A love story between a South Korean heiress and a North Korean captain sounds like such an impossibility that even its creators call it a fantasy.
The first two episodes of “Crash Landing on You” premiered last week on Netflix. It starts off great introducing the two least likely people to meet. Son Ye-jin (“Something in the Rain”) plays the role of the successful businesswoman Se-ri from a chaebol (ultra rich) family. While Hyun Bin (“Memories of the Alhambra”) is North Korean captain.
On any normal day, their paths would never cross. The Korean war is still technically ongoing. South Korean citizens cannot just go cross the border to North Korea because they feel like it and vice versa.
How the creators solved this particular obstacle is where the fantasy begins. They take inspiration from the “Wizard of Oz” and Ye-jin is Dorothy.
Se-ri goes paragliding to personally test her company’s product when she gets caught up in a freak tornado. She crashes on the North Korean side of the border but she does not know that because she wakes up confused, hanging on a tree. She sees Jung-hyuk pointing a gun at her. She lands directly in his arms, hence the title of the drama.
During the press conference of the drama last Dec. 9 at the Four Seasons Hotel Seoul, director Lee Jeong-hyo calls “Crash Landing on You” a fantasy.
“North Korea is a country that exists in reality. But my hope for the audience is to see North Korea simply as an isolated background for the four characters to develop romantic relationships,” said Lee. “I think certain aspects of daily life in North Korea, mixed with the romantic elements of the series, will bring some fun factors and make the series a unique experience for the audience.”
Korea being at war is a serious subject. But using it as an element to tell a love story makes it more understandable for those who are not familiar with it. Se-ri running through land mines, guard posts, and going through electric fences are comical onscreen but we know it’s scary in real life.
A North Korean village is also featured in the show. How it is depicted is human. The characters living in it are not mindless robots following their Supreme Leader’s orders. They like their routine and they manage to thrive under the authoritarian rule.
Now we get to see, even in a fictional way, what it would be like to be ordinary folk in North Korea, where 10-year military service and labor camps are a reality.
Jung-hyuk’s magnanity toward a strange woman’s demands like scented candles and bathtub is probably the most fun thing to watch in this drama. It’s a good start and the challenge is maintaining it until the end.
“Crash Landing on You” is streaming on Netflix every Saturday and Sunday.