A Shoulder to Cry On is a Korean BL series about two high school students who go from enemies to friends. The main character is the star of the archery club. He clashes with his cheeky classmate, who pranks, taunts, and bullies him. Eventually, they overcome their animosity and develop a close bond. The lonely teens open up about the unhappiness inside their hearts.
Beautifully filmed, A Shoulder to Cry On dazzles with polished production and stylish artistry. I'm also fascinated by the two flawed protagonists with complex personalities. However, this frustrating love story is rough around the edges. The volatile relationship scenes have an unpleasant vibe. The plot is heavy on excessive conflicts and exaggerated melodrama, which overpower the teen romance.
A Shoulder to Cry On Summary
Around 4 hours
High school romance
Sad and emotional
Around 30 minutes
Da Yeol is a high school athlete. He is the star of the archery club with a diligent work ethic and a talent for the sport. Da Yeol will secure a spot on the national team if he wins an upcoming competition. His athletic achievements are a source of pride for his father, who constantly pushes him to train and compete. First, however, Da Yeol must make it through to the finals. His biggest rival in the club, Min Jung, is determined to overtake him.
During practice, Da Yeol notices discomfort in his shoulder. Despite being rivals, Min Jung encourages him to seek treatment from the school nurse. While resting in the infirmary, Da Yeol is surprised by the noisy ruckus in the bed beside him. He accidentally sees the class president, Tae Hyun, in a suggestive position with his friend, Won Kyung. Da Yeol is scandalized by their physical intimacy and tries to leave the room. However, he accidentally trips and falls on Tae Hyun's body. Da Yeol drops his arrow feather, a cherished personal memento. He frantically searches for the missing item, annoying Tae Hyun.
The infirmary nurse arrives and sees the two students in a compromising position on the bed. Tae Hyun claims Da Yeol imposed himself physically. The allegation escalates to the teacher's office, and there is a risk of discipline. Da Yeol's archery coach demands that he make amends so this incident doesn't interfere with his club status. He offers a reluctant apology. Secretly, Da Yeol is furious and threatens Tae Hyun. However, his classmate remains flippant and doesn't seem intimidated. Tae Hyun continues antagonizing Da Yeol with various pranks and taunts.
As the bullying intensifies, Da Yeol's coach reprimands him for being distracted. He tries ignoring the mischievous antics. However, Tae Hyun provokes him by stealing Da Yeol's prized arrow feather. Da Yeol is so aggravated that he aims his bow and arrow directly at his antagonist. "Give it back before I kill you," he warns. Surprisingly, the threat doesn't intimidate Tae Hyun, who places his forehead on the arrow and dares his classmate to shoot. Da Yeol is unsettled by his bully's fearlessness and backs off.
Tae Hyun continues tormenting Da Yeol around campus. However, they have an unpleasant encounter with Tae Hyun's aunt. She attacks his nephew and accuses him of being a murderer. After the confrontation with the aunt, Tae Hyun doesn't attend school for the next few days. None of his friends care enough to check up on him. Da Yeol worries about his enemy and volunteers to visit his apartment. Tae Hyun is surprised by the home visit. Since then, their relationship has started to improve. Tae Hyun now sees Da Yeol as a friend and opens up to him.
A Shoulder to Cry On Trailer
A Shoulder to Cry On Cast
Kim Jae Han (김재한)
Da Yeol is a high school athlete with a promising talent for archery. His dad and coach believe he can compete on a national level. Despite his skills, Da Yeol doesn't seem enthused by the sport. With his shy and stoic personality, Da Yeol doesn't have many friends in school. He clashes with his cheeky classmate, Tae Hyun, who begins bullying him after a misunderstanding.
Shin Ye Chan (신예찬)
Tae Hyun is the class president. A popular figure around school, his close social circle includes his friends So Yeong, Ya Beom, and Won Kyung. Tae Hyun lives alone in his apartment, away from his family. Tae Hyun has a cheeky and flippant personality, even if others threaten to hurt him. He clashes with his classmate Da Yeol, forming a volatile relationship.
