Korean Drama Review: Boys Over Flowers

Boys Over Flowers (TV series)

Image via Wikipedia

Boys Over Flowers is available at Hulu.


Boys Over Flowers (Boys Before Flowers), also known as the Korean version of Hani Yori Dango is based off of the Japanese Manga HanaYori Dango. Note: Korea’s Boys Over Flowers came out after Japan’s Hani Yori Dango and Taiwan’s Meteor Garden.

Boys Over Flowers follows the tale of a middle class girl, Geum Jan Di. Jan Di is a junior at Korea’s high school for the extremely wealthy, Shin Hwa High School. In Boys Over Flowers, Jan Di enters Shin Hwa High School following an incident where she was delivering clothes on behalf of her father’s dry cleaning business. When searching for the owner of the clothes at Shin Hwa High School, Jan Di finds that the customer is attempting to commit suicide by jumping off the roof of a building. Jan Di knows that she has to deliver the clothes in order to get paid, therefore, Jan Di races to her customer. The customer, who turns out to be a student bullied by the F4, is saved when Jan Di grabs him before he falls. This incident is caught on tape and hits the news media. To improve Shin Hwa High School’s public relations, Jan Di is invited to attend the prestigious Shin Hwa High School based on her heroics.

After arriving at Shin Hwa High School, Jan Di, realizes that the school is less about academics and meritocracy and more about social status and economic power. Since, Jan Di is not rich and on a swimming scholarship, she is quickly labeled an outcast and tries to fly under the radar. However, Jan Di cannot keep quiet about one problem at Shin Hwa High School, the F4. The F4 rules Shin Hwa High School and is composed of four male high school seniors. These four males are the richest and most powerful heirs in Korea and the future leaders of tomorrow.

The F4 rules the school through fear. They place a red card in a person’s locker if they offend the F4. The red card signals to students at Shin Hwa High School to attack the person who has disrespected the F4. The most violent, richest, and leader of the F4 is Goo Jun Pyo, which makes him the most fearsome. Goo Jun Pyo is heir to the Shin Hwa Conglomerate, which owns the school and has business in just about every industry. Goo Jun Pyo lives for proving that he is the best at everything, that people outside the F4 are worthless, and that those worthless souls should be in awe of his amazingness.

In contrast, Jan Di shows that she is not in awe of Goon Jun Pyo nor is she afraid of him, when she sticks up for her only friend at school. When Jan Di’s friend spills ice cream on Jun Pyo’s shoe, he orders her friend to lick his shoe. Jan Di argues on her friend’s behalf. Jun Pyo fires back that Jan Di can lick his shoe instead, but Jan Di rebuts his request with her fist. Goon Jun Pyo astonished by Jan Di’s disobedience, puts the F4 card in her locker. As Jan Di continues to survive the attacks of Jun Pyo, the F4, and her classmates, Jun Pyo begins to admires Jan Di’s will to survive. At the same time, Jun Pyo is bewildered by his inability to stop himself from falling in love with Jan Di and becomes her protector.

Although, another F4 member strikes Jan Di’s fancy, Yoon Ji Hoo. Ji Hoo is the strong silent type. Ji Hoo plays along with the F4’s shenanigans, but does not directly participate. Jan Di develops a crush on him and his love for the music. On the other hand, Ji Hoo is actually is in love with a famous model that recently left Shin Hwa High School, Min Seo Hyun. When Ji Hoo’s first love, Seo Hyun, leaves the country, Ji Hoo follows her.

While Ji Hoo is away, Jun Pyo’s persistence, protective nature, inability to recall Korean idioms, and impetuous charms win over Jan Di’s heart. Soon, Ji Hoo returns after realizing that his relationship with Seo Hyun is not going to work out. Upon his return, Ji Hoo realizes that part of the reason his relationship did not work out is because of his love for Jan Di. Jan Di is now torn between Ji Hoo and Jun Pyo.

