Who are you in High School 2015?

A KDrama overview for KBS' "Who Are You: School 2015" (후아유: 학교 2015)

Official poster from KBS


The legendary School series of KBS is back.

Since its launch in 1999, KBS’ School series has been a platform to introduced emerging young actors who eventually turned into Hallyu stars. The long list includes Ha Ji-won, Jo In-Sung, Yang Dong-geun, Lee Jong-suk, and Kim Woo-bin.

This year, the series was led by the up and coming actress, Kim So Hyun. She is a familiar face for kdrama fans since she’s frequently seen in drama series as the younger version of the female leads. And she always proved her acting prowess in her every role.

Though the latest School series franchise depicts a more dramatized version of high school life, it still explored different facets of the vulnerable teenage life.

So, if the plot and Kim So Hyun herself wasn’t enough to be intrigued with this drama, then I’ll give you more reasons why “Who are you: School 2015” is the youth drama to beat this year.

[WARNING: spoilers ahead!!!]


Are you Lee Shi Jin or Park Min Joon?



Let me start off with these two characters. They’re not the lead but they are the most relatable characters especially to the age demographic of this drama’s target audience; relatable in the sense that one may have experience either Shin Jin or Min Joon’s teenage ordeal.

Lee Shi Jin (played by Lee Cho Jee), just like any ordinary student, worries of not knowing what she wants to do after high school. And her woes are what make her character appealing to youths. In that age, one is still unsure of what path he/she should take. Though Shi Jin only gets a little character development by the end of the drama, she still deserves a mention for representing the first life crossroads that ultimately happens among youths.

On the other hand, the class president Park Min Joon’s (David Lee) life drama was somewhat of a far-cry from Shi Jin. Though both characters dealt with familial pressure, Min Joon’s mother was a bit on the harsher side. She wanted the best for his son; because of that goal she became blinded of how her expectations hurt Min Joon to the point that he almost killed himself. The scene where his father finds him at their apartment’s rooftop after a foiled suicide attempt was one of most heart-wrenching scenes in the series. His side story encompasses how familial expectations play a huge factor on youth’s decisions and actions.

(Side note: I really like seeing Shi Jin and Min Joon’s interaction in the drama. So, I was actually hoping that this two would end up together but much to my dismay they didn’t. “School 2015” writers, how could you?! They have so much potential for cute KDrama sub-couple!)

Are you Cha Song Joo or Kang So Young?



Friends. They will either make or break one’s teenage life. School 2015’s Cha Song Joo and Kang So Young represent two kinds of relationship one could make during high school.

Cha Song Joo (Kim Hee Jung) was introduced as a strong character in the start of the drama. She is the kind of friend you could lean on, one that would defend you and has loyalty. She values her friendship with Shi Jin and the main character Go Eun Byul (Kim So Hyun) the most. Though there were scenes where her doubts and insecurities were shown, she still chose to stick up for her friends. That kind of decisions makes her an admirable character.

A contrast to Song Joo’s character is the main antagonist of the series, Kang So Young (Jo Soo Hyang). Depicted as the school’s bully, she was the reason for Eun Bi’s suffering throughout the series. Despite of the evilness, the drama successfully showed interesting layers in So Young’s character. I have to admit though that So Young deserved a better character resolution compared to what she gets by the end of the drama.

Differences aside, both characters showed how important social acceptance and sense of belonging to teenagers are. 

Are you Gong Tae-gwang or Han Yi An?



A KDrama will be not complete without the male lead and second male lead characters. Gong Tae-gwang (BTOB’s Yook Soong Jae) and Han Yi An (Nam Joo Hyuk) successfully tugged the audience’s heart throughout the drama.

A typical bad boy-ish second lead. That will be one’s first impression of Gong Tae-gwang’s character. But there is more about the laidback school director’s son. As the story progress, Tae-gwang’s actions were justified by his paternal feud. Like every KDrama second lead, Tae-gwang surely stole the hearts of the audience. Soong Jae, an idol, proved his acting ability in this drama. He pulled-off Tae-gwang’s character effortlessly. His banter with Eun Bi was annoyingly cute and at the same time heart fluttering especially that scene where he was the first person calling Eun Bi her real name. Tae-gwang is one of those characters that you’ll like and root for.

