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30 March 2020

K Drama Review: Crash Landing on You (2019)

I'm writing this after finishing Crash Landing on You (CLOY) in just a week and watching 5 episodes today. You can just imagine how puffy my eyes are right now. It's almost 3 in the morning but I need to do this now if I were to function properly as a wife, mother, employee, and teacher this week. :D


I know I'm late to the party. I started seeing CLOY posts on my Facebook feed around December. I knew it must have been a good one because a lot of people were raving about it. But, I hate being a bandwagoner. And it was around the busy Christmas season so I didn't watch it right away. I knew I was going to watch it eventually but I still had a lot of shows on my to watch list. And being a stickler for lists, I cannot allow CLOY to cut the line. :D Then Taal happened. Then COVID.  I was about to lose my sanity from staying home everyday and reading all these horrible news and getting tired of being part of so many chat groups for buying different stuff for delivery. I decided to finally skip the line and watch CLOY but only after watching Parasite. I wanted to watch something that was really good to make it worth my time and to help me regain my sanity. And based on the posts I've been seeing, these 2 were legit. I went to Netflix and found out that Parasite was not there. Haha. I wanted something I can watch on my phone so I had to skip Parasite as well and headed straight to CLOY. And that was probably one of the best decisions I've ever made in my life.

I don't regret watching CLOY late. My low EQ would have killed me if I had to wait for a week for the next episode.


Honestly, when I started watching CLOY, I was doubtful that it was as good as advertised. I found it quite slow. Captain Ri (Hyun Bin) did not strike me as a good looking one RIGHT AWAY. He reminded me of Jake Cuenca and Chito Miranda. Haha. Se-ri (Son Ye-jin) was pretty. But I found the first episode so-so. I decided it was still worth watching because of the North Korean references. Then things picked up eventually. I guess I got hooked when Se-ri was caught hiding in Captain Ri's underground food storage and he introduced her as his fiancee. There was no turning back for me from that point.


The story is basically about South Korean heiress Se-ri who got into a paragliding accident and crash landed on North Korea where Capt. Ri rescued her. He and his team did their best to hide and protect her and get her back to the South safely. Of course, there were many twists and turns in between. But the essence was Se-ri and Capt. Ri fell in love with each other in a way that is probably comparable to a modern day Romeo and Juliet.

Capt. Ri grew on me. Yes, I did not find him that dashing in the beginning. Probably it had something to do with the military style haircut. I found him more adorable in his Seoul hairstyle. When I looked for his old photos, I realized that well, Capt. Ri is probably the best version of Hyun Bin. I must say that he is aging so so well. For him to still look good at his age means he must be doing something right. And he's not just good looking. Some behind the scenes videos show that he's also musically inclined. He guessed the notes Son Ye-jin played on the piano. 

As with most Korean actors, Hyun Bin got me with his eyes. They spoke volumes. He was the quiet type and his eyes said so much more than his words could ever say. I felt his wistfulness, pride in watching Se-ri shine, anger, competitiveness, softness, and of course, his love. I loved his fight scenes. And I adored the way he'd pout like a little boy when he felt bad. 

And who can forget how he had his way with words. Yes, he was mostly silent. But when he spoke, I absolutely melted. Telling Se-ri he'd protect her as long as he's within her sight. Calling Se-ri her woman. And telling Se-ri he wants to marry her, see her with gray hair and wrinkles, and have kids and grow old with her. Those things made me really bawl because I knew theirs was a very complicated love story.


I would have to say that Hyun Bin is a very good actor. He was able to balance the tenderness and softness with firmness and strength when needed towards Se-ri. He'd act like he didn't care but he was decisive and in-charge, when necessary. The scene that captured this for me was when Se-ri went back to her paraglide balloon (?) in an attempt to go back to South Korea. Capt. Ri looked indifferent but when the troops were almost there, he decisively hugged Se-ri and jumped with her. Where can we buy that kind of man? Haha. (Although it still boggles me where they landed and how the soldiers were not able to see that huge and colorful balloon.)


