Drama

Exploring Friendship in Dramaland

Welcome to my attempt to explore friendship through how it is portrayed in the wonderful world of Dramaland (titles found on MDL). I  have previously attempted to explore Dramaland’s portrayals of relationships with Kie starting with: Motherhood,  Marriage and rounding up our last piece on Marriage (part 2)  with the promise to explore friendship next. Kie has been too busy, so after putting this article on hold for a long time, we decided that it was better if I attempted to explore this subject on my own (kind of ironic). However, I checked with her, and she is here in spirit. And I think she should definitely get some love and acknowledgement for getting the ball rolling on this subject. 

You may wonder why I start this article with this long explanation. Well, it is actually a bit of an introduction to the subject of friendship, showing how I and Kie, who have actually never met, can be one type of friend, in this case, the friends found in the wonderful wide web of the internet (MDL). Friends that come together for a purpose but like many other friendships can also take a break now and then. We may also lose touch and just have the memory of writing together and that is worth a lot too as it is. This is good to have in mind when we dig into the portrayals of friendships in Dramaland. Or this could just be me trying to put unnecessary meaning to an otherwise attempt to make a link between the articles of this series (you decide how to interpret it).

But before we dig into the different categories of friendship I found in Dramaland…

What is friendship? How would I define a friend?

I think friendship is one of those concepts that people relate to very differently depending on their place in life, past experiences and what I guess would be personality. The concept of friendship may sound simple and again relatable, but once I started to ponder away as I do while writing these pieces, I found myself realizing that yet again, it is complicated covering all, from loneliness to boundaries to people’s different needs, abilities and access…

Some people have many friends, while others have only a few or none. Some might want to have many friends, while some would choose to be with few or rather alone (the whole introvert vs. extrovert thing). Some people have lived in the same spot their whole lives and still have the same friends like the ones they grew up with, while others (like me) have moved around and learned how to both make new ones and to let go of friends over and over again.

As life proceeds, I find that I (an extrovert) have made friends in more and more varied contexts, including education, work, interest groups, internet forums such as MDL, hospitals and a lot more. Some people have come, gone, some of those came back and of those, some went again. Some I will have to wait for my next life (if there is one) to meet again, while others remained by my side (physically or mentally) for many years. I have, however, learned that friendship and impact on my life seldom were defined by time and more by timing and how the person influenced me.

This is how I relate, but I am pretty sure that no matter how you relate to the concept of friendship, Dramaland probably has portrayals of the types of friendships you wish you had, the ones you wish you hadn’t experienced and the ones you just might want to avoid. So here we go…. 

Disclaimer: this is just a selection that caught my attention at the time I was writing this. I have not in any way the ability to remember or cover all the friendships portrayed in Dramaland. This editorial is completely based on my memory, past experience and opinions and is, in no way, to be seen as a moral compass, complete guide or factual piece. This editorial is also a reflection of my viewing patterns having mostly Romance dramas from South Korea but does include movies and dramas from most of the countries and genres found on MDL. 

And though I have tried to avoid spoilers, much like many chocolate manufacturers can not guarantee that their product does not contain traces of nuts, I cannot guarantee that the article below does not contain traces of spoilers. So as usual, if you are very sensitive to spoilers, proceed with caution. 

This article is pretty long and can either be binged as a whole read or one chapter at a time. 

Cyberfriends 

Friendships that start online have great potential. I have actually neither met nor heard the voices of most of the people I have been writing articles with and I know very little about them. Not knowing the full name, location or background does not stand in our way of producing some pretty cool articles (if I may pat myself on the back) and led to us having great conversations while still covered by anonymity. All made possible by common interests and a will to write about it (and technology). However, most of my internet friends are more used to socialising than producing content and have made me experience every emotion possible. On a personal note, some of my closest friends started off on social platforms and ended up as long time friends both in and outside the net.

Not so platonic connections… 

Covid has given us a whole bunch of cyber oriented friendships and romances. To be honest, it feels like most of them are from the Philippines, but there are, of course, exceptions such as #Remolove: Futsuu no Koi wa Jado from Japan and the Taiwanese series See You After Quarantine? to be found on my competed list. I have however by far seen the most Pinoy Covid Cyber friends to lovers dramas, with such lovely connections as Hello Stranger, Boys’ Lockdown and probably the most famous one Gameboys. There is also the spin-off Pearl Next Door, where the friendship was started outside the net but is mostly confined to chat rooms because of the pandemic. All are a precise mix of the struggles with Covid-19, virtual life and the friendship that follows. In Gameboysa game streamer is challenged by another gamer who seems to have a secret crush on him. The story progresses as we see them go from complete strangers to friends to lovers in midst of their struggles with sexuality, social media influence and Covid-19 impact.  

In  #Remolove: Futsuu no Koi wa Jado, Green Tea Mochi meets Lemon in a game app. I am not sure if they actually get to play the game during the drama but remember the game having a chat option, that becomes a place for these two to chat on a daily basis. Little do they know that they actually do know each other from work. This drama does a pretty good job showing the freedom anonymity can give those who are otherwise reserved when it comes to talking with people. It also shows how meaningful online friendships can become, as well as the awkwardness when what you think are two completely different people with completely different opinions turn out to be one and the same person.

A drama that has a similar theme but without the Covid is Moonlight, where long time online friends bash each other online before one of them finds out who the other is and uses it for his advantage. While I do hope that most internet interactions are safe and well-intended, some use the anonymity of the net in even worse ways than the guy in Moonlight. So though I do not want you to miss out on the beauty of online friendship, I will advise you to be cautious while sharing nude pictures and never to give out your personal information – passwords or credit card numbers – to people you can not fully trust. Especially online, accounts can be hacked, etc. Though I have seen a bunch of hackers, I do not recall seeing a depiction of online friendship gone bad, but I am sure there are lots of them out there. And even if I only have positive memories of internet friendship, it feels irresponsible, in a way, not to mention these warnings.  

Platonic connections…  

One of the most memorable and heartbreaking cyber friendships I have seen is portrayed in Fujoshi, Ukkari Gei ni KokuruIn this drama, two gay boys develop a close friendship over the net (partially built on lies) where they can be open about their thoughts, aspirations, dreams while otherwise closeted in a society where it is hard to come out as gay. A true treasure for those otherwise left alone with their thoughts. Unfortunately, that treasure comes to a tragic end once one of the boys commits suicide, tragic as it is. It is a situation that leads to great understanding, development and pain for Andu Jun (Kaneko Daichi), who is struggling with his life choices. What I loved about this friendship was how it showed two gay men/boys being able to be meaningful platonic friends, even though they had never met in real life.

A less beautiful more self-destructive cyber friendship is portrayed in the Drama special Hoshi to Lemon no Heya, where a woman, who has been closeted in her room with only her mother and the internet connecting her with the outside world, gets some pretty disturbing advice from a man who is just like her.

While I was wrapping this article up, I reached out to my friends on MDL so they could help me find that one photo that would portray friendship. I now realize that probably it is an impossible task and resulted in a collage of the Dramaland friendships that meant something for my friends but would not otherwise be mentioned here.

