Review. Boys Over Flowers is the 25 episode 2009 Korean TV adaptation based on the Japanese comic series Hana Yori Dango written by Yoko Kamio. Boys Over Flowers centers around a rich boy, Jun Pyo, who falls for poor girl, Jan Di, with plenty of obstacles in their path to love. Jun Pyo is the leader of the F4 (Flower Four), 4 wealthy close friends that are widely popular in the richest high school in Korea.
What I liked about the Boys Over Flowers:
Addicting drama. This was my first kdrama and it will always have a special place in my heart. I was horrified after the 1st episode with the overacting of Jan Di’s family but was hooked by episode 2. I learned about binge watching with this show.
F4 friendship worked. They acted like real friends, hung out, and they had each other’s backs throughout the series. I loved how they became friends with Jan Di each liking her as a person not just as Jun Pyo’s girlfriend. Totally superficial I know, but they all have fabulous smiles that draw you in.
1. F4 male lead Jun Pyo was charming and caring under the sneering veneer. He was single-minded in his love for Jan Di. Lee Min Ho, in his first lead role, carried the show with solid acting (did not overplay or underplay this role) and has only improved in subsequent roles (e.g. City Hunter, Personal Taste).
2. Ji Hoo, played by Kim Hyun Joong, was only initially a viable rival for Jan Di’s love until she decided Jun Pyo was the one for her. His acting skills were limited but to his credit he stayed in that range and portrayed a sincere friend to both Jun Pyo and Jan Di.
3. Yi Jung, played by Kim Bum, pottery master, was adorable and had good chemistry Ga Eul (Jan Di’s best friend played by Kim So Eun). His acting skills were uneven but his appeal took that character far.
Female lead Ku Hye Sun as Jan Di had quiet chemistry with Lee Min Ho and thankfully toned down the physical acting and amped up the emotional acting as the series progressed. Her character was reticent to commit to love but once she did, her continuous sacrifices for love mattered. When Jan Di believed so strongly that Jun Pyo would remember their love that she jumped in the pool prepared to wait until he saved her, it was compelling.
Jan Di’s best friend Ga Eul played by Kim So Eun was naive and sweet yet determined and straightforward. I liked that she knew Yi Jung was the guy for her and was willing to do the work to convince him of the same. Her insights into him unnevered him multiple times and forced him to see things he’d turned a blind eye to for years.
Evil mom was formidable. President Kang was played by Lee Hye Young and could make any character shrink back with a single raised eyebrow. She became my standard for over protective, I-know-best mothers in kdramas.
What I did not like about the show:
* Jan Di’s family made me cringe, their overacting was extreme at times.
* How many times did they play the theme song Almost Paradise? When they played that song during a fight scene, it was laughable.
The crazy of this drama is both good and bad:
1. The arranged marriage to Jae Kyung went on too long. I hated that in the end Jun Pyo and Jan Di were willing to step away from their love for this marriage. Jae Kyung had known that they loved each other but had turned a blind eye to it. She made up for it in the end by ditching him at the alter, making sure Evil mom did not snatch Jan Di, and whisking them away to a beautiful getaway effectively saving their relationship.
2. Mystery man in a coma (presumed dead Dad) that miraculously shows up in the epilog happy and healthy with now loving Mom was a left-field story.
3. The amnesia bit was annoying but the resolution at the pool was a series highlight.
4. How many times Jan Di is saved during the series?
* Jun Pyo saves her from the crowd of bullying kids, episode 5
* Ji Hoo saves her from drowning, episode 6
* Jae Ha saves her from evil photographers, episode 11
* Jun Pyo and F3 saves her from Jae Ha, episode 12
* Jun Pyo saves her from blizzard, episode 12
* F3 saves her from thugs, episode 13
* Jun Pyo saves her from drowning, episode 17
* Jun Pyo saves her from drowning, episode 25
Favorite Moments of the series:
Episode 4 – Namsan Tower Date. Jun Pyo approaches Jan Di during lunch at school and states “Saturday, 4 pm, in front of Namsan Tower” adding “If you’re even one minute late, you’re dead.” Jan Di does not think much of the demand and spends Saturday shopping with her mother. As Jan Di leaves the last store she guiltily wonders if Jun Pyo has been waiting for her. She heads to Namsan Tower and much to her surprise finds him shivering in the falling snow. She offers to buy him coffee to warm him up. She gets the coffee from a vending machine and calls it 30 thousand won coffee because is it like the expensive Sky Lounge where the coffee costs 30 thousand won. They companionably look at the city lights from the observation deck. Then the lights go out. They hurry to the exit doors but find them chained together. Jun Pyo says they’ll just call for help. Great plan, but he didn’t bring his cell phone and she does not have a cell phone (which astonishes Jun Pyo). Now they are stuck until morning. They settle into one of the cable cars where Jun Pyo collapses leaning heavily into her. She is startled then concerned when she realizes he is burning hot with fever. She digs in her backpack and wraps him with a scarf and shawl. They fall asleep. At one point Jun Pyo wakes up and realizes she has wrapped him to keep him warm. He writes something in the cable car. It isn’t revealed until episode 8 that he wrote “Jun Pyo ♥ Jan Di Our first night!” This date is typical of their push-pull relationship. He is direct about his feelings and open that he likes her. She is cautious about her feelings but you see she cares about him. Their communication style is to argue and banter. They are circling each other and drawn closer together each encounter.