Another scene would have been Se-ri's supposed departure to join the North Korean track team. Capt. Ri did not even want to give her a hug. But he secretly followed her in his motorcycle and rescued her in a very astig and good looking fashion. *sigh*


Now I'm confused if I'm in love with Hyun Bin or just Capt. Ri or RiRi's love story. I would need to sort that out one of these days. :D 



Se-ri was pretty and adorable. I loved how she projected a bitch image but she was really a softy and a good person inside. I like how her character developed throughout the show. Hers was a sad life. It was ironic that probably some of the happiest times of her life were spent in an unknown, unfamiliar, and unsafe place. She deserved to be happy. She deserved a happy ending after all the heartaches she had to go through. 

Apart from the main characters, I also loved Capt. Ri's men. Park Kwang Beom (Lee Shin Young) was so good looking. He would probably make it big in future K dramas. I loved how his character was quiet but among the 4, he was the most loyal to Capt. Ri. He was very thoughtful and would always check on him. Thus, it's no surprise that Capt. Ri probably trusted him the most.

Kim Joo Muk (Yoo Soo Bin) was the K drama addict who helped bridge the gap between Se-ri and his comrades. He was funny and I felt that he genuinely cared for Se-ri.


Keum Eun Dong (Tang Joon Sang) was the baby of the group. I loved how he grew throughout the series. From a naive and shy young soldier, he evolved into a confident one. My heart broke for him when he was in South Korea. He seemed to really love his experience there and probably, if it were not for his family, he would have chosen to stay.


Pyo Chi Soo (Yang Kyung Won) was the funniest of the four. I enjoyed his love-hate relationship with Se-ri. He was super vain and believed that he was good looking. I'm proud that he got promoted to captain when Capt. Ri left.

I also adored Se-ri's girl gang (Kim Sun Young, Kim Jung Nan, Jang So Yeon, and Cha Chung Hwa) in Capt. Ri's military housing. They were loud, funny, and annoying at times but I know that they genuinely cared for Se-ri.


Although their scenes were limited, I had so much love and respect for the mothers of Capt. Ri and Se-ri. I loved how they carried out their roles with such quiet dignity and how they supported their children's complicated love story. 


The villains were so despicable, especially Cho Cheol-gang (Oh Man-seok), Se-ri's second brother and his wife.


There were exes and other characters. In some instances, I felt that their storylines were unnecessary. But I guess the show had to balance things a bit too. If it were all Capt. Ri and Se-ri, I would have been crying the entire time while watching the show. These other characters made things a bit lighter, giving me some sort of reprieve from bawling. And I appreciate how the show still strove to depict character development even if their roles were not as important as the main characters. 


And of course, I ended up loving the story. Even the slow start worked out well because it was a good build up for the succeeding episodes. I had this vague memory of reading somewhere that someone was going to die at the end. For people to be talking about it, I assumed it was either Se-ri or Capt. Ri. I didn't bother finding out through spoilers because I wanted to find out myself. So I had this ending in mind. I'm not sure if this affected my over-all appreciation of the show. I was so sure it was Capt. Ri. But when Se-ri was shot, I felt it could be her too. This probably contributed to why I was so emotional while watching this show.

There were many, many scenes to love. Every kilig Capt. Ri and Se-ri moment was memorable of course. Like their first kiss when Capt. Ri was hospitalized (official lovey kiss, I mean, because their first kiss was on the boat). 

Or their kiss when Se-ri crossed the DMZ and Capt. Ri followed her. I was secretly hoping he would defect with her. But that would have been boring, I guess, hehe. I love how K dramas don't overdo kisses. Mas kilig tuloy when they do it. 


I just wanted a proper date for Capt. Ri and Se-ri and I felt so bad that they were not able to do it in North Korea. I guess it would have been difficult to execute there. I'm glad that they finally got the chance to do that in the South and in Switzerland. And of course, who can forget the ring episode. *sigh* And the programmed messages Capt. Ri sent to Se-ri even if he were already back in North Korea. And how he filled up her ref and cupboard with notes on how to cook stuff. (*desperately searching for a clone on Amazon*) 


Episode 6 was a turning point for me. I realized how big the problem was of sending Se-ri back home and how it could have repercussions for Capt. Ri and his men. The show became heavy for me from this point. Crayola sessions na every episode.


It was a nice plot twist to bring the rest of Capt. Ri's men to the South. But I felt that it took them an unnecessarily long time to find Capt. Ri and Se-ri. Their reunions were just so heart warming. I'm glad these guys were able to visit South Korea. Their brotherhood was truly admirable. Their loyalty, love, and respect for Capt. Ri, which they extended to Se-ri as well, were just amazing. They skipped the bus to return to North Korea, risking their lives and their families, in order to protect Se-ri. They gathered around Capt. Ri when the Military Director was about to ambush them. Where can we ever find friends like that? 


