A 12 months of Free Comics: Yaongyi’s True Magnificence on WEBTOON

By Marion Peña

Spoiler warning: this assessment will include spoilers for a number of main occasions that occur all through the primary sequence.

Content material warning: there shall be dialogue of some heavier themes this sequence tackles, together with obsessive stalking, home violence, PTSD, and suicide.

True Beauty is a romance dramedy comedian on Naver’s Webtoon concerning the wrestle of studying to like your self. Its characters are mired in emotional turmoil, as they stumble via their integration into society. The primary feminine lead is Jugyeong Lim, a lady in love with different rock and horror comics/films. All through center faculty, she was incessantly bullied for her look–bushy eyebrows, pimples scars, monolid eyes, principally something thought of conventionally unattractive to Korean youngsters.

It took her to on-line boards, desperately in quest of an answer to cease her struggling, in order that she may look within the mirror and never be reminded of how toxically everybody has handled her. That was how she found the facility of make-up. Enter highschool: Jugyeoung has lastly solid the talent and expertise to mildew her type and trend into what fits her. She lastly has mates! However lurking beneath each time she goes dwelling and washes her face earlier than mattress is a reminder of why she must expend a lot effort into her outward look. A stark reminder that every one of her connections and happiness rests depending on the very fact she has to kind a persona. Horror is creepy, so don’t speak about it! Pimples scars are ugly, you higher cake on that concealer! Contacts could make your eyes bubbly and approachable! It’s a lot effort, however folks will deal with you with precise human decency and compassion! And that’s what Jugyeoung has been craving since an early age.

Jugyeoung Lim, sporting make-up. Credit score to Yaongyi and WEBTOON.

You see, she’s the center baby of her household. Her older sister is a tutorial overachiever, and her youthful brother is the princely child. Together with her mediocre grades and homely look, even her mom can’t appear to assist however deal with her extra harshly, even when she doesn’t imply it. Because of this she leans so deeply into her area of interest hobbies–it’s a method to revel within the unconventional, and discover consolation within the irregular. Sadly, she doesn’t have any mates to share in these pursuits, till she meets our first male lead, Suho Lee. They stumble upon one another one night time on the comedian retailer after faculty, each aiming to snag the newest quantity of a Junji Ito sequence. Naturally, that is after she’s taken off her make-up for the day. He’s abrasive, and leaves after taking the e-book for himself. The following day, they meet once more however Jugyeoung recommends towards one sequence Suho tries to select up, saying that midway via the writing takes a nosedive. At her behest, he tries one thing else, and to his shock, he enjoys it! The develop a rapport all of the whereas Jugyeong is wracked with terror as she realizes he goes to her faculty and has no thought who she is as a result of her look is so starkly completely different. This terror and concern is clear and inherent to her all through all the 223 episode run of the primary sequence.


Jugyeoung Lim, with out make-up. Credit score to Yaongyi and WEBTOON.

It stems from concern of exclusion, concern of rejection, and a fervent need to be cherished. She has spent all of her childhood and adolescence up to now being handled subhumanly. If anybody discovered of her secret, that her “pure” look isn’t so fairly, the one factor she expects is even harsher rebukes and ostracization. It’s a really palpable concern, and the artwork does an impressive job of conveying it via the realistically detailed character designs. The proportions of faces and our bodies usually are not closely stylized, aside from comedic segments with SD (super-deformed) faces drawn with flat colours and easy shapes. I used to be nervous initially that such a sensible artstyle would run the chance of constructing every part look too stiff and robotic, however that wasn’t the case. The faces are extraordinarily expressive, Jugyeoung has a rainbow of feelings, and all of them are proven in uncooked element. She cries, she feels scared, she will get blissful, she rages, and he or she will get disgusted. The real pleasure she feels on the considered sharing happiness along with her mates, concurrently with the guilt seeping in from protecting her naked face a secret, stands out each time creator Yaongyi places it on show.


