"Obeodeo Reinbou" (direct translation / Korean loan words)
No of episodes
Ji Hyun Woo as Kwon Hyuk-joo
Suh Ji Hye as Ma Sang-mi
Hwan Hee as Rex / Rae Woo
Kim Ok Bin as Jung Hee-soo
Im Ha Ryong as Kwon Sang-bok (Hyuk-joo's dad)
Kim Hye Ok as Lee Mi-ja (Hyuk-joo's mom)
Na Hye Mi as Kwon Ji-hye (Hyuk-joo's younger sister)
Shin Hyun Tak as Oh Young-dal (Hyuk-joo's friend)
* Thanks to koreanwiz.org for the full cast list
Hyuk-joo is a poor high school student not doing much with his life until he encounters Hee-soo, the only daughter of a wealthy widowed man who aspires to become a dancer/singer. Through Hee-soo's inspiration, Hyuk-joo and his friends learn to dance, and form a dance group called Gangsters. Predictably, Hee-soo and Hyuk-joo fall in love, only to have Hee-so's ambition for fame end their relationship.
Rae-woo becomes a famous pop icon known as Rex but suffers from a frosty relationship with the Director of his record company, who wants to dictate everything about his career including the artistic direction of his albums and private life. Rex and Hyuk-joo have some past beef that returns when Gangsters auditions to be Rex's back dancers and also when Rex becomes interested in Hee-soo. Pushed by her ambition, Hee-soo breaks up with Hyuk-joo and tells Rex that she has feelings for him. By that time, Rex sees right through Hee-soo for her ulterior motives and rejects her. She then becomes determined to become a singer known for her vocals, though her talent in the area leaves much to be desired. As a result, the Director of her record company (Pride, the same as Rex's) only allows her to keep a 'sexy style' image.
The second female lead of this series is Sang Mi, one of Rex's fans who has followed his career from his debut. Sang Mi is a poor girl who works in the market, and encounters Rex when he accidentally hits her with his car. Instead of taking compensation money, Sang Mi asks to be a dance trainee at Pride. There, she befriends Hyuk-joo and the other Gangsters members. She later becomes Rex's assistant and even wins his heart... but in true Asian series style, she obviously falls in love with Hyuk-joo and vice versa. So Hee Soo and Rex are both left alone, while Sang Mi and Hyuk-joo have their happy ending.
I originally watched this series because the premise sounded interesting. There is one major problem with this series: I don't care about the characters. Even with the most fantastic plot and premise, if you have unsympathetic characters or characters that the audience can't identify with, you're pretty much stuck with a flop. And this series is a flop.
We can safely assume that Hyuk-joo is the main character, since the series starts and ends with him. However, in the middle, his story retreats into the background, as he becomes passive, uninvolving, and completely uncompelling as a hero. It is also hard to feel sorry for him when Hee-soo breaks up with him since I predicted that it would happen from the fourth episode. On the other hand, the series seems to introduce Rex as a secondary character, but his story is actually the most interesting of the four leads.
In addition to the unsympathetic characters, the acting is nothing to write home about. The actors who play Hyuk-joo's friends are funny, as are his parents. Ji Hyun Woo, who plays Hyuk-joo, is the strongest actor of the four leads and one of the few Korean male actors I've seen who is able to cry like a man. Suh Ji Hye is incredibly photogenic, but her performance here is mediocre. Kim Ok Bin is saved by her interesting character and storyline, but I'm not going to be running for her series anytime soon. The worst is Hwan Hee (from real-life boyband Fly to the Sky), who smirks more than he acts.
As for the dancing... let's just say it's uninspiring.
You'll do better to pass on this one.
2 out of 5