Wednesday, January 3, 2018

K DRAMA Review: Descendants of the Sun (2016)

태양의 후예



Episodes: 16

Screenwriter: Kim Eun-sook (Goblin [2017], Heirs [2013], Secret Garden [2010])

Meaning Behind the Title

People who sacrifice their own lives and happiness to do their work in the service of others are said to be "Descendants of the Sun"



Story Genre & Elements

  • Romance
  • Comedy
  • Melodrama
  • Action
  • Bro-mance
  • Doctors Drama
  • Military Drama
  • Gangster Drama
  • Natural Disaster
  • Family Drama
  • Travel
  • Redemption
  • Epidemic Disease
  • North Korea
  • The Privilege of Heirs

Actors

Song Joong Ki as You She Jin
Song Hye Gyo as Kang Mo Neon
Jin Goo as Seo Dae Young
Kim Ji Won as Yoon Myung Joo


Plot


Yoo Shi Jin, Commanding Officer of a Korean special forces unit, meets Kang Mo Yeon, a Doctor at Haesung Hospital, at the Emergency Room where a young thief has stolen his cell phone.

The thief is injured and refusing to stay in the hospital.  Doctor Kang suspects he is in a gang and mistakes the Army Captain for a Gang Leader.


After the misunderstanding is cleared up the two cannot deny there is an attraction between them.

However, as they get to know one another, they realize their views and work clash terribly.  The Doctor has taken the Hippocratic Oath to heal all, and the Army Captain vows to save the many by killing the few that would do them harm.

On top of this clash of morals, the nature of Yoo Shi Jin's career is highly classified, highly random, and high risk.

If they continue to date Kang Mo Yeon would live a life not knowing where he was, how long he would be gone, or even what happened to him, if he did not make it home.

The two talk this over and go their separate ways.

But fate has something different in store for them.  Eight months later, the two meet again when they are both stationed in a remote, demilitarized zone, in Uruk.

In Uruk they are forced into close living and working proximity, where they cannot help but admire what each other is capable of, making it nearly impossible to deny their deep connection.



Secondary Plot


Seo Dae Young is a non-commissioned officer. Very skilled at his job, loyal, and straight faced.  He will not break commands lightly.  Yoo Shi Jin, his Commanding Officer, is also his best friend.

And Yoon Myung Joo, Officer, Army Doctor, and daughter of the Lieutenant General, is the love of his life.


For much of the drama Seo Dae Young avoids Yoon Myung Joo who wants to be together regardless of their duty, rank, and who her father happens to be.  To stern Seo Dae Young, this is impossible.

Their full story unfolds in flashbacks throughout the entirety of the drama.



Consistency


This drama includes a large cast, major location changes, subplots of different genre's, and time skips / flashbacks.  Yet, it remains consistent in tone and met my viewer expectations.

The humor, bro-mance, unity among the Doctors Squad, unity among the Military Squad, and the difficulties the romances face is established early on, and carried through the entire drama.  


So even when our characters are faced with an immature Heir throwing his weight around, a minefield, a single-minded thug, a car going over the edge of a cliff, a natural disaster, a deadly outbreak of disease, or a threat from North Korea

 -- [Yes. Really!  A LOT happens in this drama!] --

The characters reactions feel true to themselves the entire time.


I really appreciate the portrayal of delayed love and relationships unfolding between these characters.

The way that Doctor Kang, and Officer Seo Dae Young turn away from their feelings (in their respective love stories) after recognizing the red flags felt very true to character.

These two are intelligent, strategic, and morally strong individuals.  Not the type to say "oh well we'll make it work."


As the drama progresses, the two romantic plots take steps forward, and back, as feelings grow stronger, and work life/duty continues to get in the way.  There is also a strong reluctance to getting hurt.




What is the Major Charm of this Drama?

  1. The Humor
  2. The Bro-mance
  3. The Doctors
  4. Song Joong Ki pulling off a goofy, yet badass, character



Despite the (at times) heavy handed melodrama that naturally comes with the seriousness of each subplot, and the major themes of self-sacrifice, duty, and morals -- this drama was so funny!

Dialog is cute, witty, and extremely endearing.

The loyalty of friendship between Yoo Shi Jin and Seo Dae Young is authentic and a great source of comedy.  Its totally a funny man x straight man type of humor, but really finds ways to shine in each new scenario they find themselves in.


The Doctors gossiping, joking, or commenting on anything and everything creates perfect breaks from the melodrama.


The humor really adds to the portrayal of the main couple falling in love.



How is the Ending?


Perfect!  My only complaint is that I did not want it to end.  The ending fit the right tone, met viewer expectations, and was really satisfying!  



Cry-O-Meter: 3/10

The last three episodes did make me cry a little.

Laugh-O-Meter: 9/10

I laughed in every episode. I have also watched this drama 3 times.

Cringe-O-Meter: 0/10

Nothing to mention.

Soundtrack: 8/10

Upbeat pop tracks, and ballads, dominate the soundtrack, in addition to, a few slower, more emotional, tracks.

My favorite song off the soundtrack is "Say It!  What are You Doing?" by K.Will



Watch this Drama!

I strongly recommend you watch Descendants of the Sun.  Even if you have never watched a Korean Drama before.  The storytelling is excellent and the characters will stay with you.

The beautifully filtered scenery and upbeat music is sure to improve your mood.  You will laugh!  And the enduring love stories will warm your heart.



Thanks for reading!
Amanda


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