Exploring Korean Drama: Boys Over Flowers

ji hoo with a horse

This image says everything you need to know about the show, really. Including the second male lead’s relative success level at conveying emotions with his face.

If the series is so insane, why is it so popular?  I’m not entirely sure, aside from the fact that cheesy crack can really be fun.  Once BoF gets its claws into you, it doesn’t let go.  While watching I kept clicking on the next episode, even if I was angry at both myself and the show as I did so.  It’s soapy melodrama at its finest, and even when we know what we’re watching is ridiculous, we have to see it play out until the end.Why it had me so absorbed at the time is still a question I can’t entirely answer.  It’s produced well enough, but the writing is totally wonky and the acting isn’t much to write home about.  Koo Hye Sun is serviceable as our feisty heroine, but Kim Hyung Joong as second male lead Yoon Ji Hoo is totally wooden.

That actually worked for me in a way, because if I’d felt any connection with Ji Hoo at all, I never would have bought Jan Di choosing Joon Pyo over him.  Joon Pyo had a seriously scary temper, and he was so cruel to Jan Di at the beginning, so epitomized everything Jan Di said she despised, that it made no sense why she would want to be with him.  But Kim Hyung Joong is just that stilted as Ji Hoo, that I can almost understand why Jan Di would go for Joon Pyo over her supposed soul mate (platonic, she specifies, but yes, she goes there).  Also, Lee Min Ho.

BoF is what made Lee Min Ho a star.  He’s just so charismatic as Joon Pyo.  Despite the fact that this guy is the most spoiled character I’ve ever seen in anything, and frankly made me frightened for other characters at times with his temper, I almost like him in some moments, and that’s all down to Lee Min Ho.  Bravo, Captain Pink Pants.

sartorial choices

I can’t decide if Lee Min Ho’s pink pants in City Hunter were a reference to BoF, or if they’re just one of his favored sartorial choices. Both options are hilarious.

Lee Min Ho isn’t the only thing that BoF bequeathed to drama-land.  Although it was kind of there before, the show really kicked off the Flower Boy trend (a trend so named for highlighting pretty men closer to the metro-sexual than the hyper-masculine end of the spectrum).  Shows like Flower Boy Ramyun Shop wouldn’t exist without it, not in the least because Ramyun Shop parodies a number of the tropes championed by BoF.

The show also really kicked off another common kdrama dynamic: the awesome foursome.  A number of kdramas since have featured groups of four pretty men (even Sungkyunkwan Scandal plays with it).  If you wonder why some of the common or more annoying kdrama tropes still exist, blame BoF.  It didn’t invent most of them, but so wild was its success that it turned the tropes into what many think is the template for a popular show.

If you want something to blame for why there’s yet another series about a spoiled “chaebol” (a Korean term for the young son set to inherit a fortune from the family conglomerate) chasing after a poor girl to his family’s disapproval, well, actually blame the Cinderella mythos, but you can also blame BoF.  But, if you’re looking for a cracktacular series that will actually explain a lot of the crazy things that happen in kdramas, and you want to gawk at Lee Min Ho’s curly hair, Boys Over Flowers just might be for you.

Kdrama tropes to watch out for: All of them.  Seriously.  Well, not secret siblings (at least I don’t think so.  There were some sub-plots with the other two members of F4, but I didn’t pay attention to them).  And no one dies of cancer, though there is plenty of other medical angst.  Other than that, BoF has ALL the tropes.


Stream Boys Over Flowers on Netflix or Hulu, or find the DVD set on Amazon.  If you see listings for volume 1 vs. volume 2, the only difference is that volume 1 is region free, and volume 2 is region 1.  Both sets contain all 25 episodes of the show.

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