4 Things We Loved About The Premiere Episodes Of

Ahn Pan Seok’s highly-anticipated noona romance “The Midnight Romance in Hagwon” is finally here. As this K-drama is airing weekly in the time slot that was previously occupied by the phenomenon “Queen of Tears,” expectations were high, and I am happy to say that this premiere did not disappoint at all.

From the feet-kicking, butterfly-giving, heart-stopping, undeniable chemistry between the main leads to the mature tone of the show, here are four things we loved about the premiere of “The Midnight Romance in Hagwon.”

Warning: spoilers for episodes 1-2 below.

Teacher-student romance done right




A teacher-student romance is a difficult trope to pull off because, at its core, it is one of the most problematic and toxic dynamics of a romantic relationship. First of all, there is the power imbalance. The teacher in this equation, regardless of their gender, always holds much more power over their student. The viewers get a glimpse of this power imbalance when Sung Ha Yul (Kim Na Yeon), a student at Daechi Chase Academy, is hesitant to discuss the answer to a question with her teacher Pyo Sang Seob (Kim Song Il) because she is afraid the teacher would consider it disrespectful and his anger would translate into her transcript letter.

The second thing that makes a teacher-student romantic dynamic unappealing is the age difference. Usually, when the creator wants you to hate a teacher-student dynamic, they show the teacher being much older than the student, so you can get the ick of a much older person being attracted to a mere teenager. However, oftentimes, when the show is trying to depict the relationship as romantic, they would shorten the age difference.

Take the American show “Pretty Little Liars” as an example where the main couple is a teacher-student relationship. As the creator wants you to root for them, the age difference is only eight years. However, despite every attempt of creators to make the relationship look healthy, their relationship dynamic gives modern viewers the ick because the female lead is only 16 years old. Meanwhile, the teacher is in his mid-20s. In other words, it is not the number of years the teacher is older than the student that makes a relationship healthy or toxic, but the actual age of both parties when they get into said relationship.

The mental age and understanding of the real world of a 16-year-old would be much different than that of a 25-year-old, despite there only being a nine-year age difference. On the other hand, a 28-year-old person can easily connect with a 38-year-old on a mental level because they both would have similar life experiences. So, how did “The Midnight Romance in Hagwon” handle these concerns?




First of all, after seeing the present Seo Hye Jin (Jung Ryeo Won) and Lee Joon Ho (Wi Ha Joon) interact, one thing is clear: they were not in a relationship when Hye Jin was Joon Ho’s teacher. And now that both of them are coworkers, there is not as much of a power imbalance as Joon Ho was a student 10 years ago.

Secondly, from the flashbacks, one thing seems evident: Joon Ho, as a Daechi Chase Academy student, was attracted to Hye Jin, a part-timer at the academy. However, he never confessed his puppy love towards his teacher. However, even if he did word his feelings, their relationship never turned into anything romantic. Moreover, making the situation much better, Hye Jin is not shown to like Joon Ho romantically in the past.

All in all, after watching the premiere episodes, the dynamic between Hye Jin and Joon Ho seems healthier than most of the other teacher-student romance depictions.

Hye Jin and Joon Ho’s chemistry



The chemistry between Hye Jin and Joon Ho is undeniable; every time they speak to each other, the words just flow, and the way they look at each other surely gives the viewers butterflies. And the credit goes not only to the brilliant actors but also to the genius scriptwriter, Park Kyung Hwa.

Both Jung Ryeo Won and Wi Ha Joon are exceptional actors who have been in the industry for years, so they can make a bad script work. Even when they are not saying anything, their eyes and micro-expressions are enough to describe their feelings on screen. But also, Park Kyung Hwa has written the script for “The Midnight Romance in Hagwon” with such perfection; there are no awkward pauses, the dialogues feel natural, and the back-and-forth witty banter makes every scene with our main leads interesting.

Seo Hye Jin’s layered character


One of the best things about Hye Jin’s character is that she is layered. She is a passionate teacher who takes her job seriously, and she is strong, but she is also kind and wants to help her students more than anything. Her character is not confined to one box with one label; thus, she feels more human.

One of the scenes that allows viewers to learn more about Hye Jin’s character is the argument scene between her and the school teacher Sang Seob. Throughout the entire argument, Hye Jin remains calm and collected. Even when Sang Seob manhandles her by pushing her to the wall, she does not flinch and keeps a confident posture to assert dominance. However, after leaving the staff room, she stops at the end of the corridor and touches her shoulder, showing that it hurts. This scene illustrates that Hye Jin is trying to become much stronger than she originally is.

The tone of the show



As this show is directed by Ahn Pan Seok, who also directed slice-of-life masterpieces like “One Spring Night” and “Something in the Rain,” viewers were already expecting the tone of “The Midnight Romance in Hagwon” to be similar to his previous works. It turns out, this show is definitely a slow-paced, mellow K-drama, which might not capture your attention right away, but the more you let it marinate in your head, the more you will fall in love with it.

The sober tone of the show works well with the mature romance plot between two adults, politics in after-school academies and schools, the pressure of education, and South Korean society. Due to the direction and the nature of the slice-of-life genre, the story feels real; at points, you might even think that if you touch the TV screen, you’d be teleported into Daichi Chase Academy.

Watch “The Midnight Romance in Hagwon”:

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Hello Soompiers! Let us know what you loved about the premiere of “The Midnight Romance in Hagwon” in the comments!

Javeria is a binge-watching specialist who loves devouring entire K-dramas in one sitting. Good screenwriting, beautiful cinematography, and a lack of cliches are the way to her heart. As a music fanatic, she listens to multiple artists across different genres but believes no one can top the self-producing idol group SEVENTEEN. You can talk to her on Instagram @javeriayousufs.

Currently watching: “The Escape of the Seven: Resurrection,Lovely Runner,” and “The Midnight Romance in Hagwon,
Looking forward to: “Chief Detective 1958,” “Dare to Love Me,” and “The 8 Show”

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