Three best friends, Wang, Chang, and Han were drunk beyond their wits when Chang Po-wai proposed that they form an unbreakable pact that would always bring them back together, even if life took them elsewhere. Kai Ko’s Netflix film, Bad Education is about how only a handful of people are born bad, and the rest make choices according to their situation, but once they get caught, their entire perception of life alters. Chang was insecure about his friends leaving him for good, and by sharing their deepest, darkest secrets, he wanted to make sure that they stayed in contact and remained loyal. Wang was the only one of the three who cared about pursuing higher education. He was also the wealthiest among them and was destined to inherit his father’s factory. While Wang had his goals set, Chang and Han competed to become his helping hand in the future.
What were Chang and Han’s unspeakable secrets?
Chang was the first person to share his secret. He announced that during the summer break of eleventh grade, he committed an unspeakable crime. All three of them were in charge of cleaning the school, and Chang could not forgive his teacher for publicly humiliating him. He had his eyes on the teacher’s mentally challenged daughter. The reputation of the teacher was tarnished when Han discussed a rumor about him being in an incestuous marriage. Chang found all the more reason to justify his action, so he did not waste a minute and lured the director’s daughter into an empty room. Chang raped her and handed her a boba drink to keep their meeting a secret. Wang and Han were shocked because they remembered meeting Director Wang and his daughter one day while returning from school. She was visibly pregnant, and the director was taking her to a clinic for an abortion. Chang was not ashamed of the crime he committed; instead, he believed that by sharing such a dark chapter of his life, he was showing his trust in his friends.
Han’s truth was equally revolting. Every day, on his way back from school, Han noticed a homeless person living next to a bridge. The man was always covered in filth, with flies swarming all around him, and his only companions were the street dogs he befriended. It was evident that the man was ostracized, and nobody would bat an eye if he ever went missing. One night, when the man was asleep, Han watched him closely. A part of him was convinced that he could easily get away with the murder, while the other was a little hesitant. Hearing the nearby dog whimper, Han smashed its head into a pulp. He had the bloody stone in his hand, but he was not yet ready to kill another human being.
When the homeless man opened his eyes, Han hammered the guy to death out of reflex. Initially, it was his fear of getting caught, but gradually, he started to enjoy the adrenaline rush he experienced. It also gave him a sense of power, especially after he figured out that the murder was left unreported. Both Chang and Han had preyed on the vulnerable to feel invincible, and they would perhaps target more, knowing that society did not care about the marginal population. Wang was visibly terrified after listening to Chang and Han. He had not committed something as sinful as them, but he had to come up with something to stay true to the pact.
Why were the gangsters after the trio?
Wang lied about starting a fire at the school simply because he failed a test. He wanted to prove that he, too, could be as extreme as Chang and Han, but they did not believe his lie. As it turned out, Chang and Han were the ones behind the arson, and they had pictures taken at the crime scene as proof. Since Wang did not have an extreme secret, Chang and Han decided that it would only be fair that he, too, commit an unspeakable crime for the sake of the pact. After finding out the secrets of his friends, Wang was afraid of them. He was scared of losing his life and was ready to do anything they said. He was handed a tin of paint and a glass bottle and asked to attack a gangster. Wang did not have the courage to execute the plan, but he was also not ready to be laughed at for the rest of his life. He confidently walked to the ruffian, poured the paint over him, and broke the glass bottle on his head. Chang and Han did not expect Wang to carry out the task, and they ran for their lives.
Unfortunately, Han got caught. Chang and Wang decided to hide in a taxi, but the driver refused to get involved with the gangsters. Inside the taxi was a drunk woman who was raped by the driver a while back. Since they had no other choice, Chang stole the taxi. While Wang was worried about Han, Chang cared about no one but himself. Even though Han always helped him execute his wicked plans, Chang showed a lack of emotional connection. The woman woke up and realized that she was violated, and she assumed that the boys were the perpetrators. After what seemed to be endless confusion, the woman screamed for help from the police. Chang realized that he not only stole the car, but he would now be accused of raping. Two police officers caught the boys and handcuffed them. Once they informed the higher authorities, they figured that the mobsters wanted the boys and that they would be promoted if they obliged. It was not the morally right decision; it was a choice made for personal growth. The police officers were not born bad; they were one of the 80% who committed petty crimes to move ahead in life.
How did the night change the lives of the boys?
Wang, Chang, and Han were handed over to the mafia boss, Mr. Hsing. The man was ruthless, and once he realized that the three boys neither had the money nor had contact with the underworld, he stated that they must pay with blood. The boys debated and decided that Han would be the first one to have his finger chopped. But the mafia boss was not happy with just one sacrifice; he needed another finger in the bowl, and Wang offered his. Wang tried to trick Mr. Hsing, but he failed, and ultimately it came down to Chang to make his offer.
During Bad Education‘s ending, Chang admitted that he wanted to make the night memorable since he was afraid of losing his friends forever, but both Wang and Han had enough of him. It was because of Chang that they were in a terrible position, and the fact that he managed to convince Wang and Han to chop their fingers goes on to show how manipulative Chang was. While Han and Chang got involved in a scuffle, Wang got off his seat and grabbed hold of the knife. Wang cut off Chang’s finger, and finally, the offering was complete. The boys were allowed to leave, and the night ended on a truly memorable note, though, of course, for all the wrong reasons. With the fingers gone, the boys would be reminded of the one bad thing that they did and the price that they had to pay. It can also be interpreted as them crossing over to the truly bad side of the human population. Chang and Han both stated that the secrets they shared were untrue, but there is something evil in both boys that makes us wonder whether they were lying to protect themselves.
After leaving Hsing’s restaurant, the three boys go their separate ways. While Chang and Han tended to make morally corrupt choices, Wang was not the same. He was bullied into making the wrong decision, and we can assume that after the incident, his life will be changed forever. He will be a little less afraid of partaking in something extreme, and he will no longer be afraid of becoming a bad person as long as he benefits from it. Or, maybe he will always make sure to stir clear of men such as Chang and Han. Rest assured the three friends will never reunite. Bad Education goes on to show how it only takes one person to instigate a group to commit a crime and how someone who always believed in doing the right thing was scarred for life after surviving a hellish night.