Hello, new crack! I’m totally loving this drama right now, and I don’t even know if it’s at all logical, because it’s very by-the-book, in terms of what we expect will happen in an underdog-success story. But…it’s just so earnest, and cute, and strangely suspenseful. I honestly wasn’t expecting this drama to get this good after the first week, but this episode totally hooked me.
SONG OF THE DAY
Lee Seung-chul – “마지막 콘서트” (Last Concert) [ Download ]
EPISODE 4 RECAP
Hye-mi looks on as Baek-hee performs onstage, and overhears the other students saying that it must be the power of the K-pendant. As Baek-hee finishes her dance, she kisses the pendant for good measure, and thinks to herself: “Take a good look. This is MY world.” Ha. Awesome. I just really dig this rivalry.
Meanwhile, Sam-dong is busy reuniting the lost girl with her mom at the train station, not realizing how much time has passed. He makes a mad dash to Kirin.
At the same time, Director Shi announces the three special entrants who didn’t take to the stage tonight. He sneakily announces that they’d all like to see them perform, and the students start chanting for them to go up. Hye-mi finally stands up, and Jin-gook follows reluctantly.
Once onstage, Jin-gook freaks out over the wall of paparazzi flash bulbs (it looks like a traumatic memory rather than simple stagefright) and drops his mic and walks away. Hye-mi is left standing on her own, not knowing what to do.
As Jin-gook walks out, Sam-dong enters and they run into each other. Perhaps a hint that Sam-dong might be fated to get the girl: he’s running towards her, as Jin-gook is running out on her.
He runs into the auditorium to find Hye-mi standing up there alone, frozen in the spotlight.
Cut to the next day, as Director Shi tells the President what went down, and what the press is saying about the special entrants. He thinks the only answer is to get rid of them, along with Professor Kang of course. We see that this is the real reason he opened up the event to the press. They table the decision for now.
Oh-hyuk brings Sam-dong home (Are ALL of them going to live under one roof? Awesome. Bring on the madcap hijinks!) and he tells Sam-dong that their places at Kirin might not be there in the morning. But he decides that they should go to school anyway just in case. Sam-dong looks up dejectedly at the starless night sky and wonders if everyone’s plucked all the stars away in Seoul.
Hye-mi snuggles in with her little sister for the night, needing some comfort but not willing to admit why. Aw. In the morning, she gets ready for school and puts her shoes on, only to have a heel break off. It’s the final straw and she has an outburst as everyone in the house watches her, and as Jin-gook hears from the other side of the door.
Sam-dong tries to be helpful, but she just pushes him away, shouting that she lied to get him here, and that he’s nothing; he may as well just go home. Aw, don’t break his little heart!
Hye-mi stomps outside and raises her arm to throw her shoe, but Jin-gook stops her. Calmly, he tells her to fix her shoe if it’s broken, and stoops down to put it back on her foot. I’m having flashbacks to the early days of Cinderella’s Sister, back when the boys were cute and smiley and ran around turning people’s shoes around. Sigh.
She blames him for ruining everything yesterday, and he hilariously tells her that normal people cry when they’re upset, not throw tantrums. Ha. She then actually starts to cry, but then he decides that she doesn’t look the way other girls do when they cry (read: pretty). Jin-gook: “You look weird. Maybe you shouldn’t cry.” Hahahaha.
She stares him down, and he sweetly puts the motorcycle helmet on her head, so that she can cry all she wants. Aw, you guys are being so cute. Now I’m going to have crazy Sam-dong vs. Jin-gook wars all over the place. I suppose there are worse things than having two adorable boys to battle over.
At school, a star student arrives to a crowd of adoring fans. It’s RIA (played by Han Ye-in, the spunky little sister in Coffee Prince). It’s nice to add that element too—that some students are already famous while they’re in school, adding another layer of dysfunction, but hey, that’s the world.
Speaking of dysfunction, the girls all get in line to be weighed (publicly, no less) as the teacher tells them all to lose 3kg in a week. Seriously, Show? Gross. Pil-sook is singled out, of course, but thankfully the drama stays firmly in evil-teacher-is-evil territory. I still hate the message though. As if girls in high school don’t have enough worries about their bodies.
To everyone’s surprise, Hye-mi walks in to join the class. The teacher tells her that her status as an official student hasn’t been confirmed yet, and she counters that her expulsion hasn’t been decided either. The teacher scoffs and Baek-hee smiles to herself.
Board meeting time. Predictably, Director Shi has everyone in line to axe Professor Kang and the three students, but President Jung says that they’ll stay, and he’ll leave. Okay, I’m cool with that. He promotes Director Shi to his position, and leaves Kirin in his hands.
