What I love about Monstar all along has been its deft touch, a sense of sincerity without the heavy-handedness that pervades most K-dramas, where issues ranging from big to serious are almost always given the weight like it’s life-altering. But as we head towards the finale of this drama, it’s also that very sense of everything-will-be-alright attitude that renders the emotional depth a bit shallow. I think its hard to strike the right balance and I think it works with a teen drama to keep the issues at a level where the kids acknowledge and deal with it, but there aren’t a lot of deep scars to rear its head. The kids are each dealing with their own issues, and sometimes they get wrapped up in their own woe, but Monstar’s group of disparate souls have found that through unexpected friendship and the common joy of music, they can sometimes help make each other’s life a little bit better. Episode 10 was Eun Ha’s story, and her leg bruise from earlier episodes pretty much hinted that she deals with domestic violence that she escapes from through her fanfiction writing. Seol Chan isn’t just a Star to her, the very process of idolizing her is an safe haven for him, and Se Yi’s arrival turns Seol Chan into a guy who may want one woman rather than a Star that belongs to all women.
I totally put up with Eun Ha’s temper tantrum in this episode, which felt raw and young like a girl her age ought to feel. I think we’re starting to see all the characters make significant progress in their own stumbling blocks, and sometimes its not a big thing that needs to happen but perhaps taking lots of little steps that opens up the road to a tomorrow with more hope. Se Yi and Seol Chan’s budding relationship doesn’t go anywhere despite the Seol Chan’s sudden kiss, and similarly Sun Woo seems still on the Se Yi bandwagon with no signs of noticing Na Na other than as a friend/obligation. With two episodes left I’m wondering how the drama will wrap up so many unanswered questions and lingering scars for the main characters, but I suppose even if it’s given a cursory treatment I’ll still be satisfied because this story hasn’t let me down so far. I need to know what happened between Seol Chan and Sun Woo to cause the rift, and also would love to see Se Yi be brave about her own feelings whether its forgiving her Mom or admitting that she likes Seol Chan back even if ultimately they face too many hurdles to cross at this stage in their life.
Episode 10 recap:
Seol Chan stares quietly at Se Yi before leaning in to kiss her. She initially struggles from the shock but then settles into the kiss. Both of them has their eyes closed until suddenly both open their eyes and stare at each other.
Each jumps back with Seol Chan the first to ask what Se Yi has done to him? Se Yi asks nervously what he did, and was it a joke again? Seol Chan at least has the sincerity this time to say flat out it’s not a joke. Whew, thank god for no more misdirection.
Seol Chan suddenly realizes Se Yi let him kiss her, she sat there and didn’t push him away. Se Yi is so embarrassed she yells at him not to talk! They bolt upright, and then scamper off in opposite directions. Heh, cute.
They stop and turn to look back at each other, but when they see each other doing the same thing and their eyes meet, both rush off in a state of anxiety.
Se Yi runs home but she’s such a nervous wreck she forgets to take her shoes off and has to run back to the door. She then buries herself under the covers. Her mom sees all of this.
Seol Chan runs through the neighborhood and is still in a state of disbelief he did that. When he looks up his imagination turns all the stars into forming a heart shape, which he says with a scowl as being immature. Poor Star, even the stars are mocking you.
Morning comes and the kissy partners are both still in a state of anxiety about what to do if they see each other. Seol Chan is embarrassed and still doesn’t know why he kissed her, or why she sat there and let him kiss her.
Se Yi arrives at school looking not like a sheep but more like a panda, which Eun Ha notices that Se Yi looks sleep deprived.
Sun Woo walks past and heads to the office. Eun Ha sees him and asks Se Yi how her date went with Sun Woo, since Eun Ha purposely took all the others away so Se Yi and Sun Woo could head home together. Se Yi says they didn’t have a date.
