I watched Flower Boys Next Door (2013) around Christmas time in 2013 and was quite charmed by it, even though it was aimed at the teenage market in Korea, and I am nowhere near my teen years anymore! It's a sweet and funny romantic comedy K-drama, which will give you lots of warm fuzzies and smiles, based on a popular web cartoon by Hyun-sook Yoo titled I Steal Peeks At Him Every Day. Talented actress Park Shin Hye stars as a lonely, introverted girl who rarely ever ventures outside her apartment, a modern day Rapunzel if you will, who is caught spying on her handsome neighbor across the street by a gregarious out-going young man, played by cutie pie Shi-yoon Yoon. Their ensuing bizarre relationship, which blossoms into true love, is the center of this popular Flower Boy style drama.
There are some K-dramas that bring you iconic images and in this one the most famous of all will be seen if you ever run into this image, below, of Shi-yoon Yoon dressing up as a panda and deliberately standing in front of the window of the apartment across from Park Shin Hye, who spies on his attractive brother daily with yellow binoculars, and certainly never expects to see a shirtless challenger posing as a bear!
The Story: Dok-mi Go (Korean meaning "lonely beauty"), played by Park Shin Hye, is an extremely shy and secluded freelance copy editor who refuses to leave her apartment, for a reason we only discover later in the drama. Every day she anonymously receives a carton of milk with a post-it note attached and every day, using a pair of binoculars, she steals peeks at her good looking neighbor across the street Tae-joon Han (Jung-san Kim) as he goes through his daily morning routine. Dok-mi had first noticed him and become enamored with him while on one of her infrequent ventures outside, as she sat in a park on a beautiful sunny day. As he had approached her she fell in love with his face, though he was oblivious to her fascination with him.
She had followed him and watched longingly as he had picked up a puppy in a box, rescued it and brought it home with him. Later, when she looks out the window of her apartment and spies him living in an apartment across the street from hers, she considers running into him as Fate, that they were ultimately meant for one another. But she's wrong: Tae-joon's younger brother Enrique Geum (Shi-yoon Yoon), a video game creator, arrives from Spain, comes to his brother's apartment to stay, and immediately notices that someone across the way is spying on his brother. He begins to torment her by staring right back at her! To realize she is now the one being spied on throws Dok-mi into panic mode.
Web toon artist Jin-rak Oh (classically handsome Ji-hoon Kim from Stars Falling From The Sky) lives in the same apartment building as Dok-mi and right next door down the hall from her; he has noticed how sheltered she is and whenever he happens to see her he is intrigued with her and falls in love with her. He and his drawing partner Dong-hoon Oh (Kyung-pyo Go) finish up their latest web toon called "Zombie Soccer" but it's not accepted for publication because it supposedly plagiarized a video game designed by Enrique. Inspired by Dok-mi's situation Jin-rak pitches a new story to his editor Seul-gi Kim (the actor has the same name as the character) about the daily life of a lonely girl trapped in her apartment, and how her next-door neighbor draws her out into the world. The title of the cartoon is "Flower Boy Next Door." Big surprise, huh?
Enrique was not so secretly in love with his best friend Seo-young Yoon (Yoon-hye Kim) for a long time, but she has feelings instead for his older brother Tae-joon, so he graciously bows out and intends to play cupid for the couple; but Gok-mi is not entirely over her infatuation with Tae-joon, who really doesn't have romantic feelings for her at all, which leads to some awkward situations whenever Gok-mi is persuaded to come out of her apartment. Slowly Enrique begins drawing Gok-mi into the outside world more and more, to leave her empty shell of a life behind, and trust human beings again ... most specifically him!
In addition, a new friendly neighbor from Japan, Watanabe Ryu (Kouiki Mizuta) moves into the apartment across from Dok-mi's and he is kind to her too. With so many new men suddenly entering her life in various ways Dok-mi's solitary and orderly world is about to turn upside down. Then someone anonymous begins to threaten Dok-mi by leaving warning signs on her apartment door. Enrique and Jin-rak end up joining forces to get to the bottom of the scary situation.
Flower Boys Next Door is not entirely predictable in its storyline, considering its rather lightweight beginning, although we do have a very romantic bittersweet conclusion. I personally had some feelings of "2nd Male Leaditis" watching this show, that not uncommon feeling where the K-drama viewer might actually prefer to see the second male lead end up with the girl instead of the first male lead. I had loved the actor playing Jin-rak in Stars Falling From The Sky and as cute as Shi-yoon Yoon was as Enrique, I felt that Jin-rak had cared for Gok-mi longer and deserved to have first dibs on Gok-mi's affections. However, the writers have the power of the pen and I don't, so I accepted the ending as it stood without too many qualms. (Nice kiss at the end - I liked Enrique's change of hair color to dark brown from red, he looked more like a man and not a boy). Sheesh, Park Shin Hye is a lucky lass, getting to kiss so many handsome leading men in all her dramas!~~~~~~~~~
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