Collage made with the help from 1 from vvn123, 2 from fiflydramalover, 3 from AnaTechWr, and 3, 4,5,6 from (virgievirgie)

However, Stardust did remind me of this beautiful depiction of friendship from Be Melodramatic that serves as the perfect bridge between online friendship and the offline friends that blur the line between family and friendship. 

Friend- Family, Family-Friend… Does it really matter? 

Kie wrote an article about this:  Found Family: My Favorite Trope, but there is always something more to add and seeing it is one of the ultimate types of friendships, I could not write this article without it. I actually have categories for this one too and find myself wandering off, thinking that the line between “family”, “found family” and “friends” is just as blurry and complicated as the separate concepts themselves. 

Pets are family too!

Okay, to be honest, I am mostly going to mention dogs, being called “humans best friends”, and myself having lots of experience with dogs and less with other pets. But other pets can be portrayed as a family too, I just do not remember them as well, other than maybe the cat Er Miao and the parrot in My Dear Guardian, as well as a couple of crabs in Forever and Ever with the same female lead and some of them, were practically abandoned by her, so they are not really the best friends to their devoted pets. 

However, most of you who have or have had a pet probably know that the pet will become one of the most important members of your in-home family – be the pet found, bought or adopted. And yes, I have actually also written a whole article about pets with Enny, however, it was from a slightly different angle. Two pets that are mentioned there are Mimi from Do Do Sol Sol La La Sol  and Woo Bin from While You Were Sleeping, who are both more or less the only family their owners have. Until Mimi’s mom Ra Ra (Go Ah Ra)  becomes part of the village and  Officer Han  (Jung Hae In)  meets Jung Jae Chan  (Lee Jong Suk), the dogs are the living beings closest to them.

If you want more of Robin/Woo Bin   (and the rest of the cast) there is an article about them here 

Then there is Barassi from Let’s Eat, who has one of Dreamland’s most beautiful selections of clothes, is a real foodie and becomes family not only to their owner but also to all the tenants living on the same floor as their owner. 

The two mances 

The strong friendship between two men/boys is often called bromance, the strong friendship between two women/girls is often called sismance, and well, people outside the gender binary do not seem to get acknowledged in the mances as far as I know. However, what they do with this tag is practically telling us, viewers, that their bond is as strong as both a romance and a sister/brotherhood while staying platonic and without genetics. This is a pretty common tag, but honestly, it is not much more than strong friendship, the type many of us dream of, and yes, I decided to put it as a type of found family. My article, my choice. 

Sismance 

There are adorable throuple in My Fated Boy and Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo. Girls who stick up for each other, cover for each other and even get jealous when they find out the others have a secret together, making them feel left out and sad that the others did not trust them as much as they trusted them (in both cases). It is most definitely a bond to be reckoned with.

The friends in  Unforgettable Love,  She Was Pretty, Hometown Cha Cha Cha and a bunch of other dramas are so close that they call each other wives. These pairs live together and share everything, encouraging each other in life’s ups and downs. Honestly, these relationships are probably some of dramaland’s most empowering and healthy relationships. And are worth so much more than most romantic relationships seen in Dramaland. Just listen to Pyo Mi Seon (Gong Min Jung), who even followed her best friend to a remote village because she could not live without her. However, she is not really true to her words and both girls do seem to choose boys over wives. 

Bromance

There are actually several dramas and TV shows with the word bromance in the title. I have personally not seen many of them but do know that the tag Bromance resulted in 1117 hits on MDL (Dec 2nd.2021), while Sismance gave me 648 results 1 minute later. For those wondering also, isn’t 1117 a lovely number? Do you think we can remove 6 of these tags to get 1111? Anyway, this is clearly a very popular tag and involves some of Dramaland’s most lovely titles, including a bunch of my personal favourites (I do have a lot of favourites). 

A very famous/popular Bromance is the one between the Goblin (Gong Yoo) and the Grim Reaper (Lee Dong Wook) in the well-titled drama Goblin. This one is so popular that when I asked people on feeds (November 25th, 2021) about bromances, other bromances got one mention at most, while this was the first one to come to mind for several people. This may have to do with the fact that this drama is ranked #1! in popularity, the popularity of the actors or just how cute these pretty clueless guys who find themselves sharing a house against their will are… I honestly do not know but agree on the cute part.

This may seem like an excuse to add pictures of Lee Jong Suk and Jung Hae In, and I am not going to lie… Though this is a one-sided admiration (a type of friendship) from my side to them, I do want to support some of my top boys, so part of it is indeed an excuse, but the bromance between Jung Jae Chan and officer Han in While you Were Sleeping is said by many to have greater chemistry than the one between the leads. These two love rivals have this beautiful connection brought by fate, and though they do have some rough patches, they do inevitably develop a very touching bromance… 

It takes a village (or an apartment building) to make a family 

There is this common idea that it takes a village to raise a child. Drama creators love to do just that when portraying a village of any kind (sometimes office buildings). They will often portray them as this one big, slightly dysfunctional, and sometimes abusive and murderous place. I am looking at you: Flower of Evil, Come and Hug Me, Strangers from Hell... But most of the time, they are portrayed as an idyllic happy, fluffy, mushi, family that will make you feel all gooey inside.  

Yong Jiu Grocery Store shows friendships that have lasted over generations out in the countryside. The story itself actually has several tragedies but they lead to the most beautiful bonds and very heartwarming viewing. The story starts with a grown man who has become a slave to his profession (yes, a tad cliche). He goes back to the countryside where he was raised by his grandfather, a convenience store owner and the village people (not the group, the actual people) who frequent it. This was after the death of his parents at a young age. Now, his grandfather has fallen ill, and the young man wants to close the store and move his grandfather to the city instead. But this is when the village chips in to remind him of his past, the store’s importance for the village, and the beauty in the simple life (again cliche, but very sweet). Here, the whole village is truly like a family bonding over a small convenience store.

Almost like a sequel to Yins Grocery Store but in an entirely different country and set by the sea in the small town where Home Town Cha Cha Cha takes place. With a male lead who lost first his parents at a very young age and then his grandfather at an early age. This was not really my type of show. One of the things that made watching it feel okay was the way the whole village cared for each other, gathering different people with different backgrounds, going far beyond neighbourly courtesies, and not only making sure everybody is safe but also fed and cared for, no matter age or situation and without asking too many questions.

When two worlds meet 

There is actually a (really good) drama called W where people from literally two different worlds meet. This part is, however, more about the friendships within this world that may seem worlds apart. 

Can people with different genders be Friends? 

While many dramas may try to convince us otherwise, I believe people of all genders and sexuality can both control themselves and are capable of having a variety of types of relationships. Most second leads are actually pretty good friends up to the point of rejection. However, a good second lead will stay friends and prove to us that it is possible to be friends even with people you have been attracted to.

Yumi’s Cells makes an interesting attempt to discuss the subject of whether men and women can be friends with very ambiguous results. 

To be honest, it is pretty rare to see friends with different genders on screen who are friends without being friends thru a partner or a potential love interest. However, in The Heirs, we see the good friends Cha Eun Sang  (Park Shin Hye) and Yoon Chan Yeong (Kang Min Hyuk), who have been friends for many years. Chan Yeong is a good friend who tries to be there for Eun Sang when she needs him. These two have an amazing bond and support each other without dragging in any romance to the mix.

