Itaewon Class Volume 1 Review

Saeroyi Park is a high-school student in his last year. When his father has to transfer from Seoul to the countryside, Saeroyi follows him. But on his first day of school, things start to go downhill…

Saeroyi’s dream is to be a police officer, so he can’t stand injustice. When he sees the bully Geunwon harassing one of his classmates, he can’t help but come to his classmate’s defence, even if it means getting in the way of Geunwon, the son of the CEO where Saeroyi’s father works. However, Saeroyi soon finds out that money is everything and even the teachers don’t want to get involved with Geunwon’s family.

With Saeroyi expelled and his father quitting his job to stand by Saeroyi, the two open a chicken restaurant, only for Saeroyi’s peaceful life to get destroyed again when someone kills his father. Bent on revenge, he’s about to kill the culprit when he’s stopped by the police and arrested. His time in jail make him think over what he wants from his life and fast forward seven years later, the story is about to begin!

Many will already know the popular K-drama adaptation available on Netflix, and now, thanks to Ize Press, the manhwa is available in a print edition in the English language. I decided to pick up this series after hearing many friends recommending the TV series, and while I have yet to watch it, I can understand the hype behind it after reading the first volume of the manhwa.

While the cover gave me a Tokyo Revengers vibe, once I opened the volume, I was captured by the story which is completely different from the manga. This volume is narrated at a slow pace, which allows the readers to get to grips with Saeroyi’s background—what happened to him to turn him this way and how he’s paving his path forward.

Saeroyi stands by his beliefs, thanks to his family motto: “Stand Up for What You Believe In”. And I appreciated how that stays true throughout the full volume. His father doesn’t even hesitate to step down from his job to stand by Saeroyi’s side. While the two don’t have much, they make it work, and their deep bond as father and son is shown multiple times. It’s that bond that stops Saeroyi from committing a crime which won’t guarantee him a future anymore. And it’s in his father’s memory that he decides to open a restaurant in Seoul, precisely at Itaewon, once he’s out of prison and has earned enough money to have his own place.

Geunwon is a spoiled brat. Used to having his own way thanks to his family’s money, he doesn’t accept or tolerate anyone ruining his fun. While everyone abides by that unwritten rule, Saeroyi is the only exception. While the two men’s troublesome past starts in high school, I can assume that they will meet once again as adults, and definitely not as enemies-turned-friends. There’s too much history between them, and the readers can only expect for Geunwon to turn into an even worse villain together with his father. After all, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

There are two other characters we are more or less introduced to: the woman on the cover who’s the main protagonist in the prologue of Volume 1, and Sooah Oh, a senior high schooler who was present when the drama between Geunwon and Saeroyi went down and who also happens to introduce Saeroyi to the Itaewon neighbourhood, where the main story will develop.

The only facet of this manhwa that I didn’t appreciate as much was the art, which I found quite simplistic and not detailed. Both the characters expressions and the backgrounds showed the bare minimum to make the readers understand what’s going on. However, the lack of details is offset by the narration, which comes both from Saeroyi and from an external narrator.

Itaewon Class is written by Kwang Jin and published by Ize Press in both a print and digital edition. The series was originally released as a webcomic on Tapas and its popularity resulted in it being turned it into a K-drama. Volume 2 is slated for release in July.

Our review copy from Ize Press was supplied by Diamond Book Distributors UK.

7 / 10


Number 1 fan of Solo Leveling who also happen to be a self-proclaimed bookworm with a special love for manga and YA, romance and fantasy books. I'm currently obsessed with Korean webtoons.

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