THE SHORT VERDICT:
A drama that’s got a light, frothy and often comedic outer shell, but harbors an inner core that’s poignant, stirring and heart-in-your-throat moving.
To be sure, if one put on a hard logical lens, this show’s flaws may be too glaring for one to overlook. But for those who can turn that logical lens to a blurry soft-focus, and amp up the emotional lens to a setting high enough to engage with the characters on a more visceral level, that touching inner core is the satisfying, gratifying reward.
Separately, Jeon Ji Hyun and Kim Soo Hyun are both truly excellent in their roles. Even better? Together, they are pure magic.
THE LONG VERDICT:
Every drama makes missteps, and You From Another Star is no exception. Under too keen a microscope, the plot logic in YFAS wouldn’t stand up terribly well, to be honest. What sets it apart from so many other kdramas, though, is that it gets the most important bits (mostly) right.
Enough to capture the imagination; enough to engage the heart; enough to make it feel cracktastic and addictive.
I liked a lot of things about this show, and even though hindsight is 20/20 and the uneven pacing and plot-holes that I hadn’t taken too much notice of before now seem clear as day, I still consider it a worthy watch.
OST ALBUM: FOR YOUR LISTENING PLEASURE
Here’s the OST album, in case you’d like to listen to it while you read the review.
I thought the cinematography was mostly very pretty in YFAS.
The way certain scenes were framed, lit and shot was often so pretty that I stopped to admire the composition of the shot &/or the richness of the palette. Most of the show is bathed in lovely rich, warm tones that were alternately Spring and Autumn. Gorgeous.
Maybe it’s coz this show revolves around the stars/space; I found the aerial shots (like the one above) &/or the high-ceilinged shots particularly breathtaking.
Whether it was stuff flying in the air (like above), or people doing the same (like below), I thought the effect was nicely handled, and executed in a nicely believable fashion.
The Joseon scenes in particular could be quite stunning, like this scene:
Gorgeous, right? This could almost pass off as a painting, it’s so pretty.
When the scenes leaned more towards the foreboding, the color palette cooled significantly to communicate the chill of unease too. This was consistent across timelines, and we see it here in the Joseon arc:
As well as here, in the present-day arc:
Perhaps the only times I found the cinematography a little clunky was when it related to the less subtle camera effects.
Maybe it’s just me, but I found the less subtle CGI effects unintentionally amusing:
Despite these minor-ish hiccups, though, I generally enjoyed the cinematography of this show.
Along with the cinematography, I also really, really enjoyed the OST in this show. Yes, the “My Destiny” song leaned a little cheesy, but it didn’t dip into Help-not-AGAIN territory for me, so it’s still all good.
Even more than the songs themselves, I really, really enjoyed the instrumental tracks in this show. These ranged from halting, thoughtful melodies, to blissful, happy, tinkly tones, to swelling, pulsing orchestral pieces. Well-executed and nicely evocative, I found the instrumentals particularly lovely.
I never felt like the OST was interfering with my immersion in the show. Rather, the OST served to enhance it. And that I really enjoyed. I’ll be sharing several of my favorite instrumental tracks in this review, though I will say that there are a good many more gorgeous instrumental tracks on the OST than I’m able to share here.
Over and above the other strengths of this show, and in the face of its weaknesses too, it was the treatment of our main characters that really made the show for me. Not only were our main characters nicely fleshed out, but they were excellently delivered.
Yes, there were a number of characters who weren’t as nicely fleshed out and remained in two-dimensional territory. And there were some weak links in the delivery as well. But the OTP and several other key characters were so well delivered that it was enough for me, to quite easily forgive the show’s shortcomings.
Kim Soo Hyun as Do Min Joon
Ahhhh. Kim Soo Hyun. He totally killed it, as Do Min Joon.
I’ve thought of Kim Soo Hyun as an excellent actor for a long time. Yet, he still blew me away – and moved me to tears – with his delivery as Do Min Joon.
I’ve come across some folks who contend that he didn’t act very well in this show. For the record, I disagree.
Vehemently. Strongly and politely. Heh.
In the beginning of the show, I did feel like Kim Soo Hyun’s face was stiffer than I preferred, but over time, I gradually got a deeper and deeper sense of the dichotomy between the impassiveness that Do Min Joon showed the world, and the real emotions that he felt on the inside.
Kim Soo Hyun did an outstanding job portraying that duality, managing to imbue even Min Joon’s stiffest expressions with hints of Min Joon’s inner feelings. Sometimes, these were so subtle that they might be overlooked by a casual viewer. Put on a more careful, discerning lens, however, and you’d find that it’s all there.
As the show progresses, the balance of that dichotomy shifts continuously. How much emotion Min Joon is able to show the world evolves in degrees, and Kim Soo Hyun demonstrates that gradual shift with precision delivery. It’s almost like he has an internal dial that allows him to select exactly what percentage of Min Joon’s emotions are allowed to show on his face. And if that’s not impressive enough, Kim Soo Hyun makes this demanding feat of precise, exacting delivery appear completely effortless. Talk about skill. Talk about talent. Talk about character immersion. I was suitably blown away.
Special mention goes to Kim Soo Hyun’s crying scenes. These were truly heartwrenching, and I never felt like he was acting, or forcing the tears. In fact, it consistently felt more like he was genuinely trying to hold the tears in, but couldn’t. Which is exactly in character. Completely masterful. Respect, truly.
On a lighter note, I must say, I just love how pitch-perfect Kim Soo Hyun’s crotchety, stuffy old man-alien is. Given his youthful appearance, it’s amusingly dissonant. I never got tired of grumpypants-old-man-alien rocking the young face and sharp suits, grumping in his old-man way at people and things in general. So cute that I wanted a grumpypants-old-man-alien of my very own, heh.
By now, you’ve probably got an inkling that I have a lot of.. thoughts, when it comes to Kim Soo Hyun as Do Min Joon. In this section, I distill a few of my favorite things about our favorite alien.
Layers Coming Off
One of my favorite things about watching Kim Soo Hyun as Min Joon, is getting to discover the softie living on the inside of the multitude of stiff layers that he’s erected as his outer shell.
Min Joon’s spent 400 years constructing and maintaining the austere mask that helps him to keep a low profile and stay disconnected from the people around him. He refrains from establishing relationships with people as a general rule, and lives by the principle of not getting involved; in other people’s business, in situations around him; in life in general. He’s played the waiting game for 400 years, and all of his focus is trained on one thing and one thing only: waiting for the arrival of his comet so that he can return home.
Given that context, it’s extra gratifying to watch Min Joon’s true personality peek out from under the layers of armor in varying degrees as the show progresses.
Like the time in episode 3 where Min Joon is reluctant to care about anything that happens to Song Yi (Jeon Ji Hyun), but ends up getting involved anyway. Somehow I enjoyed seeing him play her guardian at the hospital, wearing the most unwilling, grumpy face ever, but doing everything that needed doing anyway.
Or like the time in episode 4 where Min Joon threatens to throw Song Yi out, but goes out to buy her snacks anyway.
Or the time in episode 6 when Min Joon takes off running out of concern for Song Yi’s safety.
Basically, after seeing Min Joon’s cold outer shell so much in play, it’s extra gratifying to witness the moments when he breaks out of that shell and acts in a manner that’s completely counter to the shield that he’s erected for himself. Plus, knowing how solid that shield is, it’s also thrilling to realize just how much Song Yi is getting to him, for him to react in such a visceral manner.
Memorably, the moment, for me, in terms of seeing just how much Min Joon actually feels on the inside, is the scene in episode 6, where we see Yi Hwa (Kim Hyun Soo) dying in Min Joon’s arms after saving him.
His horrified cries, as realization sinks in, and his freely spilled tears, got me, right in the heart. I felt his distress and grief and disbelief in that moment, as he registered that she had died in order to save him. Ow. My heart.
This pivotal scene sets the record straight: Min Joon is fully capable of emotion. He has a heart that works, and it works well. It’s just that he’s steeled his heart and chosen to live behind a shield of stiff armor. And it’s just as much to protect the people around him, as it is to protect himself, that he does so.
With that context firmly in place, my heart went out fully to Min Joon. How alone he must have felt for the 400 years that he’d forced himself to live in such emotional isolation. Poor baby. Uh. Poor old-man-alien.
Where our story happens, with Song Yi now in the picture, unwittingly and relentlessly drawing him out of his shell, mostly against his will, is cracky, satisfying stuff. It just made me really pleased to see the cold, grumpy shell give way to reveal the warm heart underneath. In short, I really liked seeing how Min Joon is a big ol’ softie at heart.
Superpowers are Hawt
Even though we start the drama already knowing that as an alien, Min Joon has superpowers, this fact actually grew on me more and more as the show progressed. By episode 7, I was practically giddy over the fact that Min Joon has superpowers.
In part, I think it’s the kid in me. Like, how cool is it that our drama’s hero is actually a superhero?
