The True Art of War – Itaewon Class Episode 7 Review

This is a review of episode 7 of Itaewon Class, or 이태원 클라쓰 kdrama currently airing on Netflix.

Check out the previous episode review here.

Itaewon Class is literally taking lessons out of The Art of War.

In fact, it might actually be the ancient book personified.

All business transactions are to a certain degree, but it really caught my attention a few episodes ago while Sae Royi was still in jail.

“Know yourself and know your enemy.”

Sae Royi, for three entire years, memorized Chairman Jang’s memoir, business plan, and structure rolled into one simple book. He even gave the chairman’s photo on the cover devil horns to show how much he dislikes him. I don’t want to say hate just yet, because I don’t think Sae Royi hates anyone.

And yes, it is revenge but not at the extent that he consumes himself.

It’s more justice than anything, but that’s just my opinion.

So before I talk about the business dealing between Jangga and DanBam, I’d like to touch on Yi Seo, Sae Royi, and Detective Oh.

I did not expect to see the Detective again, despite him holding a crucial part of this story and Jangga’s downfall. The fact that Sae Royi has been visiting him since his daughter was a baby speaks volumes. She even thinks of him as a big brother.

Although…I do wonder why Detective Oh quit the force. It couldn’t be due to a moral compass and him being an upstanding citizen. It couldn’t be because of internal corruption. Maybe he was just tired? He didn’t seem that old though, and I’m sure if he couldn’t handle the local beat anymore his superiors could have transferred him to somewhere quieter.

Maybe then, it was guilt? Detective Oh even bowed down on his knees asking for forgiveness and offered monetary bribes…to the billionaire Sae Royi haha.

Looks can really be deceiving. I wonder where this plotline will go, and who will take care of the detective’s daughter if he does eventually do the right thing and turn himself in.

But at this point, I wonder if the captain who was directly over him is still serving. He looked like an older man, even older than Detective Oh is now. Can the law still touch these people? Even if the statute of limitations hasn’t passed?

How deep does this corruption and fervent dedication to corporations really go?

Also while we’re on the subject on deceit, I for one have egg on my face along with Yi Seo.  I thought Toni spoke English. I just assumed that he might have an American mother, or at least one that spoke English. But if his mother was Guinean, it makes sense that he would speak French.

There’s no relation between Africa and America, but I know that those in the islands speak some French, and in Louisiana the Cajuns speak French. But just because two groups of people can appear similar physically (or share the same hue of complexion), doesn’t mean that they have any relation at all.

I’m glad I decided to just Americanize his name last review, and not full out assume he was half American. I wonder how Yi Seo is going to feel about that. Does South Korea get many French-speaking visitors?

Since Yi Seo has realized after her field trip with Sae Royi that she is indeed in love, and (quite cruelly) put Geun Soo in his place…does this mean that she is full out going against Sae Royi’s enemies alongside him? I know the show has told us that Yi Seo is a sociopath, and she acts like one most of the time, but on the other hand she has been shown to be extremely logical. Her actions are calculated, and rarely on impulse.

For instance, when Geun Soo was questioning Yi Seo about his “brother” and his boss’ history, she got visibly annoyed. Although she knew a fraction of what happened, she wanted to hear it from Sae Royi himself. And surprisingly, on that long bus ride he did open up. In the previews for today’s episode that fact seemed to have bothered Soo Ah for some reason.

Then during the confrontation of her feelings for their boss by the water, Yi Seo basically told Geun Soo she was using him. But, episodes earlier Yi Seo in her own monologue literally told us that she uses people for her own benefit. On some level, in the real world we all do this today. Only then, it’s called “making connections” and “knowing the right people”.

That social hypocrisy aside, Yi Seo told Geun Soo that he might still have a chance with her if he took over Jangga corp. It may be too early to say this, but I don’t think Yi Seo wants Geun Soo. As she casually mentioned, he has nothing to offer. Park Sae Royi is at least stimulating to her mind, and gives her a challenge to complete regarding his revenge, the business of DanBam, and his actual person romantically.

So, why did Yi Seo say this to Geun Soo then?

This is just my personal observation, but I think she wanted to plant the seed into his mind. That he should stick with DanBam, or take his family down and reclaim what was…never really his…but that which he could be more intellectually entitled to over his stupid half-brother Geun Won.

So all of that other set up out of the way, for my final point I wanted to talk about Chairman Jang and Sae Royi playing baduk. (not in the literal sense of course, or at least not yet.)

I’m going to be taking a few quotes from my own copy of The Art of War I purchased about seven years ago and relating it to character actions.  If anyone hasn’t read it yet, or is interested in picking it up, I’ll leave a link at the bottom of this review that would benefit the both of us.

It’s a great read if you’re in the business field, or just in general to learn more about the people around you. The 48 Laws of Power is also great, so that you don’t get caught up in the mind-games people in power sometimes choose to play.