Hye-mi and Baek-hee have a run-in in the bathroom, where Baek-hee declares triumphantly that she should leave of her own accord, since she’s going to be kicked out anyway. Hye-mi gives her best glare and looks down at Baek-hee holding onto her K-pendant. Hye-mi: “You’re afraid of me, aren’t you? My dad told me there’s only two reasons people lean on charms like that: when their own abilities don’t cut it, or when they’re afraid of someone else.” Nice.
Baek-hee reels, and then slaps her across the face. Damn! Girlfight already? They start screaming and pulling each other’s hair. (Disappointing, but I suppose it’d be unrealistic if they went all Su Ae on us.)
The other students run in to see what’s going on, and Baek-hee totally fakes losing the fight, as she slumps down and pretends to faint. Hye-mi stands agape, as the other students accuse her of being the bully. Aaaargh! I mean, I know Hye-mi is no lightweight when it comes to the diva showdown, but how can you not be on her side when she gets bamboozled like this?
Baek-hee drops the damsel-in-distress act when she realizes that her pendant is gone. She rushes back to the bathroom, but it’s gone. Outside, Hye-mi puts on her jacket and the pendant falls out of her pocket. She picks it up, wondering skeptically about the so-called lucky charm.
Just then, Jin-gook runs over to tell her that they’ve been accepted. She looks down and smiles. Perhaps it is a lucky pendant after all.
Oh-hyuk walks in to thank President Jung for saving his job, and President Jung just smiles and tells him that the hardest part of the battle is ahead. Oh-hyuk shuffles his feet at that, wondering if President Jung has mistaken him for someone else. This is Kang Oh-hyuk, bottom of the totem pole, fly-under-the-radar guy. President Jung just smiles and tells him that he has the ability to win this fight.
Oh-hyuk returns to his desk to find a note from President Jung along with his own high school notebook. In the letter he writes that Oh-hyuk should read the notebook and remember who he was when he loaned it to his old friend, Jung Ha-myung.
I like that President Jung, Yang Jin-man, and Oh-hyuk are all connected from their high school days, but I find it hard to believe that Oh-hyuk and Jin-man wouldn’t remember him. Too much plastic surgery? Regardless, it’s a passing of the torch, and the inspiration that Oh-hyuk needs to remember that he was a dreamer once.
He flips through the notebook and finds his dream scrawled across the page: “My dream: 20 years later, to be an adult that I wouldn’t be ashamed of now. Kang Oh-huyk, fighting!”
Hye-mi shows her skills in singing class, as Baek-hee starts to worry. She keeps grasping at her collar, where the pendant used to be, nervous over the bad luck of losing it.
Sam-dong shows up at school, where everyone starts snickering at him immediately. To be fair, rumor has preceded him, and his appearance is a little out there, but it’s a harsh welcome even though he knows the circumstances. He looks around campus, and comes across Jason giving an impromptu concert, with Pil-sook adorably playing piano for him. (Why are they so cute?) He’s singing Lee Seung-chul’s “Last Concert,” posted up above.
Sam-dong runs up to the stage (cage?) and takes a mic, asking in front of everyone if Jason’s the top dog around here. Heh. I like your approach, Sam-dong. Just go straight to challenging the jjang on your first day, eh?
He declares that if they throw down, and he shows he can beat Jason, it means he’s not just some country bumpkin. He asks Pil-sook to keep playing, but she refuses out of loyalty to her crush (aw). Jason asks her to keep playing, and accepts Sam-dong’s challenge, cool as a cucumber.
Hye-mi, Jin-gook, and Oh-hyuk follow the other students in, and Hye-mi worries that he really shouldn’t bust out his singing skills like this. But to her utter surprise, Sam-dong begins, and he’s good.
He’s no prodigy, but he can sing, which floors her, since this is not the same Sam-dong she saw doing that really embarrassing show. He holds his own, but Jason out-sings him with flowery touches. He’s not necessarily better, but he’s much more confident, and Sam-dong ends up dropping his mic and walking away in defeat.
God, I love a drama where two characters can have a Sing-Off as their first meeting. I frickin’ love this scene!
He runs away and broods outside, where Hye-mi finds him. He tells her that he would’ve won had he known the song. What, now? It turns out that he didn’t know the song…he just guessed where it was going, based on the beginning of it.
Oh, so THAT’s the prodigy part—not so much the vocal skills, but his understanding of music. Mkay, I’m just gonna go with it.
He declares it’s just a matter of time before he beats Jason, but worries that his backwater-appearance is something that will take longer to fix. He decides a month will be long enough.
