‘Flower Boy Next Door’ is a 2013 drama based on Yoon Hyuk Suk’s webcomic ‘I Peek at Him Everyday’. It is the third instalment of the tvN ‘Flower Boy Series’ after ‘Flower Boy Ramen Shop’ (2011) and ‘Shut Up Flower Boy Band’ (2012).
All of these dramas do not have a connected narrative, but as you may have guessed, all share a Flower Boy theme in one way or another.
Go Dok Mi (Park Shin Hye) is someone that prefers to stay at home. In fact, she hardly ever leaves, even choosing to mould her work as an editor to fit so she doesn’t have to leave the apartment. One of the only things she does that involves the outside world is spy on her handsome male neighbour Tae Joon (Kim Jung San) through her apartment window…with binoculars.
Her quiet life is disrupted when our young ‘Flower Boy’, in the shape of video game designer Enrique Geum (Yoon Si Yoon) moves from Spain and moves in with Tae Joon. Enrique is outraged when he catches Dok Mi spying on them from her window. Being the confident and impulsive person he is, he storms round to confront her at her door. The resultant noise causes Dok Mi’s neighbours, the web toon illustrators Oh Jin Rak (Kim Ji Hoon) and Yoo Dong Hoon (Ko Gyung Pyo) to come out and defend her.
Understandably Dok Mi is terrified by this situation as all she becomes the focus of her neighbours’ attention, but little does she know, this is only the beginning…
- When you are first introduced to all the characters, they all seem slightly one-dimensional. The very idea of a ‘Flower Boy’ brings to me the idea of a simply cute and bouncy young man with not much substance. However, the characters – especially Dok Mi and Enrique – develop a lot as the narrative progresses and some initially quite trivial quirks give way to reveal a lot more depth. It would have been very easy to make Dok Mi the broken agoraphobic that is recused by the perfect and cute guy who swoops in, but you see that both characters have their own strengths and weaknesses. Dok Mi shuts out the world physically, but it can be said that Enrique does so mentally. The story is quite realistic in this sense.
- The fact that Jin Rak and Dong Hoon are working on the webtoon version of the drama as it happens, even entitling it ‘Flower Boy Next Door’ is great. It adds a certain self-awareness to the drama. Their angry boss even frequently questions the story on its ridiculous nature. Very entertaining.
- The side stories in this series are a nice break from the primary narrative. The security guard desperately trying to communicate his feelings of love to a female tenant seemingly more interested in the younger males in the block and the Japanese chef (played by Kouki Mizuta) that befriends the guys and presumes Enrique can translate everything for him are just a couple of them. These little snippets of comedy can help alleviate the mood when the narrative gets a little heavy occasionally.
- Si Yoon shines in this drama. He is funny and energetic without being annoying and also tackles the more emotional scenes well. To be the ‘Flower Boy’ in a ‘Flower Boy’ series is no small task and he handled it very well. Kyo Gyung Pyo as Dong Hoon is also very good and adds a lot of humour to many of the situations. Make sure you keep an eye out for his ‘model’ poses during photo opportunities.
- The conversations that take place between Enrique and Jin Rak invariably end up as shouting matches, it’s funny to see an initially amicable discussion escalate into an argument every time.
- One of my usual problems with South Korean dramas is that they are too long for the story, so you end up with a few episodes that don’t have very memorable events in them. This drama is slightly guilty of this, although I must say that it is nowhere near as bad as some other dramas I have seen in this respect. It only drags slightly in few places, but it is a tolerable amount, so it shouldn’t affect viewer enjoyment too much.
- Personally, I found Dok Mi to be incredibly frustrating for a lot of the drama. She never says what is needed in the moment, just thinks of it and strains for a bit to then remain silent. She spends the majority of the drama shutting people out, often using quite harsh means to do so and upsetting people in the process. Of course, she has many serious personal problems, so this is to be completely expected. However, I feel it is still valid to point out that it may be an aspect of this series that annoys the audience.
- The character of Cha Do Hwi (Park Soo Jin) who is Dok Mi’s ex-best friend from high school is an incredibly pantomime villain. It is fun to see her switch from snappy and aggressive to sweet and demure in an instant, but this can soon become a little tiresome as it is laid on very thick. Soo Jin plays the character well, but the character herself can be slightly grating. However, I could just be being over-sensitive and I feel that there are lots of people out there that will enjoy the character fully.
The ‘Flower Boy’ theme seems to go down very well in South Korea, but it may be a harder genre to sell to international audiences (The very term ‘Flower Boy’ would probably have homosexual connotations in the UK). Despite this, there is undoubtedly an existing market for it in the UK. Put a cute young man at the forefront of a comedic love story and girls from all over the world will probably line up to gush over the squidgy protagonist.
However, if you don’t give the drama a solid narrative it will crumple, even when supported by the most handsome of oppas. This drama has a fairly resilient and worthy story behind the good-looking faces which is a very pleasant surprise when you are as sceptical as I am about these sort of series.
The narrative is quite deep and you see each character progress and open-up slowly throughout the series. I would have like if there were a few more humorous parts added in, but even despite this, the drama has a few levels to it. It offers you a (somewhat) realistic story and gives you chunks of both drama and comedy.
There are clearly some weaknesses, but most can be easily over-looked. I would recommend this drama to anyone who is a fan of light-hearted, but emotionally-stimulating series with some pretty actors to boot. Give this drama a go if you want some refreshing ‘Flower Boy’ in your life!
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[Image source: Google Images].