Itaewon Class tells the story of ex-convict Park Sae-ro-yi (Park Seo-joon) whose life has been turned upside down after he gets expelled from school for punching a bully and his father is killed in an accident. Following his father's steps, he opens his bar-restaurant DanBam (Sweet Night) in Itaewon. Alongside his manager, Jo Yi-seo (Kim Da-mi) and his staff, he strives towards success and reaching greater heights while battling against a food conglomerate.
Itaewon class was a highly anticipated drama because, you know - Park Seo Joon! While going into this drama I had a few pre-conceived notions on how this drama would be. After watching trailers and a couple of videos, I expected it to be about an ex-convict struggling to make a career in the restaurant field along with a romantic backstory. And even though the plot include this, the main premise is actually all about revenge.
So naturally, it took me by surprise that this wasn’t your usually fluffy romcom drama but had tons of emotions that’ll twist you up. The main characters battle with grief, poverty, family, pride, etc. It’s not over whelming but has definitely way more substance and emotions.
The first two episodes set the track for the backstory, where Park Saero-Yi, lives with his father and goes to high school. Saero-Yi’s father works in Janga Group, a conglomerate. Sae-ro-yi gets expelled for punching CEO Jang's son, Geun-won, who was bullying a classmate, and becomes bereaved when his father is killed in an accident caused by Geun-won's reckless driving. Angered by the loss, he attacks Geun-won, leading to his three-year imprisonment.
Now in the present timeline of the story, seven years after his bail, Saero-Yi struggles to set-up a bar called DanBam (Sweet Night) in a bustling street called Itaewon. His bar staff include Jang Geun Soo (Jang’s illegitimate son, which Saero-Yi is unaware of), Choi Seung-Kwon also an ex-convict who was Saero-Yi’s cellmate, Ma Hyeon-Yi a sincere and hard worker and the most important and epic character I have seen in all my kdrama years – Jo-Yi Seo. I hate-loved her character a lot.
I actually just watched this whole revenge fest just for Jo Yi Seo! Her character arc is superb. She is shown as having an 80% chance of being a sociopath but is really just frank and will do anything to succeed. I believe she follows the Charles Darwin principle – survival of the fittest. She works extremely hard to be the number one because she fears of not being needed and cast away. She has a very high IQ for a woman her age. She’s also a social media influencer.
Apart from her badassery there is a very very very slow burning romance between Yi Seo and Saero-Yi. So slow that most fans were not sure their power couple would have a happy ending. But rest assured, it all ends well.
The revenge aspect doesn’t make for my usual fluffy romance but rather a slightly dark and angsty plot. I might not be the majority with not loving with drama as everyone seems to have, but I definitely loved the two characters (Saero-Yi & Yi Seo) enough to like it.
Meet the cast
Park Seo-joon as Park Sae-ro-yi
Yoo Jae-myung as Jang Dae-hee
Lee Joo-young as Ma Hyeon-yi
Kim Da-mi as Jo Yi-seo
Kim Dong-hee as Jang Geun-soo
Kwon Nara as Oh Soo-ah
Ahn Bo-hyun as Jang Geun-won