Love triangles are complicated in and of itself, but what happens when you add in another layer of complication with Artificial Intelligence (AI)? Enters “My Holo Love” (나 홀로 그대).
Netflix’s latest Kdrama is described as “a heartwarming love story of the loneliest people in today’s society”. Yoon Hyun-min (윤현민) and Ko Sung-hee (고성희) star opposite each other in this series, alongside Choi Yeo-jin (최여진) and Hwang Chan-seong (황찬성).
1. The storyline for “My Holo Love”
“Suffering from face blindness, a lonely woman isolates herself from other people. If there was one unchanging face in her life, could she warm up to the world outside? One day, destiny finally sends her someone she is able to recognise. While he always supports and helps her, she can’t even touch his hands.
Here’s a man whose superb intelligence enables him to do anything. An AI-powered hologram, ‘Holo’; is capable of averting any danger, has limitless intelligence, and he is especially kind. Holo is a perfect being who shows up and makes her smile anytime, anywhere So-yeon needs him. But there is one thing he cannot do – he is unable to hold her in his arms.
A man named Nan-do moves in next door to So-yeon. He is Holo’s creator, but he is neither as kind, nor as warm as his creation. Nan-do watches Holo, created in his exact likeness, and So-yeon, who happens to be Holo’s beta tester. One day, Nan-do, who had lived like a ghost escaping the memories of his past, makes up his mind to go back out into the world.
These three whose paths are so suddenly entangled have one thing in common: they are all lonely and imperfect. My Holo Love begins with So-yeon’s isolated routine, always keeping her distance from the world. The story expands with the introduction of Holo who, through his encounters with So-yeon, gradually realises his limitations; and Nan-do, who begins to develop new feelings through the two. The show is an intriguing, exhilarating and emotional depiction of three people – each overcoming their unique insecurities and loneliness to grow together.”
2. How the idea for “My Holo Love” came about
The idea for “My Holo Love” came about during a conversation between director Lee and writer Ryu after watching the movie “Her”, which revolves around an AI’s ability to learn and adapt. Months later, Ryu created a unique story about a hologram called Holo.
“A few years ago at a small bar, I had a conversation with writer Ryu Yong-jae about the film ‘Her’. Then, too occupied with another project, I’d forgotten about our conversation until several months later when Ryu showed up with a story about Holo. Reading the script, I thought, ‘This is it!’; I immediately knew I wanted to tell that story. It dealt with the fundamental question about the role of technology: Beyond simply making human lives more convenient, what will technology ultimately bring to our seemingly glamorous but alienated lives, and to our fertile yet desolate minds? It was an intriguing story that had to be told to call our collective attention to the topic,” recalled Lee.
3. Is the show’s central focus on AI?
The short answer is no.
Although AI is a unique theme in the storyline, “My Holo Love” is ultimately about people – particularly lonely people. “‘My Holo Love’ even deals with fundamental questions about the role of technology: Beyond simply making human lives more convenient, what will these technologies ultimately bring to our seemingly glamorous but alienated lives and our fertile but desolate minds? It was an intriguing story that had to be told to call our collective attention to the topic,” said the filmmaker.
4. About Holo
Holo is derived from hologram. Plus, “holo” also sounds similar to “alone” in Korean. In this setting, one can only see Holo wearing special glasses. Think of him like a special friend who only watches and listens to the user.
Since Holo is not meant to be a mere symbol of future technologies in the show, Lee wanted the AI to be an independent being and not be confined to holographic lenses. With that in mind, the director several versions of Holo – changing visually depending on by whom Holo is viewed, and which world he views.
“Holo’s primary visual based on So-yeon’s point of view. If you look closer, he is a hologram, but at a glance, he looks exactly like a human. From So-yeon’s perspectives, Holo is as good as a human. From the third-person omniscient viewpoint, however, Holo is described with a subtle blurring of colors, lower saturation, brightness modifications and digital textures. His holographic property emerges clearly when an object passes through him or he comes under bright lights. The image of the world from Holo’s viewpoint was created as well. Depending on the nature of the scene, the world he sees is expressed with blurred images as if created by digital technology or simply with a flow of digital codes,” the director explained.
5. This drama combines technologies with sensibilities unique to Korean culture
“I tried to incorporate futuristic human senses and interactions into the framework of a Korean-style romantic drama. When it came to art, computer graphics, and visuals, we strived to make them as realistic as possible, and we present Holo in a way that fits each setting. A specific structure was maintained in the story-building where characters are introduced to the show in a sequence by trivial events and then build and expand relationships. Also, I tried to express changes in the perspectives of the story. It begins with So-yeon’s point of view, which develops into Holo’s perception of the world. It
then moves to the perspective of Nan-do observing these two, and then finally zooms out to an omniscient viewpoint,” Lee added.
6. Why the director went with Yoon Hyun-min and Ko Sung-hee as the main leads
“While Yoon crafts a character by expressing nuanced emotions elaborately, Ko comfortably goes with the flow rather naturally. Their opposite acting styles unexpectedly create an
interesting tension that builds into a good chemistry,” said Lee, before claiming that the pair have a perfect dynamic between each other.
7. Yoon Hyun-min on playing dual roles who are very much different
In his first ever dual role, Yoon plays AI-powered Holo and his genius developer Nan-do – they are identical in appearance but have different personalities. To differentiate the two, the 34-year-old actor would modulated his speech speed and style, body movement patterns, and even his physical reactions to express a variation of nuances. While Holo is “very kind, caring, and warmhearted”, Nan-do is “a sharp and cold person who isolates himself” from everyone else.
“Because Holo was a character that continues to grow through each episode, calculative acting seemed unnecessary. Nan-do is a lonely person who isolates himself from the world, but, by meeting So-yeon, he begins to express feelings and emotions that he didn’t even realise existed. Playing Nan-do, I tried to express that aspect of his innocence. I would lose sleep at night, agonising over how to handle these two opposing characters. But now that the show is finally over after a six-month odyssey, I feel that I have grown a lot,” the South Korean star was quoted as saying.
8. The challenges of playing someone with facial blindness disorder
“So-yeon is a woman who suffers from a disorder of face blindness. On the outside, she’s a very successful career woman, but she’s keeping the secret of her disability from others. She always feels lonely, and people think she’s a very cold person,” Ko Sung-hee explained.
She continued, “At the beginning of the show where her disorder symptoms were displayed obviously, there weren’t many of these types of scenes in the script, and so it was tricky that I had to keep that in mind throughout. The way I truly wanted to portray So-yeon was that I wanted her to exude an aura of a coldhearted, successful career woman at work, but at home, I wanted her to be more relaxed and off-guard, like enjoying a drink by herself.”
9. The supporting characters
Choi Yeo-jin portrays Yu-jin, Nan-do’s older sister and CEO of GIO Lab. She is deeply invested in the AI, Holo, and is also a protective sibling to her genius brother.
Hwang Chan-seong (from 2PM) plays an executive of GIO Lab’s competitor Magic Mirror. His character is always intimidated by Chairman Baek, his overbearing father. He approaches Yu-jin to obtain Holo, a technologically superior AI to his own company’s product.
10. Episodes and release date
“My Holo Love” is a single season series with 12 episodes. The new Kdrama will debut on Netflix on 7th February 2020.