A Wish Upon a Star


Reviewed by: sukting

September 03, 2003

Rating: three-point-five



How long
16 episodes

Foreword
This is Ahn Jae Wook’s first serial that is shown in China and shot him to stardom. Do not miss this serial that raised his popularity!

Story
Lian Yi grows up in an orphanage. When she is 18, she is brought home by her guardian, Mr An. She doesn’t know that he is her father. Mrs An only likes to associate with the rich and looks down on Lian Yi. Mrs An treats Lian Yi like a slave upon knowing her identity. Her children, Yi Fan and Yi Hua always bully her. Mr An is helpless but he can do nothing.

Jiang Min is a general’s son and loves freedom. His mother is an actress but is his father’s mistress. That is why he can never get along with his father’s legal wife. He is told from young that his mother is dead. General Jiang is furious that he loves music and tries to forbid this.

To get away from his father’s control, Jiang Min reports to the army. He is determined to pursue his dream but doesn’t get the recognition he wants. He he asks his good friend and the general manager of JS Apparel, Jun Li to channel in the funds to produce his album.

Mrs An is holding a cocktail reception at her boutique when Lian Yi first reaches Seoul. Jun Li is so stunned that she resembles Sophia that his eyes follow her everywhere. When she notices him, he avoids her and hides in a corner.

Lian Yi and Shun Ai are bullied by gangsters in the pub. Jiang Min and Jun Li help them to escape. Jun Li recognises her because he has seen her earlier at Mrs An’s cocktail party. He has a deep impression because she resembles his ex-girlfriend, Sophia. He feels close to her while Jiang Min is curious to know more about this sweet woman. But he blames himself for forgetting to ask for her name.

Later, he meets her at Yi Hua’s university. Jiang Min He drives too fast and dirties Lian Yi’s sweater. Lian Yi confronts him. He recognizes her and introduces himself. Have a good laugh when he shoves Lian Yi to sit in the front seat and Yi Hua ends up sitting at the rear.

When they reach the venue where both families are having dinner, he opens the car door for Lian Yi. He forgets completely about Yi Hua. He walks back to his car, not wanting to open the car for her but to ask her to pass him his coat! It is funny when he slams the door. He puts it over Lian Yi. She protests but he insists on doing it.Mr An gives Lian Yi a watch for getting into the university. Feeling jealous, Mrs An snatches the watch, lying that she is keeping for her.

Shun Ai becomes a 3rd grade singer but never gives up her dream. Mrs An forces Lian Yi to move to her friend, Shun Ai’s place. Mr An is killed in an accident when he sends her money personally. The secret is then sealed forever. The whole family blames Lian Yi for it. Lian Yi sobs after Mr Ahn’s funeral service. Jiang Min hugs her to give her comfort.

Yi Hua wants to be Jiang Min’s girlfriend but he is interested in Lian Yi instead. Yi Hua is angry and tells Lian Yi to back off. Lian Yi wishes to return Jiang Min his coat but is stopped by Mrs An. She finds Jiang Min’s wallet with his mother’s photograph in it. She delivers it to Jiang Min’s home but Jiang Min believes Mrs An’s words that she is a thief and scolds her. That hurts her.

Lian Yi helps out at Mrs An’s boutique. Jun Li visits it and sees Lian Yi drawing sketches of clothes designs. He is impressed and invites all to attend his company’s party. Mrs An has to let Lian Yi come along since Jun Li has seen her, but she is unwilling to let her try the new clothes. Instead, she leads her into the storeroom where she stores outdated clothes.

Lian Yi is delighted and chooses two dresses to sew a new dress for herself. Later, she walks out of the boutique to meet Shun Ai in her new dress. Mrs Jiang happens to see her in it and wants to try it. Mrs An is angry that she doesn’t choose her own designs and demands Lian Yi to remove the dress to give to Mrs Jiang.

Lian Yi meets Jiang Min again when she makes measurements for Mrs Jiang. Feeling apologetic for mistakening her to be a thief, Jiang Min drives her not to the bus-stop but to Mrs An’s boutique. The mischievous grin that he shows on his face is simply charming!

