The Queen’s Classroom: the review

queensclassroom posterThe Queen’s Classroom
air date: 6.12.2013 through 8.1.2013
number of episodes: 16
I watched it: increasingly engrossed marathon

In a nutshell: Don’t let the elementary school setting or large child-actor cast fool you. This drama takes a dark dive into group psychology and the human psyche, with bullying scenes so intense they almost need a warning. (If you’ve ever been bullied, those scenes will cut to the bone.) We follow a bright and bubbly sixth grader, trying to survive the year despite her cruel teacher’s best efforts to break her. But is her teacher really the witch her nickname suggests? Or are there good motivations hidden beneath her foreboding exterior? The drama keeps the students and the viewers guessing. And the final reveal is compelling and thought provoking without whitewashing or undermining what has come before. Based off a Japanese Drama of the same name, this is a tightly told, highly satisfying, addictive watch. Definitely a must-see.

The Students: The sixth grade setting is perfect for the story being told. In the process of leaving childish things behind, the students are preparing for adulthood. About to start the intense academic race that will determine their schooling and their career, puberty just sinking its hormonal hooks in, they’re already in a volatile place and ripe for manipulation.

Our protagonist is Shim Ha-na (Kim Hyang-gi).

HaNa

She’s friendly and outgoing, the mood-making youngest daughter of her middle-class family, eager for her last year of elementary school to be all about friendship and creating happy memories.

Ha-na’s best friend, Go Na-ri (Lee Young-yoo), is a classic queen-bee — popular, political, powerful.

NaRi

Her parents are part of Korea’s wealthy elite, her mother runs the parents’ association with a Versace-clad iron fist, and Na-ri has been raised to follow in her mother’s well-heeled footsteps.

The thorn in Ha-na’s side is class clown, Oh Dong-goo (Chun Bo-geun).

DongGo

Outgoing and awkward, he expresses his long-time crush on Ha-na via the usual boy-methods of clumsy pranks and teasing. Oblivious to how much he annoys those around him, Dong-goo is always ready with a bad quip or comic routine to “entertain” his fellow classmates.

Someone Ha-na would like to become friends with is school legend, and self-contained loner, Kim Seo-hyun (Kim Sae-ron).

SeoHyun

Her high intelligence could easily segue into a leadership position. But Seo-hyun’s personal preference is to avoid social interaction or classroom politics and stick to being an aloof observer. She’s the first to recognize Teacher Ma’s manipulations.

And then there’s Eun Bo-mi (Seo Shin-ae), the class wallflower.

BoMi

Not so much bullied as neglected, she’s friendless and powerless and chronically overlooked. Until Teacher Ma arrives and begins shaking up the status quo.

Teacher Ma: Also known as, Witch Ma (Ko Hyun-jung), her arrival coincides with a massive thunderstorm.

TeacherMa1

TeacherMa2 The steady clicking of her practical heels warns of her approach… except for those times when she’s suddenly just there. Cruel, merciless, demanding and domineering, she’s like an anti-Mary Poppins. There’s something unworldly about her, from her extensive knowledge of her students TeacherMa3to the way she seems to be everywhere — no matter the time, no matter the location.

She takes full advantage of her authority and power, manipulating her classroom like a master puppeteer, turning her students against each other, making their lives a living hell. But to what purpose? That’s the question that will niggle as the drama unfolds. Eventually, the mystery of Teacher Ma herself, becomes the heart of the story.

In Conclusion: The struggles the students go through, though occurring in the petrie dish of their classroom, translates well into the adult world. And The Queen’s Classroom never waters down the danger inherit in Teacher Ma’s methods, nor waves away the consequences. It’s a highly entertaining watch, but it’s also filled with ethical and philosophical questions that will keep you thinking long after the final episode ends. Don’t let this drama pass you by.

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10 thoughts on “The Queen’s Classroom: the review

  1. I’m marathoning all the dramas I KIVed this year in a mad rush to finish them before the year ends. I’ve just finished School 2013 (love!) and this one’s next. Yay for the thumbs up!

    • And yay for good timing! 😉 It’s a good order, I think — because this covers more of the girl-bullying that School 2013 missed. (Because of the bromance — which was epic enough I totally forgive them.) I hope you like it!

      Question: What does KIV stand for? The best I can come up with is Kept In View and… I’m pretty sure I’m wrong.

      • Nope, you’re right! It’s Keep In View, i.e. for stuff you’ll get to in the future, or as is often in my case, work you procrastinate on. My to-do list is full of KIVs 🙂

        Yes, I remain hopeful that I’ll like this, not least because it doesn’t sound like it’s full of kiddy aegyo!

          • You are! 🙂

            Oh and by the way, I’m mulling over a blog post that I’d need help from other bloggers, mind if I email you some questions? It’s nothing that should take up too much time, and neither is it time-sensitive. I’m still ruminating over it so if you’re game I’ll send it over when I’m done. Feel free to say no (such a valuable skill to learn, one that I have yet to master ;P)

  2. I was just about to post some gifs of Seo Shin Ae in Thank you and I saw this! I love Ko Hyun-Jung as well! Awww ok, I think I’ll start this pretty soon! maybe even today ha!

    • Oh, I hope you enjoy it! Both Seo Shin-ae and Ko Hyun-jung have deliciously meaty roles.

      Aaand, I just popped over to your blog to check out the gifs and I didn’t see Seo Shin-ae but I did see Jang Hyuk’s shower scenes and… another drama has just been added to my “must-watch” list. 😀 (If I say, “thank you,” it’s a little too neat, yes?)

      • You are so welcome (and to the blog too ;)) I’m writing the post as we speak 🙂 Thank You is a lovely drama. Highly recommended (the shower scenes are a nice bonus)

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