First Impressions ~ School 2015: Who Are You? episodes 1-4
Did you ever start watching a drama because of its soundtrack? To be more precise, did you ever start watching a drama during its pilot airing period only because the first part of its soundtrack tempted you enough to do so? Well, this is what happened to me with School 2015. Tiger JK is the epitome of South Korean hip hop. Nowadays even your second or third league “oppa” can rap, but to inhale and exhale hip hop requires an even further potential and lots of heart and soul alongside flows and skills. To be honest, Tiger JK’s “Reset” alongside Jinsil of Mad Soul Child was a good enough reason to trust a drama in which such a wonderful artist managed to partake with one of his compositions and truth be told, i was pleasantly surprised with everything i witnessed during the first 4 episodes.
If the first OST part wasn’t enough, Baechigi‘s “Fly with the Wind” alongside Punch came to complete the puzzle in my mind with its purity of emotion and heartfelt melodies you usually find in older dramas. If you tell me you didn’t whistle along to the tune or at least didn’t try to do so, trust me, i won’t believe you, it’s so addictive in the most positive and captivating sense of getting addicted to something that you simply pace along; willingly disarmed. I deeply hope the next soundtrack compositions will be highly representative of the quality and emotional grandeur the first two OST parts possess, enriching even more the drama’s ambiance and completing its emotionally fortified vibes.
Many renowned actors and actresses who eventually welcomed fame in their lives have graduated from the School series in the not so recent past. The drama’s revival began with School 2013 and here we are now with its 2015 version which didn’t start pretty well when it comes to the world of ratings, leaving me wondering why. Actually, i am quite impressed with the way the drama is flowing and it has all the delicious characteristics one could ask for in the very beginning of a brand new series. Gladly enough, the 4th episode managed to achieve School 2015’s best ratings for now (4.9%) and i deeply wish it will reach higher peaks in the near future, after all it deserves it.
Lee Eun Bi (Kim So Hyun) is a kind and gracious girl who’s been living at Love’s House orphanage for many years, but life seems to have turned its back on her even though she’s like a maternal figure and major support to the younger children of the orphanage. High school is a living hell for her where she’s being mistreated and bullied quite often by a part of her classmates while the rest, including the teachers, turn a blind eye on the overall situation. After all she’s a girl from an orphanage, right? Why should they care while leading easy lives? Kang So Young (Jo Soo Hyang) is the offspring of a rich family and she simply doesn’t like anything that has to do with Eun Bi, along with her bullying peasants they constantly ruin a young girl’s life without facing any consequences. On the contrary, Eun Bi who’s working 3 part-time jobs in order to survive is the one to be found guilty and in the end decides to put an end to her life after she got expelled from school.
Go Eun Byul (Kim So Hyun) is a popular girl at her high school and along with her best friends, Lee Shi Jin (Lee Cho Hee) and Cha Song Joo (Kim Hee Jung), they have formed their own faction. Occasionally they hang out with Seo Young Eun (Kim Bo Ra), not because they consider her a friend, she’s more like the public wallet of her class. Han Yi Ahn (Nam Joo Hyuk) has known Eun Byul since they were little and at the present both of them share mutual feelings for each other, but high school love isn’t easy. There’s a girl from the past, Soo In, who used to be friends with Eun Byul and she keeps haunting her up to these days and on a school trip Eun Byul disappears without any notice under mysterious circumstances. Before disappearing her behavior was quite different and she wasn’t getting along with her own friends, even Yi Ahn wasn’t able to decipher neither her great mood swings nor the hurt on her neck the previous night.
