Saturday, April 28, 2012

K-Drama Review: Dream High, Episodes 13-14

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 11-12
Dream High--Episodes 15-16

Contains Spoilers for Episodes 13-14

It's time for Samdong to sing in the end-of-the-year showcase. His hearing goes out but he remembers that his song starts after five measures, so he watches the piano player and counts the time. He starts to sing a pretty ballad and you think he's doing well...until a teacher notices his pitch is off by one half step. Samdong lowers his mic and is about to walk offstage when Hyemi rushes to the balcony and starts pounding out the beats for him with her hands and gesturing for him to raise his pitch.

YAYYYY that's my girrrrlll!
Engrish in the background image: "Tours Les Jours is the bakery of a whole new level from the beginning." Indeed.

Hyemi's crying in the balcony, singing the song with Samdong. Then he starts crying when his song is finished. And if the audience isn't crying by now, it's either because they're distracted or they have no tear ducts.

Next, we get a major shocker--Samdong's head trauma from the accident has nothing to do with his current hearing loss! He has a genetic disease, so Hyemi is in no way responsible for his problem. But still, Hyemi buys a tuning fork for Samdong to help him learn music from memory, and she's been researching his condition in order to aid him. Samdong tells Hyemi in no uncertain terms that she's not obligated to help him, though he is thankful that she showed him a way to keep his musical dream.

At school, queen bee Baekhee is being snubbed. People are gossiping about her plagiarism and her horrible onstage meltdown, and Baekhee now knows that her own cheating and lying have destroyed her.

Shun the Nonbeliever.

In brighter news, Jinguk's awful dad is showing a shred of kindness to his son. What is it with this show and its villains who go past the apparent point of no return and then come back around? Could this be reflecting real life where there are few true villains, just people who choose to do wrong and who might one day choose to do right again? Just some food for thought.

But then Jinguk gets in awful trouble for beating up the president of his own entertainment company. Samdong arrives as Jinguk is moping in his room, and tries to comfort him. Samdong has seen despair and come out the other side, so he can tease Jinguk and lift him up when he's in a similar condition. Samdong admits to Jinguk that he has bouts of losing his hearing, but he says, "I'm depressed, but I keep trying. I find my pitch even when I can't hear the sounds." So he's not going to let Jinguk give up on his life either, and after Samdong aces his acapella test, he gives the special K-pendant to Jinguk, for luck.

Everyone in the Cast has Owned This at Some Point.

As it turns out, Jinguk had beat up the entertainment president because the guy was trying to assault Baekhee. Everyone's afraid to tell the truth about the situation because reporting the assault will ruin Baekhee's reputation. Sadly, this is kind of how it goes in real life, too. Hyemi cradles a crying Baekhee, telling her that everything will be okay. Later, Baekhee confesses her own past wrongdoings to Hyemi, then goes to explain her assault to the police, which takes a lot of bravery. Politician Dad finally publicly admits that Jinguk is his real son. Yay, Dad! He takes his son's hand and leads him away from the ravening paparazzi, so yet another broken relationship is salvaged.

For a new set of music video auditions, Teacher Oh-hyuk tells his kids to remember who they were a year ago and base their video on how much they've changed. Jinguk admits he was kind of a thug a year ago, Samdong admits he was a total country bumpkin, and Hyemi wonders if she has changed at all. This is a great move because the show makes us remember how far each kid has come in their personal journeys. The six main kids make their homemade music videos and all get picked to join a start-up entertainment company. And...Hyemi realizes that she really, really wants to see Samdong. Like, a lot. Like, maybe she likes him for real.

I Thought You Liked Me?

Things I Loved:

1. The Hearing Fake-Out. I love the show for misdirecting us like this. Hyemi just assumed, and the show allowed us to assume, that Samdong's deafness stemmed directly from his brain injury, but now that I think about it, we were never outright told the reason for the loss. Samdong hated Hyemi for awhile, but he never said that he blamed her for his accident, just that he wished he had never followed her to Seoul and that she had never made him love music. Ah, why didn't I see this before? I was thoroughly fooled. Bravo, Dream High. You surprised me!

Their Situation is A Tad Less Tragic Than Once Suspected.

2. Jason/Pilsook. These two have been dancing around the are-they-or-aren't-they issue for a long time, and now the pressure builds. Jason is grumpy and impatient with Samdong when Samdong has private music-lesson meetings with Pilsook. The jealousy is so cute and I never would've predicted that anyone could be jealous over Pilsook and Samdong! Finally, Jason confesses that he likes Pilsook and they descend into delirious 24/7 cuteness.

The Super-Cuties, in Fine Form.

3. Baekhee's Redemption: Earlier, I didn't know if Baekhee could really be redeemed, because how do you forgive a character who has destroyed the health, hope, and happiness of another person? But with Samdong's hearing problems having nothing to do with the pot Baekhee dropped on his head, that sin can no longer be laid at her door. Once Baekhee is assaulted, we have already gotten to the place where we can care for her and defend her again. Baekhee and Teacher Shi have both changed and grown a lot, and I like this Dream High theme--the "bad guys" can change! We can bring them into the fold, once they've faced their own demons and learned their own lessons.

4. The Meta. Referencing the K-pop world is always great, and DH does it often. In a daydream sequence, Loanshark Guy imagines that after Hyemi and Pilsook are scouted, they appear on a radio show---hosted by Leeteuk and Eunhyuk of Super Junior! We see the two stars as their song "Bonamana" plays in the background. 

