“True Beauty”: The Perfect K-Drama Starter Pack
Feb 3, 2021
I’ve had a running log on my phone for a while of K-Dramas that I’d recommend to all kinds of people. Love a romance? “Oh My Venus” is for you. Need a good belly laugh? “Welcome to Waikiki” fits the bill. Feel like crying your eyes out? “The Smile Has Left Your Eyes” will make the smiles leave your eyes. The latest question I can answer is: Never seen a K-Drama before? Start with “True Beauty.” Why? Because it has all of our favorite K-Drama elements in spades.
“True Beauty” is the story of student Im Jugyeong, who has a history of being bullied because of her looks. When given the chance to start over at a new school, she decides to try changing up her appearance and ends up being one of the prettiest girls on campus. Jugyeong befriends the school’s “god” Lee Suho and bad boy Han Seojun, who both see her for who she really is.
*Warning: Small spoilers ahead!
#1. THE CAST
Some of the best K-Dramas have a nice combination of well-known and new actors. “True Beauty” has a lead trio that includes a KPop idol/actor (Cha Eunwoo of ASTRO), an actress who’s played notable side characters (Moon Ga Young of “Tempted”), and a newbie (Hwang In Yeop of “18 Again”). (Albeit a newbie that’s taken the K-Drama world by storm.) If you don’t know ASTRO, then maybe you’ve seen one of the other dramas that these characters have played in. Regardless of how long their credits are, this trio is dynamite. Their chemistry together is believable, no matter which way you trace the triangle. Energy like that is what you wish for in every drama; you want to feel their connections because it sucks you in and makes you desperate for the next episode.
#2. THE HUMOR
There are two scenes that immediately come to mind when I think about how laugh-out-loud funny this drama is. In episode 3, we’re introduced to the concept of having fighting siblings clip each other’s toe nails, while begrudgingly saying, “I love you.” The whole idea of this, and picturing my sister and I doing this, makes me giggle every time. We see this again in episode 10 when our two main guys are forced to do the same by Jugyeong’s mom after they’re caught bickering. Their reactions to each other both during and after this event are SO comical!
Im Jugyeong’s family brings a ton of humor to this drama; her younger brother has many hilarious moments and her older sister’s dating relationship brings scenes that make me roll my eyes while belly laughing. These are some of the moments in KDramas that I adore and that I feel like you just don’t find in many other TV shows.
#3. THE SETTING
Many of our favorite K-Dramas are set in schools. This one shows us life in a couple of different schools, from the classroom to the cafeteria to the football field. For someone who lives outside of South Korea, it’s interesting to see their school dynamic, even if it is a drama version. And we got to experience a school trip! We also spend a lot of time inside Jugyeong’s family home, travel to the beach, sit inside a comic store, go on shopping trips, and “try out” different restaurants. There’s a lot to see! This is a key trait of many notable K-Dramas; they take us on various journeys, showing us different sites and introducing us to new things. “True Beauty” serves up some eye candy in more ways than just the cast!
#4. THE MESSAGE
Great K-Dramas make you laugh and cry and feel all the feels. There’s some kind of takeaway or lesson that you can learn, whether it’s implied or outright stated. In “True Beauty”, Im Jugyeong goes on a personal journey that I think many people can relate to. You don’t have to be going through the exact same struggle that she is; you may not be trying to hide your bare face from your classmates. In episode 14, after a conversation with her older sister, Jugyeong is recalling when her friend Go Woon told her that if she doesn’t like her face because people are being mean to her, then she’s just admitting that she’s ugly. She says, “So from now on, I’m only going to listen to those who like me. The words that people who don’t know me well say easily...I won’t bother with them.” This is the moment where we can all sigh with relief because she’s validating for us that it’s okay to be ourselves. She reminds us of the importance of having people around us who know our hearts and who support us for being exactly who we are; the hurtful words of others don’t matter. It took 13 episodes of pain and bullying and a slow kind of acceptance for us to journey to this realization and it was all worth it.
#5. THE UNCERTAINTY
WHO WILL SHE END UP WITH? This is a common question (yelled) while watching many memorable K-Dramas over the years. It seems like the love triangle is a K-Drama staple and this particular drama makes it extra difficult for us to decide which ship to sail. Seriously. One minute you’re #TeamSuho, but then you can’t help but be somewhat #TeamSeojun. Both have excellent qualities and would be great matches for Jugyeong, for different reasons. So it’s difficult to CHOOSE! K-Dramas are great (and awful) about making you pick a side and “True Beauty” is one of the best/worst at the love triangle drama.
Catch up on “True Beauty” on Viki!
Written by Cait
Cait is an avid KDrama binger and KPop multi-stan from Texas, partial to all things silly and SF9. Most days, you’ll find her watching N.Flying live shows on YouTube or rewatching episodes of “True Beauty.” Follow along on her KAdventures on Instagram @caitsseoul.