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[One True Pairings] Rainy days, dreamy knights


Dream High

By @yjgclone

OTPs are hard to measure for me, but they should leave that mark like, “Ah… I love that series because the main couple really stood out.” Even if the drama direction was bad or the writing was less than excellent, an outstanding OTP will use every resource it has, even if it is just chemistry, to lure the viewers into a romance.

Flashback to 2005, when I was just a grade-schooler, and our local television was invaded by dramas from Korea. There was this one drama that totally hooked my attention and eventually become my classic favorite—Full House. It was about a quirky young lady who signed a marriage contract with a Hallyu star to get her own house back. I can still remember the nights we stopped everything we were doing just to tune into the drama. My family enjoyed every laugh, and our hearts fluttered for the chemistry between the actors.


Full House

Years after, during college, I tried to rewatch the series again for old time’s sake. As an engineering university student whose degree relied on math and logic (or maybe, just as an adult), I felt that the plot challenged my intellectuality. I was actually surprised as to how this series was able to become a rom-com classic. But I came to understand that the secret to the series’ success truly lies in its OTP. It was its bread and butter, its backbone and the reason for its existence. The couple’s bickering moments defined the standard for how romantic comedies should be made.


Full House

Their comedic timing was also more than impressive. Who can forget how Song Hye-gyo’s character performed the “Three Bears Song” for her in-laws? Years later when I saw behind-the-scenes clips, I cracked up at how Rain couldn’t help but laugh at Song Hye-gyo’s joyous dance. Their bed scene was also worth mentioning. Every time there is a scene in a movie or drama where someone dares to kiss another for the sake of getting something, I still remember this couple fighting for their bed. Full House was just a pioneer of the genre of contract relationships and they delivered so well, but without the “psychotic” and “bird brain,” I very much doubt they would’ve been able to reach that status.


Dream High

Fast-forward to 2011, when a new series became crack to teenagers and catered to my Korean drama needs. Dream High managed to redefine its genre and somehow changed people’s views on K-pop stars being a part of dramaland. The musical journey of Go Hye-mi (Suzy) finding emotions (and acting skills) plus the beautiful and tragic success of Song Sam-dong (Kim Soo-hyun) and their endgame were some of the reasons they are one of my favorite OTPs. While fans were divided between Taecyon and Kim Soo-hyun, I was rooting all the way for Sam-dong.

The series presented an innocent love-at-first-sight and hate-at-first-sight setup, and their opposite characterizations complemented each other. I also thank the drama gods that despite the childhood connection between Hye-mi and Jin-gook, Sam-dong’s ship sailed at the end even with the vagueness of its future. It was really a huge struggle to fight a long history of childhood sweethearts, but the relationship and connection between Hye-mi and Sam-dong was so profound, despite the series having to cater to a lot of plotlines going on for each character.


Dream High

Sam-dong’s affection for Hye-mi was limitless. He did not get angry with her even when she was throwing a fit at him. He was more than willing to save Hye-mi when everyone was bullying her, and I felt so sad when Sam-dong had to witness the ferris wheel scene between Jin-gook and Hye-mi. Even though there was a lot of pain and misery for him, he still followed and protected Hye-mi at all times.

And episodes later, Hye-mi did not give up on him when Sam-dong lost his sense of hearing onstage. I swear, my face was so tearfully messy while watching that scene. For me, Sam-dong was a swoony knight in shining armor in an innocent young teenager, while Hye-mi was a damsel in distress who refused any saving. And if I may add, Hye-mi and Baek-hee’s friends-turned-enemies-turned-friends relationship was also a powerful all-girl OTP. It was not a romance, but their rivalry was compelling and relatable.


Dream High

How can a series be so cheesy and compelling, yet not intellectually absurd? This was my reaction after watching Queen In-hyun’s Man. Props to the writer for making the male lead as scholarly as he should be. The female lead also had a brain, unlike some drama heroines (and she was hilariously manipulative).

The plot setup was so plain, yet it was not empty. Sixteen episodes were filled by an uncountable number of smooches (another breakthrough for a K-drama). There were also no big romantic conflicts from the third-wheeling characters. They played as accessory to the couple’s love story instead. While the couple’s chemistry was off the charts, the show capitalized on it sufficiently but did not abusively milk it.


Queen In-hyun’s Man

Instead, the moving plotline filled this need. When sudden amnesia for everyone occurs due to the bending of time and reality, their short onscreen separations cost the couple’s lingering feelings to look like a hundred years of waiting. The show was intentionally cheesy, but that doesn’t mean that someone has to turn off their brain in order to enjoy it.

While defining the best OTP is a difficult thing to do, one thing is sure—it does not need to be a love against all odds. An OTP can simply be a spark that ignites the flames to warm the audience’s hearts.


Queen In-hyun’s Man

 
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I love this. Especially the part about Dream High. I love love love Sam Dong's sincerity and devotion, and years later, remained to be one of my favorite male drama characters. And no matter how cliche running-after-the-bus/car-your-beloved-is, Sam Dong's scene always gets me emotional. And then when he realized Hyemi was chasing after him and wasn't actually on the bus made me laugh and cry.

