How to Buy a Friend: Episodes 5-6
Our protagonists had set out looking for the truth behind a schoolmate’s death, but they’ve inadvertently made a powerful enemy in the process. As they try to navigate to the dangers ahead of them, their fake friendship starts to look much more genuine than anyone had anticipated.
EPISODE 5: “What rhythm has taught me”
In the past, Henchman Kwak shows Don-hyuk a post allegedly made by Seo-jung on a site for paid dates. He claims to have even checked the IP address and the poster is clearly using Seo-jung’s username. He even claims that Seo-jung had asked his men to collect money on her behalf. Unable to handle what he’s hearing, Don-hyuk tells Sang-pil to stop.
But Sang-pil goes on, telling Don-hyuk to admit that this is simply the kind of girl Seo-jung is. Don-hyuk flies into a rage and grabs him by the collar, saying Sang-pil doesn’t know Seo-jung and he regrets ever having considered Sang-pil a friend.
At the police station, a very angry Art Sunbae asserts that he’s a victim who had his Instagram account hacked into and then was attacked by Don-hyuk and Chan-hong (it looks like Kyung-pyo managed to slip away). The officer asks Don-hyuk for his mother’s phone number, but Don-hyuk won’t say a work and won’t look up from from Seo-jung’s phone.
Chan-hong’s parents arrive, more concerned than mad, and the police officer informs them that Chan-hong is free to go since he was assaulted, but Don-hyuk can only be released if his parents come in to settle his charges.
Mom and Dad exchange a Look and Dad asks Chan-hong if Don-hyuk is a friend. At Chan-hong’s nod, they end up settling things themselves with the police and Art Sunbae. As they all drive home in Dad’s van, Chan-hong tries to sit as far away from Don-hyuk as humanly possible.
Dad breaks the silence by inviting Don-hyuk to sleep over since it’s late. When Don-hyuk politely refuses and says he’ll pay back the settlement money, but, to Chan-hong’s horror, Mom persists and insists he stay for dinner.
Throughout dinner, Don-hyuk is very quiet and polite and watches the Park family’s affectionate bickering with a bit of envy. Chan-hong sneaks away to text Kyung-pyo about leaving him behind and tries in vain to get him to come over so he won’t have to be alone with Don-hyuk.
Mom calls for him and Chan-hong is greeted by a sight: Don-hyuk in floral, animal print pajamas (handmade by Mom). Mom’s thrilled they fit Don-hyuk while he looks like he’s dying on the inside.
As soon as the boys are alone, Don-hyuk pins Chan-hong to the wall and confronts him about having Seo-jung’s phone. When Mom interrupts with snacks, they play off her concern by pretending they were showing each other some fighting moves.
Chan-hong finally comes clean and says that Se-yoon gave him the phone. She didn’t mean to hide the phone on purpose, but she didn’t know what to do after finding it in her locker. Don-hyuk wonders why Seo-jung left the phone with Se-yoon and Chan-hong wonders why she left behind the “wet sand remembers footprints” message for the three of them.
Chan-hong tells him that Se-yoon has been through a lot too, and Don-hyuk is sympathetic. He muses that she must have felt like Seo-jung blamed her, which is a frightening thing.
Chan-hong wakes up in the middle of the night to see Don-hyuk staring at the phone; he looks through his messages with Seo-jung and sighs.
Early the next morning, Don-hyuk attempts to sneak out quietly but Dad’s already up and wrangles the boys for some sauna time. Kyung-pyo just so happens to be there at the same time and he begs forgiveness when he sees Chan-hong and Don-hyuk glaring at him.
They have a friendly back-scrubbing session and it looks like Kyung-pyo’s forgiven. He did call the police after all, which probably saved them from getting any deeper into trouble.
Freshly cleaned and scrubbed, Dad and Chan-hong give Don-hyuk a bagful of oranges and homemade banchan from Mom. Don-hyuk looks touched and tells Chan-hong to pass on his thanks.
