The Fangirl Verdict

Completely biased reviews and fangirling

Review: Crash Landing On You

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THE SHORT VERDICT:

Show really is everything that many of us have come to love in kdrama. It’s gorgeous to look at, our actors are pretty darn capable all-around, our characters are mostly endearing, there’s amped-up, epic romance to be had between an OTP that shares solid, sparky chemistry, and, well, Hyun Bin is appealing in this, to a rather staggering degree. Flail. As a bonus, Show possesses a cheeky sense of humor around drama tropes, even as it revels in them. In addition, the glimpse into North Korean life feels fresh and novel as well, and is a major highlight.

On the downside, there’s a bit of drag in the mid-to-late episodes, which is compounded by rather heavy-handed narrative angst, and Show’s long episodes. That can feel a bit or a lot hard-going, depending on your appetite for angst.

Overall, though, Show does a great job bringing the feels, and is well worth the watch.

THE LONG VERDICT:

Funny story, you guys; I actually watched this drama twice, before writing this review. This is something I never do, basically. I watch a drama once, and then review it. The only rewatches I do for a review would be for older dramas like Goong and Coffee Prince, where I rewatch the drama in question (again, just once), in order to craft the review. So the fact that I watched this show twice before starting to write this review, is a first, for me.

Which begs the question, why did I feel the need to watch this show twice?

Basically, I wanted to make sure that I was being fair to Show. I’d started this show on a high note, early in Show’s run; it made me laugh, and I found it wonderfully slurpable, and rather cracky, even. I found Show ridiculous, fun, and entertaining, even as I happily ate up the feels that Show served up. And then real life got in the way, and I fell behind in my watch. Show also got pre-empted twice, thus adding to the lag.

When I managed to get back into some kind of regular rhythm with my watch, around Show’s middle-ish episodes, I was bemused to find that I didn’t seem to find this show as cracky as I’d had, at first. In fact, I found myself even dragging my feet, sometimes, in watching the next episode. In Show’s final stretch, though, I decided to watch the episodes as close to each other as possible, and to my surprise, I found that I enjoyed those few episodes more than I’d expected.

This made me wonder if the mid-show drag which I’d felt was really Show’s fault; maybe it was just the fact that I’d lost momentum? Maybe it was just me, and not Show’s fault at all?

I decided it would be unfair to declare that Show actually had any mid-run drag, without first verifying it, and so when I got to the end of my watch, I went right back to episode 1 and started all over again. This time, I made sure to keep up a good pace, and watched at least an episode a day, if not two.

The end result? Well, I still think Show suffers from some mid-run drag, but it’s honestly not as bad as I’d originally thought. So my lag in watch pace did contribute to the perceived drag. I’ll talk more about the mid-run drag later in this review.

For now, let me say that I don’t actually think this show is for everyone. A good benchmark, I think, is whether you enjoyed 2013’s You From Another Star (aka My Love From Another Star), also written by Park Ji Eun. Basically, if you loved one, it’s quite likely that you’d love the other, because both shows contain many similar ingredients, albeit served up in their own ways. Both shows also benefit from keeping your logical lens on a fairly blurry setting, and just letting the feels carry you.

OST ALBUM: FOR YOUR LISTENING PLEASURE

I thought I’d try something new with this review. Here’s a collection of OST tracks which I found on YouTube, in case you’d like to enjoy the very pleasant OST while you read the review. There’s a bigger collection of OST tracks which I’ve shared at the end of the review; I just figured this length would work better for the review. Also, I fancy the sound quality on this is a tiny touch better. Enjoy:

STUFF I LIKED

Show’s very pretty to look at

With high production values, thoughtful directing, careful framing, color palettes suited to each locale, and beautiful leads, Show adds up to a whole lotta Pretty indeed. Even though I thought the scenes in North Korea tended dark, it was clear that Show’s visuals as a whole, had been curated with very specific intentions in mind: to create a picturesque drama world that would be an immersive experience for the viewer.

In particular, I noticed that the color palette was carefully selected for each locale: the scenes in South Korea had bolder, more saturated colors; the scenes in North Korea leaned a lot more muted and washed out; the scenes in Switzerland were painted in beautiful bright Spring tones. On top of it all, Show employs savvy framing and camera angles to ensure that everything is presented with a solid layer of fairytale polish.

My eyes; they could not complain.

The depiction of North Korea

The glimpse that Show gives us, of life in North Korea, is one of my personal highlights of my watch.

Show benefits from having a well-informed, well-positioned advisor who had himself defected from North Korea (you can read more about that here), and comments from other defectors from North Korea (example here) indicate that what we see is largely accurate, although Show obviously takes some artistic liberties.

Kudos to Show for somehow managing to execute this on a scale that makes onscreen North Korea feel real. I’m sure some of it was achieved through the use of green screens and CGI, but it’s also obvious that some elaborate sets were constructed to achieve the end result that we enjoy on our screen. Mad props to Show for managing to give us such a detailed peek into life in North Korea, which has always been largely kept hidden and mysterious.

I appreciate that Show takes pains to show us that average North Korean citizens are just an ordinary folks trying to live their lives and take care of their families. It feels so alien and strange, and yet so everyday and relatable. I found it all very intriguing and fascinating, and thoroughly absorbing.

[MINOR SPOILER] The fact that Show manages to squeeze in PPL even in North Korea, via the contraband that the villagers consume, amused me quite a bit. [END SPOILER]

I feel like even if you’re not super into the Big Romance which is Show’s main narrative arc, that the vicarious North Korean experience, in and of itself, is worth a look.

The cheeky treatment of tropes

One thing that Show does really well, is poke fun at drama tropes as a whole, and bring the funny doing that, while serving up drama tropes in its own story, and bringing the feels with those. For new drama viewers, this is quite a special two-way indoctrination. Like, first, let me show you what’s so cliched about drama tropes, and oh, by the way, this is why you’ll love ’em so much: Feeelzzz. Ha.

Show’s particularly good at this. Even though my brain recognized various plot developments as rather cliched and tropey, my heart happily inhaled it all, and hearts rapidly grew in my eyes.

[SPOILER] In episode 4, the way Jung Hyuk and Se Ri (Hyun Bin and Son Ye Jin) made out to create a cover story for being out at sea was amusing, and the way Jung Hyuk grabbed Se Ri and confidently leaped off the cliff, trusting in her paragliding equipment to carry the both of them, was swoony in effect, even as my brain protested the ease with which Jung Hyuk held onto Se Ri, in the face of gravity and everything. [END SPOILER]

At its best, Show manages to be ridiculous yet swoony at the same time. At its best, there’s something easy and comforting about watching this show, even as it manages to feel fresh, while still using tropes within its story.

Familiar, yet fresh. That’s a pretty rare combination, and kudos to Show for managing to hit that pitch perfect note, so much of the time.

CHARACTERS

Hyun Bin as Jung Hyuk

Listen. I’m not exaggerating when I say that this is the most melty I’ve seen Hyun Bin, ever.

I mean, I already had reasonably well-informed Hyun Bin-appreciating eyes before coming to this show, but I’m still happily blown away, by just how ridiculously attractive Hyun Bin is in this, as our leading man Jung Hyuk.

I wasn’t feeling his appeal so much in 2018’s Memories Of The Alhambra, thanks to the way his character was written, but here, as Jung Hyuk, he’s really very swoony indeed. Can’t lie; I find him even more swoony in this show, than when I first had hearts in my eyes for him, while watching 2011’s Secret Garden, where I thought he was very handsome indeed.

I seriously luff Hyun Bin as Jung Hyuk, and here’s why.

First of all, the visuals are gorgeous and on-point. Hyun Bin definitely beefed up for the role, and his broad-shouldered, solid build, combined with his height, and his chiseled good looks is quite a heady combination indeed. Plus, Hyun Bin definitely looks extra handsome in military togs.

Behold the shoulders. ❤

Second of all, I love the character of Jung Hyuk. Immediately, you can see that there’s a stiffness about him, but there’s a softness as well. That marshmallow within the gruff vibe that Jung Hyuk’s got going on, melts my heart, and my knees, in increasing degrees.

Third of all, not only does the stoic-bemused vibe of the North Korean soldier suit Hyun Bin well, he brings Jung Hyuk to life in detailed, three-dimensional glory. From the small micro-expressions to the larger emotions, Hyun Bin delivers them all in a manner that feels flawless and organic. He literally made Jung Hyuk come to life, for me, and I loved all of it.

Add on the intent gaze, as he tries to make sense of the strange South Korean woman who’s landed abruptly in his world, and his bemused yet thoughtful efforts to cater to her needs, and it’s just one very melty package indeed. Swoon.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E2. Jung Hyuk borrowing an elite military car, and rushing back to Se Ri to save her, is swoony stuff, even though I know that he needs to protect himself and his men too. It’s just, she’s alone and scared and cornered, and he swoops in to defend her and save her, in his stoic, no-nonsense, soldiery way. Flail.

E2. The fact that Jung Hyuk not only put up with Se Ri’s incessant calls about her first world problems and needs, but remembered them and went to the market to buy everything she’d asked for, and even thought to include antiseptic lotion for the scrape on her knee, makes him ridiculously attractive. How patient and sweet is he?! And Se Ri notices it too, musing out loud that Jung Hyuk might look indifferent, but is kind of sweet. I approve the acknowledgment, because he really is so sweet to do this.

E3. The moments that hit me the hardest this episode, are the times when Jung Hyuk is shown thinking about his piano past. He gets this wistful look in his eyes that speaks volumes, even though he doesn’t say anything. The first time is when he looks at his piano-related stuff in his bookshelf, as Se Ri talks about having seen them. And the second time, which I found even more affecting, is when he’s squatting in front of his new tomato plant, trying to think of 10 nice things to say to it, as instructed by Se Ri, and he finally lands on “piano.” Rocking back and forth on his haunches, there’s a childlike quality about him; his gaze flickers and there’s a plaintiveness about his gaze, as he just falls silent, his last word hanging in the air. Augh. That makes me feel like he misses his old life a lot, that his true passion is for piano, and he’s here in the military purely to investigate his hyung’s death, and there’s so much unsaid and so much emotion held back, that words just escape him.

E3. Jung Hyuk’s a good man. When Se Ri gathers food and blankets from his house for the orphan boy who tried to steal Jung Hyuk’s uniform off the line, Pyo Chi Soo (Yang Kyung Won) protests loudly about how she’s being scammed, but Jung Hyuk treats the boy kindly. Not only does he allow Se Ri to give away the items she’s gathered from his house without first asking him, he instructs the boy to wash his hands and face before eating, so that he won’t get sick. Jung Hyuk is so warm and so kind, really. I can totally understand why Se Ri would look at him with hearts gathering in her eyes.

E3. Aw, that Jung Hyuk decides to go on the boat with Se Ri because he can see she’s nervous and anxious. Again, he’s a good man.

E5. Props to Jung Hyuk for coming clean about his engagement to Se Ri, even though his heart is clearly not in the engagement. He’s given his word to marry Dan (Seo Ji Hye), and that’s all that matters. He’s a man of principle, and I admire him for that.

E6. That scene in the bar, when a tipsy Se Ri mumbles that she’s troubled about leaving because she likes (it/him – the object isn’t specified), I find Jung Hyuk’s expression such a perfect response. His gaze flickers just a little, and his expression doesn’t change, but it’s clear that the implications and possibilities are troubling him too. Hyun Bin has such fine control of his micro-expressions; I am suitably impressed.

E9. That moment when Jung Hyuk tries to call Se Ri back, and gets the generic phone recording saying the number is not available, the Look on his face is nothing short of arresting. There’s shock, fear, horror, grief, and hope, all battling one another on the inside, and that complicated mix of emotions is written all over his face, frozen in time as he stands stunned, fighting to hold back the tears. Really good.

E9. Jung Hyuk is very smart and very shrewd. It doesn’t take him long to figure out that Dan was involved in Se Ri’s disappearance, and he quickly deduces that it was his father (Jun Gook Hwan) that actually abducted Se Ri. And he’s also able to work effectively with what he’s got; he knows that his father will not deign to get him out of prison, but that if the word gets out that he’s the General’s son, that others would be willing to get him out, out of fear for his father. I do enjoy a smart hero.

E11. Jung Hyuk trying to hide his pleased reaction at the adoring comments from netizens reacting to his handsome doorman manner, is so cute. There’s something so childlike and gleeful about him, in this scene, even as he retains his very handsome demeanor. Also. The dimples make their arguably most perfect appearance here, too.

E11. I must admit that Jung Hyuk is an effective, lethal fighting machine. I love me a leading man who has fight skillz and uses them to sharp effect. It’s even more swoony when it’s driven by a heart that’s devoted to protecting the woman he loves. Flail.

E14. I have a distinct weakness for badass heroes, so when Jung Hyuk functions in full bodyguard mode and swiftly takes down the guards that Se Hyung (Park Hyung Soo) tries to sic on him, and then effortlessly twists Se Hyung’s arm, effectively cornering him, I swoon. And he does it all without missing a beat or even raising an eyebrow. Hearts in eyes for days. Moar, please.

[END SPOILER]

Son Ye Jin as Se Ri

Although I generally feel indifferent towards Son Ye Jin, and had ended up hating Something in the Rain, which had then increased my meh feelings towards her, I am pleased to report that I find her surprisingly likable in this.

Se Ri is written to be a bundle of contradictions. On the one hand, she can be extremely sharp and quick on the uptake, and on the other hand, she can seem quite ditzy and lacking in common sense. At the same time, sometimes she is cold and aloof, and at other times, she’s warm and generous. On paper, that’s enough to give anyone drama whiplash, but somehow, in Son Ye Jin’s hands, it actually works.

Instead of finding Se Ri annoying and entitled, I found her quite charming and rather endearing, even while I rolled my eyes at some of her more featherbrained moments.

To me, I think Son Ye Jin’s biggest challenge was to make Se Ri likable, despite her behavior being written as rather illogical and off the wall, at times. To that end, I would say that Son Ye Jin was very effective in achieving that goal. As unbelievable as I sometimes found Se Ri’s behavior, I somehow managed to believe that she was quite real.

Also, for the record, I thought Son Ye Jin did a fantastic job, particularly of Se Ri’s more emotional, difficult scenes. An all-around excellent performance, I say.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E1. Se Ri might show her estranged chaebol family a cold, jaded side, but what we see more, is her cute side. Her exasperation over the walkie, at being stranded is cute enough to make the straitlaced Jung Hyuk put away his weapon and smile, and I have to say that even I am somewhat charmed.

E2. Se Ri is really quick-thinking and shrewd, for all her princessy needs and spurts of whining. I mean, she’s able to outsmart and outtalk the soldiers, so that they can’t help but see themselves as being on the same boat with her. That’s pretty impressive.

E3. The ahjummas try to intimidate Se Ri into participating in their kimjang gathering, but trust Se Ri to wriggle out of it by claiming not to like kimchi, without batting an eyelash. Ha.

E3. I gotta say, Se Ri can be really quick on the uptake. Just moments after Jung Hyuk explains what Division 11 is about, Se Ri fields the ahjumma’s questions on it with a confident aloofness. I was pretty impressed by this.

E6. Se Ri might be vain and self-indulgent, but her spurts of honesty come at just the right time. When she’s saying goodbye to Jung Hyuk, she tells him that she’ll miss him, and will think of him often, even though she believes the opposite is true for him. That’s so candid of her, and I know Jung Hyuk needed and wanted to hear that, from her.

E7. Sometimes Se Ri’s shrewd and sharp, like when she adapted to the Division 11 ruse and fell right into step. And then sometimes, you gotta wonder if she’s ditzy or just plain blind, like when she sews a heart-shaped patch onto Jung Hyuk’s uniform in the name of mending it. Um. Who in their right minds would think that was a good idea?

E9. It’s a running gag that Se Ri thinks she’s so right about everything, and keeps making the wrong deductions, first about whose father had kidnapped her, and then about why the walk to the border takes such a long time. I’ve come to accept that this is part of her charm, though, that she might be a super successful CEO, but in some ways, she can be a little dim, and overconfident of herself.

E9. It’s a little cliched that Se Ri would win over at least one of Jung Hyuk’s parents while being held captive, but it’s well executed, and feels believable in the context of our story. Jung Hyuk’s mom (Jung Ae Ri) has always come across as being genuinely concerned for her son’s emotional wellbeing, so I buy that she would soften towards Se Ri, once she realized that her son was treating Se Ri with care and warmth.

E10. After watching Se Ri in North Korea for almost the entirety of our story, it’s rather startling to see her put her boss shoes back on and strut through life with sass and confidence. She’d taken off all of those trappings in North Korea, and shown us the more vulnerable real her, and I’d gotten used to that. It’s a little shocking, really, to remember again, that she’s quite the badass on her home ground, and a force to be reckoned with.

[END SPOILER]

Seo Ji Hye as Dan

To be honest, this is the first time I’ve noticed Seo Ji Hye on my screen, even though I’ve seen several of the dramas listed on her filmography, like My ID is Gangnam Beauty, Jealousy Incarnate and 49 Days. For the record, I think Seo Ji Hye did an excellent job of delivering the character of Seo Dan, and I’m making a mental note to keep an eye on her future projects.

As a character, Dan doesn’t get a huge amount of screen time and attention, because as our story’s second female lead, her role is mainly to pine after Jung Hyuk. However, to Seo Ji Hye’s credit, Dan comes across as immediately quite interesting as a character, and upon her introduction in episode 3, I was quickly intrigued to learn more about her. Seo Ji Hye imbues Dan with a regal sort of air which I really liked, and yet, Dan’s inner insecurities and vulnerabilities are easy to spot too. Very nicely done, I thought.

Additionally, to Show’s credit, Dan does come into her own more than the average second female lead, in the overall scheme of things. I did feel like Dan’s arc could have been handled a little differently, particularly towards the end of our story, but I’ll touch on that later.

Kim Jung Hyuk as Seung Joon

I have to admit that Seung Joon as a character was a slow burn, for me. I started off feeling a little bemused by him, but ended the show with a significant soft spot for him. Kudos to writer-nim for fleshing him out and bringing out his more noble qualities, and kudos to Kim Jung Hyun for a very solid performance, overall.

To be honest, in the first place, I found it felt slightly bizarre to see Kim Jung Hyun in this show as an adult, because it wasn’t so long ago that I saw him as a student, in School 2017. And yet, here he is, playing a 31-year-old. Which is his actual age. Woah. That took some getting used to, I gotta admit.

I don’t know if this is all in my imagination, but I actually feel like perhaps Kim Jung Hyun himself took some time to get used to his character Seung Joon too, because there’s an occasion in episode 3 where he legit looks like he’s trying not to laugh (more on that in the spoiler section). By Show’s later episodes, though, I felt like the character of Seung Joon sat much more comfortably on Kim Jung Hyun, where his delivery of the character felt noticeably more nuanced and natural.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E3. On my first viewing of the show, at this point, I’d felt completely indifferent towards Seung Joon. To my eyes, he seemed completely vain and self-absorbed and rather whiny, to boot. For someone who got his money through dishonest means, it sure seemed like he was full of himself.

However, on my second viewing, after having accumulated affection for Seung Joon, I find him a lot more likable even in these early episodes. He’s all bark with no bite. He tries to talk big and act big around his North Korean agent / manager, but the moment the agent / manager pushes back, Seung Joon sheepishly backs down. The sheepish is subtle, but now that I know to look for it, I definitely see it, and that makes a lot of difference.

Also, I swear, it seemed like Kim Jung Hyun was legit trying not to laugh while his character whined about the lack of windshield wipers on the car during the storm. To me, his eyes looked extra bright, as if he was possibly about to explode from holding in the laughs, heh.

E4. Seung Joon is so reckless and keeps shooting off his mouth. I feel like it’s just a matter of time that he gets into trouble. I want to know why he’s like this. He seems to have no respect for the system that’s agreed to accommodate him, and he doesn’t seem to care if the people themselves get into big trouble for the deal he’s made with them. I mean, why else would he keep mouthing off, and threatening his chaperone not to nag at him?

E7. I’m beginning to find Seung Joon more interesting, finally. The broker guy got it right, Seung Joon does seem to be a conman who wants to do good. He’s kind to Dan, and also, he seems genuinely concerned for Se Ri’s safety. On the other hand, the way he’s talking Se Ri into staying with him at the end of the episode does come across as rather creepy.

E10. Ha. Seung Joon turning out to be the one who helped Se Ri and Jung Hyuk leave his family home to get to the meeting point, is quite amusing. I do appreciate that Show went back and explained how they managed to leave the house. And I like seeing more evidence that Seung Joon is good at heart.

E12. Hrm. So now we find out that Seung Joon is actually seeking revenge on Se Ri’s family, because his father was conned because of them? I.. isn’t this kind of late, and rather random? It’s not a small deal, even though Show drops it as a small detail, and I feel like this is very much underplayed. Seung Joon never struck me as a man out for vengeance / justice, even on my second watch.

[END SPOILER]

The Puppy Boys

Gosh, you guys, I was not prepared for how much I would love this bunch of Puppies. They are just the cutest, most adorkable, endearing bunch. ❤

From the very beginning, Show makes each of them different and distinct, so that each of them has a quirk that makes it easy to identify him by: Ju Meok (Yoo Soo Bin) is our resident Hallyu fan, and is the group’s interpreter for all things related to the South; Pyo Chi Soo is the suspicious, sardonic one; Kwang Bum (Lee Shin Young) is the handsome one; Eun Dong (Tang Joon Sang) is the innocent baby of the group who needs the most care and guidance.

I loved watching these boys together; there’s so much innocent, earnest childlikeness about them, even though they’re supposed to be Special Forces soldiers. Definitely a big highlight of my watch. ❤

[SPOILER ALERT]

E2. Lol at how Ju Meok “learns” all these things about South Korea from his drama obsession. How familiar and relatable! And how silly and hilarious, that he believes that South Koreans get amnesia a great deal, ha! And then how endearing, when he keeps talking to Se Ri to find out what happened to Dae Gil at the end of Chuno.

E3. Ju Meok’s repeated insights into South Korea via his drama watching experience is such a hoot, with him assuring everyone that people kiss to avert crisis, and fall in love after spending a night together. Lol. Yes, the fake couple really does always fall in love. Hur. And it’s even funnier because Show is not just poking fun at the trope, but doing a nudge-nudge-wink-wink thing with us, coz Jung Hyuk and Se Ri are totally going to fall in lurve, just like Ju Meok says.

E10. The Puppies coming over to South Korea and marveling at the different types of instant ramyun in the convenience store is cute, and their awe at the existence of instant rice is adorkable.

E11. The Puppies trying to blend into South Korea and failing epically is quite amusing, while still serving as a poignant highlight of the differences between the North and the South. It was cute, but also, so bittersweet, to hear the boys sighing in envy at the fact that the lights stay on at night, in South Korea, especially Man Bok’s (Kim Young Min) wistful sigh that his son would be able to do his homework so well, if the lights stayed on at home like this. Oof.

E13. My favorite little arc this episode, is Ju Meok getting to meet Choi Ji Woo. He’s so adorably shy, dorky and earnest, and she’s so lovely, understanding and gentle. Ju Meok explodes with extra puppy appeal, with his I’m-so-happy-shocked-I’m-gonna-cry face, and his earnest-desperate reciting of her famous lines from his favorite drama Stairway to Heaven. She is so gracious to say the lines with him too, and his I-need-to-bury-my-face-now reaction, pulling his beanie down over his eyes, is just the cutest, most innocent, childlike thing. How is this man in Special Forces?

E14. The way the boys listen in on everything going on in Se Ri’s hospital room, with edge-of-their-seats suspense, wonder, discovery and, well, addiction, is just like how drama fans follow their favorite crack dramas. It’s completely hilarious, while being oddly wholesome. I loves it. ❤

[END SPOILER]

The Village Ahjummas

Kinda like with the Puppy Boys, I was quite shocked by how much I loved the Village Ahjummas, by the time I reached the end of my watch.

At first, the ahjummas seem mostly like comic and narrative devices, with their inquisitive, gossipy ways, and their giant collective crush on Jung Hyuk – and what effective devices they made, too! – but by Show’s second half, their good nature and good hearts are clear to see, and I couldn’t help but grow fond of them all. Special shout-out to Wol Suk (Kim Sun Young) for her uninhibited drunken ways, heh.

Here are just two of my favorite moments involving the ahjummas. Not to worry though, I’ll be talking about them some more, later in the review.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E12. The moment that I found most touching this episode, is when the village ahjummas each risked their safety, to bring Young Ae (Kim Jung Nan) food and supplies, even though they’ve been warned that it’s best to keep a distance. The fact that they each take it upon themselves to bring something, out of care and concern for Young Ae, despite the potential danger to themselves, speaks of so much sisterhood and solidarity. I teared up alongside too, when Young Ae cried at the sweet and selfless gesture.

