Am I psyched? Yes, I’m psyched. From just the intro with the comic book strip design to the random lines that the characters spurt, I’m all about this drama. Just get ready for your head to be messed up a bit by a guy named Yoo Jung.
We start off with a very drunk Hong Seol (Kim Go Eun) at a bar with her best friends Jang Bora (Park Min Ji) and Kwon Eun Taek (Nam Joo Hyuk), even though they’ve just barely finished their first round at a small pool bar. Seol drunkenly proclaims that she’ll be taking time off from school, and Eun Taek gamely agrees with her.
They try to bring Seol home but she’s distracted: “Where is he? Where’d he go!?” She points at an empty seat, vacated by Yoo Jung (Park Hae Jin) as he’s playing pool, then promptly tips over in her seat. Turns out, she’s taking time off from school because of him. But… why?
Flashback to one year earlier…
It’s a “class party,” where future classmates belonging to the same club get together to eat and drink before the semester begins. Seol arrives a little late and is greeted enthusiastically by her friends; she is returning to school after a break. (Yes, this means that when we first meet her she’s preparing to take a second break from school.) She meets Eun Taek for the first time, though Bora refers to him as her lackey. Probably because he’s so clearly in love with her that he’ll do anything she wishes.
Down at the end of the table is Kim Sang Cheol (Moon Ji Yoon), who prepares a BBQ lettuce wrap with some soju in it. He tries to get classmate-and-nerd-Ha Jae Woo (Oh Hee Joon) to eat it but Jae Woo is not about to be pushed around. So his next target is… Seol. Through peer pressure he gets her to eat the soju-laced wrap in front of everyone. Just as she takes the first bite though Sang Cheol pours more soju into it, and she ends up spitting it all out onto the table… right in front of Yoo Jung, who just came in. Well, at least first impressions aren’t always correct…
Sang Cheol introduces everyone to Yoo Jung, who just returned from the army and is a third-year. Seol is not as impressed by his good looks as Bora is, but, to Eun Taek’s luck, at least Bora doesn’t like that Jung is too perfect. However, another girl thinks he’s the bomb-diggity: Nam Joo Yeon (Cha Joo Young), and she squeezes right next to him to introduce herself. She tries to pour him some beer from a pitcher, but while he tries to take it from her to pour it himself, she spills it on herself. Kekeke…
When Joo Yeon rushes to the bathroom to clean up, Seol notices a faint smirk creeping at the corner of Jung’s lips. So… he let her “spill” it on purpose. Jung catches her eyeing him and stares right back, forcing Seol to look away first. Something is definitely unsettling about Mr. Perfect…
Later, when Seol exits the bathroom she catches Sang Cheol counting the club membership money on the stairs. What she doesn’t see is him swiping a few ten thousand wons for himself. Another classmate checks to see if they have enough money to cover round two of drinks, but Sang Cheol says they don’t. However they do have Jung! And because Jung is rich, he’ll generously cover round two if they go. What a crass bum of a friend; he doesn’t realize that Jung was actually below the staircase, and he heard everything.
Next thing we know at school, Sang Cheol confronts Seol for ratting him out via the school’s forum, saying that he stole some membership money. She did no such thing, but he thinks it’s her because she was the only one who saw him count money on the stairs. Seol angrily insists it wasn’t her and then catches Jung at the corner of her eye. He’s watching them fight with Joo Yeon by his side, a small smirk on his lips. It’s the same smile she saw at the party and makes her increasingly suspicious of him. Before it gets more heated, Jung effectively tells Sang Cheol to cool off (since technically Seol didn’t do anything wrong if she did report it). He reassures Seol that he’ll “talk” to Sang Cheol, but she’s not sure how much she can believe that. After all, he was there too so didn’t he rat on Sang Cheol?
Joo Yeon inserts herself in the fight: Seol knows nothing of what Jung did! He persuaded the executive board not to punish Sang Cheol and paid back the missing money himself! Seol isn’t sure she can believe Joo Yeon for this but she can’t say anything in the face of this “proof” of Jung’s supposed saintliness, so Jung just smirks even more and walks away.
