KDRAMAGUK : Korean Drama Soup

a landing site for quick, completely biased, and totally snarky korean drama reviews


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Hana Yori Dango (2005, 2007, 2008)

Hana Yori Dango
Season One 2005;

Season Two 2007;
Final Movie 2008

who’s in it
Inoue Mao as Makino Tsukushi (Goo HyeSun – JanDi)

Matsumoto Jun as Domyoji Tsukasa (Lee MinHo – JunPyo)

Oguri Shun as Hanazawa Rui (Kim HyunJoong – JiHoo)

Matsuda Shota as Nishikado Soujiro (Kim Bum – YiJung)

Abe Tsuyoshi as Mimasaka Akira (Kim Joon – WooBin)

Nishihara Aki as Matsuoka Yuki (Kim SoEun – GaEul)

(Equivalent Korean version Boys Over Flowers)

what’s it about
Real quick, I want to preface this review by saying that while I did watch Hana Yori Dango before Boys Over Flowers, the latter is still fresh in my mind and so I don’t think I will be able to resist making constant comparisons between the two…besides, this is a blog about Korean dramas so I thought it appropriate.

Here we go:

Makino Tsukushi (played by Inoue Mao) is a counter girl at a rice cake shop. She’s a simple girl but clear-eyed and undaunted by the hardships that come her way. She’s also a wrong-side-of-the-tracks poor girl attending an ultra privileged prep school by the title Eitoku High School. Things go awry for her when she butts heads with Tsukasa, the leader of F4, a quad of young men (yes, also students) who ‘discipline’ their peers under a “red notice” system. Simply put, piss Almighty Tsukasa off and you may get a red notice, and like a red card in futbol, this is not a good sending off. Basically, a crimson card dangling at the head of your locker means that the entire school will make your life at school a level in Dante’s hell, including beating the sh*t out of you. It’s quite frightening really. This school, for all its polish and shine, is quite lawless. Case and point, Makino almost gets raped by some overly-enthusiastic bullies…thankfully, violin-playing emoting hottie Hanazawa Rui prevents the worst from happening. Ah, did I mention he’s also a F4 member? But unlike their leader Tsukasa, this F4 guy isn’t that much into the intimidating and oppressing of people, especially women. Makino develops a crush on her pretty boy white knight. All the while, Tsukasa can’t seem to resist Makino’s unique oppositional charms. Apparently, a girl that hits him is a girl that keeps him.

Season 1: 9 Episodes
Season 2: 11 episodes
Hana Yori Dango Final: Movie

Tokyo Broadcasting System

wildcard factor
Inoue Mao, who played Makino, was terrific. Truthfully, I liked her take on this character far more than Goo HyeSun’s portrayal. She had a believable strength about her even when she kept finding herself in ridiculous scenarios. Believable is the key word in that sentence, by the way.

Nishihara Aki’s portrayal of Matsuoka Yuki (Makino’s best friend) was also very good. I loved the character Yuki as much as I loved her equivalent in Boys Over Flowers, GaEul.

after the first episode
I’d seen some of the anime beforehand so I was prepared for the flowerly fluff nature of the storyline…while I did not finish the animated interpretation, I thought that I could finish this drama. The lead girl was cute and it seemed like the show was going to be a real fangirl stage show. Four cute boys and a strong girl? What’s not to like?

gave up

snoozer moments
This short review encompasses all three parts of Hana including the special film that served as its conclusion. The biggest snoozer moment was the final film. Blech. I don’t know, it felt superfluous. It was essentially an epilogue to the story and it definitely felt that way.


what didn’t work
The movie

what did
Inoue Mao and Oguri Shun (Hanazawa Rui/JiHoo) had a sweet kind of connection. I felt their romance was more convincing than the Korean version’s. While I do have a personal preference for Kim HyunJoong when it comes to looks, I thought Oguri Shun did a better job with the role. He really made Rui an intriguing and romantic character and I believed his love for Inoue Mao/Makino was probable, while Kim HyunJoong/JiHoo’s love for GooHyeSun/JanDi felt more like a convenient byproduct of his rebounding after being dumped by his first love. *shrug* I liked Rui better than JiHoo, what can I say?

what made me want to gouge my eyes out
Tsukasa’s hair. Unfortunately, I don’t think Matsumoto Jun pulled off the curly-fro-hairdo as well as Lee MinHo, who looked nothing less than GQ at all times despite his waffle hair. The good news, however, is that as far as acting went, the two versions of the rich jerk were on par.

