An Ode to the Perfection of Jeon Ji Hyun in You From Another Star

The entertainment world naturally has its bifurcated acting system. Movie stars rank highest on the totem pole while the drama/television stars don’t command nearly the same level of clout in the industry. Some straddle both worlds on a regular basis but when a A-list movie star heads back to television there is always the rubbernecking interest on whether the fame transcends mediums as well as an eye for selecting the right project. A-list starlet Jeon Ji Hyun‘s first return to dramas in 14 years has been nothing short of a masterful success. You From the Star is a ratings winner from day one and its entertaining popcorn cheesiness with a side of sly humor makes for one easy watch. The drama is still a cauldron of wacky tonal shifts from screwball alien-human comedy to sociopath-on-the-loose murder thriller. Not that watching cackling villain Jae Kyung isn’t entertaining in a Dr. Evil in Austen Powers sort of way, but his story is clearly shoehorned in as the antagonist to put the two leads in constant danger. The entire murder and cover up is so over-the-top and the investigation hamfisted to drag out the danger element and ultimately I don’t think this story needs it since the very premise of an alien who is about the leave Earth falling in love and struggling with whether to stay or good is pretty darn good angst enough.

My gripes with the story construct aside, it’s Jeon Ji Hyun’s performance as Hallyu superstar Chun Song Yi that remains a revelation of charismatic acting and a wonderfully written character. Song Yi is the heart and soul of this drama for me and Jeon Ji Hyun more than proves her movie fame isn’t overrated in the least. Her meltdowns are epic and hilarious and her heartbreak moments raw and stirring. I’m still having a tough time connecting with Kim Soo Hyun’s stiff acting in this drama or his alien character Do Min Joon but there is no need to hash into it since it hardly distracts from my appreciation for Song Yi. Jeon Ji Hyun makes all these myriad of faces that deserves to be immortalized as how to act animated without being cartoonish. She is a pure and unfiltered delight to watch in YFAS and singlehandedly makes this drama for me despite me finding everything else mediocre – poorly written one-note supporting characters, uneven directing and spastic tonal shifts, and a howlingly bad OST. I used to have merely a fondness for Jeon Ji Hyun (after she did Daisy with my I Lub You) but now it’s a full blown “we are not worthy” salute to her existence to shine light on us mere mortals with her ability to entertain. Check out some of her “girl with a thousand faces” below along with clips of the best scenes in the recent episodes of YFAS.

The magic charm of Cheon Song Yi:

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An Ode to the Perfection of Jeon Ji Hyun in You From Another Star — 46 Comments

  1. I am obsessed. I hardly get why this is such a crack drama for me – for all the reasons that Capt k stated with the haphazard storyline, odd tonal shifts etc. But CSY is such a delight and feels so real in a way that I haven’t really felt for any character in a long time, least of which is a character that is a hallyu superstar. I absolutely love her here… Great role for her. She really goes to town with her character and she definitely has won me over. I actually like the balance between CSY and DMJ – I think that is one part of SY’s appeal – the way that she reacts and acts towards him. I just have to find out what happens to them. Yesterday’s episode was lots of sadness, with a touch of giggles. I hope they can be happy sometime in the future, this OTP.

    JJH – thanks for such an awesome ride so far. Yo

    • I get you — for many of us its crack too despite knowing how flawed and narratively lacking it is. I love the otp and of course when you love the otp nothing else really matters you just go along for the ride.

  2. Yeah to all the flaws you mentioned. I feel like jae Kyung is the most misplaced character ever, and the alien premise is more than enough to work with imo. Hopefully they can solve that plot and focus on the alien dilemma and his returning home in the last stretch of the drama.
    I actually like the ost except for maybe the syrupy sweet destiny — but that hasn’t been overplayed since k.will and hyorin have lended their voices to the osy. Hyorin has a sweet voice herself, her song suits this romcom.

    I feel like we keep repeating ourselves when we say jeon ji Hyun is perfection but she is.

    • I feel like she deserves all the praise and I’ve never seen such a variety of facial expressions in one sitting alone. Part of it has to do with how awesome her character is, but I think most of it has to with jeon ji Hyun adding oomph and bringing life to this character. I wonder how much is really tweaked, adlibbed, or her ideas.
      she just became my fav kactrss within a matter of one kdrama role.
      even some of my favorites (ha ji won, son ye Jin, moon char won) had to prove themselves in various roles. Jeon ji Hyun is sorta like love at first sight.

