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News Navigator: Why is S. Korean drama 'Crash Landing on You' so popular in Japan?

South Korean actress Son Ye-jin, left, and actor Hyun Bin in a scene from the smash hit drama "Crash Landing on You," which has been distributed exclusively by Netflix.

The Mainichi Shimbun answers some common questions readers may have about "Crash Landing on You," a smash hit South Korean drama that has also caused an enormous craze in Japan.

    Question: I've heard that the drama "Crash Landing on You," which is set in North Korea, has been wildly popular. What's the storyline?

    Answer: It's a serial drama aired by South Korean cable network tvN, in which Yoon Se-ri (played by Son Ye-jin), the daughter of a South Korean conglomerate family, crash lands in North Korea in a paragliding accident and falls in love with a North Korean elite military officer Ri Jeong Hyeok (Hyun Bin) who she happened to encounter.

    In Japan, the 16-episode romantic comedy series has been distributed exclusively by Netflix since February. A flurry of comments posted by viewers saying they "repeatedly watched the drama" poured onto social media, causing a sensation in Japan. Its popularity continues even now, with the show topping Netflix's daily viewership ranking on some days in September.

    Q: What's so cool about the drama?

    A: One of the highlights is that the series portrays the lifestyles of North Korean people -- from their diet to shopping at markets -- based on real-life information including interviews with North Koreans who defected to South Korea. Although there were dramas and movies in the past in which North Korean characters appear, Bunkyo University professor Yeong-ae Yamashita, who is versed in South Korean culture and women's studies, notes that "Crash Landing on You" is likely the first South Korean drama that describes the realities of North Korea in such detail.

    Q: So why is this show so hot in Japan?

    A: It has heretofore been thought that most of the Japanese fans of South Korean dramas were women who prefer love stories. While "Crash Landing on You" also evolves around a love story, the series also offers depictions surrounding the internal affairs of North Korea and powerful action scenes, capturing the hearts of many male viewers as well.

    According to professor Yamashita, Park Ji-eun, who wrote the script for the show, is one of the most popular screenwriters in South Korea and her works have attracted viewers with clever storylines. Why not try and watch South Korean dramas that encompass a variety of elements?

    (Japanese original by Hisanori Yashiro, Cultural News Department)

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