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http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20200518000279

[Herald Interview] Writer says ‘Extracurricular’ digs into society’s wounds

By Choi Ji-won | May 18, 2020

 

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A scene from “Extracurricular” (Netflix)

Prostitution is not a common subject in South Korean television dramas, let alone dramas in which the main characters are teenagers.

Jin Han-sae, creator of the sensational Netflix original series “Extracurricular,” says he felt a huge burden when writing the story, in which he says the protagonists are pushed into situations that are extreme beyond imagination.

“I felt like I was setting a time bomb, as it might end up looking like glorifying wrong behaviors. I almost compulsively collected feedback from as many people as I could to prevent myself from missing out on any ethical judgments,” Jin, a rookie writer debuting with the Netflix series, told The Korea Herald in an e-mail interview.

Despite his concerns, the 10-episode series has topped the charts on Netflix in Korea and has received critical acclaim from overseas viewers since it was released to global audiences April 29.

 

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“Extracurricular” screenwriter Jin Han-sae (Netflix)


According to Jin, the story is rooted in his personal experiences as a high school student in New Zealand.

“I saw a kid selling cigarettes to his friends and, I thought then that, although we were students in the same high school, we were living in two very disparate universes. I didn’t realize the gravity of the crime he was committing just for the intention of making money,” Jin said, adding that questions about passing moral judgment on juvenile crimes had lingered in his mind since then. 

He began writing the script for “Extracurricular” around the fall of 2018, after reading a news article about some teenagers who were caught up in organized crime. 

“I wanted to seriously think about the answer to the possibly childish question of ‘why is crime bad,’” Jin said. “I came to employ the theme of teenagers and prostitution because I believed that, in order to find a serious answer to that fundamental question, we needed to touch upon part of our society that we find too uncomfortable and painful to face. ‘Extracurricular’ may be a story digging into that wound.” 

With tight sequences that pull viewers in, the story follows Ji-soo, 17, who is almost invisible at school but who anonymously operates a sex trafficking ring after hours. His plans to attend university with the profits meet an unexpected twist when Min-hee, his classmate and one of his workers, comes to the attention of the police. Another one of his peers, Kyu-ri, finds out about the business and tries to meddle in it.

The timing of the release coincided with the so-called “Nth Room” case, in which young people were involved in a massive cybersex trafficking ring both as suspects and victims. Dozens of victims, including 16 minors, were forced to create sexually explicit images and videos, which were distributed on anonymous online chat rooms to be viewed by tens of thousands of paying members. Because of the real-life case, the drama gained great attention from the very start.

“I was also shocked by the news of the ‘Nth Room’ case. Although ‘Extracurricular’ is a fictional story, I hope that it can contribute to providing a chance for us to ruminate on such horrific reality.”

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A scene from “Extracurricular” (Netflix)

 

Jin says his creation also reflects another cold reality of our society -- the way adults turn a blind eye to the struggles that teenagers face.

“Everyone turns into an adult with time. Naturally, people become indifferent to past events and the voices of teenagers are too easily muted. Many grown-ups say that issues of adolescents have been experienced by everyone and simply assume that the problems can be overcome if they patiently wait the passage of time. However, to the kids, it’s their undeniable reality that could feel like an endless cold winter. I believed such perspective also deserved a say.”

Jin is the son of television screenwriter Song Ji-na, who created some of Korea’s best-known smash-hit series, including “Eyes of Dawn” (1991-1992), “Sandglass” (1995) and “The Legend” (2007). 


By Choi Ji-won (jwc@heraldcorp.com)

 

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https://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/2020/05/18/television/인간수업-Extracurricular-Netflix/20200518201710167.html

 

May 18, 2020

‘Extracurricular’ writer asks the tough questions

The young creator hopes to shine a light on the places where youth and crime mix

 

Spoiler

Writer Gin Han-sai, the creator of ’Extracurricular" on Netflix. [NETFLIX]

Writer Gin Han-sai, the creator of ’Extracurricular" on Netflix. [NETFLIX]


While the “Nth room” scandal left the public dumbfounded after it was uncovered because of the cruelty of the crimes committed by the minors who were involved, the Netflix original series “Extracurricular” shocked viewers not only for its gruesomeness, but at how close to reality the story has turned out to be.

