Romance is found in an odd place as a woman falls in love with artificial intelligence, yet her encounter with its creator sends her spiralling into doubt and confusion.
Han So Yeon (Ko Sung Hee) suffers from a face blindness disorder (prosopagnosia) and lives reclusively, attempting to hide her disorder from others. Seeming unsociable and rude, she lives with negative labels despite being shy and easygoing in reality. Her life’s problems are resolved when she discovers a mysterious pair of glasses in her bag one morning, setting off the technological trigger that makes the glasses activate. Putting them on, she encounters Holo (Yoon Hyun Min) who’s meant to fulfil the wishes of its owner. Having no friends or someone dear to her, So Yeon begins to open up to Holo and even finds solace in the courage and assurance his existence brings to her life but when she meets Go Nan Do (Yoon Hyun Min) Holo’s creator, who demands that she returns the glasses, things go from good to bad, to worse.
I guess I should start with what I liked about the series because the premise and teaser were extremely intriguing and I don’t recall watching a drama since Are You Human Too that focused on a more humanistic conception of artificial intelligence and technology as a whole. The first few episodes really kept me grounded and loving the pacing and direction of the story because it was refreshing to see such quick character growth and change in So Yeon early on as Holo becomes a part of her daily routine. Once she falls in love with him however, I began to question her sanity but knew the writers were setting up a morbid love triangle between So Yeon, Holo, and Nan Do. That aside, the technological ideals the drama tries to address are interesting on their own and add a layer of appeal to the series as a whole because it really explores imaginative avenues. I like how this gets revealed earlier on but because so much of what makes this drama good is given to us within the first 5 episodes, it makes the latter half stale and messy.
Not only does the love triangle become ridiculous later on as the female lead falls in love with a hologram – a literal replication of Nan Do despite their personalities being polar opposites of each other, but it becomes more complicated and lands in a trope pile as childhood connections are uncovered. I will say though, that the show does deserve credit for creating a sticky romantic situation for the benefit of the viewers and that’s setting the bar high by having a supposedly perfect hologram that does everything for the female lead (besides the physical) and making the very flawed, ill-tempered Nan Do compete against his perfect creation.
There’s definitely an entertaining quality of seeing all of this play out since it makes Nan Do’s life a whole lot harder as he tries to win the girl. And So Yeon falling for a hologram does act as a motif within the show since her love for Holo has limitations and becomes “hollow” since he’s programmed by design to function in a specific way to make her happy. Romance stemming from specific rules and functions is artificial to its core so there is a deeper dualism being teased out if you dwell on it.
Another thing that can’t be left out and was good about this series is how the actors approached their characters and the drama itself. With very little material to draw upon in terms of tech-meets-love kind of storyline, the actors should be given credit for how they’ve managed to deliver. I’ve seen both Yoon Hyun Min and Ko Sung Hee in a lot of supporting roles but it was nice to see their potential being exposed and the chemistry either actor is capable of creating if ever offered more romantic genre roles. One thing’s for sure, I’m a huge Ko Sung Hee fan after this since her acting range was put on display in this series and she gives off a very likeable vibe to her persona.
Now to what I didn’t like. My real qualm with this drama is how it wrapped up and proceeded with its more melodramatic elements…I also don’t buy the convenience of childhood friends in this scenario. It’s cute but still far too convenient even if the connection is vital for the end game. I don’t love it but I can see where they’re coming from…I guess?
The villain of the story, the trauma, and the supposed means to solve the mysteries within the drama were very faulty and even poorly executed. So if you watch this drama, you do so at the risk of knowing this in advance! I found myself skimming through a lot of scenes towards the end since the charm and allure of the beginning just seems to fade and something feels amiss.
I took the liberty to look up the writers and directors and it turns out that an additional director comes on board for the second half of the show which makes me wonder if the quality of writing and storytelling becomes messy as a result of this. So I guess what I’m getting at is that this was good but definitely not great for certain reasons.
My Holo Love has its charms and its faults, exploring a genre niche that is still new to the K-drama world. I wouldn’t immediately cross it off the list of 2020 dramas to watch since it still has interesting aspects to it, but I also wouldn’t place it on the top of my list either. With only 12 episodes, the drama’s duration helped to avoid it from being a total miss and the chemistry helped to keep my interest alive as well. Whether you choose to watch this or not, just be mindful that you won’t be seeing something wholly exceptional – this ranks right in the middle, not at the top and not at the bottom either.
Release Date: February 7, 2020 (Eng Sub available on Netflix)