Varied facial expressions. Credit score to Yaongyi and WEBTOON

So what does it imply when Jugyeoung slips up and her face will get found? We wouldn’t have any drama if the established order isn’t shaken up, and that’s precisely what occurs early on with Suho. Because it seems, Suho doesn’t care about that. He has been dealt his personal shitty hand in life, and doesn’t care that Jugyeoung’s face at college clashes along with her picture at college. He’s simply glad to have somebody that enjoys the identical issues he does–his first pal in years. Suho is taken into account enticing, and isn’t a stranger to ladies coming as much as him for his quantity or to ask him out. However he can’t afford to consider women. He has additionally been bullied–for being Korean-Japanese. It has left him with mistrust and wariness to anybody coming as much as him solely due to his look. With regards to Jugyeong, he’s simply glad to attach with another person on a private degree, not superficially, after wading via his personal swamp of feelings.

In center faculty, Suho had a pal named Seyeon Yoon who truly broke into his shell, and invited him to coach collectively as idol trainees with a gifted singing classmate named Seojun Han, the second male lead of this sequence. Lengthy story quick, Seyeon, the peppy and likable all-rounder, finally ends up the sufferer of a nasty PR cycle from on-line followers who flippantly determined to not assist him. It results in him overworking and feeling like he has no method out. Seyeon commits suicide, on the day he tries to contact each Seojun and Suho, however each can’t decide up due to their very own private familial points. This occasion–which occurred in center faculty–steers Seojun into delinquency and makes Suho much more delinquent. Suho’s curiosity in horror stems from morbidity and a consolation that the supernatural isn’t actual, or moderately, as actual because the occasions he’s needed to endure. Alongside together with his first pal dying, he additionally needed to grapple with the dying of his mom, and his father’s obvious infidelity within the wake of it–that is the explanation he couldn’t decide up Seyeon’s name, and the explanation he blames himself for his pal’s dying. It results in episodes of post-traumatic stress for each Suho and Seojun, with Suho choosing remedy and drugs to assist course of his grief. So yeah, within the face of this emotional baggage, Suho doesn’t actually care about Jugyeoung’s white lie about her look.

For about 95% of the sequence, Jugyeoung’s secret stays a secret to the overwhelming majority of individuals she is aware of. Because of this lots of her inner struggles with loving herself and creating confidence and vanity are inclined to ebb and torrent with how she sees how others understand her. As a poor scholar with mediocre grades, when it got here to profession paths, Jugyeoung was torn between getting a basic training–the economically possible selection–or getting licensed within the make-up arts, which is extra expensive and requires a unique entrance examination. She finally ends up going to a standard college to review visible arts, however continues to pursue her ardour on the facet. There are a number of mini arcs the place she finally ends up serving to folks round her, like college students, moms, or professionals that recruit her, and it turns into clear to her how fulfilling it feels to make folks happier along with her make-up prowess. This works in the long term, as a result of many of those characters come again in later arcs as ancillary components of Jugyeoung’s character arc and the primary story. There’s a nerdy scholar in Jugyeoung’s movie research class, who doesn’t know a lot about trend, however needs to look good to impress a lady he likes. She’s apprehensive at first, however decides to assist him out anyway as a result of he’s been a superb group companion and desires to return the favor. Jugyeoung is sort of notorious amongst her shut circle of mates for being naive and fast to sacrifice her personal time to assist others, however it’s to her benefit as a result of her character attracts simply as many grateful souls as opportunistic ones who’d wish to screw her over.

Considered one of my favourite features of this story is that we get to see what occurs when such a form, weak individual ultimately will get shot as much as a place of public curiosity. By her arduous work and energetic social media presence, Jugyeoung turns into an influencer with a whole bunch of 1000’s of followers on this sequence’ equal to Instagram and Youtube. She witnessed firsthand what it’s wish to work together with on-line trolls, seedy starlets, and obsessive stans. Fame comes with limitations to freedom and private decisions. There are occasions the place she will get attacked by malicious feedback from jealous and insensitive anons who wish to tear her down for merely daring to simply accept a lot consideration by having a public profile. It gives a really legitimate and insightful cause for her to step again and analyze what it means for her to proceed dwelling a life the place her job depends on the notion different folks have of her. It’s a novel perspective, particularly whenever you evaluate it to her love pursuits Suho and Seojun.


