“WHAT’S UP” – FUN, ADDICTING, UNFINISHED

May 1, 2014 | 1695 Visits

JAE-HUN (LIM JU-HWAN) AND TAE-YI (KIM JI-WON) IN "WHAT'S UP"/DRAMA FEVER

JAE-HUN (LIM JU-HWAN) AND TAE-YI (KIM JI-WON) IN “WHAT’S UP”/DRAMA FEVER

While many great new K-Dramas exist, sometimes a nostalgia trip is in order to visit dramas forgotten over time.
2011-2012’s musical drama “What’s Up” was the ticket. With melodrama, music and relatable characters, the initial story captivated. Toward the end, abrupt shifts caused one to scream “what’s up!?”
The drama follows several first-year musical students trying to find success. “What’s Up” feels like a Korean version of “Fame” with the individual subplots. Each student has to overcome hardship: Do-Sung (Big Bang’s Daesung) and Doo-Ri (Lim Ju-Eun) search for identities outside family secrets and expectations; Jae-Hun (Lim Ju-Hwan) wants to escape his criminal past; Tae-Yi (Kim Ji-Won) remains haunted by her father’s death; Byung-Gun (Cho Jung-Seok) battles stage fright; and Chae-Young’s (Jang Hee-Jin) star faded long ago.
Each character’s growth made the plot realistic. It was like watching close friends find their identities.
Two storylines shined: Jae-Hun and Tae-Yi’s sadness-marred romance and Doo-Ri and teacher Sunwoo’s
(Oh Man-Seok)
ill-fated, one-sided love. The series’ writers excelled since both stories brought a good share of laughter and tears given Tae-Yi’s sweet awkwardness and Doo-Ri obsessive tendencies.
However, Do-Sung and Chae-Young’s plots felt incomplete. Writers needed to focus more on why Do-Sung had to hide his identity and deny he’s his mother’s son. With Chae-Young, viewers can assume the entertainment industry treated her poorly, but this doesn’t explain her manipulative tendencies.
One questionable inclusion was Cho Jung-Seok’s Byung-Gun. Byung-Gun served as comic. His scenes felt irritating since his humor came across as forced, but that might be the character’s personality. His inclusion may be good for viewers who can relate to his fears, but the writers could have done more with him than a few great

“TWO STORYLINES SHINED: JAE-HUN AND TAE-YI’S SADNESS-MARRED ROMANCE AND DOO-RI AND TEACHER SUNWOO’S (OH MAN-SEOK)
ILL-FATED,
ONE-SIDED LOVE.”

“WHAT’S UP” HAD MANY MUSICAL TRIUMPHS. EACH SONG HAD MEANING AND MOVED THE PLOT FORWARD, ADDING A FUN ELEMENT”

CHO JUNG-SEOK AS BYUNG-GUN/DRAMA FEVER

CHO JUNG-SEOK AS BYUNG-GUN/DRAMA FEVER

telling her parents’ story to Jae-Hun. Doo-Ri’s cover of Four Non-Blonde’s “What’s Going On” may seem out of place, but it makes sense in setting up a poignant scene with Sunwoo viewers may not soon forget.
The showstopper, however, was Tae-Yi and Byung-Gun’s cover of Laura Pausini’s “It’s Not Goodbye.” The actors portrayed the emotion in the song, making it undeniably haunting. The song set the bar high for the others in the drama. Sadly, while the other songs were great, they did not reach the epic level of “It’s Not Goodbye.”
“What’s Up” was intended to be a multi-season drama but was dropped after not having a network or a timeslot. This issue caused the series to suffer since there are many loose ends, especially given Chae-Young’s and Do-Sung’s deal and the sparks Tae-Yi and Jae-Hun had despite two massive obstacles in their way. The last two episodes felt like there was a huge “to be continued” sign looming overhead. But, it seems the audience will never know what could have been.
Overall, strong acting, great songs and good writing make “What’s Up” an unforgettable drama. However, it would be nice to have some closure for the stories that began the final two episodes. “What’s Up” is a rough diamond, but well worth the time to get involved.
Despite weak points, writers did well with character development and casting.
Lim Ju-Hwan’s Jae-Hun was perfect. His skills made the ex-criminal sympathetic. Equal parts bad boy and sweetheart, Jae-Hun wore his heart on his sleeve when conning and caring about people. Lim Ju-Hwan transitioned to each complex side of Jae-Hun with ease. When paired with Kim Ji-Won’s Tae-Yi, magic happens.
Kim and Lim Ju-Hwan have amazing chemistry. They have the ability to be cute together, yet, the agonizing heartbreak they experience can tear a person apart. It’s easy to root for these two considering how much Jae-Hun and Tae-Yi grew up when they realize one tragic night tied their fates together.
The same can be said about Lim Ju-Eun’s Doo-Ri and Oh Man-Seok’s Sunwoo. Lim Ju-Eun perfects Doo-Ri’s wild-eyed look and emotional neediness in a borderline creepy way. Her need to be loved is evident, but her desperate attempts like camping out at Sunwoo’s place may make viewers cringe.
Oh portrays Sunwoo’s drunken stupor and obstinate but wise nature effortlessly. Combined, Doo-Ri and Sunwoo are oil and water, but this makes their interactions more believable.
One questionable inclusion was Cho Jung-Seok’s Byung-Gun. Byung-Gun served as comic. His scenes felt irritating since his humor came across as forced, but that might be the character’s personality. His inclusion may be good for viewers who can relate to his fears, but the writers could have done more with him than a few great songs and weak story.
“What’s Up” had many musical triumphs. Each song had meaning and moved the plot forward, adding a fun element. Tae-Yi’s “Stupid Cupid,” for example, did a nice job telling her parents’ story to Jae-Hun. Doo-Ri’s cover of Four Non-Blonde’s “What’s Going On” may seem out of place, but it makes sense in setting up a poignant scene with Sunwoo viewers may not soon forget.
The showstopper, however, was Tae-Yi and Byung-Gun’s cover of Laura Pausini’s “It’s Not Goodbye.” The actors portrayed the emotion in the song, making it undeniably haunting. The song set the bar high for the others in the drama. Sadly, while the other songs were great, they did not reach the epic level of “It’s Not Goodbye.”
“What’s Up” was intended to be a multi-season drama but was dropped after not having a network or a timeslot. This issue caused the series to suffer since there are many loose ends, especially given Chae-Young’s and Do-Sung’s deal and the sparks Tae-Yi and Jae-Hun had despite two massive obstacles in their way. The last two episodes felt like there was a huge “to be continued” sign looming overhead. But, it seems the audience will never know what could have been.
Overall, strong acting, great songs and good writing make “What’s Up” an unforgettable drama. However, it would be nice to have some closure for the stories that began the final two episodes. “What’s Up” is a rough diamond, but well worth the time to get involved.

“WHAT’S UP.” IS A ROUGH DIAMOND, BUT WELL WORTH THE TIME TO GET INVOLVED”

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