Hye-mi doesn’t want to wait that long, and turns his face towards her. His stunned blinky reaction is so cute. She decides that his eyes are pretty and they shouldn’t stay hidden, and asks him how much money he has—there’s no need to wait a month when she can take care of it in a day. All right! Makeover time!
Hye-mi’s debt-collector shows up at school to get some more collateral on his loan, since he’s unsure of Hye-mi’s skills. He threatens to take Hye-mi away, and gets Oh-hyuk to sign over his house as leverage. He stupidly signs, and Jin-man witnesses the whole thing, surprised at the lengths he’s going to protect a student.
Hye-mi and Sam-dong buy some supplies, and she cuts his hair. Aw, his crazy smitten smile while she does his hair is priceless.
Hye-mi takes the newly hot Sam-dong shopping. He stops in front of a store display featuring Rain: “Is this guy popular?” Ha. She’s like, you don’t even know Rain? He starts to ask, “If I become a star like him…” but trails off. He stands in front of the window and does his best pop-idol stance, getting a laugh from Hye-mi.
On their way home, Sam-dong wonders why everyone is still staring at him. Um, they’re staring at your newfound hotness. Get used to it, buddy. Hye-mi gets a call from Dad and she cheerily tells him that everything’s okay, and is happy to hear that she might see him soon. Sam-dong smiles to see her being a little girl.
Pil-sook comes home with some delicious bread, but decides against it, choosing to starve. We see that her picture frame (probably previously inhabited by Kim Hyun-joong) is now occupied by Jason. Yay for replacing your idol crush with a real one.
But as soon as she starts starving herself, she ends up binging. Well I’m glad they’re actually tackling this with some semblance of realism, and not some magic diet fairy. Poor kid. She just ends up feeling worse about herself than before.
Baek-hee takes extra private vocal lessons to try and stretch her range and hit the high notes that Hye-mi can reach. Her mom catches her and tells her to give up on her pipedream and study; it’s not like she’s talented like Hye-mi or anything. That makes Baek-hee livid, as she screams that Hye-mi lost the audition, while SHE got in. Sad, that her Hye-mi-complex is based on a lifetime of living in Hye-mi’s shadow, led by her own mother.
Jin-gook goes to see his father, where he addresses dad’s wife politely, and with respect, but calls her “Madam.” He thinks there’s been a mistake; Dad deposited a bunch of money into his account on accident. Dad tells him it’s no mistake…he’s to prepare to go abroad.
Jin-gook declines the offer, saying that he doesn’t speak English and he could starve over there. He plans to stay here. Dad warns him that the press is going to get involved and things are going to get ugly, but Jin-gook returns the money and leaves. As he walks away, we see that a photographer is tailing either Father or Son.
I like that his character isn’t disrespectful or the typical rebellious chaebol son. He’s either illegitimate or from a first marriage, but he’s quite desperate to be accepted and loved by Dad, no matter how harsh he seems to be in return. I can already tell you’re gonna to break my heart, kid.
Baek-hee returns to the school to look for her lost pendant, and comes across someone dancing in the studio. It’s Jin-gook, dancing out his daddy issues. Ha. If only everyone could dance out their daddy issues, kdramaland would be a much happier place. She gapes at him, starry-eyed. Looks like another crush has begun.
Hye-mi gets a visit from her debt collector, who hands her a box of beef (well, I guess he’s got to take care of his investment). He asks if Jin-gook is her boyfriend, saying that he was pretty impressive, storming into his office like an action star, to rescue her.
It’s news to Hye-mi, who remembers guiltily that she saw all his bruises and called him a punk gangster. Jin-gook heads home, and when it starts snowing, he sighs that nothing is going right for him today, and worries about his bike being parked outside.
But when he arrives, he finds Hye-mi perching umbrellas over his motorcycle, and brushing the snow off. It’s not the smartest plan, and she struggles to make the umbrellas stay, finally giving up in frustration. She’s about to head inside, but she turns back, coming face to face with Jin-gook, holding an umbrella. He holds it over her head, like a proper knight in shining armor.
He smiles sweetly at her, touched by her attempt to do something nice for him, and she apologizes for jumping to conclusions about him. “I’m not usually wrong, but I’ll admit that I was, this time. You’re not a bad guy.” He breaks into a smile. Why so cute, you two?
Hye-mi’s sister runs out to warn them before they enter: the witch is back. They walk in cautiously, only to find that Oh-hyuk’s sister isn’t so witchy after all, when it comes to cute idol-boys-in-training. Ha. She fawns over Sam-dong, only to become an embarrassing mess once she discovers Jin-gook. LOL.