More to the point, I think, is the fact that Superhero Min Joon is hawt. I love how he uses his superpowers to save Song Yi.
Like in episode 7, where Song Yi’s life is in danger thanks to Jae Kyung (Shin Sung Rok) and his Evil Secretary (Lee Yi Kyung, all grown up and completely misguided after School 2013 and Nine). I love how Min Joon displays multiple superpowers in saving her.
First, the super hearing, where he hears her screams for help from miles and miles away (above).
Then, the teleporting, to appear right in front of her in her critical moment of need. And finally, the super strength to stop a car gaining momentum, with only his bare hands.
That Min Joon then poofs away to resume his facade of normalcy just ups the cool, in my opinion. It’s like every other superhero ever. Coz no true superhero sticks around to bask in the glory of being heroic. Right?
Plus, then we see in episode 8 that Min Joon actually hurt himself in the process of saving Song Yi, and resuming his facade of normalcy basically entails walking around with shards of glass still embedded in his bleeding hand.
The fact that Min Joon can feel physical pain, just like a regular human, just makes my heart go out to him even more. Despite the possibility of injury to himself, he’d gone and saved Song Yi without hesitation.
Plus, the fact that Min Joon gets hurt in the course of ensuring that Song Yi doesn’t get hurt, is such heart-melty stuff.
On a more amusing superpower note, I found it really cute that the reason Min Joon doesn’t drink is coz otherwise he’d let his powers run amuck.
I love tipsy Min Joon, solely for the fact that he appears to take a very pure childlike pleasure in making things float in the air. And that is just so refreshingly different from the crotchety-old-man persona that he shows us when he’s sober.
Sure, in our story set-up, the superpowers are sort of incidental, in that they aren’t exactly key to the romance, really. But having our hero have superpowers certainly doesn’t hurt. And I found superhero Min Joon hawt.
The Extent of Min Joon’s Love
One of the swooniest things about Min Joon is how deep and far-reaching his love for Song Yi becomes over the course of the show. We see it demonstrated and expressed in a number of ways; it’s almost like as the show progresses and as his love for her grows deeper and deeper, that that love starts leaking out through multiple cracks in that heretofore impenetrable armor.
It’s In How He Uses His Powers:
On a related note from our previous section on superpowers, I did love how Min Joon’s growing love for Song Yi is demonstrated in how he uses his powers.
As Min Joon’s affection and love for Song Yi grows, he takes increasingly risky actions to protect her. The magnitude of the risks that he takes mirrors the magnitude of his love for her, and it’s swoon-worthy stuff.
For someone like Min Joon, who’s ruled firmly from the head all these 400 years, it’s extremely telling that when it comes to Song Yi’s well-being, he rules more and more by the heart.
Like the time in episode 10, where Min Joon flies down 23 flights of stairs at supersonic speed just to meet Jae Kyung on the ground floor and warn him against harming Song Yi. It’s risky and it’s not his only possible course of action, but he does it anyway. And reckless Min Joon wearing his heart on his sleeve is fierce, potent, and very, very swoony.
As Min Joon’s worry for Song Yi’s safety grows, the risks he takes and the urgency (and badassery!) with which he takes them grows at an exponential rate.
Like in episode 11, where Min Joon shows his superpowers to Jae Kyung.
Watching this, I knew it was a dangerous move, but man, did I take a lot of pleasure in Min Joon’s coolness and Jae Kyung’s mind implosion.
Of course, there’s also episode 14, where Min Joon is practically blind with rage and fury at the attempt that Jae Kyung makes on Song Yi’s life.
He literally flies over to Jae Kyung’s office, breaking through everything and overturning furniture with a single thought and nary the blink of an eye, and literally holds up a limp rag-doll-esque Jae Kyung by the scruff of the neck, with steely determination burning in his eyes.
In a superpower flash, Min Joon’s dangling a helpless Jae Kyung over the ledge of the building, purely by the force of his mind.
When Jae Kyung taunts him, saying, “I know that if I die, so will you,” Min Joon resolutely bites out, “If I could stop you, I don’t care if I die.” And he lets Jae Kyung fall.
Min Joon doesn’t let Jae Kyung die, however, but stops Jae Kyung’s free-fall at the last minute, warning darkly, “Pray that Song Yi is safe. If anything happens to that woman, I will come back to kill you. You said you have a lot of things to lose. I’ll make sure you know the taste of losing them one by one. In the end you will lose everything, and I will show you what utter destruction is.”
Jae Kyung starts, “How dare you-” but gets unceremoniously cut off by Min Joon, who’s blazing fire from his eyes, “How dare YOU. I’ll show you who you dared mess with.”
So satisfyingly badass. And so recklessly focused on Song Yi’s well-being, to the extent of wagering his own life. How can one not swoon?
And then there’s episode 19, where Jae Kyung, cornered with no way out, informs Min Joon that Song Yi’s doomed anyway.
The way that Min Joon lets loose with everything he’s got, to get to Song Yi in time, to save her, at any cost, is completely moving. With his powers having been unstable prior, I feel like Min Joon had to pour all of his efforts and concentration into this, and then some; more so than if this had happened earlier in the show when his powers had been steady.
With each step in the Big Rescue, we see that Min Joon’s teetering on the edge of losing control. Not just of his powers, but of his emotions, for fear of losing Song Yi.
First, we see him crash-land out of thin air at the restaurant where Song Yi is seated. His abrupt appearance and the accompanying smashed glass is an attention magnet, and a crowd soon forms around him and Song Yi. But Min Joon pays no heed whatsoever. He wraps his arms around Song Yi and poofs them out of there, leaving behind the gathering of confused spectators.
Min Joon is similarly focused at their next stop, the hospital.
When nurses and doctors protest at his barked instructions, Min Joon swiftly takes matters into his own hands. Using just the power of his mind, he makes a quick barricade of carts, trolleys and other medical equipment between him and Song Yi and the forming crowd of onlookers.
Min Joon’s only concern in Song Yi’s well-being, and his urgent, panicked focus is on her and her alone.
The moment Song Yi comes to, Min Joon is visibly relieved, and his entire body finally relaxes.
When Song Yi asks to be taken away to somewhere peaceful where there isn’t anyone else, Min Joon quietly agrees. Gathering her up in his arms, he poofs them out of there, right in front of the flashing cameras.
And he takes her to the farthest, most remote place he can think of.
Considering how strict Min Joon has been with himself for the last 400 years about laying low, keeping a low profile and not getting involved, this is HUGE. It’s literally that he can’t think straight when Song Yi’s safety is hanging in the balance. That there’s no longer any point keeping up the facade to protect himself, if Song Yi is not safe.
It’s heart-in-throat moving, to realize that Min Joon literally loves Song Yi more than he cares about himself.
Gulp. And tears.
It’s In His Desires & Dreams:
Before falling in love with Song Yi, Min Joon had never allowed himself to have any kind of dream, other than the one which involved him leaving earth and returning to his home planet.
After he falls in love with Song Yi, however, Min Joon begins to dream, in spite of himself. And the nature of his dreams, together with the longing attached to them, tell us eloquently of his deep love for Song Yi.
In episode 11, as they sit together by the lake, Min Joon asks Lawyer Jang, with a wistful look in his eyes, “What does it feel like to… Grow old together?” He pauses. “I want to… grow old together.”
Augh. This is where my heart began to break for Min Joon. He must feel so trapped. He loves Song Yi. And wants to grow old with her. But he can’t. Tears.
Soon after, in episode 12, as Min Joon lies unconscious after being hit by the car sent by Jae Kyung, he dreams a heartwrenchingly sweet and simple dream.
It’s of everyday little things with Song Yi. Sharing food, bickering, playing in the snow, snuggling in bed.
Min Joon’s dream is so simple, so lovely and so heartbreaking in one. It shows him happy and in love. It shows where his heart is. It shows us the joy he perceives in the mundane. So simple, yet, for him, so unattainable.
I watched this scene with smiles and with tears. It was so good to have a glimpse of happy Min Joon. But it was so sad to know that in his mind, at this point, these were all things that were completely out of his reach.
After Min Joon wakes up from his dream, he finally articulates to Lawyer Jang his desire to stay.
At Lawyer Jang’s urging to consider his relationship with Song Yi as one that had never begun, Min Joon answers with tears falling freely, “Why must I do that? I have under two months left to see that woman. I like her. I care for her… I’m fine with two months, or one month – I just want to be together. If I can’t leave… if, as you say, I will die here… if I can only remain sleeping in that happy dream, I want to do that. Is that truly impossible? Can I not do that?”
Oof. Min Joon would rather stay and be with Song Yi and die, than be apart from her and unhappy. It’s heartbreaking and swoon-worthy all in one.
And then at the end of the episode, we have That Epilogue, where Min Joon faces the camera and says, “You ask how I feel with my departure approaching? Well…” And then his controlled expression morphs into one of deep grief, and he can’t hold back the sobs.
