[HanCinema's Drama Review] "High School - Love On" Episode 4
By William Schwartz | Published on
A lot of fluff this time around, but it's difficult to complain when the drama does such a good job being cute. Kim Sae-ron in particular- there's just so many things in the human world that Seul-gi finds inherently fascinating and apparently has not yet seen before. It seems absurd on first thought, but on further reflection, it makes sense. I can't remember for the life of me the last time I ever actually saw someone chewing bubble gum in real life or on television.
For the sake of the greater plotline, though, this exploration of typical daily life doesn't do much to advance the story. In fact, some storyline relationships appear to have advanced a lot further than we've seen much evidence for. Woo-hyeon and Seong-yeol are, while not exactly friends, getting along a lot better than they were a couple episodes ago. "High School - Love On" appears to be setting up a showdown between the bullies and the main characters. Although it's hard to imagine how they even could have a showdown, given that the main characters are so non-confrontational. And when they do act proactive...
Well, that makes up the main dramatic impetus this episode, as well as setting up yet another infuriatingly last minute cliffhanger. I'm having trouble judging whether or not "High School - Love On" deserves to be censured for failing to be realistic. On the one end, the bully is telling a very obvious lie. On the other end, maybe the whole point of this is to establish that the teachers really are totally clueless insofar as the relationships between the students.
It's again very reminiscent of "Mourning Grave", with one important distinction- the teachers are actual characters here, with their own clearly defined motivation, and they aren't bad people, just oblivious. And this goes for matters way broader than anything the students can tell them. We discover a fairly unsurprising secret behind one of the bullies. Even as the boy in question is obviously a bad person, it's hard to ignore the fact that he's being failed by pretty much everyone who could possibly turn his behavior around.
The contrast with the girl bullies is pretty marked, given that they're at least capable of being civil for the sake of the boy they like. Although I can't help but I feel I'm giving this drama a bit too much credit. For the most part the story is moving in place with no clear conflict or resolution in sight. Now, for those of you watching mainly to watch Kim Sae-ron really sell the clueless angel in a human body persona, this shouldn't be a problem. In terms of message terms, though, "High School - Love On" is starting to wear out its welcome.
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 email@example.com. He also has a substack at williamschwartz.substack.com where he discusses the South Korean film industry in broader terms and takes suggestions for future movies to review.