Dream High Drama recap by dramabeans

156 January 3, 2011January 24, 2016

Dream High: Episode 1

by javabeans

An uneven beginning, but one that got progressively better as the hour advanced. (To be honest, I was feeling that dull sense of bored disappointment halfway through, but at the 45-minute mark things picked up, and the last five minutes had my curiosity stirred and hopes rising. Things take an interesting turn.)

I’m not ready to make a decision yet, because the plot pieces are just getting put into place, and the stuff that draws me to this drama — the school, young aspirants working toward their dream, the rivalries — has barely even gotten any screen time. And yes, I suspect that if you were to decide based on the first half-hour, a lot of people might check out, but that’s mostly necessary background maneuvering; it’s really when they move to the school that things pick up.


Dream High OST – “Dream High” by cast members Ok Taecyeon, Jang Woo-young, Suzy [ Download ]

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Oh, god. We start off with a rather self-important telecast of the Grammy Awards, ’cause the first-ever Korean is winning one. In 2018.

The singer is “K,” and therefore a reporter conducts an interview with JUNG HA-MYUNG (Mr. Hallyu, also this drama’s producer Bae Yong-joon), a starmaker whom K has credited for kick-starting his/her career. President Jung is also chairman of the board of Kirin Foundation, which operates Kirin Art High School.

K’s identity is kept a secret from us, and to pique our curiosity, all we are told is that K is in the photo Jung refers to — of our drama’s six leads — back from his/her high school days. The pendant in the shape of a K is a recurring motif linked to both K and Jung.

The reporter asks, “Did you have an inkling then, that K would become a World Star™ who’d win a Grammy Award?”

President Jung takes a roundabout way of answering, drawing a comparison to a billiards game, calling himself the “break shot” — the first shot that sets up the table for the rest of the game to proceed.

A series of images flashes of our leads, giving us an introductory shot of Taecyeon and, sadly, our only glimpse of Kim Soo-hyun in this episode. We land on GO HYE-MI (played by Bae Su-ji, aka Suzy), who is currently enjoying the spotlight singing the Lakmé Flower Duet by Delibes with famous soprano Jo Sumi (one of several star cameos).

In awe is Hye-mi’s friend and toady, YOON BAEK-HEE (Ham Eun-jung), who is in raptures over Hye-mi’s performance. After the show is over, a couple of other girls gossip about Hye-mi, who’s the type of girl who is easily hated — it’s due to a combination of her bitchy attitude and the fact that Hye-mi has everything. Looks, money, talent, and a bright future as a student headed to Juilliard.

Despite her overall snotty attitude, Hye-mi sticks up for her friend when the girls snipe about Baek-hee, calling her “Hye-mi-pa,” which means “Hye-mi’s slipper, who follows her everywhere.” Simple, sweet-natured Baek-hee doesn’t mind being called that, but Hye-mi does, and puts the girls in their place. Which only earns her greater adulation from Baek-hee.

Their walk takes them by Kirin Art School, which brings a sneer to Hye-mi’s lips — which is, by the way, no new look for her. She puts on airs about her superior pursuits in classical music, calling Kirin a cesspool that attracts dung flies. Keeping with the poo metaphor, the people affiliated with Kirin are “pieces of crap.” Such pretty words from this pampered, sheltered 17-year-old.

Kirin is no mere high school, but occupies a halfway point between school and management company, grooming the next generation of pop stars. Many are in training for future debuts, while some are even famous now. For this reason, a celebrity van drives by and a crowd of squealing fans accosts it, no doubt carrying some hot flavor of the month, and Hye-mi and Baek-hee are jostled in the process.

Hye-mi drops her wallet without noticing, and it gets picked up by a passerby. The name he reads on the ID catches the interest of his friend, JIN-GOOK (Taecyeon), who seems to recognize Hye-mi, and he takes the wallet to return. But not before his friend swipes the photo tucked inside, a polaroid of Hye-mi onstage with Jo Sumi.

He follows her to the subway, where he notes with amusement how she covers her face in a mask, then stealthily jumps the stile to avoid paying.

Another star cameo features Kim Hyun-joong playing himself — or a version thereof, as his character is one of Kirin’s most successful alumni. He has a good relationship with President Jung (carrying that mysterious K pendant), whom he greets warmly upon his exit from the plane, not having realized they were on the same flight. Their public reunion attracts the level of interest that, well, a real-life one between Kim Hyun-joong and Bae Yong-joon would attract.

Hye-mi is accosted by a loan shark, as her father has recently lost everything due to the failure of his business and is drowning in debt. To steer clear of the sharks, he has been on the run, leaving his children at home alone while he hides from his debt collectors. Gah, what IS it with egregiously irresponsible fathers in K-dramalandworld?

The man cheerfully tells her that she’s on the hook for daddy’s debts — she can repay with money or her body. What’ll it be?

She decides neither and makes a break for it, losing one shoe in the process, while he just laughs because she’s cornered.

His henchmen advance on her…until out of the blue, one is kicked aside.

It’s Jin-gook, here to save the day, having followed her here. He tosses Hye-mi her wallet, swipes one of the goons’ wallets, and fights them off with ease. (This scene is shot prettily, but sort of a waste of fancy editing; it’s like using high-tech shots to illustrate a schoolyard tussle.)

Jin-gook leads the loan sharks on a chase through city streets and into the subway station, where the leader finally catches up to him. He’s about to get a fist to the face, when out of nowhere flies a shoe, hitting the loan shark in the face. Jin-gook slips away and boards the subway train just as it pulls away, and in his haste runs right into his helper — Hye-mi, who’d given up her remaining shoe to give him a chance to escape.

Jin-gook smiles a bit bashfully and starts to ask if she remembers him — from that time? with the yogurt? — but Hye-mi cuts him off and demands her picture back. He has no idea what she’s talking about, but she smirks that he probably took her photo because he’s a pervert, acknowledging that she did look pretty good in it.

I do enjoy that Jin-gook, who had previously been eyeing her with curiosity and potential attraction, now loses all interest in her and turns away, flatly ignoring her accusations. Looks only last so long, but a toxic personality is forever.

Now for President Jung’s triumphant return to his home base at Kirin High…which isn’t really so triumphant after all. True, everyone bows respectfully and greets his return with excitement (particularly the students), but there’s an undercurrent of dissatisfaction with the teachers — in particular one underminey department head, Shi Beom-soo. You may recognize him from a similar role in Secret Garden as the second-in-command who’d dearly love to spot a chink in his boss’s armor to send him packing so he can take over. He fulfills the same purpose here, and though he greets President Jung deferentially, in actuality he resents losing his position of power.

President Jung acquaints himself with the changes that have occurred in the three years he’s been working in China. Many of the changes are not to his liking, such as Shi Beom-soo’s pushy attitude that has led some young trainees to injury.

President Jung makes a few immediate changes, beginning with the upcoming auditions for new applicants. Not only will he be part of the judging panel, he wants to make it an open audition.

Now it’s Hye-mi who follows Jin-gook, intent on retrieving her photo, and she makes enough of a pest of herself that he grudgingly brings her back to his basement dance studio (he recalls that his friend took the picture).

Jin-gook is part of a crew of b-boys who practice here and perform on the streets; it seems they’re all somewhat displaced kids, including Jin-gook himself, which we’ll get to in another minute.

Hye-mi demands her photo back from Jin-gook’s friend, and the guy teases her to comment on his dancing skills first, fishing for a compliment. She knows it and she doesn’t care to oblige, so she calls his dancing vulgar and him a coarse thug. Naturally that pisses him off and he gives her the whole, “You called me a thug? Let me show you how a thug really acts” routine.

His aggression veers close to getting out of hand, so Jin-gook steps in and reminds his friend that the Kirin auditions are coming up, and getting worked up won’t do them any good.

That calms him down, but Hye-mi never met a pot of shit she didn’t like to stir, and she sneers at him for wanting to go to that “shithole” of a school.

She stalks out in her superior way, but even so, Jin-gook follows her out to offer her the shoes off his feet, since she lost both of hers. What does he get in return? A shoe to the head; Hye-mi calls them stinky and rejects the offer, opting to walk home wearing scavenged tissue boxes instead.

She finds that the loan sharks have paid a visit to her (upscale, nicely furnished) home, which is in the process of being repossessed for her father’s debts (hence all the red tags on the household items). Thankfully they haven’t harmed her precocious little sister Hye-sung (that adorable weird girl from The Great Gye Choon-bin!).

She gets a call from Dad, who has decided to flee the country. He’ll be appealing to an aunt in Canada for help, but that means when the house is repo’d, his daughters will be homeless. He directs Hye-mi to someone who will surely agree to take them in for the next month or two — but when Hye-mi hears his name, she immediately refuses. Not HIM!

He’s KANG OH-HYUK (Eom Ki-joon, who’s so bumblingly cute here), a teacher at Kirin, although perhaps the least-respected one, by both teachers and students alike. Still, Hye-mi doesn’t have a lot of options, so she tracks him down (and breaks his car’s sideview mirror for good measure).

It’s a combination of Oh-hyuk’s timid nature and his guilt complex that has him eager to placate Hye-mi, because as she so vocally reminds him, HE’S the bad guy here, the homewrecker who seduced her mother and caused her parents to divorce. He’s not proud of that history and hurries to hush her everytime she mentions it, and buys her an extravagant lunch.

She announces the situation: Her father is ruined, so she and her sister will be living with him for the time being. She frames this not as a request, but as an “opportunity” for him to redeem himself for his sins, and he uneasily agrees.

But his cowardice gets the better of him, so he acts on an impulse and ditches her instead, driving away.

Hye-mi has too much pride to admit her situation to anybody, so Baek-hee is under the impression that all is normal in the rich, privileged Go household. When the loan shark comes to school, Hye-mi therefore doesn’t dispute Baek-hee’s assumption that he’s her new chauffeur, and reluctantly goes along with him — to her, this is the lesser of two evils.

Back at her house, the loan shark lays out her options. It turns out that when he told her to work off the debt with her body, he wasn’t trying to pimp her out — at least, not in that way. Instead, he tells her that where other thugs just use their fists on non-payers, he chooses the smarter path that allows him to recoup the debt.

He has done a background check on her and sees that she’s a talented singer headed to Juilliard. That’ll take too long for her to reach success, but with a few tweaks to her trajectory, he might be facing quicker repayment. Namely, if she goes to Kirin and makes it as a singer, she could be earning money a lot sooner. So, his conclusion: Go to Kirin, put out an album, “hit the jackpot like Lee Hyori” (lol), and pay back the debt.

Hye-mi glowers, not at all about to agree, until he smilingly reveals his Plan B: If she refuses, he’ll just move on to the next in line. Meaning, little sis Hye-sung.

There’s family drama in Jin-gook’s background, too, which we’re given a glimpse into as he reacts to a newspaper article about some highfalutin businessman. Jin-gook’s jaw tightens, indicating there’s bad blood there.

(This info isn’t in the drama proper, but according to the website profiles, Jin-gook’s father is a rich businessman, Chairman Hyun. Jin-gook’s own real name is Hyun Shi-hyuk, and he was abandoned by his single mother at an orphanage as a young child, then taken in by the chairman. He was raised in that cold environment until he ran away at around the time he would have been a first-year in high school, and changed his life and his name. Clearly he prefers his freedom despite his extreme poverty — his friend cooks ramyun on an upside-down clothing iron.)

Hye-mi thinks over her options, recalling how happy she was when she was given the chance to sing with her teacher, Jo Sumi, knowing that she’ll soon be giving that dream up for a much lesser (in her estimation) reality.

Still, she doesn’t really have much of a choice, and so, after indulging in a bit of tears alone, she puts on her bitchface (it’s her shield, really) as she announces to Baek-hee that she has decided to audition for Kirin instead.

Baek-hee is thrilled, because while she couldn’t follow Hye-mi to Juilliard, following her to Kirin is a much more viable option. After all, she’d followed her friend all these years to various lessons, so she’s had some training as well. Surely she has a shot at Kirin?

Baek-hee persuades Hye-mi into auditioning together for their first round, for which they will have to practice together.

On audition day, Hye-mi is utterly unruffled, scoffing to her sister that nerves are for people without talent, while she knows she’s golden. You know who else isn’t affected by nerves, Hye-mi? Sociopaths.

To prove her point, Baek-hee is all ajumble with nerves, and pauses at the gates to offer up a series of prayers. When asked what she prayed for specifically, Baek-hee smiles sweetly and says that she wants them both to pass the auditions together.

It’s like an episode of [Insert Country Here] Idol as the Kirin board evaluates all their auditionees, who range from b-boys to guitarists, Korean folk singers, ballet dancers and vocalists. Some are good, some… not so good.

It’s here that we get our first glimpse of JASON (Jang Woo-young), who frankly pulls in marks for most embarrassing showing. It’s not just the awkward English (I can overlook that, as long as he’s not busting it out frequently) but the hammy acting as he lounges like God’s gift to spoiled teenagers, acting haughty with Jin-gook’s friend and winking coyly to a girl (albeit one dressed up as a sushi roll).

And then, it’s time for Hye-mi and Baek-hee. The latter is nervous and meek, the former all bored confidence. They sing a duet, which I’m sure will have an official studio version and is probably titled something like “I Have a Dream.” The following clip is ripped from the episode. [ Download ]

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Toward the end, Baek-hee’s emotion-filled rendition has her adding a few vocal frills, which earn her a sharp look from Hye-mi, who is Not To Be Outdone. In response, Hye-mi gets carried away, ending on an overwhelming crescendo showcasing her classical chops.

The teachers look suitably impressed, as do the auditionees watching outside on the TV monitors. President Jung asks in his quiet, unassuming way how they would respond if only one of them passed, and the obvious assumption is that Hye-mi is the stronger singer. Baek-hee bursts out that that will not do! They promised to stick this through together, so they absolutely must both pass! Please pass both, or neither.

Jung tests her — what if she were the one who made it? Then how would she respond? She sticks to her guns, saying that if she passed instead of Hye-mi, she would turn it down.

At this point, Hye-mi speaks up, saying bluntly — harshly — that this arrangement doesn’t extend to her. While Baek-hee has come to this understanding on her own, she never promised to go down for her friend, and she won’t.

Baek-hee is stunned, and says pleadingly that they were supposed to go together, grasping her friend’s hand in entreaty. Hye-mi shakes off that hand — which President Jung sees with narrowed eyes — and declares, “I have no intention of failing because of her. I’ll stay.”

Now President Jung sets them straight: The one who passed is Baek-hee, not Hye-mi.

That takes both girls by surprise — neither had even considered this option — and Baek-hee gapes, while Hye-mi has to reconfirm that she heard right. Her shock turns to anger as she accuses Jung of having no right to judge, and no musical talent or discernment of his own. She yells shrilly that this is utterly incomprehensible and turns her scorn onto her (former?) friend, insisting that Baek-hee has no business passing.

Hye-mi: “She just followed me here! She’s absolutely nothing! I’m first-rate, and she’s third-rate!”

It’s in the middle of this diatribe that Baek-hee’s disillusionment is complete, her reaction shifting from astonishment to hurt betrayal.

While everyone else is appalled at Hye-mi’s behavior, President Jung maintains his cool, and offers her a second chance to test her worthiness. They both agree that the results of this round will be indisputable.

He takes a seat behind the piano and begins playing a variation on a familiar tune. The melody is immediately recognizable as Gershwin’s “Summertime,” and Hye-mi recognizes that he’s playing a mash-up with a second song… but what is it? Stravinsky? Mahler?

In fact it’s a humble Korean trot song, called “사랑밖에 난몰라” (I Only Know Love). It’s a famous tune, one that most Koreans would probably recognize within the first few measures (I barely know a handful of trot songs and I recognized it, which shows you how well-known it is). The version below is sung by Horan (Download), although you can also download the original by Shim Soo-bong (Download).

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In fact, the other teachers murmur that this is too easy a test, and that President Jung is sure to lose. Yet when he stops playing and challenges Hye-mi to name that tune, the best she can do is hazard a guess: Saint-Saens?

President Jung smiles to have his point proven, then asks Baek-hee, who correctly identifies the song. Watching from outside, Jin-gook guesses that her downfall was in not even allowing for the possibility that he’d mix Gershwin with a common trot song.

He’s right on the money, because Hye-mi bursts out that it wasn’t fair: “How can you mix Gershwin with crap like trot?” (At least she has the presence of mind to realize that last bit was out of line, and she shuts up.) President Jung sets her in her place: “This school does not accept third-rate.”

President Jung: “I consider first-rate to be students who are talented and work hard. Second-rate are those who don’t have talent but work hard. And third-rate…”
Hye-mi: “Do you think I have no talent and don’t work hard?”
President Jung: “Third-rate… are students who are prejudiced.”

Hye-mi reels as this sinks in, and Baek-hee smiles at the irony. Delicious. Having recovered from her hurt, she says in a taunting voice, “Now that I think about it, you’ve always been first place. How does it feel, being third-rate?”

Now President Jung’s voiceover resumes from the opening scene, picking up from that billiards metaphor.

President Jung: “The moment the break shot is made and the balls scatter, the game begins. That’s the same with important changes in life. When you hit a moment that is as sudden as the break shot, your orderly life scatters in mere moments. In front of such change, most youngsters find themselves confused and scared. If I could go back to those points, I’d like to tell them: ‘The game has begun, so don’t be scared, and enjoy it.'”

As he narrates, Hye-mi walks out, having lost this fight. But she makes a sudden decision, whirls around, and beelines straight for President Jung again.

For a long moment it seems she’ll issue another angry challenge, or throw a tantrum… but she shocks everyone by humbling herself and kneeling in supplication.

She pleads, “Please. Save me.”


As I said, the first episode was uneven. Not completely bad, but not really all that good, either. At least, not till the last fifteen minutes or so, when it kicked things up and gave us some strong moments.

What I find lacking at this point is the tone, which tends to overdo everything. Instead of stately, it’s self-important on the verge of pompous. Instead of merely dramatic, it goes for Grandiose. (Everyone gets a hero shot with gorgeous backlighting, and some even merit super-slow-motion action moves — despite a lack of actual action.) It sort of puffs itself up, and that makes me laugh — it’s a little cheesy.

But what it lacks for in tone and plot, it makes up for in high production values — the drama really looks great. The lighting and camera work make for a lovely visual palette — not to mention that the pretty, pretty idol faces aren’t exactly hard on the eyes, either.

Characters are at the heart of any drama, so it’s when the drama actually focuses on them that I grew interested. I wasn’t bothered by Hye-mi’s Uber-Brat routine, although it makes her very hard to root for — but in this episode, you’re not really supposed to root for her. It’s why that smackdown is so satisfying in the end — which then heightens the moment when she actually humbles herself. If she’d been softened too much, those moments would’ve lost their impact. Now, the trick is to then turn her into a likable lead, because yeah, she IS the lead. At this point she could drop off the screen and I wouldn’t care about her in the least, so that’s the new challenge.

I know some fans were bemoaning Eunjung getting a “second lead” role instead of Suzy, but I had a feeling she’d be a pretty pivotal character with plenty of development, since the promos for this drama featured the prominent copy about “stealing dreams.” I love this idea of Hye-mi creating her own worst enemy, because if she’d been the least bit gracious, she would’ve had a die-hard loyal supporter for life. Of all the idols in this episode, Eunjung/Baek-hee was my favorite (and I say that having had mixed feelings about her bumbling character in Coffee House), so I just hope that Baek-hee won’t turn too mean, now that she’s set up to be Hye-mi’s big rival. Although I fear my worries are well-founded, given how quickly Baek-hee taps into her inner diva. Bitchy, I can deal with (and enjoy!). But if she tries to out-Hye-mi Hye-mi… yeesh. Diva overload.

On the acting front, Taecyeon and Suzy are just serviceable, the latter seeming slightly stronger than the former. Woo-young I found laughably bad, but I hold out hope that he’ll be much better when acting in Korean. But really, I’m just dying for some Kim Soo-hyun.

All in all: I’ll keep watching with a hopeful eye, though I’m far from sold yet. I hope it drops some of its cheesy over-the-top-ness and focuses on the kids, because I do love me some high school drama. On television, that is. The real-life kind can go suck it.


136 January 4, 2011January 24, 2016

Dream High: Episode 2

by girlfriday

So far, I like. It’s not So You Think You Can Dance, the drama version, (and someone please get on that, stat) but it shows promise to become something like it, so I like what I’ve seen thus far. It’s actually got a healthy dose of drama-comedy-song-and-dance, though I’d like a little more of the song and dance, and well, I could stand for more comedy in everything.

I think the drama is still finding its footing, and the performances are uneven (with some of the worst by veterans, whereas the newbies are holding up okay in contrast), but there’s two crucial things I like about it at the outset: the premise, and the tone. I do trust that this drama will do one thing, and one thing well—deliver on its setup of dreamers-to-stars in a satisfying way. Whether or not the performances will hold up is another story, but what the hell, let’s dream high, shall we?


Hye-mi kneels in front of President Jung, and begs for him to save her. Cruelly, this school has a live feed of every audition into the room where the other auditionees are waiting, so everyone sees her moment of humiliation.

President Jung tells her not to beg—it’s not even what third-rate students do, and so she tries to recover by harrumphing that she wasn’t kneeling just now…she was looking at his nostrils. Uh…not so quick on your toes there, eh Hye-mi?

Baek-hee smirks, showing her hidden All-About-Eve tendencies rather quickly (although I suppose if not, I’d be rooting for her as the heroine automatically). As Hye-mi turns to leave, she declares that she’ll show them that President Jung’s decision was the wrong one. Baek-hee speaks up that SHE’ll show them that it was the right one. Nice. I like this war already. Diva Showdown 2011: Wannabe Popstar Version.

Hye-mi and Baek-hee practice their first Fierce-Off, as she stops to glare on her way out. Baek-hee shows that she’s not quite up to par, because as soon as Hye-mi leaves the room, she faints. Ha. That’s what happens when you expend all your ki on a glare. She’s got a ways to go if she’s going to keep up.

Baek-hee is helped up, and she turns around to ask President Jung one last thing. She wants to be sure that he picked her for her skills, since she’s been told her whole life that she’s inferior and will never live up to her pipedream. He smiles as he looks down at his own Kirin medallion, and silently hands it to her. He tells her that it’s a good luck charm, or however she wants to think of it.

Baek-hee is moved to tears, at the first acknowledgement she’s ever received for being anything other than third-rate. She cries and thanks them over and over, declaring that she’s going to work really hard. Aw, I sort of wish this was the first role I’d seen of Ham Eun-jung‘s, because she’s great here. This is why I’m a fan of idols’ early roles being high school students, because it fits them to a tee, and it doesn’t stretch my suspension-of-disbelief too hard. (Now I realize that my hatred for her in Coffee House may have been at least 50% about the character, and not all her.)

Meanwhile, Jin-gook’s friend is having some performance-anxiety-related toilet issues when they call his name, so he asks Jin-gook to stall for him. Jin-gook does the only thing he can think of: to cause a ruckus with a fire extinguisher, forcing security to back him into the audition room.

President Jung looks up at him and tells him that if he’s trying to buy time, he should just dance instead; he’s a good dancer, no? Jin-gook immediately freezes up at that and walks out.

Just outside the building, he catches Jason dancing, practicing for his audition. It’s a nice little moment, as Jin-gook looks on, captivated. It gives him pause, perhaps about the almost-audition and his own angsty reasons for not dancing, but he turns and walks away.

As he gets on his motorcycle to leave, Hye-mi appears, trying to dodge the debt-collecting gangsters, and asks for a ride out of there, not knowing that it’s him. When he turns around, she scowls and turns down his offer. He speeds away, but when he sees the thugs from the other day standing around waiting for her, he turns back to pick her up.

As they ride off, Sushi Roll Girl, whose name is KIM PIL-SOOK (IU), is up for her audition. The teachers want her to take off the ridiculous costume, but she’s too shy to do so, and President Jung allows her to sing, sushi costume and all. She belts out a song, as we cut back to Hye-mi and Jin-gook, riding away to the river.

He drops her off there, and tries to ask for his helmet back, but she walks away, pretending not to hear him. He yanks it off her head, only to find that she’s crying, and now embarrassed about him seeing her that way. He gently puts the helmet back on her head, so that she can cry comfortably. She looks up at him, for the first time without a scowl on her face. He leaves her with the helmet and rides off.

Back at Kirin, the teachers are wowed at Pil-sook’s vocal chops, but insist she take off the costume now. She finally does, revealing a shy, chubby girl with glasses. She hunches downward, trying to hide her face, as the teachers talk back and forth about God not giving with both hands, yadda yadda, blech.

President Jung smiles, not at all phased by her appearance, and leaves the decision up to Director Shi, who decides to give her a chance. As she walks out, President Jung tells him that she’ll become very pretty. Uh…I hope that’s not an advertisement for plastic surgery, because that’s not a message I can get behind, Show.

Pil-sook walks out of the audition elated, as she jumps up and down, and takes out a picture, saying, “Oppa, I got in!” She kisses the photo, which is of Kim Hyun-joong. HA. That’s a kind of meta that makes me laugh.

We see that along with Pil-sook and Baek-hee, Jason and Jin-gook’s friend have all gotten in to Kirin. Director Shi comes to find President Jung with the list of incoming students, announcing that they’ve only chosen 97 when 100 was the goal. President Jung tells him that he’s got three students in mind—one is a kid he’s had his eye on for some time, while the other two showed up today.

That one mystery student is SONG SAM-DONG (Kim Soo-hyun, finally!) who Director Shi recognizes by name. We’re given just a brief glimpse of him in his poor country home, his face covered in dirt, as he sews a rice bag for some unknown purpose. Director Shi warns President Jung that no teacher will want to take that kid on as a student, and President Jung answers that he’s already got a teacher in mind…

Enter Professor Kang, bottom of the totem pole and thisclose to getting fired today. Ah, so he’ll be the teacher of the misfits, eh? Standard setup, sure, but I always like a story about underdogs. And I like Eom Ki-joon.

Hye-mi gets a text from her little sister that they’ve been kicked out of their house today, and she finds her scrounging through the heaps of trash for a few precious belongings. She declares that she isn’t going to that crap school, and when asked about Baek-hee, she tells her sister never to bring up that name again.

Baek-hee, meanwhile, is doing an exorcism of her own, throwing out every picture and belonging she owns with associations to Hye-mi. She even takes a pair of scissors to her matching pigtails, making me a little afraid and a little triumphant at the same time. I like to see her breaking out of the Hye-mi-pa role, but damn, put the scissors down, girl.

Hye-mi and her little mini-me sister drag their stuff along in the streets, and end up at the studio that Jin-gook took her to, when his friend returned her photo. Refusing to go to Kang Oh-hyuk’s house, she insists that they can manage on their own and sleep here, despite the rats. Oh, yes…RATS.

Jin-gook arrives home and tells his hyung that he went to Kirin today, and his friend balks that he could ever get into a place like that. He counters that his friend’s dream of becoming a lawyer is just as crazy, and Jin-gook declares that if he gets into law school, he’ll wear a miniskirt, shave his eyebrows, and dance like Girls’ Generation. Ha. Now that’s something we’d all like to see, methinks.

Unfortunately, due to trouble back home, Jin-gook’s friend has to move out of the apartment. Looks like Jin-gook is back on the streets. He packs a bag and broods on a rooftop, overlooking the city. He thinks back to earlier when he watched Jason dance, and in a moment of inspiration, he busts out the same dance, move for move. Aw….yeah! MOAR, please.

He heads to the studio, where he finds Hye-mi and her sister asleep in the car. The package of yogurt drinks on the dash reminds him of when they first met, as kids, fighting over the last pack of yogurt drinks on Christmas. Back then he was hiding from his mom, who was about to send him to an orphanage, and Hye-mi had cried for him, this kid she just met on the street.

He looks at her fondly as she sleeps, wondering aloud just what kind of girl she really is.

In the morning he heads out to pick up some food for them, which is right when the thugs happen to recognize his motorcycle, parked outside the studio. They nab Hye-mi and take her away, as her little sister chases after, memorizing the car’s license plate. Jin-gook sees her pass by in the car as well, and chases after, but loses them.

In a move of ridiculous proportions, the thugs take her to a nightclub and put her in a lounge singer’s outfit and stick her up on stage, telling her to sing to repay her father’s debt. Ironically, the song is the same trot song that lost her the Kirin audition, and she refuses to sing. But…you agreed to put on the outfit? Anyway, she throws her shoes (her favorite mode of attack) and runs around the nightclub in circles, trying to get out.

Just then, the doors slam open, and a shadowy figure enters through smoke in slow motion, ready to kick some ass. We expect it to be Jin-gook, but in walks the nerdy Kang Oh-hyuk. HA. I was about to groan at the overuse of cheesy slo-mo and the hero’s entrance, but now it’s hilarious. Glad Show’s got a sense of humor.

Oh-hyuk flashes his teacher’s ID card like a sheriff’s badge, and announces that Hye-mi is a student at Kirin. Hye-mi stands there shocked, as her little sister trails behind Oh-hyuk, coughing at all the music-video smoke in the doorway. Ha.

He takes responsibility for the girls and takes them to his house, and Hye-mi agrees in her surly way that this is only because of money, and nothing else. At home his sister has a fit that he’s taken the girls in, but he tells her that this is the only way he can live. He was fired from Kirin, but President Jung gave him one last chance to survive: bring Hye-mi (and the other two students) in, and keep his job.

Hye-mi overhears and looks in his bag at the name of the other students left to track down. The first is Song Sam-dong, who we get another glimpse of, as he finishes his rice-bag cape and tests it out with a smile. Gah, I’m so intrigued by his character and it’s driving me crazy that we haven’t officially met him yet.

The other is Hyun Shi-hyuk, which is Jin-gook’s real name. He arrives at the nightclub to rescue Hye-mi, but gets trapped by the gangsters for his trouble.

At Kirin the new students meet each other for the first time, as Baek-hee, Pil-sook, and In-sung (Jin-gook’s friend) introduce themselves. They go to their first class, with star teacher SHI KYUNG-JIN (Lee Yoon-ji), who cracks the whip right away, and threatens them with the possibility that if they slack off, she’ll happily send them to the Beginner’s Class, the place where music goes to die. It’s illustrated by zombie students who are forced to study (the horror!) instead of dance.

Jason arrives late, also part of the star class, along with the others. Pil-sook in particular swoons at the pretty.

Director Shi whines at President Jung’s insistence on including the three special entrants, on top of which he’s chosen a new teacher to replace one who’s going on maternity leave…

Cut to Park Jin-young as YANG JIN-MAN, a struggling musician, who’s selling his keyboard as a last-ditch effort to hang on to his girlfriend (to buy a ring for her), but can’t manage to do it.

Hye-mi thinks about what she overheard Oh-hyuk saying, that if he didn’t find all three special-entry students, the whole deal was off. She heads out to track down Song Sam-dong herself, and tells Oh-hyuk to find Shi-hyuk.

She arrives in the countryside and finds signs with Sam-dong’s name all over them, and follows them to a local broadcast of a star-search-type show, where Sam-dong is gearing up for his big break. They run into each other in passing, and Sam-dong is hit with the twinkly sounds of crush-at-first-sight.

Meanwhile, Oh-hyuk decides to track down Shi-kyuk, aka Jin-gook, and finds him collapsed at his studio, bloodied from his run-in with the gangsters.

At the same time, President Jung tracks down Yang Jin-man at home. Jin-man answers the door scratching his ass, and then promptly shakes President Jung’s hand with the same. He thinks it’s some prank, but President Jung scouts him as a new teacher for Kirin. Is anyone else surprised that Park Jin-young seems to be the more natural actor than Bae Yong-joon?

Sam-dong takes to the stage, surprising his mom who is under the impression he doesn’t even like music. Hye-mi is shocked as well, to see that the weirdly dressed kid from earlier is the guy she’s looking for.

The MC asks him why he’s here, and he says that it’s to help his mom sleep at night, since she’s always up worrying that he’ll die a lonely bachelor. Amused at that, the MC tells him to go find a pretty girl and bring her up on stage with him. He locks eyes with Hye-mi, sitting in the front row, and with a gulp, he heads down toward her…

Jin-man wonders if President Jung has made some mistake—how could he want someone like him as a teacher? Isn’t he scared what might happen? President Jung answers that he is, but that’s the kind of anticipation he likes…not knowing at every new meeting, whether that relationship will be destined for good or bad…

Sam-dong walks up to Hye-mi, and bravely asks her to come with him. She looks up at him in shock, as he takes her by the hand and leads her up to the stage.


I only wish we had actually gotten to witness Sam-dong’s performance before the next episode, since we’ve waited forever and a half for him to even appear. But I like the setup for his character, and of course Kim Soo-hyun is already showing such interesting colors, even in the two minutes of screen time he’s gotten. More, please.

I guess I’m finding myself chanting that a lot over the first two episodes—MOAR please, Show—whenever we get glimpses of the awesome that could be. So far it’s still just that: a COULD BE-vibe, showing flashes of fist-pumping awesome, couched in between all the necessary maneuvering and plot setup.

The these-students-are-destined-for-greatness stuff is definitely ham-handed, for sure. I could really lose Bae Yong-joon’s character and be MUCH happier. But I don’t mind the way that each of them is brought out of different settings and circumstances, and the way they all converge over one dream in one place. I just want to get there a little bit faster, or maybe even just with a little more screen time for characters like Sam-dong, who is supposed to be the star, yeah?

I don’t know if the show is ever going to lose that self-important vibe (which I suspect it will, once we get past the opening setup, really) but even if it stays that way, I can forgive a lot if they buoy it with a lot more of the performances. I say we stick to our strengths, Show. More dance, fewer gangsters; more song, less Bae Yong-joon.

Other than that, I liked Episode 2, and hopefully it showed more of what’s to come. Pass the popcorn, and the dance tunes.


111 January 10, 2011January 24, 2016

Dream High: Episode 3

by javabeans

You know, this show may be kind of predictable, but I’m liking it so far, with the cute characters and underdog setup that you know is manufactured for you to pull for certain characters but can’t help falling for every time. At least that’s how it is for me.

And despite my gloating to girlfriday about winning our epic battle of inflated hopes, that doesn’t mean I don’t like Dream High, since I think it’s easy to watch and, from a cinematography standpoint, super pretty to look at.


Dream High OST – “Maybe” by Sunye [ Download ]

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Hapless teacher Kang Oh-hyuk is directed by President Jung to locate the three special-admission students. Kang assumes that they’re especially talented, but no: they’re the ones marred by a few problems. One is dogged by pride and prejudice (Hye-mi, natch), one is aimless and rebels (Jin-gook), and one is a rural kid with little music background.

I get that President Jung here is supposed to be some kind of idol-making whiz, but really — those are your reasons for picking students? There’s no wonder your teachers think you’re cracked. Jung adds that the three remind him of Oh-hyuk himself — despite their shortcomings, he has a feeling that they might make something of themselves.

Back at the rural singing competition, Sam-dong pulls Hye-mi up to the stage and stands there nervously while the MC prompts them to perform a duet. Hye-mi tries to back down, saying she isn’t properly dressed, to which Sam-dong produces a spare vinyl-hobo-hoodie.

Finally Hye-mi loses her temper and throws it aside, yelling at Sam-dong for embarrassing her. She curtly refuses to participate and tells him to come with her back to Seoul, because he’s been accepted to Kirin.

However, Sam-dong is insulted and refuses to go with her. Back in Seoul, Oh-hyuk wails at her failure and his sister kicks her out. In the cold street, her sister wheezes out a pitiful, “If you had just worn… that… vinyl jacket…” By now it’s apparent that Hye-mi is fantasizing this, and when she comes back to the present, Sam-dong is still holding the jacket to her with nervous hope.

