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Descendants of the Sun : Overview, Cast, 4 Fun Facts & More

Overview of Descendants of the Sun

‘Descendants of the Sun’ is a 2016 South Korean television series starring Song Joong-ki, Song Hye-kyo, Jin-goo, and Kim Ji-won. It has 16 episodes and is broadcast on KBS2 from February 24 to April 14, 2016. Following that, KBS broadcast three extra special episodes from April 20 to April 22, 2016, that featured the series’ top moments as well as behind-the-scenes material, cast commentary, and the drama’s closing finale.

The show was a huge success in South Korea, where it peaked at 38.8% viewer share. It garnered multiple honours, including the 52nd Baeksang Arts Awards’ Grand Prize in television and the Korea Broadcasting Advertising Corporation’s title of Most Popular Show of the Year.

Profile

  • Drama: ‘Descendants of the Sun’
  • Directors: Lee Eun-bok, Baek Sang-hoon, Yoo Jong-son
  • Writer: Kim Eun-sook, Kim Won-suk
  • Network: KBS2
  • Episodes: 16
  • Release date: February 24 – April 14, 2016
  • Language: Korean
  • Country: South Korea

Cast

Main cast:

  • Song Joong-ki – Captain Yoo Si-jin
  • Song Hye-kyo – Doctor Kang Mo-yeon
  • Jin-goo – Master Sergeant Seo Dae-young
  • Kim Ji-won – First Lieutenant Yoon Myung-ju

Synopsis

A South Korean Special Forces unit is commanded by Yoo Si-jin (Song Joong-ki). While off-duty, he and his friend Master Sergeant Seo Dae-young (Jin-goo) catch a teenager who is stealing a motorcycle. The chase results in an injury to the thief, Kim Gi-bum (Kim Min-seok), who is then taken to the hospital. When Dae-young realises the burglar had taken his cellphone, he and Si-jin head to the hospital to collect it.

In the emergency room, Si-jin meets Dr Kang Mo-yeon for the first time and is instantly attracted to her. Mo-yeon mistakenly assumes Si-jin is part of the thief’s criminal gang after overhearing Dae-young address him as ‘Big Boss’, which is his call sign. He proves his identity with the help of Army surgeon Yoon Myung-ju, who turns out to be Mo-yeon’s former rival from medical school.

Si-jin and Mo-yeon start dating, but their dates frequently end in the middle because Si-jin is frequently called to duty. Si-jin is given the go-ahead to embark on a peacekeeping mission in the fictitious nation of Uruk. Mo-yeon is furious because she learned that a professorship had been given to a less qualified colleague who was related to the hospital administration rather than her. When Si-jin arrives and runs across Mo-yeon once more, she asks him openly about his profession and sudden disappearances.

However, due to the highly classified nature of his assignments, he is unable to give too much information. They discuss their perspectives on life and become aware of how dissimilar they are. While Mo-yeon, a doctor, upholds the Hippocratic Oath and works to save lives, Si-jin, a soldier, kills to defend lives.

kdramalive Image from Descendants of the Sun.
Song Joong-ki as Yoo Si-jin and Song Hyo-kyo as Kang Mo-yeon in “Descendants of the Sun” (2016). Credit: Pinterest

They agree to part ways because they have different philosophical stances. On the other hand, Dae-young must decide whether to keep his connection with Myung-ju going or risk being expelled from the army for violating the fraternisation policy because he is not a commissioned officer. The awkwardness came from the fact that Myung-ju was Si-jin’s superior, and the commander of the Special Forces.

After rejecting the hospital director’s love advances eight months later, Mo-yeon is forced against her will to lead a group of medical volunteers to Uruk as payback for her rejection of the hospital director. In Uruk, Si-jin and Mo-yeon reunite and learn more about one another’s roles. Their teams deal with an earthquake and a virus, as well as a notorious warlord who was once in the military and fought with Si-jin.

It now takes advantage of the city’s corrupt government to profit from human and arms trafficking. To the amusement of their separate teams, Mo-yeon unexpectedly reveals her affections while they are in Uruk, and the two begin dating again. She gradually accepts the prospect that he could be murdered while serving, as well as the possibility that she might never know his exact whereabouts. In the meantime, Myung-ju nearly perishes in quarantine after contracting the virus, and Dae-young, who is often stoic, eventually musters the courage to be more affectionate toward her.

