Moorim School: Episode 3
Assimilating into a new school is never easy, but having to start out on the lowest rung of the ladder is nearly more than our boys can take. Dean Hwang has to step in when the two rivals prove they can’t get along, and his punishment could very well teach them something important about themselves. That is, if they can survive the ordeal in the first place.
EPISODE 3 RECAP
Chi-ang and Shi-woo fight it out for the right to stay at Moorim, and their skills have the girls swooning and the boys jealous. As they spar, they think to themselves that they’re incredibly evenly-matched — and then we back up to see that they never actually started fighting, and everyone is wondering why they’re just staring at each other. HAHA.
They throw a few I’m about to start!… Okay, here I go! feints at each other, but when they finally do actually try fighting, they just wildly kick and flail at each other, with nothing actually landing. OMG I’m laughing so hard I’m crying right now. Did Chi-ang just bite Shi-woo? I’m so embarrassed for you both right now.
Eventually they’re just pulling hair and slapping each other’s faces, which is when Professor Kim arrives to break it up. Dean Hwang shows up too, and he looks like fire is about to shoot from his eyeballs. He yanks both boys into his office for an explanation, and they pretend it was just a mock fight, for fun.
Chi-ang tries turning on the charm, but Dean Hwang is having none of it, and explains that Moorim is about more than learning martial arts — it’s also about knowledge and virtue. In fact, martial arts class is only once a week, because it’s important for the students to learn to fight with intelligence and honor. This annoys Chi-ang, but something about Hwang’s words seem to strike a chord with Shi-woo.
Dean Hwang doesn’t care why they came here, but if they have no intention of taking it seriously, then they’re welcome to leave. Shi-woo asks what he wants them to do if they stay, and both boys bristle when Hwang puts them in the beginner class (Chi-ang claims to know judo, and Shi-woo says he learned a lot in action school, but I think that fight proved them both wrong, hee).
But despite their protests, they find themselves designated the school’s “low class,” and assigned the lowest of the chores — cleaning the bathrooms. Up in their room, the girls worry about the boys’ pride and whether they’ve ever even cleaned a bathroom (smart money says NO). Still, the boys do make an effort, neither willing to let the other outshine them even in toilet-scrubbing.
Soon-deok spends her day off wondering why Shi-woo, the hottest idol in the country, came to Moorim School. Sun-ah seems unsettled at Soon-deok’s interest in him, and jumps to his defense when Soon-deok says he’s greedy (for being so famous and wanting to attend their school).
Soon-deok’s dad takes Aunty shopping to buy some makeup for his daughter, and she whines like a child when he doesn’t buy her anything as well. (She seems to be more of a caretaker-slash-neighbor than actual family, as she mentions she wishes this were a date, so we’ll just call her Aunty as an older-woman figure to Soon-deok). In fact she pitches such a fit in the street that she leaves him there, stranded.
Teacher Samuel reports that the boys are actually working hard at cleaning, and sure enough, Chi-ang is even folding the toilet paper ends neatly. He gets annoyed when Shi-woo “ignores” him, though he really just can’t hear him. This attack seems pretty profound — Shi-woo can’t hear Chi-ang talking right in front of him, and when the pain hits, it looks like a doozy.
Even Chi-ang is concerned, but Shi-woo pretends it’s nothing. He lashes out when Chi-ang asks about his ear, yelling that he’s fine and storming off. He’s so clearly not fine, but his attitude puts Chi-ang off whatever worry he might have had.
Even Soon-deok notices that something is off with Shi-woo, but he brushes her concern away as well. He barks at her, wondering if she’s worried about his lost career since he can’t hear, or the fact that he’s ranked lowest in class, and she mutters that she was just worried about his burned hand. Oh.
Soon-deok is ready to go to Seoul with him and set things right regarding his scandal, and that gets Shi-woo’s attention. But he’s so on edge that he can’t even trust this, and asks what her angle is. Soon-deok figures that people have been using him his whole life, and tells him to just take her help for what it is. She gives him a big grin, which totally diffuses his anger.
