An Honest Review Of 'Crash Landing On You'

K-drama veterans Hyun Bin and Son Ye Jin ~crash land ~into our hearts with their new drama.
PHOTO: CRASH LANDING ON YOU/NETFLIX

The Long Plot, Sans Spoilers

Yoon Se-ri (Son Ye Jin) has made a name for herself in the fashion world in South Korea in spite of the fact that she is the estranged daughter from one of the country's top conglomerate families. Just before her father formally hands over the company to her, and not to either of her two older brothers (which, from my K-drama-based knowledge, is a taboo move as companies always are inherited by the son), she finds herself in North Korea after a paragliding accident due to crazy weather. Read: a twister-like wind storm!

The man who finds her is Ri Jeong-hyeok (Hyun Bin), a military officer of the DPRK, while doing a routine check on their side of the DMZ. He makes the decision to help keep her safe and to get her back home…even if it means jeopardizing everything in his life.

To make matters more complicated, two people from both Se-ri and Jeong-hyeok's pasts are now involved: Jeong-hyeok's fiancée from an arranged marriage, Seo Dan (Seo Ji Hye)  has returned after a long stint abroad; and Gu Seung-jun (Kim Jung Hyun), a fraud who is on the run after tricking businessmen into deals (Se-ri's brother included), has sought refuge in North Korea and bumps into Se-ri by chance.

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Se-ri's identity has to be kept a secret from the people in North Korea but needs her family in the South to know that she is alive. As the situation grows tense and feelings creep in, Jeong-hyeok and Se-ri navigate their unusual situation without getting into deep sh*t.

The Short, Honest Plot

Two people from opposing landsone, a wealthy heiress and fashion mogul hailing from the South, the other, a principled military man from the Northfall in love under unbelievable circumstances.

The Actors And Where You Last Saw Them

Son Ye Jin as Yoon Se-ri

If you stream dramas on Netflix, you may recognize her from Something In The Rain, where she starred alongside Jung Hae In. This was her drama comeback after a five-year hiatus from the small screen. During her break from TV, she concentrated on doing films.

 

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Hyun Bin as Ri Jeong-hyeok 

You may recognize him from Memories Of The Alhambra, where he starred opposite Park Shin Hye (you can also stream this on Netflix). He is most famous among K-drama fans for starring in Secret Garden (2010) alongside Ha Ji Won.

Seo Ji Hye as Seo Dan 

She last appeared in the drama Heart Surgeons in 2018. Fans of Super Junior's Siwon may recognize her as his leading lady in the 2007 mini-series Legend Of Hyang Dan.

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Kim Jung Hyun as Gu Seung-jun 

In 2018, he starred in Welcome To Waikiki and Time. However, due to health reasons, his character was naturally written out of the plot for Time.

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Did You Know?

1. Most of the cast have worked with each other in previous films but have not actually acted in any scenes together prior to this drama. Even though Seo Ji Hye worked with Hyun Bin in Rampant and with Kim Jung Hyun in Don't Dare To Dream, she wasn't able to share any scenes with either actor.

Son Ye Jin and Hyun Bin were cast as leads for the action crime thriller film The Negotiation but mostly filmed separately. During the Crash Landing On You press conference, Hyun Bin admitted, "I wished I could [have shared] scenes with her, and I thought it would be fun to do that in a project that is different from The Negotiation."

2. This is Hyun Bin's second time playing a North Korean character. His delivery of the North Korean dialect was so convincing in Confidential Assignment that director Lee Jeong Hyo thought he would fit the role for Jeong-hyeok perfectly.

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3. To recreate parts of North Korea, the production team had to film in different locations. The DMZ scenes were shot in Jeju while the train sequences and Pyeongyang Station were filmed in Mongolia.

4. Director Lee Jeong Hyo had a four-hour conversation with Kim Jung Hyun over dinner and drinks before casting him since this would be his comeback after taking a hiatus due to health issues.

5. Prior to the release of the drama, it was rumored that Hyun Bin and Son Ye Jin were dating, which they both denied. Despite the speculation, both weren't deterred from joining the cast. Son Ye Jin said during the press con that she "didn't hesitate at all to [join] the cast" as she loved the script. Director Lee Jeong Hyo even teased that "their chemistry would be great!" LOL!

