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Crash Landing on You is a Korean Drama which premiered in December 2019. Outside of Korea it ran on Netflix.

Yoon Se-ri is an elite South Korean corporation heiress who started a successful fashion company after her estrangement from her family. She's so successful, in fact, that her father Chairman Yoon surprises everyone by tabbing Se-ri to succeed him as the CEO of Queens Corp., the family business. She accepts, much to the chagrin of her brothers Se-joon and Se-hyung, each of which had hoped to succeed their father.

She still has her own company to run in the meantime, however. One day Se-ri goes paragliding in a planned publicity stunt to advertise a line of jumpsuits. It looks cool... at least until a tornado blows through the area, catches Se-ri and her parachute, and flings her far away.

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In fact, it flings her clear over the DMZ and into North Korea, which she finds out when she comes face to face with North Korean soldier Ri Jeong-hyuk (Hyun Bin). Captain Ri is a serious, dedicated (and tall and handsome) young man, one of the privileged North Korean elite. He was once a piano prodigy and was studying in Switzerland when the death of his elder brother forced Ri to come home and serve in the army. He tries to arrest her, but Se-ri is able to escape him and blunders into a North Korean village. Ri tracks her down again, and elects to hide her from North Korean authorities.

Meanwhile, some higher officers — including the corrupt Cho Cheol-gang — are involved in a shady business that raises Ri's suspicions. Conman Gu Seung-joon, "Alberto Gu", whom Se-ri rejected as an Arranged Marriage candidate, escapes to North Korea after swindling one of Se-ri's brothers. Seo Dan, a North Korean heiress and Ri Jeong-hyuk's arranged fiancee, is less than happy with Se-ri's appearance. To top it all off, certain members of her family are more than happy to see her gone...

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Tropes:

  • Answer Cut:
    • Jeong-hyuk brings back all kinds of feminine junk for Se-ri—shampoo, conditioner, skin lotion, even a set of bras that are apparently too big for her. As she boggles "Where did he get these?", the scene cuts to Jeong-hyuk in an open-air market, buying a bunch of stuff from a lady who has a hidden stash of South Korean contraband behind a curtain.
    • Se-ri finds a bunch of music sheets and music papers in Jeong-hyuk's closet and wonders if he has a musician girlfriend. Cut to Seo Dan, eventually revealed to be Jeong-hyuk's musician girlfriend, getting off a plane in Pyongyang.
    • Soo-chan and Secretary Hong decide they have no choice but to go to Se-ri's father to tell him that Se-ri is alive. But then they wonder, "How could we possibly meet him?" Cut to the two of them in a VIP parking lot, waiting for Chairman Yoon's car.
  • As Himself: As Herself, and a Call-Back, and The Cameo. Back in North Korea Eun-bok expressed a desire to meet Choi Ji-woo, the actress who starred in Stairway to Heaven. After the squad infiltrates South Korea and meets up with Se-ri again, she makes it happen, getting Choi Ji-woo to meet her biggest fan for lunch.
  • Back-Alley Doctor: Cho's henchman Manager Oh manages to get him to a back-alley doctor in a filthy room after he has been shot.
  • Big Fancy House: The Yoons, who own spacious fancy property in land-strapped Seoul. Se-ri's apartment penthouse has five large, tastefully decorated rooms.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: The Yoons. Se-joon got in a fight with a union leader. Se-hyung was ripped off by Gu...the guy who was supposed to marry Se-ri. Se-ri was apparently the product of an adulterous affair by her father, although the details are never explained. Se-ri broke off from her family years ago. All three siblings hate each other. Chairman Yoon's wife Han Jeong-yeon is the brothers' mother but Se-ri's stepmother, and used to regard Se-ri as a threat to her sons. The wives of the sons are even more intent on having their respective husband take over the family business.
  • Birthday Episode: Se-ri's birthday, as well as a couple of her previous birthdays, is the connecting thread of Episode 12.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Not a completely happy ending, but still more 'sweet' than 'bitter'.
    • Both Se-ri and Jeong-hyuk continue to become successful in their chosen fields, Se-ri is on better terms with her family, while Jeong-hyuk returns to the piano. They love each other but can only spend brief days together in Switzerland once in a while.