Jiang Min drives quickly to the boutique and almost knocks into Yi Hua’s car. Yi Hua is about to scold the driver but stops when he sees her. Actually he wishes to see Lian Yi. He can’t control himself upon seeing how the Ans treat her like a slave, telling her to brew tea for them.

He politely asks when she can knock off. When they tell him that office hours are over, he grabs her hand immediately and walks out with her. Lian Yi dislikes him for behaving like a young master and scolds him. She wants to continue her job at the boutique so as to help Shun Ai sew clothes for her to work in the pub. In fact, the other singers are so impressed with the dresses that they also request Lian Yi to help.

Lian Yi is surprised when Jiang Min apologises to her. Both fall in love.

Jiang Min sees Lian Yi entering a CD shop. He follows her. She sees his debut album and is delighted. She decides to buy it for Shun Ai as she is his fan. Jiang Min quietly grabs it from her and pays for her. Later, he autographs on the CD.

He then follows Lian Yi to take the train upon seeing his father’s men following him. He plays the CD from his discman and shares with her. He asks her whether she can listen to music in the shop. She frowns and no. So Jiang Min quietly puts his discman into her bag and smiles cheekily at her when he goes out of the train!

Mrs An sees Lian Yi sewing clothes and her expression reminds her about her husband’s mistress who once worked in her boutique too. She gets so mad that she tears Lian Yi’s hair and destroys her sewing.

Jun Li holds a competition to choose fashion designers for his company. Mrs An is annoyed with Yi Hua for wanting to submit her own sketches because she has no ideas. Mrs An then decides to use Lian Yi’s designs.

Jun Li is surprised to see the model wearing Lian Yi’s sample design and thinks that she is one of the participants for the fashion designer selection. He is so displeased to know that Yi Hua has stolen Lian Yi's work that he stands up and walks away from the judges’ table!He still engages Yi Hua to work in JS but also insists that Lian Yi also joins in. Mrs An and Yi Hua are very annoyed.

Jiang Min calls up JS. Yi Hua is delighted when she picks the office phone but she is angry and lies that Lian Yi isn’t around when Jiang Min asks for Lian Yi. Still, Jiang Min manages to see Lian Yi using the public phone outside. He pages her and deliberately stands behind her to tease her.

Jiang Min gives Lian Yi a ticket to attend his mini concert. Yi Hua steals it and Jiang Min is so displeased to see her. Lian Yi is tricked by Yi Hua to work late in the boutique. Yi Fan comes and wants to rape her. She struggles and one of her sleeves is torn. Jiang Min comes to fetch her and hears the commotion. He gives Yi Fan such a hard hit that the man has to escape right from the window.

Upon walking outside, Jun Li is there, wishing to find out more about the sketches that she has made. Upon seeing her state, he thinks that Jiang Min has done it and hits him. Both men end up fighting and Lian Yi has to stop them. Despite Jun Li’s apologises, Jiang Min is angry that this is how his best friend think of him. Even so, the three still go for a drink. The two men are alarmed to see Lian Yi drinking so much.

Lian Yi is badly affected by Yi Fan’s attempted rape that she drinks a lot in despair. She nearly vomits twice in Jiang Min’s car when she can’t hold her liquor. Jiang Min is pained to see Lian Yi in agony and is also mad with Yi Fan.

He drives her to the nearest hotel where she can clean her face – and coincidentally Yi Fan is there with his mistress. Jiang Min charges into his room and gives him a sound beating. Later, he leaves the hotel with her. He is past caring about what the media thinks about them.

Yi Hua spreads bad rumours about Lian Yi and she is isolated by other colleagues. Jiang Min comes to tell Jun Li that the good news that his albums sell very well. Knowing that Lian Yi is working in the same company, he goes to look for her. Laugh at the scene when Yi Hua is overjoyed upon seeing him but he is right in the lift and closes the door right in her face! He can’t find Lian Yi but he tells Jun Li to pass her the message that he wishes to see Lian Yi at night in his studio.

