This drama is like a breath of fresh air compared to other Kdramas I'm currently watching. Miss Korea is good but it started kind of slowly and I need to wait a few more hours for subbing so I can watch today's episode. Empress Ki is like a roller coaster and right now it's at the point of utter absurdity, more than most period dramas I have seen, and trust me, I've seen plenty. However something about this drama really hits the heart. It's simple, cute, yet there's more to it.
If I could describe this drama in one word it would be a bildungsroman. I bet some of you have your head tilted at it but it's pretty simple. A bildungsroman is a literary device that means coming-of-age. With that in mind, what better word is there when you're applying it to high schoolers. In this drama we follow a group of 6 talented kids battle it out to be a K-pop star but they need to go through many trials to get to where they want. They learn the real meaning of friendship, love, trust, importance of success, support, and the list can go on. Like I said before, it just hits the spot. The feels in this were very strong, so strong I was actually about to forget about my liking of Ok Taecyeon, but it's fine now.
Spoilers May Be Included!
Mae Suzy as Go Hye Mi
Go Hye Mi is a spoiled, rude, and conceited girl who specializes in opera singing. However she gets a rude awakening when she and her sister were both kicked out of their home. They were resorted to living with her long time enemy, Kang Oh Kyuk. She agrees on the contract her loan shark assigned her: Get into Kirin High School, sign with an agency and make her debut so she can repay her dad's debt. However her auditions didn't fall out as she expected and she was denied acceptance while her biggest fan/ sidekick/ only friend got accepted. Shortly after, she learns that she was added onto the special acceptance list and can attend only if all three are able to attend. She embarks to find one of the special kids and succeeds in finding him and convincing him to come to Seoul. Even after arriving, things are difficult for Hye Mi because of her bad start and an even worse attitude and manners.
Part of me doesn't want to write her entire story so you guys can feel it yourselves but part of me does only because I enjoyed it so much, but I decided not to. Hye Mi is really a character that you hate and find annoying, not Joffrey Baratheon hate but just strongly dislike. However as the protagonist, it's obvious that she does eventually grow and reflect on her mistakes. Once you get to see her grow and mature as a person and artist you can't help but like her. Her transformation is one of the best I've ever seen and that makes me happy. I enjoyed the fact that she learned to congratulate people for their success and not ask "why isn't that me", that she learned how to sing with emotion, heck to even express emotions. Girl was like a statue before but now she's cute and bubbly and utterly fantastic.
EunJung as Yoon Baek Hee
She was Go Hye Mi's right hand, her biggest fan, her sidekick, and only friend to where she was nicknamed "Go Hye Mi's slipper". Once she learned that Hye Mi was also auditioning at Kirin High School, she decided to follow suit and audition with her. When the school's director informed them that it was Baek Hee who was chosen over Hye Mi, she got a realization of her place and what her so called friend really thought of her. After being called third-class and talentless by her own friend, they ended their friendship and became rivals instead. Instead of being the cute and naive girl she once was, she changed and became a fame-hungry person who is willing to achieve it at all cost.
They always say that if you truly hate a character, the actor/actress portraying said character is a true star. I couldn't agree more. I'm still amazed by EunJung's superb acting and amazing voice. I understand her and the entire time I was watching this, I couldn't help but feel sympathetic for her. Part of the blame goes to everyone going headstrong against this lonely girl which resorted her to doing what she did, but the blame also goes to her for not stopping herself soon enough, but I will still go with the first option because it was just bad.
Kim Soo Hyun as Song Sam Dong
Song Sam Dong was just a simple guy country guy until he got scouted by Kirin's Director to attend under the list of special students. The second he encountered Go Hye Mi, he fell in love with her at first sight. She convinced him to come to Seoul because "She liked him", although they both knew that she only said that because he wanted to hear it. Although his father abandoned him, his supporting and loving mother allowed him to go to Seoul because she doesn't want to stop his dreams of becoming a singer and because she wants Hye Mi as her daughter in law. After arriving to Kirin, he realizes things that things will be difficult. After a much needed makeover, Sam Dong learns what his true talent is and his feelings for Hye Mi.
OH MY GOSH. Why did it take me so long to complete a drama with him? He is such a great actor, one of the best I've seen in all my Kdramas repertroire. He grabbed a hold of my heart more than anyone else in this drama and that says a lot because everyone in this drama was PERFECT. Every time he would smile and show those pearly whites, my heart melted. Every time he laughed because of his silly jokes, my heart melted even more. But the second he starts crying and doubting himself and everyone around him, I'm just a mess. I never know what to do, okay I just want to go into this drama and hug him. I loved how sweet and gullible he was. I feel like out of all the characters, his was raw, and that makes this drama that much better. Even though he didn't have any experience with singing or dancing, I admired the fact that he pushed himself and went above and beyond for months to prepare for this drama and it was worth the dedication. I enjoyed his relationship with Hye Mi because it was so relaxing and came naturally but once devastation hits, you can see how much these two care for each other without even knowing. AH, so perfect.
