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Average user rating 4.8
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Class of Lies: Episodes 1-2 (Review)

We’re swimming in dramas! OCN’s Wednesday-Thursday crime thriller Class of Lies also made its premiere last week, and its first episodes were dark, conspiracy-laden, and full of intrigue.

With so many dramas about lawyers and doctors and conspiracies going on in dramaland right now, it’s a small miracle that each drama we’ve looked at so far is able to stand on its own so well. The premiere week of Class of Lies is not for the faint of heart, but it’s sure made of the stuff that glues you to the screen. I was on pins and needles after just the first episode!

EPISODES 1-2 REVIEW

The drama opens with a murder scene, and boy it’s a rough one. For me, highly stylized violence is the hardest to handle, so I found this scene really difficult. It starts right in the middle of the murder of the popular high school girl JUNG SOO-AH (Jung Da-eun) with high school boy KIM HAN-SOO (Jang Dong-joo) hanging over her with a bloody knife.

The sound is muted, gorgeous music plays in the background, and the colors are blue and moody to contrast the seeping blood everywhere… *shudder* But the drama also edits the scene carefully, asking us to think about what we’re actually seeing. Is this really a murder? Or a high school boy that’s just come across one, and is trying to save the girl he loves? It’s this question that will drive the drama.

I was grateful for the mood shift that follows this opening sequence. We are treated to an amusing introduction to our hero GI MOO-HYUK (Yoon Kyun-sang). He’s clearly living the high life in his expensive car and flashy suit as he sashays into his office. He works for the law firm Songha, and they’re known as one of the best in the country with top-notch attorneys for the wealthy and powerful.

Our intro to Moo-hyuk is comedic, but also tells us about his reputation and ethics as an attorney, and his skill using words (and some questionable tricks) to resolve his cases to his best advantage. At Songha, the motto is that client’s truth is the “real” truth, and we see how far this has brought Moo-hyuk. He’s clearly the cream of the crop, and knows it.

It would be easy for the character of Moo-hyuk to come off as a jerk, but Yoon Kyun-sang brings a dimension to the role that makes it impossible not to like him. For some reason even though we know he’s done some jerky things, we can see he’s got a good heart in there.

Right after this little exposé of his lawyering talents, Moo-hyuk is given a new task by the head of his law firm: to defend a high school boy that’s charged with attempted murder for a girl in his class. Yep, the same murder scene we witnessed at the beginning on the drama. They both attend the prestigious (and creepy as heck) Cheonmyeong High School — and the high school is actually the client, so to speak. They want the case dealt with quietly, and the emphasis is on the importance of public sentiment.

There’s actually a good deal of this as a theme running through the drama already: not only the raw power of public sentiment, but how it can be taken advantage of and used for one’s benefit. Moo-hyuk illustrates this in an early case, and we’ll see it later on as well, when it’s turned against him. I like the heavy emphasis on this point, and I think (and hope) the drama is setting it up on purpose to use later on — because Moo-hyuk is going to need all the ammunition he can get when he goes up against the ugly goings-on at the high school.

Moo-hyuk meets with the student Kim Han-soo, and tells him their strategy is too minimize his sentence. Han-soo, though, doesn’t care about much besides whether Soo-ah is okay or not. He tells Moo-hyuk that they were secretly dating, and claims his innocence, but won’t tell Moo-hyuk much else.

This turns out to be a major mistake, because by the time they reach the courtroom and Moo-hyuk creates reasonable doubt around the assumed murder, it blows up big time. We’re talking conspiracy, cover-ups, and underage prostitution (it’s a fantastically done scene).

During the case we meet another important character, CHA HYUN-JUNG (Choi Yoo-hwa). She’s the prosecutor in charge, and although it’s a super typical set-up (she’s pressured from above to wrap it up quickly, she has a messy history with Moo-hyuk, etc.), I really liked her character.

When she’s told Moo-hyuk is the attorney on the case, she is none too pleased. “He’s not an attorney, he’s a swindler,” she growls, and just then the office door swings open and Moo-hyuk bangs into the room with a grin and a loud formal greeting.

I love the comedic moments like this one that are sprinkled throughout the drama. The milliseconds of silly are needed in the bucketfuls of dark that the drama delivers (and promises to deliver more of). Tonal balance, score!