The creator behind the story is 34-year-old rookie writer Gin Han-sai, who made his debut with the 2017 web drama series “Irish Uppercut.” His relative youth is not surprising, because it doesn’t take years of experience to come up with a gripping story. But many have been surprised to learn that the writer is the son of famed writer Song Ji-na, who penned a series of mega popular period dramas including the SBS hit “Sandglass” (1995), MBC’s “Years of Upheaval” (1991), “The Legend” (2007), and most recently, “The King in Love” (2017).    
   
The writer cannot deny that his mother was an influence on his choice of profession.    
   
“I think one of the merits of having a parent in the broadcast business was that I encountered motion pictures earlier than others,” Gin said in an email interview with the press. “When I was really young, VHS players weren’t as popular as people thought they were. I can’t remember how many times I watched Disney’s short animated films and Steven Spielberg’s ‘Jurassic Park.’ But I’ve watched them to the point where some scenes disappeared from the films all together because the videotapes were so tattered. My favorite scene [from ‘Jurassic Park’], where the velociraptor jumps up to the kitchen counter, also disappeared with it.”  
   
When he was in his 20s, Gin took writing lessons from his mother, and after he served his mandatory military service, he worked under Song as an assistant writer, picking up bits of knowledge from the veteran writer.    
   
The motive behind the sensational “Extracurricular,” however, came from his own teen experience.    
   
“While I was in high school in New Zealand, I saw a kid selling cigarettes to his friends, and [at the moment] I felt that their world was different from mine, even though we were all in high school,” Gin said. “I couldn’t grasp the weight, the motive to earn money all while committing a crime. And if they don’t get caught, then does that make it alright?”  
   
He remembered this moment in his past when he was reading a newspaper article about a teen who was voluntarily involved in organized crime.   
   
“Even though the answer to the question may be obvious, I wanted to give a serious answer, in my own way, to the question of why committing a crime is wrong,” Gin said. “This [motive] also connects to why I chose prostitution out of all the crimes I could have picked. To give an in-depth answer to such a fundamental question, I thought I should touch upon a subject that’s painful and uncomfortable in society. In a way, ‘Extracurricular’ is a story that rubs salt into the wound.

 

Spoiler

Left, a police detective Hye-kyung (played by Kim Yeo-jin) tries to help Min-hee (played by Jung Da-bin), who is involved in prostitution. [NETFLIX]

Left, a police detective Hye-kyung (played by Kim Yeo-jin) tries to help Min-hee (played by Jung Da-bin), who is involved in prostitution. [NETFLIX]

 

“Minors and crimes are two things that should always stay parallel, but they still touch sometimes, and I still believe that we need to look at this painful side as well,” Gin explained. “The truth that we seek may be within this intolerable discord instead of a beautiful harmony [that we gravitate to].”  
   
Unlike other stories about teen crimes, the adults in “Extracurricular” try to reach out a helping hand, although they always seem to be too late. This situation often plays out in real life, as the public wonders what the roles of adults in the midst of horrifying atrocities such as the Nth room scandal and other digital sex crimes were.    
   
Gin believes that adults haven’t been completely ignorant of young people’s suffering though.  
   
“Of course, adults don’t yet have one, satisfying answer to these problems, but an endless stream of discussions and conversations may be able to bring us the strength to [come up with a solution],” Gin said. “But in order to recognize that such problems exist, we need to look into them first, no matter how uncomfortable it can be.”    
   
When asked whether or not he felt sympathy toward his characters, Gin said that keeping them at a distance was one of the hardest things about writing the script.   

 

Spoiler

Ji-soo (played by Kim Dong-hee), left, is bullied by Ki-tae (played by Nam Yoon-su). [NETFLIX]

Ji-soo (played by Kim Dong-hee), left, is bullied by Ki-tae (played by Nam Yoon-su). [NETFLIX]

 

“Even though I did [feel sympathy], I would objectify my feelings [towards them] as to not to glamorize or romanticize the crimes,” Gin said. “But I still wanted them to be the protagonists because, in order to understand the essence of the crime, it wouldn’t be proper to simply ‘otherize’ the aggressors. But I did try to keep an objective tone and balance throughout the 10 episodes.”    
   
The open ending of the first season left viewers speculating whether or not there will be a second season. While the show’s actors have all inadvertently promised to appear in the next season, Gin remains unsure.    
   
