Drama Rating: 10/10
Rating disclaimer! I have rated this 8 years ago when it aired thus I haven’t seen any outstanding saguek yet and had less to compare to. So this was rated by my younger and ignorant self who really really loved this drama.
This drama was set during the Jeoson era, wherein women are not allowed to participate in the government posts and deemed less than a man. Kim Yun Hee is a young woman who lived during this time. Though brilliant in her studies, responsible and street smart, she’s still a woman and aside that, she’s a commoner. There’s nothing her family could even boast of. Therefore she pretends to be a man just to earn more money than being a woman could. When her young brother’s illness worsens and her family is in danger of being thrown out to the streets, she took the national exam under her younger brother’s name and disguised herself as a man when she passed it. Then she meets the arrogant Lee Seon Joon who comes from a noble family and befriends him despite his personality. In Sungkyunkwan University, she becomes roommates with Seon Joon and comes across Goo Yoo Ha and Moon Jae Shin who are also nobles with odd personalities. When she gets herself involved with the three men, she learns to adapt in the all male environment and tries to desperately survive the school by hiding her true gender.
Sungkyunkwan Scandal is some sort of a modern type sageuk drama… if that’s even a possible description for it. Why is that? It has all the elements of a modern drama but placed in a historical setting. If this was a real saguek, the story line wouldn’t make sense. Thank goodness there is a disclaimer prior to every episode that this drama is completely fictional even though they did try to relate the timeline to one of the most brilliant king in Jeoson.
Aside that, the drama will consist of a female cross dresser who gets into a lot of mishaps. This is also one of the dramas that skyrocketed the fame of the main actors. I’m sure anyone would recognize the names I will mention: Park Min Young, Park Yoo Chun, Song Joong Ki and Yoo Ah In. They are practically big names in the industry today, so it’s very impressive to know that they have become household names in Korea today.
As for the story line, try to imagine this: throw a girl in a room of hot blooded boys but make her dress up and pretend to be just like them. That’s exactly the concept of this drama. Then again, I have to reiterate that this is a saguek. An era where women are not given a chance to hold prominence in schools, government or royal standing unless they get married to the king, prince or nobles. If they are caught associating in high ranks like Sungkyunkwan (Joseon’s most prominent university) they get executed as an imperial order. That’s how harsh it was back then. I like how feisty the Kim Yoon Hee’s character is, because despite being a girl, she still keeps fighting forward to protect those who are important to her. Her perseverance also pulled her out of risky situations. I wouldn’t want any actress to portray her, Min Young was able to convey her character perfectly. Lee Sun Joon on the other hand is one of my least favorite character. I was actually rooting for Moon Jae Shin who was portrayed by Yoo Ah In just because he looked manlier than Sun Joon but I knew that wasn’t going to happen. Anyway… setting that little frustration aside, Yoo Chun did hold up true to his character. Aside from being snooty and demanding, he did have the heart to protect Yoon Hee in times of trouble and despite his short comings, he had a pure heart who only wanted what’s good for Jeoson. Goo Yong Ha on the other hand is the ultimate ladies man. He likes women and they like him more in return. He’s charismatic and good looking that’s why Song Joong Ki gave justice to this character. This is simply one of his methods to cover the actual wit that he has because despite being rich he has some secrets to uphold. Lastly, there’s Jae Shin, my favorite character next to Yoon Hee. I like how gruff looking he can be and how rough he acts. Most people see him as a lone wolf but actually, he also longs for companionship that’s why he’s pretty close to Yong Ha. Even though their personalities are polar opposites they still get along with each other pretty well. He is also the type of person who lurks around and protect people from behind the scenes, that’s why it’s so unfortunate that he gets the second lead syndrome. The guy who never gets the girl. There’s goes the deep sigh from my end.
If what I have mentioned was not interesting enough, then it’s best to drop this series. All in all, this drama is one heck of a show. With all those hot young actors to boost any pent up steam plus the fantastic OST that’s very much modern but with a taste of historical feels… it’s definitely worth the watch.