IT’S A HARD KNOCK LIFE
Shim Ha Na (Kim Hyang Gi) is excited to start the 6th grade and create great memories with her friends in their last year of elementary school. That is until she meets her scary, new teacher, Ma Yeo Jin (Go Hyun Jung). Under her tutelage, 6th grade becomes about surviving the harsh realities of life and they go to extremes to survive, even if it means turning on each other. Together with her classmates, Oh Dong Goo (Chun Bo Geun), Kim Seo Hyun (Kim Sae Ron) and Eun Bo Mi (Seo Shin Ae), they find a way to survive life in the 6th grade.
Based on a Japanese drama, I can’t really make any comparisons to the original as I didn’t see it. However, my main reason for watching this one was because of the great young cast who are veterans in their own right. The drama comes from their perspective and has a fairy tale or imaginative tone to it. That’s certainly the case whenever Ha Na encounters the enigma that’s Ma Teacher or as they like to call her, “Ma Nyeo (Witch)”.
Ha Na is definitely the glue in Grade 6, Room 3 advocating right from wrong. Just like the character, Kim Hyang Gi is the glue for the drama. Through her struggles, we get through all the various stories. Kim Hyang Gi is a very capable actress but I had mixed feelings about her character.
I almost felt like the drama didn’t know where to draw the line between her imagination and the reality-based scenes. The imaginative perspective didn’t do more than paint Ma Teacher as a foreboding mysterious figure and it just made Ha Na less unique and more like an after-school special drama. That was really what could have set her apart from the rest of the class because we’re seeing her unique perspective and not say, Oh Dong Goo’s (Chun Bo Geun).
Speaking of which, Chun Bo Geun steals the show for me, personally. Even with his faults, he always tries to see the bright side of things. He’s the first to take Ma Teacher’s negative criticism and turning it into something positive. I have kind of a soft spot for Chun Bo Geun ever since I saw him in Hello Ghost. He’s great at playing a rambunctious kid whose got a big heart.
Kim Sae Ron and Seo Shin Ae are pros in their field already. I was touched by Bo Mi’s shyness and Seo Hyun’s matter-of-fact attitude. What was nice about these two characters within the Dimwit Foursome, as Ma Teacher liked to call them, is that their personalities were so vastly different from the rest of the group. Even with Bo Mi’s traitorous turn and Seo Hyun’s cold demeanor, I was still able to relate to the choices that they’ve made and that’s important when engaging viewers emotionally.
With a lot of kids in the class, there were a lot of different crises. I can’t say that I was onboard with how Kim Do Jin’s (Kang Chan Hee) storyline wrapped up. There was a lot more time dedicated to the bullying of his classmates than to how the class all came together to forgive him. I just didn’t buy it. Bruises don’t heal that fast.
Lastly, Ma Teacher. Definitely still a head scratcher. Perhaps, it’s my desire to put her in a certain box. Is she the antagonist? Is she a hero in disguise? Ultimately, I’ve decided that she’s neither. She’s an inanimate object to me so I don’t have this overwhelming emotional feeling towards her.
I despised the way she perpetuated some of the bullying and other problems the kids face. While there is a lesson at the end of the road, her execution is one that was convoluted and unnecessary. However, saving Kim Do Jin was an unexpected surprise.
To me, Ma Teacher is an abstract concept for life. Life intrudes when you least expect it and it disappears when you desire it the most. Sometimes life gives you a bowl of cherries, other times it gives you lemons; how you make lemonade is up to you.
Despite its rating of 12 years and up, I think it’s a good drama to watch with kids and get their perspective. Classroom dramas to a certain extent will always have that after-school special feeling but the likeability and talent of the main 4 kids makes this one to watch.
I honestly was pretty stoic and emotionally removed (meaning, I didn’t cry) through most of the drama until the very last episode. Have to tell you I was totally surprised at my reaction. I wasn’t crying because of how much they admired Ma Teacher but rather because they’ve made it through such an important milestone and they not only survived but are stronger. Sometimes it’s just about making it past the finish line.