‘Doona,’ Netflix’s Kdrama revolving around a K-pop idol and the complications her profession brings, focuses on a relationship that leaves a lasting impact on pop star Lee Doona. After taking a necessary break from her career, Doona finds herself in a co-ed house in Seoul with no real direction in her life. However, that changes once Lee Won-jun, a college freshman with little prior knowledge of his downstairs neighbor’s stardom, becomes a crucial aspect of her everyday life.
Doona and Won-jun’s tumultuous relationship remains the show’s centerfold, highlighting the significance of real connections while also depicting a moving study of the right person wrong time trope. Yet, simultaneously, the narrative also brings attention to Doona’s career as a former Dream Sweet K-pop group member. Thus arises the inevitable curiosity about this aspect of Doona’s life and its connection to reality. Let’s find out!
Lee Doona, a Fictional Pop Star
Lee Doona, the show’s namesake K-pop idol, is not based on a real-life Korean musician. Instead, the character only has roots in the show’s source material, ‘The Girl Downstairs,’ a Korean webtoon by Mina Songa. Nevertheless, even though Doona remains confined to the fictional world, the show depicts the reality behind the glamorous lives of Korean idols through her character.
For the most part, Doona’s taxing profession and the subsequent burnout that it leads to informs a cornerstone of her character. Having been scouted in early teenage years at the ripe age of 13/14, Doona has been under scrutinizing pressure for perfection her entire life. Although her own personal life and complicated family background certainly play a part in her eventual predicament, she recognizes that the celebrity lifestyle negatively impacts her mental health.
According to The Korean Times, real-life idols often experience similar complications in their occupation. From “inhuman schedules” to “malicious comments on the internet” and lack of privacy, Korean Idols undergo a lot of stress as a direct result of their job. Through Doona’s story, the show touches upon this issue and emphasizes the importance of control that every individual craves in their lives. As such, even though Doona’s character was fabricated for the purpose of serving her story’s narrative, she parallels reality in many significant aspects.
Dream Sweet, a Fictional K-Pop Group
No, Dream Sweet, as presented in ‘Doona,’ is not based on a real K-pop Group. Like its frontwoman, Lee Doona, the group itself is also a work of fiction and serves a similar purpose of depicting the real-life struggles within music showbiz. In the portrayal of the same, the show’s biggest strength comes from its actors’ past experiences with the industry.
Most notably, lead actress Bae Suzy, who brings Doona’s character to life, used to be a former K-pop Idol from the girl group Miss A, which disbanded in 2017. Suzy recalled the same experience in a press conference and said, “Looking back [to my time in Miss A], I feel like there were moments that I felt I was struggling, but I didn’t really know much. I think I tried to deny that I was struggling. I tried to just stay a bubbly person.” Consequently, even though the actress’ experiences differed in some ways from her character’s, she successfully brought a certain authenticity to the narrative thanks to her past career.
Suzy also commented on her experience with the rest of the women from ‘Doona’s’ Dream Sweet and how they came together as one team after adequate teamwork and collaboration. In that regard, the practice behind the build-up to the group’s on-screen presence mirrors real life in some ways. Although the K-pop group remains a fictional one, fans can find their debut song ‘The Whispering Spell’ on Spotify under the band’s name.