Chi-ang’s mother pumps Dad’s assistant for information on Moorim School, and why her husband insists that Chi-ang attend there. He stays tight-lipped and she gets nowhere.
Shi-woo overhears some of the other students discussing him and Chi-ang, and none of it is flattering. The part where Chi-ang was born out of wedlock and so can’t be acknowledged, is of particular interest to Shi-woo.
Left alone, Soon-deok’s father is forced to ask strangers for help getting to his doctor’s appointment, but with nobody to help him, he misses his bus. His phone is knocked out of his hand and now he’s in real trouble, and he ends up getting hit by a motorcycle as he kneels to search for his phone.
Chi-ang actually seems to like cleaning — more than studying anyway. He asks Sun-ah if she’s seen his “Ariel,” and she tells him that Soon-deok has gone to Seoul.
Soon-deok readies to go with Shi-woo, but a call has her hesitating while Shi-woo waits for her on the bridge as they agreed. Chi-ang notices that Shi-woo’s not in their room and his bed is made, and connects the dots — they must be together.
Soon-deok’s call was about her father, and she rushes to find him at the police station, forgetting all about Shi-woo. Awww, it’s so sweet that Dad’s worried about losing the cell phone she bought, and proud that he saved the makeup he got her. He can’t see that it’s just the box and the makeup is missing, which has Soon-deok fighting back tears and telling him that it’s really pretty. ~sniffle~
Shi-woo waits at the bridge for Soon-deok, but rather than angry at her delay, he seems more lost and abandoned. Chi-ang doesn’t seem as happy as he expected to have his room all to himself, either.
Soon-deok shows up at Aunty’s house to bring her some snacks she made, and swears that her dad said he’ll never hurt her feelings again if she’ll just come back to his place. She gets Aunty and Dad in the same room, looking mightily pleased with herself, and just grins while they bicker.
The issue isn’t makeup, but Dad’s feelings — or lack thereof — for Aunty, and Dad finally barks that Aunty is beautiful even without makeup. He gets a little handsy, which melts Aunty’s anger, and Soon-deok wisely leaves them alone. (Aunty: It’s not like that! Dad: It’s exactly like that. Rawr.)
It’s only now that Soon-deuk remembers Shi-woo, and she finds him still waiting for her on the bridge. She begs to rest for a moment before running down the mountain again, and asks pitifully for a drink of water. She’s milking this for all it’s worth, but it works on Shi-woo anyway.
By the time Shi-woo gets back with Soon-deok’s water, she’s snoring on the bench and muttering about potato rice cakes and chicken, ha. But something about her gets to him, and he wonders if she’s so poor that she even works in her dreams.
He ends up carrying Soon-deok back to her room and putting her to bed, and he tells Sun-ah to have her find him as soon as she wakes up. Aww, you’re just a big grumpy marshmallow, aren’t you? As he leaves her room he stops to think about all the jobs she’s mentioned — yet she didn’t take money to frame him, and she’s willing to help him clear his name.
Shi-woo finds Chi-ang appropriating his bed, but Chi-ang wants to talk about why he and Soon-deok didn’t go to Seoul. When Shi-woo doesn’t answer, Chi-ang wonders out loud if he’s just pretending not to hear him, and Shi-woo finally blows — he yells that he can hear Chi-ang just fine, and orders him off his bed.
Chi-ang bows up at Shi-woo and calls him “runaway idol,” asking if he thinks he’s on Chi-ang’s level. Shi-woo counters that he’s not the big shot heir from China like he wants people to think — he’s not even legitimate, which makes his mother a concubine. Okay, I was on your side until you said that.
That comment gets Shi-woo a sell-deserved punch in the face, and sparks a full-on fight between the two. The noise draws the other students but Jeong just lets them duke it out, so the girls go running to wake Soon-deok for help. But the teachers get there first, and for the second time in one day, have to break up a fight.
