Korean Drama Tip #1: Dear My Friends
Learning a language requires a lot more than just a textbook, time and effort. Those things are important, but contact with the language is perhaps even more important. To that end you need to open yourself to anything which includes the language you are learning. Now finding Korean friends in your country might be a challenge, but enjoying Korean culture isn’t. Time to watch some dramas and let me make my first suggestion to you: “Watch Dear My Friends”.
The Story of Dear My Friends
The drama Dear My Friends (한글: 디어 마이 프렌즈) is not one single story, but a series of stories that happen simultaneously. The drama follows the lives of 8 elderly Koreans and how they deal with their past, their present and their future. Dear My Friends shows us the struggles we all will endure as we age. How we will need to come to terms with our regrets and need to accept whatever reality throws at us in the present.
The stories are tied together not only by their own relations with each other, but by the daughter of one of the character. As a writer she was convinced to write about her mother’s friends when she was searching for a new topic to write about. Because of this you get a view of how older Koreans and younger Koreans interact.
The eight elderly Koreans you will follow are:
- 조희자 (Jo Hee-ja) is a 72-year-old widow; played by 김혜자
- 문정아 (Moon Jeong-ah) is a 72-year-old hard-working family woman; played by 나문희
- 장난희 (Jang Nan-hee) is 63-year-old restaurant owner and mother of 박완; played by 고두심
- 이영원 (Lee Young-won) is a 63-year-old actress and model; played by 박원숙
- 오충남 (Oh Choong-nam) is a 65 old self-made woman; played by 윤여정
- 이성재 (Lee Seong-jae) is a 72-year-old former attorney; played by 주현
- 오쌍분 (Oh Ssang-boon) is 86 years old and mother of 장난희; played by 김영옥
- 김석균 (Kim Seok-gyun) is 75-year-old hard-working and rough husband of 문정아; played by 신구
The daughter of 장난희 (Jang Nan-hee) is 박완 (Park Wan) and she is played by 고현정.
Why You Should Watch It
The story of Dear My Friends (디어 마이 프렌즈) is perhaps not something that will convince you on the spot. However, the drama will immediately grab your attention from the first episode. It wastes no time with hurling you right into the emotional rollercoaster the lives of its characters are. It is a rollercoaster that will keep going until the end of the series.
While this drama offers an emotional rollercoaster, at no point throughout the series will the emotions display feel forced. The sadness of their struggles, the warmth of their friendship and the conflicts of misunderstanding are all very realistic. Because of that realism it is easily to start feeling for the characters throughout the series. You will start feeling their pain, their sadness, but also their happiness and fun. This drama succeeds in what many dramas hope to achieve. It makes you feel something beyond entertainment.
The strength of the story is further strengthened by its veteran cast who do justice to their characters. Not a single actor or actress of the main cast feels forced into their role. They bring the dialogues naturally, strengthened by their ability to convey their character’s feelings convincingly though mannerisms and facial expressions.
All in all this is a great drama that sets itself apart from the common idol drama Korean drama often offer outside Korea under the waves of K-Wave (한류 – Hallyu). It shows that Korean entertainment has so much more to offer than romcom dramas.
My Favorite Characters
문정아 (Moon Jeong-ah, played by 김혜자) is a warm and caring woman who works hard to support her family. Her husband is the gruff, hard-working 김석균 (played by 신구). Her optimistic nature will charm you immediately and you will root for her as you come to learn of her life with her difficult husband.
Yet like all people in this drama there is something inside her that wants to come out. You will want her to achieve those dream every step on the way.
조희자 (Jo Hee-ja, played by 김혜자) is a recent widow with a very innocent and gentle demeanour. As she has grown older living has become more difficult and those around her question whether she can live on her own. Her story will have you follow her struggles to come to term with her age and accepting the changes that come with her age.
While her story is perhaps one of the saddest stories Dear My Friends has to offer, her innocence and gentle character will bring many to a smile.