Sunday, March 4, 2012

K-Drama Review: Dream High 2, Episodes 3-4

Read episode reviews for:
Dream High 2--Episodes 1-2
Dream High 2--Episodes 5-6
Dream High 2--Episodes 7-8
Dream High 2--Episodes 13-14
Dream High 2--Episodes 15-16

Contains Spoilers for Episodes 3-4

Back to the Kirin High Arts School! Yujin and JB are still mad at each for old grievances, Hyesung is still in love with JB for no particular reason, and Rian is still longing to act, though she's being forced to sing. None of these issues really get resolved or moved further along in these episodes, but if you're a fan of the cast, it won't matter too much.

Rian particularly wants to get into acting because she knows she can't sing as well as the other two girls in her band. She is wisely looking toward her future, but her company president, Kangchul, crushes her dreams. Rian is horribly hurt, and she starts acting out her frustrations by being mean to the other girls in her dorm room. Her nastiness is unjustified; however, it's rather satisfying to hear Rian calling out Hyesung for making their dorm room a shrine to JB, complete with JB pillows, JB posters, and JB coffee mugs. Someone had to point it out. Her devotion is even more sad now that JB actually attends her school! 

Hyesung finally notices that the celebrity kids have taken over all the best things at Kirin (which is surprising, because there's only 5 of them, and Shiwoo is AWOL half the time), and she decides to help defend her fellow Normals against the takeover by the Stars. Hyesung tries to appeal to JB's better nature in order to get him to help out the Normals, but he has no better nature. It hurts her to know that her celebrity crush won't help another person out even when he's given a direct appeal. Really, it looks like everyone will be happier when Hyesung gives up on JB and starts something with Yujin, her buddy/argument partner.

The newest challenge at Kirin High is that everyone has to pair up for vocal duets (which somehow morphs into singing-dancing duets) to make their big end-of-semester grade. The kids don't know it, but only one half of every pair will pass the exam, and the losers will be expelled. Wait...what?

Another week has passed, and I find it hard to root for any of these kids, whether they're established celebrities or underdogs. I don't dislike any of them, but I don't feel like any of them will really be made happier by achieving their goals of stardom or solo music or acting careers. Even though they're talking about something as important as their future careers, the emotional impact of Dream High 2 feels more like they're struggling for something very trivial. I'm not sure where the disconnect is coming from.

Things I Loved:

1. Rian's Strawberry Hair-Rollers.

I Want These.

2. Hyorin's voice: I had heard she was good, but I had no idea she was this good. I adore her voice, and I wish she had a solo project out so I could hear a whole album of just Hyorin.

Voice of an Angel? Understatement.

3. Meta-reality: It's confusing, but I like it. Example-- Rian recalls auditioning for a role in the show "Dream High," but she lost the role to another singer named Eunjung...which is like triple-meta-reality because: 1. Rian's actress Jiyeon is in the band T-ara with the real Eunjung. 2. Eunjung acted in season one of Dream High, but (in this universe) season one is reality. 3. Rian's audition footage is intercut with footage of...Eunjung, who is playing a fellow actress. My head is spinning. Someone please write some fanfiction to explain it?

4. Principal Joo: After laying about and doing nothing for three episodes, he's finally stepping up to be a leader. He bails Yujin out of jail (with the KRW equivalent of $10,000) and tells him he'd better get back to school and pass the midterms. That's what I like to see from authority figures.

5. JB and Hyesung's Dance. This super precious scene was perhaps the only time in 4 episodes that I've felt that JB was sweet, charismatic, or interesting. The way he dances around Hyesung (who can't dance at all herself) is just purely endearing. He has plenty of skills and he's not showing off so much as covering for her. He's even smiling, like he's having fun for once.

Why Can't He Be This Adorable All the Time?


JB's Acting. It's not outright bad, but I get the sense that the character is supposed to be feeling a storm of really intense emotions and I barely see any of them portrayed. JB's lines of dialogue indicate that he's a very insecure, hurt, and worried person who occasionally lashes out in passive aggressive ways, but the actor doesn't seem to be conveying those emotions. The gap is especially apparent when he's in a scene with Yujin's actor, Jinwoon, who is getting his emotional points across through his acting.

Only 1/2 of the People in This Argument Seem Like They Mean It.


Ownership: Who has the most right to Kirin High; the poor barely-talented kids who have been there all along, or the privileged K-pop stars whose agency now owns the school? JB insensitively kicks Yujin out of "his" dance studio, but not every other case of Stars vs. Normals is so clear cut. What is clear is that having OZ president Kangchul run the school is bad for everyone.

Cultural Observances:

Singing as a Transition to Acting: In the K-pop industry, it's very common for people to be in K-pop bands in their teens and early twenties, then make a gradual switch over to acting fulltime.

Eating Tofu After Leaving Prison: Yujin is given plain tofu to eat after his incredibly brief stint in prison, and I'm not sure why tofu is the traditional Korean food to eat when you leave jail, but I've seen it in several dramas. It's supposed to (symbolically) keep you from ever going back, I think.

To Avoid Future Jailtime, Eat This Nasty Stuff.

K-pop music: Kahi teaches dance class while "The DJ is Mine" by the Wonder Girls plays. It's funny because this is JYP's major girl group, and he's in the scene, pretending to not be able to dance.

Don't Be Fooled--JYP's Got the Moves.

New words: Yujin says "waeyo?" to Principal Joo, which is like the polite form of "what?" or "why?" The word "wae" itself means "why," but adding the suffix -yo makes it a more appropriate thing to say to a senior.

Watch Episode 3 of Dream High 2 HERE at DramaFever.

Episode Evaluations:

Eh, there are a lot of pretty people in this drama, but I'm afraid I don't quite connect with any of them. I may review a few more episodes, just to stay in the loop, but the show seems to be less riveting than it was at the very start.

Questions: Are you enjoying Dream High 2? How do you think it compares with Season 1?


  1. You just wait until later episodes... JB is plenty adorable. Him & YuJin.... LOVE!

  2. Dream high 2 yeahhh!!! ^^ yeyelala -_-