Sun Woo reports to Teacher Dokko that they found Kyu Dong and he’s fine, though he’s going through a difficult situation. Sun Woo isn’t sure he’s coming back to school so Teacher Dokko takes it from there and plans to call his family. Sun Woo drops word that the difficult situation (bullying) that Kyu Dong is dealing with is something both of them are fully aware of, implication is they just let it go in the past.
Se Yi sits down at her desk and Seol Chan’s is still empty. Eun Ha babbles about how Seol Chan is coming back from Japan today and likely won’t come to school.
Kyu Dong walks into class and Eun Ha beams to see him as does Se Yi. Jae Rok starts his bullying immediately, snarking that he thought Kyu Dong went to kill himself once he disappeared. He should at least come back with an injury.
Na Na is about to speak up but Se Yi goes first. She won’t keep quiet and calls Jae Rok a coward while he says Se Yi only has guts because Seol Chan and Sun Woo like her and back her up. Se Yi points out that is exactly why Jae Rok is a coward, he doesn’t bully Se Yi because he’s scared of those two guys.
Jae Rok stands up in anger when Do Nam barges into class and everyone stops to stare. He walks over to Kyu Dong to return his backpack. Do Nam shoots Jae Rok an angry glare as he sits down behind him. He tells Se Yi to sit down.
Everyone sits back down and Kyu Dong stares at his backpack. Sun Woo arrives and is pleased to see Kyu Dong in class. He herds the class over to the music room.
Se Yi stands in the hallway a nervous wreck, checking her phone and mumbling to herself about whether Seol Chan will come to school or not. Sun Woo walks over and hears that she’s waiting for Eun Ha who is in the bathroom.
Sun Woo points to her lips which gets Se Yi all flustered and she quickly covers them with a folder and asks if there is anything wrong with her lips.
Sun Woo just meant she has hair on it and moves to help her when Na Na arrives and walks up to Se Yi and fixes it for her. Ha!
The students are in music class and the teacher is pretty resigned that the kids aren’t paying attention to what he’s teaching. He puts on a video of a duo performing and everyone watches. Kyu Dong and Do Nam look at each other, and Na Na looks at Sun Woo who looks at Se Yi.
Se Yi is on her own world and she suddenly sees the two singers in the video come to life and perform in front of her. The two singer pop in and out around her, performing in random places, even as Se Yi goes to class or walks around.
Se Yi can’t even hear others talking as the two singers basically sing into her ears in a hilarious way as they flank her on a park bench. LOL, being tormented by your own fantasy.
Finally Se Yi gives in and starts to sing along with them. When Sun Woo arrives, he sees Se Yi singing out loud by herself.
Sun Woo walks Se Yi back to class and asks if she’s not feeling well? Se Yi admits she’s seeing things but laughs it off, which is when Seol Chan arrives. Ha, he always arrives whenever Se Yi is around Sun Woo.
Eun Ha walks into class and sees Se Yi and Seol Chan uncomfortably sitting at their seats. She is so happy to see him, though his tendency to pop up worries her that he’ll vanish in the same sudden way. Seol Chan promises to tell her before he’s gone and hears from Eun Ha that Se Yi has been in her own world all morning.
Seol Chan asks Se Yi if she’s sick and she says no and goes back to reading her book, which is upside down. Seol Chan turns it right side up for her. Sun Woo peers back at them.
Class ends and Seol Chan and Se Yi awkwardly say their goodbyes. Eun Ha learns that Seol Chan is busy with his music schedule which makes her happy since he’s the coolest when he’s making music. She asks Se Yi to head to the basement with her.
Sun Woo gets a text from Na Na about their 9th date. She waits for him outside of class and sees Seol Chan leave. Kyu Dong says bye to Na Na and later Do Nam walks by her and awkwardly tries to thank her for saving Kyu Dong’s life but she cuts him off with an okay. Sun Woo finally walks out and Na Na asks him to come with her.
Na Na takes him to her fashion studio and uses him as a model for some clothes, which also gives her the chance to stand close to him to make adjustments. He asks who she is making these clothes for and she says no one, she just wants to. He asks if this is her dream but its not, she is just doing it for now.