6. There is a song with the same Korean title as the drama by Park Nam Jeong. Although this was not a conscious choice of the writer and director—the title just so happened to fit the story.

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What My Friends Think:

"[The show] is quite interesting to me since I've never watched a drama that dealt with North and South Korean relations. TBH, when I heard the premise of the drama, I was really like, 'Ooh, what's this?'

Some of the military scenes made me question how much of this is based on real-life situations.

I have also never seen a Hyun Bin drama before but I know na why people go crazy over him! I'm not in the thick of the romance plot yet, so I'm still waiting for his appeal to hit me full force. Son Ye Jin is great in this. I like her character more than the last drama I watched her in…I love seeing a strong woman character who knows who she is! It's also interesting to me that the women seem to be the stronger and more dynamic characters." Ciary

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"I enjoy the lighthearted moments of the series and the friendships between Se-ri and the soldiers. Though most likely fictional, I find it interesting how the show is able to highlight both the differences and similarities of North and South Korea through their interactions, reminding people that at the end of the day, they still have a shared cultural origin. My favorite character is definitely Jeong-hyeok, who is a stick in the mud learning to loosen up. His petty moments make me laugh out loud!" Isabel

What I Think:

Even if I attended the press conference for this drama back in early December, it still didn't prepare me for how good the writing is and of course, the kilig! What I appreciated right away was how well the characters are written. First episode pa lang, you could already tell that these aren't wishy-washy characters. When Se-ri was introduced to us during the junket, she was mainly described as part of Korea's elite but left out the part where she had established her own name and brand after leaving her family business. IDK about you, but I love me a strong female lead! As the series progresses, we get to see these characters fleshed out as they interact with each other. I even grew fond of the soldiers and ladies of the military village, and am very curious to see how Gu Seung-jun's fraudulent character develops (will he turn over a new leaf?!).

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The writers were able to balance the serious aspects of the drama with really light-hearted and sometimes comedic moments. The fact that Se-ri accidentally crossed over to (a fictitious version of) North Korea, and a DPRK military officer is purposefully protecting her is already risky…but of course, there are so many added layers to this that it keeps me on edge! Luckily, I have my cousin to fangirl with every weekend. Crash Landing On You also has its fair share of typical K-drama moments. Finding the other person in a crowd (everyone else is blurry but sila lang yung naka-focus), sharing a small bed, the undying wrist grabthey're peppered throughout the episodes, and well-spaced enough that it isn't *too* much. Although, it'd be a lie to say that they don't work on me anymore.

One thing that continues to get me is the production team's portrayal of North Korea. Even though it was emphasized by the director himself that it is not an accurate depiction of the country, and not to mention that before each episode begins there is a disclaimer, I'm still quite astounded. I guess it's because very little is known about the daily life of North Korean citizens. Most of the information I know is because of news bits of the dictatorial regime. In our exclusive interview with our leads, Hyun Bin did mention that the speech coach they were working with said that the scenes shot in Mongolia really captured the feel of North Korea. Through the supporting characters, I think the show has so far done a really great job at humanizing the everyday North Korean, so to speak.

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The series is half-way through, and the conflicts and love story are picking up steam! I don't see myself dropping the series at all. If you haven't started this, I suggest waiting until the series is almost over so you can binge 'cause the cliffhangers are getting more intense!

Each episode also has a short clip at the end of the credits (read: not just a sneak peek of what's coming up). Think extended scene. Those give you a clue about what happened in the episode that made you go "Who? What? Why?!" or gives a little insight into a particular character or just make you extra kilig. Don't miss out on those 'cause it's definitely a nice touch!

I'd Recommend It To:

Your mom/titas! I think because it's not a coming-of-age story, more mature audiences will appreciate it. This is also for more seasoned drama watchers since it gets right down to the action. But I feel like newbies will enjoy this, too, since the writing is really good. If I was able to handle Descendants Of The Sun as my first K-drama, this will also sit well with first-timers (but like me and my first K-drama, a lot of the extraness that comes with a drama will leave you blown away). I would also recommend watching this with someone (be it your officemate, kabarkada, and in my case, my cousin) so you can discuss all your ~feels~ together!

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Stream Crash Landing On You on Netflix.

Follow Daniella on Instagram.

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