K-Drama Review: “My Strange Hero” Triumphs Through Sweet Revenge With A Brave Concept
My Strange Hero took its viewers on an exhilarating roller coaster ride.
SBS‘ My Strange Hero’s satirical take on educational discrimination was ambitious but rewarding.
The drama was mainly about the discrimination inside the Seulsong High School. Students were classified according to their grades. The school treated their top students with luxury while students at the bottom were barely treated well.
TITLE: MY STRANGE HERO
THEME: ROMANCE, SOCIAL SATIRE
LENGTH: 16 EPISODES
BROADCAST DATE: 10 DEC 2018 TO 04 FEB 2019
MAIN LEADS: YOO SEUNG HO, JO BO AH, KWAK DONG YEON,
HIGHLIGHTS: BRILLIANT CHARACTER PORTRAYAL, SMOOTH NARRATIVE
RELATED DRAMAS: Sassy Go Go
It was a difficult and painful journey for Kang Bok Soo. The school kicked him out nine years ago and his life went downhill ever since. Vowing to gain revenge, he goes back to school. Instead of finding revenge, he finds closure, forgiveness, and love instead.
QUICK PLOT ROUNDUP
Nine Years Ago: When It All Started
Top students Soo Jeong and the chairwoman’s son Se Ho are friends with Bok Su, the student with the worst grades in school. As a trio, they were inseparable and shared many happy memories together.
Things went awry when Se Ho realized that Soo Jeong, the girl he likes, was in love with Bok Su. Se Ho was a boy with envy and insecurity bottled up inside him. He is an overachiever because he is hungry for his mom’s attention. Everything he wanted in life, he saw that Bok Su had them. Se Ho could see that Bok Su is well-loved by his family despite having the worst grades. He resented the popularity Bok Su had with their class. And finally, he was angry when Soo Jeong chose Bok Su over him.
Out of spite, he purposely revealed to their class that Soo Jeong was poor and lived on food stamps. He then lied to Soo Jeong and told her that Bok Su revealed the truth. Soo Jeong was then ostracized and pitied, something she hates the most.
In an emotional confrontation on the rooftop, Bok Su and Se Ho argued about Soo Jeong. Se Ho stood on the edge of the roof, threatening to jump. Despite their argument, Bok Su ran to save him. Soo Jeong stood at the door, overhearing their conversation. Se Ho framed Bok Su by yelling for him to save him. However, he actually let go of Bok Su’s hand.
Because of Se Ho’s accident, Bok Su was expelled from the school.
Revenge is Back
Back to the present day, Bok Su has been living aimlessly. He sets up a business with his high school friends Min Ji and Gyeong Hyeon. Deep inside though, Bok Su is still angry and hurt about what happened nine years ago. He is particularly upset at Soo Jeong for betraying him.
By coincidence, Bok Su saves both Soo Jeong and her student Young Min from an accident. To please the public, Seulsong High School accepts Bok Su. The decision comes from none other than Se Ho, the new chairman of the school. Immediately, the former friends clash.
Se Ho begins rolling out changes to the school. He sets up the Wildflower class, composed of students with the lowest grades. Bok Su’s former girlfriend Soo Jeong gets assigned to that class. Soo Jeong got the teaching position because she bribed the administration.
Bok Su, together with his Your Request friends, begins plotting his revenge. They uncover the corruption going on in the school. Slowly they gather evidence that could potentially destroy the entire school.
Love is Sweeter the Second Time Around
As they spend more time together in school, Soo Jeong and Bok Su begin to realize they still have feelings for each other. This proves to be a dilemma for Soo Jeong as she constantly reminds herself of her boundaries as his teacher.
Soo Jeong is reminded of how safe and happy she felt around Bok Su. She recalls how school was a happy place for her because Bok Su is there. She realizes that she still loves Bok Su.
Meanwhile, Bok Su’s anger at Soo Jeong starts to fade. They struggle to get past their traumatic history and start afresh. Ultimately, they decide to give it another try and get back together.
Bok Su and his friends continue to gather incriminating evidence against the school. Teacher Park, who was their own teacher back when they were students, is unable to accept what he learned. He does his best to get matters sorted. Eventually, Teacher Park leaves the school.
Heartbroken, Bok Su is more determined than ever to expose the school. He releases a video that detailed all the evidence he had. An investigation is launched immediately after.
Chairwoman Lim has enough clout to keep herself protected. She convinces Principal Kim to take the blame instead. The chairwoman reminds him that she had the power to get him reinstated as long as he saves her. She fires her own son and everyone else involved with him to reinstate herself as the chairwoman.
The Walls Came Crashing Down
Se Ho holds his own press conference. As a belated apology to Bok Su, he admits that the incident nine years ago was all his doing. He reveals that Bok Su was innocent all along.
They are surprised that Teacher Park is now the chairman for their investigation. He calls on the witnesses and one by one, they begin testifying against Chairwoman Lim.
Knowing that she is trapped in a corner, she convinces Se Ho to take the blame once again in an effort to save herself. She threatens him that she would close down the school if he doesn’t admit he is behind all the corruption.
She talks to the prosecution and tells them that Se Ho is behind everything. His own mother tells them that Se Ho manages everything in the school while he was in the US.
