Saturday, November 9, 2013

It's a Good Thing That This is Fiction: School 2013...Reflection

I was going to write an actual review, but then it developed into...this. If you want anything slightly reminiscent of a review, I'm going to try and be a little more reviewer-y in a post that'll be uploaded next Saturday... (Update: Yeah, the "more reviewer-y" part's going to probably be a probably will just be another reflection - I prefer reflections over reviews, I think... Update: It was a lie in the sense that I didn't post anything for a Part 2.)

Summary (Viki)
High school is one of the most tumultuous, challenging times of anyone's life. The tough coursework, the turmoil, the power struggles, the crushes, and the unrequited love. Teachers Jung In Jae (Jang Na Ra) and Kang Se Chan (Daniel Choi) try to steer their students on the proper course. Classmates Go Nam Soon (Lee Jong Suk), Song Ha Kyung (Park Se Young), Lee Kang Joo (Ryu Hyo Young), Park Heung Soo (Kim Woo Bin), and Kim Min Ki (Choi Chang Yub) try to navigate the ups and downs and survive the challenges of high school. "School" is a South Korean drama series that follows the trials and tribulations of high school students.

The issues are real, but there is one main aspect of this show that I've realized that I would actually hate in real life...the characters.

I would even dislike this guy right here - even though he's part of why I started this Kdrama in the first place:

I'm sorry, Socky Tree Monkey! Don't cry, or you're going to make ME cry again!
The majority of the class focused on in this drama consists of students that I might not like if they were really students at my school. Honestly, I probably wouldn't even see some of them all that much. However, this is a fictional classroom. While the problems experienced by the students are rooted in issues faced by actual South Korean (and maybe American) students, this is a show that allows me into the stories of the students with whom I would be too intimidated or annoyed by to even converse.

This Kdrama also both helps and hinders the respect I have for my own teachers. Teachers have to work hard to make sure that we learn and prepare for the future. However, my teachers don't often try as hard to meddle and assist in our personal lives. They're there to teach, to provide behavioral examples, to prepare us for the responsibilities we will have to take later on in life. Unlike Teachers Jung and Kang, I doubt any of my teachers would go searching for me if I was outside the school and suspected of being in some sort of trouble or danger; a note would be sent home, I think. Well, I've never been put in such a situation, so I can only speculate that my school would just send home a note or try to contact my parents, like they do in any other situation.

Even if the comparison is made in terms of homeroom teachers, for me, it's still very different. In most South Korea, homeroom teachers are pretty much in charge. From the little that I've learned, their role is to discipline and counsel the students. All of the classes (except Physical Education, I'd expect) normally take place in the homeroom teacher's respective classroom. The period of "homeroom" is often both before and after the regular classes. Generally, homeroom teachers are responsible for students' behaviors and grades.

In the United States, homeroom teachers normally teach another class in addition to homeroom. Unless I have that teacher in another class of mine, I'm not likely to see them anywhere else in school besides the hallways. Personally, the director of the band at my high school is my homeroom teacher, and I see him often due to rehearsals, weekly lessons, and the music class and other ensemble that I am a part of. He works hard to make sure that the concerts and most of the music-related events here are planned out and well-prepared for. He also assists in the fundraising and in Tri-M Music Honor Society. (Well, of course, the other directors have a part in all of this as well, but they're not my homeroom teacher, so I'm not really going to ramble about them as well.) I know he cares, but he - nor any other teacher - would go to the extent that Jung Seonsangnim and Kang Seonsangnim would for us...

...even if Kang Seonsangnim is more reluctant to do so at first, being somewhat similar to the instructors here, and the modern interpretation of his position in general... His teaching is grade-driven, and he doesn't want to be too involved in his students' lives, although for him, the latter has more to do with his semi-compelling past.

But that's just part of our society. We have more of a legal boundary between the students' private lives and the teachers' intervention; sure, the teachers can intervene when needed, but they wouldn't likely go searching for a group of rabble-rousing students if a student said the group was fighting. They wouldn't then accompany the students to the police station, say that one of them will serve as the students' guardian, and then take them out to eat and discuss.

The homeroom teachers in the Republic of Korea just seem to be allowed more of a reach into the lives of the students.

However, I don't really deserve to judge the different teaching standards; I don't know how many South Korean homeroom teachers are like Jung In Jae, or how many are like Kang Se Chan, or how many are a combination or rejection of the two.

I'm just a fangirling teenager who wants to give Go Nam Soon, Kim Min Ki, Park Heung Soo, Oh Jung Ho, Han Young Woo - seriously, almost the entire freaking class, when I think about it - a hug. And my tears of sympathy.

Then I remember something: there is a small number of the students in Classroom 2-2 that I could befriend.

Is Go Nam Soon one of the most adorable characters to ever grace my computer screen? Yes.

Is his bromance with Park Heung Soo a relationship that not only made me squeal but also tear up a little? In a rare admission, both the former and the latter deserve a "yes." (Honestly, before I started watching Korean movies and dramas, it was very difficult to get me to cry. The Kingdom Hearts video game series had to make an eight-year-old me think that Goofy was dead.)

Just STOP you two...Okay, no, I don't really want you to, never mind.
Nevertheless, if students similar to these two were in any of my classes - which *joking condescention* is highly unlikely :P - if I didn't care about how much these two went through, I would despise them. Go Nam Soon, stop sleeping in class!