While on cleaning duty (punishment for playing hooky), Kyung-pyo theorizes with Chan-hong and Don-hyuk on what happened with the imposter Art Sunbae and Seo-jung. They speculate that the culprit must have hacked into Art Sunbae’s account to lure Seo-jung to a meeting.
The hacker must have posed as a friend of Art Sunbae, then probably drugged and exploited Seo-jung. Kyung-pyo wonders how Seo-jung forked out the money when blackmailed and says he would have done anything if he had been in her shoes. Don-hyuk face hardens at that bit of speculation, and out of consideration for Don-hyuk, Chan-hong shushes him.
Don-hyuk quietly shows Chan-hong a print out of Seo-jung’s post for paid dates. He explains that the username and IP are hers, and he’s emotional as he tries to put words to his worries when Chan-hong cuts him off. As someone Se-yoon looked up to and someone Don-hyuk liked, Chan-hong doesn’t believe Seo-jung would have posted something like that. Don-hyuk looks like he might cry at the reassurance.
Chan-hong is finishing at school when Se-yoon pop ups to say hi, bearing a gift of banana milk. They sit and drink, and she explains she’d been worried about his absence at their academy classes and if Seo-jung’s phone had anything to do with it.
He’d just been skipping because he used the class fees on Don-hyuk’s rent, but as he searches for a cooler excuse, Se-yoon assumes he’s decided to devote all his time to being a writer and cheers him on.
In the faculty room, Teacher Woo praises Chan-hong’s writing. As he puts it in his drawer for safekeeping, he mentions Seo-jung and her skill as a writer. After asking if Chan-hong knew Seo-jung, Teacher Woo gives him a piece of her writing to look over.
As Don-hyuk sits at home alone, eating the food Chan-hong’s parents gave him, we hear Seo-jung read her poem:
The child with the lovely and innocent smile,
that child doesn’t know.
Quick to sulk, quick to laugh,
that child has an inner child.
He doesn’t know
how lonely he looks,
he doesn’t know.
That child doesn’t know how sad his fierce gaze looks,
he doesn’t know.
He doesn’t know.
He doesn’t know.
In his room, as Chan-hong reads over Seo-jung’s poem he has a eureka moment. He cycles at full speed to Don-hyuk’s and looks for the dating post that Seo-jung had allegedly written. Comparing them side by side, Chan-hong tells Don-hyuk that the post couldn’t have been written by Seo-jung–the writing styles are completely different. Chan-hong recognized in her writing what Teacher Woo had taught in class and he’s certain the post was written by someone else.
Chan-hong hands over Seo-jung’s poem, telling Don-hyuk he thinks Seo-jung wrote about her Iron Man. Chan-hong gives him space and waits outside while Don-hyuk reads the poem and cries. He gives Chan-hong a ride home and to Chan-hong’s delight the ride is on a motorbike.
Se-yoon happens to be waiting outside of Chan-hong’s place. Before Don-hyuk leaves, he thanks Chan-hong sincerely. Uh-oh. Dae-yong has been staking out Chan-hong’s and he calls Henchman Kwak to say he’s found the cellphone.
Don-hyuk heads over to the school and retraces Seo-jung’s steps. Their last conversation plays in his head and he vows to find the people who did this to her.
Se-yoon and Chan-hong take a stroll as she tells him her parents are mad that she’s chosen to continue painting. It seems she’s hiding from her parents and when Se-yoon’s dad’s car comes into view, she pulls Chan-hong into a phone booth.
Close together, music swells, they lock eyes… and Chan-hong breaks the moment by saying it looks like her dad has left. Oh boy.
At school, Chan-hong and Don-hyuk discuss the post. Chan-hong is a regular Sherlock Holmes and pinpoints terms only kids at their school would know (like a nickname for a menu item at a nearby restaurant). But the question is, how do they figure out who wrote the post? The plan: a heist.
Teacher Woo has a cabinet in the middle of the faculty lounge where he keeps everyone’s assignments. They decide that Don-hyuk will distract him as Chan-hong swipes the
jewels papers. It nearly works, but Kyung-pyo’s unexpected arrival piques Teacher Woo’s suspicions. All hope seems lost when luck comes in the form of Teacher Choi, who unintentionally distracts Teacher Woo, giving Kyung-pyo an in to grab the box they need.