After returning to Korea, Si-jin and Mo-yeon stay together until Si-jin and Dae-young are dispatched on a secret mission, during which they vanish and are presumed killed. After Si-jin’s passing had been mourned for months, Mo-yeon decides to honour him by joining a medical team dispatched to Albania while Myung-ju was assigned to a medical mission in Uruk.

On the day of their one-year death anniversary, Si-jin discovers her here, while Dae-young travelled to Uruk to locate Myung-ju after informing the military headquarters that they were still alive. Si-jin revealed to Mo-yeon that “a buddy from afar,” a North Korean soldier Si-jin had previously assisted, had saved him and Dae-young from captivity after their reunion. All four couples Si-jin and Mo-yeon, Myung-ju and Dae-young are joyfully reunited.

Love is a battlefield

The 16-episode programme debuted in February 2016 on South Korean television. South East Asian viewers can also see it being streamed illegally on other websites and being rebroadcast in China.

A-list actors, a complicated plot, and an exotic setting—in this case, Greece, which serves as the mythical Mediterranean nation of Uruk—are all present and correct in this K-drama.

However, ‘Descendants of the Sun’ has a distinct setting in the military, where the urgency of war frequently interferes with the happiness of the main characters rather than random events. The majority of the drama takes place in Uruk, where a special forces captain portrayed by Song Joong-ki juggles his romantic pursuit of an army medic played by Song Hye-kyo with his need to save lives or embark on mystery missions.

kdramalive Image from Descendents of the Sun
Jin-goo as Master Sergeant Seo Dae-young and Kim Ji-won as First Lieutenant Yoon Myung-ju in “Descendants of the Sun” (2016). Credit: Pinterest

“The surgeon is a woman who comes in a five-star package with a First World condition. She is completely smitten with a mysterious man, but he keeps vanishing. However, the drama also frequently brings them back together in idealised, rosy versions of reality”. This was how one Singaporean newspaper summed up its review.

The armed forces play a significant role in South Korean society, where conscription is required for male citizens and where war with the North looms constantly. As a result, the military motif has resonated.

It was commended as “a superb commercial for conscription” that demonstrated South Korea’s “national spirit” and “communitarian culture” in an editorial published by the mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, People’s Daily, and it was urged that China create a comparable soap opera.

Why is it so popular?

ABG Nielsen and TNmS Ratings provide television ratings in Korea. As it is the most comprehensive rating system in Korea, we shall use AGB Nielsen ratings for this analysis. Ratings are also given as two numbers: one for the Seoul capital region and the other for the entire country. This is due to the fact that television ratings occasionally vary between what the nation’s greatest metropolis and the countryside are watching.

‘Descendants of the Sun’ has received ratings that are exceptionally high. A startling 41.6% of households in the Seoul National Capital Area who were watching television were tuned in to the drama’s last episode, episode 16. Not far behind is the 38.8% figure for the entire country. The drama’s overall average was 28.58%, while in the Seoul National Capital Area, it was 30.09%. This indicates that this drama was 2.5 times as well-liked in Korea than Sunday Night Football is in the United States.

Impact Outside South Korea

Concerned about the series’ success in China, the Ministry of Public Security of that nation issued a warning against it on its official Weibo account, cautioning viewers that “viewing Korean dramas might be risky, and could lead to legal difficulties.” It was a part of a rising worry among Chinese officials at the time about the spread of Korean-pop culture among the Chinese people following the comparable popularity of the 2014 television series ‘My Love from the Star’.

kdramalive Image from Descendents of the Sun
Song Joong-ki as Yoo Si-jin and Song Hyo-kyo as Kang Mo-yeon in “Descendants of the Sun” (2016). Credit: Pinterest

While Prayut Chan-o-cha, the Prime Minister of Thailand, urged Thai citizens to watch the play before it was shown there, claiming it conveys values of “patriotism, sacrifice, obeying orders, and being a responsible citizen.” Yuthasak Supasorn, the head of Thailand’s tourism authority, sent an invitation to Song Joong-ki, the drama’s leading man, to visit Thailand. As part of his Asia tour, he travelled there to promote the drama. The Song-Song duo also went for a promotion for the drama’s Hong Kong debut. On ViuTV, it received more than 1.2 million views there.