Suho Lee. Credit score to Yaongyi and WEBTOON.

Suho Lee is the son of Jooheon Lee, a Korean actor who married a Japanese girl named Yuko and spent a portion of his life abroad earlier than coming again to settle in his dwelling nation. Suho witnessed firsthand how fickle the general public may be, and after his finest pal Seyeon handed away after the cyberbullying and relentless vitriol spewed his method, he needed nothing of it. Seojun nevertheless, got here up from poverty, and singing was his ticket to wealth and offering for his sister and sickly, unemployed, widowed mom. One boy rejects fame when offered the selection, the opposite begrudgingly accepts; each being conscious of the hazards that include it. It’s truly Jugyeoung who convinces Seojun to proceed to pursue his dream, in an ironic improvement that makes that the explanation they drift aside. On the finish of their highschool careers, Suho’s father collapses whereas filming a brand new undertaking, and will get taken to Japan for remedy. Suho follows, and on the peak of his romantic stress with Jugyeoung, should forgo pursuing his relationship along with her as a result of he nonetheless loves and desires to be there for his father–even underneath the misunderstanding that his father was dishonest on his mom after her passing. It was underneath these circumstances that Seojun and Jugyeoung step by step grew nearer, as Suho stopped contacting them and the passage of time allowed them to maneuver on.


Seojun Han. Credit score to Yaongyi and WEBTOON.

Seojun and Jugyeoung ultimately start relationship, some two years later and alter after Suho is gone. It was throughout this time that Seojun’s monetary troubles got here to floor, and Jugyeoung pushed him to return to the leisure trade. Sadly as success begins to bloom, additionally they haven’t any selection however to half methods, as a result of being a celeb or public persona ingrained in Korean idol tradition signifies that followers may be rabid and unforgiving with regards to scandals or any sort of relationship with the alternative intercourse. Seojun truly turns into sufferer to stalking, by an obsessive sasaeng (a Western equal being stan or “stalker fan”), who truly approaches Jugyeoung after deducing she might need one in all his exes via their Instagram posts. She meets Seojun at a fan meet-and-greet and provides him a teddy bear with a hidden digicam. She additionally infiltrates Jugyeoung’s make-up research course and steadily modifications her look to appear to be her, so as to method Seojun and usurp her place in his life. It’s genuinely harrowing and terrifying seeing the lengths she went to, and it escalates to the purpose of violence, the place she takes out a knife to stab Jugyeoung. It was Jugyeoung’s plan to confront her alone so as to collect circumstantial proof to persuade the police to take motion, however Seojun himself finally ends up injured as an alternative. These varieties of individuals exist in actual life, and whereas they don’t all the time attain this level of hurt, the written legal guidelines haven’t fairly seen to catch as much as the fashionable period so as to defend the victims of such habits.

It’s not simply the primary forged who experiences every part that comes with fame and fortune. One of many earliest antagonists, Sujin Kang, grows immensely as a result of her relationship with Jugyeoung and her follower base. Initially, she was a petty, bitter excessive schooler who discovered early on that her seems to be have been the one factor giving her rapid, tangible rewards. Her father left her household, and her mom turned an abusive alcoholic. In center faculty, she hit puberty early and it gave her unwarranted consideration from the alternative intercourse. However, in highschool, she discovered that she may use that spotlight to leverage her presence in social media and construct connections that may ultimately catapult her out of her dwelling state of affairs. Sadly, the strain to take care of her physique led her to develop bulimia after she had a depressive episode. This occurred fairly early, earlier than the midway level of the sequence, and I might have been upset if that was the place her story ended. But it surely was not.

