First Impressions: Cheer Up

Once upon a time, there was a completely adorable little kdrama about high school students overcoming their differences to become a winning cheerleading team. It starred the likes of Jung Eun Ji and Chae Soo Bin and Lee Won Keun, and captured the hearts of viewers everywhere.

Cheer Up is NOT a remake of that kdrama – it’s set in the college arena, there are mysteries galore, and the cheerleading is not Western-style cheerleading. These new characters and their shadowy circumstances are compelling, to say the least. Come see if this is the mystery/romance kdrama you’ve been looking for!


(courtesy of The bright and diligent Do Hae Yi is a student at Yeonhee University. Because of her family’s poor financial situation, she places a priority on making money rather than school. 

One day, Do Hae Yi suddenly joins cheering squad Teyia that has existed for 50 years at Yeonhee University. She only joins the club for money, but while participating in the cheering squad, Do Hae Yi starts experiencing the joy of campus life and meets various people from Teyia including Bae Young Woong, who was once a member of Teyia and he is an alumnus of Yeonhee Univers, supporting the cheering squad financially and emotionally.  


The Maknae: I’m watching because the drama is NOTHING like the description! I was minding my own business, just checking it out to see if there were any similarities to Sassy Go Go/Cheer Up from 2015, and all of the sudden I was drawn into Do Hae Yi’s attempts to make money and Park Jung Woo’s almost desperate love of cheering and being on stage and the three prophecies dooming the Theia cheer squad and Jin Sun Ho’s equally desperate attempts to catch Hae Yi’s attention. 

Drama Geek: I didn’t intend to watch this drama but needed a little cheer in my life while feeling yucky this past weekend. Instagram Reels kept taunting me with the cute interactions of our main cheerleaders, so I had to give it a go. I love a great underdog story that causes people to create a deep and lasting bond, and the crew of Cheer Up has all the signs of giving me exactly what I want.


Do Hae Yi (Han Ji Hyun) is bright and enthusiastic about life, including making money. Having lost her dad young, and her mother having had difficulty holding a job since then, Do Hae Yi has taken on the burden of paying for herself and her younger brother as they move into higher education. She’ll do anything for a won, including taking out other people’s trash or joining the cheer team for a month. 

Karie the Maknae: Hae Yi could be downtrodden and overly serious because of her family’s situation, but instead she’s upbeat and determined. That optimism is enough to make me want to watch her, but I’m also loving the fact that she’s silly and funny with her best friend, and seems to be authentically herself no matter the situation. She COULD be annoying, but she’s not. I like her.

Drama Geek: The female lead is delightful, and even though money drives her decisions, she doesn’t come off as anything but determined and kind. She can be pushy with her little brother, but she feels like she’s doing what’s best for their family.

Park Jung Woo (Bae In Hyuk) is serious and focused, and he doesn’t seem to be a natural fit for cheer team leader until we see him on stage. Then he lights up as he gets the audience to cheer along with his team, and we can see the adrenaline absolutely electrifying him. He demands dedication from his freshman recruits, and is carrying some dark cheerleading memories from a couple of years ago. 

The Maknae: Be In Hyuk was the reason I was even considering Cheer Up in the first place. His broody, reticent character in In the Distance, Spring is Green and his tortured second lead in My Roommate is a Gumiho were so well done that I HAD to see how he would take to cheerleading. There’s still some brooding here, but it’s balanced by his love of the stage and his passion for lifting up a crowd.

Drama Geek: The events that have taken place over the last few years have shaped who he is off stage, and caused him to be more cautious. He has a common bond with our lead girl in growing up with a single parent, and I think that is a very strong start to their relationship. He also can’t help loosen up when she’s around.

Jin Sun Ho (Kim Hyun Jin) is a pampered rich boy who’s immediately drawn to Do Hae Yi from the moment she completes an errand from his girlfriend to break up with him on his birthday. He recovers quickly – maybe too quickly – and once he finds out they go to the same university, he’s determined to get her to go out with him. Sounds like a player, right? 

The Maknae: This player who isn’t really a player is a lot of fun to watch. He’s definitely going to grow over the course of this drama, because for the first time ever, he’s actually serious about a girl and she won’t give him the time of day. I’m looking forward to seeing how this plays out, because growth arcs are my FAVORITE.

Drama Geek: He is very lighthearted and also knows when to back off. Second lead guys can be very pushy, and he just rolls with what is going on and adapts. His home situation isn’t as simple as you might think, and I am here for his mom and our female lead’s mom forming a friendship again and helping each other out. In the meantime, they are pretty hilarious to watch.


The Maknae: Oh yes. Hae Yi’s bright energy contrasted with Jung Woo’s seriousness has completely drawn me in, and the mystery has me hooked. The ensemble cast is solid, and I’ve found myself laughing more than once. The moms Drama Geek mentioned? Totally going to be fun. I’m in it for the long haul. 

Drama Geek: Though we didn’t list more characters, the show really is an ensemble cast, and I found myself loving all the people that populate it. I even fell for the rival team captain. She’s beautiful and smart, and seems like a genuinely sweet person. I’m here for the happy bonding and sweet love stories.

What about you, drama fans? Are you intrigued by this completely different version of Cheer Up? Drop down in the comments below and let us know!

Until the next “accident,” we remain –

Drama Geek & The Maknae

Dramas with a Side of Kimchi

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