K-Drama Mid-Series Check: “True Beauty” Brims With Spirited Youth Story That Is Definitely Addictive

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Light on worries, overflowing in happy and heart fluttering moments, let True Beauty shine on your watch list in case you have not given it a try yet!

Consistently serving cuteness and campus romance, True Beauty crossed its halfway mark, and we definitely can’t ask for more! Kudos to Moon Ga Young, Cha Eun Woo and Hwang In Yeop for keeping the hook of this series always on a high note.

From sharing Ju-kyung’s genuine heart-flutters to the tears that she can’t process, the narrative just keeps getting better. It’s a known impression how school dramas tend to thread on predictable plot and easy route. It is high on fan-service and low on plot dimensions. That’s how the series is shaping up, but it does not go on circles and gives us the answers fast.

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What Has Transpired So Far? *Spoiler Alert

Living as a school outcast and a favorite minion of school bullies in her class, Im Ju-kyung (Moon Ga Young) blames her pimpled face for what she thinks to be an inescapable fate.

When her first love confession goes down to a drain, she suffered extreme humiliation. Deciding to end her life while standing on a building rooftop ledge, she notices a billboard bearing words of love for a celebrity who passed away.

Waking up from her crazy suicide idea, she halts her plan just as a man who thought she will be jumping rushes to stop her. With her broken eyeglasses, the man gave her a piggyback ride.

At home, she meets a chaotic living room and learns that they will soon move back to their old house. Elated at the news, she plans to start a new life armed with make-up confidence that she recently learned to be an effective mask to hide her facial flaws.

Brand New Ju-kyung

Moving to a new school with make-up fortified face, Ju-kyung transforms to a goddess and easily wins the hearts of her new classmates. Not only that, she gets the attention of two handsome boys: Su-ho (Cha Eun Woo) and Seo-jun (Hwang In Yeop).

She also learns that Su-ho was the same guy who stopped her that one moment of weakness on a building rooftop. Having the same penchant for reading comic books, they hit it off quite easily. He also knows her appearance without make-up and does not care about it a bit.

The Two Boys Who Like Ju-kyung

With her bright attitude, former best friends Su-ho and Seo-jun find themselves drawn to Ju-kyung. The two had a friendship fallout when their common best friend, Seyeon (cameo by Chani) committed suicide. Seo-jun blames Su-ho for not being there for their friend.

With their past issue about Se-yeon not yet resolved, the two unfortunately falls for the same girl. However, Seo-jun is at a disadvantage because Ju-kyung shares the same mutual attachment with Su-ho. A secret Ju-kyung revealed, unaware that he also likes her.

True Beauty Mid-Series Musings

School dramas is a challenging genre for me. Aside from its usual ingredient of school bullying, school impossible policies and circling tackled adolescent pains; the stories are mostly predictable and shallow. To put it bluntly, sometimes I just watch for the cute boys and doses of nostalgia.

Thankfully, I don’t think True Beauty will be just a feel-good story. Su-ho and Ju-kyung’s inner problems have been discussed with the intention to spread awareness on young people’s mental stress. A lot of drama lines in the series pushes contemplation about the agonizing peer pressure that some young people can’t take on their own. That people who might stumble on this drama might be needing at the moment in case they are in the same situation.

Additionally, it also highlights the challenges youth faces while confronting life realities amidst growing up as an adult. While we see the usual roles in a high school set drama, the actors are doing an amusing and amazing job. We are already sold in their pretty faces, so we are really having a bonus to how they are keeping the upbeat story vibe.

Ju-kyung’s Love & Self-Esteem Journey

Ju-kyung is probably the girl every young woman and young-woman-at-heart wish to be right now. For Su-ho, what started as sympathy and resemblance to his best friend’s situation, turned now to a full-blown adoration. Initially hesitant because of Seo-jun’s taunting, he made a decision to keep her – right where she belongs.

Su-ho’s genuine feelings manifest to the truth that he knows what Ju-kyung looks like with and without make-up. More than that, he understands her inner pain and is willing to protect her and be by her side.

Belatedly realizing Ju-kyung has grown in his heart at a rapid and no escaping pace, Seo-jun is honestly bewildered why he fell in love with her. The weight is even more problematic given she is also liked by his estranged best friend.

It’s quite a simple problem, but the shared pain of the two former friends, who can’t reconcile their indifference might cause a heartbreak to Ju-kyung. A girl who has been saddled by insecurity owing to the harsh treatment she received by people who don’t even know her personally. A girl who is like the best friend who caused an irreparable void and guilt in their hearts.

Still steady and working on accepting her self-esteem, Ju-kyung is staying true to her spirited character. At times, she still doubt herself, and that’s utterly normal. That’s what make her character shine. She is pictured to not winning nor losing to her self-esteem battle, and she’s okay with it.

A nod to how life should be realized to be something that should not make us feel like we are in an endless competition to please others.

Extra Endearing Details

Hee-kyung and Teacher Han are really rocking their roles in this series. There’s no frame of them together that will not make you smile. The reversal of roles for their romance side story is just adorably sketch. Im Se Mi particularly is amazing in her role. Her love declarations just helplessly make you happy.

Quick K-Drama parodies that function as fillers have been featured in True Beauty which makes its light storytelling more endearing. Aside from that, the cameo appearances have functioned as small and lingering moments in the plot direction.

Moreover, the youth cast that paints the friendship stories consistently delights as scene stealers. Seo-jun’s minions are adorable with their united chants just as Soo-ah and Su-jin complete the sisters-forever feel with Ju-kyung. Tae-hoon has also proven a rule that his character should become a fix element in any rom-com. His direct coaching on the male lead’s insufferable difficulty in processing romance signals saved us to a might-have-been circling conflict.

Admittedly, True Beauty takes the usual elements of youth drama like school bullying and family pressure to obtain high grades. But, I am enjoying it because those are not taking over the storyline. It has been funneled to capitalize on the series winning spots such as friendship and young love. Additionally it has been raising awareness to parents about problems their children might be struggling to open up.

Where The Story Heads To?

Continuously cheery since day 1, this series is a gift for young and young at heart. Now that Ju-kyung and Su-ho cleared their misunderstanding, hopefully, we look forward to more sweet episodes together with them.

Of course, we were also prepped up to the Seyeon project spearheaded by Hee-kyung, which I think will be one of the conflicts to be tackled in the second half of the series.

Apart from that, we are heading to the direction of unveiling Ju-kyung’s secret. But that’s no biggie since she already has a man who loves her with or without make-up. I think its highlighting factor would be to provide encouraging lessons about self-esteem.

Ju-kyung not being fickle is a refreshing thing to happen from the usual female lead prototype of K-Dramaland. Doing it on the usual trite packaging of youth and school drama is considered a feat. I love how she captured that painful confession of liking Su-ho to the man who least likely wants to hear it.

I am hoping Seo-jun would give way being forced to be the secret-keeper of Ju-kyung’s first romance. If he and Su-ho end the truce and completely patch up their angst, we’re going to be a happy camper.

True Beauty airs on tvN every Wednesday and Thursday. Global fans can watch it on Viu. Episode recaps available on my blog.

Photos: tvn | Screencaps from Viu