Then the song begins, and Sam-dong starts to sing. And whoa is he bad — warbling, out-of-tune, laughable. The thing is, his singing isn’t consistently awful — it’s like he’s copying lots of other styles and can’t quite get there. He growls like a rock star, which actually doesn’t sound so bad… until he transitions to high falsetto… which sounds okay until his voice cracks.

Hye-mi wonders if he’s a dance prodigy instead. Until he starts to dance like a child of the early ’90s, imitating cheesy pop dances by groups like Kid ‘n Play, or maybe Kris Kross, or old-school Seo Taiji. Oh, I loved you before this, Kim Soo-hyun, but the utter seriousness with which you tackle this dance — so earnest, so sincere! — makes me adore you even more.

Hye-mi watches with WTF face, though she joins in the dance for a few beats. The bell rings, cutting the performance short, and Sam-dong says good-naturedly that he deserved the bell.

But then, the MC asks Hye-mi to give her answer — will she accept the young man’s performance? Thinking of her own future, Hye-mi replies that she will… if he grants her one wish. Accompany her to Seoul.

Shy Sam-dong is so shocked he drops his mic. Prodded for an answer, Sam-dong stutters that… um… of course he’d like to go… but his mother has a bad back…

At which point Mom calls out from the audience that he can go. Yay Mom!

At Kirin, dance instructor Shi Kyung-jin (who happens to be the daughter of the shifty director of the arts department, Shi Beom-soo) informs her class of the upcoming ceremony for entering students. She intends to include a female solo.

Kyung-jin asks for a hand-count of those who want to be considered, and asks each girl why. One girl thinks it’ll be cool. A second student, Ah-jung, says tearfully that she wants her mother in heaven to see her onstage. Baek-hee feels overshadowed and backs down, ceding to Ah-jung. The rest of the students follow her lead and voice their support for the girl with the dead mom. (Barf, I say, contingent upon my suspicion that the sob story is faked.)

Hye-mi presents Sam-dong with the Kirin brochure, which he looks at bemusedly, wondering why he ought to go to Kirin. Hye-mi mentally wonders the same thing, but since her own admission is contingent upon his, she puts on a friendly face (la pauvre, how difficult that must be!) and says that the board director called him a prodigy, flirting a little for good measure.

Sam-dong is adorably rattled by her eyelash-batting and hand-grabbing, but he’s still hesitant. Hye-mi lays it on thick, saying she really wants to go to the school with him, but to her ire, he declines the opportunity.

Oh-hyuk calls her back up to Seoul, saying he’ll take over, but Hye-mi’s not about to give up. She’s got a “battle plan”: her beauty. Dear lord.

After finding Jin-gook injured, Oh-hyuk takes him to the hospital. The doctor asks him to contact Jin-gook’s guarantor, so Oh-hyuk goes through his phone looking for Mom, Dad, or Home. The name Hyun Mu-jin strikes him as promising (he knows Jin-gook by his birth name, Hyun Shi-hyuk), and he makes the call.

A short time later, Shi-hyuk — er, Jin-gook — sits with Hyun Mu-jin, aka his businessman father, with whom his relationship is strained. Dad sternly tells him that he allowed him to leave home with the promise that Jin-gook would live quietly, but if that’s not possible, he can always send sonny boy abroad. He starts to talk about how hectic his business has been, but that makes the previously contrite Jin-gook angry; shouldn’t his father have first asked if he was okay, and try to find out who’d done this to him?

Bitterly, Jin-gook says that he would’ve liked to oblige his father’s wish and lived out of sight, but he’s grown too old for that now.

Hye-mi follows Sam-dong home by stowing a ride on his tractor contraption, and continues her persuasion. Mom and son aren’t quick to believe her explanation that she’s scouting Sam-dong for his vocal talents — Mom looks blankly at him and asks, “Can you sing?” LOL. Sam-dong reminds her that they both heard him earlier. Double LOL.

Hye-mi tells him to think it over, then rises to leave, only to hear that there are no more buses back to Seoul. Smelling possible romance for her son, Mom’s happy to offer her a bed for the night.

To her embarrassment, Hye-mi needs to use the bathroom, and is led to the outhouse. Too mortified to go about her business with Sam-dong in earshot, she asks him to sing. He balks and tells her to do it, so reluctantly she does. She picks “Only Hope” by Mandy Moore, and her voice has him transfixed.

On the way back, she tells him to go ahead and laugh, but Sam-dong didn’t find it funny; she sang well. When she stumbles, he grabs her to keep her from falling, and tentatively takes her hand to lead her back.

Jin-gook returns to his cold basement in aggravation, where Oh-hyuk finds him and worriedly asks all the questions his father didn’t — Is he okay? Did he call the police?

Jin-gook takes advantage of the moment to groan about stomach pains… of hunger. Haha. Boy knows where to score a meal, even if he considers his supplier an annoyance. Not unlike Hye-mi.

He goes through seven orders of food while Oh-hyuk tries to convince Jin-gook that his special admission is an opportunity not to be missed. Jin-gook asks if the school will make him as famous as Michael Jackson, wanting his odds of success. 50%? 30%?

Oh-hyuk answers that Michael Jackson is one-of-a-kind, a 0.00001% type of star, and Jin-gook leaves, not about to put his efforts into a 0.00001% pipe dream.

Oh-hyuk catches up to him at the elevator and makes him a challenge: Jin-gook’s destination is on the 11th floor, which means that Oh-hyuk’s chances of running up the stairs and beating him there are, say, about 0.00001%. So if he beats him, will he reconsider?

With that, he counts to three and starts the race… leaving his shoe behind in the elevator door to keep it from closing, buying himself a few extra precious seconds.

Oh-hyuk gasps his way up the stairs, but when the elevator doors open, Jin-gook sees that he’s first.

Although he’d never admit his hopes to others, he’s disappointed to have won this bet, and instead of stepping out, he lets the doors close on him. Oh-hyuk scrambles to the elevator, and a few seconds later Jin-gook exits, having arrived for a second time. Aww, the tough boy has a marshmallow heart.

Jin-gook admits that he got there first, but he deliberately waited. With a smile, he asks if Oh-hyuk has a spare room at home, and methinks a certain sister is going to be mighty peeved with another houseguest…

Sam-dong drops Hye-mi off at the bus stop the next day, where he picks up the cell phone accessory she dropped. It was one that Baek-hee picked out for them to both use, so she tells him to keep it. (Aw, sadness. She doesn’t mean anything romantic by it, but it IS in the shape of a heart and he’s already nursing a serious crush on her… Just don’t break his heart, Hye-mi, or you’ll have raging noonas to deal with!)

Hye-mi tells him again to reconsider Kirin, and again he tells her that he isn’t going. The bus starts to leave, but as it turns the bend, he has a change of heart and goes running after it. When it pulls over at the side of the road, he asks Hye-mi one question: Why did she go onstage with him?

She asks what answer will get him to agree to go to Seoul, and he replies that, for instance, she could say she likes him. She immediately says, “I like you. I went onstage because I like you, so you have to come to Seoul.”

I’m not bothered by the fact that she’s lying because it’s pretty clear that he should know she’s just saying it to get her way, even if the words cause his heart to thump-thump and he imagines tiptoeing up to kiss her…

Still, he turns away at the last minute and says he’s not going. After the bus pulls away, he assures himself that she was lying, that he’s wise to avoid being hooked by her lies. Aw. Poor heartstruck boy.

Baek-hee runs into Hye-mi’s debt collector and, thinking he’s her driver, asks him to pass on several bags of Hye-mi’s clothing; it’s her version of the break-up box. The debt collector tells her that Hye-mi’s family was bankrupted, to Baek-hee’s shock. She calls Hye-mi mean for hiding this, but her tears indicate she still has sympathy for her old friend.

At Kirin, Oh-hyuk immediately recognizes new English teacher Jin-man and speaks to him like an old buddy. With President Jung there, however, Jin-man insists he’s never seen this guy before, ignoring Oh-hyuk’s claims of knowing him from way back in the day.

It’s not until they’re alone that Jin-man drops his feigned ignorance. Grabbing Oh-hyuk by the lapels, he says he remembers everything — like how it was Oh-hyuk’s idea to sing together, and how he’d been a no-show to their first broadcast appearance, how Jin-man had to give up his apartment deposit to pay back the contract fee. He warns Oh-hyuk to keep acting like they’re strangers.

Hye-mi comes home (to Oh-hyuk’s place) and is greeted by a shocking sight: Jin-gook wearing nothing but a towel. He takes a step toward her, which sends his towel slipping to the ground and prompts both to scream in horror.

She argues with Oh-hyuk for taking him in, calling Jin-gook a gangster, fighter, and a pervert to boot. I hope she feels reaaaal bad when she finds out he got beat up trying to help her.

President Jung takes a look at the empty classroom for students studying for university entrance exams. (This is a class that has been formed, then dropped, in his absence, meant for students who haven’t lived up to their musical potential. This is so they can at least continue their education in hopes of living normal lives, but students tended to drop out of school after being transferred here.)

President Jung sees words carved into the desktop, which read, “I’m not done yet” and “I want to sing” and “Hell.”

Director Shi finds him here to inform him of media presence at the welcome ceremony — the press has expressed particular interest in President Jung’s handpicked selections. This gives Director Shi an idea — something underhanded, for sure — but his self-satisfaction dies when the president agrees readily.

The new students line up to receive their school uniforms, and Jin-gook’s b-boy friend (whose name is Jo In-sung, lol) wrings some laughs out of the crowd by holding up a large skirt, joking that it’s a blanket. Pil-sook realizes that it’s hers and runs around the corner to hide in shame, particularly since her crush Jason was standing right there.

In-sung starts to read the nametag, which is when Jason brusquely steps up and claims it as his own, sparing Pil-sook the mortification. AW, you are too sweet. I forgive you for your embarrassingly cheesy flirting in Episode 1.

Jason finds Pil-sook sniffling alone in a back room, but instead of drawing attention to her source of embarrassment, he just leaves the uniform for her. Pil-sook is touched, and even more smitten than before. Oh, I’m gonna love this pairing, aren’t I?

Hye-mi arrives at the school to everyone’s great surprise, and to save face she declares that she hadn’t failed the audition after all; she’d been picked as a special admission. Now that Baek-hee knows about her family circumstances, she’s much more sympathetic and tries to talk to her comfortingly, but if there’s something Hye-mi won’t abide, it’s pity.

Baek-hee understands that Hye-mi lied out of pride and grabs her in a hug, apologizing because she hadn’t known her situation.

But Hye-mi shakes her off, unwilling to show weakness, which makes her words that much more cutting: “You asked how it felt to be third-rate. I don’t know that feeling yet — how does it feel? I think you’d know.”

Ouch. That one stings, and Baek-hee is shaken.

Hye-mi turns to leave with her head high, but the new class has already bonded and one student trips her. The rest crowd around Baek-hee to console her.

Now Baek-hee recalls Kyung-jin’s words about the solo solidifying a strong first impression, and wants to show Hye-mi more than ever. Finding the teacher, she revises her stance: She wants a crack at it.

Kyung-jin agrees to let both girls try out, and for a moment, Baek-hee feels sorry toward Ah-jung, to whom everyone had agreed to give the solo. Seeing her indecision, Kyung-jin offers some info to make this easier: Ah-jung’s mom isn’t dead. The teacher doesn’t see the lie as a bad thing — it was driven by ambition — and gives Baek-hee one last warning, to be revealed to us at a later moment.

Baek-hee sneaks to Ah-jung’s locker, where her better nature wars with her vindictive one. Finally she opens the locker and takes a pair of shoes.

Out in the sticks, Sam-dong finds himself humming “Only Hope,” and his mother surprises him by appearing around the corner to marvel that he really CAN sing. Why did he hide it all along? (Aha! I knew there were parts in his performance that were too good to be mixed with other parts that were so bad!)

She realizes, “You knew who your father was, didn’t you?” She confirms that his father was a singer, and asks if he’d thought she’d hate him singing because of his father.

Clumsily he denies it, but a mother knows, and she assures him that she loves music — it’s because of music that she met his father, and gained her son. Heartbreakingly, he asks tearfully, “Really?” She calls him a dummy for giving up the chance to go to Seoul.

At the bus stop near school, Jin-gook notices Hye-mi standing there with a scraped knee from her fall. A pair of girls smirk and identify her as that rude brat, which she ignores. Jin-gook motions her over, and she takes the seat.

He offers her an earbud, and when she declines, he puts it in her ear anyway. She takes it out — there’s no music — and he shows her that the buds aren’t plugged into anything. He says it’s useful for pretending not to hear the nasty things people say. Or for pretending you’re friends with someone who’s not your friend, meaning themselves.

So she takes it, and they sit there, pretending to listen to music together. It’s sweet.

Also sweet: Jason finds a lollipop taped to his locker, which Pil-sook happily watches him take.

Tryouts. Both girls dance at the same time to the same song, performing their best pop diva moves while their classmates watch. But a short while into the dance, Ah-jung falls to the ground in pain — something is in her shoe.

Kyung-jin shakes out a bloody tack, which was lodged inside. It looks as though the teacher may have an inkling as to what happened, but Baek-hee feigns wide-eyed shock.

The day arrives for the welcome ceremony. The press gathers, eager to see (1) why the ceremony has been opened up to the public, (2) who the three special admission students are, and (3) who will perform the solo.

Sam-dong arrives in Seoul, but is waylaid at the bus station when he sees a lost child, and his helpful nature can’t stand by without trying to reunite her with her parents.

The other three whose fates depend upon his arrival don’t know whether he intends to come, and worry that he won’t show. Time is ticking, and if he doesn’t make it, neither will they.

Those three sit anxiously while the show begins, starting with a group dance led by Jason.

That’s followed by the female solo, and who should be standing center stage but Baek-hee, assuming her best diva pose, presumably having come to terms with her underhanded tactics. And why not, given the tutelage she is under? While she performs, a flashback reveals Kyung-jin’s last warning to Baek-hee:

Kyung-jin: “Do you know what is more important than friends in this place? A rival — one you want to knock down. Because that’s what’ll spur you to grow.”


While I don’t like Hye-mi outright, I have to say I think there’s potential there. I actually didn’t dislike her in this episode, because I can understand her offense-as-defense-mechanism strategy, even though she frequently crosses the line with it. Previously her bitchiness far outweighed her provocation (such as at the audition), and that did not endear her to us. But now, it’s funny that the former golden princess has become the outcast, while her former sidekick is gaining confidence and has lots of friends. So the underdog has become the queen bee, and the queen bee has become the underdog… I’m practically programmed to be rooting for Hye-mi now. It’s, like, kdrama law.

To be honest, I’m actually surprised at all the criticism of Suzy, because I think she’s actually doing a pretty good job — her line deliveries are solid and it doesn’t feel like she’s straining to act or emote, unlike (sorry) Taecyeon, where sometimes you can practically hear him talking himself through a scene: Scowl now, back off, frown, pause, look up, smile. Heh, now I find myself in the unexpected position of defending the idol while commenters largely tear her apart — are we in some bizarro land here?

I don’t mean to insist she’s good. But not horrible, methinks. I think she and Eunjung are nicely matched as their characters start inching toward reversal.

Speaking of which, I like that Baek-hee’s discovery of her inner Machiavelli comes largely on her own — she’s spurred by desire to trump Hye-mi, but she finds that drive within herself. It’s not like some outside force dropped a new personality within her, since she’s finding that she has it in her to manipulate her way to the top.

But really, for me this drama is about Kim Soo-hyun and his Sam-dong character. While it’s a little over-the-top to say that his mother has never heard him sing — while others presumably had, and were cheering him on to victory in droves — I can accept it, purely because we got that wonderful heartfelt mother-son moment. (Note: Sam-dong had actually intended to perform well at the competition, until he heard that his mother had shown up despite saying she wouldn’t. So he was careful to keep up the ruse around her — and yet, everyone else seemed to know he was good.) Plus, despite the flimsiness of his reasoning — that Mom hates music because of Dad — it’s the kind of thing that a fatherless child might internalize and get hurt by, which just breaks my heart.

Go, Sam-dong! Be your awesome self! (Please be K!)


136 January 4, 2011January 24, 2016

Dream High: Episode 4

by girlfriday

Hello, new crack! I’m totally loving this drama right now, and I don’t even know if it’s at all logical, because it’s very by-the-book, in terms of what we expect will happen in an underdog-success story. But…it’s just so earnest, and cute, and strangely suspenseful. I honestly wasn’t expecting this drama to get this good after the first week, but this episode totally hooked me.


Lee Seung-chul – “마지막 콘서트” (Last Concert) [ Download ]

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Hye-mi looks on as Baek-hee performs onstage, and overhears the other students saying that it must be the power of the K-pendant. As Baek-hee finishes her dance, she kisses the pendant for good measure, and thinks to herself: “Take a good look. This is MY world.” Ha. Awesome. I just really dig this rivalry.

Meanwhile, Sam-dong is busy reuniting the lost girl with her mom at the train station, not realizing how much time has passed. He makes a mad dash to Kirin.

At the same time, Director Shi announces the three special entrants who didn’t take to the stage tonight. He sneakily announces that they’d all like to see them perform, and the students start chanting for them to go up. Hye-mi finally stands up, and Jin-gook follows reluctantly.

Once onstage, Jin-gook freaks out over the wall of paparazzi flash bulbs (it looks like a traumatic memory rather than simple stagefright) and drops his mic and walks away. Hye-mi is left standing on her own, not knowing what to do.

As Jin-gook walks out, Sam-dong enters and they run into each other. Perhaps a hint that Sam-dong might be fated to get the girl: he’s running towards her, as Jin-gook is running out on her.

He runs into the auditorium to find Hye-mi standing up there alone, frozen in the spotlight.

Cut to the next day, as Director Shi tells the President what went down, and what the press is saying about the special entrants. He thinks the only answer is to get rid of them, along with Professor Kang of course. We see that this is the real reason he opened up the event to the press. They table the decision for now.

Oh-hyuk brings Sam-dong home (Are ALL of them going to live under one roof? Awesome. Bring on the madcap hijinks!) and he tells Sam-dong that their places at Kirin might not be there in the morning. But he decides that they should go to school anyway just in case. Sam-dong looks up dejectedly at the starless night sky and wonders if everyone’s plucked all the stars away in Seoul.

Hye-mi snuggles in with her little sister for the night, needing some comfort but not willing to admit why. Aw. In the morning, she gets ready for school and puts her shoes on, only to have a heel break off. It’s the final straw and she has an outburst as everyone in the house watches her, and as Jin-gook hears from the other side of the door.

Sam-dong tries to be helpful, but she just pushes him away, shouting that she lied to get him here, and that he’s nothing; he may as well just go home. Aw, don’t break his little heart!

Hye-mi stomps outside and raises her arm to throw her shoe, but Jin-gook stops her. Calmly, he tells her to fix her shoe if it’s broken, and stoops down to put it back on her foot. I’m having flashbacks to the early days of Cinderella’s Sister, back when the boys were cute and smiley and ran around turning people’s shoes around. Sigh.

She blames him for ruining everything yesterday, and he hilariously tells her that normal people cry when they’re upset, not throw tantrums. Ha. She then actually starts to cry, but then he decides that she doesn’t look the way other girls do when they cry (read: pretty). Jin-gook: “You look weird. Maybe you shouldn’t cry.” Hahahaha.

She stares him down, and he sweetly puts the motorcycle helmet on her head, so that she can cry all she wants. Aw, you guys are being so cute. Now I’m going to have crazy Sam-dong vs. Jin-gook wars all over the place. I suppose there are worse things than having two adorable boys to battle over.

At school, a star student arrives to a crowd of adoring fans. It’s RIA (played by Han Ye-in, the spunky little sister in Coffee Prince). It’s nice to add that element too—that some students are already famous while they’re in school, adding another layer of dysfunction, but hey, that’s the world.

Speaking of dysfunction, the girls all get in line to be weighed (publicly, no less) as the teacher tells them all to lose 3kg in a week. Seriously, Show? Gross. Pil-sook is singled out, of course, but thankfully the drama stays firmly in evil-teacher-is-evil territory. I still hate the message though. As if girls in high school don’t have enough worries about their bodies.

To everyone’s surprise, Hye-mi walks in to join the class. The teacher tells her that her status as an official student hasn’t been confirmed yet, and she counters that her expulsion hasn’t been decided either. The teacher scoffs and Baek-hee smiles to herself.

Board meeting time. Predictably, Director Shi has everyone in line to axe Professor Kang and the three students, but President Jung says that they’ll stay, and he’ll leave. Okay, I’m cool with that. He promotes Director Shi to his position, and leaves Kirin in his hands.

Hye-mi and Baek-hee have a run-in in the bathroom, where Baek-hee declares triumphantly that she should leave of her own accord, since she’s going to be kicked out anyway. Hye-mi gives her best glare and looks down at Baek-hee holding onto her K-pendant. Hye-mi: “You’re afraid of me, aren’t you? My dad told me there’s only two reasons people lean on charms like that: when their own abilities don’t cut it, or when they’re afraid of someone else.” Nice.

Baek-hee reels, and then slaps her across the face. Damn! Girlfight already? They start screaming and pulling each other’s hair. (Disappointing, but I suppose it’d be unrealistic if they went all Su Ae on us.)

The other students run in to see what’s going on, and Baek-hee totally fakes losing the fight, as she slumps down and pretends to faint. Hye-mi stands agape, as the other students accuse her of being the bully. Aaaargh! I mean, I know Hye-mi is no lightweight when it comes to the diva showdown, but how can you not be on her side when she gets bamboozled like this?

Baek-hee drops the damsel-in-distress act when she realizes that her pendant is gone. She rushes back to the bathroom, but it’s gone. Outside, Hye-mi puts on her jacket and the pendant falls out of her pocket. She picks it up, wondering skeptically about the so-called lucky charm.

Just then, Jin-gook runs over to tell her that they’ve been accepted. She looks down and smiles. Perhaps it is a lucky pendant after all.

Oh-hyuk walks in to thank President Jung for saving his job, and President Jung just smiles and tells him that the hardest part of the battle is ahead. Oh-hyuk shuffles his feet at that, wondering if President Jung has mistaken him for someone else. This is Kang Oh-hyuk, bottom of the totem pole, fly-under-the-radar guy. President Jung just smiles and tells him that he has the ability to win this fight.

Oh-hyuk returns to his desk to find a note from President Jung along with his own high school notebook. In the letter he writes that Oh-hyuk should read the notebook and remember who he was when he loaned it to his old friend, Jung Ha-myung.

I like that President Jung, Yang Jin-man, and Oh-hyuk are all connected from their high school days, but I find it hard to believe that Oh-hyuk and Jin-man wouldn’t remember him. Too much plastic surgery? Regardless, it’s a passing of the torch, and the inspiration that Oh-hyuk needs to remember that he was a dreamer once.

He flips through the notebook and finds his dream scrawled across the page: “My dream: 20 years later, to be an adult that I wouldn’t be ashamed of now. Kang Oh-huyk, fighting!”

Hye-mi shows her skills in singing class, as Baek-hee starts to worry. She keeps grasping at her collar, where the pendant used to be, nervous over the bad luck of losing it.

Sam-dong shows up at school, where everyone starts snickering at him immediately. To be fair, rumor has preceded him, and his appearance is a little out there, but it’s a harsh welcome even though he knows the circumstances. He looks around campus, and comes across Jason giving an impromptu concert, with Pil-sook adorably playing piano for him. (Why are they so cute?) He’s singing Lee Seung-chul’s “Last Concert,” posted up above.

Sam-dong runs up to the stage (cage?) and takes a mic, asking in front of everyone if Jason’s the top dog around here. Heh. I like your approach, Sam-dong. Just go straight to challenging the jjang on your first day, eh?

He declares that if they throw down, and he shows he can beat Jason, it means he’s not just some country bumpkin. He asks Pil-sook to keep playing, but she refuses out of loyalty to her crush (aw). Jason asks her to keep playing, and accepts Sam-dong’s challenge, cool as a cucumber.

Hye-mi, Jin-gook, and Oh-hyuk follow the other students in, and Hye-mi worries that he really shouldn’t bust out his singing skills like this. But to her utter surprise, Sam-dong begins, and he’s good.

He’s no prodigy, but he can sing, which floors her, since this is not the same Sam-dong she saw doing that really embarrassing show. He holds his own, but Jason out-sings him with flowery touches. He’s not necessarily better, but he’s much more confident, and Sam-dong ends up dropping his mic and walking away in defeat.

God, I love a drama where two characters can have a Sing-Off as their first meeting. I frickin’ love this scene!

He runs away and broods outside, where Hye-mi finds him. He tells her that he would’ve won had he known the song. What, now? It turns out that he didn’t know the song…he just guessed where it was going, based on the beginning of it.

Oh, so THAT’s the prodigy part—not so much the vocal skills, but his understanding of music. Mkay, I’m just gonna go with it.

He declares it’s just a matter of time before he beats Jason, but worries that his backwater-appearance is something that will take longer to fix. He decides a month will be long enough.

Hye-mi doesn’t want to wait that long, and turns his face towards her. His stunned blinky reaction is so cute. She decides that his eyes are pretty and they shouldn’t stay hidden, and asks him how much money he has—there’s no need to wait a month when she can take care of it in a day. All right! Makeover time!

Hye-mi’s debt-collector shows up at school to get some more collateral on his loan, since he’s unsure of Hye-mi’s skills. He threatens to take Hye-mi away, and gets Oh-hyuk to sign over his house as leverage. He stupidly signs, and Jin-man witnesses the whole thing, surprised at the lengths he’s going to protect a student.

Hye-mi and Sam-dong buy some supplies, and she cuts his hair. Aw, his crazy smitten smile while she does his hair is priceless.

Hye-mi takes the newly hot Sam-dong shopping. He stops in front of a store display featuring Rain: “Is this guy popular?” Ha. She’s like, you don’t even know Rain? He starts to ask, “If I become a star like him…” but trails off. He stands in front of the window and does his best pop-idol stance, getting a laugh from Hye-mi.

On their way home, Sam-dong wonders why everyone is still staring at him. Um, they’re staring at your newfound hotness. Get used to it, buddy. Hye-mi gets a call from Dad and she cheerily tells him that everything’s okay, and is happy to hear that she might see him soon. Sam-dong smiles to see her being a little girl.

Pil-sook comes home with some delicious bread, but decides against it, choosing to starve. We see that her picture frame (probably previously inhabited by Kim Hyun-joong) is now occupied by Jason. Yay for replacing your idol crush with a real one.

But as soon as she starts starving herself, she ends up binging. Well I’m glad they’re actually tackling this with some semblance of realism, and not some magic diet fairy. Poor kid. She just ends up feeling worse about herself than before.

Baek-hee takes extra private vocal lessons to try and stretch her range and hit the high notes that Hye-mi can reach. Her mom catches her and tells her to give up on her pipedream and study; it’s not like she’s talented like Hye-mi or anything. That makes Baek-hee livid, as she screams that Hye-mi lost the audition, while SHE got in. Sad, that her Hye-mi-complex is based on a lifetime of living in Hye-mi’s shadow, led by her own mother.

Jin-gook goes to see his father, where he addresses dad’s wife politely, and with respect, but calls her “Madam.” He thinks there’s been a mistake; Dad deposited a bunch of money into his account on accident. Dad tells him it’s no mistake…he’s to prepare to go abroad.

Jin-gook declines the offer, saying that he doesn’t speak English and he could starve over there. He plans to stay here. Dad warns him that the press is going to get involved and things are going to get ugly, but Jin-gook returns the money and leaves. As he walks away, we see that a photographer is tailing either Father or Son.

I like that his character isn’t disrespectful or the typical rebellious chaebol son. He’s either illegitimate or from a first marriage, but he’s quite desperate to be accepted and loved by Dad, no matter how harsh he seems to be in return. I can already tell you’re gonna to break my heart, kid.

Baek-hee returns to the school to look for her lost pendant, and comes across someone dancing in the studio. It’s Jin-gook, dancing out his daddy issues. Ha. If only everyone could dance out their daddy issues, kdramaland would be a much happier place. She gapes at him, starry-eyed. Looks like another crush has begun.

Hye-mi gets a visit from her debt collector, who hands her a box of beef (well, I guess he’s got to take care of his investment). He asks if Jin-gook is her boyfriend, saying that he was pretty impressive, storming into his office like an action star, to rescue her.

It’s news to Hye-mi, who remembers guiltily that she saw all his bruises and called him a punk gangster. Jin-gook heads home, and when it starts snowing, he sighs that nothing is going right for him today, and worries about his bike being parked outside.

But when he arrives, he finds Hye-mi perching umbrellas over his motorcycle, and brushing the snow off. It’s not the smartest plan, and she struggles to make the umbrellas stay, finally giving up in frustration. She’s about to head inside, but she turns back, coming face to face with Jin-gook, holding an umbrella. He holds it over her head, like a proper knight in shining armor.

He smiles sweetly at her, touched by her attempt to do something nice for him, and she apologizes for jumping to conclusions about him. “I’m not usually wrong, but I’ll admit that I was, this time. You’re not a bad guy.” He breaks into a smile. Why so cute, you two?

Hye-mi’s sister runs out to warn them before they enter: the witch is back. They walk in cautiously, only to find that Oh-hyuk’s sister isn’t so witchy after all, when it comes to cute idol-boys-in-training. Ha. She fawns over Sam-dong, only to become an embarrassing mess once she discovers Jin-gook. LOL.

Sam-dong is a little taken aback when he officially meets Jin-gook for the first time. The whole group sits down to dinner, where Oh-hyuk’s sister makes it clear that she’s going to play favorites. To Jin-gook and Sam-dong: “Call me noona”; to Hye-mi: witch-glare. Ha.

She gets totally sloshed at dinner, and Sam-dong makes the decision then and there: he’s never going to drink. Ever. Hehe.

Hye-mi and her sister breathe a sigh of relief that night, knowing that they can stay at the house now. They smile at their good fortune, and Hye-mi kisses the K-pendant for finally turning her luck around.

Oh-hyuk stays up all night working on a new manifesto for Kirin, called “Dream High,” where he lays out how music should be considered art and not a commodity, and presents it proudly to Principal Shi the next day.

He gets a patronizing pat on the back for all his work, and Principal Shi tells him to take his three special entry students into the university prep class (the class where music goes to die). He realizes that the school has already given up on them and plans to ditch them there, and he digs his heels in, as it sinks in that the uphill battle has just begun.

Hye-mi makes a move to return the pendant to Baek-hee’s locker, but can’t bring herself to do it. She holds on to it, swearing that it’ll just be for a little bit longer. Sam-dong watches her curiously.

She goes to dance class, where Baek-hee confronts her about the pendant. Took you long enough to figure it out. Her toadie starts to search Hye-mi’s pockets, but Jin-gook steps in. Just when you think he’s coming to her rescue, he does the opposite, by telling Hye-mi to cough it up.

He finds the pendant in her pocket and returns it to Baek-hee, telling Hye-mi to act like herself; she doesn’t need a stupid pendant because she’s plenty talented on her own. It’s like a back-handed rescue…which then gets totally wiped out by Sam-dong, who rushes in to deck Jin-gook in the face, for outing Hye-mi. Haha. Fisticuffs already? This love triangle is going to be So. Good.

The boys tussle, and get interrupted by Kyung-jin, who sends them to the proper class…Kirin’s graveyard.

In a montage, we see that the ensuing days are hard on the three kids, especially Hye-mi, who gets hazed like nobody’s business. At one point she gets egged, and Sam-dong runs up to shield her with his jacket. Their English lesson by Jin-man consists of conjugating verbs like “finish, give up, and deny,” heh, and they sit deflated.

Hye-mi walks out, and Sam-dong takes Jin-good aside to talk. He tells Jin-gook that if he apologizes to Hye-mi for making her out to be a thief in front of everyone, then he’ll apologize for hitting Jin-gook.

Jin-gook says that he was just trying to knock some sense into Hye-mi, because in her own words, those sorts of trinkets are for people who have no skills to rely on. But Sam-dong explains that it’s not about her singing. When she had that pendant, her father called: “If you had seen the look on her face, you wouldn’t have taken it away from her.”

Is it possible for her to date both of them at once? Can there be some kdrama rule of exception for a case like this?

They get interrupted by Hye-mi, who calls everyone to attention with a bullhorn in the middle of the auditorium. She announces that she’s no longer going to take their terrorizing her, and she puts up a challenge: if she beats Baek-hee in the midterm exams, then everybody apologizes and the terror stops. She vows to show everyone that the pendant’s original thief was Baek-hee, who stole her audition out from under her.

Sam-dong stares drop-jawed, and Jin-gook smiles, now satisfied that Hye-mi has returned.

Baek-hee asks what she gets if she wins. Hye-mi says that she’ll acknowledge that she’s a thief, and accept everything they say about her. She adds, leveling a glare: “But don’t worry, because I’m gonna win.”

Aw, hells yeah!


What a difference a week makes. I liked this drama for what it could be last week, but now it’s totally stepping up to the plate. Why am I so invested? I don’t even really know. I think the cast of characters is just really refreshing, because while the story’s setup is predictable, the characters are interesting subversions of the typical one-dimensional archetypes. Everyone’s got surprising layers and reasons for us to love AND hate them, from the prickly heroine down to her nemesis, who’s overcompensating for all her lack of self-esteem.

I love all the friendships and love triangles that cross, double, and triple-cross…it’s exactly what you want in a high school drama, complete with dance-offs. I mean, what’s with the awesome?

I’m glad we’re settled into the school now, because the backstory was necessary but dragged the thing down. We all just wanted to get here, and now that we are, it’s shaping up to be quite the addictive ride. Sometimes you just need a drama like this: one that you know will be utterly satisfying and deliver on its very simple premise.

Also, it doesn’t hurt that the boys in this drama are SO distractingly pretty. What?


176 January 17, 2011January 24, 2016

Dream High: Episode 5

by javabeans

Okay, Dream High just became awesome.

Maybe I’m just in a good mood today, or maybe it’s because this episode is all sorts of feel-good fun. Either way, Episode 5 had me loving every single minute.


IU – “이게 아닌데” (This Isn’t Right) [ Download ]

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In the outcast class (which has been graffiti’d with slurs against Hye-mi), Oh-hyuk sighs at Hye-mi’s rash challenge that she’ll beat Baek-hee in the upcoming evaluations. Stubbornly, Hye-mi insists she’ll succeed… then mumbles a quick “So please help me.”

Sam-dong makes a request for help, too, sharing an old saying his mother used to tell him: “If a wall appears, you can knock it on its side and it’ll become a bridge. If the three of us push with all our strength, can’t we turn that little wall into a bridge?” Aw, you and your boyish idealism are adorable.

And so this motley group has its first goal: To make sure Hye-mi beats Baek-hee, and to get this trio out of this class and back into the idol-training sessions.

Er, make that quartet: The door opens and Pil-sook shyly joins them, having been knocked down to the loser class as well. The others gape to see that while she’s still chubby, she’s noticeably lost some weight — her beautification process has begun.

In the regular class, Madam Ends-Justify-The-Means motivates her class with threats to drop them into the misfit class, and dangles the carrot that a strong performance at the midterm evaluations could put them on the idol fast-track.

