ITAEWON CLASS (THE REVIEW)
The lockdown apparently has affected the “normality” of lives and is probably still affecting many-especially the boredom that comes with being indoors and unable to do anything. This affected me on a personal level-to the extent of getting tired of the ‘status quo’ in terms of movies.
That, instead pushed me to do the unusual; I googled the top five k-drama movies of 2020- and Itaewon class among others caught my attention. The plot, however threw me off a bit- but nevertheless piqued my interest.
IT’S SPECIALTY 🤯
Itaewon class isn’t your regular dicey, cheesy, romance k-drama movie. No! It surpasses all of that- it introduces reality as it were, moral and social vices, the struggles of youths, the importance of discipline, philosophy and a whole lot more.
It’s a drama that manages to combine a little bit of action- in terms of fist fights and the whole showdown, a shot of excitement mixed with some adrenaline in the middle and towards the end.
The swagger to which the show progressed was incredible; the mouthwatering fashion choices was the huge cherry on top of this electrifying series.
The first episode ran its course in a slow like fashion- introducing us to the lead characters in the persons of Park Sae-ro-yi portrayed by (Park Seo-Joon) who happens to be a strict, and socially awkward person in high school.
He doesn’t mingle or have friends; usually and always on his own- giving him this roguish bad boy vibe😉 in school and of course tugging heartstrings along the way.
Due to some certain issues; he had to change schools- which led to a change in environment for him and his father.
This episode gradually prepares the foundation for the plot of movie. Coincidentally, the new school he will be attending happens to be the exact same school an important character in the course of the series happens to attend.
For the record, during the second episode the show picks up its pace to a higher level with higher stakes. The show introduces Park going to school and meeting on the way, a girl donning his exact school uniform, who appears to be carefree, snarky, rude and selfish; As a result of a particular action of this girl, which was the fact that a beggar was asking for alms on the subway and instead of her to help she rather forcefully pushes the beggar and walks away; Park was astonished.
Stunned 🤯by her crazy-like behavior, he proceeds to help the beggar while shouting at her to stop. The lady in question is Oh Soo-ah portrayed by Kwon Nara.
It all comes together in such a way that Soo-ah happens to be his classmate and has a sort of “daughter-friend like relation” with his father. That piece of information came into play when Park follows his father to the orphanage his father happens to take care of and meets her again for the second time.
She tries to strike up a conversation- but he bluntly plays it off by using the mute card and refuses to answer.
His father covers up instead by explaining to Soo-ah that he’s a loner and berates him for being rude.
She consistently rather rises up to the silent challenge by making him talk and tells him straight up that he knows nothing about the world 🙃 and its cruelty- and that, he has no right whatsoever to judge her by the one-time experience on the subway. Furthermore, schooling him on the fact that the world doesn’t work in a two way description and that he shouldn’t judge her till he experiences the things she has.😏
The drama picks up tempo here on multiple levels and builds up towards a dangerous edge sooner than I expected it too. Fast forward to school we could see Park driving into a dangerous corner by trying to stop deep rooted bullying and in the process throws a punch or two at none other than his father’s boss’s son in person of Ahn Bo-Hyun.
Bo-Hyun was utterly wowed at Park’s audacity to try such especially on his first day at school and proceeds to ruin his life- by reporting to his father who happens to be the CEO of a large food conglomerate in Asia which leads to a chain of events such as the expulsion of Park from school and of course his father sacked from work.
MAJOR PREMISES AND CHARACTERS TO LOOK OUT FOR-
Drum roll! 🥁 This is the first son of the CEO of Jang’s food company and the guy responsible for the major misfortunes In Park’s life.
Honestly, the list is quite long- a handsome villain if you ask me. He originally was the main villain before he later became the lesser evil of choice in comparison to his father during the movies course- later, moving forward to being the most deadly of all in the series finale.
He was responsible for the death of Park’s Father during a drunk driving incident.
Later on, due to the extreme lengths of his father trying to groom him into a ‘man’ and the perfect heir. This rather made him further dependent on “the benefits of power and authority” by turning the tides against Park by bribing the officials and corrupting evidences against himself- thereby automatically making Park a convict instead of himself.
The series shed light on his character as slightly unhinged emotionally and esteem wise tinged with a desperation of some sort in terms of love and attention from his father- and didn’t care what lengths it took to get a tendril of affection from his father. His father apparently acted more of a boss and mentor who was grooming his protégé– than a father figure which further influenced his choices and decisions throughout the movie.
