Who Are You – School 2015

  • Title: 후아유 – 학교 2015 / Hooayoo – Hakgyo 2015
  • Also known as: 학교 6 (School 6)
  • Genre: School, youth, drama, mystery, romance
  • Episodes: 16
  • Broadcast network: KBS2
  • Broadcast period: 2015-Apr-27 to 2015-Jun-16
  • Air time: Monday & Tuesday 22:00

SYNOPSIS

This drama is a latest installment to the famed School Series. It will focus on portraying realistic issues, struggles, and dilemmas of today’s youths.

Lee Eun Bi, a student at Tongyeong Girls High School, through being bullied and hurt at the school, takes on her twin sister’s life uncovering what exactly happened to her twin. She goes to Segang High School in Seoul, her sister’s school. Coincidentally, Eun Bi’s old bully transfers to the school. Will things work out for Eun Bi? – Drama Wiki

CAST/CHARACTERS

Kim So Hyun as Go Eun Byul/Lee Eun Bi
I adore Kim So Hyun. She’s not only a cute girl, but she has the acting chops to back herself up. In School 2015, she stars as twins who were separated at birth. While Go Eun Byul was adopted by a well off family, Lee Eun Bi remained in the orphanage. Keep in mind – they did not know that they had a twin. Go Eun Byul lives her adopted life in guilt over pretending to be her twin (she wasn’t quite aware of Eun Bi) in order to be adopted. While Eun Byul lives the lavish life, Eun Bi is the complete opposite – poverty. Ironically, Eun Byul grows up to be spoiled with her nose a bit in the air and Eun Bi is a caring and nurturing soul who cares for the younger kids at the orphanage. Kim So Hyun is so astounding as both characters, with seemingly contrasting personalities, that I continued to watch each week, even though the drama did frustrate me to no end. She knows just how to play up the differences in both characters and emote perfectly in each scene.

Nam Joo Hyuk as Han Yi Ahn
Contrary to popular opinion, I like Nam Joo Hyuk as Han Yi Ahn. He wasn’t horrible, nor was he shockingly amazing. He was cute/good in Surplus Princess and Cheese in the Trap, a drama I will never do a review on because it became utter shit halfway through. I believe that this is where the writing fell apart. Han Yi Ahn is one of the most underdeveloped characters I have ever seen, especially for a lead character. It’s like the writer decided that he didn’t need development … at all. With that said, I still like the character because of the potential he had to be great. The only thing the writer did give us from Han Yi Ahn is his anger. I could’ve sworn I saw him get angry more than anything throughout the drama. I felt that as Gong Tae Kwang became more popular as a character, Han Yi Ahn’s character development stopped. And this is why dramas should be pre-produced and none of that live-shooting crap they like to do.

Yook Sung Jae as Gong Tae Kwang
Even though I subtly stated that Gong Tae Kwang’s popularity catapulted him to more screen time and character development, that doesn’t mean that I didn’t like the character. In fact, I loved what his character started out as – carefree/indifferent (exterior) with a lot of baggage (his father). I loved that he was always there for Eun Bi and he always just happened to be around when shit was going down. The problem with Tae Kwang came about near the end of the drama, at least to me, which I will get to in the bottom half of this review. With that said, Yook Sung Jae did do a marvelous job as Gong Tae Kwang. I am not denying that.

STORYLINE

The drama that nearly started a riot in 2015. While everyone was fighting over ships, I had a bigger problem with the writing. Everything started off so promising, too. They did get the suspense down and it quickly turned into some adolescent love triangle halfway through. Let’s do a simple story break down…

We start off with each sister’s respective lifestyle. Go Eun Byul is living the rich girl life While Lee Eun Bi is poverty stricken at the orphanage and the target of bullying. She didn’t used to be the shuttlecock. In fact, she became the shuttlecock after standing up for a fellow classmate. The leader of the bullies, Kang So Young, is hell-bent on ruining Eun Bi’s life for no reason. It goes so far that Eun Bi decides to take her own life and jumps off a bridge. She is, then, rescued by someone (who is later revealed to be Eun Byul). Meanwhile, Eun Byul has been receiving threatening messages related to the apparent suicide of a previous classmate. This causes her to be on edge all the damn time, resulting in her lashing out at her friends. Her childhood friend, Han Yi Ahn (the star swimmer), has had a crush on her since they were 8. He attempts to talk to Eun Byul in the midst of the school trip and she pretty much rejects him, stating that they aren’t the same as when they were kids. This is true. After being attacked in the bathroom stall, Go Eun Byul goes “missing.” But, in fact, she got scared and ran. She finds Eun Bi (yes she is aware of Eun Bi’s existence and is the only one that knows) and rescues her. This is the last we see of Eun Byul until the last leg of the drama. Eun Bi wakes up in the hospital, she hit her head, and has amnesia, a convenient and classic kdrama plot device. At the hospital, she has a small encounter with Gong Tae Kwang and Han Yi Ahn comes barreling into the hospital to find her. He finds her and is shocked that she has no memory of anything. So Eun Bi goes on to live life as Eun Byul without knowing her true identity … for about 3 episodes. I am glad they had her memories return sooner rather than later. While she lived as Eun Byul for those 3 episodes, she finally got to have what she’s always wanted – a loving mother and friends. Now that she knows who she really is, she’s overwrought with guilt and pain. She begins to get the threatening messages that Eun Byul received and decides to figure out what is going on. Meanwhile, an old enemy turns up at her school and it’s Kang So Young – resident mean girl/bully. So Young is shocked to see Eun Bi sitting there, alive and well. She then decides to make it her mission to reveal Eun Bi’s true identity. Girl has no life. So not only does Eun Bi have to worry about Eun Byul’s disappearance, she now has to worry about So Young.

