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

Webtoons To Read If You Want PTSD

Have you ever been in the mood to be absolutely miserable?


Obviously there isn’t enough trauma in real life, so here are some webtoons that will leave you traumatized for life.

*mild spoilers*

Days Of Hana

Haru and hook sitting in the green grass beneath a tree, vibing

It’s the year 2024. Covid is a distant memory. You’re on a plane going to Hawaii for a week of fun vacation, vibing to The Killers. 4 hours and 22 minutes into your flight, the oxygen masks pop down. You frantically pull yours on whilst glancing out the window only to realize the plane is spiraling straight into the ocean. Bam! Somehow, you’re alive yet seriously injured as “When You Were Young” plays softly through your AirPods, though not quite loud enough to muffle the screams and cries of those around you, who realize they’re about to drown as the plane fills with salt water.

That’s what reading Days of Hana is like.

Days of Hana is basically a long metaphor for racism – werewolves are slaves to humans, not allowed to be educated or have any of the basic rights humans possess for no reason other than they’re “dangerous”. Initially, the story comes off as a romance between the human Hana and the werewolf Haru.

It’s not.

Days of Hana Rating: 9/10


Uriah is still ongoing and just returned for season 2. It’s basically about red-haired Thumbless, who wakes up alone in a car (missing a thumb) with the word murderer carved onto his back. He’s also on an island where there’s a 90% chance whoever he comes across is an escaped prisoner; the other 9% of people he might see will force him to make a snuff video.

On the bright side, Thumbless finds quite literally the only person on the island who won’t hurt him on site: the goddess Nathalie. On the downside, the people who want to snuff him are still alive and actively looking for him. One of them is a cop too.

ACAB (jk). You will need eye bleach after reading this though.

Uriah Rating: 9/10

Distant Sky

Jupiter is in Earth’s orbit, causing entire cities to sink hundreds of meters below the Earth’s surface. People turn into mindless cannibals at the speed of light. There’s no food to be found anywhere, but there are talking heads on the ground. The government is shady and useless as is typical for apocalyptic fiction and reality. There are giant bugs, birds, frogs, etc. all of which want to throw hands. In all this mess, two kids, Heeyool and Haneul, are trying to survive.

Fittingly, there’s a panel where a ship named “Hope” sinks into a turbulent ocean.

That’s basically what reading Distant Sky feels like.

Distant Sky Rating: 8.5/10

Killing Stalking

Reading Killing Stalking is sort of like jumping into an active volcano. As you hike to the volcano’s rim, you’re breathing in sulfur and whatnot that’s basically killing you softly slowly. Yet, for some reason you keep going. Somehow, you arrive at the volcano’s rim, still alive. You know exactly what will happen if you jump, yet you still take the plunge. Unsurprisingly, you die. If somehow you don’t instantly die of oxygen deprivation as you fall towards the lava, you’ll probably catch on fire and burn to death.

Killing Stalking follows Yoon Bum, a stalker with a crush on Sangwoo, who turns out to also be a stalker-serial-killer-rapist-psychopath that develops a “crush” on Bum, except there’s literally nothing romantic about anything in this story. The only acceptable ships here are SangwooxPrison, SangwooxLethalInjection, YoonBumXJesus, and YoonBumxTherapy.

Killing Stalking is straight up psychological horror where the ending will leave you feeling like justice was served… but also weirdly conflicted that justice was actually served.

Killing Stalking rating: 9.5/10

Forest Of Humans

Forest of Humans is basically “another one bites the dust” in webtoon form.

Ru, a young woman, gets invited to be part of some sort of shady test on serial killers I have trouble believing anyone would accept. However, she does accept the gig and winds up in some no-security facility where predictably the serial killers get loose and do as serial killers do: kill.

Things rapidly go from 0 to 100, but fortunately one of killers decides to help a sista out because obviously we needed something to ship in a story as grim as this. Ru is tasked with trying to maintain her humanity and sanity, while trying to escape a den of murderers.

Forest Of Humans Rating: 7.7/10

Melvina’s Therapy

If by therapy, you mean successfully making one of her patients rip her own eyeballs out, Melvina is a great therapist. If you define therapy by literally any other definition, no.

Melvina’s Therapy is an interesting look at mental illness and what it looks like when a person is essentially abused into insanity, but also has supernatural powers. The plot is hard to explain, but basically Melvina is a therapist who typically makes everything for her clients worse, and by worse someone ends up in a casket.

Melvina’s Therapy Rating: 8.5/10


Pigpen is what I imagine feeling high is like. You really don’t have any idea what’s going on for the majority of the story, and neither does the main character. Nevertheless, it’s a fun time.

A man washes up on a weird island with no memories and soon discovers a weird Bed and Breakfast owned by an ever weirder family who owns a bunch of weird pigs. Everything is incredibly sus from the moment this dude wakes up and he has almost no survival subtly skills, yet he somehow remains alive.

The tale’s part psychological thriller, part horror that has a twist ending that’ll leave you feeling some type of way.

Pigpen Rating: 8.5/10

Sweet Home

Sweet Home introduces us to Hyun Cha, a depressed, bullied recluse, whose parents are killed in a car crash within the first episode (seemingly by someone who was undergoing monsterization…). He’s now alone and planning to commit suicide after Maria In The Sky comes out. Unfortunately, the world ends and people start turning into monsters before Maria makes her grand re-appearance and Hyun goes from King of Internet Trolls to King of the Electric Spear all whilst literally battling his own inner demons enticing him to become a monster.

Sweet Home is an interesting look at human nature and desires, particularly how even seemingly innocent desires (like wanting to become strong) can manifest themselves in dangerous ways (Brotein, anyone?).

