The Fangirl Verdict

Completely biased reviews and fangirling

Dropped: Moorim School

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This is another one of those times when my desire to love a show far outweighs my actual love for said show.

Dismal ratings aside, I’d actually found Moorim School fairly enjoyable in its earlier episodes. Sure, it was far from love at first sight (or even serious like at first sight), but with some lens adjustment, I’d actually found this a pleasant sort of watch, for a while. Too bad that strategy couldn’t see me through to the end.

STUFF THAT WAS NOT GREAT

I didn’t have a lot of expectations of this show, and yet, Moorim still managed to bemuse me a fair bit, right off the bat. Here’s a quick list of the things that I didn’t care for too much, pretty much right from the beginning.

  • The backstories and set-up of both male leads felt quite random and their respective connections to Moorim felt forced. Shi Woo’s (Lee Hyun Woo) whole kpop idol backstory seemed weirdly arbitrary. Like, why does he have to be a kpop idol? And the way second lead Chi Ang (Hong Bin) changed his mind and decided he wanted to go to Moorim also felt really odd.
  • Hong Bin’s a terribly green actor, and watching his awkward delivery made Chi Ang’s initial entitled ass sort of character ten times worse. Just, so hard to watch. His character quickly being sweet on Soon Duk (Seo Ye Ji) also felt fake and rather annoying.
  • Generally speaking, the delivery among the Moorim student characters isn’t great. Even Lee Hyun Woo, whom I’ve seen do much better (like in Equator Man), seems to be performing at less than his best.
  • The teachers at Moorim are so juvenile in their behavior that I questioned how they ever became teachers at Moorim in the first place, where students are supposed to learn things like values and honor. All the screen time dedicated to the teachers’ petty conversations felt like pointless filler.
  • …Which pretty much culminates in this one single point: the writing in this show isn’t great.

STUFF THAT SEEMED PROMISING

In spite of a bemusing start, I actually came around to what I felt were Moorim’s charms, at least for a while. Here’s them:

The Disney X-Men vibe

The lens that I found myself using, was the X-Men lens. Principal Hwang (Shin Hyun Joon), with his secretive air and that knowing gleam in his eyes, totally reminded me of Professor X. And the hints of special powers – what with Principal Hwang and his magic seal, and hints at other special abilities in other characters, like Shi Woo – felt perfectly X-Men-esque to me.

At the same time, Show’s got a rather Disney channel sort of vibe to it, in that everything’s pretty simplistic, straightforward and pat. It feels like a show aimed at tweens, in tone and sensibility, which can be rather pleasant, once expectations are adjusted to suit.

With this odd mashup of a lens on, I actually found myself enjoying this show, against all logic (and the poor writing and acting).

Generally likable characters

Overall, I do find our main characters likable, and that went a long way in terms of making this an enjoyable watch.

Soon Duk is cute without being (too) cutesy, and that counted for a lot in my books. There’s hardly anything try-hard about her, and I rather like her low husky voice, which is the opposite of what one might expect from a Candy-esque heroine. Sun Ah (Jung Yoo Jin) is badass and nice, a very desirable combination indeed. Shi Woo actually comes across as pretty grounded, for someone who’s used to being treated like a VIP.

…And Hong Bin gets less cringeworthy after the first couple of episodes. Which helps make Chi Ang a more likable character as well. (I think it’s partly that he settles into the role, and partly that my expectations were lowered so much by his initial terrible performance, heh.)

On a tangent, I must say Lee Hyun Woo has bulked up quite a lot. He now actually looks borderline beefy, which makes his body look more mature than his face. Which is odd. But is totally kpop at the same time. Here, lookie:

The touch of bromance

I found the budding friendship between Shi Woo and Chi Ang a nice touch, even though I thought it was mostly quite clumsily executed. (Seriously, some serious suspension of disbelief was required. I mean, wolf?? Really?)

But because I’d rather Shi Woo and Chi Ang be friends than enemies, I willingly looked past all the shortcomings in Show’s how in developing their friendship, and focused on the what instead.

