Edited by Seo Hayne
Translated by Yu Jin Kim
XO, Kitty, the captivating spin-off of Netflix’s beloved series To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, has taken the audience by storm. Seamlessly blending the essence of American teen romance with relatable themes set in South Korea, the series follows Kitty (played by Anna Cathcart), the younger sister of Lara Jean, as she enrolls in an international high school in South Korea. With the goal of bridging the gap in her long-distance relationship between Portland and Seoul with her boyfriend Dae (Choi Min Young), Kitty’s journey captures the hearts of viewers and offers a delightful and refreshing experience. So without further ado, let’s take a look at four fantastic teen K-dramas that XO, Kitty fans would absolutely adore.
School 2021 (2021)
School 2021 marks the eighth installment of the renowned School series, which has been captivating audiences since 1999. Breaking new ground, this drama takes place in a specialized high school centered around architecture design. Gong Ki Joon (Kim Yo Han), who has dedicated over 10 years to taekwondo, is forced to abandon his dream after an unexpected injury. Thankfully, his friend Jin Ji Won (Cho Yi Hyun) stands by his side, providing support during this challenging period of uncertainty. Ji Won, aspiring to become a carpenter and construct her own home, adds depth to the story. Unlike their peers solely focused on college entrance exams, the students in this drama, including Ji Won, strive to secure employment after graduation. This unique approach highlights the dreams, friendships, and personal growth of individuals navigating the delicate balance between college and the workforce. Moreover, the director shared his intention, stating, “I wanted to show students that there are alternative paths in life beyond pursuing a college education.”
Love Revolution (2020)
Based on the popular webtoon of the same name, Love Revolution is a captivating romance drama that revolves around the lively Gong Joo Young (Park Ji Hoon). In a delightful twist of fate, Joo Young experiences love at first sight when he encounters the seemingly cold-hearted Wang Ja Rim (Ruby). Park Ji Hoon, known for his appearance in Product 101 Season 2, delivers a stellar performance, embodying the endearing character of Joo Young with the fearless line, “I have a crush on you. Let’s go out.” Making her debut as the lead actress, Ruby adds her unique touch to the character of Ja Rim. As a passionate fan of the original webtoon, Ruby brings her interpretation to life, infusing the role with her own charm. Additionally, Young Hoon from THE BOYZ garners praises for his portrayal of the charming Lee Kyung Woo. Love Revolution has won the hearts of many viewers with its sitcom-like comedy and vibrant energy, faithfully capturing the spirit of the beloved webtoon.
Cheer Up! (2015)
Cheer Up! tells the story of a group of rebellious students in a prestigious high school as they come together to form a cheerleading club. While the drama explores the harsh reality of South Korea’s education system, addressing issues like bullying, private education and cut-throat competition for college admission, it also brings a refreshing and uplifting vibe by focusing on the teenagers’ energy and emotions. Jung Eun Ji, renowned for her portrayal of a high-school student in Reply 1997, shines as Kang Yeon Doo, a determined student fighting to revive the struggling dance club. Lee Won Keun takes on the role of Kim Yeol, a model student who reluctantly becomes the president of the cheerleading squad solely for the sake of his college acceptance. As the good and troubled students, each with their own clear goals, join forces due to a forced club merger, they learn the true value of friendship and strive to achieve their dreams together. The actors’ dedicated performances in the cheerleading sequences provide a visual delight for the viewers.
To The Beautiful You (2012)
Based on the popular Japanese manga, To The Beautiful You follows the story of Goo Jae Hee (Sulli), a girl who disguises herself as a boy to enroll in an all-boys physical education high school. The drama gained attention for featuring f(x)’s Sulli and SHINee’s Minho in the lead roles, marking their first venture into acting. Goo Jae Hee, who has been living in the United States since childhood, becomes infatuated with a high-jump athlete she sees on TV celebrating his gold medal win. Determined to meet him, she decides to go to South Korea. Meanwhile, the talented high-jump player Kang Tae Joon (Minho) is initially cold towards those who show interest in him. However, he gradually opens up to his roommate Jae Hee and becomes her trusted friend after discovering her true identity as a girl. Minho, known for his remarkable athletic abilities showcased in the Idol Star Athletics Championships, received high praise his portrayal of a skilled athlete. Notably, the drama’s soundtrack featured contributions from popular K-pop groups such as Girls’ Generation, SHINee, Super Junior, and f(x) from SM Entertainment.
Editor Seo Hayne: I like actors as they faithfully lead through their long running-time. I also like idols who accomplish everything on stage within 3 minutes.