With its conclusion gradually approaching, True Beauty continues its run as an entertaining and engaging drama. It may not be too far-fetched to say that it excels on almost every level when it comes to a webtoon adaptation. Now that Ju-kyeong (Moon Ga-young) and Su-ho (Cha Eun-woo) are a couple, the love triangle takes a backseat. However, another candidate emerges and she is way more evil and perfidious than Seo-jun (Hwang In-yeob). Past secrets are unraveled, misunderstandings resolved and lots of plot layers established raising the anticipation about how everything will be ultimately tied together.
This review contains spoilers.
After Su-ho’s confession and their subsequent kiss during a school trip, Ju-kyeong is enamored, but her insecurity makes her act very careful and she wants to keep the relationship a secret. Seo-jun figures it out quite fast, but copes with it fairly well by cementing his friendship with Ju-kyeong. These two are equally dense and goofy, so they make an unrivaled duo. It’s quite nice to see the drama develop Seo-jun into a genuine and reliable guy and not someone who tries to drive a wedge through Ju-kyeong and Su-ho’s relationship.
While the romance takes center, it is more the events surrounding it that make these episodes amusing to watch. Ju-kyeong and Su-ho’s romance may be fresh, but there is barely anything or anyone that could drive these two apart. Thus, the viewers are flooded with a myriad of sweet, bickering scenes and lots of kisses. The conclusion of the plotline surrounding Su-ho, Seo-jun and the late Se-yeon (Kang Chan-hee)’s friendship is arguably the strong point of these episodes. As Su-ho and Seo-jun figure out the circumstances surrounding their friend’s suicide, they almost lose their lives in the process, but everything turns out for the better as Seo-jun comes to realize he held Su-ho accountable for the wrong things.
A huge part of True Beauty‘s charm can be attributed to its immaculate blend of romance and comedy. Since its first episode, the drama has kept the comedy level high, oozing with laugh-out-loud moments. These episodes are no exception, but rather an upgrade on the farce. Be it Su-ho and Soo-jun’s attempts to impress Ju-kyeong’s mother Hyun-sook (Jang Hye-jin) or Seo-jun and Ju-kyeong’s press conference at school to rebunk their dating rumors, the tone is light and comical.
These moments are in turn balanced out by the lovey-dovey scenes of the main couple, but also the budding romances between the supporting characters such as Ju-kyeong’s younger brother Ju-young (Kim Min-gi) and Seo-jun’s younger sister Go-woon (Yeo Joo-ha). Again, the drama opts for animated scenes as part of its stylistic repertoire. One of the highlights, for instance, is Ju-kyeong’s imagination about having a fox tail (analogue to a gumiho, a fictional creature, which seduces handsome men) after her relationship with Su-ho is found out by the girls at school.
Going further, it is the unpredictability about its characters that renders True Beauty amusing. Su-ho was introduced as the textbook handsome and cold guy, but proves to be a compelling and deep character, who shows strength despite the hardships he faced. The love triangle that dominated the first half of the drama is not so relevant anymore with the focus shifting towards the reconciliation between him and Seo-jun. The drama trades the romance in favor of the friendship making it very heartfelt. The big surprise is Soo-jin’s (Park Yoo-na) change of character. She was initially a good and reliable friend to Ju-kyeong, but now transforms into a bitter and sly antagonist, who boils with jealousy towards her.
Soojin’s transformation gives birth to an intriguing juxtaposition: jealousy has two entirely divergent faces. On the one side, we have Seo-jun, who has plenty of incentive to be the bad guy, but ends up being the silent supporter and loyal friend. On the other side, we have the intelligent and kind Soo-jin, whose jealousy drives her to vicious decisions.
However, it is also this unpredictability that leaves the viewers yearning for more. While True Beauty is fun-filled and impressive in its individual parts, the sum is slightly anticlimatic. In a matter of two episodes Soo-jin decides to turn against Ju-kyeong and even worse, hurt her with her biggest weakness and insecurity. Faithful readers of the webtoon may know about Soo-jin being an antagonist and rival to Ju-kyeong from the beginning, but the drama sets her up as a cool friend and fails to assemble enough hints about her feelings towards Su-ho and even more about the cruel person hiding behind her pretty exterior. This character development could have been framed miles better.
Equally unexpected and somewhat disappointing is the writer’s decision to neglect the love triangle, which constituted a big part of the marketing. While there are plenty of sweet moments between Ju-kyeong and Seo-jun, it is crystal clear that she doesn’t harbor any romantic feelings towards him. On the contrary, the romance between her and Su-ho is firmly established from episode one and the script doesn’t give Seo-jun any chance in the first place.
Altogether, these are however only minor weaknesses of True Beauty. It is, after all, a high school drama revolving around 18 year old students, who are at the very beginning of adulthood and have a lot to learn. Remembering this every now and then can work wonders. Let’s see what True Beauty has in store for its impending grand finale.
(Images via tvN)