( A Korean drama review)
About : Korean drama
Year : 2020
Episodes : 16
Distributor : JTBC
Type of Entertainment : TV show
Rating : 4.8/5
Genre : Drama
Where to watch : Netflix
Cast : Park Seo joon ,KIm Da mi,Yoo Jae myung, Kwon Nara
What is it about:
Itaewon Class is a 2020 korean drama, distributed by JTBC and Netflix The series is about how one incident changes the life of Park Sae-ro-yi (Park Seo joon) upside down. What seems to be a simple well planned path for Park Sae-ro-yi, suddenly goes all awry. How Park Sae-ro-yi (Park Seo joon) not only survives but rises above this incident is the essence of 16 episode run of this Korean drama series.
The Brief Story :
The story starts with Park Sae-ro-yi’s (Park Seo joon) first day at a new school. He is a strict believer of the principles taught by his father and cannot tolerate a fellow affluent student Jang Geun-won (Ahn Bo-hyun) bullying a meek student. Park Seo-ro-yi loses his cool and punches him. He is unaware that Jang Geun-won (Ahn Bo-hyun) is the son of Jang Dae-hee (Yoo Jae myung), CEO of the Food giant Jangga Group.
Jang Dae-hee (Yoo Jae myung) is a self made man, who created Jangga group from a small pub to a food giant. During his rags to riches journey, he also acquires a belief that might and power is the only right way, leaving no place for honesty or righteousness.
Things get complicated because Park Sae-ro-yi’s father works for Jang Dae-hee(Yoo Jae myung). Park Sae-ro-yi (Park Seo joon) refuses to apologise to Jang Dae-hee (Yoo Jae myung) and Jang Geun-won (Ahn Bo-hyun) for his action. Jang Dae-hee (Yoo Jae myung) uses his power and influence and gets Park Sae-ro-yi(Park Seo joon) expelled from school to avenge his humiliation.
After a few more unfortunate incidents, Park Sae-ro-yi (Park Seo joon) loses his father and is sentenced to juvenile jail. But, this time it is due to Jang-Dae-hee (Yoo Jae myung) and his son Jang-Geun-won (Ahn–Bo-hyun).
His fellow class mate is Oh Soo-ah (Kwon Nara). She is an orphan helped by Park Sae-ro-yi’s (Park Seo joon) father and has high regard for him. She is also Park Sae-ro-yi’s(Park Seo joon) first crush.
When Park Sae-ro-yi’s (Park Seo joon) completes his sentence, he comes to Itaewon to meet Oh Soo-ah (Kwon Nara).He is awe-struck by Itaewon and decides to open his own pub in Itaewon in the future. He goes away to gain work experience in all sorts of manual jobs. With an intention not to be known as an ex-convict.
By this time Oh Soo-ah (Kwon Nara) is working for Jangga Co. But Park Sae-ro-yi, continues to be friends with her.
Years pass by and Park Sae-ro-yi(Park Seo joon) is back to Itaewon as the owner of a pub called DanBam. Interestingly, the pub is located close to Jangga Co. signature pub in the area.
Jang Dae-hee (Yoo Jae myung) keeps track of Park Sae-ro-yi’s (Park Seo joon) activities over the years,as he still cannot accept that Park Sae-ro-yi (Park Seo joon) had the courage to refute him. The older Jang Dae-hee (Yoo Jae myung) also sees glimpses of himself in Park Sae-ro-yi’s (Park Seo joon) character. One of the reasons he fears Park Sae-ro-yi (Park Seo joon) will soon destroy him and his favourite possession Jangg and Co.
Once he finds out that Park Sae-ro-yi(Park Seo joon) is back and his new pub; he tries his best to pull him down. He strategically uses Oh Soo-ah (Kwon Nara) as his agent for the same. But Park Sae-ro-yi(Park Seo joon) stays determined not to hate Oh Soo-ah (Kwon Nara).
Park Sae-ro-yi (Park Seo joon) joined by Jo Yi-seo (KIm Da mi) as the manager of his pub.
She is an influential blogger, with a high IQ; driven to succeed in anything that she pursues. She bumps into Park Sae-ro-yi (Park Seo joon) accidentally and falls for his righteous character. She joins his pub to be able to spend time with him. They form a good camaraderie and helps the pub gain popularity & success.
Apart from Jo Yi-seo(KIm Da mi) ; Park Sae-ro-yi(Park Seo joon) also joined by three other loyal staff, who stick by his side no matter what.
The series follows Park Sae-ro-yi (Park Seo joon), an ex-convict’s journey to not only avenge his father’s death but also to destroy Jangga Co. completely.
The Drama Setting :
The Korean drama series sync’s with its title because it is mostly shot in Itaewon, Seoul. Itaewon has gained popularity in recent years and colloquially also known as the “Western village” of Seoul. The area is a typical party arena, with small and big pubs, colorful lighting, music and crowded with young people.
The very colorful visuals will invoke a sense of happy ardor.
Drama Review :
Itaewon Class listed as one of the best Korean drama of 2020. It is a high intense drama, with powerful performances from the two main leads. The story line might seem to be a simple story of revenge. But the screenplay makes all the difference.
To begin with, the characters are all very unusual and differently potrayed.
Park Sae-ro-yi’s (Park Seo joon) character stands by his principles and promises no matter what. But he is a modern day protagonist; who is smart and knows his game well. He plays it, “dirty” whenever he has to. It is amusing to watch a multi faceted character like his.
