We’ve only got a few weeks left of Itaewon Class and this series is gearing up for a dramatic finale to follow. With lots of big talking points and Sae-Ro-Yi facing seemingly insurmountable odds, this episode sees our characters walk through hellfire to try and get to the rewards at the end. With more strong characterisation and some big themes at the heart of this one, JTBC’s latest Korean drama is a real powerhouse that promises to end just as strongly as these episodes have been week to week.
Episode 12 of Itaewon Class begins with Yi-Seo drowning her sorrows in soju as Hyun-Yi arrives and talks to her about what happened with Sae-Ro-Yi. Meanwhile, the Chairman berates his staff for what happened in the competition and threatens hell to pay if they lose. Geun-Soo however, decides to step up and takes full control of the competition instead, promising to help turn the fortunes and make their team win.
Sae-Ro-Yi feels the effects of Yi-Seo leaving to clear her head, scrambling this way and that as the pub run low on soju. The next day, Sae-Ro-Yi finds a For Lease sign on the investment company’s door and they soon realize that the Chairman has made his move – they receive numerous requests to withdraw their investments. It’s particularly problematic given Sae-Ro-Yi has already spent 500 million of the money promised to them.
As it turns out Yi-Seo’s reckless decision to jump into this has cost them dearly, especially given Sae-Ro-Yi wanted to wait and hold off before committing to any big decisions. Consumed by guilt, Yi-Seo rests her head against the bus window as she drives away. The aftermath of this bombshell reveal causes hell to break loose as crowds gather in DanBam. Even worse, Soo-A arrives with a plant from the Chairman holding the familiar phrase of “Be satisfied with what you have”. It turns out he planned the entire investment scandal from the very beginning to try and bankrupt DanBam and Sae-Ro-Yi.
Our male lead loses his temper and scolds all those people infront of him, telling them they have no right to shout at the employees. He tells them he will not take their money for granted and promises to keep his word. He passes Soo-A without saying a word, especially given the plant she’s holding, and walks outside for some air. He decides to try and take out a mortgage loan as Soo-A races after him and tells him to just quit completely.
However, Yi-Seo phones just as he receives the news and apologises for her part in what happened. Staring Soo-A right in the eye, he tells Yi-Seo on the phone that this isn’t enough to break him and he’ll remain on his feet given his goal is to destroy Jangga no matter what.
The next day, Yi-Seo returns and apologises for her part as they all start looking over the list of investors. One in particular catches their eye – Soon-Rye Kim, a Yongsan Resident and Tony’s grandmother that’s known to invest heavily in some start-up companies.
Meanwhile, Soo-A deliberates over a resignation letter for Jangga until Geun-Soo arrives and tells her how amazing the Chairman is. As they talk, Yi-Seo and the others discuss what to do with DanBam, including trying to find new investors and win the Best Pub competition. Afterwards, Yi-Seo and Sae-Ro-Yi discuss the situation from the last episode, with her telling him she’ll keep liking him and there’s nothing he can do about it.
In the morning, Sae-Ro-Yi is summoned to DanBam as Kim arrives with Min-Jung. They talk about the pub’s investment, as Sae-Ro-Yi tells her she doesn’t need to invest in them. Annoyed, she goes back on her word when he refuses and walks away, leaving Min-Jung to tell him freedom comes at a price.
It’s a heavy blow and one that sees Sae-Ro-Yi head out for dinner with Soo-A and think over what he’s doing to his staff. Back at DanBam he decides to put his pride aside and phones Kim asking for an investment. She tells him if they can win the Best Pub competition then she’ll invest in their business.
Given the Best Pub seems to be focused on Hyun-Yi, Geun-Soo decides to play dirty and spills the truth about her surgery. Just before the competition, Sae-Ro-Yi tells Hyun-Yi that the future of DanBam relies on her. However, Geun-Soo’s dirty tactics cause uproar in the main atrium as all the producers and contestants begin to talk about her.
Hyun-Yi runs away and hangs her head in shame. Sae-Ro-Yi sits with her though and comforts his friend, telling her that she doesn’t need to convince others who she is as he burns with rage. Heading back in , he overhears Geun-Soo talking and interjects, telling them DanBam are not giving up and seemingly now knowing it was them who spilled this news to the press.
Sae-Ro-Yi decides to compete in the competition instead and starts to get ready. As the doors swing open, Hyun-Yi arrives, purposefully, and ready to compete as Yi-Seo reads a poem relevant to her situation over the top of this powerful scene. Hyun-Yi stands proudly, telling them all that she’s transgender and going on to tell them she’s going to win as the episode ends.
Itaewon Class is a really fascinating tale of two halves. There’s some wonderful juxtapositions right the way through the series and seeing how these two companies operate and how they change people is ultimately what makes this so endearing and interesting. Geun-Soo’s transformation into a cold, ruthless man who will do anything to get ahead does seem a little sudden but it also feels like it’s driven by something inside him snapping after realizing Yi-Seo will only have eyes for Sae-Ro-Yi and not him.
His decision to tell the press about Hyun-Yi is a despicable act too and one that only exemplifies the golden traits that DanBam have. No matter their differences, no matter what they’re going through, this family will always stick together through hell or high water. It’s such a simple set-up but it’s one that works incredibly well here. This week’s episode is another very strong one and as we approach the final two weeks of this drama, the bubbling rivalry between the Chairman and Sae-Ro-Yi is reaching fever pitch. Who’s winning Best Pub? And will Sae-Ro-Yi finally get his revenge and beat the Chairman?