KDRAMA Review: Itaewon Class (2020)

March 22, 2020



Itaewon Class has really been the talk of the town even before its release, not only because it’s a Park Seo Jun series, but also because it is based from another famous web comic with the same name. I personally haven’t read the whole web comic (I only saw some parts of it) so I do not have the idea on what the story will be.

But the main reason why I badly want to watch this drama is because of Kim Donghee. I liked him ever since A-Teen (his debut web drama). Aside from the fact that he is really good-looking, he is also from JYP Entertainment. As you know, I’m a JYP stan. I really wanted to see more of him and how he grows as an actor.

Just a quick reminder, this review is purely my opinion where you may agree or disagree. Also, this may contain spoilers. Read at your own risk.


ABOUT ITAEWON CLASS

Title: Itaewon Class
Episodes: 16 episodes (around 1 hour each)
Airing Period: January 31 – March 21, 2020
Characters:


Park Saeroyi played by Park Seo Joon
Jo Yi Seo played by Kim Da Mi
Jang Dae Hee played by Yoo Jae Myung
Oh Soo A played by Kwon Na Ra
Jang Geun Won played by Ahn Bo Hyun
Jang Geun Soo played by Kim Dong Hee
Kang Min Jung played by Kim Hye Eun
Choi Seong Kwon played by Ryoo Kyung Soo
Ma Hyun Yi played by Lee Joo Young
Tony Kim played by Chris Lyon

Plot: Itaewon Class is a story of an ex-convict named Park Saeroyi who had a roller coaster life after getting expelled from school because he punched a bully and also when his father died in an accident. Not giving up on himself, he established a mini pub in Itaewon and challenges the family who caused all his misfortunes.

WHAT I LIKE ABOUT ITAEWON CLASS

It has a strong start

I am that kind of person wherein I’ll continue to watch a drama if I got hooked with it on the first three episodes. Well, it would be better if I got hooked with the first episode like in Angel’s Last Mission: Love. Let’s just call it, first impression?
The first scene of the drama already made me like it. Jo Yi Seo has been spitting out words that I wanted to say. A lot of people were able to relate to it. And then on the next scenes, the story of Park Saeroyi’s life started and how this whole Itaewon Class started.


It tackles a lot of social issues

First one, bullying – physical, verbal, and emotional. During Park Saeroyi’s expulsion from the school, we can already see different kinds of bullying.

The physical bullying was Jang Geun Won pouring milk and smashing the head of his classmate. Not only that, Jang Geun Won also bullies his little brother whenever something bad happens to him. But these physical bullying happened because Jang Geun Won was verbally and emotionally abused by his father. This shows what happens to the children if their parents treat them like that.


On Episode 15, Jang Geun Won mentioned why he ended up being that. People may say that “we have a choice, and his choice was to be a bad guy” but I somehow understood him, though I do not want to tolerate his wrongdoings. For a person who has never been loved by people around him, his mind has been blocked that stopped him from doing what is right.

Second, looking lowly on the ex-convicts. Most of the time, when we knew that the person has been to jail, we became afraid of them. As much as possible, we don’t want to get involved with them. I, too, admit that there are times that I felt uneasy dealing with ex-convicts. But you know what? Itaewon Class had a different approach. This series showed how the lives of ex-convicts are and how they can change. Seung Kwon for example. He had a hard time changing but eventually became one of the most loved character as the reaches the end.


Third, the transgender issue. Ma Hyun Yi, the main cook of DanBam is a transgender in this story. When his workmates knew about this, they were shocked and some felt a bit disgusted, Jo Yi Seo and Seung Kwon. This is the typical reaction of people. But eventually, they learned to accept Ma Hyun Yi’s decision with his life.


Fourth, racism. During the time when Tony was about to enter the club, he wasn’t permitted to enter because he is from Africa, even if he is half Korean. He was degraded because of his looks. And of course, Jo Yi Seo as the first one to tell it to him. It only shows how racist some (or I guess most) people are. But good thing, there are still some people who don’t care about it and still be friends with other nationality.


