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Itaewon Class debut: Netflix scores another hit with JTBC revenge/slice-of-life K-Drama starring Park Seo-Joon and Kim Da-Mi

Main cast of Itaewon Class promotional poster
The main cast of Itaewon Class poses in a group promotional poster. The K-drama recently debuted favorably among viewers. Pic credit: Joongang Tongyang Broadcasting Company (JTBC)

Late last month, the Joongang Tongyang Broadcasting Company (JTBC) aired its latest K-drama for the 2020 Winter to Spring season for Korean television. The K-drama is known as Itaewon Class and it is already a hit among Koreans and international viewers.

 The numbers favor Itaewon Class

We first previewed Itaewon Class late last week right before the K-drama made its debut on JTBC domestically in Korea and internationally on Netflix.

Summarizing from the preview, Itaewon Class is a revenge/slice-of-life K-drama starring Park Seo-Joon and Kim Da-Mi. Park Sae-Roy (or Park Sae-Ro-Yi) opens a restaurant in Itaewon as a means to get revenge against Jang Dae-Hee (Yoo Jae-Myung) and his son — the family who owns the Jangga Group food company — who’ve ruined his life a decade earlier back in high school.

However, there is a bit of a “conflict” in Park Sae-Roy’s revenge. His first love Oh Soo-Ah (Nara of Hello Venus) now works as a high-up in the Jangga Group.  Second, an intelligent woman who is famous on social media, Jo Yi-Seo (Kim Da-Mi), becomes the manager at Sae-Roy’s restaurant as well as another love interest.

Viewers will have to see if Park Sae-Roy succeeds in revenge against the Jangga Group or if his heart follows another path to either his first love or potential new love.

Apparently, viewers are loving the new JTBC K-drama. The viewership numbers provided by AGB Nielsen Korea show that Itaewon Class is starting out strong in Korea.

The first episode earned 4.983 percent for the nation and 5.283 percent for Seoul. By the end of the second episode, the viewership increased dramatically to 5.330 percent for the nation and 5.634 percent for Seoul.

Please take note these viewership numbers are technically good for this K-drama as JTBC is a cable network. That means Koreans are paying to watch Itaewon Class unlike K-dramas that air on free networks like KBS, SBS, or MBC.

As for international viewers, Itaewon Class is already receiving the high-praise treatment with multiple approvals on Netflix.

Why is Itaewon Class doing so well?

Though we reviewed the numbers, there are specific reasons why Itaewon Class is doing so well. For starters, it seems it is going back to the “old school” or daresay the “first decade” of storytelling for Hallyu K-dramas.

For those who were never around K-dramas during the first decade of this century, the time they promoted Hallyu or the Korean Wave, K-dramas did a very good job at “cliffhanger” storytelling. This means the second episode would end in a way where viewers would highly-anticipate the next episode the following week.

To be fair, it is true that K-dramas now still do the “cliffhanger” technique, but not as effectively as back then.

Also, Itaewon Class took just the right amount of time and pace to set up the rest of the K-drama. This is often a thin line as K-dramas can often not go long enough or go too long when setting things up. Too short and the K-drama’s plot has holes. Too long and it gets boring.

In Itaewon Class, the first two episodes did a good job telling the backstory on why Park Sae-Roy is opening a restaurant in Itaewon. It also flows fluidly as parts of the backstory that were not necessary were “time-warped” forward.

Ultimately, K-drama fans have another hit to absorb themselves into and they can’t wait to see what happens next.

Itaewon Class will air subsequent episodes on Fridays and Saturdays at 11 p.m. KST on JTBC up to a planned 16 episodes. As for international audiences, the K-drama is exclusively streamed one hour after its airtime in Korea exclusively on Netflix. Please take note that viewers will need a subscription to the video streaming service to watch the K-drama.


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