Drama Reactions & Reviews
Sungkyunkwan Scandal: Javabeans’ and Girlfriday’s review
by | November 14, 2010 | 240 Comments

You didn’t think girlfriday and I were gonna just let this drama go without commenting on it, did you? Both of us have been watching Sungkyunkwan Scandal weekly, even if we haven’t been able to do the recapping ourselves, due to the finiteness of that thing we call time. But now that the drama’s over, we thought we’d weigh in with our likes, dislikes, and general impressions.

Since the series has been thoroughly recapped, we won’t linger too much on the expository plot elements. Let’s just cut to the good stuff…

SONG OF THE DAY

Park Ki-young – “나예요” (It’s Me) [ Download ]

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JAVABEANS’ REVIEW

And, as we all know by now, there was a lot of good stuff in this drama, so let’s start with those.

Such as the Jalgeum Quartet, or J4, whose members were all very distinct and endearing in their own ways. The drama could have fallen into the trap of sticking each one in their respective corners in a superficial way, designating them things like “The Nice One,” “The Playboy,” “The Leader,” etc. Not that that’s wrong; it worked for F4. But in placing them along different points of the ideological spectrum, they also complemented each other in a more meaningful way.

The most obvious way being how our leads challenged and bettered each other through their friendship. This was no bubbly girl melting the ice man’s heart, or rich man saving the poor Cinderella. It was a marriage of true minds, and while it was not without impediments, it IS why Yoon-hee and Sun-joon won me over early on as the main pairing, even though I will acknowledge that Jae-shin cuts the more dashing figure. Yes, he’s very easy to fall for, and helped along mightily by Yoo Ah-in’s charismatic performance. But I love that the expected Hero Figure isn’t the main character here, and that the Stodgy Nerd is. And that Yoon-hee’s his perfect foil and just as intellectual. Yay for brainy girls!

To be perfectly honest, Yoon-hee was my least favorite character of the bunch, but that’s not really an indictment since the others were so likable. She was obviously necessary and had a bunch of admirable traits, but I probably feel about her the way many people felt about Sun-joon; I understood her place in the story, but wasn’t personally moved. Then again, while Jae-shin and Yong-ha so often stole the show, they are perhaps just that delicious because they aren’t the focus. They’re fantastic in small doses that leave you wanting more.

With all that said, it’s too bad the ending was a huge cop-out.

I always grumble when a drama’s ending delivers us a deus ex machina to save the day — which is to say, a last-minute solution dropping into our characters’ laps that isn’t an organic resolution of the problem, as in an act of god or some other magical fix. In this case, we get an act of king.

I understand that the king’s reaction to Yoon-hee’s identity is important, and appreciate that it was realistic to show him as a flawed man who let himself be swayed by less-than-noble ideals in sacrificing her for the sake of his vision. But when le shit hits le fan only in the very last episode, we know that it’s going to be resolved right away, sapping the conflict of all its conflicty energy. And when the trajectory of said big conflict is addressed from taking King Angry! to King Not Angry Anymore!… Well, what’s the point, really?

Basically you manufactured the final conflict, then manufactured its solution out of thin air. The king’s ire is the big problem, but then he just changes his mind, and therefore the day is saved.

Also, WTF with the vagueness of the epilogue?

First off, the end bit with Yong-ha annoyed me to no end, because it seemed to go back on the whole point of his character. One thing I appreciated so much about the earlier episodes is how each of the four had issues to work through, including Yong-ha and his matter of social class. He’s the tradesman’s son who pretends to be a nobleman, who is shunned for his social standing and then gains a measure of that acceptance back from his peers…and then you go and stick him back in trade?

I can see how the drama thinks it’s being cute in fulfilling his fashionista’s heart by making him a prototypical fashion designer, but this drama also has an ideological streak a mile wide and this just reneges on the point that a classless society is a hope worthy of harboring. This epilogue seems to say that society won’t change, so you may has well live with its strictures, which would make this whole geum-deung-ji-sa hunt and the king’s pursuit of a noble new Joseon…pointless. Yong-ha states that he’s fine because he’s found friends who accept him as is, which is true enough. But given how everyone else is given a pat happy ending that isn’t restricted by the soundest logic, his leaves me with a bitter aftertaste.

Then for the ending scene wherein Sun-joon and Yoon-hee are professors at Sungkyunkwan: She is addressed by the dean as Kim Yoon-shik, so she’s teaching as a man…while being married to Sun-joon? How, logistically, does that even work? What happens to her legally? How do people react to Mrs. Sun-joon after knowing her as Mr. Professor Yoon-shik? These may seem like nitpicky questions, but they’re actually quite important because they’re tied to the very foundation of the story.

All series long, I had been eagerly awaiting the solution to this dilemma of what would become of Yoon-hee once the truth of her identity became known. That was the whole point of all this tension and intrigue: How will it resolve? I had faith that this drama, which had done such a solid job with its plotting and characterizations, would give us a satisfactory answer.

These issues of gender and class — Yoon-hee’s status as impoverished gentry, her struggle to educate herself in the face of an oppressive patriarchal society that deems it illegal for her to go to university — drive the narrative, and part of our addiction is because we’re dying to see how the drama resolves this seemingly impossible dilemma.

Only, the ending didn’t give us any answers at all. It totally bailed on us, which means the whole drama was basically an ideological tease.

I was even ready to accept an ending that may have been historically inaccurate as long as it made sense in the context of the story. For instance, let’s say that Yoon-hee is made an unofficial member of the king’s cabinet — and even though she couldn’t be officially recorded in the annals of history as a government minister, the king would see her worth and find her wisdom valuable to his reign.

Or they could have even kept their epilogue mostly the same, and if the drama didn’t want to contradict history, it could have made the cheeky nod that everyone addressed her as Yoon-shik while knowing she was really Yoon-hee. Thus she is allowed to teach, but for historical record would be known as Yoon-shik. That would explain the crowd of students mooning after her and Sun-joon’s jealousy, as well as why she was teaching under a male name. If you’re gonna give us fanservice, then at least give us concrete scenarios to go out on rather than questions.

But enough about the ending. True, it did knock down my overall opinion of the drama a peg, but it doesn’t negate the fact that I found Sungkyunkwan Scandal to be, for the most part, delightful fun. And I’m aware that perhaps I’m only disappointed because the earlier bits were just so wonderful, so engaging, so cracktastic. Even an okay ending is going to feel like a letdown after the fantastic zippy angsty hilarity that preceded it. Such is the nature of crack addiction, I suppose.

 

GIRLFRIDAY’S REVIEW

I have this perennial problem with relationships—I set my expectations low, so as to not get invested, and not get hurt, but then once that hurdle actually gets crossed (at great peril, no less), I find that managing my expectations is near impossible. Now, this is sick, mind you, but my problem with dramas is pretty much the same. If you finally win me over, cracking my ice-encased heart and making me love you, then all of a sudden, I go from expecting nothing to expecting you to bring me the moon. Or the Moon. The hot one who doesn’t bathe.

Either way, we’re both screwed.

Because Show, as much as I did love you for a spell, you also let me down. It’s my own fault for letting my expectations get the better of me, but what can I say? I saw what you could’ve been.

Sungkyunkwan is an interesting case, because it didn’t get truly GREAT until the middle stretch. I clearly recall watching Episode 7 and thinking, “Now THAT’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout!” and that greatness continued…until Sun-joon found out that Yoon-hee was a girl. And then it lost steam.

I know. You’re upset. But that’s what happens when your setup is so awesome…and then you don’t deliver the dramatic payoff. And that’s not even counting the finale, which basically made me want to hurl things at innocent passers-by.

Take for instance Sun-joon’s discovery that his naughty crush on a he is actually a not-so-naughty crush on a she. (Taken with a grain of salt, of course, that the drama feigns to be neutral on the issue but succumbs to the same hetero-normative ideas that make his so-called gay feelings just a holdover on the way to true love.) Such wasted dramatic potential there. How can you gloss over such a monumental change in the story? They go from discovery to happy footsie in what feels like a millisecond, and the dramatic weight is sapped out of the thing that drove the main storyline for those crack-laced middle set of episodes. That was the moment, when my love began to die.