They reconvene at Don-hyuk’s place, and carefully obscure all the names by folding over the corners of all the papers before Chan-hong starts his work. Kyung-pyo is skeptical — until Chan-hong manages to identify his writing right away (“Something about it is sad and dirty.”)
Pouring through the papers, Don-hyuk and Kyung-pyo end up falling asleep. Chan-hong persists and his work pays off when he notices the same writing style from the post on one of the assignments. He carefully unfolds the name: Choi Mi-ra.
On a date with Se-yoon, he brings up Mi-ra, but quickly changes the subject without getting into any questions. Se-yoon gives him an early birthday present, a book written by an author who shares his birthday, and she asks that he write her a letter for her birthday when he says he hasn’t gotten her anything.
Chan-hong promises to write her a letter for her birthday and they enjoy the blooming cherry blossoms, catching flower petals in their hands. They lock eyes and shyly share a kiss under falling petals.
At school Chan-hong notices Dae-yong’s other bullying target, Sung-do, with a strange glint in his eye. He realizes Sung-do is clutching a penknife and is aiming straight for Dae-yong. Instead of staying on the sidelines, Chan-hong jumps in to save Dae-yong, getting himself hurt in the process.
As Chan-hong rests up in the nurse’s office, Sung-do seeks him out and lets him know that Dae-yong is looking for a pink cellphone that’s thought to be in Se-yoon’s possession.
Certain that there’s something of value on the phone, the three pals look through the cellphone again to see what they’ve missed. Kyung-pyo finds another calculator app which turns out to be password-protected. Don-hyuk guesses the password (correctly) and unlocks the photos and videos. They scroll and find the incriminating video of Madam Jo.
Don-hyuk guesses that Dae-yong must have written the post and proposes tailing the people following Se-yoon. Fearing this will put Se-yoon in danger, Chan-hong objects immediately. Despite Don-hyuk’s promises to protect them all, Chan-hong reminds him that he’s still just a high schooler. Unmoved, Don-hyuk insists on carrying on with the plan alone.
In her office, Madam Jo is pleased about her prospects, it looks like she has a good chance of winning an upcoming election. The only obstacle now is the missing cellphone, which could send both her and Henchman Kwak to prison. She emphasizes the fact they could both get into trouble and punctuates her order to bring her the phone with hard, angry slaps.
At school, Chan-hong watches Mi-ra from afar as she approaches Se-yoon and their friends. She apologizes for being on edge lately and suddenly takes pictures with them under the pretense of trying a new photo app.
We see exactly what those photos are for, as Mithra demands the photos of Se-yoon from Mi-ra, threatening to reveal her role in Seo-jung’s death if she refuses. Conflicted, she’s surprised to find Chan-hong standing behind her. She refuses to let him see her phone and Se-yoon walks in on them just as Chan-hong accuses Mi-ra of being the true author of “Seo-jung’s” dating post.
Se-yoon clocks Mi-ra’s sudden absence from class — we see she’s holed up in her bedroom, crying. She texts Mithra, accusing them of exposing her to Chan-hong then turns off her phone.
Chan-hong and Se-yoon have a face-to-face talk, and Se-yoon is understandably upset about Chan-hong keeping information from her. She asks him to return her Seo-jung’s phone and storms off. She doesn’t get far before she receives a call about Mi-ra — she’s in the hospital after a suicide attempt.
Both Chan-hong and Se-yoon head over to see her and Chan-hong waits outside the hospital room as the two friends talk. Mi-ra admits that she wrote the online post, posing as Seo-jung. She explains that she had always been ignored and friendless at school until Se-yoon noticed her. Se-yoon didn’t care that Mi-ra wasn’t popular. They were just friends, and that meant their classmates started treating her better, too.
But when Se-yoon started to grow closer to Seo-jung, Mi-ra felt left out. She became jealous and anxious about being a friendless nobody again. Breaking down in tears, she apologizes for the things that took place because of her post.