This time they stand in front of the entire school and faculty, where they ask for separate rooms. But Dean Hwang says with barely contained fury that there’s no need for that, because they’re both expelled. Chi-ang bows his head (with difficulty) and asks not to be sent away, but Hwang simply walks away without a word.
Sun-ah chases her father down to beg him to give Shi-woo one more chance, but he’s so angry that he threatens to expell her, too. Damn. Soon-deok is right behind Sun-ah, and she moans that this is her fault for not keeping her promise to Shi-woo.
The other students watch Shi-woo and Chi-ang through Nadet’s drone, wondering why they’re both still standing where Dean Hwang left them. It’s their pride, of course, which won’t allow either of them to leave when they blame the other for this situation (Hint: that’s your problem right there, guys).
Chi-ang is especially annoyed, since Shi-woo planned to leave once his scandal was cleared up anyway, but he has to stay a whole year to get what he wants. He makes the first move to find Dean Hwang and beg (whine) for lenience, but Shi-woo is right there with him and asks for a different punishment than expulsion.
Shi-woo cuts in to ask for another chance, earning dagger-eyes from Chi-ang, but Dean Hwang is unmoved. At first I think Chi-ang is getting on his knees, but he just sprawls on the floor and refuses to leave. Of course he’d go for immature over humble.
It’s Shi-woo’s respectful request to be allowed to stay that gets Hwang’s attention, and he asks if it hurts their pride to be expelled. He takes them outside and points out Moorim Peak in the distance, and tells them that whoever brings the school’s banner back from the top first, can stay. From the reaction of the rest of the school, this is pretty damn dangerous.
Shi-woo is the first to step up and Chi-ang quickly follows, and they’re told that they must go now, in the middle of the night, dressed as they are (Chi-ang is only wearing one shoe!). Dean Hwang tells them that if they can’t get the banner, not to even bother coming back. The boys head out, and Nadet sends his drone to follow them.
The boys don’t get ten steps before Chi-ang wants to go back for his shoe, feeling like Shi-woo has an unfair advantage. But when he turns back, the path is closed and the school is gone. If they don’t succeed, they literally can’t go back.
The students think this is much too difficult a task for beginner students, though Jeong maintains that they didn’t belong at Moorim anyway. Sun-ah hears this and pulls him aside to tell him that she knows he was behind the ice incident in cooking class, worried that he’s not living up to the values that Moorim tries to instill.
He tells her (again in English, for no apparent reason) that she’s confused — he’s not here for the school values. He’s here to graduate with top honors, win the martial arts competition, and go home successful. He admits that he’s more than willing to get rid of anyone who gets in his way, including any of the existing students. Of course, all of them are right behind him to overhear what he just said, though he acts like he doesn’t care.
Chi-ang tries to talk Shi-woo into quitting on their way up the mountain, not understanding why he’s doing this when he was planning to quit the school anyway. Yeah, I’ve been wondering the same thing. Chi-ang seems to be sincere when he says that he’s the one whose future depends on this, and asks for Shi-woo’s shoes and his help. Shi-woo just tells him to shut up, ha.
Back at the school, even the teachers think that Dean Hwang went too far, though Professor Kim says that Moorim Peak isn’t that dangerous. In fact, he claims to be the one who placed the banner there in the first place, and that he used to hike up every morning. Professor Oh calls him out for a liar, and they start bickering again.
Professor Beop says to Dean Hwang that sending those kids up the mountain could get him and the school in big trouble. Hwang reminds him of the seal unlocking when the boys arrived, though he claims this test isn’t to determine who unlocked it. He says crypticaly that their fight doesn’t just involve the two of them, and it will take more than two of them to complete this task.
It’s interesting how, now that the boys are gone, Dean Hwang isn’t at all angry — in fact he’s pleasantly calm. He tells Professor Beop that no matter if they’ve only been here two days, they’re still Moorim students. This appears to clue Professor Beop into his true plan, though we aren’t privy to it.
None of the students sleep easy that night, and Nadet stays up late watching Chi-ang and Shi-woo through his drone. Chi-ang’s mother seems to sense that something is happening with her son, and stares at his photo.
