Thursday, April 26, 2012

K-Drama Review: Dream High, Episodes 11-12

Read Episode reviews for:

Dream High--Episodes 1-2
Dream High--Episodes 3-4
Dream High--Episodes 5-6
Dream High--Episodes 7-8
Dream High--Episodes 9-10
Dream High--Episodes 13-14
Dream High--Episodes 15-16

Contains Spoilers for Episodes 11-12

Now we finally learn the truth about Samdong's brain trauma--he's going to continue having occasional seizures and his hearing is going to get worse over time. He has given up on music and on Hyemi, so he gets a dramatic haircut to symbolize his new, darker personality.

Suddenly He Looks...Older. I'm Going to Go With "Older".

But Samdong's not as tough as he pretends because the poor darling collapses on the street, crying, knowing that losing his hearing means he'll have to say goodbye to his dreams forever.

Hyemi gets offered a contract as the new member of the band "K," and she really wants to take the deal so she can release Teacher Oh-hyuk from the debt he accepted for her. Also, Teacher Oh-hyuk's streak of bad luck continues as he is kicked out of Kirin. But there's a way for his beloved students to bring him back: if all three of the former lower class students make an "A" in their music composing seminar, the other teachers will acknowledge Oh-hyuk's skills and bring him back. Except that Hyemi can't even find the runaway Samdong in order to make him take the class.

Baekhee's having her usual self-esteem issues, and now her professional life is taking a hit. Her manager wants to take her out of the "K" band and replace her with Hyemi, so Baekhee offers to change her hair, her voice, anything...she's willing to alter herself to any degree to keep her position in "K" and I can't help but feel pity for her. Baekhee swears she'll get an A in the song-composing class if that will keep her in "K," but the composing instructor supposedly only gives out three A's per class, and all three of those are needed by Oh-hyuk's students in order to bring him back.

What We Have Here Is a Conflict of Interests.

Cut to Samdong looking sadly at a piano and remembering his glory days of composing lovely songs. He's getting all dark and hopeless as "Creep" by Radiohead plays in the background. Then Samdong tells his beloved Hyemi off in the harshest possible way because he's in pain and is too embarrassed to tell her that he's losing his hearing. Hyemi stubbornly brings him the composing class notes, which he refuses to study, then she follows him around telling him the information as he glares at her. The lucky thing is, Samdong is probably the only student who could ace the assignment without taking the lectures.

Days pass. Oh-hyuk comes back to Kirin, but by earning his own way back through a stunning re-application process. Hyemi decides not to debut because it would hurt Baekhee to lose her spot in "K". Samdong passes the days angsting at his piano, refusing to talk and banging the keys in a vain attempt to hear the notes.

Hyemi finally finds out about Samdong's hearing loss in a devastating tear-jerker of a scene where he admits to her what he's been reduced to. They both collapse into bundles of tears. Samdong does come back to school and he decides to perform in the big end-of-the-year showcase after all. He tells Hyemi that if his performance goes well and he gets scouted, he'll take that as a sign to keep pursuing music. If he gets a hearing attack and messes up his performance, he'll quit music without looking back, because that's a sign, too. The episode ends just as Samdong is about to sing, though we know he's experiencing hearing loss.

The Whole Thing Is Incredibly Distressing.

Things I Loved:

1. Hyemi. I love how she's championing Samdong now, hunting him down and trying to figure out what's wrong, to bring him back to the land of the living. Hyemi tells him, "When I was depressed, it was you and Teacher who saved me. Now it's my turn." That's my brave Hyemi, taking up the slack! She gives Samdong the lucky K-pendant, saying she doesn't believe in it, but she wishes it will help him in some way. Hyemi doesn't understand what's wrong with him, but she tries so hard to be there for him. All this from the girl who was once a master of high-handed manipulation.

How Far We've Come in Just 12 Episodes.

2. Jason/Pilsook. Jason is now following Pilsook's words of caution and changing his carefree ways. He's studying hard and he even puts on glasses like Pilsook's. Pilsook still tapes a lollipop to Jason's locker every day, but one morning when she leaves his candy, she walks over to her own locker to find Jason's report card taped to it--revealing top grades for his Japanese class. He's proving to her that he's worthy of her interest! Squee.