what kept me going

It was Hana Yori Dango—addicting in its insuppressible madness

Other factors:
predictability What drama watcher doesn’t know this story?
engrish Was there? I don’t think so…
originality See above under predictability.
eye-candy Of course, it was F4, eye candy was the entire point
hair and fashion I thought the Korean version displayed the unnecessary opulence of the stupidly rich in better detail. It wasn’t bad in this version, there just wasn’t as much globe-trotting and musical montages going on to display all the silly glitzy glamour. I felt like the K-version really enjoyed showing off the money. Maybe even too much at times.

is it worth trying to find?
Yes. Even if Boys Over Flowers didn’t impress you, it might still be worth giving this version a go. This one was less music video, more story.

total enjoyment factor 
Like I said, the movie was a sleep-inducer and brings the whole grade down.

total disdain factor

why this review is completely biased
I don’t know what it is about this storyline, I love it and hate it and love to hate it all at once.

I wonder when the US version is going to rear its ugly head. You know it’s only a matter of time.

could a non-kdrama fan like this

It’s the same story but it’s amazing how different the Japanese Hana Yori Dango is when compared to Korea’s Boys Over Flowers. By my rating alone, it would seem that I preferred the J-version (if by the slightest of margins), but this just isn’t true. I actually think the two interpretations were equally matched, each having its own strengths and weaknesses. Like Boys, some stretches of Hana were better than others and it definitely had its equal share of cringe factors. In the end, both versions were extraordinarily addicting. It truly is some kind of crazy narcotic, this flower-boy stuff!


  1. I liked both versions, but it was really easy for me to finish the J-version. I felt the pacing was a lot faster and consistent, and I also happened to prefer Makino Tsukushi WAY more than Geum Jang Di. I actually admired Makino in the drama as her portrayal of girl-power was convincing, while GJD was more..like a typical Kdrama female lead who likes to yell around a lot? I really struggled to finish BBF, it felt incredibly slow around the last few episodes that I took a break for a few months before I nailed myself down to watch it, whereas I think I only slept one time in between watching both seasons of HYD. I skipped the movie though..it would have been better with an angsty theme, rather than the random plot it was given to swallow up fangirl money o.o;

  2. That's too bad that hana yori had many versions, I don't like the korean and the taiwanese, I really enjoyed the original japanese version.


A Jerk-Free Zone: this is a site for friendly debate, please be respectful and courteous to others. Comments that violate that spirit will be removed. This will be strictly enforced. Thank you.

Recent Posts

A Year End Review
Biased & Worst of 2013

Badasses & Bromances

First Impressions
Let’s Eat (2014)
식샤를 합시다
(Nov 2013 – Mar 2014)

JTBC, Monday -Tuesday
Aired May- July 2013

Marry Me Yoo AhIn!
Dramas and drama-ish show I talk about after the jump: WINMaster’s Sun and Good Doctor.

The Girl Who Cried Wolf
Dramas I talk about after the jump: Master’s Sun (eps 11-12). If you haven’t watched Master’s Sun yet, don’t read on. Major ass spoilers ahead...because major ass things went down!

Funny Mathematics
Master’s Sun (eps 9 & 10) is the only drama I chat about after the jump. But I am pretty sure I am going to start Good Doctor this week.

Heartless City (2013)
무정도시 / Cruel City
(May – July 2013)

Crossing Imaginary Lines
Dramas I will spoil after the jump: Master’s Sun (Eps 7-8). I am still watching Who Are You, but I have little to say on it, other than Kim JaeWook continues to be a handsome spectral figure. Oh, and I had to officially drop Goddess of Fire.

More fangirling over JiSub and HyoJin after the jump, and Master’s Sun (Episode 5 and 6) will be the only drama I yap about and spoil. It was the only one I managed to watch this week.

I Can Hear Your Voice (2013)
너의 목소리가 들려
(Jun – Jul 2013)

Bright Bright Taeyang
Dramas I will talk about and spoil after the  jump: Master’s Sun (until Ep 4). And some more thoughts on The Blade and the Petal (up to Ep6), and Who Are You (up to Ep6). And also, the craziest thing I saw this weekend: Kim WooBin fighting killer female robots.