Someday they will discover that the stars were not sacred, but, were made from the same material as their bodies…

I believe alien life is quite common in the universe, although intelligent life is less so. Some say it has yet to appear on planet Earth.
 Stephen Hawking

Title
  My Love from the Star (2013)
Also known as
You Who Came From the Stars
Genre
Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, Romance
Written by
Directed by
Country of Origin
 South Korea  
Episodes
 21 

oh! … brief

In 1609, during the Joseon dynasty, a party of aliens is exploring the Earth. One of those aliens, Do Min-joon, gets tangled up in saving a young girl’s life and a consequence is that he misses the spaceship returning to his planet. He is stranded on the Earth for the next 400 years.

Because he doesn’t age and possesses superpowers like increased speed and exceptional hearing, he learned early on to hide his powers, shun society, and avoid interpersonal relationships.

In the present day, he is a young college professor eagerly awaiting a meteor that will allow him to return to his planet. But, with the appearance of a new neighbour, a Hallyu actress called Cheong Song-yi, his life and plans drastically change. That Cheong Song-yi physically resembles the young girl he first saved in the Joseon dynasty, only further complicates matters of the heart. But it’s not all fun, games and romance, jealousy and greed are the breeding ground for interesting interactions between humans and aliens.

oh! … talks drama

I’m on a roll with these fantasy based romance stories. It all started with Legend of the Blue Sea and now I can’t seem to stop. Okay, a bit of an exaggeration, but, I’m working through a phase or something.

This kdrama was supposedly a hit back in 2013 and I kind of understand why. In kdrama world, it has all the right ingredients, a comedic and mostly light-hearted framework but once you scratch through the surface layering you find a deeply emotional heartrending tale of love. And while the creature featured is an alien, all be it a gorgeous human-looking alien, the poignancy comes from understanding that love conquers even some of the most difficult obstacles like overcoming race, religious beliefs, ideologies, cultures, sexes etc. When you love, when your heart ‘flutters’, it is not because you have used logic or reason, it’s because something physical and emotional has caused an attraction in another individual. The hidden attributes of this kdrama are intuitive and almost second-nature for most humans, but not all. This is why I watched this series from beginning to end, not because the script was fantastic, not because the story was logical or even believable, but instead because I was able to engage and associate my sentiments with those hidden attributes.

Also, you should note that this kdrama is geared to a much younger, female audience – basically your teenaged girls. That’s not to say it won’t appeal to other audiences, it’s just that it’s not targeted toward a more mature audience and some of its flaws are ones that a more mature viewer will quickly pick up on.

Park Ji-Eun who created the script for this production had a great idea and for the most part, the story works if you can set aside all preconceived logic and just go with the flow which is hilariously funny, filled with dry sarcasm and many outrageously, silly, fun interactions. Mostly romance, Park Ji-eun really stuck to developing the romance and places the focus intently on the alien, Do Min-joon and the object of his affection, Cheong Song-yi. I did find the pacing in the beginning somewhat dragging, but once the story started to really move forward, the pace settled well.

I really enjoyed the characters Park Ji-eun developed, even crazy Lee Jae Kyung. I wasn’t sure how he would tie into everything and I’m still not entirely convinced this was the best kind of character to have (psychopath), but like I wrote before, if you can let go of logic and just take things like the psychopath at face value then you’ll enjoy the production more.

Perhaps Park Ji-eun’s most successful accomplishments in the script are the character’s she developed. Using two timelines, she introduced us first to the ‘alien’ — his past and his initial interactions with humans really set the tone for his future attitude and behaviours. It was neatly accomplished through flashbacks and multiple scenes. I found the ‘alien’ character had the most depth – even feigned history can bring out complexities and layer to personality and traits. The writing behind the character made it easy for the actor to interpret and deliver. But it wasn’t only the ‘alien’, other characters were written with depth (even if it was shallow depth).

Where Park Ji-eun failed in her script is in several information gaps – what was Do Min-joon’s life like before he arrived in Korea? What star did he really come from (even a fictitious one would have sufficed to see as this was fantasy)? Why did it take so long (400 years) for him to be able to return? Why couldn’t he take Cheong Song-yi back with him? None of these kinds of questions are answered by the script and there are others too.

Having a fairly solid narrative to work from Jang Tae-yoo, the director for the production was able to breathe life into Park Ji-eun’s creation and create a visually stunning kdrama. So aesthetically pleasing it was almost too aesthetic. Do you understand what I’m getting at?

