HIGH KICK - Season 1

High Kick - Season 1

HIGH KICK - Season 1

I have always been a fan of Korean soap operas which we call "Koreanovelas" in the Philippines. The last Korean soap that I've watched and loved so dearly was "Lovers in Paris," which I initially watched out of curiosity as it was gaining popularity in the Philippines years back.

But what is it with Koreanovelas that keeps people from other nationalities watching? What is it with Koreanovelas that people are able to relate to? For one, they have a very distinct class of their own. As they are reflective of true Korean identity, I must say that by just watching them, you can have, more or less, a taste of what Korea is.

The Korean soap "High Kick" did not disappoint as I watched the first season. In fact, it was ranked by a streaming site as the most popular streamed Korean soap followed by another famous novela "Coffee Prince." Contrary to some Korean soaps, however, which mostly have fewer episodes, High Kick has 167 episodes in total which runs for roughly 20 minutes per episode. If you have more time in your hands, which I used to have, then this is for you a MUST-SEE!

Warning: this soap could be addictive!!!

Let me highlight some beautiful learnings from this season of "High Kick" among many others:

Family centered values. One thing that resounds in this soap is the value they emphasize about the family. As the soap points out the uniqueness as well as the weaknesses of each of the characters spread throughout the episodes, it would always go back to loving the family and respecting their particular familial roles despite their idiosyncrasies. As a clear example, Lee Joon-Ha plays the role of the eldest son of the Lee household. He is depicted as a voracious eater and nicknamed as "Lord of Gluttony." With no work, as he was very unsuccessful as an investor, he relies mainly on his wife's (Park Hae-mi) income as head doctor of the family-owned hospital. Despite his voracious behavior, however, his sons (Lee-Minho, eldest son, and Lee Yoon-ho, younger brother) look up to him as their father with love and respect. A number of episodes is devoted to underscore his failures, defeat, and difficulties in a very moving fashion, but they never lose sight to portray him as a loving father despite and in spite of those weaknesses. Respect for elders in the family abounds and is carefully treated in the soap.

Typically, the soap portrays a very patriarchal family where the father serves as head. Also, extended family is evident as the grandparents and grandchildren live together in one roof, and yes, that includes a highly modified attic! The family looks up to the elders and makes sure that they attend to them in their times of need whether solicited or not.

Friendship. The conflict between friends surfaces under the presence of a third party. For instance, the relationship between Lee Min-yong and Shin-Ji, who divorced their marriage in early episodes, is challenged by Seo Min-Jong's presence, a co-teacher of Min-yong, who falls in love with him and secretly becomes his girlfriend. On top of that, Lee Yoon-Ho, Min-yong's nephew and a homeroom student of Seo Min-Jong, secretly pursues his admiration to his teacher. As confusing the situations may be, friendship remains a treasured relationship. Strong feelings of love to the other person is sacrificed in favor of friendship. Seo Min-Jong gives up a possible marriage to help restore a broken family, while Lee Yoon-Ho patiently waits for Seo Min-Jong to be freed from her bonds with his uncle Lee Min-Jong. In a sense, a biblical passage holds true on this regard when it said, "There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends." (John 15:13)

The Value for Honor and Prestige. I believe that it is a universal tendency to value honor and prestige especially for the family. Each member of the Lee household gives their best foot forward just so in order that they may place the Lee family at the pedestal. For instance, Lee Soon-Jae, being the head of the household, tries his best to keep the family hospital in good shape despite his professional inadequacies and limitations (as some patients would call him a "quack doctor"). He goes on public television to be interviewed live in order to boost income for the hospital and give honor to the entire household. Moreover, he asserts family unity and uniformity in order that his family may become known and respected. Nevertheless, he fails tremendously as most of his ventures are futile. What remains, however, is his strong desire and determination to put his household at a place of honor in the eyes of the public.

Technical Considerations: It is typically unusual to have a soap that's mixed with suspense and thriller. Most soaps would focus on one genre as to love story or comedy. But, High Kick tries its best to go beyond what is conventional by incorporating a "Sherlock Holmes" sort of theme. In fact, when I first read the title, "High Kick" I thought that this is an action themed soap. Well, it truly is action themed, but not purely. The subtlety to focus on a theme gives High Kick a weakness, as it personally confuses me in terms of genre. Had the soap focused on at least one theme and put more colors on the characters in connection with it, the producers could have put more depth on the soap without sacrificing humor. The title implies an action genre but the theme on love is even more pronounced which eventually overshadowed the implied genre.

Generally, I would give the soap a B+ for successfully enlightening me with the unique Korean identity. Cinematography-wise there's not much to expect from this soap as there are underlying unsolved issues and limitations, but if you want to be entertained with a hearty laugh, High Kick assuringly fails to disappoint!

Happy viewing!


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