The word frenemy combines the words friend and enemy. It can be a friend who is really your enemy or a friend who you are now forced to confront as a rival. In the kdrama plot the line between friend and frenemy is blurry and subject to change.
Sometimes a friend becomes an enemy because of a love triangle. Sometimes a love triangle happens because two characters are frenemies and one wants what the other has.
Lee Min Ho as Kim Tan and Kim Woo Bin as Choi Young Do in “The Heirs” are a good example of frenemies. They were friends as children but circumstances turned them into enemies. The reason for their disagreement helps propel the plot of “The Heirs” but whatever disagreement they had in the past is not helped by the fact that they both now like Park Shin Hye. Would Kim Woo Bin like Park Shin Hye if it were not for his intense feelings of rivalry? It’s hard to tell.
Although Lee Min Ho and Kim Woo Bin are enemies in the present, you can tell that they have not completely forgotten their earlier friendship.
And it’s not just kdrama men who are frenemies. In “Dream High,” Eunjung was Suzy’s devoted follower and loyal friend before she decided to rebel and achieve stardom in her own right. But despite her desire to outdo Suzy, she eventually cannot completely forget their former friendship.
Perhaps two of the best frenemies in the kdrama tradition were Kim Jaejoong and Ji Sung in “Protect the Boss.” The two cousins start out as best childhood friends, even crying when their play dates ended, but then they are caught up in their parents’ desire for control of the company. Despite their grown up corporate machinations, the two still fight and feud like little boys. Ji Sung is ready to let Jaejoong have the business until he falls for Choi Kang Hee and has to take a stand. Again, does Jaejoong really like Choi Kang Hee or does he like her because his cousin is in love with her?
The most tragic case of kdrama frenemies is Joo Won and Park Ki Woong in “Bridal Mask.” If those two had become friends in any other political climate, they would have remained friends till the end. But the Japanese occupation and its cruel effects on the citizenry of Korea force the two good friends to take opposing sides and fight to the death.
Hopefully, since there are no politics involved in “the Heirs,” Kim Woo Bin and Lee Min Ho will be able to make peace with each other and once more become friends.