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[Revisiting Dramas] Taking another peek at Flower Boy Next Door

By @amilia

Flower Boy Next Door was my very first K-drama. My gateway drug was Nodame Cantabile (another story, another time), and after that I started scouring jdorama fansubbing sites looking for more. It was on one such site that I ran into a banner ad featuring current popular K-dramas. Anyway, Flower Boy Next Door was at the top of the list, and the title intrigued me, so I clicked the link.

I was going into this completely blind. I didn’t know the actors. I didn’t know the tropes or the cliches. I was unfamiliar with the storytelling techniques that K-dramas use. I thought a flower boy was someone who delivered flowers, a la a paperboy. My background is very white-bread, middle America, and other than a few anime and a couple of old-school jdoramas, I was very new to Asian entertainment in general.

I fell in love. This show spoke to me like American television never did. I got the heroine, Dok-mi—someone who struggled with depression, with communication, with being around other people. Just like me. Thankfully it has never gotten to the extremes with me that it did for her, and I don’t have the horrific backstory she did, but I very much identified with her character. And I so envied her Enrique. This is my dream man. Someone who can see past my walls and defenses, read my thoughts without me speaking them, and help me become the person I want to be. So, yeah, there might be a reason why I am an old maid.

Anyway, I had been thinking of rewatching Flower Boy Next Door after The Best Hit ended. I wanted to wash the bad taste out of my mouth and remember why I loved Yoon Shi-yoon. (Yes, I know. Sacrilege. I’m glad you all liked Hyun-jae.) And with this rewatch challenge, I had the perfect excuse.

This time around, I felt so savvy and in the know. Which was an odd sensation, as this is not really a conscious feeling I usually have while watching dramas, even though I am here at Dramabeans constantly to make sure I actually am in the know. I think it was the contrast between today and the lingering feelings leftover from when I first watched this show four years ago, when everything was new and exotic and I was an explorer discovering new worlds.

This time, I got the joke when Do-hwi was frustrated that her heel would not break so she could be rescued. I knew why Jin-rak was so horrified to overhear Enrique asking Dok-mi if he could stay for ramyun. I recognized the restaurant Ryu works at as the same company that makes the dumplings that my Costco sells.

And the people! All of the characters in the show are now familiar faces to me. I found myself comparing the actors’ roles here to their more recent counterparts. Park Shin-hye’s teacher-student love story worked out so much better for her in Doctors than it did in Flower Boy Next Door. Go Kyung-pyo is very much the hyung in Strongest Deliveryman, so it was fun seeing him as the dongsaeng in Flower Boy Next Door. Also, now I know about hyung-dongsaeng relationships.

And, of course, the one that prompted this rewatch: Yoon Shi-yoon. You know, on the surface Enrique and Hyun-jae are very similar. They are both talented and brilliant boys who achieved fame at a very young age, and they have very similar mannerisms.

But unlike Hyun-jae, Enrique looks at people and sees them. I loved that about him. He didn’t play games to hide from people—he created them to connect to people. Seeing people, their inner thoughts and intentions, connecting with them and bringing out the best in them was deliberate on Enrique’s part, something he constantly worked at and encouraged in others like Dok-mi, who very much needed to learn how to connect with people.

Seeing the people around you was what the drama was about in the end. There was a lot of stalking going on in this show, but while most of it wasn’t malicious, watching a person from a distance doesn’t really help you learn about them. As our characters kept discovering, to really see a person, you have to get up close and personal. You have to make an effort to interact and connect with them. If you only watch through the window, from across the hall, the story you build around the person you watch will not match the story they have built for themselves.

 
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Flower Boy Next Door is one of my most rewatched kdramas. Enrique is just SO endearing. He has been my favorite kdrama character. Whenever i feel down & in the mood to rewatch, this drama is my go-to. It just brighten up my dampen spirits right away. ?

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He's absolutely delightful, isn't he?

Agreed, this is a great pick-me-up drama. I hadn't rewatched it since the first time, but it always had a shiny happy spot in my memory.

