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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Seonam Girls High School Investigators"

2015/04/04 | Permalink

The conservative and repetitive nature of Korean drama has been changing over the years and this includes the topics handled and opinions expressed though the individual works. While the series most often love larger-than-life and improbable stories, a lot of shows are also surfacing that tackle real life problems on an individual and societal level. 'Seonam Girls High School Investigators' goes a step further and focuses on troubled youth and especially women, an extra rare combination for the industry.

Ahn Chae-yool (Jin Ji-hee) finds herself in a school she does not really like. On top of that, she is attacked by someone and bitten. As she becomes curious about the case, which seems to have more victims, she gets acquainted with the school's amateur detective club and recruited by them. Together, the girls solve student-related cases of all kinds. Ha Yeon-joon (Kim Min-joon) is a mysterious teacher who is aware of the group and has a particular interest in helping them and Chae-yool from the sidelines.

Chae-yool and Yeon-joonThe first lesbian kiss on South Korean television

It is important for any work to fit the audiences it touches and speaks about. It also needs to have a style that fits its stories and fleshes them out while maintaining its tone. The drama is incredibly successful at this, by being true to its young characters and their stories, but also animated, quirky and upbeat. There are heavy issues handled here and while there are the occasional problems in how they are handled, the show dares to do so and does it in an entertaining and honest way.

The drama's characters and stories, both main and guest remain faithful to the show's focus, which is the troubles teenage women face in life and school. From teenage pregnancy to homosexuality, a topic for which the series even made global news, the creators do not shy away from covering a wide range of personal and group problems and making bold statements. This willingness to go where few dramas have gone before makes it an admirable and fresh effort for South Korean television. Additionally, its presentation of the mysteries is fun to watch.

The courage of the creators as well as their work are of course worthy of respect. That said, the drama sometimes refrains from going all the way with its cases. Some aspects feel very half-baked and some outcomes overly positive. Not everything in life gets wrapped up in a pretty bow and showing how teenagers cope or could cope with less desirable outcomes would have been educational and more realistic. The show also has its plot holes and some mysteries are too easy to figure out.

A victim of bullyingThe girls and Chae-joon

This problem extends to how deeply the cases are covered. With some, the creators take a more daring stance, while they seem cautious with others. While some are explored with nuance and attention to detail, some are barely touched upon and this goes both for the stories and the potential messages that are to be conveyed through them. The main plot has its problems too, including a slightly clumsy wrap-up for which the show being cut short is likely responsible.

Depending on one's personal opinions on the topics explored, 'Seonam Girls High School Investigators' can range from satisfying to frustrating. However, the fact that the show bravely handles the subjects that it does and creates this involvement is something to praise. Despite some problems, its memorable characters and fun, youthful presentation make it an entertaining experience. More importantly, its unique nature, focus and approach make it an important work for the medium and an example to follow for improving representation and the diversity of Korean drama.

Written by: Orion from 'Orion's Ramblings'


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