    • Dan loses her Second Love Seung-joon, but after mourning deeply she decides to go on with her life.
  • Bodyguard Crush: Lampshaded in Episode 14, when Jeong-hyuk is acting as Se-ri's bodyguard. When they are photographed hugging intimately, online comments liken it to The Bodyguard.
  • Book-Ends: Se-ri first meets Jeong-hyuk after landing near him due to a paragliding mishap. They reunite the same way in Switzerland in the finale.
  • Call-Back:
    • In Episode 3 Seo Dan is wistfully looking at an old photo of herself and Jeong-hyuk. Episode 4 reveals that Se-ri was the one who took that photo in Switzerland.
    • One soldier has to translate the North Korean expression "Don't talk no porky!" for a baffled Se-ri as "Don't kid yourself." A couple of episodes later, Gu is bullshitting Se-ri and she says "Don't talk no porky!", only to look shocked and a little horrified by what she said.
    • When Jeong-hyuk first serves Se-ri some food, she thinks it might be poisoned, and makes up a South Korean tradition where the guest offers the host the first bite of food. When they are reunited in Seoul eight episodes later, he does the same for her.
    • Se-ri arranges the books in Jeong-hyuk's bookshelf so that the letters on the top spell out "I love you, Ri Jeong-hyuk." Several episodes later, in the finale, she discovers that he arranged her books to spell out "I love you, Yoon Se-ri."
  • The Cameo:
    • Jung Kyung-ho, star of Korean film and television, appears briefly in the first episode as the actor Se-ri is photographed with for a publicity stunt.
    • Another big star, Park Sung-woong, pops up as the cabbie that picks Seo up at the train station.
    • In the stinger for episode 10, famous actor Kim Soo-hyun, fresh from his mandatory 2 year military service, plays a North Korean undercover agent disguised as the village idiot delivery boy. It’s the exact same role he played in 2013 film Secretly, Greatly, even wearing the same clothes. When Jeong-Hyuk’s team are captured by the NIS in episode 14, they fear that all his years in the South may have made his adopted persona very much real.
  • Christmas Episode: Episode 8 is set on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
  • Cast Full of Rich People: Downplayed. The North Korean army men and villagers are not well-off, but all four main characters are, and the series indulges in showing just what money and status can get you on either side of the DMZ.
  • Citizenship Marriage: Gu offers to marry Se-ri so she can qualify for a British passport to get out of North Korea.
  • Cock-a-Doodle Dawn: The crow of the rooster demonstrates how Se-ri has stayed up all night long pounding beers as she waits for Jeong-hyuk to come back.
  • Comforting Comforter: Jeong-hyuk drapes his army greatcoat over a snoozing Se-ri as they sit outside on a blanket, their train having been stopped due to a power outage.
  • Conscience Makes You Go Back: In episode 15 Seung-joon has a ticket out of North Korea in his hand and is at the airport—but he gets a phone call that bad guys have kidnapped Dan.
  • Contrived Coincidence:
    • On the run from Jeong-hyuk Se-ri blunders into the nearest village and winds up in front of Jeong-hyuk's house.
    • On the run from Se-ri's family, Seung-joon winds up near Se-ri so they of course eventually meet up. Lampshaded when Se-ri says it must be destiny that she runs into Seung-joon again. Upon hearing this, Jeong-hyuk gets competitive and claims that it was more of destiny that they wound up together in the first place. He's probably right, as their paths crossed briefly not once, but twice in Switzerland years ago.
  • Deep Cover Agent: The four soldiers infiltrate South Korea and make contact with an NK Deep Cover Agent who is pretending to be a half-witted delivery boy.
  • Distant Finale: The last episode skips forward a year. Man-bok is working for a North Korean film company. Se-ri has gotten closer to her family, except for the brother who is in prison. Jeong-hyuk has left the army and is playing piano again. And once a year the two of them meet for two weeks in Switzerland, when Jeong-hyuk goes there for piano concerts.
  • Do Not Touch the Funnel Cloud: Played straight. Her assistant is concerned that it's too windy to go paragliding, but Se-ri is having a fine time until she sees the funnel cloud only a couple hundred meters away. She's swept into it.