Oof. And oof again. The pain that Min Joon feels must be so deep and so raw and so near the surface that his impassive expression morphs into one of profound grief within seconds. (On a side note, mad props to Kim Soo Hyun, who’s proven once again that he really is a talented actor.)
That Min Joon, who’s only ever looked toward the moment of finally leaving the planet after 400 years, can now only sob in grief at that same thought of leaving, speaks volumes; of his love for Song Yi, of his longing to stay with her, and of his desire to live the way humans live.
I love that in discovering his love for Song Yi, Min Joon also discovers – or rather, rediscovers – the heart that he’s buried deep within himself for so long.
Oh, and lest you think that I forgot Kim Soo Hyun’s very memorable shower scene, here you go:
Jeon Ji Hyun as Cheon Song Yi
I freaking loved Jeon Ji Hyun as Cheon Song Yi, seriously.
And one of the big reasons I loved Jeon Ji Hyun in the role is coz she plays Song Yi with a wonderfully gung-ho lack of vanity. Given that Jeon Ji Hyun spent much of her career being typecast as the pretty girl who might not be so fantastic at the acting, I feel that she took this role and turned it to gold. Gold, I say. Not only does she make Song Yi funny, vulnerable and relatable, Jeon Ji Hyun demonstrates that she’s very good at the acting too, thankyouverymuch.
One of the most refreshing things I found about Jeon Ji Hyun in this role, is how she never hesitates to look less than glamorous for the camera. Whether it’s literally, like this:
Or more figuratively, in terms of Song Yi’s more embarrassing character ticks, Jeon Ji Hyun doesn’t show a iota of hesitation about looking silly for the camera. Gotta love a girl who’s not so hung up about her looks and reputation that she can’t laugh at herself.
At the same time, Jeon Ji Hyun imbues Song Yi with a lovely fragility that makes it hard not to like her.
Special mention too, goes to Jeon Ji Hyun’s crying scenes. I never felt like she was actually even trying to cry. It was always more like I just happened to see her in a vulnerable moment, where the tears happened to spill over.
In fact, that’s true of all of the scenes where Song Yi cries. It always feels like someone poked a needle into her or something, and the tears, as a matter of course, just leaked out. The tears always appear to be incidental, never like they are the point of the scene. I really appreciated that.
I just love that Jeon Ji Hyun makes Song Yi feel so very real, and makes the character come to life.
Credit goes to the writing and to Jeon Ji Hyun’s delivery for making Song Yi feel so real and so relatable as a character. She’s extremely flawed, has a huge ego, and a diva attitude to go with it. At the same time, she’s got a lot of likable traits, and as I got to know Song Yi as a character better over the course of the show, I couldn’t help but like her more and more.
In this section, I list a couple of things that make Song Yi so awesome.
Right away in episode 1, we get a sense of Song Yi’s tendency for epic slip-ups of the bimbo variety. She’s the kind of celeb who tweets or says stuff to look cool and puts her foot in her mouth while she’s at it.
Like how, in episode 1, she orders a mocha latte, takes a selfie, then tweets, “Sweet mocha latte is the best in a tiring afternoon. Now I know why Sir Moon Ik Jum smuggled mocha seeds into Korea. Thank you Sir Moon Ik Jum.” Mocha seeds?!? Tee hee.
Or the time on live TV that, intending to say propolis, she credits propofol instead, for keeping her skin young and fresh. HAHA. Her management collectively face-palming and wanting to tear their hair out over her faux pas just makes it even funnier.
Besides the bimbo angle, Song Yi’s also full of physical gags, and Jeon Ji Hyun embraces the physical comedy with admirable gusto.
Like the time in episode 3 where Song Yi is in serious pain and stops to pretty herself up – or tries to, anyway – in order to keep up her hospital fashion:
Or the time that Se Mi arrives to talk with Min Joon in his apartment, and Song Yi desperately and ridiculously clings to the wall to try to eavesdrop on the conversation:
Or the time Song Yi first connects the dots that she will eventually look older than Min Joon, given their different aging cycles, and tries all manner of crazy stuff to try to preserve her youth:
Jeon Ji Hyun is gung-ho about embracing the funny, and I dig it very much.
She’s gutsy – yet vulnerable
Another great thing about Song Yi is how gutsy she is. Song Yi lives in the cut-throat world of entertainment, and beneath the glittery surface, things can get pretty harsh and cruel. To that world, Song Yi shows her confident, tough, sassy side, and refuses to crumble, even when she’s not so sure of herself on the inside.
We see this tough-cookie side of her in episode 2, when rival actress Han Yoo Ra (Yoo In Young) confronts Song Yi and accuses her of stealing a documentary from her because of an inferiority complex.
Without missing a beat, Song Yi replies smoothly, “No, that’s something I could feel only when I’m actually inferior to you. I may be ignorant, but I know that much. What I feel towards you is… Superiority.” Ooh, touché.
Song Yi has a ready come-back for every accusation or insult that Yoo Ra throws at her, and it’s pretty impressive.
Like when Yoo Ra spits out, “Whenever people get together, they criticize your dramas.” Song Yi doesn’t bat an eyelash, and comes back with this zinger, “Right? How come people always talk about me when they get together? Is that the only thing they’ve got? It’s okay whether they are compliments or criticisms. It’s better than being in a drama with only a 4% rating… And no one knowing who started and ended the series.” Ouch. And again, touché.
Besides showing us Song Yi’s ability to think quickly on her feet and give as good as she gets, her gutsy side also speaks of her innate strength.
In episode 7, when Se Mi admits that she’s never once thought of Song Yi as a friend, it’s a huge blow to Song Yi, whose eyes fill with tears as the realization sinks in.
But Song Yi doesn’t crumble. Instead, she looks Se Mi right in the eye and delivers this parting shot, “When I hit bottom this time, there were a lot of times I felt like the pits. But there’s one good thing about it. It filters out people. Who is really on my side, and who disguised themselves as being on my side. When life tests us, I wonder if it’s God giving us the chance to filter out the real from the fake.”
I felt that that said a lot about Song Yi’s inner strength. Yes, she’s reeling and hurting from the realization that the person whom she’d regarded as a close friend all these years just admitted that it was all an act. But in the midst of that vulnerable fragility, Song Yi musters up an inner strength that allows her to hold her head high and stand tall in the face of the blow, instead of crumble to the ground.
On a related note, I found that there’s also a very likable, practical streak in Song Yi.
Like in episode 10, where Song Yi pronounces that it doesn’t matter that she’s broke coz money can be made again.
Song Yi’s the kind of girl who’s got her priorities straight. Matters of the heart, relationships, a clear conscience. These are the things that we see Song Yi continually put first, over money, status and reputation. And I love that about her.
For all of Song Yi’s outward bravado and top-star swag, she has regular moments of private pain. Pain that she fights to keep beneath the surface. Pain that she only allows breathing room when she’s in the privacy of her own company. It is Song Yi’s private pain that Jeon Ji Hyun plays with such convincing fragility that makes Song Yi so relatable and sympathetic.
Right away, in episode 1, we get a glimpse of how fiercely Song Yi strives to keep her pain private. To everyone else, Song Yi shrugs off the hurtful comments that netizens have been posting about her, and strains to sing the pain away in the solitude of her own apartment, accompanied only by her hairdryer. Her mode of therapy is not extremely effective, however, and we see the tears threaten to spill over when Min Joon knocks on her door to complain about her disturbing the peace.
In an awesomely ridiculous rant, Song Yi blusters, “So I am stupid and ignorant? Stupid! Brainless! Botox! You’re saying that I got botox in my brain and that it’s wrinkle free! That’s what you’re saying right now! I only ate an apple and half of a cabbage head today and I’m still full. Because people gave me so much crap. But I never imagined that you’d give me even more crap for singing! Can’t I sing for a sec? After all the crap I’ve been through? Where do I relieve my stress? I ate an apple and half of a cabbage head all day!” Taking a deep breath, then gathering all her star dignity together, Song Yi quietly finishes, to Min Joon’s bemusement, “It’s okay. You don’t need to apologize. I don’t feel like talking to you anymore.”
It’s comical diva behavior, and it’s played for laughs. But Song Yi’s tears that threaten to spill over are very, very real.
Shortly afterwards, she cries heartbrokenly into her pillow: “What did I do that was so wrong? Are you guys so perfect then? Are you that smart? You said that I was the prettiest and that I was your favorite. And now you’re talking crap about me. You have no loyalty whatsoever.”
Sniffle. Poor Song Yi.
And also, that’s a meta comment right there, about the cruelty of fandom, which is chillingly true to life.
That sense of fragility lurking just inches from the surface of her fierce, proud outer shell is consistent over the course of the show.