Na Na asks him to stay for an hour or so as she works on anther outfit she wants him to try on. He agrees and sits quietly as she works. She suggests he find something to do, or use this time to study. Sun Woo picks up a book and Na Na takes a moment to look at him.
Manager Hong drives Seol Chan from school and the poor guy finally lets loose on his pent up frustrations and starts speaking a mile a minute on all his confusion and embarrassment.
Ji Woong is at home still stuck on his encounter with the Thai singer whose name is Nawin. Suddenly he hears a knock and opens the door to find Se Yi and Eun Ha. He’s not even surprised anymore and just lets them in.
The girls do down to the basement and find Kyu Dong already there practicing on the piano. They discuss what Ji Woong does to have such a place and Se Yi brings up how he knew her dad so maybe he was once in a band. Eun Ha wonders if she ought to learn the piano and asks Seol Chan to teach her, but decides against it and grabs another instrument and the three of them play happily.
Sun Woo and Na Na walk home and he asks why she’s interested in making clothes. Na Na explains that she always saw the perfectly dressed room salon big sisters when she was growing up and she thought they were so pretty. She’s made a promise to her dad to set off on her own after high school because a person without a dream is just a worthless loser. Na Na offers Sun Woo the clothes she had him try on in exchange for him teacher her to play the electric guitar.
Seol Chan is in his room still trying to figure out how to face Se Yi going forward. He tries the Sun Woo approach and just says flat out “I like you”, but it’s not his style and he calls it cheesy. He looks at the boyfriend sheep that Se Yi returned to him and wonders again why she let him kiss her.
Se Yi is still a nervous wreck as she gets close to home, because it’s close to the spot where the kiss happened. Seol Chan pops up in his usual lurky way and wonders why she was out until so late?
Se Yi asks if he’s here to apologize but he’s not since it wasn’t a joke. He starts to try and say he likes her but she cuts him off and says to not say it. She didn’t ask him why he did it, she asked why he’s here now? She decides they are not going to discuss what happened last night and he agrees.
Seol Chan turns to leave but Se Yi stops him and offers to walk him to the car so he’s not bored. Seol Chan says it’s not necessary but when Se Yi takes him up on it he grabs her arm and says they might as well. Both of them turn bright pink.
Se Yi pipes up that she feels like they are being followed which freaks out Seol Chan since she makes it seem so eerie. Turns out Se Yi’s fantasy singing duo manifests themselves and follow along singing their song.
Seol Chan and Se Yi arrive at the bottom of the alley and Manager Hong’s car is right there. Se Yi turns to go back up and this time Seol Chan offers to walk her way because it’s so dark. The two of them do this over and over, walking up and down the alley together and smiling at each other the entire time. Awwwwwww.
Finally Se Yi says this is for real as she arrives outside the house. Suddenly Se Yi’s mom walks out and Seol Chan politely greets her. Se Yi introduces Seol Chan as her partner but Mom recognizes him as the popular idol singer.
Seol Chan looks incredulous and Se Yi quickly says she didn’t tell her mom about him and then tells him to leave. Seol Chan smiles while Se Yi runs into the house and Seol Chan says goodbye to her mom, who is literally beaming at him with her Mom stamp of approval.
Mom goes to talk with Se Yi in her room and asks knowingly if that boy really is just her seat partner? Se Yi doesn’t want to talk so Mom leaves with a knowing smile.
Mom talks with her sister Teacher Dokko who is home after working late again. Teacher Dokko moans about why she picked this profession and Mom reminds her that it was always her dream since she was young to become a teacher.
Seol Chan is now a bouncing happy boy after last night’s walking and he’s dancing and singing in his car seat on the way to school.
