Kdrama Review: High School Return of a Gangster -A Fresh Take on Body-Swap Dramas”

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If you’re a fan of K-dramas that mix high school antics with a touch of fantasy and a dash of gangster grit plus Weak Hero Class 1 vibes, then “High School Return of a Gangster” is the show for you. This new South Korean web series, starring Yoon Chan-young, Bong Jae-hyun, and Lee Seo-jin, offers a unique blend of humor, drama, and heartfelt moments that will keep you hooked from the first episode.

But first! The disclaimer. The original hit web novel by by Horol which this Kdrama was based on, is a BL (Boys Love) Novel. Unfortunately what we’ll get to see is an adapted version that strips the BL theme of the story. 😩

Plot Overview

High School Return of a Gangster” follows the story of Kim Deuk-pal (Lee Seo-jin), a 47-year-old gangster who dreams of going to college. His life takes a dramatic turn when he tries to save a suicidal high school student, Song Yi-heon (Yoon Chan-young), and ends up in the boy’s body. Now, Deuk-pal must navigate the treacherous waters of high school life, deal with bullies, and help Yi-heon achieve his academic dreams. The series explores themes of redemption, friendship, and the complexities of teenage life, all while maintaining a light-hearted and comedic tone.

First Impressions

Lee Seo-jin, although appearing mostly in voiceovers, brings a gravitas to the role of the middle-aged gangster. Yoon Chan-young, known for his role in “All of Us Are Dead,” delivers a stellar performance, capturing the nuances of both Kim Deuk-pal and Song Yi-heon with ease. He shines in this dual role, convincingly portraying both the timid Yi-heon and the brash and confident Lolo Deuk-pal. He is so funny and I really see Lee Seo Jin when he’s on cam! His performance is a highlight of the series and adds depth to the character’s journey.

The first episode sets the stage and kudos to Lee Seo Jin for bringin in such a stellar performance that it hardly matters whether he’s on cam or not. Deuk-pal’s initial attempts to confront Yi-heon’s bullies are both hilarious and shame inducing, as he realizes that his gangster skills don’t quite translate to a high school setting. The show does a great job of balancing humor with more serious moments, making it a compelling watch.

Bong Jae-hyun as Choi Se-kyung plays the model student with a hidden secret, adding layers to the story with his complex character. Joo Yoon Chan as the high school bully is a laugh. Though we’re not pardoning his crimes to Yi-heon, I’m rooting for his eventual reformation.

Directed by Lee Seong-taek and written by Jeong Da-hee, the series is straightforward and effectively captures the essence of the story. I like the series’ unpretentious delivery and the well-lit scenes add a unique charm.

To watch or not to watch?

Even without the BL theme, the “High School Return of a Gangster” is a delightful watch. It’s filled my Wednesdays and is looking forward to each episode. I love its blend of humor, drama, and fantasy, coupled with strong performances, makes it a must-watch. I also love the highlight on respecting teachers and the ability to learn new things (even though Deuk Pal is old). Whether you’re a fan of high school revenge dramas (though this is more on friendship than revenge), gangster stories, or body-swap comedies, this series has something for everyone. So grab some popcorn, settle in, and get ready for a rollercoaster ride of emotions and laughs.

Where to Watch

The series is available for streaming on VIU, Wavve, TVING, and Watcha, with new episodes released every Wednesday at 14:00 (KST).

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