  • Dramatic Drop:
    • The hitchhiker on the road dramatically drops her bag when she sees Cho Cheol-gang crash an armored vehicle into the truck with the three thieves, sending the truck off a cliff, killing everyone inside.
    • An anonymous worker dramatically drops his coffee cup in the lobby of Se-ri's Choice after seeing her Back from the Dead return.
    • Man Bok's wife drops her laundry when she sees him come home.
  • Dramatic Irony:
    • As Jeong-hyuk and Se-ri walk back to the house together in episode 5, she worries about telling people that they're engaged, if he has a real fiancée out there somewhere. Jeong-hyuk states confidently that she's off in Russia studying. The viewers have already seen Seo Dan come back from Russia, of course, and Jeong-hyuk finds that out too about two seconds later when he turns the corner and sees Dan standing in front of his house.
    • Seo Dan's uncle expresses concern about her hooking up with "Alberto" Gu so soon after her engagement with Jeong-hyuk went south. Her mother dismisses his fretting, saying "Who cares as long as Alberto isn't a thief or a scammer?" The audience of course knows that Gu *is* a thief and scammer who fled for shelter to North Korea after stealing a lot of money from the Yoon family.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Cho takes an armored vehicle and crashes it into the van carrying the three thieves. He then does it again, sending the van tumbling off a cliff. It rolls to the bottom of the cliff, there's a Beat, and then the van bursts into flames.
  • Everyone Can See It: Se-ri and Jeong-hyuk's mutual attraction. It makes the squad and the villagers gossip and Dan is rightfully suspicious. When the North Korean men are brought in for questioning in Seoul, the lead investigator is sympathetic toward Jeong-hyuk because it's obvious that he is in love with Se-ri.
    • Played for laughs when the South Korean government is monitoring the couple. A low level agent is describing all the indications that the two are in love, identified by professional psychologists. One of his superiors berates him for wasting time, since this fact is "obvious to anyone".
  • Family Theme Naming: The Yoon siblings, Se-joon, Se-hyung, and Se-ri.
  • Failed a Spot Check: In episode 12, Man-bok hides in a Subway listening in on company employees trying to find Se-ri, and is so preoccupied with this that he fails to notice Se-ri in the very same Subway.
  • Fakeout Makeout: Invoked. When the boat that is supposed to smuggle Se-ri back to South Korea is held up by the navy, Jeong-hyuk kisses her just as the hold door is opened, explicitly comparing it to a Korean drama tactic to get out of a sticky situation.
  • Finger-Twitching Revival: How Se-ri wakes up from her coma in Episode 14, twitching a finger that is hooked up to the pulse monitor.
  • Fish out of Water: Lots and lots of jokes after Jeong-hyuk's men make their way to Seoul to find him. They bumble around and are continually boggled by the strangeness of South Korea.
  • Flashback: Many, to fill in backstory and relationships between characters.
    • At Se-ri's first birthday party she was presented with various items indicative of what her future might hold (one was a stethoscope), as per Korean tradition. Instead of touching any of the items she touched her father's hand.
    • The Stinger at the end of episode 2 reveals that at one point Se-ri was mired so deeply in depression that she went to Switzerland and applied to be killed by euthanasia. A Swiss woman explains that euthanasia is not allowed for mental health issues. (The whole scene is in English.)
    • Episode 3 reveals that Jeong-hyuk's brother Moo-hyuk was murdered in the exact same way as the three grave robbers, hit by a truck armed with a steel battering ram.
  • Flatline: Used as a cliffhanger in Episode 15, which ends with both Se-ri and Seung-joon in critical condition as a flatline sounds for one or both of them.
  • Flower Motifs: Edelweiss, the national flower of Switzerland, which is where Jeong-hyuk and Se-ri first met. In the finale, Jeong-hyuk leaves Se-ri edelweiss seeds and tells her they'll meet again where edelweiss blooms.
  • Forgotten First Meeting: Se-ri and Jeong-hyuk were in Switzerland at the same time and met briefly.
  • Gilligan Cut:
    • The men of Jeong-hyuk's squad worry about what will happen if he's caught hiding Se-ri, saying that he's too honest to lie. One says "He won't lie even if he's threatened with a knife." Cut to Jeong-hyuk smoothly lying his ass off, explaining Se-ri's presence in the village by claiming she's his fiancee, and explaining her South Korean dress and accent by saying she was a Deep Cover Agent.
