Hi-dee-ho, neighbors! It is I, your lovable Maknae, back from another solo journey into KDramaland. Did I survive? I did! And I came away with a greater appreciation for Lee Jong Suk and Kim Woo Bin’s acting skills. Let’s talk about School 2013, shall we?
First, a quick plot summary, courtesy of MyDramaList.com:
“Seungri High School ranks as one of the worst of the 178 high schools in Seoul based on academic scores. Kang Se Chan is the top Korean language teacher who owns a famous teaching institute in Gangnam. Meanwhile, Jung In Jae is a short-term Korean language teacher at Seungri High who gets appointed as the homeroom teacher of class 2, the bottom of grade 2. When Se Chan transfers to Seungri Highto teach Korean language, he becomes the co-homeroom teacher of class 2-2. Both teachers run into many difficulties having to face bullies, academic underachievers, their parents and other teachers, as well as due to their different teaching methods. However, they need to put their differences aside in order to help their class successfully advance to their senior year.”
That wasn’t EXACTLY the focus of the drama, but it was one of the major plot points, so we’ll run with it. Usually, I like my dramas to have moments of lightness or humor, but there was very little of that in School 2013. No romance either, but it wouldn’t have served the purpose of the story, so I was ok with it.
There was a lot of room in this drama for character development, and it delivered. Each student’s character was peeled back like an onion, complete with tears (usually theirs). The slow reveal of Go Nam Soon and Park Heung Soo’s friendship and the reason it came apart was masterfully done and kept me hooked. But the storyline that surprised me was the redemption of Oh Jung Ho. Portrayed as a flat-out bully with possible sociopathic tendencies, the richness of the plot came from uncovering his background and understanding what made him tick. I hated him in the first episode and had no idea how much my heart would be hurting for him by the last.
This truly is a character-driven drama. I think due credit goes to Jang Na Ra, who played Teacher Jung. She was the heart of the story, caring about her students in the face of demands that she become more competent and bring their grades up. It was absolutely believable that the students would change their behavior because of her care for them, and I was so happy when they did.
The epic bromance between Lee Jong Suk and Kim Woo Bin was very well done too. I can just see these two being best buds for life, their bond is so strong. And once they repaired their breach, I loved how they starting helping improve the people around them.
Lee Jong Suk, Kim Woo Bin, Jang Na Ra, and Kwak Jung Wook all did phenomenal jobs. Choi Daniel was passable, but was missing a certain je ne sais quoi, a bit of sparkle and panache that his lines seemed to require.
Actually, yes, the ending of the drama WAS very satisfying. As much as I hated one character’s choice, I understood it and felt like that character was still going to end up in a better place than they were headed in the beginning. The overall growth and development of the class as a whole, and the confidence that Teacher Jung earns, made the ending truly enjoyable for me.
This is a Drama with a capital D — there are very few moments of lightness. On the other hand, it was so well-written and compelling that I found myself drawn in. You definitely have to give it three to four episodes to get going, but once it does, it’s magnificent. I would highly recommend it.
Come join me as we discuss School 2013 on the Facebook page! I’d love to hear your thoughts on your favorite characters, moments, and speculation on whether they ever heated that school…..
Until then, I remain–
Karie the Maknae
Dramas with a Side of Kimchi