3 Reasons To Read The Webtoon "I Love Yoo"

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When I read I Love Yoo, I was trying to decipher what type of love was occurring and where it was going to go until I realized I was taking away the story’s value of what it had to offer me- the human experience of trying to make deep connections with others while having trauma. 

But fair warning: It might appear like True Beauty, but the two webtoons are really different. Most people who see parallels between the stories only view it from the “love triangle” angle that True Beauty establishes, but that does not exist in I Love Yoo. I say this because this was the headspace I was stuck in when I focused on the “romance” that was occurring that made me miss the story’s value. 

With that said, Here are Three Reasons To Read I Love Yoo: 

1. The Webtoon Shows The Happiest Person Sometimes Wears The Best Mask. 

From the cast of characters, the two are emotionally distant, but they display masks for different reasons. Yet they’re both people who want connection, but they turn it down or push it away. 

Shin-ae, the main character, has a mask of exterior toughness that expresses she doesn’t need anyone. But ironically that toughness is a wall to avoid getting close to anyone since she fears abandonment and betrayal. Because of this, she doesn’t talk about her problems since she thinks she can tough them out on her own. 

Then there’s Yeong-gi who has a happy, friendly, and goofy exterior that likes taking care of his friends. This mask is an ironic act to make people think he's okay.

If people think he’s doing good, they’ll never know what he’s struggling with, which he chooses to display since he doesn’t think he deserves help. He also lives in a world filled with fake people, since they feel obligated to be nice to him because of who his father is, making him not trust anyone with his feelings or problems. 

Yet from the two, Shin-ae learns to drop her mask, show vulnerability, and seek help. While Yeong-gi refuses to drop his mask to anyone, even to Shin-ae, who he has developed a deep bond with.

But the most ironic part is that Yeong-gi was the one who encouraged her to open up, making it quite hurtful to see Yeong-gi create distance between them after Shin-ae learns to be open with him and her friends.

Image Source: Webtoon

However, these types of characters have been in stories before, making them not so ironic since they’re expected to have this type of complexity with these masks. But in actuality, this complexity is expected of the character with a tough exterior.

It is more seen in stories that the person who holds up a wall was created from trauma and made for protection, which I believe originates from the “I can change him” or “It’s not what it seems” trope since they make the bad boy show they’re actually a softie by getting him to be vulnerable to express his feelings and change. 

But the happy character actually being in a ton of pain is a trope that’s hardly used. And even when it is, people still can’t tell when a happy mask is being used in real life, making them forget to check on their happy friends and relatives. This is because the happy mask is such a great illusion that takes a lot of effort to fake, making it hard to imagine the happy person in pain.

Image Source: Webtoon

So while these two characters have masks, the fact that Yeong-gi struggles more despite having a happy exterior, shows how sometimes the happy person is the one with the most pain, which is something that is hard for others to remember. 

2. The Webtoon Shows How Men Suffer More From Trauma Because Of Gender Expectations.

Then we have the fact that Yeong-gi is a guy, which plays a part in how he handles himself, which reflects the man's experience with emotions since men hide their problems and emotions to prove they are tough and strong like men are “supposed” to be. However, men who feel like Yeong-gi will suffer more from putting on their happy masks, since their wall is double layered from trauma and gender expectations. 

Shin-ae suffers too since her masculinity makes her think she doesn’t need anyone. But because she does exhibit other feminine characteristics as a girl, it doesn’t take her long to learn to open up and express herself, especially since her trauma makes her crave connection. It even helps that she had a close friend prior to her vulnerability journey. 

So while I try not to bring up gender, I gave in since gender does affect our experiences. And here, it seems that women have an easier time, or put more effort into their self-growth since they don’t hold on to the gender expectations of masculinity like men. 

With that said, I like to note and remind you that severity of problems are intersectional, so even though men and women suffer from various issues on both sides that are more severe than the other, a lot of factors like the context of their trauma, sexuality, race, class, and more determine how severe their problems are and how they might approach and react to them.

I’d also like to remind people that even if your problems aren’t as bad as another person's, they’re still valid to talk about and seek help with. 

3. The Webtoon Shows How The Trauma From A Family Divorce, Affair, And Distance Can Create Fractured Identities.

I had mentioned the characters' feelings, but I haven’t explained their trauma. For three of the characters, their trauma came from their upbringing during the rocky states of divorce, affairs, and distance happening in their nuclear family. Let’s start with Shin-ae. 

Shin-ae grew up with just her alcoholic father since her parent's divorce when she was little. But when her mom left, she took her big sister and never came back.

This is the source of her abandonment issues, but also when she starts hiding her feelings since her father told her to be strong. Though her father was never clear about what “being strong'' looked like, she thinks “being strong” is like how he handles his emotions- by never showing them. 

To add on, she’ll get bullied by her classmates in elementary school for being poor. She would constantly be called trash, given hate notes, and thrown food at.