E13. Pfft. The village ahjummas walking in on a shirtless, glistening Seung Joon is quite hilarious. Their eyes are as big as saucers and they literally look like they have stars in their eyes, ha. They’re such fangirls, seriously. I love it.

[END SPOILER]

Man Bok

I really felt for Man Bok as a character, and I’m honestly deeply impressed by Kim Young Min, who plays Man Bok.

The more I saw of Kim Young Min as Man Bok, the more I marveled. I mean, the last time I saw Kim Young Min, he was playing a snooty chaebol jerk in My Mister, complete with sharp suits and smug swagger. And here, he’s a fidgety, nervous mouse of a wiretapper. His entire posture is different, and the entire air about him is a stark contrast to his swaggery chaebol days. He literally comes across as a completely different person, and I’m suitably impressed.

I thought that Man Bok’s arc, while full of heartbreak and angst, was well-handled. At no point in my watch did I feel like Show was taking this into cheesy or OTT territory. In fact, I thought the angst was well-balanced with humor and heart.

[SPOILER ALERT]

In general, I felt sorry for Man Bok, who’s under Major Cho’s (Oh Man Suk) thumb but seems wracked by guilt over his involvement in Jung Hyuk’s brother’s death. He feels even more guilty and torn, when he realizes that Major Cho wants him to wiretap Jung Hyuk as well, but complies because he has to.

Man Bok eavesdropping on the goings-on in Jung Hyuk’s house, and getting super confused, and also, getting super invested, is very amusing. It’s almost like he’s listening to some kind of radio drama, like the way we watch our dramas, ha. This running gag made me giggle quite a bit.

For example, in episode 3, Se Ri’s conversation with Hallyu lover Ju Meok and his obsession with Stairway to Heaven is hilariously misunderstood as some kind of plot where Se Ri claims not to have killed someone, and Jung Hyuk’s 10 nice words to his tomato plant is interpreted as some kind of secret code. Tee hee.

On the other hand, I found it gratifying to watch, as we see Man Bok grow fond of Jung Hyuk, and more determined to set things right. It’s basically an internal battle between love, fear and conscience, for Man Bok, and every time Man Bok too a little step to protect Jung Hyuk and Se Ri, I cheered on the inside.

I was so proud of him in episode 13, when we learn that he finally makes a decision to stand up to Major Cho’s threats, even though Major Cho claims to hold Man Bok’s son’s life hostage. I was very pleased to see that despite it all, Man Bok wants to fight back, and that he trusts the other puppies enough, to tell them the truth. Yes.

And then I really love the fact that Man Bok bugged Se Ri’s hospital room, in episode 14. HA. Talk about turning your shortcoming into your strength. Once the Puppies realize he’s bugged her room, they’re all hugging him and thanking him, which must so trippy for him, since he’s always felt ashamed for bugging and listening in on people, and had been ostracized and bullied for it too. I love it. ❤

[END SPOILER]

Special shout-outs:

Dan’s family

For the small amount of screen time that Dan’s mom and uncle (Jang Hye Jin and Park Myung Hoon) have, they sure make a big splash. They’re so dramatic, theatrical and hammy, that they basically steal every scene they’re in. Even better if they’re in a scene together, facing off of each other.

In particular, I loved watching Dan’s mom. Her giant pouf of hair, her bold red lips, her random garbled English, and her mega amounts of vain swag are just so iconic. She basically deserves her own show.

Im Chul Soo as Park Soo Chan

Soo Chan is a pretty minor character, but I just wanted to give him a shout-out because I very much enjoyed Im Chul Soo’s elastic expressions. His sad faces were always extra sad, and his smiles, extra wide. I just liked having him on my screen.

RELATIONSHIPS

Jung Hyuk and Se Ri

The OTP connection really is Show’s Main Event, and I’m happy to say that by and large, this OTP really worked for me.

First of all, Hyun Bin and Son Ye Jin share a chemistry that I find believable, natural and sparky. It helps that both actors deliver their roles so convincingly, that I could believe that Jung Hyuk and Se Ri really meant everything they said to each other.

Secondly, even though I felt Show was very heavy-handed with the Big Fate between our OTP (more thoughts on that later), I have to credit Show with the fact that I can believe how Se Ri and Jung Hyuk would fall for each other. In many dramas, we’re expected to just believe that the OTP is in love. But here, I can actually see and feel them falling for each other in degrees. I love that through it all, Jung Hyuk and Se Ri actually have meaningful conversations that deepen their mutual understanding. I find their growing affection for and connection with each other completely believable and organic, and that made it easy for me to root for them to find happiness with each other.

I love the idea that they go from strangers who have no business with each other, to people who truly understand each other, and care for each other. And I am very pleased that we get to witness that journey as it unfolds. There might be a bunch of things that I found hard to believe in Show’s drama world (more on that later), but the growing connection between our OTP was not one of them.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E1. Even though Se Ri and Jung Hyuk are on opposite sides, it’s nice to see that they don’t mean each other any harm. Se Ri leaves him slightly stranded for her own safety, but makes sure to put his walkie in a place where it’ll be carried to him by the water current in due time. And he gives instructions for her to be captured but not shot.

E2. That moment, when Se Ri’s in the dark during the power outage, and she’s got a vase raised over her head to hit any potential intruder, and a single tear escapes her eye in the midst of her terror, as she sees that it’s Jung Hyuk, is really well done. Kudos to Son Ye Jin for an excellent portrayal; I feel like that was a difficult scene to pull off in that degree of detail, and she does it beautifully.

I can also believe that that would unlock the floodgates and that it would give rise to a moment of vulnerability, where Jung Hyuk would get to see her true, very scared and worried state. The way Jung Hyuk responds to Se Ri’s blubbered statement about how she can’t believe she’s crying in front of a stranger, by snuffing out the candle so that he can’t actually see her, is so gruffly sweet and thoughtful.

E3. I do love the short conversation that Se Ri and Jung Hyuk have on the boat, when they think they won’t see each other again. They sound so at ease with each other, and even tell each other their names and where their family clans are from, and chuckle at how her family clan originated in North Korea, and his, from South Korea. There’s a friendly solidarity here that I like.

E4. It amuses me that both Se Ri and Jung Hyuk separately each take pleasure at news that the other is concerned for them. Se Ri gets all shy and pleased when she hears that Jung Hyuk told the boys to stay with her and guard her while he isn’t there, and hilariously, Jung Hyuk gets just the same pleased-bashful way, when he hears that Se Ri wants to help him receive the Preferential Star award and be promoted. Cute.

E4. It’s so dorky that Jung Hyuk rides past Head Ahjumma’s house several times, until he bumps into Se Ri coming out, and it’s just funny, that Se Ri immediately pinpoints that he must’ve been waiting for her. Ha. What a letdown, after all the trouble he went to, to make it look accidental.

E4. The way Jung Hyuk looks at Se Ri when he thinks she isn’t looking, is starting to get seriously melty. He’s so focused on her, and the look in his eyes is just so warm and appreciative, even as amusement flickers in his gaze. Guh.

E4. Jung Hyuk sure goes to a lot of trouble to meet the requests of the demanding South Korean woman. I mean, he even roasts coffee beans to make her coffee in the morning, and then looks stifled-pleased when she slurps it up appreciatively. How endearing and sweet is he?

E4. Jung Hyuk’s immediate concern when he hears that Se Ri got separated from the ahjummas at the market, and his creative thinking, in getting a candle, and his thoughtfulness, in making it a scented candle like what she’d asked for, is just all kinds of melty. If I were freaked out and lost in the dark in Se Ri’s shoes, I can only imagine the overwhelming relief I’d feel, to suddenly see a light in the distance, and have that light illuminate a face that I’d come to trust. Augh. The tears in Se Ri’s eyes feel completely warranted, and my heart surges a little, that Jung Hyuk’s eyes are sheening a little with tears too. Aw. He’s relieved that he’s found her and she’s safe.

Jung Hyuk being Se Ri’s light in the darkness, coming for her, and saving her, when she thought she was completely lost, must have inched her a little more, towards falling for him. Same for the other sweet and thoughtful things he’s done, like roast coffee beans to make her fresh coffee in the morning, even though he has to go to quite a bit of trouble to even get the coffee beans.

And for all the trouble she gives him, Se Ri is appreciative of Jung Hyuk’s kindness, and tells him so. Plus, it’s clear that he finds her quite endearing, for all her Picky Princess ways, and even I have to agree that despite Se Ri’s tendency to come across as fussy and vain, that that part of her consistently fades away quite quickly, to reveal a more grateful, carefree side. And because I find her likable in spite of her ridiculous rich ways, I find it easy to believe that Jung Hyuk would like her too.

E5. Se Ri and Jung Hyuk denying their feelings for each other, to each other as well as to themselves, even as they each get jealous – she of Jung Hyuk’s interactions with Dan, and he of her interactions with Seung Joon – is quite amusing. Jung Hyuk got all petulant and grumpy, when Se Ri gave finger hearts to the other boys as well, which is the cutest thing. And Se Ri, who’s sworn that she will never wait for anyone, ends up sitting up all night, drinking herself into a stupor, because Jung Hyuk isn’t returning home like he said he would. D’aw.

E5. It’s so clear that they have feelings for each other, and there’s a distinct sense of wistfulness that comes up every time either of them mentions their impending goodbye.

E5. Jung Hyuk going to so much trouble to find Se Ri a way to go home, at such high risk to himself, which he stoically denies when Se Ri asks him about it, is just so selfless and sacrificial. He knows that she badly wants to go back, and so he goes ahead and does this, putting himself at risk, just so that he can grant her wish. Augh. My heart hurts.

E5. Jung Hyuk really is the sweetest. During the power outage-induced overnight picnic in the middle of nowhere, he buys Se Ri just about anything she asks for, except for warm water to wash her face with, heh. But otherwise, he gets firewood, blankets, corn and potatoes, so that she will be warm and not cold, fed and not hungry. I also really enjoy the philosophical conversation they have, about whether life brings disappointment, and whether a wrong train can bring you to the right destination. Clearly, Se Ri got on a wrong train which landed her in North Korea, but since it also landed her right in front of a very sweet, thoughtful and melty Captain Ri who would go to great lengths to help and protect her, it looks like she’s already at the right destination.

I like that Se Ri shows a genuine concern for Jung Hyuk’s future. First, when she asks on the train, whether anything bad will happen to him once she disappears as planned. A more selfish person wouldn’t care, because it’d all be stuff they’d left behind, but Se Ri cares. And second, when she tells him that he’s a good person, and that she hopes that he will be happy, and reach the right destination, even after she leaves. She genuinely wishes him well, and that feels quite pure, which I like.

E5. I love the way Jung Hyuk steals glances at Se Ri. His facial expression doesn’t change a great deal, but there’s a twinkle of amusement and a touch of appreciation in his gaze, which I dig.

E6. Another thing I like about this OTP, is that even though one of Jung Hyuk’s earlier standing rules was that Se Ri would be banned from talking to him and the puppy crew, they talk, and often, about important, deeply personal things. In this way, I can also believe that their connection would grow deep, in a relatively short period of time.

E6. It occurs to me that Se Ri and Jung Hyuk are similar yet different, in their family experiences and outlooks. On the surface, they both are expected to marry someone of their family’s choosing. Jung Hyuk is engaged to Dan, and Se Ri was supposed to have married Seung Joon. But, while Se Ri says that she and her brothers never experienced any kind of siblinghood, Jung Hyuk and his brother (cameo by Ha Suk Jin) are shown to have a deeply loving relationship.

It’s ironic, that the siblings with the stronger, warmer relationship is the pair from North Korea, which is commonly viewed as the colder, harsher Korea. So when Se Ri muses that her brothers must be happy to think that she’s dead, Jung Hyuk corrects her – and how painfully paradoxical, that he’s actually lost his brother, and was heartbroken for it. When Jung Hyuk quietly says that Se Ri’s brothers must be waiting for her to return, I feel so sad for him, because it feels like in his heart, that’s what he would hope for the most, that his brother would – could – return.

E6. Jung Hyuk goes to a lot of trouble to ensure Se Ri’s safety, and it’s so loyal and gallant of him. Even though it’s Se Ri who christens him her bodyguard, he takes the role seriously and even gets shot while protecting her. Oof. I’m sure Se Ri won’t be able to leave him now.

And how cool and badass does Hyun Bin look, stunt riding that motorbike and wielding weapons, while wearing the most determined, focused expression on his face? Squee! More than that though, I’m moved by how Jung Hyuk’s literally putting his life on the line to keep Se Ri safe. He may hold back with his words, always gruffly telling her things like there’s no reason for them to keep mementos of each other, and to forget him and everything she’s been through in North Korea once she gets home, but his actions speak much louder: he cares about her, so much.

E7. Se Ri’s faced with the choice of either going home and leaving Jung Hyuk to possibly bleed to death, or staying to save him, and give up her chance of going home, possibly for good. And she chooses him, unequivocally. When it was between driving to the hospital or to the airport, she chooses the hospital without hesitation, and when it was between donating blood or leaving for her flight, she chooses to donate her blood to Jung Hyuk. Yes, it can be argued that this is the humanitarian thing to do; that a humane person wouldn’t leave an injured person to die; that this is not necessarily love. But we know that Se Ri loves Jung Hyuk, and chooses him over herself because she loves him. And isn’t it nice to know that she’s a good, humane person too, to boot?

E7. Why would the photo of Se Ri fall out so conveniently, from Jung Hyuk’s bloodied uniform? Probably because he’d looked at it, just before setting off on that mission to save her; gazed upon her face, while thinking upon his promise to protect her. Augh. The devotion.

E7. A confirmation of feelings before episode 8? That’s unusual, but I’m not complaining. The lead-up to the kiss was predictable, but still poignant. They each literally put their lives on the line, in order to save the other, and it rightly calls for a lot of emotion, and some tears. And some honesty. Confronted with all that they’ve faced in the space of a single day, it feels believable, and quite right, that their feelings for each other would come flooding out. I would believe that Jung Hyuk, faced with what Se Ri’s given up in order to save him, would act on his feelings and kiss her. I do like that it’s a gentle, tentative kiss, and I also like that that gentle tentative kiss is also quite.. enduring. The execution isn’t exactly swoony, but just the concept of it makes me melt a little.

E8. Jung Hyuk’s pleased expression when he hears from the kpop fan hospital patient that he’s Se Ri’s favorite and biggest bias, is cute.

E8. I don’t like lying between OTPs, neither do I like noble idiocy, where one party leaves the other for their own good. But, in this case, I can buy that it makes sense within our story. Se Ri (well, is told, and) believes that Jung Hyuk’s life will be in danger if she continues to allow him to help her, and it’s actually true, in the context of North Korea, so it makes sense that she would say stuff that she believes will stop Jung Hyuk in his tracks, and let him be safe, away from her. It’s still a bummer to watch unfold, though.

E8. Jung Hyuk is ever the gentleman. When Se Ri asks what he’s doing at the guesthouse, he says that he figured she’d be waiting for him (rather than that he needed to save her coz she’d been kidnapped, for example), and when she tells him her plan and asks him to leave, he looks into her eyes and asks if that’s what she really wants. And when she tells him yes, he answers gently, “I understand. So don’t cry,” as he wipes away her tears with his thumb. Augh.

It’s clear from the look in his eyes that he’s hearing her words, but is reading her face and her tears, and he knows that she doesn’t want to push him away, but he chooses to respect her wishes anyway. It’s no wonder that she cries even harder, having to say goodbye to such a sweet and caring man.

E8. Driven by concern for him, out in the snowy cold, and fueled by her surging emotions at having to say goodbye to him, Se Ri drives out to get Jung Hyuk. When she finds him, she can barely meet his eyes, and tells him to get in the car. His watchful gaze never leaves her; he sees her tears, her awkwardness; he hears her feeble words, but sees her sadness and her struggle, and this time, he allows himself to respond not to her words, but to her heart, and pulls her into his embrace. Aw.

E8. Given how tender and sweet Jung Hyuk is towards her, it’s no wonder that we learn that Se Ri has changed a lot from a year ago. From a lonely workaholic who keeps her team working on the night of Christmas Eve, apparently genuinely believing that there’s nothing to celebrate, she’s become a person who cares enough for someone else, to go to all the trouble of making decorations to create a makeshift Christmas tree, make a personalized Christmas card for her Mr. Lee, and even pawn the ring on her finger to get him a gift.

E8. Because of their literal life-or-death situation, the stakes and emotions are suitably amped up for this OTP relationship, which also effectively elevates our vicarious experience. Jung Hyuk literally risks his life to grant Se Ri’s wish of returning to South Korea, and Se Ri literally puts her life on the line, while making that final phone call to tell Jung Hyuk goodbye, and that she loves him.

E9. I’d been accidentally spoiled that there would be a scene where Jung Hyuk has a heartfelt love confession type outburst in front of his dad, and yet, that didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the scene. It was a pretty fantastic mix of emotions, in response to watching the scene. First, I was glad to see Jung Hyuk and Se Ri reunited; Show is at its best when these two are together, and I also wanted Jung Hyuk to be put out of his fearful misery about Se Ri possibly being dead. And, it was sweet (almost saccharine, but just shy of it) to see them show so much unabashed concern, love and care for each other, oblivious to the fact that his parents are right there in the room, looking on. He’s all concerned that she’s not hurt, and she’s all dismayed at his injuries from being beaten up; they only have eyes for each other, and it’s admittedly both sweet and poignant.

What’s fantastic, though, is Dad’s shocked face, which remains completely frozen in a raised-eyebrow, dumbfounded sort of state, through every stage of the not-quite-a-couple’s reunion. It’s the greatest thing, and it made me giggle out loud, even as I also wanted to melt at our OTP’s demonstration of care for each other. Pretty fantastic handling indeed.

E9. It’s such a sweet-dorky thing for Jung Hyuk to do, to pretend to get lost over and over again, because he wants to delay saying goodbye to Se Ri. Their conversation is so bittersweet, as he tells her to go back to life as if nothing ever happened, and when she mentions that she will date men and he appears dismayed by it (though he denies it), she agrees to have a mourning period of 6 months, like she’d once requested of him. How sweet, that he tells her to go ahead and date men if she likes; he just doesn’t want her to be lonely, nor does he want her to ever consider ending her life again. How selflessly caring, and with Se Ri tearing up so much, I have to admit that I feel her reluctance and wistfulness too.

It’s a plaintive moment, when Se Ri steps over the boundary line, after Jung Hyuk tells her that he can’t go any further with her, not even a single step. She walks away, even more teary-eyed than before, and I love it that emotion takes over our usually decorous captain, and he steps over the boundary line, grabs her arm, and murmuring, “Just one step should be fine,” leans in to kiss her. Squee! The kiss itself is tame by cable standards, but I will buy that that’s Jung Hyuk’s sense of decorum kicking in.

E9. That’s a cute little detail, that Se Ri had left a coded message for Jung Hyuk by arranging his books on the shelf such that the first character of each book would read, “I love you Ri Jung Hyuk.” Cute! And, how clever, that he would actually understand the coded message, coz I personally would’ve found it quite obtuse.

E10. How very like Jung Hyuk, to just look for Se Ri in the neighborhood that she’d mentioned, and how like this show, to make it such that they would meet face to face in the crowd. I guess these two have a knack for being in the same place at the same time? I do like his simple explanation, though. It’s so like him, to say only a few words, to explain some big sweeping gesture that he’s made. Se Ri’s eyes brimming with tears, full of wonder, disbelief, questions and gladness, kind of mirrors how I feel about this reunion. I like it, it feels good, and I also want to know more, heh.

E11. The scene where Major Cho is hunting down Se Ri, while Jung Hyuk is entrapped in a deserted building with a whole gang of men trying to kill him, was hard to watch. I literally had to pause the episode before coming back to it. How telling, though, that Se Ri would literally put herself further into danger’s way, in order to save Jung Hyuk.

And, she tells him to leave because she’s ok – when she’s far from ok. I must say, though, I do appreciate the idea that Se Ri and Jung Hyuk essentially save each other. When Jung Hyuk’s about to be shot, she saves him by turning off the lights and calling Major Cho’s bluff; he saves her by tracking her voice and finding her before Major Cho does, so that he can protect her. That.. is pretty intense stuff.

E11. These two are developing a bad habit of continually telling each other that they’re ok, and everything’s fine, when it’s the opposite of the truth. Jung Hyuk almost died coming to South Korea, but he tells her it was all fine and that nothing happened. Se Ri’s family is anything but happy that she’s back, but she tells him that he was right, and everyone was glad, and it’s all fine. And then this thing, when Se Ri tells Jung Hyuk to run away, because she’s fine. I get that they want to protect each other, and not worry each other, but.. this is getting unhealthy.

E12. The thinly disguised drunken chat between Se Ri and Jung Hyuk feels quite cheesy and lame in its setup, but I have to confess that I choked up a bit, when Jung Hyuk confessed wistfully that he actually wanted to stay and marry Se Ri, and have a kid that takes after her. Aw.

E12. After the boys’ failed birthday surprise, the tears and sobs, the embarrassment, the effort of trying to stop crying – and then Jung Hyuk’s gentle backhug, is all very heart-in-your-throat stuff, and yet, I can’t take actual comfort in the moment, because Jung Hyuk’s backhug is so tenuous, in context. This is only assurance in the moment, not assurance for the future, and his words, that he will always remember her and think of her gratefully on her birthday, are just very heart-achey to hear. Oof.

E13. Jung Hyuk giving Se Ri couple rings is a mixed signal indeed, given that they’re carefully avoiding making promises to each other, and have agreed not to make too many memories together. I feel like this is Jung Hyuk having mixed feelings. He wants to give her something significant, but they’ve agreed not to, and that’s why he tries to brush it off in his preamble. But it totally means something, and I melt a little, that the ring fits her so perfectly.

E13. I’ve seen comments asking why Se Ri and Jung Hyuk aren’t kissing during the romantic moments. I get where viewers are coming from, and I also think I get where Show is coming from, too. Jung Hyuk and Se Ri have admitted to their feelings for each other, but have basically agreed not to act on their feelings, well, too much, anyway. They’ve avoided making promises to each other, and in Korea, kissing is considered a bigger deal than, say, in the US. Generally speaking, of course. I think that in this context, even though Jung Hyuk has kissed Se Ri, they are consciously holding back from getting too involved because there’s an impending goodbye.

E14. Hyun Bin kills it, as worried, tearful Jung Hyuk, as Se Ri undergoes surgery for her gunshot wound. Despite my inner wrestlings with this show, I couldn’t help but be sucked in, as Jung Hyuk silently watches over Se Ri from a distance, worry written in his gaze, and his heart in his throat. And that moment when Se Ri calls Jung Hyuk to let him know that she’s awake, and to ask him to come back, I swooned a little, even as Jung Hyuk makes big strides, beelining in her direction, the tears sheening in his eyes. Augh. I felt all of the feels, watching Jung Hyuk hone in on her and her alone, with his heart practically bursting out of his chest.

Se Ri and Jung Hyuk crying, reflex-bickering, and then just simply crying, is very heartfelt, and I can even understand why Jung Hyuk would get upset at her, because she’d put her life in danger. Their tearful embrace is gentle and tender, and Jung Hyuk finally gets to tell Se Ri the words that he’s kept in his heart all this time, as he whispers, “I love you.” Aw. And, sniffle.

E14. The scene where Jung Hyuk shows off his various battle scares to Se Ri is quite funny. The more scars he shows her, the more Se Ri clucks in sympathy and coos that it must’ve hurt, and the more he digs around for more scars to show her. It’s no wonder his shirt is half off when the boys walk in on them; what a difficult situation to explain away indeed. Snicker.

[END SPOILER]

Seung Joon and Dan

Just like with our OTP, I found that Show was better when Seung Joon and Dan were together than apart.

We don’t get a whole lot of screen time with this couple and their loveline, but I must say that given the limited exposure I got to this loveline, my heart was very effectively sucked in. I found myself actually rooting for this couple, and I’m impressed that Show managed to achieve this, with the slightly highlight reel vibe of this loveline.

[VAGUE SPOILERS] We go from aloof, disdainful start (on Dan’s part), to reluctant meaningful conversations and encounters, to actual heartfelt declarations of love in relatively quick order, because of this couple’s smaller amount of screen time, and even though my brain protested the speedy acceleration of this loveline, my heart argued that sometimes people do fall in love fast and deep, and shipped them anyway. [END SPOILER]

I think credit goes not only to the solid chemistry between Kim Jung Hyun and Seo Ji Hye, but also to their deliveries. Even when my brain protested how quickly Seung Joon and Dan grew closer, their all-in, heartfelt deliveries sold it for me, and it wasn’t long before I concluded that these two are just perfect for each other.

