Drama

Weak Hero Class 1: An Elegy on Youth Fragility

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT! 

Although I won’t spoil the main plot, as I will explore the characters and some scenes in this drama, 
if you are interested I advise you to watch it first. Otherwise, please read at your own risk!
This is the opening scene of the last episode. In essence, this scene represents the drama, which I will explain by the end of the article.

Weak Hero Class 1

Native title: 약한영웅 시즌1 

Country: South Korea

Genres: Youth, Action, Drama

Aired: November 18, 2022

Episodes: 8   Duration: 60 min.

Trailers: Trailer 1 | Trailer 2

Where to watch: Viki  |  iQIYI    Kocowa

Content Rating: 18+ Restricted 
(violence & profanity)

Adapted from the webtoon “Weak Hero” (약한영웅) 
written by SeoPass and illustrated by Kim Jin Seok. 
Weak Hero Class 1 is a story about Yeon Shi Eun, a model student, who ranks at the top of his high school. Physically, Yeon Shi Eun appears like a weak boy, but by using his smarts, tools, and psychology, he fights against the violence inside and outside his school. 

When the drama was first announced, I simply wanted to watch it for Park Ji Hoon, who played the main protagonist. I only watched him in Flower Crew: Joseon Marriage Agency before. In it, he played a snobbish Joseon matchmaker Young Soo (left image) who loves everything pretty and fragrant, but behind his pretentious facade, he hides a dark past. Ji Hoon’s acting in Young Soo’s past scenes was impressive, but I was more captivated by his melancholic gaze. I told myself I would watch him again in another drama one day, and this is it: Weak Hero Class 1 (WHC1)! 

Initially, I thought it was just an action drama, one of my favorite genres, where characters fight people left and right with blood, bruises, broken bones, and all that. But WHC1 tells a story darker and deeper than the action scenes, a portrayal of youth’s fragility. So, I decided to watch it carefully to write a reflective article to give readers a better understanding of this drama. It’s not easy, as WHC1‘s dialogues have more curses than quotes and fighting scenes than heart-to-heart discussions. But the characters’ facial expressions speak more than speeches, their quiet gazes worth more than words. In WHC1 Park Ji Hoon was still melancholic as the protagonist Shi Eun, his emotionless facial expression hides his deep thoughts and his unreachable feelings (right image).

Before introducing you to the characters, let me tell you a little bit about the connection between the webtoon and the drama. This drama’s setting, Byeok San Highschool, is a preliminary to the webtoon, which starts when Shi Eun is at Eun Jang Highschool. MDLers who have read the webtoon were initially surprised that the story is different than the webtoon, with some drama characters only loosely based or even not in the webtoon. I didn’t have time to read the 200+ ongoing chapters but I studied the main characters and story background from Weak Hero Fandom, in which the characters you saw in the first GIF are loosely modeled as below. For us who don’t read the webtoon, this drama gives a more meaningful background of Shi Eun (who is modeled after Gray Yeon), for who he is and how he becomes a Weak Hero.

Webtoon
Gray Yeon (Yeon Sieun)
Stephen Ahn (Ahn Suho)
Bryce Oh (Oh Beomseok)

MAIN CHARACTERS

Park Ji Hoon as Yeon Shi Eun

When he was little, Shi Eun was injured a lot because he was very weak. His parents got into a lot of arguments because of that, and this eventually, led to their divorce. Shi Eun lives with his father, a professional trainer who travels a lot. Sometimes, Shi Eun meets with her mother, a math professor. Although they’re supportive of him, they can never have a heart-to-heart talk with their son. 

To avoid hearing the arguments, little Shi Eun would lock his door and study. As he grew older, he doesn’t want to bother or be bothered by anyone. Being a top student in class, his parents trust him to be a mature and independent kid.  Shi Eun studies so much that the knowledge he learned is ingrained in him and eventually is helpful in fighting against the bullies.