Relationship Summary:

It starts off as, Jun Pyo —> Jan Di —> Ji Hoo —> Seo Hyun. Then, Ji Hoo and Jun Pyo —> Jan Di. Later, Ji Hoo—>  Jan Di —> Jun Pyo. Finally, Jun Pyo —> <— Jan Di, but Tsukasa’s Mom, fiance, and a girl from the hospital all try to split them apart.



Top 5 Reason to Watch:

Jun Pyo played by Lee Min Ho: For the first few episodes, I was trying to figure out what facial features make Lee Min Ho good looking. I think it’s his strong nose and chin, what are your thoughts? Anyway, Jun Pyo was enjoyable, because of the character’s dynamics. Sometimes Jun Pyo could be goofy, awkward, and cute, but at the same time hard, arrogant, and mean. The fact that Lee Min Ho could make all of those characteristics co-exist deserves kudos. Some highlights of the full Jun Pyo experience are in the ferris wheel, giving Jan Di the bracelet on Jeju island, and when he first learns of Jan Di becoming his maid. Sidenote: After seeing Lee Min Ho with other hairstyles, I think that his hair should always be slightly curly, but not quite a croissant.

Ji Hoo played by Kim Hyun JoongIn Hani Yori Dango I had no problem with Makino choosing Tsukasa over Rui, but Ji Hoo really made me want to root for him instead of Jun Pyo. This may be due to the fact that Ji Hoo is also good looking, but I think it has more to do with the writing. In Boys OverFlowers, it was not clear why Jun Pyo was not sticking up for Jan Di more. Unlike Jun Pyo, Ji Hoo was not reluctant to claim Jan Di as his woman in front of the world and also tended to take more responsibility for her. I know that Jun Pyo’s mother was a large obstacle for Jun Pyo, but I wanted Jun Pyo to take charge. The character of Ji Hoo was too cool: dressing in white, ability to suddenly appear in the stairwell, riding a motorcycle, sacrificing his love for Jan Di, and the sly way he convinced Jun Pyo that he still loved Jan Di after the explicit pictures came out. The only thing that held Ji Hoo back, was his haircut in the beginning that made him look like a female character in Friends.

Romance between Kim Bun and Chu Ga Eul: Kim Bum, a member of the F4, finds love again when he meets Chu Ga Eul, Jan Di’s loyal childhood friend. Kim Bum and Chu Ga Eul make the cutest couple; pretty smiles galore. I preferred there coupledom slightly more than Jan Di and Jun Pyo, because it seemed sweeter. Kim Bum helps Ga Eul get past her ex-boyfriend, by pretending to be her rich new boyfriend. In addition to acting as a new boyfriend, he also gives her a makeover!  Ga Eul also helps Kim Bum get over the ex-girlfriend that made him a cold player. These scenes and the storyline were some of the highlights for me. I also preferred Kim Bum as a potter. The interactions between the two of them in Caledonia were a delight.

Friendship Between Jan Di and Ji Hoo: Jan Di, played by Ku Hye Sun, shines in her scenes with Ji Hoo. It starts off as a crush and grows into a deep friendship. When Jan Di dreams that one man will be her husband and the other will be her soulmate, she was spot on. Ji Hoo is Jan Di’s soulmate, which is part of the reason I had a hard time celebrating the romance between Jan Di and Jun Pyo. Ji Hoo saves Jan Di and her family several times by paying bills and providing her parents with jobs. Ji Hoo enters the competition with Jun Pyo to keep Jan Di in school. Ji Hoo gets annihilated by Jun Pyo, so that Jun Pyo will realize he loves Jan Di. Jan Di begs Seo Hyun to stay and encourages Ji Hoo to chase her when she leaves. Jan Di finds Ji Hoo’s only surviving family member and helps Ji Hoo form a relationship with him. Jan Di encourages Ji Hoo to go to medical school.