Eun Bi continues to live as Eun Byul and the only one who knows, in the beginning, is Gong Tae Kwang because he happened to overhear So Young threaten Eun Bi. Yi Ahn, on the other hand, doesn’t find out until about half way through the drama, granted that he has a feeling that she’s not really Eun Byul. Throughout all of this, Eun Bi develops feelings for Yi Ahn while Tae Kwang develops feelings for Eun Bi. The jealousy/tension increases between Yi Ahn and Tae Kwang as they are constantly at battle for Eun Bi. Because a girl’s opinion means nothing!? While those two are stuck in that mode, Eun Bi tries her best to change herself for the better, which comes rather late but better late than never. When Yi Ahn finally does find out the truth, from her mouth, he doesn’t know what to do what that load of information. Granted he had an inkling that she was not Eun Byul, but to actually hear it and find out that his best friend had “died” is a lot to take. Everything comes to a halt when Yi Ahn gets hit by a car as he is running to save Eun Bi from So Young’s announcement to out Eun Bi’s identity. This puts his prospective swimming career to a halt and he has to deal with the ramifications of not being able to swim. They should’ve just made him either a basketball player or a track & field star. He does a heck of a lot of running in this drama and we all know that Nam Joo Hyuk is a good basketball player. He directs his anger and frustration to Eun Bi, which he has every right to be angry. He is angry that she didn’t tell him and angry that he has to say goodbye to his longtime friend; frustrated with the fact that he actually likes Eun Bi, rather than Eun Byul, and he doesn’t know how to deal. Ah youth! Despite Yi Ahn asking Eun Bi to leave him alone, she doesn’t and states that she will leave him alone if he starts rehabilitation for his arm. Yi Ahn begins to soften when he sees Eun Bi struggling with living as Eun Byul and realizes just how hard it was for her as well. Eun Bi gives Yi Ahn a medal as a good luck charm for his rehabilitation and he accepts it… sort of. Tae Kwang has his own troubles with living with his father and trying to help Eun Bi out as much as he can. He constantly becomes her white knight in dire situations with So Young. Now So Young, she’s the daughter of a powerful attorney and receives a lot of pressure from him to be the top dog in everything. Still, that’s not goddamn reason to torture your peers just because you have family issues and can’t take the pressure. It’s like she made it her sole priority to try and break Eun Bi. Bitch be bored as hell. She could be doing so much more with her free time. Eun Bi, eventually, grows a backbone and stands up for herself. At one point, she tells So Young to go ahead and reveal it all because that would mean that everything about her being the perpetrator would be true. Can So Young deal with the fact that she drove a fellow classmate to suicide? She dwells on it for a while and things are revealed when everyone at school finds out that So Young is the perpetrator. She blames Eun Bi, but we all know it wasn’t Eun Bi who did it.

Eun Byul comes back into the picture within the last 4-6 episodes or so. I forgot the exact time frame since it’s been about 9 months since I’ve seen the drama. She’s back, ready to stick up to So Young for Eun Bi, and stop running away from her problems. It turns out the threats directed at Eun Byul came from an old friend’s older sister. This old friend had died while having an asthmatic, I think, attack and left to die. Most of it was negligence on the school’s part and they covered it up. All of that gets resolved quickly and, quite frankly, I don’t really remember. She confronts Yi Ahn again and gauges that he likes Eun Bi. Things are become normal for them like the childhood friends they were, but with some tension of course. Girl, you can’t just come back into everyone’s lives and expect them to understand automatically without filling them in on the blanks that you so meticulously leave with no hints. Meanwhile, Tae Kwang’s father is arrested for covering up the incident and they work on mending their severely broken relationship. Tae Kwang also confesses about 3-4 times in the last two episodes, each time being rejected. Kang So Young is going to transfer schools and start anew. She doesn’t exactly apologize to Eun Bi, but Eun Bi says she forgives So Young like the awesome person she is. Like I said, everything gets resolved and both girls take some time for themselves. Eun Byul goes to study abroad to “find herself” and Eun Bi transfers school to do the same. Before Eun Bi leaves, Yi Ahn gives her back the good luck medal and tells her to give it back to him when she’s ready. Eun Bi eventually comes back, gives Yi Ahn the medal and it is assumed that she and Yi Ahn end up together.