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Thank you for your writing, @yjgclone!

Queen In-hyung's Man is one of my all-time favorite dramas. I find the romance so compelling that when they were separated and he was starting to lose all hopes to ever return to her, I experienced my first and only K-drama ugly bawl, with actual sobbing noise like one may see in dramas. So in the end I cared very little about the absurd way that they were brought back together. I was just overflowed with joy that they were in each other's embrace again.

Kim Boong-Do is still one of the swooniest male lead for me -intelligent therefore adorably nerdy, steadfast therefore constant in his affection, fastidious therefore attentive as a lover, serious but flirty as heck. Also he can yield a sword, ride a horse, and writes the best letters.

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Let me also add he was genuinely a good natured person....not some channel jerk..with a trauma...having a change of heart after meeting the girl.....no one has topped him in my list till now....😍

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Chaebol ...stupid auto correct

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The moment he decides to give up his Joseon life in order to be with his girl.....swoon.....

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QIHM is one of my all time favs... they were so cute (and REAL) together, they just broke my heart -- and thanks for pointing out that they did not have that third party backstabbing/conniving to be a wedge or worm his/her way in between them. i didn't even realize that as i just enjoyed their romantic journey...
; )

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@yjgclone,

QUEEN IN-HYUN'S MAN is the only one of the shows I've seen, and I'm glad you included it. I love the soundtrack, and the delicious absurdities of Kim Boong-do materializing in the middle of Hanyang on his horse owing to a talisman. Thanks for including that photo of the queen in her Joseon regalia -- although I'm still not quite sure how she actually could sit in the driver's seat with her towering wig. LOL! This cable drama not only delivered many smooches, but the first believable ones in my Kdrama watching career. There were no dead fish in this show! ;-)

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the smooching was so real, the OTP actually dated in real life after that !! (and broke up later, but that's a whole 'nother story)

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I was aware of the real life sequel. No wonder the smooches were so convincing.

Later I read that Ji Hyun-woo had been a rock guitarist for 10 years, and looked up his music. He's really good. "Love Fool" by The Nuts is one of my Kpop faves. I posted it on my fan wall. Too bad they didn't have him do one of the OSTs. ;-)

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Hi @pakalanapikake! How are you, my friend? Watching any dramas?
Smooches can make or break a drama. There's nothing more annoying than the guy kissing a pair of joyless lips clamped so tight in a face so tense and blank it destroys all the romance that has been building up to The Kiss, and colors every romantic moment after that. Man to Man and My Princess come to mind.

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* jumps for joy *

So glad to see you, @yy! I'm slightly hibernating on a snowy day in New Jersey. ;-)

What are you watching these days? I hope we cross paths in a recap thread.

I couldn't agree more about unenthusiastic smooches. MAN TO MAN. Too bad, because I really like the actress. It's not her fault. I chalk it up to the director. Maybe those were examples of the Kiss Of Plausible Deniability. ;-)

I've been watching fewer current dramas, but I've been making up for it in intensity. Recently finished MAWANG / THE DEVIL / THE LUCIFER (2007) -- at the excellent suggestion of buddies @linda-palapala and Tom from the BECAUSE THIS LIFE IS OUR FIRST recap threads. Totally epic and satisfying, with a memorable OST and performances by Uhm Tae-woong, Shin Min-a, and Ju Ji-hoon in a solid cast that navigates a byzantine plot. I had no idea I'd like a revenge drama, but there's more to this morality tale than meets the eye. Live-watched MONEY FLOWER for Jang Hyuk in another epic revenge drama with a topnotch cast and incredibly beautiful instrumental OST -- daebak! Also live-watched MYSTERIOUS IL-SEUNG, which had some fine, nuanced acting and a split personality. (Kudos to Yoon Kyun-sang & Kim Hee-won as Inspector Park.) Also, TWO COPS, which I enjoyed for Jo Jung-seok's dual role (he was fantastic playing detective Dong-tak hosting Kim Sun-ho's disembodied spirit) and the karmic bromance between the cop and the con man.

Am currently live-watching HWAYUGI, but take my time with the recaps and commenting. I'm enjoying it a lot. Lee Seung-gi is having a blast with this role. For me, Zombie Girl has stolen the show. At the half-way point, Monkey delivers the romantic goods in spades, but Sun-mi is so conflicted about the bracelet that it turns her side of the relationship into yet another burden foisted upon her by the capricious gods.

Am about to start RADIO ROMANCE. I loved Yoon Doo-joon in the LET'S EAT dramas, and he looks terrific in hanbok. I was a college FM radio jock myself, so it'll be fun to see what gives in the studio in Korea nowadays.

I'm teetering on the brink of JUST BETWEEN LOVERS at the behest of Linda P. and Tom, who raved about it.

Looking forward to:

* Shin Dong-wook's upcoming cop show, LIVE, on tvN in March following HWAYUGI.

* SHOULD WE KISS FIRST for Kam Woo-sung and Kim Sun-ah, which I anticipate will be dandy for those of us of a certain age. I fully expect to see realistic, swoon-worthy smooches.

