Welcome to the chatty recap for Where Stars Land! (Also known as Fox Bride Star, Star of the Foxes, and formerly known as People of Incheon Airport.) Join us as we discuss the changing plot, the mysterious Lee Soo Yeon, and whether Chae Soo Bin can be anyone besides herself.
A quick note before we begin. This is a chatty recap in which we, well, chat about the episodes that air each week. These are not step-by-step recaps and are more our thoughts on random aspects of the episodes. Sometimes we will chat about the plot, but it is just as likely that we will discuss someone’s makeup or the director’s concept and whether it works or doesn’t work. In other words, we jump around. We hope you enjoy this chatty recap and hope it enhances your drama watching experience.
Ladies and Gentlemen, We Have a Plot!
Karie the Maknae: Back when Park Shin Hye and Hyun Bin were being considered for this drama, it seemed like Where Stars Land had a totally different story line. However, this one is shaping up just fine. Chae Soo Bin’s character, Han Yeo Reum, wants to be perceived as competent and disciplined. Instead, she’s the airport troublemaker, allowing her temper to take over when it shouldn’t. Lee Soo Yeon, played by Signal‘s Lee Je Hoon, is a close-mouthed newbie who actually IS competent, a fact that drives our Yeo Reum a little nuts. Their paths collide in delightfully fun ways.
Kmuse: I am still undecided in whether I like this plot. On one hand, we have the whole airport employee storyline. The story of a hardworking girl with the ego the size of Gibraltar. She somehow never makes the right choices and is a total disaster as an employee (I seriously have no clue how she still has a job at this point.) The other half of the story is this mystery surrounding Lee Soo Yeon, who keeps saving people with his arm of steel? Does he have some kind of bionic arm? Is he an alien? Regardless of his backstory, I do think they channeled the famous My Love From Another Star car move one too many times and we are only 2 hours in. So where does this drama want to take us? A workplace romance or a fantasy romance? I have whiplash.
Kdrama Jen: The drama within this drama seemed to start way before the first table reading. I was first interested in an airport-based drama called People of Incheon Airport when I heard they might be pairing up Suzy and Park Bo Gum. At the time, the writer (Kang Eun Kyung) was making news because she was switching out Fox Star Bride (the one Karie the Maknae mentioned Park Shin Hye and Hyun Bin were considering) for People of Incheon Airport. The next thing we know, Park Shin Hye is no longer considering it (maybe because, I don’t know, it was a completely different drama than the one pitched?). In addition, the Suzy and Park Bo Gum pairing turned out to be unconfirmed rumor. So, now we have an airport-based drama with a different cast and some unanswered questions woven throughout. It feels like the drama is having a bit of an identity crisis. Still, though, I like the chemistry among the actors and it feels like they are finding their way as the episodes unfold.
MiataMama: I’m still confused about what the plot for this drama is supposed to be?! I find workplace romances to be ho-hum sometimes, so the fantasy twist with Lee Je Hoon’s character was really the hook I needed to keep watching. Yes, there are SO many questions that need answering, but I like Chae Soo Bin, as well as the interaction between all the characters. After we narrow down the direction of things, I think this will be a lot of fun!
Alien, Superhero, or Winter Soldier?
Karie the Maknae: So Soo Yeon seems to have this awesome arm–it’s magnetic, maybe? Yeo Reum’s compass got stuck to it, so that’s one argument. It also can bend a tensabarrier (those stands that hold up the little belts that guide lines in theaters and airports, etc.) and stop a car mid-fall. There has to be more to it than Soo Yeon can’t feel pain in that arm–the tensabarrier would have shattered it.
Kmuse: I think we need a shirtless scene stat so we can research the details of Soo Yeon’s mysterious arm. No hidden agenda here, just plain partial naked scientific research.
Kdrama Jen: I second the vote for the shirtless scene. It is all for the sake of science.
MiataMama: Tensabarrier. I had no idea that those metal poles had a special name! (Thanks Karie!) And yes, we really need to know if So Soo Yeon is Incheon Airport’s resident Clark Kent!
Mysterious Interconnected Past — Check!
Karie the Maknae: Seems like our Soo Yeon has a thing for saving Yeo Reum–he saved her a year prior, when she was on her way to interview for the airport job. Did he just really really want her to work at the airport, or is there more to it? With the way he was hiding in his hoodie, I was getting Strong Woman Do Bong Soon flashbacks.
Kmuse: For someone who just wants to stay camouflaged within the crowd, he sure saves her a lot. Is there some hidden childhood first love incident lurking in the background? I guess she is pretty cute and if someone was going to go around saving cute girls, Chae Soo Bin would be a total contender. And while we are on the subject–Did she not think something was totally odd about him stopping a freaking car with his arm? I suspect I would be in shock rather than racing to a job interview if that was me.
Kdrama Jen: What is it about stopping a car with one’s BODY that is just so squee-worthy in dramas? From My Love From Another Star to Come and Hug Me, I feel like the bar has been set. If it is true love, then there must be a scene where the leading man stops a car in its tracks. I will accept nothing less.
MiataMama: I know some people are finding the whole ‘interconnected past’ a tiring K-drama trope of late. But I sigh a happy sigh when the leads have that special link as part of their story. Fated love aside, I was completely dumbfounded to learn she raced, from almost being crushed by a car, to go to her . . . job interview. Really?!?!
Is Chae Soo Bin up to the task?
Karie the Maknae: I get the sense that Chae Soo Bin is struggling to find her groove with this character. Right now she feels like Jo Ji A from I’m Not A Robot with a quicker temper. By the end of the fourth episode, though, I was starting to feel like she was finding her way.
