Crash Landing on You: Episode 1
Hyun Bin makes a quick return to dramaland (for him) as a North Korean soldier who finds himself in a situation he never thought he’d be in – protecting a lost South Korean woman. Sohn Ye-jin is a businesswoman who never expected to find herself accused of being a spy, and she uses every bit of her impressive wiles to try to get home and return to her comfortable life. Crash Landing on You is completely different than I expected, and I mean that in the best possible way.
EPISODE 1 RECAP
In Seoul, just south of the Demarkation Zone between North and South Korea, a beautiful woman is photographed with her famous actor boyfriend, Cha Sang-yoo (cameo by Jung Kyung-ho). Later, there’s a meeting with her staff discussing how to deflect a possible scandal by saying that the two are just friends playing a joke.
The woman, YOON SE-RI (Sohn Ye-jin), just laughs, not really caring if there’s a scandal because they’ve broken up anyway. She’s more worried about the fact that her earrings were blurred along with her face, since they’re part of a new accessory line her company is advertising, ha.
Se-ri owns her own company, having struck out on her own years ago. She takes a call from her eldest brother SE-JOON (Choi Dae-hoon), who informs her that their father is being released on probation after being incarcerated for (unspecified) financial crimes. Se-ri just hangs up on Se-joon, and his wife HYE-JI (Hwang Woo-seul-hye) excitedly anticipates Se-joon finally being named heir to Queens Corp, the family company.
They attend a dinner along with younger son SE-HYUNG (Park Hyung-soo) and his wife SANG-AH (Yoon Ji-min). It’s obvious they’re only there to garner favor, as the whole family flings barbs at each other under the guise of being very concerned about one another. Both brothers seem pretty problematic — Se-joon is a hothead who got into a fistfight with the union leader, while Se-hyung was recently duped in an investment scam.
Silencing the brothers’ arguing, Chairman YOON JEUNG-PYEONG (Nam Kyung-eub) demands to know why Se-ri hasn’t shown up. She walks in right on cue, and doesn’t even bother to sit at the table as she congratulates her father on his release. She turns to go, but Chairman Yoon calls out that he wants her to take over the company, and Se-ri freezes as the rest of the family voice their objections.
Chairman Yoon explains his reasoning — Se-ri left the family ten years ago and started her own company, and he’s impressed by her success. Her mother and brothers all glare and shake their heads at her, but Se-ri accepts the position, to their dismay. She asks if she’ll have the authority to fire the CEOs who are under-qualified, clearly meaning her brothers, and Chairman Yoon says it’s all up to her.
Se-ri asks for a little time, as her company is launching a line of extreme sports apparel. Chairman Yoon agrees to meet with her before the next shareholder’s meeting, where he’ll announce her appointment. Se-ri excuses herself, all grace and poise, but the expression on her face proves that she’s quite shaken by this development.
The next day, Se-ri is in a great mood as she prepares to personally test her company’s new paragliding apparel. Her assistant, SECRETARY HONG (Go Gyu-pil) is nervous about it – he seems a nervous sort in general — but Se-ri says this is nothing compared to the heights she’ll soon climb to.
She launches herself into the air, and a film crew follows her to take video of her flight. Everything goes well at first, but soon a strong wind kicks up. At first, Se-ri laughs to see a tractor flying through the air — then she realizes that a tornado is heading straight for her. She’s sucked into the tornado, and everything goes black.
Later that night, at the DMZ, Captain RI JUNG-HYUK (Hyun Bin) and his squadron meet up with a group of South Korean soldiers who have captured three men. They claim they have clearance to hunt deer, but the South Korean soldiers caught the men digging up cultural artifacts, and have photographic proof from their CCTV cameras.
Jung-hyuk swears on his country’s honor to make sure the grave robbers are punished. Both sides put their guns away, but one of the grave robbers grabs for a gun and turns to shoot at the South Korean soldiers. Jung-hyuk kicks the gun from his hands, then he and his men slam the grave robbers to the ground.
Jung-hyuk’s squad takes the grave robbers back to their garrison, where they’re met by Officer JO CHUL-KANG (Oh Man-seok). Jung-hyuk reports on the grave robbers, and also that the tornado knocked over a lot of the electric fences. Chul-kang mentions that Jung-hyuk’s squad are switching companies tomorrow and leaving the DMZ, and he tells Jung-hyuk to let the grave robbers off the hook.
Jung-hyuk respectfully refuses, having given his word that they would be punished. Chul-kang sighs for Jung-hyuk to do as he likes, though he reminds Jung-hyuk that he never goes easy on anyone, regardless of rank, so he’d better not do anything to threaten the country’s security.
Out in the field, Jung-hyuk’s squad bunk down for the night. One soldier, Chi-soo, offers the others some contraband snake wine to celebrate their last night, and baby-faced maknae Eun-dong worries that they’ll get in trouble for drinking on the job.
Back in South Korea, emergency responders rescue the videographers that were filming Se-ri’s flight, but Se-ri herself is nowhere to be found. Secretary Hong is beside himself as he looks up at the sky and asks tearfully how high Se-ri intended to go.