“I would love to give a straightforward yes or no, but I’m still deliberating how to work this out,” Gin said.    
   
“Although it’s still in the beginning process, what I can tell you about my next project with Studio 329 [the film production company] is that it will be centered around adults who are at an age where they can no longer be considered young. They’re leading ordinary lives when all of a sudden, one day, they are entangled in a weird case.”    
 

BY LEE JAE-LIM   [lee.jaelim@joongang.co.kr] 

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https://zapzee.net/2020/05/15/four-rising-stars-discovered-in-netflixs-extracurricular/

Four Rising Stars Discovered in Netflix’s ‘Extracurricular’

By krishkim | images: Netflix  

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The performances of rookie actors who took Netflix as their stage are brilliant. Kim Dong Hee, Park Joo Hyun, Jung Da Bin, and Nam Yoon Soo are at the center of the sensation. Their names might still be unfamiliar to the public, but they became the talk of the town with their acting prowess. Extracurricular, starring the four, topped Netflix’s “Korea’s Top 10 Content” within a week of its release, quickly becoming one of the hottest works in the first half of this year.

 

Extracurricular depicts the process of a group of high school students who commit crimes to earn money and the unpredictable dangers they face as a result. Although it is not a work that you can enjoy pleasantly, director Kim Jin Man’s delicate directing and harmony of the new actors have been well received. In particular, the passionate performances of the rookie actors, who were all selected after the auditions, have flawlessly captured the dark reality of our society, bolstering the story.

 


Kim Dong Hee

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Kim Dong Hee, who played the two-faced model student Ki Soo, stands out the most. He made his debut through web-drama 
A-Teen and made hits with every work he appeared on, including SKY Castle and Itaewon Class, coming to fame. In Extracurricular, the actor took on the role of Ji Soo, who dive into organized crimes for money, and captured the raging emotions using his whole body, leading the story. Kim Dong Hee recently said in an interview that he intends to participate in season 2, if it gets produced.

 

Park Joo Hyun

Spoiler

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Park Joo Hyun, who starred in the drama as Gyu Ri, Ji Soo’s dangerous partner, is also a rookie actor. Having shown lyrical performances in tvN’s A Piece of Your Mind recently, she triumphantly proved herself to be an actor who can sufficiently play the lead role through Extracurricular. She successfully portrayed a dual aspect of Gyu Ri, an ideal student at school but rebelliousness toward her parents, drawing favorable reviews. With her popularity, OurR’s music video in which she appeared in the past, is drawing keen attention.

 

Nam Yoon Soo

Spoiler

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Actor Nam Yoon Soo, who played the role of Gi Tae, is also worth paying attention to. He previously starred in MBC every1’s 4 Kinds of House and several web-dramas, including I Am Not a Robot, Want More 19, and The Temperature Of Language: Our Nineteen. In Extracurricular, he perfectly played Gi Tae, a boy with ambivalent attitudes, leading the startling tension. The rookie actor already confirmed his next work with tvN’s new Monday-Tuesday drama Postpartum Care Center to take on the role of a kind delivery man.


Jung Da Bin

Spoiler

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Jung Da Bin, who made her face known at the age of 3 in 2003, is an actor who reached her 17th year since her debut. With Extracurricular, she attempted the most significant transformation of her image in her entire career by playing the role of Min Hee, who is at the center of the crime. After undergoing thorough research and character analysis, she was able to describe complex and sensitive Min Hee in detail. Now that she has been able to break away her “Ice Cream Girl” image and take a step further as an actor, expectations are high for her future moves.
 

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[Review] ‘Extracurricular’ A Controversial Work Filled with “Spicy-Taste”

https://zapzee.net/2020/05/13/review-extracurricular-a-controversial-work-filled-with-spicy-taste/

 

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https://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/art/2020/05/688_289952.html
 

Young actors move to online platforms as TV producers woo bankable veterans


May 22, 2020
 

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Netflix's "Extracurricular." Courtesy of Netflix

 

Young actors and actresses in their 20s and early 30s have been losing their presence on the South Korean small screen as producers are not willing to take chances by casting new faces in marquee roles.

The fantasy romance "The King: Eternal Monarch," starring Lee Min-ho and Kim Go-eun, and the mystery drama "Born Again," starring Jang Ki-yong and Jin Se-yeon, seem to be the only two TV series led by young stars out of dozens of soap operas and shows currently on air in the country.