Like in episode 5, where Song Yi is dropped from all her CF contracts. It’s pretty heartbreaking to watch Song Yi tough out the many rejections, repeatedly saying, “I dumped them,” and the more she says it, the less convincing it sounds.
Her tears continually peek to the surface, and Song Yi determinedly rears them in and tamps them down, resolute that the world not have the satisfaction of seeing Cheon Song Yi falter. For all her bravado, though, it’s clear to us that Song Yi is distressed, and her vulnerability is what makes her empathetic.
Jeon Ji Hyun does an amazing job bringing out Song Yi’s vulnerability, and it shines through particularly in how Song Yi loves Min Joon.
In episode 11, once Song Yi realizes she’s in love with Min Joon, the gutsy side of her who wears her heart on her sleeve throws herself into confessing her feelings to him. When Min Joon asks if she tagged along on his fishing trip just to hear his answer to her earlier confession on the balcony in episode 10, she answers matter-of-factly, “No. I just wanted to be with you.” Aw. Gotta love a girl for being so brave and frank when it comes to the boy she likes.
After being firmly and quite cruelly turned down by Min Joon, Song Yi lies sadly in bed thinking about him. There’s something so vulnerable and almost fragile about Song Yi as she broods; something innocent and almost teenager-like, which I love.
Perhaps one of my favorite Song Yi moments in the show – and there are so many, really – is in episode 15, when Min Joon reprises his role of being her manager, despite having rejected Song Yi on the romantic front.
When Min Joon attempts to do manager things like follow Song Yi inside the film set, or wait for her, Song Yi tells him resolutely, “You said you disliked me. Then act like a man who dislikes me.”
I love Song Yi for being strong and keeping Min Joon at arm’s length on the principle of it, even though her emotions are probably all over the place. That’s strength and self-respect right there.
All in all, Song Yi’s private tears and vulnerability makes her outward diva attitude so much easier to accept, coz it helps us see beyond the often prickly, haughty surface to the soft, warm heart on the inside. Song Yi is velvet and steel in one, and I love it.
She cares – about her friends, family – and she doesn’t hold grudges
Despite any and all bickering, Song Yi isn’t the type to hold a grudge, and that’s another one of my favorite things about her.
From the beginning of the show, we see that Yoo Ra is antagonistic towards Song Yi and isn’t below initiating a cat fight, with all her claws unsheathed. There is no hint of warmth nor affection between the two, only a long-standing, prickly frenemy-ship.
Yet, in episode 4, when Min Joon asks about the rumors of Song Yi’s involvement in Yoo Ra’s death, Song Yi speaks without a hint of bitterness.
Tearing up thinking of Yoo Ra’s death, Song Yi muses, as if to herself, “She was only thirty – how did things come to this? I didn’t do anything wrong, but why do I feel so guilty and sorry?”
Song Yi may give as good as she gets, but she clearly has a good heart beneath it all.
I also really like Song Yi’s words to Yoo Ra in an earlier episode, “Does it have to be Jae Kyung?”… “Frankly, you’re not exactly my type but I think you’re the kind of girl that men would want.”
I like that despite their turbulent relationship, Song Yi cares enough to try to dissuade Yoo Ra from a destructive marriage, and even compliments her in the process. That takes a big heart, particularly when you’re speaking to your competitive, prickly frenemy.
Another instance of Song Yi’s big heart in action is in episode 15, where she finally reunites with her father after 12 long years.
When Song Yi wakes up in her hospital bed and finds her father (Uhm Hyo Sup) by her bedside, all she has to say is, “Why did you only come now? I grew up all alone – why did you come so late?”
Her tone is far from accusing, and she sounds more like a little girl being gently reproachful of her father for coming home late and missing her playtime.
Song Yi and her father embrace, and they both cry many pent-up tears.
I love how matter-of-factly and gently Song Yi tells Dad how much she pined for a father all those years, and how simply she forgives him.
No dramatics. No bitterness. Just, done. Love it.
Park Hae Jin as Lee Hwi Kyung
Much as I have an existing affection for Park Hae Jin (he was so adorable in Famous Princesses!), I’m gonna hafta say that I didn’t dig his character much in this show.
Hwi Kyung as a character fell into rather two-dimensional territory for me. In my eyes, he basically just hovered around to complete the necessary rom-com love square. I don’t have issues with Park Hae Jin’s delivery; it’s more the writing that I feel let the character down.
Yes, there was some character movement, in that Hwi Kyung started out in pretty neutral territory, then veered into being dangerously annoying, before recovering and ending the series on a more positive note. Despite that, I neither felt very interested nor invested in Hwi Kyung’s place in our story.
Most of the time, I was annoyed with Hwi Kyung for being That Guy, the guy who just won’t give up and refuses to take No for an answer, even when he knows that the girl that he likes just doesn’t like him back. Yes, that might describe almost every other second lead ever, but somehow, Hwi Kyung’s brand of clingy just did not sit well with me.
In particular, in episode 6, I found Hwi Kyung’s behavior most repulsive. Yes, that’s a strong word. But hey, Song Yi’s just had her world turned upside down and lost just about everything that she’s worked for, and what he has to say to her is, “You may smack me if I say this. But I’m still going to say it. I kind of like your life being difficult. I honestly like what happened to you… Because I can finally do something for you. There’s room for me.”
Argh. I was so bleepin’ mad with Hwi Kyung here. He is such a selfish ass. In the midst of Song Yi’s struggles and difficulties, he can only see so far as to consider his own benefit. “There’s room for me”?? Ugh.
I really, really wanted to slap him in this scene. Really.
Still, for the fact that Hwi Kyung plays a significant role in bringing Evil Baddie Brother Jae Kyung to justice, I eventually relented and was able to mentally park Hwi Kyung once again in neutral territory.
By the end of the show, I didn’t exactly love him, but he wasn’t so hard to tolerate either. That’s at least some kind of progress, right?
Yoo In Na as Se Mi
Similar to how I felt about Hwi Kyung, I didn’t have big love for Se Mi either, even though I really loved Yoo In Na in Queen In-hyun’s Man. Again, I blame the writing, not the delivery.
Like Hwi Kyung, Se Mi felt rather flat as a character to me, and I never really felt very engaged with her character nor her story. She was just there coz they needed someone to be. To complete the love square, to be the best friend, to toe the line between good and evil.
As a character, Se Mi starts the show being somewhat sympathetic, but it doesn’t take long for her character to embrace the dark side and become Annoyingly Clingy. Both things that did not help to endear her to me.
From the passive aggression that we see from Se Mi as early as episode 2, when she “sweetly” and “innocently” lets Yoo Ra know that Song Yi took the documentary special coz she knew Yoo Ra wanted it, we already get an inkling of Se Mi’s less-than-content state, and her disinclination to take it lying down. These remain as vague-ish hints, however, until Song Yi’s fortunes fall. That’s when Se Mi shows the darker stuff that she’s really made of and becomes overtly bitchy by degrees. No likey.
On top of this, Se Mi’s desperate clingy ways with Hwi Kyung are equally if not more frustrating. Yes, you can’t stop your heart from caring, but you most certainly can choose to retain your dignity and not insist on hanging on to a man who doesn’t reciprocate your feelings. I think the most frustrating thing about Se Mi’s one-sided love for Hwi Kyung was the fact that she didn’t confess her feelings for him for years and years, yet reserved the right to feel offended and slighted and act the victim when Hwi Kyung showered Song Yi with his time and attention. That’s really unfair. Also no likey.
In the end, Se Mi’s character gets a fairly quick redemption in her decision to let Hwi Kyung go, and in her reconciliation with Song Yi. Adequately covered, if a touch slap-dash. But it’s telling, isn’t it, that in the final time skip of the show, Se Mi’s character barely makes an appearance, even though several “lesser” secondary characters get significant screen time?
Even though I didn’t enjoy both of our second lead characters, there are a number of side characters that I genuinely enjoyed. They proved to be more fleshed out and interesting than our second leads, even though they were technically smaller roles. Here, I’d like to give them the spotlight for a bit. Well, them and Resident Baddie, whom I didn’t enjoy, but who was too significant a presence in our story to actually ignore.
Kim Chang Wan as Lawyer Jang
I really, really loved Kim Chang Wan as Lawyer Jang. Kim Chang Wan’s brand of affectionate amicable ahjusshi is just perfect to bring Lawyer Jang to wonderful, adorable life.
One of my favorite things about Lawyer Jang is how much affection he has for Min Joon. Even though Min Joon can often be a difficult grumpypants, Lawyer Jang’s attachment to Min Joon is clear as day, and that just makes my day.
A great example of Lawyer Jang’s quiet affection for Min Joon is in episode 5, where he silently watches Min Joon and Song Yi bicker in front of him. He stifles a smile, but he can’t hide the fact that he’s absolutely delighted to see Min Joon actually connecting with someone.
Aw. That’s totally the kind of look in his eyes that a father would have while watching his son. So, so sweet.
