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The Kiss of Cherry Blossom in K-dramas

A popular Korean drama trope involves love blooming under a canopy of cherry blossom trees

Debashree Dutta Apr 11, 2022

Photo: Courtesy of JTBC

One of the best things about K-dramas is that they allow us to learn about Korea’s distinct culture. Through their customs, concepts, myths, and conventions, we get a vivid portrayal of manifestations that are both informative and intriguing. With that in mind, I thought: Why not write about something that is a crucial facet of Korea’s ecosystem and is frequently depicted in Korean dramas— the cherry blossom.

A still from Lie to Me: Photo courtesy of SBS

Korea is in the midst of springtime at the moment, and the entire country is ablaze with avenues and views of cherry blossom trees. It becomes even more ethereal as the blossoms begin to fall. And thanks to K-drama, I discovered that it’s believed that if you’re in love for the first time, you should go under a cherry blossom tree with your beloved. But what is the significance? I’ll get to it later. For the time being, let me provide some background on cherry blossoms and how they became part of Korea’s biodiversity.

During the Japanese invasion of Korea, Yoshino cherry trees were planted at Changgyeonggung Palace in Seoul, making cherry blossoms popular. Even after the Japanese surrendered at the end of World War II, the Koreans continued to grow the trees, attracting more visitors. Many people assume that the Yoshino cherry and the Korean king cherry are the same. In Korea, cherry blossoms are symbolic of love’s purity and beauty; a mark of hope and change. The Yeouido Cherry Blossom Festival stands out among other similar festivals held in commemoration of the historical event.

As a result, something as meaningful as this has earned its rightful place in K-drama. The celebration of love, romance, enthusiasm, and sanctity is symbolized by these lovely flowers. They testify to the purity of lovers’ sentiments, thoughts, and expressions. For example, in Strong Woman Do Bongsoon‘s epic finale scene, Min Hyeok (Park Hyungsik) professes his love for Bong Soon (Park Boyoung). “My heart ran to you from the first time I saw you,” he says earnestly as he places a proposal ring on her finger, with cherry blossoms raining down like a shower, he seals the moment with a kiss.

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In 100 Days My Prince, the idealistic crown prince Lee Eul (D.O of EXO) gradually falls in love with Hong Shim, a bright and courageous noblewoman who manages Joseon’s first all-solution agency in Songjoo hamlet. The OST “Cherry Blossom Love Song,” performed by Chen (EXO), beautifully captures memories of their slow-burn romance. Lee Yul’s emotional agony is depicted in this love ballad as he recalls his time with Hong Shim. The song begins with the crown prince seeing her under a cherry blossom tree, which causes him heartache since “promises that couldn’t be kept float like the stars.” The lyrics are evidence of his bruised heart: “It tortures me/ Are the falling cherry blossoms so lonely that they resemble you/ Deeper than a knife wound/ A chest engraved with you. ” On one hand, the falling petals from the cherry tree add to the beauty of the setting, while on the other hand, it also signifies the gloom in Lee Yul’s life and his discovery of true love for Hong Shim.

The scene from Flower of Evil’s episode five – where Cha Jiwon (Moon Chaewon) says she’ll love Baek Heesung (Lee Joonggi) a lot in the future, take care of him and teach him what he doesn’t know, and complains that his stare is making her heart skip a beat again – is a fantastic sequence set right under a cherry blossom alley. Baek is perplexed by Cha’s forthright statement, but as she kisses him, he feels the warmth of love – he feels safe with her amid the cascading flower petals, a respite from all his nightmares and traumas, and so he reciprocates. A heart-fluttering moment indeed.

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Cherry blossoms are also a reminder of life’s ephemerality. After adding a lot of grandeur and brightness to nature, the blossoms fall. In the fantasy-romance drama Doom at Your Service, when Tak Donggyung (Park Boyoung) and Myul Mang (Seo Inguk) go for a walk down a lonely street where the trees are completely barren — depicting the gloom of a winter day — Tak regrets that she could’ve gone out on more picnics last spring season if she knew it was the last time she would be enjoying the cherry blossoms (Tak is suffering from a terminal illness and has only 100 days to live). At this point, Myul (a god-to-human messenger) grants her wish by turning the barren trees into full-bloom cherry blossoms. The dropping petals symbolize the fleeting time as well as her last chance to enjoy spring. At this juncture, she confesses her love for the man who is doomed himself but is also always at her service.

Last but not least, Chaebol president Kang Taemoo proposes a real marriage to Shin Hari, unlike the previous business proposal of a phony contract marriage, in the recent and highly successful rom-com Business Proposal. Once again, the union of two hearts occurs with cherry blossoms as witness to it, and the petals continue to rain on them, heralding the beginning of a new journey.

I recommend that you try and visit South Korea during this time of the year if you’re a K-drama enthusiast and also a traveler, as I am. Cherry blossoms emerge after the winter frost, bringing life to the land. So, plan a trip to the country that turns ravishing pink once every year.

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