Kdrama Review: Boys Over Flowers

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Greetings all!!! Welcome to our newest series on the blog (I feel like we say that a lot, lol): KDRAMA REVIEWS. Because if we’re going to be binge-watching them anyway, why not blog about them too? v__v. So like most kdrama fans out there, our first drama was Boys Over Flowers…it’s not the *best* drama, but it was our *first* drama, so it holds a special place in our hearts. Please enjoy the review!

P.S. If you followed our blog for all the Star Wars content…don’t worry! We have more SW posts planned for the future. ❤

BasicInfo

Year: 2009

Main Cast: Lee Min-ho, Kim Hyun-joong, Ku Hye-sun, Kim Bum, Kim So-eun, Kim Joon

Length: 25 episodes

Source Material: Japanese shōjo manga series Boys Over Flowers

Summary

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Poor girl Geum Jan-di gets a scholarship to an elite Rich School where everyone’s either ridiculously mean or ridiculously attractive. And then you’ve got the F4, four bad boys who just happen to be both. The F4 are something like gods among their fellow students, but Jan-di refuses to be stepped on, and little by little, she breaks down the boys’ cold exteriors. The Fated Romance is between Jan-di and the leader of the F4, rich boi Gyu Jun-pyo. Then we have the love triangle: Jan-Di can’t help be but be drawn to Jun-pyo’s best friend, Ji-hoo, who’s supposedly the sensitive artist type and who seems to understand Jan-di on a more personal level. The first half of the show deals with Gyu Jun-pyo’s and Jan-di hate-to-love romance during their time at school, and the second half is all that comes after high school, when Gyu Jun-pyo graduates and becomes head of his company and suddenly seems to have no time for his scrappy gf. Side-romances include some soulmate drama between another of the F4 boys, So Yi-jung, and Jan-Di’s best friend, Ga-eul.

Spoilers

MaleLead

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Hermione: If there’s one reason to watch this show, it’s Gyu Jun-pyo. His character is honestly what gave the show its life: Jan-di and Ji-hoo have the tendency to fade into very bland, flat characters, but Jun-pyo’s presence is always dynamic and engaging (he’s really what keeps the drama part of the drama fresh, as his character is complex enough to appropriately handle the typical slew of kdrama plot-twists that make up BOF’s plot). Gyu Jun-pyo’s character arc was also well done: he had the typical Mean Rich Boi to Sensitive Boyfriend arc, but BOF gave his development a bit more depth as the latter part of the show focused on his transition from boy to man, and on his growing maturity and self-awareness. Not to mention that Lee Min-ho is basically sculpted like a god (we’re just watching kdramas for the men, tbh).

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Clara: This was my first kdrama so it’s not like I watched it with a bunch of expectations, but Gyu Jun-pyo certainly set the bar for male leads I watched in dramas afterward. First of all, Lee Min Ho is super cute, and it’s always easy to like a HOT troubled boi. The show did a really great job with his character arc, and watching his journey from a rich spoiled brat to a successful and (dare I use the word) honorable individual was emotional, to say the least. I know Jandi was supposed to be the main character, but Gyu Jun-pyo’s story quickly became more important to me as he was more likable and his character arc was a heck of a lot more interesting. I think he deserved a girl much better that Jandi. All he ever did was put himself out there for her and all she could do was turn her back on him. I wanted her to try and fight for him, at least once.

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FemaleLead

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Hermione: I had mixed feelings on Jan-di. I started out really liking her as a protagonist (and remember, this was my first kdrama, so I had no standard by which to base her performance), but it seemed to me that her fire and energy seemed to fizzle out as the show progressed. She had a certain quirkiness that was lost after the first several episodes, which I found discouraging, though her “original” character was a bit more prominent toward the latter end of the show. I think her character actually fared better when playing the role of the underdog/outcast: her performance was the most interesting during the first several episodes when she was mercilessly bullied by her classmates, but once she rose socially, she seemed to become almost oddly arrogant and distant. Part of her tendency to lapse into a reserved and cold personality comes from her being an introvert, and I understand that, but it also seemed like she viewed herself as being above Gyu Jun-pyo. There comes a point in the show where, once he’s gotten over his snobbery issues, he’s willing to jump over the moon for her…and she just doesn’t seem to care. It’s only toward the end of the show that she starts to become active in their relationship and actually do things for Jun-pyo, instead of just hanging around as his reluctant girlfriend while mooning over Ji-hoo. You could call this character development, but I find it hard to root for a girl who’s not even invested enough in her own love story to fight for her love interest and her future with him. All that being said, I did like Jan-di, and her dynamic with Gyu Jun-pyo made for an engaging and funny love story.

