It’s easy to see why Crash Landing on You (사랑의 불시착) captured hearts all over the world.
The series about a South Korean heiress (Son Ye Jin) getting blown off-course during a paragliding ride, crash landing on the other side of the border and then falling in love with a North Korean soldier (Hyun Bin) is a deft mix of romance, drama, comedy and real world politics.
Maintaining a delicate balance throughout the series run, Crash Landing on You at first lulls you into a false sense of rom-com security before you are shocked to find the tears rolling down your cheek after an emotional moment. (Of which there are plenty.) One minute you are giddy and kilig, the next you are bawling your eyes out.
Stars Son Ye Jin and Hyun Bin are no strangers to romantic drama and that experience shows as they lead the series as Yoon Se-ri and Ri Jeong-hyuk through the twists and turns that any star-crossed lovers experience on the way to their happy ending.
And while this isn’t the first drama series with the division of the Korean peninsula as a backdrop, it certainly breaks new ground.
There’s no question the love story between Se-ri and Jeong-hyuk is the main attraction. But the series was most intriguing and eye-opening when the contrasts between South and North took center stage. Whether it was Se-ri adjusting to life in the small military family border village or her new North Korean friends marveling at capitalism in the modern and bustling Seoul metropolis.
There’s obviously a perception about North Korea based solely on the actions of the ruling Kim family. But often forgotten is the plight of regular North Korean citizens. Those not in the elite or in the inner circle. Crash Landing on You was a stark reminder that it is quite possible and maybe even necessary to separate the general North Korean public from the ruling class of the hermit kingdom.
The series may have probably presented the best case for reunification of any South Korean drama or film. Crash Landing on You does not make any specific political statements. But the prevailing feeling, for those of us in the world free to watch the drama, is that you hope the long-suffering North Korean people may be able to enjoy the freedoms that are easily enjoyed across the border.
The series’ most sincere and heartfelt moments came during those moments of stark contrast. And out of those contrasts, connections. For families to reconnect and the Korean people to exchange culture and ideas long blocked from being shared.
Crash Landing on You is an adventure. There is action. There is danger around every corner.
But the series’ biggest appeal really is the fun and the charm that is brought to life by an excellent ensemble cast. Between the romance and the lighthearted comedy and the heartwarming moments with some explosive action and soapy family drama sprinkled around, the series is a quick and easy watch. And that is even as episodes run anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes long. Yet, each episode flies by so quickly, leaving you wanting much more by the end. Especially with the series’ knack for capping each episode with an effective and welcome punch in the gut before saying goodbye for that episode.
If you are wondering what all the hype over Crash Landing on You is about, the best answer to that is “Just watch it.” Indeed, you’ll only need to get through the first episode to see just why the series has captivated people all over the world.