Editor’s note: Saya here! Popping in to say: please welcome our first solo guest-post! We’ve been planning to open up our blog to showcase different fandom voices, and while that’s lurking in the pipeline of all the work we are trying to get through, I thought it would be nice to jump the queue and welcome back a friend of the podcast, JustMe, who previously featured as a guest in Episode 46. Drama Addict Diary is a new feature we’re trying out, so tell us what you think!
Meet the author: JustMe is a twenty-something part-time master’s student. Full-time pharmacist. Overtime drama-watcher. You can follow her on Twitter at @JustEpicness.
More Than Friends is the aptly-titled story of two friends who take ten years to get together—with the help of an ever-supportive group of friends, and, of course, a perfect second lead.
As a guest writer, I felt the need to review this particular drama for one reason: the friends-to-lovers trope. The drama description promised for juicy jealousy and I’m all for it. I am so for it that tears are filling my eyes with excitement as I write this.
Warning! This is a summary and review of Episodes 1-4 only, and contains spoilers up to Episode 4 and no further. You can consider this segment a safe space for guilty pleasure, snark, and self-deprecating humour.
Episode 1: A look back at high school
We first meet Lee Soo (Ong Sung-woo) and Kyung Woo-yeon (Shin Ye-eun) as high-school classmates.
In classic K-drama fashion, Woo-yeon is a shy, bullied “plain” girl. (Lord help me, can they please get an actual plain girl? Wait, scratch that—I’m also enjoying the aesthetic of this couple. They look so good together.)
Lee Soo is a charming, seemingly confident, flirtatious boy with an I-don’t-care-what-others-think attitude. He seems a bit isolated from his peers and finds solace in his “friendship” with Woo-yeon.
I’ve put “friendship” in quotation marks because it does not quite seem like the right word. In fact, Woo-yeon is quickly taken with him. Lee Soo flirtatiously teases Woo-yeon a lot, and subtly shows her favour over her other classmates. But it’s not quite clear, despite his flirty behaviour, whether he’s actually angling for a romance with Woo-yeon, especially since he keeps stressing the importance of their “friendship”. Teenage-me would have been hella confused…and completely in love. So, while I am not yet completely sold on Shin Ye-eun’s character, I can understand her.
Did I mention Soo was extremely good-looking? Well he does, several times in the show, and I cannot even be annoyed by it. Darn you Ong Sung-woo, Woo-yeon does not even stand a chance. Great nuanced acting. The casting director made a great choice. Point to Ong Sung Woo (and not his character).
Girl, you never stood a chance.
If you can’t tell what my opinion of him as the male lead is—well that’s just it. He is so confusing that I find him a bit off-putting. But goodie points to the writer for including a strong trio of friends to our female lead. She needs a devoted support group and Soo just ain’t it for the time being.
Episode 1 ends with a confession and a rejection. Which for me means, okay, time to move on. But not Woo-yeon. She is understandably heartbroken, and fast-forward a few years into the future, she is still not over him.
The first episode did not compel me too much. I cannot pinpoint the reason, but I have seen so many other friends-to-lovers shows that have done it better. However, this is just the first episode and I like the first OST song, so I’ll keep going. I cannot say that I very much like Lee Soo.
Episode 2: Moving on. Or are we?
A few years later, Woo-yeon calls Lee Soo every time she gets drunk, confessing her feelings over and over again and feeling sorry for herself for not letting go. She gets rejected. Again.
If this was not clear, I am decidedly disappointed in Woo-yeon for being so taken with a boy who has yet to show actual, outspoken interest. While Lee Soo is a definite jerk for not being clear, I am more unforgiving towards Woo-yeon for not moving on. Also, my dear Woo-yeon, this alcohol thing is a problem. (Or is this just the pharmacist in me speaking ?)
I cannot help but lose the little patience I have with Lee Soo as well. Yes, we learn a bit more of the reason behind his commitment issues: his parent’s divorcing and fighting “trauma”. I am not convinced enough just yet. I do not think they gave me enough of a look into him yet for me to understand him. We have mostly seen things from Woo-yeon’s point of view, after all. For now, Lee Soo is just a selfish cabbage.
Despite another rejection, Woo-yeon meets him again a few years later, this time by coincidence on Jeju Island. By this time, she is 28, meaning it’s been ten years since she first met him. Ten years of nursing a one-sided love.
She vocalises clearly that she needs to avoid him as he is toxic for her (YAS GIRL!) but Lee Soo is not having it. In fact, he does all he can to be with her. But as friends, of course. Sure. I see you sneaking smiles at her! (Darn it, I’m growing to like him despite myself.) However, I want my heroine to be stronger and not swayed by pretty boys. Make. Him. Work. For. It.
We are introduced to On Joon-soo (Kim Dong-joon), CEO of a publishing company. He and Woo-yeon meet via a hair-caught-in-his-coat-button incident (never mind that she has beautiful silky, straight hair), and this dude is already so much kinder than Lee Soo. I’m all aboard for her feelings to waver and for her to actually consider another guy.