In the Dream, Hyemi Totally Derails Their Radio Program.

5. Samdong/Jinguk Friendship. Jinguk may unofficially be Samdong's rival in love, but he's still a beloved friend. Samdong encourages Jinguk to pick himself back up after the big scandal, though there's there's a twist to Samdong's prodding; he wants Jinguk to get back in top form so they can have a showdown for Hyemi's heart. Samdong says, "I'm going to become so amazing no one can dare pity me, and I'm going to beat you. Man to man." (Samdong refuses to win the girl by default, just because her heart aches for his misfortune. He's going to win due to awesomeness, not due to a technicality!). But even with all this posturing, Samdong still picks up audition forms for Jinguk, and totally has his back when he's in trouble.

Bros for Life!




You'll Always Love Daddy: Jinguk wins the chance to do a solo debut, and when his dad sends a nice congratulatory floral arrangement, Jinguk can't keep his face from lighting up. After they've made up completely, Jinguk goes on a Ferris wheel ride with his dad, the ride he missed as a little kid. Dad even gives up his mayoral campaign in order to help his boy, just like a good dad would do. Ohhh. *misty-eyed*

The Best Love-Story in This Show is About a Parent's Love.

Friendship Doesn't End: Hyemi has not given up on caring for Baekhee. When other kids are gossiping, Hyemi eats lunch with Baekhee and puts one of her earphones in Baekhee's ear, copying Jinguk's old rescuing trick of pretending to be listening to music together.

"Never Gonna Give You Up, Never Gonna Let You Down..."

Cultural Observances:

New words:

Algesseumnida is "I understand"
Shikeureopda is one form of "Shut up"
"Gaseum" is "Heart" so "nae gaseum soge" is "in my heart"

Episode Evaluations: What a roller coaster. These episodes were very serious, but very touching. I'm glad Baekhee has come around full circle, I'm glad her assault was handled with such realism and seriousness, and I'm glad that she stood up and refused to be ruined by someone else actions.


  1. Oh I see you only have 2 episodes left. So fast. I'm still on episode 11.

    Also noted you're complaint column has been empty for a few episodes. ^_^

    I was like you totally fooled by Sam Dong's sickness, I thought it was the pot as well and part of me was unhappy because regardless of how Hyemi felt for Sam Dong, it would always have a sense of pity in it.

    Now though, it's obvious her feelings have grown over time without her knowing and it had nothing to do with his hearing.

    With the ending to episode 14, we also finish 5 of the 6 character arcs. We now only have Hyemi left to deal with.

    Hyemi was also my favorite character from the start. Her growth was the most steady of the group, we watch her grow through her own hardship and also through those around her.

    Unlike the other character where you can pinpoint a certain scene to show their growth/change, somehow, for me, Hyemi had changed little by little without me realizing it. The old Hyemi was still there, but she's much more endearing. I love how they wrote her character.

    I think Jinguk, Jason and Pilsok are the three with the least amount of growth, or rather, their growth is played out so obviously that you forget them for a while until the writers decide to give them some scenes.

    The three main players where Hyemi, Sam Dong and Beakhee.

    I hope I'm not the only one, but I was waiting for Hyemi and Beakhee's reunion since episode 1 when they broke apart. I had lost faith along the way and finally gave up when their 'almost make up' in Japan fell through. So i was ecstatic when they were able to mend fences.

    My favorite scene of episode 14 was when Hyemi stopped Beakhee from jumping and Beakhee finally spills it to Hyemi. To the end, Beakhee's only true friend was Hyemi, which is kinda sad. I had wished they would allow us to see Beakhee and Pilsok develop a friendship too, but alas, that's not to be.

    I love stories of friendship and parental love more moving then any love line.

    1. It's the weekend and I can marathon these, now! :-) Yeah, I can't find a single thing to complain about--this show is everything I want in a show.

      Yes, it's so, so good that Hyemi's feelings for Samdong no longer have a guilt connection. It was always going to be unsatisfying to see her care him more like caring for a hurt child, not a guy she loves. Now, that's not an option.

      When they all looked back on how much they'd changed, I realized that Hyemi's transformation was the most gradual and organic. She's kept her tough, sullen sass, but added to it a host of beautiful, admirable qualities. I want to high-five her in every episode.

      Jason, Pilsook,and Jinguk didn't really /need/ to transform, I think. While watching them, you always hope they'll do well and succeed, but you don't look at them and think "something's gotta give--they'll have to go on a big character journey before they find their peace". Samdong was too naive; that had to change. Hyemi was too crul and prideful; that had to change. Baekhee was too weak and conniving; that had to change. The bigger character arcs are all for people who desperately needed to transform. Though really, Samdong wasn't so bad before, just too childlike to succeed.

      Hyemi saving Baekhee--best thing ever. We never get to see good female relationship in tv, it feels like, but here we have Pilsook and Hyemi, and Hyemi and Baekhee surprisingly, to prove that girls can have each others' back, too, and not be catty all the time.

      I have to have my romantic storylines, but nothing is more touching than a good example of family love or friend's love.

  2. I was surprised to see you marathon-ed it! This show's great, ain't it? :D I don't really have anything to add, other than my agreeing with your evaluations. linda said prety much everything I was thinking about. I too really liked how HyeMi's character growth was handled, so gradually over time. To me it just felt like the whole show up to now was written and directed well. Overall the character development, plot lines, and story themes felt realistic in their progression.