Seol Chan and Se Yi discuss her mom’s return to Korea and Se Yi explains again that she never told her mom about Seol Chan. Sun Woo arrives and says hi to Seol Chan who gives him the usual dead fish look. Eun Ha walks up and reminds everyone that exams are coming up and Color Bar members can’t finish last so they all need to study.
The students are in gym class and Teacher Choi has devised a two-person duo soccer game where the partners can’t let go of each other.
Sun Woo and Se Yi are a duo as is Seol Chan and Na Na. When Seol Chan sees Sun Woo tenderly grabbing Se Yi’s hand and then turning it into a finger intertwined clasp, he turns and tightly grabs Na Na’s while shooting Sun Woo angry looks.
Elsewhere Do Nam and Kyu Dong are now holding hands as a duo.
The game starts and Sun Woo holds Se Yi’s hand and starts to kick ass. Seol Chan and Sun Woo pretty much drag their partners along as they start facing off all the time.
Teacher Dokko watches the kids play in pairs. Na Na tells Seol Chan to step up, he ought to be in better shape since he’s a dancer. Seol Chan says dancing is different than soccer. Se Yi stops and Sun Woo says to take a break. Seol Chan also asks for a break from Na Na.
Jae Rok still has his evil eye out for Se Yi and kicks a ball straight towards her head. Seol Chan sees it and lets go of Na Na’s hand to block the ball.
It hits him on the head and knocks him out, but Sun Woo was actually already shielding Se Yi.
Seol Chan is deposited in the infirmary and Teacher Dokko shoos all the kids back to class, saying that he will be fine. Se Yi walks away looking very worried. Eun Ha and Sun Woo notice her looking very concerned in class. Jae Rok is smirking about what he did but this time another student pipes up that it isn’t right.
Se Yi sneaks off to check on Seol Chan in the infirmary. Our Star is probably sneaking a nap by now. Sheep brained Se Yi worries that he look dead and puts her face right next to his to check for breathing. She stands up and is less worried when suddenly Seol Chan bolts upright and yells at her that he already died from holding his breath!
He’s got her hand and lets it go, warning her to keep her distance from him otherwise he might “do it” again. Ha, you are looking for every opportunity, aren’t you? Se Yi nervously takes a step back, and then another. She turns to leave and then stops to thank him for what he did. He says no need, to thank him later.
Outside the infirmary Eun Ha stands there having heard this entire exchange. She turns and her tears fall. She moves aside to let Manager Hong into the infirmary to check on Seol Chan. Eun Ha goes to the sink to wash her face and chides herself for being an idiot.
Class starts without Eun Ha so Se Yi grabs her phone to text her to find out where she went. It’s Eun Ha’s turn for a rooftop brooding session and she reads through her journal and remembers seeing Seol Chan falling for Se Yi but he promised Eun Ha nothing would happen.
Class ends and everyone has plans. Sun Woo gets a text from Na Na to meet at the basement and they discuss where Eun Ha went? Do Nam grabs Kyu Dong by the hand and they walk off. Eun Ha returns and both Sun Woo and Se Yi are concerned about her. Eun Ha says at least someone noticed she wasn’t in class. She grabs her bag and leaves, walking past Seol Chan and ignoring him. Se Yi runs after Eun Ha.
Eun Ha walks through school and feels very angry that Seol Chan didn’t stick to his promise. Se Yi finds her but Eun Ha yells at Se Yi to leave her alone!
Do Nam and Kyu Dong are at a PC Bang playing video games and Kyu Dong asks why Do Nam is hanging out with him? Do Nam warns Kyu Dong not to do anything like that (suicide) again, but he’s not going to apologize because it’s not necessary. Kyu Dong is overcome with emotion and heads off to play the piano. Do Nam quickly follows though he wonders why Kyu Dong is picking such a girly instrument?
Ji Woong, now running a revolving door music center, opens the door to find Na Na outside. She goes to the empty basement and rummages through old CDs and finds a Lee Hyori one. She pops it into the CD player and starts to dance along with the pop song.
