The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Moorim School – Season 1, Episode 1

Moorim School, a new K-drama, just aired the other day, and in the first episode, three leads, Shi-Woo, Soon-Duk and Chi-Ang, were introduced.

Chi-Ang arrives in South Korea.

Shi-Woo is a pop-idol diva with a hearing problem; Soon-Duk is a student who works for a chicken restaurant; and Chi-Ang is the heir of a Shanghai conglomerate. These three are all tied to one another, and while their connection to one another isn’t immediately obvious in episode 1, it eventually becomes evident that they all have their own ties to an unconventional and mysterious academy known as Moorim Institute. The only question is, how exactly are they connected to Moorim Institute?

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

Episode 1 passed the race test but it did not pass the Bechdel or Russo test.

Shi-Woo and Chi-Ang discover Moorim Institute.

There were a few White individuals in episode 1, but the cast was largely Asian and White individuals were rarely (and perhaps never) talked to or about so there were many instances where non-White individuals talked to each other without mentioning White people. Episode 1, consequently, passed the race test. As to the Bechdel test, episode 1 did not pass this test.

Episode 1 did not pass the Bechdel test because while there were a couple of named women in the episode and there were some occasions where women talked to each other, there was never an instance where the women who were talking to each other both had names. Episode 1 also failed to pass the Russo test, and the episode did not pass the Russo test because there were no LGBTI characters in episode 1.

*The Bechdel test entails three requirements:
1. It has to have at least two (named) women in it
2. Who talk to each other
3. About something besides a man

**The Vito Russo test entails three requirements:
1. The show contains a character that is identifiably lesbian, gay, bisexual, intersex and/or transgender
2. The character must not be solely or predominately defined by her sexual orientation, gender identity and/or as being intersex
3.The character must be tied into the plot in such a way that her removal would have a significant effect

***The race or people of color (POC) test has three requirements:
1. It has two people of color in it
2. Who talk to each other
3. About something other than a White person

****Just because a show passes the Bechdel, Russo and race test does not mean that it is not sexist, heterosexist, racist and/or cissexist, etc. The Bechdel, Russo and race test is only a bare minimum qualifier for the representation of LGBTI individuals, women and people of color in television. The failure to pass these tests also does not identify whether the central character was a woman, a person of color or a LGBTQI individual and it does not dictate the quality of the show.