      • I think the first time I love her acting is in The Thieves, but after YFATS, I’m crazy about jeon ji hyun.
        Her Chun Song Yi just pure awesome. And its true, while MK have a solid cast and script, YFTAS have Jeon Ji Hyun to raise it high, and I only need her to watch its entire run

  3. Have so much respect for Jeon Ji Hyun now as an actress! I think for someone who was labelled as a CF actress before, she has in the recent years tried her hardest to shed that image (and was successful) from The Thieves to Berlin File, where she was good with her subtle and nuanced acting. Then now playing Cheon Sun Yi, she’s giving it her all. For a really top A-lister, she doesn’t half-assed her way towards a paycheck, and kudos to her. 🙂

  4. I totally agree! I am absolutely blown away by her. I am trying to come up with a Hollywood analog for her ability to be both hilariously funny and heart wrenching. I can’t really come up with one at the moment. She really is in a class by herself. To do comedy like Lucille Ball and then turn around and pull my heart out like Meryl Streep is really amazing. And then she is breathtakingly beautiful on top of it all! She is definitely the total package and deserves any praise she gets and more! This drama has increasingly become the Jeon Ji Hyun Show and I am totally ok with that!

  5. JJH is perfection, in how she evolved her career. She hit it big early, but did not settle for the fame and money but instead improved her acting steadily. She also enjoys her life and does not trap herself in the industry, getting married early for example.

    I have the same thoughts on this show, she is the only reason I am watching. The directing and story is not up to par with her. Her co-stars so so too.

  6. Love, love, love Jeon Ji Hyun in this drama, especially last episode. She really shines in every scene she’s in. I do get the narrative flaws. Jae-kyung the murdering brother’s sole purpose is to get Song-yi in danger so that Min-Joon will come rushing to her side. Not that I am complaining though, I really enjoyed how she was in danger and had to live with Min Joon for a couple of episodes for her personal safety.:D

    Can’t say I find the OST that bad though. I really like “Destiny” and the new track “Hello” is so infectious, I was listening to it on loop yesterday and now the song is stuck in my head. K. Will’s track I find just so-so and the hilarious scale-ascending piano track that plays every time something comical happens makes me laugh every time.

    I love this drama so much! It has made me an eternal fan of Jeon Ji Hyun and Kim Soo Hyun. Can’t wait for the next episode.

  7. i was a somewhat big fan of her prior this drama because there’s something her natural presence on screen that make me love almost everything she is in. Its kinda hard to constantly love her because she did like a movie a year and took a long break from korean movies for her international ones which sucks. But now i just love her more than ever in this drama.

  8. As much as I love Kim Soo-hyun, YFAS is without doubt the Jeon Ji-hyun show. She’s charismatic goddess incarnate. I just adore her and Song-yi. <3

    • LoL! If this were ‘Moon Embracing the Sun’, it seems there’s a Lunar eclipse happening here, where JJH outshining KSH. Hehehe!

  9. I’ve watched the last two episodes thinking OMG!! SHE IS SO GOOD!! Nice to see her recognized by so many here. I confess, I adore the drama without much serious thought to the holes. I haven’t seen either of the leads before, so I am just enjoying the ride. Thanks Miss Koala for this post and for loving Miss Korea as well. It’s a good time to be a K-drama addict. Hope people are watching Word From A Warm Heart, I Need Romance 3 and Can we Love!!

  10. Totally agree. The show is JJH. Hate to take off the credits from the rest of the cast but goodness, She nails this role most perfectly. Her strong screen presence is just breathtaking. Watching her critical or comic scenes is soo addictive in a magically way. I can’t remember who was last k actress/actor I felt the same way about her/his performance. Maybe Han Suk Kyu in Tree With Deep Roots.

    I wasn’t really planning to watch this, since I hadn’t seen any of her dramas before and I’m not a big fan of KSH, the story didn’t get me attention but thankfully I watched it and got hooked by the moment I realize that actress is a giving a masterpiece performance.

    I so recomend this drama to everyone.

  11. Also, i love this drama so much that i’m willing to overlook the flaws. Can this drama keep our otp cute and fuzzy till the end? Cray cray songyi and robot do manager make my day .I just hope that they dont pull the rooftop prince or that winter wind blows ending on us…

  12. She’s my favorite since my sassy girl the first movies watch followed by wind struck then Il Mare/Maje not sure she is amazing. And watching her now in YFAS proves that she is a great actress. Not over acting at all. Love her! She can do drama to comedy to the T.