In My Roommate is a Gumiho, we get to see a friendship between three students who support each other, get drunk together and get mad at each other for not sharing their lives rather than longing for each other romantically. These are more the type to support each other’s search for partners instead of becoming partners among themselves.   

Does age matter?  

Sometimes I find myself wondering if the idea of respecting one’s elders more than respecting others because of the sole reason of time spent on earth, puts barriers between generations and is pretty ageist instead of uniting them as equals. As well as leads to many (mostly, elderly) being lonely.

In my opinion, friendship should have no age limit. As long as there is a common interest, a bond can most certainly be made over the greatest age gaps, as the case in Navillera, where a bond is made over the common love for ballet. This drama portrays the beautiful bond made between the young ballerina Lee Chae Rok (Song Kang) and 70-year-old Shim Deok Chul (Park In Hwan), who is desperate to learn how to dance. These two find both common interest and support from each other, overcoming obstacles and showing us viewers the value of friendship.

Who can forget Lee Kang Doos (Lee Jun Ho) friendship with Jung Sook Hee (Na Moon Hee) in Just Between Lovers? To be clear, they were not lovers, but you could definitely feel the love between them, caring about each other’s health, life choices as well as helping each other help others. 

In Start-up, we witness a beautiful friendship between a schoolboy, Han Ji Pyung (Kim Seon Ho), and someone else’s grandmother (Kim Hae Sook ) after Ji Pyung finds himself without a place to live. While he is in need of a place to stay, she is in need of a pen pal for her very lonely granddaughter, which serves as a starting point for a friendship that most certainly is hard to forget. The same actor has a great friendship with another lovely grandma (again not his, at least not genetically) in Hometown Cha Cha Cha, played by Kim Yeon Ok. I do not know if there is a connection between the two, but the scenes between the two were probably some of the best parts of the show. 

Start-Up
Hometown Cha Cha Cha

Age gaps do not have to be as big as those above for friendship to bloom over generations. A 23 year age gap (at least the actors) is no hindrance for this couple in Beyond Evil to develop one of Dramaland’s most adored bromances when Lee Dong Shik (Shin Ha Kyun) and  Han Joo Won (Yeo Jin Goo) go from very suspicious enemies to brothers while investigating a long time mystery and getting close within the town, a town much like Cha Cha above just with corruption, secrets and murder that is…   

Income gaps, just a matter of resources or an obstacle for friendship? 

As much as we would like to shout that all people are created equal, it doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, reality does kind of divide people into categories based on income, giving people with money more power, as well as the fact that many people live segregated and do not really come in contact with people on the other side of the income scale.

One drama that shows this difference very openly is At a Distance, Spring Is Green where Nam Soo Hyun (Bae In Hyuk) goes to great lengths to show Yeo Joon (Park Ji Hoon) that even though they go to the same University, they live very different lives and should not be friends. Joon is, however, extremely persistent in wanting to befriend Soo Hyun, qualifying this friendship as a true Bromance by the end of the drama.

The difference in income, as well as power, is part of the plot in Love Alarm, where two friends from very different economic backgrounds fall for the same girl, putting a strain on the friendship and showing that this friendship really was not very equal, to begin with. Another very unequal friendship is the one between Kim Myung Hee (Go Min Si) and  Lee Soo Ryun (Geum Sae Rok) in Youth of May that gets Myoung Hee in trouble and makes her sacrifice herself for the sake of her rich friend. 

Two worlds meeting or one and the same? 

The idea that people of the same gender can be platonic friends is often taken for granted or can easily become a joke or a punch-line when a person who is attracted to another person of the same gender comes out of the closet, having people around them take a step back. 

Prison Playbook shows several amazing displays of friendship between men, so many that I  plan on writing about it again later (so keep your eyes open), But the development of the friendship, maybe even bromance between the very gay character Looney (Lee Kyu Hyung) and the, in the beginning, homophobic  Captain Yoo  (Jung Hae In, yes I do like mentioning Jung Hae In whenever I can) is probably one of the friendships with the greatest development shown in dramaland, being both supportive as well as breaking prejudices and showing that people can change. 

The two best friends in Nevertheless have been friends since more or less forever so of course place under childhood friends and friends to lovers as well. These two, however, did not really manage to just stay friends and fall in love instead… So yes, it is very clear that though people of the same gender can just be friends, they can also fall in love in a less platonic kind of way. 

In TharnType, we meet  Type (Gulf Kanawut Traipipattanapong), who is not gay, not gay at all, and is actually pretty homophobic but finds himself in love with another guy. These things happen. Gay or not (could be pan, could be bi, but probably not hetero), this guy does seem to be able to have several male friends that he is really close with, without the least bit of attraction between them. These friends are really supportive and loving and are a feast for the friendship eye, thus showing us that people of the same gender can definitely be friends with other people of the same gender no matter sexuality. 

Two very short yet icicle melting portrayals of friendship between girls are the very short web drama Out of Breath. In three short episodes, we get to see two long time friends, who are both lesbians and friends. It also makes way for two lesbian girls who meet over the internet and do get attracted to one another, showing us that women who are attracted to each other can start off as friends and develop romantic feelings for each other, while other women who are attracted to women can start off as friends and well, stay friends. 

Last but not least to be mentioned here will be the friends in We Best Love: No. 1 For You, a drama that starts off with a painful love triangle between childhood friends, but ends with two separate couples and a restored friendship for the three. When Gao Shi De (Sam Lin) wins over the affection of his long time crush and sports rival, making him, Zhou Shu (YU), forget about the feelings he once had for the girl he grew up with and fall in love with him instead. Thus proving again that people can practically be friends with anyone.

Friendship from now and to eternity…   

Some friendships developed over the net can probably lead to lasting friendships over time or to reconnecting with a childhood friend. In the following part, I will explore some friends that start out during childhood, some that last for lifetimes and a couple that is a bit hard to define.


Sometimes one lifetime just is not enough…

Have you yet found a friend in this lifetime? Maybe just maybe, your friend is stuck in a typewriter somewhere… Or maybe in a pen or a clock? Chicago Typewriter shows that some friendships are so strong that they will haunt you in your next life. Not in the “I am going to kill you” kind of way, but in the “I was so significant for you that even death did not truly part us, now I shall come back and help you through the difficulties in life”. Ok, even if one of the friends has killed one of the three as a response for being responsible for the third friend’s death. But hey, that was due to circumstances and again in a past life, so now it is just nice for them to reunite and tell their story together.  A beautiful, painful and extremely powerful portrayal of a complex friendship over lifetimes indeed.

 

Of course, you do not have to be caught in a typewriter to come back. We have already mentioned The Untamed in my and Kies’ piece on marriage, but it is also seen in other wuxia and fantasy dramas involving immortals such as Ashes of Love, My Love from the Star,  Hotel Del Luna and many, many more, where not only romance but also friendship transcends till first death and beyond.

