Itaewon Class is a strange amalgamation of dramatic revenge saga and entrepreneurial journey of a man. Ultimately, it’s a satisfying, heart tugging and emotionally thrilling journey of a righteous man. The show is based on a popular webtoon and has gained lots of love from viewers and critics alike.
It stars Park Seo Joon as Park Sae Roy, a man who is full of determination and strong moral values. He loses his father because of a bigshot businessman Jang Dae Hee (Yoo Jae Myung) and his son Jang Geun Won (Ahn Bo Hyun) and is imprisoned. He makes it his aim to bring down the father-son duo. In the process, he finds friends, love and true meaning of being successful.
Itaewon Class benefits from a well written hero Park Sae Roy. He is so determined, principled, compassionate and a bit naive that you can’t help but root for him. One can feel each and every rough patch that he has been through in life and can admire his positivity towards reaching his goal. It’s icing on the cake that it is played by Park Seo Joon, who sinks his teeth into the role.
And of course, Kim Da Mi as Jo Yi Seo is simply superlative. She infuses the drama with her energy and charm. Yi Seo is extremely weird — she is practical and brutally honest, but also caring and has a good heart. Of course, she is immature but she is also cunning, in a good way. She is brave and gutsy. Totally unpredictable and yet we know her. Over the years, we see her grow.
I never expected romance between the two main leads, so yes, since I’m a sucker for ‘this-show-is-not-about-romance’ romances, I was rooting for Sae Roy and Yi Seo throughout with all my heart. Keeping the romance part aside, it’s their scenes together as friends and colleagues that always touched me.
I loved the Danbam team and their step by step victories. Apart from the hero and the heroine, the team consist of an ex-convict, a black character and a transgender character. Kudos to the drama for representing characters that are rarely or almost never seen in dramaland. The show provides an important lesson about turning your life around if you are determined. Everyone’s life is valuable in this world and one can always bring light to their dark life with resolution and hard work. Also, it’s the people and their love which brings true success and happiness in life. I slow clapped so many times throughout the drama’s run. The camaraderie is exceptional.
Each and every character has a space and importance. I also liked Kang Min Jung, who remained a constant support system to our hero and also her relation with ex-cop Oh Byung Hun and his daughter. I also admired the complete story arc between school bully Geun Won and the fellow classmate and victim Lee Ho Jin and how in the end the tables were turned between the two.
I do think the drama became very dramatic at times with its over the top villains. It was a weird juxtaposition with the hero’s underdog journey. Also, the drama quotient reaches a very high level in the last two episodes, which was unnecessary and jarring. The 180 degree change in Jang Geun Soo also felt like coming out of left field. Kim Dong Hee does bring good emotions to the role. Oh Soo Ah was also a boring character in the drama. I know she was flawed and it was great that finally she could make a choice but overall, it was a dull character. Nara performs it well though.
Also, I would have liked if we could see how Danbam finally became so successful instead of seeing the final result through a time jump. I was enjoying the success stories and struggles of the team.
The soundtrack of the show is brilliant, capturing all the feels perfectly. Lee Joo Young as Ma Hyun Yi is amazing, and Ryu Kyung Soo as Choi Seung Kwon brings humour and heart to his role. Chris Lyon as Tony is also good. Yoo Jae Myung is perfect in the role of the main bad guy and after watching Ahn Ho Byun as a caring second lead in Her Private Life, it was unbelievable to see him as the unreasonable bad guy here. His performance is really good. Son Hyun Joo as Park Sae Royi’s father makes this show much more effective. Their scenes ❤️.
I’m glad Itaewon Class brought back the feeling of ‘can’t wait for next episode’ for me after a very long time. It is a superb show with heart and compassion. I wish the ending stretch was as good.
My Rating: 9 out of 10