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Ko Sung-hee, Yoon Hyun-min and an AI in between in ‘My Holo Love’

By: Ruth L. Navarra

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A distance of 1,628 miles separated Yoon Hyun-min and Ko Sung-hee in Seoul from our group in Manila. Television screens and internet service brought us together.  Afterwards, an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered app automatically transcribed the conversation. Yoon perfectly described the afternoon. 

“The fact that we are holding this press conference while we are here and you are (there). This is something that I couldn’t even imagine when I was a child.  Yet, here we are. This is our reality,” he said.

This is how Yoon presented the Netflix Original series “My Holo Love” as the future’s possibility and not a fantasy. The series is about So-yeon (Ko), a lonely woman who unwittingly becomes the beta tester for an AI companion called Holo.   

Ko Sung-hee and Yoon Hyun-min in “My Holo Love” photos from Netflix

Dual personality

She suffers from face blindness and thus easily became reliant on Holo’s capability to do things for her.  Yoon plays both Holo and its creator, Nan-do. The actor revealed that playing the dual role is the challenge of this drama.  Holo and Nan-do look exactly alike, but their personalities are polar opposites of each other. Holo is charming while Nan-do is abrasive.

Yoon (“Mama Fairy and the Woodcutter”) said that he had to work heavily on his concentration to do both characters.  He still vividly remembers a scene where Nan-do and Holo were conversing sincerely, smiling and bidding each other farewell. He described the scene as emotionally intense.   But playing Holo posed an extra challenge.  

He could not stop crying for both characters. Holo is supposed to be devoid of any emotions.  He discussed this with the show’s director Lee Sang-yeop (“Shopaholic Louis”). Yoon argued that since Holo is based on a human, shouldn’t he be allowed to at least one tear?  Lee relented, but not without a condition. Holo’s tears must drop from the center of his eye.  

“I was happy to oblige.  The problem was, as a human being,  the tears would fall from the corner of my eyes.  The director said that it was too human,” he said to a laughing press. “I actually had to act for two hours trying to really get that (right) teardrop.”

Holo, anyone?

The challenge for Ko (“Suits Korea”) as So-yeon is bringing the relationship she had with an AI.  Specifically, how can a human being develop feelings for a hologram. The most difficult scene for her was when she was crying in the rain and Holo appeared to comfort her. 

“This is an important scene. It’s the turning point for So-yeon because this is when she begins to accept Holo as an actual being in her life,” Ko said. 

The Holo eyeglasses are the red and blue pill in this drama.  How are they going to use Holo if it was theirs to command. Ko said that she would probably be surprised and a little afraid.  But then she imagines that she would get used to it until it becomes inseparable from her. 

Sadness, begone

Yoon thinks that Holo can be a cure for sadness. 

“We all have times when we feel a little blue and we need some comfort in our lives. I think when those times come, Holo would be very convenient to have.  It could cheer me up and make me laugh,” he said. “But on the other hand, I think it could be a little bit eerie thinking that AI is to take the place of roles previously or currently played by human beings.”

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The two fistbumps when they were asked to describe how it was working with each other.  They both praised each other. Ko said that she had the most open conversation with Yoon while he loved her energy.  

If they could give each other’s characters life tips, what advice would they give them?

“For So-yeon, I would like to say that if you feel lonely or if you have a sense of loneliness, don’t take it all by yourself. Reach out, stretch out your hand because there is going to be someone that can help you,” Yoon said.  

Ko had one piece of advice for Holo and Nan-do, “I would say that you are both enough. Holo even when he is an AI is enough.  And Nan-do, despite all the hurt inside him, is enough. He is already an amazing human being.” 

“My Holo Love” is streaming on Netflix.

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