Graceful Friends – K-Drama Episode 2 Recap & Review

The Power Dynamic

Graceful Friends returns for its follow-up episode to yesterday’s premiere and one thing’s for sure – this drama is about to get very dark. With bubbling tensions between the different married couples and some lovely juxtaposing ideas about mental health and the balance of power in a relationship, Graceful Friends could be the dark horse winner of 2020’s k-drama roster.

Episode 2 of Graceful Friends begins 1 year earlier at Man-Sik’s birthday. While all the separate couples discuss their marriage woes, Goong-Cheol tells the others about his perfect relationship with Jung-Hae. Only, Jae-Hoon suddenly turns the tables and asks about a girl called Hae-Sook which catches him completely off-guard.

We then cut back to the present as the different couples attend Man-Sik’s funeral. While the guys and girls sit at separate tables mourning the loss, a woman arrives completely beside herself, sobbing uncontrollably. Myeong-Sook questions her behaviour and asks exactly how she knew Man-Sik.

For now the woman tells her they were just “acquaintances” but there’s clearly a lot more going on here than first meets the eye. It also doesn’t help that Man-Sik cancelled all of his life insurance claims before he died.

Jae-Hoon throws the idea out to the group quietly that it may have been a ploy to give that very same woman his money, hinting that Man-Sik was having an affair. Goong-Cheol however is not so sure his friend was capable of doing that.

That’s not the only bit of drama from the funeral though and the mysterious Hae-Sook character we’ve heard about before shows up and drinks with the men, who are clearly mesmerized by her beauty. Goong-Cheol asks outright how she knew about the funeral and in private, she admits that she came to see Goong-Cheol.

He keeps it a secret from the others of course, and in the aftermath of the funeral the group continue to drink. Eventually the emotions are just too much, prompting half of them to start crying and wishing for Man-Sik to return.

Jae-Hoon brings a drunk Goong-Cheol back home but unfortunately he calls Jung-Hae by the wrong name and calls out for Hae-Sook. Upon hearing this, she immediately heads over to Jung-Hae’s house and they make love together.

We then cut forward in time slightly as Jung-Hae notices that Goong-Cheol is still grieving and tells him to take time off work and go on a trip. Instead, he decides to keep working through the pain. By comparison, Hyeon-Woo continues to drink through his grief.

Jung-Hae continues to practice her golfing, eventually winding up face to face with Kang-San after he saves her from a group of thugs. Jung-Hae phones Goong-Cheol but he’s busy and about to ride the bus as a way of trying to find peace with Man-Sik’s death.

When he returns home, Jung-Hae embraces her partner and tells him Man-Sik is lucky to have a friend like him.

Meanwhile, we see flashes of a woman with visibly scarred wrists applying her lipstick. As we cut across to a picture of Man-Sik on the counter, this appears to be Myeong-Sook from the future. In the present however, we see some of this  behaviour may have stemmed from her finding out about Man-Sik cancelling his life insurance.

Jung-Hae receives anonymous picture messages showing Hae-Sook and Goong-Cheol meeting at the funeral. The sender of this remains a mystery but she keeps up her facade of ignorance in the wake of Goong-Cheol heading over to belated celebrate her birthday.

However, Goong-Cheol receives a call from Myeong-Sook requesting to meet privately. Cancelling his plans with Jung-Hae he learns that she was having an affair with Man-Sike. Even worse, she has text messages to confirm as much tucked away in an envelope she hands him

As he sits outside trying to digest this news, his “loving wife” stays the night at Han-Sik’s house and he smirks as she lies face-down on his bed.

In May 1999 we see Hae-Seok and Jung-Hae coming to blows over her working at a strip bar. Despite Goong-Cheol telling Hae-Seok he has feelings for someone else, she kisses him passionately knowing that Jung-Hae is watching from the top of the stairs. As they embrace, she shoots a knowing look at Jung-Hae, which is where the episode ends.

There is a lot going on here and Graceful Friends is already entangling itself in quite the melodramatic knot. It seems Jung-Hae is far from the perfect wife she claims to be and the fact she’s been sleeping with Man-Sik and also Jae-Hoon is something that seems a pretty motivating reason for Goong-Cheol going after blood.

Speaking of which, who was it that Goong-Cheol murdered at the start of the first episode? All fingers seem to point toward Kang-San being the one but given his face was obscured during the strangling and ensuing blood-stained shots of the bathroom I can’t be certainly.

One thing’s for sure though, Graceful Friends is turning into a really good drama and that’s backed up by some very strong themes and challenging ideas around the power dynamic in relationships. Seeing the women as less than perfect is a really smart move and across each of these marriages and characters, there’s a lot of flaws and issues that still need to be ironed out.

Hold onto your seats – this one is going to get very interesting across the season ahead.

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