From alien-x-human to mermaid-x-human, the K-dramaverse is filled with all kinds of star-crossed lovers. And as if writer Park Ji-eun sensed it’s time for another complicated out of this world (or in this case out of the border) love story, she threw us another one and made it fell in our TV screens unexpectedly.
A Fantasy Plot Like Its Predecessors
I have to get this out the way before I fully delve into Crash Landing On You: I doubted the premise of this series would work. I didn’t think the production crew could portray North Korea as close to what the real DPRK is. But then the first episode made me realize that I have to watch this series with the same open-mindedness I have when watching a fantasy drama. It wasn’t a documentary nor a biopic so I decided to separate my little knowledge about North Korean society to fictional North Korea depicted in CLOY.
So there, I became more at ease while watching the rest of the series.
The By-The-Book Captain and The Sophisticated CEO
Captain Ri Jeong-hyeok (Hyun Bin) was the typical K-drama male lead who hides his ‘soft boy’ side through his unemotional soldier façade. His cover slowly melted after meeting the very sophisticated CEO from the south, Yoon Se-ri (Son Ye-jin). Their adventures in both North Korea and South Korea were this usual fish-out-of-the-water trope but somehow these two actors made the unlikely more believable. The on-screen chemistry and acting dynamics of Hyun Bin and Son Ye-jin deserved all the attention this drama got.
The Second Leads
Gu Seung-jun (Kim Jung-hyun) and Seo Dan (Seo Ji-hye) gave me my first second couple syndrome this year. To be honest, I was expecting both couples to have their happily-ever-after but I guess K-drama deities wanted us to cry buckets until the end.
Seo Dan, who stayed loyal to her non-committal fiancé for a decade, deserved to be loved for the rest of her life. Believe me when I say that I liked how cool she looked as this strong independent woman who stood up after grieving her lover. But strong women need some companion, too. Gu Seung-jun’s death was a betrayal for the audience who watched his character development and hoped for him to have another chance in life. Seo-Jun pair could have been that imperfect-as-an-individual yet a perfect-as-a-couple couple.
Company Five plus One
Captain Ri’s most trusted people Pyo Chi-su (Yang Kyung-won), Park Kwang-beom (Lee Sin-young), Kim Ju-meok (Yoo Su-bin), Geum Eun-dong (Tang Joon-sang) and Jung Man-bok (Kim Young-min) collectively known as the Company Five (Plus One) is our favorite K-drama squad so far this year. They stayed loyal to Captain Ri until the end of the series. They also have a lot of comedic, touching, and unforgettable scenes that were supposed-filler scenes but was as entertaining (at times more entertaining) as the main plotline.
NK Military Village Ahjummas
Another beloved squad from CLOY is the military housing village ahjummas composed of the village leader Na Wol-suk (Kim Sun-young), the colonel’s wife Ma Young-ae (Kim Jung-nan), the eavesdropper’s wife Hyeon Myeong-sun (Jang So-yeon), and village beauty guru Yang Ok-geum (Cha Chung-hwa). They made Se-ri’s stay in North Korea enjoyable to watch. My only problem now is they’re trying to take over the top spot of my favorite Neighbourhood Squad from the Ongsan Ahjummas.
The Effective Villains
As much I hate the evil military man Cho Cheol-gang (Oh Man-seok), this drama wouldn’t be as thrilling to watch as it was if not for this power greedy character. Yoon Se-hyeong (Park Hyoung-soo), on the other hand, was that annoying coward villain that deserved a harsher punishment than what he got. His wife Ko Sang-a (Yoon Ji-min) was a more effective antagonist, to be honest. So effective that I wanted to slap her face (and I’m not a violent person I swear) when she told the NIS agent about Ri Jung-hyeok’s real identity. Se-ri and Jung-hyeok’s story could have ended in four episodes if not for the manipulating of these characters.
A Great Ensemble of Actors
I was ranting the other week how some dramas don’t fully utilize the cast they have. Then CLOY came into the picture and showed how things should be done. They have veteran actors in their helm and they gave them scenes where they could showcase their experienced talents.