Contrary to all the drama of Tae-gwang’s character is the male lead of the series, Ha Yi An. His character intensely straddled between being a typical nice guy and being boring. Yi An’s character, for me, was unexplored. Granted, there were really good moments in Yi An’s story. Like his good relationship with his dad (again, a total opposite of Tae-gwang) and there were also his moments with Eun Bi (who was then pretending to be Eun Byul) where he shown that he was slowly realizing that he liked her better than before. His scenes with Eun Bi actually solidified his position as the male lead. BUT, his struggle of understanding his own feelings when he finally discovered the Eun Bi-Eun Byul secret was totally lacking. It should have been a powerful bend in the story arc but ended up dull. There are a lot “more-of-this” and “less-of-that” suggestions going on in my mind as I watch how the story struggled to flesh-out Yi An’s character. This lack of “exploration” with Yi An made the audience root for Tae Gwang’s character instead.

But as much as I hate to admit this though, I’m one of the few who stayed loyal to the male lead Yi An until the end of the drama.

Don’t get me wrong, Tae gwang made me waver too. But this is one of those very unusual moments for me that I didn’t demand that the second lead should get the girl; maybe because I saw the writer’s intention from the start. I already realized the right pairing during the scene where Eun Byul told her best guy friend Yi An that they already grew apart and she wasn’t the girl she knew before. It was a closure Yi An didn’t understand because he was blinded of his supposed love to his best friend. It was also the scene where the writer (in my opinion) intended to end the Yi An-Eun Byul connection. So there you go, hate me for that but I felt that it was a natural progression of the story. The Yi An-Eun Bi pairing was planned from the start.

Ship debate aside, I actually find Yi An and Tae-gwang’s character atypical from a regular adolescent’s life. A regular high schooler will not find herself with two gorgeous boys, one his prince charming while the other his knight-shining armor. Despite of this fact, the drama still triumphantly accomplished to be a worthy successor of School series. In the end, “Who Are You” justified the need for another KDrama love triangle cliché.


Are Go Eun Byul or Lee Eun Bi?



Kim So Hyun already proved her acting prowess in her previous stints in major dramas. So it wasn’t surprising that she heavily carried the whole drama from start to finish. The drama series definitely left a good mark in her acting portfolio. Why? Because despite of the weaknesses in the story line, she made Go Eun Byul and Lee Eun Bi an unforgettable characters with her commanding portrayal.

Just like the other “Who Are You” cast, the separated twin’s character are also opposite of one another. Eun Byul is strong and independent whereas Eun Bi is kindhearted and dependent to people around her. Kim So Hyun perfectly showed distinction between the two characters through the way she act. I like how the story showed the different consequences in the decision Eun Bi and Eun Byul made. They are the kind of characters that aren’t so perfect and that made them seem more real. They failed at times but they face what life gave them. Eun Byul runaway at the start but she then came back to straight things right. Eun Bi lied but she then learned how saying a painful truth is better. It was an ongoing theme throughout the drama. It clearly depicted how youth should not be afraid to make mistakes. Eun Bi-Eun Byul characters showed how vulnerable to failures adolescents are but at the same time learns how to deal with them in their own unique ways.




Overall, “Who Are You? School 2015” isn’t a perfect Kdrama. It has its highs and lows. But this KDrama is surely one of this year’s series-you-shouldn’t-miss. Its sort-of mystery theme will keep you craving for the next episode. One will also find a character that hit close to their heart. So, if one would ask me if “Who Are You?” justified its branding as part of the legendary School series? It definitely is.

“18 years old...
It's too early to achieve your dreams but it's a perfect age to start those dreams.
It's painful when you fail but it's the perfect age to fall a hundred times and learn how to stand again. Because we're 18 years old... we live this day like it's our last.
We were able to love passionately and hate passionately too.
It's an awkward age when we are easily scarred.
Those years are the most painful and we go through so many hardships.
Nevertheless, once time has passed the reason why we can say that those were happy times is the memory of someone's warm hand that reached out to us when we fell.
Not any more or any less, but just one person.Approach a friend that's crying and say this to them:
‘Both you and I, no matter ordeal comes our way, we will get through it.’
It's okay if you're hurt… because you're 18 years old.”-          Lee Eun Bi, “Who Are You: School 2015” final episode


(All image use in this blog post are KBS copyright)

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2 comments:

  1. What an awesome review! I'm not usually into High School Dramas, so I skipped this one, but at least I got a good highlight/overview from reading your post. :D
    Also how AWESOME that we found another writer who also loves Kdramas! My co-author and I have written a Kdrama book about an American girl who falls for a chaebol and a K-Pop star. It's in the hands of Harper Collins, but we're trying to connect with other K-Fans to spread the word about its existence. So happy to have found your blog, and I look forward to checking out your work and your posts!

    Cheers,
    Devon
    www.devonandcornwall.wordpress.com

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    Replies
    1. Hi Devon! Thank you for stopping by in my blog :) It's hard to find novels that contain my other love - Asian drama. So I'm really excited for your book. Best of luck on young publishing endeavors this year :)

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