Fifth, family issue. Jo Yi Seo stopped going to school and helped Park Saeroyi with his pub. Her mom got mad at her and even asked her to leave the house. There are times our parents want us to finish studying because through this we’ll have a decent life. But Jo Yi Seo proved that even if she didn’t graduate, she is capable of a lot of things. Besides, life is all about how you handle it and not about the technical things the book teaches us.


Sixth, and I guess the main issue, you can easily be thrown away if you have no power. Park Saeroyi was expelled and got into prison because his enemy was way powerful than him. The real murderer for his dad’s death did not immediately get punished. Why? Because of power.


Another one, when Jangga bought the building that Park Saeroyi was occupying. This shows that people with money, power, and fame, can do anything to a person without those things. Good thing, Park Saeroyi is a person full of motivation and he did not allow Jangga to crush them fully.

Soo Ah’s character

A lot of people say that Soo Ah’s character never changed. She did not improve or anything. There was no development. But I disagree with it. There was a development we just didn’t see it. On Episode 15, Soo Ah suddenly gave her resignation to Jangga Co. Along with it is record of all the manipulations that the company did.


Throughout the story, she was portrayed as someone who is afraid of making her own decisions, afraid of choosing Park Saeroyi, a selfish one. At first, I also hated her for that. She has a choice; I always say that. And last Episode 15, I suddenly realized why she stayed with Jangga Co. She stayed there to see all the bad doings of the company and slowly ruin the company at the end. Just like the saying goes, “Make your friends close, and your enemies closer.” She stayed there because she wanted to give back to Mr. Park for all the good things that he has given her.

Soo Ah is doing something we never know because we didn’t see it, that even Park Saeroyi didn’t see. That’s why he was not able to wait.

Park Bo Gum’s cameo


Probably the only thing that I liked in the ending of Itaewon Class was Park Bo Gum’s appearance as a chef applying for Soo Ah’s new restaurant. Aside from the fact that he is so handsome, I found out that Soo Ah deserved someone better. After being dumped by Park Saeroyi because he could not wait more (well, that’s how I see it), I know Soo Ah deserved more.

Seeing Park Bo Gum’s appearance, I was lowkey hoping that Soo Ah finally found her forever.

WHAT I SOMEHOW DISLIKED WITH ITAEWON CLASS

I never liked Jo Yi Seo and Park Saeroyi’s love story

Most of the series I have watched shows that the main leads always end up with each other. Well, it’s the cliché. And I hate it how Itaewon Class made it into this cliché love story. Although I am lowkey shipping Saeroyi with Soo Ah, I also believe that it would be better if Saeroyi do not end up with anyone, because I believe he deserves more.


Not until we reached Episode 14. On this episode, third to the last, Park Saeroyi suddenly realized that he really liked Jo Yi Seo. Like what some of my friends say, “I’m not buying it. It’s too late.” Just because you’re thankful for someone, doesn’t mean you’re in love with them. I just didn’t get it how he completely abandoned his love for Soo Ah because of that reason.

I don’t know why, but I just don’t feel any chemistry between the two. Though I already know that they will end up with each other because of the “drunk kiss” that happened on the first few episodes (can’t remember what episode sorry).

Tony’s character

As far as I know, Tony wasn’t part of the webcomic, which means they added him on this series. Yes, he is the grandson of the rich woman who invested on Park Saeroyi’s company, but I wanted to see more from his character.


He became a part of DanBam and then suddenly disappeared. If his role was just to show the racism part, well, they were able to portray that. But I’m looking for more than that. Look at how the character of Lee Ho Jin (the bullied classmate) was portrayed. He suddenly became someone important to Park Saeoryi. I was just a bit disappointed with Tony’s character. I feel like something lacks.

