This is the first drama since Coffee Prince, my first and ultimate love, that I have literally been speechless at the end. I was so overflowing with awe and emotion at the finale of this drama that I just couldn’t do anything but stare at the screen and just feel. It was quite a mix of feelings at that, just like when you get to the end of a really great book. I was mesmerized by the beauty of it all and utterly satisfied by the ending, yet also unsatisfied that I had to leave the world of the characters which I felt I had come to love and know so well.
This drama possessed something that all of the newer dramas sadly seem to lack, soul. On first glance, What’s Up seems that it is just a more mature and edgier version of Dream High (which is why I passed it over so many times to watch something else), but it is so much more than the superficial “dream” catching drama such as Dream High, which focused mainly on the pursual of stardom, fame, and romantic love as the only means of self fulfillment.
While of course What’s Up explored the ideas of fame and romance (after all, would it be a kdrama if it didn’t?), it instead didn’t dwell on these as the be all end all, rather it used them as tools for the characters to find what was truly important to them, the love of art, their friends, and life in general, and learning to appreciate life to the fullest and somehow find joy in every moment, even if it meant never being famous or finding some great love and living happily ever after and riding off into the sunset. After all what is fame, or what is love if you are not truly happy? What was really amazing is that while there was more than one love story in the show, neither of them really came to fruition in the end, because their romance wasn’t the point, what they learned from it was, and I thought that was a very original and profound thought for a kdrama.
What’s Up was edgy in presentation compared to the norm. There was a lot of modern rock, rap, and techno dance music involved. But they also threw in a lot of classic musical songs, except sung in Korean, which was cool to hear. There were also a lot of classic rock and pop songs. This is one of the few dramas, again like Coffee Prince, that actually used quite a variety of music, and while there were a few songs that they favored, they didn’t tend to use the same three songs over and over until you just hoped you never heard them again for the rest of your life like most drams do. Aside from the music, the dialogue was also edgier than what you would typically hear. The characters were straight forward instead of using fluffy romanticized language, which is ironic because I think some of the most profound quotes I have seen in a drama came from this dialogue. The language was PG-13, with their being quite a few more wordy durds than normal. I honestly found this to be very refreshing (not necessarily the cursing, but the straight forwardness).
Oh Doo Ri was one of my favorite characters of all time. She was absolutely fearless and wore her heart out on her sleeve, but not in the pitiful powerless way that most kdrama heroines do. She may have done her fair share of crying, but she certainly did not ever sit back and do nothing. Her passion and ingenuity were a force of nature. She also had many habits and quirks that were really endearing, such as the fact that she was the sneakiest little MacGyver ever, and also had a talent and unparalleled love for first person shooter games. Yet as rough around the edges and rock staresque as she was, she also had an underlying purity and innocence that you see in her love for Professer Sun. I couldn’t help but be immediately drawn to her.
I have seen multiple dramas with Oh Man Suk, and always really liked him as an actor, but I don’t think I ever really appreciated what a talent he is until I saw this drama. Of course it does help that his character Professor Sun, is totally likable and relatable, but I give a lot of the credit largely to his ability to bring the character to life. He turns out to be the center of the show, and the glue that holds everyone together. He is the unlikely candidate that turns out to be the kind of teacher and influence to his students that I can only hope and aspire to be.
Really each character in What’s Up has their own moving story to tell. And each of them has a certain genuiness about them that draws you in and makes you really invest in their story, emotions, and future.
Upon beginning What’s Up, I never thought I would be so profoundly moved and have so much to say. I never expected to laugh until my belly hurt and cry until my head pounded all in the same drama. Although there is always the old and overused saying, never judge a book by its cover, and in this case that turned out to be completely true. It was an unanticipated diamond in the rough, and for that I am truly glad!! I give What’s Up 5 out of 5 stars, though I don’t think 5 stars is nearly enough.
I watched this drama on Hulu
For a synopsis, cast list, and more information visit http://asianwiki.com/What%27s_Up%3F_%282011-Korean_Drama%29