|Launch date||November 20, 2014|
Lookism (Hangul: 외모지상주의) is a South Korean webtoon written and illustrated by Park Tae-joon. The comic strip, which has been published online weekly since November 2014, is about a high school student who can switch between two bodies—one fat and ugly, and the other athletic and handsome.
Daniel Park is an unpopular, fat, ugly, and bullied high school student who is looked down upon. Constantly bullied and harassed every day, he often reacts rashly to his mother and asks for a school transfer. Resolving to run away from his current problems and to start fresh, he moves to Seoul and goes to his new high school. However, the night before he goes to school, he obtains a new body which is tall, muscular, and very handsome.
Now being able to see the world through a completely different view, he experiences the world as someone who everyone envies. Despite this, his days are always split between the two bodies, resolving to use his handsome body for the daytime and the other for the night. As Daniel lives his life with his two bodies, he begins to see just how much the world discriminates against people simply for being "different." Hence the titular name of "Lookism."
Through his original body, he experiences the world's discrimination and hate, while also seeing the beauty of the world through the other. His new body takes him through numerous life experiences from becoming a miniature celebrity, a trainee for an entertainment company, living through the underworld of Seoul, and modeling for clothes. Once the day turns to night, however, this rosy dream turns back into a harsh reality of what the world really is, all the discrimination coming back to haunt Daniel once more.
Arcs and side stories
The arcs were put into the main story. The arcs are in no particular order:
- Vasco's Youth - Jace tells Daniel about Vasco when he was young. They were bullied by their classmates, which culminated to Vasco getting doodles etched into his skin by a sadistic bully. A bullied victim paid Joon Goo to deal with the bullies. They went on to get tattoos to cover Vasco's scars.
- Zack, Mira, and Johan Arc - Side story in which Zack, Mira, and Johan's story. Johan's mother is a hairdresser and a volunteer in a Church until she went blind and followed a cult named Pungsan Dog. Mira, Zack, and Johan investigated the issue and solved it. But Johan disappeared after the incident and reappeared many years later, beating Zack in the finals, then disappeared again, this time with Joon Goo.
- Daniel's Stalker Arc - Daniel was victimized by a psychotic sasaeng fan. Crystal tries to save him from the formerly DG's sasaeng fan. The stalker was arrested and released in the epilogue, but with a beautiful facade.
- Illegal Toto Arc - Jiho Park was tricked by an "admin" of an illegal odds betting site to sucker his money. Thanks to Crystal, Jang Dong Gun, and Kouji, the issue was solved. Jake Kim, the mastermind was imprisoned, the one who tricked Jiho was beaten by the gangster who he fooled.
- Animal Hoarder Arc - Disappearance of pets, including Daniel's and Johan's dogs caused the duo to find the culprit, which led them to an animal hoarder. But the fine for animal hoarding was as light as damage to properties, and the hoarder was once again in her addiction.
- Paprika Arc - Paprika, a live streaming blog site made several J High students hooked because of money being paid to them. Until Zoe got to become a victim of an obsessed and deranged fan, to the point of attempted murder and stalking. Thanks to Daniel and Vasco, she was saved. Kim Yui was also on the web, which her boyfriend beat her for cheating.
- Famewhore Arc - Park Tae Joon, dissatisfied with his fame whoring, made a shoot towards a gangster named Shin Dae Hoon alongside Hyun Do. A chase and cat-and-mouse hide and seek ensues. Daniel, Vasco, and Zack saved the stupid duo from Shin Dae Hoon.
- Pavlov's Dog Arc - Daniel returns to his hometown, but was set up by a person who Logan Lee replaces when he left to be a bullied one. When he was robbed by the bully Logan, he went home to his mother and gave his gift. Jay went alongside Daniel and tried to take back the fat Daniel's money. The arc was named due to Pavlov's dog, for Daniel cannot resist Logan's bullying.
- Fitting Model Arc - Daniel was scouted by two fashion sites to be a fit model. But when he bought using his real body, he and his mother were kicked out by one, so he went to another one.
- Escort Arc - Daniel, desperate for more money, went to an escort agency. But problems arose when the mates he was with are using their looks to fool women. He went out and the bar was busted. He went to school drunk.
- School Ghost side story - A dare was made about a rumor about a haunted painting.
- Inu Arc - Daniel and Crystal's first impressions on their respective bodies were sour. But when they both went along to help an abandoned dog. The dog later gave birth, and Jay hesitatingly, but later, adopted all the puppies and gave them all their love, to the point of using modified old luxury clothes as dog costumes.
- Jay and Inu's puppies side story - Mostly silent story about Jay and overcoming his fear of dogs. He adopted the puppies.
- Vasco's Birthday - They went to Han River in cold weather to celebrate Vasco's birthday, until Zack made a prank which led them to an unsavory situation.
