“Where Stars Land” was by far one of the most interesting concepts of kdramas in 2018.
We (the kdrama community) started watching expecting a healing drama about people lives at the airport and we were shocked with a ‘super hero’ concept.
Kdramas rarely stray away from what they provide in the initial synopsis released to the public through news outlets. I was excited about this drama because I love Lee Je Hoon, he’s one of my favorite Korean actors who deserve way more attention than they get.
He has an international fanbase but its nowhere near that of other peers his age, I also watched almost all of his movies because he doesn’t do kdramas frequently.
The cast is very interesting. I was curious about this drama for its theme as well. I don’t usually see a lot of dramas that are about people who work in the airport, so it was interesting to get the chance to see what its like from the inside.
Judging from the title you read above, you already know this is a spoiler ‘review’ but its more about venting my frustration with the drama overall and I couldn’t do that with a spoiler-free review, so….
The plot of the drama…. oh my god!
The biggest issue with this drama was the plot (duh!)
The writer behind it is Kang Eun Kyung, she is a writer I respect and admire, she does good dramas. In case you don’t know, she wrote “Romantic Doctor, Teacher Kim” (which was a huge hit) and “What Happens to My Family?” which was also a major hit that snagged many awards at end year shows.
This is why I am honestly baffled by this particular script she wrote…. why does it feel like she just gave up somewhere in the middle? I don’t get it; I don’t understand what she was trying to pull off with this drama, still!
I heard people say that the drama was cut down from 20 to 16 episodes but I tried searching around and couldn’t find an actual Korean source to back this up!
The ending was lacking and fell flat. It almost felt as if they were building for season two, not showing his face at the end, the cliché of ‘he went away for a year then came back,’ I just don’t understand why it had to be wrapped like this.
The writer treated this series as if she had more episodes to count on and to explain what was and what will happen. I thought the biggest disappointment of 2018 was “The Great Seducer” and “The Undatables” but I take that back, this is the most disappointing kdrama I have seen in 2018.
There are so many parts of the plot that were left unexplained, let me take you through each one of them.
The powerful arm and leg
We never understood why the prostatic arm and leg he had on had such amazing powers and we never understood why they were made to be so darn powerful, why didn’t the person who made this, Mr. Jang tone it down a bit?
How did he come to know Soo Yeon?
As far as we know, Soo Yeon was introduced to Mr. Jang through Yeo Reum’s father one day, but we never understood how this came to be or how Mr. Jang found him, there is no clear explanation for that.
That’s probably one of the biggest reasons the whole drama was such a letdown because we never understood the merit of the entire plot, its like writernim threw this handsome handicapped man with ‘super powers’ at you and asked you not to ask questions.
Yeo Reum’s father
What happened to that guy? He appears in some episodes and has a connection to Soo Yeon. We don’t end up finding out what happened to him or how or why he disappeared.
He was an integral part to Yeo Reum’s story and I desperately wanted to see them reunite or at least given a proper ending or justification to what happened to him or why he isn’t around anymore.
He felt like an object that writernim used to advance the plot and disregard when she didn’t need it.
So, Soo Yeon is hurt bad and his body is slowly giving away. He has to take those ‘things’ off and focus on his road to recovery.
The plot plays out in a way that tricks us to believing Soo Yeon’s life is a stake because he refuses to go back to his wheelchair and get proper treatment.
In the last episode, he refuses his girlfriend request and insists on staying for as long as possible using those ‘things.’ Now according to Mr. Jang, Soo Yeon had as little as a couple of weeks before he might actually die from his infection.
The last episodes focuses on how Soo Yeon and Yeo Reum both seize the moment and make the most out of it. There is no specification of a time frame of how much they actually ended up spending together, they even planned a get-away together, slept together, cooked together, watched TV together and such.
I doubt they did all those things in matter of days, felt more like weeks to me!
Logically speaking, Soo Yeon should have been dead by now.
Even if he was to go away for a year and then return, Mr. Jang explained to Yeo Reum that there was still a good possibility that he might not fully recover if he missed the mark, which he did!
Soo Yeon cares about his girlfriend so much so that he refuses to use a wheelchair because he knows how much his disability will impact her life, with this much love he has for her the logical thing to do would be to take them off, disappear for a while (for treatment) then come back all good to be with the woman he loves.