In-sung offers to treat Baek-hee in honor of her finding her pendant, and she makes the excuse to invite Jin-gook, because he helped her get it back. Ah, yet another love triangle brews. You’ve got the misfit class triangle (the boys and Hye-mi), the catfight triangle (the girls and Jin-gook), and now the b-boy triangle (the boys and Baek-hee). Where’s the Sam-dong love? With all these raging hormones flying around, you’d think it wouldn’t be so hard to get ONE set of feelings successfully reciprocated, but the K-drama laws of Fate scoff at the natural laws of physics.

While Hye-mi naps in class, Sam-dong hovers tentatively with a band-aid, about to apply it to the cut on her forehead. Adorably, he falls back nervously the moment she opens her eyes and stammers an excuse.

Hye-mi takes the band-aid and thanks him. Sam-dong works up his nerve, and tells her that he’ll protect her better next time.

Later that day, Oh-hyuk calls his students back to school; they aren’t allowed in the dance or music studios, so they have to sneak here after hours. The evaluations will be based on each student’s ability to convey emotion in their singing, and the Misfits need to practice.

Oh-hyuk has spied on Teacher Gong’s lessons with the regular class (…the Holograms?), stealing ideas for his own lessons. In this instance, they participate in exercises in acting and expressiveness: The instructor tells his class to imagine marrying the one you love (In-sung does this facing Baek-hee), only to have that person killed on your wedding night in a car accident. At the funeral, you discover your lover had another lover… your younger sibling. Until you wake up and realize it was just a dream. Are we sure we’re not in Makjang Drama Writing 101 instead?

Oh-hyuk leads his kids in the same lesson and praises Pil-sook for her emotional accessibility, then asks why Hye-mi didn’t participate. She replies, “I did.” Bwahaha — her blank face as plot point, I love it.

The lesson is cut short by Director Shi, who reminds them that they’re not allowed in the studios. Without anywhere else to go, Jin-gook leads them to his icy basement, and they clean the place up. But a more pressing hurdle remains: They need a real vocal teacher, not just phonecams of Teacher Gong.

Oh-hyuk has one idea, but it’s a long shot, since English teacher Jin-man hates his guts. Oh-hyuk presses, showing him the Dream High notes he’d written for a middle school homework assignment years ago, which President Jung had held onto all these years. Furthermore, he’d indicated Jin-man as the best coach.

Oh-hyuk makes a last-ditch plea to Jin-man, saying that he can’t let his kids turn out like him — Jin-man faltered because he trusted a fool like Oh-hyuk, and what if Oh-hyuk causes the kids to lose their opportunity as well? It makes a perverse kind of logic, but it also rubs at old wounds, and Jin-man belts him in the gut for that reminder. And then reluctantly agrees to do it for a raise.

Operation Terrorize Hye-mi continues, the latest graffiti mural depicting her as a grotesque demon and labeled as traitor and backstabber. Hye-mi asks Baek-hee if she did it, who turns up her nose at her rival. That snooty posture disappears the instant Baek-hee spies Jin-gook approaching; immediately adopting a wounded victim pose, she makes it seem like she’s being bullied.

She’s gratified when Jin-gook tells Hye-mi to cut it out, although he’s not doing it to defend Baek-hee; rather, he knows who the real culprit is.

He finds his buddy In-sung preparing to launch a raw egg at Hye-mi from afar, and says he recognized his handwriting. In-sung argues that Jin-gook had also found Hye-mi insufferable, and should thank him for giving her what she deserves.

Jin-gook hurls the egg at In-sung’s head (well, the wall by his head) and delivers a stern warning: “If you mess with Hye-mi again, you’re dead.” And… watching from around the corner is a displeased Baek-hee.

Jin-man begins his first lesson on the keyboard, but Sam-dong marvels at the nifty gadget and presses the keys, surprising Jin-man into asking, “You know chords?” Sam-dong asks, “What are chords?” and then produces another one, his fingers naturally finding the keys. Like a little boy discovering a grand new toy, he smiles, “If I push the keys, the sounds just come out pretty.”

Meta hilarity: The tune Jin-man starts to tap out is Park Jin-young’s own pop hit from the ’90s, “날 떠나지마” (Don’t Leave Me). [ Download ] Oh god, I love the meta.

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Upon seeing Oh-hyuk, Jin-man stiffens; I love how obvious it is that these man-children just wanna be best friends again, even though Jin-man is trying to cling to his old hate. Aw. I can’t wait for them to kiss and make up already. YOU KNOW YOU WANNA.

As Jin-man leaves, Sam-dong picks up the melody from Jin-man’s very brief demonstration and starts singing along, “Don’t leave me…”

Kyung-jin impresses upon her class the importance of picking the right song in order to convey its emotion properly. Ah-jung whines that this task is too difficult, so Kyung-jin calls Oh-hyuk over and starts to flirt with him in front of the students. He takes it at face value and stammers that he likes another woman, and Kyung-jin flips her flirt mode off as quickly as she switched it on, having demonstrated the value of artful acting. She gives her class the assignment to act out song lyrics to get into the proper mood.

That gives Oh-hyuk another assignment to copy. Jin-man shows up at the rehearsal to scoff at Oh-hyuk’s pilfering of other teachers’ lessons, but the more important point is that he’s here to help. Ya big softie.

Jin-man instructs his students to act as though they’re really saying the words when they’re singing, and Kyung-jin’s students do the same. Both classes undergo acting exercises where they deliver song lyrics as monologues, with as much emotion as they can muster.

Jason picks a song begging a lover not to leave him, and I’m sure it’s no accident that Pil-sook’s lyrics form the other half of that conversation.

They, along with Baek-hee, have a pretty good grasp of emoting through song (Baek-hee’s impassioned monologue comes from “I will survive”).

On the other hand: Hye-mi doesn’t do so well. Her recitation is absurdly, hilariously flat — they’re the lyrics of her audition song (“Goose’s Dream”) — and she intones robotically, “I have a dream. I trust that dream. Ho-hum.” That last part may have been implied.

Jin-man urges her to draw out more emotion, but all Hye-mi succeeds in doing is repeating her monotone more loudly, so that she sounds like a whiny robot.

Hye-mi doesn’t even understand what’s wrong, nor does she know why she’d failed the audition. Oh-hyuk asks her what the “empty dream” in the song is, and she runs through the lyrics trying to remember, although Pil-sook can answer right away. Point made: She sang the song all this time not even being conscious of its meaning. He tells her that she’s much more musically talented than the others, but has not a fraction of their sensibility.

Hye-mi can pick up from watching Pil-sook that despite her own superior vocals, Pil-sook beats her in the emotion department. Hye-mi asks what Pil-sook thinks about as she sings, and gets back a simple answer: romance.

Pil-sook takes her to spy on Jason, explaining that while that they’re not dating, they’re in the process of getting to know each other. She giggles as she says that he opens doors for her, that he treats her particularly nicely, and that the song lyrics are like he’s singing to her. (Hye-mi retorts that this emotion is all a delusion.)

When Jason holds the door open for her with a smile, though, Hye-mi asks if he likes her. He explains that he’s friendly to everybody; it’s that thing you call good manners. Now, normally he’d have a very good point against the emotionally stunted Hye-mi Bot, but in this case she also has a point. His American idea of friendship is giving Korean girls the wrong idea, and she warns him that if he doesn’t want to be a jerk, he’d better watch it and not give nice girls false hopes. Beep beep boop.

Aw, Hye-mi’s actually looking out for Pil-sook. That’s sweet.

Jin-gook swipes Hye-mi’s yogurt drink that night, trying to prod her memory of their childhood memory, then asks if she wants help with this whole singing-with-emotion business. She perks up at the offer, and he says he’ll tell her if she remembers what he’s referring to with the yogurt.

A call brings Jin-gook to the police station, with news of an attempted suicide. The hyung he’d previously lived with has failed the bar yet again and jumped off a rooftop, only to escape with minor injuries.

The hyung assures Jin-gook that he won’t be stupid enough to attempt suicide again, but explains why he’d tried: While living in that teeny rented room had been cramped and uncomfortable, he hadn’t realized until he’d moved back to his hometown that he’d felt alive there. At least he was pursuing a dream.

Lesson of the day learned: don’t fall into the same path. Spurred into action, Jin-gook admits that there’s a song he wants to learn… SNSD’s “Genie.” Hee.

Oh-hyuk tells rest of the Misfit Mafia that they’ll all be learning the SNSD song together, which they balk at — they hardly have the time for their own song. Jin-gook offers to learn it on his own, but Oh-hyuk argues that they’re actually doing it for Hye-mi, who is still failing.

The class takes a field trip, arriving outside the chicken shop where Jin-gook’s hyung works. And what ensues… is pure awesome as the four kids perform “Genie” out in the street.

I cannot even tell you how incongruous it is to see serious actor Kim Soo-hyun busting out with the idol thrusting, but I can’t say I don’t like it. And for once, Hye-mi looks to be genuinely having fun. They’re dancing with sheer joy, and that’s a joy to witness.

But making this even better is how this exuberant street performance moves the hyung, now confronted with a living, breathing dream that hasn’t yet given up, and the poignancy of that brings him to tears. And, let’s be honest, me too.

Jin-gook urges his hyung not to give up his dream of becoming a lawyer, and as they share a hug, Sam-dong asks if they’re blood brothers, which makes both guys protest that the comparison to the other is unflattering.

Jin-gook is all, But I’m so pretty, while hyung protests that Jin-gook looks way old for his age. The others agree that Jin-gook does look a little old, which makes me giggle since I recall that being another complaint when Taecyeon was first cast in a high school drama. Hee.

And then, on the bus ride home, we get THIS:

Hye-mi is embarrassed to get caught looking at Jin-gook, her mind mulling over a comment that she’d heard earlier. Curious to know if it’s true, she writes in the glass, “Do you really not know your birthday?”

He says it’s true, though he does know his “fake birthday.” Writing on his own window, his reply reads: “Christmas Eve.”

That makes Hye-mi think back to the little boy she’d met as a child, who’d also admitted to not knowing his own birthday. Feeling sorry for the boy who’d never had a true birthday, she had lit a birthday candle for him in a stack of chocopies, and sang him a special birthday song that her mother used to sing her.

Evaluation day arrives, and the students find out that their evaluations will be based on karaoke scoring. The details of the process are a mystery, because it’s not a straightfoward best-karoke-score-wins system. Last year’s first-place student actually scored a low 72 on the karaoke test, and she can’t even explain why she won.

However, the students are sure the scores aren’t random — even though the winner wasn’t the best singer, the students agree that her performance made them feel something. But the secret code remains uncracked.

Oh-hyuk gives his class a final pep talk to remember how they felt when they sang in the street, because that’s when they were most effective. They weren’t acting or putting on a front, but understood the “true taste of singing” in that moment — it’s what you feel when you sing for someone else, when you consider what the other person is hearing more than what you’re singing.

Hye-mi makes her way up the stairs, and finds a lovely surprise: The awful spray-painted slurs have been amended, the devilish face painted over into a pretty one, and the former words “Get lost” and “retard” have been transformed into “I’ll protect you” and “You’re the best.”

The kids file into the testing room, and one by one they perform. While Jason sings a 2AM song (“Can’t Let You Go”), Jin-man, watching the proceedings, predicts his score correctly (a 90) and cracks the mystery — Teacher Gong is actually basing his scores on the reactions of the students.

That means those who can captivate the other students get higher scores than those who don’t. During Baek-hee’s performance, for instance, three students aren’t paying attention, which means her score is an 85.

Hye-mi takes the mic for her turn, and with Oh-hyuk’s last words ringing in her ears, she asks for a different song at the last moment. The others are confused by the sudden change, but Jin-gook is the first to catch on — it’s the special birthday song she’d sung him on that snowy Christmas Eve, perhaps the last time she’d sung a song entirely for someone else rather than herself. Agh, this is so sweet. This is totally wreaking havoc on my Sam-dong love. Curse you, effective love triangles!

Even the teachers are stunned at the genuine expression on her face, and she has tears in her eyes at song’s end. Teacher Gong awards her a perfect score.

Kyung-jin reports to her father that all the kids in the misfit class performed strongly — if things continue this way, they may even make it to the upcoming showcase. Director Shi declares that that will NOT do. He wants a conference with Teacher Maeng, who’s in charge of showcase preparations. Cue evil machinations.

After the evaluation, Baek-hee storms off. Hye-mi catches up to her, saying she won’t ask for the pendant back — it was always hers: “You won in the audition. I realize that now. I’m sorry for forcing the issue.”

Far from appeased, Baek-hee is offended, thinking Hye-mi is being condescending now that she’s first place. Hye-mi concedes that forcing the issue is a tactic used by people who lack talent, and she knows from experience that it just makes one look foolish. “So let’s not do that with each other from now on.”

Jin-gook finds a crowd gathered around Hye-mi’s vandalized locker, which has been smeared with a blood-like substance. The students find this excessive — they recognize that Hye-mi won fair and square — and wonder who did it.

Jin-gook knows, and he storms into dance rehearsal to pop In-sung in the face, reminding him that he’d warned him to leave Hye-mi alone. Only, this time In-sung has an alibi and insists he’s not the guilty party.

Something’s not right, so Jin-gook calls to warn Hye-mi that she’s in danger. She’s currently outside taking out the trash, so he alerts Pil-sook and Sam-dong, then races outside just in time to see a girl holding potted plant, poised to drop it on Hye-mi’s head. (I WONDER WHO THAT IS.)

The girl hesitates and pulls back (Baek-hee’s classic maneuver, we might recall), and then musters the nerve. She lets go.

Just as the ceramic pot is about to land on Hye-mi’s head, Sam-dong dashes in to pull her out of harm’s way. They land on the ground and Hye-mi sees the shattered pot around them as she registers what happened.

Worried, Sam-dong confirms that she’s fine, just startled. Sighing in relief, he murmurs, “Thank goodness”… and then keels over, losing consciousness.

Hye-mi calls his name and cradles his head in her hands — which she finds covered in his blood.


Aw, that’s what I’m talkin’ about. Solid, solid episode, and I wasn’t exaggerating when I said it had me in its grip all the way through. I mean, yeah, the story’s a little obvious, the conflicts are very clear, and I don’t think this drama does anything terribly NEW. But it does tap into everything I love about youth dramas, and hits the underdog point in just the right place.

I could do with a little less of Baek-hee’s evilness, but I suppose that’s the thing about attending a school where some students are already stars: The school now doubles as a battlefield. Each learning experience translates literally into career opportunities, and anyone who can’t keep up gets left in the dust. So she’s being groomed (by that Machiavellian teacher, no less) to take no prisoners and if she has to cut some throats on the way to the top, by god don’t let your neck get in the way of her knife.

I freaking love that this episode takes the main criticism of the lead actress and turns it into a central plot point that her character must overcome. It’s not only laugh-out-loud funny (well, I laughed out loud), but it also creates the clever effect of making us root for Hye-mi’s fatal flaw, conflating it with Suzy’s fatal flaw, and thereby getting us to somehow subconsciously root for Suzy to pull through just as much as Hye-mi. I mean, that’s ballsy, right? (Note: I have no idea if this was intentional or merely a case of happy serendipity. Either way, I think it works.)


193 January 18, 2011January 24, 2016

Dream High: Episode 6

by girlfriday

This show KILLS ME. Why so awesome? For starters, it looks like 2011’s gonna be another year of bromance. Yee-haw. I’d encourage everyone to get on the bandwagon, but I’m fairly certain you need no prodding. Just hazarding a guess. Dear javabeans: Get your moneypurse ready to be emptied. The showdown is ON, and I’m gettin’ mighty thirsty…


We go back in time a little to see Sam-dong change the evil mural of Hye-mi into a nice one, as he says in voiceover that he’s sorry and that he’ll protect her for sure next time. We catch up to the present, where he knocks her out of the path of the flowerpot of doom, which lands on him instead.

He collapses, unconscious. The ambulance hauls him away, and Jin-gook comes down to survey the damage, and notices a button—one from a school uniform. Gonna go CSI on her ass? Let’s go. Are there any fibers to be tested? There’s always fibers. Meanwhile, Baek-hee, sans button, shakes as she faces her own reflection.

At the hospital, Oh-hyuk tries to contact Sam-dong’s mom, who happens to be out of town. Hye-mi sits in the hallway, shaking as she stares transfixed on her bloodied hands. Jin-gook comes and silently takes her hands and wipes them clean. (Aw, why am I such a sucker for this kid and his white knight bit? Gah.)

She asks, her voice shaking, “He’s not…going to die, is he?” Jin-gook smiles and reassures her that Sam-dong is stupidly strong. Hye-mi starts to cry, as she says it’s all her fault—if she hadn’t taken out the trash…no, if she hadn’t brought Sam-dong up to Seoul…no, if she hadn’t come to Kirin…none of this would have happened. It breaks my heart when people do this very universal thing in the wake of tragedy.

Jin-gook sits down next to her and says that if she keeps going backwards in what-ifs, then none of them should ever have been born. Well that’s just the saddest thing you’ve said, Daddy Complex Boy. Eeesh.

They get word that Sam-dong is fine…except he’s still unconscious. Hye-mi watches over his bedside, holding his hand through the night. In his sleep, Sam-dong remembers the day Hye-mi left for Seoul, and his mother’s request that he sing her a song.

He sang for her, tears falling, his voice faltering, but his mother heard his angelic voice for the first time that day. She had cried, and asked if he wanted to become a singer like his father. He had said no; he was going to Seoul for a different reason. Mom knew right away that this was about Hye-mi: “Does that girl like you?” Sam-dong: “Yeah, I think she does.” Aw, it breaks my heart that he really thought so.

He wakes up, startled to see Hye-mi asleep right next to his pillow. He smiles without realizing the situation, and then it slowly dawns on him that he’s in the hospital because of the flowerpot incident. He says to himself, “Thank goodness…that you’re okay.”

Hye-mi opens her eyes to find that SHE’s in the hospital bed, while Sam-dong sits and watches over her. Ha. She runs over and asks if he’s okay, asking what her name is and how many fingers she’s holding up. Sam-dong laughs, but when he answers all her questions, she grabs him in a hug, crying.

He breaks into a huge grin, as he pats her on the back and tells her that it’s okay. I love that he’s the one who nearly died, but he’s comforting her. So. Cute. Jin-gook sees them from the doorway, and walks away, head down.

At school, Pil-sook gets the call that Sam-dong is on the mend, and Jason comes up to ask her if it’s good news. He gets all up in her personal space to do so, knocking her backwards in shock from the close contact with The Pretty.

He oh-so-gallantly offers a hand to help her stand up, and she swoons in joy, jumping up and down….until she turns around to see him walking away arm-in-arm with Ria. Oh, man. I’m totally having flashbacks to that one boy in high school that every girl loved, and feeling EXACTLY like this. Why is there always a boy like this in high school? Is it like, some law of the jungle or something? Raaaarrrgggh. Don’t! Mess! With her Heart!

At a staff meeting, Principal Shi glosses right over Sam-dong’s accident, calling it a mere safety issue, and Oh-hyuk counters by declaring it an act of terrorism. He’s alone in trumpeting the cause though, and gets shut down by the principal, who doesn’t want a formal investigation to create any more negative press about Kirin.

At the hospital, Hye-mi declares that she’ll find the culprit and make them pay. But Sam-dong tells her not to do anything, since that person is already in a hell of her own making. So wise, country boy.

Baek-hee is doing exactly that, as she cleans off the graffiti in Hye-mi’s locker to assuage her guilt. Jin-gook walks up to her and shows her the button that he recovered at the crime scene. He asks to see her sleeves, but she hides them, saying it wasn’t her.

He pulls her arms up, but the button’s already been replaced, and he wavers as Baek-hee starts to cry. Dude, you are never going to be a good detective if you’re this weak to tears. Better stick to the dancing.

She asks if he can’t just trust her. Even if everyone else thinks it was her, even if no one is on her side, can’t he believe in her? It’s sad how much truth is mixed in with her lies. She’s the classic defense-trigger-hair-poofing-cat, lashing out because she doesn’t believe anyone could ever love her for being her. Jin-gook tells her okay, and to stop crying.

At home, Jin-gook and Sam-dong fight over his stuff being everywhere, and Jin-gook smiles, reassured that he seems fine and back to normal. Minus the giant bandage from his head wound, but normal. Jin-gook tosses Sam-dong’s coat aside, and makes a joke that it must be special if he’s so protective of it—did “Rude-o” buy it for him? Sam-dong gets defensive: “Why is Hye-mi Rude-o? She’s not rude!” Jin-gook: “I never said it was Hye-mi. You must think she’s rude.” Ha.

Sam-dong takes it back, saying that Hye-mi is sweet and that she smiles and laughs all the time. Jin-gook’s antennae go up…she smiles?…all the time?…in front of you? Hehe. Sam-dong is mighty pleased to have a leg up on Jin-gook, and says with pride that he thinks she really likes him.

Not to be outdone, Jin-gook says that she doesn’t smile in front of him…because she’s always crying when she’s with him. Ha. Sam-dong’s eyes get huge: “Wha…she cries? In front of you? Why does she cry in front of you?” It’s Jin-gook’s turn to gloat: “Dunno. She must be…comfortable with me.” These two crack me up.

Sam-dong (shouting by now): “Do you like her?!” Jin-gook feigns disinterest, and Sam-dong reminds him that he can’t change his mind later, as if they’re claiming the last piece of pizza or something.

Sam-dong goes to change, and as he unzips his pants, Jin-gook looks over and sees that he’s wearing…something curious…. Jin-gook: “Is that…MY UNDERWEAR?!”

Pffft! Sam-dong: “Since when is there a your underwear vs. my underwear?”


Jin-gook jumps out of bed and tells him to take them off this instant, as he literally chases him around the room to take off his pants. I really, really am Not. Making. This. Up. I know what you’re thinking, but I swear, I’m not having a lucid dream. It’s like Show loves me or something.

He finally gets Sam-dong pinned on the bed and starts to pull his pants off…


Forget Hye-mi. Can these two just end up together, fighting over underwear and bickering off into the sunset?

They get interrupted by Oh-hyuk with some bad news: Sam-dong’s mom found out about his accident and fainted (as all proper kdrama mothers are wont to do). He rushes home to reassure her that he’s fine, and tells her that she was misinformed; he lies that the teacher called to invite her to the showcase, and that nothing happened to him.

She breathes a sigh of relief, and gushes over her son’s transformation into a city boy. She asks if everything’s going well with Hye-mi, and he lies again that Hye-mi is totally smitten with him. Aw.

But when he arrives back in Seoul, Hye-mi is standing at the bus depot, waiting for him. Startled, he asks if she’s here…because she’s worried about him. She pretends not to be, but betrays her worry over Mom and his health. She tells him not to run around anymore, and to stick close by, at home. He trails after her with a smile, promising to stick realclose from now on. Heh.

They have coffee (where Sam-dong does a hilarious impression of Jin-man singing his Park Jin-young song), and Hye-mi’s debt collector happens by. He stops in to congratulate her on winning first place on her monthly exams, and moves to pat her on the head. Sam-dong intervenes, asking who the hell he is, but Hye-mi makes an excuse that he’s a friend of her father’s, and drags him away.

Outside, she tells Sam-dong to stop interfering in her affairs. Hye-mi: “If someone goes to pat my head, let them. If a flowerpot is headed at me, just let it. I’ll take the hit myself. Don’t get involved anymore.”

Sam-dong doesn’t understand why, as he just blindly adores her and wants to protect her. Hye-mi tells him that she already owes him so much…she doesn’t want to owe him anymore. He starts to tell her that she doesn’t owe him anything, but she cuts him off, saying that it’s a burden for her.

Ouch. She’s saying it to protect him, of course, but it’s not unwarranted either, because she’s not in love with him (yet), and just keeps feeling sorry for putting him in harm’s way. He stands there dumbfounded, watching her walk away. Aw, poor puppy! Also, is it wrong that I’m totally smitten right now?

At school, the Misfit Mafia gets excited for the upcoming showcase, and Oh-hyuk eagerly asks them how many tickets they want for their family members. Pil-sook wants two for her parents, Sam-dong one for his mom, but both Hye-mi and Jin-gook say zero.

Over the loudspeaker, Professor Maeng announces that this year’s showcase, which has the purpose of showing off the new crop of talent to scouts from various agencies, (gah, as if high school isn’t enough pressure) has been decided on different criteria. Rather than going strictly by the midterm exam scores, they’ve calculated “other” factors, making the freshman group of five Jason, Ria, Baek-hee, and two others from their class.

The Misfits scoff at the rampant favoritism and rigging to kick them out of the showcase, and Oh-hyuk fumes. Way to knock the wind out of someone sails, when he was just five minutes ago gushing at the first-ever showcase by the university prep class.

They’re not the only ones left in the dust either. Baek-hee’s rival Ah-jung, angry to be passed up yet again, decides needle her with some guilt. She sees Baek-hee go into a changing stall in the girls’ locker room, and she fakes a phone call with a friend, saying loudly that everyone’s talking smack about Baek-hee throwing the flowerpot and not deserving a spot in the showcase.

But it turns out that someone else is in earshot too, as Hye-mi comes out of a stall, calling Ah-jung out for her cheap and obvious tactics. She says loudly that Baek-hee may be lacking, but she’s not capable of dropping the flowerpot.

She opens Baek-hee’s curtain to say it directly to her face: “Because the kind of person who would do that…is a monster.” Oooooh, burn. Baek-hee washes her face, trying to shake off Hye-mi’s comment. She steels herself and decides that Hye-mi’s the one who made her into a monster.

Kyung-jin announces that Jason and Ria will have a separate performance just the two of them. She’s giddy, while he sighs. Could it be…you don’t want to sing duets with anyone other than Pil-sook? Okay, clearly I’m getting ahead of myself.

Speaking of duets, Sam-dong sings a song he wrote in the basement studio, and in walks Hye-mi, singing the other half. How freaking adorable are you? He’s positively glowing as she sings that she’s in love with him…

…only when the song ends, he looks at her, and she turns into Oh-hyuk. Ha. Sam-dong literally shudders. Oh-hyuk marvels at the song, wondering if Sam-dong wrote it himself, while Sam-dong turns away to get his head on straight. He says with heavy sigh, “My dream keeps running away from me. It keeps running away…it’s becoming hard to see. What do I do?”

He broods at the dinner table, and Noona wonders why he’s so out of sorts. They explain that it’s because his mom is coming up to Seoul just to see him perform in the showcase, which is…not so much with the happening anymore.

Hye-mi’s little sister chimes in, wondering why he’s so glum, when all he has to do is put on a fake showcase for his mother’s benefit. They’re all like, whaaa? Oh-hyuk thinks it’s a brilliant idea, saying that they should turn Sam-dong into Cinderella for a day. Jin-gook balks that there are no mice, no pumpkin carriage, no fairy godmother. You sure do know a lot about what’s required to turn someone into a Cinderella. Just sayin’.

Hye-mi asks what they need to do first. Sam-dong looks at her agape. Aw. They sit down to ask him just exactly how much he lied to his mother. Sam-dong: “I just embellished…a little….”

First off, he’s supposed to be the best singer-dancer in the whole school. We watch as Fantasy Sam-dong dances, making all the girls literally fall over, and Jason to come sliding in on his knees, begging to be taught how to be like him. Keh.

Next, he’s the most popular boy in school…. Cue “Almost Paaaaaaradise,” (LOL) as Jin-gook and Fantasy Sam-dong enter the school with god-like backlighting, a la F5. To top it off, Sam-dong adds in voiceover that Jin-gook is his toady, as Fantasy Jin-gook offers to carry his bag and swoons after him. Ha.

Finally, he admits that Hye-mi is supposed to be madly in love with him. Yesung’s “It Had to Be You” swells, as Fantasy Sam-dong gestures at Hye-mi to come closer. Fantasy Hye-mi says in voiceover: “Hye-mi-ya…is what he called me,” as she walks over to him and he hugs her. HAHAHAHA.

Seriously, this show’s meta is pitch-perfect. I die.

The entire household reels at the severity of his lies. Oh-hyuk: “If you didn’t have a head wound, you’d have gotten hit right about now.” Hehe. To everyone’s surprise, Hye-mi still offers to help, prompting an “Omo, are you two dating?” from Noona. But Sam-dong jumps in to explain that she’s just doing it to repay her debt to him.

Jin-gook sighs and then joins in to help, eliciting a smile from Hye-mi. Aw, Misfits Activate!

Pil-sook arrives at school the next day, trembling as she holds a piece of paper in her hand. Jason opens the door for her, and she stops to ask him if his opening the door for her all the time is just his (good) manners. He nods yes as her face falls, and she thanks him meekly. Aw.

She heads to the teachers’ office, where she leaves a notice of withdrawal from Kirin with Professor Maeng. She says that she doesn’t think that she’s going to lose any more weight, or get a chance to perform, so she’s going to look for a new means of living.

Jin-man overhears and yells up a storm at Professor Maeng, blaming her for kicking the loser class out of the showcase, and stomping all over a girl’s dream.

Pil-sook heads outside to clean out her locker (the contents of which includes a pot, HA) and Jason watches her. He takes the lollipop off his locker and walks over to ask if she’s really leaving. He tells her nonchalantly that it’s too bad. “I really wanted to sing a duet with you someday.”

Errrr! You can literally hear the tires screeching in her brain. Stuttering, she asks why. Jason: “Because I like your songs. That day when you sang your audition in that Sushi costume…I was taken with your voice.” Oh swoon.

She actually runs off, practically in the middle of his sentence, to tear up her withdrawal papers. She declares that she’s going to try really, really hard and lose a bunch of weight, and be totally awesome. Aw, how cute is she?

Oh-hyuk calls Jin-man in to help with the fake showcase, which he tells him will take place on the one day that the school will be totally empty—the day of the real one. Gah, I freakin’ love the idea of a Rebel Showcase.

He asks Jin-man to plan the performances, and Jin-man gets swept up in the excitement, only to realize that he swore he wouldn’t help them anymore. But the kids enter and Sam-dong thanks him over and over for helping them. You’re stuck now.

Sam-dong starts bobbing his head around, as he tells Jin-man that he really wants to dance in the showcase. Jin-man: “What…what is that….what are you doing?” Sam-dong: “A wave.” He shakes his head, and then ends up teaching them all how to do a proper wave.

Oh-hyuk gets the debt collector to come and rent out the auditorium for the showcase posing as an agency rep, and then convinces his sister (a reporter) to come and be the press. She refuses, until he shows her footage of Jin-gook taking off his shirt, at which she caves, with a side of drool. Pfft.

Jin-man takes them through dance rehearsals, where Jin-gook gets paired with Hye-mi. Robot Girl doesn’t get it, so Jin-man has to show her, landing all cuddly in Jin-gook’s arms. When they finally do get it right, Sam-dong breaks them up, dissatisfied with all the skinship.

Next it’s his turn to go with Pil-sook, and she worries that he won’t be able to lift her. He assures her that it’ll be fine… *crash*.

At home, Hye-mi, Sam-dong, and Jin-gook mull over stage decorations, and Hye-mi shoots down the boys’ outlandish and costly ideas. They decide on paper confetti and large fans, which she remembers seeing outside of the debt collector’s club.

They sneak in to see if they can nab the fans, only to come across Oh-hyuk discussing payment for renting the auditorium. He says to just add it, with interest, to his existing debt (the house as collateral). Hye-mi confronts Oh-hyuk, demanding to know what he’s talking about.

She finds out that Oh-hyuk took care of her original debt by putting up the deed to his house. She reels, not understanding why he’d do such a thing. She says with tears in her eyes that this isn’t right…he’s the bad guy… She runs off, and Jin-gook follows after her.

Sam-dong looks over at Oh-hyuk, shocked that it wasn’t free to rent the school auditorium. Why is he going into debt for a fake showcase? Can’t they just not do it and be done with it? But Oh-hyuk assures him that this isn’t for him; he just really wanted to see the kids perform, and simply paid for a really expensive seat to the show. Aw.

He repeats Sam-dong’s worry that his dream keeps running away from him, and says that it’s time to take a good look, so they can chase after it. Sam-dong is moved to tears.

Jin-gook chases after Hye-mi, catching up to her in the middle of a crosswalk just in time before she gets pancaked by traffic. Oy, kdramas and the Zombie Traffic Walk. She looks up at him, a tear streaming down her face, as she repeats that Oh-hyuk is supposed to be the bad guy.

Hye-mi: “He’s my dad’s worst enemy. But every time he acts like this, I begin to question my dad.” Jin-gook just silently holds her as she cries. So pretty, this drama.

At the bus stop, she tells him about her mother running out on them to live with Oh-hyuk, and how confusing it is for her when he’s kind to her. She expects him not to understand, but Jin-gooks says he gets it—it’s a feeling he’s familiar with.

He wonders if they’ll ever get to debut, and he tells her that if there ever comes a day, he wants to stand up on that stage with her. She smiles and says that they’ll debut, and she’ll stand up there with him.

They arrive in front of the house, just as Jin-gook’s father gets out of his car. He tells her to go inside without him, and walks up. He asks Dad what brings him here, and Dad crumples the Kirin showcase announcement in his hand. He slaps Jin-gook in the face without a word.

Hye-mi gasps, and Jin-gook puts his hand to his stinging face, and then stands upright, steeling himself for a showdown with Dad.


Not quite as awesome as the last episode (what could beat the awesome that was the Misfit Mafia doing SNSD?) but this drama is totally rockin’ my boat, with the crazy hilarious moments of drama meta (parodies actually done right) and the real-life meta. (Who knew you were so funny, Park Jin-young?) Seriously, I just about died when he was showing Jin-gook how to dance. Taecyeon’s face totally broke character, but it was so funny that I didn’t care.

I’m so digging this little drama that could, because although it’s flawed and sometimes the acting leaves a lot to be desired…it has so much heart, and it’s not too cool for school. I love the spirit of the misfit class struggling to make their dreams come true, and I find myself literally shouting at the screen, “YES!” or “NO!” like a fool.

What can I say? High school is serious stuff.


242 January 24, 2011January 24, 2016

Dream High: Episode 7

by girlfriday

It’s Showcase vs. Showcase, as the Rebel Misfit Mafia takes on the Top Dogs. And the teams don’t shake out the way you’d think. There’s shifting alliances, crossing love triangles, and best of all, the stakes get raised all around. Dreaming High has never seemed so tough, or so rewarding.


“어떤 이의 꿈” (Dream High version) by San E [ Download ]

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Jin-gook gets slapped by Daddy, and hauled away for some private yelling. Hye-mi grabs Jin-gook’s arm, worried and wondering if she should call the cops. He smiles at her and says it’s nothing like that; it’s his father.

Dad threatens Jin-gook again, and tells him to go abroad if he’s going to do silly, embarrassing things like sing and dance. But Jin-gook holds his ground, and tells Dad that he’s worse for throwing away his son over his career. He tells Dad to just disown him—he’s never asked to be taken care of, and it’s unfair for Dad to throw him away and pick him back up, whenever he pleases.

Look at you, standing up to Daddy. It’s not going to make you any less tortured, by all means, but good for you. Not that I’d want to miss out on you dancing out your daddy issues. Those are good times.

Dad moves to strike him again and Jin-gook winces. But Dad sees that and breaks, putting his hands on his shoulders, feeling remorseful for throwing Jin-gook and his mother away. And then he pleads that he doesn’t want to do it anymore. So then don’t do it anymore, and stop making it contingent on your son’s choices. WTF, Dad?

He even goes so far as to offer to give up his political career and just live as Jin-gook’s dad. Which turns out to be a totally manipulative emotional ploy. Gah. Jin-gook lets out a tear and shakes his head no, basically agreeing to live quietly again for Dad’s sake. He’s told to wrap things up and get ready to go abroad.

