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Confessions of a K-drama virgin

I am (and I didn’t used to be this person) the squealing little spectator who goes off in a tizzy whenever Ri Jeong-hyuk shoots Yoon Se-ri an errant glance of longing.
Jam Pascual | Feb 29 2020

Disclaimer: I have zero point of reference for how good a K-drama is supposed to be. I generally didn’t grow up with daytime soaps or serialized dramas, and instead just swallowed the stigmas of cliche attached to these types of shows. It’s all melodrama, the twists involve a relative or an infidelity or a death, that sort of thing.

So why am I so damned crazy about Crash Landing on You?

Crash Landing on You (or CLOY, as it’s affectionately called) is a Netflix original, and is now apparently the second-highest-rated Korean drama in the history of cable TV—so that’s a good sign. 

The bike ride that got everyone kilig.

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Yoon Se-ri is a wealthy and spoiled heiress from South Korea poised to inherit her father’s group of companies—that is, until an accident involving a paraglider and a tornado drops her in the DMZ. Ri Jeong-hyuk is the captain who finds her, this beautiful trespasser from the other side. Through a series of failed capture attempts and other wacky turns of circumstance, Ri Jeong-hyuk must protect Yoon Se-ri until they find a way to bring her back to South Korea.

The second-highest-rated Korean drama in the history of cable TV.

I’m sure there’s an academic out there who, with a more elegant language, can unpack the way CLOY unpacks the reality of geopolitical tension with romantic tropes, subverts our understanding of such tensions, and wraps up a treatise on Korean politics in a love story.

But I am not that academic. I am (and I didn’t used to be this person) the squealing little spectator who goes off in a tizzy whenever Ri Jeong-hyuk shoots Yoon Se-ri an errant glance of longing. I am the kilig-struck schmuck who yelped when, in episode 2 (so not really a spoiler!) Ri Jeong-hyuk covers for Yoon Se-ri by pretending to be her fiancĂ©. K-drama stans, is this how y’all feel everyday? When my ex was going nuts about Gong Yoo in Goblin, is this what she was feeling? Jesus.

Before CLOY, there was my ex’s obsession.

I didn’t used to be particularly invested in Korean entertainment. I mean, everybody saw Oldboy and Parasite, but those films had crossover appeal, so they didn’t convert you to Koreaboo-hood. And when I was much younger and misguided I used to make fun of people for being into Korean stuff, as was the vogue thing to do back when “Nobody” by Wonder Girls was still a thing. Even when I outgrew that cultural elitism, it’s not like I had a reason to invest time and energy into that part of pop culture. The goings-on of the Philippine and American cultural landscape are already a hassle and a half to keep up with, and I didn’t need more things to take up my cultural bandwidth.

CLOY is an evenly paced love story with intrigue, politics, suspense, action, comedy, and moments that will make you sob and gasp.

But damn it, as soon as Se-ri fell into Jeong-hyuk arms in episode 1, I was hooked. At this rate I’m going to be completely subsumed by Hallyu. I started slipping when BTS released Boy With Luv—once I finish CLOY I’ll be deep in the pit with the rest, happy and obsessed.

The one where he straightens her up—or at least her hair—before meeting the village women.

This is a public service announcement. If you’ve been thinking about getting into K-dramas, if only to relate to the friends you have who are into that sort of stuff, CLOY is a fantastic place to start. And if you’re starting, like I did, with an established preference for lovey-dovey anime, even better! CLOY is an evenly paced love story with intrigue, politics, suspense, action, comedy, and moments that will make you sob and gasp like you’re feeling familiar emotions for the first time. 

As long as you’re open-minded about your love stories having a lot of cheese, you’ll be in for a hell of a ride. But don’t spoil it for me, I’m still in the middle of it.