I didn’t need Angst to Move Mountains or anything, but Sun-joon’s pulse-less reaction did nothing for me. I’m going to go out on the proverbial limb and say that acting was a major factor in this. Even Jae-shin’s discovery, which came much earlier, was handled better and given more weight, which just further confused the second-lead sufferers out there. I don’t know why you’d bother with such a fantastic setup (and it really was) if you’re just going to skip the good stuff.

And as a side note, I don’t know why everyone’s so up in arms about comparing Sungkyunkwan to Coffee Prince. Of course people are going to compare them. They use the same tropes. Why on earth shouldn’t they?

As much as that particular narrative crux bugged the crap out of me, I did get re-invested once the foursome got together in a more cohesive way. I liked the political intrigue once our main characters were set with the task of finding the geum-deung-frakkin-jisa. (Not that it proved worthwhile. GAH.)

But by then, I was already checked out of the romance, because it lost me back at the Road to Zero Tension. For me, Jae-shin became the hero (which was easy, since he’s written as the classic Big Hero type), and I stopped caring about the main couple’s romantic journey.

That isn’t to say that I checked out of Yoon-hee’s journey, because I stayed firmly with her throughout the entire series. I just cared less how she ended up with Sun-joon, because there was no dramatic push or pull there. I wanted very much for her to be happy, which included her very cute nerdy romance, but that was in no way the thing that made me tune in to watch.

As for the ending…I really don’t understand why they waited until the last episode to deal with the yet-again-monumental story point of Yoon-hee being outed as a girl. That’s a guaranteed second strike against you, in my book. I knew there was no way they wouldn’t leave me dissatisfied. I could’ve spent the entire second half of the drama on this one narrative thread alone, and it got relegated to an afterthought. I felt cheated for wanting so much for her, as the heroine of this story.

And the worst part is, you made us believe that Yoon-hee will bring about a new world, and after ALL THAT…you have her continuing to live as a man? WTF, Show?

I’m further confused as to why the foursome didn’t end up in politics, because what the Zeus was the point of their “legacy” to bring about a new Joseon if they weren’t going to be on the front lines of making it a reality? I get that Sungkyunkwan professor fits the character profile, but it somehow doesn’t satisfy me narratively, even though I get that they’re educating the new generation and paying it forward.

The one thing I REALLY wanted in the finale, that might have made up for my distaste with the rest of it, was that one moment with all four characters, to openly admit that they all knew that Yoon-hee was a girl. Why is there no such moment? You have the three guys meeting up to maybe say it out loud….and then you cut away? (This is when the hurling of objects began.) Again, perfect setup, no payoff.

And it truly killed me inside to never let Jae-shin have one moment of gratitude and acknowledgement from Yoon-hee, for his undying love. But that’s less of a narrative gripe, and more of a wish-fulfillment moment for such a fantastic character.

All of this isn’t to say that I didn’t love Sungkyunkwan, because I did. But it had this major flaw of constantly setting me up for something AWESOME…and then dropping the ball, leaving me hugging my moon-shaped heart.

But what I did love, I loved wholeheartedly. I love how each of the main characters is idealistic in his or her own way, and the idea that in youth and education is the seed of change. Each character’s separate journey or reason for wanting a new society—whether Yong-ha dreams of a classless one, or Yoon-hee dreams of one where she can be equal as a woman—comes together to form a picture of a new world that you honestly feel that these characters could bring about. Even if what they dream of only begins to happen centuries later, I love what the fictional portrayal represents: that the true movers and shakers of the world are not the old and wise. They are the young and idealistic, the ones who dream of something that people in the established world could never imagine. I love that above all else, educating people of all backgrounds is what this story idealizes, in presenting Sungkyunkwan as a safe haven, and as the place where change begins.

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240 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. Bun

    Wow!!! I was wishing that both of you would comment on the final recap. The dramagods must have heard me :-) Thank you much!

  2. K.

    I personally wasn’t interested much in Yoon-hee and Sun-joong’s relationship. They were cute, but I just didn’t feel any chemistry between them and I agree that Sun Joon’s reaction to Yoon-Shik’s real gender was not exactly a dramatic climax. Instead I found I was much more interested in Yoo Ah In’s Iljimae-esque character and his story rather than the romance.

    • 2.1 lain

      My sister is in psychology, and I found out from her about Kübler-Ross’s five stages of grief. I know it’s not exactly similar to SJ’s case, since it’s not a grief, but somehow I felt it could be applied here. I think SJ’s somewhat off-reaction is a sign of his acceptance. He had accepted his love, doesn’t matter whether YHee is a man or woman.

      And you know, he is lack of expression to begin with. His stunning expression when he discovered YHee’s gender, it is possible that in his mind he was like, “What the–??!!!!!”. I have a friend like that. When he encounters a situation that could trigger my craziest reaction, he only stood silently and non-expressive. And when I asked him, he said, “I am surprise. But it’s not like I have to show it.” He dealt with it in his mind, find the logic, and then accept it. And he’s infamous for being a ‘weird’ person. Though I don’t think he’s weird. He simply deals with things in a different way with most people usually do.

      Well, that the most logical reasoning I could find, though I’m more inclined to the fact they’re in a rush, thus forgot the little–which actually important–details.

      • 2.1.1 kappy

        I liked your explanation, lain, of SJ’s reaction.

  3. leesieb

    yay!!! I have been waiting for your input!

  4. kitkatx

    Yay! I agree on a lot of what you said, how the ending did feel so rushed, how there were a lot of parts that I thought the drama would stress on but didn’t, and yes! I was hoping for some admittance that all three of them knew she was a girl.. Of course, that just might be me, perhaps I’m so used to that kind of scene in other gender bending dramas, and they just wanted to do something differently for the drama.

    I said this before in another post, but I wanted to say that yeah, I loved Yoon-Hee as a character. She was very bold and 21st century in an ancient drama. But I slowly realized that I loved her as the character – not reallly Park Min Young’s acting. The CHARACTER of Yoon-Hee was what I loved, but I could imagine other actresses playing her, so Park Min Young’s acting was just… okay to above average for me.

    Meanwhile for Song Joong Ki and Yoo Ah In, I really like THEIR ACTING more than their characters. They really managed to bring life into the kind of characters that we’re already so familiar with. (the playboyish and the troubled type of guys). And they had so much chemistry together (more so than the main couple I have to say!) that they pretty much stole every scene they were in!

    But all in all, I really liked this drama. I wasn’t really addcited to it, but I have a new love (erm, obsession) with Song Joong Ki now because of it. :P

    • 4.1 holey moley

      AGREE!!!!

    • 4.2 kitkatx

      ayy, correction, when I say I liked their acting more than their characters, I meant their acting made me love their characters. :P

      And all the moments between Yong-Ha and Jae-Shin? Gah, so much chemistry. Like the end episode where Jae-Shin pulled Yong-Ha back to give SunJoon and Yoon-Hee their moment, Yong Ha looked at Jaeshin was like, “So, I belong here?”

      Gahhh. So much more chemistry than the main couple. Maybe because there were much fewer scenes with them, thus every scene meant so much. HAHA

      • 4.2.1 nad

        i love jaeshin and yongha more than sun joon and yoon hee

    • 4.3 mintyboy

      agree wholeheartedly about yoonhee’s character vs PMY’s portrayal of her. Towards the end of the show, I (my opinion) can really tell her weak acting with every other scene ends with her tearing up wrongly executed to show that she’s emotional. It really diminishes both yoonhee’s spunk and my respect for her bravery as the original character, really an injustice.

      The thing about casting pretty girls as crossdresser is that the girls will act to stay pretty most of the time. With the exceptions of Painter of the Wind and Coffee Prince, I don’t think the rest of the gender-bending girls pulled it off at all. There is another way to retain the female aspect of the role without resorting to cute-tifying (go with me here) the character. As much as I like squeeling “oh, she’s so cute with her pout,” my brain screams out “that’s not right, she’s not suppose to be cute, she’s a man!!”

