Originally written for Fandom Following / The Fandomentals.
I told myself that I wouldn’t write another K-Drama post, but I also told myself, and some of you, that my next post would be about Star Wars. I’m still not sure which is the bigger lie. Still, I’m due for a new post and Children of the Jedi is no closer to being read than it was last month or the month before. Do you know what is ready to be talked about, though? My latest K-Drama binge watch: My Love From Another Star.
(I considered doing a The Swan Princess rewatch, but decided to save it as an option for the next post.)
My Love From Another Star is a 2013 K-Drama about an alien who gets stranded on Earth for 400 years, and ends up falling in love with a Korean actress. The official summary actually describes the female lead as a top Hallyu star, which basically means she’s a Korean Entertainment star who’s big in other countries and essentially helping to spread Korean pop culture.
The show stars Kim Soo Hyun as the alien, Do Min Joon, and Jin Ji Hyun as the actress, Cheon Song Yi. However, the breakout role is Shin Sung Rok’s Lee Jae Kyung. If you are not in love with him from his first appearance on screen, I promise you he’ll get you when he shows up in his red suit. This guy can play a villain.
Now, I’m going to take a page from Liesa’s review of Dramaworld and compare My Love From Another Star to the list I wrote for “Your Problematic Fave: Korean Dramas” for the sake of my word count. I feel like this will also become a regular thing for me, so don’t be surprised if I end up writing a sequel to that post either.
This Drama is Not Quite Like The Others
In my 3 months of watching K-Dramas, this is actually the first time I haven’t seen a male lead be a jerk right off the bat. That’s not to say that Do Min Joon doesn’t act jerkily toward Cheon Song Yi at some point, but in the beginning he’s just standoffish. And, when you consider that he’s an alien that had gotten used to living his life relatively alone, that’s very understandable.
At no point does Do Min Joon bully Cheon Song Yi – at least not intentionally. He hardcore rejects her several times later in the series, because he thinks it’s the best way to spare both of their feelings, but there’s nothing inherently misogynistic about it. What I loved about My Love From Another Star was how romantic and relatable it was. At no point did I ever have to question myself about how I viewed a particular scene. You can understand exactly where everyone is coming from.
Cheon Song Yi is very much the resilient female lead, but the way that she gets to take up for herself is organic to her as a person. Cheon Song Yi is first presented to us as a bit of a ditz, but, when it comes to her craft and her morals, she is unshakeable. Many times she would say, “I am the Cheon Song Yi”, as if to remind herself that she is not to be taken likely regardless of her current situation in life. And she never ran from her problems, nor did she ever ask anyone for help. Cheon Song Yi kept her head up, and kept going.
Severals times during my watch, I would tell my friend that I wished that Black Female Leads (in non-black genre properties) were written the way that Cheon Song Yi is written. She is allowed to be strong and independent, but she is also allowed to be vulnerable and a teensy bit desperate. However, Cheon Song Yi didn’t let anyone bring her down. People would try her and she would read them all for filth, and I lived for every moment of it.
Trust me, I’m also in the middle of watching Love & Secret, and Cheon Song Yi is a breath of fresh air in comparison to Han Ah Reum. I honestly thought about giving up on K-Dramas entirely because of the amount of times that Han Ah Reum would get slapped by three different people, and she’d just take it. Cheon Song Yi didn’t play those games, and I loved her for it.
The Second Male Lead Never Gets The Girl
I know that this is a running joke – if not an outright rule – in K-Dramas, but it’s actually pretty ridiculous how this particular situation is set. The Second Male Lead in My Love From Another Star is Lee Hee Kyung, Cheon Song Yi’s wanna-be boyfriend and Lee Jae Kyung’s younger brother. There is an opportunity for him to get a girl, but his feeling for Cheon Song Yi makes him feel like he’d be doing the other girl a disservice.
