I’ve finished watching the Korean Netflix drama Crash Landing On You (사랑의 불시착), and I thought I’d share my thoughts with you here.

There’s no doubt that this is a groundbreaking drama in the sense that it touches upon some sensitive topics such as Inter-Korean relations and love across the border on the 38th parallel. No wonder it’s been recording viewer ratings above 20% in Korea.

What I found particularly interesting in this drama was the depiction of everyday life in North Korea, experienced through different social ranks from the poorest village orphans to the wealthy North Korean elite in Pyongyang.

I obviously cannot know how accurate this portrayal is, since my knowledge of North Korea is limited to the handful non-fiction books I have read on the topic over the years. However, I’ve read that the producers have tried to make the North Korean scenes as authentic as possible by gathering accounts given by North Koreans now living in the south. Allegedly, Hyun Bin who plays the male lead spent two months with an accent coach perfecting his North Korean accent.

As a Korean speaker, I enjoyed the North Korean accents in the drama and had a fun time decoding the North Korean way of speaking. Since the two countries have only been separated since 1948, they obviously still speak the same language but there are some differences that I noted that I wanted to share with you here.

South Korean North Korean
그래요기래요
알겠습니다알갔습니다
사랑해요사랑하오
씨 (mr. mrs.)동무 (comrade)
핸드폰손전화
괜찮아요일 없습니다 / 일 없소

In general, North Korean avoids loan words from English, which is why cellphone – 핸드폰 (lit. hand phone in South Korea) becomes 손전화 in North Korea. It means the same but uses Korean words in stead of Konglish. I also loved the frequent use of the word 에미나이 throughout the drama, a slightly derogatory term for a female, usually called 기집애 in the south. Finally I loved the North Korean term for South Korea as 아랫동네 meaning the neighborhood below.

I also noticed that North Koreans seemed to used the -습니다 form more frequently together with the above-mentioned 하오제, where you use -오 as a verb ending without 받침 like in 사랑하오 and – 소 if there is a 받침 like in 일 없소. This form is really rare in South Korea and I can only remember a few older men having ever used this to me.

I highly recommend that you check out this drama. I really enjoyed it and my only minor complaint is that the episodes were a bit too long. I generally prefer it when an episode does not exceed an hour, and in this case some episodes were closer to two hours. Nonetheless, it’s a great way to pass some time if you’re currently at home either in quarantine or self-isolation.

I can’t finish this post without a shoutout to the hilarious supporting characters in this show. The four comrades who will do anything to prove their loyalty to Captain Lee and the feisty North Korean housewives alone make this drama worth watching. Obviously the amazing and touching performances by main actors Hyun Bin and Son Yejin don’t hurt either. 강추!

If you’re interested in learning more about the North Korean dialect, I recommend checking out this video by my friend Billy from GO Billy Korean.

My friend Billy made this hilarious video about North Korean a few years ago.
Check out the trailer to Crash Landing on You here.

2 Comments »

  1. I also loved analyzing the accent differences while watching this drama. So interesting how it’s so distinctly different despite it’s relatively recent separation with South Korea.

    I’ve also always wondered about how shows like this will vary from 1 hour episodes to almost 2 hour episodes, and it’s not the same week by week. How does that work with their broadcasting station? Do they just have a fluid airing schedule? Are there not shows with set start times after the drama??

    Like

  2. Near the end of this and enjoying it immensely, and yes, I’m also fascinated by the North Korean dialect when I can pick it up. As for Hyun Bin, have you seen ‘Memories of the Alhambra’? He was excellent in that (and there was even a little Easter Egg for fans of that show when the music played while Ri Jeong Hyeok was on Yoon Se-ri’s computer!).

    Liked by 1 person

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