We have finally moved into the fun parts proper, after all the background noises stories are done with, and Park Seo-joon gets a nicer haircut. But peel away the sagaeuk costumes, School of Hwarang is not THAT different from a Kdrama’s modern day high school drama (think Heirs, and School 2013). Similar characters pepper the Hwarang Class as in the aristo-brats class in Heirs.
- The Playground Bully
Like Kim Woo-bin’s role in Heirs, Ban-ryu is the nasty guy in Class of Hwarang. He basically picks fights with everyone, juz because. Your typical snotty, asking-for-a-punch-in-the-face character. And like ALL bullies, they are mostly bluff, in order to cover up for a sad and abusive family background. Ban-ryu may be all tough acting and caustic in front of his peers, but interactions within his family are…complicated. As Su-ho guessed, he isn’t enrolled in Class Hwarang cos he wants to, but is likely arm twisted to join.
One thing about Kdrama’s Playground Bully? They make the most steadfast friends once they are able to open up and find that special someone to confide their fears in. And I have hope that Su-ho’s little sister may be the key to Ban-ryu’s reconciliation with himself and everyone else.
- The Class Clown
That’d be Su-ho. Although he is not THAT slapsticky in nature, he exudes enough bubbliness (sometimes fumbling bubbliness) to make most people adore him. Generally harmless, even when provoked. Most of his fights with Ban-ryu? I get the impression he juz loves to bait the Grumpy Bear, and isn’t really maliciously trying to harm Ban-ryu. And comically, those fights he won over Ban-ryu, he wins them without an adoring audience – or any witness at all. (like whose pride is he trying to protect? Lol)
Class clowns usually make friends the fastest, so it isn’t strange that he immediately forms a liking for aloof Ji-dwi and outsider Sun-woo.
- The Untouchable Lone Wolf
They usually do not participate in the fights, or basically any form of class activities, preferring to hang in the background to watch. However, they exude a threatening enough aura to make even the most hardcore Class Bully think thrice about stepping into their personal space. Usually, such characters have some form of powerful backers (rumoured or real) that lend them the privilege of being able to merely observe from the sidelines (think “mobster” Kim Na-na from Monstar).
In Hwarang, Yeo-wool, being the closest to the Royal family line, has this unspoken power which the rest of the members defer to. Thankfully, he appears to genuinely like (or is interested in) Sun-woo and Ji-dwi (though we are not sure if he guesses at Ji-dwi’s real identity). But cos he can sway both ways, he will probably make the most unreliable of allies.
- The Outlier(s)
In Hwarang, we have 2 of them – Sun-woo and Ji-dwi. But the former more than the latter, given that he is not a nobleman by birth (or so he thinks). Regardless of the birth secret, not having a headstart in education (and most importantly, basic literacy) as the rest of the Hwarang’s members already puts Sun-woo in a serious disadvantage.
Being on the losing end isn’t new to Kdrama’s Outlier type. The power imbalance is precisely why we root for them, and they are the protagonist of nearly all high school dramas.
As for Ji-dwi, he’s an Outsider cos of the enforced estrangement set upon by his Queen Mama. He hasn’t really played/ fought with the other noblemen’s sons and therefore, finds himself unable to integrate into any of their cliques, even though he technically “belongs” there.
In some ways, he is similar to Sun-woo in nature, all proud and quick to anger. So it isn’t odd that he and Sun-woo are frenemies. They juz have too much in common that they end up fighting over the same thing – like siblings, yunno? (come to think of it, they MAY actually be related…since Sun-woo is a secret Somebody)
- The Benign Lamb
He is the one who either gets bullied like hell by the Classroom Bully, or is basically ignored, cos he is so…unthreatening. That’d be Han-sung. He has so far been a character who is in the background giving an objective commentary to the going-ons in Hwarang School (Yeo-wool is too above-all to deign himself a commentator).
Cos of his affable nature – he is so much like your little brother – the others don’t mind him when he insidiously gate crashes into their group. Like how he ends up sharing a dorm room with Sun-woo et. al when he isn’t even from their dorm.
- The Teacher From Hell (who is actually a softie)
In order to pull together a bunch of teenagers from different camps to work together, you usually need a hard-hitting, no nonsense instructor. But s/he isn’t a Psycho. There’s method to the “tortures” this form of Teacher metes out. S/he firmly believes that only hardship can make a group bond, and s/he is usually right.
Teacher Hwa-kong fits the typical mold of the Teacher from Hell, but we all know he is a Big Ol’ Teddy Bear at heart. And those students he pick on? They are usually the ones closest to his heart and whom he has the highest expectations of. At the moment, his Teacher’s Pet(s) are Sun-woo and Ji-dwi. Again, a no-brainer answer, cos these 2 are THE protagonists of Hwa-rang. The rest are juz…well, classmates to fill up the classroom.