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Crash Landing on You: an Impossible Journey of Friendship and Love

Written by Nena Morena

Have you ever watched a Korean Drama? Me neither. I was never interested in foreign movies. However, I got tired of watching shows that would focus more on their political messages rather than improving their bad writing. Crash Landing on You, written by Park Ji-eun, was just what I needed. An impossible romance, life-bonding friendships, people hungry for power with no limits, and the right amount of comedy to lighten the mood. This show has it all. It has a great story with true character development that gives real insight into the differences in lifestyles between North and South Korean people.

The show tells the story of Yoon Se-ri, a successful South Korean businesswoman who ends up landing in North Korea after a paragliding accident. She is found by Captain Ri Jeong-hyeok and his four patrol officers who try to capture her and bring her to the State Department for questioning. She manages to escape and starts running toward what she believes to be the South Korea’s border. Instead, she makes her way into a small impoverished North Korean village where Captain Ri again finds her, she convinces him to secretly help her get back home as soon as possible. However, their plans are obstructed by two people; Cho Cheol-gang, a corrupt officer who is trying to find a way to destroy Captain Ri, and Se-ri’s second brother Sae-hyung who wants to take her position as future successor of their family’s company. Things become more complicated when Captain Ri’s fiancé and Gu Seung-jun, a con man related to Se-ri’s past, show up to stop her from ever returning home.

Crash Landing on You can be divided into two acts. The first act takes place in North Korea and mostly focuses on building up the characters and their relationships. Therefore, it is more serious and suspenseful. The second act is set in South Korea and centers its attention on story development. There is more action, comedy, and of course resolution. The show has 16 episodes that range from 1 hour and 10 minutes to 1 hour and 50 minutes long. Although the runtimes are longer than your typical series, all the episodes are worth watching until the end because they all provide funny moments, surprising twists, and suspenseful cliffhangers. The scenes with the two protagonists are at times slow and cheesy but, aside from being a typical characteristic of Korean Dramas, were refreshing for romantic people like me. Too many times I have seen shows where sex takes the place of the development of mutual respect, trust, honesty, and communication. Here, Park Ji-eun takes his time revealing all the ups and downs of a romantic relationship between two people raised with an opposite mentality and lifestyle.

In this show, the whole cast would be worth mentioning because everyone is perfectly cast for their role and gives great performances. Son-Ye as Yoon Se-ri is one of the most versatile actresses known in South Korea. She has previously acted in horror-romantic movies, comedies, dramas, and thrillers. In Crash Landing on You, she nailed her character. She is a very confident and determined businesswoman who also has many insecurities and doubts, especially when it comes to the people she loves. Hyun Bin as Ri Jeong-hyeok also did an outstanding job. He showed what it means to risk losing everything to protect the people you love and do it without blinking. He portrayed his character as a confident, brave, strong-willed, and resourceful man who, despite saving his loved ones, let many people down at times. I appreciated this from the writer of the show because it shows the reality that achieving one’s goals often means to sacrifice something in the process. This actor deserves extra points for communicating most of his thoughts and emotions only through his expressions. It was very impressive. Gu Seung-jun was the character with the best arc. He started as a ruthless con man and ended up being a great hero. Lastly, Yang Kyung-won, Yoo Su-bin, Tang Jun-sang, and Lee Shin-young as the four iconic North Korean soldiers. They made me smiled throughout the show with their distinguished personalities, humor, and profound friendship.

Crash Landing on You deserves an Excellent score on the five-tiered scale (Bad, Below Average, Average, Above Average, and Excellent). Through the cast and the music, this show was able to convey every single emotion to its audience who cried, laughed, and suffered with the characters. Their complicated relationships and difficult situations were so realistic that every person can find themselves somewhere amongst the stories told even though the show may portray a very different culture than their own. Afterall, love, which is the main theme of the show, is a universal language and this show presented it in all its beautiful forms. My favorite aspect of the show is true friendships which are a rare gift in today’s world. The show is only available in Korean or Spanish with English/Spanish subtitles. However, I did not find it burdensome but rather an addition to all the other perks of the South Korean culture shown in the series. The best and hardest thing that made me appreciate this show more is that even though the story is fictional, it is the true story of many people in North Korea which are not allowed to easily leave the country, enjoy the modern innovations of the world, follow their passions and talents, marry whoever they love, and live in freedom. It would have been easy to make a mockery of this country, but I appreciate the writer who showed its flaws with light humor and exposed the beauty of living an ordinary life and being content with the little you have.

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