He goes to school and starts singing the beginning lines of “어떤 이의 꿈,” (Someone’s Dream) an 80s song by 봄.여름.가을.겨울. (Spring.Summer.Autumn.Winter.) [Original version here.] Baek-hee finds him there, saying that she really likes that song too, and wanted to sing it at the showcase, as a duet. She adds wistfully that it doesn’t matter anyway, since no one’s coming to see her. She explains that her mom doesn’t know what her dreams are, and doesn’t really care to know. Jin-gook finds a connection with her over indifferent parents.

The next day Jason dances alone instead of practicing his duet with Ria. Kyung-jin interrupts to tell him that he needs to practice for the showcase, and Jason just breezes that it’s no fun, and that he’d rather sing it solo, or with a different partner.

Ria overhears as Kyung-jin gets in his face and cuts him down to size: sure he’s got some talent, but he’s not good enough to be up there on his own. He should be thankful for someone like Ria, and be grateful that if he’s up on stage with her, while the cameras are photographing her, he’ll get noticed too. She spells it out plainly, that skills and talent come after notoriety, and adds that if he wants to sing for fun, he can go to a noraebang (karaoke).

Jason stalks out, fuming, and takes it out on his locker, punching the door a few times. Pil-sook, who’s there for her daily lollipop delivery, ducks behind the staircase. Jason whirls around to her: “Hey, Sushi, are you free?”

Aw, yeah! Noraebang bonding time. I love that Jason takes Teacher’s backwards advice literally out of spite, and uses the noraebang as therapy of sorts. Pil-sook just swoons at first, watching him sing, but then ends up joining him, starting with 2PM’s “Heartbeat,” complete with dance moves. Hahaha.

At school, Jin-gook broods and Baek-hee approaches, as Hye-mi and Sam-dong walk up behind them. She asks Jin-gook to come to the showcase for her, since everyone else will get flowers from their families, and she’ll have nobody. He thinks about Dad’s words to quit everything, and agrees. Hye-mi notes Baek-hee with a jealous eye and Baek-hee scurries away.

Hye-mi and Sam-dong interrupt to remind him that their showcase is on the same day. He tells them that he’s backing out, and to do well on their own. Hye-mi hesitates, and asks if it’s because of Baek-hee. He says no; he was always going to drop out anyway.

He walks away and Hye-mi chases him down, asking what happened yesterday to make him do this. He says that he just got sick and tired of chasing after a fake (meaning impossible) dream, and getting excited, and happy, and nervous like a fool.

He plans to drop it all—everything they had started. He puts his headphones on to end the conversation, but Hye-mi knocks them off his ears and grabs the other end of the cord, reminding him that she knows his trick of avoiding the world. Heh.

With angry tears brimming in her eyes, she asks what he meant last night then, when he said he wanted to stand up on stage with her someday. He pretends not to remember and shrugs it off, as Hye-mi turns to him angrily: “Then I must have been the only one…to be excited, and happy, and nervous…like a fool.”

AW. I never thought I’d say this, but my heart is totally breaking for her. How adorably vulnerable is she right now? She turns to walk away, but comes back for one last thing—a swift kick in the shin. Hahaha. Jin-gook watches her walk away sadly, like the Silent Idiot that he is.

Back at the noraebang, Jason wants to go another round, but Pil-sook regretfully has to leave for Rebel Showcase practice. He pouts, making him look even more like a little chipmunk. That’s it. You’re just Chipmunk from now on.

Chipmunk offers to drop her off where she’s going, but she jumps up to stop him, since he can’t know about their super-secret showcase. He just gets more and more curious that she won’t let him accompany her, but she begs him not to ask questions, and rushes out. She adds that she had a great time, and he says he did too.

She heads out but has a moment of crisis, debating between her professionalism: practice is important; and the chance of a lifetime: date with her crush. Oh, the dilemmas of youth. She goes back and forth about ten times (ha) and finally decides to go to practice. Chipmunk sees her and breaks into the biggest smile, as he trails after her. Cuuuuute.

At practice Pil-sook sulks that she had the debate of a lifetime to come, and Jin-gook’s just dropped out like it’s nothing. Jin-man worries that they can’t pull this off without Jin-gook, not to mention the risk of doing the Rebel Showcase at all. They all start to cave, but then Hye-mi stands up, ignoring his protests to be heard, and decides that they can rework it.

Jin-man whines that no one is listening to him, until Hye-mi tells him that he should replace Jin-gook in the dances, dangling the carrot that if he puts on a uniform, he could pass for a high school student. HA! Jin-man immediately melts at that, insisting that it’s true, while Oh-hyuk just scoffs at the absurdity.

They rally together and start practice, as Jin-man decides that he should dance a little badly, since he’s supposed to be a student…but then wonders how he’s going to pull that off since he’s so naturally awesome. Pffft. I’m loving Park Jin-young in this. So. Much.

Jason’s followed Pil-sook all the way there, and peeks in to watch them practice. Yay for Chipmunk jumping ship! Jump ship! Jump ship! He heads to his own practice for now, as he and Baek-hee learn their moves from Kyung-jin.

Jin-gook, meanwhile, gets his paperwork in order to go abroad, as Daddy beams in delight. Baek-hee’s mom ponders her showcase invitation. Pil-sook presents her parents with her Rebel Showcase invite, and they squeal. Sam-dong’s mom puts on her finest hanbok (Aw, how cute is she?) as she prepares to head to Seoul.

Hye-mi and Sam-dong stay up late to cut the paper confetti for the show, and Hye-mi starts nodding off. Sam-dong thanks her for doing all this, and she replies that it’s to repay him for everything he’s done. He starts to tell her that the debt’s been repaid already, so she can just be comfortable around him now, as she falls asleep and starts to fall…

He catches her and she lands with her head on his shoulder, as Sam-dong has the most adorable moment of OMG-OMG-OMG to himself as he tries to figure out what to do. He can’t quite bring himself to touch her hair or look directly at her, so he sits awkwardly like that, basking in the moment.

Jin-gook comes home and walks in on them cuddling sweetly like that. Serves you right for bailing. It’d be awesome if jealousy is the thing that brings him back. Heh. Sam-dong shushes him and Jin-gook broods.

At the studio, Jin-man walks in on Oh-hyuk playing Sam-dong’s song, and they play around with it, adding a verse and a bridge. It brings them back to their high school days and all the songs they wrote together. Love these two.

It’s Showcase Day, and Ria makes a point of reiterating Kyung-jin’s words to Jason, angry because he doesn’t like her back. She tells him that he ought to stick close to get any attention, and that performing with him is a burden. Well that’s a great thing to tell your hot-headed duet partner just before the show.

He walks out, just in time to overhear a teacher on the phone, saying that he has to go to the school to pick up a CD. He remembers that Pil-sook’s showcase is going on at school and they can’t be found out, so he offers to pick up the CD himself, making up an excuse about forgetting his costume.

As he rushes off, the teacher yells, “Eee-son-ah!” which cracks me up, because Jason in Korean is three syllables: Jay-eee-son, so the teacher is treating his one name like a traditional Korean name, thinking Jay is his surname and Eee-son is his given name. I am perhaps the only one who died laughing at this, I know.

Oh-hyuk is surprised to find that scary debt collector guy is actually being quite generous and helpful with the showcase, adding a giant professional banner to make everything look legit. He says he feels like Candy, adding that he’s just like Terius, helping him out…and then the two grown men realize the awkward of that statement and break away. Heh.

Oh-hyuk rushes out to meet Sam-dong and Hye-mi, and has them listen to this song they just finished…Sam-dong’s eyes widen to hear the song that he wrote, completed. Oh-hyuk says that he and Jin-man finished it, and that it’d be nice to finish the showcase with a song that Sam-dong wrote himself. Hye-mi can’t believe that Sam-dong wrote a song, and Sam-dong just beams at Oh-hyuk’s proposition.

Kyung-jin arrives at Kirin to pick something up, noticing that there’s people about. Ruh-roh.

Jason sends the music that they need for the other showcase, saying to himself that Pil-sook ought to thank him. But he’s stopped in his tracks by the sound of her voice ringing in the halls.

She’s practicing her duet-turned-solo, as Jin-man (actually dressed in uniform, HA) laments that Jin-gook’s part would really make it so much better. He then offers to sing it with her, and Pil-sook jumps to say no. Jin-man: “Why…don’t you want to sing with me?” Hehe.

But before he can finagle himself into the duet, Jason appears to save the day. Jin-man shrieks and hides his head under a desk like an ostrich, as Jason offers to sing the duet with her, since they’ve already practiced it together at the noraebang. Pil-sook floats on cloud nine. Yay for Chipmunk saving the day, and jumping ship! The Misfits welcome you.

Hye-mi walks up on the empty stage and thinks back to Jin-gook’s declaration that he wanted to stand up on stage someday with her, and she starts to text him the same words…but decides against it.

Both showcases get under way with final preparations, as things start coming to a head. Baek-hee gets a call from Mom, who’s there in the audience, but wondering when she’s coming on, because she’s asked someone to watch the store for her. Baek-hee overhears the teachers fretting over Jason’s disappearance and Ria’s tantrum, thinking that they have no opening act anymore.

Jin-gook shows up backstage to wish her luck and head out, but she stops him, pleading that she really wants to show her mom once that she’s really good, and stand up proudly in front of her. She asks Jin-gook to help her. Aw, yeah! Jin-gook and Jason switch places? Love the dramatic twist. The Misfits are going to be SO pissed when they find out where you really are.

Meanwhile, Kyung-jin gets the call that Jason is MIA, so she heads back into Kirin to find him…only what she comes upon is a filled auditorium, with Oh-hyuk pulling the strings. She tells him that what he’s doing isn’t good for the kids or their parents, since if they have no chance of living their dream, he shouldn’t be filling them with false hopes. She thinks he’s being far crueler than she is.

While that’s not untrue, it’s also just as cruel to judge a couple of freshmen who have yet to spend a semester at your supposedly stellar make-a-star school now, isn’t it? Oh-hyuk pretends to give in, and then scoops her up over his shoulder, and carries her kicking and screaming into the janitor’s closet. He locks her in there, telling her that she can hit him all she wants later. Ha.

The shows start, with both showcases doing different renditions of “어떤 이의 꿈,” / “Someone’s Dream.” Pil-sook and Jason do the sweet earnest ballad version with a little funk, while Baek-hee glams it up for the showy updated version, with Jin-gook as her partner. Well, there goes your good relations with Papa, not to mention the girl you like. Whoops.

“어떤 이의 꿈” as sung by Pil-sook, Jason, Baek-hee, Jin-gook. [ Download ]

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While Baek-hee’s rendition is flashy and well-choreographed (and the slick overall package), Pil-sook’s vocal chops win by a long shot. Backstage, Baek-hee thanks Jin-gook for helping her, especially since she got a standing ovation from her mom. But Jin-gook in turn thanks her, since he really came here to run away. He’s now realized what he really wants to do, and who he really wants to be with…

He thanks her and leaves, and Baek-hee scoffs: “So the person you want to stand beside…isn’t me?” On his way out, Jin-gook gets stopped by a manager, who recognizes him by his proper name, and as one of the special entrants hand-picked by President Jung.

At Kirin, Sam-dong gears up for his performance, and Hye-mi asks if his mom is here. She asks what he actually told her about them as a couple, and he sheepishly replies that Hye-mi is head over heels; that she’s the Chun-hyang to his Mong-ryong. Ha. (Think: Juliet to his Romeo.)

This kid and his lies. Heh. Hye-mi sighs, and agrees to be his Chun-hyang for a day, putting up her hand for a high-five. Hilariously, he ducks for cover thinking she’s going to hit him, and she has to teach him how to high-five. Oh, country boy.

They head out to the stage for their duet of “Maybe,” which they start by meeting in the middle of the stage and holding hands. Gah, so cute! They’re adorable, of course, and close out the showcase with a bang. A rip of their performance:

“Maybe” as sung by Hye-mi, Sam-dong. [ Download ]

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After the show Sam-dong sits in the dressing room, still reeling from the excitement. Oh-hyuk finds him, happy that he had a good time. Sam-dong tells him, grinning from ear to ear, that he can see his dream so clearly now, and the path to it, and all of it looks so bright and happy. Aw.

But just then, he starts to lose consciousness, as all the sound around him dies out, and he struggles to keep his eyes open. OH NOES. Oh my god, if you go tragic artist on me, my heart might not be able to handle it! Noooooooo.

He almost goes down, but then regains focus and the feeling goes away. He shakes it off like nothing happened, thinking he’s just heady from being onstage. But Oh-hyuk, shouldn’t you know better and have him checked out, on account of his very recent head trauma? No? Grarrrrrrr.

Kyung-jin starts to cry in the janitor’s closet, tired and scared of being locked in. She finally takes a deep breath and runs at the door full force, running smack dab onto Jin-man. She mistakes him for Oh-hyuk and starts bawling, asking why he came now, and Jin-man stares up at her in shock. She screams when she realizes who it is, and walks off pretending to be fine. He swoons. Uh-oh, I smell adult love triangle. But their bromance was just getting back on track!

Oh-hyuk takes to the stage, and to everyone’s shock, he confesses to the audience that this is a fake showcase, put on by students who were kicked out of the real one. He says that parents always ask him if their child has potential, if they’re able to fly, or just jumping off a cliff with no wings. (Using Kyung-jin’s words from earlier.)

Oh-hyuk: Truthfully, whether these students have potential…I don’t have the answer. But of one thing I’m certain. That these students, more than anyone here, want to fly. … Because they love the stage like crazy, because their dream is so beautiful, they believe that their road is a happy one. Telling them not to start because they might get hurt…is cruel, is it not? I think loving something like crazy is potential. I saw that potential today. So trusting that potential, I want to tell them to try and fly. I don’t know how big their wings are, but I want to tell them to start. And to make sure the road is happy, I’m going to put my full strength behind them.

Yay for rousing speeches! Goosebumps, really. (Even Jin-man cries.) He adds that they’ll all need safety nets, to break their falls—family, to support them and love them no matter what. He asks them to cheer them on, and thanks them, and the audience breaks into applause. Aw, so loving Teacher right now.

He’s greeted in the dressing room with high fives from the Misfits, and comes up to Hye-mi, who hesitates. She puts her hand halfway up, and it’s enough for Oh-hyuk to meet it with a high-five. She smiles, probably for the first time ever, directly because of him.

Jin-gook presents Dad with his papers to go abroad, apologizing. He says that he’s sorry for going to Kirin in the first place, since it really was an act of rebellion, and he didn’t really take any of it seriously. He apologizes for knowing that Dad had a dream, but messing with it anyway.

Jin-gook: I’m sorry for not taking your dream seriously. Once I had a dream of my own, I realized…that there are no dreams that should be laughed at in this world.

He tells Dad that he won’t be going abroad, and that he’ll stand up on stage someday; that this isn’t a rebellion, but a true dream. Dad reacts as expected, declaring that he’s blocking his path. Jin-gook tells him that he’s going to root for Dad and become a son that he can be proud of, and asks Dad to root for him too.

He leaves the office in high spirits, texting Hye-mi that he has something to tell her, and to meet him at the studio. But once outside, Jin-gook is greeted by Dad’s toadies, who cart him away. What, are you going to lock him up till he complies? Sigh, kdrama fathers.


I just love this show more and more each week. I love the rousing underdog-to-soar-to-new-heights speeches, I love the song and dance, the funny moments, and the dramatic turns. My heart totally lurched when Sam-dong almost went down, and now I’m just on pins and needles about where this kid is headed. I had a feeling that if he wasn’t K and they went with Hye-mi being K in the future, that Sam-dong might become her songwriter. But now with this looming over them, there’s this sense of urgency in everything because we don’t know how long he’ll…be able to hear…or (gulp) stay alive… … No. You wouldn’t do that to us, Show, would you?

Aaaaaaargh. Did I mention that this show is my new crack?

And just a reminder: no Episode 8 tomorrow, as Korea is playing in the Asia Cup semi-finals, against Japan. Talk about a ratings sweep. Even my grandma’s gonna watch that.


241 January 31, 2011January 24, 2016

Dream High: Episode 8

by javabeans

Awww, yeah! I love when the tables turn in a drama, when the rules change and there’s constant motion in a plot. I’m really liking the pace of this drama — things move briskly enough that we’re never in danger of plodding along, but not so speedily that they don’t have time to resonate, either. Now it’s time for the fast-trackers to get going and leave the rest stewing in jealousy… just in time for our Misfits to surprise everyone with the stuff they’re made of.


Gigs – “짝사랑” (One-sided Crush). This is the song used in the Jason/Pil-sook Post-it scene. [ Download ]

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When Hye-mi gets Jin-gook’s text message to meet at the basement studio, her immediate reaction is to harrumph at the traitor, grumbling that she’s only going to give him a good beatdown for his betrayal… all while primping. You know, a girl’s gotta look pretty when she’s giving the guy she totally-doesn’t-like-or-at-least-would-die-before-admitting-it a piece of her mind. Not that she cares. Because she doesn’t.

Jin-gook’s captor takes him to the airport and says that his father is just trying to protect him, but Jin-gook knows that it’s more like he’s being hidden out of sight because he’s an embarrassment. He’s given a plane ticket to Vancouver, with Mr. Right Hand Man accompanying him to see that he gets settled.

The man walks Jin-gook walk toward the gate, one hand firmly on his back to keep him in line… so Jin-gook waits for the right moment to slip out of his jacket and run away, melting into the crowd. He sheds a pretty tear as he mentally asks his father not to make him hate him (meaning, please don’t do any more things that’ll make me hate you).

Hye-mi waits at the studio for a while before finally giving up. She comes home in a grouchy mood, but as Sam-dong’s mother is there, and she puts on an (uncharacteristically) cheerful face for her benefit.

She even smiles and goes along (albeit with clenched jaw) when Mom brings up marriage, saying sweetly that they haven’t talked about it yet. Sam-dong does get a kick to the shins for blabbing all this nonsense, which, yeah, he deserves.

Jin-gook arrives, intent on finding Hye-mi to apologize, stopping short as Mom enthusiastically greets him, calling him the devoted follower to her son. It’s ridiculous how sweet I find it that these kids all play along with Sam-dong’s absurd lies. Mom pats Jin-gook’s cheek in a maternal gesture and says that he’s her son too, then, and that rattles him a bit, having just come from being dumped by his father.

Mom puts a piece of fish in his bowl as she asks what he likes to eat, and that little gesture is enough to introduce a waver to his voice and a glimmer in his eye as he answers that he likes fish. Aw. He tries to hide his tears as he eats, assuring Mom it’s delicious.

After bidding Mom goodbye, Jin-gook apologizes to Hye-mi for being a no-show, knowing she’s peeved. She confirms that she is — but she’s also noticed Jin-gook’s reaction at dinner and senses that he’s going through something right now, and says she’ll let it slide tonight

As she turns to head inside, Jin-gook grabs her hand and whirls her around, resting his head on her shoulder wearily. Hye-mi pats his head, and he clasps her hand in both of his.

Sam-dong sees Mom off at the bus station, and as she chatters on about how much she likes Hye-mi, his hearing fades in and out again. Argh, if you’re going to make him into bloody Beethoven…! Drama, I don’t care how genius he was, I want Sam-dong to hear!

Interestingly, loan shark Doo-shik decides to foot the bill for the majority of the Rebel Misfit Showcase — a shocking move, since it’s understood that Oh-hyuk is basically digging himself into a grave of debt all by his lonesome. But Doo-shik declares that it’s a fair price “for showing me my dream.” (Omo — Mr. Awkward Loan Shark… possibly becoming a real agency president?)

During a staff meeting at school, Oh-hyuk and Jin-man sneak notes to each other via cell phone, wondering that Kyung-jin might spill the news about their fake showcase to the principal. But curiously, when Oh-hyuk works up the nerve to ask her about it, she says blankly, “Fake showcase? Yesterday? But I didn’t come to the school yesterday.”

The guys wonder why she would possibly side with them. Personally I suspect she may be embarrassed about showing vulnerability in a weak moment, but Jin-man recalls how she’d fallen on top of him (believing him to be Oh-hyuk, I might point out) and his mind goes in a different direction. He sighs, “I think I know why.” LOL. I love how prone he is to flattering his own vanity.

Jin-gook’s father is still intent on withdrawing him from Kirin, so Oh-hyuk asks if Jin-gook agrees with this intent. Getting back a firm denial, he cheerily rips up the form, though he’s under no illusions that this is the end of it — the henchman threatened to take this up with the principal next time.

Jin-gook contemplates the card given to him by the talent agency CEO at the showcase, who has selected him to make his debut next. Despite his initial protests, now Jin-gook thinks of the man’s promise that this is a step toward becoming a world-famous singer.

The rest of the student body soon finds out the names of the students selected for upcoming debuts, which includes a handful of first-years: Shi-hyuk (Jin-gook), Baek-hee, Jason, and Ria. Wait, I thought Ria was already a star…? Maybe she just got a jump on the diva attitude.

Sam-dong and Hye-mi are surprised, not having known till now that Jin-gook had performed at the showcase. They both feel it as a betrayal, particularly Hye-mi, who remembers him telling her he wanted to debut on the same stage with her.

The newly selected are gathered for press interviews, and students gather to watch as Baek-hee is asked who she would thank. She has two answers: Jin-gook, for making the showcase possible for her, and her teacher for telling her that rivals are more important than friends. Naturally that prompts the question of who that rival is, and whether she ought to thank her as well. Baek-hee casts a satisfied look Hye-mi’s way as she says that yes, her rival deserves some thanks for calling her third-rate — after hearing that from her best friend, Baek-hee was spurred with motivation.

Jin-gook has been looking guiltily at his friends, and now shoots a glare at Baek-hee as Hye-mi runs out in tears.

Outside, Hye-mi thinks back to all the harsh words she’d said and finally realizes, “Go Hye-mi, you really were the worst.” Well, enlightenment is better late than never?

It’s Sam-dong who follows her out to ask if she’s okay. She answers that she’s not, because she sees now that while she thought she was Ha-ni (the heroine of a manhwa) when she was actually Naeri (a lesser character). Or Eliza instead of Candy. Sam-dong’s not up on his pop-culture references and doesn’t understand, though he does get the gist of Hye-mi’s self-deprecating mood.

The Top Entertainment CEO, President Yoon, gathers his debut students to tell them that they’ll be beginning training camp next week.

Baek-hee tells Jin-gook she meant her thanks, only to have him answer that if she’s really thankful she won’t talk about him — or Hye-mi — anymore. I like that he doesn’t threaten her, but shrewdly turns it around on her — that if Baek-hee becomes famous, it’ll become clear who her rival is: “That can’t be what you want, is it?”

Zing! What other response could she have but “Why no, Mr. Hot Stuff Whom I Have A Pluto-Sized Crush On, of course not”?

Mr. Right Hand Man is also at the school to try to press his father’s dictate upon him again, but Jin-gook is holding firm. He’s already been noted as a debut student, which would make backing out of Top Entertainment a big mess: “And Father hates messes, doesn’t he?”

When Jin-gook gets home, Hye-mi ignores him while Sam-dong asks him about this debut business. Jin-gook wants to speak to Hye-mi in private, but neither Hye-mi nor Sam-dong are willing to humor him.

Sam-dong even stands up to him and won’t let him take Hye-mi away, leading Jin-gook to an unexpected, high-handed solution: He picks Sam-dong up, deposits him on the balcony, and shuts him out. Heh.

Turning to Hye-mi, he apologizes for not keeping his promise: “But wanting to stand onstage with you… I meant it.” He says this debut wasn’t what he wanted, but he couldn’t help it from happening.

A bit bitterly, Hye-mi answers that it must be nice to get that debut through no want of his own, when she wants it so badly: “I’m not angry at you. No, I don’t know if I have the right to be angry at you, when I’m not anything to you.” The implication is that they mean nothing to each other, and he tries to protests, but she steps back and tells him dully, “Congratulations on your debut. But I can’t say it with a smile.”

In a studio, some random actor (Nickhun, in a cameo), dressed as Romeo, lies in the death throes (or whatever) when a phone call comes through from his “Juliet.” She (Ria) sings him a song and revives him with her angelic voice… is the concept of the CF, which doesn’t work out so well because Ria has a voice to make the dead turn over in their graves, but not rise from them. Funny how she’s debuting as a singer, then. I guess her appearance is supposed to make up for the warbling.

Romeo can’t get into the spirit of the moment, and neither can the producers. They can’t hire another singer because it’ll be apparent it was a lip-synch job… unless they use one of Ria’s Kirin classmates who has a good voice but no hope of debuting.

Who could that be? Enter Pil-sook, who dubs the song to great success, while being told she’ll be credited properly.

Excited about this big career moment, Pil-sook tells her parents the good news. She wants to share her happy moment with someone else, but she’s so shy that as she dials another number, she adorably mutters, “Don’tanswerdon’tanswerdon’tanswer…

But Jason does answer, and then sneaks up behind her as she announces that she’s going to be credited in the upcoming CF. Aww, I foresee a broken heart in the near future. But Jason congratulates her, and these two are so cute it’s ridiculous.

Baek-hee, bolstered with her recent success, now confronts Hye-mi (sporting some very Kyung-jin-like eyeliner) with a superior smirk and hands over the K pendant. No longer the insecure hanger-on, Baek-hee declares that Hye-mi will need it more, and that Baek-hee no longer hates her, or considers her competition. Burn.

Weary and beaten down, Hye-mi just sits there with her head on the table, where Pil-sook comes to join her, seeking some advice.

Pil-sook thinks Jason is starting to like her for real this time, and offers examples that are solid enough that Hye-mi deems them promising indeed. Her opinion bolsters Pil-sook’s good spirits, and as she exults, Hye-mi looks at her in a curious way. She says, half-surprised, “You’re pretty. Why didn’t I see it before?” Hye-mi calls her a star — as in, a leading lady, not just a sideline character. Aw, the unlikely friendship between these two is pretty cute.

Sam-dong heads to a manhwa rental store to ask about the characters Hye-mi mentioned and busies himself in reading. Hilariously, Jin-gook looks at him curiously — Sam-dong gives him the cold shoulder — and asks if he’s wearing his underwear again (HA). Sam-dong just covers himself with a blanket (LOL) and refuses to answer.

At school, Pil-sook works up her courage to leave Jason a note in the form of a heart-shaped Post-it: “You don’t know how I feel.” Puzzled, Jason looks around and finds another Post-it on a nearby locker (which begs the question of what would’ve happened if that student got there first…), and that reads, “No, that’s okay.”

Jason quickly realizes that those are lyrics to a song (the one posted above), and as he follows the trail of heart-shaped breadcrumbs, they say:

You don’t know how I feel, no that’s okay
That time on the way home, you smiled at me
You’re beautiful, more than the sunlight
I like you, more than the universe
I must have a crush on you
I must really love you

Finally, the last note are Pil-sook’s own words: “If you feel the same as I do, come up the stairs.”

His expression grows more serious as he sees Pil-sook waiting for him at the top. She’s sitting there praying for him to come up… and just as I’m thinking he’s not gonna do it, HE DOES IT. AHHHHHH!

Jason sits next to her and says that he didn’t know she liked him so much. She’s fast on her way up to Cloud Nine, but the next words send her crashing back to earth: “Sorry. I do like you, but I don’t think I feel the same as you do.”

Disappointed, she asks why he came up the stairs, then, instead of just going. Jason says that he couldn’t just go without replying — argh, you and your stupid supposedly-American-but-totally-not-really-American-(because-Americans-have-crappy-manners-frankly-let’s-be-honest)-politeness and manners!

Putting on a brave face, she laughs it off through her tears, saying she must have mistook things again and rushes off.

Yet more heartbreak awaits her as she visits her parents’ restaurant, where Mom and Dad are watching TV with their cameras out, ready to take a snapshot of their daughter’s big moment. But to her horror, Pil-sook sees that she’s been Smelly Cat’ed, and it’s her voice singing along to Ria’s angelic, pretty, thin image. Worse yet, the written credit is given to Ria as well.

This time Pil-sook joins Hye-mi in the headdesking, saying sadly that she must not be a leading lady after all. Hye-mi pats her hand, and it’s a sad, touching beat as they just sit there, tears falling in silence.

In a photo shoot for the soon-to-debut-idols, President Yoon congratulates Ria on her CF, and asks about her voiceover artist. Ria confirms that the girl isn’t debut material (and therefore no threat to the con) since she’s 30 kg overweight.

Overhearing, Jason confronts Ria for taking credit for Pil-sook’s voice. Ria lies that she wasn’t in on the plan, but Jason calls her out for the shoddy excuse.

On his last night in the Misfit house, Jin-gook sees Hye-mi trudging home, but as she has been diligently giving him the cold shoulder, he quietly leaves without saying anything. In her room, Hye-mi finds a box he’d left behind, containing his spare helmet and his earphones. That, finally, unleashes a flood of sweet memories, and she starts to cry.

Sam-dong finds her outside later, standing in the cold wearing the helmet. When he lifts the helmet off her head, he sees that she’s been crying and asks what’s wrong — but something in her tone warns him as she asks, “Can I really tell you what’s wrong?” and he says no, he doesn’t want to know after all. Hye-mi barrels past his protests and says he ought to know, admitting that she’s crying because of Jin-gook.

Sam-dong yells at her not to say it, then reconstructs the truth in a way that he can handle — that yes, she’s crying because of Jin-gook, but it’s out of jealousy because he is debuting first. Holding back tears, he tries to smile and assure himself that this is the truth. Poor, heartbreaking boy.

While taking out the trash, Oh-hyuk finds a stash of crumpled drawings, which he assumes are Hye-mi’s. Hye-mi sees the manhwa images and knows right away that it was Sam-dong, in response to what she’d told him about being Naeri — he’d made her into the heroine. He has redrawn the Misfits into these manhwa characters, even adding in an evil Baek-hee with her evil eyes.

Hye-mi asks Oh-hyuk if she seems like a Naeri, and he agrees, which makes her grumble that he could’ve at least fibbed to make her feel better.

Oh-hyuk clarifies that if the drama of Hye-mi’s life were to end here, she’d be Naeri, as the girl who insulted her friend and let pride be her downfall. But if her drama were to end later, “Then the story changes. If you realize your mistake and reflect on it, fix it, and mature — then you can be the heroine of that drama.” He assures her that she has plenty of time to grow.

In class, Hye-mi shows Sam-dong the drawings, and immediately he lurches after them. In the brief runaround, her hair gets caught in his jacket, and while he works to untangle them, she asks how the story continues. He doesn’t know, but she declares that she thinks she does — it’s time for them to win now. Yes, please!

In the halls, Pil-sook attempts to evade Jason and ends up drawing his concern when she hits her head on a locker. She asks him to quit acting out of sheer politeness, but he says that she keeps weighing on his mind — which is precisely the type of term that kdrama heroes tend to use about heroines that they don’t know they’re in love with yet. Pil-sook brightens at this proof that he doesn’t hate her, and he clarifies that no, he does like her — as a friend.

With new hope, Pil-sook asks if he’d reconsider his answer (about likng her) if she were to come back thinner and prettier — say, in 200 days’ time. Jason thinks to Ria’s comment that Pil-sook might have debut potential without her extra 30 kgs, and agrees.

This fresh motivation spurs Pil-sook into action, and she seeks advice from her teacher, wondering if it’s possible for her to lose 30 kg in 200 days. The teacher answers (ugh), “There are no ugly women in the world, just lazy ones.” Oh, I hate you so much, just for the sheer principle of it.

So over the next few months, Pil-sook works at her new diet and exercise regimen, and the Misfits watch as their classmates — arranged into the group “K” — make their debuts and enjoy a swift climb in popularity.

Finally, by day 200, we finally see Pil-sook — aptly singing to “Video Killed the Radio Star,” although perhaps it’s not so apt anymore, since she’s newly slim and prettified.

By now, K is a sensation, and a mob greets them as they pull up to Kirin. Jin-gook beelines for the Misfit class — it’s empty — and amusingly, so does Jason.

Neither guy has found who he’s looking for, and they split off into opposite directions. Happily, Jason finds a welcome lollipop stuck to his locker, just like old times.

But he walks right by Pil-sook, not realizing who it is until she stops him, giving him a chance to read her nametag. His eyes widen to see how much she’s changed.

Jin-gook prowls around looking for Hye-mi, and comes upon a dance studio where a crowd has amassed, watching two students inside. The backlighting makes it hard for him to make out the figures, and he squints as he tries to figure out who he’s watching.

It’s only gradually that he and a shocked Baek-hee are able to discern that Hye-mi and Sam-dong are the center of attention, impressing everyone with their dance moves, including them.

As they dance, Oh-hyuk’s words to Hye-mi repeat:

Oh-hyuk: “Your drama has a long way to go before it’s over. So don’t force yourself to go quickly. If you go slowly, you can see a lot more, in more detail, than the people who go quickly. If you ask me who would grow more between those two, I’d say it’s the one who goes slowly and sees a lot.”


Yay for reversals! I’m a sucker for this stuff — I just eat it up. Obviously we all knew that our Misfits were going to succeed eventually, but this introduces an interesting, not-quite-black-and-white rivalry with Jin-gook in the wrong group, and Jason stuck there as well. There’s also that foreshadowing that K has ascended too quickly to make it for the long haul, while the gradual, slow risers will be in it for the long haul. I’m fully expecting lineup changes and group shakeups, as they did with the defection of Jin-gook to Team Hotshots, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens from here on out.

I’d been anticipating yet half-dreading Pil-sook’s transformation, because the issue of starlets and weight loss and prettification is a touchy one at best, and positively incendiary at worst. Again we get into the issue of Dramas Aren’t Reality vs. Art Reflects Culture and Shapes It, So Don’t Be a Damned Idiot About Representing Things Irresponsibly. And while there may have been better ways to approach the issue — like Pil-sook being motivated, of all things, because of a guy (realistic, but sadly so) — I can accept the 200-day agreement because of the way Jason reacts (thankfully).

If he’d just agreed to rethink things when she got skinny, I’d have wanted to hit him over the head with a tire iron and disavow any affection for the Milk Couple (so-called because the real-name smooshing — “WooU,” from Wooyoung and IU — means milk in Korean). But the drama makes it a point to indicate that Jason is thinking of Pil-sook’s debut potential, and couches his agreement in the terms of wanting her to succeed for herself. A bit clunky, but better than the alternative, yeah?


367 February 1, 2011January 24, 2016

Dream High: Episode 9

by girlfriday

Woot! It’s Dance-Off Time! It’s glitter and gold and rivalries galore, as we find out just how much the tables have turned in 200 days. Some people come back with moves, others come back with feelings, and some show up with remorse and a new attitude. Let the games begin.


Panic – “기다리다” [ Download ]

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We see that in the 200 days, Hye-mi has been spurred on to dig her heels in and really make an effort to catch up to Baek-hee. We see her and Sam-dong practicing for their latest midterm, which was what we witnessed at the end of the last episode. (And how cute is it to watch Sam-dong dance?)

Oh-hyuk gives the Misfits their midterm scores proudly, but their faces fall when they hear that they’re not high enough to get them out of the university prep class. Their spirits sag at the thought of spending their sophomore year in here too.

But Oh-hyuk has a plan. There’s a dance competition coming up, and if they can enter and win, they’ll earn enough points to get out of Misfitland. But! We love Misfitland!

They balk at being able to win a national dance competition, but Oh-hyuk tells them not to worry; they have a secret weapon. Cut to “Dance God” Yang Jin-man, doing a dance…that I can’t even…with an outfit…that’s just…pwahahaha. I love this guy.

