As the year 2021 rolled around, a new wave of Korean dramas came out. Like some of the more popular Korean dramas of 2020, many dramas coming out in 2021 were adaptations of Webtoons. One of the most highly anticipated Webtoon to drama series was True Beauty.
If you’d like to read through a list of 2021 Korean dramas that come from Webtoons, you can check out this post we have. And if you’d like to learn more about Korean Webtoons in general, feel free to read this introduction post about them.
True Beauty: the Drama
The True Beauty drama was first released December of 2020 on Viki. They released two episodes a week until the final episode came out in the beginning of February 2021. There’s a total of sixteen episodes for this drama, each episode just over an hour long.
This drama follows the main female character—Im Ju-gyeong (actress Moon Ga-young)—as she battles through self-image issues and the concept of beauty. She is constantly fighting to keep her “real” face a secret after she moves to a new school wearing make-up. There she experiences what it’s like to be welcomed and loved, so Ju-gyeong vows to keep her real face hidden. There’s a whirlwind of love triangles and themes of bullying that make this drama chaotic in the best way possible.
You can watch this drama on Viki here. However, in order to watch this show, you need to have a VikiPass Standard—which is $4.99/month.
True Beauty: Actors and Actresses
Moon Ga-young (playing Im Ju-gyeong)
Moon Ga-young began her career as a child actress, playing supporting roles throughout television and film. At 24 years old, she has grown as an actress to play a variety of roles throughout Korean films and drama series. She played her first leading roll in 2014 when she was still just a teenager. From there, she starred in many dramas and films that brought her recognition.
Many of her recent dramas include Tempted (2018), Welcome to Waikiki 2 (2019), and Find Me In Your Memory (2020). She’s acted in films such as Do you See Seoul? (2008), Salut d’Amour (2015), and Twenty Again (2016).
In True Beauty, Im Ju-gyeong is a teenager discovering her love for make-up while also discovering the standards of beauty. Moon Ga-young plays this role extremely well.
Cha Eun-woo (playing Lee Su-ho)
Cha Eun-woo is a South Korean actor and singer. He first made his acting debut with a minor role in the film My Brilliant Life (2014). And, in 2016, he made his debut with the K-pop group Astro. From here, Cha Eun-woo has soared to popularity.
He’s played in a variety of dramas and web series throughout his career. Many of the more prominent ones include To Be Continued (2015), My ID is Gangnam Beauty (2018), and Rookie Historian Goo Hae-ryung (2019).
He plays Lee Su-ho in True Beauty, one of the love interests (and main character) of Ju-gyeong. This character is chic, not easily emotive or very open. But it’s hard not to love him as a character with the way Cha Eun-woo portrays him.
Hwang In-yeop (playing Han Seo-joon)
Though Hwang In-yeop is a little older than the last two actors (being born in 1991), he began his career in 2017 as a runway model. Through this, he was able to make his acting debut in 2018 on the web series Why.
From here, Hwang In-yeop consistently played roles throughout dramas. Besides Why (2018) and True Beauty (2020-21), he’s only acted in three other dramas. These dramas include Freshman (2019), The Tale of Nokdu (2019), and 18 Again (2020). Along with his role in True Beauty, he made his singing debut with the song “It Starts Today”—a soundtrack for the series.
In True Beauty, Hwang In-yeop plays Han Seo-joon, a tough-looking “bad boy” who was once Lee Su-ho’s friend. He’s intimidating, but the most observant and sweet guy you’ll see on the show. He’s the other love interest of Ju-gyeong, but him and Su-ho have their own plotline that they follow without her.
Park Yoo-na (playing Kang Su-jin)
Park Yoo-na is an actress of high capacity. She has played in many popular dramas since her debut in 2015 in the series Cheer Up!. As an actress, she’s eye-catching and unique. She brings something new to each role she plays.
Like Cha Eun-woo, Park Yoo-na also acted in the drama My ID is Gangnam Beauty (2018). A couple other popular dramas she’s starred in include Sky Castle (2018-19) and Hotel Del Luna (2019).
