Make Love Not War: Our Korean Drama OT3’s

4) Kang Yeon Doo/Kim Yul/Seo Ha Joon, Sassy Go Go

Ah, the ship that most makes me feel like a weirdo creeper, because we’re talking about fictional high school students. I shall take the low road and blame the drama, because Sassy Go Go was clearly, among other things, trying to capture School 2013’s magic in the bromance department. What that meant, though, was that we have two best friends in love with the same girl (because she’s Jung Eunji, so of course), who spent the first half of the drama in a sweeping bromance. Unlike the drama it was chasing, they didn’t fight. They were loyal to each other until the end. Yul confesses to Ha Joon that he can’t give up on Yeon Doo (especially because she returns his feelings, but I digress), but he can’t lose Ha Joon either. One of their last solo scenes in the entire drama ends with them lying on their backs alone in a darkened room, tussling and tickling each other.

I swear I didn’t make this up. I honestly can’t decide who, ultimately, Yul has more skinship with in the drama: Yeon Doo or Ha Joon.

Because more than how either of the two men feel, how the woman involved feels matters, let’s look at Yeon Doo. The drama’s pretty clear she only has romantic feelings for Yul, yet she’s rather invested in Ha Joon’s wellbeing. She always insists on accompanying Yul when he’s off checking on Ha Joon, out of her own concern for him as well. These three really feel like they wouldn’t take more than a few nudges to get on board the poly ship, aaaaaand now I feel like I’m going straight to hell, because high school students, so let’s move on.

 

5) Can’t LoseLee Eun Jae/Yun Hyung Woo/Cha Suk Hoon

A quick recap, because I’m sure most of you haven’t heard of this drama: Eun Jae and Hyung Woo are married lawyers in private practice together. They divorce at the start of the drama, and then spend the rest of it falling in love again. I’m kind of a sucker for the concept of bickering adults who already know each other inside and out falling in love for a second time.

Then Suk Hoon shows up in the latter half. He’s a sort of second lead, a romantic rival returning right when the romance really starts heating up again. Eun Jae likes him, Hyung Woo likes him, the audience likes him, and therein lies the problem…or the solution.

This tiny rareship ot3 of mine was my very first kdrama ot3 (the final one on this list not counting because it’s not an ot3). Precisely because Hyung Woo likes Suk Hoon so much and is mad about it. He and Suk Hoon go drinking together, and proceed to amicably discuss why “we like her,” coming off more like two partners discussing their third than two dudes fighting over a woman. When Eun Jae arrives with her brother (who totally ships them btw), they bemoan what best buddies they could be, if only they weren’t both competing for her affections. Obviously there’s a lot to say about that, but my reptile brain is the loudest, and this entry is its reply.

 

6) Pyo Na Ri/Lee Hwa Shin/Go Jung Won, Jealousy Incarnate

This is it. The ot3 that wrecked me. I went into this show knowing I would ot3 hard, and be denied (because despite my fervent wishes, a kdrama will never, ever go there). It wrecked me because this one came the closest. The show straight up teased it, and even though I knew it would only ever be a tease, I couldn’t help wanting it anyway.

The basic premise of the show is, obviously, jealousy. So we get two best friends who find themselves in love with the same girl, who in turn is really into the both of them as well. What’s Pyo Na Ri’s solution? That they should live together until she’s able to decide which of them she likes best. Truly, a heroine for the ages.

Beholden to the premise of the show, the men hate the idea. They agree, because they can’t stand letting Na Ri around each other without being present as well. What made me fall hardest for the ship was that Jung Won gets comfortable with the arrangement before too long. Not only that, but he’d always been physically affectionate with Hwa Shin. It felt like he and Na Ri were already most of the way there, that they would maybe have entertained the idea of a relationship between all of them.

But never Hwa Shin. He was utterly intransigent. So it never would have happened. Add that into how Jung Won and Hwa Shin ultimately ended up acting and treating Na Ri once the jealousy plotline really heated up, and this is the ot3 on the list that has the dubious distinction of getting the closest to reality, and also being the one I’d least want to see happen. Unless the show just stopped right after Na Ri first makes the proposal that they live together, and then goes off into a different direction after that. We can always dream…

 

7) Lee Sun Joon/Kim Yoon Hee/Moon Jae Shin/Goo Yong Ha, Sungkyunkwan Scandal

Someone needs to stop me, because I am clearly a crazy person. The clear solution to everyone’s second lead syndrome in Sungkyunkwan Scandal is to ship Jae Shin with Yong Ha, because Yong Ha is obviously in love with Jae Shin and their bromance was so epic Yoo Ah In and Song Joong Ki won a “best couple” award that year.

Or you could just say “eff it” and ship them all together. Because they spent most of the drama working together as a team. Some of the cutest episodes in a drama packed full of them were the whole ot4 together, being goofy and sweet while solving mysteries, or cuddled all up in a dogpile sleeping configuration (in the finale! after referring to themselves as a quartet!).

My affection for anything Sunkyungkwan Scandal is somewhat dampened by Park Yoo Chun’s…everything these days, so his Sun Joon is the character I could most easily drop from this ot4. But he and Yoon Hee are really just too cute, and have so many classic adorable scenes. This is a fantasy anyway, so I will go on pretending that ot4 is how it all actually worked out (though I could also be easily mollified with endgame Sun Joon/Yoon Hee and Jae Shin/Yong Ha).

 

There you have it, my ever-growing list of ot3’s in kdrama. My inclination to ot3 may have started as a reaction against love triangle angst (make love not war, people!), and a genuine desire for happiness for all my beloved characters. It’s blossomed into more as I’ve begun to appreciate the many gradients love can take. What’s exciting is that as this article progressed, I kept having more to add. Because more and more kdramas are bucking against the classic love triangle (or square, or geometric shape o’choice) and exploring the complexities of human relationships. They might all ultimately end up imposing heteornormativity, but any progression away from one-dimensional relationship drama is heartening.

What did you think of my list? Do you have any to add? Think I really need help (or at least need to chill)? Let us know in the comments below!

1 2