Hye-mi loses a round of rock-paper-scissors (which she suggested, heh) and heads to the arena where she registers the Misfits for the competition. She runs into Baek-hee, who coolly acknowledges that she saw Hye-mi’s midterm dance and that she’s improved.

Now it’s Hye-mi’s turn to thank her frenemy, for being good motivation for her to succeed. She dangles the K pendant in Baek-hee’s face, saying that she was right; it really does have some luck.

Baek-hee confirms that she’s entering the competition too, (In truth, it’d be no fun without you, Baek-hee.) and wonders who will win. Hye-mi: “What does it matter who wins, as long as we try out best…is what I can’t bring myself to say.” HA! She even has the accompanying facial expressions to fake her out.

Hye-mi declares that she’ll win this competition and her way out of the university prep class, and Baek-hee just says we’ll wait and see. But as Hye-mi turns to walk away, she can’t help but get this last dig in: that she’s here to sign up Shi-hyuk (Jin-gook), and Hye-mi pauses at the mention of his name.

Pil-sook looks intently at the poster for the dance competition at school, and tries out a few dance poses, thinking that she’s alone. But Chipmunk walks up right behind her, and starts mimicking her moves. Oh my god, I love the idea that he might become HER secret admirer now. So. Good.

She gets into the dancing and twirls around, only to come face to face with Jason, and fall back in shock. He lurches forward to grab her and keep her from falling, leading to much awkwardness and avoidance of eye contact. It’s adorable.

He asks if she’s entering the competition, and he says he is too, since that’s what Principal Shi required of everyone in K, in order to make up for all their absences. She asks if he came here to say something to her, and he says no…but does she maybe have something to say to him? Eee! Are you fishing for her to re-ask you if you like her?

And by the way, I’m totally in the he-liked-her-before-she-was-skinny camp. Because he looked for her before he knew she looked like this. And because he has to, in order for me to keep rooting for them. Drama, please don’t change my mind about this. Don’t do it.

She says no, and then when Ria walks up, she excuses herself shyly and walks away. Jason can’t hide his disappointment at what she didn’t ask him. Ria wonders who that is, and he tells her it’s Pil-sook, the girl she said would never debut unless she lost 30kg. Ria just scoffs that looks aren’t enough for someone to debut, and Chipmunk counters, “Well, you can’t sing, but you debuted.” LOL.

On her way home with Sam-dong, Hye-mi gets a call that Jin-gook has returned home, and gets a request to bring home cake. Sam-dong volunteers to run and get one, and even write “Welcome home” on it, and sends Hye-mi home ahead of him.

At home, Jin-gook presents the family with gifts, and gets a squeal from Noona over a handbag, and a kiss on the cheek from Hye-mi’s little sister (which hilariously prompts a yelling session from a very jealous Noona). He waits for Hye-mi with a gift in his hand.

But when Hye-mi arrives in front of the house, she’s greeted by a group of fangirls (with posters that say: “Jin-gook Over Flowers.” Ha. They refuse to let her pass because they assume she’s just a crazy fangirl, and she’s quick to tell them that they’re the crazy ones, and besides, she’s not even his fan. They gang up on her and start with the hair pulling, until Sam-dong breaks it up to save her.

Jin-gook rushes out to ask if she’s okay, but Sam-dong blocks him from getting any closer to Hye-mi, and tells him it’s best if he leaves. Jin-gook watches sadly as Sam-dong takes her inside, and sees the welcome home cake splattered on the ground.

Hye-mi goes inside and sees the present from Jin-gook on her desk, and puts it away sadly.

Later Jin-gook returns to their old studio, and finds Sam-dong there, practicing till late. He asks if Hye-mi’s around, and thanks Sam-dong for saving her the other night. Sam-dong gets up in Jin-gook’s face, and says with dramatic tension, “I don’t think that’s something you should be thanking me for.” (As in: you are not her keeper, so don’t pretend I saved your girl.)

Oooooh. I miss the days when you were wearing each other’s underwear (I was really hoping there was a gift box for Sam-dong with a pair of boxer briefs.) but I do enjoy that there’s a new rivalry in town.

Sam-dong reminds him that he asked if he liked Hye-mi and he said he didn’t. Sam-dong: “If I ask you again now, will your answer be the same?” Jin-gook: “No.” Aw, yeah.

Sam-dong gives it to him straight: He likes Hye-mi, and he’s never going to give her up. Gah, I freaking love your bleeding heart high school boy adoration. It’s totally unrealistic, but that’s what high school love is like.

It’s time for Dance of the Year, as the contestants gather for team-picking and such. Presiding over the events is the judge, a cameo by Koo Jun-yup (DJ Koo of Clon). The team captains are picked at random, but of course Hye-mi and Baek-hee get chosen.

Hye-mi has first pick at her team, and both Sam-dong and Jin-gook stare nervously as she looks between them…and then picks Jason. Hahaha. Hey, first pick means you get first shot at the best dancer, and I love that Hye-mi’s like, screw boys, imma win.

Baek-hee picks Jin-gook, and Hye-mi chooses the rest of the Misfits to round out her foursome. Next comes the performance order and theme, which is strangely enough, an animal. Hye-mi’s team gets Bird, while Baek-hee’s team gets Snake. Even the kids note that it’s an interesting coincidence, as birds and snakes have very obvious connotations in folklore as signs of good and evil, respectively.

Easy-going Jason is happy to join the team, and even gets a welcome high-five from Sam-dong. Yay, I much prefer Chipmunk as a Misfit. Jin-gook looks on wistfully, but gets a stare-down from Sam-dong and Baek-hee wonders if she did the wrong thing, picking Jin-gook when he wanted to be on Hye-mi’s team. He says she did the right thing, and that they have to win.

The Misfits head to the studio to practice, and as they explain their studio space to Jason, he says that he knows—he’s been there before. Pil-sook turns around to ask when, and he sheepishly confesses to following her that day they went to the noraebang, because he was “bored.” Bored, my ass.

Sam-dong teases them for appearing to have a deeper history than they let on, but both PIl-sook and Jason deny it. They reach the studio, but find that the entrance has been blocked. They call Oh-hyuk with the news that the landlord sold the place. (I thought it was abandoned…so who was paying rent on it this whole time?)

Oh-hyuk is in the middle of making a payment to debt collector Man Doo-shik, who hears the news and offers up his nightclub (before hours) for the kids to practice in. He even offers it at no charge, prompting Oh-hyuk’s fluttering eyelashes of gratitude. Doo-shik jumps back, yelling at him not to make that face anymore. Why, are you afraid of being the Terius to his Candy again? Keh.

They get to practice, as Jin-man plays videos of birds for them to watch. Jason doubts Jin-man’s skills as a dancer and choreographer, prompting an almost-dance-off (which would have been awesome) but sadly, Jin-man backs down. Heh.

At practice, he tells them to think of the birds and move like them. Jason pecks like a chicken, Pil-sook flutters, Sam-dong clucks, and Hye-mi….isn’t even a bird, as she does a classical Korean folk dance. Ha. Jin-man bursts their bird-bubbles, and shows them how to flap their wings, as he choreographs their number, featuring a solo for Chipmunk. Can a chipmunk play a bird?

In the coming days, Sam-dong learns Jason’s moves, and Hye-mi catches him in the studio, practicing Jason’s solo. He asks if it’s so crazy that he could maybe learn it better than Jason and scoop the solo out from under him…and Hye-mi answers truthfully that it IS that crazy. Sam-dong knows it but he doesn’t care. He gets close to her, and says that he’s not going to give up…on anything. Rawr?

But of course, things are never that easy for the Misfits, as they run into another snag. The cops find issue with their presence in a nightclub, and they get hauled off to the police station for questioning. Doo-shik gets punished, while the kids get to leave with their teacher…and in walks Principal Shi. Uh-oh.

Principal Shi brings Oh-hyuk in to ask not about the practice space, but about the man he saw at the police station, remembering him as the talent agent who borrowed the school’s auditorium the day of the showcase. We don’t see how Oh-hyuk talks himself out of it, but he tells the kids that they’re okay to compete. They wonder where they’ll practice now…

They stand awkwardly in the middle of a jjimjilbang (24-hour sauna) as Jin-man wonders if this is really what it’s come down to. Oh-hyuk tells them that it’ll be fine, and they practice, with Sam-dong filling in for Jason’s solo.

Cue dance montage, as both teams practice. Aw, yeah!

We go straight into the competition, as Team Snake does indeed writhe around like a snake, dressed in all black, in case we forget who the bad guys are. Team Bird is dressed in all white, of course, and I’m lamenting the fact that we didn’t get to see Sam-dong during his makeup session where he got sprayed with all that manly glitter.

Backstage, Jin-man tells Jason that they changed a part of the routine, and tries to teach him the steps. Oh-hyuk steps in to say that since Sam-dong’s been to ALL the rehearsals, he should do the solo. Chipmunk and his giant ego argue that he doesn’t even need to learn new steps; he can just freestyle it.

Oh-hyuk asks Sam-dong if he can do it, and he hesitates, so Oh-hyuk tells him that the longer he thinks, the less courage he’ll have. He says he’s up to the challenge. Jin-man and Jason protest, but Hye-mi backs Sam-dong. Put to a democratic vote, Pil-sook is the final word. Chipmunk smiles, thinking he’s got it in the bag…as Pil-sook votes for Sam-dong. Burrrrrn.

In the audience, Jin-man complains to the other teachers about Oh-hyuk’s crazy stunt, and Kyung-jin marvels at Oh-hyuk’s dogged principles. She can see that he’s trying to teach Jason a lesson—that talent does not win over hard work.

Team Bird does their routine to a hip-hop version of Swan Lake, which is weird, but pretty to look at. Essentially, they aren’t better dancers than Team Snake, and Sam-dong does a good job, but in truth his dance skills aren’t the show-stopping kind.

Backstage, Chipmunk tells Pil-sook that if he’d done the solo, they would have gotten first place instead of third. Pil-sook thinks it’s fine if they managed to get out of the university prep class, but then can’t take his complacency anymore.

She tells him that he should have been angry that his solo was taken, but here he is, not a care in the world, and that he never should have abandoned his own showcase for hers. Pil-sook: “You have no desire, no dream, no goal.”

Jason gets defensive that she’s trying to lecture him, and Pil-sook adds the kicker: “It’s because I genuinely feel bad for you.” Ouch.

She apologizes for making him feel bad and starts to walk away. Jason: “I wasn’t going to say anything because I’m embarrassed and it hurts my ego, but…why aren’t you keeping your promise?” Eeee!

Pil-sook: Promise? Oh…the 200-day proposal. You know, it was really hard for me to lose weight. I couldn’t eat or drink what I wanted. I nearly died and came back to life. And then when I thought about it…about doing all that because of you…it felt like a waste. I wonder if I did all that for someone who has no dreams, no goals. So, I gave it up.

God, I love that she’s not just thoughtlessly in love with him anymore, and that maybe he’s why she started her diet, but not the entirety of HER dreams and goals. Yay for Pil-sook.

Chipmunk’s ego is bruised beyond…well, probably worse than he’s ever been bruised, considering he’s the golden boy who just coasts through life. So he lashes out at Pil-sook, who says that she’s saying all this because she’s his fan. He says she’s not a caring fan, but a fan who’s overstepping her bounds. He leaves her, clutching her last yogurt cap, the 200-day marker that she’s still holding onto.

Hye-mi smiles at her third-place trophy, and Baek-hee smugly puts her first-place one right next to it to gloat. But to her utter surprise, Hye-mi congratulates her on winning with genuine praise. Baek-hee literally does a double take, wondering what bizarro world she walked into, and explains that SHE won…while Hye-mi lost…

Hye-mi says she knows, but her goal today was to get out of the university prep class, which she did. She adds that someone once told her that not being able to congratulate a friend on her success is living in a hell of your own making. She says sincerely that she doesn’t want to live in that hell, and tells Baek-hee that she did a really good job. Baek-hee reels, somehow angrier that Hye-mi seems to be above the petty rivalry.

Outside, Sam-dong beams at Hye-mi, having overheard her quote his words to Baek-hee. He adds that he told her so, about not giving up, and getting to do the solo. She admits that he was right, and in his glee, he gives her a kiss on the cheek, and then runs for his life. Ha.

Jin-gook witnesses the kiss, and his face falls. Dude, you’re the one who went away and didn’t call. Don’t be mad at underwear boy for taking his chance. Gah, the sad puppy dog faces on either side of this triangle just kill me.

Kyung-jin finds Baek-hee stewing alone, wondering why she isn’t celebrating her victory with the others. Baek-hee: “I feel like I’ve been using all my strength to play tug-o’-war, only to find that my opponent has dropped the rope and left me.”

Both Baek-hee and Jin-gook spend their victory party brooding over Hye-mi, for very different reasons.

The next morning, the story finally breaks that Jin-gook is the illegitimate son of Chairman Hyun. What the…what was the press doing for the past 200 days? Anyway, everyone, including Hye-mi finds out.

Jin-gook braces himself, as Daddy calls and tells him how they’re going to handle it. The next thing you know, they’re giving a tv interview, and Dad is claiming that the stories are false: he adopted Shi-hyuk when he was ten. Oh, that’s just mean. The worst part is, Jin-gook totally lets himself get bamboozled by Daddy, because that’s how much he wants to be loved.

He says that even if the rumors were true, he would have continued to love and respect his father. Aw. It kills me that you love your fakey fakerson father so much. Out in the hall, he asks if this means he really doesn’t have a father anymore, and walks away. In the car, Dad finds a gift left behind by Jin-gook. That’s right; you’d better feel guilty.

Later Jin-gook comes to find Hye-mi to lean on. He tries to be cute with her, but she’s not having any of that, so he chooses a backhug instead. Melt. He even cries on her shoulder, literally, for good measure. She starts to thaw a little when she realizes that he’s crying, but he says he’s fine and walks off.

By the time she turns around to catch up to him, she finds him with Baek-hee, who’s come to check if he’s okay.

At school the kids lament that they can’t afford to go on the class trip to Japan, where group K will also be shooting their music video, at the same time of course. Japan? I was lucky if I got to go to a few local museums when I was in high school. Yeesh.

Oh-hyuk really wants to send them, but they refuse to let him spend more money on them. He goes to see Doo-shik anyway, who has a better idea than giving him another loan: if the kids will sing at his friend-of-friend’s wedding in Japan, he’ll pay for the expenses. Hm. Something tells me this isn’t going to be an ordinary wedding.

Pil-sook volunteers to find the song, and in the library, she sees Jason listening to a song, and then sneaks a listen once he leaves. It’s Panic’s “기다리다,” or “While Waiting,” posted up above. Another Boys Over Flowers reference?

The song plays as Chipmunk goes to his locker, at first ignoring his daily lollipop taped to the door. But in the end he can’t leave it there, and takes it with him. Aw.

Sam-dong and Hye-mi get ready for the big trip, and hurry Oh-hyuk along. He watches them with a thoughtful smile on his face, as we flashback to his meeting with Principal Shi. We find out that the principal couldn’t mess with Oh-hyuk because of his ironclad contract with President Jung, but threatened to expel the kids instead.

Oh-hyuk made a deal to keep them in school—he’d resign, as long as they got to stay. Principal Shi agreed to terms, and set the class trip as his final deadline.

Back in the present, Hye-mi and Sam-dong egg him on, and he smiles at them wistfully, putting on a brave face. Aw, teacher, don’t go!


This drama continues to be insanely awesome, and I was ready to say that even before the dancetastic preview intercut with Jin-man’s “Too Legit 2 Quit.” I mean, what is there to even say about that, other than it makes me smile like an idiot?

The love triangles in this drama are so well-matched, that every five seconds I’m rooting for someone new, and basically I just end up in circles, except I’m happy about it the entire time. It’s more like a tilt-a-whirl than a triangle, and I’m throwing my hands up and going “wheeee!”

I was worried that I would end up hating the Pil-sook/Jason couple after she went on her boy-motivated diet, but now I find them much more interesting, because the 200 days created enough distance and misunderstanding for the tables to turn. Now Chipmunk’s the one who’s confused and orbiting her, so it makes them more evenly matched. And not because she’s pretty now, but because she’s discovered things about herself and her dream in the process.

I also like that they’re doing something with Jason’s character, and jolting him out of his golden-boy complacency. The idea that he’s resting on his laurels while everyone else fights tooth and nail is an interesting dynamic to bring up, and I hope Pil-sook’s words challenge him to find a dream.

But the best part of the reversal is Baek-hee’s feeling of being left behind by her rival. She’s someone who’s motivated by competition, and now that Hye-mi doesn’t want to play that game, she’s actually feeling adrift. It redefines the frenemy relationship, and makes their connection so interestingly layered—it’s love and hate, fuel and poison. I think theirs is the relationship to look out for.

Besides, how’s a girl to choose between these two?


323 February 7, 2011January 24, 2016

Dream High: Episode 10

by javabeans

Cute, fun, and angsty, all wrapped up in a big bow of feel-good. (And then some feel-nervous.) Now that’s my kind of episode.

No Song of the Day today, because there were so many in the episode proper. It’s a veritable extravaganza of song ‘n dance.


Backtracking for a moment, we see our Misfits take third place at the awards portion of the Dance of the Year competition. They’re all thrilled about it (except for wonderboy Jason?), and Sam-dong calls out to Oh-hyuk in the audience, asking him to stay with them forever. Not betraying his promise to resign, Oh-hyuk just nods.

It’s time for the students to head out for their class trip to Japan, with the Misfits traveling separately to sing at the wedding to earn their plane tickets. At the last minute, they hear that Pil-sook is in the hospital, having fallen ill last-minute.

They’re picked up by their rich Japanese contact in a stretch limo and led to a yakuza-lined pavilion. Oh-hyuk mutters to a nervous Sam-dong that they’re not yakuza — just “important businessmen!” — but the check-in consists of a pat-down and a weapons surrender. ‘Cause the bloodbath’ll just have to wait until after the ceremony.

Sam-dong and Hye-mi take their places to sing their selection, but accidentally take up the wrong sheet music. (Pil-sook had packed it and included the music for the song Jason had been listening to in the previous episode, Lee Juck/Panic’s “Waiting.”)

“기다리다” (Waiting) [ Download ]

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Deciding to go with it, Sam-dong and Hye-mi perform it anyway, and the attendees enjoy their pretty rendition… until the one dude who understands Korean translates the somewhat inappropriate lyrics to the mobster groom, who is NOT pleased to hear that it’s actually about separated lovers who vow to be together… in their next lifetimes.

The groom cuts in angrily, accusing them of ruining his wedding. Our trio can’t understand his words, but they sure as heck can read the hostile energy in the room, and Sam-dong urges Hye-mi to run. Oh-hyuk buys them a few seconds by blocking the pursuers, and the kids flee through the neighboring streets.

They manage to hide, at which point Hye-mi scolds Sam-dong for almost getting caught when he turned around at one point. He holds out his hand to show her what he had to turn back for — the sparkly cell phone accessory she’d given him (a matching pair with Baek-hee), which I’m sure is gonna break my heart at a future point.

Meanwhile, the rest of the Kirin students check in to their hotel with Kyung-jin, where already we can see the lines being drawn between the debut hotshots, who sit off to the side and enjoy more comfortable accommodations, and the normies, who get stuck four to a room.

Oh-hyuk staggers in, hoping his students have made it here, and admits that he lost them. Mention of the Misfit Mafia grabs the attention of the Hotshots, and Jin-gook immediately volunteers to go find them, followed by Jason.

Sam-dong asks for directions to the hotel in his broken Japanese, while Hye-mi is distracted by the sight of a fancy enclosed Ferris wheel. Mere seconds after they head off, Jin-gook and Jason come by and ask (in Jason’s fluent Japanese) the same passersby for info on the kids, but since they’re looking for one guy and two girls, they get back a negative. This drama’s doing its best to push the Jin-gook-and-Hye-mi-as-soulmates storyline, and so, Jin-gook also finds himself transfixed by the Ferris wheel.

Hye-mi sighs that they shouldn’t have come on the school trip, but Sam-dong reminds her that she wanted to come, and that he knows why. But when she challenges him to give her reason, they dance around the truth, and Sam-dong chooses not to mention Jin-gook..

Right now their most pressing concern is hunger, and upon spying some street performers, Sam-dong suggests earning some money.

What ensues is an upbeat performance, albeit one that annoys me because they’re clearly singing without instruments or background music, and yet they somehow magically have an instrumental track accompanying them. (I know they do this in musicals, but not when the characters are supposed to be performing in the drama itself — is it too much to ask for an awesome a cappella performance instead?)

Gradually they attract a large crowd, even stealing the other group’s audience, and engage their audience to join in and cheer.

The song they pick is Lee Moon-sae’s “붉은노을” (Red Sunset) . [ Download ]

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As they wind down, a group of b-boys (part of the rival group) crashes their party and starts dancing, which catches them by surprise… capped off with the appearance of Jin-gook, Jason, and In-sung, who challenge the other dancers to an impromptu dance-off. Did I just type that sentence? Dream High, I love you.

Not far behind them are the rest of the Kirin students, who join in on the dancefest, including Baek-hee.

The Kirin kids “win” when a b-boy stumbles, and with emotions running high, everyone exults together. Even Baek-hee offers up a silent high-five to Hye-mi, who accepts.

Okay, we then get a series of adorably cute sequences that send my giddy little heart into overdrive. ONE would have been fine, but a whole slew, back to back? Aghhhhh, sugar overload (and I mean that in a good way):

Sam-dong crashes with Jason and Jin-gook, and I love how casually Jason asks him about Pil-sook, and then freaks out when he hears she was hospitalized for hepatitis, asking if it was A, B, or C. It’s A (the least dangerous), but Sam-dong didn’t pay attention to that little detail, and Jason bursts out that it’s really important which it was.

Hye-mi crashes with Ria and Baek-hee, and her stomach growls loudly but her embarrassed pride won’t let her accept the snacks that Ria offers. At first Baek-hee seems to be purposely mean, telling Ria to forget the offer, but later that night she casually nudges a wrapped pastry off her nightstand, then pretends to be asleep while Hye-mi takes the offering. Aw. She out of anyone knows how to work around Hye-mi’s brick wall of pride, and it’s sweet that she makes the overture.

Hye-mi eats outside on the balcony, where Jin-gook spots her and asks to talk. Still upset with him, she mutters (with a full mouth) that they have nothing to say to each other.

In the morning, Kyung-jin spots Oh-hyuk sleeping on the common area couch, since a room hadn’t been available. As she nudges him awake, he mumbles sleepily, “Teacher Shi… I have to talk to you…” and the realization that he’s somehow dreaming of her makes her aflutter with nerves. It’s hilarious to see the icy, hardass teacher reduced to schoolgirlish insecurity so suddenly — and by Oh-hyuk, at that. Well, stranger pairings have happened… (and if I have any hope for a certain leading couple, it’s that Dream High seems to be fairly consistent about the opposites-attract pairing over the two-of-a-kind type).

Another case in point: Jason hits the web to research all the various possible symptoms of the kinds of hepatitis, and grimaces when he finds one entry that lists hepatitis as a leading cause of death. LOL. I mean, death by hepatitis is no laughing matter, but Jason’s earnest concern? CUTE. Then he swipes Sam-dong’s pillow out of pique, accusing him of being a bad friend for sleeping through this crisis. HAHA.

In the hospital, Pil-sook (who has given in to her mother’s temptation of smuggled pork, despite the diet) takes a call from Hye-mi, who’s relieved to hear that Pil-sook’s all better now and will be discharged tomorrow. Jason spots her as she hangs up, and hesitantly asks about Pil-sook’s condition. Hye-mi asks, “Is this interest or manners?” and he readily replies, “Manners,” then asks for clarification of which type of hepatitis it is.

Hye-mi clocks his uncharacteristic intensity and starts to reply, “Of course it’s A…” but seeing how he reacts, she adds, “…is what they thought. But it turns out it’s B.” Jason freaks out, and Hye-mi adds with a secret smile that Pil-sook’s going to be hospitalized for a while.

Hye-mi points out that he sure is concerned for this to be mere manners, to which he retorts by accusing her of not caring at all, then storms off in a huff. Hye-mi scoffs to herself, not believing for a second that he’s so worked up over manners.

Later, the Kirin kids head over to the set to watch as the K members shoot a music video. Oh-hyuk reads over the synopsis for the MV and laughs at the absurdity, since the plot features Jason injured and bloody, reaching out for Baek-hee, who sees a figure in the distance and throws herself in front of him to take the bullet instead.

As Baek-hee collapses, Ria cries, then turns the gun on herself. Jason’s tear hits Baek-hee’s cheek… and revives her. Oh-hyuk chuckles, calling the “Midas touch” director a “minus” instead (ha).

While watching the proceedings, Sam-dong listens to the song playing in the background (it’s K’s single), and tells Hye-mi that while it’s a well-designed track, it doesn’t quite feel seasoned enough. It just needs a little “salt” to make it great, and Hye-mi agrees, thinking the repetitive tune may be the culprit.

Pil-sook freaks out about a 2 kilogram weight gain, which is why she misses Jason’s phone call. Worried to death, he’s at his breaking point and declares that he’s heading back to Korea asap, now that the shoot is over. Aww. What nice manners they teach in America.

Sam-dong recognizes one of the crew members at the shoot as one of the street-performing guys from the day before. The difference is, while yesterday he seemed like a petulant prat, today he’s much more polite and hard-working. He greets everyone respectfully, then heads out to distribute flyers for his crew’s first concert, though most of them get tossed immediately in the trash. Sam-dong muses to Oh-hyuk that today the guy looks pretty cool, whereas yesterday he hadn’t, and wonders why. Oh-hyuk smiles, and merely offers that those kids remind him of Sam-dong & Co.

It’s their last night in Japan, and Kyung-jin warns her students to keep it a low-key affair. The kids send each other winks and loudly proclaim their intentions of sleeping early, while Oh-hyuk invites Kyung-jin out later that night. She thinks he’s suggesting a date — while he remains oblivious — and accepts.

Oh-hyuk leads his kids out for the night, running into the K members on their way out. They’re heading back to Korea tonight and can’t come along — or at least that’s the excuse until Jin-gook tags along, and everyone follows his lead.

The Japanese dance crew is, appropriately enough, named Dreamer, and the hall is sparsely attended, with the audience sitting docilely on the ground. The lead singer stiffens to recognize Sam-dong, wondering if there’s going to be trouble. Instead, Sam-dong smiles and leads the Kirin kids in livening up the atmosphere.

Kyung-jin gets ready for her “date” (primping hurriedly while grumbling like she soooo doesn’t care) and makes her way to meet him, getting to the concert when it’s in full swing. Dreamer’s lead singer takes a moment to signal their Korean guests and introduces “yesterday’s enemies and today’s friends,” inviting Sam-dong and Hye-mi up to sing.

Sam-dong gives the violinist a note, then the music begins — what he’s done is (supposedly) create a riff on K’s song (the tune that needed a little dash of something extra), transforming it from empty techno beat to a catchy melody. The teachers are awed at his impromptu accomplishment, while the Hotshots recognize that this is their song and join the others onstage.

Dream High OST – “Dream High” — this isn’t a rip, but the OST track posted in a previous recap. [ Download ]

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Hye-mi takes the mic to (I presume) freestyle some lyrics, and here’s where we just set aside that whole suspension-of-disbelief issue and enjoy the effect, sort of like those old Hollywood movies where people “spontaneously” start dancing and end up in magically coordinated dance numbers. We’re just goin’ with it.

Jin-gook joins in with a rap, Dreamer dances with them, and it’s a big, warm, fuzzy ball of awesome.

Landing in Korea, Jason cabs it to the hospital and races inside to find Pil-sook. Directed outdoors, he finds her jumping rope (with her Jason doll).

She’s shocked to see him, and asks (with a teeny bit of censure in her voice) if he’s skipped out again, since he’s supposed to be shooting an MV. Upon hearing that it was hepatitis A (and cursing Hye-mi), Jason had turned to go, but at that he starts to exclaim, “Do you know what you put me through?”

He cuts himself short and says scornfully, “You really annoy me,” though it’s pretty clear it’s himself he’s upset with (though he hasn’t realized that yet). Just as he turns, Pil-sook hits the ground behind him, unconscious. He rushes to her side in worry, then carries her inside.

After the concert, the Kirin kids join the Dreamer crew for an afterparty, and Ria notes that Baek-hee and Hye-mi seem to be on better terms now. Baek-hee admits that she’s starting to think it’d be nice to get along again, but it’s a short-lived feeling; as soon as she steps out, she overhears the agency president (who’d followed the kids to the concert) talking with his assistant about how great Hye-mi is. In fact, he’s thinking of swapping her in for Baek-hee, and making her the face of the group. Ah, truce is so fragile.

The Dreamer singer gives Sam-dong two tickets to the Ferris wheel as a gift, explaining that he works part-time there. Excitedly, Sam-dong arranges to meet Hye-mi out in front, wanting to take her — but once again he’s one step too slow, because Jin-gook gets to her first, and wrist-grabs her off while Sam-dong (sob) waits patiently.

Hye-mi’s annoyed at his autocratic manner, her mood further tested when a couple of Korean girls recognize Jin-gook and snap a photo of them. Hye-mi’s about to swipe the camera away from them angrily, but Jin-gook intervenes and asks pleadingly for them to help him — he’s wanted to talk to his friend for ages, but has been unable to. “She’s so important to me that I don’t want to lose her like this. So please, help me so she doesn’t run away.”

The girls back down grudgingly and leave them in peace, but Hye-mi glares, saying that this is why she didn’t want to be seen with him and dragged into scandals. She’s more angry that Jin-gook was the one who broke the promise to debut onstage together, and he finally confesses that debuting was the only way he could stay in Korea, since his father was about to have him shipped off to America (has the script so soon forgotten that it was Canada?). If he hadn’t done anything, he would’ve just been swept away cleanly, part of his father’s messy past.

Hye-mi’s anger fades at his explanation, and Jin-gook asks her not to fight with him anymore — time’s too valuable for that. By way of response, Hye-mi takes her scarf and wraps it around his face to cover it up, suggesting that he wouldn’t be recognized with her this way.

Argh, I really, really wish this touching exchange were performed by better actors. I want to feel for them, really… but I’m fixated on how technical Jin-gook’s declaration feels. More on this later.

Kyung-jin is waiting for Oh-hyuk to make his move, so when he starts talking about how he thought she used to hate him, she listens expectantly. He, unaware of her line of thinking, asks her to take good care of the Misfits, who’ll be joining her class, and goes on to highlight their good points:

Hye-mi, for instance, seems difficult and irritable, but she’s actually quite soft-hearted and will follow eagerly if led gently. Sam-dong seems simple and foolish sometimes, but his innocence lights him up, and he’s a talented songwriter. Pil-sook’s just the opposite of Hye-mi — she looks weak, but she’s strong, though she doesn’t know it yet.

Kyung-jin comments that his statements are excessive, like someone about to leave for good, and rather than explain that that’s exactly what’s going to happen, he goes with it. Kyung-jin accepts his answer, but there’s something about his behavior that bothers her…

Pil-sook wakes up at the hospital with Jason at her bedside, having overexercised herself into exhaustion. He’s in a tense mood, and she asks if his behavior this time was also mere manners, expecting as much. He tells her no, but fumbles to explain that he only wanted to hear her sing, stammering a bit about how he likes — only — her singing.

Well, that’s not much of a compliment and Pil-sook nods glumly, while Jason grimaces — SO not what he meant. But instead of correcting himself, he digs himself deeper, telling her not to mistake things — he only came because he had nothing else to do, and he’d made sure to come after his activities were over.

With that, he heads out, though he immediately stops in the hall, upset with himself. And then, he hears the strains of a guitar playing from her room. Pil-sook starts to sing “Waiting,” and this time, the lyrics are appropriate:

Pil-sook version [ Download ]

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Waiting for you, I thought to myself
You’ve left, and you’re hurting so much
You’re crying on the road to returning to me

Watching you, the thought came to me
If the sky brightens one day
Just like I’d left you, you’ll come quietly to me
You, in front of me

Will you be able to see me again?
I’m not in your eyes
Familiar gestures and small smiles
linger dimly, and make me cry, but

You’ll return to me
If your heart calls out to me again
Don’t hesitate and come back to me, in front of me
and I’ll hold you like before

Sam-dong, still waiting for Hye-mi, hears that she left earlier with Jin-gook, and glumly trudges to the Ferris wheel. He arrives at the adjacent restaurant where the Dreamer leader works, explaining that he was stood up.

Sitting inside a car together, Hye-mi comments that Jin-gook had mentioned wanting to ride these cars before. Jin-gook explains that as a child, he’d had family for one day — his father had come on Children’s Day, and he’d gone to the amusement park. Because there were so many people there, the only thing he could ride was the cable car, and it had been surprisingly pleasant, content to spin round in it all day.

Tearing up, he confesses, “When Father abandoned me, when he used me, I could’ve just hated him. But because of that one day, I can’t throw my father away. Without that day, it would have been easy.”

Hye-mi’s moved at his pain, and cries silently as she listens. Jin-gook notes that she’d cried for him once before: “It was the first time someone had cried because of me.”

He kneels in front of her to wipe her tears and asks why she’s crying, knowing it’s because of him but wanting to hear her words. She answers that she doesn’t know, and he kisses her.

Which is, of course, the exact moment that Sam-dong looks out the window.

And, adding insult to injury (or perhaps its injury to insult), his hearing fritzes out again, and he falls to the ground in pain. While clutching Hye-mi’s heart-shaped trinket.


Noooo, you can’t make Sam-dong deaf, d’you hear me, drama? That would be too cruel — you can’t make him lose the girl and his hearing! This is one case where I’d be perfectly happy to accept some medical deus ex machina of ridiculousness with a newfangled surgical procedure that magically restores deaf ears. Just sayin’.

My favorite episode before this one (which is still my favorite, I think) is Episode 5, which was mostly because of that street performance by the then-quartet of misfits. Despite the cheesiness of buying that these kids are just coming up with everything on the fly, I do like the impromptu performances more than the staged ones, because it’s about a more organic expression of music (at least organic in a narrative sense, since they’re actually polished and slick with dubbed-over vocals). And those moments are where music the theme collides with music the plot, and jives in this really nice, layered way. It’s like in stage musicals, where the numbers come out of the emotions of the moment more than a plot point of performance.

And I do love that each episode takes one (or more) old pop hits and revives them in a fresh way — practically after every episode, there are news articles quoting the original singers/songwriters thanking the show for such a respectful expression of interest in their work.

As for the acting… well… mostly I’m willing to overlook the flaws, because I’m so won over by the story. And I swear I’m not (very) motivated by my love of Sam-dong when I say that the Jin-gook and Hye-mi pairing just doesn’t work for me that well because of the lack of chemistry — in a romantic sense, but also an acting sense. It’s too bad, because I’m eating up their pairing in a narrative sense. I just wish I could feel for them, too.

I have no illusions that Taecyeon would bother to read this, but apparently he’s asked for acting critique, so here’s what I’d have to say:

He’s not explicitly bad. He cries at the right moments, he delivers dialogue adequately (though he can’t quite muster heartfelt yet). What I have a problem with when watching his scenes is that he feels very much like he’s performing to the camera. Which you’d think should be fine, only it’s like he’s only aware of what’s in front of him, and neglects to act with his whole being, and only acts with his mouth. Or with his face. Or with his eyes. You know how you look at yourself in the mirror and you think you look great? And then you go out and catch a glimpse of yourself walking past a window, unawares, and are horrified? You realize you’ve only dressed yourself for the mirror — the frontal, angled, prettily posed view — and forgotten that you’re in 3-D, and everyone else can see the rest of you.