You will be surprised to see how far Jang Dae-hee (Yoo Jae myung) can go to save his empire which he is obsessed with.
Oh Soo-ah (Kwon Nara) character is a shocker. She has the protagonist head over heels in love with her. Yet she chooses the safer route and works for his competitor and villian Jang Dae-hee(Yoo Jae myung).
Jo Yi-seo(KIm Da mi) character is the most peculiar of the lot. She is not the usual perfect herione and even termed a socio-path. Surprisingly it’s her character that aids
Park Sae-ro-yi’s (Park Seo joon) the most in his journey of vengence.
Park Sae-ro-yi’s (Park Seo joon) has three other aides who help him establish his pub Danbam and later his company IC Co. Interestingly, these characters are all offbeat too. One of them is an African Korean, another an ex gangster and third a transgender.
The series very delicately highlights how society, even today does not accept such characters. The situations are not preachy; just short enough to create an awareness of sorts.
How, all these characters holds close together only because of their love for Park Sae-ro-yi(Park Seo joon) is impressive to watch.
The plot is full of twists. It keeps the viewer engaged to see how Park Sae-ro-yi’s (Park Seo joon) will survive his opponent’s blow and what will he do next.
The first two episodes seem a little slow and serious. Especially if you have watched Park Seo joon’s earlier TV shows; it will take you sometime to accept his new avatar. But the story picks a good and interesting pace and is on fast track till the end.
The last episodes are intense and tie all ends together neatly. A smart drama with no high pitched melodrama and no loud dialogues.
This Itaewon class Korean drama series will keep you glued on till the end; with no dull moment. You can definitely grab that pop corn and coke and find yourself a nice seat on your sofa to binge on this one.
Fun fact :
Itaewon class is based on the popular webtoon of the same name. Since Netflix distributes this Kdrama series, international audience were able to simultaneously watch alongside Korean audience
The series was a hit, making it one of the best Korean drama 2020, with the final episode reaching a record 16.5% nation wide audience; making it seventh highest rated Korean Cable TV drama.
The series received 7 nominations in the prestigious 56th Baeksang Arts Awards, including Best Director.Kim Da mi awarded Best New actress for 2020
Park seo joon’s chestnut hair cut became a fashion rage, though he himself commented on public media stating it was tough to maintain it 🙂
Watch out for :
The clashing scenes between Park Sae-ro-yi (Park Seo joon) and Jang Dae-hee (Yoo Jae myung) are compelling. Both actors have “lived” their character & it is a delight to watch their confrontation.
Jo Yi-seo’s (KIm Da mi) characterisation is unique. Before you realise you will approve and cheer for this socio-path!
The scenes between the two leading ladies Jo Yi-seo’s (KIm Da mi) and Oh Soo-ah (Kwon Nara) are fun too. They are two constrating characters in love with the same man Park Sae-ro-yi (Park Seo joon). Oh Soo-ah (Kwon Nara) finds Jo Yi-seo cute and teases her that Park Sae-ro-yi (Park Seo joon) will never stop liking herself. It is fun to watch how things unfurl to something very unexpected towards the end.
The clothes are something to watch out for! Its a gradual transformation from casual clothing to top end fashion, similar to the evolution of the characters from simpletons to business leads.
Itaewon class korean drama OST is definitely a big supporting factor to the series. The music ranging from the titular song Start over by Gaho to the sonorous You want me back makes you want to add these songs in the shuffle mode in your playlist.
You would already heard of Sweet Night; vocals rendered by V of BTS. Its the best from the album. It was almost like a gift from V to Park Seo joon, as both are known for their off screen friendship. You can listen to the whole OST on Spotify (https://open.spotify.com/album/2PsmLUt0LAcT2c9xzDmxI0 )
Dont miss: Episodes 6,15 and 16
What’s refreshing :
This Korean drama series has a lot of unpredictable scenes and situations. The subtle and uncertain romance between Oh Soo-ah (Kwon Nara) and Park Sae-ro-yi (Park Seo joon). The one sided yet strong love of Jo Yi-seo (Kim Da mi) for Park Sae-ro-yi (Park Seo joon). Her reaction after she is rejected by Park Sae-ro-yi (Park Seo joon) when she initially confesses her love for him.
The final and deciding clashing scene between Park Sae-ro-yi (Park Seo joon) and Jang Dae-hee (Yoo Jae myung) in episode 16. The dialogues are totally unexpected and is my favourite scene from the series.
Thumbs Up :
Strong screen play. Park Seo joon is well known for his rom-com roles. He has undergone a complete transformation to play the dogged yet charismatic Park Sae-ro-yi.
The twist in the plot especially from episode 6. I had watched this series when it streamed live. The build up in plot was so thrilling that I waited in high anticipation for the final 2 episodes.
Thumbs Down :
Park Seo joon is well known for his rom-com roles. I am a big fan of the comedy and romance he brings to the screen. This wasn’t a best romantic korean drama series. Because it is so high in drama that, there was little scope for both comedy or romance.
My Verdict : Highly recommend
Itaewon Class is a compelling top rated Korean drama. Watch it for the clashes of the hero Park Seo joon and the villian Yoo Jae myung . Watch it also for the new age Wonder woman in Kim Da mi, all while you enjoy the lively music in the background.