Why “Moment of Eighteen” Is The High School Drama We’ve All Been Waiting For

Oh, another cute but predictable high school drama? Sounds great, I need a filler anyways. That’s what my brain thought as I aimlessly clicked on episode 1 of Moment of Eighteen. Those who’ve seen the drama know how very wrong my brain was.

Ong Seong Wu and Kim Hyang Gi in “Moment of Eighteen”

Right from the get-go, Moment of Eighteen quickly dispels any notion that you’ve signed up for yet another cookie cutter high school drama (although we all know those have their time and place in our hearts…at least in mine). It’s truly unique and refreshing and has audiences pretty shook since most people seemed to — like me — initially believe they were getting ready to see the same old stuff. Alright, enough talk — let’s get right into it with what makes Moment of Eighteen so different and why it needs to be on your watchlist!

(Spoiler warning! Super minor, but there nonetheless.)

It’s not what anyone was expecting

Instead of following the recipe most high school kdramas tend to follow, this one totally goes on its own path, taking a sharp turn from the typical and vying for something new! It’s a breath of fresh air, but don’t just take my word for it because apparently I’m not the only one that finds it so.

Take a look at some things MyDramaList reviewers have said about Moment of Eighteen:

In short, if you’re on the hunt for something offbeat and original, Moment of Eighteen is the drama for you!

The main male lead is a rookie actor (and he’s killing it)

Ong Seong Wu as Joon Woo

Ong Seong Wu of former K-pop group Wanna One plays protagonist Joon Woo, a loner who recently transferred high schools. He’s quiet and observant, but also strong — and quick to stand up for himself when others try to push him around. He is incredibly independent, working part-time at a convenience store when he’s not attending school. He feels lonely often because of how much his single mom works. We’ve been given very little information about his dad, but I have a feeling we’ll be filled in on that aspect of his life in due time. So far we just know that his dad is not in his life, even though Joon Woo knows where he lives.

I was shocked to find out Ong Seong Wu had only ever done one short film before this role. His acting is incredibly mature and totally organic– he’s definitely got natural talent! He’s killing this role and I can’t wait to see more.

The second male lead is the antagonist

Shin Seung Ho as Hwi Young

We’ve all heard of second lead syndrome but is there such a thing as antagonist syndrome? If not, there certainly is now because Hwi Young is both the second male lead and the antagonist, and young actor Shin Seung Ho is rocking viewers to the core with his portrayal of Hwi Young, class president and top student in the entire school.

Although he’s the antagonist by definition, Hwi Young is a character to be sympathized with — and one I genuinely like a lot. Moment of Eighteen chose not to manufacture another typical antagonistic bully character who’s rude, disrespectful, and violent; instead, Hwi Young respects authority and is a gentlemen to the young women in his class. He works hard in his studies and even helps his classmates with theirs.

However, viewers are quickly privy to hints that everything is not as it seems with Hwi Young. He clearly has a soft spot for Soo Bin (our main female lead — I’ll get to her in a second), whom he genuinely likes. But he also seems to have a knack for manipulation and even cruelty — particularly to those whom he sees as beneath him but who won’t bow to his will, such as Joon Woo.

Although Hwi Young comes from a wealthy family, his home life is anything but cushy. Physical, psychological, and verbal abuse are an everyday part of his life — and as the viewer is allowed further into Hwi Young’s world, we see crippling insecurity and deep-rooted damage that might explain (not excuse) some of his behavior. He’s a fascinating character to observe and I’m excited to continue witnessing his development.

The female lead is actually relatable

Kim Hyang Gi as Soo Bin

Some female drama leads that are clearly meant to be relatable just end up being superficial, overly dramatic, klutzy, and/or just plain annoying. Thankfully, that’s not at all the case with our clever and cute leading lady, Yoo Soo Bin (Kim Hyang Gi).

Soo Bin is friendly, sweet, and works hard when it comes to academics. She can also be awkward and overthink things. She lives alone with her overbearing mother as her father works away from home. Although we haven’t been given a lot of information on her entire family yet, (just as with our male lead) I feel that there is more to come soon.

One of Soo Bin’s biggest struggles so far is her mother’s obsession with her academics. As is the drama’s style, her mom (played by Kim Sun Young) is not a one-dimensional character that’s blindly obsessed with her daughter getting good grades. Instead, it’s explained why she cares so much about Soo Bin’s academics, which we find out when she yells at Soo Bin that it’s important for her to work harder than those around her because she’s a woman living in a man’s world. (It makes you wonder what her mom’s relationship with Soo Bin’s absent dad is like…hm.)

The teacher is one you wish you had in school

Kang Ki Young as Oh Han Kyeol

Teacher Oh Han Kyeol (Kang Ki Young) is seriously amazing. He’s such a dream teacher, and not just because he’s a total cutie. It’s almost as though he remembers what it was like being a teenager and applies that to how he treats his students (imagine that!). He treats them with genuine care and respect while still maintaining his authority in the classroom.

It’s so easy to write off the teachers as insignificant, shallow characters in most dramas, but Teacher Oh is proving this doesn’t always have to be the case. He’s solidly one of my favorite characters so far, and although we don’t know much about his personal life yet, I can’t wait to find out more about him as the drama unfolds.

One of the things I find most respectful about him is that he roots for every single one of his students — even the ones the viewer might not be rooting for at the time. He truly wishes to be a reliable figure they can trust, while equipping them with knowledge to pursue their goals. I’ll stop gushing for now, but he’s just the best teacher ever and one of the coolest characters!

The melodic OST is gorgeous

Has anyone else noticed that lately dramas have been so on point with their original soundtracks? Well, this one is no exception. Ong Seong Wu’s beautiful voice is put to use singing Part 2 of the OST, entitled “Our Story”. Part 1 is called “Moments,” sung by Christopher. Here are the links to both in case you want to give them a listen (which is highly recommended):

“Our Story”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABAlZPbLtcE

“Moments”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IEcNhCfdpTY

Concluding thoughts:

Everything about this drama is brilliant — the acting, directing, writing, cinematography, etc. Every single thing is thought out extensively and with care. The characters are multi-dimensional, even ones you might not expect to be; no one is there just for the heck of it. It’s as slice-of-life and coming-of-age as you could want in a high school drama. It’s about real issues young people face in society today.

In case it’s not clear how much I’m enjoying this drama, I’ll say it loudly for the people in the back: I LOVE IT SO MUCH. Go watch it. You won’t be disappointed and you’ll be left thinking even before the first episode is over. If you want predictability, by all means, watch a sweet high school drama—just not this one.

image source: http://tv.jtbc.joins.com/photo/pr10011069/pm10053847

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