The Loner

Shi Eun: walking off school, earbuds in, detached from others.

 Choi Hyun Wook as Ahn Soo Ho

Soo Ho is an orphan who lives with his elderly grandmother. He used to be an MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fighter, but because he can’t afford the fee, he no longer joins the club although he still practices the skills. Soo Ho works part-time seven days a week as a delivery courier, a restaurant worker, and a mover. His grandma doesn’t ask him for good grades, only perfect attendance. After work, Soo Ho takes a shower and sleeps in class until the morning comes. He always takes naps. 

Although Soo Ho is easy-going and happy-go-lucky, because of his after-school jobs he doesn’t have close friends. He regards all his classmates as friends and him as the class guardian angel (so he can sleep). No one dares to bother Soo Ho, not even the class bullies.

The Fighter

Soo Ho: waiting for his fateful fight at the MMA gym.

Hong Kyung as Oh Beom Seok 

Beom Seok is the adoptive son of an assemblyman. He is a spoiled rich kid. He uses his money to buy everything and everyone. His parents don’t care about his spending, even if he steals money from them. As long as the father’s reputation is not tarnished by Beom Seok, the father’s aide and bodyguards keep Beom Seok in check.

Although his father is a prominent politician, Beom Seok is beaten up left and right: at his former school by the rich kids, at Byeok San High School (where this drama is set), and even at home. He is only adopted for political strategy purposes. Beom Seok is extremely fragile, physically and mentally. The fear of pain from what he does or doesn’t do results in his avoidance and escapism. Beom Seok is a nutcase.

The Coward

Beom Seok: hiding in storage full of childhood toys.

And the class misfits are thrown together 
into murky situations

SUPPORTING CHARACTERS

My further exploration of this drama also talks about these three supporting characters, so let me briefly introduce them to you:

Jeon Young Bin

(Kim Su Gyeom)

A rich kid who is the class bully. Somehow, he’s ticked off by Shi Eun’s attitude, so he wants to crush him badly.

Jeon Seok Dae

(Shin Seung Ho)

Young Bin’s older cousin. A drug seller and the little boss of professional bullies. Young Bin hired him to beat up Shi Eun.

Young Yi

(Lee Yeon)

Seok Dae’s gang member. A run-away, school dropout teenager. Lives for survival and is tied up by gambling debts.

Traditionally, an elegy is a poem that reflects upon the death or loss of someone (personal elegy). In broad terms, impersonally elegy is a piece of literature to express grief over some aspect of contemporary life. In this article’s case: youth fragility.

Since I’m not a psychologist, this article is not an in-depth analysis of developmental psychology and teenagehood. On the contrary, it’s more in grieving and questioning the youth fragility shown in WHC1. The scenes and dialogues presented below are to show how life young is like walking on thin ice, which affects not only teenagers but also when they become adults. As you watch the drama, the entire scenes and dialogues are more powerful and meaningful. In this article, the GIFs are shortened to fit the article’s technical requirements, and the translations of the dialogues are selected to fit the article’s purpose (as far as I know, there are two different subtitle versions).

THE HAPPY LONERS

Entering school age, kids are bound to spend a considerable amount with peers their age and make friends. However, there are lone kids. They either are avoided by their peers or avoid themselves from peers. In the adult world, people also stereotype that loners can be dangerous and revengeful because they cannot express their bottling-up emotions freely and they are kept hidden until escalating to bursts of anger and killing sprees. Mass shooters and serial killers are defined as deranged loners. People called the loners in this drama “weirdos”, “psychos”, etc. But loners are not always weird and psychotic. Soo Ho and Shi Eun are good examples that they are actually happy being loners.

In the GIF above, Soo Ho, who was sleeping, suddenly woke up caused of outside noise outside and was immediately ready to fight. When he knew that nobody woke him up after class (actually it was his request) he joked that he felt like a loner (in another version: “I feel darn lonely and upset”). I chose the subbed version above to make a point of my article’s section. Soo Ho too, stereotyped that loners, naturally, hold hurt feelings.

