Published on July 19th, 2014 | by porninja0
Half-way Mark: High School King of Savvy hits and scores
Kyaaaaa, what do I not like about High School King? It’s got everything I could possibly want in a drama – two interesting and well-acted leads, potential romance hijinks (and angst!) between our wonderfully adorable OTP, a tortured but painfully good-looking second male lead with a not-so-hidden agenda, and lovely fleshed-out supporting characters.
We’re halfway into the drama’s run and if you’ve been contemplating picking up this quirky workplace-slash-secret identity rom-com, let me help make that decision a little easier for you:
Now that that’s out of the way, there are a ton more reasons why this drama is every bit worth the hype. Not a whole lot happens in each episode, but I always find that the hour zips by, not once feeling like it’s dragging. I guess when the overarching plot involves a high schooler trying not to get caught in his con, the stakes are naturally high. I’m often left hanging at the edge of my seat wondering whether Jin Woo (played by Lee Soo Hyuk) is lurking behind every corner and eavesdropping (as he is prone to do) and just when all of Min Suk‘s (played by Seo In Guk) lies will catch up on him. Gah, all that tension and near-misses!
But let’s face it; a lot of the drama’s crack factor has to do with how absolutely fantastic Seo In Guk is in it. He’s come a long, long way. Remember back when he was bleary-eyed Yoon Jae and nursing a giant crush on his best friend? While Seo In Guk hasn’t exactly moved away from high school roles, he’s definitely gotten a whole lot better at pretending to be an 18-year-old. His breakout role in Answer Me 1997 was played with a certain earnestness that sold his character for me despite being a little green. But after a couple more TV shows and one movie, it’s apparent that the guy has used the time and experience wisely, displaying new and improved acting skills to complement his natural onscreen charisma. He sparkles onscreen and it’s such a joy to watch him interact with the people around him. I really don’t know if anyone else could handle playing both a teenager and a 28-year-old company director quite as deftly as he does.
Lee Hana, on the other hand, is a new face to me. I haven’t seen her in anything before High School King, but I think she’s managed to perfectly portray Jung Sooyoung‘s quirkiness, playing her with the right amount of awkwardness and jittery energy without feeling too much of a caricature. She can take some getting used to but if anything, she’s certainly a unique heroine that I can confidently say I’ve never seen in all my years of avid drama-watching.
I totally adored Min Suk and Sooyoung’s cute-as-a-button couple interactions while it lasted and now that the cat is officially out of the bag, I’m excited to see how the show will handle the aftermath of the revelation (which I thought was both well-timed and completely satisfying). We saw a glimpse of the future in the beginning of Episode 1 when Sooyoung was faithfully filling her secretary duties and reminding Min Suk about school matters, so we know that at least she doesn’t sever ties with him completely, though whether they stay together remains to be seen.
Since we’re at it, let’s address the one thing that everyone seems to be having an issue with – the 10-year age gap between our two leads. Whether you’re eked out by a high schooler dating a woman in her late twenties or you’re of the thinking that age is merely a number, I don’t doubt that the writers (who’ve been doing a fab job so far) will take both opinions into consideration when resolving the conflicts arising from their potential relationship. The only way I ever see the two working out without too much of a backlash from drama audiences is if they employ a time skip during the last couple of episodes, ageing up our characters by a bit so that Min Suk is at the very least, out of high school.
Adorable coupley antics and the utter brilliance of Seo In Guk in his role aside, hands down, my favourite thing about High School King, is the consistent theme of family. We see it in all forms: Min Suk and his two best friends Duk Hwan and Tae Suk who have his back no matter what, Min Suk and his adopted family, sisters Sooyoung and Yoo Ah who, as much as they bicker and nag at each other, fall asleep in each other’s arms once night falls, and let’s not forget the Comfo retail team family whom we’ve gotten to know better over the course of the drama.
Furthermore, Jinwoo’s broken and complicated relationship with his dad serves as a contrast to the rest of the more wholesome family portrayals we’ve seen in the drama, particularly highlighting just how different his attitude towards the concept of family is, compared with Min Suk’s. Despite being raised by someone who wasn’t his biological father, Min Suk is surrounded in an environment that’s loving and warm, something that Jin Woo’s never had the luxury of having. As a result, Min Suk’s grown up to become such a genuine and heartfelt person – one who is fiercely protective of the people he cares about. Meanwhile, Jin Woo is cold and calculative, failing to see the importance of relationships and stubbornly insistent on relying on no one but himself. Rather interestingly, he possesses an underlying vulnerability that stems from his need for approval from the one person who’s made him the way he is today. It’s intriguing, but also terribly heartbreaking.
A two-episode extension for High School King has yet to be confirmed but with the way ratings seem to be climbing with each episode, I’d say it’s pretty much a done deal. There are still so many questions we have left unanswered: What will happen to Sooyoung and Yoo Ah now that they’ve discovered that Director Lee and Hubby Lee are both the same guy? What will Jin Woo do next in his Evil Plan to dig up dirt on Min Suk? Will Halbae find out that his Pretty Unni is in fact dating his grandson? What is Min Suk’s dad’s link to the President? And where in the world is hyung and can he please come and pick up the pieces after completely shaking up little bro’s life with one mere phonecall?
See? Plenty to work with there for the remaining ten episodes – don’t lose steam, Show. High School King, fighting!
(Photo credits: tvN)