Saturday, April 21, 2012

K-Drama Review: Dream High, Episodes 5-6

Read Episode reviews for:

Dream High--Episodes 1-2
Dream High--Episodes 3-4
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 5-6

Hyemi has challenged Baekhee to a showdown. Whichever girl wins the end-of-month assessments gets bragging rights and also gets treated well by the student body; needless to say, this means more to Hyemi than Baekhee, who is already at the top of the school foodchain.

Our love stories are scooting forward slowly. I love Jinguk so much for telling Hyemi to grow up and be bold, but doing so with a huge smile that means he's on her side. And then sweet Samdong puts a band aid on Hyemi's cut forehead while she's sleeping! These are back-to-back moments of pure sweetness, highlighting what each guy can do for Hyemi: Jinguk challenges her and pushes her to be awesomer, while Samdong soothes her hurts. Of this, which do you pick?

Obtain Bandage. Apply Directly to Forehead.

In side news, Pilsook has been demoted to the lower class, but she has lost some weight and her chubbysuit looks closer to natural now. Our villain Baekhee is currently crushing on Jinguk, but he wouldn't like her if he knew how two-faced she has become in her desire to take Hyemi down. I do like how the main girls' rivalry is still about pride and personal issues, not a catfight over a boy.

The lower class has to learn how to convey their emotions through song, so Teacher Oh-hyuk gets Jinman (JYP!) to help the lower class learn to perform properly, so they'll stand a chance against the kids with better training. The lower class kids work hard, and then they do a street performance of "Genie" by SNSD which actually manages to be beautiful and touching and meaningful. Again, this makes me think of the random street performance scene in Dream High 2 and how it can't compare to this one, where the kids are all giving a heartfelt performance specifically to encourage another person.

And then tragedy strikes. Samdong gets hit with a falling flower pot that was meant for Hyemi, and it leaves him bleeding and unconscious. Baekhee is trembling in horror at what she's done; harming an innocent person in an attempt to hurt her nemesis. Hyemi sticks by Samdong's side as he makes his recovery, so this side of the triangle is getting all the bonding right now, but Jinguk is also back at school helping out Hyemi by investigating Baekhee.

Stricken By Guilt-Face.

Samdong recovers just as the half-semester showcase is coming up at Kirin. But the lower class will not have a chance to appear in the coveted showcase! Samdong is heartbroken because his mother was going to come out to Seoul to watch him perform, but now she won't be able to. Hyemi decides  to make his dream happen by helping perform a fake showcase, though it's really Teacher Oh-hyuk who puts everything together.

Teacher Oh-hyuk has always been a bland background character for me, but then in a speech to Samdong he reveals that he has even been a bland background character in his own life. Oh-hyuk's dreams are always out of reach, so he wants to help the kids achieve theirs. Samdong breaks down crying when his teacher says this (oh my goodness, real tears? Rip my heart out, why don't you!), and it contributes to the show's ongoing theme of "People are not what you thought they were". Hyemi hates Teacher Oh-hyuk for ruining her family, but Oh-hyuk has rescued her and stuck by her almost more than her two boys have. He has paid her loanshark debts, kept her in school, given her a place to's really quite wonderful. *meltyheart*

Things I Loved:

1. The Love Triangle. Bear with me on this, but Dream High is one of the few instances where I've ever liked both guy characters in a love triangle and where I honestly thought the heroine would be justified in caring for both. We all know that love triangles have to end soon because they only cause pain in the long run, but in these early stages, I see just how great Jinguk and Samdong both are.

The Triangle of Awesome: Aerial View.

2. Hyemi's Emotions. Suzy's not the most emotive actress, but she has always seemed real to me as Hyemi because I know people like this--real human beings whose emotions are just not there on the surface for anyone to see. I think I like Hyemi because she's not flimsy and super-emotional, and when she finally does show her worries, that endears her to me even more. Hyemi cries while Samdong is in the ER because while she'd never drown in her own self-pity, when someone she cares about is hurt, she crumples.

When She Cries, It's Serious.

3. The Meta. I  love when K-dramas reference other K-dramas, and this show did some spot-on nods to other shows. I nearly died over the wonderful daydream scene where Samdong pictures himself and Jinguk as being the beloved princes of Kirin, walking through the school doors, gloriously backlit as the goshawful Boys Over Flowers theme song plays.


And now that I think of it, Kim Soohyun does look a lot like Kim Bum from BOF.


1. Pilsook's doll. I really wish Pilsook didn't carry around that creepy little stuffed doll. Ladies, it's acceptable to have these on your bed or your shelf, but not to tote them around in public when you're in high school. But the poor girl is clearly using her doll as a comfort object.

Has a Bit of Growing Up to Do.