Ok Taecyeon as Hyun Shi Hyuk "Jin Gook"
Jin Gook was just a teenage guy living on the streets who would consider himself lucky if he even got a pack of ramyun a day. After being scouted by Kirin's director, he decided to go for it and attend. Although he appears homeless, we learn that his father is actual a candidate for the current presidential or mayorial elections. In order to prevent him from embarrassing him, his father decided to send him away to study abroad. In an act of defiance, he decided to perform in the schools first showcase of the year so he can debut, making it difficult for him to disappear as all of Seoul would be wondering what happened to him and would look up his past. After his debut, he lost his closest friends, Hye Mi and Sam Dong. We will see him reflect on his mistakes and try to win back his friends and Hye Mi's heart.
Taec oppa! Why do you do this to me? Why must you make me hate you with your character? I couldn't stand his character after his debut and that broke my heart. He is the black knight of the show. He's always there for those around him and will always protect them. You don't understand the feeling of not liking taec oppa because of what his character did, it was miserable. I'll be fine as long as I look up pictures of him and Gui Gui. Every time he would say he only knows Korean, I would laugh because everyone clearly knows that he's also fluent in English; silly boy, you can't trick your fanbase. Although his acting was decent compared to others I didn't mind because everyone else's made up for it. He is just so adorkable with those funky ears of his isn't he?
IU as Kim Pil Sook
Kim Pil Sook is just the sweetest girl ever and always has a smile on her face. She's embarrassed of her weight, when she was overweight, so she auditioned in a sushi suit. Although she dressed silly, she passed her audition because she's super talented, duh. Because of her weight, it was difficult for her to follow along in her dance courses so she was put into the preparatory class with Hye Mi, Jin Gook, and Sam Dong. At Kirin she meets a boy who treats her nicely causing her to fall head over heels over him. He would always open the door for her, smile at her when they greet and in return she would leave him lollipops on his locker and was his biggest fan. However, before his tour, she confessed her feelings and got friendzoned, bad I tell you, despite the hours at the karaoke bar together. He told her he was nice to her out of manners. She challenged him that after 200 days she will lose 30 kg and make him fall for her. Once he came back she lost interest in him. It wasn't because she became vain or anything, she's not like that, but she finds out he's just a guy who wants to have fun and has no goals or ambitions. She feels it was a waste for her to torture herself to lose weight for someone with no ambitions.
She's so adorable!! Agh my heart. I want to see more of her. I loved how honest, sweet, and bubbly she is. I love the fact the despite her big transformation she still remained true to herself but actually became better! How is that possible? The world needs more IU and Kim Pil Sook to bring smiles to our faces. Although this was her first drama, she was a natural. I can't wait to know more about her and dive into her works.
WooYoung as Jason
Jason is a talented guy who specializes in dancing but don't be fooled because he's just as great of a singer. He applied to Kirin High School and passed his auditions. Although he is well mannered he is a cocky person and cares about him limelight than others. Because of his manners he caused Kim Pil Sook to fall in love with him but after her confession, she learns he doesn't reciprocate the same feelings and is only a friend to him. After with tour with Group K, he comes back and finds out Pil Sook looks like a completely different person. However she lost interest in him. After his time back he learns the importance of allowing others to get what they deserve and that he's not the only talented guy. Without knowing it he slowly falls for Pil Sook in this process.
JASON! JASON! JASON! He's great. I love his acting, his random slurs of English, his voice, his smiles, and everything about him. I'm glad that Kim Pil Sook came into his life and gave him a wake up call that he needs to have goals and ambitions instead of just going with the flow. Without her, he wouldn't have changed for the better and try to pursue his dreams. He's so adorable. He and IU has the greatest chemistry ever. I love how their love started with it's cute one sided elementary school style love but changed into something more mature. I love how jealous he gets when she's with someone else gets but it gets cuter when she's jealous when he's with other girls. Oh, young love is great isn't it? You'll love him as much as I do.
Uhm Ki Joon as Kang Oh Hyuk
Kang Oh Hyuk is a teacher at Kirin High School who is on the brink of losing his job because for the past three years his students have been having the lowest points. Before his dismissal, the Director of Kirin saves him by assigning him a special task: he must find the three special acceptance kids and get them to come to Kirin willingly. Of course he succeeds in doing so. Before the Director left, he put these students under the attentive care of teacher Kang. Unlike many teachers he went above and beyond for these kids for they cam pursue their dreams and even provided Hye Mi, Hye Sung (Hye Mi's younger sister), Jin Gook, and Sam Dong a place to live without paying for anything.
