I found it, I finally found it! Yahoo and hallelujah! I had wanted to see the drama Friends for quite some time but was never able to find the whole thing. YouTube would have the first half of one episode and the last half of another, but pieces of different parts does not a coherent drama make. So, I kept searching and finally located the entire thing on www.drama247.org. Yippee!
The first time Korea and Japan collaborated on a drama was in 2002 when they co-produced Friends. It’s short, only four episodes long, but oh, so good!
The story is about two young travelers who meet through an unfortunate incident and, in spite of their language barrier, become fast friends. Kim Ji-Hoon is in Hong Kong filming, what he considers to be, his last movie. He’s a film student who has dreams of making his own movies but his father is not supportive and wants Ji-Hoon to join the family business. Tomoko Asai is a sales clerk who is on vacation in Hong Kong with a friend who is visiting her boyfriend. She decides to go off with him and leave Tomoko to see the sights alone. In a twist of fate, Ji-Hoon and Tomoko bump into each other and, after mistakenly accusing him of stealing her purse, she helps him finish his movie. She speaks Japanese, he speaks Korean so their communication is extremely limited – a word here and there, gestures, facial expressions – but their hearts understand each other just fine and they exchange e-mail addresses before leaving Hong Kong. Ji-Hoon’s friend/roommate speaks a little Japanese and is able to translate the e-mails, making it possible for the two strangers to keep in touch, and their friendship grows.
I sincerely liked and cared about Ji-Hoon and Tomoko. They are both kind individuals who won a place in my heart. Ji-Hoon is an enthusiastic film student who has his heart set on making movies but feels the responsibility to follow his father’s wishes and join the family business. Tomoko doesn’t have a dream of her own which may be why she is so very supportive of Ji-Hoon’s desire to make movies. She’s a hard worker who puts 100% into the things that are important to her.
Ji-Hoon is played by Won Bin whom I first saw in the classic, top-rated Kdrama Autumn in My Heart. When he was younger he planned on being a car mechanic but applied to a cable television station that was recruiting new actors, in his last semester of high school, and was accepted. He’s won 13 awards, eight of them coming from his performance in the hit action movie The Man From Nowhere. He also has a black belt in taekwondo which makes me wonder if he did all his own stunts in that show.
Kyoko Fukada plays the part of Tomoko. She is an award winning Japanese actress and Jpop singer who has been in a ton of feature films and dramas. I appreciated the fact that Tomoko had curves, not the bony stick-figure shape of most Asian female stars. She was nowhere even close to chunky, just womanly. I have no idea what she looks like now (13 years later) but for this show she had curves and looked lovely. Thanks, Kyoko.
One thing I liked about this drama was its length. I watched it all in one sitting and enjoyed every minute. It was long enough to have conflict but the stumbling blocks were resolved fairly quickly which kept me from being frustrated. The short length also forced the romance to blossom quickly. Nothing long and drawn out. The writing was excellent to be able to give the show a full 16 episode content in only four hours.
The soundtrack is really good, especially the song entitled One. The music is stirring, the words, which are sung in English, are a perfect explanation of the entire show, and the gal’s voice is strong and beautiful. Out of all the Korean dramas I’ve seen, and it’s a whole lot, folks, One is now one of my top ten favorite songs from a Kdrama soundtrack!
The scenery is great. We get to see Hong Kong, Korea, and Japan’s busy metropolitan areas. But my favorite part was when Ji-Hoon goes into the Navy. The shot of him in full gear, carrying a big rifle and running on the beach was very impactful. Other dramas mention guys in the service but this is the first one I’ve ever seen to give us detailed visuals. Way to go, Director!
I’ve searched for some Korean dramas and films that I thought sounded good and then, when I finally found them, was disappointed they weren’t as good as I expected them to be (My Nineteen Year Old Sister-in-Law comes to mind). Not the case with Friends. I was very pleased with the whole thing, start to finish. Actually, there was one disappointing thing… the picture wasn’t clear. The copy I saw was still good enough to watch and enjoy, though.
I hope you’ll take my advice and watch this drama. Please, oh please. It’s a fantastic love story and it only takes up four hours of your time. In my opinion it’s a definite must see. After all, everybody needs Friends!
Wonderful love story
No bad guys/evil plotting
Handsome Won Bin and lovely Kyoko Fukada
Has the feel of a 16 hour drama in only four episodes
Beautiful music, specifically the song One
The copy I saw didn’t have a sharp picture