You Can Do It! Jinguk teases Samdong for making cheesy pep-talks, but it's so nice to have someone who's finding the bright side of life and preparing to push past obstacles. And isn't that part of the charm of Dream High, the feeling that these kids can really accomplish something? And it turns out that teacher Oh-hyuk really cares for the kids and is willing to do anything to help them realize their dreams, too.

No Caption Prepared; I Just Like This Picture.

Cruel to Be Kind: Hyemi tells Samdong that owing him favors is a burden to her because she's worried over what will happen to him if he keep rescuing her. The loanshark might even target him, next.

I'm Pushing You Away Because I Care.

Dads Are Disappointing: Samdong's mom is an adoring parent, but Hyemi's dad has abandoned her, and Jinguk's dad is ashamed of him. K-drama papas usually leave a lot to be desired when it comes to fulfilling proper parenting roles.

Too Tough to Have Daddy Issues. Until Now.
Cultural Observances:

New words: "Sem" is teacher, but in a affectionate form like "Teach". "Pi" is "blood," which is mentioned when Hyemi gets a cut on her forehead. "Baek" is "100" and Samdong talks about making their ghetto practice room a 100 times better if they clean it up

Episode Evaluations: These episodes are fun and sad and singable and moving. Oh, what a joy to watch characters who work hard, fail, and get back up again! And then we also get a cute performance of "Genie" as icing on the cake.

Question: Dream High fans, at this point in the series, were you rooting for Jinguk or Samdong to get the girl?


  1. Did you like the songs they covered for the evaluation?

    I liked their genie performance too but unfortunately not a lot of people did.

    at this point in time, I was on Sam Dong's ship. I was actually on Sam Dong's ship when Jin Guk took the pendent out of Hyemi's pocket in front of the whole class. I know his motives but doing that in front of the whole class was just cruel. He should have spoken to her about it instead of doing that. He was dead to me by then.

    I can still appreciate the triangle and see the merits of both guys but I was too betrayed by Jin Guk at this time to root for him.

    1. I thought Hyemi's Happy Birthday evaluation song was really sweet. Not totally memorable, but nice.

      Genie was wonderful for me because I'm really familiar with the orignal by SNSD and I /love/ covers that re-interpret the original song in a different way.

      Samdong's precious, and he's breaking my heart to pieces. With Jinguk, I support him because i"m just more likely to appreciate a love interest who doesn't let his girl get away with being less than honest. It's my personal prejudice. :-)

  2. I was on Sam dong's side from the moment he appeared on screen, pretty much. I too love the triangle and its dynamics but Sam dong has a kind of devotion that it is difficult not to fall for.

    Ah, and finally I can breach the Baek hee's plunge into nothing short of evil. This is what I meant by DH1 having much more viciousness to it: dropping a pot on someone's head, sabotaging auditions by putting sharp things in others' shoes: these are awful things that desperate characters may stoop down to. Compared to this Rian is an angel, she never did anything even remotely as evil.

    I can relate to Hyemi a lot, especially in these episodes. I had some classical training and failed at emoting through singing. It can be quite a challenge and I loved the way the series tackles it.

    One of the things I like the most about DH is how the characters evolve as people through music. It forms an integral part of their lives instead of just being a means of conveying love as it turned out in DH2.

    1. Ah, I am alone in my Jinguk-love! He's just more my style. But Samdong is so sweet, I can't even believe the actor is able to portray him so well--it doesn't feel like acting at all, it feels like they actually happened to capture an awkwardly genuine kid in the throes of first love.

      I did /not/ see the Evil Baekhee thing coming at all. She's such a delicate creature, I figured she'd self-destruct before harming others. I. Was. Wrong.

      The worst thing Rian ever did was...slap Hyesung and insult her, I think? Yep, that's small potatoes compared to putting a boy in the hospital for possible brain damage. DH1 doesn't mess around when it comes to villany!

      Hyemi's growth is just wonderful. I love watching her slow progression.

      Yes, the music seems like it's actually changing and improving the lower-class students--music has a genuine transformative power here, which is very satisfying to see.

  3. I'm currently watching this now! I'm on Ep 12 and so far I'm enjoying it. I really like Hye Mi, because she can act with just her eyes and it doesn't get to her even if two boys are crushing on her.

    And with the love triangle, I'm on Sam Dong team. I usually go for the manlier/first guy but Sam Dong has this softness to him that is so endearing. And when he gets all badass in the later chapters, I just feel for him. I think it's more on the actors part though. If Kim Soo-Hyun played Jin Guk, I might root for him. Heh. ;)

    And that Boys over Flowers nod made me really miss the series. I even started singing. Sigh :)

    1. More love for Samdong!

      I like Hyemi for not being wishy-washy about the guys either (at least not yet...). I love the show Flower Boy Ramyun Shop, but in that one the main girl was always sitting around asking, "Does he like me? Does the other one like me, too?" Here, Hyemi has more to do than worry over who's liking her.

