We could not help but fall in love with Seo In Guk and “King of High School Savvy”. It was just that good.
Hug it out; we totally approve.
Junggugeo Kaenada 중국어 캐나다: ★★★★★
Only 만: ★★★★★
High school hockey star Lee Min Suk’s life turns upside down when his mysterious older brother asks him to temporarily take his place as a company director. At work, he meets and falls in love with Jung Soo Young, a contract worker 10 years his senior, who happens to be the older sister of the aggressive schoolmate who has a crush on him. It’s a fun ride, as Min Suk juggles work, school, family, and his budding romance with Soo Young.
Only 만: Same here. I was convinced something was going to go horribly wrong in the last episode, especially given the direction they went in, and yet it all worked.
Junggugeo Kaenada: The conflict resolution in the final episode was just the latest example of one of the best things about this series: minimal, unnecessary drama. Given the rather scandalous premise, there would have been ample opportunity for angst. Yet, just as Min Suk and Soo Young were about to break up, because it was the practical thing to do, she interrupts his tearful walk away with matter-of-fact honesty. Done. Good.
Only: I really want to spend the entire review talking about the last episode, but let’s go back first, and talk about the rest of the show. I wasn’t hooked from the start, but soon enough, I realized I was really looking forward to the next episode.
Junggugeo Kaenada: You were not selling it very well to me, initially. You found Soo Young annoying, but insisted Seo In Guk’s charm made up for it. So, I started watching, then burned through 15 episodes in the span of a long weekend. Yes, Seo In Guk was fantastic, but Lee Ha Na’s character really grew on me.
Only: I had trouble with the premise at first; that he was a high schooler pretending to be a director at a company. But, the show really did a great job, from the writing, to the direction, to the actors. I even started liking Soo Young; I was glad she was still a total weirdo by the end.
Junggugeo Kaenada: Admittedly, Soo Young’s humiliation at the beginning of the series was in line with what we usually hate about those kind of K-drama heroines. Yet, Soo Young was laudable where it counted: she stood up for herself, she did not make stupid choices where the second lead male was concerned that would jeopardize her relationship with Min Suk, and she regained her dignity while remaining the awkward weirdo that she started out as.
Only: Well, no K-drama can escape the conventions of the genre; our heroine must be humiliated in the first few episodes, no matter what. But, yes, Soo Young did stay true to herself; it’s like the rest of the drama caught up with her in the end, rather than the usual transformation. She didn’t even get a mid-series makeover, and I was surprised by how refreshing I found that.
Junggugeo Kaenada: Another thing I found refreshing was the second male lead, Jin Woo. For once, it was not the lead male who was the biggest jerk, but Jin Woo, the cold chaebol. I did wonder how Jin Woo was ever going to become a viable corner of the love triangle, but they managed to turn it around in spite of his asshole behaviour. It is such a cliché to say that he fell for Soo Young’s kind heartedness, but they built a good case for his attraction towards her.
Only: I really loved Jin Woo’s interactions with Min Suk. The competitiveness was there from the start, especially in that great scene where the two of them were fighting in the back seat of a car. But, when they were no longer in competition with each other, I loved them together even more.
Junggugeo Kaenada: The scene where Min Suk was taking care of an ailing Jin Woo was one of the most hilarious ones in the series, which is saying a lot.
Only: I found myself laughing out loud a lot, and unexpectedly, too. As an example, one scene where Min Suk and Soo Young looked on the verge of tears, but couldn’t stop sucking on their ice cream. I was alternating between laughter and disbelief there.
But, if we’re going to start talking comedy, I could really go on. So many great scenes, and practically every actor in this show had me laughing at some point. I must also give credit to whoever was editing this, because the timing was fantastic.
Junggugeo Kaenada: Yes, I was cackling a lot while watching “King of High School Savvy”. Min Suk and Soo Young had great comedic chemistry, and surprisingly, swoon worthy romantic chemistry, too.
Only: That surprised me. It’s difficult to make a believable couple with such an age difference, not just in years, but situation in life, and they really pulled it off. I couldn’t imagine either character with anyone else by the end.
Junggugeo Kaenada: I do not know how they did it, because Seo In Guk depicted a believable teenager. Though, I suppose his dedication to her is pure noona fantasy.
Only: I think we can chalk the whole show up to noona fantasy, because almost nothing in the plot is at all realistic. And yet, for the length of the show, it’s entirely convincing.
Junggugeo Kaenada: One final thought about the happy couple: I liked that they acknowledged their physical urges, and how physically affectionate they were with each other. She did not suddenly become chaste after she found out Min Suk’s true identity, nor after they became a couple. Sadly, this sudden loss of interest in skinship tends to pop up in K-dramas after the couple’s status is cemented; “I Hear Your Voice”, “My Love From the Stars” and a whole host of others are examples.
Only: Any favourite characters, other than the leads?
Junggugeo Kaenada: Young Dong Jae, the oldest worker in Soo Young’s office was a favourite of mine throughout the series. At the beginning, he called people out whenever they were gossiping or being unproductive, whether it be his boss or his less dedicated colleagues. Then, he took on the more active role of supporting Soo Young. He was just a sweetheart.
I also went from enjoying what a villain Jin Woo was to appreciating what a calm countermeasure he became to the frantic duo of Min Suk and Soo Young. The fact that he was not ridiculous complemented well with the couple.
Only: If I start, I’ll end up listing every character in this drama, but let’s pick a few regardless. I liked Min Suk’s buddies, Tae Suk and Duk Hwan, though I laughed when I found out that the actor playing the teenage Duk Hwan is 31. I had a weird fondness for Dae Han and Yoon Joo, the other illicit office couple. And, I really enjoyed Team Leader Kim: he had great comedic chemistry with Min Suk and the Managing Director. But, I think my favourites would have to be Min Suk’s Dad and Grandpa.
So, we’ve been gushing for a while now. Any negatives you want to point out?
Junggugeo Kaenada: The one episode extension did slow the series down like a speed bump. After the main storyline wrapped up, the couple comes to blows over a lack of communication, which did not feel right given how open Min Suk and Soo Young were with each other previously. The whole final episode storyline felt a little contrived.
Only: I’m glad they didn’t dwell on it, but it was to be expected given the extension, which, as per usual, was entirely unnecessary. That said, it was one of the better extensions I’ve seen.
Junggugeo Kaenada: Yes, it was not bad. Though, I did think of your disdain for time skips when they did one in the final episode.
Only: Actually, if you’re going to have a time skip, that’s the way to do it, especially since it was more like a bonus, rather than a major element of the plot. That said, the ending of the series wasn’t exactly what I hoped for as the ending. It was charming and they pulled it off, but I was really surprised that they went there.
Junggugeo Kaenada: I fear that we have made “King of High School Savvy” equivalent to the second coming. I just loved the series a lot, but I hope other viewers will lower their expectations, and give it a fair chance. I do not think it has been as widely seen as other K-dramas, because it was on a cable channel.
Only: Well, that and the premise is somewhat off-putting. I can’t imagine that I would have watched it at all if I hadn’t wanted to see Seo In Guk in a comedy, but, I was really glad I did. I’ll be looking out for this writer and director again, and I’ll definitely be watching whatever Seo In Guk does next.