    • Chi Su says there's no way he's going on a picnic with Se-ri. Cut to him pulling a wheelbarrow full of food as their group walks to their picnic destination.
  • Gossipy Hens: All of Seo Dan's catty, mean "friends", who insult her about how her relationship with Jeong-hyuk is finished, but then goggle in admiration after she's picked up by handsome Seung-joon. The gossip spreads to Dan's mom, who is pretty happy about it.
  • Gratuitous English:
    • Whenever Se-ri talks to (non-Chinese) foreigners, like in Switzerland. She and Ri Jeong Hyeok even both talk in English briefly when he saw her for the first time and thought she wasn't Korean.
    • Seung-joon is a British citizen, and sometimes gets out of scrapes by pretending to be a lost foreigner from the UK. He speaks in English to confuse North Korean officers.
    • Seo Dan's mum, who often makes English exclamations when projecting importance or is worked-up; her brother makes fun of her for it.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: Se-ri can apparently understand and speak Chinese; one episode shows her speaking with tenants of what looks like a Chinese building in Seoul, near where Cho Cheol Gang was last seen.
  • Gray Rain of Depression: Jeong-hyuk wakes up in the hospital, and instead of thanking Se-ri for saving his life, bawls her out for not catching the plane that would have taken her out of the country. Se-ri rushes out of the hospital and then walks around in the pouring rain for a while, moping, until Jeong-hyuk appears and they kiss.
  • Handshake Refusal: Played for a gag in episode 3. Seung-joon meets Chul-kang, the North Korean fixer who has arranged his asylum. Seung-joon refuses Chul-kang's offer of a handshake and instead launches into a whiny complaint about the car that lacked windshield wipers. After Chul-kang reminds him that he can sell him out to the authorities, Seung-joon changes his attitude and offers his hand.
  • History with Celebrity: Korean drama actress Choi Ji-woo is a friend of Se-ri's, and cameos in episode 13 as a favor for Joo-mok.
  • Inner Monologue: Used for humor. In the second episode Se-ri's thinking that she's wrapping Jeong-hyuk around her finger with her good looks. His inner monologue reveals that he's thinking about killing her just to stay out of trouble.
  • Immediate Self-Contradiction: In episode 6, Jeong-hyuk claims that he's not Se-ri's bodyguard or protector, and then promptly shields her from several potential mishaps in the hotel lobby. Se-ri lampshades that it's exactly what a bodyguard would do.
  • Intercontinuity Crossover: In episode 10, the soldiers have been sent into South Korea to retrieve Jeong-hyuk and bring him home. Their contact is a North Korean Deep Cover Agent pretending to be a slow-witted delivery boy. The contact is played by actor Kim Soo-hyun, playing the exact same role he played in 2013 film Secretly, Greatly. (He even wears the same clothes.)
  • Land Mine Goes "Click!": Se-ri tries to run off. Jeong-hyuk tries to warn her that there are land mines in the area. The instant he says this he steps on a land mine, producing an audible click. Se-ri wishes him luck and then runs for it. Luckily for Capt. Ri one of his soldiers arrived and disarmed the mine.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • Jeong-hyuk tells the squad that he had to pretend Se-ri was his wife. Joo-mok the Korean Drama addict says that he's seen this a lot in Korean dramas, that the man and woman always have to kiss to avert a crisis of some sort. He also tells the group that the fake couple in the drama always fall in love for real.
    • In Episode 8, when Seo Dan's uncle is nattering on about how when he was young, his girlfriend said she loved another man, Dan's mother barks "My gosh, it's not a drama from down south!"
  • Lying Finger Cross: Discussed as an American tradition in Episode 13; Se-ri does it when claiming she's sending Joo-mok on an errand (really she's setting him up for a lunch date with one of his favorite actresses). Later, The Squad does it when sending a fake message to Cho Geol Gang's men.