I can’t remember every detail of the drama, but that’s the basic rundown … from my memory at least.

RELATIONSHIPS

Lee Eun Bi and Kang So Young
So Young literally had NO reason to bully Eun Bi other than the fact that Eun Bi stood up to her on behalf of another girl. When Eun Bi asks So Young why she was targeted, So Young merely answers “just because.” It’s safe for me to rant/say that I wanted to see So Young get hers 10 times over what she did to Eun Bi. But, I never got any of that! Eun Bi is truly a saint for forgiving So Young so easily, despite the fact that she was driven, by So Young, to commit suicide. I wanted to see So Young actually seek redemption for all the shit she did. I wanted to see revenge in the most unique way possible, without violence and bullying. The only person that So Young seemed to really fear was Eun Byul because she does not take her crap.

Go Eun Byul and Lee Eun Bi
I was sad to see that we got to see their sisterly moments so late into the drama. It was clear that Eun Byul felt so guilty towards Eun Bi for stealing the life that Eun Bi could’ve had. As awesome as Eun Byul was as a character, she is not without her flaws. She ran away from her problems and kind of left it to Eun Bi, who has no idea what the heck is going on.

Go Eun Byul and Han Yi Ahn
Could’ve been a classic story of childhood friends turned lovers. But, it was obvious that they weren’t the same happy-go-lucky children. Han Yi Ahn has been crushing on her since they were around 8 years old. However, as they grew older, they didn’t seem as close as they used to. Eun Byul never really let Yi Ahn in, due to the increasing panic and stress she was receiving from the guilt of her dead middle school friend and the constant stalkerish threats. And she was right, they are different people. It was obvious she kind of liked Yi Ahn, but by the time that came to light, it was too late – he had already fallen for Eun Bi.

Lee Eun Bi and Gong Tae Kwang
Second lead syndrome is strong in this one. He was stuck in that classic scenario where he did everything for the female lead only to not have his feelings returned. As much as I liked Tae Kwang, I did not like this pairing. Why? Because Eun Bi didn’t like Tae Kwang that way. It’s as simple as that. I’ve seen many arguments that Tae Kwang deserves her more or that he was the one to find out first about her true identity. SO? Just because he helped her out and knew about her first doesn’t mean he’s entitled to have her. The fact that he confessed 3-4 times in the last two episodes solidified my dislike for this pairing. She said no; what don’t you understand about the word “no.” Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had second lead syndrome countless of times but, for some reason, I didn’t feel it as strong here as I thought I would.

Lee Eun Bi and Han Yi Ahn
Contrary to popular opinion, this was the pairing I liked but it was poorly written. The writer should’ve delved deeper into Yi Ahn’s character development instead of short-siting him. If you want me to list reasons as to why I liked this pairing rather than EunKwang, it boils down to growth and I found them rather cute; plus the fact that they liked each other. Granted that Tae Kwang did help out Eun Bi a lot, but she only felt extreme gratitude and friendship for him.

Unexplored Relationships

Go Eun Byul and Gong Tae Kwang
The pairing I wish I knew more about. I want to know why Eun Byul found Tae Kwang so annoying. I think they would’ve made an interesting and entertaining couple/pair. Their relationship didn’t have to be romantic; it could’ve been just a strange bickering friendship. From the little screen time these two did have together, it was entertaining to see.

Han Yi Ahn and Gong Tae Kwang
THIS IS THE RELATIONSHIP/BROMANCE I WANTED TO SEE! Have you learned nothing from School 2013!? This is a school drama where friendships should be explored but the writer completely neglected the fact that friendships exist. I mean sure there were some friendship instances between the girls, but it was kind of minor. Minor to the point where I don’t remember a lot of it. The fact that Yi Ahn had what Tae Kwang always wanted, a relationship with his father, they could have bonded the entire time! This is a friendship that they could’ve written about instead of the stupid love triangle trope. We only managed to get a glimpse of what could have been and it was really nice to see.

OVERALL

I’m not going to deny that some portion of what made me upset with this drama was the shipping wars that went on as it was airing last year. It was such a headache to read through, granted I should have avoided reading such things. It’s just hard to resist, you know? Anyways, a large part of my dissatisfaction … again … comes from the writing. It started off as something so promising turned into a tug-of-war between two guys and a girl who just wanted start anew. How many times did they have to do the aggressive wrist grab? I would’ve been satisfied if she didn’t choose either guy. She kind of did choose herself in the end. Dramas with open endings always make me feel empty inside. While there were problems with the writing, I thought that it was shot beautifully. It was aesthetically pleasing and pretty to look at. It was also the first time where I thought the school uniform wasn’t ugly.

RATING
6.5 out of 10

This has been a Haejin review.

 


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