Picture credit: dramacrazy
*Available on US Netflix Streaming*Note: Much of this review will be comparing to the Japanese version - if you haven't seen it, I suggest you read that review first.
The Gist: Geum Jan Di (Koo Hye Sun) is not used to privilege. As a high school student, she has to work for her keep because her family doesn't make much money. She gets the chance of a lifetime when she talks a student at a wealthy school from committing suicide on the premises. This act earns her a scholarship to the prestigious school where she meets the guys who run/terrorize it: leader Goo Joon Pyo (Lee Min Ho), quiet Yoon Ji Hoo (Kim Hyun Joong), and playboys So Yi Jung (Kim Bum) and Song Woo Bin (Kim Joon). She immediately gets on the wrong side of them and is unable to get through school quietly. With the support of best friend Chu Ga Eul (Kim So Eul), Jan Di tries her best to stay under the radar, even if she starts to notice that the boys may not be all bad.
1.Ga Eul and Yi Jung
Somewhere in the middle of the series, Jan Di's best friend gets familiar with the F4 boys and when Yi Jung helps her out, Ga Eul falls for him. This is one of the rare things that I think this Korean version does better than the Japanese. Ga Eul doesn't come across like a stalker and there's actually a chance for the two of them to develop some sort of relationship. Yi Jung has trouble getting attached to women after losing his first love, but Ga Eul's dedication wins him over. It's lovely that Jan Di isn't the only one to get a happy ending and we aren't left wanting so much more.
2.The Piano Scene
After Jan Di and Joon Pyo are forced apart by Joon Pyo's mother, she gets invited to his birthday party. In an attempt to embarrass her, Joon Pyo's mother calls Jan Di to the stage to play piano. In the Japanese version, Makino can't play the piano, bashes on the keys and storms out. In this version, Jan Di plays a beautiful heartbreaking song, accompanied by some unexpectedly good vocals. It was a definite improvement over the Japanese version and made me super excited for Jan Di. You go girl!
For having cast two actors I love for the male leads, I'm surprised by my ambivalence at the romance in this story. I felt that the beginning of the story pushed Jan Di and Ji Hoo too much together to really want you to abandon them as a couple. In the Japanese version, I felt strongly about the MakinoXDomyouji pairing, despite liking Rui. This version actually had me rooting more for Ji Hoo. There's a scene where Ji Hoo and Joon Pyo are racing against each other for Jan Di. In the middle of the scene, I had no idea who I was supposed to be rooting for. I knew she needed to end up with Joon Pyo, but Ji Hoo was the one on her side. It just came across a lot less clearly than the Japanese version.
I don't know if I just am not a huge fan of Hye Sun or if I am just too attached to Makino, but Jan Di kind of bugged me. She was too spunky without Makino's charm. Sometimes she comes off as just plain annoying, but luckily, there's enough redeeming moments for her character that it's salvageable.
I could have watched six more seasons of Hana Yori Dango but it took so long to get through the K version that I just wanted to smash my face through my computer. The story is way too drawn out and somewhere along the middle episodes, I just want to get to the happy ending. It's wonderful if you love it, but it's a serious undertaking.
2.Jan Di's Family
One of the best things in HYD is Makino's supportive family who she always wants to make proud. Jan Di's family was just as annoying as she was and her mother the worst of all. I didn't care about them at all and most of the time I just wanted to jump the scenes where Jan Di was at home. I think they missed everything I liked about those characters in the remake.
3. The Death Faking Scene
In an effort to get Jan Di to admit her feelings for Joon Pyo, F4 pretends that he's in some sort of accident and brings Jan Di to his bedside. OMG I cannot even express how awkward this scene is. The whole things seemed unnecessary and cruel, not to mention my skin was crawling as I watched Jan Di react to what was basically a bad joke. It kind of made me dislike Joon Pyo at a time we were supposed to be growing fonder of him. Awkward.
Final Grade: C-
Picture credit for all: dramacrazy