Why has My Love from Another Star become such an international hit?
The 21st and last episode of Jeon Ji-hyeon’s return to drama, My Love from Another Star, was broadcast on February 27 on SBS with a 29.6% audience share in the Seoul area. Although it never overcame the 30% threshold (29.9% at the 18th episode) on Korean television, the drama series has enjoyed an amazing success locally and abroad.
Indeed, these past two months, the Chinese press has been all about it as the sales of fried chicken and beer (the lead female character’s favorite meal) have soared impressively and Wang Qishan, China’s anti-corruption chief and Politburo member, mentioned the drama at a session of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), in early March. Wang mainly questioned the possibility for a similarly influential drama to come out of China, reviving debates on censorship on Chinese television and the officials’ conservative attitude towards internet as a tool for soft power. Other impacts of the show include a surge in surgical operations aiming at resembling Jeon Ji-hyeon, the sales of Korean fashion and cosmetics items shown in the drama (Yves-Saint Laurent’s No.52, ShesMiss winter coat) and tourists visiting the famous locations of the show (French culture village in Gyeonggi-do, Petit France, Seoul Tower’s top-floor restaurant, etc.). When Kim Soo-hyun was invited to appear on the popular TV show “Super Brain” on Jiangsu Satellite TV, the channel paid for a chartered flight and extreme security measures and audience tickets rose to 30,000 yuan each.
Bought by HB Entertainment for the Chinese market, My Love from Another Star has been shown on a wide number of Chinese on-demand platforms including Baidu’s iQiyi and LeTV and has gone well over 14.5 billion views since its December 18 debut, with about 2 million viewers daily.
Several factors were evoked to explain the success of the show in China, some shared by fans all around the world:
- An unusual mix of diverse genres including fantasy, romantic comedy, period drama and thriller;
- Hilarious characters supported by a solid acting: quirky and sexy Cheon Song-yi makes an unusual but explosive duo with serious but warm-hearted Do Min-Joon;
- The resurgence of interest in Korean pop culture with PSY’s Gangnam Style, successful local adaptations of popular Korean TV shows (Where Are We Going, Dad?, I am a Singer, Superstar K, Hidden Singer) and other Korean dramas’ success on on-demand platforms such as The Heirs on Youku (900 million views!);
- A catchy soundtrack for which the singer LYn has been praised and invited to sing the now classic ‘My Destiny’ on Chinese television this March 27;
- The pre-existing popularity of actor Park Hae Jin, thanks to previous appearances in two hit Chinese dramas, and actress Jeon Ji-hyeon in Chinese movie Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (2011) starring alongside Chinese star Li Bingbing.
Other factors specific to the Korean drama community were the involvement of successful screenwriter Park Ji-eun (My Husband Got a Family, 2012) and Kim Soo-hyun’s quick rise to stardom thanks to appearances in highly successful dramas (Dream High, The Moon that Embraces the Sun) and films (The Thieves, Secretly Greatly).
As for in the West, the drama has attracted huge interest, most likely for Jeon Ji-hyeon’s fame following My Sassy Girl, but also many other reasons mentioned above. The drama seems to be by far the most popular on Viki with about 90,000 registered fans globally and highest number of subtitle languages available, 69! It also received more than 6,000 reviews on DramaFever U.S. and the first episode currently has 53,000 views on the Korean TV Movie YouTube channel.
My Lover from Another Star is not available in the UK on any legal platform yet except Viki, but that shall happen soon. In the meantime, feel free to watch the trailer on the DramaFever website.