That’s what he’s like for me (and to be fair, he’s not the only one). He’s acutely aware of his angles, and what exact pose looks the coolest, or emphasizes his beautiful bone structure the best, or highlights his intense scowl to the best effect… but he’s trying to look cool, and therefore he’s not in the moment. Whereas you look at someone like Sam-dong/Kim Soo-hyun, and he’s just IN the moment at all times — if you look at him from any angle, he’s there. He’s present, alive, and eminently relatable.

Anyway. My two cents.


358 February 8, 2011January 24, 2016

Dream High: Episode 11

by girlfriday

Get ready to have your hearts broken, people. See, this is what happens when you follow a girl to the big city. She stomps on your heart and you end up slinging drinks at a nightclub as you drink your sorrows away…wait, aren’t you a minor? So, the bar is just shorthand for Angst, and he’s drinking juice boxes, right? Or has the show finally gone ahead and made him legal, to keep the world’s noonas from going to hell? You know what they say…the road to hell is paved with pretty boys.


Park Jin-young – “너의 뒤에서” [ Download ]

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We see Sam-dong relive the tragic kiss between his girl and his bestie. Gah, high school is so cruel sometimes. He goes to see the doctor (thank goodness) but it’s what we suspected all along…he’s losing his hearing. Noooo! The doctor gives him something to relieve the pain, but it’s a condition that can’t be cured. Double Nooooes!

He gets a haircut, because nothing says “I’m over you so you can’t have this anymore” than a Hottie Haircut. He even adds an I Can Be a Badboy Earring for good measure. Not that he’s actually over her, mind you. It’s just symbolic of his emotional trauma. And his budding hotness. Erm…I didn’t just say that.

As he walks through the streets, he thinks aloud to his mother in voiceover:

Sam-dong: Mother, you lied to me. You said that the heavens would only give me hardship I can handle. But that must not be true for me. The hardship I’m facing is unbearably heavy, and cruel. Mother, I’ve barely started, but I think I have to say farewell to my dreams. What am I supposed to do now?

Just grind up my heart and serve it to the dogs, why don’t you. There he cries, kneeling in the street, sobbing as his dreams come crashing down to earth.

At school, Oh-hyuk offers up his resignation, as promised. He asks Principal Shi to keep his promise about protecting the kids in exchange, and he ushers him out happily, with a goodbye hug in the heat of the moment.

Kyung-jin happens to walk in right at that moment, and stares agape. Her father explains that Oh-hyuk is finally leaving for good, at which she chases him down for an explanation. He doesn’t tell her about her father’s conditions, but just reminds her that he’s leaving his kids in her care now, and walks away.

Hye-mi gets a call from Top Entertainment, and heads to the offices where she runs into Baek-hee in the lobby. She gets offered a contract to join group K, and has till the end of the month to decide. She can’t believe this is happening, pinching her cheeks and knocking her head against a wall to make sure it’s not a dream, and heads home to ask Oh-hyuk about the contract.

He says that it’s a good contract, and seeing her smile giddily, he asks if she really wants to debut that badly. Hye-mi says that it’s because she can clear their debts this way. Oh-hyuk tells her not to debut then, if that’s the reason. He tells her that the terms of the debt are so flexible that it doesn’t even feel like a debt, and that debuting doesn’t necessarily equal big paychecks. He tells her to consider it carefully.

Hye-mi asks if anyone’s seen Sam-dong, and her sister tells her that he went back home for winter break, and said not to call for a while. Hye-mi goes up to his room, wondering aloud that still…he should’ve called. She doesn’t notice that he’s left her cell phone charm behind.

Sam-dong isn’t back home, but wandering the streets of Seoul in a daze. He follows the sound of music to a club, where he watches the concert full of mixed emotions. He cries, moved by the music and utterly broken at the prospect of never hearing it again.

He follows the sound of the beat to the amp, placing his hand on it to feel the vibration and hear it properly. He closes his eyes, and when he opens them, the club is empty.

In-sung finds him sitting there, and tells him not to tell anyone that he’s working there part-time. He asks why he’s not going home, and Sam-dong replies blankly that there’s no sound there, but here, there’s sound, and it doesn’t feel like it’s running away from him. Aw, you’re killing me.

Oh-hyuk stays up late sending out his resume while everyone else sleeps. Meanwhile, Group K has a meeting, and the agency sends Jason and Ria on a photo shoot in London over the winter break.

Jason tells him that he’s going to skip out on this one, since he’s enrolled in the special songwriting class over break, and he’s got Japanese class too. Jin-gook marvels at this new side of Jason, since no one’s ever seen him try hard at…well, anything. He even throws on a pair of glasses to signify that he’s going to be Brainy Chipmunk from now on.

Baek-hee sees that Jason’s attitude to study harder gets him in good with the agency president, so she raises her hand that she’ll be doing the same, and Ria follows suit as well.

At school, Pil-sook puts up Jason’s daily lollipop, and then notices something on her locker. Oh! Omo, is Jason finally reciprocating with candy of his very own? She gapes at a Japanese test taped to her locker, with a giant A+ on it. Omg, that’s so cute. It’s even better than candy! It’s nerdtastic!

She realizes that Jason’s put it there to show her that he’s getting his ass in gear, and she grins from ear to ear. Jason walks past her, trying to play it cool, and picks up his lollipop like it’s no big deal. Pil-sook jumps up and down to congratulate him, walking straight into a pillar mid-thumbs-up. Heh.

Jin-man waits around for Kyung-jin, finally working up the courage to ask her…if she’s seen Oh-hyuk. Keh. Not what she was expecting. Doo-shik shows up behind them, just in time to hear the news that Oh-hyuk resigned to protect his students from the showcase fallout.

It turns out that they have yet another eavesdropper, as Hye-mi walks up, stunned. She marches straight into the staff meeting to ask Principal Shi what he did to make Oh-hyuk quit, because she’s delightfully tactless that way.

He tells her that Oh-hyuk has had the lowest scoring students the entire time he’s been teaching at Kirin, making him the lowest scoring teacher (though I don’t understand why there’s a one-to-one correlation there, but whatever). Hye-mi reminds them that her class scored well on every exam, and the other teachers start to nod their heads in agreement.

But Kyung-jin steps in to tell her that their good scores don’t erase the years of bad ones, and ups the ante. If they can all gets A’s in the songwriting class, then they’ll acknowledge Oh-hyuk’s skills and Principal Shi will reconsider him.

Hye-mi accepts the challenge, adding that if they all get As, that means Oh-hyuk gets reinstated. Principal Shi grabs Kyung-jin aside, wondering why she’s undoing all his effort to get rid of Oh-hyuk. She makes excuses about credibility, either lying to cover up her feelings, or in a great big vat of denial about them.

Baek-hee gets called in by her agency president, who’s ready to cut her loose because her star’s not rising like the other members of the group. Baek-hee pleads on her last leg, saying that she’ll become the kind of performer that he wants, and that she’ll work on songwriting.

She begs him to reconsider, once she comes back with her scores from her songwriting class. Obviously it’s a way to manufacture stakes for this songwriting class, which is fine for dramatic purposes, but really, does the one class have to have everyone’s fate on the line?

Speaking of which, Hye-mi fills Pil-sook in on their stakes—all A’s to get Oh-hyuk back his job. Pil-sook stares agape, and then realizes that their ace Sam-dong is MIA. Hye-mi says she’ll just have to get him back, and tells Pil-sook to work on faking Sam-dong’s accent, so that they can at least get him past roll call until they get him here.

Pil-sook hilariously practices her saturi accent, as Jason listens from the next table over. Hye-mi calls Sam-dong’s mom, only to figure out that he’s not home at all…he’s disappeared.

They go to class, where Teacher Maeng introduces their songwriting teacher. (A cameo by Joo Young-hoon, Lee Yoon-mi‘s real-life husband, hence the inside jokes at the poor soul who has to live with her and the flashing of his wedding ring.)

He starts with roll call, and Hye-mi and Pil-sook share a moment of panic, and when the teacher calls Sam-dong’s name, Pil-sook squeaks out a tiny “Here.” The teacher calls for Sam-dong again, but this time Jason jumps in to save them. Aw. Pil-sook looks over at him, stunned, and he flashes her a smile.

Jin-man calls Oh-hyuk for the billionth time, yelling into his phone for him to just pick up. Oh-hyuk is busy taking English classes and giving little adult education classes in music, as he struggles to find a new job.

Baek-hee gets shopped around by her agent for publicity gigs, to no avail, so she digs her heels into songwriting. She struggles with it for a while, until she spies some sheet music sitting in the studio, and in her moment of desperation, she considers poaching a song. Oh, Baek-hee. If I could spoon-feed you some self-esteem, I would.

Meanwhile, Hye-mi goes out in search of Sam-dong, combing through every possible place he might be. She finally gets a call from In-sung, who figures out that something’s seriously wrong with Sam-dong, who’s become dark and angry.

Hye-mi rushes to the club to try and take him home, but he shakes her off and tells her to go. After the concert, she tries again, trying to take his hand and lead him out. She tells him that they need him to save Oh-hyuk. He shakes her off again, as he says, “You’re asking me to come with you again. Do you know what I’m thinking these days? A thousand, ten thousand times a day, I regret following you to Seoul.”

He tosses her hand aside angrily, as he stands up. “Why did I get off that stage and take your hand that day? Why did I believe your unbelievable lies? Why did I hear your song?! Why did I follow you…and end up crazy about music?” Oof.

He tells her to get lost and walks out, leaving her crying.

She heads home to find Oh-hyuk asleep on the couch, and wakes him up out of spite. She asks with tears welling up in her eyes how he could leave them like that, and if he only knew how hard she was trying, he’d never throw them away. She storms off and Oh-hyuk sighs to himself that he could never throw them away.

Hye-mi learns and takes notes diligently, and then shows up at Sam-dong’s club day after day to drop off her notes. He ignores her repeatedly and pushes her aside, but she tells him that she’s never going to give up, on him or on Oh-hyuk. Nice to see the tables turning in this relationship, and to hear her say what he used to say to her.

The songwriter teacher gives them their assignment—he hands them lyrics, called “Dreaming,” and tells them to write a song. Pil-sook and Hye-mi ponder how they’re supposed to write something that, as the teacher suggested, calls upon true emotions.

Kyung-jin sneaks up on them to suggest watching a movie or talking to adults, to help them figure out emotions that they might not have encountered yet. They wonder if she’s possibly helping them, and she sneaks back to assure them that she’s on their side this time, and she’s rooting for them to get A’s. Oh, you.

Hye-mi asks Jin-man for some help, so he starts to tell her the beautiful story about how he met his girlfriend, which quickly devolves into a bitchfest over how he sold his livelihood to buy her a ring but she didn’t understand the sacrifice. When he finishes his story, he realizes that Hye-mi’s long gone. Ha. The story’s soundtrack is Park Jin-young’s “너의 뒤에서” (Behind You), posted above. Cracks me up, this show.

Pil-sook finds a movie ticket taped to her locker with the words “For Studying Songwriting” written on it. She (very trustingly) goes to the movie by herself (which happens to be Love Story), and Jason sits down next to her, insisting that this is for research purposes only. Too cute.

She immediately starts jotting down the music in her head, inspired by her not-a-date. At home, Hye-mi finds inspiration in Sam-dong’s drawings, as she thinks about when they first met, and all the times he’s been there to save her. She starts writing her song.

Baek-hee struggles with her song, and in a moment of weakness, steals the song she found the other day. Oh, dear.

Hye-mi writes her song and goes to the club to give the assignment to Sam-dong, but this time he hides and tells In-sung to lie that he’s moved on to some other club. Hye-mi searches every single club in the neighborhood looking for him that night.

She gets accosted by some drunk guys who happen not to care that she’s a high school student (ew) but Sam-dong finally appears to save her, and get some of his aggression out at the same time. He reminds her that he said to get the hell out of his life.

Hye-mi: And I told you, I’m not giving up on you. When I hit rock bottom, you and Kang Teacher were the ones who pulled me up. Now it’s my turn.

She gives him the songwriting assignment, and then hands him the K pendant. (Awwww, yeah!) She tells him that she doesn’t really believe that the pendant brings good luck, but she hopes it does, for him.

He finally turns to her, and caresses her hair. Sam-dong: “I told you to go. You’re the one who came. Later you’ll come to regret this day.” Well that’s not ominous or anything.

Triumphant music starts to build, as Sam-dong sits at the keyboard and opens up the notebook. He finally puts his hands on the keys, and as the music swells, he starts composing.

The next day, they show up for the final class and turn in their songs. At the last moment, Sam-dong walks in, making Hye-mi silently squeal in delight. After grading their songs, the teacher announces the only three A’s: Pil-sook, whose song he describes as heartfelt and full of love, as if she’s dating right now (aw), Hye-mi, and Baek-hee.

He points out that Baek-hee’s was particularly professional-grade. Uh, that’d be because it is. The teacher also gives an honorable mention to Sam-dong’s song, which he describes as mature beyond his years, and full of sadness. He says that though he didn’t get an A, his song will be performed at the showcase with the other three.

Jin-gook seeks out Oh-hyuk at his ajumma trot class (wearing a sequined jacket, no less) and asks how he could turn his back on them. Oh-hyuk assures him that he’s never going to leave them, adding, “How could I, when I made that grandiose speech in front of everyone?” He assures him that he’ll find a way back.

To that end, the teachers present Principal Shi with the three finalists for Oh-hyuk’s replacement, chosen exactly as he requested, based on objective criteria alone. He’s shocked to find Oh-hyuk’s resume picture staring back at him. Oh-hyuk heads back to Kirin for his entrance interview.

Kyung-jin finds Baek-hee to ask her about the song. She notes that she’s been Baek-hee’s teacher for over a year, and she knows exactly the extent of Baek-hee’s skills, as well as the lengths she’ll go to win.

When she accuses her of plagiarizing the song, Baek-hee doesn’t even deny it. She asks defiantly, “So what if it is? You’re the one who taught me how.” Kyung-jin can’t abide this kind of cheating and reels at Baek-hee’s attitude, but Baek-hee reminds her that she’s the one who taught her to win at any cost, and looked the other way when she lied or sabotaged her competition.

She says that those were her first steps down this path, and now she’s taken ten steps without a second thought. Shaking with tears, she tells her teacher that she’s worked this hard to get where she is, but she’s about to be replaced by Hye-mi in group K, but she’ll die before she gives it up.

Around the corner, Hye-mi overhears the conversation, and gasps.


Not as song- or dance-filled as yesterday’s episode, but this one was awesomely Sam-dong-centric, and full of delicious angst. I don’t want Sam-dong to go deaf, but I have to admit, it’s a pretty great arc for his character and Kim Soo-hyun has the emotional vulnerability and gravitas to pull it off. It’s poetic and tragic, and adds such great story weight to the dream-the-impossible-dream motif.

It’s also not hopelessly tragic, as this marks the major turning point in Sam-dong’s character, who needed to do a little maturing. He faces the truth for the first time, and though it’s a dark turn, it’s a necessary kick in the pants, for him to grow up.

What’s nice is seeing Hye-mi come to his rescue for the first time, and chase him the way he used to chase her. While I miss the puppy dog cuteness, I do enjoy the reversal. Let’s have Hye-mi miss him a little more, and come to her senses about his newfound broody hotness.

I have the sneaking suspicion that Park Jin-young is somehow running away with each show on purpose, but I can’t be annoyed because he’s just hilarious. I have this vision of Dream High turning into Saved By the Bell: The New Class, where he’s Mr. Belding. Or is that just his real life, as JYP?

Can I also tell you, my new favorite thing is Pil-sook and Hye-mi as BFFs? Adorable.


240 February 14, 2011January 24, 2016

Dream High: Episode 12

by girlfriday

If I could write a song about how much I love Dream High, I’d perform it in my own showcase called “Ode to Dreaming High,” and it’d have background dancers, a laser show, confetti cannons, and fireworks. It would have a dance interlude by Yang Jin-man in Hammer pants, and then it would close with a hip-hop version of The Nutcracker, because that’s what I hear the cool kids are doing these days.


Hye-mi overhears Baek-hee’s tearful declaration that she won’t lose out her spot in group K to Hye-mi. But that’s exactly what happens, as Baek-hee gets put on ice by her manager: she’s out, and Hye-mi’s in. She has to watch as Hye-mi walks into the room and take her place, and she waits nervously outside.

Hye-mi comes in with her decision. As she comes out, Baek-hee asks her what she’s decided, as she bitterly admits that her fate is tied to whatever Hye-mi has chosen. She adds angrily why it’s always her. Hye-mi muses that it’s funny—she said the exact same thing when Baek-hee got chosen to debut before her. Seems they’re more alike than they realized. She tells Baek-hee that she didn’t sign, and when Baek-hee asks why, she replies, “I don’t know…why would I?”

Jin-gook greets Hye-mi excitedly, asking if she’s signed on. She tells him that she turned it down because it’s not the right time for her. He’s disappointed, but accepts that there’s probably a reason, and a reason why she can’t tell him. Yeah, his name is Song Sam-dong. He used to wear your underwear. Or possibly Baek-hee. Whatever.

They rush off to school, where Oh-hyuk is giving his test lecture as part of his hiring interview. They watch with Jin-man from outside, cheering him on nervously. Oh-hyuk takes a deep breath and goes to the front of the class…only to be interrupted by the entrance of Principal Shi.

He kicks out all the students and brings in a group of board members to serve as the mock students. He himself sits front row center, just to ruffle Oh-hyuk’s feathers. It seems to work at first, and Jin-man watches nervously, saying that if he loses this ki war with Principal Shi, it’s over.

Oh-hyuk braces himself, thinks about his tactic, and then a smile spreads across his face, wiping off the triumphant grin on Principal Shi’s face. He commands the lesson with confidence, even playing to the older audience with songs they’d recognize from their youth. He scores the highest, fair and square, beating Principal Shi at his own game.

He enters the office to thank Principal Shi for his warnings. What used to feel like harassment became lessons for him to learn, and Oh-hyuk confesses that they made him become a better teacher. Aw, that’s cute. I don’t doubt that it’s sincere, but it’s also a good way to get under the principal’s skin. He wrestles his old teacher ID badge out of Principal Shi’s hands with a toothy grin.

Just outside, Jin-gook and Hye-mi hover, waiting to find out the results. Oh-hyuk flashes his badge and goes for high-fives…which Hye-mi denies with a sour face. She’s still mad that he never told them, and she pouts that she thought he was leaving them forever. Aw. I love her begrudging friendship with Oh-hyuk.

Jin-gook picks up her arm and high-fives Oh-hyuk anyway (heh) and even tries to get her to bow to her teacher. That’s going too far for Hye-mi, and even Oh-hyuk says it’s okay. Begrudging acceptance is one thing, but deference is not Hye-mi’s style.

Once Jin-gook’s out of earshot (though he still hears them), Hye-mi tells Oh-hyuk that’s she’s worried about Sam-dong. They find him banging on the piano angrily, and when Oh-hyuk comes in to ask about the showcase, Sam-dong says he’s not performing, and there’s no real reason.

Hye-mi rushes up to ask him what’s really going on, and that she can’t help him if he won’t tell her. He just silently goes back to playing the piano, and Oh-hyuk drags her out of there for the time being.

Over at Top Entertainment, the manager tells the members of K that they’ll all be performing at the showcase this time around, with solos. He wants to determine which of them is best suited for a solo album, and he’ll use this opportunity to decide.

His songwriter takes out a folder to hand out songs to each member, and Baek-hee freaks when she sees that it’s the same folder she poached her song from. To top it off, her manager tells her to perform her own song at the showcase, since she touted herself as a singer-songwriter. Well that’s karma for ya.

Jin-gook decides to go with “My Valentine.” Jason: “You’re…singing…a ballad?” Jin-gook asks if it doesn’t suit him. Jason: “Yeah…a lot.” Ria asks which teacher Jason’s choosing for his showcase coach. Jason: “The opposite of whoever you choose.” Heh, I’m liking his one-liners more and more. Jason and Jin-gook choose Oh-hyuk, and so does Baek-hee. Everyone’s surprised since she’s Kyung-jin’s little protégé, and she keeps their fallout to herself.

In-sung interrupts to ask Jin-gook to hand off Hye-mi’s notebook for Sam-dong. He fills Jin-gook in on the details of what’s been going on with Sam-dong and his trip to the dark side.

He finds Hye-mi and asks if she took all those notes for Sam-dong. He tells her that he’s mad—not about the notes, but that she didn’t tell him that Sam-dong was in trouble. He says that they could’ve looked for him together. Oh, you would’ve just made it worse, but I suppose it’s not your fault that you don’t know that.

Later that night Kyung-jin gets wasted on a bottle of wine, feeling sorry for herself. Oh-hyuk comes to get her, and she asks what his secret is: Why do his students thank him and follow him loyally, while hers never say thank you, never acknowledge her on their albums, never give her flowers on Teacher’s Day? Ha.

She wonders if maybe she wore glasses like him…and snatches his glasses off his face. Heh. Oh-hyuk hauls her out of there as she blabbers on. Once in the car, she asks with tears in her eyes if maybe she’s the problem then. She thinks of Baek-hee, and then tells him that she has a student who’s on her way to becoming a monster…what is she supposed to do?

Oh-hyuk tells her that it’s best to help that student come to the realization on their own, and that he has a similar problem right now. Cut to Sam-dong, playing piano alone in the dark, as Oh-hyuk continues in voiceover that he’s drowning and refuses to grab his hand for help, as he sinks further and further.

Sam-dong rests his head on the keys and plays one note over and over, as the sound dulls and fades. He bangs on the keys angrily and slumps to his knees on the ground. Ack, you’re breaking my heart.

Oh-hyuk’s sister walks home after getting sloshed at the same bar, and on her way home, she has a fateful meeting with young man who gives her his scarf and walks her home (a cameo by 2PM’s Chansung).

She thinks she’s dreaming the whole thing up, but he walks her all the way home. He’s surprised that this is her house, and she says that it’s under her brother’s name, but it’s technically hers. When he says to keep the scarf until they meet again, she goes in for a kiss.

The camera swings around to reality, where the recipient of the kiss is actually a very surprised Man Doo-shik. Hahaha. He returns to his office, mulling over Fate, and how he happened to take all the steps that led him here. He has a moment of enlightenment and decides to reincarnate his talent agency. Aw, yeah. Wheels in motion.

At school, Pil-sook poses awkwardly while In-sung gets ready to snap a picture with her cell phone. Jason casually walks in front of the camera…and then casually walks back, asking what In-sung is doing. In-sung: “I’m taking a picture of Pil-sook.” Jason: “Pil-sook? Oh, were you standing there? I didn’t know!” Hahaha. Subtle as a bulldozer, this kid.

Pil-sook tells him that they’re taking a new profile picture for the showcase, because all her old pictures are pre-diet. He decides a cell phone photo won’t do, and takes her to his agency’s studio.

And the costume he chooses for her? An angel, complete with wings. Ha. Pil-sook is too shy to come out and thinks this is overkill. She’s not wrong. But Jason tells her she has to stand out at the showcase, and he asks their photographer to do him a favor. He agrees, musing that Jason’s certainly got a lot of girls: “Your cell phone’s full of pictures of that one girl, now who’s this?” Pil-sook pretends not to hear, but it gives her pause.

Please, let it be pictures of her, pre-diet.
Please, let it be pictures of her, pre-diet.

She poses for her shots, and Jason watches, pleased as punch, but also with one hairy eyeball on the photographer, just in case. Heh.

Jin-gooks asks Hye-mi about Sam-dong, and she says he still hasn’t told her what’s going on, and she’s ready to give up—she’s done all she can. Oh-hyuk comes to showcase-prep class, and can’t believe there’s five whole students there, who have chosen him as their advisor. He’s especially thrown by Baek-hee’s presence.

He begins, but gets a call from Jin-man, who wants to be put on speakerphone. He starts to tell the kids about the mindset that they have to be in to conquer the stage. Baek-hee asks who’s on the phone. Jason: “This guy…he’s large, but he’s got a liver the size of an anchovy.” (Little liver = scaredy cat.)

Case in point: he’s lecturing them from just outside the room over the phone, because he doesn’t want to get caught. Someone would tell this guy that they’re not really the Rogue Class anymore, except it’s too fun to watch him squirm. Oh-hyuk catches him, but just lets him continue his covert teaching.

He has them do an exercise in ki-warring. They stare each other down in pairs and sing a refrain from a children’s game to get the other person to back down. Jason beats Pil-sook at first, but she comes back fighting. Hye-mi and Baek-hee stare down, but Hye-mi beats her with a self-assured smile, as Baek-hee lowers her head.

Oh-hyuk sits down next to Jin-gook, saying that Sam-dong really ought to be here for a proper match, but he’ll have to do. He offers to fill in, but when Jin-gook levels his best blue steel, Oh-hyuk chickens out immediately. Ha.

Hye-mi cleans up Sam-dong’s room, and finds a piece of paper shoved underneath the bookcase. It’s his diagnosis from the doctor. She reads it, trembling, and then looks it up online, to find out what it means.

Sam-dong comes home to find her like that, and she asks if it’s true. She asks if it’s because of her, because he saved her. He denies it, like the hero that he is. She asks how it happened then, but his eyes dart back and forth, and he responds with the same answer, “No.” She realizes that he can’t hear what she’s saying.

She ekes out, “Can you hear me right now?” Sam-dong searches her eyes, unable to hear but not wanting to let on. He just repeats himself again, “I said, no.” Crushing.

Hye-mi stands there dumbfounded, as tears come pouring down. She runs over to hug him, crying that it’s her fault. He cries too, as he tells her angrily that this is why he didn’t want to come home, why he said she’d regret bringing him here. He didn’t want to burden anyone else with what he’s become.

She takes his hand as she falls to the ground.

Sam-dong: You said before…that you wouldn’t give up. That you would pull me up. Go ahead and pull me out. Please…pull me out.

Aaack! How can you break my heart so badly? Sam-dong was heartrending before, but his “Save Me” declaration just put me over the edge.

They stay there like that, crying together while she clutches his hand. Oh-hyuk walks in alarmed, asking what’s going on. Hye-mi cries, “Teacher, help us.” Oh my god, she’s breaking my heart too.

Oh-hyuk sits alone in the dark as he reads over the diagnosis. He tries to hold back the tears, and then braces himself to go talk to Sam-dong. He says with a smile that it’s an condition that can be controlled with medication, and that it won’t change his daily life.

Sam-dong says with a defeated look in his eyes that if his hearing fails him while he’s onstage, it’ll ruin everything. Oh-hyuk says that it’s a one in a million chance, but Sam-dong reminds him that his condition is one in a million, but it happened to him. Oh-hyuk doesn’t know what else to say to that.

At school, Pil-sook sits down with her lunch at an empty table, and finds a cell phone there. Someone else says it must be Jason’s, since he was just sitting there. She eyes it nonchalantly, but the temptation starts to overwhelm her.

She looks away and her hand starts reaching for it…but she pushes it away. She vows not to stoop that low. Except one teensy look…but no! And she goes back and forth like that for a while, basically in a tug of war between her dying curiosity and her sense of decency.

She starts to crack again as she leans in close…but Jason swoops in snatches it away, panicked. Jason: “Did you see any of the pictures in here?!” Pil-sook answers honestly that she didn’t, and he sighs in relief. Oh, you SO have pictures of her in there. Why didn’t she look? Okay, I’m not advocating her sneaking a peek, but! The Cute!

Jin-gook practices his solo ballad at the piano, and Baek-hee asks if he’s really going with this song instead of a dance number. He says that he’s shown them his dancing and rapping, but in order to win he has to show them a different side.

She realizes that he wants the solo album just as much as she does, and asks good-naturedly if that makes them competitors now. She asks if Hye-mi told him why she didn’t join K, and he tells her that she did.

Baek-hee insists that she didn’t ask her to give up the spot just for her, but she did anyway. She clocks Jin-gook’s confusion, realizing that he didn’t know the real reason. He tells her that she’s not alone in her corner, like she always thought. Jin-gook: “Someone’s on your side. It’s Hye-mi.”

He finds her sitting in their old classroom, head on the desk like she always is when she’s lost in thought. He tells her that she’s grown up, to give up something that she’s wanted so badly, just for a friend.

He doesn’t push her to tell him what’s wrong, and just says that there must be a reason. She leans on him without a word.

Sam-dong comes back to school, walking through the halls of Kirin just like his first day, and feeling just as lost as he was back then too. He finds Oh-hyuk teaching class on the stage today, as he tells the kids that the stage will speak to them and tell them whether they can make it as soloists.

Pil-sook takes him literally, putting her ear to the floor with a knock, making Jason embarrassed for her, while the others don’t really comprehend what he means. He tells them that on the day of the showcase, as they perform, the stage will answer whether or not they’ve prepared, whether they have the right to stand there—and the stage never lies.

Sam-dong watches from above, and asks, “Will it answer me too?”

They head back to class, where they’re met by Jin-man, wearing a crazy video game visor to shield his face. From his POV, the visor screens each person in the room with the following info:

Oh-hyuk: Danger. Good points: None. Bad points: A help to life…NOT.
Hye-mi: Wild. Good: Voice volume. Bad: Difficult personality.
Jason: Cocky. Good: Dance, Singing (a little). Bad: Arrogance, Refusals are severe, Has a lot of girls, Resembles a bird.
Jin-gook: Strong. Good: Has a lot of strength. Bad: Has a lot of strength.
Baek-hee: Exertion. Good: Effort. Bad: Truthfully this is the first time I’ve seen her.
Pil-sook: Gluttony. Good: Singing, Emotive. Bad: Minus those things, all, especially appetite.


He addresses the class in Robot Voice, because he somehow thinks that it hides his identity from them. Omg, cracks me up. They just look at him like the loony toons he is, but pretend not to notice, for his sake.

Sam-dong walks in and joins the class, and Jin-man breaks Robot character for a second, to whine that he turned in his music so close to the show. Oh-hyuk asks if this means he’s performing at the showcase, and Hye-mi beams. Her reaction doesn’t go unnoticed by Jin-gook.

Jin-man works with them over the coming days, even teaching Pil-sook how to dance, much to his chagrin.

It’s Showcase Day, and Ma Doo-shik shows up in his formal agency capacity as White Entertainment, which he clears with Principal Shi. And the rivalry with Top Entertainment is on.

He comes across Oh-hyuk’s sister, who happens to be wearing his scarf. He points it out, jolting her out of her fantasy with horror.

Backstage, Hye-mi asks Sam-dong if he’s starting his music again, if that’s why he’s performing in the showcase. He says that he’s here because he’s going to ask the stage whether or not he can put his hopes and dreams into music again.

If he can perform without a hitch, if he gets applause and gets scouted, then he’ll allow himself to hope again. But if something happens to his hearing, then his performance will crash and burn, and he’ll walk away from music, and never look back. Hye-mi says that he won’t mess up on stage today: “I won’t let you.”

Baek-hee prepares and Kyung-jin comes by to wish her well. Baek-hee asks why she hasn’t said anything about her plagiarizing her song. Does that mean she’s saying it’s okay for her to cheat?

Kyung-jin makes it clear that she doesn’t approve. “But you won’t hear anything I say right now. So I’m going to let the stage tell you. That cheating is wrong.”

And sure enough, when Baek-hee takes to the stage, she tells herself it’s going to be okay, but she starts faltering under pressure. She sees the songwriter whispering to her manager, and she buckles under the guilt and the shame, ultimately falling to the ground. She gets booed off stage, and comes face to face with her own demons.

Next it’s Sam-dong’s turn to take to the stage, and he steels himself. He gets up in front of everyone, but as the music starts, his hearing starts to fade out. Ruh-roh.

He looks out at the audience, and Hye-mi watches with bated breath, as he raises the mic…


Ack! Cliffhangers! Will his hearing come back? Will he sing anyway? Will he show his genius cred and blow them away even if he can’t hear? Maybe Hye-mi will keep her promise and save him somehow.

I love that Hye-mi and Oh-hyuk found out about Sam-dong’s condition. I was worried it’d get dragged out, but this show always does a good job of putting just enough weight behind each conflict, and then sending a reprieve just in time. I like that while Sam-dong is still on his heartbreaking journey to hold onto his dream in the face of these obstacles, that Hye-mi will hold his hand and take her turn to be his knight in shining armor. He’s protected her and been her guardian angel; now it’s her chance to do the same for him.

What’s really effective about the love triangle for me is that it’s not about declarations of True Love or love till the hereafter. It’s just high school, and going with your feelings, and leaning on your friends who are there for you. I like that in the end, the journey is for Hye-mi to grow and become a better person, which is what Sam-dong makes her do, and what Jin-gook notices in her.

Baek-hee’s road is nicely carved too, because we’re not letting her off the hook with a simple AHA! moment and a guilt trip. She’s got rock bottom to hit before she can look herself in the mirror and face what she’s done.

Jason, Pil-sook, and Jin-man continue to be 31 flavors of awesome, as per usual. Can we please have Robo-Teacher do every lesson?


381 February 15, 2011January 24, 2016

Dream High: Episode 13

by javabeans

This drama gives me the warm and fuzzies, but even more than that, it fulfills that hole left by so many dramas where style and fanservice are swapped in as stand-ins for actual plot or continuity. With so many idols, Dream High could so easily devolve into a nonstop fanservice extravaganza, but instead it’s working the performances in to make sense with the plot, rather than just shoehorning them in ’cause they know the fans’ll eat it up regardless.

This episode kept the drama in first place for the night, recording a strong 17.9%.


Sam-dong stands there onstage, hearing dulled, wondering, “Is this the answer the stage is giving me?”

He watches the keyboardist play and counts down to his cue, then starts singing. Problem is, while he’s on time and his voice sounds good, he’s singing in the wrong key, sounding a discordant melody.

Sam-dong sees the confused murmuring in the audience and realizes that something is wrong, and breaks off, courage faltering. But Hye-mi, true to her promise, refuses to let him fail and heads to the second story. She gestures that he’s flat, then indicates the beats so he can get back on track — and he does.

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Hye-mi mouths along the lyrics as she keeps the beat, and Sam-dong keeps his eyes fixed on her as he wows the crowd, both of them letting their tears fall.

In the end, he gets a standing ovation, and he cries out of pain and relief — his dream’s not dead, but the revival of an almost-dead hope is a painful thing.

Hye-mi and Oh-hyuk meet with Sam-dong’s doctor for notes on how to help Sam-dong, and are surprised when the doctor informs them that his illness has nothing to do with head trauma.

Jin-gook is the guest of honor at a ceremony celebrating his recent No. 1 performance on Music Bank as a solo artist. Even his manager is impressed with the level of his success, but Jin-gook is more moved by a particular congratulatory wreath, sent by his father.

Hye-mi presents Sam-dong with a tuning fork, telling him that if he’s able to grasp the A note as his anchor, he’ll be fine. She starts to rattle off a list of foods he needs to avoid, and Sam-dong cuts in to remind her that the doctor said his head injury has nothing to do with his deafness — so she can stop acting out of guilt. Hye-mi says that she knows, but that doesn’t matter, and that she’ll help him no matter what.

Sam-dong asks if she’s doing this because she likes him, or feels sorry for him. It’s a rhetorical question, and he adds the request that she stop, because it’s confusing him. Aw. It’s the sort of thing you say when you like somebody who you know doesn’t like you back, and you’re trying your best to get over them.

He tells her that she’s done enough and that he won’t do anything stupid, so she can stop worrying about him. And that he’s sorry for making her cry.

