Dramas have grown a great deal in the last year with many fresh and even big stars taking part in projects being delivered to audiences in non-traditional ways.
After School Bokbulbok (or After School Lucky or Not) is one of those experimental new dramas having premiered online and on mobile devices via SK Telecom properties like Nate last September. It was recently made available on DramaFever and Hulu which is where I discovered this hilarious little gem.
Funny story about discovering the series though. While finishing up Reply 1994, I noticed a drama with Kim So Eun as one of the stars. My Kim So Eun crush is still going strong, so of course I was going to check her new drama out. Looking up its DramaWiki, I saw it aired episodes at 8am which immediately made me think it was some kind of kids show.
So I thought to myself, hey, this should be fun and cute. Kind of like Thunderstruck Stationary which was a nice little family mystery drama.
Boy was I wrong!
Homoerotic sight gags, penis jokes, a molester, orgies. WHAT!?
So I went back online to find out what in the world was going on and that’s when I realized that this was definitely not a kids show. That’s when I found out about it being a “drama-toon” with short 14-minute episodes and starring the idol-actor group 5urprise which I had heard about but never really looked into.
After getting that all cleared up, I was then fully able to enjoy the madness. The series starts out as a huge trip. Insanity and randomness abound as shy loner Kim So Eun (played by Kim So Eun) gets a strange note inviting her to the Pick-A-Mission Club. Curious, she goes and that’s where she meets the five handsome characters who are the only members of this club.
Every day, they pick out missions from a box which they must complete; anything from sleeping with a college girl and dressing up like a dog for a day to getting on TV and flying to space. The guys immediately make So Eun club captain, but keep the origins and even purpose of the group a secret from her. So Eun reluctantly goes along with their craziness since she has no one else at the school.
But after plenty of hilarious, sometimes 19+ adventures, So Eun finally learns what the club is all about. And that’s when the insanity turns surprisingly sweet and emotional. Throw in some kilig romance and you’ve got an enjoyable 12 episodes.
Since each episode is anywhere from 12 to 16 minutes, the entire series spans less than three hours. And those three hours will fly by very fast.
As a “drama-toon,” the series features vivid visuals similar to manhwas or popular webtoons which have been turned into popular dramas the last few years. After School takes typical high school highjinks and mixes in some fantasy and a little bit of emotional drama. The series’ last episodes are unexpectedly sweet and poignant and they definitely leave you wanting more.
The format of the drama may contribute to it feeling a little fresher and having an anything goes attitude. But there definitely would’ve been plenty of material for a full-length primetime drama.
I’ve wished for Kim So Eun to take on a more mature, sexy drama role (with Kim Bum! SoEul 4evah!), but she is perfectly adorable and sweet here, able to help carry the series and basically express our own emotions as the audience through her. 5urprise, comprised of Seo Kang Joon, Gong Myung, Lee Tae Hwan, Kang Tae Oh and Yoo Il, are an interesting group. They are definitely hilarious, are talented actors and can sing to boot. While they’ve separately been involved in other drama projects since debuting as a group, I could definitely see them (as a group) carrying their own After School-like full-length drama in primetime.
The series features cameos by many familiar faces, but it is our main cast that really gets you hooked on the series. Being a short drama, it is easy to get into and to finish. But overall, After School Bokbulbok is hilarious, random, crazy insanity with a surprising amount of heart and sincerity. You will have a hard time not falling for the cast and the series. Just pure and unadulterated fun.