Characters ignite hope, humor in ‘Sungkyunkwan Scandal’


During an era where girls were not allowed to be educated or employed, Kim Yoon-Hee did the only thing she could think of to help out her family, which is to disguise herself as her sickly younger brother, Kim Yoon-Shik.

“Sungkyunkwan Scandal” follows Kim Yoon-Hee at the most trivial time of her life. Kim Yoon-Hee is assigned a bunch of odd jobs at a bookstore before she is hired to be a substitute test-taker, which is illegal, at the most prestigious school during the Joseon Dynasty: Sungkyunkwan.

The righteous, law-abiding Lee Sun-Joon, who is taking the entrance exams, catches Kim Yoon-Hee going against the law and sets up a plan to try and catch her (or in this case, him). Yet, he realizes how smart Kim Yoon-hee actually is and gets her enrolled into the institute.

Starting her journey in an all-boys school, Kim Yoon-Hee must deal with her roommates Lee Sun-Joon and the moody Moon Jae-Shin, the mischievous Gu Yong-Ha who has suspicions Kim Yoon-Hee is a girl and the uptight student body president Ha In-Soo who is not fond of Kim Yoon-Hee. These four characters are known as the “Jalgeum Quartet.”

The Korean historical drama is a coming-of-age story and a romantic comedy. The series shows a world much different than seen today, a life where women are not allowed to have a choice in anything and where a hopeful king dreams of a better Joseon (the kingdom), one without powerful, overruling officials.

The Jalgeum Quartet is the hope for a better Joseon. Together, the four scholars realize right from wrong, proving to the king what needs to be done.

The characters are all unique, and their personalities work well together. They may bicker time to time, but in the end, they are united as one force to overcome the struggles society pushes onto them.

The plot mostly focuses on the romance between Kim Yoon-Hee and Lee Sun-Joon while Kim Yoon-Hee faces trials as a disguised man. And when a gender-bend aspect is involved, there is usually a male lead questioning his sexuality.

The drama can be difficult at times to understand, as there may be some historical references not making sense to one not knowing much about the country’s history. However, overall, it is interesting to get an idea about what was happening during the time period.

“Sungkyunkwan Scandal” ignites hope into the youth, as the scholars are fighting for what they believe is right. The youth question the ways of society as they learn the way of life, and they challenge what’s always been.

College students can relate. They’ve come to college to receive a higher education, which in the long run, helps out society. Those who have knowledge of the past and present will be able to build a better future together.

Kim Yoon-Hee faces the harsh realities of the world and teaches the privileged Lee Sun-Joon that the country is not as great as it seems to be.

The overall show exemplifies a time of youth finding their place in a changing world. “Sungkyunkwan Scandal” is a heartwarming series that engages viewers the whole show, keeping them wondering what will happen next.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)