Thursday, April 19, 2012

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

Read episode reviews for:

Dream High--Episodes 1-2
Dream High--Episodes 5-6
Dream High--Episodes 7-8
Dream High--Episodes 9-10
Dream High--Episodes 11-12
Dream High--Episodes 13-14
Dream High--Episodes 15-16

Contains Spoilers for Episodes 3-4

It's time for more Dreeeam Hiiiigh! Sorry. Theme song is stuck in my head.

Principal Jung is making the unpopular decision to bring three "special admission" students to the super exclusive Kirin High School of the Arts: Hyemi, a classical singer with the attitude of curdled milk, Jinguk, a skilled dancer with a troubled past, and Samdong, a talented boy who....well. This is Samdong.

I Think That's a Rice Bag on His Head. Don't Ask.

In his introductory shots, Samdong is inexplicably covered in dirt, but I think we're supposed to still see his pure, perfect essence lurking just beneath the surface. He is going to be our special snowflake and we are intended to gather together and love him. Group hug, everyone! Poor Samdong has the face of an angel, and a voice caught somewhere between puberty and strep throat. But Hyemi must bring this guy back to Kirin with her, so she has to follow him to his home in the country by hiding in the back of Samdong's vegetable-cart tractor-wagon contraption. Oh my wow.

Samdong and His Mom on Their Tractor-Wagon....GUILLOTINE?

Thanks to Hyemi's discomfort, I'm having several moments of genuine laughter (unlike in Dream High 2, where the jokes resulted in a faint smile, maybe). Back at Seoul, we see more of Jinguk's awful situation with his rich, selfish father who wants him out of sight, out of mind, and overseas.  Hyemi hates Jinguk and they have a few, ahem, awkward encounters, but they smooth things out over time and form the beginnings of a good friendship.

Hyemi finally arrives at Kirin in full battle mode, only to meet her ex-bestfriend. I love how Baekhee tries to hug it out with Hyemi, longing to mend the rift between them. But Hyemi's still got a mean streak, and she misguidedly tries to salvage her pride in front of the only person she doesn't have to show off for--her loyal Baekhee. Oh, girls, you break my heart.

And now mousy Baekhee is becoming the bad one, sabotaging others to rise to the top. She drives this point home by singing "Bad Girl, Good Girl" by Miss A (Suzy's band!) at a commencement ceremony. I'm not really rooting for Baekhee anymore because she didn't claw her way to the top through talent and hard work--she cheated, which Hyemi hasn't done yet.

Meanwhile, Samdong is trying to make his way at Kirin, too. He hops up onstage and challenges Jason, the local top dog, for his spot. It's revealed that our boy Samdong can sing after all, but at the end of the song, Jason's still clearly the top dog. When Samdong feels bad after his loss in the sing-off, Hyemi goes after him, even though by now she has no ulterior motives for taking care of him. Hyemi's learning to be kind! She also weirdly stacks umbrellas to keep the snow off of Jinguk's motorcycle when she learns that he once protected her from gangsters. Awww. She's doing nice things for two different boys, and each boy understands a certain side of Hyemi. They both want to help her--Jinguk wants to make her stronger and Samdong wants to comfort her, so now I barely know which side of this triangle to ship. Jin-Mi or Sam-Mi?

At the end of episode 4, Hyemi makes an open challenge--if she scores higher than Baekhee on the music midterm, everyone will apologize to Hyemi and stop bullying her and the other guys in the special-admittance class. Booyah! I love a challenge! And it feels like this one counts for something, unlike in Dream High 2, where I never cared who won what or challenged whom or qualified for which event.

Things I Loved:

1. Samdong. I was all prepared to hate his character, because I tend to shun the characters who are written as Mary-Sue "everyone must love me" types, and I knew he was going to be one of these. But his actor, Kim Soohyun, does a great job of making Samdong someone you want to protect. He's an innocent, and you really hope nothing happens to change him. The world is a place of wonder for Samdong, still.

And He Constantly Looks Surprised.

2. Side Characters. It's just a tiny part of the show, but I like Pilsook (played by IU) and her gradual growth. She loves a Korean-American guy named Jason (played by Wooyoung of 2PM, whose English is still holding up okay, but could be better), and though he's very kind to her, I can tell she's not going to get him until she loses her extra weight. I do kinda wish we could let the chubby girl get the smooth operator guy just once in a K-drama. I don't know much about Pilsook, but she's a sweetie who I'll be rooting for.

Unfortunately, Her Suit Does Not Look Realistic.

3. Jinguk. I'm connecting with his character more by episode 4. I didn't find myself rooting for him in the first three episodes because he was just not compelling enough (despite his homelessness, neglectful papa, dancing skills, and general anguish). It's very nice and charming when he's around Hyemi, but I'm pretty sure that Hyemi ends up with Samdong in this show, so I don't want to get too attached to Jinguk's connection with Hyemi if I'm setting myself up for disappointment.

