The Rise of Lookism Manhwa: Exploring the Impact of Appearance-Oriented Webtoons


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 refers to webtoons that revolve around the theme of appearance and its impact on individuals’ lives. In this article, we will delve into the world of lookism manhwa, exploring its origins, themes, and the influence it has on society.

The Origins of Lookism Manhwa

Lookism manhwa emerged as a subgenre within the broader category of webtoons, which are digital comics that originated in South Korea. Webtoons gained popularity due to their unique format, where stories are presented in a vertical scrolling format optimized for mobile devices. This format allows for a more immersive reading experience and easy accessibility.

The term “lookism” refers to the discrimination or prejudice based on physical appearance. Lookism manhwa explores the impact of appearance on various aspects of life, including relationships, career opportunities, and personal growth. These webtoons often depict characters who face challenges and discrimination due to their looks, highlighting the societal pressure to conform to certain beauty standards.

Themes Explored in Lookism Manhwa

Lookism manhwa delves into a wide range of themes related to appearance and its consequences. Some of the common themes explored in these webtoons include:

  • Bullying and Discrimination: Lookism manhwa often portrays characters who are subjected to bullying and discrimination due to their physical appearance. These stories shed light on the emotional and psychological impact of such mistreatment.
  • Self-acceptance and Self-esteem: Many lookism manhwa narratives revolve around characters’ journeys towards self-acceptance and building self-esteem. These stories emphasize the importance of embracing one’s unique qualities and finding inner confidence.
  • Beauty Standards and Societal Pressure: Lookism manhwa often critiques societal beauty standards and the pressure to conform to them. These webtoons challenge the notion that physical appearance determines an individual’s worth.
  • Transformation and Second Chances: Some lookism manhwa stories feature characters who undergo physical transformations, either through supernatural means or personal growth. These narratives explore the idea of second chances and the potential for change.

The Impact of Lookism Manhwa on Society

Lookism manhwa has had a significant impact on society, both in South Korea and internationally. These webtoons have sparked conversations about beauty standards, body positivity, and the importance of embracing diversity. By addressing these issues, lookism manhwa has played a role in challenging societal norms and promoting inclusivity.

One notable example of the impact of lookism manhwa is the increased awareness and acceptance of unconventional beauty standards. These webtoons often feature characters who defy traditional beauty norms, showcasing the beauty in diversity. This representation has resonated with readers, leading to a shift in societal perceptions of beauty.

Moreover, lookism manhwa has also contributed to discussions surrounding mental health and self-esteem. By portraying characters who struggle with their appearance and self-worth, these webtoons have helped readers empathize with such experiences. This increased empathy has led to a greater understanding of the emotional toll that societal pressure can have on individuals.

Case Study: “Lookism” by Park Tae-joon

One of the most popular and influential lookism manhwa is “Lookism” by Park Tae-joon. This webtoon follows the story of Daniel Park, a high school student who is constantly bullied due to his looks. However, after an unexpected event, Daniel wakes up in a new body and attends a new school, where he experiences a stark contrast in treatment.

“Lookism” explores various themes, including bullying, discrimination, self-acceptance, and personal growth. The webtoon has garnered a large following, with readers praising its realistic portrayal of societal issues and its relatable characters. “Lookism” has been credited with raising awareness about the impact of appearance-based discrimination and inspiring readers to embrace their individuality.


No, lookism manhwa have gained popularity worldwide. The themes explored in these webtoons resonate with readers from diverse cultural backgrounds, as appearance-based discrimination is a universal issue.

2. How can lookism manhwa contribute to promoting body positivity?

Lookism manhwa challenge traditional beauty standards by showcasing characters who defy societal norms. By representing diverse body types and appearances, these webtoons promote body positivity and encourage readers to embrace their unique qualities.

3. Are there any negative aspects associated with lookism manhwa?

While lookism manhwa have sparked important conversations, there is a concern that some webtoons may perpetuate unrealistic beauty ideals or reinforce stereotypes. It is crucial to critically analyze the messages conveyed in these webtoons and promote a balanced understanding of appearance-related issues.

4. Can lookism manhwa influence real-life perceptions of beauty?

Yes, lookism manhwa can influence real-life perceptions of beauty. By challenging traditional beauty standards and promoting inclusivity, these webtoons contribute to a broader cultural shift towards embracing diversity and redefining beauty.

5. Are there any other notable lookism manhwa worth exploring?

Apart from “Lookism,” there are several other notable lookism manhwa that are worth exploring. Some popular titles include “True Beauty” by Yaongyi, “My ID is Gangnam Beauty” by Gi Maeng-gi, and “Beauty Water” by Omyo.


Lookism manhwa has emerged as a powerful genre within the world of webtoons, exploring the impact of appearance on individuals’ lives. These webtoons delve into themes such as bullying, self-acceptance, beauty standards, and personal growth. Lookism manhwa has had a significant impact on society, challenging traditional beauty norms and promoting inclusivity. By raising awareness about appearance-based discrimination and fostering empathy, these webtoons have contributed to a cultural shift towards embracing diversity and redefining beauty standards. However, it is important to critically analyze the messages conveyed in lookism manhwa and promote a balanced understanding of appearance-related issues.



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