Monday, April 23, 2012

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

Read Episode reviews for:

Dream High--Episodes 1-2
Dream High--Episodes 3-4
Dream High--Episodes 5-6
Dream High--Episodes 9-10
Dream High--Episodes 11-12
Dream High--Episodes 13-14
Dream High--Episodes 15-16

Contains Spoilers for Episodes 7-8

In Dream High-Land, Jinguk's dad is acting like a jerk. Politician Dad has never supported his own son, and he just wants Jinguk to avoid music because it reflects badly on him. Baekhee also has parent troubles, and she commiserates with Jinguk about it. No, Jinguk, don't get friendly with Baekhee! She drops pottery on people's heads and puts tacks in their dancing shoes!

So Torn Between My Love for Eunjung and My Dislike for Baekhee.

In Secondary-Character-Ville, Jason is wishing he could sing a duet with shy, overweight Pilsook, who he has grown fond of. A nasty teacher tells Jason to forget it--if he wants to sing for fun *derisive snicker* why doesn't he just go do karaoke(noraebang)? And then Jason goes and asks Pilsook out for noraebang. Bwa-ha-ha! I love this show. And their performances at noraebang kill me.

Jinguk gets all quitty on his friends Samdong and Hyemi, and says he won't perform in the fake showcase with them. Hyemi feels betrayed because singing together onstage was a shared dream of theirs and it meant a lot to her. Even with one missing class member, Hyemi pulls a Scarlett O'Hara and basically buffalos everyone into doing the fake showcase anyway.

Jason discovers the secret lower-class practice and decides that this is the place for him; working hard and having fun. It's a nice move story-wise, because not only does it fill Jinguk's spot, shows that the lower-class fold is opening up to new people. Soon, everyone will want in.

Lower-Class Students Cutting Their Own Confetti. So Ghetto Up in Here.

As the big songs approach, I realize that I am heartily anticipating this showcase. I want  to see them perform! (In Dream High 2 it was more like, "Well, it's about that time in the episode again. I guess they're going to perform at me, now".) Pilsook's sweet, heartfelt, and puffy-dressed performance is contrasted with Baekhee's exotic, fierce rendition of the same song. And then, oh noooo, Jinguk shows up on stage with Baekhee.

What Are You Doing in Leather and Feathers, Mister?

Aw, Jinguk, I was afraid this would happen. First you abandon Hyemi onstage in like, episode 3, and now you go and perform in the opposing showcase? These are not the actions of the primary male lead. I'm not going to get to see you with Hyemi, am I?

Samdong and Hyemi sing a lovely duet and end the night successfully, but then there's another "Oh no!" moment when it seems like Samdong's losing his hearing, possibly from his recent head trauma. This cannot be allowed to happen.

 Our Precious Snowflake had BETTER NOT be Losing his Hearing.

Right now, my favorite friendship in this show is progressing at just the right speed. Hyemi and Pilsook are a surprisingly grand friend-combo, and they support each other in a natural non-showy way. Hyemi holds Pilsook's hand and comforts her when Pilsook's feelings are wounded, doing what she once ought to have done for Baekhee. It may be too late for Hyemi to the do right thing by her ex-BFF Baekhee, but it's not too late to do right for somebody. And they also bond over their own humiliating moments.

Our Two Heroines, Sharing the Pose of Humiliation.

Thanks to his showcase, Jinguk is getting signed to a record label and leaving Kirin High. Hyemi stands outside at night, crying over Jinguk as he leaves and wearing his spare motorcycle helmet which he left for her. She tries to tell Samdong why she's crying, but Samdong breaks down and yells for her not to tell him. Then he makes up his own reason: she's crying over Jinguk because he's debuting before Hyemi, and she's jealous of this success, right? Samdong's basically begging her not to tell him that she cares for the other guy. Hyemi obliges him, and doesn't tell him the real reason.

200 days pass.

I do not like time-skips.

Now Jinguk, Baekhee, and Jason are in a successful co-ed idol group called "K," but they've come back home to visit. Jason returns to Kirin to find a stunning, slender Pilsook who clearly still adores him. Jinguk returns to Kirin to find a stunning, awesome Hyemi who is working hard on her dreams without him, and who appears to have bonded 100% with Samdong.