Even though it was against his will, Se Ho goes on to admit that it is all his doing. Bok Su wouldn’t have it though, because he rushes to stop Se Ho. He tells him that lying won’t make things right. Se Ho decides to tell the whole truth.
Chairwoman Lim still tries to close down the school. Even though she gets Se Ho to cover for her, she goes to the school to get it appraised for the sale. The students and teachers all block their entry. Bok Su tries to convince her not to step on the students by giving her a flower. Cruelly, she drops it to the ground and steps on it still. The students and teachers watch in silence.
Suddenly, the police come to arrest her. They tell her that her own son has changed his testimony and testified against her instead. Bok Su gets the arrest on video and releases it publicly. The video helps save the school from getting closed down permanently.
The Strange But Happy Ending
After Soo Jeong resigned from the school, she tries to find another dream. Bok Su made her realize that being a teacher is something she was meant to be. Because of what she did before, it took Soo Jeong three tries before she became a teacher again.
Bok Su goes on to graduate from high school & eventually became a student teacher. Teacher Park returns to Seulsong High School as its principal.
Se Ho found peace. He accepted that his mom did not love him the way he would have wanted to. He met her on the day she was released from prison. With quiet pride, he lets her know that he no longer hurts whenever he sees her. He is encouraged knowing that he has changed. He also tells his mom that someday he hopes that she changes too.
And although Bok Su does not forgive Se Ho for what happened, he tells his former friend that he hopes Se Ho would someday forgive himself.
Although nine years late, Soo Jeong and Bok Su also get their own happy ending.
THE FLAWED HERO KANG BOK SU
Yoo Seung Ho is on a class of his own. He utilizes every angle of his face and every expression he has. The brilliant actor effectively conveys even the slightest emotion even just by narrowing his eyes. He epitomizes the unexpected and flawed hero role very well.
Bok Su was a man driven by hurt. He wanted to hurt those who hurt him. But inwardly there lay his kindness and compassion. No matter how he tried to hold it back, he always ended up doing the right thing.
He was a natural leader for the Wildflower class. Under his guidance, the Wildflowers bloomed. They gained confidence in themselves because they had Bok Su who encouraged them and cheered them on.
Bok Su is the kind of friend you would want whenever you are discouraged. He wanted things to change so he went for it fearlessly. He fought for the students who were treated unfairly by the school. But he also fought for the students the school favored.
The Broken Villain
Repeatedly I have stated that Kwak Dong Yeong was intensely good in this drama. He brought out conflicting emotions in me every time. I was heartbroken for the little boy longing for his mother’s love. But on the other hand, he made me insanely mad with his rash decisions that he made out of jealousy and spite.
He managed to bring together a darkness in his character, who was motivated not by a mean streak, but a hurt and broken spirit. Over the years, he grew numb because of the lack of love from his mom. He lashed out on the people who genuinely cared for him.
In an ideal world, it would have been preferable that Bok Su would have forgiven him. But what I liked most about My Strange Hero was that they portrayed emotions realistically. Se Ho ruined Bok Su’s life because of his lie, of course it would be difficult to forgive him.
EXCELLENT CAST PORTRAYAL
For me, a drama has an excellent cast when all the scenes are watch-worthy. In My Strange Hero, the entire cast pulled their weight and portrayed their roles well. They were believable and entertaining. Even scenes that weren’t particularly riveting still managed to hold my attention.
Kudos to the entire cast for this excellent drama aside from Yoo Seung Ho and Kwak Dong Yeon. Kim Yeo Jin as Chairwoman Lim Se Kyeong was so effective that she broke my heart even more than she broke her son’s heart. She was cruel and showed no remorse whatsoever. She made her character so cruelly evil that there was no chance of redemption for her.
The rest of the cast was stellar as well. Cheon Ho Jin as Teacher Park was like a caring but grumpy grandfather. He genuinely cared for his students but showed in it a rough way.
The students of the Wildflower class managed to capture my attention individually. On this part, kudos to the writers for creatively portraying the students’ personalities. As a whole, they were a charming and entertaining bunch. But individually, they were given such interesting and unique personalities that it made me want to get to know them more. I’m glad that the finale episode gave me the closure I longed for on this lovable bunch.
My Strange Hero was an intoxicating experience. It captured my attention from the very start. They managed to keep me hooked all throughout the drama. I got sucked in and felt the pain of Bok Su when he was betrayed. I was furious at Se Ho but I wanted to hold him in my arms too. In the end, I rooted for the entire Wildflower class and wished for their success. I was elated when Bok Su became a teacher.
As a viewer, I love it when dramas suck me in and keep me enthralled all the way. I have no drawbacks for this drama because it was just so entertaining. The actors portrayed their roles well. Yoo Seung Ho was a great choice as Bok Su, I can’t imagine any other actor in this role but him. Jo Bo Ah supported him well. She was also flawed but brave enough to admit to her mistakes. She had courage when she needed to own up to her faults and she did so with grace.
I chose this drama because of Yoo Seung Ho. But I loved the drama in its entirety. It was heartbreaking to think that if students would have to go through this in reality.
My Strange Hero is available on the K-plus Channel.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Nicole is on a mission to watch every K-Drama ever made. Her absolute favorite drama would be Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo.
She is currently watching Babel, Liver or Die, Legal High and Fates and Furies. She is also counting the days until the premiere of The Light In Your Eyes.