MY QUICK THOUGHTS ON THE LOVELINE

Honestly, the loveline between Shi Woo and Soon Duk is predictable, as is Chi Ang’s trajectory as the lovelorn second lead. The sudden ramping up of the hyperawareness of Soon Duk and Shi Woo for each other in episode 6 also feels quite random and premature. But, because I found it novel to see Lee Hyun Woo acting like a romantic leading man, I was willing to close both eyes to how awkward it sometimes got.

Sadly, despite my interest in seeing Lee Hyun Woo act like a romantic leading man, I also soon felt like Lee Hyun Woo was uncomfortable being a romantic leading man. It seemed to me that his smoldering looks didn’t sit naturally on him, and even though his kissing scene was very decent, I felt rather unconvinced overall. I guess he’s not used to being a romantic leading man yet?

WHEN IT STARTED GOING DOWNHILL FOR ME

My interest in this show was always more about the younger characters learning to be decent people and growing up, and less about the secretive interwebbed history of, well, almost all of our main characters. I found the backstory burdensome and more than a touch too heavy for this Disney-esque drama world. I also found Moorim taking itself way too seriously in theory, and being way too lame in practicality.

So, as the secretive backstory increased in screen time, my interest in the show decreased in roughly equal measure. Additionally, every time things at Moorim got Very, Very Serious, then copped out with a lame resolution, my interest also decreased accordingly.

This would be around the episode 6-8 stretch.

[SPOILER ALERT]

Like, the silly potluck party part of the exam in episode 6. Seriously? Getting all dressed up and presenting a dish? That’s not quite a potluck party, at least, not the kind that makes sense to me. And to have everyone take it So Seriously, like their lives depended on it – that was a little much.

Even sillier is the surprise portion of the exam in episode 7, where the teachers drug the students (what?? Like, what was that about values and honor again?) and leave them to find their way out of a faked fire. The whole thing was built up to be Mega Dramatic, but ended up being resolved without a lot of fuss. Plus, the entire thing accomplished nothing at all, in terms of Sun Ah’s and Shi Woo’s fire trauma. Which, Pfft.

[END SPOILER]

DECIDING ON GOODBYE

In spite of Show’s missteps, I was able to hang in there fairly well, until episode 9. That’s about the point where things just stopped working for me.

With Show’s emphasis shifting strongly in favor of the secretive backstory, and the stretches of mildly engaging personal arcs barely blipping over the course of an episode, I could literally feel Show losing me. I kid you not, I was literally falling asleep while watching episode 9. Not good.

On a shallow note, I also found that I didn’t care much for Lee Hyun Woo’s new dark hair. He somehow seemed much cooler with the silver. And so, with everything else going to pot for me, hotness points lost for the male lead totally didn’t help the situation. 😛

Giving it some thought after almost falling asleep on episode 9, I realized that I don’t care one bit what the truth is, around that Epic Backstory That Is So Secretive. I also don’t care whether Shi Woo and Soon Duk become a campus couple. And while I might care a little bit about Shi Woo’s ears and how he gets better, and a little bit about Chi Ang’s personal growth, I guess I don’t care enough, to spend another 7 hours of my life on Moorim.

Sorry, Moorim. I wanted to like you. But it’s just not working out between us. I’ll try to think fondly of the better times we had, ok?

Author: kfangurl

Proud to be a k-fangirl since 2007. Main diet of kdramas with movies and kpop on the side.

21 thoughts on “Dropped: Moorim School

  1. I absolutely love that you admit to loss of hotness in the main character being a factor in dropping the show. I admit, there HAVE been shows that I didn’t drop because, “eh, there’s enough pretty to keep me somewhat interested.” *cough*heirsandfaith*cough* I’m a bit more discerning now, having seen many-a-drama.

