By: Anna Guo and Kendall Wasko
K-dramas, commonly referred to as Korean dramas, are television series produced in South Korea and have since gained worldwide popularity, capturing the hearts of millions. One of the most popular and well known Korean dramas is the series Boys Over Flowers on Netflix, based off of the original manga, Hana Yori Dango. Ever since the show debuted in 2009, it has been a classic that all k-drama fans have watched, if not heard of. This also means that it has gained popularity outside of Korea, with around 9 different versions available from various countries. The most popular two are the original Korean version titled Boys Over Flowers, and the Chinese version titled Meteor Garden.
Kendall had only seen Boys Over Flowers and was an avid fan, and Anna had been a long standing fan of Meteor Garden. Since we loved the versions we had seen, we decided to watch the other to see how they compared. So Kendall watched Meteor Garden for the first time, and Anna watched Boys Over Flowers for the first time, and we wrote reviews on both versions.
A Review on Meteor Garden by Anna Guo
Meteor Garden, the Chinese adaptation of the original manga, Hana Yori Dango, could be said to be one of my favorite Chinese Dramas since the characters are so lively, relatable, and, most importantly, attractive.
This drama centers around the female lead, Dong Shangcai, an ordinary student who opposes F4, a group composed of 4 wealthy and powerful students from influential families, as well as her journey with them. The plot of the drama may sound cringy and this is probably not the drama for everyone, but I genuinely loved this drama because it gave me flutters. I liked how the romance develops between the main female lead and the leader of F4, how the soundtrack complements what’s going on in the drama, and how there’s enough romance for the side characters of the other F4 members.
In essence, watching this show was a rollercoaster ride because I was laughing, smiling, and enjoying myself while watching the characters in the drama. That being said, I'm excited to see how the Korean version of the drama turns out, especially since the Chinese version was fantastic.
A Review of Boys Over Flowers by Kendall Wasko
Boys Over Flowers was one of the first k-dramas I watched and in my opinion, is a classic that anyone interested in Korean media should watch. Since it came out in 2009 it is a bit low quality and the plot is dated, but it just adds to the charm of the show.
The plot is centered around this group of rich boys called F4 and one lower class girl named Geum Jandi, who catches their attention because she is one of the only lower class people going to their rich school. It's really cheesy at points but has the amount of romance, comedy and action that makes it one of my favorites. Pretty sure that I laughed, cried and had to close my computer a few times because of this show and all the emotions it gave me. I’m hoping that the Chinese version also has that great balance and also makes it into my favorites list. The show has all of the k-drama essentials, a slow-burn romance, a rude CEO, a love triangle, and a strange amount of action scenes. It will be interesting to see how a c-drama stands up to that since I haven't seen one before. I’m also interested in how much of the plot will have changed since Boys Over Flowers is from 2009 and Meteor Shower is from 2018, which is much more recent.
My Review on Boy Over Flowers By Anna
After watching Boy Over Flower, I was surprised to see that it wasn’t as bad as I anticipated it to be. Despite the fact that it only had 25 episodes, I was still able to tell that Boy Over Flower followed the same plot line as Meteor Garden. Although I disliked the fact that it was a somewhat dated drama—since it debuted in 2009—I still preferred Meteor Garden, but I did enjoy the characters that played F4 and the main female lead. Likewise, the Korean version of the drama still featured the same romance and comedy that were shown in Meteor Garden, which I found to be appealing because it allowed me to see how Meteor Garden would be adapted by another country.
When comparing the characters in both Boy Over Flower and Meteor Garden, I appreciate how the 3 members of f4: Goo Joon Pyo, Yoon Ji-hoo, and So Yi-jeong had very detailed storylines just like how it was portrayed in Meteor Garden. Additionally, I think that the Korean version provided Yoon Ji-hoo, who is represented as Huaze Lei in Meteor Garden, a more intricate storyline than it did in the Chinese version. However, in the Korean version, Song Woo-Bin, one of the F4 members, had hardly any plot, which I felt left him with an incomplete persona that I hardly even took a glance at. Because of this, I thought that Song Woo Bin’s character had no real purpose and was merely floating around in the background. In contrast to the Korean version, in the Chinese version, Meizuo, who represents Song Woo Bin, has a heartwarming storyline that brought me to tears. His character was fully developed to the point where it felt as though he was a real person, which made me immersed into his storyline. Other than that, I’m pretty satisfied with how the Korean version of the drama played out, especially the ending involving So Yi-Jeong and Chu Ga-eul as it differed from the one involving Ximen and Xiao You. Having said that, there was also a big distinction between the main female lead in the two dramas that I noticed. In the Korean version, Geum Jan-di becomes a doctor, whereas in the Chinese version, Dong Shangcai doesn’t become a doctor of any sort, but more of a chef. I thought it was interesting how the female protagonist was given a unique twist in both the Korean and Chinese versions of the drama. Overall, I would suggest watching the Korean version of the drama since it contains all the elements that are also incorporated in Meteor Garden. However, if people don’t enjoy watching “old” dramas, then I would recommend watching Meteor Garden, since it was released in 2018, and the Chinese adaptation of the drama is still my favorite.
My Review on Meteor Garden By kendall
My first impression of the drama was this feeling of deja vu, cause there were just enough core plot points the dramas had in common for me to recognise it, but enough was different for it to feel strange. After watching more episodes I started to really like it because of the way I already knew a lot of the key plot points so I didn’t have to go through the anticipation and worrying that I did with the Korean version. While that may not be something that other people like, it is something I do since it was like rewatching a drama I like, but with different details and situations that make it more fun. I really enjoyed the drama and the characters in it and think that it does actually do some things better than the Korean one does.
In the dramas there are the two main characters and then the main secondary characters are the other three members of F4. What Meteor Garden does better than Boys Over Flowers is flesh out these three characters and give them more than just one level of a personality. The three side characters, Huaze Lei, Ximen and Meizuo, all have their own storylines in this version while in the Korean drama they don’t and are really one dimensional. You barely learn anything about the korean version of Meizuo, but in this one he has a well developed love interest that is brought into the show very naturally and the relationship isn’t just to further push along the plot. Ximens romance is also stretched out so that it is more natural, and Huaze Lei is given more background than before. This being said the drama still includes a good amount of cheesiness and humor which I was wanting and it wasn’t as dated as Boys Over Flowers is which is nice. If you liked the Korean drama I would definitely recommend watching Meteor Garden.
One caveat with this version is the amount of ads in each episode. Like I’m used to there being a few ad placements in shows but there are so many ads in this show it made me laugh, so if you don’t like obvious ad placements I would say stick to the Korean show. But I would especially recommend it if you want to rewatch it without really rewatching it or if you want more dimension in the personalities of the other members of F4.