The next focus of music lessons is about pitch, and Pil-sook is the only student with perfect pitch. (Perfect pitch is a natural talent where a person can identify any note without needing a music cue.) Kyung-jin tells them that perfect pitch is nice, but what they really need is relative pitch, the understanding of the notes’ relation to each other.

This lesson is particularly relevant to Sam-dong’s interests, because he could perform without worrying if he could always be assured of the right notes. He asks if one can learn perfect pitch, disappointed when Kyung-jin answers no.

Still, it’s worth checking out, so he asks to meet Pil-sook later, and she readily agrees…which gets Jason’s Pil-sook-radar up and his jealousy-o-meter spiking. He asks Sam-dong, then Hye-mi, what that’s all about, but doesn’t get any answers and stands there in dissatisfaction.

Baek-hee is now the new outcast at Kirin, thanks to her showcase disaster. She sits at a cafeteria table, only to have the two girls haughtily move over to a different table. Sigh. The misery of the high school condition is universal.

Ah-jung joins the girls and gossips that Baek-hee plagiarized her showcase song from a songwriter at her agency, and she’s going to be cut loose any day now. That means no other agency will take her on, and her budding career is finito.

Baek-hee is joined at the table by Hye-mi, who sits down without saying a word and sticks her earbud into Baek-hee’s ear. Baek-hee points out that there’s no music playing, to which Hye-mi tells her to just go along with it.

Touched at the gestury but wary, Baek-hee says that her career isn’t over, and that she won’t give up. Hye-mi merely says, “I know.”

Kyung-jin finds Baek-hee sitting alone backstage, and approaches her sympathetically. Baek-hee admits that she knows why she did what she did, and that breaking the rules got her to this point. She intends to ask President Yoon for another chance, and if he gives it, she promises to work hard without cheating. And if he doesn’t…well, she’ll have to start all over from the bottom, hard as that’ll be.

Kyung-jin nods her approval, and answers Baek-hee’s request for help with a heartfelt “I will.” I’ve gotta say, I’m really liking how formerly tough-as-nails Kyung-jin has evolved into this awkward softie.

Sam-dong practices in the studio, trying to grasp perfect pitch. Oh-hyuk cautions him that learning it isn’t easy (or even, perhaps, possible), and that with medicine and care, he won’t lose his hearing. The problem is the tinnitus that comes and goes and drowns out sound — and if Sam-dong were to give up the idea of performing and instead took on songwriting, he’ll have no problem continuing on.

But Sam-dong doesn’t want that — he won’t give up performing, and he vows to rid himself of his weakness.

At half-past five (and therefore well into Pil-sook’s meeting with Sam-dong), Jason is hyper-conscious of the time and trying to talk himself out of caring, or barging in on them. The other students send him annoyed looks since he’s ostensibly listening to music, but instead arguing to himself like a crazy person, and holding up the line at the listening station.

With some prodding from an annoyed In-sung, he finally decides to go. Well, it only took you forever.

In the old Misfit classroom, Pil-sook describes to Sam-dong how she hears pitch, and how her vocal cords understand how much they have to vibrate to produce a particular note. So it’s not just about the sound, necessarily, but about the feel of the note.

Hye-mi doesn’t seem to be jealous of the situation but she’s there nonetheless, watching the lesson, keeping abreast of Sam-dong’s progress. She finds it very amusing to see Jason sidle up to the window, and upon seeing her he comes up with a lame excuse about losing his way to the library.

I love that Hye-mi always sees Jason at his weakest, and that she calls him on his bluff: She offers to take him to the library, and he has no choice but to go along. Well, it’s that or tell her the truth. And we all know he can’t handle the truth. Yet.

The teachers meet with Ma Doo-shik, now the CEO of White Entertainment, who is interested in managing the debuts of Pil-sook and Hye-mi. Each student has her weaknesses: Pil-sook’s is her old photos, considering how this is a cruel, cold world that values appearance more than anything.

Jin-man is disgusted with this line of reasoning and throws a mini hissy fit (“Does a person sing with their face? Or dance with their face?”), which is both hilarious and a little paining since Park Jin-young has seen his share of face-ridiculing in his day. Aw. I’m sorry. Your awesome comic acting totally rocks, if that’s any consolation. Well, plus you’re super-rich and successful.

Hye-mi’s problem area is her personality, and although Jin-man tries to defend her as “not that bad,” he then remembers examples of her rudeness and is shut down by Principal Shi. The principal wonders why Doo-shik picked such problematic students to back.

Doo-shik wonders that himself, and imagines a scenario where the two girls (who’ve been formed into the group “Sook and Mi”) are guests on a live radio show, hosted by Super Junior’s Eunhyuk and Leeteuk. A fan calls in and makes mention of Pil-sook’s weight troubles, sending Hye-mi into a rant against her since she’s recognized the voice as Ria. Gotta say, when Hye-mi seemed like a bitter pill, I had no great liking for her attitude — but now that she’s shown herself to be caring and sympathetic, I LOVE her surly face. It cracks me up every time it’s used as a recurring joke.

Doo-shik backpedals with Oh-hyuk, who says he’s “disappointed” in Doo-shik for being no better than all the other agency presidents who throw money around to make kids into singers.

Jin-man hilariously flip-flops loyalties from one side to the other, and Oh-hyuk smartly maneuvers Doo-shik into proceeding with the debut. At mention of Sam-dong, Jin-man says that it’s too bad he has such stage fright (the explanation that has circulated about his showcase performance), since he has such a strong sense of relative pitch.

Stirred by those words, Oh-hyuk hurries to inform Sam-dong that there may be a way for him after all: Instead of trying to learn perfect pitch to identify all notes, if he just focuses on one note — the tuning fork’s A — then he ought to be able to figure his way around, using the A to root himself and link him to the other notes.

Jin-gook loiters outside his father’s house, feeling buoyed by the wreath his father sent. Gruff Dad isn’t comfortable with those fluffy things normal people call emotions, so he mutters to his secretary, “Why’d you do something I didn’t tell you to do?” But the secretary answers, “But you told me to send it yesterday…” Jin-gook smiles, and tells his father he’s been working hard. He sees that Dad is wearing the watch he gave him and grins wider, and leaves in high spirits.

Jin-gook calls Hye-mi out, who congratulates him for his No. 1 on Music Bank. He scoffs at her trademark blank face, to which she answers, “This IS my congratulations face.” Ha. Love it. He tells her about his father sending the wreath, and she brightens up in excitement over it.

Jin-gook pinches her cheeks to confirm that he’s not dreaming, so she returns the gesture and tells him to confirm his own dreams. So they stand there, pinching each other’s cheeks, grinning like giddy fools. This may be the first time I’ve ever thought this couple was cute, but it’s better late than never.

Sam-dong approaches and Hye-mi quickly lets go of Jin-gook, which is a fact that doesn’t go unnoticed by him. But Sam-dong isn’t fazed to see them together, and congratulates Jin-gook pleasantly on his single success.

A call from his agency darkens Jin-gook’s mood, as he had specifically asked President Yoon to NOT turn his father’s gesture into a promo opportunity. Looks like the president has reneged on his word, and Jin-gook heads off to go take care of the matter.

…and the next thing we know, he’s at the police station for assaulting President Yoon, with reporters swarming around for the juicy story.

Oh-hyuk comes to collect him, and delivers him to tempoary refuge in the old basement studio, which Doo-shik has rented. Sitting there, Jin-gook notes glumly, “I’ve come back to the bottom.” So fleeting, the idol’s fame.

Hye-mi and Sam-dong see the report on TV, which looks mighty bad for Jin-gook. President Yoon works the victim stance by sobbing about trusting a friend, wearing a neck brace and sitting in a wheelchair. Worst of all, the attack was all caught on CCTV.

The Kirin students enjoy a laugh at Jin-gook’s expense, since some Photoshop-happy netizens have parodied the incident with references to Baker King (changed to Assault King) and My Gangster Boyfriend (changed to My Gangster Shi-hyuk). Gossipmonger Ah-jung spreads the story that Jin-gook hit Baek-hee at a previous showcase, bruising her face and necessitating her stage makeup. At least there’s one voice willing to dissent, and In-sung defends his friend.

Make that two: Jason tells Ria (who’s busy speculating on the gangster status of Jin-gook’s supposed bio-dad) to shut up. Baek-hee feels bad for him as well, but she keeps herself out of view.

Oh-hyuk takes Jin-gook home late that night, and they arrive as Hye-mi and Sam-dong are cleaning up the graffiti’d posters and slurs posted up on their front wall. Oh-hyuk’s sister fusses over him sympathetically, but not without trying to fish around for a story. Lol. Can’t blame a reporter for trying.

Jin-gook’s father hears the news with chagrin, and is advised to keep his distance because involving himself would only cause more media furor. He arrives at Oh-hyuk’s house later that night and asks for an explanation, showing some faith that his son wouldn’t have acted like that without a reason. Jin-gook merely bows his head and says through tears that he was reckless, and that he’s sorry for disappointing him. Really, is now the time to be playing the noble idiot? What do you have to lose by admitting the truth?

Instead, Jin-gook just kneels and apologizes over and over.

Baek-hee goes to her mother’s store that night, where Mom has been delivered a special present from the agency president — a box of fresh abalone, an expensive and generous gift.

Mom is pleased to accept, and doesn’t understand why Baek-hee suddenly looks desperate and begs her to return the gift. Such a large gift without reason may just signal a prelude to her being let go…

Sam-dong comes into the room as Jin-gook is sulking in bed and wallowing in his misery. I love that Sam-dong’s first attempt to draw a response is, “Hey, I’m wearing your underwear.” HAHA. But no, you know the depression is severe when that gets no rise out of Jin-gook, so Sam-dong offers to play a little game of “Whose life sucks more?” Hey, I thought this was supposed to cheer him up, buddy.

Jin-gook is in no mood for this, but Sam-dong proceeds, starting with their parents: Jin-gook has no mother, but Sam-dong has no father, so they’re square on that front. But Jin-gook has got a No. 1 TV appearance under his belt, while he hasn’t even debuted yet, so he’s got one up on him.

And sure, Jin-gook has turned into a national gangster overnight, but Sam-dong has a bigger concern: “My ears are ruined.”

Jin-gook is shocked, and that defuses some of his tension. Sam-dong presses his point: “I’m just as depressed as you, but I’m doing my best. Even if there’s no sound, I chase it so I can sing. Do you know why? So I can beat you.” He wants to take on Jin-gook fair and square and be so strong that nobody can pity him, and win — meaning, with Hye-mi.

Sam-dong tells him to buck up and get it together, which is just the thing Jin-gook needs to hear to kick his butt into gear. In the morning, he finds a note from Sam-dong telling him to see him prove himself, since his music test at school today.

In the cafeteria, Pil-sook overhears Jason talking to some hussy named Julie and signing off with an “I love you.” So when he slides over to ask about her meeting with Sam-dong, she glares at him while he explains, just as her senior, that hanging around with guys one-on-one could lead to misunderstandings and scandals — though of course HE’s not the type to misunderstand. It’s just all those pesky other people she has to watch out for!

She retorts that he’d better watch it with the “I love you”s to his precious Julie, and that brings a smile to his face as he guesses, “Is that advice, or jealousy?” She asks him the same thing, but neither one is willing to confess first, so they agree to both spit it out on the count of three…and then neither one says anything.

Jason huffs, “Forget it” and leaves, while Pil-sook sits all peeved. But then he turns back and sits down again, admitting, “Okay, I was jealous. You?” She admits the same, and AAAAGHHH THESE TWO ARE SO CUTE.

Hye-mi grabs Sam-dong (pushing him against a wall, rawr!) before his test to check on his condition, and tells him to look to her if his hearing fades out again so she can signal him.

She’s not sold on his assurances that he’s fine, but he points out that she can hardly follow him around all his life sending him hand signals, and promises to demonstrate so well that she won’t ever worry about him again.

There’s an adorable moment in the testing room when Jason and Pil-sook both reach for their test music and draw back shyly, urging the other to go ahead. Then they decide to both go on the count of three, which is hilarious because you just know they’re the couple who gets sickeningly lovey-dovey at everything, cooing, “No you hang up first. No you. No really! Okay, on the count of three…” I love that Kyung-jin puts the kibosh on that ridiculousness with an eyeroll.

The test is simple: Sing their selections a cappella, two students per song, complete with harmonization. The piano will start them off.

The Milk couple had looked excited at the prospect of singing together, so when Jason realizes he has the same music as Hye-mi, he sends the most hilarious sad-puppy face Pil-sook’s way. Adorable.

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Hye-mi and Jason perform well, with just a few flat notes each. [ Download ]

Next up: Sam-dong and Pil-sook. Jin-gook arrives at the school in time to join Oh-hyuk and Jin-man outside the test studio. Before starting, Sam-dong asks if they can nix the piano, wanting to start off a cappella, which shouldn’t be a problem for his partner since Pil-sook has perfect pitch.

It’s a strange request since this would be a handicap for most students, and the teachers are nervous at Sam-dong’s show of bravado. Kyung-jin warns that he can’t complain about his grade, then.

With that, Sam-dong starts them off a cappella, and when Pil-sook joins him, they’re perfectly in tune with each other. [ Download ]

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Everyone’s amazed, and Jason’s really tickling my fancy in this episode, with the way he smiles widely when looking at Pil-sook sing, then grimaces when he looks at Sam-dong, then smiles again at his honey. Silly, transparent boy.

Kyung-jin admits that she’d thought Sam-dong was full of hot air — but sure enough, he and Pil-sook both managed without any mistakes. A+.

Jin-gook watches in with a mix of admiration and, I think, bitterness (or at least self-pity) that Sam-dong managed his demons so well. Sam-dong chases him down in the hall to tell him that it’s Jin-gook’s turn to dig himself out of his own abyss, reminding him that he won’t wait for his showdown forever. So he’d better get on it, pronto.

Sam-dong turns back at the last minute to toss something his way — the K pendant, which he no longer needs.

At the lockers, Hye-mi sees Baek-hee in a daze, stumbling over her own feet and swaying dangerously as she walks up the stairs. She follows her to the roof, where Baek-hee approaches the railing and slips one foot out of her shoe.

Hye-mi interrupts, playing the moment lightly by chiding her for walking around with her shoelaces untied, bending down to tie them for her. But when she looks up, she’s startled at Baek-hee’s expression. In tears, Baek-hee cries on Hye-mi’s shoulder and says pitifully, “It’s all my fault, what happened to Jin-gook. He hit President Yoon while saving me.”



I need to knoooooooooooooow!


Oooh, great twist! After I was all ready to sigh that Jin-gook’s reckless moment seemed overplayed for something relatively small, this is a welcome revelation. So the question is: Why exactly did Baek-hee need saving?

I have a couple of theories. Perhaps Baek-hee went to the agency to beg the president to take her back, and he got angry and was about to get violent with her, which Jin-gook saw (while there to talk about his own beef with the prez) and stopped. OR… and this is more unsavory, but perhaps Baek-hee was begging for another chance, and President Yoon saw fit to take advantage of the situation by offering a sponsorship situation (sponsorship = casting couch scenario). I don’t think she’d offer that herself (what with her vow not to break the rules anymore), but the guy always seemed a bit scummy… It would be an interesting way to address one of those common issues that everyone knows about but doesn’t address openly (at least, not until recent years).

As much as I’m a fan of bromance, I appreciate that the Sam-dong/Jin-gook storyline in this episode went much deeper than that. I love that Sam-dong beelines for Jin-gook after his test (rather than, say, Hye-mi or his teachers) and pushes him to dig himself out of his funk. These characters care about each other too much to let each other slide into misery, but they’re not afraid to tell each other the harsh truth, either, rather than coddling them. Like with Hye-mi and Sam-dong — she is essentially let off the hook by the doctor…only she realizes she perhaps doesn’t want to be let off the hook. Or rather, she wants to help regardless of things like obligation and guilt.

It’s this kind of tough love that Baek-hee lacks, and while strength of character is at least partially innate, it doesn’t help that she fell prey to exactly the type of cutthroat, superficial system that feeds off of her weaknesses and insecurities. In contrast, our Not-Quite-Misfits-Anymore have built up a support system, and I love that the round-robin with the K pendant is a nice motif to illustrate that. They know they can’t save their friends from their demons, but they CAN push and encourage and persuade their friends to save themselves.

Last but not least, here’s the ending clip, with Taecyeon/Jin-gook singing “My Valentine” on Music bank. [ Download ]

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397 February 21, 2011January 24, 2016

Dream High: Episode 14

by javabeans

Aw, what a tearjerker of an episode, but in the best possible way — not because it’s been overstuffed with tragedy, but because there’s so much touching, heart-stirring goodness baked into the crust.

Also: We were right! I was pretty sure about Baek-hee’s situation at the end of last week, but not convinced the drama would go there. Well, Dream High did, in fact, go there. Bravo, I’m actually impressed that the show dared get into the issue of industry bigwigs sexually preying on their young protégés, and pointing out the cultural victim-blaming problem that afflicts those brave enough to blow the whistle on the bad guys.


Napoleon Dynamite – “멀어져 가네” (Growing apart) [ Download ]

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We back up to discover how the Baek-hee/Jin-gook/President issue blew up, starting with Baek-hee visiting the president’s office to ask for another chance.

As suspected, Jin-gook had arrived soon thereafter, intent on confronting the president about using his father for publicity. He’d seen something to infuriate him (we don’t see it) and dragged the president out into the hall, beating him up.

And now, he’s being denounced as a thug by the public. The teachers sympathize with his plight, but can’t do much to help him.

Jin-gook walks out with the K pendant Sam-dong gave him, and sees Hye-mi talking to Baek-hee on the roof. Baek-hee knows she should speak up, but she’s too scared to do it, because that’ll mean doom for her. As Hye-mi holds Baek-hee, she looks up to see Jin-gook looking at her across the way, and her words are as much for him as they are for Baek-hee: That she shouldn’t say anything, “Because that’s what Jin-gook will want. He’ll understand. It’ll be okay.”

Jin-gook watches her with tears in his eyes and gives her a nod.

We get our new challenge o’ the day: An open audition is being held by the label EMG for new talent. (One of my favorite things about this scene is how Ah-jung insults In-sung’s hopes of winning, and he responds by curling his fingers into a claw, as you can see just almost out of frame. Hee.)

The conditions are many: Entrants must submit (1) a 3-minute music video highlighting one’s talents, (2) of a song they’ve composed, (3) with English subtitles, (3) ideally in three languages, (4) who have won at least 10 music-related competitions. So basically, the label wants you to do all the work. Well, can’t say that’s not true to life, eh?

That effectively disqualifies everyone, and they sigh that they can’t participate with those stringent requirements.

Police have seen a glimpse of Baek-hee in the surveillance footage of Jin-gook’s attack, and Kyung-jin and Oh-hyuk find her to ask for an explanation. She nearly collapses from the shock, and confides the truth (which again, we are not privy to).

But the matter isn’t as clear-cut as marching down to the police station and clearing Jin-gook’s name immediately, as Oh-hyuk wants. Kyung-jin warns him that there’s no proof that he was acting in self-defense. Oh-hyuk says it’s simple — Baek-hee can testify — but Kyung-jin calls him cruel to think nothing of Baek-hee’s circumstances: She’ll have to admit to the world that she was sexually assaulted.

Frustrated, Oh-hyuk asks if they can sacrifice one person’s dream to preserve another’s. Kyung-jin, more sensitive to the plight of the female entertainer, says that Jin-gook can recover from this, but Baek-hee can’t. And as sad as that is, it’s probably true, with Korea’s ass-backwards tendency to blame the victim, particularly when the victim is female.

Kyung-jin reminds Oh-hyuk that they’ve seen this happen before, and asks if he recalls the public and the media ever taking the side of the victim: “They’ll tear Baek-hee to pieces.” She vows to never let that happen to her, which Baek-hee overhears.

At dinner, Jin-gook is back in fine eating form and is even looking cheery (as he tries to steal from Sam-dong’s bowl, which Sam-dong is quick to deflect). His good mood is odd since he admits he’s going to apologize to President Yoon tomorrow, along with his father: “Since I made acted wrongly, I should apologize.”

Oh-hyuk comes home in heavy spirits, feeling bad for Jin-gook and patting his shoulder affectionately, feeling torn about his sacrifice but not wanting to make a big deal of it.

It’s not just him; everyone’s feeling pretty bad for Jin-gook, but nobody knows exactly how to show their support. Sam-dong does it by passing along the forms for the EMG competition, and is surprised when Jin-gook says he already got the forms.

Sam-dong mutters in disgruntlement, “I didn’t even have to worry,” which makes Jin-gook smile. He prods, “Were you worried about me?” Sam-dong sputters and protests. Oh, just admit your lurrrve, already!

Hye-mi apologizes to Jin-gook: “I know I should be on your side instead of Baek-hee’s, but I can’t do that.” She feels even worse than Jin-gook, who smiles at her understandingly, fine with her choice.

Sam-dong tries to cheer her up with a lame pun, which doesn’t work, so he pinches her cheeks and tells her to force a smile anyway:

Sam-dong: “Do you know what it means to become an adult? It means there’s less and less to smile about. So we’ll have to smile even more, even if we have to force it. Like Jin-gook.”

She comments that the old Sam-dong has returned. He replies with a noncommittal, “The old Sam-dong? Hmm.”

Jin-gook’s father waits outside to take them to the president’s office, and Oh-hyuk takes a moment to tell him that there’s probably a good reason that Jin-gook isn’t offering up an explanation for his attack. He doesn’t betray the reason, merely says that he knows Jin-gook, and that he is likely acting to protect something.

Father and son are mobbed by reporters on their way to the president’s hospital room, where Dad bows his head and apologizes for Jin-gook’s rash behavior. Jin-gook offers his apology as well, kneeling on the ground to pick up some fallen fruit as he does so. The slimy president slaps Jin-gook on the head a few times, deriding his ungratefulness to the president who made him a star, and the generous father who adopted him as his son.

The president’s blows get a bit aggressive, but when reporters burst into the room to record every gory detail, Jin-gook can do nothing but apologize again, and the president’s slaps turn into gentle pats for the cameras’ benefit.

However, Dad catches the sly change, and his hackles are raised to see his son disrespected. He intercepts the president’s hand, and declares that Jin-gook is not adopted, that he’s his blood child. Omo!

The cameras flash away but Dad ignores them and Jin-gook’s request to not continue, declaring that he’d lied because he was embarrassed of his past. He says that Jin-gook has such a foolishly pure heart that he doesn’t believe for a second that such a kid would hit the president out of the blue. Even though he doesn’t know what that reason is, he’s certain there is one.

He takes Jin-gook’s hand and leads him away. Both Jin-gook and Dad’s secretary urge him to go back and fix this, but Dad is resolute. He won’t ask Jin-gook for the reason, but he guesses that the president was behaving badly, and Jin-gook confirms it. Dad is satisfied with that explanation and takes Jin-gook’s hand.

The resulting scandal about Jin-gook being his love child effectively puts to bed Dad’s political aspirations. But the fact that Dad would give up his upcoming election bid to stand by his son stirs some speculation among the Kirin students that perhaps Jin-gook’s the wronged party in his own scandal.

Baek-hee broods, thinking of how Jin-gook once promised to have faith in her, how Hye-mi comforted her, and Kyung-jin promised to protect her. So when Hye-mi texts Baek-hee to ask if she’s doing okay, she gets back the response that Baek-hee’s on her way to the police station to confess the whole story.

Hye-mi runs after her, but Baek-hee slips away in a taxi. Hye-mi calls to tell her to stop, but Baek-hee no longer wants to live by cheating, admitting that she’d wronged her, too, by dropping the flower pot.

Baek-hee: “I think it started then. Like you said, I felt like I was living in hell. I was always scared, cold, and lonely. I’m sorry, Hye-mi. But there were a lot of people who cared about me, so I’m okay now. I’m not lonely, or scared. No, I’m a little scared now. Hye-mi, can you sing me a song? I really want to hear you sing.”

She asks for their audition song, “Goose’s Dream,” and amidst her tears, Hye-mi sings:

I have a dream
Even if it is shredded or torn,
In my heart,
I’ve cherished it like a treasure

Even if I’m mocked behind my back,
I’ve endured
I could stand it,
waiting for that day

You always say worriedly,
Foolish dreams are poisonous
Just like the world is a book with a fixed ending,
it’s a reality that can’t be turned back

Yes, I have a dream
I believe in that dream,
Watch and see
In front of that cold brick wall called fate
I can stand confidently

One day, I’ll climb over that wall
I’ll be able to fly as high as the sky
Even this heavy world can’t tie me down
At the end of my life,
on that day that makes me smile
Be with me

*Sniff* All right, let’s see a show of hands — who (else) is crying?

Bolstered by Hye-mi’s support, Baek-hee makes her statement to the police, which blows up into a huge story. The barely pixelated photos of her circulate in the media, which report that one of Group K’s members, known as Ms. K, was sexually assaulted by the president.

To her credit, even (formerly) cold-hearted Mom confronts President Yoon and throws the abalone box (sadly empty) at him, screaming at him for his crime.

At school, Jin-gook confronts her, upset that she ignored his instructions to keep quiet. She says she’s sorry, but assures him she’s holding up okay.

She tells him she likes him a lot, but that he’d only had eyes for Hye-mi, which had hurt her and made her wonder, Why Hye-mi? But now she understands: “Normally when people give people something, they hold back their share. Even when protecting someone, they do it after protecting themselves first. But you’re different — you threw yourself away to protect me. That’s enough for me. Hoping for more will only bring me punishment.”

She thrusts out a handshake and thanks him for sticking to his promise through the end, and he shakes.

This means that all the Group K contracts are terminated with Top Agency, and a new agency has selected four members for a new group, which excludes Baek-hee and Jin-gook. The other agencies are gun-shy of crossing President Yoon, which makes it difficult for them to be picked up by anyone else.

Principal Shi tells Kyung-jin to talk to the two students: Since it’ll be nearly impossible to build their careers, it’ll be best they find a new career path. He calls it their duty as teachers, but Kyung-jin angrily balks — they can’t tell them to quit now, when they’ve just started. Teachers should help them stand again, considering that they’d fallen at the hands of a wicked adult: “That is our duty.”

Principal Shi almost loses his temper, but Oh-hyuk supports her, and the other teachers do as well.

Jin-gook’s father asks to meet in a place away from prying eyes, and so, Jin-gook finally gets another trip with his dad in a Ferris wheel. Dad’s here now that he knows what the fight with President Yoon was about. He tells Jin-gook he’d decided correctly, because if he’d told him the truth, he would have acted rashly, sacrificing Baek-hee to save him.

He wonders if Jin-gook’s reputation will recover sufficiently in four years — he’s planning to rekindle his political hopes and run for mayor then. Jin-gook promises to be careful.

Oh-hyuk works on persuading Doo-shik to take on Sam-dong, Jin-gook, and Baek-hee under his White Entertainment aegis. Doo-shik is reluctant, knowing that each student comes with problems, and says that he established his company to realize his precious dream. He’s not about to throw it away carelessly. Oh-hyuk turns his own words around on him, arguing that these kids have precious dreams, too — dreams that will die unfulfilled if not cultivated. But working together, they have the capacity to turn their dreams — including Doo-shik’s — into reality. Oh-hyuk does have a way with words when dealing with him, and Doo-shik is almost persuaded…but slaps himself out of it.

Baek-hee practices her dance moves alone at night, having skipped her classes, and Kyung-jin finds her in the studio to ask about it. Baek-hee says she finds it embarrassing to face the other kids. Rather than scolding her, Kyung-jin blinks back tears and decides that they can conduct their lessons here, instead — every night at 9pm, just the two of them.

Baek-hee hugs her teacher and thanks her earnestly. Kyung-jin assures her that things will be okay, and holds her while Baek-hee gives in to her tears.

At lunch the next day, Baek-hee holds her head up high as she sits alone, where Hye-mi finds her to suggest they enter the EMG contest together. Baek-hee protests that she doesn’t meet the qualifications, but Hye-mi says airily that she doesn’t, either: “And if I don’t, then the whole country doesn’t.” Hee. Love her confidence.

She concludes that the impossibility of meeting the criteria means she can just ignore them altogether (ha) — which is exactly what Pil-sook and Jason have decided. As have Jin-gook and Sam-dong, who join them a moment later. (Adorably, Pil-sook and Jason have also set aside an application for Jin-gook, as Sam-dong did.)

Aww, yeah! The group is complete: Wonder K powers, activate!

They all agree to help each other make their music videos (well, Jason balks, until Pil-sook readily agrees, and then he joins in on the fun).

Afterward, Hye-mi corners Pil-sook to ask about her Jason situation, and Pil-sook reveals the note he’s slipped into her locker: “Miss Sushi, I love you.” OMG.

Hye-mi asks how Pil-sook knew she liked Jason, which is hilarious but perhaps understandable, as the Hye-mi Bot conversion into full human is yet incomplete. Pil-sook answers that he’s always the first person she thinks of, and wants him with her always. Hye-mi walks away shuddering at the cheesiness.

Speaking of humanization: Doo-shik comes to the school and finds Kyung-jin, just as she’s (adorably!) primping (and not wearing all-black for once), adding a flower pin to her hair. She’s so cute as the fumbling flirt since she’s so bad at it, as well as being embarrassed to be caught in the middle of it.

Doo-shik wants her recommendation for students to sign, because she has a reputation for cool-headed, objective judgments. Yet his face falls as she declares the three students worthy of recommendation: Baek-hee, Sam-dong, Jin-gook. (Suspiciously, he asks if she’s planned this with Oh-hyuk. Heh.)

Jin-man bursts in, and Doo-shik asks for his opinion as well, only to get the same response. Aggravated, Doo-shik asks for any other recs, and Jin-min supposes there IS one more…but no, he can’t say it. Doo-shik presses him eagerly, and the playing of Park Jin-young’s “Don’t Leave Me” in the background clues us in to the turn of Jin-man’s thoughts as he declares that this guy has the best dance skills EVAR: himself.

Hye-mi puzzles over how to show her star potential in her music video, and Oh-hyuk offers the suggestion that instead of trying to show their future, they should show their past. If they trace how far they’ve come in the past year, they’d be showing promise of future growth.

The kiddos ahh thoughtfully and think back — and is Hye-mi actually imagining herself as a ROBOT? I love this show.

Jin-gook and Sam-dong smile over how far they’ve come, but Hye-mi figures she was just the same a year ago. Jin-gook reminds her by mimicking her Robot Voice: “I. Have. A. Dream. I. Trust. That. Dream.” Sam-dong adds to that by reminding her of the time she sang while pooping (HAHAHA) and how she did her chicken dance at the sauna.

But when Hye-mi and Sam-dong get caught up in recounting all the hilarious scenes in their past, Jin-gook looks at them a little sadly, left out of the memories.

Hye-sung finds Jin-gook brooding and offers to listen to his problem. He asks who she’d like better: The one who’s with her for a long time, or the one who can’t be with her because he’s busy.

She wants examples, so he asks who she likes better: Sam-dong, who’s been around, or himself, who’s been busy. She thinks a bit, then motions him in closer…then kisses him on the cheek and dashes away. That’s my girl, thinking fast on her feet!

Jason and Pil-sook submit the group’s applications for the EMG contest, and totally make my heart squeeze by the way they look at each other and count together — one, two, three — just so they can bow and say “Thank you” in unison. OMG. Yes, they are THAT couple.

Pil-sook chooses the spot for their shoot — a museum of sorts — and while Jason isn’t thrilled about the backdrop, he agrees to her choice.

Sam-dong’s video — replete with full-size cardboard cut-outs of his old self — takes place in the basement studio. He offers up two “languages”: his “native” accent and his Seoul voice, which is hysterical because he affects this stilted Seoul accent that sounds ridiculously stuffy.

Jin-gook dances in the school studio, while Hye-mi’s video contrasts her old Robot Voice clip with the current Aegyo Hye-mi…which she flubs because she can’t stand the indignity of putting on the cute act. Awesome.

Baek-hee’s video acknowledges her tarnished image, saying that right now people see her as Ms. K, “But I’ll work hard to make the name K a star representing Korea.” Foreshadowing!

Oh-hyuk shows the clips to a stone-faced Doo-shik, saying that these six are the only ones bothering to enter the competition. Everyone else gave up, but they took up the challenge — and doesn’t that mean they’re the top six? Doo-shik is finally moved, and agrees to sign the contracts.

Kyung-jin, who’s been reading the Baek-hee news with a heavy heart, is therefore thrilled with Jin-ma’s good news that Baek-hee, Jin-gook, and Sam-dong are signing with White Entertainment (who’s showing interest in Jason, too).

Squealing in glee, she links her fingers through his in a celebratory gesture, but poor Jin-man has to deal with the disappointment when Kyung-jin pulls her hands away and tears out of the room looking for Oh-hyuk.

Finding him in the hall, she grabs grabs him in a surprise hug. The students cheer and clap at the spectacle, while Principal Shi has palpitations in his office, and Jin-man watches sadly.

Jin-man cheers up when Hye-mi comes by and reacts excitedly to the news, doing the same finger-linking gesture in happiness. When she likewise turns to go, he whines about being ditched again (lol) and asks who she’s running off to find. Jin-gook? Sam-dong?

Hye-mi replies easily, “Who else? Of course I’m going to—” and then stops, surprised with herself.

The moment of realization has come — it’s the person who came to mind first, as Pil-sook described. And then, just to make us stew in our seats a little longer, Hye-mi sees both boys heading toward her, and ducks out of the way.

However, it’s Sam-dong her gaze fixes on, and she sighs to herself, “I must be crazy!”

MUAHAHAHA! Sam-mi it is!


I’m relieved at the way the president storyline resolved, not least because it means Jin-gook’s daddy issues are finally at an end. Phew! It did drag on for a bit longer than I would have liked, but seeing how it tied in to the larger picture, I’m satisfied. It’s particularly effective that Jin-gook’s big scandal is solved not merely by the truth coming out, but by his father’s complete acceptance of him. He doesn’t care that much about public perception — at least, not more than saving Baek-hee — but he does care about Dad, so it’s fitting that Dad’s love (rather than a rehabilitated image) is his true reward.

As for Hye-mi’s feelings, I daresay many of us predicted this, though I suspect that many were still holding out hope for Jin-gook. This drama has done a particularly good job making both boys a viable option for her, but the reason I’d always believed it would be Sam-dong is because in a k-drama, once a heroine’s feeling’s start to stray away from a guy, he isn’t going to be the one she ends with. It just doesn’t work that way. The dramas are all about realizing your “true” love, no matter the pain and drama and makjang craziness that that entails, not about settling to “love the one you’re with.”

As for K: We got our first strong hint today, and now I’m pretty convinced it’s gotta be Baek-hee. Prior to this episode I’d thought she was possible because of the round-robin of the K pendant. It’s true that all sorts of pendant transfers could happen in the last episode, but the course of this drama has seen it travel from character to character in moments of despair, and with Jin-gook getting it this late, it stands to reason that either he’d keep it, or it would make a poetic full-circle return to Baek-hee. Plus, there’s a nice symbolism to her reclaiming the name K after being tarnished as Ms. K in the media.

But there’s that scene with the pendant when Hye-mi’s playing with it and accidentally drops it into that school drop-box. I thought initially that it was played for a laugh (and it got one from me), but after Baek-hee’s declaration to make the name K proud, it occurred to me that perhaps Hye-mi never fished it out. Now that everyone’s gotten their use from it, perhaps it’ll stay in the box, where Baek-hee will find it at a later date…


356 February 22, 2011January 24, 2016

Dream High: Episode 15

by girlfriday

I liked Hye-mi from the start, despite her surly behavior, but now I LOVE her, and totally because of her surly ‘tude. Is it me, or did she transform into someone awesome, right under our noses? In this episode she faces not one, but two dilemmas: classical or pop, and Hottie No.1 vs. Hottie No.2. Sigh. It’s tough being a girl.