It’s also a k-drama.

Sweet Home Rating: 10/10

Shotgun Boy

Shotgun Boy is ongoing and is the predecessor to Sweet Home. It’s basically if Hyun was planning to become a school shooter rather than a hikikomori (side note: is Carnby Kim okay? Many of his stories involve some seriously disturbing bullying…).

The main character, Gyuhwan, is bullied violently, ostracized by his classmates, ignored by his teachers, and then sent on some dumb retreat where whilst fleeing from his bully he stumbles upon a shotgun in the woods. A shotgun which becomes the only thing standing between his classmates living to see another day and the death of everyone by the hands of literal tentacle monsters.

He’s finally given the chance to do what he wanted everyone else to do murder all his classmates fight for what’s right even when it seems hopeless. Nevertheless, it’s an overall bleak tale about a bullied kid forced to battle shapeshifting monsters in order to save human monsters.

Shotgun Boy Rating: 9/10

In Defense of Olly Wang

*Spoilers; I don’t own Lookism*

Recently read Lookism again (because I’m still not travelling and it’s too cold to hike… thanks, covid/the weather). While Lookism as a whole has strayed far from it’s original premise, unlike other manwhas *coughs in True Beauty* it still manages to be entertaining, coherent, and thoughtful.

The story of Olly Wang and Hostel made me wonder what exactly makes a family? Was Olly Wang just a selfish, sociopathic, piece of trash or were his actions, up to an extent, understandable and even sympathetic?








Hostel was founded by Big Daddy Eli Jang mostly by accident after Sally discovered him loitering like a hissing feline in her run-down abode. Both Sally and Eli were orphans, the latter of whom had a tough childhood (to say the least). But they found one another and soon accumulated quite a runaway crew composed of Derek, Max, and the Mighty Warren Chae. It’s not long until Heather and Olly Wang join too; the former of whom Eli has a baby with.







The runaway fam is born and things are good for about two seconds.

All good things come to an end though and things go sour once Eli and Heather start a thing. Olly worships the ground Eli walks on, literally, and does everything in his power to please him. Literally. It’s hard to tell what exactly Olly admires about Eli, but in the simplest of terms it’s probably Eli’s “freedom.”









Or at least, that’s what Olly says. However, it’s clear that while Olly was lacking freedom and felt shoehorned into an existence he didn’t like, Olly was also lacking a family in the intimate sense. From what snippets we see of Olly’s parents, they only cared about his grades but not really about him. In Hostel, Olly found people who didn’t care how he performed academically, who treated more like a family than his own parents did.  Olly had finally found someone to look up to as a father figure.

It’s important to note that:

  • Olly has some sort of analgesia, which makes him incapable of feeling pain. 
  • Olly was emotionally abused, making it difficult for him to feel emotions as well. That is, until he gets curb-stomped by Eli and misconstrues his feelings of guilt over Heather’s death for fear.
  • The reason Olly is rejected from being part of the runaway fam is because he had somewhere to return to (so did Heather, but that’s an entirely different story).

We know Heather and Olly had somewhat similar childhoods, which is why they became friends to begin. Both had cold parents who shoehorned them into a lifestyle full of grades and more grades. Yet, Heather was accepted into the runaway family where Olly was not.


Olly and Heather are alike in many ways, including their “affection” for Eli. But the difference in that affection is that Heather’s sought to soften Eli’s wildness, Olly admired it. This might seem innocuous but Olly already has some emotional problems, Hostel is the only real family he has, and now a wild Heather has appeared.

To Olly, Heather’s existence threatened the entire family structure. After all, Eli was Hostel; he formed it and they were there because of him. But if Eli was no longer the Eli of Hostel and became Eli of Heather, that entire family structure might crumble, leaving Olly without a family once again. Furthermore, the sting of being rejected while Heather was accepted, despite them both having very similar lives, had to suck particularly given these very well may have been the only folks Olly had ever genuinely cared for up to that point.










And Olly was rejected because he had somewhere to return to, but did he really?

What exactly makes a home and a family? Olly Wang may have had a physical home with parents who were alive and took care of his basic needs, but is a home merely a physical place or is there something else to it? That’s not to compare and say Olly’s life was worst than those who were orphaned; however, I’d wager Hostel felt more like a family to Olly than his parents were; it’s somewhat telling, after all, that Olly would rather go through Gun’s training than return home.

The sting of being rejected by those whom were more of an actual family to him had to hurt, particularly since Heather also had somewhere else to be but she wasn’t rejected. Coupled with Olly’s inability to feel pain, it was the perfect set-up for a disaster. After all, even Olly admits he wasn’t trying to break up the crew, just break up Eli and Heather. And while his actions later on seemed cruel, we know that deep down Olly felt immense guilt over what he had done and even went out of his way to ensure Eli’s crew wasn’t bothered by Gun over money.

It’s easy to compare Olly to Jiho as their similarities are ripe, but there’s a clear difference between the two of them. Olly genuinely viewed Eli and the runaway crew as his friends and cared about them, even until the end. Jiho cared about Daniel ft. crew inasmuch as it benefitted himself. Olly wanted to win Eli’s favor because he admired him; Jiho wanted to win Daniel’s favor because he envied him.

In the end, Olly not only made sure Hostel A paid their dues, but he also ensured Gun wouldn’t kill Eli by tossing himself off a roof.

While Olly was certainly flawed, he’s not a terrible person. Rather due to an unfortunate set of circumstances, he became part of the tragedy that was Hostel.

I still didn’t really like him though lol.

References:  Tae-joon, Park. Lookism. Seoul: Daewon and Book, 2014. Digital.