    • 4.4 zig

      yes. totally agree.

      1. Got really tired of how Yoon Hee kept tearing up. and she kept giving really girlish smiles. Honestly, i never ever once thought of her as manly. except when she was punching up one of ha in soo’s sidekicks. besides that though, she acts way more girly than me.

      2. Agreed with GF on having checked out of sunjoon’s and yoonhee’s romance. never really saw it very exciting and i couldn’t care less if they kissed or not. more jaeshin-yongha for me PLEEEASSSEEEE.

      • 4.4.1 lilly

        WOAH ! I thought I was alone in this case !

        • 4.4.1.1 qnehej

          No one’s ever alone in dramaland :)

    • 4.5 Kiara

      Man she still act the same way since Ja-myung Go. The same facial expression and those fake tears gets really old. It’s a good thing that her character was likable regardless.
      I think Mickey did ok for a noobie. Sometimes I wanted to slap the words out of his mouth.” I….I…I..” grrrr just spit it out for heaven’s sake.

      For me Song Joong Ki and Yoo Ah In stole the show. Those two were the caffine and cream in my coffee. I love both characters, their goodness and flaws. I felt more chemistry between them than the two main leads.

      Overall SKKS did more right than wrong. I enjoyed it very much. Thank you so much for the recaps,reviews etc.

    • 4.6 suzeq

      AGREEEE…….I like this drama a lotttttt. and there is should be scene between Jae Shin and Yoon Shik more…he love her in silent, help her in silent…support her in silent …wah!!!

  5. JD

    You guys are awesome critics. You guys reveal things I never would have caught!

  6. Mulan

    I agree to both of you… Th ending seems a disappointment, coz the plot, the characters is so addicting and story flows so well but in the end the principles that they were fighting didn’t go anywhere. SUch a waste, but it is really fun and entertaining along the way!

  7. mp

    I totally agree. I loved this show so much, and there were definitely some things that I wanted to see in the end that just didn’t happen. The ending made everything that we went through during the whole series just seem pointless.

    I was also dumbfounded that NONE of them ended up in politics…. after all that?? Come on. And where was my final Quartet scene!!! I was pissed I didn’t get that.

    I don’t want my hatred for the last half of the finale to ruin the show for me, cause it literally was like crack to me, but I was still really disappointed.

    I’m just going to pretend that that last part didn’t happen and write my own, BETTER, ending in my head. Wow, now it really is the kick-ass show that it built itself up to be.

  8. smilesx3

    I agree with much but would also like to point out to javabeans that perhaps Yongha’s ending as a merchant is not so much meant to mean that society doesn’t change, but Yongha was always caught up about appearing as a noble because he thought merchant class people were of a lower status (which they were) and he disliked that. But with his coming out and gaining confidence in himself, rather than his status, he’s able to do what he really loves, and that is to design clothes. I think the problem with him was actually that he wanted to appear a noble because he was afraid of how people would treat him if he were of a lesser class, but he gets over that fear and realizes that being a merchant isn’t so bad and something to be ashamed about. I mean, can you really imagine him as a noble who advises the king? He’d be no fun :D

    • 8.1 kitkatx

      I agree! I think him being a designer is him doing what he loves and not being ashamed of it anymore. :P

    • 8.2 My2Girls

      That was my understanding of the end as well. He has learned to accept who he is through the love and support of his friends. I like that he is doing what he loves and lets face it the man knows his fashion.

    • 8.3 Autumn

      hahaha imagine if YH really went into politics, he’d probably wreck havoc on Joseon or impose gay marriage laws so he can be with JS…(ok, sorry, too much fanfics)

      • 8.3.1 Jenny

        LOL!

    • 8.4 kappy

      I agree, too. He’s doing what he loves and what he excels in and is not ashamed of it. He was the least political minded of the bunch, so I see it as a natural and happy ending for him.

  9. :D

    i wish you two wrote the script for the ending of SKKS. i bet it would have been epic.

  10. 10 Emeldy

    I stick with the drama for Young Ha and Jee sin character. The main lead never intrigue me enough.

    Yap, the ending was such a bummer.

  11. 11 beppu10

    You got me there, javabeans and girlfriday! exactly the things that got me at a loss(?) with the ending…you pointed them almost all out…there are certainly a lot of loose ends that were tied at an instant, so it was really rushed and didn’t give justice with the plot–although I appreciate the fact that Moon Jae-shin become a police officer…and may I add, I also felt like shortchanged with the other characters (e.g. Chosun, Insoo) I would have like to know what happened to them too.

    • 11.1 Fasiris Fay

      Yeaah! I kept expecting more with Cho-sun and then the last scene with In-soo sort of seemed to indicated that suddenly there was going to be romance, but it was SO random!

      • 11.1.1 skypilot

        I, too, would have liked to have known what happened to Chosun and Insoo, especially since she did kill people (and some sort of justice was due to be served, according to the original thrust of the drama) and he did appear to have begun a redemptive arc of his own.

  12. 12 Fasiris Fay

    Totally agree with almost everything both of you said.
    I kept waiting for Sun-Joon and Yoon-Hee’s romance to get more tense or more…something, after the secret was discovered but nothing.
    Similarly, I kept waiting for the moment that everyone acknowledged that they knew YH was a girl, but…again nothing.

    I still enjoyed it, and while the ending was satisfying in its cutesy way, I expected more…

  13. 13 dit

    I hate the non-value adding fanservice because it’s often insulting for our brains. And I felt the ending was like that. King should’ve found out about Yoonhee episodes ago and gave him the time he needs to actually make an important shift of mind. But they gave him 10 minutes to do it.

    All in all, as far as I’m concerned, SKKS I love is only up to episode 15.

  14. 14 holey moley

    sigh…same sentiments as to the both you…skks was rocking my boat until ep 15 or maybe ep 16 (if i’m being forgiving) BUT, then it had pierced holes (plotholes to be exact) in my boat then it sank…BUT i still managed to be alive because MOONY saved me…Hahaha!!!! i still LOVE this with my moon-shaped heart (thanks girlfriday) but it doesn’t take away the fact it kinda sucked…or it really sucked during the last four episodes…GAH!!! the possibilities of awesomeness!!!! *hairpulls*

  15. 15 Lilian

    For me, it is more a case of arghh…we have no more time. Let’s resolve everything in one epiosde becoz of that!

    I didn’t like the ending too….I can understand why Moony ends up where he is, and why the two nerds end up where they are….but I’m also confused.

    the students must know she is a female? it can’t be that they are all gay???? it’s weird…..

    so maybe it is that she just uses her brother’s name since she graduated from SKK using that name? but they know she’s a female within the school?

    super confusing ending….

    and yeah, I was hoping all 4 would turn up in the ending….maybe over a drink/something…..haha! maybe they should have a drama special on youtube like for Playful Kiss! =D

  16. 16 rockee

    Yes, the ending was a bit of a letdown. Oh well, what’s done is done. Still, it was a good drama. And if I were to rate it from 1-10 I’ll give it a 9…or is that too generous.

  17. 17 hpn88

    I agree pretty much completely with you two, especially Girlfriday’s last paragraph. That is really why I grew to appreciate the drama. It strived to be more than just a romance or have thrilling sword fights. There were ideas behind the story. In small beats and some powerful moments, the drama was having a conversation about power, education and equality – huge ideas for a drama supposedly about a cross-dressing girl. The J4 core also provided a rich and diverse and in my opinion under exploited cast.

    I pretty much stopped caring about the main romance because I knew they were getting together in the end and there just wasn’t enough to make me wonder how they will.

    At some point, it became entirely about Jae-shin and Yongha for me. Perhaps because I relate more to their stories or their frustrations or perhaps they were portrayed with much more skill and subtlety. All I know is that I would LOVE it if they made a spin-off with the two of them. In my head, Yong-ha is actually undercover for the police as a merchant and he and Jae-shin are partners.

    Hopefully the success of this drama brings Song Joong-ki and Yoo Ah-in in the spotlight and hand them lead roles, because they certainly deserve it.

