True Beauty is a South Korean television series starring Moon Ga-young, Cha Eun-woo, Hwang In-youp, and Park Yoo-na. Based on the Line Webtoon of the same name by Yaongyi, it centers on a high school girl who, after being bullied and discriminated because of being perceived as ugly, masters the art of makeup to transform herself into a gorgeous “goddess”. It aired on tvN from December 9, 2020 to February 4, 2021, every Wednesday and Thursday at 22:30 (KST).
18-year-old high school student Im Ju-kyung (Moon Ga-young), who has an inferiority complex regarding her appearance, has been constantly discriminated by her family and bullied by her peers due to being perceived as ugly. She starts learning how to use makeup by binge-watching makeup tutorial videos on the Internet. When she masters the art just before transferring to her new school, her makeover proves to be transformative as she quickly rises to fame and her peers call her a “goddess”.
Despite her newfound popularity, Ju-kyung still considers herself ugly and it is her greatest fear that her peers will see her real face. This unfortunately comes true when her dashingly handsome, popular and mysterious classmate Lee Su-ho (Cha Eun-woo), whom she had previously run into with her bare face a couple of times, recognizes her beyond her makeup. Su-ho is very popular among female students at school, but he hates being the constant center of attention and is often seen as aloof and cold. He has his own fears, and he harbors a dark secret—a tragic incident in the past—that has been haunting him for a long time. He and his former best friend Han Seo-jun (Hwang In-youp) have distanced themselves from each other because of this incident, and the blame Seo-jun placed on Su-ho has caused him a lot of guilt. Ju-kyung and the estranged friends Su-ho and Seo-jun soon forge an unlikely relationship as they unravel secrets, share their pains, grow together and seek comfort from each other.
Im Ju Gyeong is a high school student. Since childhood, she has had a complex about her appearance. After being bullied in her first high school, she transfers to another and learns to wear makeup and calls herself a “goddess”, only she is complexed by her real face and is afraid that everyone will find out. She will then meet two young men named Lee Su Ho and Han Seo Jun , which will create a love triangle, full of rivalry.
Review : by anu.jaaaa (link)
WARNING : SPOILERS AHEAD
So I finally got around to watching True Beauty. I was pretty excited for the show and there was a ton of hype around it but I was following start-up before and after start-up finished airing, I just needed a break from k-dramas lol.
True beauty was such a breath of fresh air that I was quite pleasantly surprised. Just from reading the synopsis/watching the teaser, you get an idea of what the show is going to be about, with a girl who is not conventionally pretty and this beautiful guy. I was low key expecting it to be the usual Princess diaries-esque beauty transformation sort of show but I’m so glad that’s not what it was. I’m just going to bullet point the stuff about the show I really enjoyed otherwise this post will be more of a thesis.
Ju-Gyeong’s relationship with herself – I am SO GLAD the writer’s didn’t just do some magic thing and made all her acne and skin problems go away. Her discovering the power of makeup and using it religiously once she transfers schools is a pretty normal thing to do. Her lack of self confidence and her absolute resolve to never let her new classmates see her “bare face”, which even seemed far fetched at times, actually makes a lot of sense when you take into consideration how she got bullied at her previous school. Her impulse to run away whenever she faced problems, be it in school or with Su-Ho, is something I found annoying at first but she really grew and tackled that later on. Also, I love the fact that once her secret was out, she didn’t wear makeup all the time. Thank you Ju-Gyeong for only wearing makeup at special events/occasions and staying normal when just going to school and stuff. This is real evidence that she did get over her fear and accepted her true self, which is what the premise of the show is. I also felt like Ju-Gyeong had such a kind soul, despite being bullied and treated like shit, she still took the time to think about others and even gave second chances to Su-Jin. Even after Su-Ho comes back from the US, even though she is angry at him, she still understands his thought process and that was such a refreshing change from the usual drama tropes.
Su-Ho as a boyfriend – I’m so glad that he wasn’t a tsundere types cold distant boy. After that initial figuring out phase, I feel like he was such a sweet bf. From patiently waiting until Ju-Gyeong was comfortable to disclose their relationship, to always taking care of her and not jumping to conclusions about everything. And man my boy was out there running to/from somewhere every episode, he really got those steps in. I also respected his decision to break up with Ju-Gyeong. Probably would have had a better conversation but I got the logic, with his father on unconscious indefinitely and no idea when he would be back I get why he broke up with her. All in all, 10/10 bf, I wish someone like this shows up in my life lol Also Cha Eun Woo’s acting has improved a ton.
