Watching this drama, one would presume the parents sent these kids to this school for their own gain. It's distressing watching how selfish these parents are, pressuring their children, damaging them to the extent that they resort to the desperate measures some of them take simply to be acknowledged. It's disgusting, everything from the overzealous parents and the highly authoritarian and corrupt teachers, coupled with an industry that treats education and children as commodities, is basically child abuse. It's almost an addiction, this craving for success -- a disease that's made them too selfish to see the havoc they are creating, or care about the people whose lives they are destroying.
I know I should have some distain for Sung Ye Rin
(Woo Da Vi) and Jang Kyu Young (Choi Woo Sung), but I cannot fault them for their behavior. All they want is to be acknowledged for efforts. I pity them for being corned into making the terrible choices they are making. Unfortunately, they are both products of their twisted parents. I especially pity Da Vi to have Assemblyman Min Joon (Jang Hyun Sung) as a father who thinks he can garner some political gain by peddling his daughter, and Hye Mi (Byun Jung Soo) as a mother who seems to want to live her lost teenage years through her daughter's. It's hard to watch them practically abuse their child in the name of love. A child shouldn't have to sacrifice so that parents can have the life they wanted. They are supposed to make sacrifices so their child has the life they deserve.
As for Yoon Soo, I adore her passion for teaching and making math appear so sexy. I have to admit I was surprised to see her take a position at Asung High, it's everything she is not. She believes every student should be given the opportunity for success, unlike the school's motto that only the elite deserve that opportunity. Neither School Affairs Director Noh Jung Ah (Jin Kyung), whom I dislike immensely, nor School Headmaster Noh Yeon Woo (Oh Hye Won) nor any of the other teachers seem to care much about educating the students. It's all about academically advancing the school politically more than anything else. And it's the only reason they hired Yoon Soo to propel the school academically -- basically for her brains, not her principal, and ironically, it will be the reason why they will work so hard to discredit her. The lack of common decency is appalling.
The more I observe of Seung-Yoo, the more I wonder what happened to him as a child. His parents don't seem to know how to connect to him, and only know his talent as an opportunity. They too, like everyone else, are struck by the disease of success, not that I blame them for wanting that for their child. So, I completely understand how a teenage student, like Seung-Yoo, a math genius, who has always regarded his talent as a curse, finds affection in a teacher who appreciates him beyond his abilities, recognizes like everyone else he craves attention, love, normalcy. It is then awfully disgusting that the school, students, and parents consider their ambition more important than common decency, take a pure student/teacher relationship and turn it into something so dirty.
On the other hand, there is Ryu Sung Jae (Choi Dae Hoon) Yoon Soo's finance. My sense is yes, the finance cares for our teacher, but he doesn't get her nor does he try. He doesn't truly know her, but to be fair to him, neither does she. I don't think he even notices what she's about. He comes off as self-centered and uninterested at times, and I am not convienced there is true love there from either side. It just feels like he is more into the aesthetics of things, and with a mother like his, I can foresee our teachers' life being miserable. Rather than try and please everyone, she too needs to think about what she wants, be it that school or finance, because neither fit the kind of person she is. I commend Melancholia for bringing awareness that academic success is important, but it doesn't and shouldn't define or control what success is supposed to look like, because being mentally healthy far outweighs feeling successful, yet melancholy. Education isn't about how much one commits to memory, or how much they know. It's being able to differentiate between what one knows and what they don't. Watch episodes 3 & 4 here.