Shun Ai is introduced to record with Jiang Min but she has difficulty reading the musical notes. Jiang Min teaches her patiently but his mind wanders because Lian Yi isn’t around. Jun Li makes Lian Yi work overtime and forgets about the date until he sees Jiang Min waiting near her apartment when he sends Lian Yi back. Shun Ai is disappointed because she has fallen for Jiang Min.

The news that Jiang Min’s mother is still alive gives Jiang Min a big blow. His relationship with his father worsens and he even gets beaten up by his men. The desperate man goes to look for Lian Yi and kisses her. He then gives her a ticket for his first concert.

Mrs An tells General Jiang that Jiang Min is wooing Lian Yi. General Jiang then gives her a sum of money for a breakup in Jiang Min’s name. Lian Yi goes to his recording studio in fury. She sees him struggling with Yi Hua. She doesn’t know that he is only trying to clear the stains on Yi Hua's dress and mistakens that he is really toying with her. She leaves after giving him a slap.

Jiang Ming moves his musical instruments to the stadium. He finally sees the money in the envelope that Lian Yi has dropped. He realizes that he has wronged Lian Yi and rushes to look for her.

Lian Yi has gone to Milan with Jun Li to attend a seminar. Jun Li arranges for Lian Yi to go for a makeover before attending a dinner at Milan. See how much she has changed wearing a spaghetti-strap dress!
He can’t concentrate at work and flies there. Both reconcile and he kisses her when she is sleeping, leaving a note telling her how much he loves her.

General Jiang’s henchman softens his heart upon hearing Jiang Min’s repeated pleas to see his mother. He is shocked to find her in a mental institution and can’t recognize him. General Jiang puts Jiang Min under house detention. He slips out using his fans as a cover up when they get to his home to ask for his autographs. He wants to bring his mother out from there but someone gets her before him.

Jun Rong is interested in Shun Ai – not in her singing but her looks. He tries to get fresh with her and she escapes. She sobs as she wishes to be a real singer and not a bimbo.

Lian Yi returns from Milan and discovers that there are unpleasant rumours about her and Jun Li. She bears this in silence. Jun Li’s uncle uses the falling sales of JS for 3 years for an excuse and demands a change in the personal department. He persuades Jun Li’s grandfather to get his own son, Jun Rong, to be the GM.

Jun Li gets bullied when he is demoted. Lian Yi is being transferred back to work for Mrs An again.

The photographer, Sophia, can’t forget Jun Li and comes to look for Jun Li. Yi Hua is shocked to see her resembling Lian Yi and realizes why Jun Li treats her well. Sophia and Jun Li were once in love but his grandfather opposed the relationship. She left in anger and married an Italian man. After the divorce, she returns. Jun Li is determined to marry her but does not get his grandfather’s support again. Sophia is tormented to know that and drinks in despair. Jun Li tries hard to console her.

Jiang Min announces his planned marriage to Lian Yi to protest against his father. This gives Lian Yi more pressure instead. Yi Hua and Mrs An lie to General Jiang that Lian Yi often goes out to try to attract the rich men’s sons. First, her target was Jun Li and now it is Jiang Min. General Jiang is so annoyed that he tells his men to abduct her to teach her a lesson. She then asks for a breakup and both ignore each other.

Mrs An and Jun Rong have plans to expand their business into China’s markets. But they are cheated of their money in the end. Jun Rong flees and his grandfather is very disappointed so he gives Jun Li his original post. Sophia decides not to affect his career and leaves for Italy. Jun Li still helps the Ans to rebuild their career but they are still snobbish towards Lian Yi.

Jiang Min is jealous upon seeing Lian Yi going to Jun Li’s home. He gives both a lift as Jun Li’s car is under repair. Do laugh at this scene where the three of them squeeze to sit right at the front because Jiang Min’s car is a BMW convertible and there isn’t any space at the rear! Jiang Min is so mad seeing the two of them almost touching each other's faces!