With the murder case spiralling out of control, Moo-hyuk’s world is quickly turned upside-down. His head is served on a platter to appeal “public sentiment” around the case. But Moo-hyuk can read right between the lines. His boss disavows all knowledge of giving him special tasks and cases, such as the one in question, and Moo-hyuk is suspended, investigated, and forced to surrender his car, apartment — basically everything.

But something smells fishy to Moo-hyuk — he’s been dumped way too quickly, and he suspects there’s more to the case than he was originally led to believe. Then the final scene of Episode 1 confirm it all. Some students from Cheonmyeong High School pass him at the funeral home entrance, and he hears them teasing each other that they can rest easy now that Jung Soo-ah is dead.

It’s hands down the best scene in the episode (and quite possibly the drama). I got major goosebumps as Moo-hyuk turns around, takes it in, and realizes he’s onto something. Something serious.

I’ve spent a lot of time focusing on Episode 1 not only because it was so darn good, but because it sets up the tone and conflict of the drama so well. We already knew from the drama’s premise that Moo-hyuk would be going undercover at a high school, but this introduction was so bone-chilling that it didn’t feel like mere set-up at all.

After a “two months later” break, we meet Moo-hyuk again. Thank you Class of Lies for not giving us endless scenes of self-pity and sorrow over the state of Moo-hyuk’s affairs, or for actually telling us what Moo-hyuk is up to. Instead, we get the quickest montage to let us know he’s still investigating, and then we learn he’s entering the school as a substitute/temporary teacher. Quick and to the point.

It’s when Moo-hyuk enters the school that things start to feel a little bit heavy on the character introductions. I might have lost track of all the kids and teachers, but there are a few that stand out and will become important. Our heroine at the school is shaping up to be HA SO-HYUN (Geum Sae-rok), the teacher who believes all students are her “children.” She’s earnest and awesome, but also a bit naive. It feels like she might have some serious shocks in store.

We’ve also got a handful of high schoolers who I won’t intro individually here, but let it be known they are none too nice. We are not looking at a Sassy Go Go-esque scenario here. Instead we’ve got serious bullying (physical and digital), secret student-only apps, a student photographer that is paparazzi-level, and scheduled rooftop “fights” where underdog students are forced to fight it out quite brutally while the others cheer and bet. It’s a dark look at the youth in this drama, and it makes me feel a bit sick inside. But I suppose that’s the point.

The contrast to this debauchery and darkness, if you will, are Moo-hyuk and So-hyun, and I can’t say how much I am loving Yoon Kyun-sang in this role. There’s something warm and solid about his screen presence that is the perfect counterbalance to the seamy underbelly of Cheonmyeong High School.

It’s a bit too soon to comment on the female leads — they left a good impression, but need to be unpacked more. The high school students had much more of an impactful appearance in the drama so far. Jang Dong-joo as the assumed murderer Kim Han-soo was particularly electric, and our brief introduction to the super-smart student YOO BEOM-JIN (UKISS’s Jun) was also pretty compelling.

The strength of Class of Lies, to me, is in its storytelling, and that we get to go uncover with Moo-hyuk. Dramas often clue us in to all the subterfuge early on and then make us wait for the characters to catch up (Justice is a current example). In contrast to that set-up, I really like the fact that we don’t know much more than Moo-hyuk does, and we are digging up the truth together.

Many recent dramas have been edgy and dark — in fact, it almost feels like this kind of drama is becoming a new dramaland standard. While I miss my quintessential K-drama cheesiness, warmth, and happy endings (please don’t go anywhere!), it’s nice to have a thrilling and sharply told drama like Class of Lies around too.

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I just watched episode 1 and I really liked the tone and quick pace of storytelling. Yoon kyun sang's strong screen presence made me want to see more of the trial in court.

Recently there have been other high school crime dramas which were very good ie, Sky Castle and Beautiful World. So far Class of Lies has a different feel and I'm intrigued to follow this drama to see if it will keep up the strong first impression.

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I actually didn't like the first episode, it was typical kdrama character introduction and was ready to drop it until last minute, that scene was hella intriguing. And then the setting suck me in, I don't know why evil teenagers are so engaging but here I am.

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I think the 3 and 4 were more interesting because 1 and 2 were like a long introduction.

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Other than the opening scene, I totally loved this drama, atleast it does not waste time and kids being kids think their lives have the biggest problems. Though there is nothing much new here but I like the meta thread in the show about how to protect oneself from injustice. As later we saw poor main lead's lawyer position also could not help from being disbarred! Lol!

