K-Pop and K-Dramas: Boys Over Flowers

Screenshot from ‘Boys Over Flowers’ starring (from left) Lee Min-ho, Ku Hye-sun, Kim Hyun-joong, Kim Bum, and Kim Joon. Copyright goes to Group 8 and KBS.

Hi! It’s Annie!

I apologize for going back and forth between Halloween season and posting couple-y romantic things; but the fall season makes me think about fall things to do as a couple. So, as a single person, I am finding solace through this. You probably are wondering why I am choosing now to talk about ‘Boys Over Flowers’ considering it could be argued that this is the most popular K-drama of all time. This is because I just sat down and watched it in the past week. I know, I know, it’s insane that I got that far into K-drama without watching this one; but I actually had watched the first episode pretty early into my venture through K-drama….and I didn’t like it. I’M SORRY! It was just a lot of cheese and made me cringe a lot. But I kept hearing more and more about this and I felt I couldn’t go any longer without actually watching the series, so here are my thoughts. Just a warning; I don’t completely trash it, but you might not be too happy with my thoughts on it over-all. I like it! But I don’t think it’s as good as everyone made it out to be. WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!

The Good:

  • Yoon Ji-hu. I REALLY liked his character from the beginning. When the rest of F4 seemed like awful bullies, he stood out as being kind hearted. Even if he did come off as kind of cold. It’s hard to not notice how much of a soft boy he becomes as the series goes on, and really you feel bad for him. He loses his first love, then is forced several times to give up his second. When the main characters are being stupid, he goes out of his way to get them back together even though he really likes Geum Jan-di. This is the most selfless character in this series, and it’s absolutely heartbreaking to watch. They try and play off his ending as being happy, but it doesn’t really feel that way. You just can’t help but feel that he deserves better than everything he’s gotten. His ending feels a little bit like a cheat and you just want to hug him.
  • The sub-plot romance. You might recall me saying not too long ago that one of the only sub-plot romances in dramas like these that I like is the one in ‘Crash Landing Into You’. (Note: Please do not watch it if you don’t want to cry because it absolutely broke my heart and I’m still kind of inconsolable.) This drama can be added onto the small list of sub-plot romances that I like. In fact, this may be blasphemy, but I liked the sub-plot romance here better than I liked the main plot romance. At the beginning you aren’t really expecting So Yi-jung and Chu Ga-eul to get together. They are on the absolute opposite sides of the personality spectrum and So Yi-jung is a complete womanizer. But when he sees her crying and offers to help her make her ex-boyfriend jealous, things escalate from there. What’s even better about this is while the main plot deals with dramatic plot points tearing their couple apart, this deals with more realistic things like mental state and not being able to let go. To be honest, I would have rather seen a series about this romance than the main one. Both actors are phenomenal in their roles as these two, whose past attempts to tear apart their future together. There’s one particular scene where So Yi-jung is sobbing on top of a rooftop and Ga-eul is trying to comfort him. It is an absolutely heartbreaking scene and the acting is amazing. In the end Ga-eul is still convinced that So Yi-jung doesn’t really want a relationship with her, and the casual way in which he convinces her that he does want her feels realistic, is warm, and is romantic. There’s not large gestures, just seeking for mutual understanding. The look on So Yi-jung’s face when he comes back and realizes that Ga-eul has still been calling him her boyfriend after all this time is the cutest.
  • F4. Even if one of them or more than one of them is being annoying at some point in time; the group as a whole definitely works. Their friendships are well established and feel real. The group of actors have excellent chemistry together. I especially like how they developed the relationship between every single member of F4 and Geum Jan-di. She really felt like she became part of the group, rather than being pushed into being the awkward girlfriend around all her boyfriend’s friends. When Gu Jun-pyo tries to give up Geum Jan-di for various different reasons throughout the series, the boys are always standing up for her and making sure their friend knows that they are not happy with his decisions. It’s really cute how close they all are with her.

The Bad:

  • The main plot romance. I’m really sorry, but I just didn’t completely buy it. And no, it’s not because I ship Geum Jan-di with Yoon Ji-hu. As cute as those wedding pictures were, I think Yoon Ji-hu deserves someone who would only want to be with him. It could have been because of some of the absurd plot points that I didn’t like. There was way too much drama with Gu Jun-pyo’s mother for me and the weird revenge plot storyline and I don’t tend to like amnesia storylines. (Even though I will admit that Gu Jun-pyo regaining his memories because she fell into the water was cute.) But I honestly think it might be because I never was able to get over the very beginnings of this relationship. It is very clear at the beginning of their relationship that Gu Jun-pyo has unreciprocated feelings for Geum Jan-di, and he at first attempts to buy her love. He tries to bribe her into being his girlfriend a few times, and the way they actually start dating is him announcing that she’s his girlfriend so that people stop bullying her at school. But that’s not my main issue here. My issue is all of the times at the beginning of their relationship that Gu Jun-pyo reacted rashly because he was jealous of Geum Jan-di’s relationship with Yoon Ji-hu. I mean, she shouldn’t have had all those moments where she was essentially leading them both on. She seems to do that a lot throughout the series. But absolutely nothing justifies his actions. Especially when he tries to forcibly kiss her because of his jealousy while she struggles against him. That scene was horrifying to watch, and nothing throughout the rest of the series was able to make me forget that.
  • The treatment of women. The women in this show are often treated as damsels in distress and are often victims of rash decisions their boyfriends make. I touched on the main plot romance above, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the club date scene with the sub-plot couple. Also horrifying. She sits there while he treats her horribly that entire night, including flirting with several other women at once in front of her face. He later jokingly offers her to his father. In no world is any of this ok. Even if he did mean this as a joke. I will admit that, unlike the main plot couple, this couple features a character going through severe depression. He also makes it up to her, again, unlike the main plot couple. But that still doesn’t make his behavior any better. I understand that this show is kind of old, but that knowledge doesn’t make these scenes any easier to watch.
  • The main characters. I don’t know what it was, but I just wasn’t drawn in by the main characters in this. If you read my post about ‘The King: Eternal Monarch’, you’ll know that I really like Lee Min-ho as an actor. He’s able to bring charm into any character he’s playing and he’s always fun to watch. I just don’t think this character learns enough by the end. Yes, he’s much less of a spoiled brat and much more responsible and I respect that. But he’s still really possessive and rash. The main female character is presented as capable, but when you actually look at it she doesn’t feel capable. You can’t just tell your audience that your main character is independent and capable and then keep putting her in situations where she has to be saved. I mean, everyone has a moment where they need to be saved or helped at some point, but not all the time. It begins to feel like almost every episode with Geum Jan-di and it was kind of disappointing for a character they were constantly trying to convince us was strong.

To be honest, I’m pretty neutral on this drama. It wasn’t the best I’ve ever seen, but it wasn’t the worst ever. It was a cute and entertaining watch. Looking back, I’m actually really glad that neither couple ends up together immediately at the end of the show. I don’t think either couple was quite ready for a relationship and probably needed that time gap. (Even though I was a little sad when So Yi-jung told Ga-eul he was leaving for Sweden for two years.) It makes sense for the story and where they were in their relationships. The immaturity of the relationships could be really difficult to watch at times. Maybe I would have liked this drama better if I hadn’t gone in with such high expectations after hearing so much about it. But over-all I liked it and if somebody wanted to watch it I’d definitely watch it with them! And, whether you like this show or not, we all have to admit that ‘Making a Lover’ by SS501 is a bop.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

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