It’s crazy how WebToons have taken over the geek stratosphere by storm. I remember back in 2017, when I first discovered the Line WebToon app, I was obsessed with it. Back then, you had all the classics. Romances like Lore Olympus, coming-of-age stories like True Beauty, and then, there was I Love Yoo.
I mean, a romance with love triangles wasn’t exactly something new. We saw it in True Beauty, Siren’s Lament, and Let’s Play, all popular WebToons in their own right. It’s a cornerstone of romance web novels and a heavily used trope of manhwa in general.
But a lot of these love triangles get stale quickly, especially if they are used to drag out a story for way past their prime. The biggest example of this, to me, was True Beauty. Which is still ongoing and went from meet cute romance to something that should be put out of its misery. I may sound harsh, but it’s genuinely terrible now. Love triangles can make or break a story for me.
But then, what makes I Love Yoo different from the rest? Mind you, I read this WebToon years ago and only recently finished rereading it after the long hiatus it went on. And I have a few thoughts. So, let’s get started.
I Love Yoo: Basic Plot
Meet our protagonist: Shin-Ae Yoo, who has lived through a harsh childhood. After having her family broken thanks to her parents divorcing, she then had to suffer constant bullying and taunts at the hands of her schoolmates. All of this leads her to grow up into a reclusive, cynical 17-year-old with no interest in meeting anyone, let alone a full-blown romance.
After rejecting an ill-thought-out ‘love confession’, her friends decide to treat her to lunch at a nearby restaurant. But of course, the guy she just rejected, and his gang of friends just had to be there as well. And looks like the rejection really hurt the guy, considering how he and his little cohorts start making fun of and insulting Shin-Ae and her friends. Fed up, she throws a drink at them, only to end up hitting the ginger-headed boy that was trying to stand up for her friends. His name is Yeong-Gi, or Nol, and boy, is he intrigued.
Of course, things can’t be that simple for our tragedy-stricken protagonist. Add in her penchant for bad luck and her encounter with two wealthy brothers who have it out for each other but are compelled by their interest in Shin-Ae? It’s like, this girl can’t catch a break! But all this ends up leading to an unlikely friendship, mixed signals, and, perhaps, maybe the start of her coming out of her shell.
I Love Yoo: Story Breakdown
I Love Yoo is a WebToon original by artist and author Quimchee, that was first published in April 2017. It is currently still ongoing. It still rakes in a high viewer count, with a 9.7/10 score on the app.
The story starts light-hearted but dives nose deep into heavier topics of the family divide, estrangement, isolation, and poverty. The romance is quite subdued, with a heavy focus on building the characters before establishing relationships.
That’s not to say the characters themselves don’t have any chemistry. Our main leads, aside from Shin-Ae, are Yeong-Gi and Kousuke. They are brothers, but as different as night and day. And despite the animosity between the two, they play off each other’s quirks well.
Shin-Ae herself is an interesting lead. She’s pretty normal, especially when compared to the outlandish situations she finds herself in. She’s jaded, almost perpetually broke, and a huge foodie. Sometimes, a relatable and sarcastic teenager is exactly what you need to ground a plot about rich heirs and their obnoxious issues.
Even the side characters, both good and bad, are dynamic and multifaceted. They aren’t just filler material in the background, and I think that speaks for the longevity of the story itself. I do feel that sometimes plotlines are started and then dropped frequently, but it’s not a common problem.
Is I Love Yoo Worth Watching?
This WebToon is a slow burn, in the truest sense of the word. It’s gradually paced, giving enough time to establish the scene before moving towards a conclusion. And so far, it’s better described as the tale of Shin-Ae versus a tale of her romantic endeavors.
It’s surprisingly mature and nuanced for a romance on WebToon. But if that’s your thing, I can’t recommend it enough!