“My Love From Another Star” (별에서 온 그대)

my_love_from_another_star_promo_art

By Jae-Ha Kim
jaehakim.com
February 26, 2016

4 stars

Do Min-joon (played by Kim Soo Hyun)
Cheon Song-yi (played by Jeon Ji Hyun)
Yoo Se-mi (played by Yoo In Na)
Hee-kyung (played by Park Hae Jin)

Sold as a romantic comedy, “My Love From Another Star” definitely delivers on that front. But it’s also a wonderful story about true love, alienation and sacrifice.

Do Min-joon is from another world. He was part of a group assigned to survey Earth during Korea’s Joseon era. While rescuing a young girl, he became separated from his team and was left stranded in Korea.

But he knew that if he waited long enough, he would be rescued. So he adapted.

Smart, resourceful and handsome, Min-joon adjusts to his time on Earth. He finds work as a banker, doctor and scholar and amasses a fortune. Every decade, he switches identities since it becomes obvious to others that he hasn’t aged.

He spends 400 years on Earth living alone, biding his time until his rescue. Though he is able to freeze time (for about a minute), hear things that others can’t and teleport himself to short locations, he is reticent to use his powers to help others. The few times that he has rescued people or divulged his secret, they recoiled in horror, accused him of being a monster or tried to kill him.

There were two exceptions: the 15-year-old widow he rescued from her in laws, who wanted her killed; and a poor, young law student who was about to commit suicide. Min-joon’s love for the former propels much of this series; while his relationship with the latter is one of the sweetest representations of family.

My Love From Another Star cast

It is now 2013 and Min-joon learns that there will be an asteroid shower in three months. He knows that his people will be coming for him soon and then he can go home.

Meanwhile, we are introduced to Cheon Song-yi, Korea’s most popular celebrity. A glamorous movie star, she is brusque, rude and dismissive of others. In her mind, the world literally revolves around her. The primary reason she moved to her condo is because she has a great view of her ginormous ad across the street. The banner hangs in the city’s most prestigious spot and she loves being able to see it every morning.

It turns out that 12 years ago, she was almost run over by a truck and Min-joon froze time to save her. She doesn’t remember her hero’s face and he doesn’t recognize her, until he sees a childhood photo. As a child, she looked exactly like Yi-hwa, the young widow he rescued 400 years ago. Because of that, he begrudgingly allows Song-yi into his life.

As Yi-hwa, Kim Hyun-Soo (who was just 13 when this series was filmed) is wonderful. She projected a mature image beyond her years and lent thoughtful poignancy to her role.

My Love From Another Star _ Joseon

A few complications: Song-yi’s childhood friend Hee-kyung is in love with her. Their childhood friend Se-mi is in love with Hee-kyung, which fractures the friendship between Se-mi and Song-yi. Meanwhile, Hee-kyung’s elder brother, Jae-kyung, has one too many skeletons in his closet and is a danger to Song-yi (and basically anyone else who looks at him crosseyed).

As Song-yi’s younger brother, Yoon-jae, Ahn Jae-hyun has some of the funniest moments after he discovers who Min-joon really is. A fan of astronomy, he isn’t frightened of Min-joon. He’s excited to have someone to talk to about life outside of Earth. He also shares a few “E.T.” moments with him.

Through all the humor, there is a bittersweet backstory. Min-joon gets seriously ill when he shares bodily fluids with someone not from his planet. After a co-worker spit into his tea, Min-joon almost died. Since then, he chose to eat alone so he wouldn’t get sick. This also meant that he could never share a passionate kiss with anyone. (When he and Song-yi do kiss, he passes out.)

We never learn if Min-joon had a relationship on his planet prior to coming to Earth, but it is revealed that Song-yi has never had a serious boyfriend.

The wardrobe designer for this series picked some of the most gorgeous creations for Song-yi to wear. The clothes she (and the other stars) wore sold out quickly in Korea. Though I loved the style, too, I was completely besotted with Min-joon’s library.

Just LOOK. AT. IT.

My Love From Another Star library

This is my dream library, filled with first-edition leather-bound books. If I ever win the Lotto, I will recreate this drool-worthy room in my new house. I promise.

The ending is bittersweet, because we’re not sure how long they will be together. (More in the spoiler alert below) But as Song-yi says, that’s not such a bad thing, because it makes you appreciate the time you do have. No one knows if today will be their last day, so don’t take life for granted.

You may recognize:

Lee Il Hwa, who plays Se-mi’s glamorous mother. You’ve seen her as the dressed-down mom who can’t resist making enough food to feed an army in the “Answer Me” trilogy.

Kim Chang Wan co-stars as Min-joon’s compassionate confidante, attorney and father figure. He played a much more blunt and crude character in “Coffee Prince.”

Meta moments:

When she is forced to take less prestigious supporting roles, Song-yi accepts a part where she is required to do her own stunts. Unfazed at the thought of jumping off a high ledge with a harness strapped to her back, Song-yi says she’s good at stunts. Jeon Ji Hyun and Kim Soo Hyun starred in the 2012 feature film, Thieves,” where Jeon played a thief who was an aerial cat burglar. 