In the morning, Se-ri regains consciousness to find herself still in the paragliding gear, hanging from a tree. Her walkie-talkie isn’t getting a signal, so she starts yelling for help, and nearby Jung-hyuk hears a strange noise.
He gets a call that the tornado did a lot of damage to their equipment, so Jung-hyuk sends Joo-mok to help and goes to investigate the noise. He finds Se-ri still hanging from the tree, and when she sees him, she assumes that the South Korean army was dispatched to rescue her… until she spots Jung-hyuk’s insignia and realizes that he’s North Korean.
Jung-hyuk orders Se-ri to come down but she whines that it’s too high. He cocks his weapon so she hops right down, landing on Jung-hyuk and clinging to him like a monkey (the way he throws his hands in the air cracks me up — strange time to be a gentleman, Jung-hyuk). Se-ri gets off of Jung-hyuk and he asks for her name, but she declines to say since they just met, ha.
I’m dying here, Se-ri thinks that Jung-hyuk has defected to the south. He gives her a thousand-yard stare as she promises not to report him, and she asks him to let her go home. Jung-hyuk informs Se-ri that he didn’t go south, she came north, and she’s so startled that she blurts out, “North Korea??” in English, ha.
He clarifies that they’re in the DMZ, on the North Korean side. Se-ri explains that she was blown here by the tornado, convincing Jung-hyuk to put his gun away. He tells her to explain it at her investigation, but Se-ri has seen too many movies and she freaks out that they might think she’s a beautiful spy or a beautiful secret agent (LOL).
Se-ri says she’ll just get herself home, and takes off running. She crosses a stream, and Jung-hyuk calls after her that she’s in a minefield. He swaggers closer, bragging that he’s an expert in the mines’ locations, then ~snick~, he steps on a live mine. Oh, the look on his face is priceless.
Se-ri figures out that she now has the upper hand, and when Jung-hyuk teeters off-balance and drops his walkie-talkie into the water, she grabs it up. Jung-hyuk reminds her that he has a gun, but Se-ri smirks that he’d be killing the one person who can help him.
She leaves the walkie-talkie half-submerged so that it will drift down to Jung-hyuk, but not until she’s gotten away. As she goes, Se-ri tells Jung-hyuk that she hopes they never meet again, though he’s totally her type, ha. Jung-hyuk stops her from stepping on another mine, then gives her directions to the neutral zone and tells her to veer right once she gets there.
They hear Jung-hyuk’s squadmate, Kwang-beom, approaching, and Se-ri runs off. Jung-hyuk tells Kwang-beom that a South Korean woman is in the area by accident, and to give the order for any strangers to be detained unharmed. Kwang-beom notices that Jung-hyuk is standing on a mine and offers to call for help, but Jung-hyuk has Kwang-beom disarm it himself, even though he’s only done it once in training.
When Se-ri arrives at the spot where Jung-hyuk told her to turn right, she second-guesses whether he was telling her the truth. We don’t see which direction she ultimately chooses, but soon a very hungover (and whiny) Chi-soo is telling some of the squadron to track her down and shoot her, having misheard the orders.
Chi-soo sees Se-ri running across the field in her bright purple jumpsuit and gives chase, calling for backup when he runs out of breath. Se-ri leads them through some fields and into another clearing, where they skid to a halt — it’s another minefield. Jung-hyuk has his soldiers split up and go the long way around, but before they catch up, Se-ri makes it to a fence with a downed tree making it possible to jump over.
She goes for it, unable to hear Jung-hyuk’s men yelling that she’s going the wrong way: “If you go there, we’ll all die!” Chi-soo takes a shot at her, so she jumps to the other side of the fence. She heads toward the guard tower where Joo-mok is supposed to be on lookout, but he’s too busy watching the old South Korean drama Stairway to Heaven and never even sees Se-ri zooming right past the tower.
Se-ri keeps going, believing that she’s approaching safe territory. At one point she falls and rolls down a hill, hurting her knee, but she jumps up and continues running. She zips within a few feet of Eun-dong, who’s reading a letter from his mother and fighting homesickness and doesn’t notice.
Back in Seoul, Se-ri’s family gets the news that she’s gone missing. Hye-ji, Se-joon’s wife, is in the middle of asking her prayer group to pray for her and her husband as someone usurps her husband’s position, and when she gets the call, she celebrates that her prayers were answered before she even prayed them, HA.
Se-ri’s brothers go to the search site to talk to the police, but not because they’re worried for Se-ri — they want this kept out of the media to avoid stock prices dropping. Secretary Hong, meanwhile, yells at he police to look harder, and from his car, Chairman Yoon notes Secretary Hong’s genuine concern for Se-ri.
Her mother is upset, too, as she recalls following Se-ri out of the house after Chairman Yoon asked her to take over Queens Corp. Mom had said she expected Se-ri to stick to her vow to disown the family and refuse the offer. Se-ri had replied that whenever she’s startled, she still yelps, Mommy!, which is strange since she has no mother.
