I know, it’s months since I last wrote a K-drama review and I choose now to come back but it’s not about Squid Game? Rest assured, I am watching Squid Game and a write-up will follow soon. But when that dropped I was halfway through this previous smash hit show. Crash Landing On You (TvN/Netflix 2019–2020) could not be more different. And I loved it.
Crash Landing On You has all the classic K-drama ingredients: a lead couple who are clearly destined to fall in love but whose circumstances make it impossible; a huge disparity in wealth; complicated power dynamics including a chaebol family where the father is retiring and choosing which child to name as his heir; nefarious villains who kill and kidnap at will; some really beautiful friendships that withstand tests of their strength; very cheesy romance and slapstick humour that are sometimes at odds with the rest of the plot.
So what makes Crash Landing On You different from other K-dramas? The obvious thing is that much of it is set in North Korea, and many of the lead characters are North Korean (though obviously the actors are South Korean and no filming took place in North Korea). I have never seen North Korea depicted in a K-drama before (possibly because South Korea has very strict rules about depicting North Korea in its media) but this felt like it was treading a fine line where it showed the infrastructure and political system in negative light but the people as for the most part good and generous.