16 January, 2014

You from Another Star: The Small, Warm, Beautiful Things


First things first, I've always wanted a Beauty and the Beast style library - I think I shall have to amend that. I want a library like Do Min Joon's, and can I please have Kim Soo Hyun in it too? ;) Okay, all jokes aside, I really do love Kim Soo Hyun. He is really able to pull off the gravitas of an ajhussi while still maintaining that level of jealous, petty adorableness you wouldn't expect from a "statue of a man". Which really gets us down to to brass tacks - he's an alien, but he sure is becoming more human. And that's what I think this is about - our beloved alien becoming a real human. I think.



I still haven't quite figured out why the other aliens left him behind, hopefully we get some sort of backstory on that. Speaking of which, I am super happy that the drama has been taking its time to unfold Do Min Joon and Cheon Song Yi's backstories. I like how we are getting to know them better as they are getting to know each other better. And as they do, they are exploring the question of what does it mean to be human? What does it mean to love?


We've got the whole scientific and chemical approach that Professor Do Min Joon loves to explicate on. It's almost like he's trying to convince himself that it's all science and chemistry and that he's not in love with someone he met 400 years ago. (I'm not discounting the science because that's a reality in physical attraction, etc.) Also, that class, is it some sort of psychology class? Okay, I'm getting distracted. In my personal opinion, I think that the heart of the drama is really about what it means to be human. I think that Do Min Joon has been grappling with those ideas and feelings for 400 years and thought that by removing himself from any sort of emotional attachment that he could survive his earth sojourn. We're slowly getting to know what makes our alien tick, and I think for all intents and purposes, he's a big softy who really wants to save the whole world, but realizes he can't. I think he also just doesn't want the pain and hurt and vulnerability that he felt when he was first in Joseon when he cared about Seo Yi Hwa. Pretty much is sucks to love someone and then watch them die - particularly when they die saving you. And then the reincarnation (?) of her soul comes back 400 years later and he has to revisit those feelings and realizes that they're not exactly over - however much he's in denial.


In the epilogue section for episode, there's this beautiful scene with Lawyer Jang where Min Joon honestly explicates what his heart has been yearning for: I look back at the past and continuously regret. Not once have I ever lived like the others. Sharing breakfast and dinner with someone; going home to where someone is waiting; expressing sincerely about liking someone. Those things. Humans who don't even live to be a 100 are all doing those things I laughed at. Those small and warm things, the beautiful things of everyday life, I want to do them now. What should I do? [Viki subs]

That's exactly it. What does he do? He tells Lawyer Jang that his heart can't be settled - and what does he do about that? How does he have those "small, warm, beautiful things of life"? In those 400 years, he's only ever had one friend, Lawyer Jang, who is really like his father (and I really loved seeing that little backstory in episode 9 about how he saved Lawyer Jang). And he has held onto the love for Seo Yi Hwa, and now Cheon Song Yi. It's all bubbling to the surface and instead of repressing it this time, he kind of wants to let it go.

I think that Do Min Joon's frustration is warranted - that when he has helped people, he has sometimes made things worse, or not really helped at all, and in the case of Seo Yi Hwa, she dies to save him. All those things are uncomfortable for anyone, let along an alien stranded on earth. He has pretty much had to face philosophical questions, we often face as humans in our short life spans, for 400 years. And perhaps that struggle with those questions, of how to attain those small, warm, beautiful things is the essence of being human. And to quote some William Blake: To see a World in a Grain of Sand/ And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,/ Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand/ And Eternity in an hour./...Man was made for Joy and Woe;/ And when this we rightly know/ Thro’ the World we safely go. [To See a World].


I think we get another glimpse into the question of love and being human with the rabbit story book. Obviously that's got to have some significance somewhere (hopefully we get a bit more backstory about it?) - it definitely had overtones of The Velveteen Rabbit, but not quite. It's called The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamilo, and tells the story of a ceramic rabbit who is lost from his beloved owner, a little girl. The basic premise of the book is to never give up on love - I think that fits nicely with our alien's journey to find love. Edward also learns a lot about humans and love, and that no matter how much you love someone, they might still die (that doesn't necessarily bode well for our story). Other artists, storytellers, etc. have explored this idea, and there's a TED talk or two about being vulnerable and being willing to open one's heart to love. And that is the line that is read from the book as Song Yi reads The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane and falls asleep. Do Min Joon has opened his heart again; he is vulnerable again, and will do everything, I think, to save his love.  



On a not serious note: I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE how Do Min Joon can be all jealous and petty and adorable. He does it so well. And when he stole the heels ㅋㅋㅋ and when she was all like: I can totally get you any style and colour you want *wink wink* - if you're into that - ㅋㅋㅋ that just made me crack up. I also just love all Kim Soo Hyun's exasperated expressions. They're so ajhussi-like that it's hilarious. He's just so good at it. And he's gorgeous to boot and has a lovely voice. I have a thing for voices I am learning.