Another Lawyer Jang highlight for me is in episode 12, when Lawyer Jang, concerned and worried for Min Joon, earnestly says, “I spent half of my life protecting you. It was the most meaningful thing in my life. Even when I heard that you were leaving… I thought I didn’t have to worry about someone taking care of you even after I’m gone. I thought it was fortunate. But then you kept getting involved in dangerous situations. You got hurt!” … “I took care of your legal affairs. I will also help you with your emotional affairs.”
Sweetness. And tears. Coz Lawyer Jang is speaking in the context of parting ways with Min Joon, and his previous worry that no one would take care of Min Joon upon his own death.
And even though their relationship is officially a business one, Lawyer Jang asserts his self-declared right to help Min Joon even in his personal, emotional matters. Coz that’s how much he cares. Aw.
I heard some rumblings in the dramaverse about how Lawyer Jang seemed to be conveniently fickle, ie, one moment asking Song Yi to stay away, the next encouraging the relationship, then the next, musing that they never should’ve started.
While I acknowledge that Lawyer Jang did seem to change his mind over the course of the show, I’d like to state in his and the writers’ defense, that I still find it believable, coz humans are like that. We sometimes think in the moment, or are ruled by our emotions in the moment, and then change our minds. It’s part of what makes us human after all, right?
Oh, and one more thing about Lawyer Jang. I freaking loved that in episode 17, Lawyer Jang basically admitted that he’d wanted to see Min Joon make objects fly while drunk. HAHA. How cute is he??
Ahn Jae Hyun as Yoon Jae
I thought Ahn Jae Hyun did very well as Song Yi’s younger brother Yoon Jae.
At the beginning of the drama, Yoon Jae is a small, almost throwaway sort of character. He’s reticent and broody and hardly ever says anything much. But as we get deeper into the show, we see Yoon Jae blossom into a more outspoken, faceted and larger character with more screen time.
If my sources are correct, it’s all because Ahn Jae Hyun managed to take a fairly small supporting character and make him intriguing enough that viewers were clamoring for more. Very well done indeed, coz by the later episodes, I found Yoon Jae genuinely endearing, with a nice heaping dose of amusing on the side.
One of the Yoon Jae highlights in the show for me, is in episode 16, when he barges into Min Joon’s apartment uninvited, and sits himself down to have a man-to-man talk.
Putting on his best Big Brother tone, Yoon Jae levels his gaze at Min Joon, “I’m here to ask you as a man. A male to another male. Do you like my sister?”
Min Joon offers, “You want some chocolate milk?” In a blink of an eye, Yoon Jae is completely distracted, asking, wide-eyed, “You have it?”
Then, in between sucking on his chocolate milk like a good boy, Yoon Jae continues, “My sister had a lot of guys after her ever since she was in school. I was always busy taking care of them. But you’re the first one that she liked. I don’t know why, but…” And his eyes widen as they fix on something nearby,”Is this an an astronomical telescope?”
Ha. Pretty soon, Yoon Jae’s addressing Min Joon as Hyung, and taking selfies with the telescope.
Yoon Jae gushes to Min Joon, “I feel like I met my soulmate. I feel really good. My sister has many flaws. She really doesn’t measure up to you. But be good to her. In that sense, I’d like to say something.” … “Can I come over again?” Pfft.
So. Freaking. Cute.
Hong Jin Kyung as Bok Ja
While one of the more minor characters, I did find Bok Ja amusing, and I liked the contrast between Song Yi’s stilted interactions with Se Mi, versus her completely comfortable conversations with Bok Ja.
Even though Song Yi and Bok Ja had lost touch with each other since leaving school, I love that the two of them fall into a comfortable rhythm of conversation very quickly, like there never was a time skip in their friendship.
I loved, too, the running gag that Bok Ja basically keeps falling for every flower boy that crosses her path. I giggled at that, and wondered mildly if that was a dig at us drama fans, since we fall for almost every flower boy that crosses our screens. Heh.
Given the limited screen time she had, I feel that Bok Ja brought more than her fair share of fun to the show.
Shin Sung Rok as Lee Jae Kyung
Oh, Creepy Brother. Who was so creepy.
Shin Sung Rok played Jae Kyung with an OTT oiliness that made him really easy to dislike.
I do think Jae Kyung’s characterization was rather flat, considering that he was a fairly important secondary character. Still, Shin Sung Rok is now indelibly etched in my mind as Creepy Brother, so that’s something?
For pretty much the entire show, Jae Kyung seems to be evil just for the sake of being evil. There’s no real explanation for why he’s the way he is, except for a throwaway line in episode 15, when Min Joon asks Jae Kyung why he kills people.
Jae Kyung replies languidly,”There are many people in the world. But only few are needed. The rest are unnecessary. Like pests. And sometimes, one of those pests gets on my nerves. Then the right thing to do is to eliminate them. Only then we can evolve. That’s not evil. It’s for the common good.”
To which I say, Huh. Doing the world a favor indeed. And that train of thought is not even properly established to help us understand it in a more fleshed out manner either. Whatevs.
Good riddance, Evil Bro.
Aside from the characters themselves, the relationships between them were a big highlight of the show for me. Here, I’d like to give the loving spotlight to my personal top 3 relationships in this show.
Min Joon & Lawyer Jang
As I mentioned above, I really, really loved the friendship between Min Joon and Lawyer Jang. The visual dissonance of seeing the two of them together, with Lawyer Jang respectfully addressing Min Joon as “Teacher” just never gets old. Add on the stuffy-old-man-alien persona that Min Joon adopts much of the time, and that just ups the fun.
More than the fun factor, I love that beneath the respect and structure these two have built into their interactions, there is genuine care, warmth and love.
Aside from our OTP, the friendship between Min Joon and Lawyer Jang is the relationship that moved me the most. To laughter and to tears.
One the giggle-worthy scenes featuring Min Joon and Lawyer Jang is in episode 7, when Min Joon finally buys a cellphone to appease Song Yi.
I love that Lawyer Jang is jealous coz Min Joon never listened to him all the times that Lawyer Jang had asked him to get a cellphone, and now Min Joon’s gotten one, just because of a girl. Hee. Just look at that awesomely peeved expression on Lawyer Jang’s face!
To add to the cute, Lawyer Jang gets huffy coz Min Joon’s got Song Yi saved on speed dial as #1. Even cuter, Lawyer Jang refuses to admit that he’s upset about it. Ha! You boys.
On the other end of the scale, the scene that really gutted me is in episode 20, when Lawyer Jang and Min Joon say their good-byes.
As Lawyer Jang thinks back to how Min Joon saved his life 30 years ago, Lawyer Jang asks haltingly, “Can I hold your hand once?” Min Joon doesn’t protest, and Lawyer Jang slowly and gently grasps Min Joon’s hand in both of his own.
Rubbing Min Joon’s hand tenderly, Lawyer Jang’s voice begins to break as he continues, “I don’t want to send you away. I know it sounds a bit ridiculous. But I feel like a parent sending his child away.”
Lawyer Jang begins to weep quietly as Min Joon’s own eyes glisten with tears. Min Joon begins, “Lawyer Jang,” to which Lawyer Jang manages a quivering, “Yes?”
With his voice steady and gentle, not betraying the tears burgeoning, Min Joon says to his friend, “Someone once told me a long time ago… That you should say your farewells ahead of time. Because when the time really comes… You won’t have time to say your farewell.”
By this time, Lawyer Jang is sobbing openly, and Min Joon’s voice, betraying only the faintest quiver, continues, “Thank you. I will not forget you.”
Lawyer Jang, unable to contain his grief, leans over and sobs into Min Joon’s lap, while Min Joon, his own eyes now wet with tears, places a comforting arm on Lawyer Jang’s shoulders. And they sit quietly like that, not speaking another word, with Lawyer Jang’s deep sobs the only sound breaking the silence.
Oof. How absolutely heartbreaking. The fact that it’s this hard to say goodbye speaks volumes of the depth and magnitude of the love that these friends share.
That Lawyer Jang is Min Joon’s first friend ever, just magnifies the emotional impact of this scene.
All in all, whether they were being silly and petty with each other, or ripping my heart out with the emotional heft of their scenes, I just loved – LUFFED – these two together.
Min Joon & Yoon Jae
I was highly amused by this surprise relationship that came practically out of nowhere.
From being the random boy next door, Yoon Jae becomes to Min Joon the adoring little brother that he never had. Or wanted, heh.
This screenshot above pretty much sums it all up pretty nicely. By the end of the show, Yoon Jae can’t get enough of Min Joon hyung, and Min Joon has to put up with Yoon Jae literally throwing his adoring self on his hyung. It’s hilarious and endearing and so, so good.
