My Favourite Friendships in Asian Dramas
Updated: May 10
If you have read my previous post East Asian TV Series’ You Can Watch on Netflix, Right Now! you'll know that one of my favourites things to do in my spare time is to binge watch Asian dramas. Now that I have quite a few under my belt, I have decided to branch out a do a few blog posts on the subject so here is the first.
Often one of the best things about these shows is that they usually focus on a female protagonist who has a great group of core friends so in this post I'm going to list some of my favourite friendship groups that I've seen in some of the series I've watched.
Disclaimer: Although I have watched every entry in this list, I might not have finished every series on this list just yet. So if any of the friendships on this list get affected later in the series, it doesn't count!!
The Belle Epoque Group - Hello My Twenties! (Age of Youth)
One of the most daunting things I have ever experienced in my life was moving out of my family home for the first time and moving into a shared house for University. Although my experience wasn't bad, boy do I wish that I moved into Belle Epoque - the house shared by 5 University aged girls in Hello, My Twenties! (aka: Age of Youth)-instead! The group of girls is made up of 20 year old Eun-jae, 22 year old Ji-won, 22 year old Ye-eun, 24 year old Yi-na, 28 year old Jin-myung and in season 2; 21 year old Jo Eun.
The series begins with Eun-jae moving into the house where the others are already settled in. At first, Eun-jae causes a little friction in the group as she feels she is misunderstood and often taken advantage of. After a couple of episodes though, the 5 girls grow extremely close and end up helping each other through some of the most turbulent times in their lives including: first loves, new jobs and even extreme things like stalkers and kidnappings. The series is a beautiful coming of age drama that makes me wish I had my own core group of female friends that would help me through the good and the hard times. I'll probably end up saying this in every entry on this list but I can't recommend this show enough! Go binge it all on Netflix today!
Nao's Friendship Group - Good Morning Call
Along with Hello, My Twenties!, one of the first shows to get me into this genre was Good Morning Call. Based on the Manga of the same name, Good Morning Call follows the story of teenager Nao and her pursuit of Uehara - one of the most popular and attractive guys at school. By fate or just some wild coincidence, Nao and Uehara accidentally end up as roommates in a small Tokyo apartment. Which as you can guess came with it's own set of problems.
To get Nao through the stress and joy of pursuing Uehara, living with Uehara and her eventual relationship with Uehara are her best friends. This group is made up of besties Marina and Mitsuishi but also older and newer friends such as Daichi, Issei, Abe and Ota. Although tensions do arise - especially between Nao and other prospective suitors such as Daichi and Issei - the group maintain a close bond and often get together to celebrate life events with food at Nao and Uehara's place.
Kim Jojo & Lee Hye-yeong - Love Alarm
This will probably be one of many entries on this list can be categorised under "complicated friendship" as in true Asian Drama fashion, the lead male and the female friends usually end up in some kind of love triangle. I'll spare you the spoilers but lets just focus on the first few episodes of Love Alarm and the start of Jojo & Hye-yeong's friendship. In the show, a new dating app called Love Alarm has just come out has taken not only Jojo's school but the world by storm. The app alerts the user if there is someone within a 10-meter radius of them that loves them. I'm not entirely sure how it has the technology to connect to our actual brain/heart but it's such a good series it doesn't need an explanation!
In Love Alarm, we are given 2 stories that run parallel to each other. Kim Jojo in high school and adult Kim Jojo. Most of the series focuses on high school Jojo as this is when she meets love interest Sun-oh as well as his best friend Hye-yeong. Due to her parents passing away when she is young, Jojo lives with her aunt and cousin who are less than thrilled to have her. This results in a lot of bullying towards Jojo and means she is a bit of an outcast. That is until Hye-yeong and Sun-oh show up and show her a kindness she hasn't experienced before. Focusing on just Hye-yeong for now who helps Jojo in a multitude of tough situations including little things like covering her shift at work to bigger things like helping her retrieve her things after her cousin threw them out onto the street. Hye-yeong even goes to great lengths to keep his feelings for Jojo to himself as to not complicate her blossoming relationship with Sun-oh. As Love Alarm ended on a cliff hanger with Jojo having to choose between the two - we still don't know if this pair ever really trade their friendship for a relationship! (COME ON SEASON 2!!)