In fact, after getting in a fight, the mother of her bully was saying that Shin-ae is going to “amount to nothing just like her own parents!” And the lady makes it worse by saying, her mother was “clearly messed up in the head! Obviously, her daughter is the same way!”

Image Source: Webtoon

Shin-ae normally wouldn’t show her emotions since it would show that they were getting to her. But this fight occurred because she let herself get angry when a boy was about to throw a cat in a trash can. The fight then followed her into middle school where no one wanted to be her friend because they thought she was crazy and violent.

But things get worse when she makes a friend named Alyssa since the people around them convince her that Shin-ae is a dangerous person that one day Alyssa and her friends push Shin-ae off the school roof. The results left her in the hospital getting brain surgery, and a huge scar on her head. And as you can imagine, this led to Shin-ae becoming emotionally distant with her friends in the present. 

Shin-ae obviously experiences growth, but she continues to feel useless or guilty when something bad happens. She also thinks she’s worthless whenever something unexpectedly good happens, which all stems from her trauma. So even though Shin-ae grows, she has a fractured identity of herself from having low self-worth and low self-esteem...and all because her parents divorced.

With Yeong-gi, his trauma stems from his mother’s death and her involvement in an affair. When Yeong-gi was young, he was raised by his mother. His father was out of the picture because he was a fling that led to him. But once she passed away, it was speculated that he didn’t cope well, became violent, and ended up in some type of facility.

Some fans believe he was in juvie, in rehabilitation, or in a mental institution. Yet what happened to his mother and his criminal activity has not been revealed yet. However, we know that his crime wasn’t too significant. Either way, his loss, and criminal actions have traumatized him and made him believe he’s a terrible person that doesn’t deserve anything good or happiness.

To add on, once Yeong-gi got out, he was introduced to his father and his family, who happens to be a CEO of a hospital. This is where he finds out he has a half-brother, but he’s older than him, revealing that his dad had an affair with his mom.

However, because he was being introduced out of legal obligation, the reveal of the affair has led his step-mother and half-brother to be mean towards him indirectly with their speech, tone, and body language while appearing nice and supportive in front of their dad. 

Image Source: Reddit

So after losing his mother, he spends the rest of his life with a fake family who pretends to care about him and purposely destroys whatever he enjoys. And with his dad being a CEO, he faces even more fake people with their fake happiness and politeness, thus causing his distrust in people. 

While the death of his mother and his criminal activity was out of his control, the affair of his parents affected the relationship he has with his stepmother and half-brother.

Their treatment towards him reinforced the self ideologies that he was reckless, dangerous, inadequate, worthless, and not deserving of help and happiness. And with no one to talk to, they become deeply ingrained in him that he can’t see his true identity of potential and self-worth that he ends up running away from his real family and friends since he believes he’s detrimental to them. 

Then we have the half-brother Kousuke, who also suffered from his father’s affair or rather an absence, but the result has led to him having a fractured identity in the traditional sense. The other two characters are fractured by trauma and their negative self-talk, but Kousuke is fractured because he doesn’t know who he truly is.

Growing up, Kousuke had a routine life set by his mother, but he didn’t get enough attention from his father. At the time, he didn’t mind, since he understood that he had to work.

He also liked that his dad was powerful and respected, allowing him to miss family time. But we see in Kousuke’s goals that his path towards the same position as his father is his way of gaining the attention and validation he always wanted from him.

Because of this, when Yeong-gi came into his life, Kousuke felt threatened by him since he was capable of getting their father’s attention. But this is only a theory since we don’t know everything about the family’s past.

Yet we know this is true about the present since Yeong-gi is presenting his fast learning skills in business, causing to gain attention from his father and others, since his progress was unexpected. 

Image Source: NgheNhacHay.Net

To add on, because Kousuke dedicated his life to the family business, he became ridged with seriousness, that it seems like he has no personality besides sounding condescending to others.

Because of this, he faces an identity crisis when he questions his goals and desires since his own persona was developed to be taken seriously and respected in the business world that he actually has no interest in being a part of. And since his desire for his father’s attention and validation is occurring subconsciously, he has no real idea who he is or who he would like to be.  

So while Kousuke didn’t suffer like Shin-ae or Young-gi, having a present but absent father led to him having a fractured identity of who he is from him seeking out attention and validation through his success.

With that said, the webtoon shows how the happiest people can have the toughest mask to pull off from bearing the most pain. But the pain can be a worse experience if the person is a man due to gender expectations since they’ll avoid seeking help.

Though, no matter what kind of traumatic pain each of these characters went through, each resulted in having fractured identities with their self-perception of their self-worth.

Aside from that, when you see their journey, you're going to want to call their interactions romantic, but the webtoon is all about human connection and labeling it right away makes you lose the story’s value since their intimacy can also be platonic or something in between.

Whatever it is, you should just enjoy their journey instead of jumping ahead by defining it and ruining the importance of different types of connections. Because in actuality, not everything has to be romantic to be meaningful. 

Hi! Hello! My pronouns are she/her, and I'm a storyteller who loves tea and cats.

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