“Can They Really Survive This Cliff Fall?”, Answering The Question Of All The Historical K-Drama Viewers

"Can they really survive this cliff fall?"answering the question of all historical K-Drama viewers

tvN (“Alchemy of Souls” and “Our Blooming Youth”)

Whether you’re a new or old K-Drama historical viewer, you’ll know for sure about the infamous cliff falls! This trope is in so many historical dramas that, even without further explanation, you’ll probably know what we’re referring to.

Still, for those of you who aren’t familiar with cliff-falling in historical K-Dramas, let’s explain. In most cases, a character is chased by a group of men through the woods, running left and right, up and down, until they get lost and meet at the edge of a cliff. Inevitably, there is no choice for them but to be killed by their pursuers or to jump off the cliff into the water below (which, of course, is always a river or a lake!). In some cases, characters accidentally fall off these cliffs, get pushed by someone else, or jump off of their own accord.

It is important to note that we are not talking about small cliffs, like the one in “Twilight” (Jacob and his friend jumping in “New Moon” can be around 15-21 meters above sea level), but much higher! Also, most characters are going down wounded by a sword or exhausted by a run. Despite falling from great heights and suffering wounds from swords or exhaustion from running, most characters survive these falls. Yep, jumping off those tall cliffs doesn’t kill K-Drama characters. This trope is used so often in historical dramas that all fans are familiar with it, and no one really believes these characters are potentially dead, with few exceptions.

For example, dramas like:

“River Where the Moon Rises”

“Alchemy of Souls”


“Bossam: Steal Fate”

“Our Blooming Youth”

These are just recent examples.

We’re sure at some point you’ve also wondered, “Is this possible?!” So here’s the question: “Can they really survive a cliff drop into water?”. We’ll try to answer this question with some brilliance, as we know this is all fiction, and you might be wondering if it’s plausible!

What is the actual height of these cliffs?

To answer that question, we first looked at filming locations to better understand the height of these cliffs. You should know that there are multiple filming locations, so the height of the cliff varies. In addition, it is almost impossible to get information about all these cliffs.

One of the most seen cliffs is the Buyongdae Observatory (부용대) near Andong. The height of this cliff is 64m.

"Can they really survive this cliff fall?"answering the question of all historical K-Drama viewers

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Other sites include Songdaeso with a height of about 30m, Sainma Cliff with a height of about 50m, etc. In some cases, it’s just CGIs and not an actually existing place.

So now you have a rough idea between 30m to over 60m or more.

What is the actual height a human being can jump in water?

Second, we looked at the typical height for humans and experienced divers.

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For the average person like you and us, a diving height of 1 to 3 meters above the water surface is common and safe. 20 meters is the highest height a human can jump but it depends on the condition of the person and also on the condition of the water. Anything over 20 meters is dangerous because it can cause serious injury, death or drowning.

At the Olympic Games, professional divers jump from a fixed height of 10 meters. In other championships, the height can reach 27 meters in the male and 23 meters in the female. It is important to point out that this can only be done by professionals with years of training and specialized equipment.

As for the Guinness Book of World Records, the highest dive was 58.8m per Laso Schaller for men (with injury) and 36.8 m per Lucy Wardle for women. If you’re curious to see what a 58.8 meter jump looks like, you can check out Laso Schaller’s video here (not recommended for people with acrophobia or a fear of heights).

You can compare this video (58.8m) with the dramas shown above.

Based on this research, it appears that K-Drama cliffs are over 20m and even 27m, being extremely dangerous, if not deadly, for untrained humans. Some are even higher than 58.8m, the height of the highest recorded dive. Let’s also remember that divers enter the water feet first in a specific vertical position, in K-Dramas they fall first in most cases. Your body position is very important and K-Drama characters cannot match that either, so your survival rate is reduced.

So can these falling/jumping characters survive?

Here’s your answer: can these characters survive? The short answer is almost impossible unless you have scuba diving skills like professional divers. A miracle can exist and this is even more so in fiction. While it’s not 100% impossible in some cases and characters might get lucky, their injuries would be severe and they wouldn’t be able to walk normally.

Also, it actually depends on which cliff too, because height varies significantly between dramas and all characters’ body conditions are not the same! It is different between women and men too. In some cases, like “Our Blooming Youth”, the height seems to exceed 60 meters, which makes survival impossible.

So this trope is not only overused, but also unreliable. While it can be a good plot device from time to time, it shouldn’t be overused. But we love to see jumps in the water.

Note: All these water jumps over 3 meters should not be done without proper training, equipment and safety measures. The impact of hitting the water from such a height and the hidden hazards in the water can cause serious injury or even death.

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