And then there are those where the definition of lifetimes is a bit more tricky. Someday or One Day  has a very twisted and interesting timeline, revolving mostly about the romantic relationship between a man and a woman that transcends time and space. It may be hard to remember that it also portrayed a friendship between the first and second male leads that transcended true time, space and unbelievable obstacles. Li Zi Wei (Greg Hsu) shows both trust and devotion towards his friend Mo Jun Jie (Patrick Shih) in the most extreme settings. What those are is better left unsaid because it might just spoil the drama. A similar connection is the one between the friends in Blue Birthday, where childhood friends travel back and forth through time to save each other. Though the name may suggest that it is all about celebrating birthdays, these kids are just trying to keep each other alive in the future.

We meet again!   

Making friends as a child seems to be as simple: as you are a child, I am a child, let’s be friends! But the ability and courage to make friends vary quite a bit, and children are often powerless when it comes to deciding who they get to meet and who they can stay in touch with once the first encounter has passed. Yes, a child can choose how they face another person and if they are willing to accept them but are often under the control of the adult world when it comes to where they live, where they go to school and means of communication.

One of my personal favorite tropes in Dramaland that I know many people are tired of seeing is Childhood Connection. Though the focus is often more on romance than friendship, these portrayals of early friendship that leave a lasting impression years after they part seem to touch my inner child. In Summer Again, Tong Xi (Ni Ke Xin*) was forced to leave her childhood home and friend Lin Nan Yi (Chen He Yi*) as a result of her parents’ separation and her mom’s dance aspirations for her, but has now returned, again against her will, and is holding a grudge against her childhood friend who had failed to see her off or answer her letters. Though this drama takes a bunch of turns, the way this friendship, as well as the long term grudge/pain caused by the grownups’ decisions, really touched my inner child. 

Another lovely childhood connection is shown in Meeting You, where a boy who has social anxiety is lured into friendship by a bubbly extroverted free-spirited girl who takes him under her wing. These are, of course, separated, and the guy goes back into his shell. But that friendship leaves such a lasting impression that this boy can open up again as a teen once they reconnect.

A slightly unexpected childhood connection is found in Lovely Writer. While  Nubsib  (Kao Noppakao Dechaphatthanakun*) recognises Gene (Up Poompat Iam-samang*) immediately and tries to reconnect, Gene stays clueless. As the story unravels, we find out a beautiful childhood friendship that most definitely left a lasting impression of loss and longing on both of them. 

And one last Childhood connection to get a mention here is the one between the swimmers in  No Breathing Jon Win II (Seo In Guk/Yoo Seung Yong) and Jung Woo Sang (Lee Jong Suk/Nam Da Reum), who competed as kids. Win Il even gave Woo Sang his gold medal to comfort him after winning a competition against him as a kid saying: “You can have this Gold medal”. Now, as teens, Woo Sang is South Korea’s hope for the Olympics and is caught in a small scandal. While Win Il is forced back to competitive swimming as his last chance at an education, the journey these two go thru in the short screening time of a movie qualifies as yet another great bromance, with the addition of a third childhood friend, Jung Eun  (Kwon Yu Ri ), caught in between them.   

*The child actors/eses in the cast of Summer Again and Lovely writer are not listed and therefore not mentioned by name.

The friendships that seem to have lasted forever…  

There are few dramas that portray friendship as competently as Reply 1988. This drama has a fascinating take on direction as a young girl’s narration takes us on a throwback journey to her life in the ’80s with her childhood friends and keeps us guessing who among them became her husband. Though the drama is more focused on romance, during the process of finding out who the couple is, it portrays the life of not only five friends but actually eight neighbours who go through different phases in friendship. Looking at this, it is hard not to think of the children who lived in the same neighborhood as oneself and wonder what happened to them. This drama definitely has the ability to make a person feel very nostalgic and may even encourage someone to contact that old childhood friend. 

Here they are: 

As  kids

Playing around in the neighbourhood… 
Hanging out, eating ramen, playing games and often watching movies together.

As teens

As grown ups

Maybe not all of the kids but part of them still hang out, reminiscing about the past and leeding responsable lives. 

In Arthdal Chronicles, we see great scenes of childhood interactions between Eun Seom   (Kim Ye Joon/Song Joong Kí) and  Tan Ya ( Heo Jung Eun /Kim Ji Won), who are raised together out in the wilderness learning to dance, hunt and sharing thoughts and dreams. Okay, yes, they were separated due to circumstances, but season two is not out yet, and I truly believe that they will reunite as friends in one way or another.

However, few friendships have lasted as long as the one in My Roommate is a Gumiho that have great chemistry and show lovely displays of sibling banter. The banter has gone on and off most of their lifetime (there are not that many Gumihos out there). And while people come and go (end up dying), the Gumihos’ lives continue…  

The last of the forever friendships to be mentioned here is the one between Yuan Jin Xia (Tan Song Yun) and Yan Shi Fan (Han Dong) in Under the Power. Again friends since childhood and could probably be placed under found family. However, one thing that we get to see very often is how people question the platonic of their relationship, but both are very clear that they are platonic friends that have never thought of each other as anything other than friends, and more like siblings. 

Enemies to Friends to Lovers to Enemies…. 

Some may say that it can be hard to change the first impression, but if Dramaland has taught us one thing, it is never to trust anyone… I mean, first impressions are only true when it comes to love at first sight, but most enemies become lovers and do not trust anyone because you never know when your friend will betray you.

Starting out as friends but ending up as lovers…

Great trope and seen so often that it could be an article on its own. I am only going to mention a few gems in this section. While I do believe people who start off as friends can have an amazing deep friendship, I also believe that friendship is a foundation for romance.

I don’t love you yet/In time with you – this is a drama that has been done in many versions for many countries. I have seen the Japanese version of this. The drama shows this amazing bond between two friends who just do not seem to have the guts to admit their feelings to each other due to a misunderstanding and the almighty fear of ruining the all-important friendship. As friends, the only difference between a long time romantic couple and platonic friends seems to be just that: the platonic part. To be honest, if it weren’t for the whole romantic feelings they had for each other, this would have been a beautiful display of friendship but is instead an amazing display of a foundation for a marriage.

Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo has one of Dramaland’s sweetest couples. Most of the drama is, however, spent as friends, where Bok Joo (Lee Sung Kyung) has a crush on someone else. The friendship shown here is that of two people who have a history of helping each other out as well as having a lot of fun building each other up when they are down. This seems to be a pretty common theme for friendship, building each other up when down and broken = building a foundation for friendship or, in some cases, love… Does that mean you have to be broken to need a friend or find love? Okay, probably not, but it is kind of reassuring that the broken can be built.

In Colorful Love: Genderless Danshi ni Aisareteimasu, we get to see these two high school friends get reconnected when they get to collaborate on a project. I, personally, had trouble watching this for various reasons, mostly finding some of the side characters highly annoying. However, I did really enjoy the interactions between these two while balancing the line between friendship and love. While Soma Meguru (Itagaki Rihito) seemed very clear about their feelings from the start, Machida Wako (Yoshikawa Ai) portrayed a person who was struggling to accept or decide if her feelings were platonic or less platonic towards Meguru. The parts where these two interact were true gems, filled with color, cuteness and care that are rarely seen in Dramaland portrayed in that way (that I know of). Just look at all that cuteness and color.