So-Yeon & Holo - My Holo Love
So we've seen friendship between a group of girls, a group of boys and girls, a girl and a boy and now a woman and an AI program? Let me explain. in My Holo Love, 30 something year old Han So-yeon usually keeps herself to herself and does little to draw attention to herself. This is until she gets inadvertently bestowed a pair of prototype AI glasses that allow her to see a hologram personal assistant named Holo. Holo is like Siri in that he can tell So-yeon the weather, help organise her day however he also has an ability to learn and so the two become inseparable first as friends and later as possibly more than friends.
So-yeon suffers from the condition face blindness and so Holo not only helps her become less of the recluse she has become due to her condition but also helps her identify people at work and come out of her shell more. Holo has also played with the abilities of AI and transported So-yeon to picturesque worlds without leaving her home. He has also done some more impressive things like caused a blackout in order to save So-yeon and overall has become a friend to the lonely office worker. The only thing hindering this friendship? Holo's creator Nan-do a programmer who starts out with very little compassion for So-yeon. I am still only early in this series so it's currently a mystery what will happen between So-yeon and Holo but fingers crossed it'll all turn out okay.
F4 - Meteor Garden
What does a lower class freshman girl at Ming De University have to do with the most powerful group on campus? Well when Shancai rocks up onto the scene she manages to turn every member of F4's lives upside down. The group is made up of 4 upper class guys whose parents are mostly wealthy business owners. This includes musician Hua Ze Lei, tea enthusiast Yan Ximen, flirtatious Feng Mei Zuo and the recognisable leader Dao Ming Si who is mainly responsible for bringing Shancai into their inner circle.
The main reason I chose F4 over the other friendships in this show is firstly because I couldn't find a GIF of Shancai and her best friend Xiouyou but also because of the way this group works as a support network to each other. Not only do they all compliment each other with their compatible personality traits, but they are all there for each other in their hour of need. Most of the time to help Si and Shancai further their romance but also with University work, extra circular activities and their families/love lives. The group have been known to fall out though with a few members (most of the time Dao Ming Si) getting into actual fist fights but they always patch things up in the end. Which is a testament to their friendship.
The Lee Sisters - One Spring Night
Now for an entry to highlight the friends you don't get to choose, your siblings. One Spring Night tells the story of 35 year old librarian Lee Jeong-in and 35 year old pharmacist Yoo Ji-ho who meet by chance and begin a relationship whilst confronted with many hurdles from ex-boyfriends, controlling parents and general prejudices from others. It's a very sweet story that is worth exploring but in this post, we are focusing solely on Jeong-in's relationship with her two sisters: 36 year old television broadcaster Seo-in and 30 year old University drop out Jae-in.
In the show, the three girls - similar to F4 - can be seen as a support network for each other through some pretty tough times. With the girls' father being extremely strict and not understanding basically anything they do, the sisters often lean on each other for support. From getting through a new romance that no one seems to support, a messy divorce from an abusive husband and just trying to figure out what to do with their life. These sisters have gone through it all and always come out the other side for one another. It's close female friendships like this that I love to see in the series I watch.
Kotoko and her besties - Michevious Kiss: Love in Tokyo
Despite what this unflattering GIF may have you to believe, Kotoko is actually one of the main love interest in Mischievous Kiss: Love in Tokyo. After a slew of bad luck from being turned down in front of everyone by her high school crush to having her house struck by a METEOR, Kotoko didn't think it could get any worse. That was until her father's friend offers for Kotoko and her dad to live with him until their house is fixed. Only issue is, her fathers friend her also the father of her crush, the one that just turned her down.
