“King of High School” (Korean Drama) Review
‘King of High School’ aka ‘High School King of Savvy’ is one of my favourite “noona” dramas and [in my not so humble opinion] totally underrated.
- Seo In-Guk as Lee Min-Seok/Lee Hyung-Seok
- Lee Ha-Na as Jung Soo-Young
- Lee Soo-Hyuk as Yoo Jin-Woo
- Lee Yeol-Eum as Jung Yoo-Ah
The King of High School
Lee Min-Seok (Seo In-Guk) is a 18-year old high school student. Due to his talents as a Ice Hockey player for the school team he is somewhat of a star athlete .
Becoming orphans as children, Min-Seok and his 9-year older brother Hyung-Seok (also portrayed by Seo In-Guk) were subsequently raised by his family’s former chauffeur.
The chauffeur now runs a laundromat and also takes care of his elderly father, who is suffering with dementia. Min-Seok refers to the two as his father and grandfather, and they treat each other like family.
Growing up, Min-Seok and Hyung-Seok increasingly started to look alike. As a result, they would often get mistaken as twins, despite their 9-year age gap.
Their similarities, however, start and end with their outward appearances. When it comes to their personalities, they are as different as could possibly be.
For instance, Min-Seok is carefree, athletic, and his school grades always left a lot of room for improvement. Meanwhile Hyung-Seok was a stellar student with many a scholarship, including ones that allowed him to study abroad.
Being older, Hyung-Seok struggled more than Min-Seok to adjust to their new life after the passing of their parents.
A brothers request
After years abroad and now in his late twenties, Hyung-Seok (Seo In-Guk) has finally accepted a job in Korea and is coming back to stay. Having made a name for himself within the sales industry, he is well on his way to a successful future.
While his father goes all out preparing for Hyung-Seok’s arrival, Min-Seok is less enthused. Despite their occasional contact over the years, their difference in personality has erected a bit of a wall between them.
To Min-Seok’s surprise, he receives a cryptic call on the day Hyung-Seok is scheduled to return. In short, his brother asks him without much explanation to take his place as director at COMFO, his new workplace.
Although initially totally against it, Min-Seok caves after his brother insistently begs him for this favour.
Skipping school and even the occasional hockey practice, Min-Seok consequently manages to keep up the ruse of impersonating his brother. With his easygoing and friendly personality, he soon wins the affection of his co-workers.
With Min-Seok’s arrival at COMFO, things start to slowly change for the people he interacts with. Not inhibited by some of the restrains that his new co-workers may be feeling due to their experience as adults in the workplace, Min-Seok goes his own way. Even while impersonating his brother, he remains true to himself and the simple way he looks at life in general.
While in disguise, Min-Seok gets to know Jung Soo-Young, who works as a secretary within the same company.
But what starts out as curiosity on his part towards her and fun teasing slowly turns into something deeper. Never one to back down, Min-Seok faces these new emotions head-on. As a result he goes about figuring out the meaning of this emotional roller-coaster he suddenly finds himself on.
The Queen of Savvy
Jung Soo-Young (Lee Ha-Na) is a secretary known to her COMFO co-workers as diligent, hardworking and frugal. Although only in her late twenties, her actions and mannerisms often make her seem older than that.
Soo-Young’s Dad passed away and her Mom runs a bungee jumping place in a rural area some distance away from the city.
When it came time for her younger sister Jung Yoo-Ah (Lee Yeol-Eum) to enter high school, Soo-Young took her to live with her in the city and became responsible for her.
Despite their 10-year age gap and Yoo-Ah’s occasional immature behaviour, the two sisters get along well.
For years now, Soo-Young has carried a torch for Yoo Jin-Woo, one of the directors at COMFO.
After secretly dreaming that he will one day notice her, it finally seems like he might actually be returning her feelings.
So when new director Hyung-Seok [Min-Seok] enters the company and finds out about her secret crush, Soo-Young is mortified. Specially since he keeps teasing her and creating awkward situations where she can be alone with Jin-Woo.
Yoo Jin-Woo (Lee Soo-Hyuk) works as a director at COMFO.
While his good looks make him a favourite among the ladies, his cool and collected business behaviour have earned him the respect of his male and female co-workers alike.
However, Jin-Woo’s smiling face and calm demeanour hide the fact that he is struggling to overcome a childhood trauma and family secret.
As a result of this struggle, he often turns cold and manipulative to obtain something he wants from people. Almost like a child throwing a tantrum because he did not get his favourite toy.
Being a “noona drama”, ‘King of High School’ may perhaps not be your cup of tea. [For those unfamiliar with the term “noona drama”: It describes a K-drama revolving around the romantic relationship between a older female & younger male.]
For me, however, this was not a deterrent.
I appreciated how the writers actually took the time to go into the turmoil a female would likely experience when finding herself involved with a man much her junior. Realizing the day to day struggles such a relationship would inevitably face, regardless of the depth of the feelings of both people involved.
Most importantly, although the main leads obviously go through outward changes as time passes, they are not being ‘made over’ for the sake of fitting some standard. No bibbidi-bobbidi-boo Cinderella moment here.
The gradual and minimum changes in appearances of the characters are due to the new experiences they go through. In conclusion, they seem very natural as the essence of their characters stay the same. ***happy sigh***
Min-Seok’s best friends, portrayed by Kang Ki-Young & Lee Tae-Hwan, are the male version of Kim Bok-Joo’s friends in ‘Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-Joo’. Firstly, Kang Ki-Young is one of my favourite scene stealers. In other words, he always leaves a memorable impression on me, no matter how small his role in a drama may be. Lee Tae-Hwan equally knows how to give life to his characters and make them his own. Secondly, their acting combined with the natural chemistry between these two and Seo In-Guk certainly sold me completely on their close friendship.
Meanwhile, Jo Han-Chul & Kim Won-Hae are comedic gold in their roles as Hyung-Seok’s superiors at COMFO. Initially the only ones aware that it is actually Min-Seok working there, their character’s panicked yet hilarious actions make for many a good laugh.
Moreover, Kwon Seong-Deok in the role of Min-Seok’s grandpa melted my heart. His portrayal as an elderly suffering dementia was spot on and in addition, his close relationship with Min-Seok truly heartwarming.
In conclusion, it is no secret that one special essence of K-dramas is their soundtrack (OST). Truly living up to it’s name OST (Original Soundtrack), songs are handpicked for each drama to go with the storyline. ‘King of High School’ was certainly no exception. The song that caught my
eye ear especially was ‘Fluttering Heart’ by ‘Honey G’. What an accurate name for a song which lyrics and melody had exactly that effect on me.
And so with that, as always,
until we drama again.