Shin Si Ye (신시예)
Jeong Ho Gyun (정호균)
Oh Joo Seok (오주석)
Kim Dong Won (김동원)
Da Yeol's dad
Da Yeol's coach
Tae Hyun's mom
Tae Hyun's aunt
Tae Hyun's dad
Young Tae Hyun
- The leads (Kim Jae Han and Shin Ye Chan) are part of the same Korean boy band OMEGA X.
A Shoulder to Cry On Review
Drama Review Score: 7.0
A Shoulder to Cry On is an angsty BL series about two lonely teens battling internal demons. Feeling lost about life, they find unexpected comfort in each other's companionship. Before forming a bond, their relationship begins with an intense feud. The first episode is dedicated to their hostility, from heated arguments to malicious pranks. This predictable enemies-to-friends trope plays out obnoxiously, crossing into the territory of nasty bullying. A Shoulder to Cry On loses my enthusiasm with an uninspiring start.
Once the leads overcome their annoying tensions, the next several episodes become more enjoyable. A Shoulder to Cry On develops the main characters thoroughly, exploring their personalities, backstories, and introspections. Da Yeol and Tae Hyun are flawed protagonists with jagged edges. They often speak belligerently or behave recklessly. Despite their faults, both have sympathetic circumstances and many complex layers. The series is the most riveting when it delves into their vulnerabilities. Occasionally, A Shoulder to Cry On can be sensitive, insightful, and poignant.
Some plots resonate powerfully, captivating me with their elegant themes. My favourite is Da Yeol's personal growth. He began the series as a talented athlete who only focused on archery competitions. After meeting his love interest, Da Yeol discovers more to life than just one target. Likewise, Tae Hyun goes on an emotional journey as he confronts grief, remorse, and loss. However, I'm not as impressed with his story arc. Tae Hyun's family trauma seems too over the top. Whenever the screeching aunt appears, I sigh and brace myself for exaggerated turmoil.
A Shoulder to Cry On indulges in overwrought melodrama. From shallow villains to contrived cliches, the series prioritizes spectacle over subtlety. Some scenes feel manipulative, deliberately stirring the pot to elicit a reaction from the audience. Often, the animosity overpowers the love story. The couple faces many arguments, misunderstandings, or self-inflicted anguish. Da Yeol and Tae Hyun seem incompatible based on these unpleasant exchanges. I go back and forth on the pair, but the aggravating conflicts in Episode 6 convince me their romance is dysfunctional.
Da Yeol's actor (Kim Jae Han) grew on me massively. He's suitable in his role as a brooding protagonist. His solemn demeanour conveys composure, dignity, and an air of melancholy. The performer allows a glimpse of vulnerability to peek through, making Da Yeol lovable despite a stoic exterior. His costar (Shin Ye Chan) handles an enigmatic character admirably. I find him compelling when he's cheeky, brazen, or seductive, but his dramatic performances may need more refinement. The leads share okay chemistry, albeit they lack the spark that makes a BL pair shine.
A Shoulder to Cry On dazzles with polished production and stylish aesthetics. Gorgeous close-up shots highlight the subtle emotions in the actors' eyes or expressions. Despite the sleek presentation, the storytelling falls short. The final arc thrusts the couple into tiresome melodrama, undermining their romance. The epilogue suddenly pivots to random relationship fluff, which doesn't feel earned. Instead of moving me to tears with a climactic finish, I am disappointed and frustrated. Beneath its pretty packaging, A Shoulder to Cry On is sadly another mediocre BL series.
A Shoulder to Cry On is an angsty story with excessive conflicts and exaggerated melodrama. However, the protagonists are complex, intriguing, and brilliantly flawed.
The animosity overpowers the teen love story, from annoying arguments to self-inflicted anguish. Also, some BL fans may be annoyed by the lack of kissing scenes.
Da Yeol's actor (Kim Jae Han) grew on me, showing poise and dignity beneath a stoic demeanour. His costar (Shin Ye Chan) is the most appealing when behaving cheekily or seductively.
Time skip ending
A Shoulder to Cry On has a sad ending where the couple needs time to process their feelings. Yet, the epilogue pivots to random relationship fluff. It implies they're together after a time skip.
This series dazzles with polished production values and attractive visuals. The beautiful close-up shots highlight the sensitive emotions behind the actors' eyes or expressions.
