When it comes to watching tv shows, whether it be a Western show or an Asian show, there are moments when one wants to see something and different, but there is also a slight comfort on falling back to shows with the usual tropes one expects from that particular genre. However, there is something immensely refreshing when one comes across a show that is familiar but different at the same time, and one of the reasons why the 2017 KBS drama, “Fight for My Way” or “Fight My Way” stood out and gained great ratings and popularity last year.
This KBS2 drama was written Im Sang Choon and ran for sixteen episodes from May 22 to July 11, 2017.
“Fight for My Way” or “Fight My Way” follows the the stories of four friends with dreams of their own as they navigate life and love, while trying to reach and figure out their own dreams through the harsh realities of life. It is a wonderful coming of age story that focuses on ordinary people in their late 20s, who are trying to still claim their youth, hopes and dreams. Aside from this, it is also an interesting examination on the choices that people make and how they affect others around them, and a great best friends to lovers story.
The four friends in question or “The Fantastic Four” are Ko Dong Man (Park Seo Joon), a former Taekwondo rising star; Choi Ae Ra (Kim Ji Won), an opinionated and spunky girl who dreams of being an announcer or just being behind a microphone one day; Baek Seol Hee (Song Ha Yoon), Ae Ra’s best girl friend, and a simple and pure girl whose entire world revolves around her long -time boyfriend; and Kim Joo Man (Ahn Jae Hong) as Dong Man’s high school friend and Seol Hee’s long time boyfriend who has a permanent job as a home shopping network buyer at the same company where Seol Hee works.
One of the things that impressed me later on about this show is the fact that the writer of this series was a man, as he was able to write such great and strong female leads here.
This show has plenty of charms that justify its popularity, as it is refreshing and honest, a story about underdogs, has well-developed main characters, believable chemistry between the leads, and has relatable characters. One of the things that many loved about this show is the fact that our four main leads were just simple, ordinary people who didn’t know where their next paycheck was coming from at times, but they still tried their best to be themselves and fight for what they believed in and in their dreams, something that everyone, no matter where they are, what financial situation one is in, and no matter what age they are, can relate to.
Aside from this, while on one hand we have a wonderful best friends turned lovers romance which was executed well, we had an interesting examination of what goes wrong when a relationship is allowed to stagnate and when the couple becomes complacent and too comfortable with each other.
It also stressed upon the choices that the characters made, from the lead characters all the way to the parents of the main characters and supporting characters, and how it affects themselves and others in the long run.
As much as I loved this show, and I loved the main pairing, it wasn’t a perfect show. There were some issues that were only touched lightly upon and wasn’t executed as well as I would have wanted it to be, and Dong Man’s ex-girlfriend, Park Hye Ran (Lee Elijah) and the girl in the office who liked Joo Man, Jang Ye Jin (Pyo Ye Jin) were fun to hate yet very extra at times.
The cast was amazing, and in particular, our “Fantastic Four”. I haven’t seen Song Ha Yoon and Ahn Jae Hong in anything yet, but they gave us realistic performances and I can’t wait to see what these two actors do next.
I am probably the only person who hasn’t seen “The Heirs” or “Descendants of the Sun”, so I had no idea who Kim Ji Won was until this drama. I am glad that she was given her chance to shine here as Ae Ra. She was spunky and sassy, and while that does fill in the qualities of most Kdrama heroine tropes, I loved that she was brutally honest and not at all put together at times.
I was underwhelmed by Park Seo Joon in “She Was Pretty”, but I think that was because his character wasn’t written well and Choi Siwon just managed to outshine almost everyone in that drama. I haven’t seen “Hwarang”, as it doesn’t seem like my type, but based on what I’ve seen and what I’ve heard, it seems like Seo Joon managed to land a great role with this drama, as he was able to showcase almost the full range of emotions in this drama. I loved Dong Man, and loved the fact that he is adorable yet dim, but honest and full of heart.
Kim Ji Won and Park Seo Joon are definitely the soul of this drama, as the chemistry between them was great, and they portrayed their characters with such ease that you could believe that they’ve been friends for a long time. Same goes with Ha Yoon who was believable as the de facto mother of the trio consisting of Ae Ra, Dong Man and Seol Hee.
All in all, if you are looking for a feel good Korean drama that has meaningful life lessons that are relatable, and feels familiar yet different at the same time, I highly recommend “Fight for My Way”, which has now definitely wormed its way up to become one of my favorite dramas from 2017.
“Fight for My Way’s” overall plot is unsurprisingly very character driven, as the characters themselves are the ones driving the plot forward with the choices that they make. And although we, the viewers, might not agree with what they chose, these characters, through thick or thin, own up to their choices and deal with what comes next.
Honestly, I could have done without the whole landlady subplot, but I did like how they kept us guessing on whose mother she really is. Her subplot not only allowed us to see how close Ae Ra’s and Dong Man’s fathers are, but it was also meant to show us how following one’s dreams and making particular choices can affect others detrimentally in the long run. The same goes for the whole stalker producer plot line, but I really could have done without that one.
