RECAP—Week 1 (Episodes 1-2):
Okay, here I am, watching the new installment of the School series, and it’s hitting all the right notes for me…
I loved School 2013 because of its realistic plot and WONDERFUL bromance. I mean, when Kim Woo-bin and Lee Jong-seok are angsting and then bonding on your screen, can you not help but squee like a mad fangirl? Because that’s what I did!
While School 2013 was set in a more pragmatic world, Who Are You School 2015, however, deviates from that and has established itself into a different genre. There are birth secrets, missing twins, false impersonation, amnesia and much more of the usual K-Drama tropes. But what I found was refreshing is the way the drama has handled the issue of bullying, which happens in almost all the schools out here—directly or indirectly.
I actually like Kim So-hyun in this drama, as she pulls off the role of both the twin sisters Go Eun-byul and Lee Eun-bi, convincingly and with élan.
LEE EUN-BI is an orphan who’s in the second year of high school, living in an orphanage called Love’s House in the southern province of Gyeongsamnam-do in the Tongyeong city. She’s like the persona non grata in her school, and is often bullied viciously. Her bully, SO-YOUNG, is an insufferable rich girl who even tries to make a Eun-bi flavoured cake by hurling eggs, flour, baking powder…and well, you get it! Ugh!
Very early on, we establish that Eun-bi has a contradicting personality. She can’t stand up for herself, but she’s willing to fight for another young orphan girl in her orphanage who gets bullied by a boy. So much of guts, but not even for herself! *sigh*
All the school children rejoice at the sight of her misery, which makes me wonder whether they’re all sociopaths. This really recalls me to the time when I watched Geum Jan-di getting pelted brutally in Boys Over Flowers.
Then the mystery element comes in, in the form of a hidden mother who keeps sending our Eun-bi presents saying that she got one for her own daughter so she thought that she should give one to her too.
And we get introduced to GO EUN-BYUL (played again by Kim So-hyun) in Seoul, who’s the actual sender of the presents. She sends them in the name of her adoptive mother, SONG MI-KYUNG, for some unknown reason. She seems to know that she has a twin sister, though. The two of them are a very loving mother-daughter pair (I’m such a sucker for healthy parent-child relationships that I squee at all such scenes!).
In a sharp contrast to Eun-bi, Eun-byul is the popular one in her school, and no one dares to mess with her. She has a loyal band of friends in the form of two girl SHI-JIN and SONG-JOO. But even Eun-byul seems to be having some dark secret, because she tenses up when she receives a text from a mysterious person called JUNG SOO-IN. Hmm, bad blood, maybe?!
Eun-byul is never alone though. She and Shi-jin are extremely close and even wear matching stuff. And then, who’s to forget the adorable puppy-boy-in-love HAN YI-AN (Nam Joo-hyuk) who’s a star swimmer. Eun-byul seems to reciprocate his feelings too, but she acts all abrasive on top.
However, all is not well with our Eun-bi, because even the one place where she stays happy and safe, Love’s House, has now been sabotaged by her bullies, who come in with the pretext of community service. Community service?! My foot!
So-young manipulates the situation and Eun-bi gets enraged and attacks her. However, So-young plays the part of the victim, and poor Eun-bi is pointed out as the one at fault and is going to face punishment.
Just as the situation gets dire, Eun-byul sees something in the bathroom and screams in horror. Next, we cut to all her friends worriedly trying to contact Eun-byul who has gone missing ever since. Even Yi-an is distracted and ends up not participating in the race. Mom angrily faces off with Teacher Kim (Lee Pil-mo, yay!).
Meanwhile, our innocent Eun-bi gets expelled from school. She dejectedly attends the last day of her school. Even on the last day of school, the hapless Eun-bi gets bullied. Tired and depressed with her life, Eun-bi runs out of school without even completing her last day.
Then we cut to Eun-bi falling in water, wearing the sweatshirt which ‘Mom’ sent to her as a present (though it was Eun-byul who actually sent the message).
And we see the message which Eun-bi has crafter on her bench—“Goodbye friends.”