Eun Byul was aware of her twin sister’s presence who is no other than Eun Bi and she was occasionally buying her presents and sending her letters. The day Eun Bi decided to put an end to her life someone managed to save her and Song Mi Gyeong (Jeon Mi Sun), Eun Byul’s mother was informed that her daughter had been found. Eun Bi wakes up at the hospital, but she can’t recall anything prior to her awakening. Amnesia sets its own course and she can’t do otherwise but accept the woman who appears in front of her as her mother and the youngsters who visit her as her friends and classmates. Gradually a different life starts unveiling itself in front of Eun Bi under different parameters inside the sphere of the unknown struggling to recall memories that were not her own in the first place and eventually remembering everything that connects her to the past.
Kim So Hyun whom we witnessed recently as Choi Eun Seol in her guest appearance in The Girl Who Sees Scents is astonishing here as she finds herself in the middle of two roles, quite demanding, right? She depicts with distinctive prowess the different yet connected worlds of Eun Bi and Eun Byul and makes the differentiating characteristics and concerns of both characters shine differently upon the same face. And as the storyline progresses it becomes more apparent, especially now that Eun Bi will no longer be Eun Bi, but Eun Byul with Eun Bi’s different personality in Eun Byul’s absence as she tries to establish herself within her new reality. Both Eun Byul and Eun Bi’s past come to haunt her at the present with the ghost of Soo In wandering around and Kang So Young’s shade rising above her anew.
There are many characteristic figures, but the most memorable ones have to be Kong Tae Gwang (Yook Sung Jae), teacher Kim Joon Seok (Lee Pil Mo), Han Yi Ahn, Kang So Young, Seo Young Eun, Song Mi Gyeong, Kwon Gi Tae (Park Doo Shik), Cha Song Joo and Lee Shi Jin. Lee Pil Mo is a great actor and chances are high you will find him in at least one airing drama right after the previous one he was working on has finished airing. He never fails to make me laugh with his quirky yet serious attitude and he’s great as a teacher here in School 2015! Kang So Young is one of these young girls you would never like to be around you, especially when you are not a friend of hers. She’s got her rich family’s shoulders to rely upon and she can do pretty much anything she wants to, even if it has to do with traumatizing another young soul for no apparent reason. Her presence in Eun Bi’s new classroom will definitely cause more discomfort and i am really curious how everything will flow, one thing is for certain, there’s going to be tension. Jo Soo Hyuang is doing an exceptional work as a spoiled and arrogant bully! Kwon Gi Tae is a troublemaker and he’s got his own team of subordinates! He ofter gets into fights, especially with Tae Gwang whose world is quirky and he couldn’t care less if he gets beaten up and this enrages Gi Tae even more!
You can’t help it but feel for Seo Young Eun. She’s not exactly being mistreated, but she’s forced, one way or another, to exchange her loneliness with reliant friendship with her mother’s pocket. She’s a broken figure craving for sincere relationships with young people her age and since she can’t have them she can pretend to be living a nightmare in the form of a dream. I would like to see more of her in the future episodes and if she’s related to Eun Bi’s disappearance. Song Mi Gyeong is Eun Bi’s mother and she went through hell until she found her daughter anew. Her universe collapsed once again the moment she found out her daughter isn’t actually her own, but Eun Byul who looks exactly like Eun Bi. At the utter resemblance’s presence she’s willing to keep Eun Byul under the Eun Bi moniker. Eun Byul has a more lively and heartfelt approach on Mi Gyeong and it’s more than apparent that she finds comfort in that even though her daughter is not there. I can’t wait to see how this relationship evolves in the future since they are two strangers and under all these circumstances they have started knowing each other under a mother-daughter relationship.
