K-Drama Review: “How To Buy A Friend” Imprints Soul-Stirring Stories Of Friendship
How To Buy A Friend is a youth-mystery drama which chronicles the life of flawed teenagers in a mixture of comedy and action.
Adapted from a webtoon of the same title, How To Buy A Friend clamors nostalgic friendship and its adventures. Teeming action-packed riots and bits of humor, it engages the viewers into an exciting and thrilling journey of unmasking the reality as they build unexpected friendships under a contract.
TITLE: HOW TO BUY A FRIEND
NETWORK: KBS 2TV
THEME: YOUTH, SCHOOL, DRAMA, MYSTERY, COMEDY,
LENGTH: 8 EPISODES
BROADCAST DATE: 6 APR 2020 – 14 APR 2020
MAIN LEADS: LEE SHIN YOUNG | KIM SO HYE | SHIN SEUNG HO
HIGHLIGHTS: STRONG & REALISTIC ESTABLISHMENT OF CHARACTERS | BEAUTIFULLY-WRITTEN POETIC LINES | FRESH & NOSTALGIC-DRIVEN CINEMATOGRAPHY
RELATED DRAMAS: CLASS OF LIES | SOLOMON’S PERJURY | WHO ARE YOU: SCHOOL 2015 |SCHOOL 2017
Rising actor Lee Shin Young of hit series Crash Landing On You takes on a new role as Park Chan Hong, an ordinary high school student with a nickname of “Ninja”.
Accompanying him is young actress Kim So Hye (Produce 101 Season 1, Best Chicken) playing the role of Eom Sae Yun, a popular high school girl who seems to have everything in life: pretty looks, excellent grades, and artistic skills.
Taking the role of Heo Deon Hyeok, a legendary student deemed as “Iron Man”, comes actor Shin Seung Ho (At Eighteen, A-TEEN).
Quick Plot Roundup
Park Chan Hong is an average high school student, with ordinary looks, grades and physique. Everything about him is totally mediocre. He lives a quiet life and is far-noticed by school bullies. He admires Eom Sae Yoon and likes everything about her discreetly.
Legendary Heo Deon Hyeok, known as “Iron Man” for his iron fists and strong ability to fight, is transferred to his girlfriend’s school. One time, he came across Park Chan Hong’s poem. Along the lines written in the poem was a clue given by Shin Seo Jung (Heo Deon Hyeok’s girlfriend) before she died from mysterious death.
To uncover the truth behind her sudden death, he enters a contract and teams up with Chan Hong. In return, he will protect Chan Hong and Sae Yoon from bullies. From then on, the contract relationship entangles them both in a series of events in search for the truth behind the suicide.
STRONG & REALISTIC ESTABLISHMENT OF CHARACTERS
The youthful years of teenage life are indeed beautiful. The most significant and special time in life where one chases for love and dreams. It gives an understated life lesson of despite the constraints life has given, experiencing youth is the best gift one can ever receive.
How To Buy A Friend gives emphasis to Chan Hong and the rest of the young characters’ experiences, be it – family, dreams, and love.
What makes the drama highly commendable is the realism and diversity of the characters. Despite being flawed, one cannot help but simply resonate with their self issues. The characters are the genuine embodiment of every teenagers.
Park Chan Hong mirrors every teenagers who thinks being ordinary makes you stagnant in life. But Chan Hong proved it wrong. He discovers he has skills in writing and so he nourishes it. Soon, he achieves the first place in the poem-writing competition.
For Eom Sae Yoon, arts is everything. She may look like the girl who has everything in life. But truthfully, she suffers too much pressure from her parents who doesn’t support her passion in arts. In spite of her parents’ constraints, she continues pursuing her dreams with a burning passion like any of us.
One cannot truly judge a certain person without fully-knowing the person’s history. Heo Deon Hyeok, a notorious fighter, is dreaded by many due to his exterior looks. But unless one has full knowledge of his story, one can say that he is innocent and loving.
Due to his girlfriend’s suicide (Shin Seo Jung), he greatly suffered the guilt. It tormented him day and night. It caused him to act violently and recklessly, hoping that he would solve his girlfriend’s mysterious death.
The growth of the characters is also commendable. With it being free from restrictions, the character development is distinguishable throughout its whole run.
BEAUTIFULLY-WRITTEN POETIC LINES
The poems have played a huge role in propelling the entire plot. It gave more depth to the script in which the characters successfully delivered.
The connections of the poems to the story were just amazing. It showed how powerful words can be especially when it serves as the medium in solving the mysteries.
Park Chan Hong’s poetic monologues are quite noticeable. The roughness of his satoori (dialect) while delivering his lines perfectly blends with the poem’s delicate words. It gives the poems a unique blow.
The construction and blending of sublime words in the poems featured in the drama also deserve due recognition. Its realistic representations of life whereas traversing nature as its subject, carries diverse emotions, and makes it ideal.
Despite being an action-typed drama, the delicateness of the poems mixed well without subduing the feelings it entail. Instead, it became the key in solving the root problem of the characters.
Overall, the poems featured are all noteworthy works of art. It is highly critical especially for the characters’ quest for the truth behind the concealed suicide.
FRESH & NOSTALGIC-DRIVEN CINEMATOGRAPHY
Cinematography plays a big part on the overall display of the drama. Hence, kudos to the drama’s production team for its spectacular cinematography.
The cinematics were filmed absolutely remarkable. The edgy camera works and refined orchestration of lights and shadow are outstanding as well. And for the final touch was the knife cut editing, as it took the viewers into an aesthetically-pleasing vistas.
Striking scenes in the drama included Park Chan Hong and Eom Sae Yoon’s contest day. The time when they walked in the snowy field to gather inspirations for their piece.
The scenes highlighted the mountain covered with milky white snow and the calming seascape. Reining with vivid colors and nicely-filmed angles, everything about the picturesque views was breathtaking.
It radiated a sentimental warmth and fine amount of various emotions which somehow made the viewers nostalgic.
How To Buy A Friend openly demonstrates the real side of friendships. It rather shows how rough and harsh friendships can be when we only think of ourselves. It nurtures the viewers to be conscious and sensitive to people surrounding them.
If you want straight-arrow and unique takes on friendship stories, this is the series you’re looking for. With traces of sweet innocent romance, the viewers are served with bundles of humor and feel-good-moments.
The main casts’ discoveries and adventures in seeking the ugly truth mobilize the story. Teenagers can easily relate to the issues highlighted in the drama through the characters’ diversity.
Throughout the story, Park Chan Hong, Eom Sae Yoon, Heo Deon Hyeok and the rest find their own purpose. While battling with their own hardships and burdens, unexpected friendships come along the way.
It imparts lessons why youth is the most exceptional part of life – when passion and love bud. However, it is also evident that no one can escape the growing pains while fully submitting to life’s bitter transition.
- A.C.E’s Byeong Kwan And Chan Express Feelings Of Wanting Someone Back In OST For “How To Buy A Friend”
Images Credit: KBS
Videos Credit: KBS | Danal Entertainment