K-Pop Artist Stories

The Best Of Handong: Dreamcatcher’s Return To Full Strength

Handong is returning from China to reunite with her groupmates at last. Here’s a look back into the history of Dreamcatcher’s 7th member.

Handong at a restaurant, 09/23/20. Weibo Credit: Handong’s Weibo

Old and new Dreamcatcher fans alike have missed the presence of Dreamcatcher’s 7th member, Chinese-born vocalist Handong, for close to a year now as of this writing. Handong left in late 2019 to compete on a Chinese idol competition show, “Youth With You”. Among 109 contestants, she made it to the 2nd round, eliminated from being in the top 35 with a rank of 56 but ranked as high as 8 among an international poll of idol popularity.

There were a couple of reasons for her choosing to compete, but they mostly boil down to building confidence, finding herself and her personality on and off-stage, and improving her skills. Handong was only really in Korea, and thus a trainee at Happyface Entertainment (Dreamcatcher Company’s parent organization) for a year and a half before debuting according to an early interview on “Kiss The Radio”, so competing, training, and getting to see her family back in China would be thought of as a nice short interlude on the way back to Dreamcatcher for future promotions.

Dreamcatcher Group Teaser for “Scream”, sans Handong. Twitter credit: hf_dreamcatcher

Of course, we all knew what happened next. The COVID-19 pandemic rocked the world, delaying filming and broadcast of the show Handong was competing on until March, with the ensuing restrictions resulting in her being unable to come back to South Korea, even after being eliminated from the show, until restrictions were lifted recently.

With multiple reports showing Handong may be on her way back to South Korea to finally re-join her fellow members, here’s a catchup of some Handong content we’ve seen over the course of Dreamcatcher’s lifetime.

Pops in Seoul — Dreamcatcher Handong Profile. Video Credit: Arirang K-Pop

Video: Pops in Seoul — Dreamcatcher Handong Profile
Date: 01/26/17
Why This Video: Along with the other members, Handong got a chance to introduce herself to fans with a short profile video. In early interviews, Handong put forth that she was interested in musicals, and here you can get a snippet of a familiar tune from one of the more well-known musicals of all time. It was certainly a nice way to get to know her as one of the new members of the group that was once MINX.

Video: V Live with Yoohyeon and Handong
Date: 03/24/17
Why This Video: Yoohyeon and Handong have had quite a few interactions, in part due to Yoohyeon wanting to learn Chinese. But even without that, they make a pretty entertaining duo. This 1 hour V Live features Handong having prepared two hashtags for each member and talking about what each one means with Yoohyeon. Bonus — seeing Yoohyeon get roasted a couple of times thinking other members weren’t watching the V Live, only to have them come in and confront her.

JiU and Handong cover “Troublemaker” in Chile in 2018. Video Credit: Kpidols

Video: JiU and Handong Troublemaker cover — Dreamcatcher in Chile
Date: 07/30/18
Why This Video: Dreamcatcher’s early tours allowed them to showcase their versatility in the cover arena. One of the first places they went through was South America, and this fancam from the Chile concert captured leader JiU and Handong covering “Troublemaker”. Handong shows off some versatile dancing as well as being able to show off her stage character re-creating the choreography of the HyunA/Hyunseung duet. South American fans, not surprisingly, took notice — and loudly at that. As a bonus, you can also check out Dreamcatcher’s cover of Shawn Mendes’ “There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back”, which highlights Handong’s lower register singing voice that’s well-suited to the song.

Dreamcatcher makes a self-made MV for b-side “July 7th”. Video credit: ALL THE K-Pop

Video: Show Champion Behind — Self-Made MV “July 7th” — Dreamcatcher
Date: 12/19/18
Why This Video: Handong features prominently from a singing perspective on quite a few of Dreamcatcher’s B-side tracks, with “July 7th” being one of the most popular (I’d also recommend “Daydream” and “Lullaby”, both also Handong-heavy songs). Here you can see Dreamcatcher participating in Show Champion’s “Self-Made MV” feature (something Dreamcatcher would later co-opt on their own in 2020), and Handong herself proving that she fits right in with Dreamcatcher’s comedy craziness.

Handong performs and meets fans for her birthday in 2019. Video Credit: Dreamcatcher official

Video: Dreamcatcher’s Note: Handong’s ‘Rising Moon of the 26th Day’ Birthday Party Venue
Date: 04/12/19
Why This Video: Fans get a little bit of insight into how birthday fan meets are planned out as well as Handong’s preparation and emotions going into what is certainly a bit of a nerve-wracking experience having to be on stage by herself, interact with fans, and sing. True to her desire to not only perform but go above and beyond, however, Handong performs “Snow Flower” in three languages (Chinese/Japanese/Korean), translates “July 7th” into Chinese practically on the fly for another singing performance, and does great answering questions and communicating to her fans in attendance.

Handong sings in two languages for a special clip cover. Video Credit: Dreamcatcher official

Video: Special Clip — Dreamcatcher Handong “Proof of Heartbeat” (from film “Fall in Love at First Kiss” OST)
Date: 07/16/19
Why This Video: Dreamcatcher members have all had their hand at the solo Special Clip treatment singing covers, and Handong gets that treatment here with a video with wonderful visuals and Handong singing a song from the Chinese romantic comedy film “Fall in Love at First Kiss”. Once again true to her multi-lingual talent, Handong sings half the song in Chinese and the other half in Korean, all while serving up a soft presentation well-suited to the song and her passion with which she delivers it.

