Itaewon Class – and the struggles of Second Lead

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Itaewon Class is problematically titled. It’s not your regular high school teenage love story but a rather serious drama that portrays power struggle amidst diversity, prejudice, and discrimination. But what really troubled me all through its sixteen episodes is the battle for the leading lady role.

Itaewon Class Plot Summary

Netflix Kdrama series, Itaewon Class, revolves around the story the aloof high student, Park Saeroyi who has set his mind for revenge after getting bullied by the rich chaebol, Jang Guen Won. His remorse upscale when his father fell victim to a hit-and-run accident caused by the same person. Armed by his unsettling determination, he pursues his dreams of defeating Jangga Co. by earning the top spot for Korea’s food industry.

The Struggle of Second Leads – unnecessary opinion

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Because this is not a romantic drama, the angle for romance is way too subtle – too subtle that you hardly recognize it. In fact, it would need you to watch all 14 episodes before the OTP gets revealed.

At first glance, it’s easy to spot Cho Yi-seo as the main lead of Itaewon Class. However, there is an overlapping build-up of emotion towards her and Saeroyi’s first love, Soo Ah. Which gets me asking: who really is the second lead of this drama?

For the love of tsundere, my heart will always go to the headstrong likes of Cho Yi-seo. Her badass character reminds me so much of Kim Hwa-gun of Master of the Mask. But her role is not much celebrated compared to Soo Ah – whose affiliation with Saeroyi seeds from the beginning of the story. That’s why I’ve always felt that Cho Yi-seo is the second lead.

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Yes, they ended up together. But it felt so half-baked. Way too forced. In fact, I wouldn’t have mind it if they won’t end up together. But, of course, this is just an unnecessary opinion.

For the love of Second Leads

However, I’d like to believe that the spirit of second lead struggle extends beyond the sixteen episodes of Itaewon Class. Like Cho Yi-seo, we’d most likely cling to that little hope of getting what we so wanted in the end. Stubborn heart – even if we’re not always chosen despite giving all our best. However, I wish we could someday resonate with Ellen Adarana as well: I left, gwapa ko.

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I hope we get to that day when we’d be able to finally decide to leave everything that has been weighing us down. That we finally recognize that there’s so much more to us than the trash they’ve been making us feel. To put more value on ourselves. To save ourselves from further pain. Because deep down we know, we owe it to ourselves.

We have to accept that some love will never be reciprocated.

And that if it doesn’t open, maybe, it’s not our door. Here’s to choosing what really makes us happy.


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