This post went through so many revisions before I finally settled on this topic, which, in all honesty, is 110% why I want you to watch School 2013.
School 2013, the first revival of the School series from the ’90s, is set in Classroom 2 of Seungri High School, the most problematic section in one of the worst high schools in Seoul. It revolves around (seemingly petty) teenager problems, and the conflicts teachers face when trying to help the students.
Lee Jong Suk plays Go Nam Soon, a “bullied” student with a gangster past, whose world turns upside down when Park Heung Soo (played by Kim Woo Bin) transfers into his school. Angst and anger and all sorts of feelings abound.
If you’re looking for a k-drama with zero romantic storylines, then School 2013 is for you! There’s a hint of having crushes within the classroom but they were given literally less than five minutes throughout the entire run of this drama. There’s definitely room for potential love lines between the kids, but well, not today.
5 K-Drama Clichés That Work in School 2013
5. Forced Cooperation
Nam Soon and Heung Soo often find themselves stuck together due to manipulative school teachers, crazy neighborhood thugs, and well, Physical Education.
4. Public Declarations of Love
LOL. To be fair, this declaration just happened once but it was soooooo cheesy that I had to put it in here.
3. Tearful Confrontations
Oh dear, they sure love their collar-grabbing scenes. HEH. Nam Soon and Heung Soo literally cannot keep their hands off each other during the latter part of the series. These confrontations mostly end up with crying scenes, too. Heh heh.
2. References to the Past
I loved how Nam Soon and Heung Soo did almost everything they used to do in the past – from ramen dates to escaping whoever it was running after them. Heh.
1. Happily Ever After!
Also known as the montage of happiness. Lol. In the case of School 2013, my favorite was that time they read manhwas and slept over and had to rush to school the next day HEE HEE. So adorable.
Hah, so there.
Let me just put this out first: Lee Jong Suk and Kim Woo Bin were absolutely amazing in this series. I’ve watched LJS in Pinocchio and W: Two Worlds, and KWB in The Heirs and in all those times I’ve been impressed. I slightly lowered my expectations since School 2013 was one of their earlier dramas, but it turned out this was unnecessary. THEY WERE STELLAR. Loved them.
I’m (a bit) sorry that this was mostly a bunch of unedited photos with barely any commentary, so let me just talk about the rest of the School 2013 universe (Nope, it did not just revolve around Nam Soon and Heung Soo, no matter how I may have made it seem that way. Lol.)
One of the main things that School 2013 talks about is The Teacher’s Dilemma: the question “How much should I involve myself in their lives?” recurs every so often with the adults in this series. Since I’ve never been an ~actual~ teacher, I was surprised to find myself relating to the struggles of the teachers in this series.
Do I just deliver the lessons as planned then leave it up to them? Surely if they had further concerns they’d take it up with me after class? (Spoiler: Even in real life, the students never do.) Do I make sure that each student gets the help they need, even when it means paying more attention to him than the rest of the class? Do I try to connect with them on a personal level or do I just let it go because it blurs the lines between student and teacher?
While this series doesn’t claim to have answers to those questions, the lead teachers, Jang In Jae and Kang Se Chan, from opposite ends of the teacher spectrum, somehow manage to make things work. I read somewhere (Dramabeans, probably) that they thought of making a love line between the two lead teachers, but ultimately decided against it. This makes the progress between them even better, because I think having a romantic relationship would somewhat decrease the significance of them trying to meet each other halfway.
School 2013 wasn’t also that cohesive, plot-wise. At times it seemed so slow but I guess that’s forgivable. Out of all the characters, I liked In Jae (the lead female teacher) least, because she was just so annoyingly optimistic/naive. Unfortunately, she’s one of the reasons why the plot moves along so I really can’t blame her character for being Manic Pixie Dream Girl-esque.
Visually, there’s also nothing much going for the show, but it’s okay I guess. It was kind of weird to see all the actors’ blemishes though. You could literally see the pores of Se Chan every time the camera closes up on him.
I also didn’t expect to relate that much to high school characters (which just goes to show how mature I am ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ HAHAHA) but School 2013 made sure to include the narrative of other children inside the classroom.
One student had the kind of mother who’d go complain to the school because her son had one mistake in the exams, and had the political clout to have it changed. Talk about helicopter moms.
There are also overachievers with all the advantages in life, a troubled bully with an even worse life at home, kids who slack off only to drink a cocktail of energy mixes during exams, bitchy girls who just want to marry an heir, thugs who secretly want to break out of the stereotype (LOL THIS SOUNDS LIKE HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL), gossip, petty drama and the works. Go. Go watch this show.
I must say that I really, really, really liked School 2013! If I were to rank the re-watchability of all the Korean dramas I’ve watched, then School 2013 would top that list. I could say it’s because of the plot but we’d both know I’d be lying. LOL.
Lee Jong Suk (#2) and Kim Woo Bin (#5) are both on My 5 Favorite Kdrama Men! Let me know who yours are, too. XD
If you want to read more about k-drama clichés, here’s a funny reddit post about them. Have fun laughing!