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'I was going into this completely blind. I didn’t know the actors. I didn’t know the tropes or the cliches. I was unfamiliar with the storytelling techniques that K-dramas use. I thought a flower boy was someone who delivered flowers, a la a paperboy. My background is very white-bread, middle America, and other than a few anime and a couple of old-school jdoramas, I was very new to Asian entertainment in general.'
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I kept saying yes, yes, yes with everything. Yes, I also came to FBND not knowing any of them, and the craze, and I hated enrique when I started, but I came out loving him. I would call him my dream man too. Someone who doesn't care to whine for the nth time that he misses her, while most of the lot would be probably basking in too much pride and never admit.
I also have dropped 'the best hit' midway and went back to FBND, to love YSY aka enrique more. The image of YSY I had in mind, 'The best hit ' totally ruined it, seeing how careless, selfish, and different he was from enrique. So yeah, maybe it's just me, but enrique is such a wonderfully written character, and works as a delight, a joy in our depressing world like it did for bok mi. Thank you for the review! I would give it 200 out of 100 if I could.

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Ahhh! Thank you! :-)

The way you described Hyun-jae -- careless and selfish -- was exactly the way I read him as well. So very different from Enrique, even though they had many of the same mannerisms. Hooray for having Flower Boy always in the back ready to step forward and brighten our day!

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Interestingly, I almost didn't watch the drama because initially, I thought the male lead was strange. I know...What in the world was wrong with me? But that was my reaction in the first 5 minutes. Yet I continued on. I hate to admit it but as an introvert, I relate a lot to Go Dok-mi so Enrique is one of the very few characters I wish I had in my life, even though I know such people do not exist. And even though I thought, at least from memory, that the drama lost its introspective charm towards the end, it maintains a special place in my heart. And YSY was perfect for the role. I will always see him as Enrique. ?

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Dagnabit! Why don't people like Enrique exist in real life!?!?!?! :-)

And yes, Yoon Shi-yoon was pretty darn perfect in the role.

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Awww I loved your writing style. I actually haven't seen Flower Boy Next Door but it's the very next drama that I'll be watching after I finish the one I'm watching at the moment. I'm so excited to see this type of love story though as I am very introverted as well and really related to the male lead character in My Shy Boss (Yeon Woo Jin gave an excellent performance despite the bland story). So I've always thought that my real life counterpart should be someone who is extroverted who can balance out my introverted nature and well help me grow as a person too. Sometimes I think I am too much of a wallflower but I have hope still that a kind energetic young man will come into my life soon...

Oh also I'm extra excited cause I speak Spanish as my native language so am looking forward to hearing it in a kdrama :D

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Thank you! :-) I am sitting here in my bedroom doing a happy dance at midnight over getting published here.

You are in for a treat watching this for the first time. It really is delightful. With real people struggling to get by and living in a run-down apartment. And, of course, Enrique. Who is an absolute ball of sunshine.

Fair warning, though, the Spanish is likely about as poor as kdrama English. I don't speak Spanish, but it didn't really sound like the Spanish I have heard my co-workers speak. The scene it is in, however? Total hoot.

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My first try of this show didn't go so well and I never got to finish it. Like you, I've watched The Best Hit and couldn't get enough of Yoon Shiyoon so I decided to give it a try. Overall, it's an awesome drama! I felt for Dok-mi a lot and I actually decided to go out more after watching this. I wished I watched it after The Best Hit because I didn't like Hyunjae much (I'll get stoned with you).

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That's awesome! What a great take away from the drama, going out into the world more. :-)

Re: Hyun-jae. Solidarity! Fighting!

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I so enjoyed your write-up. This is a drama I watched several summers ago, and have been telling myself for the past several winters I would rewatch because it made me feel warm and cozy. Reading about your experience made me want to rewatch it even more! Perhaps this winter!

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Thank you! :-)

This is a perfect winter watch. I loved the massive coats everyone wore. And, of course, the panda hat.

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THIS.

Rewatching this drama right now after many years!!

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I just now finished watching this! after Best Hit ended. It's very cute. I like everyone in it, Go Kyunpyo and Kim Seulgi were awesome. I want to get a panda hat but sadly no one here will understand why I'm wearing one.

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But a panda hat would be awesome even without context . . .

One of my favorite bits was Kim Seul-gi practicing whispering instead of screaming so that Go Kyung-po would lean in to her.

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Those who love Yoon Shi-yoon in the panda suit say qué!

BTW that dancing sequence kicks in automatically in my brain when I need to go to a happy place....Yoon shi-yoon is my puppy, rainbow, and unicorn all in one.

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Qué!

And then when he was so put out that she missed his big event . . .

