[SPOILERS INCLUDED]

Title: 드림하이
Genre: School, romance
Episodes: 16
Average Episode Rating: 14.9% nationwide

Main Cast: I never wanted to watch this drama. Why? Because of the main cast. While it seemed like everyone else was full of excitement for this teenage drama due to the fact that so many young idol singers were partaking in it as the main cast, I was not convinced. I personally believe that to act, you have to have talent; for such young singers to act in an entire drama – I was already assuming that this drama would be a failure. For me, you either sing or you act. You don’t do both. But I do think that it’s okay for a singer to become an actor after they stop their singing career. By that time, they are old enough and well trained enough to act. Well, enough of my ranting – let’s familiarize ourselves with the main cast, shall we?

Kim SooHyun as Song Samdong:

Despite being just 22, Kim Soohyun has already acted in a number of dramas, although not as the main character. In this drama, Kim Soohyun is the only person that isn’t primarily a singer – his main career is that of an actor, and for that, I’m happy. At least the director and producers chose someone who can really act since he’s been trained to do so from the start.

Song Samdong is the innocent country boy. He grew up in the countryside with his mom and gets recruited as one of the special students to attend Kirin Arts High School. Initially, he doesn’t want to go, but he ends up doing so to pursue his dream and also get the girl. He transforms from a country bumpkin to a talented (and pretty good-looking if I must say so myself) guy. In this drama, he’s the nice guy that protects Go Hyemi.

Taecyeon as Jinguk:

Taecyeon – if you’re familiar with Kpop, you should know him. Known as the beastly rapper as 2PM, Taecyeon grew up in the United States and later moved to Korea after being recruited as a trainee by JYP Entertainment. I used to be a huge HUGE 2PM fan but now, I wouldn’t consider myself a big fan. To me, Taecyeon is overrated and cocky. I don’t like that. Those two go well together though, don’t they?

Jinguk is a politician’s son and when he first comes on screen, he seems like a gangster type of guy although he isn’t. He’s actually a lonely kid whose dad only sees him as an obstacle and a troublemaker. Ever since his childhood, when he first met Hyemi, he felt warmth and love, causing him to secretly watch Hyemi as the years went by.

Suzy as Go Hyemi:

Suzy is the maknae of JYP group miss A, which debuted last year with their hit Bad Girl Good Girl. Suzy is the reason that my sister decided to watch this drama, dragging me along with her.

Go Hyemi is an arrogant girl who thinks that she’s all that. She’s talented in singing, adding to her egoism. However, her family has a problem- her parents are divorced and her dad is swamped in debt, causing him to flee. She has a little sister that she needs to take care of and loan sharks are coming to collect the money her dad took. In order to pay back the money, she is forced to audition to attend Kirin Arts High School, a prestigious school that trains talented students in becoming the top entertainers of Korea.

Ham EunJung as Yoon Baekhee:

Eunjung is a member of T-ara and was the previous leader of the Kpop group. She is not new to the acting scene, however, as she did partake in Coffee House, which aired last year, as one of the main four, so she does have some previous experience.

Yoon Baekhee is known as Hyemi’s follower, as she is always following Hyemi. She is a timid girl that does whatever Hyemi wants her to do. She gets mistreated often and Hyemi calls her “third rate,” but this all changes when Yoon Baekhee gets accepted to Kirin Arts High School and Hyemi is rejected. Yoon Baekhee begins to change, by first changing her timid appearance to that of a fierce student. She changes her style and her personality as well. Instead of being a pushover, she starts to work hard at debuting as a singer and even stoops as low as to hurt other students in order to get what she wants.

Wooyoung as Jason:

Wooyoung is another member of 2PM. He sings, dances, and whatnot. That’s basically all the background information that you need to know about him.

Jason is a student who comes from the United States to study at Kirin Arts High School. He has a cool and indifferent attitude to everything. He dances and sings, but he likes flying solo instead of working with others. He’s nice to those around him and shows manners to everyone. However, his one flaw is that he doesn’t really have a dream that he wants to reach.

IU as Kim Pilsook:

IU is the reason that I’m watching this drama. If you haven’t heard of IU, let me tell you about her right here. I may go off on a tangent, but that’s because I love IU with all my heart. IU is a talented singer that debuted at the ripe age of 14. I’ve been following her ever since her debut; this girl’s voice is like an angel. Although she debuted at 14 with a more serious song, she later changed her style to a cute one in order to become more popular. I did not like this style. Luckily, in her most recent album, IU was finally able to showcase her talent again and show the Kpop world what her voice is capable of. She is now recognized as a singer and she has gained many fans over the span of her singing career so far. Oh, and she’s also quite a pro on the guitar.

