True Beauty (2020) K-Drama Summary & Review: Hwang In Yeop Invented Second Lead Syndrome

True Beauty (2020) K-Drama Review
  • Cast
  • Cinematography
  • Music (OST or Licensed Soundtrack)
  • Rewatchability
  • Storyline

If I were asked to pick, I would definitely select romantic Kdramas as my favorite genre, and my favorite sub-genre is high school dramas.

There is something incredibly beautiful and uplifting about young adults who are slowly coming into their own, learning about themselves, and trying their best to find their place in the world.

And maybe I might be slowly growing into a sappy old woman, but it always makes me a little teary and a little nostalgic whenever I see this in a drama.

The worst thing you could then do if I am watching a high school romantic Korean drama is if the OST is on point because that would make me absolutely feral, and it would probably be my personality for a long time.

I watched and loved this lovely drama several years ago, but I never reviewed it on the blog, and it was only until Netflix recommended it and then I rewatched it that I finally decided to review it.

Related: 11 Reverse Harem Korean Dramas With Different Male Leads You Can Swoon Over

Several things are polarizing about a drama, so if you do read this review and you feel that I didn’t get some things right and my opinion is stupid, please remember that the way we appreciate media is very subjective, and these are my opinions. 

True Beauty Korean Drama Summary: What Is It About 

Lim Ju Kyung is a high school student who loves makeup, and her love for makeup was borne out of years of bullying at her previous school where she was isolated because of her acne-ridden face.

True Beauty Kdrama

When she moves to this new environment, she decides to change her life for the better, and the best way to do this is to make sure she is seen as flawless. So she becomes obsessed with makeup and literally makes her makeup look as natural as possible before going to school so nobody knows she’s wearing makeup. 

Meanwhile, our first male lead, Lee Soo Ho played by Cha Eun Woo, is also a high schooler, and he is the smartest boy in the school but is usually very quiet and reserved. When he meets her, she literally crashes into his life, and that is when their story starts.

Also See: 8 Lovely Korean Dramas With Cute & Shy Male Leads You’ll Adore

There really is no way to say this without actually saying it because I am trying to not drop any spoilers, but our male lead has some issues with his friend group and an old friend, so that is basically his primary conflict in the entire drama.


Now, this should be a very good summary of this drama, but I feel like it will be very remiss of me if I don’t mention the second male lead who also plays a very significant role in this drama for the better part of it.

Our second male lead, Han Seo Joon played by Hwang In Yeop, is the former friend of our first male lead, and he is the bad boy of their high school who defies authority, is disrespectful, and very rude. And when he meets our female lead, his initial annoyance at her entire existence becomes a kind of intense love.


If you know Korean dramas, you know that there are very few dramas where the second male lead can win the girl, and this is one of those dramas where they stick to the usual template of only the first male lead getting the girl so I was so heartbroken. 


My Review of True Beauty Korean Drama Starring Hwang In Yeop, Moon Ga Young, & Cha Eun Woo 

Before I even review this drama, I want to talk about the OST, which is generally hailed as one of the best we have seen in the past couple of years.

As a very musically inclined person, I always seek out the soundtrack of a movie because that is what heightens whatever I am feeling at the moment and what makes it all the more memorable for me. The creators, showrunners, and every other member of the crew who had a say in the use of the OST clearly took their time because it was so fantastic.


I really don’t even want to take you guys through all my opinions about every single song in the OST album, but you have to listen to it by yourself to get your own opinions. But, rest assured, it is probably going to be one of the most sublime experiences you would ever have.

Moving on, I feel that this drama’s weak point is that it set out to do something but then didn’t really do that at the end of the day. The way I see it, True Beauty being built on the premise of bullying a girl based on her looks wanted to sort of pass a message of acceptance and of forgiving oneself for treating oneself badly, but I feel like this didn’t really come through in the drama.


You know that type of thing that happens where a person has an injury and then instead of, I don’t know, tending to it, they simply cover it, and if it festers, they simply add more wrappings, and on and on? That is precisely how I felt about how this drama handled the issue of bullying.

In my very honest opinion, I never really felt like our female lead really accepted herself in the end, so the entire line of her growth felt like it was simply added. That’s to say, the execution felt lacking, but instead, we spent a lot of time in our male lead’s perspective.

Related: 11 Lovely Childhood Friends Turned Lovers Korean Dramas To Watch

We got to see our first male lead and his struggles, and a lot of screen time was also given to the second male lead, which I honestly thought was unfair because the heartbreak by the time we found out that he wouldn’t end up with her, even though we had anticipated it, was too much to bear.


The second lead syndrome was literally invented with this drama, and whenever anyone asks me about that syndrome, I’m going to point them to this drama because between this and Moon Embracing the Sun, I really can’t tell who broke my heart more.


And needless to say, I cried several times while watching this drama, and that is a very good review in my opinion because it’s a little hard to cry right now at the stage I am, but I did cry both times I watched this drama.

The side characters were also amazing, and I loved seeing our female lead’s dynamics with her friends and also with her family, and there were also a lot of funny things that just made me so happy.


Is True Beauty Korean Drama Worth Watching? 

I would totally recommend this drama to anyone who likes high school dramas and is in the mood for something that delivers a deep message without going into much depth and a host of super talented characters.


If you have read my review of Alchemy of Souls, I talked about how I kept on thinking that our male lead in this drama is the second male lead in that drama, but now that it has been a few years from that, I can totally see the difference. But it doesn’t change the fact that I felt, and I still feel, very foolish for that mistake.

You can watch True Beauty on Netflix, Viki, Prime Video, and Apple TV. It has 16 episodes, with each having a runtime of 70+ minutes, and it’s based on a webtoon of the same name.

Have you guys watched True Beauty? Do you think it’s a drama that you would like to watch? Would you like to watch even more high school Korean dramas? Do you have any other recommendations, or do you think my review wasn’t fair? Let me know all your thoughts in the comments.

Related: Here Are 10 K-Drama Couples I’m High-Key Obsessed With & Why I Love Them

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