A Shoulder to Cry On is an emotional BL series with complex protagonists and sentimental plots. Yet, this angsty story suffers from overwrought melodrama, a moody couple & a lousy ending.
A Shoulder to Cry On Episodes
A Shoulder to Cry On has a total of 7 episodes. Each episode is around 30 minutes long. It is a medium-length BL drama, and you can finish the entire series in under 4 hours. A Shoulder to Cry On started on March 15, 2023 and aired its last episode on March 29, 2023.
Episode 1 Review
My early impression of A Shoulder to Cry On is poor. Tae Hyun comes across as a malicious bully, provoking and harassing Da Yeol throughout the first episode. Although Da Yeol did invade his personal space, Tae Hyun takes a wicked delight in painting his classmate as a sexual predator. This love story is off to a tasteless start. In addition, the enemies-to-friends trope plays out predictably, not deviating much from the norm. The familiar relationship dynamics leave me uninspired.
Before the bullying started, I liked how Tae Hyun was introduced into the series. The lead characters first meet in the school infirmary. Da Yeol sees Tae Hyun, who winks and puts a finger over his mouth. This dreamy visual creates a mysterious allure around Tae Hyun's characterization. I'm intrigued by him. A Shoulder to Cry On is full of atmospheric visuals, conveying evocative feelings through elegant artistry. I really like the presentation of this BL drama.
Episode 2 Review
I'm happy to see Da Yeol & Tae Hyun's relationship improves in this episode. However, the transition is abrupt. In one scene, you point an arrow at his forehead with homicidal intent. In the next scene, you're at his apartment chatting amicably with your enemy. There is an extreme de-escalation of the feud. But whatever, I won't question it as long as we move past the annoying animosity. Tae Hyun's teasing in this episode is far more tolerable than in the premiere.
Despite being disturbed by Tae Hyun's antics, I find him fascinating. When he stepped up and placed his forehead on the arrow, it was a memorable moment that showcased his atypical behaviour. His characterization goes beyond a run-of-the-mill high school bully. Here is someone seemingly unafraid of dying. His fearlessness stems from hopelessness because he sees no value in his life.
I want to learn more about Tae Hyun, but hopefully without the presence of the screeching aunt. Oh my god, her intensity is too much. She suddenly storms into the scene, acting like Tae Hyun is the human version of Itachi Uchiha. YOU MURDERED MY FAMILY CLAN!!! lolwut. Okay, let's take the melodrama down a notch and bring it back to reality.
Episode 3 Review
"Do you want to know how you leave a hickey?" LOL YES. The way I cheered out loud when he said this line~ 😙 I love the seductive vibe, the raspy voice, and the dripping sexual tension in this scene. I wish A Shoulder to Cry On brought more of this energy to boost the romance, which needed more flirtation. The best part about this encounter is that Da Yeol doesn't dodge, fully anticipating the hickey on his neck. He imagined himself as the Bella Swan to Tae Hyun's Edward Cullen.
When the series started, I took little notice of Da Yeol's actor (Kim Jae Han). However, he has grown on me massively. Da Yeol is supposed to be a stoic, brooding character. Yet, the performer brings a bit of vulnerability to his portrayal. From the wistful gazes to the tiny smiles, there's something very endearing about him. In addition, he carries the authentic demeanour of a calm, dignified athlete. Da Yeol looks very persuasive when holding a bow and arrow. I really like Jaehan in this role. He anchors the series with his graceful performance.
Episode 4 Review
I'm sorry, but Tae Hyun's family trauma feels disingenuous. I have a hard time believing the over-the-top melodrama. This pregnant lady runs around at night and saves her missing child from an oncoming vehicle. She loses her baby and then jumps off a balcony. The circumstances are so exaggerated, deliberately trying to manipulate my feelings. There's no subtlety in the storytelling. Instead of tugging at my heartstrings, I'm reminded this overblown tragedy can only happen in a fictional series.
Despite my disbelief, I appreciate the emotional journey depicted in this episode. The story guides us through different stages of Tae Hyun's trauma, highlighting his mental health struggles. He then shares his experiences with Da Yeol, who listens sympathetically. I adore their exchanges near the end of the episode, where Da Yeol comforts his friend in a quiet, reserved way. In the final scene, Tae Hyun falls asleep beside him, signifying their growing intimacy. This powerful imagery reiterates the theme of ~a shoulder to cry on~.
