Concerns Pour In Over Explicit School Dramas: Between Boldness and Discomfort

Although it features teenagers as the main characters, it openly emphasizes the hierarchy within the school and, despite being rated for ages 15 and up, includes high levels of violence and sexual content. Given the recent phenomenon of mimicry after the release of TVING’s “Pyramid Game”, there are also concerns about “Hierarchy”.

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Premiering on June 7th, “Hierarchy” is set in Jooshin High School, which prides itself on providing the best high-quality education service in South Korea and where the top 0.01% of children gather. At this prestigious private high school, an exciting story of love, friendship, revenge and compassion unfolds among eighteen young people.

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Even before its release, “Hierarchy” has been compared to “Pyramid Game” as both feature hierarchical structures based on family background, wealth and social status within the school, and the arrival of a transfer student causing disruptions.

Director Bae Hyeon-jin stated, “Although I enjoyed ‘Pyramid Game’, ‘Hierarchy’ is very different. While ‘Pyramid Game’ deals with the struggles of exerting violence, ‘Hierarchy’ should be viewed through the emotional fluctuations and growth of the characters.”

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Regarding concerns about the impact of such provocative school dramas on teenagers, director Bae explained, “‘Hierarchy’ addresses conflicts between social classes and focuses on the message of growth. The explicitness has been toned down, with more emphasis on the emotions experienced.”

The trailer suggests that “Hierarchy” features a love triangle similar to “The Heirs” and a mystery akin to “Bitch X Rich”, while the overall atmosphere is reminiscent of the Spanish drama “Elite”. However, it includes quite explicit scenes for a 15+ rating, such as bed scenes involving high school boys and girls undressing and sharing intimate moments, and scenes where a 19+ hidden camera video is shared in a group chat.

Recent school dramas have shifted from innocent romance to depicting miniature versions of societal issues. They cover not just school violence but also class hierarchies and even drug distribution. The concern is that these explicit dramas could negatively influence teenagers.

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In the case of “Pyramid Game”, despite being rated unsuitable for teenagers, it became popular among them, leading to instances of group bullying mimicking the game in some schools. This led the Jeonbuk State Office of Education to send a cooperative letter for student life guidance to prevent the spread of “Pyramid Game”, and schools also urged parents to actively guide their children to prevent such play culture from becoming a seed of crime.

Given this context, there are real concerns about “Hierarchy” potentially having a harmful influence on teenagers, especially with its violent and sexual scenes involving high school students. After “Hierarchy”, there are also plans to release “Weak Hero Class 2″ (tentative title), which follows a top 1% model student fighting back against bullies to survive. This suggests that the broadcasting industry will continue to grapple with concerns about imitation and its impact on viewers.