Sam-dong is a little taken aback when he officially meets Jin-gook for the first time. The whole group sits down to dinner, where Oh-hyuk’s sister makes it clear that she’s going to play favorites. To Jin-gook and Sam-dong: “Call me noona”; to Hye-mi: witch-glare. Ha.
She gets totally sloshed at dinner, and Sam-dong makes the decision then and there: he’s never going to drink. Ever. Hehe.
Hye-mi and her sister breathe a sigh of relief that night, knowing that they can stay at the house now. They smile at their good fortune, and Hye-mi kisses the K-pendant for finally turning her luck around.
Oh-hyuk stays up all night working on a new manifesto for Kirin, called “Dream High,” where he lays out how music should be considered art and not a commodity, and presents it proudly to Principal Shi the next day.
He gets a patronizing pat on the back for all his work, and Principal Shi tells him to take his three special entry students into the university prep class (the class where music goes to die). He realizes that the school has already given up on them and plans to ditch them there, and he digs his heels in, as it sinks in that the uphill battle has just begun.
Hye-mi makes a move to return the pendant to Baek-hee’s locker, but can’t bring herself to do it. She holds on to it, swearing that it’ll just be for a little bit longer. Sam-dong watches her curiously.
She goes to dance class, where Baek-hee confronts her about the pendant. Took you long enough to figure it out. Her toadie starts to search Hye-mi’s pockets, but Jin-gook steps in. Just when you think he’s coming to her rescue, he does the opposite, by telling Hye-mi to cough it up.
He finds the pendant in her pocket and returns it to Baek-hee, telling Hye-mi to act like herself; she doesn’t need a stupid pendant because she’s plenty talented on her own. It’s like a back-handed rescue…which then gets totally wiped out by Sam-dong, who rushes in to deck Jin-gook in the face, for outing Hye-mi. Haha. Fisticuffs already? This love triangle is going to be So. Good.
The boys tussle, and get interrupted by Kyung-jin, who sends them to the proper class…Kirin’s graveyard.
In a montage, we see that the ensuing days are hard on the three kids, especially Hye-mi, who gets hazed like nobody’s business. At one point she gets egged, and Sam-dong runs up to shield her with his jacket. Their English lesson by Jin-man consists of conjugating verbs like “finish, give up, and deny,” heh, and they sit deflated.
Hye-mi walks out, and Sam-dong takes Jin-good aside to talk. He tells Jin-gook that if he apologizes to Hye-mi for making her out to be a thief in front of everyone, then he’ll apologize for hitting Jin-gook.
Jin-gook says that he was just trying to knock some sense into Hye-mi, because in her own words, those sorts of trinkets are for people who have no skills to rely on. But Sam-dong explains that it’s not about her singing. When she had that pendant, her father called: “If you had seen the look on her face, you wouldn’t have taken it away from her.”
Is it possible for her to date both of them at once? Can there be some kdrama rule of exception for a case like this?
They get interrupted by Hye-mi, who calls everyone to attention with a bullhorn in the middle of the auditorium. She announces that she’s no longer going to take their terrorizing her, and she puts up a challenge: if she beats Baek-hee in the midterm exams, then everybody apologizes and the terror stops. She vows to show everyone that the pendant’s original thief was Baek-hee, who stole her audition out from under her.
Sam-dong stares drop-jawed, and Jin-gook smiles, now satisfied that Hye-mi has returned.
Baek-hee asks what she gets if she wins. Hye-mi says that she’ll acknowledge that she’s a thief, and accept everything they say about her. She adds, leveling a glare: “But don’t worry, because I’m gonna win.”
Aw, hells yeah!
What a difference a week makes. I liked this drama for what it could be last week, but now it’s totally stepping up to the plate. Why am I so invested? I don’t even really know. I think the cast of characters is just really refreshing, because while the story’s setup is predictable, the characters are interesting subversions of the typical one-dimensional archetypes. Everyone’s got surprising layers and reasons for us to love AND hate them, from the prickly heroine down to her nemesis, who’s overcompensating for all her lack of self-esteem.
I love all the friendships and love triangles that cross, double, and triple-cross…it’s exactly what you want in a high school drama, complete with dance-offs. I mean, what’s with the awesome?
I’m glad we’re settled into the school now, because the backstory was necessary but dragged the thing down. We all just wanted to get here, and now that we are, it’s shaping up to be quite the addictive ride. Sometimes you just need a drama like this: one that you know will be utterly satisfying and deliver on its very simple premise.
Also, it doesn’t hurt that the boys in this drama are SO distractingly pretty. What?
- Dream High: Episode 3
- Kim Soo-hyun cleans up for Dream High
- Dream High: Episode 2
- Dream High: Episode 1
- JB and GF face off: Battle of Delusional Hopes
- Lots and lots of Dream High stills