Jiang Min’s mother dies after recognizing him. Lian Yi tries to console him despite having her own problems. But she finds the gap wider between them because of his popularity. Jiang Min also mistakens that she is now in love with Jun Li and both have a cold war.

Shun Ai is a recording singer all along and is discovered that she can’t sing ‘live’ and her reputation is ruined. She decides to return to her hometown to think of what she should do in the future.

Jiang Min buries his sorrow in music. Jun Li gives him a beating to wake him up as he is hurting all of them. Jiang Min then gives him a ticket to pass to Lian Yi to attend his concert. This includes a note telling her that he loves her till his death. Jun Li tells Lian Yi to cherish their love. He also settles the office matters before going to Italy to search for Sophia.

Lian Yi is touched and runs to the concert venue. Even General Jiang turns up to give his support to find out more about his son. Jiang Min finds Lian Yi among the crowd and jumps downstage. He sings ‘Forever’ to her. Both embrace among cheers from the crowd.

Introduction on characters

  1. Li Lian Yi – Choi Jin Sil
    She is considered another successful actress after Sum Yun Ha. Her acting is quite natural but I feel that this character is unrealistic. No one can really put up with all the suffering for so long. She is 3 years older than Ahn but they look very compatible. A pity that she reduced her works after her marriage. I have not seen any new works from her.

  2. Jiang Min – Ahn Jae Wook
    This character is rebellious to go against his father’s wishes and dares to pursue his own dreams and love. His upbringing gives his an air of elegance. He often does things for Lian Yi without asking for her consent. He is like a man with a boy’s heart.

    Initially, Ahn looks cool with a long fringe like a playboy. After that, he looks amazingly young with a shorter cut but still equally cool. Many like his character and simply fall for him. Ahn’s acting is quite good although some crying scenes over the suffering of Jiang Min's mother look too exaggerating.

  3. Li Jun Li – Cha In Pyo
    He is the perfect gentleman as Xiang Zhe as in ‘All About Eve’. He goes all out to help his friends and also knows how to settle his love affairs in a calm way. I find Cha a bit stiff in here, he only needs to create poses for himself. Not much injection into feelings.

  4. Mrs An - Piao Yuan Shu (You Zhen’s mother in ‘All About Eve’)
    She is the typical Cinderella’s stepmother who is a snob and ill-treats Lian Yi. A bit over the top with over classy dressing and hats. I don’t really like her acting in here.

  5. Mr An
    This man treats all his children equally but tends to show more concern for Lian Yi. Once he is so disturbed as Yi Hua tricks him into believing that Lian Yi has returned home when he goes to pick them from school. He stands at the door waiting for her to return anxiously.

    He is speechless but can do nothing when she walks back in the cold weather from a very far distance. He has to keep the truth from her and is never a happy man till his death despite being rich.

  6. An Yi Fan – Piao Zhe (Xian Da in ‘All About Eve’)
    Yi Fan is a good for nothing who only knows how to ask money from his mother.

    He tries hard to lick Jun Li’s boots by introducing models from his own modeling agency but Jun Li's response is lukewarm upon seeing Yi Fan's attitude. His acting is still fine. He has set eyes on Lian Yi for a long time, right from peeking at her when she is bathing to harassing her at the boutique. Serves him right when Jiang Min beats him up!

  7. An Yi Hua – Zhao Mei Ling
    She is the typical Cinderella’s stepsister. Actually I like her straight hair as a student – to perm her hair to produce her image as a working woman gives disastrous results as the dressing is terrible. She is jealous of Jiang Min and Jun Li’s attention towards Lian Yi.

    So she tries all ways to stop them and frame Lian Yi in private and at work. She is so thick-skinned to say that Lian Yi copies her works when Jun Li confronts her with the evidence. Even so, she still gives a smile – I guess the word ‘shy’ is never in her dictionary.