My absolutely favorite bromantic moment with these two, is in episode 18. Min Joon gets tipsy after having drinks with Song Yi’s dad, and promptly teleports himself and Yoon Jae back to Song Yi’s apartment, dumping them both haphazardly on the couch, no less:
Yoon Jae’s confusion then gets doubled when Min Joon gets thirsty and levitates a bottle of water to himself with a simple outstretched hand:
Yoon Jae’s confusion is written all over his face as he tries to process what just happened and what it means. Adorably, even without any answers, Yoon Jae gets all protective over Min Joon, and when Song Yi tries to drag Min Joon to his feet, Yoon Jae jumps to his defense, gathering Min Joon up in his arms like he’s the most precious thing in the world.
When Min Joon finally wakes up sober, Yoon Jae shushes Min Joon’s attempts to explain, assuring Min Joon that his secret is safe with him. He has only one request.. And Yoon Jae points his index finger in Min Joon’s direction, ET style. Ha!
Min Joon protests, starting to explain that there’s a misunderstanding, but Yoon Jae pouts and refuses to give in. And so it is, with the ET soundtrack swelling in the background, that Min Joon, wearing the most mortified expression ever, finally relents and obliges, index tippy to index tippy.
OMG I practically cried with laughter during this scene, it’s just so friggin’ hilarious!
At the heart of it, though, I found it really sweet that in response to the discovery of Min Joon’s alienness, Yoon Jae’s gut instinct and natural first response is to protect Min Joon and adore him even more. Which is just so opposite of every. other. response. that Min Joon had ever gotten in the past when he had chosen to reveal himself to others. Aw.
Min Joon & Song Yi
I really enjoyed the chemistry that Kim Soo Hyun and Jeon Ji Hyun shared in The Thieves, despite their limited screen time together, and was left wanting more. Much more. YFAS is the answer to my ‘much more’ dreams, coz these two sizzle and spark onscreen, whether they are in each other’s faces glaring daggers, or in each other’s faces making kisses. And as I always say, 16 or more hours of drama (in this case, 21!) > 90 minutes of a movie. Hands down, any day.
To think that Jeon Ji Hyun had turned down the role, and that Kim Soo Hyun then took it upon himself to persuade noona to say yes. Thank you, Kim Soo Hyun sshi, for reaching out to noona, and thank you, Jeon Ji Hyun sshi, for taking a leap of faith and saying yes. I actually find it hard to imagine any other 2 actors inhabiting these roles, so I am really glad that they managed to make this happen.
As characters, both Min Joon and Song Yi are lonely hearts yearning for connection. Min Joon’s loneliness is largely self-imposed, since he resists engaging with people in general. Song Yi, on the other hand, is lonely at the heart of the glitter and glamor that surrounds her. So hungry is she, for human connection, that she would rather risk embarrassing herself on SNS so that she can communicate with fans whose faces she doesn’t even know, than opt to quit tweeting and be mysterious instead. Her reason? “Then who would I talk to?” That’s definitely lonely. And sad.
I found both characters on their own extremely likable and engaging, and by extension, I wanted them both to find each other and therefore fill the lonely void in both of their hearts. It’s true that the storytelling elements around this were a little (or a lot, depending on your perspective) rough around the edges (more on that later), but the satisfaction I got from actually seeing them together was strong enough that I am willing to forgive the missteps.
On top of it all, I really enjoyed the fact that even though this looked like a noona romance to everyone else in their world, that it really wasn’t. In reality, Min Joon was clearly the Oppa in their interactions despite his youthful appearance, and not only because he was approximately 400 years older either. I just loved that protective, take-charge side to Min Joon’s character, as he sought to do right by his girl.
Of course, Min Joon’s grumpypants old-man-alien attempts at stepping outside his comfort zone to woo the girl were also plenty of fodder for laughs and squees, and I loved pretty much every minute of it. I could watch Min Joon for hours on end, grumpily-bashfully fidgeting over how to wow Song Yi with a romantic date. Hee.
There are so, so many OTP moments that I loved in this show, that it’s pretty much impossible to cover them all. Here, I’m picking some of my favorites to revisit.
Swoony / Sexy / Kissy
When we found out in episode 9 that kissing a human makes Min Joon deathly ill, I was a little, well, concerned that this would affect the amount of skinship our OTP would get to have.
Let’s just say that I needn’t have worried. As we know by now, our favorite alien didn’t allow a little thing like sickness to get in the way of bringing on the swoon. Rawr.
I loved this moment in episode 5, when a grumpy Min Joon attempts to grab a pillow out from under a blithely oblivious Song Yi, who’s spent the night in his apartment and brought the clueless diva attitude with her.
One thing quickly leads to another as they tussle and scuffle, and soon, Min Joon’s pinning Song Yi down on the couch.
Rawr. Very sexy indeed.
The icing on the cake is their matching shocked expressions when they look up to see Lawyer Jang gaping at them.
Hee. Sexy and funny.
One of the swooniest kisses our OTP shares is in episode 15.
Having been accidentally left behind by the entire film crew, Song Yi comes outside to find that only Min Joon is there waiting for her. She’s still smarting from the earlier rejection from Min Joon, however, and challenges him, voice rising, “You said you never once liked me! That you never felt butterflies for me, or worried about me, or pictured a future together! You said I was a stand-in for that girl!”
When Min Joon doesn’t respond, Song Yi resolutely turns to go, but then turns back again to add, “Now I dislike you too. With you acting like this, I dislike you even more. So disappear from my sight – no, from my life. And I hope you can understand how selfish you’re being.” And she turns to go again.
As Min Joon looks at her retreating back, the lights around her start to flicker on. Song Yi stands in puzzlement and wonder, watching the twinkly fairy lights around the entire village come on in waves, coming together to create a dream-like setting.
Song Yi turns around to look questioningly at Min Joon, who simply blinks. And Song Yi finds herself lifting into the air, propelled right into Min Joon’s arms.
Confused, Song Yi asks, “What are you doing?”
Min Joon answers quietly, “It’s the most selfish thing I can do to you.” And he leans in to slowly and gently kiss her.
My thought is, that’s pretty much tops all other grand kisses in kdrama history, right? I mean, who else can put on the lights with just a thought, and then draw his girl through the air towards him so that he can catch her and then kiss her? It’s a tough act to follow, unless you’re some other 400-year-old alien.
In episode 20, Min Joon and Song Yi play Go-Stop, and loser gets the forehead flick. Min Joon wins the round, and despite Song Yi’s protests, flicks her a good one. Song Yi huffs, “Why did you hit me so hard? Just watch! I’m going to kiss you really deep. That will knock you out.”
She launches herself at Min Joon, and the two tussle adorably for a bit.
That is, until Min Joon flips her over and gains the upper hand. Instead of forehead flicks or any other playful punishment, though, he leans in and delivers that deep kiss on her.
YUM. And, rawr.
Sweet / Cute
Despite the very grown-up ages of our OTP – Song Yi is 28, and Min Joon is, well, at least 400 years old – there were many sweet and cute moments between them that felt akin to the kind of cute young love that is more common between teenagers. I couldn’t resist the cute, and lapped it all up, ready for seconds.
Here, I pick just one of my favorite cute moments with our OTP.
In episode 16, Song Yi steps out onto her balcony for some fresh air. On a whim, she quietly calls out in the direction of Min Joon’s empty balcony, “Do Min Joon.”
A moment later, Min Joon comes out onto his balcony and asks, “What?”
Amazed, Song Yi moves towards Min Joon, marveling, “Daebak.”
Min Joon deadpans, “Why did you call me?” and Song Yi, still marveling, explains, “I was testing if you could really hear me.”
“Are you kidding me?” Not amused, Min Joon about-faces and goes back into his apartment.
Left on her own, Song Yi calls out after Min Joon, offering her defense, “Do Min Joon! Do Min Joon! It’s not like that! I didn’t call you to see if you could hear me. I missed you. I called you because I missed you. Huh? I called you because I missed you.”
She gets no response from Min Joon, and Song Yi tsks, “He can’t take it like a man. He’s such a sissy.”
When she turns around, though, Min Joon’s standing right there, still unamused.
Stunned, Song Yi babbles, “Oh my God! How did you? I can’t get used to this.”
Min Joon doesn’t answer her, but grabs her cheeks. “A sissy?” Song Yi protests, “No, I was just saying. Hey! Let go! Let go!” And they circle round and round, with Song Yi flailing ineffectually, trying to grab Min Joon’s cheeks too.
Tee hee. So. Much. Cute.
Spasm of Cute
For those of you hungry for more OTP cuteness, here’s a sampling of adorable for ya:
With the epic, intergalactic scale of our OTP’s relationship obstacles, it’s little wonder that they share many moving moments, particularly as the inevitable looms. I often found myself moved to tears, not only by the love that they have for each other, but also by how deep that love runs, and the sacrifices they willingly make, one for the other.