- School Training Arc - J High went to a training school until a serial rapist uses the name "Zeus" and works as their trainer lurks and almost raped Mira until Zack saved her, made his arms unusable and in a cast.
- PTJ Arc - Daniel and Duke went to PTJ, an entertainment company after the former was scouted, with Jay's younger sister Joy, joined them. Oliver and La Sol helped them in talents. Until ALU went solo and almost trapped in a casting couch by her boyfriend, until Crystal, DG, Daniel, Oliver, and others made the save. The chairman of PTJ was sacked in a vote of no confidence, ALU went clean (but went victimizing another producer), Daniel and Joy left the group, Duke went to being Rank B, Oliver became an Inspirit member, La Sol became a trainer.
- Sports Arc - J High went to Athletics Day.
- Slave Arc - J High launched "Slave Auction", a fundraising event using J High students as slaves.
- Notte World Arc - J High went to Notte World, an amusement park.
- Money Arc - Seonong Ham, with conscience pricked after Vasco gave him $10,000 in cash, went to return it to him. But Vasco gave the money to a Thai man who wanted to make ends meet. The Thai man was revealed to be Vasco's teacher and a former undefeated kickboxer, only retiring after accidentally killed his last enemy.
- Bank Account Arc - Jiho once again caught in an incident when he sold a bank account he never uses on a mysterious man. James Lee, one of Jiho's bullies went to sell his account made by Jiho. The incident about the account was settled, but Jiho isn't finished with the problem. He confronted James and Daniel. He pushed both to the window, wounding James and made Daniel in a coma. Jiho was imprisoned despite the pieces of evidence being cleared.
- Jiho Arc - Jiho was imprisoned in a juvenile facility after defenestrating James and wounding Daniel. The story was focused on Jiho's experiences in jail.
- Runaway Arc - Daniel, unable to change bodies due to his body in a coma and shocked about his mother, ran away from home and met a man who cannot return to his family due to being broke. He helped him from thieves.
- Daniel faces Logan - Daniel saw Logan dating Zoe on a picture. Crystal forced him to face his ultimate fear, Logan in a dare. He won the bet.
- Daniel Wokes Up - Daniel's slim body woke up after the fat one was unconsciously beaten by Logan.
- Second Hand Rana Arc - Zack tasks Lee Nam Su to buy a second-hand shoe. He was scammed by a group of extortionists.
- God Dog Arc - God Dog made their move, this time against Vasco and Burn Knuckle. The other J High students were caught in the crossfire between 2 gangs. But in the end, the gang Johan took over betrayed him. It took Jay to cover up the ruckus.
- Reunion Arc - Daniel with his mother returns to his clan's hometown.
- Vasco Got Framed - Gordon Park, troubled with Architecture Department's loony ways, got whiff of a case with Vasco involving a lost wallet full of money. It took Jace's "skills" as a detective to root out the true culprit. The wallet owner is the suspect Jasmine Huh, being a mythomaniac. But it also revealed all embarrassing things about other persons, like Yui Kim taking laxatives and Vasco getting forced to drink it too, Logan's crush on Zoe and Vin's idolizing Duke. The EP parodies Kindaichi Case Files.
- Stockings - Another side story. Involves Jasmine Huh once again. She lied about collecting then selling fetish items like cigarette butts, spit, underwear, stockings and other personal items for those who have a particular fetish for large amounts of money. Mira, Zoey, Joy and Mary was victimized by Jasmine's scam. Zack stopped one, but a larger problem arose.
- Runaway Fam - After the incident involving Jasmine and the fetish, a darker group named Hostel was running the fetish market. One of the branch was Runaway Fam, consisting of runaways and drifters. Daniel, Zack, Vin and Vasco made ways to infiltrate the group. But there's a problem. James Lee, apparently survived the fall but became psychotic, joined a Hostel faction, but stole the loot and ran away. And trouble was arisen again, Johan Seong's former ally Jin Jang, was on Big Deal's side now and starts strengthening his new group. It took the efforts of Daniel and friends to find out who impersonated the girls. The arc ends when Olly Wang and others escaped, James and Jasmine were together, and Mary Kim's past was revealed by Vin, that she's once obese and became a judo master, Dong Gun, DG, and Joon Goo went to a sauna, and Jay met with his father, the HNH chairman. Lastly, Eli Jang was eventually found by other members of Hostel, revealing that he's one of them.
- Eli Jang - Eli's past was revealed.
Park Hyung Suk/Daniel Park : Daniel Park, from the Fashion Department, is seen as an immature high school student who is bullied by Logan Lee at the start of the series. Transferred by his mother to Jae Won High, he woke up one day with a slimmer and near-perfect body next to his chubby one. Over time, his naivety disappears and he begins to mature continuously. Through his new body, he makes new friends and gradually begins to blossom into someone with a kind and courageous heart.