PARK SAE-RO-YI portrayed by Park Seo-Joon. My respect for him as an artist went up a trillion bit higher after seeing this movie. I must confess, he took acting to a whole new level of perfection and bad-assery. The Writer-nim’s intelligence, style, and flavor really shone throughout the movie- and most importantly presented the series in such an unreservedly, unabashedly real and relatable manner.
Park was an ‘old fashioned’ guy in a twentysomething millennial- who irrespective of the cards he was dealt with fell and rose up about a million times. 😱He embodied selflessness, discipline, cuteness, love, doggedness, and ambition. During his time in Jail, he read books and decided to venture into the food industry in terms of restaurants and lounges. He decided to do whatever it took; to save up and actualize his dreams.
SCENES I LOVED
He embodied all the attributes of Love described in the Holy book and his ability to bring those attributes into fruition irrespective of how dire the circumstance is; was swoon worthy and worth emulating. He gave fairy tales and knights in shining armors a run for their money.
I mean, how do you intensely keep on loving someone who claims to love you but still betrays you countless times? In episode 4 while he was in Prison- Soo-ah visited him and told him that his archenemy (CEO OF Janga food conglomerate) offered her a scholarship accompanied with a job position and that she took it.
Guess what Park’s reply was?
He expressed his profound happiness about her scholarship and point blank told her that he didn’t expect her to stop living and that he totally understands while wishing her the best in her endeavors. She proceeded to ask him what he planned to do after his sentence; he explained that due to his status as an ex-convict, that streamlines his opportunities and career options to a large extent-but stated he has decided to venture into the food industry and later turn it into something huge and big.
Guess what she did after his explanation?🙄
She burst into bouts of laughter- while he smiled in understanding and a realization that she wasn’t seeing into his vision; then she proceeded to ask a very ‘unwarranted and naïve question’.
She asked – Is this revenge?
And he gave the best answer possible- Maybe, Maybe not.
A few years later, after years of silence- months to his freedom she sent him a letter- talking about how she was faring and where she now resides; a place called Itaewon which later proves to be of great importance to the movie and its title– describing the place as beautiful, serene, free, amazing and expensive, going further to explain customs associated with the area such as a certain festival that occurs every year in the area that’s akin to Halloween where people of different races and culture come together to have fun without restraints.
In that very moment after he finished reading the contents of the letter to his satisfaction, he decided that with the money he had left, he would visit Itaewon and see for himself everything Soo-ah described in the letter-especially the festival.
🤓Fate in her cunning and wistful ways made them coincidentally meet- in a throng of celebratory crowds, some with masks and some without -casually jubilating down the streets.
😇The camera focused on Soo-ah staring at someone intently and it undoubtedly turns out to be Park Sae-ro-yi casually observing his environment in its celebratory mood. They then, proceeded to sit down at a bar and talked about years past and his next line of action.
He boldly told her he has decided to start up his business in Itaewon. She was surprised, then proceeded to discourage him by relaying a vital piece of information about the prices of buildings in the area and possible costs of rent- which amounts to about 20 million dollars or more. And, he assured her that he will find a way-of which after some hours, she later invited him to stay over. After further rumination on her offer, he casually declined.
Additionally, 👍I’m all for the element of the introduction of the lgbtq community into the k-drama mix which the writer-nim infused into the series. Equity and all of that – even going as far as introducing a black person into the movie as one of the major roles was nothing short of amazing. My heart exploded into smithereens at the scene where the General Manager due to her discomfort with the information that Hyun-yi( a staff) is transgender- coupled with her desperation to turn Dam bam into the next big thing and her uneasiness with the taste of the food of the head chef ; she brazenly called the chef out on her lack of discretion mixed with some insults and sassily told Park to dismiss her.
The later was crying in the kitchen preparing her fragile heart for dismissal- only for Park to call her in, tell her to sit and brings out double her original salary then proceeded to tell her that he’s giving her an incentive to do better, because he knows she can and that most importantly he’s her friend and has got her back.
Going further to tug my heartstrings a little bit harder by telling everyone that he has always known she’s transgender and that her personal choices shouldn’t affect the way she’s viewed or related to.
Perhaps my👻best scene of all was the part where Park got to know that Kim To-ni experienced some sort of racism and discrimination at a clubhouse where he was bounced, because he was black or better put because he wasn’t Korean.
The bouncer said the rules were to accommodate only Koreans, no more- no less. I’m particularly in love with the writer-nim’s infusion of relevant issues into the plot.
