The Joongang Tongyang Broadcasting Company (JTBC) had a bonafide hit among other K-dramas this season with Itaewon Class.
Based on the popular webcomic, Park Seo-Joon, Kim Da-Mi, Yoo Jae-Myung, and Kwon Nara did a phenomenal job leading the way for the cast, bringing the series to life.
Through its airtime, not only was Itaewon Class popular among viewers, it stood out for storytelling and humanizing societal subjects considered taboo in Korea. It also showed a lot of dynamics especially when both protagonists and antagonists are forced to make hard decisions, ones in which they may lose more than they gain.
Overall, Itaewon Class was one heck of a ride to follow and concluded just recently. In the end, Park Sae-Royi (Park Seo-Joon) was able to achieve his goals, but earn even earn more of what is truly important thanks to Jo Yi-Seo (Kim Da-Mi).
Finally having something of true worth
Before continuing, it must be stressed the following contains spoilers for the penultimate and final episodes of Itaewon Class.
Before providing the details for the finale, some events from prior episodes must be explained. At the mid-series point of the series, Jang Geun-Won (Ahn Bo-Hyun) was sent to prison for killing Park Sung-Yeol (Son Hyun-Joo), Park Sae-Royi’s father, in a hit-and-run.
Near the end of the K-drama, Jang Geun-Won was released early from prison for good behavior. Despite the fact Chairman Jang (Yoo Jae-Myung), Geun-Won’s father is responsible for sending him to prison, Geun-Won still wants to “prove his worth” and protect Jangga Group. This leads Jang Geun-Won to kidnap Jo Yi-Seo from the hospital as she was checked in for overworking herself.
Park Sae-Royi, being very loyal to his friends, does what he can to save Jo Yi-Seo. This time is even more important to him as he now has romantic and caring feelings for Yi-Seo too. It should be noted that Sae-Royi’s love is what helps him earn far more than just his initial goal of IC Corporation becoming the number one food company in Korea.
Knowing that Chairman Jang (Yoo Jae-Myung) most likely had conversations with Jang Geun-Woo, Park Sae-Royi visits him to find out where Geun-Soo is located. Being the overly proud and vain man he is thinking he is better than everyone else, Chairman Jang will give Sae-Royi his son’s location as long as he finally kneels before him.
In the past, this one event is what initiated this decade’s long game of being the best food company in Korea. Back then, Park Sae-Royi did not kneel before Chairman Jang more so for his pride. This time, Sae-Royi is willing to kneel as Jo Yi-Seo’s safety is far more important to him than just his pride alone.
As a result, Park Sae-Royi is able to kneel without having any issues and gets the information on where Jo Yi-Seo is located. For Chairman Jang, he actually got no pleasure from Sae-Royi kneeling before him as Sae-Royi did not look or feel humbled or shamed.
Jump forward near the end of the series in which Chairman Jang’s pride and belief he is better than everyone else comes back tenfold as karma. Apparently, him thinking he was above the law meant he did a lot of unscrupulous things through his company which includes bribery, embezzlement, and having a slush fund.
Chairman Jang also thought that he can control people through fear. That was his downfall as he finally revealed to Oh Soo-Ah (Kwon Nara) that he keeps her around because he molded her to his liking and shaped her through fear.
Soo-Ah, being the perfect “slave” to run Jangga Group, is no longer shackled to Chairman Jang and becomes a whistleblower to the authorities, exposing Jangga Group’s aforementioned illegal activities.
With all investors opting out and franchise bar owners terminating their contracts with Jangga Group, Chairman Jang frantically tries to turn to whoever to save his company. The only person who could turn to in the end is Park Sae-Royi. They both meet at DanBam in which Sae-Royi treats Chairman Jang as a guest.
After some light, surprisingly comfortable chatter, Chairman Jang actually asks Park Sae-Royi to save Jangga Group and keep it “as is.” He even asks what Sae-Royi wants and assumes it is him kneeling before him. Though Chairman Jang is clearly humiliated and uncomfortable, he does kneel and bows his head low to Park Sae-Royi.
Prior to loving Jo Yi-Seo, Park Sae-Royi would have found pleasure in Chairman Jang bowing low to him. That is no longer the case especially when he realizes that the man who is bowing to him has nothing to lose. Lowering himself, Park Sae-Royi tells Chairman Jang he is not a pushover and they should conduct their business like businessmen.
Park Sae-Royi not feeling any feelings of superiority after he bowed low makes Chairman Jang break down. Not only did he lose everything but his pitiful state brings no emotional response to Sae-Royi.
Eventually, IC Corporation absorbs Jangga Group. During a press convention, Park Sae-Royi takes the stage and announces that Jangga Group is a good company and shouldn’t be punished for the sins of one person. Along with the higher-ups of Jangga Group, Park Sae-Royi promises that Jangga Group will be better as long as they put what he cares about, people and values, first.
Jo Yi-Seo shows what is most important to Park Sae-Royi
Viewers are happy Park Sae-Royi got what he’s worked hard for at the end, but it would not have been the same outcome if it weren’t for one person: Jo Yi-Seo.
If it weren’t for Jo Yi-Seo believing, supporting, and unconditionally loving Park Sae-Royi, he wouldn’t have remained wrapped up in his own pride. That would have been a problem in the long run as it was pride that caused Chairman Jang to become the man he is because in the past through a flashback, he wasn’t overly proud thinking people were below him. He actually cared.
If Park Sae-Royi remained proud, he would have eventually turned into someone just like Chairman Jang.
Finishing off with the highest viewership ratings for the K-drama
Itaewon Class was very successful throughout its run. The viewership in Korea was very high and the K-drama was a trending favorite on Netflix internationally.
The final episode earned the highest viewership ratings out of all the episodes for Itaewon Class though. According to AGB Nielsen Korea, the final episode earned 16.548 percent viewership for the nation and 18.328 percent for Seoul.
As an average, Itaewon Class earned 11.832 percent for the nation and 12.957 percent for Seoul. Given that Itaewon Class aired on a premium/pay/cable network, those numbers are excellent.
Itaewon Class originally aired Fridays and Saturdays at 11 p.m. KST, on JTBC. The upcoming K-drama, The World of the Married, will take its place. There is no news of the series re-airing in Korea.
Internationally, Itaewon Class is available in its entirety to view exclusively on Netflix.