I’m pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this couple, though I have some thoughts on how Show eventually treats this loveline, which I’ll talk about later.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E7. Seung Joon’s encounters with Dan are usually played as light and a little comedic, but they really do seem to connect well. She doesn’t welcome his presence per se, but he’s undeterred, and tells her things that she may not want to hear, but are useful for her to hear. Like how she is barking up the wrong tree, expecting sparks in an arranged marriage. No one else would tell her that, but he offers it up, frankly and without any attempt to sugarcoat the hard truth. As much of a bummer as it is to Dan to hear it, she seems to appreciate the truth, even as she wrestles with it. Also, these two look very cute together.

E9. I see why people are shipping Seung Joon and Dan, their shared scene where she gets all drunk and slurry, and where he carries her home and she drunkenly tells him to stay the night, is quite funny, and they do share solid chemistry. Plus, she tells him stuff, albeit when she’s tipsy, but I do think it means that on some level, she trusts him.

E10. I dig the growing connection between Seung Joon and Seo Dan. The fact that she would vouch for him even though she has to lie to do it, shows that she trusts him. And I like that he sees through all her attempts to pretend that everything’s ok, and isn’t afraid to tell her everything as it is. He’s right, she should let go of Jung Hyuk; it really is game over.

E11. Seung Joon becoming increasingly preoccupied and obsessed with Dan is quite amusing. Plus it’s rather great that they save each other; he’s her knight with shining umbrella, saving her from humiliation in front of her gossipy friends, and she gives him a place to stay when he has nowhere else to go. These two get along better than they’d like to admit, and Seung Joon obsessing over what Dan meant with every word that she said, is quite funny.

Essentially, Seung Joon and Dan are to each other what they never got otherwise. Dan’s finally the object of a man’s undivided attention, and he’s discombobulated by her, to boot. She absolutely never had that with Jung Hyuk, even though they were engaged to be married. And Dan is a natural at being aloof and playing hard to get – when she’s not even actually trying to play hard to get. It’s a bait that she doesn’t even know that she’s putting out, and Seung Joon cannot help but bite, because he’s so used to charming all the ladies whenever he wants. These two are quite perfect for each other, I think.

E12. I don’t quite buy the whole revenge arc that Show is throwing in now, all of a sudden, but Dan getting all fired up and upset on Seung Joon’s behalf is rather cute, I have to admit.

E13. Even though Seung Joon and Dan have only known each other for a short period, I somehow buy that Seung Joon really does like her sincerely. I appreciate that he tells her the truth, when she asks him why he’d gone to Jung Hyuk’s house.

E14. Aw, Seung Joon seeks Dan out because he’s worried about her after seeing her cry, and even offers to be her punching bag if that would make her feel better. The way he blurts out all the details that make her so attractive and charming in his eyes, is pretty darn awesome.

“I told you before. I’m not going to lie to you ever again. So you have to listen carefully to me. First of all, you’re pretty.” … “You look good with your hair loose or tied up. Even if you suddenly come out without makeup on, you look like a goddess. And you seemed so charismatic when you saved me. You were so cool.” … “You’re coy, haughty, and unfriendly, but I just can’t hate you. To be honest, you even… look cute. You make me wonder what the guy you care for is like. I even feel jealous. And you make me want to become a better man. You’re so amazing that you make me feel that way. You are an amazing woman.”

Swoon. She can’t help but be affected by it and by him, and – eee! – kisses ensue. I do wish we had more time with this couple.

[END SPOILER]

Jung Hyuk and the Puppy Boys

It’s the stereotypical manly man thing to do, not to articulate your love for your best buds, but that love is often clear to see, in how you relate to one another, and in how you’d literally put our life on the line for your brothers, and that’s exactly how I see the relationship between Jung Hyuk and his Puppies.

The boys respect that Jung Hyuk is their Captain, and they take his orders seriously. But it’s in the fierce loyalty in their eyes, when push comes to shove, that tells me that these boys love Jung Hyuk more than they love themselves, and that Jung Hyuk would do anything to protect them.

[SPOILER] We see the puppies’ love and loyalty for Jung Hyuk starkly, in episode 13, during the flashback in the epilogue, of how the boys pledge, with earnest tears in their eyes, to stay behind to help protect Se Ri, ignoring their standing orders to return to the North. I like the sentiment, that Se Ri is important to them too, and I believe it, with the happy affection that we’ve seen, from their reunion with her. But beyond that, the burgeoning emotion, on the part of the puppies, and also, on the part of Jung Hyuk, was moving to behold. This was a deep expression of loyalty and love for Jung Hyuk too.

And then in episode 15, Jung Hyuk valiantly tries to take all the blame, when he and the boys are taken in to the NIS. He knows that if he’s successful, he will face severe consequences, but he’s willing to endure that, in order to protect the ones that he loves: Se Ri, and his boys too. [END SPOILER]

Se Ri and the Puppy Boys

I really enjoyed Se Ri’s relationship with the boys.

Despite their slightly rocky start, Se Ri soon endears herself to the boys, and I really liked watching the bond between them grow. Each of them relates to her differently – [MINOR SPOILER] Chi Soo is always gruff, Ju Meok constantly wants to talk to her about kdramas, Kwang Bum is reserved but respectful, and Eun Dong is like her youngest child, even moving towards her and leaning in, so that she can pat him on the head, ha [END SPOILER] – and together, they really do strike me as a bunch of kids of varying ages, relating to their Mom.

It’s very cute and endearing, and also, quite strongly poignant to me, because there’s the whole North-South divide underscoring the whole thing, and I just want them to be able to hang out together like this, always.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E3. The awards ceremony that Se Ri holds is so random and bizarre, but the boys really get into it, and both Chi Soo and Jung Hyuk get a bit grumpy when they don’t get an award, hee. Cute.

E6. Se Ri having a farewell picnic with the boys is the cutest, most poignant, endearing thing. They really can’t bear to see her go, and so earnestly want to show her a good time. Thank goodness they didn’t slaughter the cute piglet though. Eep.

The puppy crew really are the cutest. The way they bumble around in the water trying to catch fish for their picnic, and then roar and jump and dance with delight when they actually do catch a fish, feels so childlike, pure and innocent. And the way they bring all the food and huddle around Se Ri, is like kiddos proudly bringing food to Mom. Aw.

E9. Se Ri and the boys saying their goodbyes is such a wistful thing. They are sorry to see her leave, and they hide it with gruff words, like Chi Soo telling her not to come back to North Korea, or he’ll bury her, and then end off with instructions to each other, to be well, and not fall sick. Aw.

E12. Se Ri group hugging the boys in the park is so poignant, because she’d thought that she would never see them again. The tearful gladness in her eyes and theirs is really sweet.

E13. I do like the way Se Ri’s birthday is celebrated with both North and South traditions. They have a cake in South tradition, but the song is from the North, and then Se Ri teaches them to make a wish, and they all blow out the candles together, in their own brand new tradition. Aw.

E13. I appreciate that Se Ri, Jung Hyuk and the boys effectively foil Major Cho’s big plan by using the weapon that all of us viewers have been imploring our characters to use all this time: communication. It was pretty great to see in flashback how they just communicated with one another and kept things transparent, and worked together to come up with a plan.

E14. The boys rushing in to hug Se Ri at the hospital, is so endearing. They do get stopped by Jung Hyuk, who instructs them to keep it to handshakes coz she’s still fragile, ha, but they really did want to hug her. They really do love her; they’re like a bunch of kids rushing to their mom, lol.

[END SPOILER]

Se Ri and the Village Ahjummas

I also really enjoyed watching Se Ri getting to know the ahjummas. They are as different as chalk and cheese – a South Korean chaebol heiress and a bunch of North Korean village ahjummas? Cue hijinks! – and while Show milks the differences for some well-executed amusement and hilarity, the heartfelt bond that results, is so completely heartwarming and moving, that I couldn’t help but choke up at it all.

I just loved the idea that this newly cemented sisterhood was something that transcended all of their differences, and spoke to their hearts, universally. ❤

[SPOILER ALERT]

E4. Se Ri getting along with the ahjummas is very amusing. She’s a natural at buttering up Head Ahjumma, but the others can’t help but be endeared of her too. I like that she took a dress that was pronounced too frumpy to be suitable as a birthday gift, and turned it into Head Ahjumma’s favorite present. Her fashion spin doctor skills are truly next level.

E5. Tee hee. The ahjumma squad knocking down Se Ri’s door so that they could drink with her in her perceived time of heartbreak, is so endearing. They are so adamantly on Se Ri’s side, and even vow to punish Jung Ryuk for breaking her heart. How cute. And also, how bittersweet, that this is likely the first time Se Ri’s experienced such loyalty and sisterhood.

E10. Se Ri leaving a letter for the ahjummas is very sweet. She did lie to them about her identity, but her affection for them is real, and that shows, in her letter. Even though she has to say goodbye, and will likely never see them again, she takes the trouble to tell them the truth, and thank them for their company and support. Aw.

[END SPOILER]

STUFF THAT WAS OK

Oh Man Suk as Major Cho

To be honest, during my first watch, Major Cho struck me as mostly a caricature of a plot device; evil just because the story called for it, and hammed up for dramatic effect. I didn’t have any sympathy for Major Cho that I could speak of, to be honest.

But then, during my second watch, I had a bit of an Aha! moment in episode 6 (details in the spoiler section below), which helped me to make sense of Major Cho a lot more. Because of this new perspective, I found that I had a little more compassion for Major Cho, even though I still think he shouldn’t have done all those terrible things.

Also, for the record, I don’t think this role made the best use of Oh Man Suk’s talents; I would’ve preferred if Major Cho was played with a little more nuance and subtlety, and I am sure Oh Man Suk is fully capable of that. It’s just not what PD-nim &/or writer-nim called for.

[SPOILER ALERT] I realize episode 6 is the first time we are told anything of Major Cho’s background. Before, all it looks like is that he’s a bad guy with a dirty record and isn’t afraid to kill people for his convenience, to keep the books “clean.” But now, we learn that he’s an orphan who roamed the streets, with no parents or siblings to speak of. That.. reminds me of the orphan boy who tried to steal Jung Hyuk’s jacket. And it also reminds me of Seung Joon, who is also all alone in the world.

Major Cho says that he’s where he is today because of the Senior Colonel, but really, he’s basically clawed his way out of poverty, hasn’t he? In a system where orphans don’t really have many options, it looks like he threw away conscience and morality in exchange for survival, money and power. I wonder if he would have turned out differently, if he hadn’t been an orphan in dire straits?

In this conversation, he says to the Senior Colonel that they’re family, and family should stick together to the end. How sadly ironic, that in the end, Major Cho dies alone, even as he makes it his last effort to take Jung Hyuk with him, so that he wouldn’t be alone, in the end. [END SPOILER]

Se Ri’s family

The evil ones

I feel like Se Ri’s family was written in, just to be the source of her troubles. To me, Dad seemed more like set dressing. I’ll talk about Mom next; for this section, I just wanted to highlight her two Oppas and their wives.

Se Hyung and his wife (Yoon Ji Min) are the more devious scheming pair, and provide our story with its requisite South Korean Baddie. I didn’t like them much. But, I did find Se Joon and his wife (Choi Dae Hoon and Hwang Woo Seul Hye) quite harmless and entertaining. In particular, I found Se Joon’s wife quite amusing, and I actually found her slight lisp quite endearing.

The harmless ones

The thing with Tortured Mom

In the overall scheme of things, I didn’t care so much, for the whole thing with Tortured Mom and the teased backstory between her and Se Ri.

[SPOILER ALERT]

Mainly, when Show does the Big Reveal in episode 14, I felt like it all fell flat, a little bit.

We finally see that Mom’s always cared about Se Ri, and that she very much regretted abandoning Se Ri before (which had something to do with Mom wanting to end her life, but I don’t get the connection, it’s presented so weirdly. I mean, you wanted to end your life, so you brought Se Ri to the beach with you? What does that mean? Did you mean to kill her as you killed yourself? Gah.), and it’s sweet that she asks Jung Hyuk to continue to stay at Se Ri’s side.

But, after Mom’s outburst during Se Ri’s coma, begging her to wake up, I’m kind of disappointed that we never see Mom coming clean with Se Ri to tell her how she really feels. And yet, Se Ri’s relationship with Mom improves drastically through to the end of the show. So, Se Ri forgives Mom but never actually gets that face-to-face, heart-to-heart talk that Mom said she desperately wanted? That’s quite uncool, I think.

Also, with this knowledge of the truth behind Mom’s tortured expression, her behavior just didn’t make a lot of sense during my second watch. Basically, Mom is saying that she’s all tortured and messed up because she’s punishing herself, by not accepting the love that Se Ri’s always freely given. But, in Show’s earlier episodes, we see her speaking harshly to Se Ri, and telling her things like Se Ri’s made Mom’s life a living hell, that Se Ri doesn’t deserve to dream, in episode 9. How does this add up? And, if Mom truly felt guilty for how she’d treated Se Ri, doesn’t it make her quite a terrible person, for continuing to lash out at Se Ri, while cognizant of her own guilt towards Se Ri?

This just didn’t work for me very well.

[END SPOILER]

The idea of the OTP Big Fate

Show lays on the OTP’s Big Fate in thick, fat layers, with a very heavy hand, and I honestly don’t think it was necessary.

Like I mentioned earlier in this review, the development of the OTP loveline was robust, organic and all-around well done, so much so that an extra indication that these two people belonged together because of a Gigantic, Far-Reaching Destiny, just felt like Show was taking the idea that These Two People Belongg Togetherr, and hitting us repeatedly in the head with it.

Whenever Jung Hyuk or Se Ri started talking about fate and destiny with tears in their eyes, I have to confess, I rolled my eyes a little. But I will concede that Show managed to pull off that Big Fate in a rather poetic manner, for the most part.

Show’s saving grace to me, on this front, is the fact that Jung Hyuk and Se Ri’s connection was built and teased out so well, that it didn’t need a Big Fate to back it up. And because this Big Fate wasn’t foundational to the OTP relationship, I found it easier to look past.

It can be challenging to keep track of details

Because we have a pretty sprawling story spanning the two Koreas, and many characters and arcs to go with, I found that it was sometimes challenging to keep track of story &/or character details.

A lot of things made more sense, on my second watch, simply because this time, I had my bearings figured out, and I had narrative context for the entire story, which meant that everything fit together a lot better in my head, as a result. This made the story feel much more cohesive to me, on my second watch. Which means, credit to writer-nim, a lot of narrative details were well thought-out. It’s just hard to actually comprehend them all, the first time around.

STUFF I DIDN’T LIKE SO MUCH

Sometimes Show’s sense of humor bugged me

Generally speaking, I didn’t find myself struggling much with Show’s idea of humor, which is a Big Plus, for me. However, there were a couple of occasions in Show’s second half, where the humor struck me as rather insensitive, and that made me uncomfortable.

[SPOILER] Mainly, I’m referring to the Puppies’ efforts to find Se Ri and Jung Hyuk in episode 12. I thought their initial wide-eyed wonder upon their arrival in Seoul was cute and amusing, but by episode 12, I felt like Show had shifted gears, and was making the boys seem quite lame and stupid. I felt quite uneasy at the way Show was making the boys seem so inept and dim, just because they’re from North Korea. I mean, these are supposed to be well-trained Special Forces soldiers, so it didn’t make sense to me that they were portrayed behaving in foolish, dull ways. And imagining North Korean viewers watch these same scenes (because they do consume kdramas as contraband, as Show emphasizes), made me wonder how they would feel. To my mind, I felt like a North Korean viewer might well take offense at this spate of jokes made at the boys’ expense. And, since Show clearly knows that it is likely to have North Korean viewers, this seemed rather insensitive, from my point of view.

I concede though, that having the boys ooh and ahh over basic things like electricity and running water, makes me grateful for what I have. I guess I want Show to help me be grateful, without making the boys look stupid. [END SPOILER]

Thankfully, this wasn’t something that was stretched out over many episodes, and so this wasn’t a deal-breaker for me.

Logic stretches

Even though ridiculousness and logic stretching is built into Show’s premise (who survives a typhoon while paragliding, and without serious injury, right?), there are a number of logic stretches &/or plot holes which niggled at me.

It’s for the best, if you’re able to close your eyes to these things and just enjoy your watch. But for the record, here are the things that bugged me, or made me snicker, during my watch.

[SPOILER ALERT]

Se Ri’s depression and suicidal tendencies

Se Ri is written as having gone to Switzerland seeking physical-assisted suicide because of a long history of depression and anxiety. The doctor doesn’t grant her request, and instead suggests she take in the sights of beautiful Switzerland – and lo and behold, it actually does poof Se Ri’s suicidal tendencies away. I’m no expert on depression, but I’m pretty sure that someone with actual suicidal tendencies – especially someone serious enough about it that they’d seek out physician-assisted suicide or actually attempt jumping off a bridge – can’t just snap out of it, after gazing at pretty scenery? This made no sense to me.

I know this is part of Show’s fairytale, but it does bug me that this is how depression is portrayed, especially after we’ve already lost so many k-celebs to suicide fueled by depression. :/

Other items

E7. I still can’t get over how ridiculous it is, to have a piano sitting on the edge of a pier like that. It’s so bad for the piano, and for someone like Jung Hyuk, who’s such an advanced pianist, it’s impossible that he didn’t know what bad things would happen to the piano from sitting out there like that, and I don’t think someone who loved piano would allow that to happen to a piano.

E10. There’s one thing that I feel doesn’t quite line up. We saw Seung Joon meet Se Ri in flashback for a blind date, where she turned him down unequivocally, telling him that there would be no second date. But, for the rest of the show, we’re told that Se Ri and Seung Joon were once engaged, and this episode, Seung Joon even tells Jung Hyuk that Se Ri broke off the engagement a few weeks before the wedding. That doesn’t add up.

E10. The way Major Cho is rescued requires quite a bit of suspension of disbelief. He sits smugly in the back of the vehicle, while a shoot-out is happening between the men in his vehicle and the men in the monster truck, and is escorted out unscathed, even though lots of bullets go through the vehicle in the meantime. It’s a little unbelievable, that there were no stray bullets that grazed him, in all of the fray, or that he wouldn’t feel the need to, y’know, duck?

E11. Jung Hyuk keeps saying that once he captures Major Cho, that he’ll leave immediately. But, how? He’s in South Korea, alone, on a secret self-assigned mission. It’s not like he has actual back-up officers with a plane or boat waiting to take him back to North Korea. Plus, he makes it sound like he could leave at anytime. How would that work, is what I want to know. Does he intend to just swim back??

E13. I get that Jung Hyuk and the puppies are all stunned that Se Ri’s been shot, but it niggles at me that these guys are all Special Forces trained, and therefore should know the basics of how to treat a patient with a gunshot wound. I mean, at least put pressure on the wound to stem the bleeding?

E14. Pfft. Major Cho was shot in his left shoulder (I double-checked, which the wardrobe and continuity folks clearly didn’t do), but in the scene with the illegal doctor, the bandage and wound is on his right shoulder, and remains on his right shoulder, for the rest of the show.

[END SPOILER]

The unreasonably long episodes

Clearly, Show does not think that being concise is a virtue, because man, those episodes get really long!

Even though it’s become quite typical for an episode of a tvN drama to average 1 hour 15 minutes, Show pushes the envelope a great deal. Some episodes hit 1 hour 30 minutes or more, and the finale itself was a whopping 1 hour 51 minutes. I mean. They could’ve literally made a 24-episode show with hour-long episodes, and that would’ve worked out to be the same thing.

This quirk of Show’s actually affected my watch momentum, because the long episodes just seemed so daunting, that I’d sometimes put off watching an episode, coz I wasn’t feeling up to 1 hour 30 minutes of drama commitment. This didn’t help, especially during the mid-show drag, which I’ll talk about next.

On top of this, I actually felt like the long episodes made it easy for details to get lost. It’s easy to forget a detail that’s casually shared in the midst of a movie-length episode of drama, and it also becomes much harder to keep track of multiple details across multiple movie-length episodes of drama, if you know what I mean.

I feel like on this point, Show leaned too indulgent of itself.

The perceived mid-show drag

I personally felt a degree of drag between episodes 8 to 13.

[SPOILER] This is where the angst kicks in most, I think, and the long episodes coupled with angst just didn’t do Show any favors, at least in my experience. The angst, when coupled with the very long episodes, makes for a general feel of narrative drag. Like, I signed up for feels, and I know angst comes with the package, but I’m not quite prepared to consume angst in such extended servings. Which is why, during this angsty stretch, served up in long episodes, I consistently had the urge to pause the episode and do something else, if only to give myself a break from the amped up angst.

As a result, I didn’t enjoy this stretch of the drama as much as the other episodes. In fact, I even resented Show to some degree, because these episodes weren’t just angsty, they were so longg. To Show’s credit, when the good bits showed up, I still liked ’em a lot. But, for the record, because of the angst and danger hanging over our characters, I felt like I couldn’t truly enjoy the cute or sweet moments that Show served up to alleviate the angst.

Additionally, I felt that Show sometimes toyed with my feelings as well, like in episode 12, where Se Ri comes home to an empty apartment and starts crying, believing that Jung Hyuk has left. I do think Show toyed with us by dragging out the misunderstanding, and having the boys come out of hiding so late. That felt unnatural to me, coz if you see the birthday girl that you’re trying to surprise sob-crying on the floor, after calling out to ask if Jung Hyuk’s already left, you stop the ruse, immediately, right? But no, the boys come out only a few long minutes later, extending Se Ri’s agony needlessly. I felt like this is Show toying with us as an audience, and I was not pleased about it.

Let me put it this way. It felt like Show was taking me on a rollercoaster of emotions. In a single episode (in this case, episode 13), I’m giggling at the dorky cuteness of Ju Meok finally meeting his goddess Choi Ji Woo, then I’m holding my breath as the puppies rally round to save both Se Ri and Jung Hyuk, and then I’m shaking my head as the puppies gather around and cry over Se Ri, who’s bleeding out from a gunshot wound. I mean. I’m on the rollercoaster, but I also feel like I’m being dragged unwillingly onto a rollercoaster that’s more than what I bargained for. [END SPOILER]

Again, like I mentioned in the very beginning of this review, this angsty stretch might not feel like drag to you, if you have a bigger appetite for narrative angst. Also, happily, I enjoyed Show’s last couple of episodes just fine, despite the monster length episodes.

SPOTLIGHT ON THE PENULTIMATE EPISODE [SPOILER]

I love how the village ahjummas band together and basically rescue Man Bok’s family from being taken away by bad men impersonating the authorities. Ahjumma sisterhood for the win!

I find it fitting that Major Cho would bring about his own death, in a last desperate bid to take Jung Hyuk down with him. But I don’t believe that Jung Hyuk would have taken his own life, even though he’d put his gun to his own head for a moment. I see it more as an indication of how lost he felt, in that moment, thinking Major Cho’s lies about his parents’ inevitable execution to be true.

The way Se Ri is so distraught at the sight of the boys being taken away, and insists on going with them, and the way the boys yell at her equally desperately to stay where she is and take care of herself, says so much about how much these people have come to love and care for one another. They’re family now, and it hurts so good.

Although I understand that Jung Hyuk believes that telling the truth will hurt Se Ri, and that’s why he concocts that lie about using her and sticks to his guns even when Se Ri is right in front of him, that was hard to watch. Even though Se Ri knows that he’s lying to protect her, I’m sure the words still sting, and I’m kind of surprised that Jung Hyuk sticks with it to the end, even though she looks like she’s so near collapsing right then and there.

Both Son Ye Jin and Hyun Bin deliver fantastic performances in this scene. I honestly believe that Se Ri is about to collapse from exhaustion, heartache and physical pain; her breathing is so labored and it looks like it literally hurts her to talk. And Jung Hyuk, while remaining stony-faced through their entire conversation, can’t hide the slight sheen of tears in his eyes, as he watches Se Ri struggle, and as he firmly keeps his words brusque and harsh. Oof. This was hard to watch, but the control both actors demonstrate in this scene is very gratifying to witness. I’m especially impressed by Hyun Bin’s ability to allow just that tiny sheen of tears in his eyes, without shifting his facial muscles at all; just enough to be visible, but far from being enough to actually allow tears to fall. That’s skillz.

Of course, everything changes when Se Ri does faint and Jung Hyuk is told that she’s in critical condition. Nothing can hide how much he cares about her; even the NIS officer can clearly tell how much Jung Hyuk loves Se Ri.