With the whole dish breaking, vacuuming and destroying the vase (yeah, could see that a mile away), that was hilarious. I also didn't mind the back hug fanservice, which was delightfully cute, awkward, and just plain funny. Kim Soo Hyun and Jun Ji Hyun have lovely chemistry and they play off each other so well. (Though I think The Thieves kiss was better than our episode 8/9 one). I also really loved the scene when he saved her car from hurtling off the cliff. (It's the same cliff where Seo Yi Hwa died to save him, right?). Which brings me to another thought. He hears her. He really hears her. He hears her obviously when she's shouting for help - and I love that she calls for him as if she knows that he can save her - but he also hears her hurts and her heartaches (through the walls with his super-hearing of course) - but it is enough for him to feel compassion for her (I love when he makes the bratty student's cellphone fall to the ground). I also love when he saves her from the reporters and fritzes all their cameras, and when he meets serial killer hyung at the bottom of the elevator and threatens him right back. Yup. I pretty much am in love with Do Min Joon. Oh, and all his investments; that montage was really great. I really just love this show so much! Though my heart did hurt at the ferris wheel scene, oh my poor Do Min Joon - his heart was just hurting so much! And it was so lovely to see his relief she Song Yi later said she turned Hwi Kyung down. *sigh* I think I will have to rewatch all the episodes again - oh wait, I've already started to do that ;) Jun Ji Hyun is also drop dead gorgeous and pulls the most hilarious faces as well. I really do like this cinematic pairing quite a bit just for the lovely comical things they do with each other.

Another scene that I absolutely adored was the mahjong sceneㅋㅋㅋ and Lawyer Jang totally got a kick out of that one as well. Do Min Joon is really such an adorable ajhussi-alien. I am also really excited to see what happens as we see more of the backstory with Lawyer Jang, and I just love their whole interaction. Kim Chang Wan is one of my favourite father figure actors. I also love Uhm Hyo Sup, who is playing Song Yi's dad. Kim Hyun Soo is also doing a fabulous job as the young Song Yi and Seo Yi Hwa. Actually, the whole supporting cast is pretty fabulous in fact and I am just enjoying the drama whole-heartedly. Well...there are a couple of things...


The "be mean to the loved one to drive them away" is one my least favourite in K-drama, especially when it drives them into the reach of psychotic, serial killers who are trying to kill you and and everyone you love. I was really not happy to see that surface in episode 9. Argh! And yeah, I am pretty creeped out by the whole serial killer hyung guy, but a good villain is a good thing to have I think. And the whole Se Mi-Hwi Kyung love mess is not quite irritating yet, but it could get there.


Oh, some other things I like. I really like Song Yi's backstory and her daddy issues. (I also love her more when she's being serious - though the whole sleeping bag entrapment was pretty fabulously hilarious) I love how her cluelessness might actually be a mask to her true self - the one deeply hurt and desperate for love and acceptance for who she is. Am I reading too much into it? Of course the whole: "If you love me, don't leave me" daddy issue was bound to come up and it's pretty dang effective in this case because Min Joon's supposed to be leaving in 3 months. I wondered a little when in episode 9 Lawyer Jang asked him if he had to go, and if he could stay, whether or not he really has to go. Does he have a choice to stay? And ultimately wouldn't be want to be human if he stayed? (I am guessing the feeling the cold more, and the illness attack etc. might be the processes where his body is turning human?). And I wonder how his fate of saving her over and over again ties in. Is it about saving him by helping him to love? Or what's the deeper purpose here? Let's just hope that if he does become human, that he doesn't die to save Song Yi.


◀ Another Year of K-drama: Sort of a Liebster

15 comments:

  1. I'm here, I'm here!! :D I inhaled all my available eps of YFAS, and from being epically behind, I'm now waiting impatiently for this week's eps to come out! Mini marathons rawk. Especially with a show like this one!


    I am so, so pleased with this show so far! It's cracky in the best ways, and I particularly love the characterization of our OTP.. Both Min Joon and Song Yi are so lovably flawed, each boasting multiple layers and facets, and they both feel like real people. Well, except for the part where Min Joon's an alien, heh.


    I'm wondering how the show's going to get us to a happy ending though (there's GOT to be a happy ending, right??), coz our central romantic conflict feels so big. How does an alien live happily ever after with a human? Gah. I really hope this show doesn't turn around and break my heart. Eep.

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  2. I'm so glad you've caught up! (And read this post) I totally agree that mini marathons are awesome ^^


    I think that is what I'm loving as well - they're both so flawed and have so many layers that the show is in no rush to peel away. There are still a bunch of backstory elements that have yet to be revealed, and I really like that. (I am also glad that Hwi Kyung seems to be a little wary of his serial killer hyung).


    I have been thinking about how the show could give us a happy ending - and I don't want some Rooftop Prince nonsense (though over time I've been able to have that work out in my heart). Here are some scenarios I've thought of:


    (a) Somehow he becomes human and can stay on earth. This might cause problems though because he might end up dying to protect her (which could happen without him becoming human). Sort of like the bookend of her dying in Joseon times to protect him.
    (b) He could become human and stay and it all ends happily.
    (c) He could stay an alien and they could be happy and then she gets old and dies and he has to wait for another reincarnation of her - that could be quite sad and tragic but still have some happy elements.


    I am sure there are more I could think of, but I haven't yet ^^ Also, there was that hint that Song Yi really doesn't like the Joseon times, but hasn't figured out why yet. I wonder if that's something that is going to come up again. And she also felt so sad when she saw the jade hairpin. I am wondering how much of a reincarnation she is and how much she will "remember". The whole reincarnation storytelling element gets as complicated as time travel in my opinion. I guess we'll just have to wait and see ^^

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  3. Ooh.. Ok, I would buy (b) or (c). I don't think I would like (a) very much, even though I can see the poetic statement with the bookending.

    Actually, you're so right about the reincarnation element. They haven't made it a big thing, but it's definitely there. So.. eventually we are going to confirm that Song Yi is Yi Hwa, I'm sure. In a world where reincarnation happens, then it (c) kinda makes the most sense. He loves her enough to love her for eternity. Even if it means waiting around between reincarnation cycles for her. Omona. The epicness of that love just got me in the gut. ❤

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  4. Yeah...but I don't want that epicness! I want him to human and grow old with her, and then find her every life cycle over if we're going to go with the reincarnation theme. ^^ I can still totally see (a) happening though - making us cry tragically. It's not like drama hasn't done it before...which sometimes works and sometimes doesn't.

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  5. NooooOOOOooo~~ No bookending!! No dying!! D: I can take that kind of ending in principle, but I think this show doesn't need it. I fully accept bittersweet endings for shows like Tree, or Chuno, or Gaksital, where it's more about having a higher purpose. But YFAS? I want my romance!!


    And yes, I think your option (d) sounds excellent too, coz if he's human, he won't get deathly ill every time they kiss.. and THAT is very important!! It would be pretty sucky to love your girl for eternity and wait around for her between reincarnation cycles, only to be unable to kiss her when she IS around..! >.<

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  6. Oh yes, please. I do think the public support for this show is pretty strong. And ratings are very good. I think we are well-positioned for happy and cuteness and little Min Joon/Song Yi babies! :D

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  7. ㅋㅋㅋ Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeessssss!!!!!!!!!

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  8. Hello, I'm a new reader of your blog. And I just want to say that I enjoyed your commentary. :)


    "I am guessing the feeling the cold more, and the illness attack etc. might be the processes where his body is turning human?" - THANK YOU! I couldn't put it to words but that's what I've been thinking for the past few episodes, too! If that will be the ending, I think I'll be quite happy with this series. ^^

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  9. I'm hoping for a long and happy life, too! I just really want Do MinJoon's dream to grow old with Cheon SongYi to happen. And that's only possible if he becomes human. </3

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  10. Me too! I am a little afraid though that was just to placate us. I think I am also trying not to get my hopes up...that way it will hurt less if we don't have a happy ending ;) Here's to hoping!

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  11. This Drama is cool .

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  12. I'm so glad you've caught up! (And read this post) I totally agree that mini marathons are awesome ^^


    I think that is what I'm loving as well - they're both so flawed and have so many layers that the show is in no rush to peel away. There are still a bunch of backstory elements that have yet to be revealed, and I really like that. (I am also glad that Hwi Kyung seems to be a little wary of his serial killer hyung).


    I have been thinking about how the show could give us a happy ending - and I don't want some Rooftop Prince nonsense (though over time I've been able to have that work out in my heart). Here are some scenarios I've thought of:


    (a) Somehow he becomes human and can stay on earth. This might cause problems though because he might end up dying to protect her (which could happen without him becoming human). Sort of like the bookend of her dying in Joseon times to protect him.
    (b) He could become human and stay and it all ends happily.
    (c) He could stay an alien and they could be happy and then she gets old and dies and he has to wait for another reincarnation of her - that could be quite sad and tragic but still have some happy elements.


    I am sure there are more I could think of, but I haven't yet ^^ Also, there was that hint that Song Yi really doesn't like the Joseon times, but hasn't figured out why yet. I wonder if that's something that is going to come up again. And she also felt so sad when she saw the jade hairpin. I am wondering how much of a reincarnation she is and how much she will "remember". The whole reincarnation storytelling element gets as complicated as time travel in my opinion. I guess we'll just have to wait and see ^^

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  13. I am in complete agreement with you!!! Pretty much no physical contact of any kind really except for hugging. I am pretty sure that would drive me mad in the end. *keeps fingers crossed they won't go all melo on us*


    This might be one of those cases where public support of the drama might force them to have a happy ending...muahahahaha, which is kind of of funny because sometimes I am totally against that. In this case though, I WANT HAPPY and I WANT CUTENESS and adorable little Min Joon/Song Yi babies!!!!!!!!

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  14. Welcome Janey! I just hope that if he does turn human that he doesn't die while trying to save her or something like that! I think I would cry too much from a broken heart if that were to happen T T They need to live a long and happy life filled with adorable moments and cute babies.

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