Kim Pilsook is another student that gets into Kirin Arts High School. Although she has a beautiful voice, she is overweight. She tries to lose weight but cannot do it. Kim Pilsook’s appearance causes her to be shunned by others and she even becomes the target of bullying, but Jason comes to her rescue when others begin to make fun of her. Okay, so it’s not that dramatic but close. Kim Pilsook grows a crush on Jason but he only sees her as a friend.

Uhm Kijoon as Teacher Kang:

Uhm Kijoon started out as a musical actor and gained his fame from there on. Later on, starting in 2007, he began to act in Korean dramas. The only drama that I saw him in was The World That They Live In. (Sorry, I don’t have much to say about this guy.)

Teacher Kang doesn’t have a very good reputation in Kirin Arts High School and he’s on the verge of getting fired..until the  Director saves him by making him the teacher of three students that are specially scouted. Teacher Kang works hard to help the students improve and do well, and he also opens up his home to them since they don’t have anywhere to go. At first he appears as a wimp or a pushover teacher that has no authority, but he later proves us wrong.

Producer + Director + Screenwriter:

The two producers of this drama are quite accomplished…for things other than producing. First, there’s Bae Yongjun from the highly popular Winter Sonata. Then there’s Park Jinyoung, mastermind behind JYP Entertainment itself. (No wonder there are so many singers from that company in this drama – Suzy, Taecyeon, Wooyoung, and Joo.)

Director Lee Eungbok has been behind other successful dramas like Delightful Girl Choon Hyang. All in all, Dream High is the sixth drama that Lee Eungbok is directing.

The screenwriter of this drama is Park Hyeryun, who has previously written for a total of four dramas (including this one). Park Hyeryun has also written for the movie Some Like it Hot.

Synopsis (from Dramawiki):

(Short but sweet and straight to the point.) Six students at Kirin Art High School work to achieve their dreams of becoming stars.

First Few Episodes:

I was not hooked by the first two episodes. I’ll be honest – I came into Dream High with very low expectations so I guess it’s not really a surprise that I was NOT captivated right away or swept off my feet by the beginning of this drama. In fact, I never thought that I’d be writing a review for this drama. But as you can obviously see, I have written a review, and a pretty lengthy one at that.

Highlights:

This drama became interesting when we came down to the showcases. I loved watching the performances at the showcases and at competitions. It was something fresh and entertaining that not many Korean dramas have because well, not many dramas feature singers in real life. So the only good thing about having young idol singers as the main cast of this drama was that they could display their talent in singing and dancing. I guess it’s useful to have a cast full of singers when you make a drama that’s about people training to become singers.

Pilsook’s transformation was another factor of this drama that I really liked. I enjoy watching dramas where characters undergo transformations and change. Ever since I started Dream High, I looked forward to Pilsook’s new look and it was very rewarding to finally see the new Pilsook. Not only did she transform physically, but her outlook on life also changed a bit, and that was nice.

While I’m still on the subject of Pilsook, another highlight of Dream High was the Jason and Pilsook couple. LOVED them. They didn’t have this huge dramatic love story or anything – instead, everything that happened between them was pretty mellow and cute. Every time they came on screen, I squealed with excitement. This couple kept me going and all their little moments made the rest of the episode bearable, if not better.

While I did not like the initial couple pairings in this drama, I loved the end result. I was very satisfied. In many Korean dramas, it seems as if childhood loves end up coming back into someone’s life; but in reality, childhood lovers do not always become lifelong lovers. I liked the twist in this drama – while it appeared as if Jinguk and Hyemi would be together, Samdong finally came out on top and won over Hyemi’s heart. (I also like it when nice guys win.)

Another small (but cute) part of this drama that I enjoyed watching was the love story going on between Teacher Kang and Teacher Shi. Very adorable. And also with Teacher Yang as the third wheel. I loved this couple as well as the other ones I already mentioned above.

In addition to all this, I loved the spontaneous motion of the drama and how there was never a slow or draggy part. It never bored me (except the first few episodes) and I was constantly interested. And it’s not like this drama was going at a super fast pace or anything – it was going at the perfect pace. Fast enough for me to stay interested and slow enough to understand what was going on.

Ahh, how I love OST songs. I think that I could live with just listening to them. The songs in Dream High are no different as Park Jinyoung, the mastermind himself, composed many of the songs. Many of these OST songs are about dreams, but there are also a handful about love. 2PM members, Sunye from Wonder Girls, the Dream High cast, and Park Jinyoung participated in this drama’s OST and it has become quite a success on charts and such. I also personally enjoyed the OST songs; a good OST doesn’t necessarily make a drama good, but it certainly helps increase a drama’s popularity if it proves to be a hit.