The way Jung Hyuk rushes out and freezes the moment he sees Se Ri being carried away, unconscious, says everything about how he really feels, and the tears that he’s been holding back, finally fall from his eyes, his expression no longer stony; now only full of regret, despair and a sense of lostness. Really good.

Even as Se Ri fights for her life, we hear in Jung Hyuk’s voiceover how, if he could do it all over again, he wouldn’t meet her, so that she’d be safe and happy. And we hear in Se Ri’s voice, how, if she could do it all over again, she’d choose to do it all over again, so that she’d have the chance to know and love Jung Hyuk. It all looks quite different on the surface, but ultimately, they would both choose the more self-sacrificial path, for the sake of their love. He would rather choose to be lonely and not to experience love, than to expose her to hurt, and she would rather choose to experience the pain, rather than not love him at all.

As poignant as this is, the most poignant moment this episode, belongs to Seung Joon. I first felt my heart pinch for him when he teared up at the orphans’ song, about not having parents or siblings, and no one would cry for them if they died. It’s an awfully sad song, and it strikes a deep chord with Seung Joon because that’s exactly how he feels. He has no family, and no one to mourn his loss, if he were to die.

And then I teared up again, when Seung Joon says his goodbye to Dan, telling her how much he likes her, and putting the ring on her finger, apologizing that that’s the best he can do for now, and that if he comes back to visit her in the future, and if she’s still single, if she would give him a chance. The tears that accompany this quiet confession, both his and hers, really made my heart pinch; these two are so perfect for each other, and yet, circumstances dictate that they can’t be together, and they say goodbye, cognizant of all these things. How painful.

In the end, I’m not surprised that Seung Joon gives up his chance to leave in order to save Dan, but I am quite pleasantly surprised at the badass sort of ending he gets. He enters the warehouse where Dan is being held, rifle at the ready, and quickly takes down the baddies, one after the other, like a seasoned hero. Dang that he gets a bullet in the heart as he delivers his last shot, but if he had to go, this was a pretty heroic way to die. And, I thought his parting voiceover quite perfect:

“I was wrong. When I die, there is someone who cries for me. The fact you are that person makes me sad and happy.” … “If one of us must die while the other lives on… If that’s fate, it’s only right that I die and you live on. It’s only right.”

Tear. Heart. Break.

THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]

For a finale where I ran into spoilers even while actively trying to dodge them, I’m pleasantly surprised that Show manages a final episode that feels quite satisfying and even a little bit fresh. This, despite its monstrous running time of almost 2 hours. I mean, while watching this finale, I didn’t even mind the length of the episode. Wow. That’s impressive.

The thing that I found saddest, is Seung Joon’s death. I mean, I can understand that narratively speaking, it’s really kinda hard for Seung Joon to make a meaningful life for himself in or out of North Korea. He’s a wanted man whether he stays in North Korea or leaves it, and he’s committed quite a few crimes, so there is no safe haven where he can make a new life for him and Dan, even though that’s what he’d like to do.

I appreciate that Show gave him the chance to go out a hero. Any man who’s willing to lay down his life for the one that he loves, deserves admiration, and he laid it all down for Dan, knowing that it might cost him everything.

What hurts me, is where this leaves poor Dan. She’s lived the past 10 years as Jung Hyuk’s shadow fiancee, seen, but barely acknowledged, and certainly not loved. And now, just as she finally experiences actual love for the first time, with a man whom she’s just getting to know, he dies protecting her, and she loses him, just like that, forever. How crushing.

I know it’s better to have loved and lost rather than not have loved at all, but.. for a woman who clearly desires to be loved the way Seung Joon loved her, this is quite a cruel fate. The shaman predicts that she will be successful and therefore won’t need a man in the future.. but I also think that Seung Joon’s just too hard of an act to follow. After Seung Joon’s literally died for her, I think any other man would pale in comparison, for Dan. We see that Dan eventually stands tall and walks forward confidently, but my heart still aches for her loss.

On the other hand, though, in a show where logic has been stretched so much for the benefit of bringing the feels, Seung Joon could’ve been given a way to survive in North Korea, no? So that he and Dan would be able to live happily ever after, together, with him always being goofy-smitten around her, causing her to crack a smile, for him, in spite of herself? Show could’ve still served up all the bittersweet poignance of episode 15, including Seung Joon’s lost pulse in the ambulance. But the medic could’ve applied CPR (instead of just declaring him dead after checking his pulse), or heck, we could’ve had Dan perform CPR if the medic didn’t know how; we could’ve then had Seung Joon revived and saved.. maybe have him settle down in North Korea to be with Dan? I know it wouldn’t have left as great an impact on us as Seung Joon’s sacrificial death, but.. I’m pretty sure I would’ve lapped that up, if that was what Show was serving.

As for Jung Hyuk and Se Ri, I have to admit that I actually teared up at their goodbye scene at the Military Demarcation Line. The tearful, desperate embrace, as they grasped for words to say to each other that would feel adequate; both unable to tear their eyes away from each other; the NIS agents and the North Korean Army both on alert, with weapons cocked; it’s a moment pregnant with tension and emotion and the impending pain of inevitable separation, and I feel like I’m right there with them, tears leaking as Jung Hyuk gets pried away from Se Ri. Oof.

And then there’s moment when the Military Director ambushes Jung Hyuk and the boys and tries to kill them off before they get to their Pyongyang destination. As guns are raised, dear old Man Bok runs to place himself in front of Jung Hyuk as a human shield. Dad comes to the rescue, and as shots are fired, it moves me deeply, that all the boys basically spring into a protective formation around Jung Hyuk. Their collective instinct was to shield him, with their very own bodies. Augh. The brotherhood. I love.

Afterwards, we see everyone’s lives go back to a variation of normal. Se Hyung getting incarcerated and filing for divorce; the Puppies reminiscing about South Korea and Se Ri, as they sit together eating roasted potatoes; Se Ri going back to work; Se Ri spending time with Mom; Dan’s mother breaking off the engagement between Dan and Jung Hyuk, with gentleness, grace and dignity; Dan’s mother bringing the village ahjummas new limited edition products by Se Ri’s Choice, which are a line of creams with paintings of each of the ahjummas adorning each cream (aw!); the village ahjummas getting dolled up to welcome Jung Hyuk back to the village after another outpost stint; Pyo Chi Soo getting promoted to Captain and taking over from Jung Hyuk, as he gets re-deployed to be a pianist for the National Symphony Orchestra. Life’s the same but different, and it’s gentle and bittersweet.

What’s special in all of this, is that we see Se Ri receiving pre-sent text messages from Jung Hyuk (thank you, sweet NIS dude, you really are the best); every few days, he tells her something interesting, or suggests something they can do together, even sending her a pot of edelweiss to raise. It’s really sweet, coz it feels like they’re having long distance dates, even though they technically can’t contact each other.

When the messages run out, Jung Hyuk’s last message suggests that they meet where the edelweiss blooms, which is how Se Ri ends up orchestrating yearly performances in Switzerland, by music proteges supported by the company, in the hope of meeting Jung Hyuk there. It takes a number of failed trips, but one day, Jung Hyuk finally finds her, appropriately under her paraglider wing, after she’s made a bit of a clumsy landing. Pfft. This is a bit much, for me, coz it’s so random. Did they really have to meet while she was paragliding? But ok, I get the point that they really are fated, and that it’s true that wherever she is, Jung Hyuk will always find her.

We then see that Se Ri arranges to spend 2 weeks in Switzerland every year during the performances, and that’s when she meets Jung Hyuk. As Show comes to a close, we also see that they even have a home there, filled with their pictures and their memories.

It’s a bittersweet yet hopeful note that we end on. Bittersweet, because it still pains me to think that Se Ri can’t see the ahjummas or the boys. How sad, that they can’t even contact one another to ask after one another.

It’s also bittersweet that Se Ri and Jung Hyuk can only see each other 2 weeks in a year, despite even getting a house together in Switzerland. Yet, it’s hopeful because even though they only get 2 weeks together each year, this is still ultimately much more than they’d dared to hope for, when they fell in love with each other. They’d thought their goodbye at the Military Demarcation Line was for good, and they had always been steeling themselves for a forever goodbye. So, to have the chance to spend 2 weeks every single year, with the person whom you thought you’d had to say a forever goodbye to, feels like an annual precious second chance.

And with this annual second chance, perhaps our lovebirds will eventually even be able to make bigger and longer plans for a shared future. Yes, that future is even more vague than it is for the average couple, but perhaps that very uncertainty is what spurs them on to cherish what they have together in the present moment, all the more.

THE FINAL VERDICT:

A little overly bloated and angsty in spots, but Show sure knows how to serve up the feels.

FINAL GRADE: B++

TEASER:

MV:

OST ALBUM:

This contains 29 tracks, and I like that as you listen, you’ll see the title of the track that’s currently playing, on your screen. It also includes the popular opening track, Sigriswil. Enjoy:

Author: kfangurl

Proud to be a k-fangirl since 2007. Main diet of kdramas with movies and kpop on the side.

186 thoughts on “Review: Crash Landing On You

  1. Hey there KFG! I didn’t watch much Kdramas for a while cos life got busy but after a work event concluded I promptly started on CLOY. I couldn’t miss it – it was one of THE event Kdramas, felt like DOTS in its popularity where even guys and people who don’t normally watch Kdramas were talking about it. It was FOMO that got me started but I was pleasantly surprised by it. I didn’t expect much – tbh when I first heard the premise of this show I thought it sounded so stupid. A SK heiress paragliding and landing in NK? Just sounded too stupid. But yet so much of it was so well-done. The acting, the writing, the puppies! The ahjummas! The colours and cinematography. The humour was well-done too. I really enjoyed most part of it. And Hyun Bin! I have never been attracted to him but woah Capt Ri is way too charming. All of the actresses and actors did so well. And I love love love Seo-dan and Seung-joon, at times I liked them more than the main couple haha. I fully agree with you about the “ridiculous yet swoony” aspect of this show.

    I think I’m in the minority but I didn’t like the ending of the show. Seung-joon dying was so sad since I loved him so much. But what annoyed me most was the final parting at the Demarcated Line (that yellow line, I forgot the name). It was such a solemn, important affair that got hijacked by Seri running, Capt Ri running back to SK (!!) just to say goodbye. I know it’s a romance and our couple had to say goodbye but these are countries who are technically at war!! And that stand off could’ve turned ugly just for… a goodbye. I was so turned off that it took me out of the romantic grand moment. And when Capt Ri’s dad appeared and shot the Military Director… felt so unrealistic. He should’ve gone to trial and to jail or something, I always felt he was the smart cunning Director so I didn’t feel that it was in character for him to shoot him directly. And I was quite sure they wouldn’t let the show end on a sad note so I figured they would reunite in Switzerland so the second half felt like the plot moving the pieces to make them “coincidentally” end up in Switzerland, it felt too obvious for me. And her paragliding into him was a bit roll-eyes but since this show is so much fantasy, I was still ok with it. I wish they showed more of Seo-dan’s revenge though that would’ve been great. I loved her in her ice princess mode, she would have been awesome taking revenge.

    All in all it was a good watch but I didn’t like the ending! Still I felt it was well done, and quite like YFAS in that it is rather a complete Kdrama package – sweeping grand epic romance, funny, action-packed, heartfelt. Well done to the team!

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    • YFAS? I can’t think of which show that is?

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    • Hey there MC!! Always great to see ya! ❤ And, I agree, this is one of those Event Dramas that everyone talks about, even if they don't watch dramas, so it's practically mandatory to check in, at least, to see what the fuss is about! 😀 Like you, when I first heard the premise, I thought it sounded ridiculous, and I was really thinking of just giving it a miss. But in the end, all the positive comments and FOMO got me to check it out, and I was so pleasantly surprised! 😀 They really did make all the ridiculous work, and make it fun, AND make it melty too. Waow. 😀 Plus, like you, I wasn't actually feeling the Hyun Bin love all that much (though I did get quite mesmerized back in 2010 when I watched Secret Garden), but BOY did I fall for Captain Ri! 😍😍

      Ahaha! I get what you mean, about the goodbye at the Military Demarcation Line! The whole time, I was like, Oh no, oh no, are they going to get shot??? 😱😱 But even so, I think I was better able to feel the feels of the moment than you were! 😅 And I agree, Jung Hyuk's father just coming out and shooting the military director was not very in character, and wasn't as satisfying, as if he'd been punished under the law.

      And OMG YES, that thing about her paragliding into him was just too much. I rolled my eyes so hard! 🙄😆 I do agree that seeing the details of Dan's revenge would've made the finale more satisfying to watch. But, as you rightly point out, this show is still an excellent watch overall; a great tribute to all the things that make kdramas as inexplicably addictive as they are. 😀

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  2. So happy to have come across this site. I am a K drama virgin until CLOY. No.Turning.Back. It must be a combination of these pandemic times, school moving online and not being able to work from home created the perfect coping/distraction mechanism for me. I have seen the series at least twice, ok, 5 times! Love the OST. The melodies, those first wistful and hopeful notes dropping at the perfect moments just stir me up. I truly enjoyed your review and I made sure I played the OST as you recommended while reading and enjoying every word. I agree the acting is amazing. Se-ri with her mood and sleep disorders but somehow managing to fall asleep easily when Captain Ri is around. The subtle facial, non verbal cues Captain Ri can convey across the screen. I can tell the actors feed off each other in an “iron sharpens iron” kind of way – they help each other be better at their craft. It’s great that it showed the positive portrayal of the people of NK both in the countryside and urban Pyongyang. The cinematography is amazing. I never thought I’d find myself getting the feels like I’m 13 again over Captain Ri and Se-ri’s interactions lol. Not since Keanu Reeves in “Speed” had I fan girled this much until Hyun Bin. So much so that when I recognized the spot on the hiking trail in Switzerland where Se-ri took a pic of Jeong Hyuk and Dan as the same spot I had my photo taken many years ago, that I even amused myself by thinking, “Hyun Bin have been standing on the same ground as I was, I just missed him by a decade. Our paths will cross someday…” In my mind, post Covid-19 apocalypse, I already have a costume for myself and my husband for halloween – lol – Sariwon Hospital where Captain Ri was his hospital gown, complete with a sling and Seri in her oversized brown coat (although I may end up looking like a cow but who is judging?). I am starting to branch out from CLOY, I am trying to slowly acclimate myself to other Kdrama production may it be TV or movies but pathetically, turbo’d through 4 Hyun Bin movies instead. I just finished Something in the Rain though. Saw your review on that too. Thank you for the wonderful review and website. Looking forward to revisiting this site.

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    • Hi there Zinnia, welcome to the weird and wonderful world of kdramas! 😀 I’m glad you found me! 🙂

      We all have a huge soft spot for our gateway dramas, and I do think CLOY’s a fantastic pick for gateway drama, so it’s really cool that CLOY was your first! It’s perfectly natural for you to rewatch CLOY multiple times; I’ve rewatched my gateway drama (Goong, also known as Princess Hours) about 6 or 7 times now! 😆 And, it’s also very natural for you to seek our Hyun Bin shows.. For more rom-com Hyun Bin, you might want to try Secret Garden. I don’t think it’s as enjoyable as CLOY, but it was all the rage when it came out in 2010, and it’s Hyun Bin as romantic leading man. Though I’ll warn in advance, that so far, none of his characters is as appealing as Captain Ri. 😍😍

      When you’re in the mood to check out other dramas, you might find my Full List of posts a useful resource. I hope that helps, and happy drama watching! ❤

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  3. Wow…. a lengthy review, but I was happily gobbled it up until the last drop of your words hahaha….. so on point, as usual! I just finished watching CLOY two days ago (yeah, a bit late, I know. sigh.), and nodding every now and then on your review here. And guess what? Another amazing thing happened. At some part of your review, I have teary eyes! Your description of them, and they way you added beautiful words to it, just reminded me of the way those scenes had stolen and touched my heart. Probably because it still fresh in my memory. Or probably because it is as THAT good.

    One thing I like to add here is about the EPILOGUE at the end of each episode. Those are the sweetest epilogues I’ve ever seen in kdramaland! I think several scenes that you love came from the epilogue, including when our Capt. Ri had to take his time when he was about to say ‘piano’ to the tomato plant. I melted then. Such simple word. Such heart-wrenching feeling. And it told so much about our captain when we were only warming up to his character.

    And those NK puppy soldiers!!!! Oh boy, I looooooove them!!! My kdrama buddies and I called them ‘minions’ affectionately haha… them and those village ahjumma were the highlights in every scenes they’re in. And they’re also badasses in their own way. When our minions backed up Seri and marched forward to meet the gang of kidnappers…. whoaaaa… that’s elite troops in action!

    It is also rare of me, but I kinda think to re-watch CLOY, just to look for tiny details I know I’d love but might miss on the first round . After all, this WFH thing is not too far from my routine of being a teacher. With the campus closed down, and my students had their unexpected mid-semester break, I think I can spare some quality time for CLOY haha

    I am currently watching WHEN THE WEATHER IS FINE (it’s on epi 10 rn). It’s such a refreshing tone down after the hyped-up CLOY, with its slow-burn and snail-paced unfolding of events. I guess it will be another underdog drama that I love. It is very poetic in more ways than one. Its narrative is poetic, its cinematography is poetic, their voice over is poetic. When CLOY has epilogues, WTWIF has some kind of note (a secret blog post, actually) at the end of each episode, which is equally touching. The setting is at the dead of a freezing winter, but the terms warm, warmth, and warming are bound to be found all over the place. The beautiful scenery of mountains, forests, village, and the small city of Hyecheon is an added bonus I would not want to miss. I can’t wait for more of their story next week!

    PS: Seo Kang Joon mostly acts with his eyes. And it is swoooooooney……

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    • Aw, thanks for gobbling up this very lengthy review, Widya!! 😀 I’m so glad that we feel similarly about this show, and that this review helped you relive some of the feels too! ❤ And yes, I agree, some of the epilogues were very precious. I think my favorite is the one of Jung Hyuk trying to talk to his tomato plant. That was so heart-pinching and so poignant. I felt so much for him, in that moment. ❤ And I agree, the puppies and the ahjummas were a lovely addition; the show wouldn't be the same without them. 😍

      I did watch this twice, and I did pick up more details the second time around, so I think you'd probably enjoy your second watch quite well! I still found the later episodes draggy though, but you can always FF through those! 😉

      When the Weather is Fine sounds lovely indeed.. It's on my list, and I plan to start on it when I've cleared some space on my current drama plate. I do enjoy Seo Kang Joon – loved him in Are You Human Too, and also, The Third Charm – so I'm curious to see him deliver in Weather as well! Plus, swoony is always welcome! 😍😉

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  4. Hi Fangirl 🙂 pick one 😀 boys over flowers or dae jang geum?

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    • Hi there Gabrielle! Sorry this reply is slightly delayed. 😛 If I had to pick one for myself, I’d pick Dae Jang Geum, because I personally can’t bear to watch BOF anymore. 😝 But, if you’re in the mood for something nonsensical and light, BOF might be a good fit, over Dae Jang Geum. 😉

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  5. Dear Fangirl,

    After being in bed with the flu ( It’s thankfully not covid-19!) and stumbling upon this kdrama golden nugget on Netflix after finishing my second Kdrama (DOTS), and finishing it in three days – I needed your review to tie the marvellous 30 hour feels I’ve just gone through. This review has given me closure for lack of better wording. Your words are so very wholesome and beautifully express all key characters, scenes and ideologies so very beautifully it’s made me want to watch the show again. I’m sure this must have taken so much time for you to write this and I sincerely want to say a massive thank you for your time, energy and eloquent way of narrating this show that I won’t be able to move on for a while. I genuinely struggled watching the last episode as I was so sad that it was coming to an end but your review has made it ok for me move on. I think I was more sad that I wouldn’t be able to discuss this with friends as none of my friends have watched it so it genuinely felt like we were conversing through this review and u don’t know how much that means.

    Thank you fangirl – I’m seriously a fan ♥️

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    • I finished it last week and I still can’t get over it! It’s so beautiful – the filming, the people, the story…. sigh. What I wouldn’t give for a Captain Ri in my own life ❤

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      • Right! I literally went back and rewatched it again, skipping the evil and the second couple scenes. I don’t know how long it will take for me to actually get over this and I don’t know whether I should laugh or cry!

        I need a Captain Ri in my life too! I *love* how he picked up on the little things which could be seen as a nuisance such as the body wash, shampoo, making hand dripped coffee, the candle scene, buying her a blanket, corn and potatoes and even stocking up her kitchen! He’s single handedly made me respect men who tend to be quiet and in the background. They are clearly observant and I love it!

        One thing that I forgot to mention is how much I loved and appreciated how comfortable and unintimidated Captain Ri felt in SK. I had to remind myself that he was already familiar with the glamour, or as Pyo Chi Su (my fave character after the OTP) would put it, the capitalism of a 1st world economy as he’d studied in Switzerland and even got to perform at a sold out prestigious symphony hall . He wasn’t thrown off by her beautiful and spacious flat with 5 rooms to herself, her high tech equipment and fancy Mac, her massive store and empire in its entirety and the power she had overall. He gently but confidently allowed her to do her thing whilst spurring her on. Never showing a sign that he felt inferior. He knew that she held the love for him higher above all the material things she owned and also knew that unlike her own family, she’d found a home in him. S-W-O-O-N!

        And I agree on the beauty of it all! It even made me want to visit the NK village! Might well do so if I ever make my way to SK.
        I’ve been to Switzerland but didn’t get to visit those sights, now it’s definitely on the cards. Not sure about paragliding though! x_x

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        • Girl, I did the same thing! Watched it twice without the bad guy and second couple and I LOVE that man… the quiet confidence, the way he observes the small things and is just attentive and caring, everything you said. Even the part where he snuffs the candle out when she feels self conscious when crying.

          I also really liked Se Ri’s character. She wasn’t some helpless damsel in distress where the guy has to do everything and she just takes. She puts him front and center in her life in SK even though she’s clearly very wealthy and doesn’t treat him like a village boy from an old fling.

          The last scenes were so pretty and I dont care what anyone or reality says, I think they made a long term home for themselves in switzerland, not just a fortnight a year!

          I’m so emotionally attached I’m not ready to watch another kdrama yet because it feels like I’m cheating! Lol
          Please God, hear my prayer… give me a Capt Ri!

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        • P.S: I was legit going to find a way to visit NK until I watched a video where they asked a NK defector whether they had guys like Capt Ri up there. She said if they did, she wouldn’t have tried so hard to escape!
          Cancelled all my NK plans immediately

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          • O my gosh Hana you’re officially my internet sis! You made me laugh so hard about cancelling your plans to NK! hahaha! And do you know what – i’m sincerely going to pray that God will bring us both our very own Captain Ri! I have faith that he’ll do it! Can’t believe we both watched it again skipping the exact same parts! Twinsies for real <3!

            I loveee your analysis on how Se Ri didn't treat him like a village boy! That is SO true! She could have easily been patronising but she really wasn't! I loved how she left instructions at home for him to use the coffee machine – that was more considerate than patronising. She allowed him to stay at home whilst she was working and fully trusted that he'd be ok even though he nearly went out to fight with desperate effort lol! She definitely gave him the same respect that he deserved and that's taught me a valuable lesson on so many levels – everyone should and can be respected in their own way no matter their class, intellect or background. Amazing stuff.

            Ohhh I forgot about that candle scene and the way he was being considerate by snuffing it out! I loved it! That scene also reminds me of the scene where she's crying and doesn't want him to see her as she's a mess (she still looked gorgeous) and so he hugged her from behind. *grabs chest and faint! *

            What was your ultimate favourite scene?

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            • Favorite scene? How can I possibly pick??!
              Lol… it would be Capt Ri’s gaming scene where he gets soundly beaten, tries to fight at exit 3 Cheognam station and being deflated and stymied by Se Ri. I found his facial expressions hilarious! In the prior NK episodes I was thinking about how amazing it was that there was such a fantastic man who didn’t play video games… and then when presented with the temptation, yes, he turns out to be just like any regular gamer we’ve met in real life.
              Sigh.
              Minor flaws. Very minor.

              Omg yes! Please pray for both of us. That would truly be wish fulfillment ❤

              I'm about one and a half years into kdrama and I am such a fan; I visited S Korea last year. My korean colleague is at her wits' end with me because she keeps saying kdramas are make believe and was scared I would actually go to N Korea!

              You must try paragliding in Switzerland. It's an amazing experience esp the one at Interlaken that they show in the drama. The take off is a bit scary but once you're up in the air, the surroundings take your breath away!

