The Naver web series A Teen (에이틴) is an easy to digest coming-of-age story of youth in the final year of their teenage lives. Essentially presented in quick vignettes, the series doesn’t necessarily cover any new ground. But a charming cast help make it a breezy viewing experience.
A-Teen tackles the high school drama basics: academic and familial pressures, the politics of the classroom, bullying and first loves and friendships.
One thing that may be different in how this series takes on those familiar themes is in its characters. You don’t have an antagonist trying to undermine or bring down our protagonist. Instead we have what are essentially six (later eight) main characters who each have their own problems and concerns to deal with.
And each of the characters have their own imperfections and insecurities. Through the course of the series, they are able to work through those things. And they don’t always get the perfect outcome. That helps make the series realistic and relatable. But both seasons end with hopeful tones.
The cast features some familiar faces as well. Many of whom will go on to bigger roles after this.
Shim Seung Ho takes on the shy nice guy Siwoo here, a contrast to his more tough guy, antagonist roles on At Eighteen, Love Alarm and How to Buy a Friend. And he is well-suited for the role, showing he can be a versatile leading man.
Kim Dong Hee as Ha Min, on the other hand, would give a preview of the kind of character he would excel at in Sky Castle, Itaewon Class and Extracurricular. Here Kim Dong Hee balances the lighter moments with the more dramatic moments well.
Shin Ye Eun takes the spotlight in the first season as Do Hana. Do Hana is an interesting character. As she does not have a major struggle that a lead character would normally have, Do Hana instead expresses the every day feelings and concerns of a normal teenager. Perhaps not the most sensational of stories, but the series does well in showing what a young teenage girl may go through. Shin Ye Eun is able to express those feelings in a way that gets you to really care about the character.
Lee Na Eun as Kim Hana takes the spotlight in the second season as her backstory is revealed, giving her the deepest character development of anyone in the series. Lee Na Eun carefully navigates Kim Hana through situations that may otherwise be reserved for the antagonist of a series. But she is able to have you empathize with the character before she slips into the lead role.
Ryu Ui Hyun and Kim Su Hyun as Kihyun and Boram are the perfect sidekicks. Yet they too have their own share of personal stories. Ryu Ui Hyun specifically is able to bring Kihyun’s worries to life. And being able to do both the comic relief and the more serious aspects of his character is a big accomplishment.
Golden Child’s Cha Bomin makes his acting debut here as Joo Ha in season 2 before he would go on to star in Melting Me Softly. It’s also a similar character. The handsome boy next door transfer student that falls for his classmate and tries to win her heart. Though it’s not much of a struggle, Cha Bomin’s charm and charisma carries the character across the finish line.
Kang Min Ah as Ah Hyun comes in during season 2 to provide some spice to the proceedings. And she certainly can get you riled up a little. But she too does well with what little material is given to her.
Overall, for a relatively quick and easy to watch ride, A-Teen is certainly a bright option.
Watch the entire series on YouTube starting with Season 1, Episode 1 here: