Crash Landing On You (CLOY) is the latest Korean drama to take the world by storm. Everyone, and I mean everyone – from my mother, to my husband (who, admittedly, was subjected to watch the series with me) to strangers-turned-friends I met last week – is watching it. At launch, the series set a new record for the second highest viewership in South Korean cable television history and is trending on Netflix’s Top 10 in Singapore.
It is easy to fall in love with the drama, especially the romance between leads Ri Jeong Hyeok (played by Hyun Bin) and Yoon Se-ri (played by Son Ye-Jin).
But Crash Landing On You – a series about a South Korean heiress, Yoon, who accidentally crash lands in North Korea, literally into the arms of army captain Ri – is not all hearts and flowers. It has its twist and turns. It will leave you laughing and crying thanks to the entertaining and heartwarming relationships between both main and supporting characters.
These relationships in Crash Landing On You taught me seven life lessons.
(Warning! Spoilers ahead!)
1. Neighbours help each other in difficult times
The Ajumma* in the small military village in North Korea serve as one of the series’ comic relief. In the earlier episodes, they are portrayed as the nosy and jealous neighbours of Captain Ri, when Yoon is introduced as Ri’s fiancée. Their favourite pastime is gossiping (and bickering!) while making kimchi and doing laundry together. However, when things take a turn, they band together to help a neighbour and her son when they are threatened with an arrest. Because these Ajumma know each other, they are able to look out for one another in difficult times.
*Ajumma in Korean refers to a married woman or a middle-aged lady
2. True friends have each other’s back
Captain Ri’s comrades remain loyal to him from start to end, risking their lives to help Ri hide Yoon. Even when they are captured and interrogated, none of them ratted him out. Despite their flaws – a collective weakness for fried chicken and video games – they show that true friends have each other’s back. It’s not easy to find a tribe who will go through thick and thin with you, so when you do, keep them close.
3. Your choices, not your circumstances, determine who you become
Two of the villains – Gu Seong Jun and Cho Cheol Gang – were orphans who grew up having to fend for themselves. Gu is a swindler who escapes to North Korea and Cho is a member of the North Korean Armed Forces’ Security Bureau, who throughout the series, conspires to usurp the power of Captain Ri’s family. While Cho’s vindication causes his lonely death, Gu’s story takes a redemptive arc when he forgoes his plane ticket to save the woman he loves.
4. Forgiveness heals
For many years, Yoon had a strained relationship with her stepmother, who abandoned her as a child. However, when Yoon goes missing and her brothers schemed to harm her, her stepmother stands up against them. She also takes care of Yoon and stays by her side while she is recuperating in hospital. Eventually, Yoon forgives her stepmother and accepts her back in her life, showing that forgiveness is the first step to healing.
5. Kindness begets kindness
Yoon, having been fed and cared for by Ri and his comrades during her stay in the military village, demonstrates the same kindness when she sees a child beggar on the streets. Without hesitation, she packs a bag of food – corn, tomatoes, rice – from Ri’s house and gives it to the boy and his starving sister. Small acts such as this can go a long way in helping those in need and making their day.
6. Money doesn’t buy happiness
As a successful and wealthy woman with her own business, Yoon does not lack money. Yet, she isn’t happy, and at one point, even contemplates suicide. However, spending time with Ri and his comrades in a small village where her wealth and status are made irrelevant, Yoon realises that it is the simple things in life – like having a cooked meal with friends or sitting by a campfire with a loved one – rather than expensive clothes and cuisine that bring happiness.
7. Love requires sacrifice
It’s not every day that one takes a bullet for the woman you love, but this reminds me that love is not just a feeling, it’s a conscious action to put the needs of another person above yours. Both Ri and Yoon demonstrate this in defining moments. Ri makes several attempts to send Yoon safely back to South Korea, despite loving her very much. Similarly, when Ri is shot, Yoon stays in North Korea to donate blood to Ri instead of returning home.
For the first time, my entire family is watching the same drama, albeit at different times. We have been checking up on how far along in the series we are, and talking about scenes that made us ugly-cry (trust me, there are many). Having my family experience the highs and lows of watching Crash Landing On You together has made it an even more enjoyable experience.
If there was one more thing I would add, it would be that a family that cries together, stays together.