WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Episode 176 of True Beauty, now available on Webtoon, as well as a brief mention of domestic abuse.
True Beauty’s main character, Jugyeong, has been a social media influencer for years. She's worked hard to post beautiful photos of herself, showcasing her makeup, hair, clothes and gorgeous locations and even starting her own YooTube channel, similar to YouTube, called Barbie Joo. However, the version of herself she's been posting about isn't who she truly is. Upset because of that, she followed up on her first Barbie Joo video by creating a new, anonymous YooTube channel called JK's Horror Reading, which is true to her interests reading horror content.
In Episode 176, she faced the aftermath of having created her first two videos on two separate channels. It was the video that belonged to her original brand, Barbie Joo, that garnered the most positive attention. So much, in fact, that a creator management company reached out to Jugyeong, promising to elevate her channel and personal brand. This seems like a natural step forward that leans into her influencer skills and it could, potentially, be her big break. However, there are red flags within the episode that question the integrity of this proposal.
The management company, called Creator Club, handles their clients' planning, programming and advertising deals. While this would take a lot of work away from Jugyeong, allowing her to focus on making more content, it also sounds like she might lose control of her image, branding and content. The company used suspiciously enticing arguments, such as comparing her to an ex-K-Pop star, which worked to heighten Jugyeong’s confidence at the cost of the star in question. The whole conversation made Creator Club sound like they have a highly competitive atmosphere; they pit artists against each other, rather than focusing on nurturing the individuals in their care.
The biggest red flag is that the ex-K-Pop idol they mentioned turned out to be none other than someone who used to bully Jugyeong in grade school. Jugyeong ran into her in the company, and she seemed to retain her rudeness as her immediate reaction was to snap at Jugyeong. The fact that Creator Club chose to manage her, despite her obviously sour attitude, reflects poorly on the company since it is even clearer now how little they value a positive working environment. Furthermore, this ghost from Jugyeong's past expressed her unhappiness with the work she’s contractually obligated to do, which begs the question: Is this really a world Jugyeong wants involve herself in?
True Beauty’s previous depictions of management companies have been largely negative. Sujin suffered greatly when her abusive boyfriend managed her career, resulting in pain on a physical, emotional and financial level. The company that Jugyeong’s sister works at, which manages Seojun, has been very controlling in every aspect, including his romantic life, social media and daily schedule, without concern for keeping him mentally and physically healthy.
Given this precedent, Jugyeong should really look into Creator Club, the company's proposal and the contract's fine print, without a rose-tinted filter. Ideally, her former bully may provide some insight, but it’s hard to say if Jugyeong will believe her. Nevertheless, for her own safety, she needs to give this a lot more thought and consult others in the industry, or, at the very least, Suho, before she makes a huge mistake.