The bullying in this drama has always been a bit arbitrary, but that's been part of the point. The bullies aren't ever really motivated by much aside from general boredom- it's the main reason they never go away. Even in this episode we see that they spend a lot of their free time in PC Rooms. Again, not all that surprising given the low quality of the parenting we've seen so far.
But then again bad parenting isn't something unique only to the characters we're not suppoed to like. Seong-yeol finally discovers the best possible way to lash out at his family and friends. I really like the way his character has digressed. Seong-yeol has always been a jerk, and "High School - Love On" recognizes that there are reasons for this which can't just be magically solved with the power of friendship. Seong-yeol's scuffle with Woo-hyeon has clearly left a mark. Even if that entire conflict was engineered by the bullies, it still proves Seong-yeol's basic suspicions- that his friends will stay that way only as long as it's convenient.
"High School - Love On" has consistently done excellent work depicting the malaise of adolescence without getting overly sentimental about it. On a basic level the characters are just pushing at boundaries, and the adults are failing to reign these kids in mostly because they consistently underestimate how smart these teens really are. It's little wonder than Seong-yeol doesn't respect Ji-hye's authority when she herself is obviously keeping secrets.
And where does Seul-bi fall in to all this? It's increasingly obvious here that she's the only character in the cast who actually matches the more romantic archetypes about generally optimistic youth. This is particularly ironic, given that she's not really a teenager, but an angel of indeterminate age. It's hard to guess what we're supposed to make of the fact that she's the only thing keeping this entire situation from completely degenerating.
All in all this works to make "High School - Love On" an unusual and interesting take on the whole concept of angels in the human world. While the special effects in this drama are quite good, by and large the Seul-bi's presence is intended to be thematic, as the problems presented are very down to earth. At one point we even get somebody crying in one of the school closets, and there's no magical solution of somebody getting offered a few kind words and everything is all better. That's the high school of real life, not fantasy.
Review by William Schwartz
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via email@example.com.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "High School - Love On" Episode 12"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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