Byoreseo on Geudae

Tagged: TV

["You Who Came From the Stars"]. Television series (2013-2014 South Korea; vt My Love from the Star). SBS. Directed by Jang Tae-yu. Written by Park Ji-eun. Cast includes Park Hae-jin, Yoo In-na, Jun Ji-hyun and Kim Soo-hyun. 21 episodes. Colour.

Crashlanding on Earth in the year 1609, the Alien Do Min-joon waits in vain for a means of escaping. With a human form that is permanently handsome, youthful and invested with Superpowers, he switches his identity every decade or so, to avoid anyone discovering his Immortality. In the modern era, in which he is posing as a college professor, he determines that a passing Comet will present him with the opportunity to finally escape Earth, only to fall in love with local girl Song-yi (Jun) three months before the appointed day of departure.

Like many Korean dramas, most notably Goong (2006), Byoreseo on Geudae subverts the original uses of its genre trappings in search of yet another excuse for gushing teenage romance, set within the Clichés and accoutrements of high society and conspicuous consumption. The speculative fiction in the series has less to do with visitors from outer-space than the wish-fulfilment that the girl or boy next door will turn out to be rich, famous, beautiful, and available. The leading couple are less star-crossed lovers than they are society royalty: an impossibly handsome, vulnerable academic, and his misunderstood, lonely-but-beautiful celebrity paramour.

The series achieved impressive ratings in its native South Korea, peaking at 28.1% for its final episode, but achieved a more noteworthy media footprint in China, where its cumulative downloads amounted to 14.5 billion views. It gained critical and popular praise not only for the presence of its genre elements, but for their implementation, HD filming having permitted numerous bullet-time effects and digital manipulations. Ironically, considering the storm over genre programmes in modern China (see Huang Yi), the element of very slow Time Travel permitted by the lead's immortality, and the implied Reincarnation of his seventeenth-century love in twenty-first-century form, seems to have passed without comment. Instead, its popularity opened new dialogue within the Chinese television industry over the secrets of its success, albeit with its sf leanings only one of the mooted possibilities. Meanwhile, in a market of declining consumption amid fears of the H7N9 bird flu, the Chinese poultry industry enjoyed new highs thanks to the heroine's oft-professed love of chicken and beer. [JonC]

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