Things I Loved:

1. Jason/Pilsook. We're not quite there yet, but it's clear that we're totally going to get this pairing! It all starts when Jason doesn't want to sing a showcase duet with his assigned partner because he's thinking about someone else. Until now, we've seen very little of Pilsook and even less of Jason, but it's easy to connect with them now because they get 5 times more screentime in these episodes than they've gotten before. I love seeing them together, and I may have watched their noraebang scene twice (or, yanno, three or four times, but who's counting?).

And Don't You Just Love His Light-Socket Hair?

2. More Meta. At noraebang, Jason and Pilsook sing "Heartbeat" by 2PM, the actor Wooyoung's real band. Then there's some meta when Hyemi tells Jinman (who is JYP, the actress' real-life producer and record label manager) that he looks young for his age. And we see Nichkhun of 2PM in knight's armor for a commercial!

Nichkhun as Romeo-Lancelot-Charming, Smartphone User.

3. Samdong/Hyemi. No matter how you hope the love triangle ends, I don't see how anyone could fail to appreciate the sheer beauty of Samdong and Hyemi's interaction. He just adores her, and she's mighty good to him in return. After one particularly exhausting day, Hyemi falls asleep on Samdong's shoulder and the awe-filled yet terrified expression on his face is like he's been given a unicorn wrapped in a beam of sunshine. And dipped in gold.

Samdong and His Unicorn.

4. Hyemi's Growth: My girl grows up so much in these episodes. When Baekhee does a public interview talking about her cruel ex-best-friend, Hyemi finally does have to confront the reality of the awful, awful person she once was. She remembers how heartless she was to her friend, and it tears her apart. Ah, self-knowledge. It has to come at some point, Hyemi. It hurts, but it will make you better!

This Too Shall Pass.


1. The Cold. It's a small issue, but was there no heating on set when they filmed this? I don't think the actors' breath should be fogging up indoors the way it is, as if Kirin didn't turn up their thermostat when the winter came around.


Daddy Does Not Love You: Jinguk's dad has abandoned everything he ever loved in order to be successful. Politician Dad outright asks his son, "Should I give up everything and just be your father?" obviously hoping to hear a "no". That's when Jinguk knows he'll never have a father, because Daddy made his choices long ago.

How Could You Hurt This Guy, Politician-Dad?

Swapping Places: 1. Jason goes to the lower-class showcase and misses his own performance, while Jinguk neatly slips into Jason's place and takes part in the more professional showcase. 2. Baekhee gives Hyemi her lucky medallion, showing that they've truly traded places--B is clearly on top of the world, while H needs all the luck she can get. 3. Pilsook essentially takes Baekhee's place as Hyemi's quieter, gentler friend. Their dynamic is rather different because Pilsook doesn't shadow Hyemi or want to imitate her, but she does look to her for advice and encouragement.

You Can Change Your Own Fate: Even if you're a side character or a villain, Dream High says that you can develop into the hero or heroine of your own story. I love Teacher Oh-hyuk for telling Hyemi this because it's an in-story example of what makes the show so captivating; Hyemi starts out as a classic villainess, then grows and changes until she's a heroine. Baekhee starts out as a Cinderella, then grows into a wicked stepsister. But maybe, with time, she could change her role once more?

 Your Pyrotechnics Rocked. Now Find Your Soul, Please.

Cultural Observances:

Hanbok: Samdong's mom puts on a pretty ceremonial hanbok to wear to the showcase.

Samdong's Mama: My Favorite Ahjumma Ever.

Canada/Korea Closeness: Korea and Canada have an excellent international relationship, so it made sense when Jinguk's dad's minion said they were sending him to Vancouver, where he'd meet a ton of other Korean students and make friends easily.

New Words: "Nado" is "me, too" when Jinguk says he feels the same way Baekhee does about a certain song. "Jal ga" is a casual "Bye!"--I think it literally means "go well" because jal is good and ga is go. "Jaemi eobseo" is "it's no fun," which is what Jason says when talking about his current duet partner. "Jebal" is "I'm begging you". Pilsook jebals Jason, telling him not to ask her where she's going, and Jinguk later uses jebal with his father, who he's begging not to do any more hateful things. "Mani mogo" is "eat more".