According to this ancient book by Sun Tzu, war has five factors that decide its outcome: A Moral Compass, Heaven, Earth, the Commander, and Regulation. Just to note, these strategies also draw heavily on the principals of Buddhism.

“A Moral Compass brings the people into accord with their ruler so that they will follow him in life and in death without fear.”

Sae Royi has a very strong moral compass. Because of his ability to see people as they are, and essentially ‘read’ their potential he has many supporters. They trust in his ability to get them to the end and his ability to help them achieve their goals.

In opposition of this, Chairman Jang controls his followers with fear. He has no real supporters, only those who want to leech off of his already established dominant power. But if there is even the slightest instance of weakness and they smell blood, they will jump ship to the next best thing.

In this case, we’d want this to be Sae Royi over the other already established food conglomerates.

“Heaven encompasses night and day, heat and cold and the changing of the seasons.”

In my own interpretation of things, this could just signify the passing of time. Due to our perception of reality, we will all see and interpret these quotes and the events in the drama differently. Only time will tell the outcome of these characters. Or in a more literal sense, we’re only halfway through the series so it’s too early to expand on this point of war. ☺

“Earth encompasses nearness and distance, ease and hindrance, wide plains and narrow gorges – matters of life or death.”

The literal battlefield. But in our case, Itaewon.

Chairman Jang tries to buy the DanBam space in order reclaim his perceived “territory” and mark it with another one of his establishments. He thinks he’s a tiger, after all.

Sae Royi purchases almost 1% of Jangga in order to level the playing field and influence the board and its leaders.

Geun Won (stupidly) tries to mark his territory by closing DanBam out of media attention. Doing this, as his father pointed out, validates Sae Royi and DanBam as an actual threat to Jangga. It leads to speculation that the Chairman really is nervous about his competition.

Which, he obviously is. Or he would not have shown up, brought up conversation of the stocks for everyone within earshot to hear, and then eat the entire meal before leaving without paying.

Geun Soo’s remarks to not underestimate Sae Royi and the Chairman’s perceived betrayal at Ms. Kang and Sae Royi’s partnership could also fall under this category.

For each of these players has their own strategies still left unseen.

“The General must be possessed of wisdom, honesty, benevolence, courage, and discipline.

Both Chairman Jang and Sae Royi fall under this category. Although I am not a huge fan of his character personally, Chairman Jang knows what he is doing. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t be one of the top food conglomerates in South Korea.

Let’s not pretend he is some feeble old man out of touch with society and the empire he has ruled over for decades.

“Regulation means the marshaling of the army, correct organization and control of supplies.”

Jangga’s pub obviously had enough ice. Soo Ah was just there to spy, I don’t care what her official reason was. And of course while she is there, she overhears DanBam’s current problem and reads over the pub’s agreement and legal limitations.

Likewise in that same vein, I’m not sure Sae Royi was going to answer Soo Ah’s phone call. If she hadn’t beeped, we would have found out. Either he was putting her on ice, or he just wanted to be responsible and cross the street undistracted before answering her phone call. Sae Royi has a fifteen year plan, and it doesn’t involve carelessly dying! 😏

This point could also apply to both Jang and Sae Royi mobilizing those closest to them, and utilizing their abilities. In DanBam’s case, solid teamwork.

“A General must pay attention to all five, for they represent the difference between defeat and victory.”

Who do you currently think is paying attention to all five simultaneously in our story?

Episode eight is currently up on Netflix, so I’ll end this review with a quote:

“Successful war follows the path of Deception. Thus when you are able to act, feign incapacity; when deploying, feign inactivity; when you are close, appear to be far off; when you are distant, appear close. When your enemy seeks an advantage, lure him further; if he is in disorder, crush him; if he is organized, be ready for him; when he is strong, avoid him; when he is angry, goad him further; if he is humble, be overbearing; if he is resting, harry him;

if his armies are united, split them.

Attack where he is unprepared, appear when you are least expected. Thus you may see that in war, surprise is the key to victory.

Who in the drama do you think is following these principals more closely? Who do you think is following them in the weakest sense? Do you think there will be infighting amongst the Jang family?

A united front. Itaewon Class episode 7
A united front. Itaewon Class episode 7

Leave your thoughts in the comment section below, I’d love to hear from you! Also be sure to follow us for more Itaewon Class reviews!

The Art of War by Sun Tzu

The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene (The 33 Strategies of War is also a good read by this author)

다음 화 Deliver Us From Evil

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Author: In Asian Spaces

I write in my personal time and I haven't published much at all. I don't know if that qualifies me as a writer or not, but I'd like to change that. I have a deep passion for travel, cinema and (mainly) East Asian things, but I plan on writing various things to keep it spicy. Let's prosper together ~ よろしくおねがいします。

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