You noticed also that his classmates were not afraid or run aside when Soo Ho went into fighting mode. They completely trust Soo Ho not to beat them up because they made noise while he was sleeping. If you watched this drama you found out that the boy who talked to Soo Ho actually smiled at him. You know from my introduction of Soo Ho that he is a loner by choice. Although he doesn’t want to be bothered, his classmates genuinely like him.

Further exploration of ‘genuinely liking someone’ takes us to another happy loner in this drama: Shi Eun.

Let me explain the above GIF just in case you missed the hidden meaning of this scene. In the first scenes of this drama, both Shi Eun and Young Bin, the class bully, got awards for winning an intra-school math competition. I trust Shi Eun won it honestly, not sure about Young Bin (a real genius or a cheater?). But who cares, my point is about their classmates’ reactions. After their names were called, the class cheered on Young Bin instead of on both of them (notice their heads were turned towards Young Bin, not Shi Eun). When Shi Eun, the first winner, received the certificate, the class was quiet. Applause burst when it was Young Bin’s, the third winner, turn. Shi Eun then looked at them sadly. Watching this, at first, I felt sorry for Shi Eun. He seems lonely or hurt.  Thanks to Park Ji Hoon’s melancholic eyes, we’re actually tricked! Shi Eun knows well the hypocrisy or fear of his classmates giving fake applause to the class bully, either coming from being bought or being bullied by Young Bin and his gang. Instead of we feel sorry for Shi Eun, he feels sorry for his classmates. 

Wait… Shi Eun is a happy loner??? Yup and it was shown again and again in many scenes that he didn’t intend to make friends, was indifferent to the negative perception of his classmates, and didn’t give a damn about social manners (for example: giving water to the exhausted Soo Ho or letting Young Yi walk with him under an umbrella during rain), and neither bragged about his heroic deeds to anyone. Let’s see Shi Eun’s reaction in the screenshots below when his classmates complimented him for beating Young Bin and his gang (whom they actually hate). As the drama continues and some key characters start to reach him to make friends, his initial reaction has always been reluctant.

I have stated that both Soo Ho and Shi Eun are happy loners. How about the third main character: Beom Seok? We then come to the next section of Youth Fragility.


THE DISTORTED FRIENDSHIPS

Anyone who watched this drama might remember where this wall plaque (that is translated to “Friendships are based on trust”) was hung on… at a gang boss’ home, hahaha!!! Then the terms ‘friendship’ and ‘trust’ become questionable, as questionable of some friendships formed in this drama.

Remember my first statement when discussing the youth’s fragility that upon entering school kids are bound to make friends if not they are stamped as loners? There are kids who avoid being alone and lonely and make anyone their friends. Even if they are toxic friends. Even if they know their friends are fake. We see a side story of how teenagers fell into gambling debts since for them having money is equal to making themselves and their friends happy. 

This GIF below shows Beom Seok, who after walking out of his friendship with Soo Ho and Shi Eun, fell (or purposely walked?) into another circle of friendship with his former bullies. His changing allies and behaviors just happened overnight!

In the scene, Beom Seok and his newfound friends went to a bar and his friends didn’t have enough money to pick up girls. He then took his money out (everyone who watched the drama knew where it came from) to buy drinks. Later in the scene, his money did buy vodka, friends, girls, rooms, and so forth. The others couldn’t find any girl they liked in the room, so Beom Seok showed off that he was not only strong enough to drink two full glasses of vodka but also good at choosing girls.

Concerned Shi Eun, who had never cared about anyone before, observed all the changes and approached Beom Seok if he needed talk, but was ignored. Shi Eun also threatened the classmates who led his friends astray (yeah they are high school kids who drink and sleep with bar girls!) but they argued that without their forcing him Beom Seok actually offered to pay for everything. 