Sets and Locations: I felt that I was on vacation when the drama went to Caledonia. I have watched many dramas go on vacations, but I don’t think that any drama captured the beauty of the locations better than Boys Over Flowers. It is now on my list of places to visit. I also really enjoyed the elaborate designs of Ji Hoo and Jun Pyo’s houses. I prefer the modern style of Ji Hoo’s home, but Jun Pyo’s house had an air of extravagance that I’ve personally never encountered.

Subtle Annoyances:

  • In addition to being poor volleyball players, why are the white people unattractive.
  • The F4 can compete in every sport known to man
  • Jan Di’s wardrobe was an epic fail from the furs to the dresses, but the dress in Caledonia was atrocious
  • Jun Pyo don’t fault Ji Hoo for not knowing how many times you watched the movie together
  • Owner of the porridge shop’s predictions started to get annoying
  • F4 member Kim Joon’s storyline was lacking


  • Grandma and older sister of Jun Pyo were great characters
  • Loved Jan Di’s father’s red rimmed glasses

Even though, I thoroughly enjoyed Makino and Tsukasa’s romance and the friendship between the F4 in the Japanese version, it’s a tie. It’s a tie, because of Ji Hoo’s storyline, the affection shown between Jan Di and Jun Pyo, Kim Bum and Ga Eul’s romance, and the scenery. Thus, 4 and a half stars. Yes, I did take the easy way out.

Up Next: Personal Taste/Preference, then The Greatest Love.

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    • peevishmagnifyingglass

      I know how you feel. However, when watching boys over flowers again, I realized that it was better than I remembered. I do think that HYD was better than BOF until the HYD movie, which I found to be exhausting. They both have their highlights; HYD has better over all story lines, while BOF has better characters (Jun Pyo, Yoon Ji Hoo, So Yi Jeong, and Ga Eul). They also both had their faults, which I think cancel each other out. Thus, it is really a slight edge for HYD. I like Makino better than Jan Di and I like Makino and Tsukasa better than Jan Di and Jun Pyo (because Yoon Ji Hoo would have been an equally good choice). Although, it is hard to capture that in a half point rating system, since BOF is better that 4 stars and HYD does not deserve 5.

  2. mamae

    this is one drama that i want to have a part two or like its japanese counterpart, made into a movie with the same exact cast. i know people are curious to see how the rest of the cast looks like after two years. The drama series should have its closure coz the ending was not clear. It is also nice to see the F4 together again since this drama made them from virtually unknowns to being known actors/singers not only in korea but in asia.

    • peevishmagnifyingglass

      I agree with you, the one thing that I did like about the HYD movie was that there was closure, even though the lost jewelry plot was blah. It was clear the Makino and Tsukasa were married. In BOF, they all just stood on a beach… Maybe a producer, who realizes that they can get a little more out of this money making machine, will come along soon.

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  6. Debbie

    this drama wore me out with the back and forth between the main couple. It was my first k-drama so I felt it really prepared me for what to expect and also increased my tolerance for the way k-drama couples usually operate after they finally kiss and start to fall for each other. I might finish it one day but at this point, I feel old and disconnected watching teenagers go back and forth and figure out relationships…so who knows…

    • peevishmagnifyingglass

      Funny thing is, I really had a hard time watching this drama twice. However, I really stopped focusing on the main couple, I am not sure how I did this, but it kept me going. I started to get frustrated, when every time I turned around another girl came in to steal Jun Pyo. I think Boys Over Flowers is more about the whole cast (bromance, side-couples, ostentacious families, and girly bffs). I guess it is like Bubblegum (think Bubblicious), almost too sweet at first, then just right, but short lived. However, even if you never buy another piece of Bubblicious, whenever it crosses your mind the memories make you happy.

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  8. precious

    D Fact dah jan di didn’t marry ji hoo is really annoyin.ji hoo was d best in lovin jan di he nEeded a happi ending

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