It's So Ridiculous And Wonderful I Can't Come Up With A Worthy Title: Boys Over Flowers, My First Drama
By: Sarah Chrzastowski
I only discovered Korean dramas a few months ago. After months of my Netflix account constantly recommending Boys Over Flowers, I decided to give it a try. I watched the first episode and was immediately hooked. I should have known - Those Netflix recommendation robots know me better than anyone.
It only took two or three episodes to turn me into an addict. I thought Korean televsion could never live up to the trash and scandal I loved so much in American TV. But I was so, so wrong. Koreans know their melodrama. AND HOW.
Funny how I thought the cultural differences between America and Korea would make Korean Dramas difficult to get sucked in to. In fact, those differences are the things I love most. When I first watched BoF I knew absolutely nothing about Korea, Korean culture, or kdrama. Admittedly, one of the things I loved most about BoF was the insane/implausible situations the characters found themselves in. But I often found myself wondering if a storyline would seem as ridiculous if I were Korean.
Many things confused me while watching BoF. I did a lot of Googling through the first episodes just trying to keep up with the story and know what the characters were talking about. I’d rather not admit how many times I said to myself, “I thought his name was Ji Hoo? Who the heck is Sunbae?!”
The thing that struck me the most while watching BoF was the lack of romantic physical contact. There's not really even kissing. They kiss like cartoons, where they put their closed mouths together and don't move. This non-kissing style weirded me out, but I’m American, and we’re used to seeing sex on TV. Korea is much more respectful, it seems. I’m glad my TV set couldn’t actually watch BoF, because it would feel like a real smut-box.
Our two romantic leads, Joon Pyo and Jan Di, barely ever kiss. When they do it’s a big deal. We’re talking slow motion, romantic music, the whole deal. So a cartoon peck is life changing, but no one seems to be bothered by the fact that Joon Pyo essentially kidnaps Jan Di on multiple occasions. In the second episode Jan Di is drugged, taken to a strange mansion, and given a makeover. She has no idea who is responsible until Joon Pyo shows up and basically tells her he wanted to de-ugly her. After he abducts her, Joon Pyo mentions that he’s contacted her parents to let them know she won’t be home. Dude, it’s still kidnapping, even if you call the parents and tell them about it.
Joon Pyo doesn’t seem to have any personal boundaries when it comes to Jan Di (odd, considering he barely ever kisses her). At one point Joon Pyo shows up at Jan Di's house, spends the night sleeping on the floor with her whole family, then goes to the public bathhouse with her dad and brother. That's pretty up close and personal considering at that point in the series he hadn't even kissed her ONCE.
But Jan Di has odd courtship methods as well. She makes multiple presents for Jun Pyo, and all of them are some depiction of his face. HIS FACE.
When I saw Jan Di slaving over candies for hours, making every one look like Jun Pyo’s curly haired head, all I felt was uncomfortable. Maybe making mini-idols of your significant other is on the up and up in Korea, but if an American did that, we’d call it stalking. Still, as Tracy Jordan once said, “Freaky-deakies need love too.”
There's also a great scene where Yi Jung comforts/flirts with Ga Eul by (completely out of the blue, mind you) going onstage at a nightclub and playing a smooth jazz saxophone solo. Naturally this made me do a spit-take, fall over, and proceed to lose my mind. This has to be universally cornball, no matter what country you're from, right?
I’m barely scratching the surface of things I find interesting/confusing/amazing about BoF, and dramas in general. Now that I’ve seen more dramas I understand a bit more, but there’s still so much I have to discover. I guess that just means I’ll have to keep watching dramas, and you can bet if they’re as bananas as Boys Over Flowers I'm just going to become more and more obsessed.
Sarah Chrzastowski writes about the things she loves at Itswhatyouneed, and is @sarchrz on Twitter.