A while later, Seol passes Jung at the campus coffee shop and greets him respectfully but he completely ignores her. Well, alright… Outside, Joo Yeon confronts her if she’s apologized to Jung yet; “You didn’t even say hello to him earlier,” she remarks. Ugh – already I’m ready to slap this woman. Just then Jung comes out with a couple of drinks and greets Seol! Like a friend! Huh?!
Jung hands Joo Yeon a cup of coffee and then offers a smoothie to Seol; he noticed that she drinks a lot of coffee so he got her something healthier. And then with a smile he says, “See you later!” If you’re not confused about him, you should be. He plays the game of hot-and-cold to the T. And, now Joo Yeon hates Seol because she thinks she’s stealing Jung away.
Fast forward a little later and Bora frantically calls up Seol before class starts. Where the hell is she!? Seol groggily answers the phone; she was sleeping in because the class representative – Nam Joo Yeon of course – said that class was moved to 1pm instead. To make matters worse, today is the day of a pop quiz so if Seol is late, she’s sure to get an F.
Seol jumps out of bed and Bora jumps out of her seat to attack Joo Yeon. (Of course Jung, who’s in the same class, overhears Bora’s phone conversation.) Eun Taek forces Bora to calm down, but she tells him to go kidnap the professor, or do anything to delay the professor, so that Seol can get to class on time. If he does it, she’ll kiss him on the cheek. Well that gets Eun Taek riled up!
But before they can do anything, the door knob rattles. It opens… and T.A. Heo Yoon Seob (Lee Woo Dong) comes in. The professor won’t be in today because he’s in the emergency room! Bora yelps in happiness, and everyone stares. But it’s not all good news – T.A. Heo plans to take attendance and hand out the test still. Seol is still screwed…
Eun Taek tells Bora he’ll be back and sneaks out the back door. Then he barges in through the front door, pretending that he just got to class. Heo lets him by, but then Eun Taek grabs the roll call, screams, “T.A. I love you!” and runs out the door. Hahaha!
Using this as a means to distract Heo, Eun Taek gives Heo the runaround until Seol can get to class without getting caught. He then immediately surrenders, professing his love to his T.A., and lets himself get smacked with papers and dragged by the ear back to the classroom. And by then, Seol is safely seated between Eun Taek and Bora. For all his valiant efforts, he reminds Bora of his kiss payment, and she just playfully punches him in the face instead.
Seol thinks that Jung is trying to ruin her life still, so whenever she sees him she takes care to avoid him. That includes choosing to take the stairs while carrying a bunch of papers when she sees Jung waiting by the elevator. However, Seol loses balance and scatters the papers all over the stair landing. A foot steps on her papers; it’s Jung. He coldly looks down at her and tells her to be careful. And then walks off without helping her at all. At that moment, Seol realizes that he must really hate her. She doesn’t know why, but that’s why she wants to take a break from school again. She just doesn’t need all this drama in her life.
Flash forward to the present…
Bora visits Seol at her part time job at a coffee shop to give her some money. She thinks Seol blurted out about taking a break from school because she doesn’t have enough for tuition, and so she wants to give her best friend the money she saved up for a backpacking trip. It’s more important to her that they go to school together than some trip!
But then Bora hears of good news from Eun Taek: apparently Seol got the scholarship she worked so hard for! Woohoo! But Seol is more nervous about having to continue attending school with a guy who seems bent on making her life a living hell.
Oh well – new year, new start? Seol meets her friends outside of the campus and forces them to start running. It’s the day they need to pick their classes, and so they’ll need seats at the computer lab! They and a whole bunch of students pour in just minutes before 9 AM and log in. The trick, according to Seol, is to access the class sign up page with one click the moment it turns 9 AM, unlike everyone else who just frantically clicks like crazy at the screen.
