As far as high school dramas go, School 2013 is definitely a firm favourite. Ever since I finished Beating Again I have been waist deep in Korean Dramas and I am actually watching this show for the second time. I am yet to watch Stranger Things, Luke Cage or The Get Down but all in good time. Right now, quiz me about Korean dramas! I'm ready to take you on but not yet... maybe after we discuss School 2013?
School 2013 is the 5th instalment of KBS2' School series which aired back in December 2012. It boasts of no more than 16 episodes (sadly) which invite us to not only witness the coming of age story of the Seungri High School Class 2-2 students but also gain an appreciation of what teachers go through as well- and I think that's what I like most about this show. Seungri High School is longing to join the schools that rank highly in Seoul but its students do not make it easy, especially those in Class 2-2.
At the beginning of the school year, Class 2-2 is assigned a new homeroom teacher, the persistently caring Jung In-jae (Jang Na-ra). However, with most of the students' grades being less than desirable and there being a few "troublesome" students that are deemed too much to handle, a well-known lecturer - the stern Kang Se-chan (Daniel Choi) - is asked to step in and join Jung In-jae as a co-homeroom teacher and raise the overall grade of the class considerably. Let's just say it was not at all smooth sailing. Bullying, grades, suicides and lack of trust between students and teachers are but a few aspects of the lives of high schoolers that are explored in this wonderful show.
High school is hard. Fact. There's hormones flying about, the pressure to excel in all you do, friendships fraught with the danger of blowing up in flames, the fear inducing power exam results seem to have on your future, the bullying, first loves, first heartbreaks and the desperate need to fit in; it's enough to make anyone break down at any one moment. But then again... it's also where we were probably our most carefree versions of ourselves, where we were most eager to learn and become an adult, where nothing still feels impossible, where time seems to take the longest to slip by. And this particular high school is no different. But what makes School 2013 different from all the other high school dramas? What makes this one in particular stand out?
Honestly? I think its the fact that show focuses on different but familiar hard curve balls life throws at adolescents which reveal fundamental lessons to be learnt and end up becoming very formative moments for all those involved. Friendship, trust, forgiveness, (self) respect and drive are thrown into the spotlight whilst romance is only subtly hinted at which was flippin' refreshing. Don't get me wrong, I'm all about romance but sometimes its great to see that it is not always at centre stage.
Another thing I found to be unique about this show is the fact that we get to know a little about most, if not all, the students in the class. But of course, there are a selected few with a little more screen time than others and I am in no way complaining as they were portrayed by some of my (new) favourite actresses and actors: Lee Jong-suk (W; Doctor Stranger; Pinocchio), Kim Woo-bin (Uncontrollably Fond; Twenty; To the Beautiful You) and Park Hae-mi (Cheer Up!; Wild Chives and Soy Bean Soup: 12 Years Reunion; Personal Taste) to name a few.
There is more than enough plot twists, tension, heightened emotions and comical moments to keep me coming back to this show and I cannot recommend it enough. Go Nam-soon (Lee Jong-suk), Park Heung-soo (Kim Woo-bin), Lee Gang-joo (Ryu Hyo-young), Han Young-woo (Kim Chang-hwan), Jo Bong-soo (Yun Ju-sang), Oh Jung-ho (Kwak Jung-wook), Kim Min-ki (Choi Chang-yub) are but a handful of characters that made it on my list of favourites but I will leave it to you to found out why; I know I will be revisiting them all multiple times.