In late 2016, Google Trends showed that, in sharp contrast to the majority of the rest of the world, more people in Sri Lanka looked for ‘Descendants of the Sun’ than Donald Trump in 2016.  Iflix has the drama with Sinhalese and English subtitles available for streaming.  The show, which was shot in Greece and included scenes there, also helped the country’s tourism industry grow.

The drama was also well-liked in the US, where it was the most-searched-for on the video streaming service Viki. The drama was also shown internationally on KBS World with English subtitles and due to its success, Netflix made the drama available for international viewing.

Descendants of the Sun – Ending

‘Descendants Of The Sun’ swiftly became the most popular K-drama in existence. It tells the love story of a surgeon and a special forces soldier. Around the world, it has received multiple language dubbings. The conclusion of ‘Descendants Of The Sun’ continues to intrigue those who haven’t yet seen it.

Yoo Shi-jin, the captain and team captain of the Alpha Team, is the main character in the story. He prioritises his work over anything else. He prefers to rescue lives and does everything in his power to save the nation,  even though it means defying his bosses. Kang Mo-yeon, a cardiothoracic surgeon at Haesung Hospital, is visible on the opposite side. She is a confident, attractive woman who isn’t embarrassed to own up to her errors. As Mo-yeon and Shi-jin become involved in one another’s lives, their outlook on life begins to shift. One of the most interesting k-drama stories is about their journey.

‘Descendants Of The Sun’ Ending: Did the Lovers Reunite?

Every time we discuss ‘Descendants Of The Sun’ ending, we can’t help but reflect on how we were all duped. Everybody believed Shi-jin had passed away, including Mo-yeon. After a year, we were all shocked and inconsolable. But while she stood by herself in the Uruk desert, she noticed him walking towards her. The two lovers gave each other lifelong hugs as he explained how challenging the mission was.

On the other hand, Dae-young clutched Myeong-joo and promised to never abandon her again as she stood outside in the blizzard. Everyone was delighted when the males returned and gave our women their true love back. Everyone had the same thought: “Weren’t they killed in a bomb strike?”

kdramalive Image from Descend
Song Joong-ki as Yoo Si-jin and Song Hyo-kyo as Kang Mo-yeon in “Descendants of the Sun” (2016). Credit: Pinterest

Dae-young informed her that the militia had taken them to a shelter before the bomb detonated while Myeon-joo questioned him. After being held captive for three months, their only option was to die as the militia dispersed.

The militia was about to execute them when an unidentified man in a mask attacked and saved them. The man with the mask was a North Korean soldier who was making good on an army debt. Mo-yeon was once more troubled by Shi-jin’s story even though she was still not over the fact that he was still alive and standing right in front of her.

‘Descendants of the Sun’ Ending: What Happens Back in Korea?

Shi-jin and Dae-young were received warmly by Lieutenant General Yoon upon their return to Korea. Seeing their teammates return unscathed made the Alpha team happy as well. Mo-yeon and Shi-jin reunited after all the legalities were completed. Now that they are back together, the two lovers are catching up on everything they have been missing.

Shortly later, Myeong-joo returns to Korea and meets her sweetheart there. The lovers begin to catch up on the moments after meeting one other’s families and engaging in more intimate activities. They continue to fall more and more in love over time. We see everyone gathered with Daniel at his wedding reception in Vancouver, Canada, as the Descendants Of The Sun’s ending draws near.

kdramalive Image from Descendents of the Sun
Song Joong-ki as Yoo Si-jin and Song Hyo-kyo as Kang Mo-yeon in “Descendants of the Sun” (2016). Credit: Pinterest

Dae-young caught the bouquet as the wedding ceremonies continued. When everyone was together celebrating, life just started to happen. The light disappears. The announcement of a volcanic eruption then reappears, filling everyone’s ears. The medics and officers immediately return to their forms after switching back to their hero roles.