With her collected coolness, she ensures that she gets into the coveted class taught by Professor Han. So does Bora, though she’s screwed for the rest of their classes. Morning classes – gah! Heh. They bump into Jung, and also Joo Yeon and Sang Cheol. The latter congratulate Seol on her scholarship, but Joo Yeon also points out that Seol got the scholarship only because T.A. Heo lost Jung’s report card. Otherwise he would have gotten it.
There’s an oddly blank expression on Jung’s face and Seol doesn’t know how to interpret the news. After all, it sucks to feel like your own merits did not get you the scholarship. But as he pushes Sang Cheol and Joo Yeon to keep walking, Jung kindly says it was good to see Seol. Hm…
Seol heads to the library to check on her schedule again, feeling like something strange is going on. After all, why is Jung getting her to stay in school when he acted like he hated her all year? Next things she knows though, Jung is right behind her! He greets her with a smile and asks if she wants to have lunch with him.
Seol awkwardly declines, saying she doesn’t have lunch usually, and runs out of the library before logging off. Jung peers at the computer and notices her schedule, which is awesome because there are no morning classes. Hm… In any case, Seol bumps into Bora, who was the one who told Jung where she was, and Eun Taek. They thought that perhaps Jung is trying to make nice with Seol now, but she’s not buying it at all.
It’s time for Professor Han’s class, which is immensely crowded (kids sitting on the steps even), and includes Jung and Joo Yeon of course. Professor Han isn’t surprised to see that half of the kids in the class aren’t really registered in his class and kindly tells them all to leave. He does attendance, but somehow Seol is not on his roster. She’s positive she registered though, so Professor Han lets her stay for one class.
As soon as class is done she checks out her schedule with T.A. Heo, and he points out that she made a class modification the other day, so she’s actually not in Han’s class! Bora doesn’t understand how this could have happened as someone would have had to steal her ID and password to drop the class. They start suspecting people, and Joo Yeon tells them to stop making a fuss about it and blaming innocent people for things like this; “It must be a habit of yours that you’re continuing from last year.”
Seol frets in her next class about being in Professor Kang’s lecture, which is super hard and will make it more difficult for her to maintain her scholarship. Suddenly she hears someone calling her. It’s Jung. He’s in her next class too! But his calling her jogs her memory about when she was in the library. She was there at 11:41, and didn’t log out at the library. Therefore someone must have changed her classes.
Right after class ends, Jung asks if she wants to grab dinner with him. She isn’t interested, as she has more pressing matters like talking to Professor Han and figuring out who dropped the class on her behalf. Interestingly, Jung goes straight to T.A. Heo to try and figure out who exactly should be in Han’s class.
Professor Han meanwhile can’t give Seol a break and let her in his class. Just then Professor Kang (Hwang Suk Jung looking decidedly muted compared to her character in She Was Pretty) stops by with coffee and suggests that Seol take her class instead. After all, it’s the same lecture. Professor Kang is quite aware that she’s called “Witch Kang” by the students, but promises that she’s actually quite soft-hearted. Cue snorting laughter.
What’s worse is now that Kang knows her name, Seol definitely can’t transfer into Han’s class now. And this means that her schedule is completely messed up.
Seol is shocked the next morning when Jung shows up at the coffee shop where she works, but she calmly takes his order of an Americano and a strawberry shake. And then he takes the Americano and tells her to take the strawberry shake for herself. Seol is so confused at his behavior, but she has no time to dwell on it because she’s late for class! Again!
This time she’s late for Professor Kang’s class, who just handed out the syllabus and her strict grading guidelines regarding projects and latenesses. Perfect. At least she’s not the only unprepared one, as everyone else doesn’t have their textbooks because no one wanted Kang’s class in the first place.
At the library, Seol’s classmate in Kang’s class, Son Min Soo (Yoon Ji Won), approaches her with some information. Min Soo had seen who had approached the computer and changed her schedule, thus putting her in Kang’s class. She saw Jung.