  • Match Cut:
    • All the village wives kiss up to Young-ae, wife of the colonel; one of them rides a stationary bike at her house to power Young-ae's TV. This is followed by a match cut to one of Se-ri's sister-in-law Sang-ah on a stationary bike at a Seoul gym, as she explains to the other sister-in-law how the brothers can retake control of the company with Se-ri gone.
    • In episode 4 there's a match cut from Se-ri and the soldiers having a grand time at a clambake-and-soju dinner, to the Yoon family having a stiffly uncomfortable dinner in Seoul.
    • From all the wives hoisting beer cans as they lambaste Jeong-hyuk for having two different fiancees, to Man-bok the surveillance guy sipping a glass of water as he listens in the radio room.
  • Meet Cute: Jeong-hyuk, patrolling for the person seen gliding across the border, discovers Se-ri hanging from a tree.
  • Meet the In-Laws: When Se-ri's stepmom meets with Jeong-hyuk, the hostile variation of this trope is discussed by Genre Savvy Joo-mok, who says that in K-dramas, the love interest's parents will either throw water at their faces or bribe them to break up. They are surprised when Jeong-yeon instead expresses her approval and support.
  • Mexican Standoff: The South Korean and North Korean patrols that blunder into each other in the DMZ. After a few tense moments of staring, they all lower their guns.
  • Mistaken for Spies: Jeong-hyuk claims that Se-ri is a member of Division 11, a government group that handles deep-cover infiltration into South Korea whose agents are absurdly classified, when confronted by Cho Geol-gang and the villagers. The latter are mostly convinced of this, but the former arranges surveillance to be placed on Jeong-hyuk's home in order to confirm this. Once the surveillance gear is set up, however, the first conversation the analyst hears is the South Korean drama obsessed Yoo Su-bin asking (without any preface) why a main character of his favorite show had to die. Su-bin sounds deeply invested in the characters, but because the drama is long-since out of date by South Korean standards, Se-ri is exasperated as she explains why it makes sense that the character had to die. The listening analyst, being completely unfamilar with 'Stairway to Heaven,' hears all of this at face value, and thinks that Se-ri is coldly recounting the people that she had killed despite being deeply familiar with them.
  • Mundane Object Amazement: When Jeong-hyuk's squad makes it down South, they are amazed at what the capitalist South has to offer: loads of instant noodles and rice, and water and electricity that doesn't run out.
  • My Life Flashed Before My Eyes: Discussed in Episode 13, where Se-ri says that one's best moments flashes before their eyes as they die. Later in the episode, this is explored as she lays dying of a gunshot wound.
  • Mythical Motifs: Chilseok, the famous story of Star-Crossed Lovers who can only meet on a stellar bridge once a year. Se-ri tells it to the village wives as part of her Star-Crossed Lovers excuse. In the finale, this motif is reused when truly Star-Crossed Lovers Se-ri and Jeong-hyuk meet again for two weeks in Switzerland.
  • No Name Given: For the senior officer, Cho's commander, who conspires with him to topple Director Ri.
  • Nobility Marries Money: Variation. The Ris are not nobility in the traditional sense, but instead a very high-ranking military family with a lot of clout. In episode 6 it is explicitly stated that they are marrying Jeong-hyuk to Dan, a department store heiress, for money.
  • Not So Different: The series shows that despite the major differences in political and economic systems in North and South Korea, the people of both nations are still Korean and can be quite alike. The women in Jeong-Hyuk's rural village are quite gossipy like their urban South Korean counterparts, the elites of both nations play sinister games for clout and power, and Jeong-Hyuk's soldiers are not mooks, but rather treated as a band of brothers with their individual quirks and steadfast loyalty to each other like how a South Korean series would depict its own soldiers.
  • Not So Similar: Se-ri's older brothers, Se-joon and Se-hyung. Both are considered Inadequate Inheritors, are married to women who share their temperaments, initially work against her when she is named the heir, would rather see her out of the picture, and are more happy than sad when her disappearance comes to light. However, as the series goes on it turns out that Se-hyung and his wife are the more evil of the two couples, since they plan to keep her in North Korea and are willing to eliminate her care of Cho Cheol-gang when she returns, while Se-joon and his wife are too incompetent to spring any untoward schemes. The series ends with Se-ri on better terms with Se-joon, who now runs Queens Corp. as a figurehead, while Se-hyung is in prison.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Jeong-hyuk's men walk in on Se-ri laying on her bed as Jeong-hyuk leans over her with an unbuttoned shirt, and have this predictable reaction. He was actually showing her his scars.
