The posters, promotion articles, and trailers bought me all!!! I was so excited about this drama more than other dramas prior to the promotion period. The biggest reason was the casts!!! Oh please! Who else can pull all the veteran actors and actresses as the main character if not tvN? The casts were only seen as a mother in law, a pitiful mom, or a grumpy dad, or a mere villain director who is thirsts about wealth in the other drama, but in this drama particularly, we will see them as the highlights!I also want to point out how positive was the feedback from the viewers knowing that theses casts will be the main characters. That means, the drama society has some great tastes, blocking off all the stereotypes of the drama should be. They were welcoming these grand dads and grand mas warmly as the heroes in this drama unlike what we could have thought (people would prefer Jo In Sung as the main cast right?). And, the most important thing, these casts do not disappoint us. Experience does speak louder.
Dear My Friends features all the great actors and actresses of South Korea from the 70s or 80s. Their glorious time might be dimmed a bit, but by this drama, they are let to be in the spotlight for one more time, and they do deserve it! The story is about each person of a long-life friendship and their relationship between their family members. I appreciate that the center of the story is Park Wan’s point of view (played by Go Hyun Jung). Her point of view as the ‘youngest’ cast in the bunch, changes as the plot goes. She is told as the only daughter of Jang Nan Hee (Go Du Shim), a temperament mom who owns a restaurant. We can sense Park Wan’s mother is a single fighter.It builds her up as a nagging mom. We find a lot of time, Park Wan and her mother are fighting. There are many things that disturb Park Wan. One of them, she dislike is her mom’s friends. The old folks.
One of The friends is Jo Hee Ja (Kim Hye Ja) who just freshly becoming a widow. Her husband’s death is not elaborately explained. Move on, she decides to live by herself even though everybody expects she cannot live by herself for all her life depends on her husband. She has a soft heart and very feminine compared to others, but she is eager to lead her lonely life by herself. She even makes little note to herself that she has to be independent and prepare herself to go to Nursing House when the time comes. She does not want to trouble any of her kids.
Next, we have our ‘forever-housewife’; Nom Jeong Ah (Na Moon Hee). For all her life she only works the house chores of her own house and her children’s houses. Her husband, Kim Suk Kyun (Shin Goo) is a typical Korean husband (older generation). Nagging, sarcastic, loud, and never compliment. A pain in the ass, really! It makes Jeong Ah feels suffocated, and she truly hopes to live like a bird, free. She simply wishes for her to drink beer whenever she wants without being nagged by her husband. She only wants to do whatever she wants without getting permission by his husband.She has enough for being slaved by her husband.
Lee Young Won (Park Won Suk) lives in the glamorous life of being an actress. She is just coming back from the States bringing her not-so-young boyfriend. Her love life is complicated. Married and divorced, having an affair, and get a flower regularly by what she calls, her true love. Behind her gleaming wealth, she has been under the surgery tables back and forth, fighting for cancer. Oh Chong Nam (Youn Yuh Jung), on the other side is the old virgin. She has never been married, and grew old feeding all of her family and extended family. On top of that, in her old age, she is still learning to get into a university. She runs a very busy life, but she is actually afraid of dying alone. She also has a crush on Lee Sung Jae (Joo Hyun) while Sung Jae is actually having a crush on Hee Ja. He even claims that she is his first love, and he still loves her.
It is like a grande look of our own life. We have a mother who is occasionally gossiping about her friends, we have a friend of our mom’s whom we can talk about things that we are not dare to tell to our own mom, we have our mom’s friends who are annoying. The drama has it all. Moreover, there are many things happened among the old folks. Though, the romance between Sung Jae and Hee Ja is a little bit hilarious, but it is a good example that the drama gives you an overview of what can be happened when you are growing old. lol. Another good thing about the drama that it presents us one solid story as a whole even hence there are so many main casts, there are so many events. Wan’s romance with the handsome Youn Ha (Jo In Sung), her affair with her senior (Shin Sung Woo, he’s super handsome in here!!!!), Wan’s daily fight with her mom. Aunt Young Woo’s secret love. Aunt Chong Nam, Aunt Hee Ja, and Uncle Sung Jae’s little love triangle, or Aunt Jeong Ah who wants to get divorce. All goes so natural. Really! All the reaction is real.Frankly, I did not know that the drama goes to what direction at first. The center is not really the center. I mean, we all know that Park Wan’s character is the anchor of the whole story, but since there are a lot of things occurred, I was just carried away. But, in the last three episodes, I finally got a glimpse to the climax. I love it!!! The writer is really something.
