I was expecting a cross between Dream High and God of Study but the only thing I can really compare this Kdrama to is maybe… X-Men. Moorim School is definitely an original – original storyline, original setting, original super power. It didn’t have me craving the next episode but I was entertained the full 16 hours.
I’ll let Dean Hwang Moo-Song explain the school to you in the same words he used when introducing it to Wang Chi-Ang and Yoon Shi-Woo… “The Morrim Institute was built to protect and uphold world peace. It’s the only school built and sanctioned by the UN Peacekeeping Organization. For 10 years in a row our school has placed first in the single and group divisions at the World Martial Arts competition. We’ve been ranked as the number one martial arts academy for 12 consecutive years. Globally ranked number one with the best student satisfaction for 15 years in a row, Moorim Institute has produced some of the finest students in the world. But we’re not listed in any public record.” And one of the students describes it like this, “Moorim Institute is not a school that only teaches students how to do martial arts. It is a place that gives you time to find yourself.”
The main plot of the drama is about possessing the key to the Chintamani. We don’t even find out what that is until the very end of the show. It is said the person who possesses the key to the Chintamani will have unlimited power and rule the world. One man had the key but, to keep it from getting into evil hands, broke it into three pieces. Eighteen years later, a bad guy, who has found one piece, is trying to locate the other two. But that will take some effort because a good guy has one piece and he’s built a fortress to keep it safe. Things begin to get dangerous when the seal to that fortress is opened. Of course the writer gives us a little more entertainment through a love triangle involving three Moorim Institute students. What happens to friendship when love gets in the way?
Lee Hyun-Woo plays Yoon Shi-Woo. He’s a music idol who is suffering from a painful hearing problem. A fan goes to a concert and, seeing him in pain, secretly suggests he go to the Moorim Institute because there is a man there that could fix his hearing. When, because of his hearing, Shi-Woo’s manager sets up a way for his fans to turn on him so he can be ousted from the group he’s a part of, Shi-Woo decides Moorim may be a good place for him to lay low until he can make a comeback.
Lee Hong-Bin is Wang Chi-Ang, the son of a wealthy businessman and his mistress. He’s been raised with an over abundance of love and attention from his mother to make up for the total lack of affection he’s received from his father. Chi-Ang is ordered, by his father, to attend Moorim Institute, which he flatly refuses to do. However, when he finds out the pretty girl who saved him from drowning is a student there, he’s more than willing to comply with his father’s wishes.
Seo Ye-Ji’s character is Shim Soon-Duk. She works at a fried chicken shop to earn money to take care of her blind father. She attends Moorim Institute without her father’s knowledge because he’s totally against her going there. Why? What’s so bad about Moorim that would make her father not want her to even go near the place?
Jung Yoo-Jin plays the part of Hwang Seon-Ah. She is the top ranking student at Moorim, and with her father being the dean you wouldn’t expect anything less. She loves her dad and he adores her. It’s a great father/daughter relationship.
Shin Hyun-Joon is Dean Hwang Moo-Song. He is a strong, authoritative, intelligent man whose very presence commands respect and admiration. The faculty and students love him and you can tell he cares for them, as well. His daughter, Moorim Institute, and the people there, are his top priorities.
Lee Beom-Soo is Wang Hao, Wang ChI-Ang’s father and the president and owner of the Sang Hae Group. He’s a big financial supporter of Moorim Institute. The man is rich, powerful, greedy, and willing to use his own son to get what he wants.
The school has a variety of different nationalities on the faculty and staff – three teachers are from South Korea, one is German, and the security guard is from Ghana. I was impressed at how fluently the little white dude and the big black guy spoke Korean. I’ve never seen a Kdrama that had a decent white actor. Seriously. They’ve all been awful. I’m guessing they’re given the part because they need someone who isn’t Asian and there’s probably not a whole lot of Caucasian actors to choose from in Korea, so the directors take what they can get. But the non-Asian folks in this drama were definitely cast for their acting abilities and not just their skin color. And the students aren’t just from Korea, either. One boy is from Thailand and another, though Asian, often speaks English. Also, the evil woman who works for Wang Chi-Ang’s dad speaks Chinese. Let’s here it for diversity!
In this show there is a thing called Gi Chae Sool which is the power to manipulate something tangible without physically touching it. Supposedly, it’s done with the power of the individual’s energy. Sounds kind of cool, huh? I won’t say who, but three characters have Gi Chae Sool and it’s fun to watch how they use it.
The martial arts training is very entertaining! I watched with great interest to see if I could tell whether or not doubles were used. I don’t think those actors could do all of the amazing stuff we see but it certainly looks like they do. I couldn’t help but think how well Lee Sung-Min (Sungmin from Super Junior) would have fit into this drama. He is very skilled in taekwondo and he boxes. He would have made a great Moorim Institute student but he’s fulfilling his mandatory military assignment right now so there’s no way he could have been cast. Rats!
Sadly, there are some major mistakes in this show. Here’s four I found – First, one of the characters is cut on the right side of his abdomen during a fight. It shows the blood on his right side while he’s in the ambulance but when he takes his shirt off later in the show, his scar is on the left. Second, the same guy is also attacked by a wolf. To protect his face he puts up his left arm but, later, the wound/blood is on his lower right forearm. Third, a girl is kidnapped and we see her in a car with a blindfold on and her mouth taped. When she is rescued, the guy jumps in the car and takes off her blindfold but there is no tape on her mouth. And last is the fact that there is no snow on the ground just before the major martial arts competition begins but when it’s over, as the people are leaving they’re walking on snow. Now, granted, it could have snowed during the competition but, considering the other mistakes, I think it was an oversight on the part of the director.
The music for the drama is wonderful. The boy group VIXX, in support of their member Lee Hong-Bin, sang three separate songs, all of which are extremely good – Alive, The King, and When I See You. Lee Hyun-Woo’s also featured on the soundtrack. He croons a beautiful love song, called One Thing, made even better because in the show he writes it and sings it for Soo-Duk.
Moorim Institute is secretly secluded in the mountains. A couple of the students attempt to hike to Moorim Peak and the scenery on the way there is exquisite.
This is a fine Kdrama that is decently entertaining. Even if you hated school as a kid, Moorim School is one I can guarantee you’ll enjoy.
Enjoyable martial arts scenes
Fun, new “super power”
Pretty mountain scenery
Sloppy directing in parts