      Kim Soohyun's acting is so good, I might have to cave and watch his show "The Moon That Embraces the Sun", though I'm not at all prepared to watch historical dramas yet.

      Almost paaaaaradiiiiise....

  4. My soft spot for SamDong showed itself pretty early on, too. For me it was more of a "rooting for innocence" kinda thing, if that makes sense. I usually have a pet-peeve with characters that are dopey-sweet - they just irritate me - but I felt Kim SooHyun did a fabulous job of portraying a sweet, innocent person without making the character seem stereo-typically dumb, or silly. I love JinGuk's character as well, he's also someone you can root for; but for me, SooHyun's portrayal of SamDong struck a chord or something. I just felt for him more.

    I also really like the way HyeMi reacts to and interacts with both guys. She's not a shallow airhead, or like you said, wishy-washy. Even though her character started off downright witchy, I still liked her more from the first ep than I did either of the main female characters in DH2 (I blame that more on bad writing and directing, tho). Imo they were both mostly unlikable for the majority of the show, while HyeMi started off "bad girl" but then managed to really grow on me. And the transition is believable! In DH2 it was too rushed, like they woke up one morning and thought,'I'm gonna be a completely different person today!' JB also did that, what with his suddenly liking HyeSung out of the blue. (I thought so, anyway..)

    Oh, and I like the little BOF scene, too, lol. Too cute.. Glad to know I'm not the only person who thinks that song is terrible, lol! ;D

    1. So for those keeping score at home, the love triangle results are 4-to-1 Samdong over Jinguk.

      Tiger: Jinguk

      Everyone Else in the Blogosphere: Samdong


      I was saying the same thing, early on--I depise the dopey, naive-sweet character type usually, but with Samdong it's utterly perfect.

      Yes, I think it was probably more of a DH2 writing/directing issue with Hyesung, because I love her actress, Kang Sora. Sora is wonderful, but what could she do with a character who was scripted to do little more than apologize for 8 whole episodes? And JB did flip pretty quickly from looking down on Hyesung to adoring Hyesung. Funny thing is, the JB actor was more convincing as an adorable puppy than as a snotty idol.

      I liked Almost Paradise the first 3 times I heard it. Then they had to play it during every. single. dramatic moment. Now it plays during my dreams!

  5. I'm glad I'm not the only one liking Hyemi. There was a lot of hate for both her and Suzy as an actress. I really didn't think she was bad enough to warrant all that hate.

    I really did love the fact that Hyemi was less concern with the triangle then just getting from one point to another. She obviously knew what was happening but wasn't really concerned about it.

    as for Samdong and Jinguk...I kept a score too. I would say in the blogsphere you have a general 1-10. There are some Jinguk lovers out there.

    I think on paper, Jinguk was such a great character, he was the knight in shining armor, the princely gentleman but with the bad boy looks. I have to put it down to the actor for this one. No offense to Teac but he really didn't understand his character beyond the surface, there was no internal trauma, no radiant joy emanating from him whenever he achieve something akin to happiness.

    If we had someone on the same level as Kim So Hyun, I would have loved to see that.

    1. I was sooo worried when I started this series that Suzy was going to be awful, because that was nearly all I was hearing about DH1. Nope. She's great. Hyemi and Suzy are both awesome, in my view.

      Excellent point about Jinguk. That white knight/bad boy thing plus the dancing skills and daddy issues ought to make him the most interesting character ever, but his actor is not at the same level as Samdong's actor. The audience is going to connect more with whomever is emoting the best.

      I actually deleted a massive "Why Jinguk is Lacking" paragraph from an earlier review, because I had all these reasons that he bored me, but something in episode 4 turned my attitude around.

      New ep. review later today!

    2. I would have loved to read your segment of why Jinguk is lacking, even though you are a shipper.

      I unfortunately, watched DH after everyone else had so didn't have a chance to discuss anything with anyone.

      I would love to trade points of view with you. I'm currently on episode 8, one of my favorite episode.

      BTW if your a Jinguk lover, you may want to check out the cut scenes after you finish the series.

    3. Early on, Jinguk was just /nothing/ for me. Just someone filling a role and taking up the space designated for him. But I think once he got put in the same house and class with Hyemi and Samdong, he came into his own a little more. Suddenly, he (the actor) was at his best because he had good people to act off of, and they all had a very specific dynamic instead of him being aimlessly rebellious or aimlessly sad.

      I'm so glad that a few poeple like you want to watch/discuss DH1 at this late date! It really does make a show more fun when you have other people looking at it with you.

      Thanks for the cut scenes heads-up. :-)