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Interview with 'Extracurricular' Writer Jin Han Sae

The Writer of ‘Extracurricular’ on the Show’s Symbolisms, Working With Netflix, and more

Since it came out on Netflix last April 29, many people have shown their love for Extracurricular, because of how it addressed different youth-centric issues that are rarely talked about these days. This teen crime drama puts the spotlight on 4 teenagers, all of who seem to be harboring a marker secret behind the typical high school stereotype they were put in.

In case you haven’t seen it yet, though, Extracurricular centers on Ji Soo, Minhee, and Gyuri, high schoolers who get involved in crime as their way to fulfill their goals of living a more normal life. As things spiral of their control, these teens are forced to face the consequences of their actions as they try to correct their mistakes.

Following our chat with the cast and director of the show, we also got to ask the drama’s writer Jin Han Sae where she shared her experience in writing the story, the meaning behind the show’s symbolism, and more. Check it out below:

Q&A with the Stars and Director of the Netflix K-Drama ‘Extracurricular’

Why did you choose to expose the dark side of teen life in this series? How do you think this series would affect teenagers? 

JIN HAN SAE: I chose to do so because the dark side of life that is confronted by teenagers represent one of the most deeply veiled wounds in our society. One could argue that the youth are a social class whose existence is readily disregarded. Their voices get buried too easily, almost in vain. Everyone grows up and naturally turns detached from bygones to some extent. We grown-ups carelessly tell teens that we have been through it all and that they should just hang in there when it comes to youth issues. To the youth themselves, however, such issues are painfully real, and they are living through the winter with no end in sight. I thought this reality deserved attention and representation. 


Extracurricular tackles mental health, prostitution, and bullying. How do you think the show will change or affect the way people view these issues today? 

JIN HAN SAE: I do not think that the story particularly suggests a new perspective about those issues. We all know that, for example, school violence is harmful, and bullying is bad. Nevertheless, I believe that a case for such ethics should be constantly revisited and repeatedly reminded. We may come to the same conclusion every time, but the very act of revisiting the ethics itself is essential to us. These values are like old heritage; they gradually get damaged over time and, without proper maintenance, may perish and return to dust in the blink of an eye. 

Interview with 'Extracurricular' Writer Jin Han Sae
Photo: Netflix
Interview with 'Extracurricular' Writer Jin Han Sae
Photo: Netflix

What were the most difficult parts of writing this story? 

JIN HAN SAE: There were many difficulties, but the most difficult part was the pressure coming from the fact that I was writing about an ethically sensitive matter. Every moment felt as if I was dismantling a ticking time bomb because I might end up glamorizing crime, not criticizing it. So I was running around almost obsessively “collecting” feedback from as many people as possible, especially on ethical values that I might have missed. I want to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt gratitude to those who completed my work with the wisdom I lacked. 

Are there any particular reasons why you used animals like a hermit crab and a sloth? 

JIN HAN SAE: They are unbelievably slow and helpless animals, but they have managed to survive so far without going extinct. This makes me think that there must be a secret to their survival that is beyond our understanding. So I wanted to use them symbolically. But I would like to refrain from explaining further here not to ruin the audience’s experience. I hope you would understand. 

Is there something to the idea of being a teenager and an adolescent that fascinates or intrigues you? 

JIN HAN SAE: Rather than focusing on the idea of a teenager or an adolescent, I want to highlight the idea of “potential,” like that of a gemstone, which they embody. We were all teenagers once. We grew into adulthood, letting go of the pieces of vast potential as we live. In that sense, the process of “letting go” is the process of “growing up.” But I believe that there are certain things that we should never let go until the very end.

Interview with 'Extracurricular' Writer Jin Han Sae
Photo: Netflix
Interview with 'Extracurricular' Writer Jin Han Sae
Photo: Netflix

What was it like working with Netflix – was it different from working with other stations? Do you feel like you had more freedom to explore darker, bolder themes since it’s on a streaming platform? 

JIN HAN SAE: It is hard for me to make a comparison due to my humble writing career, but I did feel a lot of freedom in exploring the theme. Netflix treated creators’ authority with so much care as if it were a fragile crystal handicraft, and tried to intervene as little as possible. Above all, the most magnificent part was that they viewed “Extracurricular” as a work of art, not a mere product. I saw such a pure and sincere attitude that I thought would be hard to expect from a large entertainment streaming service that they are. I was very impressed.

Extracurricular is now streaming on Netflix.

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Produced by
Kim Jin-min & Jin Han-sae
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