Is My Love from the Star too cheesy?

My Love from the Star is credited with popularising Korean drama outside South Korea. The 21-episode romantic comedy first aired on SBS in 2013 and 2014. It now has classic status and is a must watch for K-drama fans. So, why is My Love from the Star so good?

I resisted watching it for a long time because the title sounds unbearably cheesy. In Korean this series is called 별에서 온 그대. Google translator says that means “You come from the stars.” Which sounds much better I think! Cheesy title aside, is this series a load of old corn? Definitely not.

At times My Love from the Star is very dramatic. As with all great soap operas there are multiple murder attempts, hospitalisations, declarations of love, fierce rivalries and crying scenes. There are also some really good action scenes where Do Min-joon, an alien, uses his super powers. You either appreciate soap operas as a genre or you don’t. Give up reading now if you think they’re awful. 🙂

What really stops My Love from the Star from being cheesy is the Do Min-joon character. He looks about 23, but he’s actually over 400 years old and has the serious gravitas of a knowledgeable, elderly man. He’s also deeply learned. His library is something for all book lovers to aspire to. Do Min-joon seems an unlikely partner for the actress Cheon Song-yi. She’s vain, poorly read, ignorant of history, bad tempered, and drinks too much. When she moves in next door, Do Min-joon writes in his diary how much he hates snobby, ignorant, drunken women. (Was that a deliberate nod to Bridget Jones?)

The differences between Do Min-joon and Cheon Song-yi create a decent amount of conflict and make them very watchable. Further conflict comes from Min-joon’s secret identity. This part of the story reminded me of the scenes in Twilight where Edward the vampire tries to hide who he is from Bella. There’s a lot happening for Min-joon that Song-yi isn’t aware of.

I must admit, by episode 18 or 19 I was looking forward to the end. With Korean dramas there’s no guarantee of a happy finale. And the amount of emotion generated by the main plot was getting a bit much for me. I just really wanted to know what would happen. I’m surprised I didn’t google any “ending explained” articles! Fortunately, the show has lots of good subplots. These changed the mood and stopped the main romance from being too overwhelming.

Do Min-joon’s 30-year friendship with Mr Jang is an interesting story in itself. I also enjoyed Song-yi’s difficult friendship with supporting actress Se-mi. There is even a comedic subplot, centred around the owner and customers of a graphic novel shop. I’m a fan of Joseon era dramas and I loved the flashbacks to Do Min-joon in historical Korea.

My Love from the Star is a good place to start if you want to find out why K-drama romances are so popular internationally. I recommend following it up with My Holo Love, a romance between a human and an AI. I love American science fiction. So for me it’s been very interesting to see how Korean romantic drama uses sci fi elements.

So, is My Love from the Star too cheesy? Definitely not. It is sometimes passionate and operatic, but it’s also part science fiction, part crime drama and part family drama. With so many elements in its mix, it’s impossible to say that My Love from the Star is just one thing.

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