  • Orbital Shot: The camera rotates 360 degrees around Choi Ji-woo for her cameo in episode 13, when an enraptured Eun-bok gets to meet her for real.
  • Once More, with Clarity!: A common technique. Several scenes are replayed with added context to fill in backstory or negotiations.
  • Pair the Spares: The spares to main couple Jeong-hyuk and Se-ri, Seung-joon (Se-ri's rejected suitor) and Dan (Jeong-hyuk's arranged fiancee, whose feelings he has never reciprocated) have a nebulously flirtatious relationship after Jeong-hyuk and Se-ri affirm their feelings. Subverted in that Seung-joon dies at the end, so not much can come of it.
  • Phony Psychic: The village wives go see an obviously fake psychic. After the psychic worries about being caught (fortune telling in North Korea is extremely illegal), Man-bok's wife, the smartest of the bunch, wonders why the psychic doesn't see that coming.
  • Picky Eater: Se-ri has a reputation for being the "Picky Princess", who doesn't eat anything unless it's cooked exactly how she wants it and doesn't eat more than three bites anyway. Jeong-hyuk is confused when learning this, as due to stress Se-ri has turned to binge-eating, and Jeong-hyuk can't recall a time he has seen her eating ''less'' than three bites.
  • Please Wake Up: Seo Dan begs Gu to wake up as he flatlines in the last episode. He doesn't.
  • Power Hair: The ones that stand out are Se-hyeong's wife, with a severe, venomous-looking short haircut, and Seo Dan's mum, who sports various huge, poufy hairstyles. Averted with Se-ri and Seo Dan themselves, who both usually wear their hair long and down.
  • Power Walk: There's a dramatic shot, complete with slow motion, of Se-ri's high heels click-clacking across the lobby of her building as she makes her return to Se-ri's Choice, after she's been pronounced dead.
  • Prisoner Exchange: This is ultimately how Jeong-hyuk and his squadmates are able to get back to the North even after overshooting their deadline to return; the two countries negotiate to return them in exchange for nine South Korean spies serving time in the North.
  • Product Placement:
    • In-Universe:
      • Se-ri arranges to have herself photographed in the company of a handsome young film actor, so that the earrings she is wearing will be seen in the media.
      • Any mention of Se-ri's Choice clothes or beauty/self-care products.
    • Regular old product placement when a North Korean general rhapsodizes about how much he loves Maxim Gold "stick coffee" (instant coffee with sugar and cream all together in one wrapper).
    • More than one set of characters like to chat in a coffee shop called Angel-in-us and at a fried chicken joint called BB.Q Chicken.
    • People sure do eat at Subway a lot.
    • Se-ri owns lots of expensive products, including a prominent Range Rover and a sleek Nescafé Dolce Gusto coffemaker.
  • Race for Your Love: In the finale, Se-ri and her stepmother race to the DMZ so Se-ri can properly say goodbye to Jeong-hyuk before the Prisoner Exchange brings him back to the North. They make it just in time.
  • Repeat Cut: Used for the big kiss between Se-ri and Jeong-hyuk at the beginning of episode 4, when they are smooching to convince the North Korean coast guard patrol that they're lovers out on a cruise.
  • Romantic Fake–Real Turn: Discussed. Upon finding out Jeong-hyuk's cover story for Se-ri (his fiancee who is also a Division 11 individual), Joo-muk says that this is a surefire way to fall in love in dramas.
  • Sand In My Eyes: In the finale, the village aunts tear up after receiving Se-ri's Choice products named and themed after them, and blame it on the sunlight.
  • Separated by a Common Language: North and South Korean after 70-odd years as two separate countries. Se-ri's southern accent is a problem.
    • One of the North Korean soldiers says something the subtitles translate out to "Don't talk no porky!", which Joo-mok, who watches bootleg South Korean TV and thus is more familiar with the slang, translates to Se-ri as "Don't kid yourself."
    • Another episode has Se-ri teaching the village wives some South Korean curse words. "Gigabytch" stands out.
