'School 2021' series kicks off to a disappointing start - Korea Times
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'School 2021' series kicks off to a disappointing start

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Actors Kim Yo-han, from left, Jo Yi-hyun, Hwang Boreumbyeol, Choo Young-woo and Jeon Seok-ho pose for photos during the press conference for the new series,
Actors Kim Yo-han, from left, Jo Yi-hyun, Hwang Boreumbyeol, Choo Young-woo and Jeon Seok-ho pose for photos during the press conference for the new series, "School 2021," Wednesday. Courtesy of KBS

By Lee Gyu-lee

KBS's popular franchise, "School," has finally unveiled its latest anthology series, which kicked off with disappointing viewership ratings, Wednesday.

"School 2021," starring actors Kim Yo-han, Jo Yi-hyun, Choo Young-woo and Hwang Boreumbyeol, saw a 2.8-percent viewership rating nationwide, which is about a 3-percent drop from the rating of the broadcaster's previous series in the same time slot, "Dali and Cocky Prince."

Set in a vocational high school, the series revolves around four classmates who are seeking to find their own path in life, while exploring their adolescence as well as love.

Gong Ki-joon (Kim) used to be a promising taekwondo athlete who won a bronze medal in the national league. After suffering a serious ankle injury, he quits the sport and enrolls in a vocational high school, where he meets the strong-willed girl, Jin Ji-won (Jo), the new transfer student, Jung Young-joo (Choo), and the ambitious model student, Kang Seo-young (Hwang).

The first episode follows the back story of Ki-joon, going through his injury and his father's bankruptcy, which leads him to work a part-time job to support his family. The four students get assigned to the same class, setting the scene for the story.

Scenes from the series / Courtesy of KBS
Scenes from the series / Courtesy of KBS

This eighth installment of the series franchise had a bumpy ride before premiering, going through issues with the former cast members and postponing its airing by a year due to changes in the script.

Its director, Kim Min-tae, whose previous work includes the romance series, "Cheat on Me If You Can," expressed that taking on the series after it went through a few issues was not easy.

"When I joined the project, we had to start again from scratch. And we were pressed on time, so there were some pressures, but we did our best to make a series that would work up to matching the franchise's reputation," he said during the press conference for the series, Wednesday.

The "School" franchise, about the loves and school lives of teenagers, started in 1999 and has made hits with every installment through 2017. The series became a stepping stone to stardom for a number of top actors, such as Bae Doo-na, Jo In-sung, Gong Yoo, Kim Woo-bin and Lee Jong-suk.

Kim, who is better known as Yohan of K-pop boy group Wei, expressed that he felt pressure in taking the lead role on such a big series franchise.

"The 'School' series has had such wonderful actors, so I wanted to maintain that reputation. I definitely felt pressure. But regardless, I tried not to give in to it and to do my best," he said. "Working on this series has brought up so many memories of my own school life."

The director noted that what distinguishes this installment is that it revolves around life at a vocational school.

"Unlike previous installments, this series follows students at a vocational high school. Previously, most teen series have been set in traditional high schools or art schools, so this is probably the first," he said. "Whereas the older series revolved around the conflicts and confusion the teens faced at that age regarding their future, this one focuses on offering sympathy and comfort to teenagers going through that time."

"School 2021" airs on KBS Wednesday and Thursday at 9:30 p.m.


Lee Gyu-lee gyulee@koreatimes.co.kr


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