"The King," on SBS, was one of the most anticipated series in the first half of this year for its star-studded cast, including Lee, and renowned screenwriter Kim Eun-sook.

But its lower-than-expected viewership ratings, which marked 6.5 percent for its ninth episode that aired last week, have seemingly hurt the yearslong reputation of Lee, 32, who has been known as a highly trusted commodity when it comes to dramas.

Viewership of KBS' "Born Again" has been hovering around 2 percent since it first aired in late April.

Moreover, TV dramas starring young actors and actresses, such as KBS' fantasy romance "Welcome" and tvN's romance "A Piece of Your Mind," both of which ended last month, received poor viewership ratings of 1 percent and soon disappeared from viewers' consciousness.

 

On the other hand, this year's hit TV series, including tvN's romantic comedy "Crash Landing On You," JTBC's melodrama "The World of the Married" and the medical drama "Hospital Playlist" on tvN, feature long-running stars, like Hyun Bin, Son Ye-jin, Kim Hee-ae and Jo Jung-suk.

This trend of young rising stars being upstaged by veterans is not new on the South Korean entertainment scene.

A few years ago, rookie actors, like Yang Se-jong, Woo Do-hwan and Jang Ki-yong, found stardom stars after their performances in sleeper hits, like "Temperature of Love," "Mad Dog" and "Come And Hug Me," respectively.

Since then, however, they remained as diamonds in the rough, without finding roles as principals in hit shows.

Experts said the increasing age of lead actors is largely attributable to a rise in production costs and fiercer competition in the TV industry.

"Producers and TV stations tend to choose a safer strategy," culture critic Park Ji-jong said. "They try not to take the risk of casting ham actors or actresses with unreliable acting skills and public recognition."

As a result, new platforms, such as Netflix, have become an opportunity for novice actors and beginners to start their acting careers.

Kim Dong-hee and Park Ju-hyun caught the eyes of many viewers in the teen crime drama "Extracurricular," a Korean Netflix original, for their better-than-expected acting skills.

"Young entertainers eye Netflix that can afford big-budget series and doesn't care about viewership or web-based drama studios, which seek future potential," Park, the culture critic, said. (Yonhap)

 

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https://www.soompi.com/article/1402038wpp/kim-dong-hee-talks-about-his-role-in-extracurricular-his-successful-filmography-and-more

 

Kim Dong Hee Talks About His Role In “Extracurricular,” His Successful Filmography, And More

May 22, 2020
by C. Hong
 

Actor Kim Dong Hee recently sat down for an interview to talk about his latest Netflix original series, “Extracurricular,” and his career thus far.

 

In “Extracurricular,” Kim Dong Hee plays the lead character Oh Ji Soo, a quiet model student who hides a secret that no one can know. The series is about a group of high school students who turn to a life of crime in order to make money and get caught up in a series of events over which they have no control.

 

Kim Dong Hee said, “I’m very grateful [for the praise]. There were times when I surprised even myself. I thought, ‘This isn’t like me,’ but neither could I easily say that I portrayed Ji Soo well. I could only see the parts of me that were lacking. I feel that way because I’m still in the process of learning. Rather than thinking, ‘I did well,’ I think, ‘That’s a relief.'”

 

Despite his young age, Kim Dong Hee already has a string of hits in his filmography, from his debut in the web drama “A-Teen,” to JTBC’s “SKY Castle,” to JTBC’s “Itaewon Class.” He said, “I’m honestly curious [about my secret] too. I don’t know if I’ve been very lucky or if I have good intuition. I don’t start a project thinking that it will do well. Something has to pull me toward the drama. I have to think, ‘This is something I want to challenge.’ I definitely don’t think it’s because I have some kind of discerning eye when it comes to scripts.”

 

However, the actor has almost always played student roles thus far. Kim Dong Hee said, “I had a lot of thoughts about it myself. But now I think that it doesn’t matter if I wear school uniforms as long as I still can. In the past, I would be stressed because I always had to wear the school uniform, but now I think like this. I would like to play all the characters possible within the ‘student’ perspective. Ji Soo might wear a school uniform, but he’s very different from the characters I’d known before. If another character like that comes around again, I wouldn’t hesitate about putting on a school uniform again.”

 

 

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