“It takes some intelligence and insight to figure out you’re gay and then a tremendous amount of strength to live it and live it proudly.”–Jason Bateman
I’m a huge fan of Korean dramas and as such catching the premiere of fresh shows is always high on my list. There is something truly phenomenal about their storytelling, cinematography and intelligent casting that sets the parameters too high. I had just finished watching the popular Korean Fantasy “Tale of the Nine Tailed Fox” when I saw the promotion cards for the upcoming Korean BL “To My Star”. I was pleasantly surprised because both the actors had played supporting roles in the aforementioned drama and I distinctly remembered admiring Kim Kang Min’s handsome looks.
Likewise, I was totally excited with this announcement and religiously followed the show’s Instagram accounts to keep a tab on their pre and post-production stages. There wasn’t much fan-service because this couple is pretty low-key. When the show premiered to high expectations, it drew alot of attention due to the intriguing characters that pique your curiosity. I won’t say that I was hooked right off the bat, but I wasn’t disappointed either. Let’s review this show and I will let you know why “To My Star” is one of my favorite Korean BL till date!
An uptight tsundere Chef coincidentally ends up bunking with an eccentric celebrity and love blossoms in an unusual manner! Actor Kang Seo Joon is facing a severe backlash due to an untoward incident and negative public opinion forces him to seek refuge at his CEO Kim Pil Hyun’s apartment. The only glitch is that the apartment is already rented by the introvert Chef Han Ji Woo. Left with no other option, both are forced to act as roommates and the resulting oddities bring them closer. However, things gets complicated when Ji Woo is faced with an unexpected roadblock and decides to end their relationship. Will Kang Seo Jun give up on the love of his life and walk away? Or will he fight against the recurring negative forces to stand beside Ji Woo?
The Contrasting Main Leads
To My Star is distinctly different in its approach, as compared to the preceding Korean BL’s. The difference stems from the intriguing categorization of the main leads. Both of them are from different worlds and yet when they meet, the universe explodes with euphoria. Actor Kang Seo Joon is extremely carefree, prone to being embroiled in countless scandals and his “Mouth Filter” is permanently out of order. He randomly sprouts nonsense without worrying about the consequences. That’s the general perception about most actors-that they are self-centered, egoistic or careless.
But Son Woo Hyun’s Kang Seo Joon is invariably deviant from the norm. He is entirely humane and also humble. Although he tries to solve most of his problems with money, the underlying issue doesn’t lie with his thinking. Most of the people in Seo Joon’s life have only expected monetary gains from him and not his affections. So when he meets the introverted Han Ji Woo, who doesn’t care much about his money, Seo Joon is intrigued. He is drawn to Ji Woo’s utterly calm demeanor and uptight attitude. Ji Woo is like an extinct species that has gone missing and Seo Joon feels the persistent need to dissect his intricacies apart. Obviously this results in high tension between our main leads, specifically because Ji Woo’s quiet structured life is toppled by Seo Joon’s eccentric habits. Co-existing in the same space becomes difficult since Seo Joon keeps pushing on Ji Woo’s boundaries and Ji Woo raises the height of his inner walls even taller.
Understanding Each Other’s Quirks
Even though Ji Woo has plenty of reservations when it comes to Seo Joon, the fact remains that he is extremely caring and kind-hearted. Seo Jun might act childish, but he hyperventilates, whenever he hears loud sounds. This in turn triggers Ji Woo’s protective instincts and brings them closer. Although he keeps Seo Joon at an arm’s distance, Ji Woo can’t help but worry about him. Taking care of Seo Joon becomes an uphill task when our bored celebrity decides that he needs to work as an Assistant at Ji Woo’s restaurant. Seo Joon realizes that the only way to befriend his mysterious roommate is learning his art. So while bartering about the tricks of his trade, Seo Joon slowly draws Ji Woo out of his shell. He takes him to his favorite spots and watching them enjoy a casual match of basketball is so endearing. Because that’s the “Moment” where they click. It is evident in the smiles on Ji Woo’s face because he realizes that finally he has someone to share his joys and sorrows. It’s nothing permanent and yet their relationship transcends into unknown territory. I just love how carefully this love story is scripted, with variant layers added on. Both the main leads are extremely flawed and imperfect, but together they are “Perfect for Each Other”.