The GIF below shows a discussion between Shi Eun and Soo Ho about their lost friendship with Beom Seok. The actual conversation was heartbreaking because there were long pauses and it shows both friends had difficulty bringing up their thoughts and emotions. Especially Soo Ho, who acted tough and carefree, but his facial expression and tone of voice proved different.

Shi Eun thought that the class bullies took advantage of Beom Seok with his money. Soo Ho argued that the reverse was the case. Since Beom Seok thought that he ‘graduated’ from Shi Eun-Soo Ho’s circle of friends to get a sense of belonging, he then moved on to another circle of friendship with the bullies. Without lecturing, the drama touches on Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs shown below. The sense of belonging is at the third level. Beom Seok got it by making friends with Shi Eun and Soo Ho. Soon he wanted to be respected, admired, or recognized, a human need to belong to the next level (‘Esteem’). Using money, Beom Seok tried to satisfy his esteem needs at the bar that night, but actually, he never fulfilled the lower level of love and belonging needs.

Shi Eun’s last sentence: “do you really think so?” dug deeper into his contemplation to understand Beom Seok. Did Beom Seok really try to take advantage of his newfound friends or did he have another issue? As we know from the introduction to him about the family issue, how he was abused and neglected, his soul has already been crushed since childhood. We who watched the drama know he was mentally unstable. Mental health need is at the second level of the hierarchy of needs. His safety need had not been fulfilled either. 


CRUSHING SOULS

As a bully, Young Bin tried to find anything from his target victims to crush their souls, demeaning and disheartening words and actions towards them. There are two examples in the drama of how he did that to the bullied students:

Left image: At the beginning of the drama, Young Bin and his lackeys are shown videotaping their slave, their errand boy, doing an embarrassing dance in the back of the class. Young Bin told the gofer, it was a chance for him to get famous and to make money (with the videotapes) since he didn’t study (either stupid or lazy), had no connections (friends), and that he was poor. A rare opportunity given by these bullies that the gofer had to thank for.

Right image: Young Bin also intimated Beom Seok on his second day at school. From someone who goes to the same school where Beom Seok came from, Young Bin found out that the new student was bullied before. Young Bin said being bullied meant that Beom Seok is a loser, so it was a humiliating secret. But the almighty Young Bin, a rich and popular student, chose to be his friend (in another translation: Young Bin asked Beom Seok to be his friend) so he should be grateful.

The errand boy could have studied hard to be a student with good grades who helped others with their study, and thus make friends/connections. Beom Seok could have said that being bullied doesn’t make someone a loser and thus there is no secret to hide. But they rather succumbed to Young Bin’s manipulation tactics.

Young Bin also tried to bully Shi Eun in episode 1. Shi Eun in this scene, is small, weak, not rich, without friends, and has a dysfunctional family. How did Shi Eun manage to stay calm and unfazed thus Young Bin’s gaslighting failed? Let’s discuss it in the next section.


HELLO, SUPPORT? HELLO?? HELLO???

The answer is: Shi Eun has self-esteem and self-confidence. Aren’t these terms the same? Although one condition overlaps with another, they are different. Self-esteem refers to whether you appreciate and value yourself. Your self-esteem develops and changes as a result of your life experiences and interactions with other people. Self-confidence is your belief in yourself and your abilities. Because he’s the top student in the class, Shi Eun values himself highly. His shirt even says “Optimist Club” on it, lol! (Left Image). He is also highly self-confident, especially when facing bullies. So high, that sometimes I thought he was overly confident in challenging the villains. Readers who watched the drama should still remember when he chased after and fought the top gang boss, and when he confronted the UFC fighter Woo Young!