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Clara: I agree with you that Jandi was more likable at the beginning of the drama then she was towards the end. It was much easier to root for the awkward dry cleaner’s daughter than the emotionless turd she became. I got the feeling that the show toned down Jan-di’s personality to make her a better fit with Gyu Jun-pyo, but they only succeeded in turning her into an irritating shell of her former self. Since Jan-di is an introvert it’s hard to know what she thinks all the time, but her cold ‘who cares’ attitude got annoying REALLY fast. The drama could have benefitted from some inner monologue with Jandi, or an external way of communication, like a diary, to help convey to the viewer what she is thinking and feeling. Half the time I was angry at her for being so passive about her relationship with poor Gyu Jun-pyo and the rest of the time I was just horribly confused as to why she suddenly refused to stand up for herself. When she was being bullied at the beginning of the drama, she took a very active stance in defending herself, but later when Gyu Jun-pyo’s mother and fiancée are walking all over her, she just doesn’t seem to care. Basically, I didn’t like Jandi and wanted her to die.

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2MaleLead

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Hermione: I absolutely hated Ji-hoo. This was more than a case of my not liking him as the second male lead, or my getting tired of him dragging out the love-triangle drama: I honestly could not stand him as a character, to the point where I skipped a whole episode in the middle of the show that apparently focused solely on him and Jan-di. Ji-hoo and Jan-di have no chemistry, not as a romantic pairing, and barely even as a friendship. After watching a few more kdramas, it seems that a common trend is to have the second male lead basically be the guy version of the female lead, so that the two have a certain closeness in that they are able to identify with one another, but it’s made clear that they are too similar to form a healthy romantic relationship. I believe that this was the writer’s intention with Ji-hoo; he’s a little more reserved and sensitive, just as Jan-di is, though he often hides under a cold, careless exterior (just as she does). Case in point: he’s supposed to be the moody introvert musician character who clicks with Jan-di because of their similar personalities, but onscreen, he just came off as bland and terribly boring. I blame the actor: I haven’t seen Kim Hyun-joong in any other dramas (yet) but his portrayal of Ji-hoo failed in that he clearly missed the mark in depicting Ji-hoo as a realistic introvert. A well-acted introvert character may seem quiet on the outside, but audiences get the feeling that there are storms and passion roiling beneath their quiet exterior; kdramas actually seem to have a knack for portraying realistic and interesting introverted characters (unlike most other forms of television), and so it’s clear that the issue of Ji-hoo’s character is purely situational. There is no sense of Ji-hoo having inner depth: he’s portrayed as someone with barely enough sparks of personality to keep him breathing, let alone living.

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Clara: Ji-hoo is hands down the worst second male lead I have ever seen in a kdrama. He either looked like a peanut or one of the Beatles depending on his haircut, he had no personality, he was irritating, and none of his actions made sense. So he’s ‘sensitive’? Is that reasonable explanation for his duality towards Jandi?? I mean he went from planning how to bully her to handing her his handkerchief and stroking her hair. He showed virtually no emotion and the stupid subplot with his gramps was just plain irritating. The only reason he gets one star is because he was musical. This should be a lesson to all writers: tragic backstory only goes so far, and it certainly doesn’t automatically make a character likable.

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Romance

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Hermione: Jan-di and Jun-pyo were a very cute couple, with a lot of natural chemistry. Jan-di’s damsel in distress moments occasionally got out of hand (at one point, she almost drowns in like four feet of water?), but for the most part, they were well-executed and romantic and provided a perfect opportunity to showcase how much Jun-pyo cared for her. The one problem I had with their relationship is that it was largely based on them either fighting or just silently hanging out together: they didn’t really talk to each other, even though a lot of their conflicts would have been easily worked out if they had just opened their mouths and had a responsible dialogue. But this is a problem that has really less to do with the actors and the characters and more to do with the director and screenwriter, so I’m not going to hold it as an actual critique of the romance.

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Clara: Despite the fact that I didn’t like Jan-di she was cute with Gyu Jun-pyo. They worked for each other’s characters in the sense that they provided equal amounts of push for growth and support for each other. I agree with Hermione with the idea that they needed more communication. Between Jan-di keeping her mouth shut whenever there was an important issue that they needed to discuss and Gyu Jun-pyo getting irrationally angry, they created a lot of problems that they easily could have solved by talking it out.

