My fellow drama fans, after what seems like forever, Park Seo Joon is finally back on our small screens – YEAY!! And if you haven’t given his new web-toon based drama a try yet, just know you are missing out! Itaewon Class started out by making me nostalgic for the internationally diverse streets of Itaewon. But it was the roller coaster ride of emotions during the first two hours that has me moving this drama up to the top of my weekly-airing watchlist!
I began this drama without reading the synopsis (below) or knowing anything about it, other than it was based on a web-toon story. If you want your surprise factor to stay intact during the first couple of episodes, I’d recommend scrolling past the synopsis.
Asian-wiki: On the first day of attending his new high school, Park Sae Ro Yi punches his classmate Jang Geun Won, who was bullying another classmate. The bully is the son of CEO Jang Dae Hee. The bully’s father runs restaurant business Jagga where Park Sae Ro Yi’s own father works. CEO Jang Dae Hee demands to Park Sae Ro Yi that he apologizes to his son, but Park Sae Ro Yi refuses. Because of his refusal, Park Sae Ro Yi gets expelled from school and his father gets fired from his job. Soon, an accident takes place. Park Sae Ro Yi’s father dies in a motorcycle accident caused by his ex-classmate Jang Geun Won. Burning with anger, Park Sae Ro Yi viciously beats Jang Geun Won. He is soon arrested and receives prison time for violent assault. Park Sae Ro Yi decides to destroy the Jagga company and take revenge upon CEO Jang Dae Hee and his son Jang Geun Won. Once Park Sae Ro Yi is released from prison, he opens a restaurant in Itaewon, Seoul. Jo Yi Seo, who is popular on social media, joins Park Sae Ro Yi’s restaurant and works there as a manager. She has feelings for Park Sae Ro Yi.
Right is Right and Wrong is Wrong
I love a man with a strong moral compass and the courage to back up that stance. Park Seo Joon plays the socially awkward, yet firm-in-his-convictions Park Sae Ro Yi wonderfully. As the backstory was laid out, I was having a bit of trouble seeing Park Seo Joon as a high schooler. But that feeling was short-lived, as his ability to assimilate into his role quickly swept my doubts to the side. I became so fully immersed in his character portrayal that I found myself cheering Sae Ro Yi on as he stuck to his guns – even if it meant dealing with the not-so-pleasant repercussions of his choices. Is there going to be heartache on this path? Most assuredly, but my hope is that Sae Ro Yi’s consistent choice to do the right thing will lead him to be victorious in the end.
I was very affected by the parallel storytelling between the two father-son pairings. Seeing how the priorities and values of each father – care and respect of people vs. hunger for power and money – carried over and became manifested in their sons’ characters was profoundly striking. Also the vast difference in relationships between each son and his father. . . I teared up several times during moments between Sae Ro Yi and his dad. And was conversely angered by the interactions between Jang Guen Won and CEO Jang Dae Hee.
So Who’s Our OTP??
I thought I knew! My OTP ship was happily setting sail. But then by the end of episode 2, I was thrown into confusion. Now I’m skeptical about where things are heading. We seem to have two contenders for Sae Ro Yi’s heart. His first love Oh Soo Ah, played by Nara, who was a solid anchor through the turbulent waters of his past. And then there’s also Kim Da Mi as Jo Yi Seo. And although her screen time thus far has been brief, she seems to be a bit of a crazy wildcard who becomes a major player in the story in upcoming episodes.
I’ve really been drawn to thoughtful and emotionally compelling dramas lately, and Itaewon Class checks all the boxes. The acting is strong, and the characters are well defined. I also discovered that this is the first drama production for the Korean movie company, Showbox. It’s very evident in the filming quality – at times I almost felt like I was watching a movie, not just a small screen drama. And last, but not least, I’m LOVING the OST already!! Check out these first two songs that have been released – by Lee Chan Sol here and Gaho here.
Have you watched already? Are you going to give it a try? Drop your comments below and let me know!
Dramas With a Side of Kimchi