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Ahhh this is the drama tht made me a fan of shin hye ? For me, her best performance/drama will always be flower boy next door (hmm or maybe tree of heaven). *sigh* how i wish the heirs nvr happened after the good fbnd because since tht, every comment related to her has been very toxic and misleading. For them, it's okay for other actresses to cry but no!! psh cannot cry or else she's playing same roles all over again!!! They keep on saying she always played weepy weak poor girl who ended up w chaebol everytime (but the truth is it is only in heirs). Kkaegum is no chaebol even the game royalty might made him rich.. but hey, he even stayed in sauna and crashed dok mi's house after being kicked out instead of staying in hotel! Hwang tae kyung, lee shin, choi dal po and honghonghong aren't super rich chaebol guys... Dok mi isn't upright weak. She may be quiet but crying is not her thing.. Her narration/diary is the best thing about this drama. Sooo relatable

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Agreed. For all my raving about and drooling over Enrique, it was Dok-mi I connected to. Park Shin-hye really was good in this one, wasn't she?

I also loved how these were regular, everyday people. Struggling to get by and living in a run down building with one room apartments. And how cool was the landlord? "You are young and won't have much saved up, so I won't ask for a deposit, but you are young and energetic, so you darn well better pay your rent on time!"

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My daughter (who taught school in China) for 3 years brought me a polar bear snow hat as a gift. (I think of Enrique/Yoon Shi Yoon/Dong Gu) every time I wear it in the winter, walking the dogs.

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:-) I love it!

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Even afyer all this time Enrique is still my favourite K-Drama hero ❤️

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He really is perfect, isn't he!

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I dived into this drama without knowing anything about the other flower-boy predecessors. FBND turned out to be different, quirky... and it spoke to me on so many levels. It had this peculiar mood which I really love... set by the characters' personality, their day to day activities and interactions, all took place in a winter setting. At the time the drama aired, I was in much similar situation with Dok-mi, too. I was this grad student who, while struggling to finish her thesis, spent most of her time indoor, was disconnected from the rest of the world and unsure about the future.

TL, DR; FBND was such a little gem for me as it brought so many feelings. I would like to revisit this drama, just to see how it would work for me the second time around now that I'm married and at the beginning phase of a new career.

Thank you @amilia for bringing up this drama. What a lovely review, too.

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Awww. Thank you! :-)

Yes! Peculiar mood is the perfect way to describe it. There's nothing else I can think of that has that same sort of dreamy introspection.

I would love to hear how this drama hits you in your new phase of life. :-)

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Flower Boy Next Door!!! Officially my favorite out of Flower Boy series.. I love Enrique so much but somehow I shipped Go Dok Mi with Oh Jin Rak.. hahaha
I guess I have soft spot for the guy who loves the girl quietly (or too quietly in Oh Jin Rak's case). I also love the secondary couple, Panda-Eyes Editor and cute Dong Hoon.

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First time I saw Kim Seul Gi.

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and what a riot she was!!
; )

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Kim Seul-gi's always a riot!

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Oooh me too. At a moment, i was looking for her in every episode because i always ended up laughing a lot every time she appeared. :-)

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Me too. I had no idea what I was in for.

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For me, this drama has the best ending.

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I also noted the similarity between Hyun Jae and Enrique while watching The Best Hit, but while I loved Enrique, I couldn't stand Hyun Jae.

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I also rewatched FBND after The Best Hit, quite by accident. My mother asked for a drama recommendation, and well, I put FBND on for her and attempted to go on with my daily activities. But she kept laughing, and I kept running back to see which scene it was about, so I ended up rewatching the whole thing. I enjoyed it even more this time - and the latter episodes, which I remembered dragged a bit, went by really fast! I also had a new-found appreciation for Enlique. A few years ago I was more like Dok Mi than I am now, so his attitude felt really pushy and invasive the first time round. This time... I smiled at his antics all the way, and saw his sincere attempts in being close to people. By the by I remembered some golden scenes along the way (that karaoke sing-off is the stuff of LEGEND). By the way, did any other Spanish speakers understand what Enlique said when he was disguised as 'Italian mafia'? I was literally rofl, even when I knew what was coming. ??

