This episode continues the theme of grief from last time. This is, naturally, entirely appropriate. It's not like a teenager can recover from the death of his closest and, for all practical purposes, only family member after just a brief moment. The death of Woo-hyeon's grandmother really hangs over the drama. It's not something that can be reversed, and because it caught the young man so off-guard he just isn't the mood to do anything anymore.
Unfortunately, life goes on without him, which in this case means that grandma's unpaid debts come to haunt Woo-hyeon at exactly the time he simply does not want to deal with it. Seul-bi makes an admirable effort to help, but even this only feels basically tragic. Woo-hyeon only has the faintest idea what kind of sacrifice she had to make in order to try and provide him with moral support, and there are several moments in this episode where it seems as if she should have chosen differently.
As an exploration on the meaning of friendship, "High School - Love On" is actually quite effective here, simply because the efforts Seul-gi makes are so deliberately long term and quite explicitly require her taking a great deal of abuse. Oftentimes friendship is portrayed in fiction as this basically fair weather thing. Everybody felt bad for somebody who loses a loved one like Woo-hyeon does here, but no one's really giving him much in the way of actual substantial help except for Seul-bi.
And, to a lesser extent, Seong-yeol. There's some dialogue here that provides a pretty harsh reminder that, for all his sulking, Seong-yeol is actually doing pretty well in life given that he lives in a financially stable household. His frustrations about the family situation actually seem quaint compared to what Woo-hyeon is going through, which visibly makes an impact on Seong-yeol's character. While the guy's still a jerk, he is learning.
The main criticism I can make of the drama at present is still in regards to the acting. It's not bad, but as you can guess "High School - Love On" is going through some pretty weighty material here. Seul-bi's meeting with acquaintances and part time job prospects aren't really enough to defuse that. This leaves most of the dramatic thrust with the lead actors, and while they're doing a decent job, they simply aren't skilled enough to sell the full impact of the situation.
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 9"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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