Park Yoo-na plays Kang Su-jin in True Beauty, a supporting character who ends up having a lot to do with the drama circling around Ju-gyeong. However, she’s got her own bad things following her, too. Park Yoo-na plays Su-jin so well as a character that you can’t help but to feel for the character throughout the drama, even when the sad truth gets revealed near the end.
True Beauty: the Webtoon
Not only is the True Beauty drama widely popular, but the Webtoon it’s based off of is just as popular. This Webtoon series was first released August 15, 2018. Only the first part was released on this date. After that, one part was released weekly.
Today, there are a total of 139 parts. A new part is available every Wednesday. As of yet, the Webtoon is not complete.
This Webtoon series is on the Webtoon website and app. The author and artist is Yaongyi (Kim Na-young, her Instagram). You can watch this short interview Webtoon did with her here. As of right now, there are 6.1 million people that have it saved (meaning there’s millions of people reading this Webtoon). You can read it here.
On Webtoon, the summary is: “After binge-watching beauty videos online, a shy comic book fan masters the art of makeup and sees her social standing skyrocket as she becomes her school’s prettiest pretty girl overnight. But will her elite status be short-lived? How long can she keep her real self a secret? And what about that cute boy who knows her secret?”
Why is the Webtoon so popular?
Besides the amazing talent the writer has for drawing and storytelling, this Webtoon is easily enjoyable because of how relatable it is. In this day and age (wow, that makes me sound old), more girls and women struggle with accepting their own beauty in the face of beauty standards. These standards have gotten nearly impossible to fit into with all of the make-up, the skincare routines, the unrealistic body proportions, the plastic surgery… just, everything. Women/girls struggle with feeling beautiful in this very beauty-centric society.
And the Webtoon shows this. The Webtoon shows how many hoops girls/women will go through just to cover their imperfections with make-up. With the themes of bullying in the Webtoon, it shows how many struggle with being themselves in the double standard of “ugly without make-up” and “fake with make-up.”
But, with Ju-gyeong’s character, you’re also able to see how one could grow to love their own beauty—the beauty without the make-up. And this just helps make this Webtoon even more loved.
Are there a lot of differences between the drama and Webtoon?
Oh, yes! There’s a ton of differences, actually.
As someone who read/watched both (and loved both), there are a ton of differences that jump out right away with each. Of course, I won’t spoil too much of either, but be aware that some possible spoilers are coming next.
Firstly, the time frame is completely different in the True Beauty drama and Webtoon. The drama spans across a few years max—the last year of high school and one or two of university. While the Webtoon has already gone through many years of high school and most of university. This also shows you where each focuses the story on most. The drama mainly shows what’s happening in high school. But the Webtoon shows high school and the years in university most.
Next, in the drama, Su-ho and Ju-gyeong actually get together. As a slight spoiler, the drama fully dives into the relationship between Su-ho and Ju-gyeong. In the Webtoon, though, they haven’t actually gotten together (yet). We know they both like each other a lot, and they did get really close to being together together. But they haven’t yet. This was probably the biggest shock for me when watching the drama.
Lastly, as another slight spoiler, the relationship between Seo-joon and Ju-gyeong is completely different in the drama than the Webtoon. Though Seo-joon is part of the “love triangle” with Ju-gyeong and Su-ho, he never really had a chance with Ju-gyeong. She never quite liked him like that. In the Webtoon, though, it’s a completely different story. They actually dated (#TeamSeojoon—but mostly #TeamJugyeong).
If they’re so different… which one is “better”?
Firstly, no one can compare them. Though the drama is an adaptation of the Webtoon, you don’t need to read the Webtoon to understand the drama. And, besides, both are equally as amazing in their own ways.
I’ve seen both of them, but I’m glad I have because there are so many different elements (plot points and side characters) that you get a unique experience with both.
So, neither is “better” than the other. Give both of them a chance and I’m sure you’ll enjoy them in their own way.
If you’d like to check out some more Korean dramas, you can check out our Drama Category. We’ve written about a ton of amazing dramas totally worth checking out, so give it a look! And if you want to check out more things about Korean culture, feel free to scroll through our Blog Page. We write about a ton of interesting stuff from the Korean culture, so I’m sure you’ll find something else that interests you! If you want to learn more about webtoons as well, check out the video below!