The Politics of Crash Landing on You

The Korean drama called Crash Landing on You has received a lot of attention not only from fans in Korea but all over the world and became the highest rated drama in South Korean TV channel TVN’s history . The drama set in North Korea where a young successful South Korean chaebol woman (Son Ye Jin) crash lands on North Korean land after a paragliding accident. The drama is exceptionally captivating in terms of the storyline and the choice of location. Particularly the scenes from the daily life in North Korea is striking. We see  mostly the good parts of the North Korean daily life which is very different from what we often hear on the news on North Korea.

In the drama, the future mother in law of the main character Ri Jung Hyuk (Hyun Bin), learns English, speaks in English and uses English phrases every time she talks. Moreover, she lays table full of meat, foreign wine and Western food when her son in law to be Ri Jung Hyuk visits them which gives the message that North Korean people are open to outside world and learning new things.

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“We are indeed of the same ethnicity” BBC

In one scene, local women think that Se-ri was dumped by Ri Jeong Hyuk and bring beer and fish to consolidate her. Se-ri resembles it to Chimaek (치맥) and emphasizes that people in both countries do the common thing when they feel sad. In another scene, when Se-ri and local women talk about fighting, they both say that they pull the hair of the opposite side and  on this comment Se-ri says that “We are indeed of the same ethnicity” subconsciously stating that they are sisters and brothers, in fact, we have a lot in common.

 

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Friendship between the North Korean soldiers and South Korean woman Soompi

Before Se-ri’s return to South Korea through passing the 38th parallel, she and the soldiers talk about the closeness of Bukhansan Mountain. She surprises and says that is it that close as if its that close but we make it look like far. Moreover, the dramatic scene of Se-ri passing through the line reminds that the line is meaningless. All these elements mentioned above brings the unification to the minds. The drama itself embeds sunshine policy/unification propaganda by presenting an idealised version of North Korea and that North Koreans and South Koreans have a lot in common that there won’t be an adaptation problem in a case of possible unification. Even the main woman character Yoon Se-Ri mentions unification various times. In many scenes she speaks about the things that can happen in a case of unification. Crash Landing on You idealises the North yet successfully manages to show the bitter taste of the division after the Korean War.

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Inter-Korean Summit poster, 2018

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Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in together in Inter Korean Summit, 2018- Korea Expose

With the sub messages it gives, Crash Landing on You acts as a public diplomacy tool. Public diplomacy is the adoption of various communication tools and cultural products by state or non-state actors to influence foreign publics’ ideas and perceptions. Although Moon Jae In’s endeavours of rapprochement to bring a peace deal undermined by the US-North Korea discordance on the de-nuclearization of the peninsula, it seems like we will see these sorts of TV series that include politic messages aiming to change perceptions of people both within the country and abroad.

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