The ultimate “friends to lovers” is probably shown in  Fight For My Way. Just kidding, there are so many of these. No one can be THE ultimate, but these get pretty close. These two childhood friends, who seem almost as close as siblings, find themselves falling for each other. The way it is actually surrounded by quite a bit of humour shows that it may not always be as easy as one may think to suddenly start dating your best friend. 

Does this look a bit awkward or is it just me? 

 Keeping your enemies close can change your mind about them…

What often starts as rivalry can sometimes turn into a beautiful friendship or love affair, kind of enforcing the whole idea “if he hits you, he likes you”. This is often beautifully portrayed and fun to watch, but a big red flag and a lesson I would like to address here before we move on with this part… Changing one’s mind about a person is a good thing if the first impression is bad. I think it is always great in both dramas and real life to be able to develop and find other ways to interact. However, the idea of “if he (mostly he, but she too) teases/hits you, it means he likes you” is a different story. This type of behaviour is a red flag and should definitely be questioned. Many (mostly) women take it upon themselves to change such a person and may end up disappointed (or killed) if they do… That said, in Dramaland, watching people go from enemies to lovers is great entertainment, so here are some of my favorite examples of this.

A River Runs Thru It shows the start of a beautiful friendship by Lu Shi Yi (Wang Rui Chang) accidentally getting his butt burnt by fireworks set off by Xia Xiao Ju (Hu Yi Xuan) and then turning into more or less mortal enemies before growing into becoming the best of friends, and maybe even more…

Skate Into Love has friends/enemies to enemies to friends to lovers all in one couple. When these two people were kids, they had very different ways of understanding the same situation. While he thought the way she showed friendship was bullying, she thought they were best friends. He saw her as his biggest bully, making him change schools. She saw hím as her best friend who abandoned her without a word. When these two got reunited at university, she still thought he was her friend while he just wanted to get back at her… Something that, of course, made great drama, and as the misunderstandings unravelled, these two university kids showed how beautiful life can become once you stop bullying and start communicating.

When we get jealous of or hurt by the ones we love, love can turn to hate!

We would like to think that once a friend is always a friend and that our friends would never betray us. But the reality is that conflicts happen, jealousy, misunderstandings, or just drifting apart can cause anger. Though we hope never to be betrayed by a friend, and it is seldom done as drastically as in Dramaland, it is hard not to feel the pain of betrayal while watching the lead being betrayed. The betrayal by a friend is often one of the most surprising plot twists in a drama, so you may want to proceed into this section with extra caution.

In True Beauty, long time friends Lee Su Ho  (Cha Eun Woo) and Han Seo Jun (Hwang In Yeop) are not only love rivals but actually used to be really good friends. Some would say they were inseparable. However, they leave their friendship behind after blaming each other for the tragic death of the glue in their friendship.

Going from this lovely trio 

To this not so lovely duo… 

Another drama that I really enjoyed with a similar portrayal of a trio gone bad that comes to mind is My Mr. Mermaid. In this drama, a series of secrets and misunderstandings ruined and divided a foursome into a 1 in a coma + 1 swimmer in one university and 2 swimmers in another university.

Sunshine of my Life portrays a very talented upcoming designer, who has this amazing friendship with one of her classmates, one of those friendships that would fit perfectly into the sismance, if not for the friend being so jealous of her friend’s talent and admiration that she pretty much stabs her in the back multiple times. While playing the role of the best friend, she ruins her chances in a competition, and as if that is not enough, she spies on her first for her love rival and then steals her design to give to a competitor. We must commend her for her acting skills because she honestly seems like such a good friend.

Warning Spoilers ahead

If you have not seen and plan on watching  Strangers from Hell you may want to close your eyes and scroll fast! 

A friend who is nice enough to offer Jong Woo (Im Si Wan ) a job in the big city. A city Jong Woo is longing to move to get close to his longtime girlfriend. However, this so-called friend is actually only after Jong Woo’s girlfriend. Jae Ho (Cha Rae Hyung ) is a master at pretending to care and really good at hiding his ill intentions as well as using the act of kindness to bestow on his so-called friend. Doing a pretty impressive, aggravating, but efficient job driving his so-called friend into complete confusion and self-doubt. Does he go insane, or is he just reacting to his surroundings? Can a person stay calm and think clearly, surrounded by friends from hell? Or is killing them all the most rational solution?

To be fair this guy does make a new friend who seems pretty nice, he looks so sweet and innocent here…

But he just wants to kill everybody…                          

 Is that really too much to ask for? 

However, where to place this guy feels a bit odd…                                                    

     Is he a friend, is he an enemy?                           

 Who is he really?

Friends due to circumstances 

Is there a greater friendship than the one that takes people from different backgrounds and settings and just sticks them together due to circumstances such as college,  prison, war, loneliness, school… Here people can find bullies who will haunt them for life, friends who will fight the bullies and become your friends for life and just some friends that will make you feel just a little bit less alone. 

Do friends that kill together stay together?

In 3 will be freewe witness how three people are brought together when Miw (Mild Lapassalan Jiravechsoontornkul) happens to step into the sight of Neo (Joss Way-ar Sangngern), being hunted down by mercenaries and just happens to kill the guy hunting him down, who just happens to be hired by the father of Shin (Tay Tawan Vihokratana). Then it gets really complicated, with people being used as hostages, being hunted down, and of course, getting killed here and there. But not only do these three find friendship, but they also fall in love. Being on the run is, of course, one thing but avenging the death of a loved one for Mae (Jennie Panhan ) and work/gangster partner for Tur (Gunsmile Chanagun Arpornsutinan) is also a way to build an almost unbreakable yet painful and only slightly (very) dangerous friendship, making this drama a great source for friendships of the less harmonious kind.

Our main throuple… 

   

And those who try to hunt them…

Tune In For Love shows both the friendships that destroy you as well as the ones that build you up again, but once you have fallen into the grasps of the destructive friendship, it may show up to destroy you again and put you right back where you started. A similar thing is portrayed in Prison Playbook, where a prisoner fresh out of prison gets pushed back moments after release.

The movie Better Days has some of the most painful scenes in Dramaland showing some pretty harsh consequences of becoming outcasts from both school and society. The movie shows how these horrible circumstances can push people together, not just to survive the day, but also some pretty tragic outcomes. Though the bond between the two is one of the most beautiful ones seen on screen, this is definitely not a feel-good friendship. If they stay together or not is also a different question. 

 Well, few people die as quickly as the ones in Squid Game and games like these (I assume, I have only seen this one). But in Squid Game, we do get to see a lovely group of people who become really close to each other as a means of survival (to begin with) while participating in a game. A game that is there to entertain rich people, who just need some excitement in their otherwise economical capital fulfilled lives. These rich people are true givers, giving one desperate person enough money to buy whatever they may dream of while cutting off the rest. All of the participants are, of course, hoping to be that one person seeing that the odds in the game seem to actually be better than out in the more conventional society. But anyway, the drama shows a big variety of friendships in this extreme situation. Having people there start off as long time couples, enemies, childhood friends or completely fresh. These people do find themselves in a quick need of alliances and form groups to up the chances of survival. While some of these new alliances of the competition, others try to avoid harming others until the very end, but in this case, even childhood friends that may or may not have killed together end up going up against each other.    

