It is the time of the year when summer life ends and school life begins again. Just starting or going back to university might feel intimidating at first; changing routines to suit class schedules, finding new friends, sorting out living situations or perhaps moving to a foreign country can cause all sorts of distress. However, none of us are alone in this: these 4 K-Dramas reflect several worries and hardships that come with becoming more independent during our university years, and offer new and helpful perspectives.
4. At A Distance, Spring Is Green
The color palette and character dynamics are as poetic as the title. Although being in your 20s might seem beautiful from afar, just like spring, the closer you get, the harsher and colder it becomes. Each main character has their own social and financial problems, portraying a spectrum of issues that people around our age can have. Yeo Jun is a freshman at Myeongil University; he is good-looking, nice, and wealthy. However, he has severe family trauma from being abused as a child, so he feels forced to maintain a good image so that others will not hurt him. Nam Soo-Hyun is a perfectionist, good-looking, and has excellent academic grades. But his poor family background requires him to work several part-time jobs to provide for himself and his family, which has made him unapproachable and cynical towards people. Lastly, Kim So-Bin is an average senior student who tries her best to stand out so that she can be successful after graduating.
You do not need to hide parts of yourself to fit in . . .
Through their different personalities and their need for unfiltered human connections, they become friends and start to overcome their issues. This K-Drama showed me ways to approach people confidently and give a chance to unlikely friendships. Besides displaying the hardships that come with being a university student, this series will show you that you do not need to hide parts of yourself to fit in and give you a new perspective on what could be behind a smile or a frown.
3. Cheese in the Trap
“Cheese in the Trap” is more messed up and exaggerated compared to the true reality of our lives as students. Most characters are dramatic, manipulative, and insecure about their personalities, so they find drastic ways to make people admire them and destroy the ones who do not. For instance, the male lead, Yoo Jung, wants to be the best at everything — and he is perceived to be — with his rich family background and high grades. His god-complex motivates him to manipulate the people around him to bully other students who disappoint him. Something that becomes a problem for the scholarship student, Hong Seol.
Hong Seol is the main character of this K-Drama. She restlessly studies to keep her scholarship and works hard to compensate for her poor background. As she sees the good in people, she fails to stand up for herself and gets into toxic relationships, primarily with Yoo Jung. Due to her studious and shy personality, she gets taken advantage of while working on school projects. Most of the time, she is forced to create the whole project herself and is blamed later on for not letting others contribute. I found this extremely relatable since some people cannot meet deadlines or copy most of their work from other sources. Making me feel like I have the responsibility to do their work. I am not complaining, but it is easy to get worn out quickly. However, watching Hong Seol go through similar things gave me strength and made me appreciate my current life. “Cheese in the Trap” will definitely give you motivation to endure any obstacle that could disrupt your prosperity.
2. Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-Joo
“Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-Joo” is the cutest K-Drama I have ever watched. Kim Bok-Joo is a promising weightlifter at her university. However, she is not that satisfied with her social and physical image as she is not popular with guys and is negatively compared to the “fit” rhythmic gymnastic girls team. Her insecurities and crush on a dietician, Jung Jae-Yi. Jae-Yi happens to be the cousin of Jung Joon-Hyung, a struggling swimmer at Bok-Joo’s university. As Book-Joo and Joon-Hyung start to talk, they realize that they were childhood friends, sparking a romance. The dilemma between changing your appearance to impress boys and gaining weight to be a successful collegiate weightlifter, along with being afraid of losing your true essence, pure-heartedly represents the identity struggles of any university student like you.
These two characters are able to help each other become more confident in themselves and teach one another how to love themselves. The journey of this comedic, romantic and shy duo will instantly make you feel better about going to university and show you all the opportunities you will have. If you think this is an unreal dream-like story, think twice! This K-Drama is based on the life of the Olympic gold-medalist Jang Mi-Ran. Who said you need to give up your personal life to be successful in school and later on in lives? There should be a balance between our social and school life; this is how we can truly be happy — or at least less stressful — about our current and future lives.
1. Hello My Twenties / Age of Youth
New school, new roommates, a new city, and old habits can clash at times. Especially with the burden of performing well at school and financially supporting yourself, the notion of socialising might become overwhelming. The freshman student, Yoo Eun-Jae, experiences exactly these hardships after moving into student housing. As a timid student, she has a hard time adjusting to living with other fellow university students in her new home. The first housemate she meets, Ye-Eun, eats all of the hand-made jam prepared by Eun-Jae’s mom without Eun-Jae’s permission. Jin-Myung constantly nags Eun-Jae for not fulfilling her parts of the chores although she was not told about the work distribution. Yi-Na, spends too much time in the bathroom in the morning. And the last housemate, Ji-Won, gets extremely drunk almost every day.
Throughout the episodes, the audience understands the actions of each character with the revelation of their struggles. For instance, Ji-Won finds comfort in alcohol as she feels very lonely and has a hard time finding a boyfriend due to her upbeat personality. Overall, the girls face many different issues but find relief through their friendship. Personally, I found this K-Drama extraordinarily realistic and relatable with its depiction of the financial and psychological pressures of being a university student. It made me feel less lonely and more in control of my own life, and I hope it will let you feel so too.
Cover Image: Lara Gunturkun
Editor: Aidan O’Reilly