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    • Hee! As a die-hard fangirl, the hotness of a character is ALWAYS a factor, for me! XD Of course, it doesn’t always see me through to the bitter end (I did drop Hyde, Jekyll, Me after all. Even Hyun Bin couldn’t save that show for me!), but it definitely never hurts. 😉 It’s entirely possible that if they’d let Shi Woo keep his silver hair, that I might’ve hung on for a few more episodes, lol.

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  2. It’s on my to-watch-but-not-sure-i-will list xD All I can say is for me, Lee Hyun Woo has been good in mature roles, so I can’t really picture him playing high school students anymore. Like maybe a regular college student? But, in my mind, he’s either the maknae among guys in their late 20’s and older or just someone in their early 20’s with other people in their early 20’s doing stuff people in their early 20’s do but teenagers don’t? If that makes any sense. A high school setting just doesn’t fit in my mind… Judging from the 2 posters, it seems like they’re not about the same drama. The first one looks like some thriller action noir drama and the second one like some teen “once upon a time” style drama. It’s actually interesting how they tried to sell the drama with 2 opposite moods.

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    • If you’d asked me earlier in my watch whether you should check this show out, I would’ve probably said, “Yeah, why not?” …But now, after completely losing interest in the show after 9 eps, I’d say your limited drama hours are better spent elsewhere. 😛

      It’s weird, but I actually could buy Lee Hyun Woo being a high school student. I think it’s his youthful face and build. I mean, he’s now beefy when the shirt comes off, but with his shirt on, he does look a little slight compared to most towering Korean actors. The scenes I found hard to swallow, where the romantic ones. This morning I happened to catch a clip shared by Viki, of an E14 romantic scene between him and Seo Ye Ji. There are mushy lines, intense stares and deep kisses, and I cringed through it all. I also dipped my toes into E16 just to get a taste of what I’m missing, and there’s a time-skipped, older version of the couple, and they share some mushy lines and a couple of kisses, and I cringed through that too. I can totally see that Lee Hyun Woo’s giving it his best shot, but I find it so unconvincing anyway. Which is sad, coz I feel bad for him, since he’s trying so hard. I dunno, I’m thinking he’s maybe not quite ready to be romantic lead, even in a high school context. 😛

      And you are SO RIGHT, about those posters!! That totally foretells the split personality vibe of this show, actually! XD Likely another case of trying to be too many things to too many people, I think.

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  3. I don’t think they understand how to do a Disney or Nickelodeon style show in Korea – which is a shame since I think that style of show would absolutely kill it in the ratings. I’m thinking of the Lucky or Not series or all those “idol next door” shows as poor examples. I confess, though, I was only in it for Shin Sung-woo.

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    • You’re right, it does seem that Korea hasn’t quite grasped how to do a Disney or Nickelodeon style show for tweens. I mean, the last tween-targeted show I checked out was High School Love On, and that inexplicably went from light & cute to extremely melodramatic in its mid-to-late episodes. Why writers could even think heavy melo is interesting to their young target audience is beyond me. 😛

      I confess I had to google Shin Sung Woo, to see why you’d be in this for him.. and woah. I could hardly believe my eyes. How does a show take someone who channels so much cool and hot at the same time, and turn him into a supposedly-mysterious-but-really-quite-boring ahjusshi?? They should’ve made his character more badass, for sure!

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  4. Ok I’ve just read one nice review, then I’m reading this. I dropped the drama by the first episode because I don’t know… I felt I “couldn’t figure out what the heck I was watching” but then at the same time, I wondered if I should have watched a bit more episodes. However your review kinda makes me realized that this type of shows is just not for me. Because I’m not the “target audience” I guess.