  13. This is the first time I watched Jun Ji Hyun in anything and I am absolutely blown away by her acting. I am literally obsessed with her and plan to watch her old movies when I have time. I was searching up her old interviews and she seems so reserved in real life it’s surprising how she is able to pull off all of CSY’s crazy antics

  14. No disrespect to any of the other cast (especially Yoo In Na who’s doing well with a much less sweet role), but this whole drama is the JJH show for me. I am totally LOVING her performance, and can’t imagine I’d actually be sticking with it if it weren’t for her. I agree with everything you’ve written and I look forward to lots more of her awesomeness in the last half of the Drama.

  15. Just LOVE Jun Ji Hyun too… She is beautiful, a natural beauty, tall and acts amazingly… Read her in-laws just adore her too, so she has a nice personality… Gianna Jun is PERFECT… The character that Kim Soo Hyun plays limited the range he could act… But still enjoy watching KSH.

  16. I agree, I’m hopelessly addicted to this show – and its mostly to do with Song Yi. JJH is doing such a good job and seems to be having a lot of fun. I don’t mind Do Min Joon – although sometimes I think he’s a little too restrained? I know its probably the way KSH has been asked to play him – but he comes across as very stiff. The OST is also pretty bad – although hello is not too bad. Compared to the beauty of Miss Korea’s ost though its dissapointing. I also hope they have better couple scenes too – the planned skinship, the forced kisses (the kiss at the end of ep 11 was so creepy) .. I really want to see Min Joon loosen up a bit. Mostly I wish there was less time on all the lame attempts at plot (the awful mystery gah – though the over evil is so ott its become strangely entertaining) and more focus on the characters and their personal stories and romance haha

    • I dont think the kiss in the end of ep 11 is creepy or forced because she lovee him back. And he know that if he doesnt know that then yeah its kinda wrong to do that rofl

      • I found it unsettling and a little jarring, out of context tonally with the light nature of the show. They’ve already kissed, mutually, and she very definitely would not have objected to his kissing her, but the image on screen was still one that did not sit well with me. A woman being kissed in a situation where she could not give or withhold consent sends the wrong message I think, and one that doesn’t belong in such a light drama. ESPECIALLY because the chemistry between them is so good. It was a mistake, I think.

    • I did not like the kiss AT ALL at the end of 11. I’ve scrubbed it from my memory. Just because she likes him does not equal consent to be kissed when she’s frozen in time. Nope, the implication rubs me the wrong way completely. Loving someone does not equal open consent to be kissed (and more) any time the other person wants. Period. If he can’t kiss her when’s she’s sentient and aware then he doesn’t have any right to kiss her behind her back.

      • Normally I would agree with you, but in this specific situation it felt like a goodbye kiss from him. Like it was his way of letting go. But it would have been better if he kissed her on the forehead, would have made it allot sweeter.

      • Yes. You put it so well! It was such a good episode but the ending was jarring. it was so wrong. Glad I’m not the only one that was unsettled by it…

  17. I, too, love this show. She is hilarious; that Open sesame is almost too hilarious for words. She and KSH play well off each other (they were in Thieves together as well). I think he is supposed to be stiff, but he is nailing the role for me; isn’t he supposed to melting and allowing himself to feel.
    I agree with evil-murder sub-plot it isn’t really needed; the story of this love doesn’t really need it. Her comments about how little she can eat to stay as thin as needs are likely spot-on.
    The chemistry between JJH and KSH is amazing; the rest of the characters are very thinly written and appear mostly as a vehicle to keep these two together.
    There is just some beauty in this drama, that makes it appealing to watch; flaws and plot holes aside.

  18. I Love JJH in this role best one ever!! she is adorable and her chemistry with KSH is amazing. I am obsessed with this drama and cannot wait to see what happens next. JJH just puts a smile on my face in every episode she is hilarious. Love it.

  19. have to agree with you on JJH. she has been incredible. really spot on. her face is completely relaxed acting the role. what I love is how she is able to use her voice , modulate it and deliver her words in so many different ways. it’s fascinating hearing her talk and speak.

    the show is very undemanding emotionally (for me) and entertaining. and truly, she MAKES the show.

  20. I like KSH’s acting, especially in episode 12 when he starts crying and my heart just broke…. AHHH. I am sad and I am not even that invested in the story. KSH’s alien is supposed to be stiff, after all he is an alien and not really susceptible to normal human reactions and emotions, until he met CSY.

