Move out James Franco’s version of North Korea. In “Crash Landing on You,” there’s a North Korea with friendly DMZ soldiers, funny neighbors, and a department store to boot. Also, a military officer that can fall in love with an intruder.
It begins and ends on a crash landing. During a paragliding incident, wealthy South Korean Yoon Se-ri landed in North Korea. Se-ri must find ways to go back home without being arrested by the State Security Department, the North’s secret police. But the greatest challenge for her is not to fall for the soldier who is aiding her escape. She knows she must cross the border soon, and time is running out.
Like Staff Sergeant Kim Ju Muk (Su-bin Yoo), one of the soldiers in the series, the only Korean drama show that I know of was shown 15 years ago. Netflix’s algorithm pretty much given up with suggesting Korean shows to me. Then came “Crash Landing on You” with keywords: North Korea, history, soldiers. In the end, the algorithm wins.
I felt betrayed though. There’s no history here and the North presented is in another multiverse. “Crash Landing on You” is 16 episodes with more than an hour of total running time each. But with a riveting story, interesting characters, and comedy in the mix, you’ll soon find yourself joining the main character Yoon Se-ri (Ye-jin Son) on the other side of the DMZ line.
In a quick overview without spoilers, Yoon Se-ri here, a rich businessman woman (there’s a Korean word for it that I’m too lazy to Google) landed in the North during a paragliding accident. She was chased by the North’s soldiers but eventually will live with a military officer Ri Jung Hyuk (Hyun Bin) and his soldiers inside a house. The audience will be thrown into another dimension as we get to know the other characters: the too typical neighbors, a funny general like that of Georgy Malenkov in “The Death of Stalin,” and a department store owner speaking English in a horrible accent.
Comedy is everywhere here, and it plays as a vehicle in portraying life in the North. How much of it was true, we couldn’t know for sure. Stretching the material too far from reality, they included North soldiers crossing the border to eat fried chicken. The scenes in the South will make your eyes roll, too. But the charm of the series lies in these scenes. And once you accepted the fact that you might not learn anything serious from it, you’ll realize that what makes “Crash Landing on You” so popular is the radically simple fact that it’s so fun to watch.
Geek Rate: Thief Worthy (2 out of 5 stars). This series is one big list of things that don’t belong in the real world. Whether intentionally or not, its very incredulity is what makes it addicting to watch. The political controversy arising from the series is expected. I will not dawdle with the correctness of the political and cultural portrayal of both North and South here. Throw your critical thinking cap and just watch and chill. With “Crash Landing on You,” one thing is different. The main character did not die of any illness. Sorry for the spoiler.