Aliens & Romance: How This K-Drama Took Over the World
For the past month, the words that have been on everyone’s lips in Korea have been “Byeoleseo On Geudae.” (My Love From Another Star in English.) This is the name of one of the most popular dramas, which just finished in February. Everyone is talking about it. The show stars Kim Soo Hyun, one of Korea’s current leading male heartthrobs, and Jun Ji Hyun, an equally famous, stunning, female actress. The story is about an alien named, Do Min Joon, who lands on Earth 400 years ago during the Korean Joseon Era. After choosing to live in relative solitude while on Earth and never aging, he finally opens his heart to a top Korean actress who lives next door (Cheon Song Yi). If it sounds weird, just remember that Lost had seven seasons, a smoke monster, polar bears, and time travel. Doesn’t seem so weird now, does it?
Even if the premise may seem odd, it clearly connected with people–lots of people. Almost every girl I talked to in Korea, from age 10 to age 50, told me I had to watch the show. You walk down the street, they’re playing the theme song on the loud speakers outside of phone stores (this is pretty common in Korea). I teach a class about American television at my school and when I asked the students what their favorite TV show was, almost every student said My Love From Another Star. One of the kids in my taekwondo class tried to convince me on Wednesday that he was Do Min Joon. You can buy the clothes and accessories online that the actors wore in the show, which I did (and I’d do it again; I have no shame).
My friend Lish and I marathon-ed the show in a little over a week. We watched some of the first episodes during our lunch hour and then we were addicted–watching-seven-straight-hours-
“Have you seen the article about My Love From Another Star in China?” she asked.
“No…” I answered, wondering what China had to do with our new favorite drama.
“I’m sending you the link,” she answered and turned back to her computer screen.
The article from Jezebel, which I followed to its original source, The Washington Post, reported how the Chinese government had a meeting the first week of March to debate why My Love From Another Star was so much more popular than Chinese dramas. The Washington Post article stated that the show had 2.5 billion online views. Billion! Not million.
I’m not exactly sure about how much the Chinese government is truly concerned about Korean drama popularity, but as both leads, Kim Soo Hyun and Jun Ji Hyun embark on their meet and greets around Asia, it’s clear that there are plenty of people excited to see them. In Korea, it’s difficult to escape their faces, not that you’d want to, as they’re both beautiful. A quick glance around any Korean city and you’ll see Kim Soo Hyun’s handsome little face begging you to buy juice, desserts, baked goods, and outdoor clothing. Jun Ji Hyun implores you to buy makeup and cell phones. It’d be overwhelming if they weren’t so good looking.
In Korea, I can’t say I’m surprised by the show and the actors’ popularity. It is a Korean TV show after all. What I am consistently surprised by is that South Korea, a country relatively the same size as the American state of Indiana, has such a huge influence on global pop culture.
When I asked friends on Facebook, in English and Korean, which K-Drama I should watch next, at least three of my friends from home who have never been to Korea gave me their recommendations. K-Pop stars sell to sold out shows in South America. “Gangnam Style” is the most viewed YouTube video ever, and now 2.5 billion people watch a Korean TV show about an alien falling in love.
While China spends its time trying to figure out why K-dramas are so popular, I’ll spend my time being proud of my second home and start watching another drama. Keep going strong Korean wave!