“The Smile Has Left Your Eyes” had initially evoked my interest being Seo in Guk’s first project returning to the small screen following his two year hiatus since his early discharge from the military due to an issue with his knees.
I am a huge fan of him, he can sing and act, he does both things pretty darn well which makes him even more interesting as a person and an actor.
Due to the hate he received for getting an early discharge he disappeared from the public’s eye for a while.
“Hundred Million Stars From the Sky” and “The Smile Has Left Your Eyes” are the same drama although I prefer the latter title is more befitting of the drama overall vibe.
But is it really worth your time? Is it enjoyable?
Here is why I personally believe its one of the best 2018 kdramas and one of the best psychological thrillers I have seen in recent years.
The story is basically about a man named Kim Moo Young (Seo In Guk) who is not a good person and is often described as a sociopath, he meets a woman, Jin Kang (Jung so Min), who teaches him how to be a human.
Its also a story about a murder case disguised as suicide, the elder brother of Jin Kang, Jin Kook tries to solve the mystery and believes Moo Young is somehow involved in the murder case.
What’s rather unique about the drama setting is the subtlety which I always appreciate since kdramas don’t usually deliberately try to be subtle with their messages.
The thing that made this drama even more interesting was that it was based on a Japanese drama. We all know that Japanese writers are a bit more adventurous and quirkier than Koreans.
Koreans have always been on the safe side while Japanese don’t mind rather bending plots that makes you go ‘what the fuck did I just watch now?’
The story of the drama is very interesting and I liked the way it progressed. I liked how the story played out and developed although at times it did feel a bit too slow.
I loved the drama but I am not going to lie, there are a couple of episodes which I thought could have been easily narrowed down.
There are parts which I also felt could have been a bit darker. For the sake of clarity and objectivity, I must admit I am a huge psychological thriller fan and I watched a lot of horror gore movies so I know all the tricks writers use.
I wanted the writer to be harsher but I knew she couldn’t have since it’s a kdrama, kdrama writers don’t go about the ways I would love them to. They’re usually more PC.
Still, I was pleasantly surprised by how far the Korean writer tried to push the boundaries within the limits she had, although she did it in a more gentle matter (so to speak) I still found it rather intriguing and fulfilling in a way.
2018 has been a disappointing year for kdramas in general but I won’t be complaining more about that here (that’s for another article), I am bringing this up to let you know that this is a very different drama than what you’re used to seeing, especially if you only stick to watching kdramas. This will shock you because its storyline and development are rather different.
During the first and the second half of the drama, a lot of things happen that you might not see coming.
The drama is also a bit creepy and can be considered scary to some. I never thought it was creepy or scary since my bar is set too high but I can see why regular people who are not used to seeing a horror movie would find it rather unsettling.
The drama storyline can be summed up with this word: unsettling.
Besides the fact that the storyline is amazing, the characters description is also rather interesting and different.
Unlike what you usually see in kdramas, Moo Young is a creepy heartless (in many instances) leading man. This contradicts a lot of kdrama clichés usually showcase.
He is also average in a sense; he has no power or anything much going for him in his life. That made him rather more interesting. He’s like a charging train that drives forward choosing whatever path he thinks is ‘interesting/intriguing’ which makes him all that more interesting because you can’t predict how he’ll behave or what path or decision he’ll make, he continues to surprise you until the very last minute.
You can easily hate his character because of how indifferent he feels about things and people in general. There is a soft side to him but it takes time for you to peel all through the coldness to get to that softer side.
There is a very cold manipulative side to him that kdrama male leads don’t have, most male kdrama characters are mean or cocky but never downright scary or unpredictable which made me enjoy him as a character even more.
He is also surprisingly honest sometimes but you can’t easily tell if he’s just being plain honest or tricking you.
The rest of the main characters are also equally interesting, Jin Kang is a flawed woman in love with someone everyone else around her thinks is bad. I applaud her character for being there for Moo Young even when I, myself, couldn’t see a way for him to change.
The same goes for the brother Jin Gook and almost everyone else who plays a character in the drama. Most of them were 3D which I also liked. They weren’t (most of them) just by-standers who came into and out of the plot for the sake of it, their actions meant something.