Safe to say that he's the best character in this show. As a teacher, you are suppose to point your students into the directions towards their dream and he does that. At first everyone was hesitant of his character because here we have a guy who is about to lose his job and is a third party who broke apart a family. However through the course of this entire show, we learn that he's more than that. No teacher would put their house up for a collateral to help pay for one of his student's debt. No teacher would put up a showcase just so his students' parents won't be disappointed in them. No teacher would allow four kids to live at their house at no charge and even paid for their school trips, medical bills, the whole nine yards. Teachers like him make people believe that there are still good people in this world, someone who can provide hope for these lost kids. He has all the best lines. As a teacher he really knew all the right things to say and do to make his students follow the right path. You see that as a teacher he is also learning from his students. I love his character and I sincerely wish they would write more characters like him. During the absence of all the parents, he was a good nurturing and loving person who would be there for them. I love the fact that in every dire situation these kids would always go to him for advice, support, and his help. Sorry, I'm kinda choking up as I write this but his character is just so damn good. I hope that when you get a chance to watch this you will admire his character.
Park Jin Young as Yang Jin Man
Jin Man was a guy who was barely living by and was selling his instruments just so he can propose to his girlfriend. We all know that for an artist to sell their instrument is like selling an organ or a limb. When he was negotiating, his girl friend was consistently calling and he had to hang up but after a while she never picked up anymore and left. Now that his life is in slumps things change when the Director of Kirin offers him a job as the English Teacher at Kirin. He accepts but soon learns that Kang Oh Hyuk works there too. They have a bad past for reasons you can find out. After the many times Teacher Kang asks him for help he slowlys helps the students more and more.
Teacher Yang was the comic relief for this show. I love how nonchalant and silly he was. JYP seems like the man though. He owns JYP Entertainment, signs most of the K-Pop stars, created this drama and stars in it. He's ballin' I tell you, I bow down to your awesomeness. I just wish his girlfriend came back but at least he has a job now.
Lee Yoon-Ji as Shi Kyung Jin
Teacher Shi studied dancing in the United States and now she works at Kirin as a dance and voice specialist teacher. She appears ruthless but like any teacher she wishes her students can succeed if they're capable enough. However her teaching ways don't work out well with student Yoon Baek-Hee and eventually created a monster out of her.
I enjoyed Teacher Shi. She's beautiful and I find it funny that she got a mini-me when Baek Hee got a haircut that looks like her. I feel bad for her because she didn't mean for her student to turn out to the worst. Like everyone else she is learning to. All she really wants is recognition by her students despite bringing most of them fame. She sounds bad here but she's actually really good.
Lee Byung Joon as Principal Shi Bum Soo
He was the former Art's Director but then got promoted to Principal by the Director of Kirin. He serves as the main antagonist of the show making things difficult for Teacher Kang and his students.
I didn't mind him, his character serves a very good purpose. I do however mind some of his wardrobe choices. He can be funny at times, especially the end, but it's all cool.
Bae Yoon Joon as President Jung Ha-Myung "The Director"
He returns to Kirin after being away for three years in China to focus on his other works. When he comes back he causes a stir by having open auditions and creating a special acceptance list for students he knows who can make it. Before he leaves again, he promoted the Arts Director to the principal position and left the special acceptance students under Teacher Kang's protection.
Ahn Gil Kang as Ma Doo Shik
He is a loan shark that forced Hye Mi and Hye Sung out onto the streets and their father to run away. He composed a contract with Hye Mi that she must go to Kirin, sign a contract and debut so she can pay back her dad's debt once he sees she's musically gifted. When the students encounter troubling obstacles he would provide his unwanted assistance and do whatever it takes for them to debut.
I LOL at his character. Never will you encounter a loan shark like him. He keeps the show alive with his funny antics and behavior. I find it odd that he would constantly visit the school but what evs. It's interesting that this loan shark has a heart and soft spot for these kids and eventually changes his career because of them.
I sincerely enjoyed this drama. I feel like it has given me hope that there are still good K-dramas out there. I was constantly eager to watch the next episode and the next and so on and so forth. I enjoyed the fact that this opened me up to a new world of talent and that is never a bad thing, being introduced to fresh faces. As much as I loved every couple, my favorite was Jason and Kim Pil Sook's. Their relationship was cute and quirky like teenage love should be. It was easy going and made me giggle and a school girl. I enjoyed the songs and dancing they did and of course it would be good. My only comment would primarily be on the ending. I hated the ending. It was soooo good but I wish they had five more minutes to provide a complete ending. I hated the fact that everyone was at Hye Mi's 100th concert except for him. They can't leave the ending at that and expect me to be happy. How can they do something so heart-wrenching and leave it where they did. Do they not remember how much those two went through together? Why did they give them a incomplete ending and ruin me and control my feelings like that? I don't support that ending in any way what so ever. I cried and cried like a baby when Hye Mi sang Switchfoot's Only Hope. Her pronunciation was amazing and had the same effect that Mandy Moore left me. The fact that her singing caused me to be a complete wreck means she did well. Like I said before, her character's transformation is truly the best and did a complete 180 from where she started from.
I hope reading will encourage you to watch this awesome drama. Please feel free to leave me comments, I would love to hear your opinions!
Cue the Cameos!