Saturday, March 10, 2012

K-Drama Review: Dream High 2, Episodes 7-8

Read episode reviews for:
Dream High 2--Episodes 1-2
Dream High 2--Episodes 3-4
Dream High 2--Episodes 5-6
Dream High 2--Episodes 13-14
Dream High 2--Episodes 15-16

Contains Spoilers for Episodes 7-8

Poor little Hyesung has received one rejection too many. Kirin School of the Arts is not the most forgiving place for people who haven't proven their singing or dancing talent, and Hyesung has been the victim of a thousand different misunderstandings which led to her being a social outcast. It's lucky that her celebrity crush JB is around to pick her up and encourage her. The sad thing is, Hyesung's guy friend Yujin would like to do the same thing for her, but JB basically beat him to it without realizing.

But when JB is kind to Hyesung, his pop star friend Rian complains and insults JB by saying that he's weak for pitying someone as worthless as Hyesung. These episodes actually give us a lot of surprising character development from JB. Yujin also gets to step up and act like a boss because he turns down an offer to be mentored by a great composer since he doesn't want to be owned by a company or told what to write. You go, Yujin!

At Kirin, school owner Kangchul is thinking about making a supergroup of six students who perform the best in peer evaluations. Yujin gets picked as the first Super Idol for the special group, and I like this new plot point because it means that we're finally getting back to what I assume was the original heart of the show--kids fighting to realize their dreams.

The romantic subplot is advancing nicely, and in an unanticipated direction. JB openly admits to Hyesung that he likes her, yay! I can't believe that I actually care, but I do. And what I like to call the "karmic revenge" subplot is kicking in at last, and Rian finally gets a little of the humiliation she has coming to her. I hope that after being humbled, she can rebuild herself into a decent person capable of empathy.

Things I Loved:

1. JB's Sweetness. I swore I would never like this guy, but the writers have really turned his character around. He started out by being blandly self-centered, stiff, and passive. He wouldn't so much as lift a perfectly toned finger to help anyone who wasn't also a celebrity singer. But now? When everyone at school hurts Hyesung by returning her gifts of apples, he picks an apple up from the floor, wipes it off and eats it to show her that not everyone has rejected her. Awww.

Who Knew That Apples Could Be So Poignant?

2. Hyesung's Strength. After 6 episodes of cringing, cowering, and apologizing, Hyesung's showing some backbone. It's so moving to see her in the empty Kirin High theater, addressing an absent audience by herself at night, saying a few last words before she leaves, presumably forever.

The Sound You Hear Is My Heart Breaking.

3. Hyesung's Dad. He's really a great guy. He's a little out of the loop and has a tough time understanding his daughter's wild dreams, but at his core, Mr. Shin is a good man who wants to take care of his girl. He takes her away from Kirin because the people there have been so cruel to her, but he may let her go back if that's what she wants.

It's Also Adorable That He's Shorter Than His Baby Girl.

4. Family. Show, why are you getting so touching all of the sudden? When JB goes to visit Hyesung's family, it ends up being the best thing ever because he learns about her background--Hyesung's been bravely soldiering onward since her mother died two years ago. Then Hyesung's dad warms to JB, and JB reveals that his own parents have passed away. Then he shares a home-cooked meal with Hyesung, her dad, and her baby, it's just so heartwarming. These family connections make me believe that these two just might work.

I Have Changed My Mind--They May Be the Cutest Couple Ever.


1. The Rian-Pout. Do we ever see her when she's not smirking, snarling, or grimacing?

Well, To Be Fair, She Sometimes Also Looks Worried.

2. Yujin's Backstory. Yujin was plenty cool without having some weird tragic past as a child star whose fame broke up his parents' marriage. Why make him into this poetic, sad genius figure? He was great as a talented yet flawed guy on his way to better things.


Confidence is Catching: JB remembers being encouraged by Yujin in the past, and this memory, coupled with JB's understanding of how brave Hyesung has been at times, inspires JB to actually begin writing music, which is his real dream.

Note: JB Has Good Handwriting, & is Left-Handed.

2. Ownership/Plagiarism. There's a complicated debate between JB and Yujin about plagiarism. Yujin performed a song of Hyesung's without crediting her, but he planned to perform the song with her--things just got a little mixed up. Then Yujin points that JB has recorded plagiarized songs in the past. Tempers flare, insults are hurled, and poses are struck.


Cultural Observances:

Apples as Gifts. In Korean, the word for "apple" and the word for "apology" are pronounced about the same, and in K-Dramas I've often seen people give someone else an apple as a metaphorical way of saying that they are apologizing. Also, fresh fruit seems to be more expensive in Korea than America, so buying fruit is a slightly bigger deal. Hyesung gives apples to everyone in her class, but they all return them, sort of as an ultimate way of rejecting her attempts to mend their hurt feelings. Yeesh.

New words: "Wangdda" (왕따) is what Seul calls Hyesung. The subbing site I watch translates this as "bully," but it actually means the opposite--more like "one who is bullied" or "social outcast". "Chingu" is "friend/s" and Rian makes it clear to Hyesung that just because they're roomates, they are most certainly never going to be chingu.

Episode Evaluations: Dream High 2 is getting good. For the first time, I actually care what happens to the characters. I think it's because they're starting to legitimately work toward their dreams instead of expecting things to be handed to them.


  1. I loved Dream High the first one so when I found this one I was equally excited. At first I wasn't to thrilled with it but the junky I am I kept up with it. I am glad to see I am not the only one whose heard of it.

    1. Addictive, isn't it? I gave up after episode 4 but a friend made me keep watching. And the show does get better! :-) Glad you like it.