Shailly Singh, Gandhinagar, Gujarat
“They say that humans are not rational beings but tend to rationalize things instead.“
The above quote by Kim Joo-young, a character in the drama sets the perfect mood for this drama. With a beautifully woven but intense plot line and an equally remarkable acting endeavor, this drama was meant to be one of the record-breakers in viewership.
This JTBC drama started airing in November 2018. This article doesn’t consist of any spoilers so you can read it till the end!
Number of episodes: 20 + 1 (special episode)
Cast: Yum Jung-ah, Lee Tae-ran, Yoon Se-ah, Oh Na-ra, Kim Seo-hyung, Kim Hye-yoon, Kim Bo-ra, Kang Chan-hee
The story takes place in a residential place called ‘SKY Castle’. The well-endowed families that reside in this place will do anything to get their kids into the top colleges of the country by giving them the best possible help to inch their kids a little further in this rat race. That’s why the name ‘SKY’ also infers to the acronym, the full form of which is Seoul University, Korea University and Yonsei University – the top three universities of South Korea.
The parents’ ambition and efforts to excel both at the work and at home by nurturing their children to aim for the sky (literally) is the main point of the drama. Yum Jung-ah’s character Han Seo-jin, is blinded by her goal of getting her daughter Kang Ye-seo (played by Kim Hye-yoon), into Seoul University for which she is even willing to sacrifice her dignity to get the best possible coach. The coach Kim Joo-young (played by Kim Seo-hyung), is famous for the 100% success rate for the admissions in these universities. We realize only later that to achieve such a feat, many more things were needed to be sacrificed. The whole situation is thrown into turmoil when one of the SKY Castle resident, a mother commits suicide whose family then leaves the place. Later, the Lee Soo-im’s (played by Lee Tae-ran) family moves into the same housing complex. Her son is good in studies but he does not have a rigorous study schedule like other students of his age, because Soo-im never pressurizes him. However, parents in other nearby houses pressurize their children into doing their best while overlooking over their mental state. Soo-im further stirs up the typhoon of reality among the blindfolded parents who are willing to go to any lengths to see their child holding the admission letter from one of the top three prestigious universities. Many things happen side by side which raised a lot of questions.
The reasons as to why this drama succeeded in achieving such glorious viewership but also made it into my top list of dramas are:
- The impeccable acting by the entire cast that made viewers breathe the same emotion and relate to it in real-time.
- The way the plot line not only revealed the dark side of the college admission process, but also the grim reality of ambitious parents who are ready to spend the insurmountable amount of money to ensure a good future for their children.
- The negative side effects that students have to go through just to fulfil their parents’ wishes. The possibility of students going into depression, and having panic disorder and anxiety is accurately portrayed.
- The way this drama is filmed to show the double-sided emotions of the character by using the blur effect.
- The drama is not entirely intense. The writers and director of this drama have cleverly used the element of dark humour to bring the comic relief pauses. These well-planned and executed scenes add up to complete the marvellous painting that this drama is.
It’s definitely up there in the list of must-watch K-Dramas. This drama brings a lot of insights, where you sympathize with each character without labeling them as protagonists and antagonists. The special episode takes you on a journey showing some behind the scene footage along with a discussion with some of the members. So, don’t forget to watch this drama if you haven’t. It is also available on Netflix.
Watch this short video where some of the members who play the role of students come together and share their experience:
Let us know your thoughts if you have seen this drama.