Queen of Tears: Crash Landing on Tears

PEOPLE - Joanne Rae M. Ramirez - The Philippine Star
Queen of Tears: Crash Landing on Tears
Kim Ji-won, who will reportedly be in Manila in August, is the ‘Queen of Tears.’
Photo from netflix.com/tudum

The title says it all. Queen of Tears, the hit K-drama series now streaming on Netflix, is an engrossing romance between a married couple where the camera is focused half the time on the tears rolling down the porcelain cheeks of the leading lady Hong Hae In (Kim Ji-won), sometimes in slow motion for emphasis.

Scenes like these strike a chord with drama-loving Filipinos, who love a good cry as much as they do a good laugh, I kid thee not. Tears, as long as they’re not falling down the cheeks of loved ones or oneself, is a surefire formula to get Pinoys hooked on a telenovela.

And evidently, not just Pinoys.

Queen of Tears reached a nationwide rating of 24.9 percent in South Korea for its final episode and became the highest-rated tvN series, surpassing my unbeatable personal favorite Crash Landing on You (CLOY). It also became the third highest-rated series in Korean cable television history for viewership ratings and the second highest by number of viewers.

But rest assured Hae In’s reservoir of tears is not due to maltreatment from her cutie-pie lawyer-husband Baek Hyun Woo (Kim Soo-hyun). The actor who plays him, Kim Soo-hyun, was in Manila a couple of years ago for Bench, during which I saw him up close. Hyun Woo is a gentle promdi whose stepping stone to a better life was his education, which his parents worked hard to give him. You can wear Burberry coats, too, if you study hard, kids.

The tears in the 16-episode Queen of Tears are from the taps of regret, due in large part to where Hyun Woo and Hae In’s love has gone — to the dregs, as established in the first episode. This article may have spoilers, but by now, several card-carrying K-drama lovers must have watched QOT already. My own group called “Noonatics” certainly has and I hopped into the bandwagon belatedly.

Kim Soo-hyun and Kim Ji-won portray a couple whose marriage is on the rocks.
Photo from instagram.com/netflixph

Unlike in other K romances where the plot leads up to marriage or a hint of it, Queen of Tears begins from a marriage and ends up in…

(It isn’t cut from the same cloth as The World of the Married, as a third party is not the culprit.)

Queen of Tears is a unique take on romantic love as it delves into the dynamics between a married couple —that is, after the initial spark, the proposal, the fairytale wedding, the honeymoon.

“You’re happy to watch them from afar. You can’t stop thinking about them. You take a detour just to see them once more,” Hae In describes the heady courtship days.

Can things go wrong between two people very much in love and the culprit isn’t a cheating spouse? When all the pieces in the puzzle of happily-ever-after already fit, can one piece break loose till the picture is messed up and perfect no more?

Of course it can. Both Hyun Woo and Hae In have very stressful jobs, she as the CEO of the family-owned department store chain and he, as the head of the mother company’s legal team. And the tears flow not just from the queen but also from the king.

“It’s strange, isn’t it? We get married because we’re in love. So why does that love disappear?” Hyun Woo the husband muses.


Marriage in Queen of Tears is also dissected from the point of view of the other married couples in the series, like the couple’s parents. Hae In’s parents are rich and snooty; Hyun Woo’s are small-town folks. But their issues and insights are the same.

The rich dad says, “If anything, I’m miserable. But I’m only able to endure it because of the smallest happiness that I feel once in a blue moon. That’s marriage. That’s life.” I think what he means is that he’s not happy every day, but one happy day in three days or three weeks makes it all worth it.

“I realized that life may seem long, but happy memories are limited,” says Mrs. Jeon, Hyun Woo’s mother, who is a farmer and doesn’t neglect her kitchen as well as her nightly beauty routine.

Hyun Woo’s best friend and fellow lawyer even tells him, “I think it’s best not to marry if you want to be in love for a long time.”

And yet…

There was a point Hyun Woo gets to put a Band-Aid on his wife’s wound when she trips suddenly during a surprise visit to his hometown.

The next day, he asks her, “What if we had done just that? If we had applied ointment on time, disinfected our wounds, and replaced our bandages every time, would things have been different?”

Those were the kilig moments, when the couple tried to rekindle the flames of their flickering feelings for each other, especially in the place where they honeymooned — Frankfurt. Something urgent takes them there.

“We probably fell apart due to trivial matters. We said things we didn’t mean and protected our ego. And that caused stupid misunderstandings. Instead of knocking on your door, it was probably easier to stay in my room and resent you. But I won’t do that anymore. Then maybe we can give it a try,” Hae In says.

Their momentary reconciliation is threatened again, but by natural causes.

‘That’s what marriage is. Being on the same side and in the same boat.’
Photo from instagram.com/netflixph

Rumors were rife early this year of a sad ending that petitions were actually written to the writers (same as Crash Landing on You) and producers of Queen of Tears not to make this so. I guess Koreans are not ready for a love story like Titanic.

Whether the ending makes the viewers crash land on tears or smiles, I’m not saying. Uh-uh.

But the couple’s realizations about second chances are worth sharing.

“I don’t know what love means to you. But to me, it’s not about being happy and whispering sweet nothings. Love is when you endure the pain together. When you choose to stay instead of running away. Even if they have a debt or something more than that, you still stick together. That’s love,” realizes Hae In.

And the mister says, “That’s what marriage is. Being on the same side and in the same boat. And if the boat capsizes, then we go down together. If you live, then I live, too. That’s what it is.”

“But in the future, there will be many times when I’m even more flabbergasted, wronged, and upset. But I’d be very delighted if you were in the boat I was in. Even if we need to bail water out and row all night long, I’d have someone to rely on. Shouldn’t we marry someone who makes us feel that way?” he adds.

Queen of Tears, as is typical in many K-dramas, has several sub-plots. Some episodes are like a Korean version of Falcon Crest and Knots Landing (of the ’80s) and Succession (of the new millennium). There are also heartwarming vignettes of village life, and a ladies club similar to that in Capt. Ri’s hometown in North Korea. There are too many coincidences about the past life of the characters. I think these sub-plots could have been more tightly woven into 12 episodes, instead of 16.

But then again, people like to reach out for their Kleenex as they watch their favorite dramas on TV and movie screens — to escape, to be aware of their own humanity, to be entertained, to fall in love again and keep on loving, perhaps?



You may e-mail me at [email protected]. Follow me on Instagram @joanneraeramirez.

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