The right image is one of my favorites. This is from the second last scene of the drama. I have to give spoilers to explain this scene, so beware! Finally, after a big showdown happened in his life, Shi Eun is transferred to Eun Jang Highschool. The beauty of this scene is: both his parents took him to the new school on his first day. There are no arguments between them blaming whose fault it was. Upon arrival at the new school, his mother wants to take him to the new teacher. But Shi Eun refused and said: “It’s okay, I can go by myself.” Talking about taking responsibility and being an adult! They respect him by not belittling him or meddling with his decision. Then when he was about to leave, his father said the statement above. After all the dark stuff that happened to Shi Eun in the earlier episodes, it was such a heart-warming compliment!

Now, how could Shi Eun’s dad say a confident statement like that? We know they don’t really talk, right? As a caring and responsible parent, if Shi Eun wasn’t open to him, he must’ve looked for answers somewhere else. The police and Shi Eun‘s teacher were two options. But they might give false accounts, I bet his dad also asked his classmates, Young Yi, and Soo Ho’s grandma about Shi Eun to fully understand what his son had been through.

The title in this section appears as someone’s call for support, but no answer on the other line. Throughout WHC1, there is an obvious lack of a support system for the youths. The homeroom teacher covered up what happened to Young Bin. The police and the school were approached by the congressman to cover up what happened to Beom Seok. All Beom Seok’s father did was abuse his son. And I don’t see any interaction between Soo Ho and his grandma. 


KNOW YOUR LIMITS

“Know your limits”, is a wise phrase said repeatedly by Yeon Seok Dae, Young Bin’s older cousin hired to beat up Shi Eun. The viewers first hear him make this statement when he warned his younger cousin not to do something stupid to Shi Eun, which later it turned to be true as Young Bin ended up in trouble with a broken nose.

In another version of these scenes, “know your limits” is changed to “don’t go overboard” or “don’t act up”. What did Seok Dae mean by knowing someone’s limits? Did he mean their weakness and strengths, to know how much one is able to do? I think the translation is somewhat misleading. I think what Seok Dae meant is to know the boundaries, not to overdo something, or not to fool around. Seok Dae saw that his stupid cousin and his young gang members just wanted to fulfill their egos by beating up people unethically. Viewers saw repeatedly how the villains beat up defeated, helpless, even unconscious victims just to release their anger and revenge. For Seok Dae, our gangster with a heart, that’s against the (ethical) rule. During the encounters between Seok Dae and Shi Eun, although Seok Dae was hired by his cousin, he knew that he shouldn’t bother Shi Eun. Not that Shi Eun is stronger or more powerful than him, but that Shi Eun is just a mere student who wanted to study and not bother anyone. Seok Dae’s attitude is different than that of bullies, who bother others just for fun, to boost their ego, or to release their anger or revenge.

I think this attitude is not only chivalry conduct but also has something to do with self-control and being sensible. Talking about Seok Dae again, we see later how he took responsibility as a gang leader by leaving out Young Yi and Sung Chan, the youngest member of his gang (14 years old), from being arrested since it was not their fault they fell prey to a gang debtor (Seok Dae’s boss).

We also saw a similar sensible and responsible attitude in Shi Eun during the ending narration of the final episode. Spoiler warning: We knew that Beom Seok’s father planned to put Shi Eun into juvenile prison because of what Shi Eun intended to do with the video of his son. However, in exchange for keeping silent about what happened to Soo Ho, Shi Eun was just expelled from Byeok San Highschool instead of being arrested. Some audiences were upset that Shi Eun did not finish his revenge, beating up or even killing Beom Seok, and bringing the bullies to justice. In my opinion, Shi Eun understood that his ultimate role is a student whose goal is to study and finish high school, not revenge. He is also responsible to his parents who have supported him in his education. Finishing off Beom Seok or taking the bullies to the court couldn’t do real justice because of the congressman’s political power.

Not only that Shi Eun knew his boundaries, but he also learned how to forgive. That brings us to the final part of my discussion.


PAINFUL REMEDIES: APOLOGY AND FORGIVENESS

Apology and forgiveness are comparable to painful medical procedures to go through to cure a serious illness. Sometimes they are hard to do, especially if it seems justified that the transgressor is not worth being forgiven. But people who don’t want to apologize or forgive others may suffer from mental and physical distress. A sincere apology and true forgiveness not only heal you but also give you freedom. This drama shows several examples of apology and forgiveness.

