us mah body!”
  • watching them dance makes me tired
  • their outfits are simple but nice. 10/10 would wear them
  • it’s a solid, fun song but OMG can definitely do better

“Dun Dun Dance: Rating: 8/10

Antifreeze (Yerin Baek)


  • not gonna lie, she could sing anything and I’d love it
  • she has a great voice
  • this song is chill
  • cute art work

“Antifreeze” Rating: 10/10

“Advice” (Taemin)

  • i’m so Taemin biased he could release anything and i’d rate it a 10
  • the piano/instrumental is l i t
  • the dance is also lit
  • overall: lit
  • “best take my own advice!”
  • Taemin is an incredible performer

“Advice” Rating: 10/10

“The Weekend” (Taeyeon)

  • Taeyeon is another person I’m so biased towards it really wouldn’t matter what she released
  • it’s a nice, chill song
  • her voice is amazing
  • giving me Doja Cat “Kiss Me More” vibes (which is also a bop)
  • prefer her more ballad/rock songs though

“The Weekend” Rating: 9.9/10

“BEcause” Dreamcatcher

  • it’s Dreamcatcher
  • it’s like a nice mix between rock and pop
  • Siyeon is a great performer
  • the rapping is… eh
  • the mv is really creepy
  • the chorus dance with their necks is cool
  • i like their red outfits
  • Siyeon’s “I like you!”

“BEcause” Rating: 9.4/10

“Odd Eye” Dreamcatcher

  • another Dreamcatcher song
  • the instrumental is lit
  • the mv is interesting
  • i like the rap here much better
  • the guitar gives me 70s vibes
  • probably my favorite Dreamcatcher song ever

“Odd Eye” Rating: 10/10

“Wow” (Loona)

  • i really don’t understand why this wasn’t the title track
  • it’s a bop
  • it’s catchy
  • it has a chorus
  • it sounds like a Loona song
  • “wow wow wow mumbles something, it’s my time to shine!*

“Wow” Rating: 10/10

Bonnie & Clyde” (Yuqi)

  • i don’t love that the song is in English, but i don’t hate it either
  • this song is a bop
  • Yuqi has a great voice
  • the chorus is catchy and makes sense, lyrically
  • “we don’t need money to feel good” except I do

“Bonnie & Clyde” Rating :10/10

“Boyfriend” Cignature

  • this song is a bop
  • outfits are simple yet elegant
  • “so i call you my boyfriendx2” part is catchy
  • they sound good
  • mv is kinda dark and moody

“Boyfriend” Rating: 10/10

“Knock” (Kwon Jinah with PARKMOONCHIE)

  • this song is a bop
  • she has a nice, hearty voice
  • it’s upbeat and fun

“Knock” Rating: 9.5/10

“Never Let You Go” (Alexa)

  • the mv is pretty
  • i’m a sucker for ballads
  • she has a great voice
  • song makes me mourn the loss of a relationship i’ve never experienced

“Never Let You Go:” Rating: 9.5/10

“Hey Kid, Close Your Eyes” (AKMU)

  • giving retro vibes
  • it’s akmu
  • they have great voiced
  • the mv is a poignant metaphor for growing up (aka it sucks)

“Hey Kid, Close Your Eyes” Rating: 9.5/10

“Nerves” (DPR IAN)

  • mv is dark and moody
  • song is a nice vibe
  • he has a nice voice
  • the song is unfortunately in English but the lyrics makes sense

I’m sure there are other songs, but this is getting long and it’s pointless anyway.

What are your favorite k-songs of 2021?