School,  a (not always) lovely place to meet friends 

I am willing to bet that all who have seen a drama will have some kind of relationship with going to and/or sending your kids to school.  While there are those dramas that show the (mostly) toxic bonds made between parents in such great titles as Sky Castle, Terius Behind Me, The Heirs  (mostly mothers) of children in early to higher education, this part focuses on the friendships shown among children.

Early education, the best time to just be friends

I cannot really recall dramas that focus on the younger children’s education, let alone friendships made in there but there are a few worth mentioning. The first that comes to mind is this little guy Lee Woo Ju (Kim Jun) from Hospital Playlist  2, who seems to seldomly meet his father. However, when he does meet him, he spends most of his time talking about his friend from kindergarten. I am not sure if we do actually get to see her, but it is hard to miss that person’s existence as well as the importance of her to him.  Another portrayal of a child in early education is seen in Hi Bye, Mama!. Here, Jo Seo Woo (Seo Woo Jin) is seen playing with her very much dead friends ghost instead of human children

School Bullying: the start of some of Dramaland’s most beautiful (or toxic) friendships!

Many dramas portray youths being bullied in school, sometimes people go from bullies to friends. To be honest, it is more bully to “try to own you”, but there are those people who become friends by getting away from bullies together and sticking up for each other. 

Just a quick look into dramas that show friendship in High School, and we find Light On Me, where they chase off bullies together and Save Me, where they fight bullies (not very successfully) before they take an even bigger step to try to save the lead from a cult. It started with school bullies and ended with someone needing saving from a cult, showing us that if you do end up forced into a cult, having friends on the outside may not be a bad idea.

But back to school bullying, we also find these elements in Sweet Revenge, Sweet Revenge Season 2where the theme is to avenge bullying, Who Are You: School 2015. Some of Dramaland’s most toxic love stories also started out as school bullying (I’m looking at you, Boys Over Flowers! And come to think of it, just about any K-drama that involves teens that I have seen. I am honestly racking my brain to find some of these and even searched for Korean School dramas without the tag: School Bullying, and well, most of them do have elements of bullying in them, maybe not as friendship starters, but they are present.

The only two on there to cross my mind that don’t have bullying in it are the remake of A Love So Beautiful as well as Sungkyunkwan Scandal (and I am not sure how to categorize that school) and Failing in Love But there are probably more of them. I just want to point out that it is much more common to see elements of bullying in dramas from South Korea than not. Which, if I understand it right, is not strange since it is a big problem that people do actually talk about. But bullying is, of course, also seen in titles from other countries on MDL, for example, He´s into Her (Philliilipins), which bullying scenes reminded me of Boys Over Flowers, where a popular guy can turn a whole school against someone with the click of a button. And of course, the Chinese movie Better Days probably has Dramaland’s most painful but well-done portrayal of school bullying and lack of friends in school.  

Those who study together stay together too (sometimes) 

Still, Dramaland does have some beautiful portrayals (with or without bullying in the mix) of school friendships. As seen in Don’t Disturb My Study, where a person’s desire to study is disturbed by the beautiful friendships that keep coming in the way. One of my personal favorites is the group of friends shown in the Chinese version of A Love So Beautiful, where some start as childhood friends, others join in high school, and the friendship takes them through a whole lot of joy and hardship (one has pretty bad heart disease) but they manage to stay the same. Another couple of C-dramas worth mentioning stars in When We Were Young, where they literally help their friend mend his home that is falling apart and caring for his grandmother while still going to school, playing around and just being there for each other. 

Okay, yes, for two in this trio, they indeed started as enemies, but this trio in A River Runs Through It is probably one of the most supporting trios in Dramaland. Classmates, university friends… Whenever they needed each other, they more or less dropped anything to be there, getaway, listen, distract with fireworks, or just hand over a tissue.  

Enough with the name dropping, I also seem to remember a lovely portrayal of school friendship in the movie The Boy Foretold by the Stars and follow up drama Love Beneath the Stars, where they have this whole movement dedicated to self-acceptance and love in a surprisingly sweet and not at all awkward way, showing how people can meet each other by participating in school activities and get really close in a very short amount of time.

So, in short, if you are looking for lovely portrayals of friendships, high school dramas are often a pretty safe bet with or without elements of bullying.

Next level education: less bullying, more comforting?

What is lovely about the friendships seen in dramas that center around higher education is the lack of bullying, not that there isn’t any bullying, but once you get to the higher levels of education, bullying is re-named hazing – as seen in SOTUS (it is however rebranded in SOTUS – S, so it can get confusing). But if we set aside the hazing, higher education does often serve as a melting pot, having people from different parts of a country (or the world) living together in small spaces, seeing that many of the dorms in Dramaland have room for more than one person. In C-dramas, the norm seems to be 4, in Thai dramas 2, the K-dramas I have seen seem to have 1-2 people per room. Making room for both rivalries, support and a show of how different personalities put together can either help you develop or ruin you completely.

The friendships I remember the most are, however, not really dorm related and instead are portrayals of how people from different parts of the country come together and become really close.

Oh-aew (PP Krit Amnuaydechkorn), in I Promised You the Moon, is shown to be pretty lost and lonely after moving to a big city but is somewhat embraced by this adorable group of friends that seem to take him in, and it melted my heart. It is hard to explain what exactly it was that did it. I guess it was just the accepting, “come as you are” feeling that these guys portray through the screen.

The boys just chilling…

And this scene, definitely this scene…

Much like the friendship portrayed in Reply 1988, the friendship portrayed in Hospital Playlist also has a strong foundation, though most of the relationships started as late as after high school. This group is sweet and shows both humour and support towards each other while letting each person stay true to their very, very, very different personalities. Yet they are still able to work, play music and well… Do more or less anything together, making me almost (only almost) want to study medicine… 

Law school is a drama that will keep you in suspense while you “aah” about the way these friends stick up for each other. Even though many of them are rivals in so many ways, most of them still find themselves going to some pretty far lengths to prove each other innocence, lockdown sexual predators and fight corruption by law!

Those who get paid together can get to play together too…  

 I have actually not seen many Japanese titles, but for some reason, they are the first ones to come to mind when I think of workplace friendship. 

Probably one of the cutest friendships to romance was made in the office of 30-sai made Dotei Da to Mahotsukai ni Nareru rashii. Kurosawa Yuichi (Machida Keita) tries to become friends with his workplace crush but has his feelings revealed due to the slight fact that Adachi Kiyoshi (Akaso Eiji) happens to be able to read his mind, oh well… 

Another bunch of lovely work friends are found in #Remolove: Futsuu no Koi wa Jado. The people in this drama are awkward, sweet and taught me about the existence of belly warmers as well as a whole range of types of friendship with the common ground of a pretty big office building. 

However, work-life is not always easy, there are actually a bunch of dramas that focus on the little person sticking up for their rights, fighting together against work oppression leading to beautiful bonds. To be honest, these are often comedies and rarely include my beloved obsession with the romance genre, but I hear that there are lovely friendships to be found in Good Manager and Misaeng: Incomplete Life. But there are of course those exceptions that I do love even without the romance. A personal favorite bond made in the workplace is the one between  Park Dong Hoon (Lee Sun Kyun)  and Lee Ji Ahn (IU) in My Mister. It is hard to find the right words to describe the depth and effect of the friendship formed between these two had on them, but I am sure that those who have seen this drama will agree that this is an unforgettable bond that does have its roots in a workplace. 