The Perceived Intimacy and Domesticity
This couple is drawn to each other because of the difficulties they have endured in their life. While Seo Joon has a constant battle with the paparazzi who violate his privacy, Ji Woo is used to keeping his emotions bottled up. Totally opposite and yet somehow they manage to fill the blanks in each other’s lives! Seo Joon colors Ji Woo’s extremely dull life with excitement while Ji Woo becomes his safety blanket and offers him a sense of security. These are two individuals who have always faced the hurdles in their life on their own. Seo Joon’s parents abandoned him and he still has emotional scars that need healing. Ji Woo on the other hand has spent his entire lifetime caring for himself and hates when people pity him.
Seo Joon yearns for care, affection and most of all attention. Like Ji Woo often mentions, Seo Joon is an overexcited puppy and the resemblance is uncanny. The one thing that I loved about this show is the unusual portrayal of the main lead’s domestic life. So although it might seem annoying, Seo Joon’s obsessive need to pop Ji Woo’s zits is just a part of his quirky nature. Our endearing celebrity might sound weird but that’s how he is and with time, you learn to appreciate his brutal honesty. Ji Woo on the other hand might seem guarded when it comes to others. But once he accepts his feelings, Seo Joon becomes the centre of his universe. So while the other Korean BL’s ended with half-baked confessions and awkward liplocks, “To My Star” raised the bar by actually showcasing the happy couple’s odd sense of domesticity. It could be the scenes where they are working together in the kitchen or while Ji Woo clips Seo Joon’s nails, this mini-drama displayed a poignant intimacy that spells reality. This is how most couples are, they could hereto or homosexual, but each of them are characterized by their own habits and behaviors as well as adjustments which spill into their daily lives.
Heartbreak and Backstabbing
Seo Joon and Ji Woo’s love story wasn’t an easy journey. While Seo Joon had to jump through various loopholes to earn Ji Woo’s affections, Ji Woo’s close friend and Boss, Kim Hyung Ki betrayed their trust. Caught unaware, Ji Woo chooses to break off with Seo Joon because he can’t stand the deception. He understands Seo Joon’s pain and although he is hurting, Ji Woo doesn’t want others to take advantage of the person he loves. So while he grudgingly calls Seo Joon’s attempts to get past his barriers as “Disgusting”, it isn’t Internalized Homophobia. Ji Woo might have been confused in the beginning and even afraid, but he has never felt disgusted of Seo Joon’s actions. Seo Joon realizes the same and for Ji Woo’s sake, brokers a deal with Hyung Ki. You can see the difference in his behavior because his actions were severe while dealing with Yang In Woo (Seo Joon’s close friend who sabotaged his reputation). As against that, Seo Joon deals mildly with Hyung Ki despite the betrayal, because Hyung Ki is still Ji Woo’s friend.
“If it’s hard for you, I’ll come to you.”
While Ji Woo is still grasping onto the last vestiges of his lies, Seo Joon surprises him with this sudden declaration and a kiss. Both are unexpected and the way Seo Joon holds onto Ji Woo’s hand solidify his bold decisions. He isn’t afraid of the consequences and as long as they can stay together, Seo Joon is ready to face the world. It was painful watching Ji Woo break down into tears as he battles his inner demons. That’s why Seo Joon bridges the distance between them and acknowledges their relationship. Since Ji Woo is afraid, Seo Joon would always hold onto his hands and never let go. Beautiful and simply daring!
It has been two weeks since this show ended and I still haven’t gotten over the “Feels”. Frankly, I wasn’t expecting any kind of intimacy while the show’s production house were promoting the show. My only reason for watching this show was Kim Kang Min, because I loved his character in the “Tale of the Nine Taled Fox”. So I was sceptical about the storyline as well as the intimacy between the main leads.
“Never Judge A Book By Its Cover”, because this show has single-handedly redefined the boundaries of Korean BL and set such high standards that I will be judging the upcoming Korean BL’s on the same scale. I’m also secretly hoping for a Second Season of this drama because the show’s producers have been ardently advertising the main couple’s offscreen camaraderie as well. To My Star’s Movie Version is set to be released on March 5, 2020 in the following Korean streaming platforms: Netflix, Wavve, Tving, Naver Series On, KT Seezn and LG U+. Hoping that we get some more positive news in the future. Fingers Crossed!
Rating- 4 out of 5
Right now, I’m leaving you guys here with these adorable pictures of our sweet couple!