School 2013 ~ Review
“There is no flower that would bloom without being shaken.
All the pretty flowers in this world,
They all bloom while being shaken.
While being shaken, the flower straightens its stem.
There is no love that would leave without being shaken.
Where is there a flower that would bloom without being whipped?
All the shining flowers in this world,
They all bloom while being whipped.
While being whipped by the wind and rain,
The flower petals bloom warmly.”
Truth be told, i am not the greatest fan of high school dramas/movies unless the storyline, the cast and/or peripheral reasons attract me in the first place. I started watching School 2015: Who Are You? because of Tiger JK‘s song and got captivated by the drama itself eventually. After it reached the end i could only move towards School 2013‘s direction and it was a wise decision since it was different from School 2015, but definitely awesome in its very own way.
I don’t have much to say about the storyline itself in terms of a synopsis since School 2013 is one of these dramas you experience to the fullest by simply watching and eventually breathing through it. Everything takes place at Seungri High School where nothing works the way it should when it comes to the students’ grades. Everything is being presented through the prism of the 2nd grade’s 2nd class with the teacher being no other than Jung In Jae (Jang Na Ra). Shortly after and under a variety of circumstances she will have to be accompanied by Kang Se Chan (Daniel Choi) in this twofold teaching journey inside the rough sea of knowledge.
The whole classroom is a deceiving wilderness where nothing is the way it appears to be. Everyone has a distinctive personality and collisions are unavoidable inside a vicious circle of teachers, students and parents. Go Nam Soon (Lee Jong Suk) and the rest students of the classroom are constantly being bullied by Oh Jung Ho (Kwak Jung Wook) and his underlings while Song Ha Kyung (Park Se Young) tries to surpass herself in order to appeal to her mother’s ambitions. The whole ambiance started changing once Park Heung Soo (Kim Woo Bin) appeared as the new transfer student.
School 2013 shines through the absence of parental love which is being presented through personal ambitions imposed upon the students or through indifference and violence which are being mentally or physically inflicted upon adolescent souls still searching for the door leading towards adulthood. There are exemplary parents out there, but School 2013 emphasizes on the dark side of the moon when it comes to parenthood and the way it overshadows a child’s personality.
A parent’s point of view may not necessarily pace with a child’s dreams and there’s excessive pressure in strict opposition to a child’s opinion. There are students who are being forced to blindly obey their parents’ orders while freedom of speech is drowning in a sea of apathy simply because the parent neither intends to listen to any other point of view nor wants to delve deeply into a child’s internal world. It’s a form of mental abuse many neglect, but it is there with unpredictable aftereffects for the student and the parent.
The parents are not that present as concrete figures throughout the drama even though some of them appear at some points and visualize everything they preserve. They are mainly the emotional extension of their children’s personalities which are the ones we witness solely and through their interactions simply because School 2013 is a drama giving voice to the students and the teachers inside a school environment and outside of it. A parent doesn’t always have to be present to witness his personality since everything’s being masterfully reflected through the students’ thoughts and/or actions.
School 2013 isn’t afraid to touch a wide variety of fragile aspects taking place during one’s adolescence, but the most important part of the story is that it dives deeper than expected and in a meaningful and captivating way. Romance is of utter importance in a student’s life, it’s during one’s high school years when the heart flutters with more passion, but School 2013 managed to attain perfection without presenting this side which would probably make it appear as one of the many high school dramas out there.
The drama is based on many peripheral pounding cores which consist of its very soul and essence; youth and how to approach it. Bullying may appear as one of the drama’s main aspects, but it’s not there as a social phenomenon only. It is the vehicle that will lead us to the meaning of friendship, solidarity and understanding, but it is present so that we’ll get to see bullying through many angles. The victim’s side is the most crystal clear of all, diving into the perpetrator’s psyche is always more complicated and School 2013 emphasizes on that.
Bullying doesn’t only concern the victim and the perpetrator, it’s also about how a third party will approach it in order to work things out without making everything more complicated without solving anything. There are many third parties involved and School 2013 does justice in its overall presentation whether it’s being seen through the prism of the teachers, the school director, the rest of the students, the parents or altogether eventually. Without romanticizing the circumstances, but diving into this raging torrent, the drama achieves a raw yet heartfelt presentation of an already multifaceted societal plague.
