Since we’re still on Enhanced Quarantine brought about by COVID-19 and I do have a lot of time on my hands, I’ll be writing a series of blogs on what I have been watching while stuck at home. Hopefully, I’ll be able to keep my word on this. I oftentimes get lazy, ya know.
Side note: I initially thought that this should be No. 2 since Kingdom 2 is No. 1, but I realized that I technically binge-watched Kingdom 2 before the quarantine started. Therefore, this is really No. 1.
Mini-review: Crash Landing On You
***SPOILER ALERT***, although I really might not need it. I think I’m the only one left in my universe who hasn’t seen CLOY.
1. I actually am not sure if I’m ready to do this. CLOY is a heavily-loved K-drama, and I’m telling you now: if you’re expecting a write-up that will gush over the RiRi tandem, this isn’t it. Feel free to close this window right now.
2. I must admit that this drama suffered the “Meteor Garden Syndrome” on me. That is, one of those shows that was heavily hyped and everyone seems to have watched it and loved it, therefore, I’m not too keen on watching it. I just have that thing. But since I have a lot of time, I decided to go ahead and pop it in. Who knows, I might actually like it.
Verdict? I won’t say I did not like it. But I didn’t hate it, either. It belongs to the neutral category to me. After the last episode, I was like, “ok, done. Next?”
The plot itself is interesting, although not exactly new. As I went along with the episodes, I couldn’t help but notice that it’s really just a mish-mash of K-drama cliches that I have seen over years of watching them. At some point, I can already predict what the next plot twist is going to be. Mind you, I deliberately avoided anything CLOY-related even if it’s difficult because everyone, including people whom I know to be non-Koreanovela viewers, have seen it and are posting stuff about it on their social media feeds. So we can’t say that I know what’s going to happen next because, save for the general idea of the ending, I really don’t. I gotta commend the writer(s?) for piecing things together nicely, though.
3. My biggest beef here is the characterization of Yoon Se Ri (Son Ye Jin). Se Ri was established to be this smart, educated, career-driven, highly-successful South Korean woman. She’s a self-made CEO who did not depend on her family’s wealth to be successful. Then she accidentally crashed in North Korea, and she appeared to be totally clueless and naive about how things are there. I mean, really??? I can understand the NoKors if they are clueless about anything from the outside world because that’s how their government intended them to be. But South Korea also has this propaganda thing where they present North Korea as this dreadful place where nearly everyone basically has nothing. A highly-educated person like Se Ri would know that. I could understand if she was characterized as a spoiled brat chaebol. But she’s not; in fact, it was established right from the beginning that her father chose her over her brothers to inherit the family business because she’s the most capable one. For her to act totally clueless and insensitive of the plight of North Korean villagers doesn’t quite add up. I don’t know if recent events just made me super-sensitive of people who don’t check their privileges, but at some point, I got totally annoyed by Se Ri.
I have no beef against Son Ye Jin’s performance, though. I’ve always liked her. She’s one of the first Korean actresses I’ve known and cried buckets over. She’s convincing as both a strong woman and a damsel-in-distress, even if the character by itself is a conflicting one. Also, her wardrobe here – especially her shoes! – is gorgeous.
4. But the winner for the most fabulously-dressed character is Seo Dan (Seo Ji Hye). I looooove her outfits. From what I read, though, Seo Dan’s OOTDs would get her arrested in real-life North Korea. Her boots alone warrants at least an inspection and reprimand.
5. OK, so let’s talk about Hyun Bin.
Newbies to this blog – and by ‘newbies’, I meant readers from the Alden-era who have no idea about my issues with the guy – are most likely clueless and wondering as to why I am not keen on watching CLOY and it’s because of Hyun Bin. Let’s just say, if you’re an AlDub fan, you will never fully like Arjo Atayde no matter how handsome or how good an actor he is. I’m sorta like that with Hyun Bin.
With that out of the way, I will say… I am not smitten by Capt. Ri (as expected), but I will totally disagree with that remark from a Pinoy reporter (which eventually got Alden Richards bashed by K-drama fans) that Hyun Bin can’t act. Because no effin’ way that it’s true. Reading through my old blogs about Hyun Bin (by that, I mean the reviews I wrote about his past projects and not the parts where I fondly called him ‘Wannabe’), I wrote that HB was a good crier but only when he’s crying quietly. But he’s ugly when he’s sobbing. I think I wrote that in my review of Secret Garden. Watching CLOY, I realized that he has improved. He’s not an ugly crier anymore.
See? I just praised the guy. Things have changed and I’ve moved on. hahaha!
I still won’t call him guwapo because I still don’t think he is. Nevermind that I wrote in the past that he’s one of my Korean crushes. I think this was during the Kim Sam Soon era when he was still square-jawed. The one whom I did think was guwapo in CLOY is Lee Shin Young, who played the North Korean soldier who was handed calling cards by K-entertainment agency scouts when he was loitering around Cheongdam-dong because of his idol-material looks. He reminds me so much of Kim Soo Hyun. Who made a cameo on this drama, and I half-expected him to say that soldier Park (Lee Shin Young’s character) is his long-lost brother.
Anyway, back to Hyun Bin.
I do understand why nearly everyone got smitten with him on CLOY. Captain Ri, by itself, was meant to be loved. He’s got the makings of the classic K-drama Leading Man. Handsome, highly capable, powerful, and desperately in love. He’s the type who would literally give up his life for his woman. Of course, everyone would love him. The fact that Hyun Bin was able to portray the character effectively is an added bonus. I’m not surprised, though. From My Name Is Kim Sam Soon‘s Jin Hyeon to Secret Garden‘s Kim Joo Won, Hyun Bin has always played the charismatic male lead with flair, he’d be an expert by now.
6. Two things that I absolutely love in CLOY:
(a) The comrades, ie., the North Korean soldiers + the Rat; and
(b) The village ahjummas.
I love them. I just do.
Special mention also goes to Seo Dan’s mother, who also played the mother in Parasite. She’s such an excellent actress.
7. The one part that’s accurate in CLOY is the shout-out to Stairway to Heaven. From what I learned in our DMZ-Panmumjeom tour back in 2012, North Koreans usually learn about South Korea from dramas they illegally obtained through China. The particular NoKor defector who spoke to us said that her favorite drama is Stairway to Heaven. I heard that one of the CLOY writers is a North Korean defector so adding that tidbit to this drama, made even better with Choi Ji Woo’s cameo, is such a nice touch.
8. My one absolute favorite scene is the one where Capt. Ri and company were about to be slaughtered in secret by the Military Director and they were saved by Capt. Ri’s father. General Ri’s arrival was just bad-ass. Sorry, Capt. Ri. You’re charismatic and all, but your dad? Just outshone you.
9. I may be the only one who thinks this, but the last few episodes appeared to be overly stretched. There’s just too many repeated flashbacks. I also think that two hours for the finale episode is just 10% story-driven and 90% pandering to the RiRi fans. A lot of it is filler and didn’t do much for the story itself. I would love to see more about how Se Ri’s second brother and his bitch of a wife got their justice served, and how it is connected to what Seo Dan said about avenging Gu Seong Jun’s death. However, it was rapidly settled in just one scene and I was like… that’s it??? After spending 15 episodes revolving around that issue, you settle it with a short kwento from Se Ri???
Then again, who cares? We need our dose of RiRi kilig! Let them meet in Switzerland, now!
Switzerland looks gorgeous on this drama, though. I think I’m adding it on my bucketlist.