Netflix’s teen crime original drama Extracurricular has gained popularity and praise abroad for its gripping plot, remarkable actor performance, and unique character profiles.
Foreign media outlets have likened the drama’s intensity to that of Academy Award-winning film Parasite’s story and form.
Extracurricular tells the story of four students and their entanglement to an illegal business. Rookie actor Kim Dong-hee plays Oh Ji-soo, a seemingly unassuming high school student who keeps to himself. Unbeknownst to others, well-behaved and achiever Oh leads a security service for illegal transactions to support himself. He is soon found out by classmate Bae Gyu-ri (Park Joo-hyun), who blackmails her way in on the activity. When the school’s “mean girl” Seo Min-hee (Jung Da-bin) and her boyfriend Kwak Ki-tae (Nam Yoon-soo) get mixed up with the duo, the four find themselves caught in the tailspin of consequences for their illicit actions that have gone out of control.
The 10-episode drama, which aired on April 29, 2020, has drawn interest for its approach on the concept of extracurricular activities and the realities of society in the eyes of teens, such as bullying. Forbes called it “darker than most teen K-dramas,” citing the characters’ endangering criminal engagements. The outlet also highlighted the absence of character designations, such as hero versus villain, in the series but rather its take on the “varying degrees of moral failings” of the student body. Meanwhile, Decider praised the drama for “activating the pleasure sensors tickled by [Bong Joon-ho’s] Parasite and Snowpiercer.”
The actors were also praised for their portrayal of the complex characters. Kim, who last starred as the charming Jang Geun-soo in JTBC’s Itaewon Class (2020), received recognition for his deep and improved acting. Newcomer Park, who was last seen in the 2020 tvN melodrama A Piece of Your Mind, was also praised for her strong conveyance of the troubled Gyu-ri.
As of writing, there is no official word yet whether Netflix will produce a second season.
Extracurricular is directed by Kim Jin-min of tvN’s Lawless Lawyer (2018) and written by Jin Han-sae. It is currently available for streaming via Netflix.