Ah, another school-life drama about teenage rivalry and war against the authorities. Sassy Go Go met all my expectations and didn’t give me a single twist. The drama brings nothing new to the realm of school motifs but for some reason, I clung onto it and watched it until the very last second, even the credits. For that, I’d have to thank Eunji with her never-ending charm, and of course, the scriptwriter for making me feel so angry that I had to see how it ends.
Eunji, a singer from Apink who plays Kang Yeon Doo, embodies her role perfectly as a loyal but feisty teenager. Although she does a good job at being spunky, as her fan I really wish she can pick a bitchy femme fatale for her next project. Yeon Doo fights authority with all her might throughout the 12 episodes in order to protect her passion and her friends. Obviously she doesn’t do a good job of it because she has no power, but through the support of her family and friends and a very kind teacher, she is able to come out on top of this corrupted mess.
The warm relationships are the best part of this drama. From Yeon Doo’s interactions with her friends, with her mother, and with the only teacher she can trust, the drama attempts to remind viewers of a time when they were young and those relationships were everything to them. I’m not that much older than Yeon Doo in the drama, but because I’m so different from her energetic and friendly self, I couldn’t relate very well. Instead, I watched with envy as she runs around with her friends, wondering why I never once did that. I rooted for the whole team not only because I thought it was right for them to win the fight, but also because of the love they made me feel.
Speaking of love, Yeon Doo’s love interest also made me feel a lot of things. One look from Kim Yeol, played by Lee Won Geun, made me feel like I was 15 again and my crush had just acknowledged my existence. I had to press pause during some of his moments with Yeon Doo because I just couldn’t handle how they made my heart thump. I can’t say they have explosive chemistry, but I can vouch for how adorable they are together. Nothing like a little teenage love to make you want to cringe and smile like an idiot at the same time.
Aside from making viewers like me want to blush, Yeol is disappointing as a lead character. In comparison to his friend, Seo Ha Joon, Yeol was written to be flatter than a pancake. While Ha Joon has a heart-wrenching backstory complete with a history of suicide attempts and domestic abuse, Yeol is just rich. It seems to be a recurring trend that the lead is never as complicated as a supporting character in Korean dramas, but I digress.
While we’re on the topic of complicated characters, let’s talk about the main antagonist, Kwon Soo Ah. She starts out as a fake friend but spirals into what one could truly call an evil character. I thought she was despicable but I found it difficult to hate her. It’s because she showed me just how dangerous it is when a young person is subjected to intense pressure but has no support system. Soo Ah is anxious, stressed, unhappy, and there is no one who could help her break out of the mess. Her actions are ugly, inexcusable, but I felt immense pity for her. Soo Ah is an exemplary character because she shows us exactly why scriptwriters continue to use the school-life motif again and again.
Everywhere you turn, you can find a school-life drama in Korea. I’m convinced that there’s nothing newer they can do with this motif. So why do they keep doing it?
It’s because the education system hasn’t changed.
Korean students are under an extreme amount of pressure to succeed academically, and it is not unheard of that the number of suicide attempts increase around examination time. Education is a fundamental part of Korean culture, but it can be suffocating for students as they have little say in making decisions for their future. High school students aim to get into the SKY universities (Seoul National, Korea, and Yonsei) as if their lives depend on it. But that’s not really an exaggeration. The workforce is very saturated and it’s incredibly difficult to get a white-collar job even if one has a degree from a great university. There may be an abundance of school dramas, but there are even more dramas on how hard it is to get a job, and how hard it is to stay in a job.
That being said, Sassy Go Go is a good choice for people who haven’t seen any Korean dramas. It introduces some societal problems wrapped with heart-warming friendships and a fuzzy teenage romance that keeps you watching til the end. Would I say it’s outstanding? No. But it certainly gets a go from me.
If you are tired of seeing corruption in the education system and chaebol posses, watch something else. If you love Eunji and want to see justice being defended, go right ahead.