Though this drama recently started, the hype surrounding it has existed for far longer. Along with the fact that the drama stars some big name idols, I decided to give the drama a try. The following is thus a recap of what occurred in the episode, as well as my reflection.
The episode begins with a newscast detailing how Korean superstar K has just been presented with a prestigious Grammy Award. The newscast then interviews a man with an, as far as we know, undefined, relationship to K as he nostalgically looks at a photo and begins narrating the mystical idea of fate using a billiards metaphor. We are then introduced to the billiards—or more appropriately, fates—in question.
Hye Mi (Bae Su-Ji), a talented soprano, seems to have it all. Despite her proud exterior, Hye Mi is on the run from loan sharks that demand she pay her father’s debt. Unwilling to forsake her pride, she is forced to audition for Kirin Art School where the loan sharks plan to exploit her well known vocal talent in order to pay for the loan. But she finally has to swallow her pride when the Director of Kirin Art School refuses her admission and she must resort to begging.
Baek Hee (Ham Eun-Jung) is Hye Mi’s best friend. But when she admits to enjoy being called Hye Mi’s follower and wishes to follow Hye Mi to Kirin Art School, it’s clear that Baek Hee is really Hye Mi’s follower, a position that Hye Mi doesn’t really mind taking advantage of. However, at the audition Baek Hee stuns everyone, including herself, when she is selected by Kirin Art School and Hye Mi is not. Baek Hee is also stunned when Hye Mi shows her true colors, essentially backstabbing Baek Hee when she trashes Baek Hee’s singing and declares her audition has no connection with her audition.
Jin Gook (Ok Taec-Yeon), on the other hand, seems to come from the other side of the tracks. He hangs out with wannabe thieves and in a break-dancing lair. But he seems to have a good heart, especially when he saves Hye Mi’s wallets from his friend’s klepto hands and gives her his shoes.
These three are brought together by Kirin Art School, headed by Jung Ha-Myoung (Bae Young-Jun). Having discovered many changes to the school that occurred in his absence, Ha-Myoung seeks to bring changes to the school with start off with auditions personally conducted by him.
Things I Liked-
- T-ara’s Eun Jung and 2PM’s Taecyeon surprise me. They are not rookies to the acting scene but having never seen their acting before, I was pleasantly surprised. Eun Jung is a scene stealer, winning my heart with her presentation of a friend who we all wish we had, sans the submissiveness. As for Taecyeon, though he is type casted as a bad boy, as Jin Gook he presents a bad boy with a noble side.
- Kirin Art School is essentially a school for idol trainees. I’m looking forward to the possible insights that the drama can give into the life of a trainee.
- The Cameos. And I’m not just talking about Kim Hyun Joong. Though it was overdramatic, the appearance of excerpts from the Kill Bill Volume 1 Soundtrack provided LOLs.
- As the introduction suggests, I like the idea of fate and how lives are brought together by seemingly random events. From Amores Perros to Babel, I’ve been a big fan of this kind of story and I’ve seen it begin to unfold in the first episode. I’m curious to see as to where it will go.
- The Characters. It’s only the first episode so I can’t really tell but from what I see of some of the characters, I like them. My particular favorites: Baek Hee, Jin Gook, Ha Myung, Oh Hyeok, Hye Sung (Hye Mi’s little sister), and Pil-Suk (aka, IU in a marshmallow suit).
- The audition scene. At the audition, we are introduced to a variety of talents–the English of Jason (Jang Woo-Young), to a hilarious trot rendition of Lee Hyori’s “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” to IU (who plays Kim Pil-Suk) in a marshmallow costume. I don’t think I can put my finger on a specific instance, but it was all great. I loved it. Highlight of the episode.
Things I Don’t Like:
- The sloppy production. The beginning sequence, with the newscast, the use of stock footage and voice over is obvious. I don’t expect production to take us to the Grammy’s but really? And then, in the sequence where Hye Mi is pushed around by the crowd, Jin Gook saves her wallet, and we get Hye Mi screaming about Kirin Art School…what kind of an edit is THAT?Also, I can see the camera and boom mike reflection more than a couple of times.
- Some things don’t make any sense to me. Why would a father leave his two daughters at home by themselves with loan sharks running around? Why is it that Jin Gook’s friend is rushing to the bathroom, but when he trips over Jason’s feet he isn’t in a rush anymore? Why is this marshmallow mascot at the audition?
- Oh, Suzy. It’s her first time so I will cut her some slack but I can’t say I liked her acting very much. Her eyes tend to be dead and she lacks the ability to make me believe, like in the singing sequences when she opens her mouth widely enough to say something to someone across the room, not to project to a massive theatre. But I can tell she’s trying. Hopefully, she’ll get better as the show goes on.
- Go Hye-Mi. Korean dramas and mangas are known for having strong female characters. I’m not sure if this is what Hye Mi is supposed to embody but she just comes off as stubborn, dumb, and therefore annoying. Was kicking Oh Hyeok’s mirror really necessary? Would anyone in their right mind would rather get into the car of a loan shark, someone who demanded that you repay a loan with your body, than let her friend know that she is having financial issues? And then, when the debt depends on her getting into this school, which depends on Ha Myoung accepting her, she’s going to bash him left and right? What. The. Duck. But you know what, I’m hoping she has a turn around. I saw Boys Before Flowers and trust me, I don’t necessarily want to see Geum Jan Di 2.0.
Final Verdict: I’m going to continue watching for Baek Hee, Jin Gook, and to see where the drama goes but I really hope production becomes cleaner, things make more sense, Suzy grows as an actress, and someone gives Hye Mi a reality check.