              I wish we could meet up and discuss our kdrama experiences. I'm guessing your British?

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            • PS: I went back and watched the coffee machine scene again after your comment and you’re right!
              Also I absolutely LOVE Flower by Yoon Mi Rae! My neighbors are sick of it. lol

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              • Hahah I know right! How dare I ask such a hard question! That was a really lovely scene I agree. The well polished, well behaved and well mannered Captain Ri playing a computer game was just delightful to see – the stereotype lives on! They really showed different layers to him and this was a great side of him to explore in addition to his sulky/jealous side lol.

                My favourite scene has to be the final goodbye at the demarcation line. My goodness! I was not ready to be hit with the feels like that. Se Ri’s run, her desperate gasp for air in between her hysterical breakdown as she realises that it’s truly the last time she’s most likely to see him, her total honesty about how she basically won’t be able to function anymore without him by her side in front of 20+ people with guns lol. The way Captain Ri worries about her well being and asks her to stop running, then the way he looks at her whilst trying to calm her down even though his heart was breaking seeing her in that state and possibly remembering how he caused her to nearly die again as a result of the stone cold face to face interview and the gentle and reassuring words he used to somehow make the situation ok and slightly bare-able. All of that topped off by IU’s give you my heart sound track with her raspy, gentle voice in the background – I googled the lyrics and the tears! lol. I’ve actually decided to learn the song – got the first paragraph down, 5 or so more to go lol! How have I become so obsessed with a series? This has never happened before.

                Oh yes Flower is BEAUTIFUL! The instruments, the arrangement, the meaning and the mix between English and Korean – Here. For. It! Tell your neighbours to get in on the action. You’ll be listening to it for a while lol

                Yes I am British! Where are you from? I’ve only been watching Kdrama for a month. My friend forced me and here we are lol. I’ve watched Strong Girl Do Bong Soon which was my intro the Kdrama and I absolutely fell in love with it. I was so sad moving on from it thinking there couldn’t be anything better but here we are lol. After that I watched DOTS. It was good but definitely shipped the second couple harder than the leads.

                You’ve been to SK! Wow! How was it? I can’t wait to visit. I’m SUCH a foodie so you can only imagine what was running through my mind every time I saw the scrumptious meals they were consuming. Especially the BBQ chicken shop. Guess which cuisine I’ll be eating when we’re no longer on lockdown ? lol – Thanking God you didn’t go NK hahaha. We might not have had this convo otherwise!

                Ps. YOU’VE PARAGLIDED THERE BEFORE? SO COOL! Was it scary and did you do it on your own or with an instructor? I might actually just give it a try you know. I’m not down with bungee jumping or sky diving but I think I can stomach this.

                Defo wish we could meet up to discuss this! Skype is always a good alternative plan!

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                • Oh gosh… you really are my internet kdrama twin! My friend was going on about kdramas and I was like what’s so great about korean dramas?? Oh foolish, naive days of yore…

                  I LOVED Strong Girl Bong Soon and I thought nothing could beat it until Crash Landing came along and rocked my world. Tbh that piano kiss in Strong Girl is the best I’ve seen on screen so far.
                  Be still my beating heart! ❤

                  I started off my experience with Hello My Twenties (also on Netflix) and it was a slow burn. But once I got into it, I really really liked it. If you're into emotional rollercoasters, I would also recommend Secret Affair. Nothing light about it, but very deep and profound.

                  Honestly, I can't remember the last time I watched a hollywood movie. Kdramas are just so uplifting and so darn pretty! I find the cultural aspect of it more relatable as well.

                  With all the passion of a new convert I have embraced all things Korean with a vengeance. I actually started learning Korean and was able to get by when I visited there. If you're bilingual in general, I think it's pretty easy to pick up. Yes, the food was wonderful! Very heavy on the seafood which I loved!
                  I visited the museums a lot and I am ashamed to say I didn't know much about Korean history. But I learned so much and developed so much respect for the country and its people after reading up about the Japanese occupation, civil war, US-Russia proxy wars and everything they've been through. Now their biggest issue seem to be finding the best plastic surgeon. lol

                  Paragliding was absolutely exhilarating! At Interlaken you get these professional paragliders whom you go with. So they handle the equipment, adjust the height etc while you just hang on and enjoy the ride. You must do it Ella!
                  Yeah, hard no for me on bungee jumping and sky diving but this was truly a great experience! The take off is the scariest, because you run and jump off a mountain side to launch yourself into the air. There were some people who freaked out at the last moment but I think they finally did it.

                  I live in the US, coincidentally in the heart of Koreatown and I am surrounded by korean restaurants. In fact when Parasite won the Oscar this year, the team celebrated in Ktown because the food is supposed to be pretty authentic. Skype we must!

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                  • Yep! It’s official. I’ve found my Kdrama twin <3! I've gone back and told my friend how great of a friend she is haha!

                    YES! My sentiments exactly! I watched DOTS and thought it was good but doesn't come anywhere close to CLOY but SGBS will always have a special place in my heart as it was my intro into this amazing world. YES! That scene! I LOVE IT! I think that was the first time so openly reciprocated the love and gesture's MinMin had shown her. I loved it! My favourite scene is when they're lying on the couch together and he asks her to "Please love me" – I have lost count of how many times i've watched it. My heart actually skipped a whole beat! Thanks for the recommendations. Will add them to my list. Since we're twinsies I'll take your word for it.

                    Wow – can't believe you've actually been and that you even speak it! I'm learning the language on Duolingo and I'm not going to lie – its not the easiest! My brain is trying to remember the symbols but whew chile … it's not easy! So well done to you! Your trip sounded EPIC! I definitely know who to speak to when it's time to visit. I also knew nada about the country until I started watching it so really happy i'm enlightened now. Glad they've managed to sort through their major problems so much so that plastic surgeon is on top of the list lol. A notable distance as to where NK stands!

                    So after our conversation I jumped on Tripadvisor and have bookmarked some companies! I'll definitely do it now that you've given me the pep talk! It looks incredible.

                    God clearly wanted you to be part of the Korean culture and was sending massive hints all along! Well done for answering the call! Amazing fact about the Parasite cast celebrating on your doorstep! And you're so right – I actually havent watched any of my US or UK programmes since I started watching Kdrama. I'm so much happier with the clean and heartfelt material Kdrama brings forth.

                    Also thank you for the North Korean tour guide company. On the list!

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                • https://koryogroup.com/tours/dprk-north-korea/group

                  Here’s the tour group. Just in case covid doesn’t kill us first!

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                  • N.K. tour groups! Wow. That shows don’t believe everything you see in the media! Everything I’ve seen and read says outs a completely closed off country. (Learn something new every day.)😶

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                    • I know right! I too assumed there wouldn’t be anything like that but there we are! Looks like we might be able to visit after all! Would definitely do lots and lots of reading on it before I do so though.

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        • @EllaSims – I’m on board with everything you said except… I don’t think you can just join a tour to North Korea even if you’re in South Korea (which was kind of the point of our semi-sad ending. lol) 😄

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    • Hi there Ella, welcome to the blog! 😀 I’m so glad that you enjoyed this review, and that it helped to give you a sense of closure.. And YAY that reading this made you feel like we were talking about the drama together! That was a big reason I started to write about dramas in the first place; so that I could talk to likeminded fans about it. So do feel free to pop by whenever you feel like it, and I’m so happy to see that you and Hana have been chatting about this drama and have hit it off! 😀 Do feel free to chat here, anytime you ladies feel like it!

      When you’re ready to try out more dramas, you might find my Full List useful. It’s not a comprehensive list of dramas out there, but it’s a list of dramas that I’ve written about on this blog. I hope you’ll find it helpful! ❤

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      • Ahh thank you so much for taking the time out to respond! I really appreciate it <3!

        I'm so excited to go through your full list. Knowing that your review will be there for me to enjoy after each drama fills me with much joy so thank you very much. I've just started Another Miss Oh and already have your review at the ready for when i'm done so thank you! You're doing a phenomenal job and I'm super excited to be on this kdrama journey with you :). Sending lots of virtual hugs ! ❤

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        • Aw! I’m glad that you’re joining me on this drama journey too Ella! 😀 HUGS BACK. ❤

          Ah, I'm excited that you've started on Another Miss Oh, Ella! I liked that one a lot! 😀 I do think a lot of people were disillusioned by the show because they were expecting a rom-com, so allow me to alert you now, if you don't already know, that Show benefits from being viewed as a melodrama than a rom-com. I thought the writers demonstrated a deep understanding of pain and how people respond to and process pain, and I often found it quite poetic and thought-provoking. I hope you'll enjoy it! ❤

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          • Thanks for the heads up! It makes sense why I’ve been confused for the most parts of it! I’m at a point where it’s all so very messy and I just can’t see how there will be a happy ending! 4 more episodes to go so i’m excited but also nervous to see how it all plays out! I now totally understand the point you made in the CLOY review about how there is a quick resolve when something angsty happens. In AMO I just feel like it keeps spiralling and spiralling and I feel sad and sorry for pretty much everyone!

            So, I’m not familiar with some terms. What does melo drama actually mean? And I assume that OTP is an abbreviation which refers to the main lead couple right? Do you know what it stands for? Please feel free to school me on any thing else haha!

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            • I had to look up those terms as well.

              OTP = One true pairing (So yes, the lead couple)

              Since rom com = romantic comedy, if you exclude the “com” part you get a straight romance drama

              Whereas melodramas are much heavy-handed on playing your emotions.

              Here is a glossary she posted, which you can always find at the very top of the screen on the right:

              https://thefangirlverdict.com/glossary/

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              • Thank you so much MeriJ! This is super helpful ! Now i’m in on the lingo. Will familiarise myself with the glossary too. Many thanks ❤ x

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              • Haha! I haven’t looked at Kfangurl’s glossary in years (I’d forgotten about it). But since MeriJ1 mentioned it, I gave it a quick peruse and I have to say it tickles me that Hyun Bin was on it even back in the day to explain who “Binnie” is. Makes me smile ear to ear because I have long felt he was overlooked or didn’t get credit. I mean, for me personally – who needs the over hyped Won Bin when you’ve got Binnie?

                BTW, Kfangurl, I haven’t seen Sean Fletcher around lately. SF, I hope all is well?

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                • Hi there beez, Sean’s doing fine. 😀 He’s been on a few of the more recent posts; he shared a nice update on my Stove League review, so you can get an idea of how he’s doing by visiting the review here. 🙂

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                  • Ahhhh. Thanks Kfangurl. I haven’t watched nor plan to so that’s why I didn’t see his comments under Stove League. Funny thing though is Sean must’ve been thinking of me to because a few days before I aired about him, I received notice that was sitting in my email that he’s following my WordPress account (but I only use it to comment on others’ posts and I couldn’t figure out how to follow him back. lol)

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                    • Hello Beez, I am alive and well 🙂 I was going through my WordPress list the otherday and your account was sitting there, so I clicked on it. It’s always good to see your comments on kfangurl’s blog.

                      We are in what we call Stage 3 of the lockdown process over here, although my home state is now cut off from the rest of the world. No one is allowed in, even if you wish to return home. I can travel to some parts of the state because of the work I do, whereas most must stay within their respective regions.

                      We have our main memorial day for fallen soldiers coming up soon, Anzac Day. All public ceremonies have been cancelled. However, there is a suggestion going around for people to consider standing at the end of their driveways at 6:00AM instead and commemorate such an important day. I think it’s a nice touch – we will be able to wave at our neighbours, from a distance, too.

                      The film my daughter was working on has now been put back a year because of the restrictions implemented regarding the locations being used and so on. The cats are happy with everyone being at home. Minnie (Roundy to the rest of the family or Madam Paw Print as I call her, tends to make her presence known whenever I am video conferencing. She has a tendency to walk in front of the screen etc).

                      I know it’s not easy in the US either at the moment. I hope you do stay safe and well.

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                    • Sean, I’m sure you’ve mentioned it before but where on our planet are you?

                      I’m in Florida. Yesterday my brother-in-law unexpectedly passed away (not from COV19) and my sister is trying to figure out a way to hold a funeral without holding a funeral. I’ve suggested skyping or a group chat. This is a very weird situation.

                      On another note, maybe I can stop watching Kdrama long enough to figure out my WordPress account. I’d gone years without creating an account when one day, while trying to reply to someone, WordPress would not allow me to unless I created an account. I wish I had taken the time to think of a creative name but at the time, I was more annoyed that it was keeping me from commenting. lol

                      I hope all of our Kdrama community can stay safe. I see that now that Netflix is utilizing Kdrama as their safety net to fall back on since Disney and CBSAllAccess has or will be pulling their content – I see our community is expanding!

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            • Aw, I hope it’s not too late to adjust your viewing lens and expectations with the show! 😅😝 I find the expectations can make or break a watch, and because lots of people were expecting rom-com fun with Another Miss Oh, they were really not happy with the show overall. I often provide a bit of spoiler-free remarks about a show at the beginning of a review, and that usually includes any lens adjustment that would help the watch. Maybe try that for future dramas? 🙂

              I see that MeriJ’s already provided you a link to my glossary, so I hope that helps you get your bearings a little bit. If you have any other questions, let me know! 🙂

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              • You’re totally right! I’ll definitely put the correct viewing lens on. I think i’ve assumed that every drama will be similar to all the cute and relatively smooth sailing shows I’ve watched so far which obviously isn’t realistic so lesson learned! Will also check your spoiler free remarks first before I hop onto a new show. Thank you so much!

                Yes, noticed MeriJ’s helpful link so will make it a point to read through so i’m up to speed.

                Thanks again!

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                • That’s perfectly understandable! Thinking back, I went through the same thing as you, back when I first got into kdramas. I thought all kdramas would be cute &/or romantic like the first 2 I’d watched (Goong and Save Your Last Dance For Me), and I also did the thing of following actors from drama to drama, and landed on All In, which is SO NOT a rom-com, and I hated every second of that show, I think! 😝 I also didn’t know how to drop a show, so I watched it to the bitter end, even though I wasn’t having a good time. 😆😆 I’ve learned to manage my expectations better, but I just wanted to let you know that you’re not alone, and that a few early drama journey missteps are perfectly normal! 😉

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • Really relieved to know its ok to drop a show! But spot on – I’m definitely in the early stages so thanks for helping me manage my expectations! Have written a review on Another Miss Oh. On to the next drama. Think it will be Clean with Passion and Cinderella and 4 knights. Are you planning on watching those at some point?

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                    • WARNING! DANGER WILL ROBINSON! Or @EllaSims. I love the actors in Clean with Passion but, unfortunately, the show is a dud. And I’m easily entertained, especially if actors I like are in a show I’m just happy to see them on my screen so if a show can’t grab me, it’s pretty lame. And I watched it all the way through just cause I’m a bit compulsive about things being incomplete.

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                    • @EllaSims – let me suggest if you like the American show The Good Doctor then maybe you’d liked to watch the original Kdrama that it’s based on?

                      Forgive me but I have short-term memory issues so I can recall of you’d mentioned whether or not you’ve seen Descendants of the Sun? (epic romance, adventure, humor and romance) Or Goblin (hilarious). Fight My Way (childhood friends to lovers).

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          • Ha. OK, let’s get real. If you liked Another Miss Oh, you will definitely like Chocolate.

            Same deal with the woman needing to wait the entire show for the emotionally-closed guy to catch up. Same degree of satisfaction for us when he finally does, except it’s also got that insanely awesome epiphany in the penultimate episode that I’ve mentioned before. (Also, if memory serves, the same in that the actor is a former boy band singer.)

            While it’s true the woman is more passive than I prefer, it’s for a solid reason: she is seriously traumatized by events in her childhood. Events that are intimately connected to his emotional damage as well, although neither of them realize that until the end.

            So although it’s definitely a romance drama, it’s not a rom-com at all. Mostly it’s about an entire cast of seriously damaged people learning to support one another at a hospice facility. (Also not a medical drama, which you might assume from the first ep or two.)

            Finally — and maybe this won’t matter to you but it’s worth major bonus points in this household — it’s a show about food and cooking!

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            • I really did like Another Miss Oh, so your case for Chocolate is definitely rather persuasive. I will give it another try one of these days. I personally prefer the actress in Another Miss Oh to the one in Chocolate, to be honest, so I struggled more than the average viewer I think, with the female lead, when I watched E1. But, I’ve heard a fair amount of good stuff about Chocolate, so I think I ought to at least attempt E2. 😉

              Since you enjoy food-related shows, you might like to check out Let’s Eat Season 1 (a little patchy on the writing, but the food is glorious), Fermentation Family, also known as Kimchi Family (I think you’d like this one, it’s thoughtful and the food is so pretty), and perhaps Jewel in the Palace (Dae Jang Geum) because it features so much food and Korean culture. 😋

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              • Speaking of Another Miss Oh, I was happy to see the actress who played her mom as a much more likeable character in Healer. (She plays Healer’s hacker boss.)

                And as a minor bonus, so-called “pretty Miss Oh” showed up at the end as the whistle blower researcher who traveled from China with a sample of the bacterial weapon.

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                • Oh, I LOVED Kim Mi Kyung as our hacker ahjumma! She was awesome. ❤ She's become really popular; I've been seeing her in so many dramas, and many of the roles are likable. It occurs to me that you and your wife would enjoy Go Back Couple, which is a do-over sort of drama, where an estranged husband and wife go back in time to relive their lives. Kim Mi Kyung plays our female lead's mom, and it's a very heartwarming show overall, despite a slightly uneven start (I found the animosity between the leads in the past timeline too childish for my taste). I hope you guys give it a try! 🙂

                  And yes, how fun, when you start being able to recognize actors making cameos in dramas! (Also, that's a milestone for you guys!) 😀

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  6. Wow applause! I love your write-up a lot! Your words just amazed me, exactly to the point what the director wants to achieve and send out the viewers *I think :). Keep it up.

    This CLOY is best Korean series I have ever watched so far! Links to the OST are great! Thanks

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  7. Omg…. I’m on episode 12 and I can’t describe how much I love this show!!! I feel like I need to watch the rest of it with an ice pack on my head from the sheer sun surface of hotness that is Hyun Bin. 😍🥰
    I had never heard of this guy until this show and he looks amazing in his military uniform and all those suits! I just can’t….
    Son Ye Jin really redeemed herself after the terrible Something in the Rain horror. I can’t wait to watch the rest!
    P.S: I don’t think I’ve ever used so many !s in anything I’ve written before! Lol

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    • Tee hee. I know I’m late to reply, but your comment made me giggle, Hana! 😆 I love your Hyun Bin love! And I can totally understand why you would be completely smitten; he’s so very appealing in this. It’s my favorite role of his to date (though admittedly I haven’t seen all his works). If you’d like to see more of Hyun Bin, you might be interested in My Name is Kim Sam Soon and Secret Garden. However I must say again, that neither of those shows features a nicer, sweeter male lead than our Captain Ri, so manage your expectations accordingly! 😉 For a shorter dose of Hyun Bin in a romance, you might want to check out his movie Late Autumn. If you don’t mind little to no romance, I thought Hyun Bin did well in Memories of the Alhambra. But, that does require a specific management of your expectations, so you might want to check out at least the first part of my review for that. I hope that helps! ❤

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      • Late Autumn! For me, this movies as a whole is as depressing (and boring) as the weather looks where they shot the movie. Binnie looks super hot though and I forgive the movie because of THAT KISS! I don’t know about the actress but my socks ended up across the room standing straight up in the corner with toes curled up!

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  8. Huuumm Up to the 10th episode … it was a delight: fun, quirky, upbeat and of course some of the cinematic references which were made … top notch ! Unfortunately as of the 11th episode huuumm the dialog were toooooo long. I was a bit disappointed and consequently it was a bit difficult to finish the show. Regarding the actors … 10/10. A really good acting symbiosis (one thing that kept me going).

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    • Hi there OchaNokcha!! Great to see you! ❤ Glad you enjoyed at least the first 10 eps of this show.. It did suffer from some drag in the later episodes, but the actors really did a good job, and I must admit, my hearts in eyes for Captain Ri did contribute to my determination to hang on to the end! 😆😍

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  9. Hi dear kfangirl
    From the moment you posted on instagram about this monster i wanted to read it but just imagine:i am a 35 years old mother of two:a boy 10,and a girl 5 and now because of corona virus and it’s epidemic in my country they are full time at home and I barely find time for mylesf!plus i’m not really good at english and it takes a lot of time to read your review but after stealing time every dey to finish it now i feel it really worths that!it is so detailed that i really feel i rewath it all over again and i do agree about every point that you mentioned!thank you for writing this wonderful reviews that make me feel i have one dear friend who has very similar taste of drama and i can trust you for dramas I didn’t watch and base on your reviews i can decide to watch or not!but i have a question about ending,I thought jung hyuk moved to switzerland forever and se ri usually travel there to meet him and after a while they have a house there and both of them move to llive together!may be my subtitle has problem but i was really habby😁are you sure it was just two weeks a year?!(now i just understand ju meok!and how he was upset for the endig of stairway to heaven for a long time😂😉)thanks chingu for being there!!

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    • Hi there Neda! Thanks so much for making time for this monster of a review, despite your busy schedule! ❤ You are so sweet to make time over several days to finish reading this. I appreciate you! 🥰😘

      As for the ending, I'm sorry to be the bearer of bittersweet news, but I'm pretty sure Jung Hyuk did not move to Switzerland. If he had moved to Switzerland, then there's nothing to stop Se Ri from moving there too, to be with him. Why would she stay in South Korea, if she could see him all the time in Switzerland? I believe that where we leave them, Jung Hyuk continues with his duties in North Korea, now a pianist with the Symphonic Orchestra, and because of that, is able to leave North Korea for 2 weeks each year because of the special performances that Se Ri's company organizes. And that's when he and Se Ri get that 2 week window each year, to see each other, in a situation where he is otherwise not able to leave his home country.

      Aw, I'm happy to hear that we have such a similar response to this show! You might like to check out my Full List here, to see which other dramas I’ve written about, which you might want to add to your list. 🙂

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      • Still totally love the show. So many scenes that stick in my memory. But while we’re mentioning implausible details, seriously, he literally hasn’t touched a piano in 7-10 years and just like that his dad gets him the primary pianist slot at the national symphony orchestra? Now THAT’S clout. lol

        — Trigger warning; ahead there be dragons! —

        Harping back to my broader issue with far too many of these shows, My wifenand I are mostly through our re-watch of Love Is A Bonus Book and I’m more clear than ever that it proves my point:

        To make a great rom-dram or rom-com, you DON’T need uni-dimensional villains or the tired convention of having one or both OTP protagonists start acting absurdly bad, self-centered or inexplicably stupid 3/4s of the way through the series just to re-introduce tension after having relieved the original tension of “will they ever reveal/accept each other’s love?”

        It’s so annoying in so many shows. Maybe it’s a guy thing, but I actually have to walk away from the room multiple times to calm down because I find it so manipulative and cynical. Or in the case of Something In The Rain, I stop watching altogether, despite having LOVED the show up till that point.

        I totally see that there’s a legit script-writing need to re-introduce dramatic tension of some sort. It’s either that or don’t resolve the OPT becoming mutual until the end of the show, as they did for example in Another Miss Oh and Chocolate.

        Love Is A Bonus Book does introduce new tension just as at the OTP seems like it might become mutual — Dan-i’s bosses discover she misrepresented her resume and her newfound joy is crushed — but not even the bosses are presented as uncaring as they feel compelled to take action against her. No villains, no primary character acting incredibly stupid or self-absorbed/inconsiderate for the next 2-3 episodes, to the point that you want to throw a hard object through your screen.

        If South Korea is anything like Hollywood, I suspect the corporate ‘suits require that script-writers follow certain conventions that worked for prior shows. Not as tongue-in-cheek as teen-slasher movies, where you know in advance that the girl who goes too far around the bases with her BF in the opening scenes will be the killer’s first victim, etc. But equally as rigid, without the fun.

        We need to come up with a name for this tired convention, no? Having the opportunity to write for one of these shows must be a dream come true for those who actually love them. Surely they would appreciate the creative challenge of coming up with new ways to re-introduce tension in a 16-hour drama once the OTP becomes mutual around ep 9-12. But either too many of them are lazy as f, or as I actually suspect, they simply often aren’t given that freedom. Because “suits.”

        — End of repetitive & whiny rant! —

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        • @MeriJ – Have you watched Healer?

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          • @ beeztp, no we haven’t seen Healer. I see it doesn’t stream on Netflix, Amazon or Hulu. So maybe this will be the final push to get us to subscribe to Viki. (We live in the US.)

