Friendships are born in a great many ways, but can you just issue an ultimatum to someone to become friends with them? Well, the story of how Kim Woo Bin and Park Shin Hye became friends proves you can! Read on to find out how the Heirs frenemies became friends in real life! 

When it comes to friendships in Korea, it's important to understand first how big of a role age plays in determining friendships. While not always the case, many Koreans tend to find friends who are of the same age. This is not to say that people of different ages cannot be friends, but rather to emphasize the fact that there are various types of relationships that fall into the larger category of what we in the West would call friends. 

These differences in categorizations are likely something most lovers of K-dramas will already be very familiar with, but for the sake of thoroughness, let's take a quick look at a few examples! Let's say that you have two people who are "friends":

Case 1: One person is older and the other is younger (general setting)

- In this case, while this relationship would fall under the general category of friends in America, in Korea, the age difference would first and foremost categorize this relationship as one between a hyung/oppa/nuna/eonni (lit. older brother / older sister) and dongsaeng (younger brother/sister).

Case 2: One person is older and the other is younger (school or work setting)

- While similar to Case 1, the social setting of a school or workplace would shift the relationship from that of case 1 to a more formalized one between a sunbae (senior) and hoobae (junior).

Case 3: Both people are of the same age

- Ah, the sweet spot of Korean friendships! In this case, they can dispense with the honorifics, titles, and formalities and simply call each other chingu (friend).

Now this is not to say that age is the hard and fast rule of determining friendships in Korea. Some people take this very seriously, demanding formalities and titles be observed even for a difference of a few months in age, but others may disregard a difference of a year, or even two. Also, there are exceptions to these sets of rules. If someone was born in January, February, or even March, then that person is said to have a "fast" birthday and can be placed in the same age group as people who were born in the previous year.  

Sounds complicated? Well it was for Kim Woo Bin and Park Shin Hye's friendship, too, until Park Shin Hye made it really simple for Kim Woo Bin!

Park Shin Hye was born in 1990 and Kim woo Bin was born in 1989, but Park Shin is considered a 'fast' 1990-er. 

Interestingly, before Kim Woo Bin even met Park Shin Hye he publicly stated, "I don't make friends with 1990-ers." This statement was related to Park Shin Hye through another friend. Park Shin Hye, having been acting much longer than Kim Woo Bin, told her friend to tell Kim that if he didn't want to be friends, then he had to call her sunbae (senior)...a hard pill to swallow for someone who is technically older.  Kim, who was told what Park had said, quickly answered that he wanted to be friends.  Now, the two are known to have a wonderful friendship not unlike that of siblings off-screen!

Kim Woo Bin later went on to clarify, “I actually don’t make friends with 1990-ers. So Shin Hye told me to call her ‘sunbae’ (senior). Then I agreed to be friends with her, and thank goodness we decided to become friends, because I was able to act very comfortably because of that. It became easier to act as I looked into her eyes. Also, since she’s been acting for 10 years, I have a lot to learn from her.”

What do you think of Park Shin Hye's ultimatum and Kim Woo Bin's rule not to make friends with 1990-ers? What do you think about the Korean emphasis on age in social relationships? Let us know your thoughts below!


Uncontrollably Fond (Lightly, Ardently)

Starring Kim Woo Bin and Bae Su Ji (Suzy)

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