Do you think people are watching this because of Jo In Sung and Daniel Henney’s appearance? Of course YES! But, surprisingly, there are also people like me who watch it solely because of the grandpas and the grandmas. I was dying to know how they would pull this off. And as you may have guessed, I love it.
First thing first. Reality-bites dramas are a trend these days, and all because of tvN bravely takes the lead (namely Misaeng, Reply 1988, Memory, and etc). I am loving it every moment. I haven’t found it is boring. Every drama has its own twist, its own level of reality, and balance of the drama element. This drama in particular is the closest one to reality show. All the small details happening, is so close to our heart. A lot of the scenes are what we feel about our mom in many different angles. All of the characters have presented various roles that we can find in our own family. Every actors and actresses are not disappointed at all!!! Everyone of them! Even the cameos who are actually famous actors as well, they are feast of the eyes.
Talking about main characters, I can’t help but to mention one by one. Each of them is special. Each of them nails it. So bear with me, this is going to be a long SPOV, but each one of them deserves this much attention.
Kim Hye Ja as Jo Hee Ja is where my heart goes. I honestly never encountered this ahjumoni before, but I knew that she was actually in a box office movie called Mother along with Won Bin before. It is enough to give a proof that she is a notable actress. She has proved it on her role as Jo Hee Ja. Among the Imos in Dear My Friends, my heart is for Hee Ja Imo. She is so fragile, helpless, but I also sense a hint of strength in her tiny self. Her struggles is aching you. I also love her dresses.I love how the friendship between her and Na Moon Hee shines. Although, all the grandparents are friends, each has her/his closest one.
Moon Jung A (Na Moon Hee). My favorite Imo!!!!! Favorite!! love her from the beginning to the end!! She is soooooo muuuuch fuuun toooo waaaattchh
All this time, her screening time on the other drama is involving a lot of shouting and a mother role, here… her character is able to tell you a story about an old housewife, a mother of three married woman, and her pain. Lovin it. She is fun! So much fun. Really! I love her reaction to Hee Ja.
Lee Young Won (Park Won Suk), I only saw her once on All About Eve back in early 2000. It is so nice seeing her back again. Her character is so closed to her in real life, at least that is what I believe. Her character is those bridging characters. The one that mediates everybody. Taking a lot of blame and love at the same time. As for Youn Yuh Jung – Oh Chong Nam, among these ahjumonis, I think we have seen Youn Yuh Jung a lot!! She is the actress that we respect. Her character in here is like a teenager though haha, maybe because she is never married. I love how the grace of age shows too when it talks about love. Her character shows a lot of ‘brains’. We can find a lot of wisdom of age through her character; dialogue or reactions. 🙂
For the grandpas side; we have Lee Sung Jae (Joo Hyun) and Kim Soo Kyun (Shin Goo). Joo Hyun Harapeochi and Youn Yuh Jung Haelmoni have been a couple before on Hotelier. Now, Joo Hyun is a mere father,a former lawyer who falls in love. hahahaha. No more charismatic leader figure, we find a lovable cute grand pa who is fighting for his first love. shihihihsihishi. Shin Goo takes the role for us to hate! lol. He is a perfect portrayal of a Korean husband. Reality says that he likes to nag a lot, and so dependable upon his wife. Can’t even get a cup of water by himself. Though, I love how his character resolves in the end.
Now, let’s talk about these flower boys, shall we?? Daniel Henney only appears less than 5 episodes, so does Sung Dong Il. Jang Hyun Sung also is not disappointed even though he only appears less than five minutes every time he’s on the screen. All the names may have been our heroes in some other dramas, but it is not the case in this drama. I love the fact that they want to be the minors here as the respectful act towards the veteran actors and actresses. On the line, we also have Shin Sung Woo for the first half of the episodes. He’s charming!! So much! He’s a notable Korean Rock Star in the 1990s, he jumped into acting mode around 1990s and now being an active musical actor. I love the chemistry between his character and Park Wan. There is a sad yet beauty of their story. I love how they manage to solve their matters maturely. Moving to our big two heroes in this drama; Jo In Sung and Lee Kwang Soo. hahaha
It is hard to place Jo In Sung and Lee Kwang Soo’s position in this drama. They only have minor characters in the drama, but both give so much more! They shine but not outshining. That’s what special about the writing and everything else in this drama.