* GRAND PRINCE with Yoon Si-yoon. I'm jonesing for a good sageuk since THE KING LOVES, and enjoyed his performance in MIRROR OF THE WITCH.

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Dream high has a special place in my heart ❤

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I agree ~ that OTP was so pure, I watched it because I heard they were not supposed to be endgame initially, and I wanted to see a couple that felt so right even as a second lead that he had to get the girl in the end. I wasn't disappointed. ^_^

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I wonder if the writer actually changed the trajectory when she saw how many viewers were swooning over Sam Dong? Taec was certainly initially set up to look like the first lead (childhood fated love and more screen time with Suzy in the first few episodes).

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That’s what I heard happen, and I believe it from the set up ~ Taecyeon was all set up in the first half of the show to be gruff leading guy, and Sam Dong to be pure hearted second lead whose ending is to become a famous musician. But you can see when he became the end game, because suddenly Sam Dong gets really angsty, and more screen time than Taecyeon. They cut his hair, give him piercings and a refusal to talk through things, you know, all the trappings of a lead for a musical kdrama. 😅😘😉

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Hahaha @"refusal to talk through things" 🤣🤣🤣
I feel a little bad for Taecyeon as an actor to have the spotlight repeatedly stolen from him, i.e. Dream High, Rescue Me., but KSH and WDH are such undeniable tour-de-force!

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Oh, you’re kidding! You must watch Dream High! But yes, I love QIHM.

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QIHM is my all time fave OTP. They were sizzling because their chemistry was real. It was also such a fantastic drama although the ending is debatable. It got me in the heart and soul. It’s just sad they broke up. They are a benchmark for otp that no one has topped— maybe only Bong Bong and Min Min.

Bong and Min were also swoony together. Haven’t felt that way for a otp since QIHM. I love that he loves her for who she is and didn’t feel he gets emasculated by her. They were so cute together. I’m shipping them so bad.

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Bong Soon & Min Hyuk were cute.
the QIHM OTP were s e x y !
lol

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QIHM is also my all time fave OTP.
I even cried when Boong-Do were trying to take his own life and Hee-Jin explainably felt sad & cried... it was such a powerful scene...

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Queen In-Hyun's Man is one of my all time favorite dramas. I agree that it has a great OTP.

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QIHM has a top spot in my heart as far as OTPs go. Great chemistry and, of course, great kisses. As you mentioned, I especially liked that they weren't ever driven part by other meddling characters (second leads, parents, etc.). That was super refreshing to see.

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Full House was hilarious. I still remember all the laughs.

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Gah I love Dream High. There hasn't been a high school drama since that could ever replace it in my heart.

What I absolutely adore about it was that it was it just a love story. It wasn't just about who Hye-mi would choose and who'd end up with who. It was about these young kids chasing their dreams, faltering numerous times along the way, even travelling the wrong road and how in the end, they find their way back to what they truly love - music.

But back to the OTP - oh my god I shipped Sam-dong and Hye-mi like I've never shipped any other. Maybe it's simply because I've never indulged myself in any other drama that could potentially have a different end game than what I'd expect. I didn't see any of the Reply series live, and in School 2015, I thought it was dead obvious who'll get the girl.

Sam-dong and Hye-mi were just so perfectly right for each other. She was the brash, brave and popular one. He was the innocent, naive and honest one. Yet in her there's a girl who was a bit afraid. And in him, there's a guy who wanted to save her despite it coming across as she saved him. It's such a beautiful relationship and one that truly encompasses what it means to be equal despite it looking so lopsided.

I'll always love these two. And since it's 2018, I'm sure they're getting engaged somewhere. They probably had ups and downs and probably broke up once or twice. But there was something about these kids that convinced me they were each other's end game right till the very end ❤️

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Suzy and Kim Soo-hyun really shined as Hye-mi and Sam-dong, really a OTP

...and now I really want to rewatch Queen In-hyun's Man

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I’ve only seen QIHM of the ones you’ve mentioned, but loved that OTP to pieces. Or maybe I just loved the premise of a love spanning hundreds of years and Kim Boong-Do slaying it in hanbok on horseback.

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now this wanna make me rewatch dream high! love sam dong

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This post brought so much memories. I particularly loved QHIM more than dream high, but both the shows has something which made me go back down the memory lane.

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aaaawwww late reaction but I admittedly teared up a bit reading this especially around the Full House part.it is still in my personal Top 10 list, in my Top 10 kdramas to rewatch it. This OTP still works for me,until now even if it is too dated by our current kdrama standards.

And Queen In-Hyun's Man will always be ONE OF THE MOST ROMANTIC KDRAMAS for me, that I sometimes felt I was taking a peak at our OTP's private time.

thank you for sharing and great writing!

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Yes, the OTP of KIM SOO-HYUN and SUZY in DREAM HIGH was really one of the most unforgettable pairings I’ve ever watched. Their chemistry also made their scenes together as well as the songs they sung so heartbreakingly memorable 😎

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My only otp in this article was Samdong and Hyemi. I feel like my otps are never about the chemistry between actors, but how their characters treated each other and what they mean to each other.

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