In the morning the boys find their path blocked by a wide chasm, and they argue over whether to go around or find a way across. Chi-ang horrifies Shi-woo by making a jump for it, and the idiot actually makes it across. But as he’s crowing his success to Shi-woo, his sock foot slips, and he finds himself dangling over the abyss by his fingertips.
Frantic, Shi-woo also makes the jump, and lowers his belt for Chi-ang to grab. An ill-timed attack of ear pain has Chi-ang lose his footing, and all that stands between him and the long drop is Shi-woo’s strength. Luckily, together they manage to pull Chi-ang to safety, though he immediately gripes at Shi-woo for nearly dropping him.
Shi-woo is still in the grips of his attack and doesn’t answer, and now Chi-ang grows genuinely worried. He calls to Shi-woo and realizes that he can’t hear him at all, but the attack subsides and Shi-woo glares at Chi-ang for making that stupid jump.
Aunty makes Soon-deok’s dad a gigantic breakfast of foods known to be aphrodesiacs, and when he asks why, she titters that Soon-deok won’t be home tonight. He’s gonna need extra energy, huh?
Professors Kim and Oh spar together, in what looks like more of a courtship dance than anything else. Kim finds it very sexy when Oh kicks his ass, and he angles for a kiss, but she’s too worried about Chi-ang and Shi-woo alone up on Moorim Peak.
The boys are starting to lag, and Chi-ang decides to test Shi-woo’s hearing. He only succeeds in annoying Shi-woo by whispering his name over and over, ha. But he’s not kidding when he steps on something with his sock foot and hurts himself, and he gives Shi-woo his best puppy-dog eyes and asks yet again to switch shoes. It almost works, but Shi-woo saunters off again, leaving Chi-ang shoeless. Shi-woo is made of sterner stuff than I am, clearly.
So Chi-ang is forced to use his tie and leather wallet as a makeshift shoe, which is pretty damned resourceful for a spoiled rich kid, and even seems to impress the stoic Shi-woo. The kids back at school find them with Nadet’s drone, and worry that they must be hungry and thirsty by now.
Indeed, Chi-ang starts to whine about being thirsty, and Shi-woo finds a little trickle of water for them to drink. They freak out and run when they see a snake, but they get split up in their fear, and the kids argue over which to follow with the drone. They choose Shi-woo, so everyone is worried when he finally stops running and can’t find Chi-ang. Now it’s a real competition, since the boys can’t work together anymore.
We see the mysterious man in the coma, and get a glimpse of his past as he and his family (a wife, and a small son and daughter – twins?) are forced to hide out in a mountain cabin. He tells his wife that he was told to bury the jewels in a secret place that nobody knows, and he knows this place is pretty safe since he used to train here. Wait, is that the little girl Dean Hwang was protecting before?
We get further events from Hwang’s perspective — he had found the wife dead in the cabin some time later. Professor Beop also appears to know something of this, based on the way he’s staring into space thoughtfully.
Alone now, Shi-woo nearly walks right into a large beast, which looks like some kind of otherwordly wolf. The students are watching through the drone, but the wolf-thing sees it and attacks, and puts it out of commission. The beast sees Shi-woo, growls, and leaps.
Without the comfort of being able to see the guys on the mountain, Sun-ah is ready to run up there and find Shi-woo. She tells any other kids who want to help, to meet her at the front doors.
Shi-woo runs from the beast, but finds himself face-to face with it again. It jumps up at him and knocks him down, and he gets up quickly. The jewel in his pendant catches a ray of sun and shines directly into the beast’s eyes, and stops it in its tracks.
