Because It's The First Time
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OnStyle | 2015 | 8 Episodes |
Grade: A
College Age Themed Romantic Comedy
Korean Drama Review by Jill, USA

I love short dramas and this one, Because It's The First Time (2015), I checked out after a friend's recommendation and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. It was so sweet and refreshing, about several friends of college age who grew up together since childhood and were more like family members to each other than their own family members were to them, so therefore their friendships meant all that much more to them. Very endearing! There were also several cameos by stars like Yoona (Love Rain), the three popular fellows from Falling In Love With Innocence, actors Jung Kyung Ho (who played Yune in I'm Sorry, I Love You) and Yoon Hyun Min (Discovery Of Romance), and Jin Goo (All In, Spotlight).

I mostly remembered the lead male actor in this main cast, Choi Min Ho from To The Beautiful You, and I actually liked how he played his role here even more than I did in the prior role. He showed a lot of humor, confidence, and complexity in just eight episodes. Second male lead was played by Seo Min Jae from Twenty Again and I actually liked his character more here in this drama than in Twenty Again, since his character was more consistently nice to people in this show than the prior show. Third male lead was cutie pie Lee Yi Kyung (Trot Lovers, Nine: Nine Time Travels) who probably had the most difficult role, playing a young man ostracized by his parents and brothers because he did not go to college but who wanted to pursue acting instead, but with little success.

From L to R: Seo Min Jae, Park So Dam, Choi Min Ho

The female cast were all excellent, especially lead actress Park So Dam, who was totally adorable in her pixie tomboyish role (I loved seeing that they chose a girl lead who did not have that double-eyelid surgery, which many actors and actresses in Korea are pressured today to get in order to be cast in dramas). She has a new fan in me. I can't imagine anyone else who could play her role better, she had me constantly smiling at her lively spirit and sense of courage despite adversity.

Second female lead was Cho Hye Jung, who played a chubby hairdresser who was just a darling to everyone, and Jeong Eu Gene was third female lead, a stunning beauty, who played the distracting love interest to Min Ho's character. Distracting only because it's evident all the time that Min Ho's character has been unconsciously in love with his "best friend" played by So Dam all along.  

From L to R: Lee Yi Kyung, Cho Hye Jung, Seo Min Jae,
Park So Dam, Choi Min Ho, Jeong Ey Gene

The Story: Yoon Tae Oh (Choi Min Ho) is a charming, rich college freshman whose rooftop apartment is used as a meeting place for his four friends from childhood who are like close-knit family members more than just friends. They're always there for each other and have a group cell phone line so that if someone sends a text they all get that text and can respond immediately or help each other out in a crisis.

Best Buddies ... will a girl break them up?

Among this diverse group of various personalities is his childhood best friend, Han Song Yi (Park So Dam), a tomboyish girl with a sweet outward spirit but with a hurting heart over her abandonment by her mother, and her stern aunt taking her younger sister away from her custody. She works at various odd jobs to support herself, like library assistant and gas pump attendant and convenience store clerk, yet she is basically homeless because the aunt refuses to take her in; she is going to college and living through loans, until eventually Tae Oh allows her to crash at his place, in a tent at first, of all places!

Tae Oh starts to fall for Song Yi, without really understanding at first why his feelings toward her are so complicated, while another close friend, Seo Ji Ahn (Kim Min Jae) starts to develop feelings for Song Yi too. Song Yi at first crushes on Tae Oh but when he seems to care more for his college sunbae (senior) Se Hyun Hu (Jeong Ey Gene) she deflects her feelings away from him by crushing on Ji Ahn instead.

When she finally gets up the courage to confess her feelings to Ji Ahn he feels badly because he is so poor and wouldn't be able to date her by treating her to expensive places so he pretends he doesn't care about her, which breaks her heart. Tae Oh does not know the identity of the person breaking his best friend's heart and grows very concerned about her. This in turn begins to harm his new romantic relationship with his sunbae, who is jealous of the amount of time Tae Oh spends with Song Yi.

Choi Hoon and Ga Rin are perfect for one another,
but will they ever figure that out?

Meanwhile, the other close friends have their own problems: Choi Hoon (Lee Yi Kyung) can't seem to get an even break on auditions to become an actor, and his family are downright cruel to him when he rarely shows up at their door -- at one point his father is so ashamed of him he hits him with a golf club across the face (at that moment I started screaming at my TV: "WHAT KIND OF FATHER ARE YOU???"). Some kids just need more help and support than others, but the family was turning their backs on him, including his two older college educated brothers who were gainfully employed in prestige positions but who never lifted a finger to help him.

Yi Kyung's only happiness occurs when he is around his pals who buoy him up constantly, especially the person who seems dearest to him, their chubby but filled with life friend Ga Rin Oh (Cho Hye Jung) who works as a hairdresser in her mother's shop. Ga Rin is so open and honest she flat out tells Tae Oh in front of everyone, "I like you, but you don't have to do anything about it", which makes poor Yi Kyung sad again.

With secret love triangles going on everywhere in this group of friends, and fluctuating feelings spinning constantly, just how long will it take for a bubble to burst and possibly ruin a lifetime of friendships? Who really loves whom, and who is just dreaming of the impossible? Will they ever find success and security in their future paths in life? Also, will nuclear family members ever be restored to one another and healed, or will the true "Family" be the friends who have depended on each other all their lives?

The writers did a marvelous job making me feel like these were my own kids whom I was growing to care about; in just eight episodes they succeeded where many other, much longer dramas failed. You will be rooting for every one of them to find happiness. I will certainly be up to watching this one again in future because it was so well-acted and written.
In this show's case the "first love" was not between a couple, it was between the friendship unit. They all loved each other far too much to fall victim to petty jealousies. Very inspiring.
Enjoy. It's an easy show to fit into your regular K-drama viewing schedules of longer shows with twice or more the number of episodes.