Episode 6 – Helicopter ride to see Jun Pyo’s heart. Jun Pyo takes Jan Di along in a helicopter ride to show her something. In the air, he points out a field that’s shaped like a heart: “I’d decided that when I found a girl I liked, I’d bring her here.” She understands that is not a casual statement but a declaration of his feelings. Jun Pyo smiles “Can you see my heart?” Jun Pyo is happy but Jan Di is uneasy. At this point, they are out of sync. She feels guilty and uneasily because the previous evening Ji Hoo had hugged her and she’d lost the shark anklet Jun Pyo had given her. She’d lied to Jun Pyo about losing the anklet. Lying to him to cover a mistake is something she does multiple times in the series.
Episode 8 – Ji Hoo and Jan Di go on a date and the childhood debt “You broke my robot” is paid. My favorite moment for Ji Hoo was when he goes on a date with Jan Di and he clearly sees that her heart belongs to Jun Pyo. He makes the decision to let her go even though he is drawn to her. He even works to reunite Jun Pyo and Jan Di. After she goes home he texts Jun Pyo, Yi Jung, and Woo Bin to play hockey. He deliberately goads Jun Pyo saying negative things about Jan Di. Infuriated Jun Pyo chases him and punches him several times. Ji Hoo tell Jun Pyo “See? You can’t give her up. You should’ve been honest so I didn’t have to do all this.” Jun Pyo glares then leaves. Yi Jung and Woo-bin can’t believe he provoked Jun Pyo and Ji Hoo replies, “He owed me a debt. That punk broke my robot.” Previously in the episode Jun Pyo recalled a debt he felt to Ji Hoo from a childhood incident where he’d taken Ji Hoo’s robot toy which had been broken when a car ran over it. Ji Hoo cried and Jun Pyo learned the robot had been a gift from Ji Hoo’s dead father and felt guilty for his part in the destruction of a precious keepsake.
Episode 9 – Jan Di and Jun Pyo’s First Kiss and Jun Pyo Bonds with Jan Di’s Father & Brother. Jun Pyo admits to Jan Di that he wants to be her and her family everyday. Who could resist that earnest plea? During the actual kiss (first kdrama remember) I wondered…why isn’t she kissing him back? It’s more fun if both parties participate. The other part of the episode that was enjoyable was Jun Pyo’s male bonding (public bath back scrubbing & sauna and fish on a stick) with Jan Di’s Dad and brother. Jun Pyo was starved for a loving family.
Episode 10 – Valentine’s Day. Jan Di makes chocolates that look like Jun Pyo, some happy, some crabby. He is truly touched that she made these for him. In true Jun Pyo fashion, he wouldn’t share them! They enter a couples contest to win a cell phone for Jan Di. The contest requires one half of the couple to lift the other for as long as possible. I like how she opens him up to activities that he never would engage in without her. Plus it shows she wasn’t with him for what his wealth could buy her.
Episode 10 – Roadway kiss. Jan Di’s family is forced to sell snacks to passing cars to make money. Driving past, Jun Pyo and his mother are in the back of their chauffeured car. Evil mom has Jan Di called over. Jan Di is puts on a determined cheerful face selling the snacks but humiliated. Jun Pyo tries to go to Jan Di but evil Mom holds him back. Jun Pyo break away from his mother’s grip, exits the car, and strides to Jan Di enveloping her in a kiss and branding her as important to her. Her family watches thrilled at the declaration. Evil mom fumes. After this Jan Di and Jun Pyo have a terrific conversation where she tells him to back off and let her handle things. Jun Pyo protests but Jan Di states “you can’t do everything for me your way just because you’re my boyfriend.” He counters “Should I just watch as your whole family sells snacks on the street?” She answers ““Don’t do anything and just watch, if you want to be my boyfriend.” He then elicits a promise from her that she won’t leave him due to his Mom. He states “I’m really glad that the commoner gangster Jan Di is my girlfriend.That promise really puts my mind at ease.”
Episode 14 – Breakup in Macau. In the early morning meeting arranged by Ji Hoo, Jun Pyo and Jan Di finally meet and talk. Jun Pyo is cold and distant when Jan Di tries to talk to him. Jun Pyo delivers a cruel sucker punch to Jan Di when he tells her that she is “A stain I want to erase”. Ouch! Lee Min Ho is excellent here – cold and convincing. This effectively crushes Jan Di’s heart. Koo Hye Sun as Jan Di is excellent in this scene too. Her shock and pain is palpable.
Episode 20 – Jan Di is Jun Pyo’s personal maid. This was balanced and fun episode. Everyone had a story in this episode. Besides the fun of Jan Di being at Jun Pyo’s beck and call as his personal made, Yi Jung finds his 1st love (Ga Euls’ pottery teacher), Grandpa Yoon moves into Ji Hoo’s house, and Woo Bin has dinner with Jun Pyo.
Episode 25 – Pool memory jolter. Jun Pyo still has selective amnesia and doesn’t remember Jan Di. At the pool Jan Di shows Jun Pyo the necklace, asks if he can swim, all which he denies remembering. Her faith in him is strong as she falls into the pool waiting on him to remember and save her. Jun Pyo can’t deny her insight into him and finally all the memories flash back. He jumps into the pool saving her, their love, and their destiny. This was the series highlight for Koo Hye Sun as Jan Di.
* My Everything by Lee Min Ho
* Running To You Now by Kim Bum
* Emptying by Kim Jun
* Happiness Is by Kim Hyun Joong
* What Should I Do by Ji Sun
* Starlight Tears by Kim Yoo Kyung
* Because I’m Stupid by SS501
* With Tears by Lee Sang Gon, my personal favorite for it’s moody beauty
Favorite Songs from the OST in my YouTube Playlist (link or embedded below)