Jang Tae-yoo certainly has an eye and foresight in how he framed certain scenes – even the detailed lighting, the colour palette made me sometimes pause to take in the composition and beauty. Actually, he even used a different colour palette for shooting scenes that were tense or had an air of foreboding. Using aerial shots, particularly for balcony scenes or the Do Min-joon’s library scenes was astute and the camera work was absolutely breathtaking. Also, some of the past timeline scenes were amazingly beautifully shot. Check out the gallery below and you’ll see some of the stunning images.

CGI was used a fair bit for this production and I think they did a good idea considering they must have been operating on a very limited budget. Could it have been better? In some spots, yes, but on the whole, I think the CGI and related editing was exceptional for a drama series.

And the aesthetics did not stop with just the locations, production values and camera work, the wardrobe for each character was amazing. I understand there were trendsetting items that were part of the wardrobe for both the male and female cast that splashed across fashion magazines both in South Korea but also on international markets. In particular, trench coats became a hot item, especially ones worn by Jeon Ji-hyun. Also, the lipstick shade Jeon Ji-hyun wore by Yves Saint Laurent sold out because of the high demand from fans. And the whole beer and chicken craving apparently became a thing too.

And the production was only made better by the accompanying soundtrack, featuring tracks like My Destiny by Lyn, Like A Star by K.Will, My Love From The Star by Younha, Hello, Goodbye by Hyorin, I Love You by JUST, Tears Like Today by Huh Gak, Every Moment Of You by Sung Si-kyung, In Front Of Your House and Promise by Kim Soo-hyun, and the amazing piano rendition of Every Moment Of You by Sung Si-kyung, among other instrumental pieces performed by various artists. It’s a really good playlist, I particularly like some of the instrumental pieces and I listen to this playlist often. The soundtrack has a little bit of everything, from upbeat melodies, thought-provoking tunes to surging orchestral scores. You’ll find my Spotify playlist below.

What really completes the entire production, all other flaws aside is the exceptional cast that was chosen for their various roles. Whether the main character or a supporting act, all the roles were filled with actors and actresses who delivered good performances.

I’m a fan of Kim Soo-hyun, so it was a draw that he was playing the lead male for this kdrama. He’s a young, but very talented man. I found Kim Soo-hyun’s interpretation of Do Min-joon exceptionally insightful and I was fascinated by his facial expressions and body language, which helped bring his character to life, impassively at first, but slowly with time giving a little more depth and warmth. Nicely done! The almost suave, cold exterior remains pretty a staple throughout the production, until the scenes when he begins to return. Something in his body language and face has changed. I enjoyed this part of Kim Soo-hyun’s performance the most, the softening of his exterior demeanour. As Do Min-joon, the talent and skill behind Kim Soo-hyun’s performance only make the appeal of this ‘alien’ more appealing to the young female viewers. Also, be warned, his gut-wrenching cry scenes are remarkable, you’ll be moved by his tears and anguish.

I was mesmerized by Jun Ji-hyun’s performance as Cheon Song-yi. She completely nailed every single aspect of her character’s crackpot personality and traits. Not only was Jun Ji-hyun’s performance award-winning level, she simply became her character – Jun Ji-hyun was the vain, funny, vulnerable, rough, coarse, unintelligent and sometimes unglamorous Cheon Song-yi. It never felt forced, Jun Ji-hyun looked as comfortable dressed to the nines and sporting a fashionable purse as she did waking up hung-over. Nicely done! I also loved how Jun Ji-hyun portrayed her character’s vulnerability, she turned her character into a very real person and not just a role to deliver.

Ahhhhh Park Hae-jin delivers another solid performance as Lee Hee-kyung, Cheon Song-yi’s childhood friend and wannabe husband. I simply love this young guy, there’s something about his acting style and demeanour that just draws me in. Maybe also I have an affinity for the character Park Hae-jin plays. I also had a childhood friend that wanted to be more than a friend later in life. I turned down a number of offers for marriage, and even then, after years of ‘waiting around’, he still was my closest male friend ever. I can honestly say I have regrets when it comes to our relationship, I wish I’d married him. I know we’d have been happy together and my life would have turned out very differently if I had. I would have been loved and cherished beyond any imagination. *sigh* I had a lot of empathy toward Lee Hee-kyung as a character because of my personal experience and I think Park Hae-jin did this character justice by bringing out his quiet stubbornness and using his face to convey his very real emotions. There was a sincerity to the performance that comes from experience, maybe Park Hae-jin brought his own emotional past into play. I loved it!