Can we do it in a month
In episode 16, after an evening where Min Joon uses his powers to make Song Yi’s day particularly enjoyable by helping her win at Go-Stop, the two sit together and chat. As Song Yi snuggles into Min Joon’s shoulder, she starts to muse over what she’d like to do for their couple milestones, like their 100th day, their 1 year anniversary, their 1000th day.
Min Joon asks Song Yi what she’d like to do, and Song Yi rattles the items off, one by one: couple rings and couple Ts, eating at the restaurant at Namsam Tower, leaving a love lock there, eating ice-cream, an anniversary trip.. The list is long.
As Min Joon listens, the tears start to gather in his eyes. He finally turns to Song Yi and says quietly, “Cheon Song Yi, the things you want to do… Let’s do them ahead of time.” … “Let’s do them all within a month.”
Song Yi, confused and worried, starts to ask, “Why? Why in a month?”
Min Joon chokes out haltingly, “I… I am leaving.” With growing concern, Song Yi asks, “What are you talking about? Leave for where? Where are you going?”
Finally, Min Joon answers brokenly, with the tears finally starting to spill over, “Back to where I came from. In a month… I’m leaving to go back to where I came from.” And his tears fall.
Oof. The emotional heft in this scene pretty much took my breath away. Just the way the emotion builds up in Min Joon, as he prepares to tell Song Yi that he has to leave, leaking out as a glimmer of a tear in his eyes, and finally spilling out as his voice breaks with grief as he finally breaks the news.
I felt, in that moment, just how much Min Joon didn’t want to leave, and by extension, just how much Song Yi means to him. That he was helpless to do anything about it, that he couldn’t do anything to protect her and not let her hurt, and how much that hurt him. Just, tears.
I’m not leaving, it’s OK
In episode 17, our OTP spend some alone time in a cabin, just doing couply things, like practice Song Yi’s lines, make coffee, & hold hands. Song Yi clings to Min Joon more than ever, but laughs it off as her strategy to get tired of him faster.
But when she later can’t find Min Joon inside or around the cabin, Song Yi loses it and starts screaming for him frantically.
When Min Joon reappears, asking, “Why are you calling for me?” Song Yi clings to him, and babbles, “You scared me. I thought you left…”
Song Yi continues earnestly, “I have a feeling that you will just go away. What I’m saying is… You can go. But I was afraid that you would leave without saying good bye. I know I’m rational and clean-cut. But if you leave without saying good bye…”
And Min Joon interjects firmly, with this look of resolute assurance in his eyes, “I won’t leave. I’m not leaving you. I’m going to stay.”
Song Yi searches his face, “What do you mean?” And Min Joon continues in that same assured tone, “I’m saying I’m not leaving. Not in a month, or two months later. So… Don’t be anxious.”
Tearfully, Song Yi asks again, “Is it okay for you to not go?”
For just one second, Min Joon averts his gaze, as he thinks back to his strong inkling that if he doesn’t return this time, that he will die.
But then he turns his eyes back to Song Yi and tells her, “It’s fine.”
Still concerned, and still searching, unable to really believe this, Song Yi ventures, “Is it really okay?” And Min Joon gives her the most assuring look ever, and nods.
And then he embraces her, still wearing that look of satisfied, contented resolve.
Oof. I swoon. SO. SO. MUCH.
I am so blown away by how much Min Joon loves her. That he would willingly lay down his very life, if it means that she can have peace of mind. Just, augh. My insides basically imploded from the force and potency of Min Joon’s love.
What I mean is, Go
In episode 19, after days of creating and storing up shared memories, Song Yi snuggles up to Min Joon and asks that he sing her a song, one that will remind her of him for a long, long time.
Min Joon dutifully sings, then turns to Song Yi and gets down on one knee with a ring box in his hand, “Cheon Song Yi. Although I can’t say all the words you would like to hear it’s true that I want to be a part of the future you dream of.”
Song Yi’s eyes fill with tears, “Put it on for me.”
He does so, and Song Yi tearfully muses with a note of finality, “I’m perfectly happy.”
Gazing at Min Joon through her tears, Song Yi begins, “Do Min Joon.” Min Joon answers, smiling, “Yes, Cheon Song Yi?”
“Do Min Joon, whom I love,” Song Yi breathes his name. Amused at her dramatics, Min Joon teases, “What?”
Swallowing her tears, Song Yi finally speaks her heart, “My beloved Do Min Joon. It’s time for us to wake up from this dream. For my sake, exist somewhere. For me, don’t die. Exist somewhere. What I’m saying is, go. To where you were. Back to where you came from. You said that you needed to go back. You said that you would die. You said that it’s already hard. So go.”
Min Joon listens, stunned, tears welling up in his eyes. He starts to protest, “Cheon Song Yi… I already made up my mind. I’m going to stay with you.”
But Song Yi interjects, “And I made mine. If you stay with me and die, then I’ll die with you. Do you know what I mean? I like you much more than you think. The fact that you’re alive somewhere… will help me live. It’s much easier way to know that you are alive somewhere in this world.”
Augh. So, so moving.
I had tears in my eyes watching, with both of them feeling so much in the moment. And this, even though I knew this moment had to be coming. Kudos to the writers, and to both Kim Soo Hyun and Jeon Ji Hyun, for making this moment play out in such a completely moving fashion.
How it ends: The Pain, The Swoon & The Warmth
In the end, how things pan out for our OTP is marked first by pain. And it’s pretty heartwrenching, gutting pain too. Oof. Happily, though, that pain eventually gives way to some serious swoon, before settling into some lovely warmth.
To celebrate this lovely OTP, I’d like to revisit each of those stages in their journey to togetherness.
In episode 21, Song Yi and Min Joon stand on the balcony together and look up at the stars. The comet is approaching, and everyone is out in full force to enjoy the sight.
Song Yi suggests that they wish on a star, and after some mild initial protests, Min Joon acquiesces.
As the much anticipated spaceship enters the atmosphere, Min Joon feels it in his body, and when he looks up, he realizes that his hands are fading out.
As his hands fade back in, Min Joon reaches a hand towards Song Yi, wanting to touch her, but stops, sadness coloring his face. Instead, he turns back to facing the world below him, and, with tears welling up in his eyes, haltingly begins his farewell words to her.
“Cheon Song Yi. My dear Cheon Song Yi. Don’t wear clothes that show off your skin when it’s cold. You’re prettier when you cover up more.”
Tears begin to fall from Song Yi’s eyes, but she doesn’t look up. Min Joon’s voice steadies somewhat, as he continues, “Like I said, no kiss scenes or back-hug scenes. No passionate melodramas. Don’t get sick. And don’t read haters’ comments. Don’t sing and cry alone. Don’t eat alone. Don’t get drunk and go into random houses.”
Song Yi’s tears continue to fall, and she turns away from Min Joon. Min Joon swallows back tears and presses on, “And don’t look at the sky at night and wonder… if it’s this star or that star. You can’t see it from here. But… I’m going to see you every day.”
Min Joon swallows hard and clenches his jaw to keep his lips from trembling too much. “From there. I will watch this place every day, where you live. And I will try to come back every day. I will find a way to stay with you for a long time no matter what. I will do that.”
Min Joon’s voice breaks as the tears finally fall, “But… If… If I… If I can’t make it back…” Min Joon pauses, unable to bring himself to actually say the words. But he finally chokes out, “Then forget everything. Everything.”
Song Yi starts to protest that she could never forget, that she isn’t a fool, but she gets no answer from Min Joon, and when she turns around, he’s gone. She dissolves into sobs, and begs Min Joon to stop kidding around and to come out.
And elsewhere, Min Joon’s entire body fades out and disappears.
Gulp. Sadness and tears.
So much pain on both their parts, in this one moment. Min Joon’s helpless sorrow at leaving Song Yi behind, and Song Yi’s desperate heartbreak at Min Joon’s departure.
3 years later, Song Yi looks radiant in a bare-backed white gown as she walks the red carpet for an awards ceremony.
As the cameras click and flash away, suddenly time freezes. Song Yi doesn’t freeze, though, and in the midst of the crowd, Song Yi is stunned to see him: Do Min Joon.
Not taking her eyes off him for a second, Song Yi begins to move towards him, as he makes his way, assuredly and unhurriedly, towards her.
Min Joon takes off his overcoat and places it gently on Song Yi’s shoulders, then reproaches her mildly, “I told you not to go out with so much skin showing.”
Song Yi doesn’t answer, but reaches up to touch his face, hands trembling and tears threatening to spill over.
Song Yi gasps a little, to realize that the man she sees before her is real. Voice catching in her throat, Song Yi whispers, “Do Min Joon?”
Min Joon wipes away a tear from her eye, “Yes, it’s me.”
Song Yi is still in shock, and Min Joon gently repeats, “It’s me.” Song Yi collapses into him in a hungry embrace, and Min Joon pauses a moment before saying, “I’m sorry. I took too long, didn’t I?”
And Min Joon leans in to kiss her; fully, slowly, & thoroughly.