Cha Song Joo and Lee Shi Jin are Eun Bi’s closest friends with the first one dreaming of becoming an idol one day and the second one struggling to be representative of her mother’s ambitions when it comes to her daughter. Song Joo is a more vibrant figure and Shi Jin a more restrained and concerned one, both of them have started witnessing different aspects of Eun Byul’s character that weren’t existent before her amnesiac shock. We have yet to find out how their relationship will flow with Eun Bi as an undercover Eun Byul and if there’s a relation of anyone of them to Eun Byul’s vanishing. Han Yi Ahn is a swimming athlete who has earned lots of medals and he’s his school’s leading swimming brigade that often puts him into trouble with his arrogant sunbaes. His feelings for Eun Byul are pretty strong and he craves for her presence in his life, but before getting disappeared the way she treated him had already changed and now he’s trying to get closer to her anew in order to preserve their previous status and why not, make it flow in a more affectionate way. Nam Joo Hyuk is pretty good as Yi Ahn and he never fails to depict his figure’s emotional trials between his love for his hard working father, the school’s demands and his own ambitions when it comes to his love for water and in the middle of all these stands Eun Byul who’s the center of his world since they were little.
I kept the best for the end! Of course i am referring to Kong Tae Gwang and what can i say about this figure?! Yook Sung Jae was pretty good in Plus Nine Boys, but he owns quite a lot in School 2015! He’s not only the quirky figure that delivers wholeheartedly tones of fun through his hilarious moments and his carefree and come what may spirit! Tae Gwang has a lot of depth as a character and possesses a rather interesting background full of heartache as a figure that immersed in childhood trauma due to his parents’ divorce and the tough words he had to encounter while he was still too young for his fragile soul to manage. On top of that, his father isn’t quite helpful and everything he preserves on the surface as the school’s principal doesn’t apply to his own son when reality shows its real face behind the scenes. His mother, Song Hee Young, is a public figure and an actress and soon enough her third marriage will take place. As for his father, Tae Gwang isn’t “a problematic child that should be embraced”, he’s just a problematic child that should had been sent to a mental institution, a place Tae Gwang has visited quite often.
I’m definitely looking forward to learning more about Sung Jae’s character in School 2015 and as you might already have guess, i deeply ship his blooming relationship with Eun Byul! They have a weird sense of chemistry and while “lying” to each other they can be pretty much more honest than they are to themselves or anybody else. Yi Ahn is a pretty cool dude, but Tae Gwang has lots of heart and soul behind his quirky surface whenever we reach his cracked internal world. Eun Byul and Tae Gwang didn’t have the best of relations and they weren’t even friends, but Eun Bi as Eun Byul can approach Tae Gwang differently, with another sense of caring he had never embraced in his life before. So, i do ship them and i hope Yi Ahn won’t ruin my dreams of Eun Byul and Tae Gwang ending up together, even though he might end up brokenhearted. Please, let this time the second lead leave with the girl!
School 2015 deals with the most palpable aspects of bullying in a school student’s life in a more pragmatic way than Angry Mom, which is exceptional as well in its very own way. But it’s not only about presenting a few characteristics of bullying and its abhorrent results in one’s life, there’s also the way parents affect education and students’ lives, especially when they wield power or they work as a united punch. There’s also intrigue and mystery when it comes to what actually happened to Eun Bi and what’s her connection to Soo In; what happened in the past and what happens at the present? Of course, there’s the renowned birth secret technique South Korean dramas use often and it couldn’t be missing.
There are many questions craving for answers, but we are only at the very beginning of School 2015 and i can’t wait to dive even more in this drama’s world which unexpectedly turned me into one of its loyal citizens! In addition, i like the cinematography, it depicts the characters in a highly representative way with all the closeups and it manages to place them pretty well in the surrounding environment through angles and perspectives that increase the visualization capacities of School 2015. You have to love the documentary oriented aspects or the narrative tone that make their appearance at times when various figures partaking in the drama share their point of view as a more vibrant part of the story. School 2015 is intense and it’s funny and it has all these little hidden feels you want to get rid of, but you willingly keep deep inside like seeds waiting to blossom in the future. At that point you will regret the moment you kept them inside because you will have reached the point of no return, you simply have to keep watching and that’s what i intend to do!
PS. I started writing this article yesterday, but today the third part of the soundtrack made its appearance! You know it’s high quality when you notice the name of the artist, it’s Yoon Mi Rae and you simply dive deeper to find out that it was worth doing so!