I like Yoo In-na as an actress. She has this quiet spirit that imbues any character she plays with layered dimension and she does this again playing Cheon Song-yi’s best friend since childhood, Yoo Se-mi. Yoo In-na’s interpretation of her character’s struggle to balance her friendship with Cheon Song-yi and her jealousy of the relationship between Cheon Song-yi and Lee Hee-kyung was perhaps not as strong as some kdrama fans would have liked, but I actually prefer the calmer jealousy than the insanely over-the-top extremely emotional kinds of performances. I think when Yoo-In-na’s character embraces the darker side of her jealousy, Yoo In-na once again uses a quiet demeanour and people may find this kind of acting flat, but it’s not, it’s insightful. Insanely jealous people don’t go through life overreacting and causing scenes all over the place, they play out their plots sneakily and behind-the-scenes. This is why Yoo In-na was the perfect choice for this character and her performance held my attention.

oh! … sidekicks

Kim Chang-wan who played lawyer, Jang Young-mok was exceptional in this role. As Do Min-joon’s only earthly friend and the only one initially who knows the truth of his existence, this character was essential to the overarching narrative. Kim Chang-wan, an award-winning actor brought his skills to this supporting role. I really felt that Jang Young-mok had affections for and an emotional attachment to Do Min-joon. Kim Chang-wan delivered a genuine performance, emoting well and complementing Kim Soo-hyun’s performance. There were a definite camaraderie and mutual affection tangible in scenes with the two, not quite a bromance, but something deeper than a surface friendship. I enjoyed Kim Chang-wan’s performance.

I think I may be a new fan for Shin Sung-rok, where has he been hiding? How come this is my first exposure to him? Hmmmm, I’m going to have to change that. Shin Sung-rok played the evil psycho-bad-guy, Lee Jae-kyung, for this production. While I didn’t understand or believe that the script needed this character, Shin Sung-rok gave a strong performance. I really believed that Lee Jae-kyung was a nutjob that wouldn’t be stopped if there was no intervention from Do Min-joon. And while the role was still a supporting or minor one, Shin Sung-rok gave a good interpretation to his character’s traits. There were one or two moments where his facial expression gave me the creeps, mostly as they were directed to Cheon Song-yi and his own brother Lee Hee-kyung. I’ll look forward to seeing other of his works, I believe he appears in a film I am waiting on being released this year.

Special mentions for:

Ahn Jae-hyun in his role as Cheon Yoon-jae. This young man is a strong performer.

Oh Sang-jin as Yoo Seok, the prosecutor investigating Han Yoo-ra’s death. I liked his performance, I would have liked to see the investigation developed further to allow more airtime for this character.

Na Young-hee as an overbearing and money-hungry mother, Yang Mi-yeon. I enjoyed her performance because I think she depicted this type of person well. God forbid anyone to suffer the misfortune of having to live with a mother like this!

oh! … that’s a wrap

With the right ingredients of a sound story, concise cinematography, fashionable wardrobe, catchy soundtrack and a phenomenal cast of actors and actresses, it’s no wonder that four, almost five years later people are still talking about this kdrama or comparing newer productions to it.

Although geared to a much younger audience I still was able to be drawn into the story, overlook the glaringly obvious flaws and appreciate this production at face value. I do recommend that kdrama fans add this to their own list of dramas that can’t be missed because it is a good one, but of course, I must warn that an open-mind is needed and the understanding that this kdrama was geared toward teenage girls, the younger side of the teens. That being written, anyone who is a kdrama fan can enjoy this, just look at the deeper aspects.

I would watch this again, but as my list continues to grow, it’s not likely that I will ever get back around to watching half of those I would want to. Is this collection worthy? Yes, absolutely!

oh! … tidbits

Kim Soo-Hyun and Jun Ji-Hyun were the first cast together in The Thieves, this production is the second time they have worked together.

My Love From Another Star Jun Ji-hyun’s first drama series since 1999 when she starred in Happy Together. She is known for taking on slightly erratic, funny or cute roles.

oh! … soundtrack

oh! … gallery

oh! … trailers 

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