  • Scenery Porn: Many awe-inspiring shots of the Swiss countryside, where Se-ri was on vacation at the same time as Dan and Jeong-hyuk some years prior.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Both the heroes and villains get into this. Cho Cheol-gang has lots of freedom to pull off his schemes because he has many highers-up in his pocket, while Jeong-hyuk gets away with quite a lot because his father is the Director of the General Political Bureau.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Joo-mok, one of Jeong-hyuk's men, is a big fan of Korean Dramas and is watching Stairway to Heaven when Se-ri runs right past his guard post. This proves relevant later as it's one of the reasons that Capt. Ri and the squad can't turn her in—they'll be in a lot of trouble. (Joo-mok would definitely be going to prison for watching South Korean TV.)
    • At one point, Se-ri likens Captain Ri’s unit to The Avengers which they obviously have never heard of.
    • Jeong-hyuk has taken a bullet and is bleeding heavily. Se-ri, now driving the truck, sees that the road to the hospital is closed off for construction. She says that her favorite movie is Mad Max: Fury Road, and then she barrels through the roadblock.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Se-ri's older brothers, Se-joon and Se-hyeung, fight about inheritance and each other's incompetence in nearly every scene they're in. According to Se-ri, this was encouraged by their family environment.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Se-ri's brothers. Se-joon is emotional and more prone to outbursts; Se-hyeung is more reserved. This extends to their respective wives as well, Se-joon's wife is a perky flatterer while Se-hyeung's is a quiet schemer.
  • Sinister Surveillance:
    • Subverted with Man-bok, because the series shows him as being forced into Just Following Orders and/or just doing his job, often under duress by Cho Cheol Gang—monitoring the movements of Ri Jeong Hyeok's brother Ri Mu Hyeok, for instance, so that Cho can have him killed, which expectedly sends Man-bok into a deep sense of guilt. Much of the series in North Korea he spends listening in on the outpost village where Ri Jeong Hyeok is stationed—which is where his family lives too—but mostly he picks up seemingly irrelevant, or possibly coded, chats among the village wives, the soldiers, and including Se-ri when she arrives. As the series progresses, however, Man-bok tries to use his surveillance skills "for good" or to at least help whoever he can, including bugging Se-ri's hospital ward in Seoul, which both exposes Se-ri's second brother and his wife's plotting against her, and picks up her stepmother's apology while she's unconscious.
    • Played straight, but also Played for Laughs, when Jeong Hyeok searches his and Se-ri's hotel rooms in Pyongyang, removing all the bugs as she looks on. She later copies this in another room. Meanwhile, Jeong Hyeok's troops are paranoid enough upon their arrival in Seoul that they try to search Se-ri's own penthouse for bugs, but she assures them there aren't any. (Though the capitalist version of all-around surveillance is present in the sheer ubiquity of cellphone and CCTV cameras; one camera phone captures Jeong Hyeok holding the door open for customers at one of Se-ri's department stores, which instantly goes viral on YouTube.)
  • Sleep Cute: Seo Dan's mom enters her apartment to find her and Gu sleeping in bed together—both fully clothed (this is a Korean Drama), sleeping it off after a night of drinking. It's cute, but Mom is appalled.
  • Snow Means Death: It's snowing as Se-ri is near fatally shot.
  • Snow Means Love: In Episode 6 Se-ri and Jeong-hyuk watch the first snow of the year together. Se-ri tells him that it's a South Korean myth that watching the first snow with someone fulfills your love.
  • Split Screen: The opening credits feature Se-ri and Jeong-hyuk each going about their daily routines, each doing similar activities like eating breakfast or walking down a street, but with Jeong-hyuk being in considerably more humble surroundings. The same effect is done in the finale as they go about their daily lives in their respective countries during their separation.
  • The Squad: Jeong-Hyuk and his men are fiercely loyal to each other and interact like brothers. The show essentially gives his men the rare chance for a North Korean military unit to have this trope assigned to them as opposed to depicting them as minions as is more common in their portrayals.