Watch Dream High on DramaFever.

Episode Evaluations: These episodes are better than ever! They're rousing and moving and make you want to rally behind the characters. The music is great, the comic beats are perfect...ahhhh. Dream High will rip you into itty bitty pieces, then put you back together again, and you won't mind at all.

Massive Analogy: If Dream High were The Hunger Games, Hyemi is the tough, skilled survivalist Katniss (who has absent parents and a baby sister she'd literally do anything for), Jinguk is Gale, the somewhat rebellious, somewhat angry guy who can't decide what he wants, and Samdong is Peeta--loyal and sweet, not a true survivor, but someone worth saving. The music industry itself and the snobby Kirin teachers are the Capitol, and Teacher Oh-hyuk is Haymitch, the morally flawed mentor who still has enough heart and enough knowledge to help his kids make it through.


If anyone writes a Dream High/Hunger Games crossover fanfic, I'll be all about that!


  1. Heh, I'd rather have a DH/Battle Royale crossover but with the DH cast exclusively since the BR kids would kill everyone in DH within 5 minutes (Kiriyama could do it in thirty seconds, tops).

    The visible breath indoor scenes also confused me greatly. I can't explain them at all.
    I too dislike time skips more often than not but this one worked quite well.

    One thing I noticed that was done so much better in DH1 than 2 was the different treatment of the lower class students. DH2 has a lot of talk about such discrimination, it may even be one of the most important themes, yet the B class kids aren't treated half as bad as their counterparts in the first season. I mean, Hyemi and co. are even ousted of a room in which to practice.

    1. Battle Royale was such a bloodbath! Our gutsy little singers and dancers couldn't really hold their own against the more whacked out kids in BR.

      For the timeskip, I wish they had done something to make the members of "K" look different. I mean, if you get turned into a K-pop star, they're probably going to cut your hair or make you grow it out or give you highlights or /something/ to create a visual change and help indicate the passage of time. Well, Baekhee does get those pink lowlights.

      Yes, in DH2 the lower class students were basically just saddled with the knowledge that they were inferior, and that was all. Hyesung was the only person who really got treated badly out of the whole group.

  2. The frosty-breath bugged the heck out of me, too! I actually found it distracting. Instead of paying attention to the scene I'd be wondering why in the world didn't they invest in some heat for this show, lol.

    I don't like the time-skipping, either - hate it, actually - but the rest of the show was good enough that I could let it go. I always tend to kinda wish they'd invested in an extra ep instead, tho, to show the details of what happened, if just for the sake of character development.

    Great review, as always! :)

    1. Thank you!

      When I see the indoor breath-fog, I want to wrap everyone in warm scarves. I start worrying about their health, and it takes me out of the scene!

      This timeskip did work much better than most. It kinda fits in with the thematic idea that those who rise to the top quickly miss out on so much. There's hard work and artistic development and group bonding that they've just totally missed because they've been out of the Kirin loop for too long.

  3. I love your DH and HG crossover idea, I think someone on Tumbler has tried it as well. Couldn't remember who, though I think they had your same pickings.

    I didn't mind the time jump in this one. I think they did that so us as the viewers could also return to Kirin without full knowledge of what has happened. They are putting us in Jason's and Jinguk's shoes and let us be awed by the changes in our lower class.

    the lack of changes in the K Group could reflect the same issue, although they debuted, nothing has changed much for them except that they were more widely recognize. Talent wise, they were still the same as when they left.

    I put Bakhee's hair down to her wishing to be someone else, since everyone who knows her and Hyemi would instantly recognize her as the "Hyemi Follower".

    I have no comment for the cold issue, i watched some off the behind the scene and apparently the winter they filmed DH in was the coldest in the past few years. The Kirin scenes where filmed in a large warehouse that was renovated to look like Kirin so there was no central heating.

    If anyone was ever at a warehouse in winter, you can imagine what it feels like.

    1. Oh, the poor actors. Winter in a warehouse! That explains everything pretty well.

      Good point about the K-kids not changing. There was even a point in ep 8 where Jinguk told the record label manager that he hadn't trained enough to debut, and the guy just laughed. Training? Pssh. Our top performers had talent, but it wasn't polished--and that girl Ria couldn't even sing at all!