Issues led to a different, and at a breakthrough level in her on-line presence, she was launched to a different abusive relationship–with a boyfriend who manipulated her into streaming Youtube content material that flaunted her intercourse attraction. At any time when she disagreed or talked again to him, he would beat her and scream obscenities, drilling into her a way of codependency and depleting her vanity. He would purposely pummel her in areas that will be lined by clothes in order to keep away from suspicion, and guilt her into pondering it was her fault for talking out. When Sujin someday reconnects with Jugyeoung, she’s stuffed with a blended feeling of disgust, jealousy, and confusion. She will’t perceive how Jugyeoung has cultivated a following when she was so naive and didn’t even understand that she was being manipulated by her in highschool. However when Sujin’s masks slips, and Jugyeoung realizes underneath what circumstances the previous resides in, she immediately confronts her about it and tries to get her out. It culminates in one other home violence episode the place Sujin’s boyfriend truly discards all pretenses and attracts blood from attacking her face and physique. After he leaves, she locks him out and begins a livestream, asking anybody watching to assist her–ultimately drawing the authorities to her dwelling as her ex was now determined for forgiveness and needed to comb every part underneath the rug as a misunderstanding.

This arc within the story was severely intense, emotionally. It wasn’t the primary time that it drew on the darkness that individuals may be mired into, however it was the primary time that bodily violence was portrayed exterior of male-on-male bullying. Writer Yaongyi’s portrayal of home violence was realistically horrifying. Abusers cycle between abuse and acts of apology, reward, and tenderness so as to conceal their habits and make the sufferer really feel like their abuser truly cares for them; that they’re doing it out of goodness and concern. Sujin was deep into that cycle, and Jugyeoung was capable of inform and instantly clarify it to her in plain phrases that have been simple to grasp. Earlier than, Jugyeoung principally did the minimal social interplay crucial, however as she started to work together extra with others, she developed the short pondering and charisma essential to suppose on her toes. It was a second of noticeable development throughout the board. Jugyeoung was made conscious and accepted the truth that she wasn’t truly favored by Sujin in highschool after it got here up in dialog, however additionally accepted that Sujin wanted assist and he or she was the one one who may inform her what wanted to be stated. Jugyeoung was additionally thorough in her follow-up, by speaking and protecting in touch after the incident to verify she’s recovering; particularly after the fiasco left Sujin for the vultures of social media within the public eye.

Irrespective of the place you go, the web can have folks speaking about something. Folks behind a display will really feel empowered to say no matter they need, be it type, malicious, miserable, sympathetic, offended, or no matter you possibly can consider. Some folks don’t be taught this till they turn out to be well-known sufficient to have those self same folks speak about them. However True Magnificence lets us know that by displaying us precisely what it means to be well-known. The title will get dropped a couple of times inside the story, however for essentially the most half, it appears to have been left up for interpretation. Jugyeong by no means will get cosmetic surgery, a straightforward and socially accepted answer in Korea with regards to magnificence requirements that really feel unattainable to uphold for some. She by no means heals from her pimples scars, though she tries numerous remedies and residential treatments. She nonetheless makes use of make-up each time she leaves her home for social occasions, though opts to not when she’s doing private errands like going to the comedian retailer. She always questions whether or not she’s worthy of receiving love from her household or her lovers, when she was bullied a lot that the concept of displaying her naked face to her boyfriend Seojun throughout an in a single day resort keep gave her a lot nervousness she handed out. However even within the face of all of this, Jugyeoung accepts that she deserves all of it. She’s labored arduous, for herself and for others. She used particular results make-up to permit for a scarred burn sufferer–who by no means took an image along with her daughter at her life occasions like graduations–to lastly have a household picture when that daughter lastly bought married.