Lee Eun Tae/Vasco : Vasco, from the Architecture Department, has the reputation of being a "Robin Hood" (he stands up for the weak and bullied). He is one of the strongest characters in the series and looks like a gangster (he's the leader of the Burn Knuckles). He looks imposing and rarely shows emotions, other than shedding tears (a running gag), In reality, he is very sweet and seeks the friendship of those he deems as good people. He is the childhood friend of Jace Park.
Hong Jae Yeol/Jay Hong: Jay Hong, from the Fashion Department, is a mysterious character. He has a very quiet personality. He's rich and surprisingly strong. He silently helps the person he likes. He fights using systema.
Lee Jin Sung/Zack Lee: Zack Lee, from the Fashion Department, is a boxer, and an excellent one at that. He's been in love with Mira Kim since childhood. He wants to become her boyfriend, but she dislikes violence, so he tries to change himself for her. For this reason, he stopped bullying others and diminished the number of times he gets into fights. He was once friends with Johan Seong. The incident with him, Mira, Johan, and the Pungsan Dog Cult made his friend Johan abandon them. Johan then reappeared and defeated Zack in their middle school boxing match finals.
Kim Mi Jin/Mira Kim: Mira Kim, from the Fashion Department, is a good student who is very kind and caring. She enjoys studying in the library. She is very observant when it comes to human emotions. She dislikes fighting and believes there are better ways to solve problems. When Zack gets into fights, she gets upset. She is the childhood friend of Johan Seong and Zack Lee. They both were in love with her, but she’s never exactly reciprocated. She is found to be very attractive and beautiful by her peers and even older men, as shown in Chapter 218.
Park Ha Neul/Zoe Park: Zoe Park, from the Fashion Department, is a beautiful girl who, in the beginning, tries to use her charm to get what she wants. However, after Daniel's first body saves her from a stalker, she becomes a "good girl" and develops a crush on his first body, proving that she doesn't care about appearances as much as before. She is also the top in math.
Choi Soo Jung/Crystal Choi: Crystal Choi, the daughter of the HNH Company Chairman, is the second character that is discovered to have two bodies. She first appears as an obese student that transfers to Daniel's school and resides in the Fashion Department. Yet, unlike Daniel, Crystal Choi chooses to live in her original body during the daytime. This shows that she feels no shame and actually has a hint of pride in her first body. This also explains her initial dislike towards Daniel, due to her inability to correlate his kindness with his beauty. She also likes Daniel's chubby body, while cold to hostile towards his beautiful one. Her other body is extremely beautiful.
Lee Tae Sung/Logan Lee: A strong, large man who used to bully Daniel Park frequently in his former school and the first body, and was one of the main causes of Daniel moving to Seoul. Unfortunately, Logan moved to Seoul and coincidentally entered the same school as Daniel, and now resides in the Animation Department. Unbeknownst to Daniel's second body, he has a crush on Zoe Park and once forced her to date him in order for her to protect Daniel's first body from Logan.
Mrs. Kim Park/Daniel's Mother: Daniel's hardworking mother. She works twice as hard to make Daniel enter Jae Won High, from folding and selling empty cartons and boxes to working part-time. She sacrificed everything for her son, just to see him happy and contented. She transfers her son to Jae Won High after witnessing Logan bully him. Despite nearly spoiling her son, she never got anything for herself, ironically. Little by little, Daniel returns her sacrifices.
Park Bum Jae/Jace Park: The vice leader of the Burn Knuckles and childhood friend of Vasco. He's the one who made Vasco overcome his fear of needles and went with him to the tattoo artist.
Park Ji Ho/Jiho Park: Like Daniel Park and Duke Pyeon, he was part of the bullied trio. Daniel made friends with him on both his bodies. But, one incident with his former friend James Lee made him snap and push both James and Daniel through the window, which imprisoned him at a juvenile facility for attempted murder. There, he met the leader of one of the 4 major gangs of South Korea.
Pyeon Duk Hwa/Duke Pyeon: From the Vocal Dance Department and an aspiring rapper. Due to his body, he was bullied by others and rejected by producers. But upon meeting and collaborating with Daniel, he gained confidence and started to do Paprika TV video streaming.
Hong Jae Hye/Joy Hong: Jay's little sister and an Aboki model.
Hong Ki Tae: Jay's older brother and the head of H Group.
Jin Ho Bin/Vin Jin: An arrogant member of Vocal Dance Department. He claims that he's better than the rest. Never takes off his glasses. He has a fear of losing his shades, revealing that he becomes berserk once the shades are removed.
Jang Hyun/Eli Jang: Beauty department's only male member. Has a baby daughter and is a single father. Dong Gun has his eyes on him for a mysterious reason, that is he's a member of Hostel, a gang member.