Episode 2 opens with Mom Mi-kyung telling us that Eun-byul has been missing since ten days. Poor Mom runs from pillar to post searching for her daughter. My blood literally boiled when a jerk speaking on a mobile phone simply chucks the Missing Poster which Mom handed him to the ground.
Then we cut back to the moment when Eun-byul jumped inside the water and we see that a hand caught her and pulled her up, though we don’t know who it is yet. Hmm, could it be Eun-byul?
And then, Mom gets a phone call saying that Eun-byul is actually in a hospital and is recovering. But we know that it’s not Eun-byul and that it’s actually Eun-bi. However, Eun-bi fails to recognise her (because she doesn’t know her). Then the doctor reveals that she’s suffering from trauma-induced amnesia and has lost all of her memories. *sigh*
It turns out that the last person Eun-byul met before disappearing was Yi-an. However, nobody knows that it’s him. All that they know is that she’d met a boy and fought with him. The ‘fight’ was actually about Eun-byul pushing him away saying that they are no longer the same persons as they were when they were kids (they both knew each other since they were children.)
Enter GONG TAE-GWANG (Yook Sung-jae), a fellow schoolmate of Eun-byul who, for some strange reason, is in a hospital. He seems to be the teenage Spiderman, as he climbs down the hospital using a rope, ignoring the nurse’s hysteric screams. He also recognizes Eun-bi and thinking that she’s Eun-byul, he waves at her.
But his rope slips. Eun-bi rushes out, concerned, only to see that he has landed safely on the ground. Tae-gwang is also quite friendly with Song-joo. They both meet, and that’s how Song-joo gets to know that Eun-bi is in the hospital.
When Yi-an runs into Eun-bi, he’s shocked that she doesn’t recognize him. In turn, his pointed stares make her nervous.
Yi-an: “If your heart takes a step back, mine takes a step forward.”
He moves and pulls her into a hug saying that all that matters to him is that she’s safe. (Seriously, can he get any more adorable than this?!) Eun-bi, however, gives off an extreme reaction and tries to pull away. Song-joo arrives in time to deflect the situation and frees Eun-bi and explains Yi-an about the amnesia.
Our poor Eun-bi happily thinks that the three of them must have been good friends. Yi-an and Song-joo vehemently deny and find it even stranger that the normally prickly Eun-byul is acting so cheerful.
Eun-bi goes home with her Mom. She almost comes across Eun-byul’s notebook in her room, where there’s a photo of Love’s House. But Mom calls out for her, and perhaps disaster has been averted.
Next, Tae-gwang returns to school, and he doesn’t seem to be much liked by the other kids. However, a guy who looks like a bully decides to avoid having a face-off with Tae-gwang. Something seems fishy about this!
Eun-bi doesn’t get off to a great start either, and news of her amnesia spreads throughout the school and is greeted mostly with scepticism. However, Song-joo and Shi-jin stand firmly with their friend.
(For convenience’s sake, I’ll switching from calling Eun-bi as Eun-byul sometimes. But we all know that she’s one and the same and is only Eun-bi.)
Meanwhile, Tae-gwang gets into a fight with the previous bully CHOI DOO-SHIK.
He silently accepts the punch that Doo-shik hands him and leaves without saying a word. His eyes meet Eun-byul’s and she finally recognizes him as the Spiderman boy she saw the other day.
The Vice Principal instructs Teacher Kim to keep an eye on Eun-byul’s class, and especially on her and Tae-gwang. He specifically mentions that he shouldn’t let them ‘talk’. My Suspicion-O-Meter has started spinning wildly! There’s got to be something behind this!
Eun-bi gets flashbacks of her previous school which are triggered by the constant back-biting of her new schoolmates. The parents’ group tries to throw Eun-byul out of the elite studying group, and are lead by none other than Shi-jin’s mom. A test is conducted and Eun-bi manages to come first. Whew!
I think that Eun-byul and her posse were the bullies of this school, because when Doo-shik invites them for some underage party, Song-joo calls SEO YEONG-EUN (Kim Bora) their wallet! Oh noes!