    Thanks for the laughs and tears SKKS!

  18. 18 suz

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    • 18.1 dannaluk

      coooool!

    • 18.2 momosa

      Woohoho!

    • 18.3 pohonphee

      Whoa…. how to make it? Damn, you manage to have a PICTURE at DB comment, when no one else couldn’t.

      • 18.3.1 pohonphee

        Aish..when no one else could

    • 18.4 wobee

      AWESOME!!!
      i love Mickey (both the cartoon and the celebrity)
      ^_^

    • 18.5 jinjoo

      woah masterpiece, do i see an image of moon shin here? i luv this charac i think he outshone the rest for his ninja prowess if you will! i’m now a big fan of yoo ah in!

  19. 19 nine

    i agree…. in fact i fast fwd through the raw version and didnt even bother watching the subbed version. i was pretty disappointed in the ending. it could’ve been great.

  20. 20 Lucille

    I too felt the ending was rushed. Around episode 10, I was wishing that they would get the go ahead to add more episodes. Yoon ha was left so unfinished for me. What would have made this drama great would have been if Jae Shin would have openly acknowledged his feelings. Not returned them, but accepted them. Or if we could have seen more of their friendship as children.
    Also, I was sure that Insoon’s father was going to be the one to out her, since he was lusting after her in the beginning, but I guess they just let that go.
    What happened to her brother? This whole thing began to heal him. We never heard from him again.
    This drama actually left me with more questions. Can we all pray that their is going to be a director’s cut version with an additional 10 episodes that flush out the story more?

  21. 21 Oppa888

    The main problem that I have had with this drama is that from the very first opening frame Ive always thought that Yoon-Hee looked like a woman and that everyone else was fooled by her disguise for such a long time. Otherwise, if you can get past this problem you can enjoy this drama.

    • 21.1 ah_in_fan

      she really did look like a woman, they were “fooled by her disguise” because noone really thought that a woman would have the courage to enter SKK coz it was not allowed, and no woman was that educated, so they just thought that she has a fair face and was girly.

    • 21.2 kimkim

      If you read the book, Yoon-hee is described as looking and acting very feminine. In fact, it’s something that many different characters repeatedly bring up. The only reason why she’s not suspected of being a girl is because she’s so well-read, and they didn’t believe that any girl can be so at that time. This is different from Eun-chan’s character in Coffee Prince who is a tomboy and often mistaken as a boy even when she’s not living “in a disguise.”

  22. 22 Autumn

    gah. just when i thought my SKKS obsession was dying down, you guys just had to post this, like right now…T_T well…there goes my study time…

    i agree that the ending was one major cop-out. the events leading up to it felt rushed and a lot of knots were left untie, characters and relationships were still under-developed. and i am just going to pretend the epilogue was just some fictional imagination of some writer in some shady bookshop that didn’t actually happen; no matter how adorable it was, i’d prefer an ending that actually fitted the purpose of the story or made the journey of our J4 a lil more rewarding. just as GF said, the show had awesome, AWESOME set-ups, but no pay offs.

    I wasn’t invested in the romantic journey of the OTP either, not as much as i was with the other pairings anyway. Though there were adorable moments of which i enjoyed, their chemistry never really reached me. i even find the YS/CS pairing more compelling. yeh, im an oddball.

    like many have said already, SKKS is not perfect, but its flaws didn’t impede my love (read- obsession) for it. it is still the most addictive drama of the year in my book.

    thank you so much for the reviews btw.

  23. 23 Amg1

    @JB and Girlfriday.
    Thank you for such “Honest and wonderful review!!!

    I feel completely “Exonerated”, I am glad that at the end I was not the only one that felt that the drama was as JB commented;

    Quote,”Only, the ending didn’t give us any answers at all. It totally bailed on us, which means the whole drama was basically an ideological tease”.

    I still like the show but I feel the drama really “Drop The Ball” so often that it was hard at the en to maintain a proper level of respect for the show!!!!!!

    Thank you again, for your hard and honest work, lots of “LOVE”!!!!!!!!!!

    : O }

    • 23.1 Anonymous

      I agreed with u on this one but………..

      Sorry but I’ve to added throughout their drama recaps, only 84% are honest & some are biased, after all they are human & not professional critics.

      I always enjoyed & appreciate their works though.

      • 23.1.1 Amg1

        SAY! WHAT A HELL?????????

        I am so sorry to “Disagree” 100% with you!!!!
        But JB is been doing this in a “Legit Format” since at least 2007, Gilrfriday join the “Team” since at least last year!!!!!

        So am not quite sure what you mean by not being “Professional Critics”, since they where part of the “Asian Pop culture panel” at NYC Comi-Con this year, at least in Javabeans case if all her work here at Dramabeans, Soompi, and other blogs, and should I remind you that Dramabeans is one of the best if not the best K-Drama Blog for the English speaking community, than consider her not a “Professional” but an “Amateur” as you implied in your post is nothing short of “Offensive”, and even tough you agree with me on the content of my post, I completely disagree with you on your assertion whether JB and Girlfriday are qualify to make a proper comment about a “Drama”!!!!!!!!!!!

        After all this years she has “Earn” the right to be taking her writing as “Serious Commentary”!!!!!!!!!!
        : O }

        • 23.1.1.1 Hmmm

          They meant to say that there’s always bias in critics but that is part of human nature.

          As for “professional” many people have different definitions it seems yours is that of “how successful they are” when anonymous probably meant it defined as a “regular paying job” i.e. working for a newspaper and writing weekly reviews.

  24. 24 jandoe

    didn’t see this coming, but enjoyed reading your thoughts!

    i love sun joon the character but even i realized that jae-shin was the true showstealer (apart from awesome yong-ha of course). i wonder if it’s an acting thing or just character portrayal…

    i think after awhile i just stopped expecting too much of the turnout(s) and simply enjoyed the idealism(s) presented and the way the dialogs flowed (still believe the writing’s pretty awesome, albeit a weird ending) so the not-very-dramatic moments ..well, let’s just say i let em slide.

    but GF, your last paragraph (why do i feel like this isn’t the first time i am sayin’ this?): wise words, and none truer. :)

  25. 25 kitkatx

    Slightly random, but I was reading an interview by Yoo Ah In about SKKS, and this is one of his questions:

    10: In “Sungkyunkwan Scandal”, all four of you were of similar ages. How was that?
    Yoo Ah-in: I was prejudiced about them. I wasn’t able to get close to them in the beginning because of the thought that celebrities will be like this and that and that’s why I usually don’t become friends with them. (laugh) I understand that they can’t help being self-centered, that what they feel is important, and they need to receive more attention. But I rid myself of a lot of them — through Micky Yoochun, my prejudice of idols and Hallyu stars, through Park Min-yeong my prejudice of fellow actresses, and through Song Joong-ki my prejudice of actors. So in the way that Jae-shin came out of his shell and came to accept Yoon-hee, Seon-joon and Yong-ha, I myself came to see these people in real life in a good way which means I myself matured as well. I had fun shooting the drama. I just wish we had more honest conversations about acting. But what I thank Joong-ki for is that he gave me a lot of advice comfortably. I came to realize that he’s not just plain sly, he’s sly in the sense that he wants what’s best for everyone.

    – Haha wow, I found it cool how he was sort of prejudiced against them at first. :P

    • 25.1 Soo Ae

      I read that too and I thought waahh cool! Just like how it happened in the drama…sometimes life imitates art!

      YAI is just way too cool! way cooler than MJS perhaps?

  26. 26 stilachic

    is it just me…or did anyone else find micky yoochun’s acting exasperating? i kept trying to convince myself that he was just playing to sunjoon’s character…but i gave up after awhile. jaeshin and yongha made me watch until the end! they saved the drama for me!

    • 26.1 Emeldy

      Ditto : )

      I voiced my opinion in one Forum about Mickey’s acting or lack off. I was bash from every end. I did not reply any of the post back. I learned my lesson “Pop Idol are Precious” LOL

      On my defense i never knew Micky was a Famous singer.

