Korean Drama Full Series review: Graceful Friends (JTBC)

For a drama which was promoted or branded as a mix of The World of the Married and Sky Castle, Graceful Friends which was also aired on JTBC, did not seem to garner as much hype and response as I had expected.

Essentially about a tight group of 4 male friends in their 40s and the secrets they keep, it explores the complex relationships among friends and just how much are their friendships valued in the face of murder committed by one of them.

I love that Graceful Friends stars an ensemble of veteran actors such as Yu Jun Sang, Song Yoon A, Bae Soon Bin, Kim Sung Oh and Jung Suk Yong who promise good acting, and it is quite heartening to see that these actors who often act as side characters have a chance for a drama focused on them too!

*Spoilers ahead.*

Graceful friend Hooks Me in Immediately with deaths, murders and secrets

I like that Graceful Friends does not really waste time but went straight into the meat of the story with deaths and murders and hinted at relationships that were not what it appears on surface.

It started with the death of Joo Kang San and hinted at the complex relationships each of our leads had with this guy, keeping us guessing as to who exactly killed him.

And then we were introduced to a backstory of another murder that took place while our leads were in university, hinting that one of them who killed in the past may have murdered again this time round.

Complex human relationships And Ugly Human nature is the heart of the story

I am especially interested in the 3-way relationship among

  • Goong Chul (optimistic straightlaced good guy)
  • Jae Hoon ( Goong Chul’s good friend who dated Jung Hae before their marriage without his knowledge) and
  • Jung Hae (Goong Chul’s wife who seems secretive and kept her past relationship with Jung Hae from her husband).

Due to bits and pieces of information thrown in at us, we get it that Jung Hae and Jae Hoon dated before and Jae Hoon was very much in love with her.

However Jung Hae’s first crush was Goong Chul and she broke up with Jae Hoon and then soon announce that she is going to get married to Goong Chul.

Unable to get over her, Jae Hoon has always nursed a heartache over her and still kept tabs on her and cares about her secretly. Doesn’t help that he could often see her and hear of her since she is the wife of his good friend, Goong Chul.

Angry and indignant over the couple’s happy marriage, especially with dismissive attitude from Jung Hae time and time again, Jae Hoon decided to wreck havoc and get revenge by paying a crook Joo Kang San to spoil their relationship.

And this crook’s method of getting into the couple’s marriage is to “seduce” and then threaten Jung Hae with her naked shots, which Jung Hae stupidly kept trying to keep a secret from her husband which made their relationship even rockier with the secrecy.

Favourite Character: Jae Hoon (acted by Bae Soo Bin)

Jae Hoon is a character with many shades of grey.

Technically, he is the baddie in the show as he was the one who started the ball rolling by hiring someone to break up his best friend’s marriage to take revenge on his ex-girlfriend who coldly rejected him.

Doesn’t help that this breakup took place so many years ago, so it is actually pretty loserish behaviour to still be nursing a grudge such a long time after, when he himself has also already gotten married and divorced.

He caused the fear that Jung Hae experienced when she was being drugged and later threatened, and the pain Goong Chul experienced when he realised his wife was being threatened.

Jae Hoon: A Complicated Character who Just couldn”t get over His Girl That Got away

Yet, I couldn’t find myself to dislike him. Probably because I feel sympathetic to him. He was doing such ridiculous things because he just loves Jung Hae a lot and couldn’t get over her, so he sort of yo-yos between feeling angry and revengeful, and feeling love for her.

Firstly, he was dumped by Jung Hae very coldly, with no closure. To add salt to the injury, she announced that she was dating his best friend, and would marry him.

I think having closure in all relationships are very important and thus I do feel for Jung Hae who does not really have a chance at closure and the hurt doesn’t seem to go away simply because he kept having to witness their marriage in his face.

And it doesn’t help that in the flashbacks we saw, Jung Hae seem to always be very dismissive and cold to Jae Hoon. If someone dumps me coldly, and still gives me the attitude all the time, I would feel resentful too. In fact, I feel that Jung Hae keeps dismissing and disrespecting his feelings for her.

Yet, at the end of the day, Jae Hoon does love her from a distance, which was why he couldn’t resist helping her with his connections to get her promoted at work without her knowing. And he still sends her flowers every year for her birthday anonymously.

At the end of the day, he even loved her enough to kill for her when she was being bullied. I get that it is twisted, but maybe it is the romantic in me that couldn’t dislike a guy like that. I just feel sympathetic towards him.

Jae Hoon is a very suppressed character who has loved someone who doesn’t love him for his whole life. He is not loved at home either.

After it was revealed that he started the whole problem, Goong Chul does not forgive him (understandably) and so he lost his friendships too. So basically he went in doing all these at the expense of his friendship and so he knows he deserves it too. Which was why he feels so tortured.

In Ep 17, I find it so touching when he was stabbed and bleeding but he was still trying hard not to let Jung Hae witness it and was pretending everything was fine when Jung Hae was hollering at him for killing people and harshly telling him that she still wouldn’t choose him even if she knew he loved her enough to kill for her.

How sad. And there he was, hobbling back in pain back to his house,lying in a pool of blood, knowing that he has lost his love, his friends etc.

Therefore I really do like this flawed character and I think Bae Soo Bin acted really well too. (don’t know why he doesn’t get more lead roles? Cos he is pretty good looking too!)

Jung Hae: A Rather Irritating FeMale Lead In My Opinion

Frankly speaking, I find Jung Hae (acted by Song Yoon A) rather unlikeable.

And I couldn’t tell why our two male leads are smittened by her.

She appears cold and dismissive. Doesn’t seem sacrificial or giving in love either.

Dumped Jae Hoon heartlessly. Kept her past relationship with Jae Hoon from her husband Gong Chul for no apparent reason.

Even when she was threatened, she kept it a secret from her husband and made the already complicated situation even more complicated.

All in all, she comes across as selfish and heartless. And actually all the problems stemmed from her too.

Worthy of Watch especially for Those Interested in More Mature Storylines

All in all, I feel that Graceful Friends is a drama that can keep my interest piqued enough to continue watching on.

This drama is more of mature theme as it deals with more adult relationships and is not for those who wants something fluffy and cute.

However, for those who enjoyed dramas like The World of The Married, Misty, Woman with Dignity etc, Graceful Friends may be your cup of tea.