    She is quite pitiful in a way. I remember a scene when she cries in his studio when he tells her frankly that he only treats her like a younger sister. Another will be her sneaking into his apartment and kissing him when he is sleeping! Quite natural acting from this actress.

  8. Yang Shun Ai – Quan Du Yan (Wen Zhu in ‘Happy Together')
    She has been tricked endless times just because she wants to be a singer. She can’t sing well and thus she is unhappy. Lian Yi is her only friend who offers her comfort but she is also jealous of her because she loves Jiang Min too. Shun Ai is so jealous that she even works for Jun Rong, thinking he will make her into a star. But not being able to sing ‘live’ in a concert ruins her chances and she returns to hometown. Still, before going back, she manages to reconcile with Lian Yi.

    I don’t think she is very good in crying scenes here. I still find her better in ‘Happy Together’.

  9. Li Jun Rong
    Another good for nothing like Yi Fan. Both go for women and drinks but he has a hunger for power too. I wonder why his grandfather is so stupid to trust him instead of trusting the capable Jun Li.

    He jeopardizes all the chances of success. Knowing that Lian Yi is Jun Li’s trusted subordinate, he also belittles her to give all of them a very small room to work. Still, they have no complains and work very hard. The Ans try to curry favour with him every now and then.

    He does not listen to Jun Li’s advice in penetrating into China markets and thus flees when the company is in dire straits, leaving his poor cousin to pick up the mess.

  10. Sophia – Choi Jin Sil
    What a change from the demure Lian Yi! She has long hair, thick make-up and smokes too. She is a very successful photographer and has loved Jun Li all along. However, his family’s opposition gives her a lot of pressure.

    Because of her looks, Jun Li tends to treat Lian Yi better. He is not in love with her as he still misses Sophia. He is just trying to make amends in a way because Sophia is not accepted by his family.

    The Ans are stunned upon seeing her at the boutique. Even Yi Hua thinks that she is Lian Yi at first! Later, they bootlick her upon knowing her fame to promote the shop. But I don’t like this character because she always takes out on Jun Li when she is angry.

    Her acting here is only satisfactory. This character actually has more room in development. Is there any reason on why she looks like Lian Yi? Are they long-lost sisters or twins? Too bad the producer doesn’t provide an answer. As Cha is about 15 cm taller than Choi, she tends to wear very high heels here. I wonder how she can walk with ease?

  11. General Jiang
    He loves his son but he is too harsh on him. Thus there are many conflicts between them. He actually tries hard to keep the truth that his mother is still alive from Jiang Min. (Whether this is to protect Jiang Min or to protect his own image – I am not that sure). But I do like him being a loyal friend of Mr An – that is not to reveal the actual identity of Lian Yi to his other family members.

  12. Mrs Jiang
    She is a famous ex-actress. No clue on how she turns mad but it puzzles me why General Jiang opposes to Jiang Min being a singer since he is involved with a celebrity himself. She has lost her mind and doesn’t even recognize her son when they meet. She only remembers him as a baby taken away from her and even begs him to return him to her. It really breaks Jiang Min’s heart to see this. However, when he comes to see her for the last time before her death and recognizes him.

Favourite character
Jiang Min. He is frank and not afraid of failure. He is also a romantic although he can be very impulsive.

Most hated character
Mrs An. She is too bossy and thinks too highly of herself. When Jun Li comments that her designs are outdated, she refuses to accept it. She tries to say bad things about Lian Yi upon finding her sitting right beside Yi Hua when both get into JS. Luckily, Jun Li simply ignores her.

When others praise Lian Yi’s designs, she is displeased too. She is unable to move with the times and is too proud to admit failure. Many will shake their heads upon seeing how she spoils her children rotten.

Songs
There are many songs sung by Ahn Jae Wook. I am not sure of the titles. Many will like the song ‘Forever’ but I prefer ‘Always By Your Side’, which is a fast-paced song. It sound like Chage & Aska’s ‘Megurai’ at the start – it has a more romantic feel.