            I’m looking at kfangurl’s A+ review right now. Between work, kids, friends and such, we only have so much time for TV — without a blockbuster Game of Thrones or Westworld in play, these shows are basically it, plus one or two SNL skits viewed the day after — so we only want to see the very best ones. Which is to say, thanks, this sounds like it fits the bill!

            I’ve added it to on our “maybe next” list:

            Shows that stream on Netflix:

            + Secret Love Affair
            + Prison Playbook
            + Memories Of The Alhambra

            Once we subscribe to Viki:

            + Coffee Prince
            + The Light in Your Eyes (aka Radiant)
            + Familiar Wife
            + My Mister
            + Healer

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            • I wish I could give you the websites that are less than legit, but that jeopardizes this blog so I can’t. Sorry.

              But take my advice and move Healer up to number 1 or 2. Coffee Prince is one of my favorites but I’m afraid that the premise has lost some of what made it so special now that gender bending is no longer considered funny. I must admit I’m an old fogey but even I find rewatching it now (as I tend to do often with my favs), it’s not quite as good as when gender switching was a novel and new idea (for tv). Plus Coffee Prince does suffer from the typical Kdrama- don’t-know-how-to-stick-the-landing last couple of episodes. The reason that I recommended Healer is it’s one of the few shows that has a relationship that doesn’t suffer from stalling midway or not showing an ongoing relationship. Most shows give you the couple happy for 20 minutes of faux staged happiness (amusement park, beach, water hose fight) just before some type of stupid split so they can’t be together. But Healer’s couple goes through and works through things together.

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              • I so appreciate the advice! And as to Viki, I don’t mind paying for a good service.

                Liked by 1 person

              • We just finished the 2nd ep of Healer. We love it so far! Thanks.

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                • @MeriJ – when you’re done let us know how you felt about it (and Kfangurl has a great review of it on this site)

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                  • We finished Healer last night! Usually we limit ourselves to two episodes/hours a day for K-Drama, or maybe 2 1/2 if the plot is popping. Last night we watched the last five episodes in a single sitting. So good. Thank you so much for the solid recommendation! Later today or tomorrow I’ll comment on kfangurl’s review.

                    Speaking of whom, I hope she’s not sick in bed with the virus. I’ve seen comments from newcomers but no response from her, which is unusual. In normal times I’d guess she was travelling on business or whatever…

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                    • I knew you’d like Healer *smug grinning*

                      I’m pretty sure Kfangurl is okay because she posted a review on a Chinese drama a few days ago. Every now and then she’ll disappear for a couple of weeks. I don’t know if it’s real life interfering or just taking a break. So until the silence goes on another couple of weeks, I’m going to assume she’s fine. But my prayers are for all of us and especially my friends and new acquaintances in the Kdrama fandom.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Thanks Beez, you know me well! ❤ Yes, MeriJ, there are times that I disappear for a bit. Sometimes it's real life getting in the way, sometimes I'm busy working on a review, sometimes I'm just being a hermit, sometimes I'm feeling a bit under the weather. Sometimes it's a bit of everything. 😅 But Beez is right, I'm ok. And I hope everyone else is doing ok too. Be safe, everyone!! ❤

                      Liked by 2 people

                    • I’ll wait to hear more details from you under Kfangurl’s Healer review as to which parts of Healer you liked the best. 😊

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                    • I’m SO HAPPY that you and your wife loved Healer, MeriJ!! 😀 It’s one of my all-time favorite kdramas, so I’m always glad to have more Healer love on the blog! 😀 And as Beez rightly deduced, I’m doing fine, thank you so much for thinking of me. I feel the love! 🥰 I hope you and your wife are doing well! ❤

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                • Meri, where did you watch Healer? I prefer to watch dramas on tv and was wondering how to watch it.

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                  • Butting my 2 cents in – Viki.com has it (although they play a LOT of commercials if you’re not a subscriber. Kocowa has it but you must download their app and subscribe. OnDemandKorea.com has it and it has English subs (70% of the show’s on there aren’t subbed). OnDemandKorea has a minimal amount of ads.

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                  • Yes, we broke down and subscribed to Viki. I forget the exact price, but maybe $5 USD a month? You can watch for free, but it’s not worth it to me for the commercial interruptions. And $60 a year is comparable to only 3-4 movies at the theater, or just 2 if you go with another person. (lol. Anyone here old enough to remember “movie theaters?”)

                    One thing that’s better about Viki is that the subtitle translations are more informative. On Netflix, they just go for an English phrase that’s roughly similar. Whereas the Viki teams will do that but then will sometimes add a parenthetical explanation of how that was a pun in Korean or a cultural reference that non-Koreans wouldn’t have understood.

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                    • Hana: Goes almost without saying, but if you have a smart TV, you can watch a streaming service like Viki on the computer or via your TV screen. We alternate, based on whether our millennial children are using the family room.

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                    • Thanks for the subtitle tip Meri. I was trying to see if I could watch it directly on my smart tv like netflix or hulu instead of casting it from my phone or laptop. I tried a few times but it just doesn’t seem to work.

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        • Oh wait, apparently I’m not done after all.

          Rereading my rant I realize the shows that don’t resolve the OTP becoming mutual till the end face the same problem.

          I mentioned Another Miss Oh and Chocolate as two examples where one of the two leads doesn’t give in to their romantic fate till very late in the game. Sixteen hours is a long time to wait for that to happen, so the writers do need introduce other tensions besides the primary OTP to sustain our interest. Either that or provide ongoing but slow progress to that tension.

          In both Chocolate and Another Miss Oh they went with a mix of dramatic tension concerning secondary characters plus the classic trope of the OTP guy being . . . well, a guy. The non-emotive brooding sort that every woman knows is actually a sweet prince deep inside, just waiting for someone like her to find the magic key to dissolve the massive shields protecting his secretly still-beating heart. (I actually like that trope, btw. Except IRL when I know a friend is deluding herself, since there clearly is no beating-heart there for her to unlock!)

          With the emotionally-shutdown-guy trope, his slow evolution (usually a series of two-steps forward, one-step back) provides on-going tension that is enough for me, at least. But the writer’s don’t seem to think so. Instead they need to turn him into a unqualified, hateful jerk about 3/4’s of the way through, just as he starts to cross the threshold to being fully human again.

          My reaction when that happens? I no longer want the couple to end up together. I’m done. I want to scream at the other protagonist: “RUN, DON’T WALK. THIS PERSON IS NOT WORTHY OF YOU. NO MATTER HOW IT SEEMS AT FIRST WHEN THEY STARTING TREATING YOU BETTER, YOU WILL REGRET BEING INVOLVED WITH THEM.”

          And then when it finally all comes together and the shows ends, a part of me continues to doubt it was the right call for her.

          Or in the case of Something In The Rain, the other way around. (Her vs. him.)

          — Ok now I’m really done. (Or am I?) Sorry, Neda, for hijacking your comment! —

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          • I love Kdrama tropes except one that guarantees me pulling my hair out and that’s the one year separation/time jump WITH NO CONTACT at episode 15 and then the hero comes back at episode 16 and the heroine’s life has been on pause and of course, as he expected she hasn’t met and fallen for someone else that entire time. (Oh My Venus; Samsoon; and too many others to remember)

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            • Add Prime Minister and I to that. You’ll hate it even more!!! I watched it years ago, and still I can feel the bitterness in my mouth!

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              • Oh crap! Thanks, Widya. You just saved me and in the knick off time! When there aren’t a lot of Kdramas airing that I’m interested in, I tend to go back and check out the classics and Prime Minister and I (I’ve got an unexplained thing for Lee Beom-So) was the one on my list that I’d just chosen for this quiet time while we wait for The Monarch King (or whatever LMH’s new drama is called). I’m not watching much this cycle other than The Monarch and Rugal so I should be putting a good dent in my watchlist.

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                • Oh I also have ‘an unexplained thing’ with Lee Beom So hahahaha…. he is tiny, by korean male standard, but awesome. He was also an awesome Prime Minister, and the OTP was great, but somewhere along the line, the story just goes awry. Some believe that korean viewers were offended with the pairing (a widower with 3 kids have things going on with a lovely and much younger lady reporter), to a point where the writers had to alter the course of the story. What I really hate is that the plot (and the OTP) actually had so much potential that go to waste.

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        • Your rant made me chuckle, MeriJ! I feel you! That’s so true, that Jung Hyuk hadn’t touched a piano in years, and yet, he’s able to play flawlessly, and is even chosen to play in the Orchestra! Believability was never Show’s strength, admittedly! 😆😆

          Perhaps to shed some light on the plight of the kdrama writers.. unfortunately, kdramas are often filmed on a live shoot schedule which places HUGE pressure on the cast, crew and writers to keep pace with the drama being on air. Why do they do this crazy thing? Because networks want to have the flexibility to cater to audience preferences. Some kdramas have literally switched up their male leads (2nd lead becomes 1st lead, and gets the girl, although it was not in the original plan), because audience feedback favors the 2nd lead. Because of this, dramas typically only have a handful of episodes (maybe 4 or so) in the bag, before the first episode premieres. Add on top of that the pressure of including product placements in the script, to get maximum funding for the drama, and writers often don’t have the time and space to be true to their creative selves. Of course, I still want my dramas to be well written, but knowing what pressures the writers face, I’ve also become more forgiving when a drama isn’t able to live up to its potential, because they are juggling a whole lot of demands while writing it. To get more insight into this whole kdrama machinery, you might want to check out The King of Drama. It’s tongue in cheek and a bit hyperbolic, but it is an illuminating glimpse into the industry.

          Also, I’d like to suggest Thirty But Seventeen. It’s a very cozy and meaningful rom-com, and I have a feeling you and your wife would enjoy it. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          • Nodding in agreement. Kfangurl, which drama was it where they were still editing the last half hour while the first half was already airing? For some reason I think it was something starring Han Ye-Seul but I could be wrong about that.

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            • Spy Myung Wol definitely had a lot of problems, what with Ha Ye Seul walking off the set in protest of the filming schedule and flying to the US while she was supposed to be filming.. I wouldn’t be surprised if this left the production scrambling big time. 😛 But, from what I can tell, this led the production to screen a special instead of an episode, so it might not be the show where they rushed half an episode to air while they edited the second half. I can’t remember what show that was, right now. Sorry about that! 😅

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          • Good insight about the reality of how these shows are made. I realize I’ve been holding them to a higher standard because some aspects — e.g., the depth and nuance of the romance and the time-frame allowed for it to evolve — are so much better than broadcast TV here in the US. On the other hand, we don’t watch broadcast TV here in the US for just that reason, so our standards are more in line with HBO.

            I’ll check out Thirty But Seventeen. Never heard of that one. And I still haven’t commented on Healer, but I will! Such a great show.

            We have only one episode left on Radiant/Dazzling/The Light in Your Eye. Now THAT’S a different kettle of fish. Out of fondness for Han Ji-min, we watched four episodes without being spoiled on the ending, but my wife was about to pull the plug, so I read enough of your review to grasp what was really going on. So poignant. Even more so, I suspect, for older folk like us. (We’re on either side of sixty.)

            But I’m amazed many people watched that one to the end while it was still broadcasting. It was so not what it seemed to be at first. So much sadder than a fantasy romance drama.

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            • Thirty But Seventeen is also known as Still 17, depending on where you watch it, which I forgot to mention in my earlier comment. 🙂 It’s a heartwarming story of found family, and the romance has a childlike innocence about it, because our main characters are recovering from a trauma they experienced as teens which affected their emotional growth. I hope that’s helpful enough to give you some context, and vague enough, to not be spoilery! 😅

              I’m so glad you enjoyed Healer! It’s one of my favorite kdramas, so I’m super pleased that you and your wife like it! Not all my reviews on the site are monster-sized, but until CLOY came along, my Healer review had the dubious honor of being the most monstrous one I had! 😉 I hope you’ll enjoy it when you manage to get to it. 🙂

              Gosh, I’m so relieved you and your wife didn’t give up on The Light in Your Eyes! 😅 I went in blind, so the reveal was world-tilting for me, but I can understand that sometimes having a bit of context can help. It really is so poignant, isn’t it? Such a special show. ❤

              Liked by 1 person

      • I didn’t catch that Seri’s company is the sponsor of the recital every year. Well then SHOOT!!! Seri’s a smart business woman. I’m sure she’ll figure out she needs to make that recital a quarterly –nix – a monthly thing!

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        • Remember, she talked her semi-retired brother into having the family business sponsor young musicians as a PR move and specifically convinced him to widen the scope beyond candidates in South Korea. She then joined in with a charitable partnership from her own company, setting up the Switzerland opportunity each year and presumably offered to be the family’s representative.

          Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you for this awesome detailed review! I think I missed out on a lot of details in this drama due to the long episodes and so your review was super helpful in pointing out the important points 🙂

    I really liked this drama, but I have to admit that I found it to be strange at times. Like how our OTP kept running into each other, which I have to agree with you, was quite unnecessary, or how her parachute still worked after that crazy tornado! I wondered how Seo Dan’s mom owned a department store, since I was under the impression that in a Communist state, there is no private ownership. I was also curious as to how Se Ri made it back to South Korea safely, did it have something to do with that document her father signed?

    I was a bit confused with Se Ri’s issue with her mom. I might have misunderstood but I thought that she was not Se Ri’s biological mother. I think it was mentioned that they met when Se Ri was 1 month old?? In any case I didn’t really see the value this had in the drama.

    The acting was really good in this drama though! Most actors did an amazing job at bringing the characters to life. I really realllllyyy loved how Jeong Hyuk’s comrade puppies had little quirks about them! 😀 In terms of the OTP, both actors played their roles excellently. However, I didn’t find their chemistry to be one of the best I’ve seen. At times I felt that they were more like good friends than lovers 😀 Though they were still cute together!

    It kinda sucked that Seo Dan got the short end of the stick. Se Ri’s comment in Switzerland that Jeong Hyuk could do better seemed really unfair towards Dan and also unnecessary, considering that they have never met before. 😦

    At the end, I found this drama to be really good despite some issues. I wouldn’t say that it’s one of the best drama I’ve seen, but I have to agree with you that it definitely serves up the feels 😀

    Like

    • Hi there pizzahxxi! I’m so pleased that you enjoyed this monster of a review! ❤ Yes, this show had such long episodes, that there were definitely a good handful of things that I picked up only on my second watch. 😅

      That's a great question! It never occurred to me that Dan's mother owned a department store in a Communist state! I wonder if this was artistic license by the show.. although, I do know that there are those who are better off and those who are very poor. Since Show has the benefit of an actual North Korean defector as its advisor, I'm seriously wondering if this might well be an accurate example of one of the country's elite.. 🤔

      As for Se Ri's return to South Korea, I was under the impression that once she crossed the Military Demarcation Line back into South Korean territory, that she'd be able to get assistance. Jung Hyuk told her to go towards the tree, because the South soldiers do their rounds and pass there, every morning.

      You're right, Mom was not Se Ri's bio mom. The exact issue isn't ever explained plainly, but I rationalized that Se Ri was born of a mistress, since Mom met Se Ri when Se Ri was a month old, and Se Ri's older brothers are shown to be the Chairman's legitimate sons, ie, it wasn't the case that Se Ri's mom was the legitimate wife and died in childbirth, and Mom was brought in as a stepmother. Extrapolating that further (which I really think Drama shouldn't expect us to do, but oh well), I rationalize that Mom held Se Ri's parentage against her. BUT, that still doesn't explain Mom's later explanation that she had wanted to kill herself and that's why she'd brought Se Ri to the beach. That was weird, to me. What was she trying to do, set Se Ri free into the wild like a captured bird? 😜 But if I rationalize hard enough (again, which I shouldn't have to), I can then infer that probably Mom wanted to extract Se Ri from the family, and not interfere with her sons' inheritance, even if Mom herself was dead. There, that's my completely made up in my head version of the truth! 😆

      YES, the puppies were the most adorkable lot, and I luffed them, so much! 😍😍 That's an interesting point about the OTP chemistry.. I do think the OTP could've used a little more heat; I think that would've probably addressed your observation that they seemed more like friends. At the same time, I do think that that very friendship helped me to believe their connection and relationship more. Like, they talked a lot, and often about important things, and that's what I expect friends – and real lovers – to do. 🙂

      I agree, Se Ri's comment about Dan was uncalled for. If I understand correctly, what she said literally translates to, "What a waste of the man," which maybe says more about how desirable she saw Jung Hyuk, versus how unworthy she saw Dan (which the subtitles “he could do better” unfortunately implies). Se Ri’s comment was still uncalled for, but at least this way she seems less catty..? 😝😅

      Like

      • Awesome! Thanks @pizzahizzi for asking the same questions that I wondered about. And thanks @kfangurl for the translation because as you said, while it’s still not nice of Seri but it’s not quite as “claws out for no reason” translation we were given.

        Liked by 1 person

        • On the topic of Se Ri saying “he could do better/what a waste of a man” while taking the photo in Switzerland:

          What I didn’t realize at first is that she said it loud enough for Jeong Hyuk and Seo Dan to hear. I noticed that Dan’s face tightened up a little, but I wasn’t sure that was the cause. I thought maybe she was just picking up on his attraction to this other woman.

          But then toward the end of the show, Jeong Hyuk reveals that he had in fact heard those words.

          Turns out Se Ri assumed they were Korean-American tourists who didn’t speak a word of Korean. Via flashback, we see Dan getting off the bus when she arrives in Switzerland. She encounters Se Ri and doesn’t respond to anything Se Ri says in Korean. So Se Ri switched to English.

          Later on the bridge and during the photo shoot, Jeong Hyuk only speaks to Se Ri in English, to save her from embarrassment that he overheard what she dictated into her recorder. (He asked her to take that photo in order to get her off the bridge.)

          I love little details like that, where ten episodes go by before they reveal what you were actually seeing early on!

          Liked by 3 people

      • It made sense to me that Captain Ri’s family would be well off since his father has a high position in the military, but in the bigger scheme of things, I don’t think it matters much that Dan’s mother owns a department store.

        It’s cool that they had a North Korean Defector to advise them but it’s understandable that the show will never be 100% accurate! 😀

        With Se Ri’s return to SK I expected her to be at least interrogated about what happened there, but maybe because she is powerful she was able to settle back quietly.

        Haha, your version of the issue with Se Ri’s mom is great! 😀 But it makes a lot more sense when you put it like that.
        Yeah that beach scene was weird, I wonder why the mom was so worried about the inheritance, it’s not like she could have predicted who was going to be the successor at that point in time, unless she had super mom instinct where she knew that her sons were useless and had no chance of taking over the company 😛

        I didn’t mind that Se Ri & Jeong Hyuk seemed like friends. It definitely helped to make their relationship stronger! Hmmm, but a little more heat would have been good too… 😛

        The literal translation seems a bit better 😀 I though it would have been cuter if she had said “He’s totally my type!”, similar to what she told him when they met in NK.

        Like

        • Hi there pizzahxxi, I’m sorry for dropping off this thread without warning (I get distracted sometimes and can end up leaving the comments for weeks at a time, I’m sorry!), but I just wanted to come back and say, I prefer your version of having Se Ri say that Jung Hyuk’s her type, rather than comment about Jung Hyuk being wasted. That would’ve been a nice echo, when she then met him in the DMZ, and told him that he was her type. Perfect! 😀

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          • hmmm…. imagine her mumbling, “What a waste of man…. he is MY type, in all honesty…”

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            • Haha! Yes, I can imagine her saying that! I do think they could’ve just gone with “He’s totally my type” without the “waste of the man” bit.. that would’ve worked nicely and not made her look so catty as well.

              Like

  11. Pingback: Year In Review: 2019 | The Fangirl Verdict

  12. You were right. We really had a lot of similar thoughts on this drama! 🙂 You touched upon a lot of what I enjoyed about it as well as nailing the overall dragginess. That middle stretch of about 8-13 was also the most prominent for me where it suffered. I think this show would have benefited a lot from keeping the eps closer to an hour each.

    I also found this show very similar in structure to this writers other dramas, particularly My Love From Another Star. It even ended similarly with the couple only getting to be together for certain amounts of time. I like her stories a lot since the romances tend to feel quite grand. I’ll definitely be looking forward to her next drama, although this is a case where I would like it to end up on a public network where the eps would most likely have to be shorter, hehe 🙂 Thank you for such an in depth and well written review of this drama!

    Liked by 1 person

    • EEK! Kay, if the endings are like this then maybe I’ll rethink watching her other dramas! The ending of Crash Landing was the only thing I didn’t like. It was a fantasy after all as all the comings and goings between North and South was totally unrealistic so an unrealistic ending where Jung hyuk got his family out of S.K. so he and Seri could all live in the south or Switzerland (or anywhere) would not have been unfitting to the rest of the story.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Haha, yeah, she definitely has a couple of endings like that. I think Legend of the Blue Sea’s ending was pretty solid. Similar flavor but a bit happier. I haven’t seen her first three dramas, so I would be curious to see if they were similar.

        I certainly wouldn’t have minded a more unrealistic ending for Crash Landing On You too. Get Jung Hyuk, his family, and all the guys our of NK and live happily somewhere. I guess I’ll just have to pretend the guys sometimes get to join Jung Hyuk and Se Ri in Switzerland for a big happy reunion 🙂

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    • Right?? We DO feel super similarly about this show!! 😀 Guess our drama tastes overlap a little more than I’d originally thought! 😉 You are SO right; this show would’ve done well, to keep each episode closer to an hour, instead of indulging itself and going for it, whenever it felt like serving up a longer episode. It got really tedious, especially during the middle draggy stretch. I felt that – twice! 😆 I can’t blame anyone else for that tho – I decided on the rewatch, all on my own. 😝

      YES, you’re so right. I totally agree that this one feels a lot like YFAS, in terms of overall vibe, general structure, and general tone as well. I must say, I felt more feels more consistently, with YFAS, not because CLOY was inferior in any way, but probably because I watched that quite a bit earlier in my kdrama journey. I’m guessing that if I’d watched CLOY at the same point in time that I’d watched YFAS, that I would’ve quite likely given them similar grades. But, I guess that’s just how the cookie crumbles. Love is all about timing after all, isn’t it? 😉🤣

      Thanks for enjoying the review! I do think that length-wise, this might’ve beat my previous record. I think Healer was about 15K words, while this one broke 17K. 😱 I need to practice brevity more. 😅

      Liked by 1 person

  13. What a chemistry between the actors. And kudos to the second leads, ahjummas and the ducklings. I never got bored during the 16 episodes. It was definitely a refreshing drama. The end is bittersweet, but I would like to think that they will find a way to be together. Thanks for the amazing review !

    Like

    • Hi there aliaghiba, thanks for enjoying this review! ❤ Indeed, the actors in this were superb, and they all did amazing jobs, from our OTP to our supporting cast. 🤩🤩🤩 And yes, whenever I'm less than satisfied with a show's ending, my imagination steps in to fill in the blanks for me, and in this case, yes, I do hope that Jung Hyuk and Se Ri find a way to be together, happy ever after. ❤

      Like

  14. Another amazing and thorough review! It was such a fun show for me to watch! I loved all the feels. Who wouldn’t with Hyun Bin being so intent. What a great job he did. He was completely convincing. Son Ye Jin also did well. She felt true to her character and very genuine and she grew on me more and more as the show proceeded. I loved the whole ensemble on the North Korean side–the ajumas, the town, the kids, the puppies, Dan, her mom and uncle, Jung Hyuk’s parents, the pandering subordinates in different areas, but, as you, though, I found a lot of the South Korean side storyline and characters lacking, spotty and a bit contradictory. I did love Seri’s assistant a lot though! And the humor (well, mostly) and the tropes were great!

    I personally rated this higher in my own grading scale, but I rate more on how much I enjoy it. So if I can overlook the flaws I don’t count off for them. Even in the slower sections I never lost interest or got bored. Still not a perfect score though. Some things were hard to swallow like as you pointed out the hitting-you-over-the-head-fate stuff, and several other things. For me, it was more of an A-.