      • 26.1.1 wei

        I think Micky is doing okay considering this is his debut.
        Haha ii have my share of lesson that Pop idol are “untouchable” when I commented on the main male lead in Personal Kiss

      • 26.1.2 momosa

        Saw SKKK press launch lately and I was aghast when he said he hardly meet KHJ eventhough they are good friends so he couldn’t learn much acting from him.

        Seriously – he must be joking!

        And seriously – pop idols should remain pop idols and stay out of acting if they can’t do it. Please leave it to the pros.

        • 26.1.2.1 Min

          I am no expert in judging acting .But out of the idols,
          I think Lee Seung Ki and Micky do have potential given time,exposure and training.Some idol even is so good looking , I cannot connect with their character they are trying to portray at all.Even a cool guy can bring out the emotions in the viewer right!

        • 26.1.2.2 Gloria

          I know this is late, but I think Micky did pretty well in his role. He is a newbie, so there is a lot of stuff he can improve on, but overall, he served his purpose as an actor. I could understand why some people would not like his acting, but I think sometimes the problems had to do with the script and his character more than with his acting.

          Also, I do like DBSK and Micky, but if I thought he was terrible, I would say it. I don’t get fangirls who are overprotective and think that criticizing an idol’s acting is automatically being unfair or disliking the idol himself. > w >; (Cough.. khj fans…)

    • 26.2 asianromance

      I thought his acting better than expected, but that’s because the character had fit his inexperience. So while I think he did a solid-ish job as Sun-joon, I don’t think he would pass as some other character. Micky definitely was lucky in getting this role to make his official acting debut. So was Park Min Young. She’s a much better actress than Micky, but could still use more work in varying expressions sometimes- but it could be tiredness. I thought she did a better job in the first half of the series than the second half.

      He was exasperating on some parts – like the moment in the bookstore basement when he found out that his father may be responsible for killing YH’s dad. More emotion, please! However, I found his scenes with Kim Gab-soo to be pretty well done, but I think that attests more to Kim Gab-soo’s skill.

    • 26.3 kappy

      I thought Micky Yoochun’s acting, though not Oscar (or Korea’s equivalent) worthy, was good, especially considering it was his debut. Sure, he could have showed more expression, more inner turmoil, but his character was the stiff, always-in-control, ultra-upright kind of guy, so it would have been out-of-character if he strayed from that persona too much.

      • 26.3.1 ellie

        I agree with you kappy.
        It was not easy to be that character and the little expressions he did speak for itself.
        I loved it each time he catches himself looking for Yoon Shik and held his chest..
        I say he did a good job and the direction he took to make Soon Joon believable as the upright, righteous male lead.

      • 26.3.2 Aya

        this was NOT Micky Yoochun’s “acting” debut.

        • 26.3.2.1 kappy

          Oops, sorry, that’s right. He was in that Japanese one. Okay, one of his first major acting projects, then.

          • 26.3.2.1.1 emeldy

            He did a movie before this as well, i don’t remember the Movie title. The Plot was, his wife is his high school teacher. I have no idea how things shape up. I watched it like 10 min.

    • 26.4 Laeah

      Um.. but he’s not an actor and I think he did 1000000x better than other singers turned actors -cough- Kim Hyun Joong -cough-

      • 26.4.1 Min

        1000000X agree with you,KJH may be a good singer
        and person, but when it comes to acting, I really cannot bear it.That is why I just “glance” through PK.Sorry.

    • 26.5 Sara

      I for one enjoyed Micky’s subtle acting and thought he’d carried Sun Joon’s role wonderfully…. every bit a scholar that he’s supposed to be

    • 26.6 sandra

      I found Micky to be just fine actually, was very surprised (had no idea who he was before this drama). His “character” may not be as “free” as the other guys (meaning the characters of Jae-shin and Yong-ha were more free to act out), but Micky’s acting was more than fine for the character he was portraying (a calm, collected, restrained guy). In keeping with his character, he did his restrained crying scenes perfectly I thought (no overblown sobbing, just tears forming and falling and voice trembling like he’s trying to keep it all in). Hopefully no one will kill me, but in a few scenes (very few) I found Yoo Ah-in to be “overacting” a little in the emotional scenes, but then again, Micky had some scenes where he was “underacting”. I think both were fine in the end! To be honest, I thought Song Joon-ki was the best in terms of acting his character…

      • 26.6.1 Min

        Quote “..while Jae-shin and Yong-ha so often stole the show, they are perhaps just that delicious because they aren’t the focus. They’re fantastic in small doses that leave you wanting more.” That is why I find JB and GF are truely professional, while being a fangirl at times, they still maintain being fair .It is easier to impress when the character is of a ” sharper” role and the screen time is less. Of Course Mickey still got lots to work on acting but I find his subtle portrayel of SJ is quite impressive. And I agree SJK is the most comfortable with his role.

      • 26.6.2 Dory

        Wow I agree with everything you said! I think Micky was fine, quite good actually and understandably Song Joong Ki was the best actor out of the four.

      • 26.6.3 Gloria

        I agree with everything you said! :)

        And haha yeah I thought Song Joong-ki was the best as well, but then again.. I’ve been in love with him since Triple so there may be some bias here XD;;

  27. 27 Birdie

    Great insight, jb and gf. All the questions that were in my head regarding this drama you had pointed them out. I think all the issues could have been dealt with in earlier episodes, but they were concentrating on giving us fan service , which ended up messing up what this drama is about-issue of gender and class at that time. Episode 20- “por thong” NO PASS!

    • 27.1 Min

      Agreed with you.I read an interview with Micky,is good to find out that he is a humble guy, he keep on blaming his weakness as an actor!

  28. 28 asianromance

    Thank you for your input!

    I love this drama, but there were definitely some flaws. The series did lose some steam around the middle from the moment when SJ fell for YH in her gisaeng garb (*cringe*) and didn’t really completely pick back up until episode 19. And then there was that ending. I would love a better, more sensible, and slightly less cutesy ending, but I can also see that time was limited and the writer had been too focused on giving us an amazing 19 episodes and then realized ‘oh crap. i have to end it. ” a 2-4 episode extension would have been nice, but everyone was already beyond exhausted. And to be fair to the show, I don’t know many dramas that do their endings well. They always seem thrown together and reek of deus-ex-machina.

    I’m sad that none of them went into politics. However, I’m not sure if anyone of them is fit for politics. They are too idealistic and won’t be able to handle the compromise it takes to deal in politics. Look at how heartbroken and disillusioned they were when it was very probable that YH was going to be sacrificed! You need to be someone like SJ’s dad. And I think the rationale for Yong-ha for going into trade is that he is no longer ashamed of his trade roots. He’s going to have his cake and eat it too.

    Even though it seems like their journey was useless after being touted as the harbingers of a new era, I like to think that they will continue making little changes in society just by being themselves. Look at how all the student gather to free Sun-joon, even In-soo’s lackeys. or that kid they influenced

    So at the end, YH becomes a male professor and a wife at home. I wonder how she can get away with this being married to such a high profile dude as Sun-joon. I would have also loved if she was some sort of shadow-adviser to the king. They would have been cool!

    And again, they should have killed off Minister Ha. I know he’s been arrested and all…but I can’t help but feel uneasy that he knows and that he can spill it at any moment.

  29. 29 Lily

    Personally, I don’t think romance was ever the main point of this drama. I think that’s why SJ didn’t have an over blown reaction to YH being a girl, and why YH never found out about JS’s love. Even the “new Joseon” thing wasn’t the focus. All of those things were simply the vehicle to the main point, which is personal growth for the four lead characters. I mean, the drama spent quite a few episodes just introducing the four of them.

    I’m not saying the ending is perfect, but if you look at it that way, the last few episodes makes more sense.

    • 29.1 madzgo

      Totally agree with you there.. that’s why the ending for me is quite acceptable. And its far too soon for them to be in politics..they were quite young to begin with.

