Netflix’s ‘Extracurricular’ is a brand new addition to its roster of original South Korean shows. The premise follows Oh Ji-soo, a top student in the second year of high school. Despite his academic brilliance and seeming innocence, Ji-soo happens to be the silent partner in a lucrative prostitution ring. He remains in the shadows while the face of the operation protects the girls. Ultimately the proceeds are forwarded to Ji-soo. Everything goes well for the two until a girl gets tangled with a dangerous client when Ji-soo’s partner is not at work. Determined to protect the girl and his business, Ji-soo steps out. It ends up attracting the attention of a classmate, who starts blackmailing him.
In a fatal moment, Ji-soo’s personal and professional lives start to unravel. ‘Extracurricular’ or ‘Human Class’ is a riveting tale, which might make you wonder whether it is based on a true story. We have got you covered in that regard.
Is Extracurricular Based on a True Story?
Firstly, ‘Extracurricular’ is a fictional story. It is not directly based on real events. However, that does not mean that the story doesn’t grapple with real problems. Speaking to The Korea Herald, Yoon Sin-ae, CEO of Studio 329, said, “The series tells the story of teenagers who destroy their own lives by making wrong decisions. I wanted to throw out questions about crimes that happen around us in real life.”
Kim Jin-Min, the director, added to this saying, “Second year in high school is a time when people start to make their own decisions about life and take responsibility for them. However, whether one’s intention was good or bad is yet unclear.” Unfortunately, for the characters in the series, their choices lead them down dangerous paths, as they further become entangled in a life of crime.
Ultimately, ‘Extracurricular’ combines the elements of sexual exploitation and blackmail. While it is fictional, these aspects are bound to remind many of the infamous Nth Room Case that rocked South Korea around 2018. It is clear that Yoon had the case on her mind as well while deciding to make ‘Extracurricular.’ She said, “The incident was so shocking that I felt frightened. ‘Extracurricular’ could become an opportunity to discuss this uncomfortable reality. As a creator, I felt I had to deal with the issues of our society with more depth and responsibility.”
The Nth Room Case:
Naturally, you might be curious to know what the Nth room case is, and we have the details here. The case involves blackmail and the circulation of sexually exploitative videos via the Telegram app. The entire circle was operated by a man whose username was God God. He created eight groups after the ordinal numeral and uploaded the pornography. Another user named Watchman advertised the links to these groups in another Telegram group called the Gotham Room. When the case was first reported to the police, they didn’t find it credible and let it slide.
In January 2019, the Seoul Shinmun found that Telegram was being used for illegal activities, including the circulation of child pornography. The stint of undercover journalism urged other outlets like Sisa Journal and the Electronic Times to report on the issue. Notably, the latter outlet first reported on the Nth Room. The case soon led to public outcry. Baksa, the representative operator, was arrested. However, his accomplice and other Telegram users who share the videos for money, remain unknown. By March and April 2020, cryptocurrency operators began cooperating with law enforcement agents, leading to the identification of many more participants.
While the Nth Room Case is much darker than the prostitution ring in ‘Extracurricular’, it has some similar aspects. For example, both rings are run by shadowy heads. Both stories involve blackmail. In the real-life scenario, the girls were blackmailed, in order to obtain pornographic material, while in the series, the head of the ring is blackmailed. Ultimately, both cases speak to sexual desires within the South Korean society, and how the drive for money eventually takes us down dark paths of crime. Despite being loosely crafted to address a recent social scandal in South Korea, ‘Extracurricular’ shines a light on some genuine issues troubling the society.
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