[SPOILERS INCLUDED]

Title: 성균관 스캔들
Genre: Period, romance, comedy
Episodes: 20
Average Episode Rating: 10.1% Nationwide

Main Cast: I was originally very skeptical about the main lead of this drama, Micky Yoochun from JYJ), because he doesn’t seem to be very experienced about acting. He’s primarily a singer and to be given such a large role appeared to be a foolish decision on the director and producer’s parts. But I read many praising comments about this drama and decided to give it a go, so here I am, writing a drama review for it, and you are presumably reading it now.

Micky Yoochun as Lee Seonjoon:

If you have started this drama or even finished it, the main reason you started in the first place may not be because of the plot or the producer or the director or screenwriter. The reason you probably started watching this drama is because the main lead is acted out by Micky Yoochun, who used to be a member of DBSK, the group that had everyone watching in awe. The group with undeniably the best vocals in all of Korea, perhaps even all of Asia. The group that captured all our hearts. Too bad that amazing group is split up now, and Yoochun is part of JYJ. But my main point is that you started this drama for him. So need I explain further of who he is?

Lee Seonjoon is an arrogant Noron (political faction) with a rich and influential father who is the leader of the party. He enters Sungkyunkwan with his brains and receives hate from those around him. He follows his principles and doesn’t care about what others think, and he’s never had a friend. Yet this all changes over time.

Park Minyoung as Kim Yoonhee (mostly known as Kim Yoonshik):

Park Minyoung made her debut in the sitcom Unstoppable High Kick. She has also been featured in many CFs and advertisements in Korea. This is the very first time that I have seen her and her acting. However, I did read one article about her that sparked some interest – she admitted to having plastic surgery. I have already stated my beliefs and thoughts on this in another post, and I came to the realization long ago that a majority of actors (mostly actresses) and singers get plastic surgery. But most of them deny these rumors and they claim to be “all natural”. Yeah, all natural my butt. Anyways, Park Minyoung actually admitted to getting double eyelid and nose surgeries and I admire her for that. It takes a huge bunch of guts to tell all of Korea that and put your career on the line. Yet she did it.

Kim Yoonhee (under the name of Kim Yoonshik) is a female who has always had talent with writing and reciting various poems and books of Confucius. However, because she is a girl, she cannot get educated and her main job is to be a homemaker. Yet she resorts to disguising herself as a guy in order to earn money for her mom and sick brother. Out of her desperate need for money, she resorts to helping people cheat on the exams to get into Sungkyunkwan, but she ends up taking the test herself and getting in. She attends the school and makes friends with Lee Seonjoon and Moon Jaeshin as well as other students. She quickly gains the nickname “Big shot” because she is able to woo Cho Seon’s heart (the prettiest prostitute/gisaeng).

Song Joongki as Goo Yongha:

I heard of Song Joongki acting in this drama, but I was never really familiar with him; I only heard people refer to him as the pretty boy with his sweet and youthful face. However, I got to get to know him more through the variety show Running Man (which I love by the way). This actor has brains – he’s smart and insightful and also lovable. It seems as if everyone loves him, and I see why now.

Goo Yongha is the playful character of this drama. He seems to be in between the two rivals and not really on any side. He finds interest in Kim Yoonshik for a reason that he can’t really point out – he knows that Yoonshik is hiding something and he’s curious as to know what it is. Although he is playful, he can also switch to his serious mode easily.

Yoo Ahin as Moon Jaeshin/Geol Oh:

Yoo Ahin has acted in a few dramas and movies, notably The Man Who Can’t Get Married, Strongest Chil Woo, and Antique Bakery. This is the first time that I’ve seen him; in fact, through this drama, I have learned of Yoo Ahin.

Moon Jaeshin is the rebellious character of this drama. He doesn’t look like he would be a scholar as Sungkyunkwan and his rugged appearance makes him look mean and gangster-like, but in reality, his father is a man of power. His nickname, Geol Oh, means “crazy horse,” and indeed, he does live up to it. However, he secretly aids the poor and he’s against the corrupt. Despite his rough interior, he is very kind and helpful to those around him, especially Kim Yoonshik.

Synopsis (from Dramawiki):

Sungkyunkwan Scandal is set in Sungkyunkwan University in the late Joseon era during the reign of King Jeongjo, revolving around the exploits and love stories of four youths. When her younger brother’s illness worsens and their family is in danger of being evicted from their house for lack of money, Kim YoonHee enters the school under his name, disguised as a boy in her desperation to support him. There, she becomes friends with the intelligent and upright Lee SeonJoon, the playboy Goo YongHa and rebellious Moon JaeShin.

First Few Episodes:

The first few episodes of this drama were riveting; I think that by this point, I have realized that all of the beginning episodes of dramas need to be interesting in order to capture the audience’s interest, or else nobody’s going to watch the show. This drama started off on a high note and I was actually surprised, because I’m not really into historical dramas and I wasn’t sure about what to expect from this. But I was pleased with what I saw and I was hooked.


Highlights:

I love the whole “girl pretends to be boy” situation – in other dramas like You’re Beautiful, Hana Kimi, and Coffee Prince, I found myself falling in love with the protagonists who had to undergo some sort of temporary gender change in order to get something done. It’s no different here.

The Jalgeum Quartet of this drama (AKA F4) was another highlight – seriously, who doesn’t love these foursomes? Boys Before Flowers and You’re Beautiful are just some of the examples of a group of friends that go through everything together, thick and thin, even when others are against them. They unite and although they do go through some rough paths at times, they always end up reconciling and working together again.

This drama was pretty short and sweet. The other characters of this drama weren’t extremely evil and there was no parent opposition to the relationship that later formed. This drama didn’t leave me in tears and it wasn’t addicting, which was nice. I did not want to become addicted or obsessed to any drama at this point of my life since it was getting very busy at school, so this drama was the perfect watch for me during this time period.

Shortcomings:

I feel that the overall plot and story of this drama was very generic. There’s the arrogant rich guy  and the poor girl. Over time, they become friends and go through various situations, overcoming adversity and setting records in their school and all of history. So maybe the specific situations are different, but in the end, it’s all the same stuff, which became boring and too cliche for me.

This drama, in my opinion, went by really slowly. The start was a bit faster paced, but afterward, it was slow and became kind of boring. I would watch previews anticipating the next episode, but then the episode would turn out to be very slow and it seemed as if the majority of the parts in the episodes didn’t even need to be there.

A problem I had with this drama was also that it didn’t address some other issues and it ended too smoothly, making it very unrealistic. I liked how this drama was simple and everything, but I still feel that it should have been a bigger issue when Kim Yoonshik was discovered to be a female. Instead, there was no huge uproar about this; the whole discovery just ended peacefully and I felt that even though the issues were resolved, they were hastily resolved.


Additional Commentary: If you’re looking for a nice and breezy watch, then this drama is the one for you. However, it’s a drama that you could certainly live without needing to watch since it’s not very special and it doesn’t stand out amongst the crowd of all the other dramas.

Rating: 3.5/5