Yesterday I finished watching the kdrama Sang Doo, Let’s Go to School (상두야,학교가자!), starring Bi/Rain and Gong Hyo Jin. It had a promising setup: guy working as a gigolo in order to pay his daughter’s hospital bills meets a girl from his past who has no clue what he’s up to now. Naturally, she was his first love and he’s still in love with her. As cliched as the whole “first love” thing is, I thought it worked here. But someone needs to tell the writers of kdramas that it can’t all be about the love story. Dramas really work much better if the characters have external goals beyond getting together.
The characters played by Bi and Gong Hyo Jin have no external goals, and the plot is further watered down by the addition of love interests for each of them. I suppose the love interests are intended to increase the conflict, but there would have been plenty of conflict if the writers had come up with a storyline that forced Bi and Gong Hyo Jin to come into constant contact with each other whether they liked it or not. He’s ashamed of his present life and they both have secrets from their past that they’re hiding, so in terms of emotional content there’s already plenty. I would have liked to see the writers do something like have Gong Hyo Jin set up an amateur sting operation to catch Bi and/or his uncle (also a gigolo). Based on the first episode, the drama could totally have gone that direction. It just didn’t.
There was nothing wrong with the acting. I particularly like Rain when he’s doing sad scenes. This drama didn’t make me cry, but it did have some poignant moments. But ultimately I foresaw virtually every plot twist, and it felt like most of the stuff was being added in to fill up the full 16 episodes. The only thing they didn’t put in? You guessed it, a plot. I wanted to like this drama, but ultimately it was a disappointment.
P.S. On the bright side, this was the first kdrama I’ve seen where a character gets a nosebleed from working too hard and lack of sleep and doesn’t end up having leukemia.
P.P.S. Also on the bright side, I’ve now learned how to say “gigolo” in Korean. I’m sure this word will stand me in good stead…