Okay, so I was told that I was missing out on the world of Korean Dramas (Rom/Coms, Historical, Comedy etc.) and was told that if you’re going to watch K-Drama the place to start is with Boys Over Flowers. This recommendation was entirely accurate on both points. I most definitely have been missing out, and Boys Over Flowers is the K-Drama to watch first if you are looking to get into the steadily growing K-Drama obsessed fan base here in the U.S, or maybe just want some good clean fun in your television watching.
I will say this upfront, I like…no…LOVE Boys Over Flowers. But I have to say that it has put me in a rather awkward position as it’s hard for me to describe why. At initial inspection it is your typical soap opera and if you are looking for anything other than that you will be incredibly disappointed. For the record, I was never much of a one for soap operas but with Boys Over Flowers I decided to suspend my preconceived notions and give it a whirl. In fact, I’m laughing as I write this because never in a million years did I think I would be endorsing a soap. So as I scarf down a healthy helping of humble pie let’s get you the breakdown of what you should know if you’re considering this show.
It is a love story, meaning it has the same kind of hyper-dramatic twists and turns that you’d expect. It has glamour, romantic triumphs and heartaches. On paper it is your typical soap opera, with love triangles, unlikely scenarios, and over dramatic misunderstandings. Truly I can’t say how different it is from other soaps because it really isn’t, but what it is, it is fully and unapologetically. It is a K-Drama that starves, and satisfies the viewer over and over again pulling you into the world of plutocratic South Korea, elite high school life, and the rock star lifestyle of the children of South Korea’s wealthiest business execs.
There is a realness, a likeability to every single character, starting immediately with heroine, Geum JanDi, a “commoner” who works two jobs, has a crazy family whom she loves dearly, and simple, uncomplicated desire to treat everyone respectfully as equals. Through a strange twist of fate, and JanDi finds herself accepted at Shinhwa High School, a highly selective super elite school founded by the plutocratic Shinhwa business group. JanDi doesn’t even want to go, but out of respect for her parents she decides to attend. As someone from a much lower economic stratum she is mercilessly bullied by her classmates but handles it all with a fierce unwavering tenacity which is both admirable and charming. Unfortunately her inner fortitude, and sense of justice run her afoul of the F4, the crème-de-la-crème clique comprised of the Shinhwa heir, Goo JunPyo and his three life-long (and good looking) friends, who are, at the moment JanDi meets them, little more than spoiled brats and glorified bullies. When JanDi challenges them after they pick on a new friend she had made they pull out all the stops to try and get her to transfer or leave, but much to JunPyo’s frustration, JanDi does nothing of the sort. Ever so slowly JanDi’s charm, her firm morals, and her stanch courage begins to create change within F4’s members. Similarly, just when you think you can’t relate to hunk, Goo JunPyo or the rest of F4 any more they do something so simply human and relatable you find yourself won over by them.
If I could pinpoint exactly what about Boys Over Flowers is it’s most important strength it would be it’s characters and the acting. K-Drama acting tends to be a little over the top naturally (as is the trend with most soaps, but just be prepared for it…and slow mo in some super dramatic scenes) the story itself has a number of the typical clichés that you’ll find in any soap opera, but it’s done so tongue-in-cheek (being fully able to laugh at itself), and with such simple, honest, human sincerity it’s easy to just relax letting the story unfold for you despite them. Additionally, it’s refreshing to have a romance that is pretty tame in the focus on sex. Chastity is something that remains important to the main character throughout the show, so it is most definitely a departure from American Soaps where it’s SEXSEXSEX all day, all the time. So, just trust me, watch it. You’ll love it. And then you’ll be hooked on K-Dramas. It’s a fun affliction.
Currently, you can find the full show of Boys Over Flowers streaming on DramaFever and Hulu.