And though many will probably think of Jung Hae In and romance when I mention Something In the Rain, this drama does also have two groups of workplace friends meeting up, as well as a powerful friendship between Yoon Jin Ah (Son Ye Jin) and Geum Bo Ra (Joo Min Kyung). It starts when Bo Ra keeps a secret for Jin An and is strengthened when the two attempt to take a stand against sexual harassment, leading them to an unforgettable adventure. Okay, maybe not, but they are pretty lovable and if the male lead had been other than Jung Hae In, the two of them could easily have been the preferable *ship. Come to think of it, they probably should be the more reasonable ship in this drama.

*For those of you who are like I used to be, a Ship in Dramaland is not a vehicle that floats on water, but the desire viewers and fans have to see people as a couple (Wikipedia). 

Being locked up

While the school – and workday – often ends, some people find themselves stuck together with no way out. Sometimes it is great, other times not so much… 

Sharing the pain: the friendship found  in hospital/hospice settings 

I have personally spent A LOT of time in hospitals, and though I do not wish anyone to have to spend time there, some of my strongest friendships were actually formed there – friendships that have lasted thru many years.

In Hospital Playlist 2, we get to see how two mothers to children waiting for hearts support each other. The more experienced mother takes on the newcomer and shares both meals and ways to survive in this harsh situation, telling her it is a marathon and not a sprint. We also get a glimpse of friendship between patients, saying farewell and wishing each other well before they leave the hospital. 

It can be hard to find a group of people that are as different from each other as the mothers in Birthcare Center. But somehow, being thrown together with the common experience of recently giving birth makes way for both some pretty interesting conflicts but also support and growing bonds that will probably last long after they leave the center. The women in this drama grow a lot in a very short time, not only into the roles as mothers but as individual women with their own self-value and sisterhood. 

My kid is a preemie, so not only have I spent time in the hospital for myself, but we also spent the first 7 weeks of our kid’s life in a hospital. At one point, we shared a room with a couple of twins and their mom (okay, several twins, several parents), but one of the mothers and her twins have become our kids first friends and grown into a close friendship that in 2022 will have reached a decade and has gone way beyond those hospital doors.  

In Just Between Lovers, Ha Moon Soo (Won Jin Ah) met her best friend, Lee Jae Young (Kim Hye Joon), when she was hospitalised after a disaster when she was 15. And  About Time, we see a friendship that started at a hospital grow into found family between Choi Michaela (Lee Sung Kyung) and Oh So Nyeo (Kim Hae Sook), showing that hospitals are great places to find friendship. However, I strongly recommend people to avoid hospitals if they do not need them. Yes, they do have interesting pills there. But needles often hurt, pills have side effects, and most treatments may sound nice and all but rarely are (yet can be very necessary, so if you need hospital treatment, please don’t let the needles scare you off)! There are more ways to find friends, and it is always a gamble you may just end up in a room with a person that annoys the h**** out of you.

And then there is that place where people spend the last of their days. One may wonder if that is the right time or place to make friends, but if there is one thing the drama Chocolate teaches us is that it is never too late to make a friend and become an important part of someone’s life. May it be for a short while, the effect is real, not to mention what a well-thought meal can do for the dying. Yes, they may not have much time left, but as long as a person is still breathing, the person will have preferences, dreams and wishes. The touching stories and portrayals of friendship here are the kinds that go straight to your bones and make you shiver inside and are beautifully accompanied with enough cynicism and bad examples of bad relationships to keep you from cringing. Helping you stay on the ground.

We are all different… 

While some would wish for a supermarket meal 

Others would probably dream of chocolate (sorry I am the latter). In this drama, no food is valued higher than the other. 

Friendship while holding a gun… The friends made in a military setting

Enlistment to the army varies from country to country worldwide. I was exempted from military service, but in the country where I grew up, both men and women do mandatory military service. In South Korea, it is mandatory for all males to do it, and in Sweden, where I live, it used to be mandatory for men but is now voluntary and open for all genders. However, most of my childhood friends did do their service, and while growing up, I often heard about the bonds made in the military as much stronger than many others. The reality can, of course, vary and though I have no intentions of taking a stand about militarism here, I am going to mention some military friendships.

Descendants of the Sun is one of Dramaland’s most popular dramas (ranked 3rd) and qualifies as the number one military drama. I dare to say that one of the reasons (besides the star-filled cast and men running around shirtless in uniform) is the variety of friendships portrayed here. Though some do go bad, the majority of the bonds made during conflicts and ongoing disasters are almost great enough to make it worthwhile getting enlisted (but only almost). 

And who can forget the guys in Crash Landing On you? Okay, I almost did forget to mention them but was kindly reminded of them by virgievirgie while searching for that impossible picture? If you now would join an army be it North, South Korea, Swedish or BTS Army, having guys like these around is sure to make the experience more fun. I would personally love a chat about dramas with Kim Ju Muk  (Yoo Soo Bin).

Maybe not enough to join an army of any kind, but I must say even if I am not a huge fan of comedy, this squad is one of the reasons I kept watching K-dramas after stumbling across this on Netflix and was my gateway into the wonderful world of Asian streaming content… 

 On the other side of the fence, the drama  D.P. will make sure to scare you off both the army as well as probably make you lose hope in humankind. Here, we see men who bully, try to desert the army, those who try to catch them and those who allow the bullying to happen by staying silent. I am not going to say that this drama portrays a lot of beautiful friendships though it does have a few gems here and there. I rather mention it as an important portrayal of group mentality, hierarchies and lack of true friendship in the midst of difficulties. It does, however, have some nice acts of kindness here and there. However, even if I may want to scream off the top of my lungs, do not stay silent. The show does a good job telling me it is complicated.

Prison: bringing together the thieves, the embezzlers and the wrongfully accused as one big happy family

Prison Playbook shows men forced together by circumstances, showing the person behind the inmate. This drama also shows the importance of group dynamics and friendship for not only surviving but being able to grow and come out of prison alive. Okay, maybe not as dramatic as “alive”, but to be able to come out with hope instead of the otherwise shown despair (do not worry, there is despair too). It is hard to find a group of people who are as supportive as the guys in the cell… It may not be worth going to prison to find this bond, and there is no guarantee to find it either, so we strongly recommend you try to stay out of prison. Anyway, it is good to see inmates as humans beyond their crimes and think the bonds made there can be relatable for people in and out of prison. 

Out of prison but met in prison were the girls in Private Lives. Though we do not see their prison life, they did get close enough to stay close after leaving prison and are, therefore, worth mentioning here. I would also like to take this opportunity to say that this show is really underrated.

I am going through my head (and watchlist) to see if I can remember any more nice depictions of prison, but all I see are short flashes of violence. I do have high hopes for One Ordinary Day, but at the time this article was written, this drama was not fully out, so I can not say here but probably will have seen it by the time this article hits your screens. 