    Again, fantastic review! And a nice revisit of the story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi there lotusgirl, thanks for enjoying this review! ❤ Yes indeed, Hyun Bin truly outdid himself on the swoony front in this show, I think! I've never seen him so melty before, and I was flailing happily through every one of Jung Hyuk's sweet and tender gestures. 😍😍😍 Ah yes, I thought Se Ri's assistant was quite endearing too.. I should've given him a shout-out too, he cared about Se Ri so much, and was so earnest about searching for her. 😛

      I think I would've given this show an A- too, if it hadn't dragged in the middle stretch. The moment a show loses its cracky I-need-the-next-episode quality for me, it stops qualifying for an A grade. This was particularly true in this case because I found myself actually procrastinating on watching the next episode, because I wasn't feeling the draggy bits and I didn't appreciate the overly long episodes. :/ Perhaps if this had aired on a Big Three network and had been limited to hour-long episodes, it might've avoided feeling so draggy, and I would've ended up giving it an A-? 😆

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  15. As usual, you hit every point that I want to relive (workout necessarily having to rewatch myself). 👍

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    • I should’ve added that your reviews are great to revisit to find out what episode a certain scene was in so that if I do want to rewatch that particular scene, I don’t have to bounce around all the episodes trying to find it. What you do is greatly appreciated.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Aw, thanks beez, I’m really glad that you enjoyed the review, and that you find the episodic references useful! ❤ To be honest, when I first started listing the episodes like I currently do, I'd thought that I was being a bit lazy, by putting them down in bullet point form. To my surprise, you guys really seem to like it that way, because it makes it easy to pick out what happens where, so I'd say this was definitely a win-win decision! 😀

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  16. Hi kfangurl! I haven’t read the whole review because I haven’t started CLOY yet, but props to you for watching this show twice! I was hoping to see a review from you because I’ve heard so many things about this drama, and I just haven’t had the time to dip my toes in [I just finished a TW drama, Some Day or One Day, and I needed time to wind down and recover from that emotional rollercoaster. Do recommend, but it’s a show you have to follow carefully because it made my brain work overtime (in a good way) to connect the dots.] But seeing how long I had to scroll to get down to the comment section, it seems you had a LOT to say about this drama, so I’m looking forward to reading the entirety of the spoiler sections when I finally decide to start CLOY!

    I’m grateful for the heads-up about a mid-show slump, because I think that’s where my mom actually decided to completely drop the drama and tell me it’s not worth my time LOL. She said it seemed to appeal more to a younger audience, but her drama tastes are a bit different than mine.

    Anyway, hope you get some well-deserved rest after having written this!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi there rainmakermelody, great to see ya! ❤ You're very right, I did have a lot to say about this one – this review is the longest yet on the blog, I do think! 17K words and then some! 😅 My Healer review record of 15K words was busted, unintentionally! 😅

      I agree with you that drama taste definitely should be factored in, in your decision on whether to watch this one. I blitzed through the first third of the drama with ease and found it endlessly slurpable, but when I introduced my mom to the show, she didn't like it the same way. She enjoyed the North Korean bits, but otherwise found it just ok. She also found Son Ye Jin's character very annoying. What a different response! 😝 Hopefully you'll enjoy this one, coz I do think there's lots to enjoy in this, and Hyun Bin is goshdarn swoony in this; it'd be a pity to miss him in this, for real. 😍😍😍 But yes, do brace yourself for the mid-show drag. Some folks didn't feel it at all, but it's probably better to be prepared, just in case! 😉

      Thanks for the heads-up on Someday or One Day. I've got it on my list, and plan to check it out soonish. I'll make sure to pay full attention, since you say that one should follow it carefully. 😀

      Like

      • Oh, I definitely had CLOY on my watchlist BECAUSE of Hyun Bin, and from your screenshots, he looks amazing in that uniform. My mom actually kept binging in the beginning, and I could hear her laughter across the house! I think she, like your mom, got annoyed at some character and their actions, but I refused to listen to spoilers. The only reason I didn’t watch with her is because she didn’t have any English subtitles for the drama hah.

        A lot of people have also recommended CLOY (subtle asian traits, I’m looking at you), but the last time I listened to them, I added Extra-ordinary You to my list when I originally didn’t have much interest in it (and I even saw your Dropped post!), and I was SO disappointed by the second half that I gave up and sped/skipped to the end. I get through some dramas quickly by watching them on like, 1.5x or 2x speed, which I get isn’t the best for absorbing everything, but it helps in slow scenes and dramas that bore me (Google Chrome extension “Video Speed Controller”!!)

        Someday or One Day really knows how to make twists and cliffhangers, and I honestly felt like I was trying to understand a physics lecture, but it peels back layers slowly. I say watch carefully because I’m not sure how I would fare spacing out episodes!

        Like

        • Oh yes, Hyun Bin looks very very handsome in uniform. In fact, when my mom started her watch and I asked her what she thought after E1, her first words were, “Well, Hyun Bin looks very good in uniform..” 🤣🤣 I suspect you’ll enjoy CLOY more than you mom did overall, like how I liked CLOY more than my mum. She’s stalled in the early eps coz she finds Son Ye Jin’s character annoying, ha. 😆

          I think I’ll plan to watch Someday or One Day as a marathon, based on what you said about trying to understand AND keep track of everything. I think spacing out eps will throw me right off, especially when I have a tendency to watch multiple shows simultaneously! 😝 I think I’d be very confused indeed! 😆

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  17. I didn’t read all what’s written in this review because I haven’t finish watching yet. I don’t want to be spoiled. But I have to agree on some posts like Man Bok. I really sympathize with him. I also like Seo Dan’s character like you do. I will come back for this post after watching the whole drama.

    Like

    • Thanks for stopping by even though you haven’t finished your watch of the show, Jasmin! 😀 Glad that you like what you see, so far! Enjoy the rest of your watch, and see you on the other side! 😉

      Like

  18. What an excellent review Kfangurl. I was just about to write to you to kindly request if you could do review of CLOY – because I’d love to know what you think.
    I 100% agree with you. This drama was sooo perfect in so many ways yet definitely had a minor slow mid-run session. Really experienced actors made it appear so organic and I love the concept. Usually k-dramas go rich boy and poor girl combo – but it was fresh to see a couple that was both mature, successful in their own fields and from rich families (but different kind of Rich -business rich vs Noble military rich)
    I am a die – hard fan of Hyun bin and I have seen him so grow so much as an actor. From my fav drama of all time – “my lovely Kim-Sam-soon” to this role- his physical and mental approach to all his work is just….swooon….
    Thank you for watching this twice and looking at the drama objectively to give it the review and rating it deserved. You are a TRUE blogger and I wish you can make a living doing this because you are a natural critic! Of all blogs and reviewers I follow you because your reviews is well researched and well written.
    I love your character and actor analysis.
    I’d love to see you do a review on parasite!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi there HyunBinFan1990! I’m so pleased that you enjoyed the review – and yay that it came out before you actually wrote to me to request it! Perfect timing? 😉

      I agree, it was nice to have an OTP who were each successful and strong in their own right. Of course, there’s a felt power differential when we see them in different contexts; in North Korea, Se Ri is much more helpless and clueless, and in South Korea, it’s Jung Hyuk who needs help getting situated. Ultimately, I think one of the good things about seeing their happy ending in Switzerland is because Switzerland is neutral ground, and we can finally see them on equal footing, in a manner of speaking. 🙂

      I’m not as familiar with Hyun Bin’s work as you are, but I must agree that he was just wonderful in this role. I haven’t tracked his performances over the years, but I can say that I was very impressed with his all-in performance in this. His control and delivery are really next level, and I was completely sucked in by his performance. Really good! 🤩🤩

      Thanks for your kind words, you are very kind. ❤ I wish I could make a living doing this too, then managing a blog would be slightly less challenging, at least! 😅 I'm sorry to say, though, that I don't have immediate plans to review Parasite.. I feel like I wouldn't be able to do the movie justice. 😝😜 I will think about it again, though, because of your request! 🙂

      Like

      • With the self isolation if I could recommend a ABSOLUTE classic – and one I’d love you to do a review on is “my name is kim-Samson” – nobody else review would do it justice!
        Thank you for your hard work- I always refer to your blog before I commit to a drama. I absolutely love the good, fair and thorough reviews you give with spoiler alerts!
        Wish we will meet at a Hyun Bin Fan meeting somewhere in the world once this pandemic situation is over! Take care till then!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ooh, I’m intrigued by the thought of a review of Sam Soon. I watched it so long ago, that I don’t really remember details anymore, which means it’s quite perfect as a rewatch, coz it’ll feel fresh again. I watched it pretty early in my drama journey, and I remember I didn’t love it as much as everyone else, and I’ve always wondered if I’d feel differently now that I’ve accumulated so many more drama miles under my belt. I’ll very likely give this a try, thanks for the suggestion, HyunBinFan1990! 😀

          Also, thanks for enjoying the blog; I’m so glad to hear that you enjoy the reviews! ❤

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          • I watch Samsoon about once a year. While part of what I love about Kdrama is the naivete and innocence (even if it’s pretense) – Samsoon was a real girl. This was no 29-year-old virgin (although she may have been 29 but I don’t recall her exact age) lol. But even though she was seeking love, she didn’t need love to save her. She was no damsel in distress nor a Candy working & flitting from part-time job to part-time job to part-time job. She had gone to school for her career and was a highly sought after patisserie chef, who would proudly tell anyone judging her weight “I’m a professional who makes delicious confections, I’m supposed to be fat!” Although, here in America she would be considered far from fat. lol

            And Hyun bin was chasing that “fat girl” down! lol

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  19. A wonderful review, kfangurl. Your level of commitment to watch Cloy twice and then to note the continuity errors – marvellous (there is one in the final stages of Hot Stove League – which brought a smile to my face, because it’s a classic faux pas).

    So, here is my singular thought: every now and then, we need a fairytale to cut through all the hype and noise that other shows bring.

    For me, it was a welcome reprieve from shows that are deep, dark and heavy, or are hero origin stories, consist of zombies (Although Kingdom 2 is around the corner 😊), vampires and other monsters, along with a whole range of shows re AIs, gaming ( I loved the musical Easter egg re Memories of the Alhambra when RJH was gaming in Cloy) etc etc etc…

    Cloy reminds me so much of Roman Holiday, not in terms of the story per se, but the ending. Cloy gives us the ending that Roman Holiday never did (or couldn’t).

    Overall, it was a lovely fable, in the traditional sense. I don’t think anyone could have done this type of story better 🤩🤩🤩

    The week before last I started my 500th drama with: When the Weather is Fine, a beautiful and poetical show. I hope it stays that way. My watch list is down from a peak of 32 dramas to 8, which is indicative of what there is around for me at the moment. However, there are a range of shows on the horizon 😜🤩😂

    Liked by 4 people

    • Hi there Sean! So glad you enjoyed this review! 😀 For the record, I didn’t watch Show twice in order to find the continuity errors – they just jumped out at me. I guess that’s the thing that can happen, once you’ve seen a show once; the lack of continuity just becomes that much more obvious and easy to spot? 😆 When I saw the bandage on Major Cho’s right shoulder, I was like, Waitaminute. Didn’t I just see him get shot on the other side?? I couldn’t let it go, and had to go back to verify it for myself. 🤣🤣

      You are so right.. we do need a fairytale every now and again, and this one reminded me all over again, of what I loved about kdramas to begin with. And it was great because Show managed to feel fresh, while reminding me of so many familiar things. 🤩 I think it’ll be a good while before another show like this comes along, that hits all the comfort food notes, while bringing the feels, and while managing to feel fresh, at the same time. A tall order, for sure, and it’s amazing that Park Ji Eun managed it not just once, but twice, with You From Another Star and this show. 🤩

      Great to hear that When the Weather is Fine is starting off strong! Also, your peak is 32 dramas?!?? At the same time?? 😱😱😱 Teach me your ways, Sean! 😄😄

      Liked by 4 people

      • I think Park Ji Eun is a wonderful writer. Cloy marked her return to writing dramas after Legend of the Deep Blue Sea – my how time flies! She has the ratings success to match her writing too.

        As for my drama watching ways, well they are unique to me 😂 I will have to think long and hard about how best to share them, without all and sundry rolling their eyes 😜

        Liked by 1 person

        • @seankfletcher – surely you did not mean you watch 38 dramas simultaneously? I thought you meant your “to be watched” list?

          My own “to watch” list is so long that I’m finally accepting the fact that I’ll never get to them all but I’ve hit the majority of the classics and “must sees” lately (probably because I’m also not watching as many Kdramas that are airing right now). I actually thought that I must be becoming tired of Kdramas since the new stuff doesn’t interest me as much. But as I began narrowing down my “to watch” list, I realize it’s not Kdrama that’s old for me – it’s the new Kdramas that are more modern in reflecting more current attitudes in S.K. (or reflecting the censors relaxation on some things). I’m not saying that’s bad. It may make better more realistic storytelling but that’s not what drew me to Kdrama. I was tired of everything on American tv and Kdrama seemed the opposite of that. I probably had reached my rated almost X level with Game of Thrones and Spartacus. I loved and enjoyed both shows but by the time I got into Empire and Nashville – my brain was just ready for something different.
          Even with Park Seo joon’s new show. I should be totally entranced and addicted by now with it being a rare chance to see such diverse casting in a Kdrama but I don’t like any of the characters surrounding his character so I’ve dropped it. But at least I now know, by watching the older dramas on my list, that I’m not done with Kdramas yet and my ongoing Korean lessons haven’t been a complete waste of time. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yes, Beez, I topped out at 32 dramas simultaneously until recently. I was hovering around the 26 mark after sitting on 16 – 20 for quite sometime. When I am on a roll, I am quite systematic in my watching which means I commit myself to working my way through the list one or two episodes at a time. Also, I drop one in four dramas on average. So, over the course of a week, I can make quite a dent in things. I am exactly the same with books too by the way.

            I think right now with kdramas, there is a bit of a gap. I have dropped quite a number of the new ones and there are others that I have just said no to (eg Itaewon Class). And I have almost come to a screeching halt. Which means time to delve back into kfangurl’s earlier reviews.

            I know what you are saying about other dramas. Game of Thrones is hard to beat (but I stopped half way through the final season – I am hoping that the new books will take a totally different path). I never really got into Spartacus (my penchant for history on this subject got in the way) and I didn’t appreciate Empire or Nashville at all. Of all the dramas out there at the moment, Picard is certainly the pick for me – sci-fi at its best, followed by the Expanse.

            It’s always a revelation when coming across an older kdrama that has stood the test of time so to speak. Good on you regarding your Korean lessons. Have a look at Never Twice, which finished this week. I know it’s 72 x 30 minute episodes, but you won’t find a more pleasant family/friendship drama out there.

            Liked by 1 person

        • I didn’t take to Legend of the Blue Sea, after loving the initial episodes.. I dropped out at around the mid-point and never felt the urge to go back, so I was a little apprehensive about whether CLOY would work for me. I’m so happy that I enjoyed CLOY after all, it really reminds me of YFAS, which completely stole my heart, back in the day. 🥰🥰

          HAHA. I wonder whether I’d be able to even come close to your drama-watching prowess, even if I knew your secrets to bending time and space! 🤣🤣

          Liked by 1 person

      • For me, this writer has greatly entertained me with all 4 of her projects that I’ve seen:
        Crash Landing on You
        The Legend of the Blue Sea
        The Producers; and
        My Love From the Star.
        Although I didn’t realize she is the writer for all of them until others here began mentioning her other projects. So this tells me that I should check out her shows that I haven’t watched yet.
        Thanks y’all.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I agree that Park Ji Eun has a knack for writing entertaining dramas that really bring the OTP feels.. at least, that’s how I felt about this and YFAS. I also liked Producers, albeit in a slightly more muted fashion. However, I didn’t make it through Legend of the Blue Sea, so I think for me personally, her penning a drama is still not a guarantee that I’ll end up liking it. But that could well be just me. 🙂 I do recall that she wrote Get Karl! Oh Soo Jung, a 2007 drama that I found quite entertaining, back in the day. If you like Oh Ji Ho and Uhm Jung Hwa, and find yourself in a bit of a retro drama mood, it might be worth a whirl. 😉

          Like

  20. Two times!!!! Wow now that’s amazing! Especially with the loooong episodes 😁

    I agree with most of the things that you liked about the show. But I was not that impressed by SJ’s character, but I did like his pairing with Dan.
    The hero’s squad was my favourite thing, and the OTP moments.

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    • I’m amazed that I watched it twice too, to be honest! 😆 The knowledge that I’d be treated to another round of very swoony Hyun Bin definitely helped with my motivation level, I gotta admit! 😆😍 As for Seung Joon, I didn’t care for him at first either, but he really grew on me, and in this case, my second watch helped as well. And YES, the puppy squad was the cutest thing, evar! 😍😍 I luffed them, so much. And yes, this OTP worked really well, which was crucial to this show’s success, I think.

      Liked by 2 people

  21. Hi kfangurl! 😊 ive been waiting for your review for this awesome kdrma! Yass! Its been past three weeks since the finale ended but still im dealing with my kdrama withdrawal. I guess this is what really happens when you emotionally invested in an Ongoing kdrama that youve been waiting every single week and i literally dont know what to watch after ( nothing can fill the void! 😂).
    Five things what i like about cloy: 1The story, its like a modern romeo and juliet kinda love story
    2 yes! The OTP 😍 for the first couple and as well as the second couple
    3 the supporting cast! Specially to the nk soldiers and The wiretapper guy, the village ajummas, the families of Jung hyuk, Seri and Seo dan
    4 the Ost ( My favorite is the opening song that makes me ugh! When they played it in the last episode, it was awesome )
    5 and of course All my hearts for Hyun Bins performance he really made me believe that he is Captain Ri 😍 and i like the way that the writer did not made Seri as weak as any other female leads!

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    • Hi Frid, thanks for looking forward to this review! ❤ Yes, drama withdrawal is real, and it can be really hard to move on from a drama that you really love.. I guess a rewatch is the best thing, until your next worthy drama shows up? 😉 Also, I agree, the use of the opening song in the finale was very apt, and helped to elevate the feels a great deal. Music PD-nim did a very solid job, I'd say! 😀 Also, I think I will always have hearts in my eyes for Captain Ri.. He's just so special. 😍😍😍

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  22. Hey Kfangurl!

    Thank you for another wonderful review. I thought that this drama was almost perfect. I liked the OTP, but I have to admit that it was Seung Joon, the left-handed bad boy with a heart of gold, who unexpectedly stole my heart. His romance with Ice Princess Dan was great! I am not sure that I can forgive the writer for killing him off and making poor Dan suffer so much. In another blog, a commenter argued very convincingly that Seung Joon is not really dead, and he and Dan are going to live just like Jung Hyuk and Se Ri, meeting abroad to share few precious days or weeks together every year. Now that’s an ending I can live with! I was so upset with the writer’s treatment of this couple, that I turned to writing fan fiction, something I had never done before. It was a very constructive way to deal with my heartbreak.
    I was very touched with the portrayal of ordinary people from North Korea. I grew up in a totalitarian country, but the ordinary people there were no different from the village ahjummas and Jung Hyuk’s crew.

    I would give this drama an A-. I can forgive the long episodes and the draggy middle episodes, but killing off Seung Joon left me with a bad aftertaste. I also got motivated to finally polish and memorize Clair de Lune, and that’s saying something!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi Snow Flower! ❤ So glad you enjoyed this review. 🙂 And yes, I did notice during the ramyun scene, that he's left-handed; somehow, that made him more endearing to me – or maybe it was just the awkward way his chopsticks hung in the mid-air as he gaped at Dan! 😆 I wish writer-nim hadn't killed him off too, though I get that it was a reasonably realistic end for his character. Still, given how unrealistic Show is, in so many other areas of its story, I thought Show could've well afforded one more unrealistic narrative decision, to allow Seung Joon to live, and find some version of happiness with Dan. I would've been down for that, for sure. But, sadly, writer-nim had other ideas.. but you're very right, writing fan-fiction would help to soothe the sting of a dissatisfactory ending. Not that I have any experience with writing fan-fiction, but I do come up with alternative endings that I prefer, and then, in my head canon, things are so much better. 😉

      YES, I LOVED the way the North Korean folks were portrayed as so relatable and normal. With North Korea having such a mysterious image, this was definitely a refreshing and touching choice, to show everyone how ordinary the common folk are. 🙂

      PS: Congratulations on your achievement with Clair de Lune! Well done, you! 😀

      Like

      • Eun Jeong from Be Melodramatic was also left-handed. I am not a leftie myself, but could not help noticing these characters. Now I want to rewatch the actor’s scenes in Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People just to see if he wields a sword left-handed. His character in that drama was also a bad boy who redeemed himself, but did not die in the process.

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        • Gosh, I didn’t even realize he was in Rebel! I only managed a few episodes of Rebel before I happened to hit a drama slump. Also, I wasn’t prepared for the sadness and bloodshed that I knew was to come, where I was in the show. 😅 If I ever do make it back to the drama, I’ll be sure to check for whether he wields his sword with his left hand! 😉

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          • Rebel has a lot of sadness and bloodshed, but there is also a lot of warmth and heart, plus the ending is very satisfying. I found a couple of scenes on youtube and noticed that Kim Jung Hyun was wielding the sword (and knife) with his right hand. Maybe the actor just prefers holding the chopsticks with his left hand, or maybe that was his choice for the character in Crash Landing. I read that he had to take a break from acting because of illness, and I am glad that he is back with such a memorable role.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Rebel sounds very solid indeed. I have vague good intentions of going back to it sometime, but it might be quite a while before I find myself doing that, since it’s on the slightly longer side, and is not a light watch.

              Yes, I read that Kim Jung Hyun took a break from acting because of his health too. I’m so glad he’s alright now, and yes, how cool, that he came back with a bang! 🙂

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      • For those of us still nursing a broken heart because of Seung Joon’s demise, here is some fan fiction to make us feel better. I submitted two pieces to this thread. I also enjoyed other commenters’ submissions.

        https://bitchesoverdramas.com/2020/02/17/crash-landing-on-you-fan-fiction-and-alternative-endings/

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks for sharing, Snow Flower! ❤ I'm sure it'll help other viewers on this page who need some help soothing unresolved feelings around CLOY's ending!

          Like

        • Wow thanks!!! Reading fanfics is one of my hobby haha… after reading so many oh-so-serious books/novels, I always resort to fanfic for some refuge. I’ll make sure I read yours!

          However, as a kdrama masochist (hahaha), I found the ending for Seung Joon is the best I can ask for. We got to see how he redeemed himself in such a noble and heroic way, and got instant confirmation of his worth by being given a chance to see how Dan is already on his side and never leave. And Dan will forever keep him in her heart. That kind of ending worked well with me. Mr. Sunshine’s ending was one of the best ending ever for me hahaha

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  23. I never made it through the first episode. Premise had all I like in Dramas but it just didn’t match with myself. Probably it is the actors since they didn’t convinced me in their roles. Probably it was the hype. I wanted to like it but could not. Too bad since I’m still searching for my first I-love-it Drama this years since Pillow Book fell through *sigh*.

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    • Aw, it’s too bad that this one didn’t work for you, Usi.. I do think this one isn’t for everyone. I’m sure there’ll be other dramas lining up to steal your heart, though, later in the year. 😉 May (drama) love find you soon, my dear! ❤

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    • I didn’t make it past episode 5 . I am a big fan of HB and have watched every single drama & movie of his, but CLOY was surely not for me. HB is such an excellent actor and I felt his full potential was not portrayed. and I totally agree with the comment above that the actors were not convincing in their roles.

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    • @Usi – have you checked out Nokdu? (Not the rom-com saeguk with the boy disguised as a man, but the historical saeguk (sorry for the oxymoron) about the Donghak Peasant Revolution?

      Maybe it would fit the bill.

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  24. Great review! I played the OST link while reading it, which totally worked.

    In addition to those you mention, here are a few of my favorite moments:

    + When Jung Hyuk shows up at his parents’ house, knowing his dad must have snatched her, we learn that his mom has not seen the sweet side of her little boy in the many years since his brother died. Only his cold emotionless side. The look on her face when she sees his response to Se Ri left me in tears. Had to rewatch that scene several times!

    + The response of the presumably cynical South Korean secret service staff to CCTV footage of Jung Hyuk strolling around the city, doing good deeds and being obviously head over heels in love with Se Ri.

    + Se Ri laughing with Seung Joon that fear of speaking English badly is apparently a shared trait for North and South Koreans.

    + Thanks to Dan’s mom, the village ahjummas learning that not only had Se Ri not forgotten them after returning to South Korean, but that she’d had an artist recreate each of their faces for a new product line named after the village.

    + The use of after-episode scenes, allowing the PDs to pace the main episode well, yet still go back to fill in with worthy footage that was cut.

    —————————————————————————————————–

    As to your comment about Seung Joon not seeming to be out for revenge against Se Ri’s family: he’d already achieved that goal by stealing their money. (After failing in his initial attempt to infiltrate the family by getting her brothers to offer Se Ri in marriage to get rid of her, only to discover she’s as perceptive as he is.)