Guess what Park did out of annoyance?💥
He went ahead to use spray paint as a form of protest against racism. Across their walls he wrote:
‘You racist; you are an embarrassment to our country- you humiliate Korea. Eat shit.’
I honestly couldn’t stop laughing at his antics.😹
Apart from his insanely good looks and attitude; his fashion styles are looks to absolutely melt for- ranging from casual transitions to official clothes especially when Danbam became a franchise. His hoodies, Jackets, Joggers, and sneakers were a burst of colors and a beautiful sight to behold.
Secondly, and more importantly, as the show rolled out- Park Sae-ro-yi absolutely dazzled in terms of his faceted abilities in the face of vulnerabilities, disappointments, and other not so apparent issues him and every other youths seems to face- which he perfectly described through his acting.
Oh yeah! This scene caps it all up for me- as the total best; irrespective of challenges posed by the Janga’s CEO – Park coupled with his General Manager, still found a way to kick ass and play checkers😤.
After emerging victorious and number one in a cooking competition- which was the deal involved in getting a huge investment the business direly needed; they came together to reminisce, and revealed a lot of vulnerabilities in the process.
This scene in particular was fascinating to watch. It was delivered in such a compelling and beautifully serious manner.
After all, alcohol has the ability to loosen the tongue and the mind. Yes! Alcohol did the trick.
His ability to deflect questions he’s not ready to answer or to reflect his awkwardness and other important emotions or lack of answers with a simple ‘huh’ and a lost face is really compelling. His brutal honesty at heart and with actions throughout the series was alarmingly deep.
THIRD CHARACTER I ADORE
The badass Jo Yi-seo portrayed by the amazingly talented Kim Dam-i. The purposeful arrogance she wields based on her intelligence, sass, wit and talent was so cool🤥. She happens to be an important social media influencer and sensation; who single-handedly determined, after an in-depth conversation with Park, to turn his life around and eventually marry him at all costs.
True to her words, she backed it up with action- changed the tides for Danbam to an even greater height and level.
The way she offhandedly listed all the things they were doing wrong and could do better was on a whole new level. Cue Cardi B’s Bodak yellow at this scene. Her ability to out rightly speak her mind and her truth irrespective of the situation or consequences is downright admirable.
She knew her worth and she damn acted like it. Her fashion sense was a total power play to match her actions.
From small moments – like telling Park straight up that she loves him at any chance she gets – to her locker password being his birthday date, to leaving him speechless most of the times, to blatantly choosing to shop online in his office and asking him out on a date twice.
SCENES I LOVE
Yi-seo’s daring bad-assery regularly had me on a roll- especially the scene where unfortunately, she had to tell Park straight up that she likes him; and we had a feeling including herself and other co-workers that he did like her albeit unknowingly.
He’s old fashioned to the extent that he didn’t see the obvious signs. He’s the only thirty something year old I know who hasn’t had his first kiss 👀yet.
Feelings after all, can be deceptive-because he was hell bent on being faithful to his first love irrespective of the fact that they were not in a relationship. Feelings were declared but no specific action or definition on both parts.
Most girls, after such an embarrassing encounter would rather drop off the face of the earth and resign. Instead she came back to work fiercer and more determined to win him over.
Her ability to switch from strong-willed to calm and sulky – usually when it involves Park ro-yi and her feelings was beautifully primal. She was so good at what she does to the extent that rival companies wanted to have her. She was so serious about avenging Park and helping him to the extent that- she made sure Ahn-Bo-hyun was imprisoned after making Park wrongfully a convict.
She unraveled gradually to be a tender heart irrespective of her sass and witty wildcat-like attitude. She was a huge force to be reckoned with. In addition, she was the only one responsible for stunning Park into a long silence and rattling his very being.
The way she speaks from the heart and wittingly asks sensitive questions with a straight-laced attitude is comedic.
Especially this scene in episode 8 she walked to her boss and starts out with-
I heard you left with a girl last night- what did you do? Cue the ‘What the hell’ facial expression here.
We drank; he replies.
And she goes ahead with – Are you guys dating now?
Park replies in frustration- “What nonsense are you talking about and get ready for business” and she cheekily pouts a reply “I’m not talking nonsense, don’t go out with her”, she adds and he awkwardly replies with a scoff and a ‘What! Why do you care?’
And she cutely adds albeit frustratingly ‘I just do – and if you do; I will quit”. And she bounces away with extra swagger in her steps.
