by Akage Girl, November 30, 2019
93

Unparalleled bromance – These two… just make me smile

Warning: This Article Contains Spoilers for Goblin, Bad Guys, Meteor Garden

What is it about well-dressed men confidently strolling down the road with each other that captures the imagination of people worldwide? Why does my heart go pitter-pat when gorgeous males clad in dark tailored clothing - only found on the runway during Paris or Milan Fashion Week - rescue a young woman in the clutches of the nefarious (and very poorly dressed) bad guys? How does a budding friendship between two neurotics albeit beautiful brooding characters become more important to me than any other romantic relationship portrayed in that same awesome show?

I HAVE NO FREAKING IDEA! Consequently, I did an experiment. I asked three people to do an internet search for “goblin and grim reaper” on three separate devices and networks. (2 of which NEVER watch Asian dramas… no really, NOT EVER… the horror!) Both “goblin” and “grim reaper” are pretty generic words in the English language right? Guess Again! The top images on ALL three searches… Yep, you guessed it, THE best Bromantic relationship in the entire world… from Goblin, of course. There must be something so engaging about love/hate relationships between men that we can’t help but want more. (And well… it doesn’t hurt that it was Gong Yoo & Lee Dong Wook).

Perhaps this stunning result is due to Goblin being one of the highest-rated Korean dramas to date and beloved worldwide (including by one tremendously appreciative fan in New England). It could be this k-drama is the ONLY instance on the internet where a goblin and a grim reaper are in the same spot at the same time, it doesn’t matter, because it was incredibly entertaining! Before I expound about what could only be termed as the Mona Lisa of all bromances, let's attempt to understand why they work at all.

Comrades in Arms

Park Hae Jin - Ma Dong Suk – Jo Dong Hyuk – Kim Sang Joong – Oh my, that swagger… (Thank You, Elle, for the gif)

I admit that Bad Guys is a difficult show for me to watch. Consuming more than one episode a week is problematic, due to Bad Guys being so dark and gritty (not my cup of tea). Why do I keep watching despite limping through all the gruesome characters, storylines, and plot devices? IT'S FOR THE BROMANCE... The relationship between the three criminals turned police special task force operatives (ok and Park Hae Jin because he’s still my #1 Oppa!)  The story is awfully intense and interesting because the men have their own motives, either outwardly or quietly selfish, then as the show progresses, everything begins to morph into something more approachable and engaging. At first, no friends to speak of, then the characters of Lee Jung Moon, Park Woong Cheol, and Jung Tae Soo were sufficiently scary and fought each other as much as those creepy criminals.

What reeled me in? Those intense and disturbing criminal/crime fighters begin saving each other’s lives (even though two of them are supposed to kill their teammate), sharing the redemption points (successes that knock years off their prison sentence), and even risking their own lives for each other. Admittedly, I haven’t completed all 11 episodes, so there might be more to this relationship than I’ve observed so far... but the bromance between Lee Jung Moon, Park Woong Cheol, and Jung Tae Soo is evident in all its glory for the audience to enjoy, and this show certainly is full of gore.  I mean it's really really blood-spattered. Without that burgeoning relationship between the three men, Bad Guys becomes another blood-soaked cop drama with conflicted leads that I’d rather not watch (um actually, I’d watch for Park Hae Jin... I just can’t lie).

Lifelong Friendship

Thank you bluemallowz for the best F4 “SWAGGER” gif from Meteor Garden (2018)

Do you have a lifelong friend? I do. Sadly, we aren’t remotely this pretty nor do we dress like… well characters found in Asian dramas, so while I do have enduring friendships, we’re pretty boring, unlike F4. Does anyone NOT love the idea of F4, the vaunted elite club of lifelong friends torturing unsuspecting students at their prestigious university and eventually befriending the strong-willed and loyal Shan Cai? Can I just say, I cheered F4 on as they fought for and tried everything in their power to aid the incredibly immature and somewhat annoying couple of Si and Shan Cai?

I know you’re thinking What about Shan Cai’s small detour with Hua Ze Lei? BUT he loved her like a “pet”, and REALLY… Canada? The Wine Party? How about the small island off the coast of China? Si was the better choice. Say what you will about romance. It was the relationship between these four men that became one of the most interesting parts of this ENTIRE show, even more, riveting than that weak love story between Xi Men and Xiao You.