Interesting, and intriguing. I like the way the show is doling out clues at a slow but reliable pace, while at the same time giving us more mysteries to wonder about. Why was the man in the coma hiding jewels on the mountain, and where did his children go when his wife was killed and he was put out of commission? I think it’s no coincidence that Shi-woo’s pendant has a jewel in it, and that in his memory of his dead mother in the fire, she had the same short hair as Coma Man’s wife. So if the little girl is the same one Dean Hwang saved, then would that make Shi-woo the son and Sun-ah the daughter, making them siblings or even twins? If so, how did Shi-woo get separated from his sister, and why did Dean Hwang never look for him? I do find the mysteries compelling, and I have a feeling we haven’t seen the half of it yet.
The show seems to be settling into a more comfortable rhythm, relaxing into itself and letting its characters be a little bit more human and fallible (we saw some of that with Chi-ang last week, but now everyone’s inner insecurities are showing). The air of mystery is still there, as we haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of what’s truly going on at Moorim School, but it seems to have let go of that sense of extreme gravitas it tried to carry in the first week, and let the characters shine instead. The show feels more cohesive than it did in the beginning, so if it keeps on improving like this, it has the potential to be a really fun watch. And as a viewer, more than anything I want characters I care about, and this show definitely has plenty of those.
That said, I’m a bit worried about Shi-woo from a narrative perspective, because he holds things so close to the vest that it makes it hard to care about him as a character. In fact, with a lesser actor than Lee Hyun-woo, I’d have stopped caring about him already, so it’s a good thing that this character is in the hands of an actor who can make us love him without having to hear actual words. I get that he’s had a tough time on his own, with people only caring about him as far as his talent can benefit them, and that naturally would lead to a person being reluctant to show any true emotions. But as a drama character it’s problematic, because he’s so closed off that we’re being given no sense of his feelings or motivations, why he’s at Moorim and why he’s determined to stay (we can guess, but those aren’t answers, you know?). I do think that Soon-deok will be the person who starts to crack that veneer, with her way of just being herself that seems to affect him. She’s the first person who was willing to not only do something for him, but do it at their own expense, and I think that’s already getting through to him. I think — hope — that a budding friendship with Chi-ang will do the same thing, and hopefully we’ll see a very different Shi-woo by the end of the show.
One thing I really like about this show, in a strange way, is that neither of the leading men are likable. I’m so used to one male lead being the “nice guy” that it’s almost refreshing that both of our boys are jerks, at this point. They’re the epitome of the conceited, self-absorbed teenager, just looking for what benefits them and bristling at anything that gets in their way. Of course they have very different reasons for being that way, and their issues manifest in very different ways, but I almost like that neither of them is showing his true self at this point in the story. It makes me watch them closely for those little flashes of maturity, and they are there, like when Chi-ang worried for Shi-woo’s hearing just for a moment, or when Shi-woo realized that Soon-deok lives a pretty hard life. Those little glimpses of the people Chi-ang and Shi-woo will grow to be are fascinating, and I foresee a lot of character growth for both of them. Now that they’re stripped of their privilege — and the pressures and fears that come with it — they can slowly become who they really are inside. (And as a side note, I’m thinking both of them are somehow special… there’s no way a normal human could make the jump over that chasm.)
In fact, Chi-ang and Shi-woo are so much their own worst enemies, that I really feel as though the added “villian” character of Jeong, with his inexplicable English, is unnecessary. Though I suppose that it wouldn’t be a school-centered Korean drama without that one kid who would push you under the bus (or down the stairs) for daring to be a better student, and goodness knows the other students at Moorim could use some more characterization. I do hope the rest of the students are fleshed-out a bit more as the show goes on, because I love the multicultural aspect of the school itself, and would like to get to know the other kids a bit better.
- Moorim School: Episode 2
- Moorim School: Episode 1
- Light vs. dark in new set of posters for Moorim School
- Lee Hyun-woo goes from idol factory to Moorim School
- Moorim School’s foursome invites you to its mysterious school
- First look at Moorim School’s bad boy bromance
- Lee Hyun-woo confirms action romance drama Moorim School
- Seo Ye-ji, VIXX’s Hongbin for youth drama Moorim School
- Lee Hyun-woo, Yook Sung-jae courted for KBS’s Moorim School
- KBS announces global youth action romance Moorim School