True Beauty: Sujin’s Triumph Over Domestic Violence Is a Lesson for Us All

WARNING: The contents of this article extensively describe and depict domestic violence. This may be triggering for some readers. The following also contains spoilers for Episodes 151-158 of True Beauty, now available on Webtoon.

Domestic abuse is never acceptable regardless of its form, proposed justifications or genders involved. In the case of True Beauty, the creator Yaongyi utilized her platform to shed light on this very real issue that many people suffer from. She showed how domestic violence can manifest, the red flags radiating from it and what a person can say and do to support someone being abused. Yaongyi depicted the entire journey of a person who began with denying that their toxic situation and ended up freeing themself. She also made sure to provide content warnings at the top of the chapters and real-life resources for anyone who is or who may know someone who is in crisis. The completed arc, “Sujin’s Story,” portrayed all of this thoroughly, and without any remorse to the abuser.

True Beauty’s protagonist, Jugyeong, encountered Sujin, a former fake friend and -- arguably -- bully. Through their interactions, Jugyeong realized Sujin was being abused by her boyfriend and online video content manager, Junho. There were subtle hints shown in public. Sujin participated in events and streams that she wasn’t comfortable with. She continued to insist that Jugyeong join her on streams because her boyfriend told her to, and the aggressive tone Sujin used while trying to convince Jugyeong made it clear what was at stake if she failed to do what her boyfriend wanted. Her body language showed her discomfort whenever she was physically close to Junho. Finally, the visible bruises on her body made it clear that the situation had turned violent.

True Beauty Junho Angry

Behind closed doors, Sujin was trapped in this relationship in multiple ways. She lived in the same apartment as Junho. Early on in their relationship, Junho had locked down his ultimate means of controlling her: taking charge of their financial situation. He claimed he used their money for his creator management company, which he said was for the sake of a better life for the two of them, since he managed Sujin's career. However, he would fail to make payments to the hospital that was caring for Sujin’s mother. He made decadent purchases for himself. When Sujin raised concerns about their financial situation and her mother's medical bills, he'd manipulate her emotional distress and try to isolate himself as the only person she should care about in her life -- even going so far as to say that they should cut ties with her mother.

Junho did what many do to maintain an abusive relationship: He asserted control with emotional and mental abuse. And, when that didn't work, he resorted to violence. Then, he'd apologize with material goods and a charismatic guilt trip in order to reel Sujin back into his control. He'd remind her that he was the only person who truly understood her. Though Sujin knew his words were false and he was just brushing over the violence, it was a difficult reality to face. Once she decided to stand up for herself, he threatened her living situation and her life. Thankfully, Jugyeong and their mutual connection, Suho, were aware of the situation and the two made the decision to turn their tentative bond with Sujin into a real friendship.

True Beauty Sujin Jugyeong

Jugyeong recognized this as domestic violence when she caught sight of a bruise on Sujin’s chest. She helped Sujin realize and accept it, all the while supporting her both emotionally and physically: She made it very clear that the situation was not okay, and she reinforced that Sujin deserved better. She reminded Sujin that this wasn’t happiness. She was a shoulder to cry on (even as she cried for Sujin) and she made her presence known in Sujin's corner. Jugyeong let Sujin stay at her home, because she didn't want her to return to that toxic, dangerous situation. She even revealed her bare face, which she is incredibly self-conscious about, to try to make Sujin comfortable after feeling incredibly vulnerable. Suho hovered in the sidelines, always ready as a means of support.

Without these two, Sujin might have felt so alone that she would've believed Junho's attempts at isolating her, and sunk deeper into his cycle of violence. Her whole childhood was filled with abuse. Her mother was an alcoholic. She was bullied in high school. She became bulimic to maintain her figure and popularity. When she was at her breaking point, Junho conveniently made an appearance and made her feel like he was the only person who was there for her. Their relationship started off happy, as most do, but in the background he was selfishly setting his traps for Sujin without her knowing.

True Beauty Sujin's Story Sujin's Mom

Sujin slowly broke out of Junho’s hold by testing him emotionally. Once she decided she wanted her mother to live with them, his temper and her frustrations couldn’t be stifled anymore. He resorted to violence, but this time, not only did he hit her in places that she could cover with clothes, he also punched her in the face multiple times. She wore her bruises like armored makeup and started a live-stream, going public with the very visible proof of her situation. Multiple news outlets picked up on her stream and, trudging past the haters who called her liar and the other streamers who saw her struggle as nothing more than a way to get views, she ultimately received the help she needed: cops arrested Junho and her mother arrived on the scene to support her.

Sujin was able to escape the violent cycle of her life, feeling happier and much more alive for it. Her confidence grew as she understood, with the support of her friends, that what Junho had shown her wasn't love -- that it was wrong for a partner to dismiss their significant other's concerns and control them, that violence is never acceptable and that there was more to her life than a dangerous relationship. While all ended well within True Beauty, the author made it clear that this was not always the case. Sujin explicitly stated that she had found strength in leveraging the resources available to her, including her streaming platform and fans, as well as the invaluable support of Jugyeong and Suho. For others, in reality, these resources might not always seem accessible. One can only do their own personal best -- by staying vigilant to the struggles of those around them -- to be a Jugyeong for the next Sujin; the support to help the next victim turn into a survivor and thriver.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, please visit, or call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

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