Legal dramas are a hit or miss, usually. It caters to a specific type of audience and definitely not everyone’s cup of tea. You would seldom hear someone say, “Let’s watch a legal drama for healing or to past time.” It requires your full attention, and it can’t be played in the background while you’re doing another task. That’s why when a legal drama receives so much attention and praise, you know it’s ~that~ good. And yes, long story short, Law School is worth checking out!
Let’s address the elephant in the room – I know I said in my First Impression write-up that it felt like a mash-up between How To Get Away With Murder and SKY Castle. Well, I’m happy to say that the drama proved me wrong. Though the scoring will remind you of SKY Castle and the cross-editing of the first two episodes bothered some people, the drama slowly veered away from the comparison and established its own identity.
I thought they would take the episodic route of taking case studies per week, but they did not. Instead, they focused on the main characters’ background stories, incorporate them into the main premise, and built a solid story from there. It’s also unexpected for me to ship a non-OTP this much that I am shookt.
Hankuk University Law School
Murders and corruption aside, the drama is actually a slice-of-life drama about the life of law students. Everyone in the freshmen squad is relatable in terms of how they handle their academics. Of course, Kang Sol A (Ryu Hye-young) leads them as the most kindred spirit in the study group. She struggles in both finances and academics – but she never gives up. She barely passes her exams, yet she pulls through with the help of her reliable friends. Aside from her good nature, Sol A is also a filial daughter and sister. She genuinely cares for her family without hesitation.
And then there’s Kang Sol B (Lee Soo-kyung), the “perfect” student – beauty, intellect, strong will, connections, and wealth. She’s the typical tsundere with a predictable past haunting her. An alpha character who hides a secret that she thinks will destroy her life. She plagiarized a paper against her will at such a young age because of the pressure from her annoying and delusional mother. Thankfully, her story arc was somehow redeemed because the school accepted her through her own skill and not due to some paperwork. It’s just sad though that her mother continued to terrorize her until the end.
Next is our best girl, Jeon Ye-seul (Go Youn-jung). She’s the only one who went through so much in this drama. Her character development was the most remarkable and way better than the main story. Ye-seul’s journey from being a victim of abuse to now being a champion against dating violence makes me so proud! It was painful watching her in that courtroom struggling to survive the brainwashing and gaslighting that she’d been put through, but I hope the drama was able to shed light on these very relevant issues in society. There are thousands of victims of date rape, emotional abuse, and sexual harassment who are still afraid to speak up – let’s not turn our backs against them when they do.
If there’s a counterpart for Sol B in the drama, it’s Seo Ji-ho (David Lee). He is persevering and a goal-getter. He studies Law with a game plan and welcomes the help of other people. He seems cold and ruthless when it comes to grades, but he’s a good guy. Next is our best boy Min Bok-gi (Lee Kang-ji) – whom I think is Sol A’s counterpart in terms of acads. LOL. We only saw Bok-gi’s school life in the entire series, so it’s safe to say he’s a cute supporting character whose main purpose is to protect Ye-seul at all costs. I won’t mind watching a spin-off series with just the two of them as leads!
Whenever I see hacker Yoo Seung-jae (Hyun Woo), I feel sad for him. He let temptation rule over his body and dug his own grave. Luckily, he still had a very supportive wife who accepted and fought for him even when he was at his worst.
Lastly, Han Joon-hwi (Kim Bum) – the source of my weekly positive energy. I never thought I’ll ship Kim Bum this hard again after Boys Over Flowers! He’s just perfect as Joon-hwi. The eye smiles were contagious! I’m 100% sure he liked Sol A, but this was not a romance story, so we had to be satisfied with the regular SolHwi crumbs.
Anyway, as a character, Joon-hwi had so much depth, and Kim Bum portrayed him convincingly. He was an orphaned boy whose beloved uncle got killed by an unknown murderer. He was even one of the prime suspects but he managed to prove himself innocent while still attending his classes. Whew! Joon-hwi didn’t even have the time to grieve in silence because he was too busy balancing his academics and solving his uncle’s untimely death. I’d like to think that this was also why SolHwi never materialized because it’s just too much for a student to handle these overwhelming emotions all at once. Even though there was no legit confirmation of SolHwi, deep in my heart, I know that Prosecutor Han and Lawyer Kang was the endgame.
“Judge fairly and make sure no one suffers unjustly.”
I admit I find it hard to warm up to Yang Jong-hoon (Kim Myung-min) at first. Maybe because of “Yangcrates” vibe or I’m just not fit to be a law student but over time, I appreciated his manner of teaching his students valuable lessons not inside the classroom but in the realm of Criminal Law. He immersed them in his world – from proving himself innocent of killing Joon-hwi’s uncle to uncovering deeper (and much uglier) truths about the legal world, Hankuk University is lucky to have Yangcrates as a professor.
My favorite Yangcrates moment was when he was able to break Ye-seul’s wall by effectively questioning her in the witness stand – law school style. Ye-seul was deeply hurt and in a state of denial and shock. She couldn’t even identify the difference between love and abuse, but Prof. Yang was able to shake her and let her realize what she’s fighting for and whom she’s fighting against.
I know this drama is dominated by alpha personalities but it wouldn’t hurt if we add one more strong-willed female who can pass as the squad’s mother figure. Prof. Kim Eun-suk (Lee Jung-eun) gave me trust issues midway but thankfully, all is well. She’s a good plot device in the series, and her methods complemented Prof. Yang’s complex thinking. She genuinely cares for her students in and out of the classroom and is ready to sacrifice her benefit for the greater good.
To be honest, the drama felt dragging halfway and the revelation of Lee Man-ho (Jo Jae-ryong) as the real killer with Assemblyman Ko Hyeong-su (Jung Won-joong) as the main bad guy were underwhelming. Or maybe because I expected this to be an over-the-top whodunit series when in fact, it’s just a simple story with complex characters. What do you think?
👨⚖️ Grumpy tidbit: Did you know that in another life, Sol A and Assemblyman Ko were relatives? LOL. In Reply 1988, Jung Won-joong was the eldest brother of Sung Dong-il and therefore, an uncle of Ryu Hye-young’s character Sung Bo-ra!
👨⚖️ Law School‘s OSTs will stick with me for a long time.
👨⚖️ This scene is now one of my favorite plot twists of all time!
👨⚖️ Lee Rang still didn’t get his much deserved love line in this dramaverse, but I will miss our weekly dose of SolHwi for sure!
👨⚖️ Officially joining the call for a Season 2! Thanks for making my midweek hump day bearable!