APOLOGY

We have people who are pseudo or insincere apologists. For example, Young Bin seemed remorseful and apologized to Shi Eun because he drugged the latter. He even kneeled down in front of people and begged Shi Eun’s mercy. “Crocodile tears,” mocked Soo Ho, which turned out to be true. Young Bin tricked them into the basement to face the gangsters.

But we also have people who never apologize, like Beom Seok. Doesn’t matter how big his mistake was, I never recalled him apologizing to anyone in the drama, even to people he hurt so much like Soo Ho and Shi Eun. Instead, he blamed people for everything that happened in his life, some justified (like what his adopted father did) and some unjustified, like what happened to Young Yi as seen in the GIF below.

After Beom Seok injured Soo Ho, Young Yi was very angry and demanded an apology from him (in the script, it was not his dad who told him to apologize but Young Yi). Instead of apologizing, Beom Seok accuses Young Yi of ruining the friendship between him and Soo Ho. Poor Young Yi was so shocked that in the end she left and disappeared. 

I want to explain the psychology behind this issue. After watching Soo Ho’s heroic action fighting the jocks in class and defending Shi Eun, Beom Seok practically made Soo Ho his idol. Beom Seok, who never grew up mentally and emotionally, is also possessive of Soo Ho, clutching onto him like a child clutching onto his heroic figurine. Although it was a friendship of three, Beom Seok was never jealous of Shi Eun, since the latter preferred to study than hang out with them. When Young Yi later befriended Soo Ho, because they were similar in family background and personalities, and could banter around without hard feelings, Soo Ho and Young Yi get along easily. The insecure Beom Seok thought that he was no longer Soo Ho’s friend but his gofer. 

Hard to apologize, hard to forgive, that is Beom Seok. When Soo Ho found out what happened to Shi Eun and Young Yi, he sincerely apologized to Beom Seok. But the latter didn’t even say that he forgive Soo Ho. Then Soo Ho asked Beom Seok to apologize to Shi Eun and Young Yi because Beom Seok and the bullies beat up Shi Eun and kidnapped Yong Yi. But like a little child, Beom Seok refused. In front of the other people surrounding him, he wants to be a tough individual who refuses to back down. But not because he’s strong — it’s because he’s weak. People who cannot apologize often have such deep feelings of low self-worth, as their fragile egos cannot absorb the fact that they were wrong and accept the blow. It’s emotionally uncomfortable and painful to our sense of self. 

FORGIVENESS

The former Shi Eun was also someone who didn’t forgive easily. He got a bad grade on an exam because Beom Seok, per Young Bin’s order, made him ill. Later, when Beom Seok found out that Shi Eun beat up his oppressor, Beom Seok tried to befriend him. Shi Eun declined Beom Seok’s invitation, he even indicated that he wouldn’t accept if Beom Seok apologize either.

After becoming friends with Soo Ho, Beom Seok, and Young Yi, Shi Eun learned to be considerate and care for others, including forgiving them. Without words, he forgave the wrongdoings Beom Seok did that caused him to be hospitalized. Shi Eun did not want to press charges because he regarded Beom Seok as his friend.

The final and hardest test for Shi Eun is forgiving Beom Seok for what he did to Soo Ho. After going on a rampage and beating the other bullies his final target is Beom Seok who is hopeless and lifeless, ready for any punishment from Shi Eun.

