No musicians to talk about today (but there will be a fun video at the end of this post). Instead I’m going to introduce you to the world of Korean dramas.
Disclaimer: If you start watching one of these and lose all control over maintaining a normal life for the next 3-7 days as you watch an entire series, I bear no responsibility for it whatsoever!
The very first K-Drama I watched was Coffee Prince, but we’ll save that one for a little later. Today I want to talk about Boys Before Flowers (sometimes known as Boys Over Flowers depending on the translation).
This series started out as a Japanese manga by the name of Hana Yori Dango. There were two Chinese/Taiwanese adaptations under the name Meteor Garden, then two Japanese adaptations under the original manga’s name before the Korean adaptation (above) was released in 2009. I haven’t seen the other adaptations or read the manga, but I think it’s going to be hard to beat the Korean one for me!
The story starts out with Jan Di saving a student who tried to jump to his death from the roof of Shinhwa High School. She was just delivering his dry cleaning when she found the boy, fed up with the bullying he’d endured, trying to end it all. Before she knows it the media has dubbed her ‘Wonder Girl’ and her face is on every newspaper’s front page.
Shinhwa is a school for only the most extremely rich. It’s said that there are parents who register their children at birth and STILL don’t get in. So we can safely call them snobby even before you meet the students. But here’s the problem. There’s a dry cleaner’s daughter who unwittingly brought to light some of the not-so-kind practices of the school and media attention isn’t being very positive. So to quickly tie things up, Shinhwa’s president gives Jan Di a full scholarship to attend as a thank you (read “make the media go away”) for saving the student who had tried to commit suicide.
Jan Di really doesn’t want to go. Not even a little. But her crazy and overly-enthusiastic family pushes her to attend and she decides to stick it out for them. After all, to the average person even the idea of having a son or daughter attending Shinhwa may as well be better than winning the lottery.
But as soon as she walks in, Jan Di quickly finds herself a target of bullying. And when the students find out that she’s far more fiesty and outspoken than their past victims, things can get out of hand quickly. Especially when she falls under the eye of the F4, four boys set to inherit nearly everything that matters in Korean business and arts. Jun Pyo, the heir to all of Shinhwa, makes her his personal rival and works hard to bring her down in any way he can. What he doesn’t see at first is Ji Hoo, another member of the F4, helping Jan Di along the way. When Jan Di falls for Ji Hoo, Jun Pyo is just deciding that maybe he does sort of like her after all, and our love triangle kicks off. Trust me. It never disappoints. Not even for a second.
The acting in this was superb. Lee Min Ho as Jun Pyo was handsome and did a wonderful job of portraying the warm one moment, cold the next heir to Shinhwa. Ku Hye Sun plays the roll of Jan Di. The role can be a little grating on the nerves at first, but then you realize that’s just who Jan Di is and we get the opportunity to watch her grow and change over time.
I do warn you however that it may take some getting used to if you’ve never watched any type of Asian dramas before. They certainly have their own humor, but if you allow yourself to get wrapped up in the story you’ll find yourself quickly acclimating to the change in acting style. And if you start chain-watching K-dramas like I have, you might even find yourself sorely disappointed when you go back to some of the American ones.
I don’t want to say too much more about the series because I don’t want to give anything away. I can promise however that there was never a single episode in which I felt bored. Another plus I’ve seen so far is that this drama and several others are very family-oriented. There’s very little, if anything, to shield children from. This is something I respect. And something that can sometimes be hard to find here at home.
On to the video! This video focuses mainly on the relationship between Jan Di and Jun Pyo. The song is an excellent choice and the video will hopefully give you a sense of the drama.
(If you want to watch Boys Before Flowers you can stream it online for free through Hulu or pay monthly through Hulu Plus to get it on your television.)