Boys Over Flowers (2009) Review by ChellyWood

Blurb: Based on the Japanese manga series, Hana Yori Dango (花より男子), this is the tale of hardworking Geum Jan-di, who, while delivering clothes from her family's dry cleaners' shop, stumbles across a tragic scene. A boy who has been bullied at the exclusive Shinhwa High School is poised atop the roof of a building, threatening to jump. Geum Jan-di intercedes, saving him from certain death. When the press gets wind of Geum Jan-di's courageous act, they glorify her, and suddenly this commoner is made into a heroine.
Worried the bullying incident will sully the good name of the high-class school, Shinhwa High's president offers Geum Jan-di a full-ride scholarship to the school. At that point, the bullying is redirected to Geum Jan-di, until the school's president's son, Goo Jun-pyo (played by Lee Min-ho), takes Geum Jan-di under his wing. To everyone's surprise, Goo Jun-pyo falls for the commoner, calling her "Dry Cleaning" as an affectionate nickname.

Review: It took me three or four episodes to warm up to this series, but when it was all over, I felt disappointed to have reached the end, having enjoyed the ride overall. So if you're a fan of Korean dramas, I recommend that you stick it out through the first few episodes. It will be worth it in the end. (My daughter told me this, but when I was sitting through the early scenes with Jan-di's family, I kept thinking, "No way. This isn't going to get better." But it did!) Later episodes are filmed in luxurious and beautiful locations, and the focus on Jan-di's family disappears as the show progresses. It has a relatively satisfying ending too.

Actors: Lee Min-ho makes this series shine. I've read online that his role as Goo Jun-pyo brought Lee Min-ho into the limelight for all the world to see.
The actress who plays his romantic counterpart in the story, Ku Hye-sun, was able to juggle comic scenes with serious ones. I found her character likable, due to the actresses overall ability to charm the audience.
It also stars the attractive and talented Kim Hyun-joong, whom most of us know from Playful Kiss.

Recommendations: I recommend this show for anyone 14 and older because in Episode 17, the soundtrack contains the F word. There's also a scene where Jan-di gets drugged at a nightclub; she wakes up in a hotel room in the morning, wondering if she had been taken advantage of. I thought about giving this series an R rating, due to these types of incidents in the plot, but decided against it for the simple reason that I did let my 13-year-old watch it (with parental guidance).

Biggest Drawback: In a lot of ways, this show has the same fundamental plot as Heirs, but Heirs had a bigger budget (I'm guessing), as the early episodes in particular seem very limited in terms of cinematography. I wondered, while I watched it, if Lee Min-ho had a sense of déjà vu while filming Heirs because the two plots have so many parallels.

Rating: (*) (*) (*) Three Stars (worth watching once, but not repeatedly)

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I’m Chelly Wood, and I write YA books. My agent is the lovely and professional Liz Kracht of Kimberley Cameron and Associates.
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