      • 29.1.1 wei

        May be because I have read portion of the translated novel? when SJ found out YH is a woman ,he said something like “..so now I can freely love you as much as I pleased..! “.So I interpreted as this must be a very relieving experience for him.. and I accepted why there is not much angst!

        • 29.1.1.1 =]]

          TOTALLY AgreeD!

  30. 30 Sara

    so interesting to read different person/blog reviews on SKKS…. as I have kept my expectation way low for the ending I am mostly satisfied on how SKKS ends ….

    this is one show that could use additional episodes to tie up everything and address those fundamental issues…. it would have been one of the best dramas if not for the obvious rush ending

  31. 31 Robs

    I adored this drama from beginning to end, despite the quick wrap up at the end. Hwever there were two issues throughout the whole series that kept bugging me:

    1. The War Minister very early on stated he would make Yoon-hee his wife and he always get what he wants (after she tried to pay some of the debt). Then when he sees her/him after crashing into Chosen’s room, the episode ends with him staring at him/her with some recognition. I thought this may be part of a running story line – him searching for her, etc., but nothing ever panned out – it really is never mentioned again.

    2. The king states that Yoon-hee’s father was his friend, etc., and in all those 10 years it seems that he knew nothing about the Kim family, who they were, how they were living, etc. I mean her father gave his life for the king. Some friend! Same with Prof. Jung.

    Anyway, thank you SSK for a fun and delightful ride!

  32. 32 wynema

    The blue messenger was a girl right? Jae Shin asked himself “what has SKK been teaching these kids?” when he read what the messenger wrote. So in that scene, I thought that SKK has accepted girls as students. So when I saw Yoon Hee there as a teacher with her students obviously smitten with her, I thought she was there as herself, not as Yoon Shik. Was I wrong? Was she still pretending to be a guy there?

    • 32.1 kappy

      My thoughts, exactly. Confusing, yes. Was that SKK administrator calling her Yoon Shik a blooper? Too major of one, even though the ending was rushy-rushy, so it couldn’t be. So giving the benefit of the doubt that that was intentional, maybe it is as JB surmised – she’s on the register as Yoon Shik, so Yoon Shik it will remain, though all know she’s a woman. Still leaves you with a big question mark, though.

      • 32.1.1 ellie

        I think the writers did that deliberately, hence here we are today talking about it..

        I sense that they will probably think of something as a sequel??ha ha

        • 32.1.1.1 kappy

          Ooo, yes, maybe!

        • 32.1.1.2 wynema

          yes yes, to clear up all these ambiguities!!! haha :)

  33. 33 kaigou

    I’ve definitely enjoyed the recaps all along, and it’s given me a lot to think about (and I particularly enjoy the additional commentary, when it touches on conflict, plot development, social or cultural commentary inside the story or just inside the recap, and so on). I’ve been thinking on and off about that totally unsatisfying last episode, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised I’m not the only one who feels like things ended without closure.

    As much as I loved the characters and enjoyed the fact that it’s wasn’t all romance-angst-romance, all the time (but had politics and competition and friend-bonding!)… the last two episodes were a complete let-down in hindsight. Hell, the last five minutes of the final episode were a major letdown even as I was watching (and it didn’t help that either they didn’t put up an “epilogue” label or a “four years later…” label, or maybe they did and my lack o’ hangul tripped me up).

    After some thought (and revisiting it again after this post), I have to say that the series reminds me of when I studied feminism in college, and had white male (and strongly, if unconsciously, entitled) classmates. For any classroom debate that required arguing a feminist critique, when called on, they could explain and argue the premise just fine. It was the follow-through where they fell down.

    It was as though they might see, intellectually, that “girls could be ___, too” — they didn’t truly believe nor understand what it meant to have that kind of equality (or to lack it and want it). Looking back, I suspect on some level they were too threatened by the implications to even attempt to understand, and the symptom of that was their failure to carry any argument to a logical conclusion.

    For a rough illustration, it’d be like arguing that women should have the right to attend college but brush off complaints about limited jobs for women on the grounds that women would just be getting married. It’s like, two points for the premise (educating women) and negative fifty for failing to recognize that something might come next (using that education).

    That’s how it felt with SKKS — for all its good points, it reminded me too much of those classmates. It wanted to play around with the premise (“women can do that, too!”) but it couldn’t actually consider seriously the ramifications. While, yeah, the story didn’t try the comedic route (“oh, girls are so silly for thinking they’re equal!”), or worse, the M-R-S degree route (“who needs education now that I have twu wuv!”) — but it didn’t seem to be wiling to consider there might be some other option. So instead it gave us a deus ex monarch, and an epilogue that’s just plain insulting.

    Sticking her as a college professor — and not, as someone else commented, as an active political figure (as her education ostensibly prepared her to be) — was sort of like writing your protagonist with every sign of being a world-class baseball player, and the epilogue shows the person’s now coaching little league. It’s not just a let-down; it feels like the scriptwriters back-pedaled furiously, and threw the epilogue our way in hopes that the fan-service might make us miss that they avoided the ‘pitfall’ of their own creation.

    (Well, ‘pitfall’ only if you actually do believe that girls can’t be as good as boys. I’m sure from my comment here you can see where I stand.)

    Maybe if we’re lucky, the Hong Sisters will do a remake in about ten years. Probably end up with a great deal more toilet humor in there, but we’ll probably also end up with Yoon-hee running the nation single-handedly. Now that’s what I call my kind of fan-service!

    • 33.1 Ashley

      “Sticking her as a college professor — and not, as someone else commented, as an active political figure (as her education ostensibly prepared her to be) — was sort of like writing your protagonist with every sign of being a world-class baseball player, and the epilogue shows the person’s now coaching little league. It’s not just a let-down; it feels like the scriptwriters back-pedaled furiously, and threw the epilogue our way in hopes that the fan-service might make us miss that they avoided the ‘pitfall’ of their own creation.”

      I completely agree with that.

  34. 34 mellowyel

    i share a lot of both JB and GF’s gripes and praises about the drama. While i wasn’t hooked on it, there was always something compelling in each episode to make me watch the next one – like Yoonhee’s interactions with Prof. Jung and Jaeshin+Yongha awesomeness. Yoochun had his moments too. I definitely feel like I was let down in some way – I had an expectation that it was going to end up amazing and yet came to the end and was left feeling unsatisfied. maybe it’s because after all Yoonhee’s awesomeness in the face of adversity she was locked up and had to be rescued by three (or five) guys (my inner feminist is raging at that). or simply because her secret was such a huge source of tension and then just kinda fell flat because it was resolved so quickly. i think that had this not been a live shoot drama, and the writers had more time to think it through to the end, it may have worked out better.

    *sigh* oh well. no use crying over spilt milk, i suppose. it was fun, in the end. I do not regret the time i spent on this drama.

  35. 35 nixxochick

    i enjoy reading both your thoughts on this drama and also what other readers thought of it..i personally liked the ending and this drama and was totally smitten by the lead couple and their romance.
    sometimes i think if we over think and analyze something we take the fun out of it, so when it comes to dramas i just watch and enjoy.. but i know not everyone is like me and that is totally cool

    • 35.1 Soo Ae

      I agree!

      Inasmuch as I am grateful for javabeans and girlfriday’s comments and knew they couldn’t stay out of SKKS without offering their own 2 cents, I myself totally enjoyed the drama from start to finish.

      I love SKKS and I miss it terribly wishing another drama as charming and as endearing will come along soon!

      • 35.1.1 didi

        totally agree..love the drama so so so much…MIcky Yoochun..is awesome and excellent here..He def wins my heart!!!

    • 35.2 Sara

      yes me too…. I love SKKS as a whole and enjoyed SKKS as it is without overanalysing things which will suck the joy out of it ….

      totally charmed by both Sun Joon and Jae Shin…. love both of them equally

  36. 36 dannaluk

    thanx!!…lol….i was kinda expecting you guys to have done this at the end of the last recap…so i thought you were just gonna let it go so this was a gr8 surprise…yea the ending was definitely rushed and the epilogue was confusing as hell but after you mentioned this : “it could have made the cheeky nod that everyone addressed her as Yoon-shik while knowing she was really Yoon-hee. Thus she is allowed to teach, but for historical record would be known as Yoon-shik”…i think thaat might be the case…of course there’s no way to know for sure
    but i still loved this as a whole…much much more than i expected….cracktastic to the end!!….jeez i’ve been holding the urge to rewatch for a while now

  37. 37 koreandramalover

    Unsurprisingly, Javabeans and Girlfriday, both of your comments did not disappoint – the depth and breadth of your insights simply astound me…whoooosshh…your comments simply blew me away!!!