    I’d previously mentioned my frustrations with logic lapses and character stupidity near the end, but I’m surprised you ended with a grade of only B++. I’m say A- at the least!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Hi there MeriJ, great to see ya! 😀 Thanks for enjoying the review, and yay that the OST link worked out as your reading companion! 😉

      I totally agree with your shout-out to Jung Hyuk’s mom, and the NIS agents.. I really should have given them some love, in my review. I did manage a quick mention to Se Ri’s limited edition line of products dedicated to her North Korean friends, but not nearly enough to show just how much I loved that scene. It was so bittersweet to see the ahjummas tearing up over their new face creams, wondering if Se Ri knew they would use the creams well. Eep. I might’ve swallowed a lump or two, while watching that. 😭😭

      In terms of Seung Joon’s revenge, scamming the family of money didn’t seem quite sufficient as revenge, to my eyes (I sound so bloodthirsty, don’t I? 😆).. It seemed to me that his family was destroyed as a result of what happened with Se Ri’s family, leaving him effectively all alone in the world, so stealing their money – which still left them with tons of money – didn’t seem like it qualified as proper revenge, to me. Also, it seemed to me that Seung Joon was still somewhat under threat from Se Hyung, so even if stealing their money was counted as revenge, it didn’t seem like it was very successful revenge, to me? 😛😅

      As for my final grade.. if Show had managed to stay addictively cracky in its second half, I would’ve given it an A without a second thought. But because it lost that cracky feelin’, it gets automatically disqualified from my A-grade. One of the key considerations of an A-grade drama (on my drama rating scale, which doesn’t apply to anyone else, heh) is whether the show sucked me in and made me hungry for fresh episodes. Since I was literally dragging my feet at times, when it came to watching the next episode, a B++ is the highest grade I could give this show. I hope that helps to clarify! 🙂

      Like

      • On your final grade, I do get it. But I’m realizing I tend to give these shows TWO grades:

        1. How well did the entire series work for me on an initial watch?

        2. Even if I never re-watch the whole thing, were there swoony romantic scenes I’m likely to
        re-watch for THE REST OF MY LIFE? (For example, the incredible OTP epiphany I mentioned in the
        penultimate ep of Chocolate.)

        By measure #2, CLOY gets an A+++++++

        Like Dan-i and Eun-ho in Love is A Bonus Book or Jung-In and Ji-Ho (aka “the pharmacist”) in One Spring Night, Jung Hyuk and Se-Ri’s romance will be a part of me forever. Relative to that achievement, editing out the idiotic parts in my mind is not so hard!

        More on this type of flaw: We finished My Holo Love the other day. Same deal with the C- grade implausible action plot taking way too much time starting around 3/4s of the way through. We liked the show a lot, but we watch K-Drama for what it does uniquely well that we can’t get elsewhere — in-depth romance or endearing portrayals of other aspects of humanity.

        If I wanted to sit through lazy scripts where evil super-villains are defeated by earnest good guys who show up alone or maybe with a single ally with no plan to take on 20 professional killers, I’d watch American TV. It bores me to tears.

        By comparison, My Holo Love had a really endearing love triangle theme, with the AI as the third leg. Couldn’t these shows stick to their strengths and blend in just a little of the stuff they aren’t really that great at pulling off? Maybe they’re thinking they need those parts so boyfriends and husbands will also watch? If so, I guess I must not be a typical husband.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I gotta say, for a couple deeply in love and soon to be parted forever, I did think they would’ve been sharing Seri’s bedroom during those last couple of weeks. After all, we were shown Seri’s very realistic dating and “scandal”istic lifestyle. lol

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        • Oh yes, I do agree that Jung Hyuk and Se Ri brought the feels in the swoony romantic scenes, and I can see them becoming quite iconic in time to come. So I get what you mean, about being much more able to edit out the silly bits in your mind!

          To your remark about not being a typical husband, I do think you’re not, MeriJ! I don’t personally know that many husbands who share drama-watching as a hobby or passion with their wives. I think it’s so cool that you and your wife enjoy dramas together! ❤ As for kdramas, I think there are many solid kdramas out there that are worth your time.. but there's quite a lot of meh dramas that you need to sift through. I can't remember if I've pointed you to my Full List before, but I think you’d be able to find some worthy dramas, by exploring the list. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          • Thing is, watching these K-roms together is really great for our marriage. We noticed it immediately with our first shows, Love Is A Bonus Book. We realized we went to bed more in love after watching it. Speaking of which, we’re re-watching Bonus Book right now, both for the good vibes and to see if it holds up now that we’ve seen a few others. And the verdict is yes, it’s just as great as we remembered it. So positive and fun. Apparently you don’t need a villain to make these shows interesting. Of course it helps if you have amazingly charming and beautiful/handsome actors like Lee Na-young, Lee Jong-Suk, Jung Yoo-jin and Ji Seo-Jun. If nothing else, I’m glad for the re-watch so I can replace my later memories of Ji Seo-Jun as the ok but not awesome younger brother in Something In The Rain with his wonderfully endearing role as secondary OTP guy in Bonus Book.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Aw, that is so lovely, that watching kdramas has actually contributed positively to your marriage! 🥰 That’s the sweetest thing I’ve heard about kdramas in a long time! ❤ Oh yes, I much preferred Ji Seo Jun in Bonus Book than in Something in the Rain!

              Oh, it occurs to me that since you and your wife do like noona romances (older woman younger man romances), that Secret Love Affair ought to be right up your alley. It’s not a romcom, it’s like an art film, but in drama format. It’s wonderful, and definitely shouldn’t be missed. I can’t remember if I’ve already suggested it to you, but thought it wouldn’t hurt to mention it (possibly again)! 🙂

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            • My hubby does not watch kdrama, or any drama tbh (not even the hollywood ones). However, watching kdrama is also good for my marriage as I can see my husband in so many different lights. As he is more of a silent type, who act rather than speak, Capt. Ri is almost a mirror of him, to a point where I can safely conclude that Capt. Ri is a scorpio (as is my husband because they shared so many similar traits, it scared me a bit hahaha…)

              Also, kdrama spurs the romantic side of me, a working mom with busy schedule and three kids to take care of. So, yeah, it’s healthy for our marriage even though I am the only one who watched kdramas.

              Liked by 2 people

              • Widya, let me recommend (if you haven’t seen it yet) Five Children. It’s the most realistic working mom scenario that I’ve seen in Kdrama. The female lead also starts out with 3 kids and its a Brady Bunch scenario later on but there’s so much good stuff that’s funny because it’s true. And the supporting characters’ stories are really fun and interesting too. It’s long – 54 episodes – but when it’s over you’ll be wishing it was longer. Out of the long weekend slice-of-life dramas it’s my #1 favorite.

                Like

                • Oh, the drama with Shin Hye Sun in it? I think I saw patches of clips, but the length scared me haha… the first time ever for me to watch long drama was My Golden Life (also with Hye Sun), and I surprised myself then. Not only because I endure the length, but also because the story involved chaebol in it. Actually not my cup of tea, but somehow I enjoyed it. I might try 5 children then… thanks!

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              • Widya, I totally see that even one of you watching would help keep the love alive.

                @kfangurl, here’s a top level post you might consider:

                “K-Roms Your BF/Husband Might Be Willing To Watch With You.”

                Besides whatever ideas you put out, others would surely add to the list in the comments section.

                Liked by 1 person

                • Thanks for the idea, MeriJ! I’m intrigued.. and will give it some thought, to see if I can do the topic justice. And you’re right, I’m sure that whatever I come up with, everyone else will be able to chip in as well. 😀

                  Liked by 2 people

    • @Meri J – I find your comment ” Se Ri laughing with Seung Joon that fear of speaking English badly is apparently a shared trait for North and South Koreans” very interesting.
      I’ve noticed the reluctance of speaking English to westerners not only in drama characters but in real life as actors giving interviews obviously understand the question put to them in English and begin to answer in Korean before the translator tells them the question. But your comment makes me begin to wonder is it only with native English speakers or do Koreans that speak other languages (Asian and Western) have the same trepidation when speaking French, Italian, Japanese or one of the Chinese languages? Is it only when speaking with westerners or is it with any foreign language? Is it a general pride/embarrassment thing of not wanting to make mistakes in front of native speakers of any language or is it an intimidation only when dealing with westerners?
      If there are any Korean-Americans here, please feel free to inform me. I’m just a very curious person when it comes to learning about other cultures and their possibly different views on things.

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      • Unfortunately, that fear might say more about how provincially & unaware/arrogant Americans and the British are, than about anything about Koreans, per se…

        But I do wonder if it’s also that certain sounds in English are especially difficult for Koreans to learn later in life.

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        • “But I do wonder if it’s also that certain sounds in English are especially difficult for Koreans to learn later in life.” MeriJ
          Well, I know for a fact that certainly the reverse is true. I hear Korean words and try to recreate the sounds and find myself reversing the syllables. It’s as if my hearing has dyslexia when it comes to Korean. I understand far more words than I can actually pronounce correctly.

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        • Just chiming in to add in my two cents’ worth, though I wouldn’t say that I’m an expert on the topic.

          To answer your question, MeriJ, yes, there are, in fact, certain sounds in English that are especially different for Koreans. In Korea (as with Japan), English is taught as a subject in school, and the native language is used as a frame of reference, so English words are romanized to be taught. There is no “z” sound in Korean, for example, and therefore, Koreans typically are unable to say “pizza” as “peet-za” like native English speakers do, and say “pijja” instead because that is the closest romanized syllable.

          Additionally, because English is taught as a subject rather than used as a medium of instruction, the opportunities to immerse themselves in the language are much more limited, and practice is also likewise limited. This adds to the feelings of uncertainty around English, and the fear of embarrassment contributes as well, to the typical Korean’s reluctance to engage in English conversations. This also is why Koreans who are able to speak English well are so well-regarded by their fellow Koreans. Of course, this actually only applies to native Koreans who have spent a year or several studying overseas, and not to Korean Americans (or other western-born Koreans), as those are not considered “true Koreans” in a manner of speaking. I hope that helps to clarify, at least a little bit! 🙂

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  25. I do not generally go for rom coms, but the actors in this–the first and second leads, the supporting characters from North Korea–and the twists and turns in the first half of the series while they were in North Korea had a cracky je ne sais quois to it that kept me watching. But it suffered considerably when the setting moved to South Korea, and to be honest, while I know most of the complaint controversy about the finale was why was this only a partial happily ever after, I just felt the show painted itself into an insoluble corner stretching my entire credulity.
    It was a rom com so of course a tragic ending would have been commercially disastrous, but there would have been considerably more meat on the bone had the show runners the courage to take the show to its much more realistic conclusion, imo. Part of the problem was, as is the case with so much K drama, that in filling out a season long drama, the need to throw in endless plot complications inevitably leads to the problem of how to tie everything up, and this would be true whatever the ending would have been, happily ever after, sorta happily ever after as the show runners chose, or inevitably tragic (with some sort of entirely new and enlightened Se Ri, thoroughly overthrowing her life for one of greater meaning as a result.
    That said, like everyone, I thought Hyun Bin was terrific, and I hope to see him in roles that continue to make the best use of his lead actor chops and charisma. Similarly I think Son Ye Jin really proved she is capable of taking on a multidimensional lead role, capable of a whole range of emotions (one might also point out how Hyun Bin’s stoic portrayal gave her an appropriate amount of room to maneuver, which, say in Something in the Rain, she did not have). The village ahjussis were all wonderful, and among the North Korean soldiers, I got a particular kick out of Yang Kyung Won whose a half a beat off attitude served as a kind of leavening for the entire drama let alone the rest of his crew. Finally, I really think, especially after seeing him in My Mister, Kim Young Min, was simply terrific. I am sure he will get some lead roles, but turns out the guy is very good at inhabiting a character. The two roles I have seen him in, one could not be farther than the other–he was so slimy in My Mister, so touchingly pathetic in this. I would give it a B myself, but give the ensemble an A-.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi there BE, great to see ya! 😀 I’m glad you enjoyed this one, despite romcoms not being your usual cup of drama tea. Indeed, there was a very special cracky quality in the first half, and I’m quite wistful that we lost that in Show’s second half. If Show had been as cracky addictive in its second half, I would’ve given this an A grade for sure!

      I do agree with you that Show had to choose an ending with a decent measure of happiness, otherwise I think viewers would’ve been out for blood, ha. At a few points in our story, I actually thought to myself, “Oh, this would be a nice place to end the story, actually. It’ll be sad and painful, but it’ll haunt us in a really good way,” and then I told myself, “This isn’t that kind of show, though.” For example, I thought that the episode that ended with Jung Hyuk scattering notes around Se Ri’s apartment, after stocking her refrigerator and cupboards with food and supplies, would’ve been a perfect bittersweet note on which to end. Jung Hyuk, having sacrificed himself to protect Se Ri, and Se Ri, coming back to find all this evidence of his love for her, demonstrated in such retrained, mundane ways. Augh. That would’ve been a pretty solid ending, I think. Except, like I said, folks would’ve cried bloody murder. 🤣😜🤣

      Yes, I do hope that all of our very excellent actors will receive the credit and recognition they deserve, for a job so well done. In particular, I have to agree that Kim Young Min is just outstandingly good. I hope to see more of him, and Yang Kyung Won, on my screen. Well, and Hyun Bin too, of course. 😉

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      • I like your ending better than the one we got, because the show could have been pruned down considerably, because the ending would have made much more sense to me, and because it would have left me feeling considerably more at the end for the two main characters. Instead, ho hum, one rich, the other famous, the hills are alive with the sound of music.

        One of the things I most admire in K Drama has been a willingness for some show runners to not settle for an unrealistically happy ending, and sometimes, choosing a difficult emotional ending that gives the viewer a sense of heroism in the face of overwhelming events. Bad Papa, despite some uneven writing, My Mister (I have a hard time believing that so many people really wanted Lee Ji An to actually hook up with Park Dong Hun when the frisson of them not hooking up was so much truer to everything we know about the characters adding to the show’s ultimate impact) and Secret Love Affair, were all shows, albeit not comedies, which go by different rules, that went for a measure of realism in their finales, and in each case despite the lack of easy resolution, I felt uplifted in their conclusions.

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        • HAHA, I love how you just went, the hills are alive with the sound of music! 🤣🤣 You are so funny, BE!!

          Looks like you’re partial to a particular type of kdrama, BE. The more mainstream, popular kdramas do tend to go for all-around neat, happy-ever-after pink bows, but there definitely kdramas that serve up the more realistic vibe. I haven’t seen them myself, but I’ve been recommended A Wife’s Credentials and Heard It Through the Grapevine, both of which were directed by Ahn Pan Seok, who also directed Secret Love Affair. I’d venture to say that you’re quite likely to enjoy those. I do plan to watch those too; I just haven’t gotten around to them yet because of my monster list of dramas that I want to check out. 😅 But, just because I haven’t seen them, doesn’t mean I can’t point you to them, right? 😉

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          • I Heard it Through the Grapevine (or as I liked to call it What Happened AFTER Cinderella/Candy Married her Prince/Chaebeoul) is in my top 5! And that’s even with not understanding about 30% of the show. It seemed like the subtitles were off – but not off in that way of automated computer subs or poor translation subs. I think it may be actually that Show is showing us things that our typical shows don’t show of behind closed doors with no cultural reference explanation. I was constantly going “why are they doing that?” That’s why I’ve been so anxious for somebody with intimate knowledge of Korean wealthy family life to weigh in with a review. It’s easy to understand our Candy’s life from a typical lower middle class family (no money but not poverty stricken). But the things the wealthy do, which seems to be the norm among the parents’ wealthy friends and their families is somewhat baffling.

            It was originally exclusively on DramaFever in the U.S. but I’m wondering if I watch it again now that it’s on Viki if I’d understand it better since Viki subs tend to put cultural explanations in parentheses.

            But even with my limitations on understanding everything, realism and the dark comedy of it makes it one of my favs.

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            • Oh yes, subs do make a huge difference! I actually think it can make or break the viewing experience for someone who doesn’t understand the language being spoken onscreen. Since it’s one of your favorite, and since it’s now available on Viki, I’m guessing that a rewatch now might actually feel richer, with better subs. DramaFever subs used to be quite slapdash, and they translated the gist of things, rather than the exact meaning of what was being spoken. Viki does tend to be more detailed and precise, in my experience. 🙂

              Thanks for weighing in on Heard It Through The Grapevine! ❤ Hopefully that will help other folks on here who're looking for something different to watch! 🙂

              Like

          • Thanks for the recs. I think I will try A Wife’s Credentials, as Kim Hee Ae is the lead.

            By the way, even though I find Zombies one of the least promising premises for a show–I mean I would not like watching a story about packs of rabid dogs either, I am finding Kingdom more entertaining than I had expected. Of the Neiflix action blockbuster K series this past year, it strikes me that this one is the best enacted. Not much to swoon about in it, even less of a womanly presence in it than My Country, albeit Doona Bae is, as is usual, quite magnetic when on screen, but it does clip along. Not to mention, sorry, my sense of humor, raise the image of a Korean punk boy band calling themselves Zombie Sageuk.

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            • Oh, do let me know how you like A Wife’s Credentials, BE! I’ve been meaning to check it out for a long time, but other newer, shinier shows always distract me. 😅 I’m curious to hear your take on it; it might just galvanize me into bumping it up the list! 😉

              I’ve heard so much love for Kingdom, but haven’t felt tempted to check it out – until your comment! I mean, I am not into zombies too, so to hear that you find it more entertaining than expected is quite intriguing! Also, HAHA at the idea of a punk boy band named Zombie Sageuk! 🤣🤣 Not my kind of music for sure, but I’d love to see their album cover!

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    • @BE – FYI – ahjusshi = mister – middle aged man. Ahjumma = middle aged woman. 👍

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  26. Hi there Fangurl – What a great review! I really was curious to read your take on this one. I immediately started listening to the OST and it ended right when I finished reading the review. Seriously, I was like “Did she time that perfectly or what?” I got a good laugh over that.

    There really isn’t much to add as you have already covered all the bases so beautifully. I was impatient waiting for new episodes each week. I will say that this is now in my top 10 “Classic KDrama” list. It reminds me of the all the reasons why I am hopelessly addicted to KDrama – heavenly OTP/s, big bad baddies. puppies and ahjummas! Kudos to the casting personnel for a job well done. I thoroughly enjoyed every single delightful and wondrous second it was on my screen. KDrama done right!

    Sending you lots of positive energy for your good health!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks for enjoying the review, dear phl! ❤ And, I'm so pleased that the OST length turned out to be perfect for you! 😀 How fun! I absolutely haven't timed it, but my gut told me that it would take 30-45 minutes to read this monster of a review, and I hoped that length of the OST would work out. I didn't expect it to work out so perfectly for ya – woot! 😀

      I do agree with you, that this show reminds me all over again, of why I loved kdramas to begin with. It has all of the familiar ingredients, and is put together in a way that manages to bring the feels, so well. 🥰🥰 This is why the rewatch wasn't that much hardship at all, after all. 😉 I'm guessing this show will make it to your rewatch list as well!

      Thanks for the well wishes – please take care as well! Good health for everyoneee! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  27. Hi kfangurl! You’ve really outdone yourself. What a long and very thorough review!! I did mostly enjoy the show and all its relationships, the different ensembles and the overall flow. However, somehow the ending fell a little flat for me. Perhaps there had been too many almost separations that were not separations, and so we got our OTP back into the loop of trying to send Se Ri home yet again. There were also several references to fate, which did seem to make our couple fatalistic, when they could after all have made their own destinies, which, in the end we see they did.

    I felt that the long drawn out separation where Se Ri hoped to find Jung Hyuk and didn’t, but then he simply walks up to her at her second crash landing (or descending!) in Switzerland, rather a let down. It was supposed to be sweet and poetic that he speaks once again of the wrong train that brought him to the right destination, when he walks up to her, but somehow these words that reference the night they were stranded, failed to have impact. Partly it was because I forgot where I had heard them before!!! (yeah too much happening in long episodes) and because I felt that it seemed he’d just left it to fate to bump into her again. She might as well have crashed into him this 2nd time for all that it seemed like a coincidence.

    I do agree with your review on the whole and I am glad I caught this show. Thanks for always dedicating yourself so meticulously to your drama reviews. You’re such a pleasure to read.

    Cheers!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Hi dear GB! Always great to see you around here! ❤ Thanks for your kind words, they are always such an encouragement; makes me look forward to writing more stuff for the blog. 🥰😘

      This really might be the longest review on the blog, to date. I think Healer was about 15K words, but this one exceeded 17K!! 😱 Unfortunately, a fair number of those words were spent pointing out stuff that were either just ok, or not the best, unlike Healer, where I gushed for almost all of the 15K words! 😆 As much as I wanted to love this one unequivocally, its flaws were noticeable enough, that it would've been remiss to omit them. And to that end, I agree that the multiple almost separations were a little much. And that reunion on the mountain where Jung Hyuk found her after she'd crash landed again from paragliding, was just soo tropey. 😝😂 I know it was all for the sake of kdrama tradition, but it was too much for me, even with that lens on. 😅 Despite this one's missteps, I do think it's something pretty special that adds up to more than the sum of its parts, and I'm glad we both managed to enjoy it quite well. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ah! Healer was lovely. It’s flaws never detracted from how solid it was. It was certainly a show that called forth gushing for ages! You may know that it has garnered more than 10,000 comments on the Dramabean site and there are still new comments popping up at times. LOL. What a show.

        Oh, and Park Min Yeong of Healer is now in I’ll Find You on a Beautiful Day, and I think you may enjoy it. Different pace and style from this show, but warm, healing, with fully enfleshed characters slowly revealing themselves. I hope it will be a gem.

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        • Oh my! More than 10,000 comments, and still going strong on DB?!? That’s very special indeed! Wow! 😱😱 But well-deserved indeed.. Healer is one of my all-time faves for a reason! ❤

          I've put I'll Find You on a Beautiful Day on my list, it sounds lovely indeed. ❤ I love the idea that it's a show that dares to be different, even though I've yet to check it out myself. I look forward to watching it! 😀

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  28. I LOVED this drama! All except the bittersweet ending. I like more of a happy ending personally. At the moment I’m finishing up
    “Find Yourself.” Now that is an interesting and thought provoking drama as well. I would love to read your review on that. Thanks for all the great reviews!

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    • Forty-one episodes! Does that work? My wife and I need a new show and we definitely enjoy older-woman/younger-man noona romances. I see it’s available on Netflix. But that’s a much longer series than we normally watch.

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    • Thanks for enjoying the review, Sue! 🙂 Thanks for the recommendation on Find Yourself. My sister recently finished that and recommended it as well, so I sampled E1 last night, and I like it, so far! Hopefully I’ll like it all the way to the end. For now, it’s a keeper, thanks for taking the time to point me to it! ❤

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      • We too watched E1 last night. Being new to all this, it’s still fascinating for us to compare Korean vs. Chinese dramas. Sad to say, we’ve started and dropped a couple Chinese shows due to the slower pacing. The production values are also less slick, but that’s not important to us.

        In one case, Put Your Head on My Shoulder, the OTP totally worked but then they starting spending an equal amount of airtime on a secondary pairing with a character so incredibly annoying we couldn’t bear to keep watching. It was so bad we wondered if the annoying actress’ parents had helped bankroll the project.

        I fear Find Yourself is meeting the same fate for us, due to the drawn-out pacing.

        A Thousand Goodnights was the exception. Very slow pacing, but it worked. However it’s Taiwanese, so maybe that doesn’t count!

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        • Ah, you’re very right about pacing, MeriJ. I guess the overall episode count factors in a great deal. When you’re planning to tell a story in 48 episodes instead of 16, the pacing definitely has to adapt. On the upside, C-drama episodes typically clock in at around 40 minutes, so in that sense, an episode of C-drama is actually easier to fit into a busy schedule than an hour or more of kdrama.

          If you and your wife are open to giving C-dramas another try, I highly recommend The First Half Of My Life. I think it’s very elegantly written, and there’s a very thoughtful vibe throughout that I appreciate a lot. The pacing is different, of course, but I didn’t even mind the show’s overall length because I was so invested in the journey of our protagonist. I hope you’ll give it a look! 🙂

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          • I see that The First Half Of My Life streams on Amazon. Thanks, I’ll run it by my gal! A Thousand Goodnights is nice, as well. It’s part romance, part ode to the natural beauty of Taiwan and partly an ode to human decency. The romance is of the restrained sort, but we liked it a lot. Talk about a slow burn, you don’t even meet the lead character until the end of the first episode (other than seeing her as a little girl).

            Liked by 1 person

            • Thanks for the suggestion on A Thousand Goodnights! 🙂 I looked it up, and it looks interesting. I’ve added it to my list of shows to check out. I hope I’ll enjoy it as much as you guys did. ❤

              Like

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