Make Love Not War: Our Korean Drama OT3’s

I have a disease. I contracted it years ago when my sister-in-law and I got drunk on Franzia box sangria, watched Yentl on Netflix, and decided much of that movie’s central conflict could be solved by a poly relationship. It’s OT3 Disease, and it’s a particularly painful one to have, given that almost no television shows or movies will ever go there (Leverage came close and even that’s just based on some after-the-fact more or less confirmation by a showrunner. But it looks like Siren might actually pull the trigger, which is amazing!).

It’s bled over into all aspects of my viewing/reading habits, so of course it’d show up in kdramas too. (Despite how semi-seriously I talk about each group, they are of course still in crackship territory for me).

1) Jung Jae Chan/Nam Hong Joo/Han Wook Tak, While You Were Sleeping

OT3’s aren’t just for solving second lead syndrome. There has to be a genuine connection between all three of the characters. And that’s the case here. These three are always doing things together, worrying about each other, caring for each other, and spending time with each other. Though about halfway through the drama revealed that other characters had prophetic dreams too, from the first few episodes it was only our trio. That’s what made them solidly a trio: they worked as a unit, to piece together the bits of the future each of them had seen to save the day.

It didn’t help (or hurt, depending on your perspective) that they started acting like a family from rather early on as well. Eating breakfast every morning together with Hong Joo’s mother and Jae Chan’s brother. Pining by each other’s hospital bedsides. Hong Joo and Jae Chan teaming up to get Woo Tak out of his funk. The three of them have genuine affection for each other. Although of course canon is that Woo Tak only had unrequited feelings for Hong Joo – feelings he was never a jerk to either her or Jae Chan about, which just solidified my love for him and the three of them – it’s clear he and Jae Chan cared about each other (just as friends, sigh) as well, no matter how much Jae Chan trolled Woo Tak about it.

Of all the pairings on this list, the trio from While You Were Sleeping seems like they’d be one of the two easiest/healthiest, just because they were always so mature and respectful about each other’s feelings.

I mean, Viki literally titles this clip “Triangle Relationship.” I know that’s supposed to mean love triangle, but I choose to believe that they used another term on purpose, hinting that something’s different from a normal love triangle.

2) Seo Poong/Dan Sae Woo/Doo Chil Sung, Wok of Love

Behold my other biggest, closest-to-realistic-and-healthiest ot3. Wok of Love leaned into the threemance all on its own. Bromances are common in kdrama, and sometimes they’re part of the love triangle to deepen the angst, but for me all that results in is ot3 shipping. What’s special about Wok of Love is that it not only established deep relationships between each member of the ot3, but with all of them as a unit. So much so, that as it amped up the main ship in the final episodes, it really had to sideline Jang Hyuk’s character Chil Sung. At least it gave him a substantial B plot, but he was noticeably absent and isolated from the main narrative in a way he never was before. So you’ll find me here, living in my own happy little ot3 world.

 

3) Nam Se Hee/Yoon Ji Ho/Go Jung Min, Because This Is My First Life

Ji Ho is canonically attracted to Jung Min. Not canonical subtext, it’s just plain text. Ji Ho’s attraction is presented so strongly that I am positive everyone watching, myself included, also swooned over Lee Chung Ah (not that that’s hard). Honestly if it weren’t for that moment – one clearly intentional on the part of the production – this ship wouldn’t have occurred to me (and I ot3 easily, hence the list).

Se Hee and Jung Min split apart more due to his family than any incompatibility between them. They’re different people now, who might not fit together anymore by themselves. That’s where Ji Ho comes in.

She brings a new dynamic, and her dogged commitment to open communication. Let’s handwave away how that commitment disappeared for no reason in the last few episodes, because we’re waving away a lot about the last few episodes. Including the fact that, despite early signs to the contrary, the budding, fascinating, fabulous relationship between Ji Ho and Jung Min succumbed to the law of media and society that two women who were/are involved with the same man can’t be friends. It’s BS, and after a bunch of clear, open communication, I really feel like this ot3 would work.

I mean, just look at this clip. I can’t make this up myself. And that Jung Min says “It’s pretty,” before walking away? Which means she thinks Ji Ho is pretty. No, I’ll never let go of my tin hat.

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