Starring: Park Ji Hoo, Choi Hyun Wook, Hong Kyung, Kim Su Gyeom, Lee Yeon, Shin Seung Ho
Year Released: 2022
Number of Episodes: 8
Genre: Drama, Action, Youth
Country: South Korea
Director: You Su Min
Screenwriter: You Su Min
Where to Watch: Viki
Yeon Shi Eun is a model student, who ranks at the top at his high school. Physically, Yeon Shi Eun appears like a weak boy, but by using his smarts, tools, and psychology, he fights against violence that takes place inside and outside of his school.
One of my favorite actors of this year and last is Choi Hyun Wook and the minute news dropped of his inclusion in this drama, I was in there like swimwear. Even though I’m kind of over bully stories, I was going to watch this no matter what and I’m SO glad that I did because this show??? Yeah, it’s that shit.
This is probably the best high school drama centered around bullies and violence that I’ve seen, period. I didn’t read the webtoon so I came into this drama completely ignorant of the story, the characters, and anything else to do with it so my thoughts are completely on the drama. My enjoyment of this drama was so high that I finished all eight episodes in one sitting. Of all the dramas that I watched this year, this is the drama that captivated me and had me at the edge of my seat through every single episode. The writers didn’t waste any scenes, didn’t waste any words, and didn’t waste any time with getting this show on the road.
This drama follows three high school students who become friends. Yeon Shi Eun is a loner who is just trying to graduate, get in college, and mind his business. He’s used to being on his own so when he becomes the target of harassment at school, he does everything he can to make sure it doesn’t escalate. That doesn’t go over well with his bullies who have too much time on their hands and of course, rich parents. Ahn Soo Ho is a coaster. He doesn’t care that much about school, is really only going so that he can graduate because it’s what his grandmother wants and he really loves his grandmother. He’s a really good fighter and that skill comes in handy when he befriends Shi Eun and the new transfer student, Oh Beom Seok. Oh Beom Seok is the son of a politician who had to switch schools because he was picked on pretty rough at his last school so he’s hoping to start new but when he gets roped into helping the bullies pick on Shi Eun, he hires Soo Ho to save Shi Eun.
The three become fast friends, even though Shi Eun did all that he could to discourage that connection as well. There’s no discouraging Soo Ho though. Soo Ho kept showing up until Shi Eun gave up. The thing about the three of these guys is that the school violence goes far beyond the school grounds. It felt like no matter where Shi Eun went, the bullies followed him and made it hard for him to live his life peacefully. The conflict grows when the trio befriends a young girl named Young Yi. When she joins the group, she brings about some internal conflict that seriously pissed me off at every turn.
There was so much conflict for such a short drama and despite there only being 8 episodes, I didn’t feel like the story suffered any because of that. I thought that the execution for this drama was done really well. It’s not an easy watch by any stretch but it was compelling as shit. It was dark, it was violent, but it was also gripping. This show had me in a chokehold and even though I wanted to fight everyone and their mom, I couldn’t stop watching. Park Ji Hoon did the damn thing in this one. I’m not sure if he’s in anything else but this will not be the last drama that I watch him in. I think he’s got a bright future in acting and I look forward to supporting his journey.
As much as I loved him and his portrayal of Shi Eun, Choi Hyun Wook was the highlight for me (who’s surprised?). I really, really, really, really loved his character and I cried buckets at the fight scene (if you know, you know) and I was so furious with Beom Seok that I had a hard time sympathizing with the kind of family life he had. He made it so hard to sympathize with him by acting out the way that he did…especially with Soo Ho. And his answer to Shi Eun when Shi Eun asked him why he did everything that he did? PISSED ME OFF EVEN MORE. I hated that instead of having a conversation with Soo Ho, he becomes the very worst version of himself and he did not deserve Soo Ho. He didn’t even deserve all of the chances that Shi Eun gave him.
I really enjoyed Shi Eun’s character. At first, second, and even third glance, you see a regular kid who doesn’t talk to others much and really minds his own business. He doesn’t look like a fighter and goes out of his way to avoid violence but seeing him driven to defend himself and his friends time and time again had me so soft for him. Like, I wanted to shield him from all of the hurts that this world kept dropping on him. I wanted to be on his side and be the support system that he so desperately needed. The acknowledgment from his parents came too little, too late for me but I did like that despite having shitty and neglectful parents, he still became such a strong and upstanding person.
I know that we’re getting a second season and I cannot wait. I need to know how this all turns out and what happens to Shi Eun, Soo Ho, and even Beom Seok after some time has passed. I’m curious to see if we see them all show up at Shi Eun’s new school. Overall, this was a pretty terrific drama and I’m so glad that I watched it. I’ll be waiting as patiently as I can for any kind of announcement for the next season so if you haven’t already watched this, I highly recommend that you do. This drama was nothing that I imagined it was going to be but I’m okay with that because it was so stinking good.
4.5 out of 5