It’s time to bid farewell to our high school friends as they wrap things up by seeking justice for their beloved friend and moving forward with their new beginnings. Although it won’t be easy and the healing process will undoubtedly take a while, there’s comfort in knowing that strong friendships have resulted from this journey and that our characters are not alone.
Note: I just want to thank everyone who’s joined me in this very interesting and bittersweet recap journey for ‘How to Buy a Friend.’ It was not easy to watch so recapping the series wasn’t so easy either. There were many times where I was uncomfortable or afraid to watch the show, but I ultimately believe that the watch was rewarding and satisfying. You can join me in my recaps for other currently airing dramas ‘Find Me in Your Memory‘ as well as ‘Meow, the Secret Boy.‘ Until then, please stay safe out there and take care!
How to Buy a Friend: Episode 4 & Final Recap
Chan-hong and Don-hyuk make their way into the warehouse building upon making the grand discovery. It’s the exact location that Seo-jung was referring to in her last ever conversation with our duo as well as Se-yoon. Chan-hong and Don-hyuk’s exploration of the building doesn’t last too long; they are quickly lured into a room and fall into the bait that Lady Jo and Sang-pil has set up. We return to where we left off in the very first episode with both guys being held hostage.
Se-yoon too has been caught by the bad guys. They take photos of her strapped in her chair to terrify her. She’s eventually brought out as a threat to get Don-hyuk and Chan-hong to turn Seo-jung’s cellphone in. If they continue to refuse to hand in the cellphone, the three will all get hurt. Though Don-hyuk remains persistent until the very end, he eventually gives in when he imagines Seo-jung – not Se-yoon – standing in front of him as the held hostage. OMG, I’m gonna start crying.
Sang-pil heads to Don-hyuk’s place to retrieve Seo-jung’s phone. After grabbing the phone, he digs through some more of Don-hyuk’s belongings to find a photo of him and Don-hyuk back when they used to be friends. Meanwhile, our three high schoolers remain trapped in the warehouse. Chan-hong regrets informing Lady Jo’s team on the whereabouts of Seo-jung’s cellphone, but Don-hyuk has no intentions of turning back now. Instead, he wishes to move on and to forget about everything that had happened. He knows that’s what Seo-jung would have wanted to.
Kyung-pyo spends some time with Mi-ra to cheer her up and to give her words of support and encouragement. However, things are interrupted when he learns from Chan-hong’s Mom that she hasn’t been able to get in contact with her son. Kyung-pyo sets out to find Chan-hong. Back at the warehouse building, our three high schoolers are eventually let go and set free after Seo-jung’s cellphone is destroyed. While walking out of the building, Don-hyuk finally comes across the man with the tattooed ankle who had drugged Seo-jung. He begins to beat up the man out of anger and rage, but his actions cause a ripple effect. He and Chan-hong are beat up even more and so does Kyung-pyo who manages to find his friends at the warehouse. Sang-pil intervenes in the fight by fighting for our high school team so the four are able to escape.
While Don-hyuk and Kyung-pyo head home separately, Chan-hong walks Se-yoon halfway home. Before going home, she reminds him that it’s not his fault for not being able to protect her and that she’s well aware of their mutual feelings towards each other — something she’s grateful for. That night, Chan-hong’s parents grow confused and angry at the sight of an injured Chan-hong. They demand answers from him as to what happened, but Chan-hong refuses. Close to tears, Chan-hong argues that there are just some things that he can’t share with his parents or that he has to keep a secret. This is one of them. At his place, Don-hyuk cries upon reading Sang-pil’s apology he wrote on the back of their photo together. Though it’s not much, Sang-pil’s message “I’m sorry” has a big impact on Don-hyuk.
And so our high schoolers try to move forward with their life as if nothing ever happened. Lady Jo runs for elections like she originally planned and our team returns to school. However, things still aren’t looking so good or bright. Kyung-pyo is eventually arrested at school for blackmail and brought into the police station for an interrogation. They blame him for creating a fake account to approach Kang Hyun-ku, the guy who they originally thought was the man that had drugged Seo-jung (but it really wasn’t). This must be the same exact tactic that Kyung-pyo used to lure girls to take photos of them, right? His ID username was Mithra right? The police is confident that they’ve found the right person.
Mi-ra, Chan-hong, Don-hyuk, and Se-yoon all pay a visit to Kyung-pyo at the police station. They’re unsure as to what is more shocking: the fact that Kyung-pyo is locked up or that he and Mi-ra are dating. LOL. Kyung-pyo isn’t too concerned; he’s confident he’ll be released. Don-hyuk and Chan-hong devise a plan to get Kyung-pyo out of jail as soon as possible. In order to do this, they determine that they have to find out the real criminal is since Kyung-pyo is obviously being framed. Of course, it won’t be so easy for our two high schoolers as they’re once again going up against Lady Jo whose influence proves to be too powerful.
