Edited by Seo Hae Lan
Translated by Kim Hoyeun
Disney Plus has presented a lively, youthful Korean original series. Rookie Cops is the story of students of the Police University, the most exclusive and unfamiliar school in Korea. And at the center of this series are eight freshmen who dream of fierce yet romantic campus life. A drama focusing on actors in their 20s with no long careers – is it meeting the viewers’ high expectations?
Rookie Cops is about eight freshmen who entered the police university in 2017. Go Eun Kang (Chae Soo Bin), who wants to confess her feelings to her crush, Wi Seung Hyun (Kang Daniel), who wishes to become like his father, Ki Han Na (Park You Na), who wants to escape her deprived surrounding, Kim Tak (Lee Shin Young), whose dead brother had attended the police university – they all have stories and strong personalities. The police university has as severe hierarchical relationships as the military and is a place where acts against individuality and human rights are taken for granted “for the greater cause.” However, these characters rebel against the inhumanity and violence of Cheongram Education (training for freshmen), the first gate of the police university. The drama delightfully depicts the process of them breaking the custom, finding their own dreams on campus, constantly taking on challenges, and learning friendship and love.
Campus life is especially spotlighted in Rookie Cops. Aside from the fact that it’s set in the police university, it stays faithful to the typical campus genre, meeting lifelong friends and experiencing love at university. The story and events progress at a predictable level, conveying special emotions and experiences to the viewer.
There’s nothing wrong with “typical plot.” However, the early parts of Rookie Cops aren’t attractive enough to attract viewers. Seeing familiar stories like Eun Kang and Seung Hyun’s misunderstanding and the inhuman Cheongram Education episodes, we end up pressing the fast-forward button. Eun Kang is a girl of justice, Seung Hyun is the typical bad-but-good boy, Han Na is a voluntary social outcast, and Dae Il (Park Sung Joon) is a funny character. We all know how they grow up is the start and end of youth dramas. But it’s difficult to expect anything more than familiarity when you see the routine of these familiar characters performing in already-expected incidents.
However, as the story unfolds and you adapt to the bright and pleasant approach and the fun small variations in these cliches, you have your hopes up for the improvements these eight “loud and eccentric” characters, as described by professor Cha Yoo Gon (Kim Sang Ho), will make. If you compare it to a drama that realistically depicts the life of youth, Rookie Cops is like a utopian fantasy, so you can watch it without worries or getting stressed out. And thanks to the unique background of “police university,” there are things about this drama that differentiate this from other youth dramas. Events take place in unique environments such as Cheongnam Education, track meets, and practical training, and the episodes that Eun Kang and Seung Hyun go through while secretly dating are also quite fun. As time passes, there are scenes where the graduates forming factions within the school are criticized and the students ponder the value of the “police university” that has begun to deviate from the purpose of its establishment.
In Rookie Cops, the eight first-year students and many young actors fill up the story. It’s a bit awkward at first, but as the episode progresses, they do their parts. Among the many actors with various careers, such as Kang Daniel, Lee Shin Young, and Min Do Hee, Chae Soo Bin, playing Eun Kang, keeps the balance. She portrays Eun Kang, a typical female protagonist in youth dramas, attractive enough to catch viewers’ attention and still highlights the character’s unique personality. In particular, her chemistry with Kang Daniel, who made his acting debut with the drama, is impressive. Thanks to Eun Kang’s reaction that makes Seung Hyun’s action stand out, their romance becomes refreshing and full of life.
Having reached the turning point, Rookie Cops will now unravel the “death of the police university student” in earnest. Ten years ago, Tak’s older brother Kim Hyun Soo (Kwang Si Yang), a senior at the time, died in the police university. And Seung Hyun’s father Wi Ki Yong (Son Chang Min), Han Na’s mentor Kang Nam Gi (Kang Nam Gi), and professor Cha Yoo Gon are all involved with the case. One night 10 years later, the case resurfaces due to an incident at a club where the freshmen went to have fun, and it will shake up the students, including Seung Hyun and Tak. Feeling curious about the truth of the case and how these freshmen will grow through this incident, I will continue to watch this drama. (6/10)
Editor Seo Hae Lan: I’m not picky and like all genres. I am in constant search of a balance between criticism and a fan’s heart.
Translator Kim Hoyeun: If you are a fan of K-drama, K-movie, and K-pop, I am your guy. I will continue to provide you with up-to-date K-entertainment news.