Not contacting her over the course of a year feels so illogical considering how much he cared for her, she told him she will wait for him and always be there, she told him she was willing to go down that rough path. The least he could have done was either end things with her or tell her to wait for him.
I don’t mind flawed characters that make bad mistakes in kdramas, but what I can’t stand behind is when a writer plots a character in a way that leads up to believe he’s a certain type of person only to then have him do something so out of his character, this is what writer Kang Eun Kyung did with this plot.
The disability part was so interesting, I loved it. It had potential because its so different from what we usually see in kdramas. Usually, the leading man is perfect all around but has mental issues or scars sometimes which he overcomes with love.
Soo Yeon was a different case; he was ordinary-unordinary in a way. He was both special and normal. He wasn’t super rich or anything like that but a person who has a disability that destroyed his self-esteem and will to live.
I thought that part was such an interesting concept to explore and I am so disappointed that Kang Eun Kyung writernim ‘destroyed’ the character.
‘I am doing you good but treating bad’ cliché
Soo Yeon and his elder half-brother In Woo had a special bond, when they reunite again they have such a tense relationship a pile of misunderstandings to go through.
In the end, we find out that In Woo was being a dick because he cared about Soo Yeon and wanted to protect him.
I like actor Lee Dong Gun, he’s an exceptional actor who can portray a wide range of emotions. He has a different vibe to him and I find him interesting not only as an actor but as a person.
The writer could have utilized his potentials to the max but reduced his character to the typical supporting-character that’s just there to drive the plot forward without giving it much sense.
As far as we know, the writer indicated that In Woo was stuck with those bad guys because he wanted to protect his half-brother, they threatened him and kept a close grip of him using his half-brother.
Instead of coming up to him and logically explaining why he was being a dick, he continues to treat him badly when he could have chosen a more considerate approach because he cared about him so much, so much that he basically lived as a puppet for a bad man.
His character is so ambiguous, we’re told he worked for them without getting the chance to breathe or live a normal life but if he’s all that smart he could’ve just eloped with Soo Yeon from Korea and disappeared forever.
He had basically nothing left for him anyway, he was living a miserable life, why not take the easy way out?
In Woo is a puppet but we never find out what he did for them exactly or how he influenced the decision-making process inside Incheon airport, was he even of any use?
The writer manages to dodge the big elephant or elephants; in this case; in the room in the most imperfect way possible.
The bigger driving force
There was obviously a bigger force in action and there was this rich old man who controls the gangsters and wants to do stuff with the airport.
I; personally speaking; never really understood what the big contract was all about. It might be because I am stupid or might be because the writer also dodged explaining it in details.
I don’t mind ambiguity in dramas; in fact, I welcome it when it’s executed properly.
I never got a logical valid explanation as to why the contract/agreement was such a bad decision and why was it squashed down so abruptly.
The writer tried to wrap up everything in the last two episodes and failed miserably because it left me (at least) feeling that I’ve wasted 16 hours of my life.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved so many moments of the drama. The chemistry, the cast and the struggles of the airport, they were all good and so heartwarming to see but the way everything played out left a bad taste in my mouth.
This is why this will be the last drama I ever watch of writer Kang Eun Kyung, she ruined what it could have been. It was so badly executed it almost felt as if she didn’t even want to try.
As for Chae Soo Bin and Lee Je Hoon, their picks for their projects are still hits and misses for me.
Chae Soo Bin often times plays the same character in different dramas, I struggled to like her character at first but she grew on me as time went by partially in due to how the writer also moved the focus out of her inability to do things without screwing up instead of dealing with it head-on.
Lee Je Hoon is an amazing actor but I wonder why he chooses such projects. His movies are way better than his dramas and this is coming from someone who doesn’t like watching Korean movies much, for variety of reasons.
I wouldn’t call “Where Stars Land” an awful drama or bad drama but considering my expectations and the plot-outline this could have been a splendid kdrama that’ll go down in history for its unique plot and heartwarming message.
Its just that I had such high expectations and kept watching hoping I would get answers but I never got any. So many loose ends without justification are what I ended up with.
I wouldn’t personally recommend this drama to anyone mainly because I know they will end up cursing me out because I recommend such a drama with so many loose ends.
Guess I’ll stick to watching Lee Je Hoon movies in the future!