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