There is much more crying these days. I talk about crying with friends, both male and female. It reminds me of when I was in training in Thailand in the Peace Corps. We would all have discussions around the current status of our digestive systems. It is like that. The crying. Now embarrassment free.
For me, I find that I cry much easier now than pre-pandemic. I also have a really hard time focusing. I have read almost no books. I can’t concentrate. But I like to watch shows that tug at my heartstrings. Shows that make me cry (who needs more crying). It really makes no sense. I was watching Call the Midwife for a bit, which I love. But I found myself not really paying attention. Drifting off. On my phone. Texting people. So I gave up.
Then a friend recommended a Korean drama to watch. I have history with Korean dramas. My household was into the historical ones. There were always very elaborate headdresses and castle intrigue. I never really got into it but it was on enough so that I became familiar with the Korean characters that occupied the story. The conniving wives. The hapless husbands. The really evil guy. And the truly supportive friend group. I knew friends in Hawaii who were really into some of the shows that were set in more modern times but I was never hooked. Until now.
Enter, Crash Landing on You. First of all, it may be the most ridiculous and unbelievable plotline. It involves characters that are somehow able to cross back and forth from North to South Korea with impunity. Life in North Korea is portrayed as one of lack (unpredictable blackouts) and spying (listening devices and wiretaps). The North Korean soldiers are sometimes authoritarian and sometimes understanding. I learned that the production of the show had engaged individuals with knowledge of life in North Korea so perhaps there is some truth to what this looks like. But I question all of it.
The story revolves around a South Korean businesswoman and North Korean soldier who meet (um, this involves paragliding and a tornado). And faultingly fall in love. And who, through a series of improbable flashbacks, somehow came in close contact in the past. It is a love story. An improbable and ridiculous love story. The woman’s sister in laws are conniving. The brothers, hapless. The evil North Korean army commander, very evil. The women in the North Korean village are so supportive. As are the main heartthrobs’ fellow army command.
In my heart, I should look at this entire show with disdain. But I don’t. It has become my obsessive show. It has become the show that makes me cry at every episode. It has become the show that forces me to pay attention. That I watch even though the episodes exceed my one hour per show watch limit. I watch in Korean with English subtitles. Sometimes I have to rewind because the main female character speaks so quickly. There is no looking away. No phone gazing. No texting. I could watch it in English but I love to hear the Korean language. The swoops and swirls of it. The inflection and the emotion. I have to listen. And then I have to read.
Every episode, since the big James Bond motorcycle save, I cry. And it is not just the star crossed lovers that make me cry. It is the relationship between Yoon Se-ri and her mother. It is Ri Jeong-hyeok’s mother’s realization that the woman sequestered in her house is the one for her son. It is Ri Jeong-hyeok’s piano playing on a dock in Switzerland that saved Yoon Se-ri. It is the dead brother and the rat and the watch. More ridiculous with every episode. But I love it. It is the show that completely suspends reality. And I am all in.
And perhaps that is because we are now living in a time that seems to be suspending reality. A pandemic. Use of military force in the streets. A president that sees no problem with any of this. So suspension of reality is where we are today. Maybe if what is happening today can happen. Then maybe Ri Jeong-hyeok and Yoon Se-ri will somehow be able to stay together. That the really bad guy will get what is coming to him. That is what we all want. In Korean dramas and in real life. So give Crash Landing on You a go. Give it your full attention. Believe. Believe because some days it feels like it is all we have left.