Jinguk, Angsting in a Car.

1. Impracticality. So if Principal Jung really wants Samdong at the school, why does he tell teacher Oh-hyuk to find him, which in turn leads to Hyemi having to go and find him? Shouldn't Principal Dude just make a phone call or something? Because if he's relying on his underlings to get this one student to school, our special snowflake might very well have remained in the boondocks.

2. Bathroom Humor. It's funny to a certain point, but they really carry on for a long time with the Hyemi's-gotta-go gag. And then she starts singing a soulful Mandy Moore song while inside the toilet, which impresses Samdong, and snow begins to fall like it's some kind of romantic moment.

The Outhouse of Heartfelt Solo Music. Ewww.

3. School Politics. I couldn't have been less interested in the power struggle between Principal Jung and his assistant over the special students. But I guess we have to have subplots, don't we?


Humbling the Mighty: I love my girl Hyemi, but even I know that someone this snooty has got to be humbled a bit before they become a decent human being. Bringing Samdong to Kirin is her ultimate humbling experience. Hyemi has never put on her sweet face for anyone ever, so it's a good change for her, but she turns up the charm so strong that Samdong, precious dork that he is, has to turn away from her while giggling. (Way to stay cool, player!) But he resists her requests and for once, Hyemi has to really work for something.

Either Her Lowest Point or Her Shining Moment. Or Both

Mirrored scenes: I'm a weird viewer who is seeing these mirrored scenes in the reverse order, but when Jinguk put Hyemi's shoe back on, I remembered Yujin doing the same for Hyesung in Dream High 2. Then when Jinguk told Hyemi that she looks ugly when she cries, I knew I'd heard the line before between JB and Hyesung. But it's funny that I'm seeing the comparison in just the opposite way that the average person does.

Princeliness in Action.
Cultural Observances:

Ondol heating: Because heating in Korea comes through the floor, not the air vents, Samdong has to go and turn the heat on in guest room for Hyemi. They make a pallet on the floor for her, so she'll stay warm.

New words: "Kurom" is "of course!" "Jincha" is "really?" "Manaseo" is used in a sense to mean "did you meet---(so-and-so)?" "Chonyeo" means "Not at all" "Saengak-haeba" seems to mean "think about it". "Kopayo" is "hungry". "Hwajangshil" is "bathroom," which Hyemi asks for at Samdong's house, only to discover that it's outside!  "Shireo" is "I don't wanna".

Start watching Dream High on DramaFever.

Episode Evaluations: Mmm, this show is getting fun! Lots of conflict, and I just love our resident tough girl, Hyemi. She can be cruel with her words, but she's no cheat. And Pilsook and Baekhee are nice supporting characters. And Samdong is so kind and endearing. And Jinguk is so nice to look at. We have the makings of a solid show, here!


  1. I really need to give K-Drama a try. I did watch a few eps once but I'm very impatient watching tv on my computer screen :-)
    I love reading your reviews though.

    1. You make me happy. :-) When I'm low on time, I also get my K-drama fix by reading other people's reviews! For some reason, it can be entertaining just hearing a show described by someone else.

  2. I just got around to checking your blog again, and I'm so glad you're finally reviewing Dream High! :D I hope you enjoy it, but either way I'm looking forward to reading your reviews of it. :)

    1. Glad you're here! I'm loving Dream High at the moment. Thanks so much for telling me to watch it--I'm grinning like an idiot lately, totally enjoying this super fun show.

  3. episode 4 was what cemented my liking for this show. Episode 1-2 was a build up of character, episode 3-4 was the building of rivalry, at one point in episode 4 and really thought Hyemi was going to take all the building and really wondered where all her snottiness went.

    What i remember most about Boys over flowers was the unnecessary excessive bully of the female lead and had wished vehemently that she would turn around and fight back. She did to an extent but way to late for my likely.

    When Hyemi turned around an issue the challenge, i was beyond ecstatic. I was ready to give up if they force another sit through of the bullying.

    You're watching pretty fast. I'm also re-watching this show.

    1. I was the same about Boys Over Flowers--why does our main girl have to get stuff thrown at her, and even be sprayed with a fire extinguisher by the school bullies? Unfair and painful to watch.

      Hyemi brought down the hosue with her lovely challenge. I wanted to hive five her for that!

      Yep, I'm a quick watcher. If a scene is slow, I skip ahead 30 seconds or so--it moves the viewing along, and you rarely miss anything. If I do miss something, I go back.

      Glad you're re-watching! This series is a surprising treat. I'll probably revisit it myself, later on. :-)

  4. a must see korean drama. thumbs up for this, unfortunately it will end soon. :(