Over The Rainbow is a Korean television drama (K-drama) that can be loosely described as 8 Miles meets Honey mixed with a dash of Footloose. Despite how unappealing that sounds, it is not necessarily a bad thing. However, it is not a good thing either. Over The Rainbow is the story of four individuals that trails their love affairs and passionate careers, which is to (literally) sing and dance. The series shines as a K-drama, utilizing the strong elements that make up a K-drama (over-the-top drama, love triangles, etc.). However, I had trouble stomaching the underlying story about young adults wanting to dance and sing. It was a little too much for me. In short, Over the Rainbow is a compelling watch, but it is not as mature or well-developed as other series in the genre.
The series introduces the leading characters in their high school days. Hyukjoo Kwon (Ji Hyeon-Woo) is a troublemaker at school with no ambition to study. He is in a gang and working his way up the ranks. His family is poor and he is willing to make whatever sacrifices necessary to support them. His principal, who everyone calls Clorox, wants to save him. He works effortlessly to push him in a different direction. Hyukjoo's life begins to change for the better when a he is given a singing scholarship. However, it is not the scholarship that impacts his life.
Pride Entertainment is a talent company that invests in hip/hop singers. Their latest protege is Rex (Hwan-Hee), one of Hyukjoo's classmates. Rex is a shooting star whose view on the world has been tainted by his rise to fame. Clorox and Pride Entertainment announce the scholarship to Hyukjoo at a school assembly, and accidentally embarrass him by talking about how poor he is. In the aftermath, Hyukjoo rejects the scholarship and decides to drop out of school. Clorox refuses to let him drop out and teams him up with a dance group. At first he joins his peers (Smart, King Mart, Manjong, Youngsuk, and Youngdal) to get Clorox off his back, but he soon finds that dance is something he loves. It becomes his motivation to stop being a gangster. Coincidentally enough, they name their dance group "Gangster".
About the same time that Hyukjoo joins the dance group, a beautiful young girl enters his life. Her name is Heesu Jung (Kim Ok Bin). Heesu is a Korean teenage girl who has been living in New Zealand for the last three years. Her father is a minister and does a lot of missionary work. Presently, she is in Korea for church business. She ditches out on her dad to realize her dream, which is to become a famous entertainer. She loves hip/hop music. Heesu runs away from home and moves in with Hyukjoo's family and becomes instrumental in the early foundation of Gangster.
Two years later. Hyukjoo and Heesu are in a relationship. They care greatly about each other. Heesu is slowly making her way in the business as a singer/dancer. Hyukjoo and his friends are happy being backup dancers. They were just hired by Pride Entertainment to be Rex's (who has become a big star since Hyukjoo's last encounter during the scholarship fiasco) backup dancers. Life is perfect. Or so Hyukjoo thought. Heesu's attention shifts from Hyukjoo to Rex. She sees Rex as her golden ticket to fame.
Around this time, the fourth main character is introduced. Her name is Sangmi Ma (Seo Ji-Hye). Sangmi is a young girl who is a big fan of Rex. She has had no ambition to be in the entertainment business. However, after she is the victim of a car accident (Rex is the guilty party), she "blackmails" Pride Entertainment into giving her a job as a singing protege. No one likes her at first, but she slowly grows on everyone. The result is couple love triangles involving the four main characters. As the series progresses, the drama focuses on relationships changing between the four, as well as the rise and fall of their careers.
In addition to the main storyline, there are a few subplots. For instance, Heesu's relationship with her father plays a small role in the early episodes. It helps define her personality and what she is capable of doing, or rather, what she is willing to do to see her dream come true. Another subplot deals with Hyukjoo's father. He is a singer that never made it. He sings at a local lounge for a guy who ripped off his family. Coincidentally enough, Hyukjoo's former gang boss becomes his dad's manager.
What works for Over The Rainbow is the drama. When the story is focusing on the relationships between the four main characters, specifically the love triangles, is engaging and entertaining. The driving factor is that it gets very soapy with lots of over-the-top melodrama. However, at the same time there could have been some improvements with the drama. The underlying storyline about the four youths and their rise in the hip/hop music/dance world just didn't do it for me. I had a hard time taking them serious. For that reason, I did not really fall in love with this series or its characters.
In the end, Over The Rainbow is not a bad K-drama, but it is not one of the better ones either. The drama, mostly due to its hard-to-take-serious storyline, does not feel as mature or well-developed as other series in the genre. However, it still encompasses some strong melodrama and has enough eye-rolling over-the-top moments to keep your attention. If anything, this K-drama should make for an enjoyable watch.
* Please note that the rear of the box cover incorrectly states the feature is presented in 4:3 full frame color.