What is Noblesse Oblige? Netflix K-Drama Hierarchy Term Explored

What is Noblesse Oblige? Netflix K-Drama Hierarchy Term Explored

Lee Chae-Min from Hierarchy K-drama (Photo Credit: Netflix)

The latest Netflix K-drama Hierarchy revolves around a teen suspense storyline. Since its release, one term that has gained popularity online is “Noblesse Oblige.” It is a French term that means “nobility obligates,” and in the K-drama, Jooshin High School follows the phrase as its institution’s motto.

Directed by Bae Hyun-Jin, Hierarchy stars Lee Chae-Min as Kang Ha, Roh Jeong-Eui as Jeong Jae-Yi, Kim Jae-Won as Kim Ri-An, Ji Hye-Won as Yoo He-Ra, and Lee Won-Jung as Lee Woo-Jin.  The official synopsis of the series reads, “The top 0.01% of students control law and order at Jooshin High School, but a secretive transfer student chips a crack in their indomitable world.”

Meaning of Noblesse Oblige & its use in Netflix K-drama Hierarchy explored

According to Merriam-Webster, Noblesse Oblige is “the obligation of honorable, generous, and responsible behavior associated with high rank or birth.” In Netflix’s Hierarchy, the term Noblesse Oblige is used as Jooshin High School’s motto. Under this motto, the school admits scholarship students who can never afford the prestigious school otherwise. However, the culture of bullying in the educational institution impacts its social meaning.

In one episode, the students taunt Kang Ha for getting selected for the school because of the motto. They look down on the scholarship students because the upper-class kids believe they do not belong to their society. One of the instances leads to a student’s death, and finding the killer becomes the plot of the K-drama.

Towards the series’ end, things improve a bit in the school as Kang Ha stirs up the lives of the students and school management. Moreover, the elite group eventually begins to consider the consequences of their actions. Although the drama hints at season 2, the first installment ends on a satisfactory note.

Watch all seven episodes of Hierarchy on Netflix. 

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