True Magnificence lies not solely within the eye of the beholder; on this case, Suho Lee who has by no means as soon as stopped loving Jugyeoung, but in addition within the soul. The climax of the 223 episode important storyline comes on account of Jugyeoung’s Youtube channel supervisor, who leaks photographs of her center faculty years earlier than she started to make use of make-up. The motive was to attract uncooked publicity, and on the peak of the scandal, flip the general public opinion by revealing that her center faculty bully was the explanation she started to cover her naked face, and the only real perpetrator behind a whole bunch of evil feedback calling for Jugyeong to stop her profession and commit suicide. The factor is, these items did occur. Her bully was truly signed to the identical administration firm that scouted Jugyeoung to make her Youtube channel. However her producer/supervisor, who used to stay up for her and reassure her that there received’t ever be strain on her to disclose her naked face, ended up doing it anyway so as to silence her bully after the specter of an unconsenting face reveal being thrown into the combination. This scandal suggestions Jugyeong over the sting, leaving her with no selection however to run away from dwelling for a number of days to quiet down. It’s throughout this reprieve that she encounters older ladies dwelling in a retirement dwelling with agricultural services. She learns that though they’re solely of their late 50s and 60s, it’s time for them to take portraits to arrange for his or her funerals, in case of emergencies. She rediscovers her cause for persevering with her make-up research–to unfold the happiness and confidence that comes with bringing out the sweetness in somebody’s options. The grannies deal with her lovingly and categorical their gratitude on the alternative to really feel like they’re middle-aged once more, because of Jugyeoung. It was the loving faucet on the shoulder that she wanted to remind her that no matter what strangers may consider her, her actions serve a goal that spreads achievement and contentment to these round her.

True Magnificence was an intense learn. There have been moments that gave me whiplash, however loads extra that made me whooping and hollering like a sports activities fan. It was a satisfyingly bingeable sequence, and I used to be grateful to have the ability to catch up and skim the entire thing within the span of about 5 days. The episodes didn’t really feel too quick or too lengthy, and I felt that it made excellent use of its medium when it got here to structure. There have been a number of nice reveals that used the lengthwise scrolling of my good machine to its benefit by build up stress. I feel it was this sense, equal to an exhilarating “page-turner” in bodily books, that led to me studying it so quick. One other benefit that I’ve seen utilized solely by a number of different digital sequence, reminiscent of Pocket Comics’ Woman to Queen, was the utilization of BGM, in Episode 150. The music used is a vocal monitor, presumably sung by the character Seojun, because it makes use of lyrics he sings later in the identical episode. It made for a uniquely emotional studying expertise that stood out very simply amongst all the opposite sequence I’ve ever learn. As webtoons and digital manhwa proceed to unfold worldwide, I can simply see this being extra generally used no less than as soon as for majorly common sequence for climactic moments. It’s ingenious as a result of dwell motion dramas and animation are instantly thought of to be essentially the most logical type of enlargement for these sorts of tales, however permitting for the visible comedian to flourish with an aural enhancement now looks like the choice standing proper in our faces. With ideas like leitmotifs for characters or important/title themes, it permits for followers to dig deeper into the artists’ work and have a sharper thought of what these creators had in thoughts for his or her worlds.

Total, I extremely advocate True Magnificence in the event you’re within the temper for drama. Each episode of the primary story is free to learn on WEBTOON, and there are 8 facet story episodes obtainable on their Quick-Go. It additionally has a 16 episode TV drama obtainable on Viki. It’s a fascinating, uplifting story about studying to put your self naked to the folks you like, after studying the right way to love your self. The best way it approaches how social media capabilities in fashionable society additionally helps to floor it in realism. It’s a modern-day Ugly Betty, for comics lovers! With 940+ million international views, I feel there’s in all probability one thing that was carried out proper.

Marion Peña is a Dominican author primarily based in NYC. They’ve been studying manga and comics since childhood, and writing/podcasting about them since 2015. For those who’d wish to see extra of their work, all their initiatives are right here: https://microwavey.carrd.co/