How breathtakingly epic. And so, so melt-worthy.
It’s too bad that Min Joon’s visit was abruptly truncated, and Song Yi was left with only his overcoat on her shoulders and the memory of his lips on hers.
As our show winds to its end, we find out that Min Joon has now found a new way of coming to Earth, via wormhole, and his attempts have had increasing success. Even though he’s unable to stay for good, his visits have been growing longer and longer, and in the current time, he’s able to stay for a year and two months.
We see our OTP share quiet cozy moments together, just enjoying each other’s company.
At some point, Min Joon disappears again, but this time, Song Yi is calm, knowing that he will eventually make his way back again.
Song Yi addresses us, “Is disappearing without a heads-up difficult to bear with? Of course it is. But it also makes me love him more. Because every moment that we’re together could be our last. And that makes every moment precious.”
We see Song Yi sleep alone at night, and wake to find Min Joon next to her in the morning, looking right at her.
She smiles, and he says, “I’m home.” And she snuggles into his embrace.
Augh. So, so good.
I’m moved to tears all over again, it’s so breathtakingly good to hear Min Joon say those words, “I’m home.” Absolutely, a sweet sound for sore ears.
After all is said and done, it’s true that we don’t actually know what’s going to happen to Min Joon after Song Yi’s lived out her lifetime. Does she get reincarnated again like the show hinted at in the beginning? There are no answers, only a positive hope for the immediate future. And maybe that’s the point. Live for the now.
It brings to mind the moving words that Song Yi says to Min Joon in episode 19:
“Even though I’m anxious that you’ll disappear right away, and even though I’d sell my soul for the time we could be together, if only we could stop time forever… and even though sometimes these feelings are too hard for me and I might wish I hadn’t met you… still, even if I could turn time back, I would meet you again, and I would bicker with you, and I would fall for you, and I would love you.”
I actually really enjoyed the pacing of YFAS. Right away, from episode 1, the show felt engaging and fun, yet had a distinct thoughtfulness about it, which I really liked. Underneath it all, the story was driven more by heart than by logic. Which, I realize, is this show’s strength as well as its downfall. Strength, because this show really did have me by the heart. And downfall, because, well, not everything made sense, y’know?
The nicest thing I can say overall, about the storytelling in this drama, is that it felt organic, like the story was evolving in an organic way. To the point of not feeling entirely consistent, unfortunately.
Here, I do a quick run-down of what I liked about the storytelling in this drama, and some of the accompanying problems and plot holes.
What I liked:
- The show’s got a great way of balancing the different timelines. We often start &/or end an episode with a peek at Joseon-era Min Joon, before segueing back to where we left off in the previous episode. This way, we get to see the past and present unfold at the same time, without having to sit through a chunk of past in order to enjoy and appreciate the story in the present, as we have to do in so many other dramas. (Childhood episodes, anyone?)
- There’s a fun play with chronology that is consistent through the episodes. Many episodes lead us to believe that events unfolded a particular way, usually from Song Yi’s point of view, only to jump back in time either in an epilogue or in a following episode, to show the full scenario, including Min Joon’s point of view. Although this device did seem to be used a little heavy-handedly, the show used it effectively to manage what we knew as an audience, and I thought it was pretty neat.
- The writers worked in great little spots of meta, cameos and even spoofs. Like the Heirs parody in episode 5, which was hi-la-rious! And I love that they brought back Kim Soo Hyun’s MoonSun sidekick Jung Eun Pyo not once but TWICE, in a running gag where he’s a descendant of a long line of real estate agents. Love!
- The stakes ramp up quickly and by episode 5, we have OTP feelings solidifying and related complications setting in. It’s engaging stuff, and Show got me more and more by the heart from that point onwards. By episode 12, I felt like I could hardly breathe, Show had me so good by the heart.
- Noble idiocy is kept to a minimum in our story, in that Min Joon rejects Song Yi for her own good. But the honesty and openness with which our OTP then deal with the impending separation is dignified and matter-of-fact, even amid the tears. This was very refreshing indeed.
Problems & Plot Holes:
- The reincarnation arc, which was the hook at the beginning, got completely dropped by the end. While there are hints that Song Yi is the reincarnation of the Joseon-era Yi Hwa (instinctive tears in her eyes when she sees the hairpin), there isn’t any firm conclusion on that. I would’ve liked to see the show draw some kind of conclusion on that, instead of simply shifting focus and not coming back to it.
- Now that I think about it, Min Joon didn’t actually get to choose whether to go back. When it was time, he disappeared. But I suppose one could argue that he didn’t know that prior either.
- There were a number of plot-holes. Like how did Yoo Ra have that USB recording of her conversation with Jae Kyung’s ex-wife? How would she even meet her, if the ex-wife’s very existence in the hospital is guarded so fiercely?
- Min Joon’s premonitions. Are they actually random? Coz he has premonitions about Yi Hwa, then about Song Yi, then about himself. Is there a link? And why does Min Joon allow the car to hit him, if he knows that it’s coming? With his superpowers, it should have been easy for him to avoid the oncoming vehicle. Does it mean that his powers cannot be used during events shown in his premonitions? The writers are never clear about this, and it feels like a loose end.
- Does Min Joon get a personality transplant in episode 18? It’s so out of character for Min Joon to use his powers recklessly coz of a jerk who’s giving Song Yi’s dad a hard time. And so out of character for him to drink and allow himself to get drunk as well, even if the drink is offered by Song Yi’s dad. It felt like something conveniently shoved in to make possible other plot points in our story, but it honestly didn’t ring true to Min Joon’s personality.
- The evidence, which was the voice pen in the pawnshop. That had been there for ages, likely longer than the pawn’s contractual period. In which case, wouldn’t it have been very possible for someone else to have purchased the voice pen from the pawnshop instead? That.. just didn’t seem like a very safe place to put it, is all I’m sayin’.
THE EPISODE EPILOGUES
OMG I loved – like, really, really LOVED! – the epilogues at the end of each episode.
A friend of mine actually watched the entire drama without realizing there were episode epilogues (I know, how about that, right??), and yet still managed to enjoy the show.
For me, though, these epilogues were often the highlight of the entire episode. Sometimes they were side-splittingly funny. Often, they were illuminating. And they always, always made the episode feel truly complete.
Here, I list just a couple of my favorite epilogue bits.
- E1. I LOVE the comic short at the end, about Min Joon having served 49 years in the armed forces out of the 400 years he’s lived on earth. HAHA. I never saw that one coming, and it made me giggle for a good long while.
- E11. Min Joon freezes time and takes Song Yi’s hand and kisses her, despite having earlier turned her away. And he kisses her knowing full well what kissing her does to him. Ow. My heart. This epilogue made me yearn on Min Joon’s behalf.
- E13. Song Yi screams repeatedly on the mountain top for Min Joon, and we finally see that Min Joon does actually show up on the mountain. He spies her from behind a corner, determines that she’s alright, then grumps that Song Yi gave him a fright with all her fake screams. So cute.
- E15. Min Joon meets Song Yi’s dad in the elevator and tells him that Song Yi misses Dad a lot and that she’d really like it if he was there when she woke up. Plus, Min Joon’s confession to Dad that he likes Song Yi. Awww.
- E18. All the things Min Joon really did, in an attempt at a romantic date. Balloons, flowers, posters, and a ring. The whole works. Which Song Yi never got to see. Oof. The epilogue gets me, almost every time. Min Joon’s backstory – the REAL story – gets told, and it breaks my heart while making it overflow at the same time. Guh.
- E20. Song Yi’s goofy proposal video, and Min Joon’s laughing-crying response. I freaking love Song Yi’s proposal video. And this epilogue totally made me cry. She wants him to smile remembering her. And even though it hurts like crazy to send him away, she does it with a smile, for his sake. Tears.
In the end, despite its flaws, YFAS raises some thought-provoking themes: What does it mean to be human? And what matters more; how long you live, or how you live?
Not everyone loved the ending of this show. Some called the resolution overly convenient. But warts and all, I loved the ending. Sure, there are things glossed over / left unexplained, but it feels emotionally satisfying, and things are tied up more than they are untied, so I’m happy.
More than that, the ending leaves my heart full. Min Joon and Song Yi don’t have all the answers to what lies ahead, but they’re living each moment bravely, wearing their hearts on their sleeves. Not depending on any guarantees.
The final message that this show leaves me with is not only: Savor and treasure the special moments. But also: live life being ready for those special moments.
And that’s not a bad lesson at all.
THE FINAL VERDICT:
Romantic, heartwarming and cracktastic. Definitely recommend.
FINAL GRADE: A+
For those who’ve seen the show, here’re some goodies for ya!
Here’s the uncut extended epilogue that didn’t get to air, but which is soothing fan hearts everywhere:
Here’s a peek at a fan-made “Episode 22” which is cleverly edited and quite perfect, in my opinion: