out the leads is the heroine's childhood friend
Soon-ae (from the orphanage of course!) who also wants
to be a singer. This role is played by perky Do-yeon
Jeon, who became a very successful film and K-drama
actress as well after only a rather small role here.
than the adventures of these four as they strive to
follow their dreams, there is not much of a story.
Yes, there are family secrets and romantic obstacles,
but it never ascends to anything over the top. The
fashion background is fun and the action takes a
detour to Milan, Italy as an additional showcase for
the heroine’s profession. However, the real pleasures
of Star in My Heart rest with its central love
story. There is a great deal of sweetness in the
romance of the poor girl and the rich boy (a timeless
dilemma) and you are caught up in the lives of these
characters simply because they seem quite ordinary and
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 – harrassed 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 fairytale – 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.