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Thank you @missvictrix for recapping CLASS OF LIES. You are a life saver. I was thinking that if ever there was a drama where recaps of early episodes would be helpful is it is COL. I just wanted to jump down here with a quick thanks. Now I will go back over the recap.

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I am loving this drama even with the terrible terrible humans in this.

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School of bullies... :( It's so painful to watch.. but yet, I'm so curious with everything about this drama.... Jun's character is super grey... Is he a good or bad student? But I guess he knows everything what's going on the school.....

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I think Beom Jin, Tae Ra, Ki Hoon, and Ye Ri are like the F4 of Chunmyung High School. Beom Jin is taking the leader spot (I think he also makes sure Ki Hoon and the kids won't do anything uglier than they already did). He is like a gate keeper too so anything which happened at the school is still under control. And I'm sure someday Ki Hoon will have to rebel against him because he already showed that he isn't really happy with leader Beom Jin..

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I am not a law expert but years of watching courtroom dramas made me question how everything went by on episode 1. I know it is necessary so that we can see Moo-hyuk go undercover and do some fun stuff as a substitute teacher. Class of lies took its first 2 episodes as introductory episodes which are loooong but necessary. It is on episode 3 when the fun starts.

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Does the Korean justice system not have discovery? Because if I only watched dramas, I'd think lawyers were constantly allowed to surprise each other with evidence.

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I think they do have discovery, but for the shock and twist, dramas have this last-minute evidence surprise and I am not surprised anymore by this.

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ok you convinced me to try this. i can't handle too many shows that are dealing with heavy themes and suck you into the emotion to far but it sounds like Yoon Kyun-sang has a firm handle on keeping it hopeful and sane so i will dive in and hope it turns out well!

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@diana-hansen,
Welcome aboard. (I am chuckling to myself about you saying
“I can’t handle too many shows that are dealing with heavy themes and suck you into the emotion”. )
Well if you survived to the end of episode 2 you are in the COL life boat and can make it to the end.
This is my first Yoon Kyung-sang drama and am really enjoying his performances. He is playing a character his chronological age (early 30s) but (especially in those glasses) he looks at least 5 years younger.
I know that Attorney/Temporary Teacher Gi and earnest Teacher Ha are going to team up and clean up the high school from hell. At least that is my hope.

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well i did try it tonite and i am hooked! yoon kyun sang is really on his game with this! i have a hard time with bullying and innocent people getting hurt but i also relish it when the baddies get their comeuppance so here's to a rollar-coaster emotion ride with the promise of redemption in the end.

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Like most murder mysteries, I expected 3-4 episodes to build the case. Honestly I was hooked from episode 1 (except for the unnecessary and out of place cartoon copyright settlement).

Yoon Kyun Sang is impressive as usual. I just wish his makeup artist stop the contrasting to slim his face. The dark patches make him look horrible in the cool lighting. Just let him be chubby for goodness sake.

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But from that early scene we've got to see funny Lee Joon Hyeok cameo 😆 Him and Kyun Sang are inseparable whether as off screen and on screen partner 😂

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LJH (1972) is turning into the master of the comedic cameo. He made a similar appearance in NOKDU FLOWER.
It is embarrassing to just find out that YKS also made a cameo appearance in NF. Both have connections to the Director.

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From Six Flying Dragons, to Rebel, to Kyun Sang's guest appearance in I Live Alone, then Nokdu Flower, and this time Class of Lies. They are like brother in real life too 😆

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With this drama and A Moment at Eighteen, I miss lovely families like in A Beautiful World or Solomon's Perjury honestly. All the families here are poor and powerless or rich and powerful... Parents are really the source of all the issues of their children.

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Good point.

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I really enjoy Class of Lies, and I'm loving Yoon Kyun Sang's characters here.
I can't choose between Ki Moo Hyuk and Ki Kang Jae, they are both good in their own way 👍

The kids are all doing good too, Jun's character is the most interesting among them all and I can't wait to see if he will be in the same team as Teacher Kang Jae and So Hyun or siding with his fellow (fake) friends

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I like it

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I wish DB would continue recapping this.

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But from the number of comments here, it seems won't likely T_T

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That was an easy wish-come-true! Class of Lies is now on the recap list.

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Will this be the first YKS drama I actually like? I hope so, this was a good first two episodes.

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