Episode 5 Review
Oh my god, the aunt is so aggravating. She only appears three times during the series, but each appearance still annoys the hell out of me. The character is an outrageous caricature of grief, screaming melodramatic lines like, "YOU KILLED MY SISTER!!! MY SISTER DIED BECAUSE OF YOU!!!" Cringe~ Tae Hyun's entire story arc exaggerates trauma and takes me out of immersion. I respond better to a more subtle, delicate approach to tragedy in fictional works.
Ugh. What is the problem with Tae Hyun's annoying friend? Can this homophobic bully keep his nosy ass out of Da Yeol's life? I'm not even sure why he's riled up. The romantic connection between the main characters has been relatively mild in the past five episodes. Most of their relationship scenes resemble platonic bonding or schoolchildren horseplay. There's hardly anything to get outraged about. The supporting cast seems strangely preoccupied with the protagonists' attraction to each other, yet I don't see what they see.
Episode 6 Review
I like how the story portrays Da Yeol's self-discovery journey. He began the series as a serious athlete. Yet, he doesn't compete out of an enthusiasm for the sport. Da Yeol never dares to try anything else because he fears venturing out of his comfort zone. Meeting Tae Hyun has changed Da Yeol, introducing him to new experiences like friendship and love. Archery is a clever motif in this story because you're supposed to focus on one target. Letting go of his career prospects symbolizes Da Yeol's newfound courage as he explores other passions.
Does anyone else ship Da Yeol and his buddy at the archery club? I am Team Da Yeol and Min Jung! They are the fantasy BL couple I want from A Shoulder to Cry On. In my head, I'm picturing two former rivals who quit their sporting careers after realizing there's more to life than winning competitions. Instead, they learn to shoot Cupid's arrows into each other's hearts. I'm more into this imaginary love story than Da Yeol and Tae Hyun's tiresome relationship drama in this episode.
Da Yeol confesses his feelings to Tae Hyun in this episode. However, he is interrupted. The evil friend immediately emerges from the wings after witnessing a BL moment. "Aha! Gotchya! I caught you being gay, at last!" Was he waiting there the whole time? He must have been on a 24/7 homophobic stakeout, spying on Da Yeol for a perfect opportunity to bully him. Won Kyung's entire existence has been building to this precise moment. He finally finds meaning in his pitiful life, spreading hatred and harassment.
I'm over Da Yeol and Tae Hyun as a couple. Their latest conflict is too aggravating, enough to put me off this romance for good. The characters are not compatible with each other. After two years apart, Tae Hyun still asks Da Yeol to wait for him whenever that moment of enlightenment may come. No, thank you. I'm supposed to sympathize with Tae Hyun's inability to ~open up~ to love, but I don't. I wish him all the best in his lifelong recovery from trauma. However, it's time for this BL couple to part ways. Both should find other people's shoulders to cry on.
Episode 7 Review
Oh. I guess Tae Hyun and Da Yeol are together? The last episode pivots into random relationship fluff, almost like BL fanservice. The epilogue has a different tone from the rest of the episodes. I keep waiting for the characters to have a serious chat, but they just flirt casually and don't define their status. I sit through half an hour of their random honeymoon, not getting anything substantial out of these exchanges.
A Shoulder to Cry On has no kissing scene for whatever reason. Instead, the series finds other ways to compensate. Firstly, Da Yeol and Tae Hyun swap lollipops. That may be an "indirect" kiss if you're imaginative enough. Secondly, Da Yeol kisses Tae Hyun on the ear, of all places. Umm… Not the lips, not the cheeks, and not even the forehead. He places the softest peck on Tae Hyun's left ear. Wow, it's getting erotic in this bedroom! IMO, Da Yeol should've kissed Tae Hyun on the shoulder. The series could've masked its aversion to physical intimacy behind clever ~symbolism~.
A Shoulder to Cry On Information
Picturesque is a Korean studio that made A Shoulder to Cry On (2023). It is the studio's first BL project. Picturesque is also a film distribution company, acquiring international films for broadcasting in South Korea.
Song Joo Sung and Song Soo Lim are the directors of the 2023 Korean BL drama, A Shoulder to Cry On.