    Like I have mentioned a few times before, both of you should join forces and write dramas that would blow the socks off so many of the Kdramas writers whose dramas you’ve recapped and commented on…

    Thank you ever so much for putting down your thoughts, feelings and reflections on SKKS so honestly and fervently…and as a result allow folks like myself the privilege of a tiny peek into your brilliant minds…and come away with refreshing takes and perspectives on SKKS…

    I am truly in awe of how keen your perspectives are and how truly accurate and mind-blowingly honest they are…and how I would never have thought of 90% of what both of your cerebral folks thought of…

    To be honest, I was also more interested in how each character affect and influence one another as well as the whole drama and also whether the writer will be able to carry such a grand premise of a drama as SKKS’s all the way through to the finale – which I think are the issues of a classless society and correspondingly gender roles/positions/responsibilities.

    Unfortunately (or fortunately, however you may wish to look at it), I was thoroughly distracted by the charismatic (in Javabeans’ word) and star-turning (my word) performance of Yoo Ah In and the endearing attempt by Song Joong Ki in their respective roles, as well as, Micky Yoochun’s brave (my word) attempt in his role. IMO, Park Min Young achieved an above average grade for her performance SIMPLY because of the way her character was characterised…not too challenging or too run-of-the-mill…

    I take MY hat off to both of you for putting us firmly on solid ground in terms of viewing and evaluating SKKS and as a result, providing me with the honour and privilege of learning so much more from your keen intellect within this platform that you have created, Javabeans, along with your commendable editors/recappers as well as the readers/commentors/critics…

    Thank you just seems so inadequate right about now…but thank you I must, Javabeans and Girlfriday as well as red pill and cassie, for your awesome selves… :)

  38. 38 Sumee

    Thanks JB & GF for the final word.. :-) I can’t agree any more with you GF on this one…. according to me Yon Hee & Sun jun’s story was lacking the fizz after all..the ending was infact not all that awesome as compared to the rest of the drama ….But OMG I am letting everything slide away for my MOON shaped heart ;-) Yoo Ah In you left me breathless after every appearance of yours & OH Boy you were hi-cupping & I was swooning …so all said & done this drama sure gave me happiness & a new found love ;-)

    PS : Soon Joon ki’s character was indeed one of the most appealing charm of this drama ..

    • 38.1 Anonymous

      Indeed the first three episodes are the Song Jong Ki shows. By first episode- when YAI/JS still had very few scenes- it was all about Son Joong Ki/GYA. I remember people even thought he would be SJ’s rival for YH because the former had great chemistry with her.

  39. 39 nycgrl

    My brain checked out after ep 14 but agree with the deus ex machina (eye roll!) and this “but this drama also has an ideological streak a mile wide and this just reneges on the point.” Total cope out!

    I think writer did a 180 degree turn to boost ratings because the last 5 eps leading to the ending went totally Joeson Disney on Ice, complete with Micky. Totally farcical.

    This show has one of the most boring OTP in recent memory. You know your in for trouble when your fighting the urge to fast forward through all their interactions. PMY & Yonchun’s acting, though serviceable (not good but not distracting) was woefully inadequate for key emotional scenes–especially as the drama dragged on.

    • 39.1 hjkomo

      Disney on crack! ;P

  40. 40 jeongie

    i agree with jb’s take on the ending. i thought that it was so unsatisfying. it might have been that they didn’t have enough time and just hastily ended things, but i rather they don’t do that. the king and yoonhee was the part that irritated me the most. a person doesn’t go angry king one moment and not angry king the next moment. there wasn’t even adequate time in between the scenes to change the king and his thinking! and this is the man who had been harping on getting the geum-deung-ji-sa for a NINETEEN episodes. he is THAT stubborn. it’s so illogical for him to just change suddenly like this.

    and the mrs lee sunjoon/mr kim yoonshik was just plain so dumb. that was the most illogical part of the whole ending.

    other than the ending, the show was rather enjoyable. i found myself rooting for the yongha/jaeshin action after a while, way more than yoonhee/sunjoon. yongha was a very interesting character and while i thought that his storyline about not being from the noble class could have been better developed, i was satisfied enough with it.

    on a more general note, i thought the drama is one of the better ones this year. they injected enough themes and you can see that the team really did invest time and effort in planning out the themes and all. while some of these ideas were not so well played out, it at least, was worth my time watching and reading the recaps :D

  41. 41 piggierabbit

    Okay. Episodes 7 & 8 had to be, like, hands down, the best ever.

    What happened, SKKS, towards the end? Why’d you make me have to fast forward through you?

    Crazy-Giggling-Squealing Me turned into Bored-Half-listening Me. :/ And that’s just sad.

  42. 42 christine lam

    Fully agree with @37.

    You certainly endorsed my feeling of disappointment at the ending and my confusion why Yoon Hee was still addressed as Yoon Sik.

    Do you think both of you could put up a more satisfying ending as fans’ version. I’m sure so many of us would be eternally grateful and the viewship rating for it would surpass that of the last episode of SS.

    Many thanks for your insightful comments.

  43. 43 Incredibly Fanatic

    Well said well written …

  44. 44 djes

    Hhh, this is why I can’t start to finish the last 2 episodes.
    I love love this show up to episode 18, then I read the spoiler ( i was intended to do so, I love spoiler btw ), and the ending was major letdown.
    But like both of you had said, I also loved the drama, but not the entire of it.
    I like the 4 main leads, which I already liked 3 of them before, as Yoochun, well I’m still feeling indifferent about him.

    This show is cute. With better ending, I’d say this is the best drama of the year. But nonetheless, this is my 1st saeguk I watched fully ( ok, I still have 2 more eps, but I will finish it soon ).

    Thank you for your review, Javabeans & Girlfriday. I know I love you two for a reason! ;)

  45. 45 noob

    if yoonhee continues to live as yoonshik, then what happens to her poor little brother???

  46. 46 AuntieMame

    The two of you have perfectly summed up my feelings, which I couldn’t even begin to put into words.

    And, there is one major point that this particular ending overlooked. This ending destroyed the reason for which YS’s father and JS’s brother sacrificed their lives.

    After reading all the comments about the ending, I haven’t had much impetus to watch the last two episodes with subs.

    As always, thanks Javabean and GirlFriday for another insightful and spot-on review.

    • 46.1 Anonymous

      “And, there is one major point that this particular ending overlooked. This ending destroyed the reason for which YS’s father and JS’s brother sacrificed their lives.”

      The following are responses that I’ve found from others that well-address the issue you mentioned.

      “Without saying it directly, Jeongjo made it known that DESPITE finding the GDJS and what it might mean to the Norons, he won’t use it to blackmail against the Norons and instead, that they willingly follow his will. The Norons feared that they would lose their lives if the GDJS was found (and if not, at least their power) and wanted to so desperately get rid of it. Instead of instilling submission with the threat of fear, King Jeongjo used mercy to instill submission.”

      “I loved how the writer allowed King Jeongjo to use the Geumdeungjisa, not as a weapon of more strife, but as a tool for compassion and forgiveness. This is an interpretation that echoed well with me, because like the writer, I also want to believe that King Jeongjo could extend his love for his people to the very people who pained him. Jeongjo loved his people, and it was touching for me to see that the Norons were not excluded.”

      • 46.1.1 Dory

        Ahh they’re good esp the second one. Thanks for sharing.

      • 46.1.2 samgetang

        Hi Anonymous! Thanks for sharing these 2 brilliant posts on the said subject.

