Shoot For The Star
별을 쏘다 (2002) SBS 16 Episodes
Romantic Comedy, Grade: B+

Korean Drama Review by Jill, USA

A transfixing melodrama disguised as a romantic comedy in its first episode, Shoot For The Star (2002) really surprised me - its fascinating script showcases the most loving brother and sister relationship -- and two of the worst friendship betrayals -- that I've ever seen in any Korean drama. The two main characters start out as: 1) an aimless, unemployed single girl who turns 30 and is still not independent enough to live alone, and 2) a dyslexic young man who is a hotel page but with a burning ambition to become an actor. These two don't exactly seem to be a match made in heaven in the beginning, plus he is seven years younger than she is (which just goes to show that Noona Romances are not exactly a new phenomena in K-Dramaland, this drama came out the same year as Winter Sonata), but when these two people eventually do come together after some necessary growing pains there are sparks of magic flying everywhere! What results is not just a typical romance but an attractive, perfectly sympathetic camaraderie that propels them on to success together as a couple and professional team. Their journey together is spellbinding!

Unlike many first episodes of K-dramas that kind of drag in setting up their stories, the first episode of Shoot For The Star is just plain fun and inviting and wastes no time in setting up its story. It seems light and bright and funny, with no hint of the melodrama that is about to come. It makes you instantly like the characters in the show, who feel like people you could meet in real life. It's helped along by a great original soundtrack, plus some American songs like Dust In The Wind, and another great song I recognized immediately from the 1995 Miyazaki animated short film On Your Mark, sung by Chage and Aska.

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

I didn't know what to expect when I started this Korean drama because I didn't read a synopsis beforehand (good thing too, because a lot of them get it WRONG), but I just dove in because of my faith in its two main stars, Jo In Sung and Do Yeon Jun, feeling confident they would deliver great performances. (This is the early K-drama of Jo In Sung's that his fans should watch instead of that dreadful What Happened in Bali!). He knocks it out of the ballpark with his performance in this show. It was fun seeing all the actors in 2002 when their careers were in the early stages of success. I found myself smiling and even laughing out loud quite a bit at their antics in episode one, and I was hooked, not realizing that the show would suddenly turn very serious by episode two.

Everyone loves a story where people who are down on their luck decide to reach for the stars and actually get to touch them. This is one of those stories. Even the apartment building where they all live is symbolic of reaching for the heights: on the roof hangs a huge billboard shouting out SHOOT FOR THE STARS! Whenever an important landmark event occurs in their lives they meet on the rooftop under the sign and throw balls at the brightest star. 

The characters played by (left to right): Do Yeon Jun, Jo In Sung, Sang Myun Park,
and Jung Soo Byun rejoice in some bittersweet success in episode 9 of Shoot For The Star

The Story: Sora Han (Do Yeon Jun) lives with her wonderful, genuinely kind older brother Ba-dah Han (Sang Myun Park, in an excellent, award winning performance) who supports her because she can't seem to hold a job due to her rather flighty personality and the fact she never finished college. She has one true good friend in hair stylist Mi-ryun Lee (Jung Soo Byun, who played Janice in The Manny). Brother Ba-dah works as a lower level casting manager in the television industry during the day and moonlights at night as a cab driver to pay the bills. He perhaps has a too heightened sense of responsibility where his younger sister is concerned, trying to protect her from the hard knocks of life, but there is no doubt his love for her is genuine. Sora dreams of finding love and getting married so she doesn't have to work or finish college. She does have a crush on a friend of her brother's, a struggling entertainment manager named Do-hun (played by Seo Jin Lee, from Damo and Lovers), and while he seems to care for Sora on the surface there's something about him that just doesn't seem right. We are soon to see how bad a double crosser he can be! 

Do-hun and Ba-dah together manage the budding career of a pretty aspiring actress named Yae-rin (Eun Hee Hong). Ba-dah is not so secretly in love with her, and she seems to care for him ... but we are soon to see how bad a second double crosser
she can be! 

Sung-tae Ku (Jo In Sung) is also drifting rather aimlessly through life, just like Sora, but at least he has a job as a hotel page and can support himself, and he has a dream to become an actor, though his dyslexia prevents him from being able to read scripts.

Fireworks and handsome Do-hun holding her on the beach -
what more could a girl like Sora desire?
Maybe NOT to be around a LIAR and a DOUBLE CROSSER???

On her 30th birthday, Sora and Sung-tae first meet in a hotel where Sora is staying while her brother attends a film festival with Yae-rin and Do-hun. Sung-tae delivers a basket of fruit to her hotel room and she answers the door in a skimpy nightie. They have an immediate spat regarding its delivery and in spite Sung-tae leaves the basket of fruit on the floor and walks away. When Sora goes out to get it later the hotel door slams shut, locking her out. Wearing just her nightie Sora tries to track down a helpful female guest but instead she runs into Sung-tae in a stairwell, who chases her asking her why she is running around the hotel half naked. When he lets her back in her room with a passkey there is a fire in the room because Sora had left the iron on. The fire burns Yae-rin's script and dress for the film festival, Sung-tae puts out the fire, and Ba-dah has an angry fit at Sora. Not an auspicious beginning for Sora and Sung-tae! However, there is a smidgen of happiness for Sora later when at night on the beach Do-hun gives her a birthday gift of a pretty hairpin. She manages to confess to him that she cares for him, and fireworks happen to go off in the distance (but Do-hun neglects to tell her that the hairpin was really chosen and paid for by her brother!).
The day at the film festival also proves to hold a silver lining for Sung-tae because Ba-dah was impressed with him. Later Sung-tae goes to Seoul to track him down, has a drink with him, and Ba-dah begins to wonder if Sung-tae might just be successful as an actor in show business because of his good looks and sunny personality. Sung-tae tells him that he was an orphan and that one of the reasons he wants to become a famous actor is that it might help him track down the foster family who took him in when he was a kid. Ba-dah lets him crash at his apartment. Sora is at first shocked and peeved that her brother would allow this hotel bellboy to sleep at their apartment, so to get even with Sung-tae because of what had happened at the hotel she steals his pants and pushes him out the door on a cold evening, with the result that he is chased by cops who think he's a pervert! Later Sung-tae gets even by constantly referring to Sora as a fat old maid.


The ambitious and questionable Do-hun hears of an opportunity that might make him a CEO of the ailing Power Entertainment company. If he can come up with a certain amount of money to bail the company out he will be made CEO, but he can only come up with $50,000. He lies to his friend Ba-dah and his sister Sora and says he will marry Sora and buy them all a house to live in together. The too trusting Ba-dah hands over his life savings to Do-hun who then puts it into the company instead of a house, and then he refuses to marry Sora! Ba-dah and Sora are heart-stricken at their "friend's" theft and duplicity, and on the sidelines watching is the good-hearted Sung-tae, who weeps for them. They are starting to become like family to him and he takes the betrayal personally. Despite all that is happening to him and his sister, the wonderful Ba-dah continues to be a good friend to the dyslexic Sung-tae and says he will manage his future acting career.

Then Do-hun commits an even worse crime: when Ba-dah confronts him about the evil he has done against him and his sister the two former friends slug it out and Do-hun hits Ba-dah so hard that he falls and cracks his head open against a road barrier. Watching from the sidelines is the actress Yae-rin, who shows her true colors after Do-hun runs away with blood on his hands. She pockets Ba-dah's wallet and later at the hospital she says that he was attacked by a mugger for his wallet, leaving the real culprit, Do-hun, free and clear of any culpability! The reason? She is now able to blackmail Do-hun who is the CEO of the entertainment agency she wishes to join as an actress. Left with no choice, Do-hun brings her into the company and she is able to achieve her first real acting jobs in the industry. Even though they dislike one another intensely Yae-rin makes their relationship physical as well, going to bed with Do-hun when he's in a drunken state. What a conniving little vixen - she has a pure innocent face but underneath she is the biggest conniver you've ever seen!

The doctors tell Sora that Ba-dah will now be permanently brain-damaged. Finally Sora realizes how much her brother had protected her over the years and she determines to grow up and take care of him instead. She gets her first real job and starts earning money to pay the hospital bills. When Ba-dah wakes up in the hospital he at first doesn't remember how he got hurt, which unfortunately buys time for the backstabbing team of Do-hun and Yae-rin.


Shades of Pontius Pilate, hurting an innocent man and then trying to wash the blood away

Sora and
Sung-tae become very close over the tragedy. Sora becomes his manager because Ba-dah is no longer capable of doing the job, and she tries to get him entry level acting jobs, showing him how to use recording devices to memorize scripts by hearing the words instead of reading them. With each small success Sung-tae achieves they become stronger as friends and human beings, cheering each other on constantly. Eventually, however, Sung-tae goes up for acting jobs where he will have to act opposite the treacherous, lying Yae-rin, who is still working with the treacherous, lying Do-hun. While presenting a falsely encouraging face to the fledgling actor, Yae-rin back stabs Sung-tae professionally by having scripts changed at the last moment, knowing Sung-tae can't read due to his dyslexia. "What a B!" I kept yelling at the screen. "When will she ever get her comeuppance???"

Sung-tae at first gets a reputation of running away in the middle of shoots because he becomes flustered due to his hidden disability. But always by his side to help him through the rough patches is his new "family", Sora and the slowly recovering Ba-dah. They find ways to circumvent Do-hun and Yae-rin so that it is no longer easy for them to ruin Sung-tae's acting career. Ba-dah eventually remembers how he was hurt and confronts Do-hun on his treachery, telling him to back off his vendetta against Sung-tae. That only stops the villains for a short time and then they are right back at their evil ways.

The snarky faces of the villains Yae-rin and Do-hun as they plan yet another trap
for Sung-tae to derail his acting career ...
Argh, I wanted to slap both of them to kingdom come!

Sung-tae lands a big role as a villain in a new film and becomes a star, but will he be able to maintain this stardom once the people in the industry finally realize he's dyslexic? Ba-dah encourages him, telling him that if Tom Cruise can achieve his huge acting success, even though he's dyslexic, then so can Sung-tae!

Sweet Ba-dah finds some new happiness with Sora's best friend
Mi-ryun, who is like a second mother hen watching over him during his recovery. Then Sora and Sung-tae finally admit to one another that they are in love, but when Ba-dah finds out he is against it, saying that he doesn't want Sora to get hurt again and that Sung-tae is much younger and will have temptations in future since he's now a star and recognized everywhere he goes. His words seem prophetic because the scheming, malevolent Yae-rin, who still feels compelled to hurt Sung-tae and Sora, entices him to her apartment with lies that she is being stalked, and once he's inside her bedroom she grabs him and kisses him passionately. The flustered Sung-tae, who had once had a crush on Yae-rin, finally realizes that she is dangerous, and he goes running back to Sora. The next day Yae-rin makes a point to tell Sora that Sung-tae had spent the night with her, which is a lie, but it's an incident that Sora can't quite brush off so easily.

By this time I was REALLY ready to see some kind of swift justice befall the evil Do-hun and Yae-rin, but there are still more troubles ahead. Will they ever get their comeuppance? Will Sung-tae's dyslexia ever become known to the public and the people he works with in his profession? Will it risk his success if it does become known? Might he be able to overcome his disability to some extent with more education? Will Ba-dah ever relent and accept the love that Sora and Sung-tae have for one another? Will the industry look with scandalized eyes on a hugely popular star possibly marrying his - gasp! - older manager? Will Sung-tae ever find the foster family he lost track of and wants to be reunited with?

I will reveal one thing more -- it's worth shooting for that star yourself in watching this wonderful K-drama -- to find out! :)

 Buy Shoot For The Star YA Entertainment DVD Boxset on Amazon