[Note: this is more of just my rambling thoughts than an actual analysis. Also there may minor spoilers. Will work on screencaps in the future.]
I began this drama coming hot off the heels of Innocent Man. I had tried to start this drama several years ago but never actually got past the first few minutes. While the story had always interested me, I was hesitant to watch for fear of developing second or third lead syndrome (as I usually do), which ends up on a lot of heart pain on my part. Also, from what I’ve seen of Park Min-young’s acting in the past (City Hunter, I am Sam), it was not enough to impress me. And I was iffy about JYJ’s Micky Yoochun as the main lead. However, I decided to watch this because of Song Joong-ki, and this drama seemed promising and light-hearted after the roller-coaster of melo that was Innocent Man.
I expected this to be full of fluff and gender bender shenanigans and only those things, like You’re Beautiful, but after watching the first few episodes, I think SKK will be different. So far I love how they have incorporated politics into SKK. It seems to be focusing more on the political side of things with all the divisions between factions/parties and such. I always like this kind of conflict because it’s intriguing how people will oppose each other based on different ideals, backgrounds, and etc., not necessarily based on the actual individuals’ personalities. There’s a prejudice that characters have to overcome. Also, it’s so interesting to see this in the political factions’ children in a school setting because you can see how the kids have been influenced by politics and their parents, all in a learning environment where they are introduced to other perspectives and ideas that might challenge what they grew up with.
At first I was only watching this for Joong-ki, but I’m getting really invested in the other characters, as well. Like I said before, I was a little worried about Yoochun’s acting, but he’s doing a decent job so far. I love how his character Sun-joon is all about ideals and principles, yet he has a heart underneath all that, too. I also am rooting for the main girl, Yoon-hee. She’s the opposite of Sun-joon in that she’s jaded by her experience of poverty and corruption in government. She has gone through plenty of hardship, yet still manages to be bold and plucky. She has a kind heart, as shown when she took care of Cho-sun, and is not the typical passive heroine. The only thing I would nitpick about is how she’s been crying in every episode, just about. I understand that Yoon-hee is going through some life-threatening situations, but if you’re disguising as a boy, it’d be a lot more believable if you don’t cry as much. I think the constant show of tears is almost distracting since sometimes I don’t feel the emotions from her crying, so the tears don’t feel as sincere and seem to only be there to convince us like: “She’s sad, she really is!” Though it ain’t cutting it for me, but it may just be me.
Of course, Joong-ki is still excellent in his role as a rich and indolent playboy; as usual, he’s managed to make the character come to life. I’m curious to see what Yong-ha is all about. What really got me was the scene where he tells Sun-joon that the purpose of new-student traditions at Sungkyunkwan is meant to humble rich and arrogant boys. It makes me wonder if Yong-ha really means that (I mean, he’s a rich boy himself and seems to wear expensive clothing all the time). That moment gave us an opportunity to see a little more into Yong-ha and whether or not he’s just putting up an act.