Seol rushes out to tell her friends, and Bora wonders if she’s perhaps overreacting. After all, Seol incorrectly assumed Jung told on Sang Cheol the year before about the stolen funds. She decides to go check the security cameras herself, but bumps straight into Jung. He heard everything. If she suspects him that much, then he suggests they meet at 6 PM that day to look over the security footage together. He also hands her a can of instant coffee.
Why the heck is he suddenly being so nice to her!?
Joo Yeon, Sang Cheol, Jae Woo, and Kyung Hwan (Go Hyun) all wait outside the campus for Jung as they were supposed to go listen to a lecture together. From just inside the glass doors of a building, Jung calls up Joo Yeon to tell her he can’t go to the lecture. He needs to help Seol find the culprit who dropped her class. Joo Yeon doesn’t understand why he’s helping her, but Jung doesn’t really pay attention to her. No – he’s watching his friends’ reactions, and only Sang Cheol is acting shifty. So Jung heads to the security guard’s office with some refreshments and a mission.
It’s 6 PM, and Jung is nowhere to be seen. Seol decides not to wait any longer, and Bora smooth talks the security guard into letting them look at footage. Crying that she must find where she lost her wallet, the security guard relents and lets them borrow the room. Eun Taek quickly pulls up the video file of the library when her class was supposedly dropped, but the camera doesn’t capture the spot where she stood!
Instead, they could see from afar Jung approaching her and asking her to lunch. And then her running off without logging out of her computer. And then Jung walking away at around 11:45 AM. So. He didn’t do it. Because the class change where she “dropped” Professor Han’s lecture happened at 11:52 AM. So who did it!? Before they can watch any more, the security guard kicks them all out of his office. Oh well.
But Jung knows who the culprit is, and the reason why he’s not meeting Seol is because he’s confronting him. It’s Sang Cheol. He had T.A. Heo look up the IP address of where the class modification came from, found out it was from the library computer, and then found footage of Sang Cheol approaching the computer at that time. He even waited for Sang Cheol to arrive in the security guard’s office before six, having a sneaking suspicion that his friend would try to delete the footage himself before he and Seol got a chance to look at it.
Sang Cheol suddenly becomes very pathetic, begging Jung to look the other way. He couldn’t take Professor Kang’s lecture again because he failed it the first time, and if he fails again he’ll ruin his future. Seeing Seol have Professor Han’s class made him jealous so he was going to take her spot. But as karma would have it, in the time it took for him to drop her class and for him to add his, someone else stole the spot already.
Sang Cheol begs Jung to not say anything, as he won’t be able to face his classmates ever. Jung laughs. Technically, the camera didn’t show him doing anything, so you could say there is reasonable doubt that Sang Cheol did all that.
Sang Cheol: Did you just… play me?
Jung: Of course not. I didn’t know either that you would spill everything to me so easily.
Damn. He’s cold.
Seol and her friends are still kind of frustrated at not having figured out who the culprit is. She heads on home on her own, mulling over who could have been the one if it’s not Yoo Jung. And speak of the devil, he appears before her on her path home. Jung asks if she found the culprit yet, and she asks why he didn’t say it wasn’t him earlier. Then again, she wouldn’t have believed him if he denied it. She doesn’t understand many things about him, like why he’d give up his scholarship or why he seems to be stalking her. But either way, Seol apologizes for suspecting him once again.
Jung asks her to dinner again. This guy really wants to eat with her. Seol: “I… don’t eat dinner.” Haha – she doesn’t eat anything does she!?
Seol returns home and decides to just make peace with her class schedule. Hopefully, whoever it was that took her class was more desperate than she was. That’s the only way she can be at peace with what happened. Sadly, the person who dropped her class is lying to his mother that he’s eating really well and getting offers from many companies.
That same evening, Baek In Ha (Lee Sung Kyung) emerges from an expensive car and grabs her shopping bags. The guy she’s with accuses her of being a leech on him, but she points out that she raised his dignity by being a pretty girl on his arm. It’s all about give and take in a modern-day relationship! Their argument is interrupted by a messy looking rascal, who can’t stand to listen to them fighting. He chases the rich guy away, who flips In Ha off and yells that she wasn’t great in bed. Haha!
