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Master of Study [KDrama]

2012/02/01

Irony is skiving on my studies to watch a drama about studying.  HO HO HO.

★★★★☆

Summary:

Master of Study (also known as God of Study) is a cathartic drama about aberrant lawyer Kang Suk Ho and his crusade to save his old high school, Byung Moon High.  A conglomerate (or something like that) wants to privatize BMH, which is struggling from lack of support, which is in turn partially due to its reputation as a “toilet school”.

A small part of the rejuvenation program is a special class with the goal of getting at least 5 students admitted to Chun Ha University (which only exists in this drama).  The class consists of charismatic 짱 Hwang Baek-hyun, brilliant but [once] lazy Kil Pool-ip, street dance maniac Hong Chan-du, bully magnet Oh Bong-gu, and Baek-hyun-빠 Na Hyun-jung.  They have their own set of teachers (Kang’s choice): homeroom assistant teacher Han Su-jung, math monk Cha Ki-bong, flamboyant ESL specialist Anthony Yang, cold reading language arts instructor Lee Eun-yu, and glossophobic science tutor Jang Yung-shik.

Review:

I like the drama’s story. It was simple, set up to be very unrealistic, and had a good ending.  Ahem.  Occasionally, some humor was thrown in.  The real focus was on the characters and how they related to each other.

Kang meets Baek-hyun first as a delivery boy.  Their relationship has a rocky start as Kang proceeds to give Baek-hyun a sound scolding about work ethic.  At school, they’re mildly surprised to see each other but get over it quickly and launch into an all-out verbal showdown in front of the whole school.  Kang investigates this arrogant young upstart (as well as other students) because he sees his school days self in Baek-hyun.  Yep, Kang has stalking skills… which is another thing he shares with Baek-hyun.  By the way.  Anyhow, this cutie of a Generation Xerox grows and matures under Kang’s iron mentorship and it’s absolutely endearing.  I just have one complaint: they should have put a cap on Yu Seung-ho’s cry scenes because it was borderline exploiting his cuteness.

I swear, the boys in this drama were like little puppies.  Yu Seung-ho’s resentful face and crying heartbroken-ly face, Lee Hyun-u’s tee hee face and kicked puppy face, and Lee Chan-ho’s regretful face and crying frustrated-ly face.  Your mileage may vary on Lee Chan-ho’s explosive bawling but I thought it conveyed Oh Bong Goo’s frustration very well.  I felt very sad.

Pool-ip is interesting.  She wants to study well but since she lives in a karaoke bar with her love-crazy mom, focusing is near impossible.  I wondered whether she was bipolar: the first side of her personality Kang sees is sullen and inwardly stormy but when she interacts with friends her age (physically or mentally), she transforms into a childish, optimistic girl, he-he-ing and everything.  I do think she should have a sweet side but Go Ah-sung overdoes the giggling, like many Korean actresses.  Pool-ip isn’t expressive and seems to prefer to prove that she cares through deeds and words than through emotional display.  This is in reaction to her overly expressive mom, whom she loves but doesn’t respect.

I liked Hyun-jung.  She starts out the fluffy, amusing character, browsing through boutiques one moment and getting chased off by Baek-hyun’s grandma the next.  Hyun-jung hides something under her bunny exterior for the first half but I knew to wait for it.  After some trials and confrontations, she drops the act and accepts herself, “gum-chewing” past* and all.

I liked how all the teachers came together to show their support for Hyun-jung, especially language arts teacher Lee and director Jang Ma-ri, who are polar opposites in personality.  Lee acts like she couldn’t care less but I SEE YOU DROPPING HINTS, IMPETUS LADY.  “Oh, hm, that girl is very sad and carrying a heavy burden.  Anyways.”  And then there was director Jang, trying to hide the fact that she joined the parent-student sleepover so that Hyun-jung wouldn’t have to be lonely.  Hilarity Ensues.

A lot of things happened in their school year, and I really enjoyed it.  The acting got cheesy at parts but OH EM GEE, LIGHTSABERS AND CG DRAGONS.  Yes, I only touched on a few of the highlights.  They also included little study tips that most people know but I like it.  It’s a very innocent drama (minus Hyun-jung’s non-pole-dancing-like pole dancing), maxing out the angst and the humor alternately and ending on a positive note.

*Apparently, chewing gum is code for running with a rough crowd because arrogant, rough people chew gum.  From now on, gum-chewers are the epitome of insolent rebels.  Sweet.

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