After months of patiently waiting for KBS to complete the airing of 16 episodes of”Fight for My Way,” I finally reaped my reward and started my three-day binge watch of this wonderful, unique show that revolves around friendship, love and what regular folks go through in their day to day lives just to get by. This show perfectly depicts the hashtag #thestruggleisreal — for me because I’ve been waiting since KBS announced that “Hwarang’s” Park Seo Joon and “Descendants of the Sun’s” Kim Ji Won were starring, and for the characters who refreshingly deal with life’s challenges their own way.
Synopsis: Childhood friends Ko Dong Man (Park Seo Joon) and Choi Ae Ra (Kim Ji Won) have been together since they were in grade school. While they constantly rag at each other, they can always count on each other to be there when the other one is in trouble. As children, Ae Ra dreamed of being an announcer while Dong Man planned to be a professional taekwondo artist but life and poverty has a way of putting the spokes on one’s best-laid plans. As adults, they find themselves having to swallow their pride to work at thankless jobs just to get by. As they try to get a second shot at achieving their dreams, they realize that they are developing feelings for each other that are different from their familiar friendship. Meanwhile, their friends Sul Hee (Song Ha Yoon) and Joo Man (Ahn Jae Hong) are a six-year couple who are facing their own challenges in their relationship. “Fight for My Way” depicts the four friends’ journey to fulfill their dreams amid the hardships that the world throws at them.
The reason why “Fight for My Way” has catapulted to the top of my favorite drama list in the last few weeks even if I resigned myself to only snippets on youtube is because it is very different from any other dramas that have been shown. Even though the friends to lovers angle has been explored countless times before, Dong Man and Ae Ra’s relationship was different straight off the bat. They had depth, and mad props to Park Seo Joon and Kim Ji Won for their strong chemistry that enabled them to depict this relationship convincingly. From the onset, viewers will feel compelled to root for them because they were as real as any character could get. First, they will be charmed by friendship and the love that blooms naturally afterwards is sweet sweet icing on the cake.
What I appreciated about the gradual build up in “Fight for My Way” was that Dong Man and Ae Ra looked out for each other and protected each other like what friends of 20 years would do. They were so familiar with each other that they don’t hesitate to come in and out of each others’ home with ease, ask each other to take out the trash or call each other out when they go overboard. It was also very touching how they had blind faith in each other and rallied for the other to succeed when they needed a boost. But more than this friendship, there was an underlying extra layer in their relationship that only they could explore and this made the drama more exciting.
I loved Ae Ra and Dong Man’s love story and how it unfolded with each episode. I was amazed and impressed by how honest they were towards each other about their feelings, especially Dong Man and how towards the end, all of Ae Ra’s silent efforts while she loved Dong Man in silence for years was finally revealed. It was very touching and it was very painful, and made viewers root for a happy ending even more. Don’t get me started on the kisses. They were so perfect and natural and showed the ease and trust that Seo Joon and Ji Won had in each other with each scene. They were adorable in their aegyo scenes, super sweet in their romantic scenes but when the heavy drama came, they more than delivered with their superb acting chops.
I love that the supporting characters Sul Hee and Joo Man also had their own journey to explore and theirs depicted another type of relationship experience for long time couples. They were not just in the series to spice things up with a subplot but theirs was another story that viewers could identify with.
“Fight for My Way” gave equal importance to this secondary plot as much as the main, and presented Sul Hee and Joo Man as relatable characters who are going through a difficult time as individuals and as a couple. My heart hurt for Sul Hee and Joo Man as they suffered in silence and dealt with their pain in their own way. Sul Hee’s brave decision to understand her own worth and Joo Man’s realization were wonderful to watch.
You may notice that I use the word love loosely in this review and it is for the reason that I loved the show to pieces. I know a lot of people relate to the Fantastic Four because they represent real people who struggle day in and day out, people who forget about their dreams and endure humiliation and oppression because they are poor. Yet, these four friends never gave up. They faltered but they soldiered on. And it was truly inspiring how all of the stories just connected with each other and flowed. There were villains and there were surprise twists but it did not take away from the main direction of the drama and it was very well written and I’m sure it got a lot of viewers to think about their own lives as they watched the drama.
“Fight for My Way” consistently delivered from start to finish and it was very hard for me to pick a favorite scene as there were so many. This drama took me through a roller coaster of emotions and by its end, I felt like I knew the characters so well that I was truly invested in their journey. I think for any drama, “Fight for My Way” achieved something extraordinary with its realistic approach because it represented the travails of people who actually watched the show and this made it really special. Kudos to the entire team. After I get some rest for binge watching the past three nights, I know that I will be watching this drama again, and again and again. More projects with Park Seo Joon and Kim Ji Won please!!!
PS. The kiddie versions of Ae Ra and Dong Man were so adorable. They cast the perfect Ae Ra, loved how the young Ae Ra and the adult said their halfhearted sorries so perfectly.