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CLOY as coping mechanism in time of Covid-19

Like it or not, CLOY has given TV viewers a better alternative to the horrific midnight appearances of the president now visibly wane, tired and out of touch.

Apr 14, 2020

Pablo A. Tariman


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Reunited in Switzerland

The prolonged quarantine hours have given way to people eternally glued on TV and agog over the latest in the Netflix viewing menu.

When the Korean drama, Crashlanding On You (or CLOY) hit the small screen middle of February, the netizens hailed it as the K-drama like no other. The endless accolades from the new wave of K-drama converts flooded social media until it became a favorite entertainment subject.

Meanwhile, the video of the finale with the star-crossed lovers reunited on top of the panoramic Swiss Alps became standard viewing.

The K-drama has come. It is here.

From the way netizens swooned over CLOY, it was as though future TV dramas would be measured against this new hit Asian telenovela.

After the first episode where heiress Yoon Seri (Son Ye-jin) ended up in North Korea after a tornado got in the way of her paragliding, you knew at once there was more to this series than just that freak accident.

Enter her savior, Ri Jeong-hyeok (Hyun Bin), a member of the North Korean elite and Captain of the North Korean Special Forces.

From the way the two forged gradual chemistry as the series unfolded, you knew you just have to see the 16 episodes in two days.

All told, this K-drama is well-executed with actors playing military people like the real personas from upper and lower echelons of the military establishments in North and South Korea.

It also gives us a good view of big business empires in Seoul belonging to Korean chaebol – those large conglomerate family-controlled firms noted for its strong ties with government big shots.

But as the story focuses on the family backgrounds of the heiress from the South and the military captain from the North, you get to see Korean families with their own notorious, if, shaky, backgrounds.

Add to that the corrupt members of the military who are into selling national treasures and for one brief moment, the corruption part of the K-drama hits home. It gave way to murders most foul.

But as the story unfolds, the other redeeming background of the captain of the North Korean |Special Forces (Hyun Bin) is revealed. He was a piano prodigy and in the recurring flashbacks, he is seen by the lake playing Debussy’s Claire de Lune.

The piano scene in Crashlanding On You.

Yoon Seri tries to sound cultured by saying she could also play Fur Elise (a favorite Beethoven piece).”I can play the piano quite well myself. I don’t need the music sheet to play ‘Fur Elise”’ not aware yet of the music background of Capt Ri.

But then she is admonished by Capt. Ri not to flaunt that piece in polite conversations: “Don’t say you can play the piano well just because you can play ‘Fur Elise’. Don’t say that anywhere else.”

The reason is obvious for a concert pianist. Playing “Fur Elise” is not the mark of an authentic music lover.

In the subsequent episodes, Yoon Seri has fallen in love with the captain as musician.

Back in South Korea where her new transformed life unfolded, she would casually tell her employees that what they heard on her phone was a Chopin Nocturne.

Meanwhile, her transformation — from an unfeeling business executive to a sensitive one — surprises the company rank and file. She even designates a family member to head a new foundation devoted to helping young musicians.

In another twist of the Korean drama, it turned out the Captain was previously engaged to daughter of the owner of a department store, Seo Dan (Seo Ji-hye), a cello student in Russia.

Moreover, there is very little of her in the episodes playing the cello. Instead, she treasures an old camera she later returns to ex-fiancé. Inside was a shot of the woman Jeong-hyeok would be attached to many years later after that brief encounter in Basel, Switzerland where he studied music.

Talk of serendipity in K-dramas.

(Basel, by the way, was where pianist Cecile Licad and Brazilian cellist Antonio Meneses used to live before their separation. Distinguished cellist Thomas Demenga who performed in Manila with another-Basel based pianist Charisse Dumlao also studied with Rostropovich in Basel.)

As the story comes to an end, the lovers get reunited in Basel with a recital of the foundation’s stable of music scholars. Debussy’s Claire de Lune reappears as one of the recital pieces. While it is played, the star-crossed lovers hold hands.

One can imagine thrill moments (known as kilig in local showbiz parlance) for the K-drama fans in this part.

As it is, CLOY is vastly engrossing and the acting largely believable.

The script is taut and not given to hysteria. The direction is of course hewn to what is expected of telenovelas – that it should have a happy ending.

A romantic scene at the demilitarized zone that separates North and South Korea.

Like it or not, CLOY has given TV viewers a better alternative to the horrific midnight appearances of the president now visibly wane, tired and out of touch.

His image and mindless monologues provide a big contrast to CLOY’s final Claire de Lune.

The haunting piano music (based on the atmospheric poem of French poet Paul Verlaine) has become a fitting contrast to the ugly corona virus landscape as it depicts the “soul somewhere full of music where birds are inspired to sing by the sad and beautiful light of the moon.”

Sadly, the President’s midnight appearances have become invitations to crashlanding into the sad state of governance in the time of corona virus.

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