Faking It Till You Make It

High School King of Savvy

 All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.

As You Like It (William Shakespeare)

Singer-actor Seo In-guk plays a high schooler who, in turn, plays a corporate director at a prestigious real estate consultancy in the double identity drama High School King of Savvy. But do bona fide directors, in real life, feel that they have genuinely moved on from high school? Research suggests that 70 percent of people think of themselves as frauds for some part – or even the full length – of their careers. Notwithstanding any string of achievements they have, they question their work competency and attribute past success to luck or even the result of pulling wool over the eyes of others. Like Seo’s character, they worry silently about being exposed one day.    Continue reading

The Rules of Rule-Breaking

High School King of Savvy

Imposing rules on rule-breaking seems to be contrary to the spirit of rule-breaking itself. After all, rules are often broken precisely to  break down impenetrable barriers, cross forbidden boundaries and boldly go where no man has gone before. Romance dramas, in particular, frequently rebel against time, space, politics or class to bring star-crossed lovers together. In so doing, they feed into the universally shared fantasy of a love so powerful that no entity – God or human – is capable of stopping it in its path. Yet, isn’t this worship of forbidden love so prevalent that it nearly spells a rule? More fundamentally, wouldn’t the rule that rule-breaking is to be bound by no rules be, paradoxically, an inflexible rule in itself? Continue reading

Innocent Soul, Treacherous World

High School King of Savvy - Ice Skating Scene (Lee Min-Seok)

“There is no such thing as an absolute ally or enemy in this world. It’s merely a jungle. And is the king of the jungle the lion or the tiger? No, it’s the hyena, which survives at the end … Don’t trust anyone, follow your instincts.”

With these parting words from his older brother, 18-year-old (17 in Western age) high schooler Lee Min-seok was left to navigate the corporate jungle as he took on the identity of his 28-year-old look-alike sibling in a real estate consultancy when the latter got into trouble. The audience was then put on a thrill ride as Min-seok came under the intense scrutiny of his explosive superiors, his disdainful veteran subordinate and a two-faced, calculating elite director wary of the new competition. Yet, while Min-seok had his doubts, fears and anxieties, they barely lasted beyond the first two episodes.

What took center stage for almost the rest of the series was an artless Min-seok who embraced his colleagues like family, fought for his company like a loyal soldier, spoke up for the interests of powerless parties like an authentic leader and loved like he would never be hurt. Unlike the bootlickers inundating the firm, he did not care who he should ingratiate or what he could profit from his actions. The young man simply took on business challenges with derring-do and called out people for what they were, sparing no words with compliments and criticism alike. Even after people were revealed for their true colors, he had no qualms defending their interests when they were in need. Aside from his double identity secret, Min-seok was, ironically, easily the most open and sincere individual around in this adult world.   Continue reading