Johan Seong: Zack and Mira's childhood friend. Has an initially good mother who became blind. His mother went from a good to a bad person when she joined the Pungsan Dog Cult. They tried to stop the cult by themselves but was trapped by the leader. The issue was settled, but he went dark, reappearing and defeating Zack in the Middle School boxing finals, then disappearing again. There, he created God Dog, one of the 4 major gangs in South Korea, and took the cult's mascot dog as their own and even one of the dog victims of an animal hoarder. He then declared war on the Burn Knuckles and asked Daniel to join him. But his gang betrayed him and lost to Gun. He disappeared with Eden. He is in love with Mira and wants to protect her, but couldn’t protect even himself. He always got bullied because he was poor, and he was embarrass when Mira saw the whole thing.
Kim Yui: Introduced during Paprika TV Streaming Arc. A leading BJ on the website, until Ha Neul joined. Has a boyfriend that she cheats on with Daniel. Got beaten by her boyfriend after Zack revealed her. Later, she hangs around Zack.
Jong Gun: Crystal Choi's bespectacled chauffeur, or gangster bodyguard, who formerly extorts money upon others. He has reverse-colored eyes upon removing his glasses and is an excellent martial artist.
Park Tae Joon: Introduced in Attention Whore Arc and is from the Architectural Department. He was a famewhore who taunted a gangster named Shin Dae Hoon in worked shoots. He got his desserts after being caught with Park Hyun Do. They were released by Vasco, Zack, and Daniel. He shares the same name as the author and PTJ Entertainment.
Joon Goo: Introduced during Vasco's Arc, a bully who frequented juvenile centers. He became Jong Gun's equal and is in charge of Jong Gun's extortion racket.
David, Dylan & Sarah Park: Daniel's cousins. Dylan is a wannabe rapper and Duke's fan. David is a college boy. Sarah is Dylan's sister, who also has a crush on Daniel Park's other body.
Nam Su Lee: One of the nerdy classmates, he was initially tasked by Zack to buy shoes for him, which ends up being scammed. Then after the issue was settled, he bought a Kromitz ring. Later on, he started rumors that Daniel was poor and had no fashion sense, which leads Jay to give Daniel all his clothes.
DG: A talent of PTJ, later CEO of the agency. He gave cryptic hints on Daniel. He was patterned after G-Dragon.
HNH Chairman: The chairman of multiple companies and Crystal's father. He knew the secret of both his daughter and Daniel's. He recruited several men throughout the series. He recruited Jang Dong Gun and Joon Goo to be his men, DG sided with him, and Kouji for his technical skills and nearly taking Daniel's unconscious body, if not for Jay's intervention.
Leon Lee: A freshman from the Architectural Department. The mysterious person who despises Vasco's childish, more naive persona. Revealed to be a tomboy.
Woo Dong Jang/Oliver Jang/Jang Udon: A PTJ trainee talent for 6 years and ARU's former boyfriend. Stuck as trainee and C-Rank, alongside La Sol, because of ARU's machinations. Later became A-rank and member of Inspirit.
La Sol/Ra Sol: Another PTJ trainee talent and ARU's former friend. Stuck as trainee and C-Rank for 4 years, alongside Oliver Jang, due to ARU's machinations. Cleared names after also receiving indecent proposals. Later became PTJ's resident trainer.
ARU: Formerly Oliver's girlfriend and a PTJ main star. She uses everything to become famous but was almost caught in a casting couch by her current boyfriend until Oliver and Daniel saved her.
Ko Woo Ji/Kouji: Another one of HNH Chairman's minions. As a genius hacker, he duped the illegal toto operators and hacked the security feed of the store that Daniel works at.
Mary Kim: Mary is a blonde haired girl who is friends with Vin Jin and in Vocal and Dance department. She is not known for her looks, rather her fighting skills, but Mary is quite pretty. She is a very good fighter, which surprises many people. She was once fat, and a judo champion, until she lost weight and transformed herself.
The title speaks for itself, lookism, or bias due to a person's physical appearance. The main character is a fat, bespectacled man and bullied by stronger men. The story also has themes about bullying (both physical, verbal and mental), physical violence (like Vasco getting doodles by a bully during his youth), hierarchy based on strength and looks, extortion, animal hoarding, stalking to the point of obsession, gangsterism, scams, robbery, and even darker themes like rape, celebrity pressures, acute physical injuries and even attempted murder (in which Jiho pushed Daniel and James through a window).
Daniel Park's design was inspired by a model named Park Hyeong-seok. Jay Hong's design was inspired by Hong Jae-yeol, another model. DG was inspired by G-Dragon. Oliver Jang's design was inspired by Jang Dongwoo. ARU's design was inspired by IU (singer). The creator of the manga is Park Tae-joon, another fitting model and all his characters are designed after real-life persons.