In Ha lets the rascally bum up to her apartment. Why? Because it’s her brother Baek In Ho (Seo Kang Joon). And the apartment isn’t really hers either, as the chairman who’s taken care of them since they were children got it for her. In Ha is surprised that her brother managed to find her here, but it’s because he tracked her down and found out she also quit school. In Ha: “Why should I go to school? It’s not like I’m going to find a job or anything.” Wow – a brat through and through!
In Ho calls her pathetic, but she fires back that he is too after running away from home for years and now crawling back to possibly ask for more money from the chairman for his “treatment” and “rehab.” That riles In Ho up, and he storms off, regretting being concerned about his sister.
In Ha wonders if he’s seen Jung recently though. After all, a lot of time has passed and Jung’s changed. She calls up Jung, but he rejects her call. Haha. So In Ha pretends that he’s on the line and suggests they all get together sometime soon as old friends. In Ho scoffs and leaves her apartment, so In Ha texts Jung about In Ho’s return.
And Jung deletes her texts.
It’s a new week and Seol is back in Professor Kang’s class, vowing to work hard. Attendance is called… and a straggler enters. It’s Jung. He just switched classes. And he’s taking the seat next to Seol.
Subjectively speaking – kyaaaaahhhh I’m so happy to see this webtoon in live action! Granted I only started checking out the webtoon after I heard about this show, but I actually quite enjoy the webtoon as its own thing. Getting to see the first few chapters play out in the flesh is an equally fun experience because there are just some things that transfer better when you see it acted out than when you read it. Small things like Jung’s smirks and Seol’s confusion are better in the drama than in the webtoon. And Park Hae Jin is so good at being Jung, with his dead look and subtle facial twitches. He’s really like the perfect Jung.
Objectively speaking – I can see this drama having a hard time hooking people in. It’s more of a slice of life drama, and you don’t really know who Seol is as a person at the start of the drama to understand why she is so distrustful of Jung. It’s not like he’s done anything explicitly wrong against her, and it seems more like she’s reading into his actions too much. So it doesn’t really make much sense why she suspects him so much and sort of targets him as the cause of all evil, just as he seemingly targets her.
The only thing that he does creepily, even for my K-drama standards, is to continually ask her out for a meal with no real reason. He looks like he’s ready to kill her in one minute, then asks her out to lunch. He never expressed interest in her and then suddenly shows too much interest in her. I would be unsettled by that too.
But at the end of the day, I can also understand where Seol is coming from. To have the cutest guy in school suddenly be interested in you when all you want is to fade into the wallpaper is an awkward thing to endure. And thankfully Kim Go Eun makes Seol very relatable and normal. She’s smart, not going to endure things silently, but also not really interested in bringing attention to herself. She wants no trouble, but trouble just finds her. And granted, her issues aren’t the biggest issues in the world (like, getting into the wrong class), but they’re really important to her.
The question is, can the drama make these issues important to us too?
As a first episode, it’s a bit shaky, but very good in establishing the characters and their personalities. In fact the characters from the webtoon popped out of the page and on to the screen very well because they’re all very vibrant and distinct personalities. But in terms of the story, I think this drama needs a few more episodes to find its footing. The writer and the directer Lee Yoon Jung (Coffee Prince, Triple, Heart to Heart) need to find a way to make this drama’s plot line pop and keep us hooked, especially since it is not your conventional romantic comedy or melodrama. We need to have a clearer conflict, or a clearer mystery around Jung, to give us a reason to continue watching.
I have an idea about that, which is why I’ll keep watching. But I’ll try to not let my knowledge of the webtoon seep too much into the experience of watching this drama. I don’t think the show will veer terribly from the webtoon, but I’ll probably temper my expectations just in case.
If you want to read my thoughts on the webtoon, click here!