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SettingPlot

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SKOOL LUV STORY, amiright?

Hermione: The high school setting is probably a bit of a kdrama cliché by now, but as this was my first drama, I didn’t really mind. I did like the location shots, first on that certain Almost Paraaadisse island in episode five (I believe it was episode five?), and then later in Venice. The plot was fairly typical for a drama, but it was always engaging (and really, the clichés are part of the fun). The show’s one main fallacy was its pacing issues: there were several awkwardly placed subplots that either went on for far too long or for too short a time. Specifically, the drama in the second half of the show with Gyu Jun-pyo’s finance dragged on to the point where it became exhausting, and there was one subplot earlier in the show where Jan-di befriends a sketchy model/loner and is later kidnapped by him, and the whole thing just seemed really sudden and random. And then, as mentioned above, any episodes that focused exclusively on Ji-hoo and Jan-di were a total drag.

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yeah, this bloke was WEIRD…

Clara: All the location shots were very pretty and I enjoyed the change in scenery. The smoggy skyline of Seoul doesn’t exactly inspire romance, if you know what I mean. I didn’t mind the high school setting, but it didn’t really feel like a high school. I mean, where were the teachers? The plot was a little cliché, but overall enjoyable. I think the drama’s biggest fault was how long it was. You ended up with a few subplots at least three unnecessary filler episodes that just dragged the plot down and made some parts very boring.

OtherCharacters

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Hermione: I liked the F4, though I wish I could have seen a bit more of their bromance; the four boys needed a couple more ‘bro’ moments over the course of the show to really drive home their friendship. Still, yay for hot boys all being friends and walking through the halls together looking sexy. So Yi-jung’s character was lovely (and rather heartbreaking!) and his romance was Ga-eul was beautiful. Not to sound like the doge, but really, they were *such ship* *such chemistry* *such cute*. I wish Woo Bin had been given a bit more of a character; other than having a random suicide moment due to his embarrassment over his family’s mob ties (um…what?) he really didn’t have much depth, which I think was a missed opportunity. I’m sort of meh on Jan-di’s family: at the beginning of the show, they were awkward and quirky to the point of being unbelievable, but their dynamic leveled out over the course of the show.

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Clara: F4 was hot, so that was ok, but we didn’t get to see very much of their friendship with each other which was irritating. The character of Woo Bon was very badly executed. In other words, he was the only F4 that had no character and then they suddenly tried to give him suicidal tendencies??? Whaaattt??? Jandi’s family was badly executed and weird. As the show progressed they became a little more likable, but I didn’t like them even after their character development. They were more tolerable when they were suffering let’s just leave it at that.

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Hermione: Loved the proposal at the ending! Oh, be still my heart! However, I am not okay with Ji-hoo still hanging around Jan-di at the end of the show, like he’s just waiting for Jun-pyo to drop dead so he can move in on Jan-di. I can practically SEE the affair that will crop up a few years down the road when Jun-pyo gets suddenly swamped with business problems and Ji-hoo slinks in to comfort Jan-di…

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Clara: I liked the time jump and proposal, AHHHH MY SHIPPER HEART!!!!! But I too have an issue with Ji-hoo hanging around Jandi. He’s obviously not over her. I would have ended it with Ji-hoo marrying someone else. Originally I would say kill him, but that would ruin Gyu Jun-pyo’s and Jan-di’s newly found happiness, so the other solution is to remove him from the equation. *evil laugh*

Sorting Hat

Geum Jan-di: Gryffindor
Gyu Jun-pyo: Hufflepuff
Ji-hoo: Ravenclaw
So Yi-jung: Hufflepuff
Ga-eul: Hufflepuff

Whatdoyouthink

Thoughts on kdramas? Ji-hoo vs. Jun-pyo? Jandi as a female lead? Your favorite kdrama ship? Any drama recommendations for us?

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Content Chart (just going off my memory for this…)

Graphic Violence LOL NO, it’s a kdrama from 2009
Sex None
Homosexuality One minor background character is homosexual; and another homosexual appears briefly during a couple episodes towards the end (I actually skipped those episodes anyway, because they were the ones heavy on the Ji-hoo and Jan-di “romance” *barf*)
Language I think I remember some light cussing every once and while…but it’s in korean sooo…
Other Elements None

 
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