Se-ri falls again, and she stops to rest and remove her paragliding gear. Meanwhile, Jung-hyuk and his squad determine that this is kind of all their faults for being distracted while Se-ri was escaping. Chi-soo points out that what’s important is that they catch her before the State Security Department finds her and they all get into big trouble. They show up for their guard transfer, but they can’t stop worrying about Se-ri and are determined to find her.
In the city, Se-hyung’s wife Sang-ah tells him that Se-ri’s disappearance is his last chance to get control of the company. She tells him that he should be looking for the person who scammed him, otherwise he’ll lose everything.
Cut to con man GU SEUNG-JOON (Kim Jung-hyun is back, y’all!), who’s currently in China to meet up with a contact. They discuss the fact that Seung-joon backstabbed Se-hyung, and that he’s probably tracking Seung-joon right now. Seung-joon wonders where he can hide from someone with practically unlimited money and resources, and his contact says that there’s one place in the world where nobody can follow him…
Chul-kang goes to speak with the grave robbers, and it quickly becomes clear that he’s involved in their poaching of artifacts. He has them show him on a map where the artifacts can be found, and he tells them that they’ll be rewarded handsomely. Uh-oh.
He sends them in a truck, assuming they’re going to be released. But instead, their escort vehicle slams into them and pushes them off a cliff, and their truck bursts into flames. A woman walking along the road witnesses the incident, but as she’s running away, she also runs afoul of the escort vehicle.
Se-ri managed to get herself good and lost and walking in circles, so she’d started tying vines onto branches to mark where she’d been. This is helpful as Jung-hyuk and his squad go out looking for her after dark, worried that they’ll be punished if she’s found and it’s discovered that they were all negligent in some way. They follow the trail she left behind, but when Jung-hyuk realizes where she was heading, he grows worried.
She eventually stumbles into what looks like a village, and she’s sure she’s almost home. The streets and houses are completely dark and there’s nobody to be seen, but suddenly the whole village blazes with light, and the villagers emerge now that the electricity is on for the day.
They crowd around a man with a bull and cart, talking about things Se-ri has never heard of like chicken egg tickets. A nearby tower fitted with loudspeakers blasts music, and the villagers hurry to gather together and begin a jaunty little exercise routine.
Se-ri, watches, confused, as children line up and march to school together. Signs light up that say “Paradise of the People” and “The great leader is always with us,” and reality dawns on Se-ri — she’s still in North Korea.
A military vehicle approaches Se-ri where she stands in the street, and she’s blinded by the headlights. Someone swoops her out of the way just in time, and she looks up to see Jung-hyuk standing over her protectively.
When Jung-hyuk had first found Se-ri, she’d been hanging from her paragliding equipment, complaining at Secretary Hong through her broken walkie-talkie. Jung-hyuk had lowered his gun and watched as Se-ri threw a tantrum in mid-air, and had smiled at how cute she was.
I like it! I went into Crash Landing on You with practically zero expectations other than general character descriptions and having only seen one trailer, so I had no idea what to expect. It’s a lot funnier than I expected for a show set in North Korean and starring a North Korean soldier. Hyun Bin’s straight-laced character absolutely cracks me up when he’s faced with Sohn Ye-jin’s hyper, almost manic energy. Their chemistry is already intense, especially their comedic chemistry, and I anticipate that to transfer over to romantic chemistry quite smoothly.
I didn’t immediately like either Se-ri or Jung-hyuk — Se-ri came across as spoiled and cold, while Jung-hyuk, being a soldier, seemed very stiff and formal. But as they interacted, they won me over, and I already love them both. Se-ri is strong and intelligent, enough of both to cast off her worthless family and create her own success, and she’s also hilariously quick-thinking to the point that she out-smarted a North Korean officer. And Jung-hyuk turns out to be a bit goofier than he seemed, the way he held onto his pride even as he stood on that land mine and suffered Se-ri’s taunts. I can’t wait to see them become closer, and watch as the more vulnerable, human sides of them emerge.
The supporting characters seem equally strong — Se-ri’s horrible brothers hope she stays gone so they can have the company, while her dad seems to genuinely admire her business prowess and her mother regrets her bad relationship with her only daughter. Meanwhile, Jung-hyuk’s squad are flat-out adorable, reminding me of hapless little ducklings as they stumble around following their not-much-more-savvy mama duck. I hope that they do find Se-ri, and that they form a weird little family, because I think Se-ri could use some better “brothers” even if they are the enemy.
As for the story, we haven’t seen much besides the setup of Se-ri’s family situation and Jung-hyuk’s military career, so I don’t have a lot to say just yet other than that so far, I find it entertaining and somehow endearing. I’m already amused by poor Se-ri’s predicament, stuck in a North Korean garrison with only a North Korean captain between her and either going home, or possible imprisonment. Of course in real life this wouldn’t be funny, but this isn’t real life, and I can’t wait to see all the weird humor and hijinks that can be mined from the situation. Se-ri and Jung-hyuk both stand to get into a lot of trouble if she’s caught, and I think Se-ri knows it, so I anticipate her leading Jung-hyuk around by the nose as he tries to figure out how to safely get rid of the annoying woman he’s been saddled with.
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