K-Drama Review: “At Eighteen” Explores The Struggles & Strengths Of Being Young

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At Eighteen shows why our youthful moments are special

Eighteen is the age where one is at the cusp of adulthood. At that age, one is mature enough to understand the realities of life. They are also in preparation to face the harsh challenges that life has to offer.

At Eighteen

At Eighteen threads on the story of confronting growing pains and transition to future years, that once experienced, you can never go back.

Title: At Eighteen
Network: jTBC
Themes: Slice of life, Youth, School
Length: 16 Episodes
Broadcast Date: 22 July 2019 to 10 September 2019
Main Leads: Ong Seong Wu, Kim Hyang Gi, Shin Seung Ho
Highlights: Sweet Innocent Romance, The Various Aspects of Youth, The Friendships
Overall Rating:
Re-watch Value:

With school environment as the setup, At Eighteen gives a glimpse on the life of young students. These people have to go through a lot of things during that age as they juggle among various activities – be it love life, academics, friendships or self-realizations. The drama shows how they grow as they face various problems and win over them.

Quick Plot Roundup

At Eighteen follows the journey of Choi Jun Woo (Ong Seong Wu) who transfers to Cheonbong High School. Jun Woo has always been a loner and subject of bullying in his previous school. He was also forced to transfer to a new school as he was accused of a violation that he did not even commit.

When Jun Woo arrives at Cheonbong High School, he is faced with even greater problems due to his background and history. As Jun Woo tackles his problems, he realizes that everyone around him has struggles of their own. They all move on to work together while facing the various hurdles that life throws in the way.

Read: K-Drama Premiere: “At Eighteen” Evokes Nostalgia And Presents Different Struggles Youths Are Going Through


Sweet Innocent Romance

The drama wonderfully portrayed the feelings of the first love. The main couple were extremely loving and caring towards each other. One cannot help but gush over when they shyly hold hands or go on first dates.

Choi Jun Woo and Yoo Soo Bin (Kim Hyang Gi), are wise beyond their years. When one of them went through a difficult time, the other gave a comforting nudge. They didn’t need words to convey their message.

Also, one of the most admirable points of the love pairing was that they did stick together even when faced with problems.

When Soo Bin’s mother was against the relationship, Jun Woo did promise her to stop seeing Soo Bin anymore. On the other hand, Soo Bin put extra efforts in her studies to prove to her mother that her relationship is not a distraction.

Throughout the drama, it was heartwarming to see how Jun Woo and Soo Bin’s relationship blossomed as time went by. As their relationship progressed, they brought out the best in each other.

Soo Bin helped Jun Woo in becoming a somebody out of nobody while Jun Woo too helped Soo Bin in confronting her insecurities.

The Various Aspects of Youth

The drama covered all the beautiful, as well as, ugly moments that one has to endure during their youth. Apart from the problems of the main couple, the drama also highlights the issues faced by their classmates and the other people around them.

Jun Woo suffered from being a loner and bullying. Soo Bin struggled in living up to her mother’s expectations of going to Seoul University. Ma Hwi Young felt the pressure of his parents’ incessant need to stay at the top among his peers.

Lee Ki Tae’s conscience was torn as he does the dirty work for Ma Hwi Young to stay in his clique. Jung Oh Je has his fears about the consequences that will occur when he comes out of the closet.

Besides them, there were other characters with many different personalities who add flavor to the drama.

The Friendships

School life was mostly fun because of the friends that are there to hold on to in times of trouble and do happier activities together on other days.

To Soo Bin, girl gang are goals. They had their conflicts when Ro Mi got jealous of Soo Bin and caused a quarrel with other girls. But in the end they worked it all out.

Some of the most memorable moments of the group were when they had a sleepover together and when the group helped Soo Bin sneak out to meet Jun Woo.

As for Jun Woo, who did started out as an outcast, he found friends in Jung Oh Je and Oh Han Kyeol. While Oh Je is a friend who never judged Jun Woo on the basis of the past rumours, Oh Han Kyeol is a teacher who understands Jun Woo’s heart.

It’s because of these people that Jun Woo was able to break out of his shell and realize that even nobodies like him deserve happiness.

In the midst of the parents who cared more about their reputation, Oh Han Kyeol was the teacher that everyone needed. He lent his ear to all his students as well as assured that it’s not the end of the world if they don’t make it as per the expectations set by society.

Recommendation and Afterthoughts

At Eighteen is one of the best school dramas of all times for me. It focused on both the bright and ugly sides that the youth has to face. Though headlined by a relatively young cast, their acting performances were commendable.

Kim Hyang Gi has already cemented her name as a prominent actress with her past works. In this drama too, she made the viewers fall in love with her as she takes on a more mature role.

On the other hand, this is Ong Seong Wu’s first acting endeavor, but he totally embraced his character in this role.

At Eighteen is a great watch for everyone regardless of age. While the youngsters might relate to issues highlighted in the drama, for adults it is a wistful reminiscence of the memorable moments of being young.

Read: K-Drama Mid-Series Check: “At Eighteen” Still Indulges In Nostalgic Feels While Telling Realistic And Believable Conflicts

Image Credit: jTBC