Bae Su Ji (Suzy) — the miss A (미쓰에이) vocalist and actress — starred with Kim Soo Hyun earlier in “Dream High.” She make a cute cameo appearance in Episode 17 as one of Do Min Joon’s former university students. She tells him that he looks like exactly like her high school boyfriend Sam-Dong (Kim’s character in “Dream High”). ? She tells him that she flunked his class on purpose so that she could retake it, earning the wrath of her family.

Outstanding scenes:

One of my favorite moments occurred in Episode 9. We get to see how Min-joon and his confidante, Mr. Jang met. Back in 1976, Jang was a struggling law student with a sick mother. He went to the bank to ask for a loan and was cruelly turned down. Desperate and knowing that his mother would die without money for her expensive treatments, he said he may as well be dead, too, and was about to commit suicide. Min-joon, who worked at that same bank, rescued him and gave him an envelope filled with cash. He later revealed his true self to Jang. Over the decades, Jang would age while Min-joon’s appearance remained the same. Jang became his lawyer, father figure and keeper of his secrets.

In Episode 12, Min-joon tells Song-yi that he’s an alien. At first, she and her friend are incredulous that he would come up with such an obvious way of saying, “I’m just not that into you.”

Song-yi’s spend-thrift shrew of a mom has a face-off with Mr. Jang in Episode 15 that is not to be missed. When she yells at him — assuming that he is Min-joon’s father — for raising such an inconsiderate son, the two engage in a battle of oneupmanship to determine which has the better kid. (Mr. Jang wins!)

Airdates: 

This SBS drama originally aired in South Korea from Dec. 18, 2013 to Feb. 27, 2014. Originally planned for a 20-episode run, the showrunners added a 21st episode to satisfy the audience’s hunger for more. This series catapulted Kim Soo Hyun to stardom. When he made a cameo appearance at the end of the feature film “Miss Granny,” audiences screamed out their approval.

Spoiler alert:

Yi-hwa, the young widow Min-joon rescued 400 years ago, dies shielding him from arrows meant to kill her.

Though he knows he will die if he stays on Earth, Min-joon promises Song-yi that he won’t go back home. At first, she is ecstatic. But after she secretly reads his journal and learns that he will die if he remains on Earth, she tells him he can’t stay. She says that she can live as long as she knows that he is alive somewhere, even if she can’t see him. But if he died, she would have to die, too.

There are two proposals. One from him, with a ring. And one from her, on the eve of his departure. She tells him that she will never remarry, even if she never sees him again.

Min-joon returns home, but vows to try every day to return to her. (My guess is that going home helps him recharge and regain the strength he lost during his time on Earth.)

Song-yi thinks she is hallucinating when she “sees” him on what would’ve been their 100-day anniversary. In reality, she did see him. He was able to teleport for a few seconds at a time to visit her and Mr. Jang.

He also accidentally teleported to Jae-kyung’s jail cell, and used that opportunity to scare him.

Speaking of Jae-kyung, we learn that he had killed his elder brother so that he could become the heir to his father’s business empire. He had also killed his pregnant girlfriend, who knew his secrets. Before that, he had his ex-wife institutionalized, because she, too, knew what he had done. Throughout the series, he was trying to kill Song-yi. She didn’t know he was a serial killer, but she did know that his girlfriend had a big secret about Jae-kyung.

Back to Min-joon and Song-yi. It is now 2017 and she is walking down the red carpet when time literally stands still. She looks around and sees Min-joon, who has frozen time. He wraps her in his arms and kisses her. Neither faints, which reinforces my earlier assumption that he regained his strength/immune system during his time back home.

When Song-yi stepped out of her car and onto the red carpet, I heard Elvis Costello’s “She” in my head. If I ever become famous, I’m going to have that song piped in whenever I make my entrance. ?

The final scene shows them curled up in each other’s arms and Min-joon says he is home.

I had a lump in my throat, though, because I knew that his time on Earth was never guaranteed.

But, then again, isn’t that true for all of us?

@2016 Jae-Ha Kim | All Rights Reserved

Comments (8)

  1. Peter Ardito says:

    Thanks for this review, Ms. Kim. I’ve just recently started to watch Korean dramas with my girlfriend and this was one of our favorites.

  2. Alexa says:

    OMG Kim Soo Hyun is my bias! I adore him!

  3. Jessica says:

    Lovely lovely review, Jae. I watched this when it first came out and cried the whole time. I can’t wait to rewatch it(again). 🙂

  4. Shine Li-El says:

    my heart fells everytime i watch movies or drama which including a library in their set, my love from the star and inkheart were my favorites!!!!

  5. Robin says:

    Fabulous review!

  6. Renee Schneidewind says:

    I’m glad you enjoyed it! I loved it very much! Oh and how on earth do you have time to watch all these?? I’m impressed. Are you superwoman??

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