    • Yeah, the epilogue on episode 12 when he cried was so heartbreaking. Likely the first real emotion he showed after holding in all his conflicted feelings.

    • I don’t think that’s the case — I think koala adored him in dream high.
      I think his performances in other shows were spot on (he made the show in mtets) so maybe she feels his performance as min join leaves alot to be desired. I personally am not bothered since it fits in the context of his character and we all know he can act. But its true that his costar jeon ji Hyun is stealing the show. That said, he broke my heart in episode 12.

  21. Haha, agree with you completely for the first time ever!XD I watched My Sassy Girl and liked her, but Jun Ji Hyun is a magnificent revelation in this drama. I am so impressed. Her Cheon Song Yi character will be one of the most memorable heroines ever in Kdramaland.

    Manager Do Min Joon is a hard character to pull off for any young actor. I just don’t think Kim Soo Hyun has enough presence/gravitas to portray a cantankerous 400 yo alien with a forever beautiful young body. Also,Do Min Joon’s trendy fashion-especially the skinny jeans-is off and not in line with the character’s personality.

    Yep, KSH’s acting here is too restrained and appears especially stiff when compared to Jun Ji Hyun’s amazing performance. I don’t think it’s the writing, I think he has plenty of materials to work with and could have imbibed Do Min Joon’s personality with more oomph. My ideal young actor for this role is Yoo Seung-ho. He did good as the Jade Emperor in Arang and the Magistrate.

  22. I disagree about Kim Soo Hyun’s stiff acting. He has to be that way because of his character being non-human. The character needs to be very guarded and unattached because of the secret he is keeping for 400 years. I have to give credit to KSH for bringing in and practically convincing JJH to do this drama. In a way, he is not selfish in sharing the limelight with her. He lets JJH shine in her own way. But we all know that JJH is a screen vacuum, she will suck everything that comes in contact with her on screen. The girl has tremendous screen presence. Sometimes, I pity Yoon Ina because it must be really hard being the second female lead next to JJH.I hope she keeps on doing k-drama and not wait another 14 years to come back in television. I mean look at Lee Byung Hyun he is an A lister but he does TV too.

  23. There really is no other word to describe JJH’s performance as CSY other than perfect. She just captures all the facets of CSY so wonderfully, the ego, the crazy, the loneliness, the heartbreak. I don’t think JJH has ever been as charming, not even in My Sassy Girl. What impresses me the most though is how JJH has been able to let go of her A-list image/status and all the baggage that comes with it, to play the crazy, hilarious side of CSY. I mean she zipped herself into a sleeping bag to hop around like a catepillar! Hilarious!

  24. Dear Koala, I think the kiss at the end of epi 11 was to play on the words “a kiss frozen in time”. To give off something beautiful as our alien resident is an ardent collector of beautiful arts.

  25. thank you very much for the above video clips!!! CSY bipolar episodes cracks me up every time along with every scene she’s in ….^o^ i just… so love her…as for DMJ, i hv mixed feelings about him…i honestly don’t understand his reactions at times to her…maybe b/c of his alien nature…i dunno… but i miss the earlier episodes of his yielding to CSY’s wishes when she spent time at his place. That was niiiiice… wish he gets over his NIS soon! he doesn’t hv much time left…

  26. Thank you for the clips, and yes what a wonderful, and refreshing performance from JJH. I agree with all the accolades. I just wanted to add how much I’ve enjoyed KSH’s acting and character too. To me he is playing a 400 year old man in the body of a young person. It reminds me a little of old vampire books. The character is not just old but ancient and looks so young. There’s an important distinction there. That being said KSH has played his character as someone reserved, quiet, with lots of inner workings, smart, old fashion and stiff but subtle. I think he has some brilliant moments. I love how he always has very formal tea in earthenware when people come to his home to speak with him. It’s subtle but an old gentleman would behave this way courteously. His values and pastimes are all very traditional and his expressions probably would reflect a time when people weren’t as open with their expressions. All in all my favorite part is that the more stiff he appears the funnier and more human or “bipolar” JJH’s character appears , it’s a big contrast and it adds to the story. Can’t wait for next week!

  27. i’m enjoying this drama very much, if only the lead actor is a little bit older or at least close to the age of the lead actress.She doesn’t seem to mind doing all those silly things but when both of them are on the screen the gap in their ages is very visible.She is gorgeous but very much older than the lead actor.

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