An implausible like story in which a (literally) significant-flying South Korean heiress unintentionally paraglides into North Korea, lands on a soldier and falls in love with him has turn out to be the newest Korean drama smash hit.
Crash Landing on You is in numerous approaches a usual K-drama romance, but has been broadly praised for its properly-researched and nuanced portrayal of North Korea, some thing it attained by acquiring a real-life North Korean defector on its producing team, as BBC Korean’s Subin Kim clarifies.
With his broad shoulders and thick torso, Kwak Moon-wan has all the overall look of a bodyguard.
That is almost certainly mainly because until eventually 2004, he served with the Supreme Guard Command, the elite security pressure which protects North Korea’s ruling Kim loved ones.
He was so dependable that he was assigned to perform abroad as well, for a North Korean trade company in Moscow which was bringing in much essential foreign currency.
Only a find handful of North Koreans are permitted to get the job done outdoors the region, and to make certain their continued loyalty the leaders have measures in spot – Kwak had to depart his spouse and son guiding in North Korea.
In 2004, he was purchased to return to Pyongyang. For the duration of a stopover in Beijing, he uncovered out one of his close friends in Moscow experienced claimed to their bosses in Pyongyang what he had explained in non-public discussion.
He realized instantly that what he’d stated would result in huge difficulty when he received residence.
Throughout our discussion in a espresso shop in Seoul, Kwak saved glancing all around to check who could be nearby. He speech is uncomplicated, if not blunt, but Kwak would not repeat to me what he mentioned. He’d only say he had talked about what he observed when escorting customers of the Kim household back again then.
So he determined to defect. By itself. And he has lived in South Korea without the need of his family ever since.
- The North Korean prisoner who escaped with her guard
“I only have one particular shadow when the sun will come up,” Kwak claimed. “That is my everyday living in South Korea.”
Immediately after arriving in South Korea, Kwak, like countless numbers of North Korean defectors, began the course of action of making a new lifestyle. And it took a extraordinary twist of fate for Kwak to discover his way into the booming earth of Korean amusement.
From defector to film adviser
Before moving into the armed forces, Kwak had used time finding out about movie. Back in the 1980s, the North Korean movie business was booming, mainly because of then chief Kim Jong Il’s perfectly-recognized enjoy of the artwork.
At that time, Kwak was about to embark on further training, and he ended up being approved to review movie directing in Pyongyang College of Spectacular and Cinematic Arts.
Soon immediately after Kwak arrived in South Korea, a well known filmmaker who was operating on a North Korea-themed movie venture approached South Korea’s spy company asking for some assistance.
Kwak experienced just finished his interrogations, element of the resettlement approach new defectors go via, in which he’d talked about his film expertise.
The agency put him in contact with the filmmaker, who presented him a occupation at his movie business. Kwak acknowledged it correct absent.
He went on to perform as an adviser and a screenwriter on a selection of films and dramas, and in 2018 a former colleague launched Kwak to Park Ji-eun, the head author of the drama.
She experienced appear up with an plan of a intimate comedy featuring a North Korean officer and a South Korean heiress, but her lack of intimate know-how of Northern life was a pressing problem.
Kwak joining the group kick-started off the Crash Landing on You undertaking.
Undercover spies and homeless young children
The series has come to be a single of the most profitable Korean dramas of all time. It tells the tale of heiress and businesswoman Yoon Se-ri and North Korean army captain Ri Jeong-hyuk.
Whilst out paragliding a single working day, Se-ri receives caught up by freak winds, and pushed over the border into North Korea. She is observed by the dashing Jeong-hyuk, who as an alternative of turning her in agrees to maintain her harmless and assist her return household. Inevitably, they tumble in love.
Kwak’s personal information of how North Korean officers operate intended he was able to add ingenious plot devices.
For example, at one particular issue, key law enforcement arrive across Se-ri hiding in a village. Jeong-hyuk quickly arrives up with the line that she is a spy with Division 11, the navy unit which performs undercover in the South.
That allows clarify her Southern accent, her lack of paperwork and her visual appeal, and gave the character the liberty to discover the village and interact with many others, even though refusing to response their concerns about her daily life on stability grounds.
In the course of the show, there are depictions of lifetime which could be created credible by way of the insights of someone like Kwak.
Trains are demonstrated abruptly halting for the reason that of energy cuts, homeless young children on the streets, and fridges used to keep publications and garments as an alternative of food items.
Kwak also helped build a subplot in the drama, of another pair of star-crossed lovers from the North and South, Gu Seung-joon and Seo.
Soon after embezzling a substantial quantity of dollars from Se-ri’s brother, Seung-joon goes on the run, and decides to seek out refuge in North Korea.
“North Korea is the only position the Interpol cannot achieve,” Kwak claims.
Is it legitimate that North Korea features protection for preferred criminals in trade for a hefty amount of income? “It is indeed plausible,” Kwak suggests. “That’s all I would like to say.”
Praise from other defectors
Some have accused Crash Landing on You of glamorising North Korea. For illustration, villagers seem to be to have a great deal of food stuff – but in truth foodstuff shortages are a recurring issue.
But these nuanced details are not often observed by South Koreans, and the drama has even got other defectors enthusiastic.
Chun Hyo-jin, who defected when she was 19, reported the drama does deviate from reality but that does not dent her enthusiasm for it. Most of her family members are now residing in the South, and the drama has grow to be a weekly topic.
“Every single time it can be on air, we call every other on the phone and converse about the drama,” Chun states.
“It has made the persons fascinated in North Korea. It will get my close friends to ask me about North Korea and I’m genuinely grateful for it.”
It’s also received praise from persons like Sokeel Park, who is effective with defectors through Liberty in North Korea.
“Its portrayal of a variety of facets of North Korean modern society have plainly been totally investigated, resulting in the most 3-dimensional portrayal of North Korean modern society of any film or drama to date,” he informed the BBC.
“It is refreshing how it portrays different areas of North Korean modern society without the need of unnecessarily passing judgement, and demonstrates North Koreans as complicated people today who are in the long run relatable and even lovable, even if they are culturally unique.”
It can be very well recognised that North Koreans, particularly the younger types, are admirers of K-drama way too – and as Crash Landing on You properly depicts, a whole lot of South Korean films and dramas are smuggled into North Korea.
Kwak suggests he has not listened to of any North Korean who has watched the drama.
“I’m positive they will be quite fascinated. It truly is their story. It can be about them.
“And I guess that particularly North Korean adult males would feel really grateful to have a handsome male like Hyun Bin to play 1 of them,” he chuckled.