Caught In The Crossfire
Itaewon Class deserves a lot of credit for the way it’s currently telling its story. Between the obvious divides between right and wrong as well as good and bad, the show has done a wonderful job blurring that line and showing different characters in a positive and negative light from week to week.
From Soo-A beginning as an ice queen and warming to a woman that hops between both sides as the voice of reason, to Geun-Won’s overwhelming desire to please his Father and disappointing him, every character is multifaceted and this plays in nicely with the themes and ideas at work in this drama.
Episode 8 of Itaewon Class begins with the chairman telling Sae-Ro-Yi to meet him at Jangga Co. and after hanging up the phone, our male lead breaks the bad news to the others. The group are devastated to hear they’ll be forced out of their home and it’s news that forces Yi-Seo to storm off in disgust.
The next day, Sae-Ro-Yi meets the Chairman and they talk business. He requests Sae-Ro-Yi release Geun-Soo so he doesn’t work at DanBam anymore but Sae-Ro-Yi defiantly tells him it’s up to his son to decide. The chairman then goes on to tell him he only bought the pub to show his power.
In order to stop this charade, the Chairman tells Sae-Ro-Yi to get on his knees and apologize but he refuses, telling him it’s not about money and referring to the first instance all those years ago when his father told him he was proud of him for not bowing down. As he walks out, the Chairman tells him he’ll regret his actions but Sae-Ro-Yi scoffs at the threat, warning the antagonist that he’ll be the one on his knees apologizing by the end of this fight.
Back at DanBam, Sae-Ro-Yi rallies the troops and talks to them about the situation as Yi-Seo comes back into the room after storming out. Upon hearing the news, Soo-A confronts the Chairman about his decision to buy the building where DanBam is, regarding it as an emotional, impulsive decision and questioning his motives, especially given everything he’s done up until this point has been very measured and controlled.
After eating a meal together, Tony and Seung-Kwon lead the group out clubbing together while Sae-Ro-Yi takes Geun-Soo aside and they talk, where he admits his issues are not with him but with his Father and brother. Geun-Soo apologises for what his family are doing to him and this leads to a really emotional hug between the two.
Meanwhile, Tony Kim runs into problems at the club when the bouncer believes him to be African. It’s made worse by Yi-Seo mentioning he can’t be Korean thanks to his “dark skin” and it brings the topic of racism into the fold as the group tell her to calm down.
In the morning, the group look incredulously at the entrance of the club that has spray-painted writing about racism – something clearly referring to Tony Kim. Sae-Ro-Yi shows up with paint on him to Ho-Jin’s where they discuss their upcoming business strategy. He immediately heads over and speaks to Min-Jung, requesting to take out stocks in the company.
Meanwhile, Geun-Soo decides to quit DanBam and pleads with his Father to leave Sae-Ro-Yi alone. Yi-Seo takes his hand and watches as her eyes light up, telling him to leave. Downstairs, the group realize Tony Kim hasn’t shown up for work. Even worse, Yi-Seo is indifferent to this and goes on to convince Geun-Soo to quit. However, Sae-Ro-Yi is having none of it and throws Yi-Seo’s badge on the floor.
She immediately launches into a plea about profits but Sae-Ro-Yi hits back and tells her that’s not how he wants to run his business. She tells him they have no alternative but Sae-Ro-Yi shouts in her face, telling her he’ll buy a building instead – which explains why he took the stocks out.
Meanwhile, Tony Kim continues to run into problems with his skin colour again, with him struggling to get proof of paternity. Yi-Seo puts up a social media post regarding racism in the club, and as she shows this to the rest of DanBam, Tony returns and tells them all he’s Korean. However, he’s not an official Korean resident but she promises to try and find his Father to rectify this.
DanBam is closed down but Sae-Ro-Yi stays true to his word and buys an entire building. It’s something that stops the Chairman square in his tracks as he realizes Sae-Ro-Yi is once again one step ahead of him. As he soon learns from a passer-by, every person that bought his building before him has failed. However, where others have failed Sae-Ro-Yi intends to succeed.
As the episode closes out, Soo-A talks to Sae-Ro-Yi about Yi-Seo and how he needs her in order to help the business grow. However, the Chairman has a meeting planned… with none other than Yi-Seo herself. As she walks in the room, her sly smile hints that she’s about to betray Sae-Ro-Yi.
What a great episode! More so than some of the others, Itaewon Class this week really adds some serious dramatic stakes to the equation with the characters caught in the cross-fire suffering the most. Between the racism against Tony Kim or poor Geun-Soo being used as a scapegoat for this entire familial feud, Itaewon Class manages to perfectly add enough stakes to the story to keep things exciting and tense.
The will they/won’t they romance angle between Yi-Seo and Sae-Ro-Yi is one of the few missteps in this drama. The two have little romantic chemistry together and the relationship feels much more akin to brother/sister than lovers. Aside from that though, the show has done a wonderful job building up this rivalry. One thing’s for sure – Itaewon Class is roaring into 2020 with another very strong Korean drama, bowing out this week with a great episode.