Review: Sungkyunkwan Scandal (By Canto)
Sungkyunkwan Scandal <성균관 스캔들>
South Korean KBS Drama 2010
Genre: Korean period rom-com
Micky Yoochun as “Lee Sun Joon” or “Perfect Husband”
Park Min Young as “Kim Yoon Hee”
Bang Joon Seo as “Young Yoon Hee”
Song Joong-Ki as “Gu Yong Ha” or “Yeo-Rim”
Yoo Ah In as “Moon Jae Shin” or “Crazy Horse”
Seo Hyo Rim as “Ha Hyo Eun”
Jun Tae Soo as “Ha In Soo”
Sungkyunkwan Scandal, despite its odd name, is about cross dressing. It’s also about a bunch of youngsters like F4 dressed in saeguk grab and spouting Confucianism.
Identity crisis…? Heck cares…
“A scholar who only knows words of strong righteousness but fails to understand ordinary citizens…. If those who sell penmanship in order to survive are considered thievery, then can those who sell smooth words to gain power in parliament are considered loyal citizens? If someone should be accused of thievery, that person would be me.”
These words were written in ink on the expensive dress of our hero’s back, in a prank played on him by the heroine, Kim Yoon Hee, on the grounds of an imperial exam hall.
“Is this a new way of cheating?” The invigilator asked.
There starts the funny and yet heart-warming F4 in saeguk disguise that is Sungkyunkwan Scandal.
Lee Sun Joon, played by Micky Yoochun, is the son of the current Prime Minister. He is a Confucian scholar, learned and humble, something of a genius as he tops his cohort in every exam, and straight laced to the point of being “stiff,” “fuddy-duddy,” “wise beyond his years” and dare I say it, “bookworm.”
Our heroine, Kim Yoon Hee, took on the identity of her sick brother, Yoon Shik, to provide for her family as unmarried girls cannot work in ancient times. Her father, a university lecturer, had died mysteriously. Since a child, Yoon Hee had eagerly absorbed the teachings of her father by listening secretly while her father educated her brother. Although learning was frowned upon for girls, she shows a great aptitude for academics.
She cheats for a living by sitting for examinations on behalf of rich men’s sons who were too lazy to do well on their own by pretending to be them. She encounters Sun Joon when she was pretending to be a man at the imperial exam. When the king singles her out for her well written essay and personally appoints her to Sungkyunkwan University, she has no choice but to continue using her brother’s identity card.
The fun begins when Yoon Shik walks into the halls of Sungkyunkwan, a prestigious learning institution for nurturing the nation’s next generation of leaders.
Picked on by the male students for her pretty boy face, she strikes up an odd friendship with the F4, namely Sun Joon, Moon Jae Shin (played by Yoo Ah In) and Yong-ha (played by Soong Joong Ki).
Hands up everyone who has a gross nickname in school!
1. Sun Joon – a.k.a. Garang meaning “Perfect Husband”. Because he is the perfect man that every girl wished to marry.
2. Jae Shin – a.k.a. Geol-Oh meaning “Crazy Horse”. Yeah, he is crazy alright.3. Yong ha – a.k.a. Yeo-rim meaning he is a playboy and flirt.
3. Yong ha – a.k.a. Yeo-rim meaning he is a playboy and flirt.
4. Yoon Shik – a.k.a. our heroine in disguise as her brother. Nicknamed Daemul which she hates because it means something dirty. Yeah, like he has a “Big Shot” between his legs.
How did a girl get named “Big Shot”? During an initiation rite where the seniors pulled pranks on newbies, Yoon Shik was tasked to obtain the undergarments of Cho-sun, the most beautiful and haughty courtesan in Joseon. Don’t ask me how she did it, but Cho-sun, the haughty beauty, was so taken by this pretty boy that she offered her undergarments to Yoon Shik as a welcome present. Hm, some kind of welcome present… And she wrote a poem on her underwear too. That was how Yoon Shik acquired the title of Daemul “Big Shot”.
I must admit. The bed scenes are my favorite.
Yoon Shik finds to her dismay, that she is sharing a room with Sun Joon “Perfect Husband” and Jae Shin “Crazy Horse” in a cozy threesome.
Let me explain:
- “Crazy Horse” usually sleeps naked and only puts on his pants when he has room-mates.
- Daemul “Big Shot” is too afraid to undress and sleep fully clothed, even though Confucius says that is rude to walk around in wrinkled clothes.
- “Perfect Husband” doesn’t sleep at all and prefers to study through the night.
So they end up looking like this:
Not a pretty picture.
Seriously, Sungkyunkwan Scandal is a little gem of a drama that I discovered, so now I am sharing my secret with you.
Only that it isn’t that much of a secret. I think it has a following of many fans. It won the below awards since it was aired:
- 2012 New York International TV & Film Festival: Bronze World Medal for Best Mini-Series
- 2011 47th Baeksang Arts Awards: Popularity Award (Micky Yoochun)
- 2011 47th Baeksang Arts Awards: New Actor (Micky Yoochun)
- 2010 KBS Drama Awards: Excellence Award, Novella Drama – Actress (Park Min Young)
- 2010 KBS Drama Awards: Newcomer Actor Award (Micky Yoochun)
- 2010 KBS Drama Awards: Popularity Award (Song Joong Ki)
- 2010 KBS Drama Awards: Netizens’ Award (Park Min Young and Micky Yoochun)
- 2010 KBS Drama Awards: Best Couple Award (Park Min Young and (Micky Yoochun)
- 2010 KBS Drama Awards: Best Couple Award (Song Joong Ki and Yoo Ah In)
For me, what worked for the show were:
1. Confucian sprouting
Hey, it’s pretty cool to see words appear in the air when the characters recite from the analects. Seriously, the academic competition between Sun Joon, “Crazy Horse,” and Yoon Shik were pretty cool as well. Welcome to the official club of bookworms!
2. Puzzling why the boys in the university cannot see that Yoon Shik is a girl. Yeah, I know she is in a man’s attire and such, but she has a girly face, right?
3. The bro-mance between Sun Joon and “Crazy Horse,” between “Crazy Horse” and Yeo-rim, between Sun Joon and Yeo-rim, yeah you got the picture. Nothing like a bout of tender, tear-wiping brotherly love!
4. Sun Joon wondering if he has gone crazy falling for a pretty face boy.
I would almost pity the poor guy if it weren’t so darned funny. At one point he felt that he was sullying Confucian virtue by harboring secret lust for his room-mate.
Alas, the tribulations of first/ young love!
5. And lastly, a very satisfying discovery scene when Sun Joon finally discovered that Yoon Shik is a girl with a very tightly bandaged chest. It was not funny at all. In fact it was sweet and tender.
I hope you liked my introduction and review to the drama.
This review was written by Canto, a Contributing Writer at JayneStars.com.