The characters encompassing F4 fought with each other, teased each other, and supported each other in every way possible. Remember the humorous scene at the bar where Xi Men and Si fight with Xiao You’s boyfriend? How about when they play bridge with Shan Cai and Qing He? Watching the F4 teamwork on display was intriguing and engaging… AND a lot less painful for me to watch than the creepy bullying found in the other versions of this story (sorry I know that it not popular sentiment). At the end, when Dao Ming Si’s plan is presented to his mother by his friends... just saying, bromance on steroids. There was something about the bond exhibited between Dao Ming Si, Hau Ze Lei, Feng Mei Zuo, and Xi Men Yan that captivates charms, and delights the viewer. And of course, that swagger… why is that so darn charming?

The Rolls Royce of ALL BROMANCES

The goblin and the grim reaper (Gong Yoo & Lee Dong Wook) – BEST bromance around

This is for those of you who watched Goblin (by the way… you really should watch it at least twice to catch all the good stuff). Was there anyone besides me that was more concerned about the goblin and the grim reaper finding each other again instead of the goblin bride and the goblin reuniting?  Did anyone shed a tear or sixty when the two were on the outs with each other after the grim reaper's true identity was confirmed? (And yeah… who didn’t see that coming when Sunny turned out to be related to the motley crew.) Write down three of your favorite scenes from the show and I will bet you that at least two of them contain the goblin AND the grim reaper… and likely Deok Hwa too (nicely done by Yook Sung Jae).

From the beginning, this relationship was perfect, from the trading of insults to the physical comedy, to the compelling storyline. Was there anyone who did not scream at the television when these two showed up in the dark to rescue poor Ji Eun Tak? BEST SCENE EVER! Did everyone double over with humor when these two tried to video chat with each other on their new mobile phones? Ok. Now that was the BEST SCENE EVER! What about the time the goblin came back from limbo and sat at the grim reaper’s tea table? And the apology? Didn’t that just make you weep? Oh alright, that was the BEST SCENE EVER! (I could wax eloquent on this for days just saying.)

It would take eons for me to document the fascinating relationship that unfolded between the goblin and the grim reaper, which is why I believe this is the best bromance ever written and portrayed. The bond between the goblin and the grim reaper elicited strange reactions from me: shrieking out loud, laughing until waterworks dripped from my eyes, and then tearing up again with the angst between Kim Shim and Kim Woo Bin (the name just makes me smile) and boy howdy, those two were sooooo enjoyable. (a MUST WATCH!)

Cheers to the art of the bromance

Truth be told, I am still not sure why I fell in love with this relationship and feeling a little sheepish that I haven’t found its mate in a friendship between two women (Don’t Worry – I’m on the hunt).

In searching for a common thread between my favorite bromantic dramas, I find perhaps it is the bickering and well… the SWAGGER… AS IN that walk. All the men are fabulously dressed, truly, it was couture clothing… the type of fashion a normal person like me only sees on TV. Their long strides in sync, (was that choreographed?) no fear and ready to take on the world, and oh yeah, really cool music playing in the background as they walk down a seemingly car-less street (2nd time around in Goblin was roll on the floor funny – “Happy New Year!”).

Well, now that I think about it when looking objectively at any bromance, it’s the conflict, humor, AND emotional connection between characters that make these relationships stand out. Even in the oh so dark Bad Guys, Lee Jung Moon tells Park Woong Cheol that he saved him so he could find out if he felt something… as in compassion. My heart cracked open when he delivered that line and I kind-a think Park Woong Cheol’s did as well… after all, he returned the favor in the same episode and again and again. How about that moment in Meteor Garden when they shoot pool… clearing the air and reconciling as friends? Or the bean sprout scene in Goblin? Ahhhhhhhhhh, just sublime... the art of the bromance.


Do we really know the secret recipe to a good bromance… There are some FINE examples out there. What about you? Do you know of an epic bromance to rival that of the goblin and the grim reaper? Can’t think of any? Then please share your favorite goblin and grim reaper moment? Wasn’t it the greatest?!

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