Jang Geun Soo being the enemy

Maybe because I like Kim Donghee? Or maybe because he’s just too cute and too innocent-looking to be an antagonist. When he transferred to Jangga Co., I still can’t get mad at him. A lot of people say that Kim Donghee’s acting lacks. Probably, yes. But his face is just too innocent that being the bad guy doesn’t suit his image.


I’ll be waiting for his next Netflix series to see if his acting really improved.

CONCLUSIONS AND LESSONS

There are actually a lot of lessons we can learn from this drama. I may not be able to list them all but here are some of the things I got in mind.

The person you bullied will always remember everything.


While bullies tend to forget the things they have done, sometimes even the person, the bullied one will always remember everything. Just like how Ho Jin was bullied by Geun Won. He remembered it even if years has passed. The bullied ones will never forget all those bullying.
So be kind. That’s all.

Sometimes, all you need is a little push.

Park Saeroyi never even thought of having a revenge towards the Jangga Family (or even have plans when he gets our of the prison) not until Ho Jin and Soo Ah pushed him to do it, in a good way of course. In an episode of Itaewon Class, it was seen that Ho Jin visited Park Saeroyi when he was in the prison. He was able to talk to him and told him his future plans to destroy Jangga. He even asked Saeroyi about his plans. That’s when Saeroyi started to think.

One of the turning points here was when Soo Ah told Saeroyi that he wanted a rich man. Soo Ah never really wanted a rich man, besides she is an independent and strong woman. She is not that kind of a woman. She told that to Saeroyi to push him to be the better him, to achieve what he really wanted. Saeroyi, who loves Soo Ah so much will do everything to be the guy “he thought” Soo Ah liked.

When you’re intimidated by those lower than you, you’re the actual prey not the predator.

We can see here that Mr. Jang was so afraid of Park Saeroyi’s existence even if there’s a huge gap between the two of them. He is richer and has an established company. Meanwhile Saeroyi, is just starting his small pub. He made sure that he knows Saeroyi’s steps so that he can already have his attack. But come to think of it, why will Saeroyi be a big threat for Mr. Jang? It only means that Saeroyi is controlling Mr. Jang.

Same goes in real life, if you feel intimidated by a person, you’re being controlled by them.

Life is unpredictable.

The person you love right now may not be the person you will end up now. The people whom you are friends with doesn’t mean they’ll stay being friends with you until the end. You may be poor now, but who knows? You might get rich sooner.

No one really knows what will happen in life. All we need to do is to remain kind to the people around us and never doubt your friends who really helped you and trusted you all the way.

It is how we use our time that matters.


Just like how Seung Kwon mentioned. Everyone is given the same amount of time, but everyone differs on how they used their time. Park Saeroyi used his time to improve himself while Seung Kwon went back to his old life.

Use your time wisely. You cannot return the time that passed.

You don’t need an explanation or a validation from other people.

Like how Ma Hyun Yi overcame his fear of revealing his true self, you are you and you don’t need a validation from other people. You love to write but other people tell you that you shouldn’t write because you’re not a graduate of Communications Art. Tell them, “I am who I am, and I don’t need your validation. I will write because I love writing.”


Same goes to those people who tell you how you lived in the past. Living an ugly life before doesn’t mean you will continue to live on that kind of life. Every people have a choice and chance to change. So, don’t let other people dictate who you are.

My honest thoughts and conclusions:

I am just a bit frustrated with Itaewon Class. I was really looking forward to it even before. But this drama has failed me. Well, this is my opinion. It’s probably because it didn’t go as I wanted it to go. The first part was okay. But then, the second half, it started to go down.

I honestly wanted to drop it already, but I still forced myself to finish it because I have already surpassed half of the episodes.

In the end, Itaewon Class, as a whole, is still good series (especially if you’re not a choosy person). I have my disappointments with the drama, but I also learned a lot from the drama. How about you guys? What are your thoughts about Itaewon Class?

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