demure but determined Yun-hee is a likeable heroine
who stands on her own two feet and wants to succeed on
her own merits. Although she is a “Cinderella” of
sorts – harassed by her nasty adoptive mother and
sister -- Yun-hee does not tolerate being
disrespected and has a solid sense of self. When
her adopted brother makes an unwanted move on her, she
takes charge to extricate herself from the situation
and faces life on her own. Meanwhile, her mother and
sister resent any happiness coming her way, and try to
undermine her. Min-hee’s wealthy father (Ji-myung Oh)
also disapproves of his son’s romance and does what he
can to discourage it. He thinks his son can do better,
but the two young people fall in love anyway.
are also interesting subplots involving the
Korean-Italian fashion photographer Sophia (played by
Jin Shil Choi in a distinctly sexy performance) who is
Joon-hee’s first love, as well as a mystery
surrounding Min-hee’s biological mother. These
elements add layers and conflict to the two young
men’s personalities though the story lines are never
fully explored or resolved.
performances here are – well, endearing is probably
the best word to describe them. The actress Jin-sil
Choi is extremely appealing in Star in My Heart.
This pretty, animated actress with a glowing smile led
a troubled personal life and later tragically commit
suicide. I learned about her fate after viewing the
drama and that knowledge definitely adds a special
poignancy to seeing her fresh and pretty in this role.
Tragedy seemed to follow her even after her death, as
her manager, brother and ex-husband also committed
suicide shortly thereafter. It is quite incongruous to
think of what befell Jin-sil Choi viewing her glowing
and unspoiled performance in this role.
Ahn (who recently did a cameo in the drama Faith)
is both sexy and sweet, and has a fine voice
performing the songs in the series. His performance
here boosted his career as a music pop star in Korea,
and he has since performed in musicals on stage there
(including Guys and Dolls; I am assuming he
was a terrific Sky Masterson). He is incredibly
charming, kind of a Korean James Dean, but more gently
rebellious and definitely more suave.
I noted earlier, Star in My Heart was a drama
that further established the appeal of the K-drama
worldwide. Today it all might seem rather quaint in
light of much more inventive and action-filled sagas,
but that is part of its appeal. It offers a glimpse
into some genuine star power and charisma for actors
early in their respective careers, and has great music
(as does nearly every drama I have ever watched – the
tunes are uniformly addictive in these shows!).
You might say that Star in My Heart was a
precursor of later music oriented K-dramas like Boys
over Flowers, Dream
Beautiful, focusing on the performers as
well as the story.
If you’re looking for light, romantic
escapism and a modern fairy tale – and a drama where you
won’t have to do any serious crying – I highly recommend
the old-fashioned charm of Star in My Heart.
Star In My Heart
- Addendum Review by Jill
There isn't much I
can really add to friend Alison's excellent review
of this classic Cinderella tale K-drama series Star
In My Heart (1997) except to say that I
watched it more seriously a second time after seeing
the late lead actress Choi Jin Sil in the 2005
blockbuster hit My
Rosy Life, and developed a new
appreciation for her acting talents while going back
and re-examining this earlier drama, which got even
higher ratings (though both are in the top 30
K-drama ratings of all time). I also feel like going
back and re-watching her very last drama made in the
year before her suicide, the ominously titled The
Last Scandal Of My Life.
It's nice to see Choi Jin Sil young and fresh here
in the 1997 drama but even MORE amazing to watch her
Rosy Life eight years later
when she was more mature and had to play an
extremely difficult role of a cheated upon wife who
discovers she has terminal cancer. She was an
amazing, natural actress, and if you watch her
dramas you will fall in love with her and never
forget her. When I think of all the excellent dramas
we no doubt missed because she tragically committed
suicide in 2008 I become doubly sad at the waste.
Even in the first episode of Star
In My Heart you can see the typical formula
that K-drama writers have used since they first
started making television shows: 1) You have an
evocative opening sequence with haunting music, 2)
You see a wholesome heroine with a good heart (often
an orphan) getting ready to make her own way in the
world, 3) You see her suffer the slings and arrows
of outrageous fortune which makes you sympathize
with her, 4) You see her meet two very handsome
fellows and begin to wonder whom she will like more,
5) You see the actress has one best female friend
who always has her best interests at heart, 6) You
see the lead actress able to play a dual role, 7) You see that one
character or more are artistic or musical souls,
or take an interest in fashion, and against all
odds they make a success at the career.
Heck, all seven of these plot angles exactly
fit the hit 2015 K-drama Mask,
with Soo Ae! (and probably many others as well).
Still I give this drama a B+ because of Choi Jin
Sil. It was huge delight to watch her again. I miss
her. A lot.