These Epic Style Moments in ‘Crash Landing on You’ Are Surprisingly Relatable
Yes, even the ones set in the North Korean village. How the contrasting style moments in Crash Landing on You left us nostalgic and drooling at the same time.
If you’re in the Korean drama scene, there is absolutely no way that you haven’t heard of Crash Landing on You at this point. And if you haven’t, it’s definitely worth checking out. The ratings of the drama are reaching the heights of Goblin, hitting both the domestic Korean market and the international market with a story (that admittedly isn’t super unique) about a romance between two people who shouldn’t be together. I know, original, right? I feel like Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada: “Florals for spring? Groundbreaking.”
What takes this particular story off the beaten path is that the female protagonist Yoon Se-ri (윤세리), who is played by Son Ye-jin (손예진), crash lands (ha, get it) in North Korea after a paragliding accident; meets soldier Ri Jeong Hyeok (리정혁), played by Hyun Bin (현빈); and then has to transform herself from uber successful business woman to a typical North Korean citizen in order to basically not get caught while she tries to make it back to South Korea.
Oof. I think it’s pretty easy to see why this drama could be contentious, and as a native of South Korea, even I felt a little a little twinge of “oh no” when I heard about the general premise. But clearly it’s being (mostly) well received by the general public. I’m not going to get into the politics of the situation because 1) I’m only one person and cannot speak for my entirely country as a whole, and 2) I haven’t lived in Korea for a while so I’m not the best source for info on current public sentiment about the state of international affairs. I’m qualified to give my thoughts on SPF, not the formation of the DMZ.
That being said, there’s a fascinating cultural distinction between the fashion and makeup of North and South Korea that’s highlighted throughout the show, and there’s so much discussion to be had that I could not possibly cover everything on my own. Y’all know I like my odd numbers, so I’m highlighting three of the moments that really caught my attention in the crazy hijinks of this storyline. I’ll keep spoilers to a minimum, but consider this a fair warning.
One of the initial story beats is that Se-ri needs an ID to pass for a North Korean citizen. So she finds herself at a hair salon to change up her hairstyle because there’s no way that her trendy Seoul style look would pass. At said salon, there is a literal menu of hairstyles for women that are approved by the government that she must choose from, and while this concept isn’t anything new to me, it definitely came as a surprise to a lot of viewers, particularly those who weren’t Korean.
You definitely won’t be seeing any flashy hairstyles on these so-called “menus,” and there definitely would not be any type of dyeing or bleaching going on. But as shocking as something like this might seem, I don’t know that it’s really different from how the large majority of people approach getting hair and makeup done today. There was a time not too long ago where a huge majority of people going into a hair salon were asking for “the Rachel.” I personally know that the makeup artists in my area were feeling major burnout in the early 2010s because almost every single client with a wedding/prom/special occasion was coming in with a picture of Kim Kardashian on the red carpet to show what kind of look they wanted.
Of course, the overwhelming majority of us can do whatever we want with our hair and appearance without fear of severe repercussions from the government. But it’s also true that if you were to go get a lime green pixie cut next week, it’s very possible that your job is going to ask that you change the color to make it more “professional” or you will get reprimanded and potentially even fired.
A few years ago, I had my hair highlighted blonde, and despite other women in the office also having blonde highlights, I was told that it didn’t “look natural” on me and that if I didn’t fix the color, I couldn’t come in to work and would not be paid. We won’t even get into the potentially racial/sexist dynamics of that situation, but I was almost fired for my hair, and this is unfortunately something many, many people, especially women of color, deal with on a regular basis.
Obviously losing a job is not the same as some of the things that can take place under oppressive government regimes, but it’s also not something to take lightly either. My point is the concept of a “hair menu” may seem pretty shocking and restrictive to many people, but I think it’s a bit more similar to many of our current situations than we might initially think.
Another thing that caught my attention is the amount of styling choices that honestly just reminded me of my childhood. As someone who grew up through the ’90s and early aughts, handkerchiefs or scarves as headbands in tie dye or various shades of paisley were pretty much a staple for every single girl that I was friends with, and seeing scarves come back as an accessory in the drama made me feel like I was sitting in one of my sixth grade classrooms.
Similarly, the braided side ponytail that was pretty prominent in the show was just as much, if not more, of a staple as the aforementioned makeshift headbands. And while it’s definitely still around today, I don’t see it nearly as much as I did in my younger years. Y’all don’t understand, the hallway in my school was literally a sea of side ponytails and scarves.
Polos and collared shirts were also prominently featured, which again made me think so much of my middle school days (it seemed virtually everyone had a Hollister polo in seventh grade). The necklines as a whole were pretty conservative and simple. Nothing was too flashy but also not completely muted in color either. I remember there was a big yellow sweater that Se-ri wore at one point that looked like the type of thing I basically live in during the winter.
Without giving too much detail, Se-ri has a “comeback” of sorts after the first 10 episodes of the show, and her style for said return is much more in line with what you might typically think of when it comes to the style of a very trendy and equally successful business woman in a place like Seoul. I swear it would be worth watching the entire drama for this one particular scene because when I watched it, I was actually shrieking. Every single one of her Seoul style outfits is absolutely impeccable, but the particular one that I’m focusing on is by far my personal fav.
As a whole, Se-ri is a big fan of somewhat understated but very blingy accessories, and she does not disappoint in the scene in question: giant oversized black sunglasses and a black bag devoid of logos and a pair of heels with some silver hardware, all tied together with a sleek, white coat. The level of sophistication and “don’t talk to me” vibes that I got from this look is the epitome of everything I hope for when I’m getting dressed up for a more formal occasion.
The staple bright red lips make a strong showing here in stark contrast to the barely stained lips that Se-ri was sporting during the majority of the show. That paired with the ’80s-esque shoulder pads alongside some very small and very expensive looking earrings, it really is impossible to find a flaw with the styling. Talk about a modern day power suit. Y’all really, please go watch this drama and feel the impact of this moment. It’s phenomenal.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the interplay of politics and styling in this show, but I think these complexities and the contrasting aspects of these elements really has made the show such a massive hit. And while I could go on for several more articles about all the individual aspects of the content of Crash Landing on You, I’ll leave y’all here with some of my (somewhat) short opinions and (definitely hotter) takes on a few of those elements. Now go run to Netflix and start watching. Just make sure you have a few hours set aside because you’re likely to get sucked in. 🙂
So what did you think of the style in Crash Landing on You? What were your favorite moments?