Teenage Na Na dances along with her childhood self in happy abandon. Sun Woo walks down to the basement and stops himself at the door when he sees Na Na dancing inside. When Kyu Dong and Do Nam arrive, he makes them not go in either to disturb her.
When the song ends, all three clap for Na Na, who grabs her bag and rushes out. Kyu Dong and Do Nam compliment her dancing as awesome.
Sun Woo goes to take her back to the basement, telling her not to be embarrassed or upset. They all hang out in the basement playing instruments, with Sun Woo teaching Na Na the guitar.
Eun Ha is in her room and she stares at a picture of Seol Chan.
In class the next day, Eun Ha sits down while Sun Woo asks Se Yi if she wants him to study with her for the upcoming exam. Eun Ha sees Seol Chan cleaning Se Yi’s desk top later when she’s not there.
Eun Ha goes to sit outside by herself and starts to cry over how she didn’t want to be just an invisible and useless part of the group. She looks at the photo she took of everyone in the basement. She heads back to class and looks at Seol Chan and Se Yi smiling towards each other.
Se Yi stops Eun Ha to ask her join their study group but she says no. Se Yi wonders what’s gotten into Eun Ha, did Se Yi do something to her. Eun Ha yells at Se Yi for taking something very precious from her. Se Yi is confused and Eun Ha is even angrier because Se Yi doesn’t even know she did it, everything comes so easily to Se Yi. But Eun Ha knew him first and she grabs Se Yi’s wrist in anger.
Seol Chan walks up and tells Eun Ha to let go and talk nicely. Eun Ha storms out and Seol Chan wonders what’s gotten into her? Se Yi asks him to not get involved.
Eun Ha is writing in her journal in class and imagines herself like the mermaid princess who disappears if her Prince falls for another woman. She’s so despondent that she starts sobbing loudly in class, so the teacher takes her journal away.
Later in the office, Eun Ha goes to get her journal back and the teacher compliments her writing as with heard even if it lacks finesse. Se Yi is waiting for Eun Ha outside and this time she speaks up and asks if Eun Ha is angry because of Se Yi and Seol Chan?
The two girls sit and talk and Se Yi tries to explain nothing is going on. Eun Ha believes her, because Se Yi isn’t like all the girls interested in Seol Chan, which is why Seol Chan noticed Se Yi. Because Se Yi is different.
Eun Ha thought she was different too, she thought she did a great job during their performance but in truth no one noticed her. No one ever sees her. At home her dad beats her when he wants, calling her a loser. She doesn’t want to pity Kyu Dong because it’s like pitying herself.
Sometimes Eun Ha actually hates Se Yi, not because she stole Seol Chan, but because she is different and stands out. Se Yi cries and hugs Eun Ha, saying sorry over and over. Eun Ha also says she’s sorry. The two girls keep hugging and crying.
Seol Chan and Sun Woo followed them there and takes this all in. Later in class, Se Yi asks Seol Chan for a favor.
Se Yi takes Eun Ha to the basement where Seol Chan is waiting by a music mixer and Sun Woo sits on the sofa. Seol Chan asks Eun Ha for help singing a song but she says she can’t and tells him to ask Se Yi. Sun Woo speaks up and tells Eun Ha to do it.
Se Yi suggests they practice first. The two girls practice and then Seol Chan records them
Eun Ha walks home later that night and gets a text with a music file. She walks outside and listens to the track and starts to cry, because Seol Chan expertly mixed the track so that it sounds professional.
We see that after she left, Seol Chan, Se Yi, and Sun Woo staying in the basement harmonizing and recording backup vocals for the track, which Seol Chan blended together to make Eun Ha’s voice the lead vocal but then the entire song sounds great.
We see Eun Ha listening to the song, and then her image shows up in the basement sitting on a stool singing loudly and clearly while Sun Woo, Seol Chan, and Se Yi harmonize next to her. The song ends and Se Yi goes over to hold Eun Ha’s hand.