I loved how this show tried to close the loop on everything. I was afraid that Se-ri and Capt. Ri would go their separate ways without knowing that they met in Switzerland several years ago and that Capt. Ri composed the song that Se-ri loved. Even minor things like Capt. Ri and Eun Dong playing video games against each other was given closure. So yes, I think the show did a good job and I personally don't see any need for a season 2. Sure, we love Se-ri and Capt. Ri but I'm afraid that prolonging the show might do more harm than good. But on second thought, my mushy self says it would be nice to know if they'd finally settle down and have kids and grow old together. 


I also loved the historical bit. I felt sad yet hopeful everytime they mentioned the unification of the 2 Koreas. It was very apt for Se-ri to say that the complications her love story with Capt. Ri faced were not because of any personal fault but these were due to a sad history. I especially loved how Capt. Ri and his men cheered alongside South Koreans while watching a football match against Japan. Maybe it's wishful thinking, but for the families separated, I guess it would be nice to see the 2 Koreas united again.


Although North Korea was obviously more unsafe and not as modern as the South, I felt that the scenes the cast had in North Korea were more genuine. They were happier perhaps because life there was simpler. I also found the scenes there more exciting probably because of the danger that came with them.


I’ve always said that music is one of the strengths of K dramas. CLOY was no exception. But I admittedly overlooked it here because everything else about the show was great - the story, visuals, setting, characters, cast, storytelling, etc. But I definitely fell in love with Capt. Ri’s song for his brother that I coerced Oppa to turn it into my ring and text tones. After finishing the show, I listened to the OST and it’s really fantastic. All the songs brought back memories of the show and evoked feelings from deep within. *sigh*


There were some flaws in the show but I would rather not dwell on them. I'd gloss over them because over-all, the show was fantastic. It was about a love that knew no boundaries (literally and figuratively) and lovers who were willing to risk it all for the one they loved. The endless goodbyes were becoming exhausting at some point. But as Se-ri's mother said, you still need a proper goodbye even if you've said it numerous times already and you feel that you've said enough. Who knows it might really be the last one already.  

In the end, Se-ri and Capt. Ri both lived. They didn't die, contrary to the spoiler I saw. They almost died several times but they made it. Honestly, I would have been okay with them being separated for the rest of their lives as long as they were both alive. I know that would have been sad but it would have been worse if one died and the other had to live in sorrow. But CLOY wanted to make up for all the tears they made me shed while watching the show and they rewarded me with a happy ending. Capt. Ri and Se-ri eventually found their way back to each other. They deserved to be together after all the pain and suffering they had to go through. Two weeks a year together might seem insignificant but for 2 people who thought they would never see each other again, I guess that would already be like heaven. I can only hope that they can finally live their happily ever after. :)


*edited a few days later to gush more on Hyun Bin, haha. I might just watch this again because I am honestly having a hard time moving on from it. Perhaps I’d appreciate it even more now that I know how it will end. :D


Thoughts After Watching it a Second Time


In the past, I vowed not to re-watch shows or movies or re-read books. It was a waste of time for me to do something that I've already done before. I also vowed not to go crazy over actors and actresses when I didn't hear from Lea Salonga after sending her numerous snail mail when she was in London doing Miss Saigon (I was probably 10 years old at that time). But we live in different times right now. CLOY and Hyun Bin helped tide me over during this pandemic/quarantine. I felt so invested in the story that I made a u-turn on the vows I made in the past. I re-watched CLOY, this time with Oppa. And I'm going crazy over Hyun Bin. Haha. 


