In the spring of 2002 Japan made a drama entitled Hundred Million Stars From the Sky. Fast forward 16 years and South Korea has just finished airing their adaptation of that particular show – The Smile Has Left Your Eyes. This is such an amazing drama!
There’s so much I’d like to write about this story but I’m going to force myself to be vague so as not to give away even the tiniest bit of the mystery. When I began this show I had no idea it was going to leave me feeling the way it did. 2018’s second perfect 10 goes to The Smile Has Left Your Eyes.
The story begins with what appears to be the suicide of a young woman, however, evidence lead the police to discover it was, in fact, a murder. Their investigation points to the victim’s boyfriend as the one responsible for her death but he is found not guilty in a trial and the cops are instructed to keep digging until they find the real killer. Although Detective Yoo Jin-Gook isn’t one of the officers officially assigned to the case he, for personal reasons, is more interested in finding the perpetrator than anyone else, and the person at the top of his suspect list is a young man named Kim Moo-Young. (Sorry but fear of giving you too much information is compelling me to stop my plot synopses there. You’re just going to have to trust me that there’s a whole lot more to this story and many twists and revelations throughout it’s compelling 16 episodes.)
Kim Moo-Young’s an aloof loner whose life seems to run on autopilot. In fact, he admits to not thinking too far ahead, claiming he “wins” better without plans. He isn’t bad, he just isn’t really good, either. He does what he feels like doing without considering the consequences and that’s about it. Moo-Young works as an assistant in a microbrewery. One day, while setting up the beer for a party, he meets the star of the evening, an aspiring artist named Baek Seung-Ah, and begins dating her. However, her filthy rich fiancé isn’t thrilled with the situation and Seung-Ah’s best friend, Jin-Kang, isn’t too happy about her decision, either. Seung-Ah falls head over heels for the rough-around-the-edges Moo-Young but he’s much more interested in Jin-Kang.
Yoo Jin-Kang is a designer who works for a small advertising company. She lives with her much older brother, Yoo Jin-Gook, who has taken care of her since she was very little and the result is the two are extremely close. Jin-Kang is suspicious of Moo-Young’s motives in wanting to be with Seung-Ah but decides to trust her friend and give the couple the benefit of the doubt. However, she is disturbed when Moo-Young matter-of-factly informs her he never really loved Seung-Ah and would rather pursue a relationship with her. Although Jin-Kang tries to ignore the situation, she comes to realize she just might be attracted to bad-boy Moo-Young.
The most important thing in Yoo Jin-Gook’s life is his baby sister, Jin-Kang. He’s been her sole provider ever since their mother passed away and he just wants her to be safe and happy. He sets her up with another detective on his team, Eom Cho-Rong, hoping the two will hit it off. His closest friend is another officer in the precinct, Tak So-Jung. She is his confidant and knows more about him than even his sister. Jin-Gook is a twenty-plus year veteran cop with a secret.
For information about Seo In-Guk, who plays the part of Kim Moo-Young, you can go to my Shopping King Louie review.
Information about Jung So-Min, whose part is that of Yoo Jin-Kang, can be obtained by going to my review of Because This is My First Life.
You can find out about Park Sung-Woong, the actor who plays Detective Yoo Jin-Gook, by checking out my Man to Man review.
From first glance, Detective Yoo has always felt uneasy about Kim Moo-Young and he hates the fact that Jin-Kang seems to be getting closer and closer to him. Is there a legitimate reason for Jin-Gook’s wary attitude? Could it be he is just being an overprotective big brother or are his police officer instincts at play?
I have to admit Kim Moo-Young is one of the most interesting characters I’ve seen in a drama in a long, long time and kudos to Seo In-Guk for playing him so well. One minute Moo-Young seems to be a scary narcissist, void of feeling and conscience, and the next he’s a naïve little boy, lonely and afraid. I didn’t just wonder about his circumstances, what brought him to where he was, but I was actually curious about him, what he was thinking and feeling.
Moo-Young isn’t the only complicated character in the show. Jin-Kang struggles with her heart verses her head – I like this man, but there are so many reasons for me to walk away from him. Jin-Gook struggles with what he considers to be saving his sister from a life of sorrow and following the law that has always been such a big part of his life. And Officer Tak struggles between her feelings for Officer Yoo or upholding the law.
This story encourages us to forgive ourselves and others, to hold on to the truth, and that we can change, start anew, be “born again” as Moo-Young phrases it. It shows us that hate destroys but love heals. Such valuable lessons to learn early in life.
How does the story end? Well, the screenwriter had the difficult task of having to decide which way to take the characters – should they follow the original ending of Hundred Million Stars From the Sky or should they go down a different path? There’s no way I’d ever even hint at what the writer chose to do other than to say the ending is absolutely perfect.
Kim Moo-Young and Yoo Jin-Kang now take their place next to some of the greatest lovers in film such as Romeo and Juliet, Lancelot and Guinevere (First Knight), Scarlett and Rhett (Gone With the Wind), Jack and Rose (The Titanic), Yoo-Jin and Joon-Sang/Min-Hyeong (Winter Sonata), and Joon-Suh and Eun-Suh (Autumn in My Heart).
I only noticed one “oops” and it was really of no major consequence. When Moo-Young and Jin-Kang are on a train, watch carefully as they are eating kimbap. Moo-Young is holding one slice with chopsticks but the way it’s being held changes for no reason – the chopsticks are holding it around the seaweed (the round way) and in the blink of an eye the chopsticks are holding it the filling way (the flat sides). It’s possible it’s actually in the other order but you get what I mean. “Oops.”
All four songs on the soundtrack have a one word title – Star, Lost, Moonlight, and Someday. One of the best Kdrama songs of 2018 has to be Star, an emotionally stirring duet performed by the stars of the show – Seo In-Guk and Jung So-Min. Aside from the fact that it makes me want to cry, it’s absolutely gorgeous and their voices compliment each other perfectly! Lost is a pretty ballad sung by An Ji-Yeon. Her soprano voice reminds me of water glistening on a sun-lit pond. Moonlight is sung by Gu Yoon-Hoe. It’s a good song but I don’t care for his voice. I would like to have had Cho Kyu-Hyun from Super Junior sing it instead. Yi Sung-Yeon sings a song called Someday which I found to be very irritating. His twangy voice makes it sound like a country song which just doesn’t fit with the story. And it’s played way too often.
The Smile Has Left Your Eyes has a couple memorable backgrounds. First there’s Moo-Young’s living space. It looks a lot like an abandoned old warehouse. The walls are cracked, discolored cement; the stairs are made out of chipped cement cinder blocks, and the floor is rough cement as well. It’s not really a place to live in but more like a place to hide in, away from the outside elements. It’s frigid, dirty, and empty – a lot like Moo-Young’s life. Its transformation takes place alongside its occupant’s with the help of Jin-Kang. The old abandoned church in the woods goes through the same amazing changes but Moo-Young does it all on his own this time, which is significant.
This is not a show any Kdrama fan should miss. In fact, anyone who enjoys love stories needs to watch it. The Smile Has Left Your Eyes, in one word – EXCELLENCE.
Emotional love story
Seo In-Guk, Jung So-Min, and Park Sung-Woong
The complicated character Kim Moo-Young
The song Star
Great metaphorical backgrounds
Fascinating chemistry between Moo-Young, Jin-Kang, and Jin-Gook
Lessons we learn
The song Someday
A tiny, insignificant “oops”