  • Staggered Zoom: Se-ri wakes up in her luxurious Seoul apartment. She is walking around enjoying all her ultra-fancy furniture and accessories, when she looks up and sees the standard pictures of Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-il on the wall. There's a Staggered Zoom in on the pictures as Se-ri realizes that she is dreaming.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers:
    • Baked in the premise — how is love supposed to happen between a woman from South Korea and a man from North Korea given the tense political situation between their countries?
    • Discussed in episode 5 when the other wives assume Jeong-hyuk is two-timing after meeting Dan. In order to get them off his back (because she's not actually his fiancee), Se-ri makes up a story of her and Jeong-hyuk's forbidden love. She initially compares them to Romeo and Juliet, but the other wives don't get the reference, so she tries the story of Chilseok. They are much more amenable after this. Jeong-hyuk and Se-ri's ultimate fate is to be like this, as they can only meet when he is briefly let out of the North to go play piano in Switzerland.
  • State Sec: The State Security Department, basically the North Korean Gestapo, which Jo works for. Their senior leadership appears to be deeply corrupt. The lower ranks routinely inspect houses in the village checking for contraband; a woman with a South Korean rice cooker gets Wol-suk of the SSD to keep quiet by promising to let her have some of the rice.
  • The Stinger: Every episode has a tag after the freeze-frame that ends the main story. Sometimes it's just comic filling, like the first episode, where the tag is Jeong-Hyuk watching in bafflement while Se-ri, hanging from the tree branch, natters on endlessly into her microphone. Sometimes it's important info, like the episode where the tag is where we learn that Se-ri was so profoundly depressed that she traveled all the way to Switzerland to look into assisted suicide.
  • Street Urchin: In episode 3 Se-ri gives a bunch of Jeong-hyuk's food to a street urchin. The boy brings it back to his sister, who hasn't eaten in three days. They're living in a box.
  • Taking the Bullet:
    • In Episode 7, Jeong-hyuk takes one for Se-ri as he interrupts an attempt to kill her on her way to the airport.
    • The favor is returned in Episode 13, when Se-ri drives in front of a gunshot meant for Jeong-hyuk.
  • Textile Work Is Feminine: Se-ri is specifically the CEO of a fashion company, while the village wives are frequently seen doing laundry together.
  • There Are No Coincidences: Why is Jeong-hyuk so suspicious of the car crash that killed the three grave robbers? Because there have been three separate car crashes in the recent past in which the at-fault driver was driving a Russian Kamaz truck. One of those car crashes killed Jeong-hyuk's brother Moo-hyuk.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: As dysfunctional as they may be, the rest of Seri’s family is justifiably horrified to find out that Se-hyung knew that she was alive and in North Korea and didn’t tell them or try to get her out. He gets fired as CEO and disowned for it.
  • Trail of Bread Crumbs: It backfires. Se-ri starts tying saplings to trees in an effort to not get lost in the forest. This helps Capt. Ri and his squad track her down.
  • The Unreveal: We never find out who Se-ri's biological mother is. It's simply implied that her father had probably cheated on his wife at some point.
  • Well, Excuse Me, Princess!: It's not just that Se-ri is used to the material comforts of South Korea; she's also super-rich. She irritates Jeong-hyuk to no end by demanding regular servings of meat, and scented candles, and hair conditioner, and other capitalist frippery that is not easy to get in North Korea.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The epilogue skips ahead by a handful of years and shows what the characters have been up to.
    • Jeong-hyuk is discharged from the army and returns to piano, becoming the pianist for the National Symphony Orchestra.
    • Se-ri continues to run her company, is on better terms with her stepmother and Se-joon, and starts a foundation that sends promising musicians to Switzerland, where she and Jeong-hyuk meet.
    • Dan ends up single, but secure in herself and the knowledge that she can become successful on her own. Meanwhile, her mother resolves to find a man for herself instead.
    • Chi-su becomes the new captain.
    • Man-bok moves to Pyongyang for his family for his new job, doing sound effects for a film company.
  • Women Are Wiser: Se-ri is by far three the wisest and most down to earth of the three Yoon siblings.
  • Worthless Yellow Rocks: In episode 5 Se-ri needs some cash so she pawns her designer watch. She says it's worth $20,000, but the pawnbroker will only give her 20,000 North Korean won—so, a lot less. It turns out the pawnbroker was only interested in the leather in the band.
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