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The Rise of Lookism Manhwa: Exploring the Impact of Appearance-Based Comics

Manhwa, the Korean term for comics or graphic novels, has gained immense popularity worldwide in recent years. One particular genre that has captured the attention of readers is “lookism manhwa.” Lookism manhwa explores the theme of appearance-based discrimination and its consequences in society. In this article, we will delve into the world of lookism manhwa, examining its origins, impact, and the broader implications it holds for our understanding of beauty standards and social dynamics.

The Origins of Lookism Manhwa

Lookism manhwa emerged as a response to the prevalent issue of lookism in South Korean society. Lookism refers to the discrimination or prejudice faced by individuals based on their physical appearance. This form of discrimination can manifest in various aspects of life, including education, employment, and personal relationships.

Lookism manhwa first gained traction in the early 2010s with the release of popular titles such as “Lookism” by Park Tae-joon and “True Beauty” by Yaongyi. These manhwas tackle the theme of appearance-based discrimination head-on, shedding light on the harsh realities faced by individuals who do not conform to societal beauty standards.

The Impact of Lookism Manhwa

Lookism manhwa has had a profound impact on both Korean and international audiences. By addressing the issue of lookism in a relatable and engaging manner, these comics have sparked conversations and raised awareness about the harmful effects of appearance-based discrimination.

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1. Challenging Beauty Standards

Lookism manhwa challenges the conventional beauty standards imposed by society. The protagonists in these comics often defy the traditional notions of attractiveness, showcasing characters with diverse appearances and personalities. By doing so, lookism manhwa encourages readers to question and challenge the narrow beauty ideals perpetuated by the media and popular culture.


For instance, in “True Beauty,” the main character, Jugyeong, initially relies on heavy makeup to hide her perceived flaws. However, as the story progresses, she learns to embrace her natural appearance and finds self-acceptance. This narrative arc resonates with readers who may feel pressured to conform to unrealistic beauty standards.

2. Empathy and Understanding

Lookism manhwa fosters empathy and understanding towards individuals who face appearance-based discrimination. By portraying the struggles and experiences of characters who are judged solely on their looks, these comics humanize the issue and encourage readers to empathize with those who have been marginalized.

For example, in “Lookism,” the protagonist, Daniel Park, experiences extreme bullying due to his unattractive appearance. However, after a supernatural event, he gains the ability to switch bodies with a handsome classmate. Through this transformation, Daniel gains a new perspective on the challenges faced by individuals who are judged solely on their looks. This storyline prompts readers to reflect on their own biases and prejudices.

The Broader Implications

Lookism manhwa not only sheds light on the issue of appearance-based discrimination but also raises broader questions about societal norms and values. These comics prompt readers to critically examine the impact of beauty standards on various aspects of life, including education, employment, and relationships.


1. Education and Employment

Lookism manhwa highlights the influence of appearance on educational and professional opportunities. Characters who do not conform to societal beauty standards often face discrimination in school and workplace settings, limiting their chances for success.

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For instance, in “Lookism,” the protagonist’s unattractive appearance leads to him being ostracized and bullied by his peers. This portrayal reflects the real-life experiences of individuals who are judged based on their looks, hindering their educational and career prospects.

2. Relationships and Social Dynamics

Lookism manhwa explores the impact of appearance on personal relationships and social dynamics. Characters who are deemed attractive often enjoy privileges and popularity, while those who are considered less attractive face exclusion and mistreatment.

For example, in “True Beauty,” the protagonist’s transformation through makeup leads to her gaining popularity and attention from her peers. This storyline highlights the superficial nature of social acceptance and the challenges faced by individuals who do not conform to societal beauty standards.



No, lookism manhwas have gained popularity worldwide. The themes explored in these comics resonate with readers from various cultural backgrounds, as appearance-based discrimination is a prevalent issue in many societies.

2. How have lookism manhwas influenced societal attitudes towards beauty?

Lookism manhwas have played a significant role in challenging societal attitudes towards beauty. By showcasing diverse characters and questioning conventional beauty standards, these comics have encouraged readers to embrace a more inclusive and accepting definition of beauty.

3. Are there any real-life initiatives inspired by lookism manhwa?

Yes, lookism manhwa has inspired real-life initiatives aimed at combating appearance-based discrimination. For example, various organizations and campaigns have been launched to promote body positivity and challenge beauty norms.

4. How can lookism manhwa contribute to social change?

Lookism manhwa can contribute to social change by raising awareness about appearance-based discrimination and fostering empathy towards marginalized individuals. These comics have the power to challenge societal norms and inspire readers to take action against discrimination.


5. What is the future of lookism manhwa?

The future of lookism manhwa looks promising. As more readers recognize the importance of addressing appearance-based discrimination, the demand for these comics is likely to increase. Lookism manhwa has the potential to continue shaping societal attitudes and promoting inclusivity.

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Lookism manhwa has emerged as a powerful medium for addressing appearance-based discrimination and challenging societal beauty standards. These comics have had a significant impact on readers worldwide, fostering empathy, and raising awareness about the harmful effects of lookism. By exploring the broader implications of appearance-based discrimination, lookism manhwa prompts readers to critically examine societal norms and values. As the popularity of these comics continues to grow, they have the potential to drive social change and promote a more inclusive and accepting society.

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