Speaking about this scene at the climax of this drama, there are some issues that intrigue me:

  1. When Shi Eun asked Beom Seok the reason, the latter said he doesn’t really know himself either. I wonder if the real meaning of his answer is he doesn’t really know about himself which triggered him to do what he did. Someone with such low esteem like Beom Seok most likely doesn’t know his own identity. Also, do you think Beom Seok may also suffer from Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)?
  2. Why Beom Seok asked Shi Eun to understand him? Is it because he didn’t want to apologize to Shi Eun, but instead wanted to justify his action? Another thought is: since both Shi Eun and Beom Seok have similar natures (loners, being weak, are the targets of bullying, and have dysfunctional families), needless to say, Shi Eun should’ve understood Beom Seok.
  3. What does Shi Eun mean by his understanding of Beom Seok? Especially since he asked Beom Seok the reason for his action. Does he really understand his friend? Since Shi Eun is a man of few words, every word that comes out of his mouth is basically meaningful. My opinion is that he really understands his friend (the ‘who’), but not his doing (the ‘why’).
  4. The issue of understanding becomes a sad revelation in their friendship. Once he opened himself, Shi Eun becomes more sensitive and observant toward the ones he cares about. Were Beom Seok to rely more on Shi Eun than on Soo Ho, he would have got a precious best friend in Shi Eun. However, Beom Seok rather chose to idolize someone who is completely different than him and with the qualities he wants to have. Shi Eun is too similar to him, thus it’s not exciting. Talking about the opposite attracts!

Finally, I will go back to the first GIF that symbolizes the overall drama:

  • Being a loner, Shi Eun used to eat by himself and didn’t understand why people love to eat. As the drama goes along he learned that people socialize and make friends by having and sharing meals together. He suggested his friends eat together. Shi Eun has changed.
  • On the contrary, Beom Seok hasn’t changed at all. On the surface, he pretended that everything was okay with him, including a lie about having a family event. We knew people in his family do not treat him as a family member.
  • Within the trio’s friendship: Beom Seok is rather with Soo Ho instead of Shi Eun, by the statement “Let’s all meet tomorrow including Soo Ho.” He doesn’t only want to be with Shi Eun, but together with Soo Ho.
  • In the end, Shi Eun chose to stay alone instead of leaving with them. I wonder what his deep thought is. In the end, did regret opening himself to others and making friends if knowing the outcome?

In conclusion, I really surprised myself with why and how I wrote such a reflective and long article for an only 8-episode drama. Considering initially I planned to watch WHC1 for the main actor, interesting synopsis, favorite action genre, and because it’s a non-romantic youth drama. For many viewers, this drama surprised the viewers since it doesn’t have any A-list actors in the cast list and it was the director and scriptwriter You Su Min’s (right image with the main cast) debut, only 8 episodes, not streamed on popular networks, has no romance, a lot of violence, exaggerating issues, and generally, it’s dark-themed. Another fact is that all episodes were dropped for one day which might cause little exposure in the media. Moreover, it doesn’t have a big budget or strong promotion.

Despite the have-not reasons above, WHC1 has charmed its viewers. The acting of the three leading actors is incredible and award-worthy. The story is unique, the plot is tight without fillers, with no boring tropes common in youth dramas (for example, a must-have romance). The production team seemed to put a lot of thought to create a youth drama that is inclusive of issues of the youth’s growing pains. At some point, making us wonder whether South Korea fails to tackle the issues of school bullying, support, the education system, school politics, etc. It’s only fictional anyways and I don’t think South Korea is that bad! With that many issues thrown into this little drama, I think the production team wants to show us that one or two issues can be related to what happened in the places we live in. WHC1 is worth being one of the best 2022 Korean dramas! 

Weak Hero Class 1 stat as of December 11, 2022: MDL ratings 9.1   |   Douban ratings 8.7

Is Shi Eun really a psycho,
or does he pretend to be one all along?

Looking forward to his survival in Weak Hero 2!

Thank you for reading and happy watching!


Thank you to the editors who edited this article! The images are linked to their sources; otherwise, they are taken from the official posters and screenshots. All GIFs are self-made from the drama scenes. 
Edited by: devitto (1st editor)
youth
action
school bullying
park ji hoon
choi hyun wook
hong kyung
weak hero class 1

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