Most, if not all, dramas are about love. Love may not be with main factor of every drama, but it’s there nevertheless. In Dream High, love is more of side story that’s sort of important but it’s not everything that makes up the drama. Dream High is given that name for a reason. It’s about dreaming high. It’s about having a dream that you want to reach, that you’d work hard for. It’s having a passion and love for something so much that you would put in 200% of your time and effort into it because the result in the end would be rewarding. That’s why I like Dream High – it’s theme of reaching for your dreams is very inspiring. We have six students that all dream of making it big in the entertainment scene, and through this drama, we see them working hard and practicing. We see their struggles and how they overcome these struggles to accomplish their goal. Unlike other dramas of revenge or lost love (which I also enjoy watching), the theme of this drama is something refreshing and also holds a positive connotation as opposed to a drama of war or revenge.

Going off of the revenge thing, I like dramas where people take revenge (East of Eden, Temptation of Wife), but as a Christian, I believe in forgiving others despite the harm and pain that they’ve caused you. Dream High was initially about revenge (although not a lot of it) and rising past others to the top, but it also had moments of forgiveness. For example, Hyemi forgives Baekhee for treating her horribly and bullying her. Just that itself is a huge step to healing and it also brings the two to reconciliation again.

Another great theme in Dream High: people change for the better. This is evident in many characters. Hyemi changes from a spoiled brat to someone who cares about others and doesn’t look down on them like before. Jason changes from a nonchalant guy to someone who works hard in order to become a singer. Baekhee changes from an evil character to a person that feels remorseful and regretful of what she previously did. Jinguk changes from a rebellious son to someone who cares for his dad and who truly pursues his passion. Teacher Shi changes from a teacher who tells her students to be selfish and do whatever they can to be better than others to someone who really cares for her students and encourages them in the right way.

Normally, for me, I never find drama endings to be satisfying. I thought that the ending of this drama would be very bad as there seemed to be many loose ends that needed to be tied up. But upon seeing the last episode, I was quite satisfied although I feel that the ending could’ve been better. The last episode was able to cleanly wrap everything up, while tying the end to the beginning, a very clever move.

Shortcomings:

The love triangle between Hyemi, Jinguk, and Samdong was both heartbreaking and frustrating. There was this inner dilemma that I had – it was like an ongoing debate between Jinguk and Samdong. I wanted her to be with both but at times, I leaned towards one or the other. Why did they make this love triangle so difficult? Hyemi would end up with one person, and the other would be left alone without love. Sad story, sad story.

With the love triangle as I already mentioned above, misunderstandings are bound to happen. The misunderstandings between Hyemi and Jinguk were annoying to watch. And it’s not like these misunderstandings were big ones – they were misunderstandings about the smallest things. They were stupid misunderstandings that made the drama drag along. Whenever I saw these scenes, I just wanted to skip them all. I couldn’t bear watching them.

Baekhee became so evil so fast. I couldn’t believe it, but I guess that it’s understandable seeing her become like that. She was always treated as trash by Hyemi, but still..watching Baekhee become so evil and start even doing such low things made me hate her. I don’t like hating characters, but it always turns out that way.

The acting was mediocre. In fact, the biggest flaw of the drama was the acting. Except for Kim Soohyun, everyone else’s acting was okay. A drama’s performance is based on acting so I wished that more actors were in this drama, not singers. Plus, I don’t really like the idea of young singers being actors while they’re still singers. If it’s like Eugene from SES, however, then it’s okay. Or at least to me it is.

Before Dream High even started airing, there was so much buzz about it, just because Park Jinyoung and Bae Yongjoon produced it. And also because of all the young and popular singers in it. So as the type of person I am, I did not want to watch this drama. There was too much hype about this drama and I did not even think that it would meet everyone’s expectations. Last year, there were quite a number of dramas that came out as huge disappointments despite the popularity that they already gained early on.

Additional Commentary:

Teenage dramas are overrated. Look at Boys Before Flowers. Waaay too overrated. I guess that’s why I was a bit weary of starting this drama; if it’s one thing you guys should know about me, it’s the fact that I HATE overrated things, whether it’s Kpop or Korean dramas. Once something becomes deemed as overrated by me, I tend to stay away from it. I don’t like following the crowd and watching what everyone else watches, but many times, I end up doing that anyways. For once in my life, I’m glad that I watched with my sister because through Dream High, I was able to laugh and squeal and sympathize with characters. The drama grew on me over time and in my opinion, it’s a lot better than Boys Before Flowers. I never EVER thought that I’d come to like, to love, this drama, but here I am, loving it and writing about it.

Last year, before this drama started airing, I put my dibs on My Princess, thinking that it would come out on top with its stellar cast. However, I’ve been proven wrong, as Dream High definitely surpassed my expectations. I am very happy for putting up with wannabefob and watching this drama.

Rating: 4/5