A dramatically thrilling and fast-paced series reveals the lives of elite children and how the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.
An overconfident Attorney, Kim Moo Hyeok (Yoo Kyun Sang) takes on a seemingly simple case of attempted murder involving a student, falling prey to a larger scheme and losing everything. Enraged at being used as a pawn, he decides to go undercover at Chunmyung High School where truths and lies are revealed.
There’s a lot I could dish out but the plot twists and larger truths the drama reveals feel intense and shocking when you’re left in the dark, following Moo Hyeok on his trail of cookie crumbs. There’s a series of crimes and illegal activity taking place under the glossy and prestigious image of a top high school, and as fantastical and far-fetched the context may be, I’m still under the impression that a certain number of the crimes the drama portrays may be vey real and exist in schools today even if the scale is much smaller.
It’s obviously fictional but with something to take away from, since high school is when children transition to adults and are more vulnerable and volatile, becoming social prey that’s easily influenced and moulded into something toxic and dangerous. At the heart of it, the series is about high school students and how Moo Hyeok does in fact, become the Teacher these kids desperately need but there’s a lot of power politics and inequality at play here. Moo Hyeok realizes he’s trying to uncover an incident that’s more complicated and involving more influential individuals affiliated with the school, the web extending and travelling hierarchical upward.
This is probably my favourite role Yoo Kyun Sang has ever played, and he really does impress here with his depth. His character is arrogant but his arrogance lies in the simple fact that he’s good at what he does and earned it with merit. So as much as we’ve seen the ‘cocky Lawyer’ before, this one is slightly different and the sanest person in the entire show. Everyone else is out for blood, power, or interfering with his efforts to solve a case most people want to dismiss and throw under a rug.
I’m not a fan of how the drama has decided to write out and depict the main female leads since Geum Sae Rok as Ha So Hyeon at first, seems like an earnest Teacher who thinks of her students but quickly becomes hypocritical, annoying, and frankly….stupid. Her character is so emotionally driven that logic or reason are out the door and it’s her aggravating character makeup that become the foundations of conflict.
I’m pinning this as poor writing, because everything else about the show is quite impressive and feels intricate and well thought out. Choi Yu Hwa on the other hand, plays ace Prosecutor Cha Hyeon Jeong, Moo Hyeok’s rival. I was really rooting for her and thought she was levelheaded until the series kept on progressing while her character left me feeling hopeless at times or rolling my eyes. I’m praying that the Writers have some drastic character development or change in store but after seven episodes, I’m losing faith. Ha.
What keeps me rooted in my seat is the story itself and the genre components, as a mystery and legal series intersecting with high school, we get fresh material that’s entertaining and slightly more psychological since the children are parallels of their parents and the relationships they have as students in a classroom, reflect the relationship their parents have in the real world rife with money and power politics. It bids the question of whether the apple falling from the tree is rotten or not. Children are susceptible to become what their parents nurture them to be, but breaking the mould is still possible if someone like Moo Hyeok comes along and instills a sense of disillusionment. And it’s these moments that really make the series gripping. The sheer chaos that occurs within school walls is shocking and thrilling, making this feel like a hellish nightmare for both the protagonist and audience.
The show has it’s flaws clearly, especially where the female adult leads are concerned but I can’t complain about anything else it has done. I grit my teeth during certain scenes of poor writing but everything else is entertaining and more tasteful. The drama explores a different environment and setting for a mystery/legal series, stepping outside of government offices and law firms to think about an institute that shapes future generations but one that rarely gets noticed. The show grabs your attention from the very beginning, and as a really underrated series, it’s still worth checking out since the acting is solid with a story that progresses with plenty of twists and turns.
Release Date: July 17, 2019 (Eng Sub available on Viki)