Review: Itaewon Class 이태원 클라쓰 (2020) – South Korea
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Season 1 – 16 Episodes
Reviewed by Andrew Chan (Film Critics Circle of Australia)
One of the most talked about K-drama “Itaewon Class” delivers the good on a promising storyline, interesting plot line, intriguing characters and rags to riches story in the most unbelievable yet fascinating manner. This is a good drama from start to finish and if not for a sightly over the top ending, this is still easily one of the best K-drama of 2020 thus far. What makes “IC” so successful is the manner it goes about relevant transgender issues, social injustice, racism. This is a successful series that goes deeper into class differences, power struggles, and injustice, not just relevant in Korea, but anywhere in the world right now.
Park Seo-joon plays the ex-convict with grand ambitions that opens a pub in Itaewon after the tragic death of his father (played wonderfully by Son Hyun-joo). Park is steadfast and stoic in his presence and manages to hold the series together from start to finish. Together with Kim Da-mi (“The Witch”), the duo goes from rags to riches through the typical ups and downs and hiccups along the way. Kim is a consistent performer here and manages to shines in difficult scenes as well as an unpredictable personality to play with. Kwon Na-ra (from K-pop group “Hello Venus”) manages to totally shred her sexy image to turn in an excellent matured performance as one of the top executive in the competing and well established restaurant group that is torn between her long term love for Park and her company’s role. Likewise the rest of the ensemble cast is outstanding and full of life, namely the transgender chef (played by Lee Joo-young), the ex-gangster turned waiter with a good heart (played by Ryu Kyung-soo) and a rare foreign role played by Chris Lyon with some good comic timing.
Veteran villain Yoo Jae-myung (“Reply 1988”) is simply outstanding as the prime person to hate as the all powerful CEO of “Jangga Group”. Yoo have sensational presence, underlying evil and totally over powering with corruption and everything that you can imagine as Lord Action would say “power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. Ahn Bo-hyun plays the older son and supposedly successor to “Jangga” who does everything possible to make himself a total failure in life and work. Kim Dong-hee makes a good character study in a difficult role as the “bastard” son of Yoo.
All in all, “Itaewon Class” is film distribution Showbox’s first venture into the small screen and through Director Kim Sung-yoon, they have crafted something incredibly fresh, relevant and pressing topics deeply buried within a polished production and good acting all-round. One of the reason why “IC” is so successful is that there is really something for everyone, whether you are at crossroads in your life, love, career and ambitions, there is a Park Seo-joon in all of us and probably a good modern role model to aspire to. In the state of the world right now, “hope” is probably the word to transcend and “Itaewon Class” brings out the best of the aforementioned word.
I rated it 9/10