The love triangle – I don’t think I need to explicitly mention it, but the way the love triangle was resolved in start up was just horrible. I was quite worried true beauty would also screw this up because it’s a very common thing dramas mess up. But they resolved Seo-Jun’s storyline so well. It was clear from the start that Ju-Gyeong only has eyes for Su-Ho, and thinks of Seo-Jun as a friend. He knew it as well, but he gave it a shot, didn’t have animosity with Su-Ho and instead had an extremely cute bromance with him, and even gave that final push to Ju-Gyeong to resolve their breakup. It was a really realistic way someone would deal with an unrequited crush, even the way he helped her out in school. I feel like him becoming an idol and singing Su-Yeong’s song was of more importance to him, and probably brought some closure to him as well.
Kang Su-Jin’s character development – For the first half of the show, Su-Jin was one of my favourite characters. From her badass no shit attitude, to her finding out about Ju-Gyeong’s secret. But shit went down pretty soon after that, and I thought she is just going to be the evil villain for the show and that’s it. However when they brought her back after the time jump and showed how she admitted that her behaviour was partially a result of her toxic behaviour, which is a v v real thing that we often don’t realise until we look back on it after escaping such a setting, was so mature.
The Side Characters – ALL of them were so endearing. All of Ju-Gyeong’s classmates, specially Su-Ah who honestly said the exact thing I thought at the start of the show after Ju-Gyeong’s video went viral, which is their friendship is not affected by what she looks like without make-up. I also liked Ju-Gyeong’s family, even though the mom could be a little annoying at times but that is what mom’s are like I guess. Special shoutout to the siblings, because they were always trying to empower Ju-Gyeong and give her confidence. Also, Hui-Gyeong is the MVP and her and Jun-Woo’s relationship was such a nice change from the usual trope. I love Hui-Gyeong’s independent woman thing and how she was such a confident person in general. Also, their wedding gave me MAJOR Reply 1988 vibes, difference being I was happy and laughing throughout this one and was crying throughout the other one lol. Kinda disappointed they didn’t play I’m in the mood for dancing at the wedding though.
The Time Jump – Again, something that gave me quite a bit of trauma in start-up, but proved to be well executed here. With a highschool scene, a timejump is inevitable because you a lot depends on the characters developments beyond high school. I’m really happy they showed the different career paths they chose and them the school gang getting together again. Also, they didn’t directly jump and instead showed it in bits, which made it a smooth transition instead of feeling jarring. The time jump also helped them really tie up the loose ends of all the characters, and I loved the drunk scenes of all the characters.
I can explain why True Beauty is so good.
1.) The writing is exceptional. I judge all “linear-narrative” shows based on how each episode ends. In True Beauty, every episode ends with suspense… making you want to immediately watch the next episode. Who wouldn’t want to watch the second episode after Im Ju-Gyeong falls into Lee HoSu?
2.) The directing and cinematography is top-notched. Nothing in Hollywood can compare – Hollywood overuses CGI. The slow-motion scenes are so well done, whatever emotion you’re feeling in the moment doesn’t get ruined by the next scene. Credit to the video-editors. Re-Watch and you’ll noticed the many multi-view cameras used to capture a scene. Even a seemingly simple scene of Im Ju-Gyeong walking down a street will have several camera views to capture this. This really has a feel of a high-budget movie over 16 episodes.
3.) The soundtrack is extensive. What I like so much about Korean dramas is the accompanying soundtrack. True Beauty not only has great songs, but also instrumental tracks. Which is used effectively to make the emotional and suspenseful scenes more intense. Hollywood does not do this at all.
4.) The family friendly plot. The bullying scenes is very relatable. You can feel the pain Im Ju Gyeong is feeling when she is bullied for being ugly. Also, the fight scenes are well choreographed and some other fight scenes are funny. Also the moments of heroism…. Koreans don’t need fake superheroes when there are characters like Lee Ho Su and Seo-jun. These characteristics hooked my young son into the show as well. The bullying/fights/heroism are traits my son and I look for in a TV series. Just like Cobra Kai.
5.) The series hits every emotion. The comedic scenes are really funny. The sad scenes will make you cry. Nothing Hollywood has produced make me cry. But damn it, these Korean movies and dramas do.
6.) Good-looking Asians. Yeah, we know the two male leads are heartthrobs. But, when I saw Im Ju-Gyeong walk into her new school for the first time with her makeover — I was shocked!!! My sister thought two different actresses were used for this one character.