Rumors and gossip about Kyung-pyo spread rapidly throughout school. Chan-hong’s had enough of all the rumors and lashes out at everyone in the school hallway. There’s no evidence that Kyung-pyo committed the acts that they’re claiming he did so everyone should stop talking about him as if he did it. Mi-ra shares with Don-hyuk and Chan-hong an important detail that will aid them in their ongoing investigation: she herself personally chatted with this Mithra guy online while anonymous. The scary part was that the person was already aware of who Mi-ra was without her informing him. Based on this detail, Chan-hong and Don-hyuk reach the conclusion that Mithra must be someone who knows Chan-hong and Mi-ra and seems like the quiet, reserved, and isolated type based on the type of conversations he’s had with Mi-ra. Chan-hong has trouble understanding why Mithra blamed and framed Kyung-pyo and who he exactly is.
Se-yoon visits Seo-jung’s burial site to wish her a happy birthday after an entire year of not visiting. While apologizing in tears, Se-yoon notices a strange boy staring at her from outside the window. Though she doesn’t catch his face, she notices his odd presence. Meanwhile, Chan-hong and Don-hyuk are in class taking their midterm exam. Thanks to a poem written on the exam, Chan-hong gains clues as to who Mithra is and shares the important update to Don-hyuk: it’s Ahn Sung-do – Dae-yong’s bully victim who attempted to kill Dae-yong before.
Sung-do meets with Se-yoon separately to reveal to her his identity as Mithra. Yes, it’s him who lured Seo-jung into being drugged and raped and to eventually commit suicide. He warns Se-yoon not to follow him inside a warehouse where he is to meet up with Lady Jo’s men to give them a list of all the girls he lured. After handing over the list, he also attempts to commit suicide by hanging himself. Se-yoon enters the warehouse shortly after informing Chan-hong about her whereabouts and the three reconnect again at the warehouse. They find Sung-do’s hanging body so they quickly bring him down to save his life.
Thankfully, Sung-do is still alive and quickly catches his breath after being brought down. However, he’s angry and upset at our trio. They were well aware of how he was being bullied by Dae-yong, but they never once stepped in to help him or rescue him because they too were afraid of being bullied. What are friendships if you don’t try to help one another out? Chan-hong defends him and his friends; yes, they never helped Sung-do, but what about Sung-do? He isn’t too innocent for he never reached out to them personally either. Chan-hong and Don-hyuk were able to form the friendship they have now because they reached out to each other mutually. Friendships require work from both sides.
The response proves to be too much for Sung-do to handle and he attempts to cut himself with a sharp glass. Our trio jumps just in time to prevent him from doing so and Don-hyuk’s plead for Sung-do to just simply live persuades Sung-do to not kill himself. Upon saving Sung-do’s life, our trio imagines a healthy and content Seo-jung standing right across from them in the warehouse building. She smiles at them and even though she doesn’t mutter any words, the look on her face expresses just how proud she is of her three friends.
And so thanks to the hard work of our characters, Lady Jo is eventually caught and arrested for her evil and heinous acts. Things have returned to normal for Chan-hong now that everything has been resolved. Don-hyuk too has great news as he prepares to move in with his mother after having lived by himself for a while. While packing up some last minute belongings at his place, Chan-hong and Don-hyuk share a touching moment with each other. To commemorate their efforts and hard work, they give each other a hug and share a few words of support and affirmation. Now that the duo has brought some justice to Seo-jung’s death, Chan-hong recommends that they now move forward with their life. Don-hyuk can focus on taking care of himself now that he’s received some kind of closure with what happened to Seo-jung. He can forgive himself now and no longer needs to feel guilty (omg, I’m about to cry and tear up! This is too sad). Don-hyuk’s eyes fill with tears upon hearing Chan-hong’s supportive message.
Se-yoon too makes big choices and moves with her fresh start. She confronts her dad about pursuing art and will follow her passion even if it’s not what her parents want her to do (GO SE-YOON!!). Chan-hong shares with Teacher Woo his plans to pursue creative writing. Teacher Woo is proud of Chan-hong for his decision and hopes Chan-hong won’t let others deter him from pursuing his passion.
And so things are slowly returning to normal for our high schoolers. They all hang out and spend time together. Kyung-pyo and Mi-ra are dating, Chan-hong and Se-yoon continue to date, and Don-hyuk continues to be the fifth wheeler when they’re all together. When Don-hyuk does have the time, he occasionally visits Sang-pil in prison who he still considers somewhat a friend. Chan-hong has also been keeping in contact with Sung-do by writing him letters.
Se-yoon continues to pursue her passion for drawing with the support and help of Mi-ra. Kyung-pyo and Don-hyuk themselves too are improving on their poetry skills with guidance and help by Chan-hong. While our high school group has gone through a lot to get to where they currently are, they find the end results rewarding. They have all now formed a strong friendship founded by mutual love and care for their former friend, Seo-jung. Whether it’s at the beach or anywhere else in their life, they take comfort in knowing that Seo-jung will always be there with them everywhere they go. They carry with them little bits and pieces of Seo-jung as they move forward with their new beginnings.
OOF! And this is why I love high school dramas! When done right, high school dramas can be so satisfying because of the messages and lessons they convey about life, love, and simply just living. While doubtful at first, ‘How to Buy a Friend’ was able to wrap things up nicely and do all of that within just four episodes. I’m glad I gave this drama a try and watched it until the very end.