As expected for Jo In Sung, he makes it, and a GREAT Surprise on Lee Kwang Soo’s side. Let’s spare some times to talk about Lee Kwang Soo, our guff ball giraffe here. For many dramas we have seen him, it is automatically associated to comical side of him. More if you are a running man lover. Nevertheless, let’s get real… he’s a great actor! That’s all I can say. He, our giraffe, can cry well until we too cry. He makes us feeling his pain towards his mom. He is really awesome. He truly shines in this drama.
Now, let’s talk about Jo In Sung. When he smiles, it is game over! I love how he does not outshine the other grandparents role though he is super handsome and who doubts his acting skill? Tell me!! Who? He is truly professional. He is considered as one of Halyu Star in Korea and worldwide, but he is willing to take a minor role in this drama. He really does it well. I love how the writer creates his character. Best love story ever. Beautiful, and so closed to reality. Additionally, It is true that some of us are always excited when we see him on the screen (cheeriiing back sound*). Maybe some of you started watching this drama because of Jo In Sung and Lee Kwang Soo, maybe some of you disappointed because you can only watch them occasionally. I enjoy the portion of each character. Jo In Sung as expected makes our heart flutters. His love story with Park Wan is one of the most anticipated scene for me personally. I feel grateful that Jo In Sung is taking the role and not others. He is truly one great – handsome – smiley – thoughtful actor!! (a big fan)
I may say, both deserve to stand among the main casts as well because they act so well, and not over or less about it. But, that is what making me love the show even more. Because, the writer precisely write about the grandparents’ life not the handsome character as the main course. It is truly a gem. I really really wish for second season! hahahaha. PLEASE do more like this. Ok, I am bias… I love underdogs… hehehe
Moving on to our anchor of the show; Park Wan’s and Nang Hee’s relationship. It is purely like a reflection of our lives. All the reactions have the very same reason of what my mom might have done to me
if I ever do something that is not what she wished I’d do. Parents always have certain expectation to their children, and on the other end, children wish to be let go. I appreciate how Go Hyun Jung portrays Park Wan. She’s always be my favorite from Spring Days (she acted with Jo In Sung too!) and Queen Seon Deok where she plays the evil mishil. She’s a diverse actress. I am saying that Park Wan’s character as an anchor of the show, because we are standing from her point of view, as the younger generation. What she thought at first, what her relationship with her mom, lover, and senior have made her. What she sees on her own family, her mom’s friend’s families. We can imply it through her thoughts. It makes the show as one of the brilliantly written drama.
Lastly, again, I appreciate the writing so much. It is a grande project. A brave one. A beautiful piece. The writer; No Hee Kyung can put a great portion of each character. The reality-drama like this is tricky in terms of plot. It can go flop – boring… But, not a chance, I felt bored. Each character has its pikes and downhill. Plots are gradually improved. We know when there is a climax…. Also, the ending is a great one. It concludes everything perfectly… No death (spoiler).
The drama is a perfect picture of life.
Park Wan once asks her grand ma – if she can define life in one sentence, what would it be…
Grand ma answers like that… Life is nothing much. The drama might have nothing much happening, do not expect dramatic jealousy, dramatic fluctuation of economy, or complicated relationship, the drama simply gives you insight about life itself. 🙂
NOTE: I love the costumes! Why I want to point this out, because each grandma has its own style according to their personalities. Not only sponsored fashion ad. 🙂
Thank you Pd Nim, writernim, and all the harapeochi and haelmoni…
Currently Watching: Lucky Romance and 38 Units.
Let me know what other dramas that you might want me to review it. Kindly write any comment or send me email. I’d be happy to take it. 🙂
Production house: tvN
Director: Hong Jong Chan
Writer: No Hee Kyung
NOTE: Imo: aunts (mother’s sisters)
Harapeochi (grand pa)
Haelmoni (grand ma)