        Mercy and forgiveness from the King that had the power to do otherwise is the most compelling outcome of the King’s involvement with the Jalgeum Quartet. So powerful that even the Norons also benefitted from this compassion.

        I think KYHee’s father’s and MJShin’s brothers sacrifice did not come to a naught/were not in vain. We would have desired more lofty changes — like zero-corruption in Korea or even the world — not bad an ideal but not also realistic considering that we know how human nature works.

        What we see h/ever in this kdrama is a more realistic rather than idealistic outcome to the struggles and dreams of the main leads and the King. Change always happens one life at a time and we see this in the simple life realizations of the Jalgeum Quartet.

        LSunJoon, from one who cannot easily forge friendship with men, or women, for that matter, of his own age, and perhaps only had Soondol and his father as his closest friends, we find him towards the end sacrificing his freedom for the life of his friend MJaeShin.

        MJaeShin, who only harbored bitterness towards the Norons and his father, finally asking for apology from the latter and being saved from possible death by a Noron friend no less.

        GYungHa, who used to keep to himself, detached from others and not committing to any group, finds his self-worth among his J4 friends and now able to accept that he could be noble not by birth but by how he puts value on his merchant heritage and being a merchant himself.

        KYoonHee, who used to think that the world is prejudiced to her own gender finally realizes that her father was in fact ahead of his time and did not fit the mold that she thought he took. She also found in her J4 friends, men who were not afraid to give the reigns to her even if she knew she was a female. With Prof Jung, she found a male father figure who was willing to stake his own life and credibility because he believed in her capabilities. With the King, she found mercy. With LSJoon’s father she found respect for her and a love of a father that transcended even the mores of their society.

        The world may not have changed loftily in the SKKS-dramaworld but in the intimate world where the main leads find themselves, much has changed. Their hearts and perspectives changed. And that is what really matters…

        Same goes in our own realities: The world may not change drastically but the small changes that occur in our lives, within our own worlds, with our loved ones, and with the people that matter to us…these are the things that ultimately matter.

        • 46.1.2.1 kappy

          Enjoyed your comments and the comments you commented on.

          • 46.1.2.1.1 samgetang

            thanks, kappy…so glad to share SKKS addiction with you…it is joy doubled and more! :-)

        • 46.1.2.2 koreandramalover

          Bravo, samgetang!!

          How eloquently you wrote and how true!!

          But having read your other posts, I am not in the least bit surprised of your keen intellect and perspective…

          Thank you so much, samgetang, for taking the time to think about what you wish to write and then to post it here for the benefit of folks like myself who are very interested to know what you think of SKKS…

          I agree with you on every point, from the King’s position, action and influence to every single one of the Jalgeum Quartet’s awakening and discovery of themselves and the world around them the subsequent changes they underwent as a result of that…and your closing comments to beautifully wrap-up this post in a way only you can do… :)

          You are absolutely spot-on on every point and I could not have said them better myself… :)

          I take my hat off to you, samgetang!!!

          Bless you for sharing your thoughts and for making my time scrolling through this review so worthwhile because of such gems of insights from your brilliant mind… :)

          • 46.1.2.2.1 samgetang

            hi koreandramalover, did i say thank you enough?
            frankly, i only take my queue from you and how you love SKKS!

            if we were to meet SKKS’ writers we might be talking about the characters in their story too fondly as if they exist in real life. :-)

            in them and through them we have met like-minded souls so much so that they feel like family to us already…

            if i dreamt of being a writer i would wish that i could have the privilege of creating those wonderful characters myself. i know that i am not the only one who were moved by them but these youth also connected with so many people out there judging by the popularity of this show.

            these characters resonate to what people truly aspire for in themselves, from their friends/family and from people they look up to.

        • 46.1.2.3 koreandramalover

          Dear samgetang, as the system does not allow me to reply to your post (which I attach below), I give you my reply in between your comments below :

          46.1.2.2.1 samgetang November 17th, 2010 at 4:50 am

          “hi koreandramalover, did i say thank you enough?
          frankly, i only take my queue from you and how you love SKKS!”

          Yes, you did thank me profusely…thank you so much… :)
          And I take my queue from YOU and how YOU love SKKS through your utterly riveting and outstanding insights…:)

          “if we were to meet SKKS’ writers we might be talking about the characters in their story too fondly as if they exist in real life.

          in them and through them we have met like-minded souls so much so that they feel like family to us already…”

          YES!!! A million times YES!!! It would be a wonderful day indeed should such a day become a reality, wouldn’t it? Hehe :)

          “if i dreamt of being a writer i would wish that i could have the privilege of creating those wonderful characters myself. i know that i am not the only one who were moved by them but these youth also connected with so many people out there judging by the popularity of this show.

          these characters resonate to what people truly aspire for in themselves, from their friends/family and from people they look up to.”

          YES again!!! I wanted to tell you that “resonate” is THE word for it, samgetang!!! Thank you so very much for providing THE word that PERFECTLY mirror my thought on how SKKS’s effect on me has been…

          Novkid said that one of the commentors wrote how SKKS seem to have brought back his/her innocence and that is exactly what happened to me!!!

          In fact, SKKS has helped me to see the world with a purer and more intensely personal perspective and reignite the deep-seated desire in me about the something that you beautifully said “what people truly aspire for in themselves, from their friends/family and from people they look up to.”

          How awesome is SKKS, to be able to reach out to so many people on so many different levels/frequencies, to leave such an impact/imprint/impression that exceeds most people’s expectations of dramas… :)

          Just as I try to make a difference in the lives of my pupils in the most positive and beneficial manner/ways every minute I spend with them, I have benefited so much from the difference that watching kdramas such as SKKS have made to my life…
          especially considering I get to know such awesome individuals such as yourself, samgetang!!! :)

          Samgetang, you rock!!! :)

          • 46.1.2.3.1 samgetang

            likewise, my dear soul sister! :-) you rock all the more! SKKS addiction will not be the same without you to share it with :-)

  47. 47 wei

    Wah, you guys are really expert. I love SKKS anyway and is still the BEST and worthwhile drama of 2010 for me;in a relative and absolute sense.

  48. 48 twylah

    love that you guys gave your own review.

    indeed, the ending fell short of my expectations, but even then, i really loved SKKS…and am gonna miss it. Specially Jae Shin and Yong Ha. Teheeee.

  49. 49 Moonblossom

    Dear JB & GF – Thank you for your insights which broaden my take on the show.

    There is so much to say about SKKS but everyone else has probably said it so I’ll just mention that I wished Park Min Young has refused to wear make-up for the show. That’s what YEH did when she filmed Coffee Prince and sometimes, it isn’t obvious at first glance that Goo Eun Chan is a girl. But Yoon Hee with her pretty, pink eye shadow…. : ( You’ll think people studying at SKKS are all idoits or something when they are supposed to be cream of the crop scholars.

    • 49.1 samgetang

      Moonblossom, now that you mention it, i for one did not notice that PMY had eye make-up on the whole time. Hmmm…i must’ve been too taken with her doe-eyes and charming character here that i did not attribute that to make-up, haha!

      With regards to the SKK scholars, i notice that wisdom does not always rest on the intellectually gifted. Many times we see very smart people being conned by less brilliant ones just because they were able to appeal to their baser instincts. So, on that premise, it is possible that brainy individuals can be taken in for a ride by a cute girl masquerading as a boy who happen to have pink eye-make up on :-)

      • 49.1.1 koreandramalover

        Yes, Moonblossom and samgetang!!

        How true it is that deception does not recognise the presence of intellect or lack of it…as lessons from history have reminded us time and again…

        And how easily every single one of us can be conned because of that, however much we may guard or prepare ourselves from falling into that trap… :)

        It is a sad truth…but as the saying goes :

        The truth always hurt. :)

  50. 50 doozy

    I was hoping that you guys would give your thoughts on SKKS as a whole. So thanks for weighing in, javabeans and girlfriday! *offers JB premium coffee + mug complete with K!J!H’s mega-watt smile and for GF, top-grade soju/magkulli + shot glass w/ Gong Yoo’s wink*

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