We're literally dealing with a life-and-death situation at the beginning of the episode and even though Seul-gi knows the stakes, when the danger's passed she immediately turns into flippant how does this compare to television mode. It's discomforting to realize that Seul-gi sees this situation the exact same way we do. Yeah it would be bad if her friend died but Seul-gi's not actually scared just wants to get to the next part of the story. It's to the credit of Kim Sae-ron that this actually manages to come off as cute instead of grotesquely weird. Well, maybe a little bit of both.
Consequently, this episode we also see Seul-gi become the target of bullies, though she manages to take the hits well enough. Now, to be perfectly clear- the situation is still horribly unpleasant for Seul-gi. The other girls are clearly mean, vindictive people, and Seul-gi is obviously hurt even if she never debases herself by doing anything as weak as crying. Still, Seul-gi never gives up. More because Seul-gi doesn't know any better than because of any actual heroic traits, but whatever works.
Thematically the episode deals more with class consciousness. It's very clear that the social hierarchy in the school and elsewhere is based on the premise of familial wealth. The teens with parents capable of providing and defending for their children are the ones at the top. The less fortunate teens whose families have financial problems are the ones who bear the brunt of the damage for being different. In this context it's no wonder Seul-gi's in trouble- she literally fell from the sky and acts like a total weirdo.
It's fortunate that "High School - Love On" has enough of a cute factor to undercut the seriousness of the broader social issues discussed. Even at her worst moments Seul-gi never deviates from the basic nature of her personality. She continues to be goofy, and this adds some much needed comic relief in a narrative that's structured in such a way that it could become horribly depressing at any minute.
As of yet, the only real complaint I can make about "High School - Love On" is that it doesn't seem to be going anywhere storywise. Woo-hyeon is still poor, Seong-yeol is still rude, the kids at school are still mean, and nothing in the immediate sense looks likely to change that. Even the question of Seul-gi's fall from grace only progresses very slowly. Still, everything else about the production is strong enough that I'm willing to give the drama the benefit of the doubt in the patience department.
Review by William Schwartz
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "High School - Love On" Episode 3"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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