Aish...and Oh Jung Ho, if he didn't practically break my heart with his situation, I would want to flip his desk over every time he bullied his peers or disrupted the classroom! The same thing goes for his little lackeys, Lee Yi Kyung and Lee Ji Hoon. I'm not one of the brightest students, trust me, but I at least respect (most of) the people around me at school...

Even the better students in the classroom are people I might not be friends with. I would want to slap the girls who keep trying to spread rumors about their classmates and just act mean. At the very least, I'd be very envious of Song Ha Kyung and Kim Min Ki, as they represent the students who are a little above me. Then, although I really want to comfort Kim Min Ki, I'm just awkward at that sort of thing when I'm in public. Song Ha Kyung and Kim Min Ki might be a little more likely to be my friends than the other high-ish-scoring students, though.

Ohhhh, there's another powerful picture that is related to
this one, but it would be a bit of a spoiler...darn.
There's another student who's kind of on the higher side of the classroom's grade spectrum, at least by the end. Lee Kang Joo is a bit of a conflict for me. She and Song Ha Kyung have an interesting, if somewhat unexplored, friendship, and the devotion she has to her friends, the reservations she has as a result, and her realistic brightness makes for a good friend. In these ways, Lee Kang Joo is partially comparable to some of my own friends. I give her personality an A+ in personal appeal.

The reason it wasn't very easy for me to warm up to her, I think, was the fact that something about her voice irritated me a little. However, I probably could get used to it over time. (But it's not that compelling of an incentive to want the series extended; it's really kind of a dumb one...)

Song Ha Kyung and Lee Kang Joo - and Kim Min Ki - each embody most of the general traits I've noticed within my social circle. The three of them care about school; they don't want the people surrounding them to be disappointed or malicious towards them (really, who does?); Lee Kang Joo and Kim Min Ki care about their peers, and Song Ha Kyung grows to partially do the same. I think that if these three weren't fictional, and if they walked into one of my classes one day, they'd be more "friend-material" for me than most of the people I've semi-discussed so far. 

Then, there's Han Young Woo, the student with some sort of disability who is really only a major plot point for the first two episodes before becoming an occasional outlet for the show's leftover innocence.


He's at the bottom of the class, but his character is one of dependence, naivete, and vulnerability that I'd be fine with helping out if he (unlikely) was in one of my classes. I've been friends with similar peers in the past, so *shrug* maybe I could be with him, too. (Don't mistake me; sadly, I'm not one of those help-all kids. Friends say I'm helpful and nice, but - ha ha ha - not at the same, community level as others are or as I'd sometimes prefer to be.)

Okay, this post isn't really going anywhere, is it?

I'm mainly just comparing little things about the world of School 2013 and my own, I guess.

Now, part of me is thinking that I should write about the bullying and suicidal issues. But I wouldn't be saying anything that hasn't already been said a million times, whether the speakers are referring to this drama or not... I'm going to sound really mean for what I'm about to type, but there's nothing original I can bring to the discussions of suicide and bullying. There's really not. (Well, this turned depressing quickly...)

WARNING: PESSIMISM AND SPOILERS AHEAD (The spoilers will be marked specifically)

The bullying did irritate me. It's prevalent everywhere, and it ends up as a haunting force for the aggressors and the victims, and also the bystanders. So "Take a Stand" against bullies and repeat everything that has been advocated on television, the internet and in a vast majority of schools. Some people will listen, some people will not.

This girl likely will not:

In some cases, it's just because those of us who physically, mentally, or verbally assault our peers sometimes don't even truly realize (or care) if any wrongdoing's being done. 

(They=parents and teachers,
but mainly referring to parents in this context)
Yes, there are signs, commercials, conventions and TV episodes devoted to raising awareness, and there are people that may change as a result. However, not everyone is like Lee Ji Hoon:

***Kind of SPOILER...***
He came to realize that he wouldn't go anywhere good in life if he didn't try, and turned himself from a bully's henchmen to a friend who tries to change the dark future he and his buddies are headed towards.
  *END OF Kind of SPOILER*

But not everyone can make a successful shift like this character does.

Not everyone can survive the trials of high school, as evidenced by the rising teenage suicidal rates all over the globe, with South Korea having an infamously high rate itself. There's more pressure placed on modern young people now to take responsibility for not only their families in some cases, but for their own future as well.

Kim Min Ki almost did succumb to his desire to rid himself of his mother's push for him to continue on a path that, however financially beneficial, he did not want.


I saw his attempt coming, and I had a little bit of trouble getting a steady breathing pattern back as he stood atop the roof of the school, ready to step out of the seemingly hopeless possibilities his life held. But at least he didn't. 

All too often, though, there are those who succeed in giving up on life. They felt like they had no Teacher Jung. 


Now, I could repeat that same cliche from those ads directed at the ones (more specifically, the LGBT community) who don't have a bright outlook on their current and future lives: "It gets better." But that would just be one more act of repetition that still doesn't reach the minds of too many people.

I know this seems mean. I'm aware that it's a very pessimistic view on these two topics. I apologize for that.

It can get better, though. I don't want to sound like a broken record. But don't take that jump.

Now, I should probably end on a happier note, shouldn't I?

Let's get some of the bromance in for a cute ending, because that's the aspect that the creators of School 2013 put the most time
Don't forget the cutey-cutey gifs!
Ah, sweet irony...
Ah, you know what? I've barely done anything about the awesomeness that is Teacher Kang in this post. He deserves a gif, too.

I am Kang Seonsangnim. The ball is also me. The action is my life. :P

Hopefully, that helped end this on a better note than before, despite the lack of conjunction of the post :)


(gif URLs in order: 

No comments:

Post a Comment