Kmuse: I blame the writing and not the actress. Chae Soo Bin is playing what the writer has given her perfectly. But sadly, the writer is making the character be an overly puffed up employee who needs a kick in the pants and told how to be a team player. So far everything has been about Yeo Reum and how she perceives that she is not appreciated. Yeo Reum’s obsession over validation of her work is bordering on obnoxious. I do see that they might be setting the story up for her to learn some humility as well as some proper working skills. I hope so, since at this point I just want to smack her with some kimchi every time she becomes annoying.
Kdrama Jen: I really need Yeo Reum to get a healthy helping of character growth fast. I have enjoyed Chae Soo Bin’s acting since Rebel: Thief of the the People. I didn’t like her character in that at first, but she won me over. I agree with Karie that Chae Soo Bin is slowly finding her groove and I think Kmuse is absolutely correct about the writing holding her back. It really is time for Yeo Reum to grow up a bit, settle in, and focus on her job.
MiataMama: Chae Soo Bin is a great actress, but this character is a completely clueless hot mess at the moment. Can someone tell me how she’s been working at the airport for THREE YEARS and not been fired yet?! Only time will tell if the writer has grand plans for Yeo Reum’s overall growth. Or not.
Broody Lee Je Hoon
Karie the Maknae: I wasn’t sure about Lee Je Hoon as a lead in a romantic drama–he was very, very serious in Signal and I had a hard time connecting with him. However, in just these four short episodes, I can definitely praise his eye acting (who knew that would become a litmus test for good actors??) and the chemistry he’s creating with Chae Soo Bin. I’m already intrigued and rooting for them both.
Kmuse: I had no doubt Lee Je Hoon could bring the smolder. I am enjoying him as a boring, slightly lonely, recluse who just wants to blend in and do his job. He plays it so well and you can see his war with himself anytime an emergency happens. Maybe being in the customer service crisis center is not where he belongs if he wants to stay incognito.
Kdrama Jen: I fell for Lee Je Hoon in the film Architecture 101 and despite the flop-like nature of the drama Fashion King, I still thought his acting was spot on. He was captivating in Signal, but I am excited to see him in a romantic lead role again. He does seem to be able to pull off this cold and aloof type with glimpses of his internal struggle. I am also a fan of the chemistry he has with Chae Soo Bin.
MiataMama: My first drama experience with Lee Je Hoon was the sorely disappointing Tomorrow With You. Thankfully, I recently watched Signal for the first time and my opinion of him improved. In this drama he plays stand-offish, and yet resigned, extremely well. Plus he already has fantastic chemistry with our leading lady. No complaints from me!
Could the former warden BE more annoying?
Karie the Maknae: Ahn Sang Woo, who played the PR-hungry warden in Prison Playbook, is channeling his inner office busybody to perfection. I think I might end up hating him by the end.
Kmuse: By the end? I hate him now. I really thought we were going to get some kind of sweet insight into his character there at the end. There must be some reason why he is so uptight and mean to everyone right? Wrong. He is just a total tool who needs to be taken down a peg or two. I pity his wife, who is obviously home alone as he wastes time playing solitaire.
Kdrama Jen: Ugh. I hate it when there is a character who is miserable and toxic for no apparent reason. I can try to understand people and cut them some slack if I can understand their motivation or their backstory. This guy? Pass.
MiataMama: Yep. Obnoxious, check. Useless, check. Moving on!
The Mysterious Supervisor
Karie the Maknae: Kim Jee Soo (the lisping queen from Hwarang) is playing Yeo Reum’s supervisor. Already she has some interesting layers, including pushing Yeo Reum to be the better employee that she knows she can be. Her quiet confidence and unwillingness to back down already make her a great leader in my book. It’ll be interesting to see where her character goes.
Kmuse: Huh. I didn’t notice her lisp this time around. Of course, now that you have mentioned it, that is all I am going to be able to focus on. I agree that her character has layers. I also wonder if we are going to get a second love line with her and the always sexy Lee Dong Gun (Go Eun Seob). I might find that more interesting than being an office Yoda to our angsty OTP (one true pair).
Kdrama Jen: I didn’t even connect her with Hwarang at all. I just remember she was in that Gangnam Blues movies with Lee Min Ho. I guess her Silla Dynasty garb in Hwarang threw me off. I am waiting to see where the writer takes her role. Will she remain office counselor or will she get her own love interest?
MiataMama: I recognized her from Hwarang instantly! And that lisp (is it maybe a regional accent?) continues to distract me in her performance here. But I do like how she calmly leads and carefully shepherds her crew of odd ducks! I’m curious about her background, and her motivations–again: So. Many. Questions.
How Many Romances Can We Have in One Airport?
Karie the Maknae: So we have the potential for a relationship between Yeo Reum and Soo Yeon, a possible second lead in the kid who calls Yeo Reum “noona” and makes sure she gets to where she needs to be on time, and there’s Yeo Reum’s supervisor and what appears to be her old flame. Do we have enough love lines??
Kmuse: I am still uncertain how I feel about the main romance so all these side romances are confusing for me. I need more time to process everyone’s connections and understand where the drama wants to take me. Hopefully it will be somewhere with a strong plotline since I am still sitting here confused and slightly pissed at our heroine for being so horrible at doing the most basic aspects of her job.
Kdrama Jen: I am invested in the characters and I want to know where this is going, but it does feel a bit to me like they took a couple of different dramas and tried to mix them together and everyone is still trying to figure out which drama they are in. Hey, maybe it feels that way because that is kind of what happened . . . . So, I am waiting for everyone to hit their stride before I can handle multiple love lines.
MiataMama: For now, I’m just focusing on Yeo Reum and Soo Yeon. And, you know, figuring out the plot. Once we have more backstory and direction, then I can explore the possible romances of the supporting cast.
Until the next plane lands, we remain–
Dramas with a Side of Kimchi