I could have also done without the whole stalker producer plot, even though the purpose was the same as the landlady subplot. I honestly could have done without that.
As mentioned earlier, I see why they needed to put Hye Ran and Ye Jin in the series, but I really didn’t care for them at all, and at times they were just so fun to hate on, but at the same time, I kept on rolling my eyes every time they came on screen.
Now, let’s go to all the stuff that I loved about the series.
I loved that a male writer was able to write such believably strong female leads, and I’m glad that this show chose to have characters who were ordinary and simple, making them even more relatable to most viewers today. I also loved the chemistry between the four leads, and although we didn’t get to see much of them hanging out together aside from their breakfasts together and hanging out at Namil Bar, you could still see the strong bond they have with each other. The little epilogues with Dong Man, Seol Hee and Ae Ra as children strengthens that bond, while reinforcing the unbelievable bond that Dong Man and Ae Ra have with each other.
This series was also well written, and I’m glad that all of the characters behaved consistently and with logic that sometimes isn’t there when it comes to dramaland.
Ae Ra is a great female character and I love that she doesn’t have it all together. She wears soccer t-shirts at home, comes out of the house with messy hair and is never afraid to share her opinion when needed. Yet despite all of that confidence and bravado, her vulnerable sides are shown as well. She also has no malicious bone in her body and will definitely go out of her way to protect those she loves–fiercely, to the point that she will use herself as collateral in order to see that they don’t get hurt, such as her ultimatum to Dong Man. I also loved watching Ae Ra achieve her dreams, and I found it interesting that instead of going for a safer route or a route where most people would expect her to go towards, she decided to go her own way and be an innovator in her own field as the first Korean female MMA Announcer. Kim Ji Won played Ae Ra to perfection and I’m glad she was given the chance to prove that she is leading lady material.
Dong Man complains a lot, may seem lazy at times, and may be a little bit dim, but there is no guile about him and is brutally honest with a mouth that has no filter whatsoever.However, once he gets into things he loves with a passion, he really goes for it to the end. The only thing that would ever stop him is his family, which is what happened ten years prior to series. He also has a great need for closure, and I feel that even though he still will fight after he and Ae Ra get married, it won’t be with that urgent need that he had when before fighting Kim Tak Su fairly and squarely in a match. I also love that no matter what, he will be there for Ae Ra, and although he may seem like a grown man child, he will definitely protect that one he loves for life, and is actually extremely aware of what she needs, so he backs off when he needs to and swoops in he sees that she’s ready.
I cannot praise Park Seo Joon enough for what he did in this series as he was able to prove that he is a good and versatile actor, and finally landed a role that would be able to make him shine. I also love the fact that he was able to be so nuanced in his performance here and I’m definitely looking forward to his next project.
Watching Ae Ra and Dong Man’s relationship transition from best friends to lovers was just wonderful to watch, from them bickering constantly, and their constant need to be around each other to becoming completely confused with each other both emotionally and physically. Ae Ra has always been aware of her feelings for him, but suppressed it enough as he was clueless about it until he became aware of his own feelings for her. I love that they physically end up touching or hugging each other, despite Ae Ra’s protests, which were already signs that they were going to head into that territory. Dong Man physically responds to her, and then he reacts emotionally although he isn’t mentally aware until it completely dawns on him that he is madly in love her. And when he does realize it, it is just glorious. I do understand Ae Ra’s feelings in using herself as collateral to give an ultimatum to Dong Man re fighting, but I felt that his decision to still keep on fighting despite everything, undermined it. I did like the fact that it’s Ae Ra and Dong Man who are getting married, as they know each other too well that this is the next logical step.
In contrast to this, we have Seol Hee and Joo Man, who showed us what happens when a relationship is allowed to stagnate, when two people just become too comfortable with each other, and when there is a lack of communication between the two. Their expectations of each other for each other sometimes didn’t match, and instead of talk about it, they just let it be an issue that was left unresolved. I really didn’t like Ye Jin, because it seemed as if she only went to work to have fun and find a boyfriend, and even more so when she refused to give up pursuing Joo Man after she knew Seol Hee and Joo Man were together. I was rooting for the two to actually break up because Seol Hee needed to discover herself first, even though that change only meant finding out that she makes excellent plum extract which she ended up making a business out off, and because Joo Man needed to be reminded of how much he loves and needs her. Seol Hee is definitely the mother of the group, and I was just so proud of her when she was the one who broke up with Joo Man. I am also fine that they ended up back together, and I hope their very brief separation has given the two a newfound appreciation for each other, and a new perspective as well.
Both Ahn Jae Hong and Song Ha Yoon portrayed their characters well, providing themselves with an easy chemistry with each other, while still managing to impress me with their performance.
All in all, “Fight for My Way” is a wonderful modern romantic comedy that defies expectations with great writing, great characters and a new one true pairing to last the ages. Most of all, it is a great coming of age story that teaches us that its okay to keep on moving forward towards our dreams, and to go about it in our own way.
Have you seen “Fight for My Way” or “Fight My Way”? What did you like or not like about the drama? What were your favorite moments? Let me know what you think in the comments below!