One of the running themes in new K-Dramas seems to focus on the strict expectations and pressures young students experience from a young age in Korean schools.
Throughout the years, the dramas have showcased students spending their lives studying and preparing to get into one of the top Korean universities (SKY universities). Students will work all hours of the day, attend after-school academies, and even suffer with their physical and mental health.
Recently, one well-loved K-Drama that has done the same is Extraordinary Attorney Woo. The series has captured the hearts of netizens worldwide as they follow the first autistic Korean attorney Woo Young Woo (Park Eun Bin) and follows her journey trying to break down prejudices.
In the latest episode, a charatcer called Bang Gu Ppong is arrested after he was accused of kidnapping students from his mother’s academy. In reality, he believes he took them to the mountains to have fun rather than studying.
Throughout the episode, the series shone a light on the tough conditions students, no matter how old, have to go through.
After seeing a young girl worry she’ll be scolded for not studying enough, Woo Young Woo and Jun Ho go to a convenience store at 10 o’clock. The cashier explains that no matter how old they are, the students will flock to the store for ready meals.
She also added that they always look for caffeined drinks, even if they were at elemenary school, explaining, “If they’re drinking coffee now, how will they get through high school?”
In particular, both while the children are on the mountain and at the trial, Bang Gu Ppong had a chant he did to showcase what the lives of children should be like, rather than the studious life they were subjected to.
Children must play immediately. Children must be healthy immediately. Children must be happy immediately.
— Bang Gu Ppong
In particular, during that same scene, Bang Gu Ppong shared some harsh realities of the current system in Korea. For him, children will grow up and live a life full of stresses and hard work. Being a child is the only time they can enjoy themselves without the stresses, but parents aren’t allowing it.
Children have to play right now. It’s too late after getting into university, after getting a job and after getting married. Later is too late. In a life full of anxiety, it’ll be too late to find the only way to happiness.
— Bang Gu Ppong
Although hesitant to understand his motives, Woo Young Woo also understands his reasoning and shares it with the court. In her explanation, she explains the hardships students go through because of this ingrained desire to be the best.
Children who are only 10 and 11 years old cannot properly eat, sleep, rest, or play because they have to study for 12 hours a day.
— Woo Young Woo
When the episode aired, netizens worldwide couldnt stop praising the reality of what was being shown. Although it seemed dramatic and exaggerated, it is the reality for many children in Korea, where studying seems to be one of the most important parts of life.
basically today's case highlighted the flaw of the education system. At a young age when students are supposed to just play & enjoy, they're expected to achieve things and told to just study, being deprived of freedom. +#ExtraordinaryAttorneyWooEp9 pic.twitter.com/h9rQzT0aFa
— Eun🐳 (@eun__xx__) July 27, 2022
THIS SCENE HURTS ME SO BAD 😭it’s not necessary to constantly repeat the message that they need to get good grades. Instead, be there to support your kids when they hit a problem and let them know that they should be proud of their best efforts. #ExtraordinaryAttorneyWooEp9 pic.twitter.com/0VMPA2eaGh
— ell ⁺⁺⁺ 🐳 (@crinolineruffle) July 27, 2022
to those who grew up as achievers but later on became unhappy in life, tonight's episode of Extraordinary Attorney Woo is super relatable and saddening at the same time. hugs frennies🥲#ExtraordinaryAttorneyWooEp9 #ExtraordinaryAttorneyWoo pic.twitter.com/tkuHjvnzU5
— ~♡Joy (@Multistan_26) July 27, 2022
K-Dramas continuing to shine a light on the pressures facing children of all ages in Korea. Although every child and teenager worries about grades, the expectations in Korea seemed to be heightened and can impact a person’s mental and physical health dramatically.
You can read more from the episode below.