Awards

  • 2016 Rookie Asia Awards
    Male Rookie of the Year – Choi Woong
    Grand Prize TV
  • 52nd Baeksang Arts Awards
    Most popular actor – Song Joong-ki
    Most Popular Actress – Song Hye-kyo
    Global Star Award – Song Joong-ki, Song Hye-kyo
  • 2nd Scene Stealer Festival
    Scene Stealer Award (Male) – Lee Seung-joo, Jo Jye-yoo
    Newcomer Scene Stealer Award (Male) – Onew
  • 1st Indonesian Television Awards
    Special Award – Jin Goo
  • 43rd Korean Broadcasting Grand Prize
    Best Korean Drama
  • 11th Seoul International Drama Awards
    Excellent Korean Drama
    Outstanding Korean Actor – Song Joong-ki
    Outstanding Korean Drama OST – Gummy
  • 5th APAN Star Awards
    Grand Prize (Daesang) – Song Joong-ki
    Drama of the Year
    Best Supporting Actor – Jin Goo
    Best Supporting Actress – Kim Ji-won
    Best APAN Star Award – Song Joong-ki
    Best Couple Award – Song Joong-ki and Song Hye-kyo
kdramalive Image from Descendents of the Sun
A still of Cast members from “Descendants of the Sun” (2016). Credit: Pinterest
  • 2016 9th Korean Drama Awards
    Best Drama
    Excellence Award, Actor – Jo Jaye-yoon
  • Korean Advertisers Association Awards
    Best Drama
    Best Celebrity Award, Actor – Jin Goo
    Best Celebrity Award, Actress – Kim Ji-won
    Best OST Award – Gummy
  • 8th Melon Music Awards
    Best Ost – Yoo Mi-rae
    21st Asian Television Awards
    Best Drama Series
    Korean Popular Culture and Arts Awards
  • Presidential Award
    Song Joong-ki
    Song Hye-kyo
    KimYoon-suk
    29th Grimae Awards
  • Grand Prize (Daesang)
    Kim Si-Hyung, Uhm Jun-sung
  • Grand Prize (Daesang)
    Song Joong-ki, Song Hye-kyo
    30th KBS Drama Awards
    Excellence Award, Actress in a Miniseries – Kim Ji-won
    Best New Actress – Kim Ji-won
    Best Screenwriter – Kim Won-seok, Kim Eun-sook
    Best Couple Award – Song Joong-ki, Song Hye-kyo and Kim Ji-won
    Asia Best Couple Award – Song Joong-ki, Song Hye-kyo
  • 29th Korean Producer Awards
    Best Performer Awards – Song Joong-ki
    29th Korean Producer Awards – Grand Prize for Excellence in Production
    50th WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival – Special Jury Award (TV series)

Interesting Facts

  1. ‘Descendants of the Sun’ was totally pre-produced before airing, a break from the typical live-shoot production structure of Korean dramas.
  2. Song Joong-ki(Captain Yoo Si-jin )is making a comeback with the drama after completing his two years of mandatory military service.
  3. Although the series’ setting was modelled after Iraq, the isolated, war-torn region was chosen to be situated near the edge of the Balkan Peninsula in order to avoid diplomatic trouble with the Iraqis.
  4. The series’ soundtrack hit local music charts. The soundtrack album’s pre-orders reached 10,000, and it eventually sold over 60,000 copies.

    kdramalive Image from Descendents of the Sun
    Jin-goo as Master Sergeant Seo Dae-young and Kim Ji-won as First Lieutenant Yoon Myung-ju in “Descendants of the Sun” (2016). Credit: Pinterest

FAQs

  1. What genre is the drama “Descendants of the Sun’?
    Romance, Melodrama, Action
  2. Who are the directors of ‘Descendants of the Sun’?
    Lee Eun-bok, Baek Sang-hoon, Yoo Jong-son
  3. How many special episodes of Descendants of the Sun have been aired?
    3 special episodes
  4. What is the Instagram ID of Song Joong-ki and Song Hye-kyo?

    hi_songjoongki is the Instagram ID of Song Joong-ki and kyo1122 is Song Hye-kyo.

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