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This is my all time favourite!!! Just like DokMi, I too have a trouble speaking to strangers, I hate going out where there are more people!!! Here DokMi's problem is due to a childhood trauma!! But I am naturally like this!!! This Enrique character spoke to me the most!!! I need a person like him in my life to understand the 'yes' behind my 'no', to give my space when I need it, to understand me without words, to brighten me up when I am down, to stand by me during difficulties!! Woww!!!! Yoon Shi Yoon(or should I call him Donggu Oppa) really sold the character very well!!! I fell for him in this drama and have since kept my love!!! His 'The best Hit' may not be the best drama out there, but that is also another of his drama that I cherish and would go back for years later!!!

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Now I'm thinking of how much more adorable Enrique would've been if he was a literal flower boy, delivering flowers to people. Ha.

I was head over heels for Yoon Shi-yoon as Enrique. He was so stinkin' adorable and always made me smile because he was such a ball of energy and a ray of sunshine. I definitely wanted an Enrique for myself, too.

One of the things I'd anticipate when I rewatch this drama will be Go Kyung-pyo and Kim Seul-gi's hilarious relationship.

This was beautifully written, @amilia!

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Ah, my sweet comfort food. This was also one of my very first dramas, and has a special place in my heart.

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Thank you for writing about FBND. I've only watched it here and there because of Yoon Shi Yoon. Never watched the whole thing. Seeing how you describe Enrique makes me want to see watch it. Also, fills the time before waiting to see him in Shin Hye Sung's MV! :)

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Thank you for your post! It was very spot on. And I personally had a very similar experience with rewatching this drama - from not-knowing-anything about Korean dramaland to "know-it-all". It is a great fun rewatching dramas I saw at the beginning of my Korean experience :-)

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Enriqueeeee!!! What a puppy! I love YSY and was waiting for a new drama where I will love him more than I already do. Sadly, Best Hit did not do it for me. Maybe next time.

I like this show. I love the characters. Love the random fashion runway walks. Lol Thanks for the memories through this post.

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I watched this for the first time a couple of weeks back as I kept seeing the Beanies mentioning it in the comments section.

I thought I'd identify with Dok-mi as I'm also an introvert (granted, not as introvert as her, but still). It also had the workings of a drama that I would like - quirky and thoughtful but fun. What I didn't expect was that I wouldn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would. Eep.

I kept up with it til 5 or 6 episodes and then I began skimming through the rest of it. I guess it's more of a it's not you, it's me scenario. ?

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Very well written @amilia thank you for sharing.

just re-watched it a few weeks ago, thanks to @chingu and I thoroughly enjoyed it more this time than when it first aired.

Enrique will always be that quirky but full of heart hero.

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After reading this post a few days ago, I started watching this drama, and, omg, why did it take me so long to discover it?! I think I confused it with Shut Up Flower Boy Band, which I heard had some seriously tragic bits, and so I avoided it. But, yay, I'm so happy I started watching this!

Now I'm on ep 9, and I'm loving every moment of this series so far. The characters, omg, Dok-mi, Enrique, Jin-rak, assistant Dong-hoon, they melt my heart! Actor Kim Ji-hoon as Jin-rak is especially adorable ❤❤❤

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Spot on. But didn't you like Yoon Shi Yoon in The Best Hit? I really love him as Hyun Jae. I really cannot move on to bw honest. But the thought that The Best Hit is like fantasy drama (due to its time travel thing) is meh. I'm at Episode 3 of FBND. I THINK i'll love Shiyoon more in this drama coz it's realistic.

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Thanks, @amilia, for your lovely essay "Taking another peek at Flower Boy Next Door." I'd just started watching FBND for the first time the night before your article was posted, and finished watching a couple of days ago. Talk about synchronicity. ;-)

All I can say is that Enrique is a revelation! Yoon Si-yoon is remarkable as the hyperactively child-like Kke-geum. JavaBeans and GirlFriday took turns recapping, and one of them described his performance of Enrique as "a hummingbird on crack," which was right on the money. The sheer amount of energy he summons to portray the erstwhile child genius who buried his deepest hurts beneath his sunny facade in a combination of class-clown and rescuer is stunning. My hat is off to him for the way he throws himself into the role. And YSY's aegyo slays me every time. ;-)

My introduction to YSY was in last year's exquisite fantasy sageuk, MIRROR OF THE WITCH. Now that I think of it, I may have to give it a rewatch. Since watching THE BEST HIT, I've been gradually working my way through his other dramas.

Kim Seul-gi is great as the raccoon-eyed sleep-deprived PD of webtoons. She steals the show -- especially after teaming up with Ko Gyung-Pyo's Yoo Dong-hoon.

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