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    • Hehe! Guess it goes to show just how differently we drama fans respond to our dramas! This one didn’t end up working for me, but at least it got a little love from that other person whose positive review you read! 🙂

      I don’t blame you for dropping it on the first ep.. This one bemused me on the first ep too. It was a bit of a mess, and left me a WTH?? sort of feeling. But, I decided to adjust my lens (and it took some adjusting!) and give it a chance.. and still ended up dropping it. I dipped my toes selectively into the last episode, and I can’t say I’m sorry that I dropped it. The ending’s happy and pat (as expected), but even after a time skip, I find that I just can’t buy Lee Hyun Woo as a romantic leading man – at least, not in this. Long story short, I honestly don’t think you missed much! XD

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      • oooooh So I was not the only one who was kinda confused!!! OH GOSH I just couldn’t make sense of whatever was showing on the screen. LOL! Glad to know I didn’t miss much, thanks ^^

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  5. Episode 9?! Woahhhh… I honestly dont know how you do it and there wasn’t even a crack factor this time.*Tips hat to kfangurl* .Blue and I are in e same boat, most of my time spent on ep 1 was used for fast forwarding and cringing at the awwkwardnesss of everything. The story, acting, SFX. I was excited for Moorim with the whole Xmen vibe it seemed to have, but I couldn’t get past that first ep.

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    • Hehe! I guess I have a soft spot for tween shows, coz they tend to be simple and relatively warm at heart. And I was curious about what Moorim would be able to do, given its ambitious premise. The bad acting and writing did make me cringe more than once. But my curiosity in general, plus my affection for Lee Hyun Woo helped pull me through that 9 eps. But E9 was hard. I found it just too hard-going, and decided it was time to throw in the towel. There are better ways to spend my drama hours, is what I was thinking!

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  6. when Harry Potter moves to k-dramaland he gets a family that’s (mostly) alive … what more is there to expect? AlphaGo wasn’t yet born, so there were some minor troubles with Juk Poong … but in the end he got the girl. you’re right: “the writing in this show isn’t great” … it’s awful.

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    • Hahaha! Oh, INTJ, I’m sorry you endured this one! I’m surprised you made it through to the end, really, since the writing apparently grated on you a fair bit! 😛 At least the season stands alone, unlike the multiple Harry Potter movies? XD Here’s hoping your next drama is a much happier experience!

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      • huh, there are multiple Harry Potter movies?!! 😛 anyway, after watching 145 episodes of the pinoy drama “On the Wings of Love”, followed by 120 episodes of “You are the Only One” i needed a break, a shorter drama. “Pinocchio” was a nice one. but having watched those three kind of left me craving for something else, something different. because i select dramas to watch based on their short description and my mood, the next one was “The Village” … but Achiara’s Secret was a disappointment. thus i thought i should give “Moorim School” a chance. oh well, given the bad script, at least i had a chance to concentrate on the hard work the crew did … it made watching this bearable. as for the next one, i guess it’ll be “Flower Grandpa Investigative Team” … in case it won’t be funny, it’ll be probably worth watching for the acting skills of the old actors. 🙂

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        • Hahaha! Oh yes, there are multiple Harry Potter movies – 8, to be exact! 😛 Well, 7, if you consider that #7 and #8 are 2 parts to the same story. ANYWAY. I think you might enjoy Flower Grandpa Investigative Team if you approach it with a broad comedic lens. If you’re considering a currently airing drama, I rather think you’d enjoy Come Back, Mister. I admittedly haven’t seen all the available episodes, but the show’s left a very positive first impression on me, and definitely feels rather different than most of the other drama offerings. 🙂

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          • 8? omg! yup, “Flower Grandpa Investigative Team” was a nice one and i really enjoyed it. i’ll watch “Come Back Mister” when it’s done (aka finished and subtitled) … ’cause i really hate having to wait for a new episode.

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            • Oh, I’m glad you enjoyed Flower Grandpa Investigative Team, INTJ! I haven’t seen it myself, but based on what I’d heard about it, it sounded like something you’d like. 🙂 If you’re looking for something a little different to marathon while waiting for Come Back Mister to finish airing, you might want to consider Once Upon a Time in Saengchori. I haven’t finished it myself, but it’s quirky and offbeat, and I think you might like it. 🙂

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  7. Pingback: Year In Review: 2016 | The Fangirl Verdict

  8. This was awesome. You literally spoke my mind. I agree with everything you said 200%. Very well put. Couldn’t have done a better job.

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