Hye-mi realizes that she’s running towards Sam-dong…which means she LUUUUURVES him! To make matters worse, he’s heading straight for her with Jin-gook by his side, so she ducks behind a door to hide from them, because she’s adorably new to feelings.

She leans her head against the wall, groaning to herself that she’s crazy: “What are you going to do now? Crazy, crazy, crazy.” Aw. I love this side of Hye-mi.

The kids sign their contracts with White Entertainment, and the teachers supervise the proceedings. Oh-hyuk clocks Principal Shi glaring at him like the crook who stole his daughter, and he leans over to ask Jin-man why the principal’s got laser beams aimed at him.

Jin-man: “I don’t know. Don’t speak to me.” Hahaha. And aw, poor heartbroken Jin-man. The tidal wave of destruction one public display of affection can cause.

The students laugh at Doo-shik’s cheesy words about making their dreams come true together, until Jin-gook points out that it’s Oh-hyuk’s M.O., and he hides his face in embarrassment. I love how realistic that is—when I was a teenager, cheese was the plague.

Outside, Jin-gook and Sam-dong congratulate each other on their contracts, and Sam-dong declares that now he’s pretty sure that he’s up to snuff, to battle it out for Hye-mi’s heart. He asks Jin-gook if he’s up for the challenge, asks if he’s confident he’ll win. Jin-gook says he’s not, actually, and asks if Sam-dong is confident in winning.

Sam-dong: “No, I’m not. Now that I think about going up against you, you’re bigger than me. And possibly better looking. And you gave up your dream to protect someone else, so it’s possible you’re cool too. I should’ve picked someone easier to beat. Truthfully, I’m a little scared.”

Gah, I love their competitive bonding. Also, he’s not better looking. That’s just your insecurity talking, Sam-dong. What I love about his character is that he’s totally old-fashioned. He’s alerting his opponent that he’s going for it, like a gentleman.

Every battle’s got its code of ethics, and this one’s delightfully friendly, while still being tense. It’s the kind of code between two guys who might share some friendly underwear from time to time. Also, confirmation: Jin-gook still has the K pendant.

The girl in question is battling it out on her own, with little imaginary Angel Jin-gook on one shoulder, and Devil Sam-dong on the other. LOL.

Cracks me up that Jin-gook is the angel, because despite being the traditional bad boy, he’s always been the good one to her. And Sam-dong, despite being the good country boy, is the devil to Hye-mi, because he’s made her face tough challenges, and forced her to (gasp) feel feelings. Pwahaha. What a great reversal.

She mulls it over until Devil Sam-dong starts flying Cupid’s hearts at her (HA) and she shakes them both away.

Sam-dong sees from across the way and calls out to her, bringing her out of her reverie…and way too close to facing reality. So she bolts like a rabbit. And Sam-dong, bless his heart, just chases after her because he doesn’t know why she’s running away.

He finally catches up and cuts her off, and asks why she’s running away from him. Hye-mi: “I’m not running away. I’m…exercising.” Is it just me or is this girl getting funnier?

Sam-dong proudly shows her the contract and she says congratulations in her distraction, not even making eye contact. He’s like, this is the face of someone congratulating? And Hye-mi gets to repeat one of my favorite lines: “This IS my congratulations face.”

Sam-dong starts to ask her if she still worries about him or feels sorry for him, but before she can answer, she gets a call from her sister Hye-sung: Dad’s back!

Father of the Year was too busy being Crown Prince Whozit, or running away from debt collectors, what have you, and only now shows up at the house. He goes livid the moment he lays eyes on Oh-hyuk (the guy his wife left him for, as you’ll recall), and takes it out on his side-view mirror.

Once inside, he presents Oh-hyuk and his sister with an envelope of money, clenching his teeth while thanking them for taking care of his girls. When asked if that’s the face of someone who’s thankful, he answers, “This IS my thankful face.” It runs in the family!

Hye-mi comes home and Dad tries to greet her with a hug (do you even know your daughter?), and she responds by hitting him tearfully. He promises her that this time he’s gotten back on his feet, and they can all be together…in America.

Oh crap. Panic sets in over the two boys, who’ve been quietly happy for Hye-mi, until now. Dad says they’ll get everything ready for the move in a week, and they can stay at a hotel in the meantime. Hye-mi doesn’t want to just up and leave to a hotel so suddenly, and Oh-hyuk agrees that they can stay, since there’re so many rooms…

Dad goes over to Sam-dong and Jin-gook’s room, where they both hastily make their beds and in unison: “You can sleep here, sir.” Ha. Dad’s less concerned with where he’s going to sleep, than with what kind of relationship they have with his daughter.

They put him at ease by saying they’re just all friends from the same class, and Dad makes it clear that Hye-mi is Julliard-bound, as in destined for better things, so back off. He then chooses Sam-dong’s bed (!) and then complains about the mattress springs like a little princess.

The boys note that Hye-mi is a cookie-cutout of her dad, right down to the sneer and the prickly demeanor. Heh. I love that they can make fun of her truthfully, even though they’re competing for her affections.

Jin-gook runs into Hye-mi on the staircase, and asks if she’s really going to America. She says with a smile that she’s going, of course, because Dad’s here, and Julliard was always her dream anyway. But when she turns her back, her face betrays conflict.

Jin-gook offers her congratulations, though it’s half-hearted. And Hye-mi accepts his handshake a little too eagerly, as if convincing herself that it’s something to be congratulated for.

In her room, she ponders over her two dreams, now offering up a choice that she never had before. Sam-dong comes to her door, full of fear and anticipation.

Sam-dong: Can’t you…not go?

Ack! Ack! **thud**

He leans against her door, while she leans against it on the other side, and he asks what he’s supposed to do if she leaves now.

In the middle of the night, Dad wakes up in stealth mode, and takes the girls out of the house, suitcases in tow. They stay the night at a sauna, and the girls wonder what they’re doing there, if Dad’s really on the up and up.

Turns out Shady Daddy isn’t quite so on the level. He bolted from the house because he knew that Ma Doo-shik would find him there and demand repayment. Hye-mi rolls her eyes at her errant father, realizing that nothing’s actually changed. She asks why he really came back.

He tells her that it’s because he was worried she’d give up on her dream (of studying classical music) and was sincere about starting over in the States. He takes her phone away and tells them not to tell anyone where they are, so that they can slip away quietly in a week.

At school, Sam-dong and Jin-gook worry that Hye-mi will just leave the country like this, and Sam-dong decides he has to find her. Jin-gook asks if he has any way of stopping her. Sam-dong: “I don’t…but if I don’t find her, I won’t be able to breathe.” Kid, are you TRYING to kill me?

They split up to look for her, and Hye-mi wanders the streets to clear her head. She ends up in front of school, debating whether or not to go in. And it’s not either of the boys, but Baek-hee who finds her first. She takes her inside by the hand, having come full circle from their first steps into Kirin together.

Kyung-jin and Oh-hyuk run into each other in an explosion of awkward, and when she tries to bring up the hug from the other day, he makes the mistake of telling her that he won’t read anything into it, since it didn’t mean anything. Oh, boys. She just agrees, deflated.

When Doo-shik sneaks up behind her, she jumps into Oh-hyuk’s arms yet again, but they refuse to acknowledge the giant pink elephant in the room. Jin-man joins them as they discuss the new song that Doo-shik has acquired for the group.

It’s not really a song so much as a bass line, but then Oh-hyuk adds a melody on top of it. Jin-man’s jaw drops: “Are you a genius?” Heh. Oh-hyuk confesses that Sam-dong’s the genius, since it’s a song he wrote, re-titled “Dream High.” (The show’s title track.)

Everyone thinks that it’s a good song and a good name for the group, while Jin-man has other ideas. He’s prepared for the group-naming session, you see. Jin-man: “ALBATROS!” Ignore, ignore.

Jin-man: “Ok, ok, I have another: R2D2!” I don’t know what’s funnier—the fact that he thinks these are cool names, or the motions he’s got accompanying them. He finally throws a tantrum that nobody listens to him, harrumph, but then his ego shoots right back up when he’s offered the role of songwriter. Cue triumphant Star Wars music.

They’re interrupted when Dad comes rushing in to grab Oh-hyuk by the collar and demand his daughter’s whereabouts. He totally outs Oh-hyuk for seducing away his wife—AWK-ward—and blames him thinking he’s stashed Hye-mi somewhere.

Hye-mi comes running up to break up the fight, which is when Doo-shik realizes who it is, with a gleeful smile. They all calm down to discuss the matter, and Dad finds out that Hye-mi signed with Doo-shik in order to repay his debts. Yeah, catch up, Deadbeat Dad.

He tries to tell her not to worry about the debt, but she says it’ll be fine if she just debuts. That’s when Oh-hyuk steps in, like a real father figure, and reassures her that the debt doesn’t matter. His house has already been leveraged as collateral, and she needn’t worry, and he tells her to think carefully about what she really wants, and not to debut to pay a debt.

She looks up at Oh-hyuk, finally put at ease, and says she’ll think about it. Yay. In your face, Daddy Dearest. Takes more to be a dad than DNA.

Meanwhile, Kyung-jin reels at the news that her crush could be the kind of man to seduce a married woman. Jin-man takes the opportunity to tell her that eight years ago (the time of the supposed affair) is right around the time they were supposed to debut together, but Oh-hyuk ditched him. He decides that Oh-hyuk might have been the bad guy back then. Jin-man: “It’s possible he’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing!” Yeah, a real wolf.

I love that Jin-man thinks he’s competing for Kyung-jin’s affections, when it’s really Oh-hyuk that he loves.

Hye-mi weighs her decision as she wanders the streets, playing eeny-meeny-miny-moe at each crosswalk, and frustrated that Fate isn’t helping her decide. Jin-gook finds her lost in thought, and she asks him what she’s supposed to do, since neither of them is one hundred percent.

Jin-gook tells her that if one choice were a hundred, it wouldn’t be a choice, but an answer. It’s because they’re fifty-fifty that it’s a choice, and she should weigh it carefully. He adds that once she chooses, not to look back, and turn that fifty into a hundred, to prove to herself that she made the right choice.

She wonders if he’s not going to tell her not to go, but he says she’s not the type to listen to other people anyway. She smiles, but her thoughts drift to Sam-dong and she walks away lost in thought again.

Jason does a promotional soundbite for an idol talk show, and he sweetly suggests the other members of Dream High for interviews. The PD doesn’t bite at the mention of Jin-gook or Baek-hee, thinking that it’s still too soon, and even makes the dig that people say Baek-hee seduced the president.

Oh, so the TEENAGER seduced the SLIMY BASTARD? Gah, sometimes I hate people. But I love Show for being real about it. Jason snaps at him that it’s not like that, but sees that they’ve got an uphill battle ahead. He suggests Pil-sook, and scores her a spot.

On the day of her interview, Jason watches from behind the camera, adorably cheering her on. He takes a look at the interview questions, and sees that changes have been made. His face falls, as he realizes he’s walked her straight into the lion’s den.

The interviewer starts out naming all her talents, and then adds her biggest talent of all: transformation, as he takes out a giant picture of her from a year ago. Pil-sook panics for a second, her voice wavering…but then she pulls it together and makes light of it, with jokes. Jason breathes a sigh of relief.

She closes the segment with a song that she clearly wrote about her favorite Chipmunk.

IU – “Dreaming” [ Download ]

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Eyes that only look at me
A nose like a sculpture
Lovable lips
Skin like milk and
A face that’s curious about something
Chic words

My friends think
I’m delusional
But I knew
Your heart
Even when you’re coy
I know
You can fool a ghost
But you can’t fool me

Step by step
Nervous footsteps
With excitement

Today with a heart
As big as this
Your dream

After the interview, Jason tells her that the PD found old pictures of her from her homepage, and suggests she take them down. She sighs that she probably should, but confesses that it makes her sad to do so.

She knows that the world will ridicule the Pil-sook of a year ago, and she’s scared that she’ll come to hate her too. Pil-sook: “I was happy with myself back then.” Aw, I love her. Jason tells her that she’s not the only one who was happy with who she was a year ago, and…wait for it…he takes out his phone.

YES! She’s shocked to find pictures of herself. “It’s…pictures of me?” Jason: “Who did you think was in here?” Pil-sook reminds him of his beloved I-miss-you-I-love-you-Julie, and of course, he waits till NOW to tell her: she’s his sister. Knew it.

She turns to keep walking, but he pulls her close. Omo! She immediately reads the sitch and shuts her eyes in a panic, making me die. Jason laughs to himself, and then goes in for a kiss…on the doll who’s hitching a piggyback ride on Pil-sook’s back.

She actually huffs in frustration, as he says he couldn’t help it…the doll was so cute. “But why did you close your eyes? What were you expecting?” Cheeky bastard. She turns to walk away in embarrassment, but he grabs her back for another go. Aaaah! Stop yo-yo-ing her…my heart can’t take it!

He leans in close, and kisses her sweetly on the nose. But she’s had enough of this coyness, and grabs him for a real kiss. YAY! I didn’t think it was possible to love her even more. Gah, they are so cute I can’t stand it!

It’s now one day before Hye-mi is scheduled to leave, and she confronts Oh-hyuk at school. She asks him to tell her the truth about her mom. She admits to hating him in the beginning, but now she doesn’t (tantamount to a declaration of love, from Hye-mi) and adds that he’s helped her become who she is now. Aw.

He finally breaks and tells her the truth—that her mom only ever loved one person her whole life, and married him. But one day Oh-hyuk crossed paths with her…at the hospital. When her surgery was unsuccessful, she had asked Oh-hyuk to make her into the bad wife in her family’s eyes, so that they wouldn’t live with her death as a burden. So he did, because he had loved her once.

Um, okay. That’s a little makjang for my taste (How is adulterer and abandoner better than sick and dying?? One’s a burden and the other’s not?? Hello!), but at least it sufficiently clears up the backstory. I never assumed that Oh-hyuk actually seduced Hye-mi’s mom, but this is more than a little nuts. I guess Hye-mi gets her flair for the dramatic from her mom’s side? Yeesh.

Kyung-jin overhears their conversation, crying in empathy and relief, realizing now what Oh-hyuk meant about his heart belonging to another. Principal Shi comes up to warn her of the rumor that Oh-hyuk is a married-womanizer, but Kyung-jin just says that she knows…and it made her fall even harder. Heh.

At home, Sam-dong and Jin-gook both sit on the edge of their beds, waiting for Hye-mi’s decision. Sam-dong finally asks Jin-gook to stop her:

Sam-dong: I can’t, but you might be able to. Can’t you…stop Hye-mi from going? I don’t care if she listens to you and doesn’t listen to me. If you’re in her heart and not me…it doesn’t matter. If you can stop her…then try.

Heartbreaking. That’s not the kind of thing Sam-dong would be willing to say in any other circumstance, but he’s that desperate for her to stay. Oh, puppy. Jin-gook tells him that it’s not something he can hold her back from, and he couldn’t do it even if he wanted.

Hye-mi watches her finished audition clip for EMG, where she narrates the journey she’s been on thus far, from studying classical music and thinking that popular music was third-rate trash.

Hye-mi: But in the past year, through popular music, I was able to cheer somebody on [“Genie”], I was able to make somebody happy [Jin-gook’s birthday song], and I came to find out that I could encourage someone too [“Goose’s Dream” to Baek-hee]. When I look back to when I ridiculed popular music, I realize that I was the prejudiced, third-rate one. I think in the last year, I’ve barely made it out of being third-rate. And that I have the capacity to become first-rate.

She takes out the K pendant, now in her possession (Tricksy, that pendant. They’re exchanging it offscreen now!) and weighs her decision. The next morning, they pack and wait outside for the airport shuttle, when Hye-mi takes out the pendant again, and makes her decision.

Meanwhile, Sam-dong sits outside the house, clutching Hye-mi’s cell phone charm, unable to face her leaving. He finally takes off running, but he’s too late to stop her. He runs after the bus, screaming, “Don’t go! Don’t go!”

He can’t catch up, and he crumples to the ground on his knees, crying for her not to go. He just cries, thinking he’s lost her forever…when she appears behind him.

She catches her breath, saying she didn’t get on the bus, and called out to him to stop running, but he didn’t hear her. He still can’t hear her now, reeling from the shock. She takes his face in her hands and says it again: “I’m NOOOOT GOOOOING.”

He cries again, this time overwhelmed with joy, and grabs her in a hug. Eeee! This time she’s caught off guard, and you know what happens when she’s confronted with feelings…Robot Hye-mi freezes in his arms.

I’m TOTALLY not squeeing right now. That’s not me, I swear.

Back at the bus stop, Dad is still in disbelief over Hye-mi’s declaration, insisting that Oh-hyuk did something to make her say she’s staying. They try to convince him that this is really her dream now, and that it’s a real possibility. Hye-mi tells him that she’ll show him onstage: if she can stand up on stage in one month’s time, it’ll prove to him AND to herself that this is a viable dream.

To that end, the group starts practicing for their debut, and make their first album. Kyung-jin has an adorable moment when she finds out that she’s thanked on the album, for the first time ever. Aw.

Doo-shik makes the rounds to the studios to try and get them onstage, but he’s faced with the harsh truth: Get rid of Jin-gook and Baek-hee, or Dream High will never see the light of day. Dun, dun!


This show is frickin’ genius. Every episode, it focuses on each character, and the closer we get to the finale, it only makes us sure of one thing: any and all of them could be K. I agree that Baek-hee had a phenomenal storyline in the last episode and it made her a prime candidate to rise from the ashes and become K. I certainly would cheer her on with all my heart if it were her.

I don’t think it’s a done deal though, since what the last episode did was just set her up to be one of the contenders, just as much as Sam-dong and Jin-gook have been set up from the beginning. Now Hye-mi joins the ranks with her own battle faced.

Not that I’m putting my money on Hye-mi. My heart’s still with Sam-dong for K, though at this point it wouldn’t kill me if he wasn’t, because he GOT THE GIRL(!) I think it matters less now that Dream High has formed as a group, and we’re more concerned with their immediate struggle and success, rather than the far-off super-stardom that awaits in the distant future.

Oh, who am I kidding. It’s KILLING me.


456 February 28, 2011January 24, 2016

Dream High: Episode 16 (Final)

by girlfriday

Dude, someone owes me drinks, and then MORE DRINKS. I’m on a roll. Maybe I should play the lottery or something. Vegas, anyone?

We’re here at the finale whether we like it or not, and we’re met with song and dance, laughter and tears, as we send off our dreamers to their bright and shiny futures.


Suzy – “Only Hope” [ Download ]

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We begin with a montage on the REAL star of today’s show, The K Pendant. We see it make its journey from President Jung to Baek-hee, from Baek-hee to Hye-mi, who gives it to Sam-dong, who tosses it to Jin-gook…

And we see the moment (going back in time into Episode 15) when Jin-gook gives it to Hye-mi. He asks if she has the confidence not to regret her decision. She figures that she’ll have regrets either way, and then Jin-gook hands her the pendant, and asks her to stay and regret it then. Aw.

The Dream High group gathers with Doo-shik, who tells them that he’s running up against a giant wall when it comes to the studios: Baek-hee and Jin-gook, who they refuse to put up in front of the cameras. He tells them that it’s either split those two off and debut the rest first, or stay together and face the chance of never debuting.

Baek-hee and Jin-gook both offer to stay behind, not wanting to hold the group back because of their past. But Sam-dong tells them that it’s not an option—they’re all or nothing. He admits to not particularly liking either of them (Baek-hee for making Hye-mi suffer and Jin-gook for being stingy about his underwear, HA.) but tells them that this is what he would want from them, if the tables were turned.

He turns to Hye-mi and says that he’ll never leave this group, making her gulp down her fluttering feelings. She walks out later to get some air, and Sam-dong gets thisclose to her face…to tell her to smile. She can’t even look him in the eyes (awwwww) and just stammers a “yeah.”

At school, she takes up her usual thinking position—head-to-desk. Pil-sook immediately recognizes the signs and asks what’s on her mind. After hemming and hawing, Hye-mi finally leans in uncomfortably close to ask how you know who’s in your heart.

Pil-sook reminds her that she’s already told her—it’s the person you think of first when you’re happy or sad. Hye-mi: “Yes, but…what if it’s not the person you thought it was going to be?” Eeee!

Pil-sook looks confused, only ever having experienced the all-in, one-and-only kind of crush. As they ponder what it means, Jason bursts in from out of nowhere, getting right up in Hye-mi’s face with a devilish smile.

Enjoying the moment more than life itself, he tells Hye-mi that THIS is what you call two-timing, which he reminds her is what she said his “manners” were about. He throws her words right back in her face, loving the fact that he gets to rub her smug face in it.

I have never seen Jason this happy about anything, and it’s HILARIOUS. Seriously, if you made me choose my favorite pairing in this show, it’s this one, right here. Their mutual dislike coupled with their protectiveness over Pil-sook is just the cutest thing ever. It rivals the Jin-gook / Sam-dong Underwear Wars.

Hye-mi denies it and leaves in a huff, but she’s shaken by Jason’s words. Meanwhile he actually lets out a “Yessssss” as she leaves, totally relishing the victory. Pil-sook shakes her head, embarrassed, and he smiles at her like a guilty little chipmunk.

Hye-mi shakes her head, trying to knock the Sam-dong-feelings right out, and yells, “Sam-dong is just a friend! Stop getting confused!” Only Jin-gook happens to be standing right behind her, and he confirms what he’s noticed for some time now. Aw, well if it makes you feel any better, she’s as happy about it as you are.

Jin-man shows Hye-mi, Baek-hee, and Sam-dong a video of himself doing a dance in his apartment, and tells them that it went viral on the internet. He gets the idea that maybe they don’t have to wait for a studio to pick them up—they can do a flash mob.

All they need is people, and Hye-mi smiles. They get started on gathering as many students as they can, using everything from intimidation to fear. Pil-sook actually becomes a horror movie ghost to scare Ria into helping. Heh.

They give everyone costumes and start putting the show together, and Hye-mi takes the lead with the bullhorn, directing everyone. It’s so great to see her use that bullhorn for good, even if she’s still a little scary to some of the students. Meanwhile, a new reporter (from a fishing magazine) sees the students gathering and starts snapping away.

At home, Hye-mi’s dad just counts down the days until they can go back to the States, while Sam-dong and Jin-gook just eye him warily and do passive-aggressive things like sing and dance around him.

They both end up at school, because they can’t practice at home. Jin-gook takes the opportunity to ask Sam-dong what happened with Hye-mi, since he swore to go up against him, man to man.

Sam-dong says that he’s decided not to confess his feelings. Jin-gook looks at him, surprised.

Sam-dong: When Hye-mi said she was leaving, I knew. It doesn’t matter who she has in her heart. I like that girl. I like her if she likes you, and I like her if she hates me. She just has to be nearby.

AW. Jin-gook finds himself moved, and then shakes out of it: “You still have that talent…of turning people into chickens.” (In Korean, goosebumps = chickenbumps, hence chickens.)

At home, Hye-mi’s dad starts singing “Dream High” despite himself, and then gets into a fight with Oh-hyuk’s sister. He ends up spilling the beans about Oh-hyuk putting up their house as collateral for Hye-mi’s debt, and she ends up spilling the beans about his wife.

He cries outside, finally facing the fact that he is the worst dad ever, and admits as much to Oh-hyuk. He promises to repay the debt, deciding to go to the States alone, unable to face his daughters. Not sure that you’ve learned your lesson there, but whatever. Oh-hyuk’s a better dad anyway.

Oh-hyuk asks him to go find Hye-mi first, and he finds her, just as she’s about to perform in the middle of the street.

Oh, yeah…here we go! Jin-man walks up in the middle of a busy square, wearing a chef’s outfit and holding a takeout delivery carrier. He holds it up above his head, and it says “Dream High” on the side. The music starts, and he begins to dance, in all his JYP glory.

One by one, the kids who were dressed as random passers-by join in, until soon a giant group of Kirin students is dancing in unison. It’s totally cheesy, and TOTALLY awesome.

As they watch from the crowd, Oh-hyuk tells Hye-mi’s dad that she didn’t give up her dream—this is her dream, right here. He adds that now is his chance to step up and guard her new dream.

In the coming days, the street performance goes viral, and all sorts of people upload videos of themselves doing the dance to “Dream High.” Kyung-jin finds Oh-hyuk uploading the videos wherever he can to help them gain some traction, and they share an accidental kiss in their excitement.

They separate awkwardly, and when Kyung-jin turns back to ask Oh-hyuk to dinner, she has a pin in her hair. Hahaha. Oh-hyuk declines, and Principal Shi witnesses the whole thing, getting ragey over the fact that he kissed her and then dared to turn her down.

Doo-shik stands vigilant at his post in the studio, passing out CDs, bodily functions be damned. And finally his work pays off, when he comes upon a PD who gets a last-minute cancellation on his music program.

At home, Oh-hyuk gets the call and runs to tell the kids. Jin-gook, Sam-dong, and Hye-mi share a jumping three-way hug, until Hye-mi realizes how close she is to Sam-dong and breaks free awkwardly. Sam-dong clocks her reaction, misinterpreting it of course.

It’s the day of the performance, and everyone is a ball of nerves. Jin-gook finds Sam-dong minutes before their turn onstage with a dark look on his face. Uh-oh. He realizes that Sam-dong’s hearing is on the fritz, but Sam-dong assures him that he’ll be fine as long as he’s on cue, and not to tell the others.

Hye-mi sees him, and when she walks up, Sam-dong makes an excuse and leaves. She asks Jin-gook if his hearing is out, and tells him the same thing that Sam-dong just said—not to tell the others, and that he’ll put everything into the performance.

She turns to go after him, and Jin-gook stops her to say that the day has finally come, for them to stand up onstage together. She agrees, like it hasn’t occurred to her until just now. He says that it took longer than he thought, and smiles.

They take to the stage, and he counts down for Sam-dong, and they perform without a hitch. As they sing and dance together onstage for the first time, Jin-gook says in voiceover:

Jin-gook: There are two kinds of happiness in the world. One is a happiness that you realize after the fact. The other is a happiness that you feel in the moment. The happiness in the moment is so rare that they say you can live your whole life on the light that shines from remembering it. I think we’ll go on remembering this moment, today, like that kind of happiness…that we can remember for the rest of our lives, the moment when we shined.

Later at the house, Hye-mi continues to be awkward around Sam-dong and avoid him (or rather, her feelings) like the plague. He finally calls her on it, asking why she’s being so avoidy, and she just stammers that she’s not.

Jin-gook interrupts to ask Hye-mi to go somewhere with him, since it’s her birthday today. Sam-dong suggests they throw a party all together, but Hye-mi shuts him down cold. Aw, if you only knew why.

Jin-gook takes her out on his motorcycle, but she realizes that she’s dropped her wallet inside. He says she doesn’t need it, but she insists on running back in to get it in a panic.

And here’s why…Sam-dong finds it on the floor and opens it up to find a group picture of all of them. He goes to take it out, and here’s what’s underneath:

!!! So. Cute.

He barely has time to register what just happened, when Hye-mi runs in to retrieve it. She asks worriedly if he looked inside. He lies that he didn’t, and Jin-gook watches from the doorway.

He takes her to the river, back to where it all began. He watches her walk with heavy steps as she tries to put on a smile for him, and he finally admits that they’re both trying to force it, when he knows—and has known for some time now—who her heart really belongs to.

He says that he selfishly was hanging on even when he knew, and tells her that the heart isn’t something you can force to go where you want it to. She looks at him in the eyes for the first time in a long time, and cries, saying she’s sorry.

He puts her helmet on her head, letting her cry. I love this gesture that gets repeated in their relationship. He tells her that they can be comfortable around each other now, and go to school together, and look each other in the eye, and be friends like they were before. Aw, I always knew he’d be the good guy and send her off to Sam-dong, but I love that he’s so sweet about it.

Oh-hyuk gets called to the principal’s office on official business, since one of his students made it to the final round of the EMG contest. But Principal Shi isn’t in the mood to be congratulatory, since Oh-hyuk is out to break his daughter’s heart.

He points it out to Oh-hyuk, who of course had no idea…until now. Awkward. He grins, giddy at the news, while Principal Shi kicks himself for playing Cupid between his daughter and his least favorite person in the world.

Oh-hyuk gets ready to announce the winner, as everyone dies from the anticipation. Only Hye-mi looks unconcerned, swearing that she never expected to win anyway. He pulls the paper out of the envelope…and the winner is…Hye-mi!

She jumps, screaming, and then tries to play it cool as she sits down. Everyone congratulates her, and even Jason has to eat his own words and say he’s happy for her, through clenched teeth. Heh.

But when Oh-hyuk pulls the paper all the way out, he sees that hers isn’t the only name…all six of them have passed onto the next round. In the days that follow, they gear up for their solo auditions, fighting good-naturedly over who gets to practice in the studio first, deciding over rock-paper-scissors.

Kyung-jin watches them wistfully, noting to Oh-hyuk that she misses that time in her life, and he notes that life is fair, since they don’t have the perspective that she’s earned since. He then asks her to dinner, and she jumps to accept.

The second he walks away, she puts a pin in her hair and primps. I don’t know which is funnier—the hairpin as an indicator of her crush, or the fact that she carries it around at all times, just in case.

As they practice, Oh-hyuk tells them that he realized why they all passed the first round, despite not qualifying, according to the contest’s crazy prerequisites. He tells them that it was a test to see who would rise to the challenge. Yeah, only in a drama, people.

They wonder how they even made it past the second round when they never even interviewed. They find out on the day of the audition: it turns out that the weird fishing magazine reporter was actually an EMG scout, and he was observing them the whole time.

They stand outside, wondering what it would be like to be the best. Sam-dong thinks that it’ll probably be lonely at the top. Jin-gook asks if that means he doesn’t want to be at the top. Sam-dong: “I still want it.”

They audition, each with a flashback of where they came from, and their words about how much they want this dream. It’s a lovely sequence, and it takes us forward in time, to 2018.

Pil-sook has a slew of albums and awards to her name, displayed at her kindergarten class, where she sings the kiddies to sleep. Cute. Jason comes to escort her for the Big Night, and they get excited about seeing everyone again. He says that he’ll be going onstage as a guest, and asks if she wants to join him. She laughs and says no, she’s had enough of being in the press with him.

Baek-hee is now a teacher at Kirin, and an exact replica of Kyung-jin. She even uses the same lesson with the thumbtacks, and cracks the whip. Kyung-jin, who’s now the Art Director, observes her with a smile.

Oh-hyuk meets her outside, bowing to her as his boss…and then offering his arm as her husband (and father of her baby). Yay, cute!

Jin-gook is a huge star in Korea, and he even has a rivalry going on with K. Doo-shik is his manager, and he’s married to Oh-hyuk’s sister, with a kid of their own. He insists that his schedule be cleared tonight for the big concert, and smiles to see good news about his father.

And…it’s time for the Grammys. We catch up to the beginning of the series, and go backstage, as K puts down the picture of Dream High next to the K pendant…which is next to his…TUNING FORK! YESSSS!

Sam-dong for the win! He puts the pendant around his neck, as we flash back to the day when he found out that he won the EMG contest.

He refuses to go to New York, and Hye-mi tells him he has to go. (Man, after all that running and crying for Hye-mi not to go…now HE’s going!) He tells her that he didn’t enter this contest to go to New York—he did it to show her that he could do it, and that she needn’t worry about him anymore.

Sam-dong: I’m NOT GOING! From the beginning, you were music to me, and music was you. That’s why I came this far. If you’re not there, there is no music.

Hye-mi reminds him that he wanted to show her that she didn’t need to worry about him. But she says with tears in her eyes that she’s still worried…so he has to go, and become the best, so that she’ll consider what he means to her.

Oh, man. Who would’ve expected Hye-mi of all people to do the gallant thing, and send him off to pursue his dream, even when it breaks her heart? She smiles at him through her tears, and he shakes as he cries, telling her just like he did in the beginning, that she’s lying to him right now.

He insists that she’s lying, and that she wants to hold onto him right now. But she says no, if this were a year ago, she would’ve been upset that he won over her. But she’s happy to let him go. She says it through her tears, and he asks if that’s the face of a person who’s happy. She responds with her trademark: “This IS my happy face.”

Gah, they’re breaking my heart. They cry, and Hye-mi insists that he go, and show her. He finally puts her cell phone charm in her hand, and walks away.

Cut back to the Grammys, and Sam-dong as K gets ready to go onstage. He takes his earpiece out, ’cause he don’t need it, yo, and flies onto the stage like a bird.

Back in Korea, we get to the Big Concert, which we find out is Hye-mi’s 100th concert, as she thanks all her friends and teachers who have helped her along the way. Oh-hyuk and Jin-man watch proudly (Jin-man cries, heh), Baek-hee smiles, Pil-sook and Jason snuggle, and Jin-gook arrives backstage.

He watches with a smile, and then a girl wearing a Kirin school uniform comes up next to him and motions for him to come closer. He leans in, and she kisses him on the cheek. He looks at her curiously, and she flashes her nametag at him: it’s Hye-sung, Hye-mi’s little sister, all grown up. LOL. He really DOES end up with Hye-mi’s little sister! That Cracks. Me. Up.

Hye-mi thanks everyone and adds a thank-you to someone who couldn’t be there tonight, someone who’s walking a lonely road, and dedicates the following song to him. It’s her cover of Mandy Moore’s “Only Hope,” (posted above) which she sang to Sam-dong when they first met, that snowy night at the outhouse.

We flash back to the first time he chased her on the bus, when she lied to him that she liked him. And then as she finishes the song, we catch up to when they parted, on Sam-dong’s way to New York.

He hands her the cell phone charm and leaves, and Hye-mi cries. He gets on the bus, and then she chases after him, in another of this show’s great reversals. She catches up to him at the next stop, and he opens his window.

Without a word, she puts the K pendant around his neck. He leans out, and pulls her in for a kiss.

Aw, sweetest ending ever.


Excuse me while I do my victory dance to Swan Lake, hip-hop style.

What a satisfying end to a satisfying drama. The funny thing about this show is that it delivers exactly what you want it to, but somehow manages to keep it fresh, despite playing by the rules. It’s a great example of what happens when you follow a classic storytelling formula, but inject it with a lot of heart and a whole lot of pop culture wit and style.

While I can’t say that any of the outcomes surprised me, it did successfully keep me on the edge of my seat the whole time. The whole ride was suspenseful and engaging from the get-go, not only because of the K question, but because we were rooted in each character’s journey toward their dream.

I’m a huge fan of this kind of ending, that gives us the satisfying resolutions to the immediate questions—that Sam-dong is K, and that he finally got Hye-mi’s bus-chase confession—while still leaving the future open-ended.

I like that everyone’s succeeded in their own way without ALL having to be pop stars and such, and that their futures are still left to be written. It’s neat, but not sealed: it speaks to fulfilling their dreams, but leaves the road ahead of them, and not behind.

I also love that this episode was as much about Hye-mi (maybe more so) than it was about Sam-dong. Her love, and her willingness to put his dream before everything else, is what makes him K. So in essence K is the both of them, because she’s the music, and he’s the dream.

It’s no secret that I wanted Sam-dong to be K and get the girl, so I’m sure this ending made me happier than those of you who backed a different horse. But I say, if you loved Dream High, you’re a winner. Cheers!