Captain Ri’s parents Ri Chung-ryeol (Jeon Kuk-hwan) and Kim Yun-hui (Jung Ae-ri), and Se-ri’s parents Yoon Jeung-pyeong (Nam Kyung-eup) and Han Jeong-yeon (Pang Eun-jin) were exceptional when they needed to be. That scene when Jung-hyeok’s abeoji pulled the trigger (quite literally) to save his son was intense and emotional at the same time. Especially when they focused on Jeong-hyeok’s look to his dad. It was the face of relief and longing (and yep, Hyun Bin showed that without any dialogues!).
The same could be said to Se-ri’s scene with her mom. She was a headstrong businesswoman but she looked like a little girl during her scenes with her mom. I think Jeong-yeon omma’s confession while Se-ri was sick will be a strong contender in my unforgettable scenes during our year-end special.
Another family relationship I loved from this series was Seo-dan’s Family. Omma Ko Myeong-eun (Jang Hye-jin) and Samchon Ko Myeong-seok (Park Myoung-hoon) were my runaway favorite relatives so far this year. Their antics might be hilarious to watch but it was closest to the depiction of real families. They would be there for you through thick and thin. Tipsy Ahjumma’s favourite scene was when Seo-dan’s omma talked to her while she was grieving Seung-jun’s death. It was a tender mother-daughter talk that ultimately helped Seo-dan moved forward with her pain.
Love is love no matter which side of the border you are on. Most of the time I stan the main heroes of a series but I guess for CLOY it was the whole supporting characters that made up for the almost-stereotypical journey of the two main leads. I became attached to the whole Company Five and the NK Village Ahjummas because they’ve shown that family love, camaraderie, and true friendship exists no matter where you’re from.
As for the whole series, this was another entertaining K-drama. There’s no denying to that. But was it ground-breaking? I don’t think so. It was conventional at most. Rather, this drama should be taken as an accessible Korean series for those starting to like productions from this country. It should be a starting point or a “luring factor” for non-K-drama fans to try out other much more compelling and hype-worthy dramas.
It was fun while it lasted. The actors should be credited for everything. Cliched tropes, outrageous scenarios, and over-the-top reunions and goodbyes – everything will remind you that it’s set in a fictional world despite the almost “real” backdrop. The only good thing, in my opinion, was that Kim Jung-hyun’s comeback was a success despite the character injustice. My most favorite takeaway? We met Lee Sin-young! Now, time to stop stalking BinJin or hallucinate whether they’re real or reel, move forward and wait for Lee Sin-young’s new drama where he will get more lines.
-Hyun Bin in soldier’s uniform? YASS!
-More Hyun Bin photos just because
-These kiss scenes made me wish they were real!
-I think Ha Seok-jin’s special appearance as Jeong-hyeok’s brother Ri Mu-hyeok deserves more love. Fans of this drama should also watch Ha Seok-jin’s other series!
-Se-ri’s brother Yoon Se-jun (Choi Dae-hoon) and his wife Do Hye-ji (Hwang Woo-seulhye) were the real winners from this series. Their prayer meetings worked in the end.
-Se-ri’s staff: Secretary Hong Chang-sik (Ko Kyu-pil) and Insurance agent Park Su-chan (Im Chul-soo) were the most endearing support cast from the south. It could have been better if they had some encounters with Company Five.
-The cameos were great! One of my favorite scenes for the whole series was Ju-meok’s meeting with his ultimate bias Choi Ji-woo. From the moment I saw him watching Stairway to Heaven (while on duty! I think I’m guilty of that too haha) I really wished his fanboy dream would come true. Some of the noteworthy cameos were Se-ri’s celebrity ex-boyfriend Jung Kyung-ho (Cha Sang-u), taxi driver Park Sung-woong, wedding dress shop owner Na Young-hee, and of course, Kim Soo-hyun appearing as Dong-gu.
-Son Ye-jin throwing finger hearts to everyone is adorable but I think a jealous Hyun Bin is cuter
-These NIS agents made me crave for light comedy spy series ala Terius Behind Me. And can we have NIS Section Chief Kim Yoo Jung-ho, NIS Agents Han Dong-ho and Choi Seung-yoon there as well?
– IU sang the finale soundtrack for this series. I repeat. IU SANG ONE OF THE OSTs FOR THIS SERIES!!!