A very large middle ground exists between passionate romantic love and no affectionate feelings at all. Teacher Kang-Seok (played by Kim Ji-suk) wants a girlfriend. Salarywoman Ha-Jin (played by Jung So-min) wants a boyfriend. But they seem to have trouble deciding how much trouble they're willing to go to get it. Rather than having a relationship based on respect, their courtship oftentimes feels like one based on desperation.
In essence, they're breaking all the rules of how to appear "attractive". Neither character makes exceptional efforts to make themselves seem witty or amazing, mainly because they don't really know how. Our two leads are attractive young people to be sure, but their muted personalities and general shyness are surprisingly appropriate and human. It is extremely easy to empathize with them on a basic level, because their main fear is looking foolish.
It's a sad irony, of course, that every time one or both of these lovers decides to let their guard down something funny happens- always at their expense. It's never much fun to be humiliated publically, or even just in front of one other person. But it's a social survival mechanism. I really enjoyed how, while neither of these characters have any particularly severe problems emotionally or otherwise, there's still the lingering issue of how much they're willing to show of themselves, when public image feels so important, even in the midst of emotional unsatisfaction.
The way this drama progresses, particularly toward the ending, has that same strong tone of people not being sure whether or not they're making good decisions and equivocating on them. The final conflict which decides whether the relationship will continue or end is a fairly mild one in terms of narrative spectacle- but it is an uncomfortably real one of emotional intimacy and patience for which there's really no good answer. Nobody likes to admit it, but a desire for a romantic relationship is basically a selfish one, and they're usually ended on the same terms.
The result is rather bittersweet. "Drama Special - Come To Me Like A Star" is a quality production- it has good jokes, and excellent taste in music. But all of this works to underscore that however beautiful a situation may seem, and however much we may want it to adhere to happier romantic comedy cliches, the reality of a romantic relationship is a difficult one. It can simultaneously be the most wonderful thing in the world yet still feel like a personal threat to self-identity. This is an enormously effective drama, and I can't recommend it highly enough.
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Drama Special - Come To Me Like A Star""
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