Yonsei University’s legendary cheer team inspires K-Drama ‘Cheer Up’


On Oct. 3, SBS streamed a teenager-based romance K-Drama called Cheer Up, and it has become a nationwide hit.  

Cheer Up is about Do Hae-yi—played by 26 year-old actor Han Ji-hyun—attending college and joining Yonhee University’s cheer team to make money. 

Due to her family’s financial struggles, Hae-yi prioritizes on making money rather than school. She works tirelessly, running night-shifts at a nearby convenience store and offering delivery services. Hoping to make more money, Hae-Yi joins Theia, her university’s cheer squad. 

Cheer up also casts actor Baek In-hyuk as Jung Woo. He stars as the senior leader of the cheer team. Fans find that behind his tense demeanor, Jung-woo has a warm heart and devotes himself to help the team flourish. 

“I’m in love with Baek In-hyuk,” Heewon Chung (12), Baek In-hyuk fan, said. “Lots of people who are good friends with him claim that he’s the kindest man they’ve come across. I’m so happy that he has a good role in this show that portrays his real-life personality.” 

Fans of Cheer Up were quick to notice the drama’s inspiration on Yonsei University, a school that is classified as one of Korea’s prestigious SKY universities, and its celebrated cheer team. 

“SKY universities are the equivalent to your Ivy or Ivy-league adjacent schools like Harvard and University of Chicago in Korea,” Minhyung Lee (12), college applicant, said. “And since a lot of Koreans emphasize the value that comes with attaining higher education at a school with prestige, it’s no wonder why many Korean dramas base their plot around school and university.”

Yonsei’s famous cheer team is historically known for its annual performances. Its bright blue, upbeat, dazzling cheer team is a theme that Cheer Up directors have embodied throughout their 16 episodes. 

“The costumes are literally the same as those of Yonsei’s cheer team,” Taejoo Lee (12), avid fan of Cheer Up, said. “Not only that but the K-Drama also sings Yonsei’s school chant, Akaraka.” 

Cheer Up mimics the Korea-Yonsei rivalry in which the university teams compete in various events like cheer. 

“I remember when I was a Yonsei University student when we had these intense rivalry competitions,” Amelia Chung’s (12) aunt, Yonsei University medicine student and SIS alumni, said. “It’s funny because I still remember the chants we did during the show Akaraka!”