On the 18th of December 2014, a drama began to air that would be remembered for a long time after it’s final episode had come and gone. It broke records and started trends, made a star of one lead and cemented the name of the other as a legendary actress. And it proved that maybe a plot about an alien falling in love with a celebrity wasn’t as far-fetched as it sounded.
You Who Came From the Stars may have its faults, as many people would point out. But as it’s fourth-anniversary approaches and we take a look back, it holds up incredibly well. It’s always easier to look at content with hindsight and say what should have been done better, and that is certainly the case for dramas such as this. Like popular dramas Coffee Prince or Boys Over Flowers before it, there was a lot of interest around the time You Who Came From the Stars aired. It continued in dramas like Descendants of the Sun and Goblin. It seems that certain dramas, through broadcast at different times, have a similar impact – one that lasts in both popular cultures in Korea and the wider international audience, and in those that watched them.
One of the best things about Stars (also romanised as My Love From the Star) is that it’s very aware of its own story, and this is a key reason as to why it’s a good now as it ever was. There’s just the right mix of light-hearted comedy, an acknowledgement of the sometimes overblown plot, and tender sincerity. There’s a touch of the dramatic thrown in there too, but this mostly takes the form of a backdrop to the interplay between characters. These characters, from the two leads to the additional cast, are what pulls this drama together. Above all, however, it’s the actors that bring them to life. Kim Soo Hyun as Do Min Joon, the alien of the title, and Jun Ji Hyun as Cheon Song Yi, are the life and soul of this drama. They play each of their respective roles with such a careful balance of genuine care and affection for the characters, and an awareness of not overacting. Were they to have taken certain situations too seriously, or not played up the seriousness of others enough, the story could easily have fallen apart. It’s no wonder that these roles became hugely well known for them. Even considering Jun Ji Hyun’s iconic past roles, Cheon Song Yi is one that certainly won’t be forgotten for a while. The two of them carry the drama on their wonderful chemistry, augmented by the characters around them.
That’s not to say that the story doesn’t deserve much praise. It’s a simplistic one, but one that allows for much to be developed around it. An alien visits Earth, and upon staying to help a human girl, realises he’s trapped on the planet for the next 400 years. Flash forward to the present day, just months before the time to leave finally arrives, and he meets a woman that is surprisingly similar to the girl he became attached to all those years ago. Throw in the heir of a chaebol family trying to murder the girl, now a famous Hallyu star, and a love triangle and there’s plenty to keep the audience enthralled. It is highly unbelievable at times. But that’s part of the charm. Once invested in the stories of these characters, much of the plot feels natural. Delighting in the over the top rescue scenes and the use of superpowers comes with watching a fantasy, romcom drama. And for people that love this genre (comparison were drawn to Twilight at the time, however unfounded they might be, especially with the focus on comedy) there’s so much to get out of Stars. There’s a strong, sassy female lead in Cheon Song Yi, and a sensitive male lead in Do Min Joon. The pairing is unusual but works so well because of this.
Chimaek and ramyun both saw rises in popularity due to scenes in the drama that are still as good today as four years ago. Even “My Destiny” by Lyn still packs an emotional punch upon relistening. For all that You Who Came From the Stars made popular, the reasons why are still evident. It may not have been a long time but we’re confident that the drama will hold up well for years to come. Its themes are universal despite the story being otherworldly at times. That is the best way to make fantasy connect with viewers; find the humanity in things that we often can’t relate to. The love and relationships are the way in which You Who Came From the Stars carries itself, and as long as these aspects of humanity are always sought after, the drama will always be relevant to whoever rewatched it.
If you have time this December, give it a re-watch and let us know your thoughts!