When I started watching “Sassy Go Go,” I initially started watching it because I had been craving a high school K-drama for a while. With its ending recently, I can confidently say that the drama satisfied my craving because it was filled with what I would expect from a high school K-drama – youthful splendor, heart, struggles, and dreams. I enjoyed the familiarity, since you can pretty much sum up characters from a high school drama into these categories:
The Alpha is the rich, elite, high-ranked student. The list of examples for this category can be endless: most recently, Lee Won Geun, Ji Soo, and Chae Soo Bin‘s characters in “Sassy Go Go.” Some older examples go back to Park Se Young‘s character in “School 2013,” Baro‘s character in “Angry Mom,” and the classic F4 (Lee Min Ho, Kim Hyun Joong, Kim Bum, Kim Joon) in “Boys Over Flowers.” They’re generally stuck-up, rude, cold, outright bullies, and resort to immoral and unfair acts to maintain their rank within the school. But they are the kings and queens of the school, everyone looks up to them, and they’re physically attractive as well. Life is unfair.
Take the same group of people above and give them issues at home with their families. Most commonly, the pressure to continue to do well in school is paralyzing for a lot of them, especially Chae Soo Bin in “Sassy Go Go.” For some like Ji Soo’s character, not doing well means that he will be physically harmed by his father. For others like F4, pressure from home stems from their elite-family background and the constant eyes on them. They have to uphold themselves in social situations to fit their social rank. Others change completely as a result, like Baro who gradually learns exactly what a terrible father he has and eventually ends up working against him.
If you are introduced to the characters above, you know what the main character is going to be like. Generally, they are ranked low in the school, have no place within the student body population, and always come with a strength and a weakness. If they’re not smart, they’ll be outgoing and supported by loyal friends, as exemplified by Jung Eun Ji in “Sassy Go Go” and Lee Jong Suk in “School 2013.” If they’re not rich, they’ll be smart and passionate about their purpose, letting nothing get in their way. Some examples of this type of underdog include Kim Yoo Jung in “Angry Mom,” Ku Hye Sun in “Boys Over Flowers,” and Park Shin Hye in “Heirs.” In general, they possess the positive traits that the drama wants to highlight in the end, whether it is loyalty, friendship, or pure kindness.
Then there are the adults in the dramas. They also come in three categories:
This group of parents can actually be both for good and for bad. The best example of a parent doing this for good is undoubtedly Kim Hee Sun in “Angry Mom.” I mean, she pretends to be a high school student to protect her daughter so I don’t know how anyone could top that. I have to commend the writers because they take a stereotypical character and twist it into a fresh, albeit unrealistic, new plot idea. More realistically, we occasionally see the loving parents of the underdog come to school and fight it out with the teachers for their children. On the other hand, there are mothers like Go Soo Hee in “Sassy Go Go” and fathers like Park Young Kyu in “Angry Mom” who actively bribe, blackmail, and threaten teachers and educational heads in order to ensure that they achieve everything they want through their children.
Then there are two types of teachers: the first type of teachers are the ones that these way-too-involved parents work with. They accept bribes, blackmail students in return, and threaten to expel or fire any who get in their way. These are the teachers who give a bad reputation to teachers everywhere — but usually they end up being arrested or fired. Some examples include Kim Tae Hoon in “Angry Mom” and in Park Hae Mi in “Sassy Go Go.”
These people are the beacon of light in the darkness that is high school K-drama plots. While all of the other adults are either corrupted or helpless, these teachers use their limited power to try and change the lives of their students. They are always on their students’ side, supporting them through thick and thin. Sometimes they can’t do much; other times they are the students’ savior. They are kind-hearted, genuine people who became teachers because they wanted to influence the future generations positively. Examples include Jang Nara in “School 2013,” Ji Hyun Woo in “Angry Mom,” and Kim Ji Suk and Lee Mi Do in “Sassy Go Go.”
While these are the stereotypical main characters of high school K-dramas, I have been pleasantly surprised recently with how writers have started using them in fresh new ways. New plots, new themes, and new character twists still make future high school K-dramas worth watching. And of course, these weren’t always stereotypical – the classics are classics for a reason. We can always appreciate a good binge of high school K-dramas and all of its tears, laughter, and relatable characters.
I only used five K-dramas in my examples because these were the most memorable high school K-dramas that I have watched. However, there is undoubtedly many more. What are some of your favorites? And your favorite characters? Let us know in the comments!
Also, see Viki’s “Unforgettable School Drama” collection for these high-school dramas and more.
hearteu is a feature content contributor for Soompi, as well as an avid K-drama binge watcher and foodie. She also enjoys travel, music, and people.