“If you wait and pray desperately, you definitely will meet someone you miss”, says a North Korean soldier bading a teary eyed farewell to his South Korean love. And for the umpteenth time, you as an audience ponder, if this wait and uncertainty will ever end between the two lovers.
Crash Landing On You is an intense romance drama TV series portraying an unlikely love between a South Korean heiress and a North Korean soldier which keeps the audience hooked till the very end unsure if the forbidden cross border love will ever blossom. The tensions between the two countries of Korean peninsula are well-known to the world. The two countries are a complete contrast to each other. Where North Korea is under a conservative communist military rule, South Korea is more capitalistic and urbane. In North Korea, people need permission to travel within their own country. South Korea on the other hand is a much more developed nation and embraced globalization. The poor economy of North Korea can be seen in the day-to-day lives of the people, with their meager means of transportation, major power outages, and limited connectivity to the outside world. Except the elite, most of the people are either into military or farming. South Korea has resources in abundance and people live in comfort and luxury.
Two nations, contrast both in policies and by principle, yet both the countries fail to give refuge to two hearts which are desperate in love. Crash Landing On You in summary, is this fight of love, to remain strong, when their own countries plot and attempt to scandalize their love as a national treason.
A wealthy South Korean heiress, Yoon Se-ri goes on paragliding one day, and gets carried away by a storm. She lands on the other side of the DMZ in North Korea. The captain of the border outpost, Ri Jeong-Hyuk takes pity on her and rescues her from the State Security Department, which is run by a cruel and corrupt officer. He hides her in his house, and gives her sanctuary.
He plans different ways of escape for Se-ri and sincerely tries to get her across the border furtively multiple times, even at the risk of his own life, but to no avail. The State Security Department is up against him and gives him a hard time to carry out his plans. In all these escapade adventures, Se-ri and Captain Ri develop feelings towards each other and fall hopelessly in love. They know they have to be separated and cannot stay together, but every time there comes an opportunity to escape, there also comes a surge of longing and despair. Every time there is teary eyed farewell, there are long desperate looks of helplessness and love.
And one night, finally when the time comes to say good-bye, they both are heart broken. And Se-ri returns back to South Korea thinking she will never see Ri again.
But the cards are played differently. Captain Ri finds out that Se-ri’s life is in danger and goes to Seoul to save his love. Now Ri and Se-ri are united in Seoul, a free liberal country filled with modern amenities. His faithful subordinates follow him across the border to protect him.
But still there is danger lurking around the corner. And again, there is a chase game, there is the uncertainty of them being caught and prosecuted. Both are willing to die for the other. Despite all its modern capitalism, South Korea fails to give refuge to the lovers. And there are teary eyed goodbyes again, every time they separate from each other to find the next step.
They know they are meant for each other, but at the same time, they cannot be together. The lovers cannot claim one another as their own. They are even scared to commit their feelings to each other lest they hurt their partners and wound their hearts. Every time they say a goodbye, they pray that they get a chance to meet just one more time, just for a little longer. And we as audience, pray along with them, that they meet again, just for a little while more before the tragedy befalls them. It is this uncertainty that makes this love story so beautiful. It makes us fall in love with them, pray for them that they will eventually meet.
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My Thoughts On Crash Landing On You
The plot is brilliant and the chemistry between the lead pair is mind blowing. The dialogues are so tender and beautifully written that they melt our hearts.
The supporting cast of the subordinate officers of Captain Ri and the village folk of North Korea raise the bar very high. They breathe life in the story with their humor. The comic delivery and timing is excellent. The humor is prevalent throughout the series, even in the latter half, as the plot intensifies. From the first episode to the last, the audience is left in splits with comic twists and turns.
Most of the shooting is done in South Korea, Switzerland, and a fictional setting of North Korea is constructed for the shoot. The people of North Korea are in general shown as simple minded, good-at-heart folks, who follow the directions given to them. They accept their life as it is and do not question the bitterness and the harshness they encounter.
There are some moments which are subtle yet noteworthy and prove a point. When Korea plays against Japan in the Olympic games, irrespective of North or South, both the countries cheer for Korea. Despite the governments on war with each other, common folks wish each other well.
The story is not without its flaws. Captain Ri is projected as an ideal man, perfect and flawless. On the contrary, Se-ri is goofy and flawed. I think the makers wanted to prove a point that opposites attract, but such perfection doesn’t exist in the current world. And there are certain glaring loopholes in the plot, where Captain Ri seems to be single-handedly fighting the higher ups and goons with ease in both North and South Korea.
With this minor flaw apart, this is one of the most beautiful romances I have seen of late. The lead stars make it look like a cake walk and they both look electric together.
With a powerful plot, intense romance, and rib cracking humor, it is a very engaging family time watch. It is in Korean, but laughter and intense love are both languages of the soul. So, Subtitles are enough. There are some books and television shows which capture your heart for a lifetime. Crash Landing On You is one such TV show.
In these dreary times, let your heart flutter in Korea for a while. Go fall in love with the “idea of falling in love”!
The World of Movies Rating 10/10
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Title: Crash Landing On You
Original Title: Sa-rang-eui bul-sa-chak
Also Known As: Salangui Bulsichag, Sarangui Bulsichag, Breakdown of Love, The Crash of Love, Love’s Crash Landing, Love’s Emergency Landing, Emergency Love Landing, Sarangui Boolshichak, Emergency Lands of Love, Sarangui bulsichak, Crash Landing of Love, Love Crashes, Unsettling Lo
Cast: Hyun Bin as Ri Jung Hyuk, Ye-jin Son as Yoon Se Ri, Ji-hye Seo as Seo Dan, Jung-hyun Kim as Goo Seung Joon, Kyung-won Yang as Sergeant Pyo Chi Su
Year of Release: 2019
Country of Origin: South Korea
Original Network: tvN
Directed by: Lee Jeong-hyo
Written by: Park Ji-eun
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance, TV Series
Number of Seasons: 01
Number of Episodes: 16
Episode Length: 70-111 minutes
Distributed by: Netflix, tvN
Production Companies: Culture Depot, Studio Dragon
Image Source: Screenshots taken from the TV Series.
Reviewed by: Anantha Alagappan