Interesting facts
The producer had chosen Choi and Cha as the main cast but hadn’t made his mind who to choose for to act for Jiang Min. He screened almost all the young Korean actors before deciding on Ahn to be the lead. Ahn described that this character is so attractive as he had a very ‘in’ outlook and fit physique.

Moreover, he could sing all the songs that he liked. So he decided to change the viewers’ impression of him as a young and kind undergraduate image from his past serial.

At first MBC intended to hold a contest to choose a suitable Jiang Min from the acting class. They were afraid that the sunshine Ahn was unable to fit into the rebellious role. This made Ahn work harder for it. Many singers at that time would keep long hair touching the shoulders – he does the reverse – keeping his fringe very long.

He also rejected all torn jeans and black leather jackets. He insisted on using black or grey suits to project the image. Because of this, he had many quarrels with the clothing unit. But it is later proved that he was correct in his choice.

To blend into the role, he smoked more than usual (2 packets a day), slept anywhere he liked and didn’t smile much. He also attempted different kinds of food. And of course, he also drank more than usual but he could hold his liquor well. One to three bottles of soju wine didn’t pose any difficulty to him. It is a miracle that his voice wasn’t damaged by all these vices.

Choi Jin Sil’s popularity rose in Korea, China and Taiwan after this serial was aired. But the person who benefited the most is Ahn Jae Wook. At that time, Cha In Pyo was already more popular than Ahn.

But because his ‘Brother Xiao Min’ character was so popular, he jumped from the supporting role to the lead role. In comparison, Cha was a bit neglected but in front of reporters, he still congratulated Ahn on his success.

This serial opened doors for Ahn Jae Wook to opening concerts in China. He was the first star to be most fluent in Mandarin and the most popular Korean star in 2000. All his concerts, CDs, Dvds, vcds go to the top of the lists.

Many China fans were mad over this serial when it is shown in China in 2000. Besides being attracted to Ahn Jae Wook, many also wanted to know the actor who portrayed Jun Li. They felt that this character is such a forgiving and devoted diamond bachelor who is also gentle and good towards friends.

Many felt that he stole Jiang Min’s glamour. One message by a fan on Cha’s profile in a few words appeased a large crowd easily. His popularity isn’t lower than Ahn’s but it is just that his information is too limited so the heat is reduced. Cha also learnt Mandarin to get closer to his fans.

This serial was as popular as Jang Dong Gan’s ‘Models’ when aired in China. A Taiwanese station held a vote contest to choose the most popular serial. It beat ‘Fireworks’ to be number one. (At this ime ‘All about Eve’ and ‘Endless Love’ were not shown yet.)

The last scene of Jiang Min’s concert was actually Ahn’s real concert and the crew just shot it out of convenience. A way to save money on the extras! The song ‘Forever’ became his well-known work and is a must-sing song at all his concerts.

This song got into KBC song list and MBC best of the best chart among the top 10.

There is a less known incident on the ending. Initially, the producer had not wanted a happy ending. He wanted Jiang Min to be responsible to Shun Ai and marries her. Many Koreans opposed the ending. How can they still have the traditional thought of forcing someone to marry another whom he doesn’t love. Some even threatened to kill themselves if this came true. MBC had no choice but to satisfy all with the happy ending.

Be prepared to find Kim Jung Eun (Yong Xi in ‘All About Eve) as an extra in here as Jun Li’s secretary. The funny part is Piao Zhe, the actor as her husband Xian Da in ‘All About Eve’ is also in here to flatter her about her looks before going to see Jun Li all the time!

Conclusion
Actually this is a very typical Cinderella story that will appeal to many. With good-looking artistes, it is quite attractive. However, you may have to put up with the unnatural acting from many of them since they are still inexperienced. The story is quite predictable too and offers little surprises.

I find the bullying scenes too fake. But if you are a big fan of Ahn, Cha and Choi, you must watch it to compare their acting skills now. Moreover, it is hard to see Ahn acting and singing in the same serial too.

Sukting's Ratings:

On acting: *** (Scale of 5)

On story: ***1/2 (Scale of 5)


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