Monthly Archives: January 2014

K-Drama Review: Shut Up and Run! (aka Shut Up! Flower Boy Band)

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  • English title: Shut Up! Flower Boy Band
  • Alternative English title: Shut Up and Run!/ Shut Up and Let’s Go!
  • Revised romanization: Dagchigo Kkochminambaendeu
  • Hangul: 닥치고 꽃미남밴드
  • Year Released: 2012
  • Episodes: 16
  • Director: Lee Kwon
  • Writer: Seo Yoon-Hee
Shut Up Flower Boy Band-Sung Joon.jpg Shut Up Flower Boy Band-L (Kim Myung-Soo).jpg Shut Up Flower Boy Band-Lee Hyun-Jae.jpg Shut Up Flower Boy Band-Yoo Min-Kyu.jpg Shut Up Flower Boy Band-Kim Min-Suk.jpg
Sung Joon L (Kim Myung-Soo) Lee Hyun-Jae Yoo Min-Kyu Kim Min-Suk
Kwon Ji-Hyuk Lee Hyun-Soo Jang Do-Il Kim Ha-Jin Seo Kyung-Jong
(leader and vocals) (guitar) (drums) (bass) (keyboard)
Shut Up Flower Boy Band-Jung Eui-Chul.jpg Shut Up Flower Boy Band-Jo Bo-Ah.jpg Shut Up Flower Boy Band-Kim Ye-Rim.jpg Shut Up Flower Boy Band-Lee Min-Ki.jpg
Jung Eui-Chul Jo Bo-Ah Kim Ye-Rim Lee Min-Ki
Yoo Seung-Hoon Im Soo-Ah Ye-Rim Joo Byung-Hee

A coming-of-age story about an underground high school rock band called, “Eye Candy”, which explores the friendship and rivalry between six “deliquent” working class boys who make up the band. Made up of band leader, charismatic, free-spirited vocalist Joo Byung-hee (Lee Min-ki); his best friend Kwon Ji-hyuk (Sung Joon), the guitarist with the band; quiet and serious drummer, Jang Do-il (Lee Hyun-jae);  cassanova bass player, Kim Ha-jin (Yoo Min-kyu) and loyal keyboardist, Seo Kyung-jong (Kim Min-suk).

In the aftermath of Joo Byung-hee’s death (at the end of episode 2), the rest of the band try to come to grips with the death of their friend and begin a journey to not only honour his memory and legacy but also – unbeknown to them – also a journey of self-discovery about themselves. The drama is atypical of normal “music dramas”, with the focus actually being more on the journey of the friends, rather than the music itself.

I had not expected to end up loving this drama. I decided only to watch it because I had watched TVN’s other two “Flower Boy” dramas and because I liked Lee Min-ki as an actor and had enjoyed watching Sung Joon in Gu Family Book and wanted to check out more of his work. The drama surprised me with not only its wonderfully down to earth scripts but also characters, who were not your usual cardboard cuts outs that are often found in drama shows (both in Korea and internationally). Over all, the vast majority of the characters, both the lead and supporting, were nuanced, layered and really wonderful to watch.

While Shut Up and Run!/Shut Up! Flowerboy Band  displays many of the standard kdrama tropes, it delves into them in an atypical way, bringing a freshness to many a tired trope and plot twist.  This can be seen for example, in the way the drama deals with the standard triangle relationships often found in kdramas. In Shut Up and Run!/Shut Up! Flower Boy Band, there are two triangle relationships, one between Ji-hyuk, Su-ah and Seung-hoon and one between Ji-hug, Su-ah and the deceased Bung-hee. It’s the second of these two, which is the real triangle relationship that needs to be overcome. And while the focus of most k-drama loves stories are the two lead characters in Shut Up and Run!/Shut Up! Flowerboy Band , the central love story in this drama is not the love story between the lead male and female characters, Ji-hyuk and Su-ha but between the boys in the band. It is a love story about their friendship, loyalty and dedication to each other.

One of the standard tropes used in kdramas is class conflict, between working class and wealthy elite characters. What I loved about Shut Up and Run!/Shut Up! Flowerboy Band  was that it actually treated the class back ground of the boys in the band as something genuine and as something that shaped their world view and actions. Often a nod is given to this in dramas, but then its ignored. With this particular series, it was a constant presence in the drama, one which wasn’t dealt with lightly or with little regard or treated as a mere plot or comedic device.

The other thing I loved about Shut Up and Run!/Shut Up! Flowerboy Band  was its depiction of the female characters. Far to often in kdramas (and non-kdramas) the women characters are frustrating – often portrayed as weak and/or meek and/or shrill and/or mean and/or just there to prop up the male lead’s ego or to pander to his every whim. They often lack any real separate identity, depth or agency, which is annoying and frustrating.  What is outstanding about Shut Up and Run!/Shut Up! Flowerboy Band , is that on the whole most of the female characters in this drama are realistic, have a strong identity of their own, separate from the male lead characters and have agency in spades. While some of the supporting female characters can be criticised on some levels, on the whole even they, along with the main female characters, are strong willed with a backbone and minds of their own. They are not cardboard cuts out and are shown to be independent and capable.

While I enjoyed all three of TVN’s “Flowerboy” shows, this was probably the one I enjoyed most.  It stood out because not only did the series circumvent and recreate in its own image many of the standard k-drama tropes but because it was not your standard love story.  And it was the atypical love story about the boys, their friendship, loyalty and dedication to each other which gave depth and heart to Shut Up and Run!/Shut Up! Flowerboy Band