Acting on a helpful tip from Sung-do, Don-hyuk tails Dae-yong to a meeting of some sort. He’s surprised to see his former friend and current right-hand man of Madam Jo’s, Henchman Kwak. He frowns and calls Chan-hong to his location. As soon as he arrives, Don-hyuk shows him an old picture of him with Henchman Kwak and gives him the lowdown on his former friend and Dae-yong.
Recognizing that what they have to tackle is huge, Chan-hong says he’s out. He’s going to report this to the police. Don-hyuk thinks that they can handle things themselves, but a frustrated Chan-hong says Mi-ra nearly died and that he won’t help Don-hyuk any further.
Exasperated (and not up to speed about Mi-ra), Don-hyuk asks if Chan-hong can’t do him a favor as a friend — but Chan-hong scoffs that they have a contract friendship, and they’re not real friends. At that, Don-hyuk punches him hard.
Exhausted, both boys crumple to the ground. Chan-hong muses about Se-yoon and absentmindedly plays the word game that Se-yoon taught him on their first date. Don-hyuk thinks Chan-hong is being artsy and weird, but he explains that he’s just playing a word game that he learned from Se-yoon, who learned it from Seo-jung. You start with the sign closest to you and use the words on it and the signs after that to string together a phrase, like putting together a garland of words.
Just then, the signs around them light up and they recognize Seo-jung’s message is illuminated in the signs. At the same time, Se-yoon picks up a handwritten poem that Chan-hong had stashed for her in a phone booth. She reads it as the boys follow the breadcrumbs Seo-jung left behind. It’s the same place where Seo-jung had once been dragged unconscious. They enter an abandoned building only to find a locked door. They manage to force it open and a red light glows from the room.
Somewhere, Se-yoon sits in an abandoned building, bloodied and shivering with fear.
It’s clever how Seo-jung’s word game was woven into the plot, and it’s about time the line’s true meaning was divulged. The drama has tied together both the plot, literary devices, and the power of words in a way that’s creative and fresh. From the way Teacher Woo’s classes on literature tie into the storyline, to Chan-hong’s language sleuthing to determine the true author of that infamous dating post, there’s a harmony there that highlights the power of words and writing.
Chan-hong continues to be very considerate of Se-yoon, but as much as he wants to keep her safe, it’s not possible to remove Se-yoon from the picture when Seo-jung entrusted her with the cellphone. She’s been entangled in this since the beginning, whether Chan-hong likes it or not. Keeping Se-yoon in the dark won’t protect her, and that was very clear when we saw how upset she was with Chan-hong for not being completely transparent with her. It does speak to her character to see how much grace she showed Mi-ra after Mi-ra came clean about what she’d done. Now that things are out in the open, there may be more redemption to come for Mi-ra. Maybe she’ll supply decisive information to help identify Mithra?
Speaking of characters with potential, Sung-do knew a lot of conveniently helpful information. Did he just happen to chance upon that information while spending so much time as Dae-yong’s punching bag, or is there something more?
Though Se-yoon seems to have understood why Mi-ra did what she did, I fear what Don-hyuk’s reaction might be. It seems that the post in question made Don-hyuk doubt the very foundation of the relationship he had with Seo-jung. She had wanted nothing more than for Don-hyuk to trust and believe her till the end, but he wavered and now he’s left with a sense of guilt that is a heavy thing to bear. I do think he loved her, but when the evidence and everyone around you say otherwise, it becomes easy to doubt your feelings. I know Chan-hong claimed otherwise, but his actions all scream “friend” and I’m so thankful to Chan-hong for comforting Don-hyuk and helping him unravel this mystery.
But as Chan-hong keeps reminding Don-hyuk (and us), they are just high school kids. I fear Don-hyuk’s rashness and stubbornness will someday get him into a situation he can’t save himself from…like the end of the episode. The abandoned building just screamed danger and whatever lies beyond that door, I don’t think it’s something any kids should have to face on their own.