I wasn’t so sure how Lady Jo was going to be captured and held responsible for her actions. Maybe it’s because I’ve watched too many dramas where the villains are caught too easily that I was expecting somebody to come and save Don-hyuk and Chan-hong when they were trapped in the warehouse. However, when the drama went ahead and showed Lady Jo and Sang-pil actually gaining access to Seo-jung’s phone and then destroying all the evidence, I was surprised. I was afraid the drama was going to pull some cheap cop-out so I was relieved in a way that it didn’t and that it actually went through with giving Lady Jo an upperhand in the first half of the episode. It made things so much more rewarding later on when she did get caught and arrested. We also saw the reason as to why the drama held on for a little bit longer and didn’t take down Lady Jo right away which I think made for great timing and pacing for the drama.
This drama has always been difficult to watch from the very beginning and even to the very end, it was difficult to watch. At first, it was challenging to watch because of the things that Seo-jung went through and the humiliation and loneliness she faced as a result of what happened. That was hard to watch because of how realistic and raw it was, especially considering that these kind of situations do occur in real life. What made this last episode challenging to watch was just how sad it was for our characters to finally serve some kind of justice for Seo-jung even though it might have been too late. I know it’s not supposed to be sad and it’s great that they finally discovered the truth about Seo-jung’s situation so that they too can move forward with their respective lives and receive some sense of closure, but it’s sad that they didn’t believe in Seo-jung when she was still around. Watching our team finally work together to be there for Seo-jung was what made this episode so bittersweet for me. You’re glad to see that they found the bad guys and can return back normally to their lives as if nothing had ever happened, but you also know that things will never be the same again after all that they went through. Things have changed for our characters and that was the hard part to watch.
I think if there’s any word to describe this episode and this drama in general, it’d be the word ‘bittersweet.’ There were so many conflicting feelings and so many times where I was close to crying because I felt for the characters so much. It’s bitter in the sense that they couldn’t save Seo-jung in time so she resorted to suicide to escape the hell she was enduring, but it’s sweet that our characters did all that they could afterwards to unveil the truth about her incident. The part that was the most touching to me in this episode was the hug between Chan-hong and Don-hyuk and the bittersweet words that Chan-hong voiced to Don-hyuk and how they can now move forward with their lives. They’ve done what they set out to accomplish so they can stop living in the past and forgive themselves in the process. Yes, they weren’t able to save Seo-jung in the past, but they saved so many more people’s lives since then. They’ve worked hard enough and it’s time to transition to a new fresh start.
There were two lessons that our characters learned as a result of Seo-jung’s death: 1) life is precious and 2) you can still love someone and miss them very much but also let them go. This was most evident when Don-hyuk, Se-yoon, and Chan-hong were pleading for Sung-do to not kill himself and to rather just live. He should learn to live and stay alive even if he’s going through difficult times because there are reasons worthy for living. Our team wasn’t able to save Seo-jung’s life, but they were able to save Sung-do’s after learning their lessons with Seo-jung’s death. In a way, one life was lost to save another (and maybe even countless others). They weren’t able to be there in time for Seo-jung, but they were for Sung-do and that made a difference for everyone.
The drama was able to tug at our emotions and heartstrings so so well by still incorporating Seo-jung into the plot throughout its run. It’s not like Seo-jung disappeared forever since her death; it’s clear that she still played a huge role in the lives of our characters even after she was physically gone. As we saw in this episode, our characters can feel her everywhere they go and even carry little bits of her here and there as they attempt to begin again. This whole drama was about our characters learning to forgive themselves for a decision they made that they didn’t know would change the rest of their life. More so, the drama focused on these characters coming together and building a lifelong friendship founded by this impulsive decision and did a beautiful job in highlighting this. Chan-hong, Don-hyuk, and Se-yoon had their own reasons for getting involved with the investigation, but they didn’t let their own determination and persistence for answers get in the way of their overall goal which was to capture the people behind Seo-jung’s death so that they could bring about justice. In a way, I think they were so caught up in seeking revenge and justice for Seo-jung that they forgot about themselves in the process and it wasn’t until after everything was resolved that they finally remembered that it’s just as essential to practice self-care. They’ve finally achieved their goal and can let go of Seo-jung to focus on themselves now.
It’s not like everything is over now that justice has been served for Seo-jung and everyone else. As we saw in the remaining minutes of this last episode, everyone is slowly determining how they’re going to move forward with their lives now that they are starting anew. Our characters know that they have beautiful friendships that have come out of this, but they also know that they can now heal individually by forgiving themselves. I think this especially rings true for Don-hyuk who felt a bigger sense of guilt and responsibility especially considering just how romantically involved he was with Seo-jung and how he was the most influential person who could have saved her. Our characters have come out of this stronger and will use their past as a learning lesson for what is to come in the future. Though Seo-jung might be gone, she is not forgotten and that’s a beautiful reminder that our characters are going to carry with them for the rest of their lives. This is not the end; this is merely just the beginning of a friendship that was not bought.