Some of the most meaningful and beautiful friendships are being forged during the high school years. However, just because adolescence is an unpredictable factor itself, a moment of carelessness is enough to question and eventually bring to ruin a precious state of the heart which is no other than a blooming friendship. School 2013 doesn’t necessarily present the birth of such relationships, it shows the end of the line, but it maintains its weight on how a seemingly withered flower can quench its thirst and blossom anew through turbulence and reminiscence.
Youth is one of the most fertile grounds which can suffer death countless times, but rebirth is always omnipresent on the horizon and no matter how deep the wound may appear, it can get healed. School 2013 is a healing process not only for the students, but for the teachers as well because it’s these waves that define them and once they surpass them the experience will be there for the next turmoil. It’s not only about teaching and deciding the method that will make a student successful in terms of grades, it’s also about making a student successful in life concerning things adults usually ignore, but are precious to adolescents and human beings in addition.
School 2013 nurtures a teacher’s very soul and essence all along the way by presenting two opposite approaches and the more the interactions progress the more both of them start resembling one another without neglecting their own starting point and personality. The more the drama moves on the more the one half of the classroom leaves behind the faceless tutor-oriented aspect while the second half becomes more conceptional. One could say that Se Chan worked on the minds of the students whereas In Jae on their souls and through these interactions both of them learned how to progress characteristics that weren’t supposed to be their forte in the first place.
A student-teacher relationship isn’t always an easy one and no matter how hard a teacher may try, being accepted by the students is never a given. It’s an ongoing heartfelt struggle, especially when the teacher has to go against the school’s rules and regulations in order to preserve a humane and meaningful approach that could lead towards an insightful solution. Punishment doesn’t solve things, especially when it fails to make everyone involved understand what went wrong and how it could change since it appears as a vengeful method and eventually makes the waters more stagnant.
Understanding the hardships of a student isn’t an easy task, especially when the student doesn’t want to open up his/her heart. School 2013 presents the hardships and concerns of a student, but also a teacher’s approach as it’s being presented through a variety of figures full of different opinions. It also reflects how the title of a teacher remains just an etiquette at the end of the day if the figure doesn’t embrace it wholeheartedly. The signs of a forthcoming tragedy are there and a moment of laxity could inevitably leave its own trauma upon many people. Guilt, regret and disappointment are there, but not giving up no matter how awry things may get is one of School 2013’s greatest values.
An adolescent’s personality is ductile like play dough and solitude and silence are a student’s worst enemies with unpredictable upshots. School 2013 depicts how preconception and wrongful accusations can lead to misunderstandings, but trust comes to the foreground and receiving help from where you would least expect it is always an option. Pusillanimity and inner strength are in an ongoing collision for righteousness to overwhelm any obstacle in order to keep the youthful fountains flowing.
School 2013 is poignant when the past haunts back at the present, but it’s beauteous in its very own way once the attempts for a brighter future based on tighter foundations start taking shape before our very eyes. Nobody said it was going to be easy, but it’s worth trying no matter how unpredictable the future may appear. It’s all about these personal trials where the judge and the defendant are no other than one’s self in front of the mirror inside School 2013’s multifaceted reflective world.
Even though School 2013 emphasizes on indoors shooting, it has its fair share of outdoors scenes. Despite being a drama taking place inside many four walls and a school environment to be more precise, it’s not a task one could easily accomplish. It’s because of the aforementioned reasons that School 2013’s cinematography is exemplary since it manages to maintain the audience’s interest at the highest levels while visualizing the characters’ internal world through a wide variety of angles and in comparison to others’ feelings without the surrounding environment making the whole ambiance repetitive. School 2013’s directing and cinematography attempt a sense of expressive minimalism through emotional pluralism and succeed in it.
