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I’m currently watching the Korean drama Crash Landing On You (CLOY). I haven’t seen a lot of K-dramas to consider myself a super fan of the genre (I’ve only watched My Girl, Lie To Me, Descendants of the Sun, and What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim) but this is turning out to be one of my favorite series thus far. I just caught up with the show last week, so I won’t be able to write a per-episode review. Instead, I wanted to lay down some of my thoughts about the series.

I’ve seen Son Ye-Jin (she plays Yoon Se-Ri) before in A Moment to Remember (one of my favorite films). That’s a movie you need to watch only if you’re emotionally stable. On the other hand, CLOY is my introduction to Hyun Bin (he plays Ri Jeong-Hyeok), who, after some reading, turns out to be one of the top actors in Korea. Both are huge in Korea, and I understand why. They have quite the magnetism and both are tremendous actors. Seeing the trailer of the show, there was just instant chemistry between them which made me see the series.

I initially found the premise to be insane. Considering all I’ve heard and read about North Korea, the idea of a South Korean finding herself up north did not exactly sound romantic. It seemed more like a death sentence. I also don’t think that show is aiming for an accurate portrayal of North Korea. You can only do so much for a romantic drama in the first place, so I understand the efforts to ‘white wash’, or even humanize the situation in the isolated country. But this has also made me rethink my notions of North Korea, and how as humans, we believe we know so much from so little. Yes, we read news about human rights violations in North Korea, and the terrible situation their citizens are in. But in reality, we know so little about what is actually happening there. The series makes you think about how goodness can still exist even in godforsaken or hopeless places.

I also like the contrast being presented between North Korea and South Korea. The irony is that, it is in the north that Son Ye-Jin’s character discovers herself, and discovers love, whereas back home greed and capitalism has consumed her family. The writer does a great job of taking jabs at K-drama tropes too using the North Korean characters as a platform for these commentaries. And yes, I find myself endeared more to the (good) North Korean characters, especially the soldiers and villagers. But since this is North Korea, I’m wary that rooting for them will lead to heartbreak as there is a great possibility they meet a tragic end.

I find CLOY to be a story of self-discovery – two people from privileged yet different backgrounds trying to fill a void – Se-Ri, looking for the love and approval she never got from her family; and Jeong-Hyeok, who is trying to find answers and closure to the tragic loss of his brother. Se-Ri, who used to be so indifferent and fierce and cutthroat back in Seoul realizes how the simple things are so enjoyable, and how in the face of possible death, it’s the things she had taken for granted after putting up defenses that are what really matters. Jeong-Hyeok, on the other hand, is confronted by a choice between duty and desire. He’s an upstanding man who honors promises but now these promises are in the context of protecting a person he has fallen in love with. How their relationship has developed in the series has been so good. There is tension, denial, and bantering and it just feels so organic. Their chemistry is crazy good, and you just want to root for them.

I’ll probably add more to his as I get my thoughts more organized….