4 Things We Loved & 1 Thing We Hated About The Premiere Of “How To Buy A Friend”
If you’re missing the ever-charming Lee Shin Young, who appeared as Park Kwang Beom in “Crash Landing on You,” then you’ve probably heard about his new leading role in KBS 2TV’s “How to Buy a Friend.” Packed with mystery, high school romance, and certain chaos that always seems to appear in dramas that take place in a small town, “How to Buy a Friend” is a great drama to watch when you need something new to do in quarantine.
The story follows Park Chan Hong (Lee Shin Young), an average student who gets caught up in a contractual friendship with his enigmatic classmate Heo Don Hyuk (Shin Seung Ho). Don Hyuk is known for his fighting abilities and is rather intimidating to everyone, especially Chan Hong. However, Chan Hong needs his help after he becomes the target of another bully who wants to be involved with Chan Hong’s friend/crush, Uhm Se Yoon (Kim So Hye). As the drama progresses, it is discovered that the characters have intertwined fates that lead back to a former classmate named Shin Seo Jung (Jo Yi Hyun).
Warning: spoilers for the premiere episodes below and mentions of suicide.
Loved: The evil allure of Jang Hye Jin’s character, Jo Pyeong Sub
The opening scene of this drama isn’t for the faint of heart as Chan Hong is tied up to a chair with blood and grime dripping down his face while Don Hyuk has his face slammed into the ground by gangsters. That’s when we meet the ever-allusive Jo Pyeong Sub (Jang Hye Jin). Clad in a fashionable bright-blue suit and red heels, her character definitely grabs your attention.
As the episodes progress, it is revealed she is a donor to our protagonists’ high school and is involved in Seo Jung’s death. Jang Hye Jin commands the screen and her role raises the stakes. She is definitely one of those incorrigible villains that won’t be taken down fast enough, but that’s what makes her character so great. Especially since we already know she gets the upper hand and has Chan Hong and Don Hyuk captured.
Loved: Chan Hong’s relationship with his family
One of the most endearing aspects of this drama is Chan Hong’s relationship with his mother (Baek Ji Won) and father (Kim Won Hae). While his mother certainly wants him to be more ambitious, Chan Hong takes after his father in many ways. They both seem to be fine with being absolutely average and not sticking out in a crowd. Their dynamic brings a bit of comedy to the show but also makes your heart swell. A memorable scene is when Chan Hong and his father lightly nag his mother with singing and dancing to convince her to take him out of town.
Since K-dramas tend to stick to the protagonist having family troubles, it is lovely to see one be warm with each other.
Loved: Chan Hong and Se Yoon’s relationship
Bonded after winning in a poetry and art competition, Chan Hong and Se Yoon’s relationship is one of the more refreshing and youthful aspects of the drama. Chan Hong has a very boyish and shy charm around Se Yoon and it’s very cute watching him trip over his words when he talks to her. Their confession scene will no doubt bring a smile to your face.
However, the most appealing part of their relationship is that they feel safe enough to talk to each other. This rings especially true for Se Yoon as she confesses a dark and dangerous secret to Chan Hong: she has the missing phone that belonged to her late friend Shin Seo Jung, who died by suicide.
It’s refreshing and far less stress-inducing when characters share important information with each other, so it was nice to see Se Yoon enlist Chan Hong to help. Hopefully, their communication will remain strong as the drama progresses so the mystery looming around Seo Jung’s death won’t also result in harm to anyone else.
Loved: The mystery behind Shin Seo Jung’s untimely death
This by far is the most intriguing part of the drama. While there are rumors regarding her suicide, Seo Jung’s death seems to be pointing to murder and it glues our main characters, Chan Hong, Don Hyuk, and Se Yoon together. Don Hyuk’s drive to find the truth about his ex-girlfriend’s death is commendable and their flashback scenes together really make your heart ache. Especially when he confesses that he was ultimately the most upset because Seo Jung couldn’t rely on him.
Don Hyuk’s contract starts with Chan Hong once he discovers that Chan Hong was one of the last people to see Seo Jung alive. In return for his protection, Chan Hong must tell Don Hyuk everything he remembers from the day of Seo Jung’s death. As the fourth episode comes to a close, they’re braving Seoul and a university student who they believe was speaking to Seo Jung before she died.
Their shenanigans are hilarious to watch since they try their best to operate like stealthy sleuths with savvy hang signals and all. However, their communication and honesty could use some work. With any luck, they will begin to work more like a team to uncover the truth.
Hated: How the kids are solving the crimes instead of adults
While it’s great to watch teenagers be brazen and intelligent to solve major crimes, you can’t help but wish that there was at least one adult that was helping Chan Hong, Don Hyuk, and Se Yoon. When Se Yoon finds a dangerous video on Seo Jung’s phone, she agonizes over it and is unsure what to do. She vaguely asks Chan Hong, and while it’s great to see how she’s learning to trust him, I wish she had taken it to the authorities.
Instead, she gives the phone to Chan Hong later on, who takes it from her to protect her. While it’s noble and endearing that he wants to protect her, there are very dangerous people after her and no doubt will be after him. Seeing as Se Yoon had the idea to turn it in before, it’s not very clear why she decided not to show the police. There are no other hints in the drama that suggest the police can’t be trusted, so it seems like they’re putting themselves in danger for no reason.
Overall, “How to Buy a Friend” is off to an intriguing and emotional start. While it’s not perfect, the characters are lovable and compelling and you can’t help but root for their success. Will Chan Hong and Don Hyuk breakaway from Jo Pyeong Sub and bring Seo Jung justice? Will they ever work as a team? Will everyone end up happy and alive in the end? Hopefully, this drama will have a satisfying conclusion in the upcoming episodes.
Catch the first episode below:
What did you think of the premiere episodes of “How to Buy A Friend”? Will you continue watching? Let us know in the comments below!
kaityv spends most of her time watching K-dramas even though she should be writing. If she’s not watching a drama then she’s for sure dying over BTS’s and Red Velvet’s music and videos.
Currently watching: “Nobody Knows,” “Memorist,” “I’ll Go to You When the Weather is Nice,” “A Piece of Your Mind,” “How to Buy a Friend”
All-time favorite: “Strong Woman Do Bong Soon”
Looking forward to: “So I Married an Anti-Fan”