School 2013 is being adorned by exceptional performances full of distinctive personalities and sincere emotional eruptions and soothing lakes within. Our sextet of main figures is beyond expectations, you simply become a part of their different worlds solely and through interactions. One could say that Jang Na Ra‘s character, Jung In Jae, was romantically naive and too much of an idealist, but isn’t it essential for someone to be a dreamer in order to maintain his/her humane side inside a cruel reality? Jang Na Ra was exemplary as a teacher in the way her character progressed and she was astonishing in each and every step In Jae had to make inside many crossroads and underpasses. Through every smile, whether it was a shattered or a blooming one, and through every tear, whether it was filled with joy or despair, you could see through her the art of being strong and fragile at the same time.
One could say that Daniel Choi‘s character, Kang Se Chan, was too much of a formalist, but isn’t it essential for someone to be a realist in order not to be cornered by reality’s remorseless shape? Daniel Choi was simply amazing in the way he gave life to Kang Se Chan by gradually letting emotion overrun his veins anew in order not to get absorbed too much by reality and neglect his students’ internal side which was searching for answers inside a chaotic maelstrom of questions. In combination with Jang Na Ra, they preserved to the fullest a teacher’s twofold path showing that it’s not always easy for one person to walk upon both pathways in a highly representative way. However, it’s worth trying, not only for themselves, but for their students too.
Lee Jong Suk and Kim Woo Bin managed to allure the audience through one of the finest bromance presentations and both of them were shining as Nam Soon and Heung Soo all along the way, solely, but especially together. Kim Woo Bin was the missing link between the drama’s opening part and the way it progressed since his character brought turmoil inside the classroom’s daily routine and he was the necessary salt and pepper for the recipe to reach completion.
The ongoing present and the flashbacks were filling the overall atmosphere with tremendous amounts of feels and both of them were unerring through bliss and heartache. It’s one of these moment when chemistry reaches new heights. Kim Woo Bin‘s tranquil and eruptive whenever needed temperament was captivating, but for the exact same reason Lee Jong Suk was equally masterful in his own presentation with both of them completing one another as they were glimmering in the darkness or making the light even more dazzling depending on the occasion.
Park Se Young was highly representative as Ha Gyung, the classroom’s first student who was filled with ambitions that were never hers in the first place. Righteous and thoughtful in her own way, but overburdened by her mother’s enforced point of view, Ha Gyung was the personification of many students. On the contrary, Kwak Jung Wook was magnificent as Jung Ho, the ultimate fear of his classroom, but just like all that glitters isn’t gold it doesn’t mean that everything that’s buried in the mud couldn’t be a rough diamond. There was a fragile core hiding inside a garden of thorns which was no other than his defensive shell that had its own impact upon others, but also to himself.
And here come our secondary figures! Who can forget the meaningful grandeur of Uhm Force (Eom Hyo Seop) and the insightful hilariousness of Jo Bong Soo (Yun Ju Sang)? As for the students? Each and every one of them had his/her own characteristics and they managed to present distinctive personalities! The playful and talented Lee Gang Joo (Ryo Hyo Young) as Ha Gyung’s closest friend, the introvert and pressured Kim Min Ki (Choi Chang Yub), the quirky Byun Ki Deok (Kim Young Choon) and Kim Dong Seok, the heartfelt outcast Han Young Woo (Kim Chang Hwan), the neurotic and ambitious Gil Eun Hye and Nam Kyung Min, the impulsive yet considerate underlings of Eun Ho, Lee Ji Hoon and Lee Yi Kyung, the introvert Kye Na Ri (Jeon Soo Jin) and the enthusiastic Shin Hye Sun among others.
Except for the glimmering stars that were shining on their own and through a wide variety of interactions, School 2013’s acting front line was its powerful duets. Many of the characters had been structured in such a way so that they’d fully unfold their weaknesses and grandeur while presented back to back and/or in groups. It’s a technique that requires intriguing screenwriting and moving interpretations and both factors were successful to the extent of enrapturing the audience.
School 2013 is probably the finest sculptured visualization of a high school drama as it places both students and teachers at its center and everything else derives from two so different yet ever-interacting worlds. School 2013 is youth’s ever-changing portrait in the making, full of timbres, mistakes, improvidence, ideas, emotions and dynamics, but for the exact same reasons it is a teacher’s ongoing journey in the vast sea of adolescence in search of conjunctive islands.