“Itaewon Class” has become the second-highest-rated drama in JTBC’s history, and the ratings are going up with each episode.
Today, I wanted to discuss the popular drama and talk about my thoughts on it in a spoiler review of the first half. I wanted to discuss what I liked and disliked about the drama and share my thoughts about why it has become so big.
Note: this is a subjective review. Also, I didn’t read the webcomic so I am going to treat it as a standalone drama project, I hope you understand.
“Itaewon Class” is a classic tale about the rich abusing and stepping on the poor, it’s a tale about a man who seeks revenge against those who took away everything he had.
This is what I meant when I said “Itaewon Class” script is nothing new, I’ve seen countless kdramas about revenge, some good, some comical and some very disappointing. Every year, we get about 3 to 6 kdramas with scripts focusing on revenge as the main plot.
But how is it that “Itaewon Class” is still such a great drama despite its basic idea? It’s all about the execution and the way the characters are written in my opinion. Let me explain!
The screenwriter of “Itaewon Class” is the same writer for the webcomic which is honestly a well-thought-out decision. I liked that they hired the same man who wrote the webcomic, no one knows the characters better than him. It was a great choice that contributed to this drama becoming this popular.
I can tell the writer isn’t a kdrama writer by the way the script plays out, things move at a faster pace and there is no dwelling on past events much. The characters aren’t as stereotypical as your regular kdramas.
Some huge events are dealt with immediately unlike the way many other kdrama writers construct their scripts.
Usually, kdramas would circle around one or two points for the entirely of its plot and it becomes apparent as we approach the 6th and 7th episode because that’s when it usually becomes boring. That’s not the case with “Itaewon Class.” I personally found its 10th episode to be its best- so far.
“Itaewon Class” is to some degree, unpredictable. There are many plot twists in the past 8 episodes that were fun to see, I didn’t expect to see many twists and turns. I also liked how the characters made decisions fast and how it felt realistic.
Despite being a classic basic idea, “Itaewon Class” still tried its best to deal with everyday life issues and depict them as realistically as possible drawing fans from all other the globe by integrated characters of many backgrounds and discussing the issues they face in South Korea.
The interesting characters
The second reason why I like “Itaewon Class” is its characters. They’re all very interesting and written so well.
I became to hate the classical damsel in distress and the rich-but-rude lead, the description of many kdrama main characters is still the same across the board. They’re all written in a typical unrealistic approach which started to annoy me recently because it has become repetitive and boring.
Park Seo Joon’s character is probably the least interesting one in my opinion and also the most stereotypical considering the drama premise. He’s resilient and hard-working despite the circumstances against him. He’s the typical male lead description for revenge dramas if the character is centered on a poor male lead.
People like Park Sae Ro Yi might not exist in real life or aren’t easy to spot, but he’s a breath of fresh air and probably the most innocent character of them all. I like him a lot.
There is an LGBT character in “Itaewon Class” and it was done so respectfully highlighting the conservative nature of South Korea. There is a man of color and a snappy woman who isn’t easy to like.
I think one of the reasons the drama is this successful is because of Kim Da Mi, so let’s talk about her character.
Jo Yi Seo is a very interesting unpredictable character. I don’t like the character as a person but she gets shit done and it’s so fun to see her in action.
Jo Yi Seo is a difficult character to pull because she’s fundamentally not a nice character and the writer isn’t even trying to make you like her. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a lead female character that doesn’t follow the standard description. She’s not nice; she’s no charitable, she’s rude and only befriends people who would do her good.
She can be very disrespectful and oversteps her boundaries a lot, she’s also very cruel. However, she’s very smart and that is what makes the characters around her tolerate her existence, if she wasn’t smart, no one would’ve liked her character. I don’t think people would’ve been drawn to her character as much if she wasn’t that smart.
Jo Yi Seo is the center of this drama in my opinion, without her character, this drama wouldn’t have been as half-interesting as it is right now. That’s not to say other characters are useless but they can become boring at times.
“Itaewon Class” is very interesting and its becoming more fun as time goes by, I can’t tell how the plot will end because the writer keeps switching things up. I like how JTBC is experimenting with scripts and how it’s paying back. Public channels would have never done such types of scripts that way and it’s the reason they’re falling behind.
JTBC is becoming my go-to channel for great drama whether the cast is popular or not, because of the good scripts they choose.
The Romance part could be better
Honestly speaking, I don’t want Jo Yi Seo to end up with Park Sae Ro Yi because I think he deserves better, I prefer his chemistry with Oh Soo A.
I find the romance element a bit messy in “Itaewon Class.” I don’t understand why Park Sae Ro Yi keeps allowing Jo Yi Seo to step over the line and be intrusive if he doesn’t have feelings for her.
He clearly told Oh Soo A’s character that he likes her recently, why isn’t he shutting down Jo Yi Seo’s advances towards him? He knows she likes him and she said so herself…. Park Sae Ro Yi isn’t the type of character to toy around with people’s hearts for his advantage but that seems to be the case for me, he involves her in his business a little too much for someone who thinks of her as a kid and/or only a manager.
And I know he finds her character rude and disrespectful at times and I know he disagrees with how she deals with people.
I find that ambiguity about how their relationship will develop kind of annoying, because Jo Yi Seo, despite being a total badass, isn’t a fundamentally nice person. I don’t see how her character is changing for the better, and I see that her motive behind helping her boss is because she likes him a lot and doesn’t want to see him suffer.
Her character has the most potential for growth so I am hoping to see that, but if the character stays as is, I wouldn’t want her to date Park Sae Ro Yi.
Jo Yi Seo had threatened to leave his shop if he starts dating Oh Soo A. A person like that is never to be trusted, not saying Oh Soo A is trustworthy or dependable but starting a job then possibly leaving if the boss says no to your romantic advantages is a sign of a shitty entitled character in my opinion especially since he became so dependent on her for his business to survive.
I also found the plot development of Jang Geun Soo weird. Jo Yi Seo made it clear that she’s crazy in love with her boss after giving Jang Geun Soo mixed signals and disrespecting him at times.
I don’t understand why he suddenly decided to follow up on what she said about him taking over Jagga Company if he wants a chance with her. She clearly became sure of her feelings for Park Sae Ro Yi and rejected him for good. I find that part of the plot poorly executed but I understand it’s needed to drive the second half of the plot forward. I just wish it was executed better as in giving Jang Geun Soo a better reason for joining Jagga company.
Some of the actors’ shaky performances
I don’t know if we’re gonna see more of Jang Geun Won after what happened in episode 8, but I wanted to talk about actor Ahn Bo Hyun’s performance.
In short, he’s lacking and he doesn’t seem to be comfortable with the character he’s playing. I found him better in “Her Private Life” and was shocked to see his shaky performance in “Itaewon Class.” He has been acting since 2014; he should be doing A LOT better.
Sometimes, he’d do well and other times it was painful to see him on screen because he’s not up to par in comparison to other actors around him.
Kim Dong Hee’s performance is also slightly iffy but not as bad as Ahn Bo Hyun. Kim Dong Hee is still a young actor who has a long way to go, this is only his second drama, he’s doing well for a rookie actor.
So these are my thoughts on “Itaewon Class.” what do you guys think of the drama so far? Did you like it?