I thought of just editing the earlier review I made but I guess that would be unfair. I need to segregate my emotions from the first time I watched it. So I'm adding this as a sort of epilogue. :)

I believe I need to revisit my earlier declaration of Hyun Bin as a great actor. Watching CLOY the second time made me realize that yes, he is good but I should stop gushing. He is definitely not perfect acting-wise. He still LOOKS perfect to me but I'd have backtrack a bit on his skills as an actor. He handled the cute parts really well - showing off his dimples, pouting when he's jealous or he does not get what he wants, stealing glances. He's perfect for the action/fight scenes too. He's a credible soldier/fighter. After watching some of his earlier shows and movies, I would say that his past characters prepared him well for his role as Capt. Ri. He did taekwondo in Spin Kick. He was a bodyguard in Ireland. He was a boxer in The Snow Queen. He was a rich kid in Kim Sam Soon. So yes, the Capt. Ri character was perfect for him. But I would have to admit that he is not that good in handling drama scenes. He's okay with the restrained drama with just a bit of tears rolling down his eyes. But heavy drama is something he needs to work on. This was very evident in his scene after Se-ri was shot. It looked awkward. 

Oppa said that it was Se-ri who carried the show. This time around, I would have to agree. Yes, the show demanded a lot from Son Ye-jin acting-wise. She had to show a plethora of emotions unlike Hyun Bin who had to appear tough and fine most of the time (probably the reason why his drama scenes hurt me so much because I knew it must have really been breaking point for him already when he showed his raw emotions). 


But with regard to their love story, I would say that it demanded so much more from Capt. Ri. He was the rock that made their love story solid and possible. I loved his quiet yet steady presence. I already mentioned in my first review that he was very decisive. I loved how well he planned things.  I wonder if he planned joining the national symphony orchestra to have a bigger chance of meeting Se-ri again. Probably he just didn't let her know because he didn't want her to expect and be disappointed if the plans don't push through. 


Another major take away I had from watching CLOY again was that Se-ri was the sadder character between the two lead stars. Yes, she was rich and pretty. But nobody really loved her. There was no one for her. As I mentioned above, it was ironic that she was probably happiest and most loved in an unfamiliar and unsafe place. Yes, Capt. Ri lost his brother. But he had his parents. His men loved him. He was a well-respected solider. He's well-off. Even his love life was taken care of, albeit in an arranged manner. So he definitely had a happier life compared to Se-ri. 


This realization led me to ask Oppa if he would prefer living in North Korea where you're loved and happy but not free or in the South where you're safe, rich, and free but unloved. Oppa replied that it was a matter of perspective, depending on what you value more as a person.  


And he's right. It's all about what is more important to you. It was like the tough decision that Capt. Ri and Se-ri had to make that was narrated when Se-ri was in coma. Se-ri said that even if she knew how things would end, she would still pick the dangerous and sad choice because she still wanted to fall in love with Capt. Ri. Capt. Ri on the other hand said that he would wish that he never met Se-ri so that she can continue living a safe and healthy life. So yes, they both loved and deeply cared for each other but they had different ways of showing that. 


This is also similar to the question Se-ri was thinking about just before she met Capt. Ri again in Seoul. She wondered if love meant she should wish for Capt. Ri to be miserable because he missed and loved her or if she should want him to be living a happy life away from her. I guess in love, there is no right or wrong answer. Both choices have their own pros and cons and you should never be blamed for picking one over the other. 


While reading CLOY reviews, I came across a comment that really struck me. CLOY is great because it spoke of a mature kind of love. Something that oldies like me would probably relate to. Young love, while it is cute and sweet and romantic, tends to be clingy and selfish and irresponsible. 


This mature kind of love was very evident when Capt. Ri, despite professing his great love for Se-ri saying he didn't want to go back and he wants to stay to marry, have kids, and grow old with her,  still chose to go back. It must have hurt him a lot. It was the more difficult choice to make. But it was the responsible choice. He knew that staying would have dire consequences on his parents and on his men and their families. And that's how mature love should be. It is selfless. It's acknowledging that the world does not revolve on just the lovers alone. That you have to be considerate about how your decisions will affect the people around you. 


And mature love is patient. It waits. It finds ways no matter how long and tough the road ahead may be. Capt. Ri captured this perfectly when he said that they should live as if they would see each other the following day. You hope and wait. But not in despair. You still need to continue living your life. Because it's your responsibility to live a good life. You owe it to yourself and the people around you especially to those who depend on you. And as Capt. Ri said during Se-ri's birthday, he would still be grateful for her birthdays even when they're apart because it means the person he loves was born and is breathing somewhere out there. You need to live well because there is still that teeny tiny chance that the thing you're hoping for, no matter how impossible it may seem, can still happen. 

