KoHSLC: Episode 1 Recap and Review
Wed Jul 02 2014

KoHSLC: Episode 1 Recap and Review

Is King of High School Life Conduct as much of a hot mess as all of its English title translations, or is it reason #526 to build a shrine to Seo In Guk?
Reason #525
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Recap

The drama opens by establishing Lee Min Suk's character as a corporate rockstar. He arrives to the office via helicopter, wearing sunglasses and a three-piece suit and is immediately flocked by a group of grateful ahjussis who, despite their age, fawn over Min Suk like fangirls. However, Min Suk doesn't have time to exchange more than basic pleasantries before his assistant, Jung Soo Young, intervenes to keep him on schedule. After all, aren't the most important men also the busiest? He takes a limo to a photo-op with the company's president where he is once again congratulated on his work and is even given a bouquet of flowers. As his dutiful assistant discretely leans over to remind him of his appointments, the viewer can't help but wonder what could be more important than a meeting with the head of his company. The absurd answer turns out to be a school exam. As he haphazardly sheds his suit and changes into a school uniform, the change in Min Suk's demeanor is comically apparent. No longer in the guise of a confident and competent business man, Min Suk looks and behaves like any other sloppy teenager. He even forgets to bring his pencil bag.
Now that the drama has introduced its basic concept, we get to see how the characters got themselves into such a ridiculous situation in the first place. Min Suk is now just a normal high schooler playing a not-so-friendly game of hockey. Another player trips Min Suk who, in contrast to the cool, mature alter ego he will eventually adopt completely loses his temper and must be dragged to the locker room. After a scolding from the hockey coach, Min Suk gets a call from his father, who tells him that his look-alike older brother Hyung Suk will unexpectedly be returning from Germany that night.
Meanwhile, Soo Young has been given the enviable task of delivering a document to the good-looking Director Yoo Jin Woo. When she arrives at his office, he's in the middle of a heated phone call. He holds up a piece of paper and wordlessly instructs her to read it aloud. Jin Woo's script casts her as a secretary who must inform him of the Chairman's displeasure about whatever deal he's discussing on the phone. It's all part of a scheme to get out of a contract. Impressed with her acting, Jin Woo informs her that their teams will be having a dinner together later that evening and that she should be there. Soo Young mistakes this polite conversation for romantic interest and promptly begins reading up on pheromones.
Temptress Soo Young
While Soo Young plots her seduction, Min Suk's family waits for Hyung Suk's return. Min Suk believes that his brother has blown them off and gets into a fight with his father who is still believes his son will return. Min Suk's father scolds him for thinking so badly of Hyung Suk, and Min Suk lashes out, insinuating that people take advantage of his father because he is too kind. He says that his father raised two children who weren't his own, and should have just raised one instead since Hyung Suk is so ungrateful.
At the company dinner, Soo Young mistakes Jin Woo's loss of balance for a signal that he wants her to follow him to the bathroom. To be fair, he doesn't seem at all surprised to see her standing in the men's room. After yet another zany mishap, Soo Young ends up confessing her feelings to Jin Woo who does not reciprocate. He's blunt, but not unkind about it. Distraught, Soo Young ends up going on a bender. At one point she drunk dials Jin Woo with a phone she borrows from Min Suk (who just happens to be nearby), who gleefully watches her embarrass herself. The joke's on Min Suk though, because she ends up leaving and taking the phone with her. In order to get it back, Min Suk climbs out the window of a moving bus and follows her because clearly, there existed no saner solution. Min Suk gets his phone back, but finds Soo Young passed out on the sidewalk. He calls Jin Woo to come get her. Min Suk decides that whether Jin Woo actually shows up or not isn't his problem because he has already fulfilled his responsibility by calling someone. Continuing his chivalrous behavior, Min Suk half-heartedly covers Soo Young in newspapers before taking her popcorn “as a fee” and leaving. Luckily for Soo Young, Jin Woo is slightly more gentlemanly than Min Suk. He takes her back to his place to sleep it off on his couch.
When she wakes up, Jin Woo has already left for this morning exercise, but a note he has left behind instructs her to sober up and leave. Just as she is about to comply, Jin Woo's father shows up, and she is forced to hide instead. She even manages to grab her shoes from the entryway, which almost never happens in dramas. Jin Woo returns and seems unsurprised to see Soo Young hiding in his bathroom. One gets the sense he either ends up in these situations frequently or is an emotionless cyborg. Perhaps both.
Emotions would just distort his perfect features.
Unfortunately, Soo Young overhears a very private conversation about Jin Woo's mother. She promises Jin Woo that she will keep his secret, but he states that he has no reason to trust her, or anyone else for that matter. She says that being in a one-sided love with someone is reason enough to keep their secrets. Lending credence to the cyborg theory, he doesn't seem to understand what she's talking about. He tries to find an approximate emotion he can understand, and asks if it's like “wanting to seem cool”. Soo Young informs him that no, it's not the same thing at all.
Back at home, Min Suk receives a blocked call from his still missing brother. Hyung Suk begs Min Suk to pretend to be him at his new workplace, but won't reveal why. He says it shouldn't be hard since they look so much alike and says he has no one else to ask because they don't have any other blood relatives. This causes Min Suk to recall his tragic past. His biological father, depressed over the family's financial problems, committed suicide. Hyung-seok doesn't wait to hear Min Suk's answer. He is confident that Min Suk will go along with his plan. Spoiler: he is correct.
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Verdict

This was a surprisingly engaging setup episode. The characters are entertaining, and the script's not bad. I really only have two complaints. My first complaint is that Yoo Ah is a bit annoying at the moment. She needs a personality beyond just Min Suk's stalker in order to be tolerable. I hope the writers expand her role in the future. My second complaint is that Lee Soo Hyuk's acting is so subtle it barely has a pulse. I understand that Jin Woo is supposed to be a stoic character, but I think it's been taken to an extreme in this case. However, I freely admit that Jin Woo's complete lack of emotion does add to the comedic nature of his exchanges with Soo Young. Overall, this was a solid first episode and it looks like things will only improve.

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