Shadow Beauty K-Drama Review & Summary

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Video Source – Viki Global TV (Viki Global TV YouTube Channel)

Shadow Beauty is a Kakao TV drama based on a webtoon Geurimja Minyeo by A-heum, which ran from 2017 to 2020. The drama is about beauty standards set by society just like True Beauty another series with the same message. Shadow beauty conveys the most realistic narrative. It conveys the dark reality of social media and also the psychology of why people do what they do. It didn’t justify the people’s actions. It is a romantic, psychological and thriller genre of 13 episodes. It touched on the topic of bullying, youth friendship and romance and social media in today’s day and age. 

The drama is directed by Bang Soo in. 

Shadow Beauty Cast

  • Shim Ral gi as Koo Ae jin/ Genie
  • Yang Hong seok as Lee Ji sung
  • Choi Bo min as Kim Ho in
  • Heo Jung hee as Yang Ha neul
  •  Lee Na kyung as Sun Mi jin
  • Baek Ji hye as Jo Sae hee

Shadow Beauty Plot

The drama follows Ae jin a high school student who is an outcast among her peers and does not really have friends. She tries to keep a low profile and used to eat lunch in an isolated place by herself to avoid bullies. She is called ugly by her classmates who make fun of her due to which she has low self-esteem. Soon she meets Jin sung, an idol trainee who just transferred to her high school from Busan. As they both are outcasts in their own way Jin sung befriends Ae jin and they spent their lunchtime together, they start getting close and Jin sung tries to pursue Ae jin romantically. Ae jin also happens to be talented at photoshop due to which she is able to edit her photos to look beautiful and posts them on social media under the account handle Genie.

Genie gains more than 770000 followers and is famous for her beauty getting a lot of sponsorship offers. But Ae jin does not reveal to anyone that Genie is her own pictures heavily photoshopped to look better,  leading her to live a double life as outcast Ae jin at school and popular influencer Genie after school. Aejin is like the ugly duckling that turns into a swan-like Genie. One day, Ae jin receives a text message with an untouched photo of her doing a photo shoot at a cafe and that person is aware of the fact that she is Genie. This turns the world upside down for Ae jin and she is afraid that this person would leak the info about her. And this is the point where the drama unfolds. Also after a while, a girl who looks just like the photoshopped Genie transfers to Ae jin’s school and lets everyone think she is Genie. But despite being good looking she turns out to be a monster sociopath that uses others to gain attention. She gets caught up with Aejin and Ha neul and starts bullying them at some point in the story. 

Shadow Beauty Review

Shadow Beauty Review

Shadow beauty is a relatively dark drama that makes you question social media, society and beauty standards. I think it is relatable as we have all been where Ae jin has been at some point in our lives. And I was really satisfied with the conclusion of the drama regarding this. The message is quite strong and positive on that note. All the characters fit the story & their developments also could be seen very well. Ae jin as a character can make the viewer get attached to her as the plot progresses. The colouring of the drama was excellent, it really had a lot of shadows and dark sides to it. It is not a typical “all is well and bright” high school drama. The drama has four very different and misunderstood teens that are fighting to find their place in society and get accepted in some way or the other.

To be honest, Haneul became a favourite to the end as she had a complete 360 change in character plot by the mid episodes. She was one of the most misunderstood characters and just had a little flawed thought process due to a past tragic experience. All the main cast had good acting even though some of them are K-Pop idols. They knew very well how to deliver their lines. Choi Bo min played Ho the class president who is secretly hiding his true self. This is the first time he is seen in a dark role and proved he can do such morally grey characters other than just romantic leads. Heo jung hee was very convincing as the villain turned friend. Yang Hong seok as Ji sung was really sweet and heartwarming as the main lead. Shim Dal gi who played Ae jin was a pleasant surprise and she was excellent.

Shadow beauty focused on romance slightly only the right amount to drive the plot forward. In the end, it wasn’t the drama’s main focus and message and I liked that. Another thing I liked is that it had compact 20-minute entertaining episodes unlike other dramas making it a quick and enjoyable watch. The pacing of the story was also quick and easy to follow and the drama is something that can be binge-watched entirely in a day. This K-Drama was also able to realistically portray the internet user and how the image or beauty of an influencer impacts the number of followers and how negative comments can affect someone.

The Movie Culture Synopsis

Through Ae jin’s story, Shadow Beauty explores the true definition of beauty and how looks can deceive not only online but also in person. As for the ending, the drama wrapped up everything nicely and they focused more on the growth of Ae jin and her journey of finding happiness in her real life and did not add romance to overshadow the real message of the drama. I would personally rate the drama 9/10 it was dark and twisty. 

 You can watch the drama on the Viki rakuten app.