For Mid-Life Crisis And Mystery Gracious Friends Delivers In Bucketloads

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graceful_friends-p1It’s been some time since I last watched a Korean drama. I believe the last one I watched was the one with the not-so-great-ending V.I.P. Didn’t really enjoy that one because I thought the male lead was so stiff and wooden, could not understand how someone like him could have a wife and mistress. Anyway I was searching for a good Korean drama last week and ended up with ongoing “Gracious Friends”. I was intrigued by the fact that it’s a mystery drama.

“Gracious Friends” certainly got me hooked from the first episode (there are 16 altogether) as it’s about a group of 5 friends and their spouses. These friends have known each other for 20 years since they were college mates. They get together once a week at a bar for some male bonding.

The 5 male friends, all in their 40s are:

  1. Ahn Goong-chul, manager of a fried chicken franchise. He’s married to fellow college mate Nam Jung-hae, a psychiatrist and they have a son.
  2. Jung Jae-hoon, urologist who is the richest and most successful of the 5 friends. He is secretly in love with Nam Jung-hae. He’s divorced with no kids.
  3. Cheon Man-shik, a civil servant who dies of a heart attack very early in the drama. He leaves a wife and daughter.
  4.  Park Choon-bok, an insurance salesman who looks like the oldest of the 5 friends. He is  married to a young wife and has a 5-year old daughter.
  5. Jo Hyung-woo, director of adult films. He is married to a former adult film actress and has a teenage son.

There are a few mysteries in this drama and it makes you want to keep watching for the answers which will be eventually revealed. While the friends were in college, one of their professors was murdered. Apparently the killer was Baek Hae-sook, the femme fatale of the drama and all the friends loved her. She was Ahn Goong-chul’s first girlfriend. After she was arrested for the professor’s murder, they lost touch with her until she reappears at Cheon Man-shik’s funeral.

Throw in golf driving range instructor Joo Kang-san, a hunky fellow who for reasons of his own targets Nam Jung-hae by spiking her drink at a bar and taking nude photos of her and the mystery deepens. After sending the nude photos to Ahn Goong-chul and threatening to send the photos to Nam Jung-hae’s hospital and her son’s school, Joo Kang-san ends up murdered in his shower. Ahn Goong-chul discovers the body when he rushed over to Joo Kang-san’s apartment to confront him and is the first suspect but the police release him as all the evidence doesn’t point to him being the perpetrator.

Ahn Goong-chul obviously still has a soft spot for Baek Hae-sook as he borrows money from Jung Jae-hoon when she asks Ahn for money. She dresses and behaves exactly like a femme fatale. She buys the bar frequented by the friends and it looks like she is out to destroy Ahn Goong-chul’s marriage with help from Jung Jae-hoon.

I really like this drama as it is not fluffy. It deals with mid-life crisis and marriage problems people in their 40s face. In my opinion, it’s the best Korean drama I have watched this year. There are so many elements to this drama that make it compelling watching. I went through 8 episodes over 2 days, each episode being over an hour long.

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