The Love . . . Situation on this show – because there are four points on this shape, and only two of them connect back to each other – is pretty insane. My Love From Another Star does a good job of not having characters settle with someone who loves them if they can’t return that same love. However, it also does a good job of showing what an unrequited and unspoken love can do to people.
Lee Hee Kyung’s story isn’t all about his unrequited love though. He, like every other Second Male Lead, does have some family issues to work out. The interesting part is that Lee Hee Kyung’s family is originally not presented as having any issues. There’s a small point that piques your interest, but it’s a good twelve episodes before you are invested in figuring out what happened.
Parents and Friends
The Rich Parent vs. Poor Parent drama is not as polarizing as it is in the other shows. The Lee brothers’ father isn’t particularly mean, but he is blinded by his ambition for his company to the detriment of his sons. Cheon Yong Si’s mother has to get a reality check to get herself together, but she levels out by the end. Her feud with Se Mi’s mother, however, never calms down, but the abundance of petty is entertaining. It helps that all of the mothers are particularly sensitive to any slights against their children.
No parents were outright sacrificed in this show, and I really appreciated that. The missing parent makes his quiet return, and you can tell that work is done to mend that relationship even though they don’t spend a lot of time on it. I like that the reunion wasn’t super messy, but it also wasn’t a clean acceptance. The hurt was recognized.
I don’t want to give away Yoo Se Mi’s story too much, but she is not a Good Friend, which is fine because she’s also not Cheon Song Yi’s Only Friend. It’s hard not to both hate and understand her. Se Mi is never fully presented as the rival, even though she can be considered the rival, which is tragic when you consider the fact that that’s something that she had wanted out of Cheon Song Yi.
It’s really hard to talk about Se Mi without going into this next point, however I will say that Do Min Joon’s One Good Friend was both a friend and a father to him. Honestly, their relationship could only be seen as a highlight.
Of Course There Are Levels
As I have said before, Shin Sung Rok is the show stealer. His performance as Lee Jae Kyung is literally award-winning. Jae Kyung is a villain, and they don’t take very long to let you know that, but there’s just so much to it. The why is straightforward, but the how and the lengths he’ll go to to cover it up is just mind-blowing.
And whoever was in charge of his wardrobe knew what they were doing when they decided to use black to accentuate his colored suits and jackets. Lee Jae Kyung is a terribly fashionable villain.
There were levels to Se Mi as well, but she was not nearly as devious as a Jae Kyung. Se Mi just wasn’t truthful about herself. Se Mi was a very passive backstabber, but there was levels to her why. And she was never malicious with it, so you don’t even get the full satisfaction of wanting to see her fall. Se Mi lived and breathed “nice bitch”, but Cheon Song Yi read her one time and made it all worth it.
I would remiss if I left this post without pointing out that there is a bit of a creeper moment with Cheon Song Yi’s One Good Friend. Bok Ja and Cheon Song Yi were legitimately good since middle school, but that doesn’t give her a pass to lust after Song Yi’s high-school-aged younger brother. Admittedly, it’s a very brief moment in two different episodes, and Love and Secret has a similar storyline, but the difference in age between Cheon Song Yi and her brother is so great that Bok Ja’s attraction to him can only be seen as problematic. It doesn’t go anywhere, but, if that’s one of your triggers, please be aware.
Other than that, My Love From Another Star is a show that I would recommend to anyone. It was a hit that legitimately started trends and spawned a couple of adaptations, some of which were not legal. If you have watched, or have thought about watching, My Amazing Boyfriend you might be aware that this particular Chinese drama was inspired by My Love From Another Star. I’m going try watching the whole My Amazing Boyfriend, but, from the one episode I’ve seen, it is not the better adaptation. It’s very funny though.
Let me know if you have seen, or want to see, My Love From Another Star in the comments. Or, if you have any other K-Dramas you would like to recommend or want to see reviewed, tell me about those too. Or just come say hi.
Until next time.
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