The only thing comparable to the tension and drama in K-dramas is the real-life relations between South Korea and North Korea. While there have been promising steps in recent years, it is still difficult for North Koreans and South Koreans to even freely travel into each other countries.
It is not surprising that this animosity is used used to drive the plots for several K-dramas. These shows tend to be more action-driven with stories about spies and deception with unfortunate endings. However, its deviation from that norm, is what makes Crash Landing on You an interesting story. In this K-drama, viewers watch as love blossoms in the quiet countryside of North Korea. On top of depicting the more tedious side of North Korea, the show depicts villains from both countries without bias. The main couple struggles to enjoy their budding romance as the reality of their situation sets in.
The story begins when Yoon Se-ri (Son Ye-jin) gets caught in strong winds accidentally paragliding into North Korea. What should be the start of a frightening experience, turns about to be the beginning of a romantic comedy. After escaping from Ri Jung-hyuk (Hyun Bin) and his crew, she makes her way into a small village. In order to save face and keep their jobs, the crew concludes that they must secretly help Se-ri back to South Korea. As part of her cover, Se-ri lives in the village as Jung-hyuk’s fiance.
Se-ri is not your average South Korean citizen. She is a successful business owner, scandalous celebrity and heiress of a conglomerate. On top of the sudden cultural shock, she also deals with experiencing a lifestyle that she is not used to. The K-drama showcases the lives of villagers as they partake in gossip, daily chores, and other mundane tasks. There is not anything particularly tragic about their lifestyle and they do not sit around longing to escape to South Korea. Despite their differences, Se-ri begins fitting in with the other housewives and even has long discussions about K-dramas with one of the soldiers. By showing as this more casual side of North Korea, we get to see the similarities between them and any other small town.
The story also showcases villains from both countries as they attempt to stop Se-ri from returning to her country. In doing so, the K-drama makes the statement that neither side is free from unethical people. Se-ri’s own brother (Park Hyoung-Soo) finds out she is trapped in North Korea and purposedly prevents her return. While Cho Cheol-Gang (Oh Man-Seok) is desperately trying to find a reason to arrest Jung-hyuk’s in order to stop Jung-hyuk from investigating his brother’s death.
Goo Seung-joon (Kim Jung-hyun) and Seo Dan (Seo Ji-Hye), are both the second-leads, but bland characters that do little to entice the viewer to their side when it comes to romance. However, Seung-joon brings up valid points to Se-ri when he asks, “Will you live with him in North Korea? Or?…Will you bring him to Seoul? What are you going to do?” Unfortunately, neither choice is feasible at this point. The second-leads may be boring but they both represent logical and practical choices for both Se-ri and Jung-hyuk. The main characters can try to be together and risk their lives or they can choose the safer choices to ensure their survival.
Despite being a romantic comedy, Crash Landing on You seems to be set up for an unfortunate ending. However, depressing endings does not necessarily mean it will be an unsatisfying ending. Ultimately, this K-drama shines a different side to North Korean citizens as they try to live their every day lives like anyone else. It is sad to see that they are being kept apart simply because they were born on different sides of the same peninsula. I am definitely eager to see how the second half of this K-drama wraps up the story and how they continue to portray all of the facets of North Korea.
(CNN. Images via tvN and Netflix.)