Based on the Japanese shōjo manga series Hana Yori Dango, this week’s Grumpy Flashback feature is the fifth TV adaptation of the manga following Taiwan’s Meteor Garden and its sequel Meteor Garden II, and Japan’s Hana Yori Dango and its sequel Hana Yori Dango Returns. It created the second Korean wave and helped to launch career of Lee Min-ho as the ultimate Hallyu star not only in Korea, but also across Asia. You all know what I’m talking about, so let’s get to it!
Boys Over Flowers is the South Korean version of the popular Japanese manga that aired on KBS from January – March 2009 for 25 episodes. It starred Lee Min-ho, Gu Hye-sun, Kim Hyun-joong (of SS501), Kim Bum, Kim Joon (of T-Max), and Kim So-eun.
Boys Over Flowers followed the typical drama plot device of rich boy meets poor girl, or in K-drama jargon: chaebol meets candy. Geum Jan-di (Gu Hye-sun) is a poor but dauntless high school girl who will make the 180-degree turn of enrolling in a prestigious school meant for the elite 1% of society. She would cross paths with the notorious F4 – four filthy rich flower boys: Shinhwa Group heir Gu Jun-pyo (Lee Min-ho), former President’s grandson Yoon Ji-hoo (Kim Hyun-joong), artisan Casanova So Yi-jung (Kim Bum), and construction magnate Song Woo-bin (Kim Joon).
Unforgettable Guest Appearances
Aside from the very promising young cast, Boys Over Flowers was also famous for its unforgettable cameos and supporting characters. Do you still remember some of them?
Han Chae-young as Ji-hoo’s first love Min Seo-hyun
Park Ji-bin as Jan-di’s techie dongsaeng Geum Kang-san
Im Joo-hwan as Yi-jung’s estranged hyung So Il-hyun
Lee Min-jung as Gu Jun-pyo’s “monkey” fiancee Ha Jae-kyung
Nam Da-reum as the cutie young Ji-hoo
Kim Min-ji as sly patient Jang Yu-mi (aka the one who took advantage of Jun-pyo’s amnesia)
Ever Dependable Ji-hoo
Who else here rode the second lead ship, too? For every Hana Yori Dango adaptation, I always loved the one who played Rui Hanazawa. I liked his tsundere character so much I hoped that every heroine will end up with whoever portrays him.
Candy Jan-di and Over-The-Top Hero Jun-pyo
Boys Over Flowers may be viewed as a classic Cinderella story because of Jun-pyo’s use of his out-of-this-world wealth to sponsor the hesitant poor girl in dire circumstances. Although Boys Over Flowers followed a very typical path in storytelling, there’s something about it that will make you locked in until the finale. The you-and-me-against-the-world love story of Jun-pyo and Jan-di was so common, yet still many fans loved it. Of course, who would not want to watch a hardworking simple girl getting lovey dovey with a seemingly unreachable prince charming?
After re-watching BOF, I honestly cannot help but cringe about it now. LOL. The over-the-top antics of Gu Jun-pyo, the extreme pranks and bullying at Shinhwa High School, and the excessive evil ways of Jun-pyo’s mother were all too much. But one thing did not change after all these years – it’s the way I smiled whenever Jun-pyo or Ji-hoo acted cheesy towards Jan-di. All their romantic gestures and knight-in-shining-armor moments were to die for.
I guess one important note on this classic romantic drama is that despite its ridiculous plot, there’s delight in watching the fairy tale unfold before your very eyes. The wonderland created by the drama is strong enough for its audience to be able to hop on the Hallyu train and never come back.
[Credits: All photos and GIFs used in this blog are from KBS’ Boys Over Flowers]