This drama doesn’t follow the usual kdrama narrative which meant it didn’t get the same buzz your average kdrama plot usually gets.
I knew it wasn’t going to be a commercial success in Korea because I have been around for enough time for me to guess what Koreans like and dislike. This drama pushed the boundaries they’re so used to; I can understand why the drama didn’t rate as high as it should have.
It wasn’t because it’s lacking in any way but because it was different in a creepy way.
I have seen about 80% of all kdramas that came out this year, although, I must also admit that I couldn’t get past episode 4 of almost everything I saw this year.
I had a couple of actors who gave out amazing performances that stuck in my mind and Seo In Guk’s performance in this drama was one of them.
He deserves a standing ovation and an Oscar. I doubt anyone could have easily pulled this character off.
There is something about the way Seo In Guk’s character goes from smiley and happy to scary cold manipulative in a matter of seconds. I LOVED his performance, he simply gave his all and it didn’t even feel like he was Seo In Guk rather the character, its like he dissolved in the character.
The same goes for Jung So Min who also plays Jin Kang beautifully. The two had to do the heavy lifting to make this drama believable and enjoyable. I love Jung So Min and I prefer her acting to other popular Korean actresses around her age.
I have also enjoyed her 2017 drama “Because Its My First Life.” So far, I haven’t been disappointed with her choices. She has come a long way from “Playful Kiss,” I think many might even be shocked to find out she played the clueless clingy Oh Ha Ni in one of the most watched kdramas of all time.
I respect her as an actress.
I also loved Park Sung Woong’s performance and I loved how flawed his character was. Sometimes, I just wanted to reach out to the screen and give him a slap or two but I could also understand the majority of actions he made throughout the drama.
The breakout actor of this production has to be actor Kwon Soo Hyun which I believe no one of you have ever heard of before including me, but his performance and acting took my breath away. I was like ‘where had this actor been my whole life?’
I will keep an eye on him; I think he can become something big in the future.
Overall, as you can see I am pleased with everyone’s performance in this drama. Without their dedication, I don’t believe this drama could have worked and I honestly struggle to imagine other actors playing any of those characters.
Seo In Guk and Jung So Min have amazing chemistry together. They’re also good kissers so I was happy about the kissing scenes. Jung So Min is taken and is currently dating actor Lee Joon but that didn’t mean she was going to restrain herself or hold back opposite Seo In Guk. (thank goodness)
I liked the dynamics between Seo In Guk and Park Sung Woong, I thought they made a very odd pair. There is always some sort of tension between them and I loved how scared Park Sung Woong’s character was of Moo Young. I found that rather interesting.
Park Sung Woong also has good chemistry with Jung So Min and Jang Young Nam who plays his friend. They were so cute together.
I liked the dynamics between the entire cast with all honesty.
Its befitting and it helped bring the scenario to life; I also liked the OST used. Seo In Guk and Jung So Min sang an OST together. I didn’t love it but it was nice. I would have preferred him singing alone without her since he is a professional singer.
Should I watch this drama?
It really depends, but I can tell you this, its not for everybody but those who watched it certainly couldn’t stop.
If you like psychological thrillers, you will love this drama.
If you’re a new kdrama fan I think it’s a good idea for you to watch this drama but I warn you, it will set the bar too high for other kdramas to follow.
If you’re a basic kdrama fan who enjoys romantic comedies you might be turned away by the story but I still recommend you check it out. It’s interesting.
I would personally love to see Koreans take on more Japanese dramas because Japanese think in a rather peculiar unconventional manner. It would be interesting to see how they can take a very unique script and spin it around in a different manner.
I think writer Song Hye Jin did an amazing job and was adventurous to a certain degree with the script.
I warn you, the ending is not a nice one (you probably already know that) but its been a while since I have seen the kdrama community unanimously agrees that the ending was befitting. You kinda know it won’t end well when you watch the first couple of episodes but still the way it ended broke my heart.
I suggest you avoid spoilers at all cost and binge-watch it, don’t even read comments on YouTube or Facebook or twitter because they are filled with spoilers and they’ll ruin it for you.