The sheer audacity and strength infused into her actions and words usually leaves me astonished😶. Most importantly in episode 6, which was ironically comedic. Lol.
She knew Park and Soo-ah were having a heart to heart moment which was about to end up in a deep and passionate kiss until she placed her hands on Soo-ah’s lips and was like Criminal Act 32 Defense against sexual assault– Did he give you consent to kiss him? 🤐Both parties were flabbergasted and annoyed especially Park Seo-ro-yi who ended up calling her ‘a punk.’
MY FAVE LOOKS FROM THIS MOVIE-👗
I’m short of words about how a person can be so carefree, strong willed, lethal, fierce, protective, tender hearted, loving, emotional and cute at one go. This look is one of a kind- from the rugged jacket, hairdo, jean and stance makes this look absolutely mouthwatering.🤤
This Jacket piece speaks volumes; paired with a black turtle neck and a large bow pendant. I’m in awe of this look and she rocks it with careful precision😼 and stealth.
Damn! I believe the picture speaks for itself. I mean, it certainly looks like they are on a runway and not walking down a certain street. The blend of colors gives this look a gratifying sense of feel.
Both looks exudes cuteness with a touch of sass. The extra ruffles on the inner shirt piece on the left with some hand crafted embroidery on the jacket gives the style some sort of wings to soar. The pink suit and the thoughtfully sewn inner piece is a whole meal.🥩
The fashion choices exhibited throughout the sixteen episodes of the series was rebelliously mesmerizing. It was a high budget movie after all. The buildings -even the camera work were silently screaming money and class.💸💰
FOURTH CHARACTER I LOVED-
All hail!🤗 Park Seo-ro yi’s first love in her dramatic glory- known as Soo-ah🌛. She had it quite rough at an early stage in life, which is the major reasons for her somewhat rash and selfish decisions.
On another level, you can’t really blame her – after all she’s looking out for herself more above others. She took intelligence and sass to a whole new play field level. She admittedly had feelings for Park but couldn’t bring herself to make sacrifices on his behalf – probably because she knew he would understand. This, she took for granted way before she snapped out of it.
She repeated the same mistakes too many a times; usually in order to save herself.
Above all, she came through for Park after a heated conversation with Yi-seo herself…
…who went further to confirm her greatest fear – which is losing Park Seo-ro-yi to Yi-seo. Because it seems like she’s handicapped- everything she ought to do- Yi seo is rather doing with gusto🤙. She’s torn between living comfortably- which spells loyalty to Janga and following her heart.
Her lethal bluntness during the course of the series was somewhat infuriating and mostly a breath of fresh air at various angles in the drama. From her confrontational stance about the state of her relationship with Park to her quick deflection when the intensity of the moment is too high for her to handle.
Hell yeah💆! This scene – Her quirky comebacks in the face of discomfort was ironically comedic- I absolutely enjoyed the part where she blurted out the fact that she likes rich guys- after Park told her that he has repeatedly told and showed her that he likes her.
Park instead gave a cheeky reply of – I own a building and she laughed.
She did love Park in all manner of honesty and truth – but she was too scared of the intensity of their chemistry and her feelings and her constant ability to hurt Park unconsciously and deeply.
Her gradual growth throughout the course of the drama as soft yet steely was like a beautiful metamorphosis which complimented her persona adequately. For example Yi-seo told her she likes Park and that she’s a sociopath- she retains her calm and replies Yi-seo with;
“Unfortunately he likes me”.🧘
Yi-seo continued- “Too bad, I will just have to destroy you”.🛀
Soo-ah instead closed the confrontation with a badass reply- “I will like to see you try cutie.🤾
Yi-seo scoffed and walked off. This scene unfurled two goal-getters and admirably strong women toe-to-toe, which was sensuous and crackly- in the absence of fireworks. 🧨
WHO TO WATCH OUT FOR-
Hahaha! Yes- shout out to Park Bo-Gum fans; he made a special appearance at episode 16 and it was swoon worthy. You should definitely watch out for this part- he appeared as a chef who came for a job interview.
Even Soo-ah Mother of sass, couldn’t but fall for his charms- it was literally oozing everywhere.
Oh Yeah🎊🎉! Kim To-ni- was a great addition to the whole plot. He made the whole Dambam plot interesting and his character helped to point out and address major issues pertaining to Korea and the world at large.
His ability to overlook and forgive is worth emulating.