Shifting the focus to Kotoko's best friends Jinko and Satomi though. As you would expect from a girl whose whole life revolves around her crush, most of what her and her friends talk about is said crush; Naoki Irie. Jinko and Satomi always stay by Kotoko's side though and most of the time get just as excited and outraged as she does, often causing everyone in the cafeteria to look their way. It's also worth noting Kotoko's other pal Kinnosuke who unfortunately has a one sided love for Kotoko but who once he is over his jealousy helps Kotoko out just as much.
The Weightlifters - Weightlifting Fairy: Kim Bok Joo
Okay, these 3 might just be my favourite. Weightlifting Fairy: Kim Bok Joo mainly centres around Bok Joo, a student at Haneol Sport University. As the name suggests Bok Joo is a weightlifter and is training to eventually compete in the Olympics as are her two best friends Jung Nan-hee and Lee Seon-ok. These three spend their days eating, training and eating again. Their brash personalities make them so likeable and their chemistry seems so genuine.
When Kim Bok Joo runs into childhood friend Joon-hyung of the swimming team, the pair don't exactly get along at first with the latter half poking fun at Bok Joo regularly. When the inevitable happens and Bok Joo and Joon-hyung get together, Bok Joo is hesitant to tell her friends as they had only just made a pact to stay single together. This soon changes though when the pair find out and eventually offer support to Joon-hyung and Bok Joo, with one of them almost getting involved with one of Joon-hyung's friends herself. I just love this friendship group with all their weird traditions and words, I often find myself whispering "swag" to myself like in the GIF above.
Dan-oh & "Dried Squid Elf" - Extraordinary You
You'll have to bare with me on this one as I am only a few episodes in. From what I can tell though, these two are the best accidental pairing in the series. In Extraordinary You, high schooler Dan-oh lives her life as if she is the main character in the story. That is until she realises that she's not when she accidentally finds a comic book in the library that tells out the story of her life, except she's an extra in this story. Outraged at her lack of "page time", Dan-oh then tries everything she can to become the main attraction in the comic book.
So how did she come to this conclusion? With the help of Dried Squid Fairy of course! Dried Squid Fairy - a name given to him by the girls at school - whose real name is Jinmichae is the school chef and the only other person aware that they are in a comic book. DSF upon realising that Dan-oh can see what he sees then guides Dan-oh through her new perspective of the world and is the first person she goes to if she doesn't understand anything. Like I said I haven't seen too much of this yet so I can't say much but I'm excited to see this unconventional friendship develop as the series goes on.
Seol & Inho - Cheese in the Trap
I'm not sure if it's fair to class this pair as friends as they do start off as basically enemies, but do grow to tolerate and maybe even appreciate each other later on. On the right you have Seol; a student who somehow ends up in a relationship with Yoo Jung, a popular attractive senior. Although his advances are a shock to Seol who previously thought that he hated her, the pair do eventually go out. This is where Inho and his sister Inha come in. This troublesome duo are technically Jung's adopted siblings however Jung has very little contact with them at the start of the series.
Inho is a spoilt brat at the start who believes he is entitled to everything, therefore when he finds Seol's phone for her, he believes that she owes him, big time. Seol eventually gets used to his bratty annoying behaviour and the two become close friends as Inho starts to become more independent. So much so that he helps her on multiple occasions from taking her to hospital after she faints, saving her from his crazy sister who also loves Jung to even working in her family's noodle shop and integrating his way into Seol's family circle. The only issue is, Jung and Inho had a big falling out and so Jung isn't happy about the friendship.
That should just about do it! There are probably so many more that I could add to this list and so many more I'll want to add in the future as I am always finding new Asian Dramas to watch! If you are interested in any of the shows on this list, know that they are all on Netflix or the taking! I had such fun writing this that I'll probably end up doing another similar post soon so keep an eye out if you are also a fan of these kinds of shows!
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