And Seriously, How Cute Are Their Nerd-Couple Glasses?

3. Heartache. Some shows break your heart in a good way--Dream High is one of them. And I'm mainly talking about Samdong's trauma here, though many other characters have hard struggles as well. Samdong's fall seems worse because he was so bright and unspoiled in the beginning, and also because his fall into tragedy isn't just mental and emotional; it's physical as well, and it's scary for him to be losing such a big part of himself. His hearing, his music, and his capacity for Independence all seem to be lost. I hope the show continues to handle his storyline with dignity.

And a Reasonably Happy Ending, If Possible.


Hmmmm....none? Except there could have been more Jinguk. We see him for all of 15 seconds in episode 11, and he doesn't really even have his own subplot anymore.

Please, Show, Give Him More Lines.


Abandonment/Loyalty: Teacher Oh-Hyuk says that Hyemi and Jinguk seem obsessed with the idea of him abandoning them, but their worries over him leaving Kirin are perfectly natural. It makes sense for them to be paranoid about their Teacher leaving because these are kids who have been abandoned by their parents, so losing another parent figure could be catastrophic.

You Must Have Your Own Identity: Baekhee, poor thing, has never had much of an image of her own; pre-Kirin, she tried to be Hyemi's double, then at Kirin she tried to look as different from Hyemi as possible, so she first defined herself as Hyemi's friend, then as Hyemi's rival, always seeing herself in terms of her relationship with another person.

Caring Indicates You're Growing Up: Jinguk says he's so proud of Hyemi for growing up and giving up something she wants in order to protect another person (meaning giving up her debut for Baekhee). He also notes that she's being careful about what she says and isn't using her words to cut people down anymore. Solo survivalist Hyemi has become a team player.

Even Through Misery, Hyemi's Always Backing Up Her Friends.

Cultural Observances:

New words:
"Kunde wae" is "then why..."
Hyemi calls Samdong's mama "Eomma-nim," the respectful term for another person's mother.
"Algae-ni?" is "Do you understand?"
"Baboya!" is "Hey, stupid!"
"Araji?" is "Got it?"
"Noye dwieseo" is "Behind you".
"Naega eonjae" is "When did I?" as in "When did I ever do such a thing?"
"Wae ajik doiseo" seems to be "Why are you still here?"

Episode Evaluations: These are the heartbreaking-est episodes yet, but the focus on Samdong, and a bit of a new focus on Baekhee are really rewarding.


  1. Omg your so fast. Thats 4 episode in less than 2 days. I bet it was the Sam Dong subplot that got you going didn't it?

    It got me going too when I was watching it.

    I simply adore Jason and Pilsok in these episodes, everyone was so depressed, thank god they were still there to lighten the mood.

    I thought the Sam Dong and Hye Mi scenes in these two episodes was every well done. Suzy wasn't really up to part in the scene where she finds out Sam Dong is sick but I was still touched by her character throughout the ordeal.

    Teacher is just fantastic as always, I love the fact that he came back on his own merits instead of being saved by his students. It's lovely to see character growth in our side characters as well and teacher was always a darling.

    1. Yep, once Samdong was in trouble I had to marathon the show for a while! But I'm only medium-fast, I think--I follow the girls at Dramabeans, and they put up recaps 5 times as long as mine seemingly hours after the episode first airs in Korea! Of course, they speak Korean, so they don't have to wait for subs, either. :-)

      Samdong/Hyemi/Jinguk touch my heart, but Jason/Pilsook make me grin from ear to ear. Oh my, I'm not sure how I could have handled this show if we weren't getting all this light cuteness from them.

      Suzy...oh, she tried so hard. She just wasn't quite there with Kim Soohyun in the crying scene. But then again, who is? The boy brings his A-game when it comes to acting.

      Yay for Teacher! He bored me to death in the early episodes, but now I'm rooting for him just as much as everyone else. It's not just teens who have to fight for their dreams--established adults have to do it, too.