For this first entry in our 5th Anniversary What Would Dramaland Do series, we bring you a quandary about a rom-com that turned into a melodrama. Look for a new post in this series every week this month, and don't forget to sign up for our live discussion of Kdrama writers on September 18th!
It’s the early aughts, and my friend met a beautiful boy in the café. It started when they shared a table and a pack of smokes to work on their thesis together because misery loves company and this coffee shop is packed.
After almost a year of writing in hard seats and endless coffee in this busy coffee shop they started dating. Since then everyday is, if not golden, still relatively shiny. He’s been staying with them and there’s plans for after graduation.
My friend is worried because the beautiful boy’s older brother—heir to a shipping company—recently ran away from his arranged marriage to unite two companies. He emigrated to a new country with his secret girlfriend.
Now the beautiful boy’s been called home to meet older brother’s original fiancée and it turns out they’re long lost childhood friends!
It’s been a month and it feels like he’s never coming back. My friend is half a world away and can’t afford the ticket to visit the beautiful boy.
Are they being played and if so, what should my friend do?
Coffee & Cigarettes
Dear Coffee & Cigarettes,
First, go to the rooftop of a tall building NO DO NOT JUMP that's not why we're here!
Look out at that horizon. Is it beautiful? Is it ugly? It doesn't matter. It's on top of the world. Life sucks. So does Smoky Boy. Yell it out from the rooftop, exactly how you—sorry your friend, feels.
Shout it all out, call down destruction on the world...then go home, order your favourite food, get into your cosiest, raggiest togs, and put on your comfortiest comfort drama (how about True Beauty or Search WWW?). Let the night pull you into its dark and comforting bosom.
Now you've had a good shout and a good sleep, realise this: pining is for second leads, and even though it's the early aughts, you cannot be forced to play out an old old-school melodrama without your consent.
You are not a second lead.
This is not a melodrama.
You signed up for a rom-com, and a rom-com you shall get.
What are some of the necessary ingredients for a good rom-com? A smart, emotionally intelligent female lead. A male lead with his own qualities who is worth rooting for. Our favourite female leads wouldn't let a flighty manboy dangle her along. It's time to find out if Smoky Boy has more to him than hot air.
Channel your inner Esom, pick up the phone and ask him straight: what are his plans? Are things over between you? Is he with his childhood friend? (Is she also his first love? Ugghh.) And don't let him off the hook if he makes some kind of noncommittal, equivocal answer like he's coming back, wait for me, blah blah blah ALL YAK POOP. Promises don't count until you follow through.
So if he makes a promise, put an expiry date on it. He's coming back? Okay, when? That date is for you, too. Because you might be willing to wait a little, and that's not unreasonable, but you can't wait indefinitely. That is unreasonable. And it's cruel to yourself.
And sadly for you, it could be that he has no plans of coming back, but you know what? He's an asshole for not telling you, and for putting you through the stress and uncertainty, and making you be the one to ask when he could've just told you honestly. People's situations and feelings can change, and you can't really blame them for that. But when they wilfully leave people hanging, that's a dick move and you, dear female lead, deserve better.
And now you've seen what he is, hopefully it hurts less and you can clean up your feelings about him.
Then you have to get ready for your next meet-cute, which hopefully involves some tuna sandwiches this time. We recommend Subway.
P.S. Coffee is highly recommended at all times (especially Maxim and Nescafe), but don't forget that broadcast regulations only allow cigarettes when unlit. Otherwise, they are dangerous weapons and will be unceremoniously blurred out. Chupa Chups, however, are an excellent substitute, and so is 2012’s heartbreaker version of Sung Joon. (See: Shut Up Flower Boy Band).