Looks like Tae-gwang isn’t any ordinary kid, because his dad is GONG JAE-HO, the School’s Director. But he isn’t the Dad of the Year, because Tae-gwang and he seem to have quite a rocky relationship with each other.
Meanwhile, we get to see the polar opposite of the relationship between Tae-gwang and Jae-ho, as Yi-an lovingly cooks for his dad. Tae-gwang confronts his dad about lying in the newspaper that he only wants the kids in his school to stay happy. Seriously, dad? Your expression doesn’t convey the message, though!
The kids in question are caught in an underage party, and Teacher Kim comes to their rescue and agrees to pay up the fine. Later, we see that he’s not as cool as he shows off, because he actually cries for his lost money! Hehe!
Eun-byul tries to apologise to Yeong-eun and says that she’ll compensate her for paying the bill. But Yeong-eun scoffs at the idea, thinking that Eun-byul is just putting on a show of being amnesic.
Meanwhile, the police arrive at Yeong-eun’s place at her mother’s request, because of a theft. Her mother reported the maid for stealing jewellery.
The next day at school, Eun-bi tries different combinations for her locker, but none of them work. When Eun-bi asks about Yeong-eun, none of them know or care about whyshe hasn’t come to school yet.
Turns out that Yeong-eun is being interrogated by the police about the jewellery case as she was seen selling them to a pawn shop on camera.
The next thing we see, the Dean bursts into Eun-bi’s class and orders her to open her locker. Since Eun-bi doesn’t know the combination, Tae-gwang offers her a helping hand and breaks the lock open for her. Searching inside reveals a beautiful piece of jewellery that turn out to be Yeong-eun’s mother’s.
Teacher Kim looks at her in disbelief and starts to say something (either question or reprimand her, I don’t know!). but our hero-of-the-day Yi-an cuts in and grabs her hand and leads her out of the class.
I really like this drama. Putting the usual K-drama tropes aside, I find the actors refreshing and actually acting.
Eun-bi and Eun-byul have got to be the most interesting pair of twins I’ve ever met. They have completely varying personalities—one being a bully and the other being bullied.
The first two episodes were pretty dark and are a complete throwback to the usual light heartedness and emotion of the School franchise. But at this stage, it’s kinda acceptable, I guess. I mean, the drama’s got to set the tone and introduce the characters as they are, after all! The story’s definitely engaging, though. I’m expecting the drama to lighten up from the next week onwards, but let’s wait and see. I have this really bad habit of falling in love with a drama at first sight, wade through all the dramatic moments without losing hope, and then being utterly disappointed in the end!
I sincerely hope that School 2015 will live up to it’s expectations!
Yi-an is also an interesting character, because I love his relationship with his dad. They are friendly with each other, and I mentioned earlier, I really swallow up stuff like healthy parent-child relationships. Everything else about him is also good, but I don’t find him that appealing. But then, it might be because I’m more inclined Eun-bi with “someone else” *wink wink*
On cue, Tae-gwang is an interesting case study. He’s the usual K-Drama Hero material—abrasive and rude on top, but actually a little boy who craves for love inside. His I-hate-my-dad-coz-he’s-wrong thing is also something that’s been repeated quite a lot of times. This has been an oft repeated theme for most of the chaebol heroes in dramaland, where the heroine heals our mentally fucked up hero. But then, Yook Sung-jae still manages to actually pull me in and feel the pain of his character which, in itself, is a miracle! I think he’s more compatible with Eun-bi than Yi-an.
The suspense is something that I really am eating up. I mean, where is the real Eun-byul? What’s her history with that mysterious texter?
Kim So-hyun, Nam Joo-hyuk and Yook Sung-jae are doing stellar jobs and are living their roles. And of course, they’re also supported by excellent actors such as Lee Pil-mo (I love him more since his Emergency Couple and Pinoccio days.) Most of the times, though the story is interesting, the actors fail to do justice to it. But these young actors are one reason why I’m rooting to this show through and through.
And, of course, there are many other reasons for loving this drama.
But the main reason that I love the School series is that at one point of time or the other, we all can’t help but miss the lost innocence of our old selves, and the carefree lives that we used to live.