Imagine a world where artificial intelligence (AI) is so advanced, they’ve learned to develop emotions and form their own identity. Enter, My Holo Love. This Netflix original Korean drama follows Han So-yeon (Go Sung-hee), a marketing manager at an eyewear company. So-yeon’s life changes when a hologram device called Holo (Yoon Hyun-min) enters her seemingly mundane and hard life. As the two bond and learn more about each other, their feelings for each other grow. My Holo Love thus asks us: is love between an AI and a human even possible?
A Holographic Romance
Genius programmer Ko Nan-do created Holo in his own image. Nan-do, a cold character, describes himself as a “ghost,” not only shutting himself off from the world but also from his own emotions. He created Holo to be his friend and only companion in life.
Holo is special because you can only see him with a special type of glasses; So-yeon accidentally gets a pair amidst a corporate espionage attempt. So-yeon becomes the glasses’ first beta tester, as Holo enters her life to be a friend. In Nan-do’s attempts to retrieve the glasses from So-yeon, he finds himself drawn to her—but there’s a problem: So-yeon is face blind, and doesn’t recognize that Nan-do looks identical to Holo. This kicks off a complicated love triangle between the creator, creation, and beta tester.
My Holo Love depicts its technologically-advanced world by moving through the different perspectives of each of the three main characters. The series starts from So-yeon’s viewpoint, but as Holo and Nan-do enter her life, viewers see the story unravel through each of their eyes as well. The varying perspectives of each member of the love triangle reinforces My Holo Love‘s underlying theme of loving and being loved; this narrative technique also reinforces the relationship dynamics between creator, creation, and beta tester.
An Exploration of Loneliness
My Holo Love could be a Black Mirror episode given its take on technology, but sci-fi rom-coms aren’t new. In a way, My Holo Love can be seen as a cousin of other similar dramas like Are You Human and My Absolute Boyfriend, only instead of robots, we have an AI manifested as a hologram, lacking a physical body.
This lack of physical contact is a limitation for So-yeon’s relationship with Holo, adding salt to the wound of her impossible love. Viewers can find a resemblance between the movie Her and My Holo Love, as the 2013 American sci-fi movie served as inspiration for My Holo Love‘s director and writer.
While My Holo Love explores themes in technology, all in all its story looks more at people—especially lonely people and the role that technology can play in their lives. Even the name of the series, “Holo,” is similar to the word for “alone” in Korean.
Besides bringing convenience to our lives, what else can technology bring? Can Alexa be our friend? Talking to Siri and asking her questions is perhaps something that we’ve done before. My Holo Love expands on these questions.
Light-Hearted Fare With a Side of Social Commentary
My Holo Love is easy to like. The first half is fun and light-hearted, and the plot escalates quickly in the second half as it becomes more of a sci-fi action drama. There are some slight pacing problems when the love triangle starts, and the series suffers from a seemingly rushed ending. As a Korean romantic drama, My Holo Love unfortunately doesn’t escape typical cliches and tropes like connections with long-lost childhood friends, or a wealthy, lonely, genius male lead.
However, My Holo Love makes up for that with its complex characters — whether it’s the main or the supporting characters, they’re all lonely individuals with their own battles in life.
It can easy to ignore the potentially harmful effects of AI amidst the romance and fluffy scenes in the drama, but My Holo Love makes sure to show that if AI technology is abused or falls into the hands of those with ill intentions, any AI can be considered harmful—even one as handsome and innocent as Holo.
My Holo Love is about connecting people, whether it’s through the help of technology or not. Ultimately, the series argues that love is a greater force than most things in the world, because love, unlike technology, is not artificially created. That may sound cliche to many, but true fans of Korean drama will definitely love the nuance in the series. But even if you’re just looking for a fun, light watch, My Holo Love is well worth your time.
“My Holo Love” is now available on Netflix.
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My Holo Love (Korean: 나 홀로 그대)—South Korea. Dialog in Korean. Directed by Lee Sang-yeop and Yoon Jong-ho. First released February 7, 2020. Starring Yoon Hyun-min, Ko Sung-hee, Choi Yeo-jin.