Common interest 

Then there are those places to meet friends that are based on mutual interests, such as sports or those who are part of a minority and need to find a place to be the norm. There are also those who become friends while fighting for a common cause, such as fighting corruption or sharing their passion for Hae In, IU,  U-Know, Billkin Putthipong Assaratanakul, Blackpink, Astro (or any other group/star). 

Those who run together win together  

Training together is sharing a common interest as well as intense emotions. 

In Youth of May, we see the growth of a beautiful friendship between young runners, who at first are rivals and hate each other but grow to become more and more like family and less and less like rivals. These boys find themselves risking their lives (by accident) to get a cake for their friend as well as to make it back alive. 

And so would probably the youths in Racket Boys, if forced to. Luckily, their struggles are not as extreme as those above. These kids live and train together to overcome great hurdles and make each other better. The same thing is found in the dorms of No Breathing, Go Go Squid!, Go Go Squid 2: Dt. Appledog’s Time, and well more or less any sports-themed drama, seeing no sports drama is complete without the friendship tag. I don’t really know why I like this type of drama, since I completely lack all interest in sports (unless it is Children’s Ultimate Frisbee or maybe Curling). However, I love watching sports dramas, be it weightlifting, E-sports, dancing or running, though swimming is probably my favorite. I am pretty sure it has little to do with the sport and more with the struggle, the friendship, the friendly competitiveness with the touch of drama… Ok, I guess I do know why I like them… But, honestly, just love seeing these friendships evolve in those sports dorms. Be it kids or adults, I love them all.  

The lovely gang in Racket Boys (though it would probably be more correct to say Racket Kids…)

The curious gamers in Go Go Squid !

Finding friends who can relate…    

Living as a minority is not always easy. While some find comfort in groups online, there are also those groups where minorities can be part of the norm. This is most commonly seen in short films (at least as far as I can remember).

Until Rainbow Dawn is a film that shows the importance of finding not only a soulmate but also people who are like you and who will welcome you. The story revolves around a deaf lesbian couple in Japan who go to an LGBTQ+ bar in the city where they find people who have had different struggles within the community but found soles in each other and create a safe space where they can be accepted just the way they are. The entire movie is silent and is almost a struggle to watch for a hearing person, but the message is beautifully conveyed and leaves you all fuzzy and slightly angry inside.

Two Lights: Relumino is a (way too) short film about (mostly two) people who are in a photography club for people with visual impairments. A place where people make it possible for themselves to experience the wonderful world of photography together without having to feel like they stand out or fear people crossing their boundaries. And does give seeing people a window into the relationship, some struggles but mostly the very ordinary life people live with or without being able to see. I think that if you pay enough attention, you can also notice that the (way to) short film conveys the value of making friends with similar needs.  

Getting close and personal while fighting the power and being the change

Of course, there are those who come together to fight for their or others rights. From historical dramas, such as Queen for Seven Days and Mr. Sunshine, and Youth of May (it is in that genre, but are the 80s historical), where they do make strong bonds but also feel the loss and pain of the brutality of history put them bystanders thru.  

Preparing for action

Just look at all the friends, coming together for a common cause.   
Gathering together and shouting out… Okay, it may not always be perfect, but you can taste the excitement and community action, the hope… The feel of being part of something big is sure to remind those of us who are/or have been activists for some cause or another and all those meaningful friendships we made.

The thrill of the fight  

And the sorrow of defeat 

But there is no battle without setbacks… While most will (hopefully not ) have as strong memories of despair as the ones in this drama. I do think most will be able to relate to the look of despair and pain that leaves no one untouched. 
 

There are, of course, less extreme depictions of activism and political power. Many dramas will show the use of friendship to gain political power, both corrupt and not so corrupt, such as the wonderful friendship that came in handy when campaigning for office in Into the Ring for the very important reason of getting a steady paycheck. 

Fan, Fans, and Fandom… Friendship based on admiration! 

While some stand together with signs to protest, other friends will stand, sit, run together to welcome their idols! These can be best seen in all kinds of dramas, but if my memory serves me right, elements of this are seen in several dramas. One worth mentioning for showing both a slight shed of blood, fight and sisterhood is Reply 1997

Being a fan can be very meaningful for many people, finding comfort, joy, entertainment as well as getting utterly crushed if one’s favorite is badly cast, goes to the army or ends up in a scandal. Fans will care for their beloved oppa, nonna etc. And fans will care for each other! Finding common ground and a community.

In most cases, fans will probably be seen as a whole, having their oppas, noonas, idols, etc. love their fans as a whole batch but (I assume) not really notice the individuals (sorry). But fans are, of course, individual people too. I personally have trouble relating to the big webs of fandoms, different of all shapes and sizes out there. But do want to give you all a big set of hands for supporting your favorites. I am one of those who smile whenever I see my favorites and am happy to see them starring in a role, sad to see them enlist and happy to share the joy. I do like to separate my favorite’s private lives from their professions (even if I can be curious at times). However, one thing is very clear from both interactions with people here on MDL, dramas and other sites, one-sided or not, being a fan can very much give people the feeling of belonging and make way for several types of friendships. 

I doubt (hope) most fans out there will be able to relate to some of the extreme portrayals of fans as they are where the fans show 0 regards to their subjects’ privacy, as seen in Falling Into Your Smile and Her Private Life (among others). If you are looking for a more relatable (healthier) portrayal of fandom and friendship, you can probably find one of the sweetest and most fun ones in the drama Sweet Revenge, where we get to see how a superfan shares her fandom with both her mother and her new friend. Little does the superfan know that her Oppa is actually her new friend’s childhood friend, giving her the chance to meet him in person. And well, isn’t that every fangirl’s dream?

One drama that takes that dream to another level can be found in Her Private Life. Yes, it does show those fans we do not want to associate with, but the female lead is the organised, talented fan that even the idol is curious about and actually notices out of the bunch, becoming a fan right back at her (or even more).

Time to wrap this up… 

In life, as in dramas, friendships do take a whole set of different shapes. And well, so do dramas… A good drama is probably like meeting a nice friend who can both comfort you and distract you from whatever you may need a distraction from, entertain you or teach you something new. They are also available at most hours of the day as long as they have a service provider. While dramas, much like our idols, will rarely give you a two-sided response, the wonderful friends here on MDL are sure to make up for that if you ever find yourself in need to discuss them.

Now, it is time to let go of this article that has been with me for months… But do not worry, I have big plans on tackling more issues, fun prompts and other stuff that inspires me to write. While this article ends here, the series exploring relationships in Dramaland is sure to get another article (but what the next part will be is still a secret). Experiencing and discussing dramas lives on. I hope you found this series of articles meaningful, fun or at least aesthetically pleasing, and would love to read your thoughts on this piece in whatever form you like, be it friendship, my thoughts or the dramas’ titles you thought of while reading this article.

 Credits: I do not own any of the images used. Credits go to the respective owners. Images are from the official stills and posters, drama screenshots, MDL, and Google searches. Gifs and  Screenshots are either taken/made by me,  from the drama scenes or have a direct link to their source in or under them.  All sources outside my memory are linked to as well. Special thanks to my friends, Kie, and the editors for their contributions to this piece.


Edited by: Cookie (1st editor) 

friendship
bromance
friends to lovers
childhood friends
sismance
cyber friendship

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