Handong vlogs an outing with a friend in 2019. Video Credit: Dreamcatcher official

Video: Dreamcatcher Vlog: Dongie’s Little Daily Life: Hot Pot Edition
Date: 07/15/19
Why This Video: The Dreamcatcher Vlogs tend to follow a member for a little bit in an outing or daily life and while youngest member Gahyeon has the lion’s share of these, other members pick up the spotlight as well. Handong takes her turn at the vlog spotlight as she spends a Saturday shopping, seeing a movie, and having good food with a friend, all while being stylish and elegant as she’s been known to be at times.

Siyeon, Handong, and Gahyeon cover Paul Kim’s “Every Day, Every Moment”. Video Credit: Dreamcatcher official

Video: Special Clip — Dreamcatcher Siyeon, Handong, Gahyeon — “Every Day, Every Moment”
Date: 07/24/19
Why This Video: Handong joins main vocalist Siyeon and vocalist/rapper Gahyeon for a cover of Paul Kim’s “Every Day, Every Moment”, a song they would also perform live during a special presentation of SBS MTV’s The Show. Handong more than carries her weight in the sub-unit trio, anchoring her third of the song with a higher range and soft delivery that fits the lyrics, and it’s nice to see her highlighted in a smaller set of voices.

Dreamcatcher’s “Deja Vu” Dance video. Video Credit: Dreamcatcher official

Video: Dreamcatcher “Deja Vu” Dance video
Date: 09/25/19
Why This Video: Sure, if you’re a Dreamcatcher fan you may have likely seen this video a ton of times, but the dance video version highlights Handong’s front-and-center presence in several moments in the video, from the first verse to a spinning pirouette that is harder than it looks to get right while doing precise choreography, to the now-iconic “so now I’m holding this pain” line delivered by her high register singing voice. As this was Handong’s last promotion era with Dreamcatcher before leaving for China, it’s always worth a re-watch.

Handong performs “Ambush On All Sides 2” with her Team on “Youth With You”. Video Credit: Youth With You

Video: Youth With You “Ambush On All Sides 2” — Team Battle Performance, Team A
Date: 04/16/20
Why This Video: Handong’s performances and screentime on “Youth With You” may have seemed short, but what she did have she took full advantage of. After making it past round 1 of eliminations, Handong was determined to make her next performance memorable, and that’s what this was. Handong showed off her range delivering both rapping lines and singing notes with equal confidence and aggressiveness. This assertive and more determined Handong is something fans will certainly be looking forward to when she returns to performing with Dreamcatcher.

Paopao Mailbox — Handong reads fan mail. Video Credit: 7DreamSubs

Video: PaoPao Mailbox — Handong reads fan letters
Date: 06/05/20
Why This Video: If there was any thought that Handong may have been feeling a bit discouraged after her round 2 elimination from “Youth With You”, this should have put some of those fears to rest as Handong catches up on the mail she’s been receiving from fans during her extended time in China. There’s a lot of encouragement and nice, sweet words for Handong from fans who’ve been following her, and plenty of recognition for her work in Dreamcatcher as well as on “Youth With You”. Handong’s made mention that the fan letters she’s received really have kept her buoyed through additional scheduling, so seeing her so happy at being acknowledged is always a good sign.

Handong vlogs about learning “BOCA” choreography. Video Credit: Dreamcatcher Malaysia

Video: Dongdong’s little daily vlog (homework disguised as a vlog) — Handong covering BOCA?!
Date: 08/22/20
Why This Video: Handong’s returned to Dreamcatcher interactions back in June, posting in the Dreamcatcher app, fancafe, reacting to Dreamcatcher music videos, and even holding a brief vlive to greet fans. This brief vlog, however, really got fans excited as she showed off learning the choreography for Dreamcatcher’s August 2020 song “BOCA” in just three short hours. Despite getting unintentionally scared and then roasted by her friend who came to visit, when it came time to execute, Handong got to work. She put the skills she learned to work by dancing multiple members’ choreography for the moombahton rock song in the space of its first verse, chorus, and raps. Fans definitely noticed how much sharper, precise, and more confident her moves were and hoped to see “BOCA” as a full group in the near future.

Handong flexes her acting chops in an MV for group ONER. Video Credit: Handong’s Place

Video: Handong Cut — ONER “Struck” MV (CW: Explicit violence/implicit abuse)
Date: 09/14/20
Why This Video: Fans speculated why Handong was still in China after restrictions on travel to Korea were lifted, and in mid-September, they got their answer — Handong had filmed a role in a 15-minute long short film/music video with Chinese boy group ONER. You can watch the full ONER “Struck” video on the QINS Entertainment channel, but be warned there’s a bit of violent content and perhaps disturbing implications as they relate to the rather dark role Handong is playing. Still, despite being a femme fatale/villain, Handong’s cameo appearance caused her following to surge even past Dreamcatcher’s official Twitter numbers, which can only be good in terms of potential converted fans for when she begins working with the group again.

Whether you’re an old or a new Dreamcatcher fan, it’s my hope that the content I’ve highlighted has served as a reminder that Handong completes the group with her own distinct personality and style, making it truly “OT7” (Original True 7 [members]) once again. Better yet, she returns to the group after almost a year of training, competition, and confidence-building, ready and most definitely hungry to prove herself as part of Dreamcatcher when they resume activities after finishing their remaining schedules this September.

At full strength once more, Dreamcatcher will more than likely keep to their steady rise in popularity, and Handong will be right there to do her part in contributing and ultimately celebrating in their continued success.

Handong poses for fansites at the Peking airport, apparently on the way to South Korea at last, 09/25/20. Twitter credit: HandongLuck

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Frank Sanchez

Lifetime geek dual-wielding in the tech and games industries for over a decade. Builder of walls of text. Shameless Asian pop lover.