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K-drama Review: ‘Extracurricular’ is not your ordinary high-school teen drama

Extracurricular portrays a group of high school students who risk everything on the wrong choices that cannot be undone. Extracurricular is a Netflix original series that follows a group of high school students who choose a life of crime and face the dangerous consequences that result from their choices. The show is an offbeat and intense drama by veteran director Kim Jin-min (Lawless Lawyer, The Time Between Dog and Wolf, and Marriage Contract) and new aspiring writer Jin Han-sae.

This drama has a fresh young cast of talented actors. Kim Dong-hee, who has been incredibly charming in the web series A-Teen, as well as such dramas as SKY Castle and Itaewon Class, takes on a strikingly different role of Jisoo, a model student who wanders into a life of crime. Jung Da-bin, who is well-known as a child actor in Korea, plays the ‘mean girl’ Minhee, while Park Ju-hyun, discovered by the creators of Extracurricular, plays Jisoo’s accomplice Gyuri. Nam Yoon-su, who is known for his roles in various web dramas, shows off his talent as Kitae, Minhee’s boyfriend and a school bully.

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‘Extracurricular’ asks provocative questions about the stark reality of our world.

Photo from Netflix

Harsh consequences await those who risk their lives on the wrong choices..

This drama revolves around people who keep choosing wrong decisions. It unveil the story of a group of high school students who choose a path of crime and face irrevocable and harsh consequences, presenting the viewer with direct questions about their own lives.

Photos from Netflix

Jisoo, the lead character, is an unassuming model student and chooses to pursue crime for money.

Photo from Netflix

Gyuri, a girl who becomes Jisoo’s partner in crime, couldn’t possibly need anything more in her seemingly perfect life. However, she decides to join Jisoo in his criminal activities in order to defy her parents’ impossible expectations.

Photos from Netflix

As the series progresses, Jisoo and Gyuri implicate two classmates in their scheme: Minhee, the school’s baddest girl, and her boyfriend Kitae, the undefeated school bully.

Photo from Netflix

Through these four characters and their actions, screenwriter Jin Han-sae wanted to address the nature of crime and why he thinks it is wrong. Extracurricular presents an unflinching look at modern society and the dark side of teenage life. It is also significant in how it represents adults in modern society and the way they relate to teenagers.

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Throughout the series some adults do nothing about the teenagers’ moral choices and some even participate in their crimes. Other adults don’t give up trying to help the kids until the end. The different roles the adult characters play in Extracurricular lead to questions and ideas regarding the nature of juvenile crime.

Photo from Netflix

Finally, Extracurricular succeeds in its attempt to break free of the generic school and teen crime genre. It captivates viewers with clever pacing and multifaceted characters who shockingly switch appearances in the blink of an eye. 

Extracurricular features a gem of a cast, a tightly-knit group with charisma and passion for their performances. The four young lead actors, who topped hundreds of other contenders for a spot in auditions, put in extra-hard work in order to portray their characters authentically. They spent time researching contemporary teenage issues, reading books, and watching a variety of films and documentaries. The director Kim Jin-min communicated with the four actors throughout the filming process. He provided them with guidance and allowed them the freedom to interpret their own roles so they could perform confidently in front of the camera. Through many conversations and a flexible approach to directing, Kim unleashed the four actors’ full potential: Kim Dong-hee, who portrays Jisoo as an intense and profound character on the wrong path; Jung Da-bin, who masterfully exchanges her sweet smile for a hurt and frightened expression; Park Ju-hyun, who captures Gyuri’s eerie, double-sided personality; and Nam Yoon Su, who hides a terrible cruelty behind his soft smile. Together, the fresh young cast breaks through any expectations and rises to the top to command the world’s attention.

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You can watch Extracurricular on Netflix.

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