“Itaewon Class” has finally wrapped up its run, it’s been a fun ride but not without its share of a few disappointments here and there.
I’ve been invested in “Itaewon Class” as you can tell if you follow my blog. I’ve already reviewed the first half and I am here to talk about the second half.
I’ve been vocal about my confusion with “Itaewon Class” second half on twitter, if you don’t follow me there, you can follow up with my thoughts on kdramas on twitter from here.
I found the second half of “Itaewon Class” to be disappointing and I know that’s a very big word that I don’t take lightly. I will explain why I believe this below.
Note: as you can tell, this is a subjective review of the second half. It will contain spoilers of episode 9 to 16 so proceed with caution.
“Itaewon Class” was never groundbreaking to me, it was nice but I never grouped it with my personal fav kdramas list, I might have in the past but the more great kdramas I see, the pickier I become. As I said in my review of the first half, “Itaewon Class” plot is nothing special or challenging, but its very comforting, sweet and at times surprising.
I didn’t go in with high expectations because of the plot, and I was pleasantly surprised by “Itaewon Class.” It had many mini twists that caught me off-guard and I really liked them. This is why I gave the first half of the drama a lot of praise. I honestly didn’t expect the writer to surprise me like that.
However, I can’t say the writer charged towards the second half of this drama with the same enthusiasm because it really felt like he just stopped trying.
The awful bad guy choice
After Geun Won’s character was abandoned by his father, I was surprised because our main antagonist is now gone and we’re only half way through, how will we proceed for the remaining 5 episodes? The writer decided to go with Geun Soo which I think was the first red flag.
Up until episode 8, Geun Soo was this cute boy who just needed loving people. He is considerate, polite and naïve at times. He was so cute and pure; suddenly the writer just shoved all of those characteristics in the trash and cloned what used to be Geun Won’s character onto Geun Soo, which I hated because it felt convenient and easy to take this route. Instead of coming up with a better idea of an antagonist, the writer decides to use someone we thought we knew.
Yi Seo told Geun Soo clearly that he was never going to have a chance with her because she loves her boss like crazy. Despite never pursuing her, he decides to refer to something she once said (about him taking over Jangga) to get her to like him.
From that point on, I think it went downhill for me, the entire “Itaewon Class” experience that is. He just became a jackass who has no motive but to deliberately go after everyone he once knew and liked for no obvious reason. Like a cartoonish bad guy who does stuff because that’s what the writer wants. He was reduced from a 4D character to a 2D character in one scene and it broke my heart because I really wanted to like this drama.
The reason why I said “Itaewon Class” core-plot wasn’t special is because I’ve seen many similar kdramas/Korean movies/American series about the underdog who grows up to become big and take revenge against chaebols or CEOs who ruined his life, and with that core plot comes a lot of clichés that we’re bound to see.
As “Itaewon Class” second half began to unfold, I noticed that I saw more of those clichés and some revelations didn’t feel this grand in my opinion anymore. Like when the grandma who pesters poor people who borrow money from her turned out to be a well-off chaebol who invests millions in corporations. That move felt very cartoonish to me.
The evolution of Yi Seo
Personally speaking, I found Yi Seo to be the most interesting character in this drama because she’s borderline sociopathic and we don’t see that in leading female characters in kdramaland often. I didn’t like her character but she gets shit done. She’s independent and sure of herself. I might not like such characters but I do admire her from afar.
This also meant that Yi Seo had the most potential for growth among all the characters. After she got dumbed I didn’t sense that she changed in any way. She knew she wasn’t disposable and continued to tell her boss she loved him taking advantage of the fact that she was irreplaceable.
She was almost still the same even after she got rejected by him; she looked a bit broken but still persisted like her old self to do what she does best.
I didn’t see that shift as clearly as I had wished, and then we suddenly jump 4 years later and it seems like she’s this mature watered-down version of her old self, she lost her spark… what happened? What changed? Did she change? How and when?
It just felt that the writer took the easiest route, again. Yi Seo went through that growth period I had wanted to see for myself away from the camera, what’s the use?
I wanted to see her shift from being an immature child who only cares about herself to a grown woman who cares or at least doesn’t want to ruin the people around her for her own benefit.
From romance to murder and kidnapping
Perhaps my least favorite turn of events has to be this; we went from one theme to a completely different illogical theme, even by kdramaland standards that was far-fetched.
The character of Geun Won should’ve been left in the past or at least if brought back, brought back with a reason. I couldn’t understand the justification behind why he suddenly became this reckless cartoonish killing machine. He wants to eliminate his brother, Yi Seo and Sae royi, how and why?
The entire kidnapping part felt like a plot device to add substance to what could be an otherwise lackluster ending of a drama. I wanted the drama to stick to its roots not become this thriller cartoonish plot. It reminded me a lot of a comic which is the base material of this drama but on overdrive, this isn’t how its done writernim. If you don’t know, the writer of the webcomic is the same one who wrote the drama.
At first, I was excited because I knew he wouldn’t try to utilize those typical kdrama clichés writers use and he did prove to me he was different in the first half. In the second half, it became apparent that the writer was inexperienced and has a comic-writing background.
Episode 16 was boring and the first 30 minutes were so stupid, it was puzzling. I don’t even know where to begin, it almost felt as if no one was taking this seriously, not the gangsters, not Geun Won and certainly not Sae royi by the stupid way he reacted. A simple example would be his decision to take Yi Seo’s hands and run away instead of taking the car into safety, or arriving there before the police when he could’ve just waited. It felt dramatic for no reason.
From friends to lovers
I was never rooting for Sae royi and Yi Seo mainly because I thought he deserved better than her or Soo Ah. He was too good for both girls. The growth of Yi Seo, or lack of, didn’t help her case. I also didn’t understand how he suddenly realized he had feelings for her and just completely abandoned his love for Soo Ah in like 30 seconds.
He’s always cared for her and looked after her as her older brother; I preferred their relationship like that. We saw no signs of anything beyond a brotherly relationship yet suddenly he just snaps and realizes its been her all along, how? This is so out of character for Sae royi.
Also, this is probably my least favorite pairing of Park Seo Joon with any actress. When you see him opposite Park Min Young or Kim Ji Won and then you compare that to Kim Da Mi, there is no spark. I don’t see it.
This is not to say that Kim Da Mi is a terrible actress, in fact, she’s one of my new fav actresses and she’s on par with the female co-stars I mentioned before. However, I just can’t picture them together, that’s all.
Overall, “Itaewon Class” second half was with all honesty disappointing, very disappointing. I expected more from a promising writer who appeared to be taking chances at first only to revert to cliché and less-than-justifiable decisions to drive the second half of the plot.
This is why “Itaewon Class” will not be called one of the great kdramas of 2020 in my list, it is fun but if you’re paying attention to the details it will become puzzling and kinda disappointing as you go on.
Now, I know my standards are not exactly the same as the rest of my fellow kdrama fans. In fact, I’ve seen people praise this drama a lot and if you liked it then I am happy for you. Personally speaking, I found it rather disappointing when taking into account the entire drama.
Still, I’d recommend this drama to almost everyone unless they’re picky like me.
So these are my thoughts on the drama. What about you guys? I’d like to read your thoughts in the comment section below. I will be waiting and will respond.