His Korean tongue( in terms of speech) was top notch and nothing short of amazing. His appearance however reminded me of his uncanny resemblance to Nigerian artiste Sean Tizzle.
I absolutely adore this beauty in the person of Ma Hyeon-yi- who admittedly is beautiful portraying both genders. Her character shed a lot of light into the problems, disadvantages and discriminations the lgbtq community is facing.
Her character as a transgender nearly cost Dambam a huge opportunity in episode 13-14. But she embraced it all, after a huge support and shoulder from Park and Yi-seo.
She transitioned from a delicate flower into something poignant, strong yet soft; balancing each quality out with such equal vigor and passion.
Her qualities have helped Dambam as a team, friends and family times without number. I personally wanted her and Seung-kwon to date- and writer-nim gave a possible hint towards that in the final episode. They complement each other questionably well. The final push towards her fully embracing herself was the poem Yi-seo recited for her during a cross-road like moment in her life. The title of the poem (Diamond) 💎resonated deeply within her person and being.
OG!! 🥋The liquid metal. This guy right here was relentless. He understood the laws of power and knew when exactly to dance to its tune. His moves were usually balanced with a deadly feel attached to it. The CEO of Janga’s conglomerate himself- he shed light on what it means to wield a tendril of power and the desperation that accompanies authority.
Even on the face of death- he stood tall and make sure to checkmate Park’s moves at revenge. It was an artistically entertaining dance of intelligence between those two. He portrayed Jang Dae-Hee. He viewed his sons as protégés and treated them as such- exposing them to the harsh realities in the world of authority and power.
He was ruthless and didn’t care about the process involved- as far has he achieves the results he craves🎲.
What shall we say to the god of disappointments? Not today.🎗️ This woman right here was the knight in the life chess of two significant individuals in this movie. She was a major role player in the how’s of CEO Janga’s wealth and power. She became just that for Park Sae ro-yi at the exact time of need – because of Kim To-ni’s (her grandson) attachment to DanBam and the benevolence of Park during their short encounters. She defied all odds and gospel about appearances. The total definition of ‘don’t judge a book by its cover.’
Lastly, Jang Geun-soo was a double edged sword 👑 in this series. Originally, in awe of Park because he could relate to him on some personal and spiritual level.
But, became a lethal pawn in the gradual ruin of Danbam in hopes of recognition and acceptance in terms of his love for Yi-seo. He obviously largely misinterpreted Yi-seo’s mannerisms and words.
He was almost an equal match for Yi-seo in the playing field of intelligence. His moral ambiguity was an unforeseen twist and a sobering realization of the fact that ‘Love indeed💟is the greatest weapon. It could do and undo.’
The series switched up its climax into an adrenaline pumping, edge tethering and sparky finale. The kidnap of Yi-seo and Geun-soo by none other than Geun-won- which turned into a bloody mess just as fast.
The gradual consistency, admission and submission of Park into his feelings hits all the rights notes. It took a near death experience for him to understand his motives and true feelings.
The journey towards the albeit sudden discovery was slowly gratifying- we were able to get a glimpse of how deep his feelings ran for Yi-seo in episode 15-16.
🌼He considered bending the knee- but rather decided to fight- of which the show’s vibe grows rather intense.
Ultimately, it’s refreshing to see Park at peace- with old ghosts left behind. During the course of the movie irrespective of his hero-like persona- he shone brighter and better during his most vulnerable state – when he’s voicing out his thoughts about his dreams, vision and future; when he’s at loss about his over-ambitiousness or sticking with being comfortable. The weight of all the accumulated bad experiences he got exposed to really affected his thoughts and mental health. The finale shows everyone trying to move on from the unexpected turn of events on Soo-ah’s part. It was a satisfying end with Park coming in terms with his Girlfriend’s firecracker-like personality, his company’s success and the long awaited kiss.🌈
This scene was out rightly fulfilling. When Da-Hee came to bend the knee at Dambam after all forces were in tune for Park. It ultimately reminded me of- Daenerys in Game of thrones- in this case he was looking like the ‘Father of dragons.’🔥
The hug scene in episode 16 between Yi-seo and Geun-soo was a dream come true. It was definitely time for those two to bury the hatchet-albeit with a bang. They were more like siblings anyway.
The series is a fascinating and engaging must watch; that embraces a lot of genres in its mix.
It’s available for download on Kissasian.sh.
Till next time – May the series and other fascinating movies be with you.🍂
Melody Tobi-Makinde ©’20