Midway through the first episode, I knew that I had made the right decision. My interest revved up and my focus was laser sharp. There’s nothing that I love more than a good “David & Goliath” tale where the humble underdog helps his hopeless peers survive against relentless bullies who’ve made a career of torment and humiliation. That ‘David’ was our lovely Park Seo-Joon, who played male lead, Park Sa Ro Yi, who endured a lot of loss, but never lost his fighting spirit, or hunger for all things fair and just.
You learn early on that this is a story of revenge. And you’re in on it, rooting until the end, hoping for a satisfactory judgment to make sense of all of the hardships dealt throughout the series. Some dramas take many episodes before adversarial characters are revealed, and some start out immediately, leaving you to hang on from beginning to end, as you await the villains’ inevitable doom. This is the latter. And you will have to wait. But that only makes revenge sweeter in the end, doesn’t it?
Enter Jo Yi-seo, played by the extraordinary Kim Da-Mi. If ever there was a breakout star of 2020, it was she. What she brought to her character, and the drama, was exciting, fresh, and downright kick-ass. She was vengeance, strength, and strategy, all in one. It took more time that I had wished for Park Sa-Ro-yi to realize that he needed her, because he did. She was such an important piece of his puzzle and his plot. She had just enough grit, with a devil-may-care attitude, and the confidence to back it up.
Fun Fact: Kim Da-Mi’s character is a Capricorn, and it’s important to know that. She’s everything that we’ve been taught to hate: fiery, back-stabbing, over-ambitious, and a winner at all costs – even if it’s ugly. But she was NECESSARY and this story needed someone like her to stay by Sa Ro Yi’s side. If this was the Game of Thrones, she would definitely be the Arya Stark of this storyline.
I would definitely say that the theme of this drama was definitely Inclusivity. Revenge aside, this was a story of friendships made with outcasts, and a shepherd who cared enough to glue them together as one. They may not have been in the highest social class, but they did a great job of creating a class of their own: The Itaewon Class!
Now, don’t get me wrong, as much as I loved this drama, it was also very FRUSTRATING to watch as well. It takes a lot of patience, control, and heavy breathing to get through parts that make you want to punch the TV, as you say to yourself, “This will all work out in the end, I’m sure.”