This mature kind of love was also evident in the Gu Seung-joon (Kim Jung Hyun) and Seo Dan (Seo Ji Hye) love story. Dan loved Seung-joon even if she knew that he was a criminal. She was willing to wait for him to give him a chance. And Seung-joon wanted to fix himself and live a better life so he can be deserving of Dan. 


This leads me to another major realization. I was wrong to dismiss this second love story as boring or unnecessary when I first watched CLOY. I was too fixated on Ri-Ri that I was unable to fully appreciate the beauty of this other love angle. And I'm grateful that I watched it again because I can now see how special it was as well. Sure it didn't call for crossing borders but it was a bold kind of love in its own way. Loving a criminal when you're an uptight girl like Dan must have been very difficult. And risking your life when you've been selfish all along was just heroic for Seung-joon. So yes, apart from giving me a breathing room from crying, this second love story was also beautiful and necessary. 


Oppa pointed out that Kim Jung Hyun was actually a good actor. And I agree with him. The sleek way he handled the girls was really impressive. Even Dan's mother loved him. And he was really bad ass when he rescued Dan. 


I'm glad that the couples ended up that way. Capt. Ri and Dan were both so serious, formal, and uptight. Life would have been very boring if they married each other. But when they were with Se-ri and Seung-joon respectively, they smiled, loosened up, and looked genuinely happy. 


Some other nice things I noted:


  1. I loved how they juxtaposed the scene where Se-ri was shot with the scene where Capt. Ri's men promised him that they will protect her at all costs. It must have been heartbreaking for them to see her shot because they failed her and they broke their promise to Capt. Ri. 
  2. The scene where Eun-Dong (the baby soldier) was in Seoul and he bought clothes that resembled a school uniform was quite sad for me. Although he was already a soldier, he was still a kid who was probably forced to grow up fast to support his family. 
  3. That flatline ending in episode 15 showing both Se-ri and Seung-joon fighting for their lives was brilliant. I totally missed that during the first time I watched. I would have gone crazy if I watched that episode and had to wait for 24 hours before finding out who between the two died. 
  4. I loved the montage of the best Ri-Ri moments shown after Se-ri was shot. It was a wonderful way to look back at how much they've gone through in the short span of time that they were together. 

I thought I already loved CLOY the first time I watched it. But I've come to love it even more after watching it again. I watched it slower this time. I didn't watch a lot of episodes in a row so I was able to focus on even the minor details. I avoided missing the little things. I knew how it was going to end. So yes, it was a more relaxed viewing experience for me. But don't get me wrong. I still cried and laughed a lot, but this time, ahead of the drama or funny scenes because I already knew what was going to happen. The feels were still there but probably in a more controlled manner. After watching CLOY the first time, I felt so lost and down because I wanted more. I seriously needed a debriefing. A friend even said I would probably need to watch it three times before I can  move on. But this time, I think I'm okay. I don't feel the urge to watch it a third time (not yet, anyway). I'm at peace with how the show ended. And although I would still think of Ri-Ri and their great love story, I'd be happy watching other Hyun Bin  shows in the meantime. 


Hyun Bin and Son Ye-jin are nominees for best actor and actress at the Baeksang Awards (Korea's version of the Oscars). Of course, I want Hyun Bin to win but I have a feeling that Park Seo-joon's character in Itaewon Class might have more depth than Capt. Ri. I have not watched Itaewon Class yet but I've asked a friend and my sister who watched the show and they both felt that Park Seo-joon might win this over Hyun Bin. Oh well, not that it would change the way I feel about Hyun Bin. :D And I read an article comparing Hyun Bin's Capt. Ri and Park Seo Joon in Itaewon and prediction was Hyun Bin will win this one. So, yes, there's still hope. :) 


In relation to Baeksang, I read that Hyun Bin has never won a Baeksang Best Actor award. He's had a number of nominations and the first one was for The Snow Queen. 


As of now, CLOY is still number one for me among all the K dramas I've watched. And Hyun Bin is my favorite actor at the moment. I'm so happy that he's been tapped to endorse two Philippine brands so I can expect to see more of him. As I mentioned earlier, I will forever be grateful to CLOY and Hyun Bin for helping me get through this pandemic/quarantine. They've been very fruitful distractions for me. Now, back to ticking off more things in my Hyun Bin watch list. :)



Oppa says...it's a 4.25


Noona says...it's a 4.5

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