Until recently, I’m someone who would proudly state that I’m not a K-drama addict, that I do not watch Korean dramas, and that I cannot understand what the whole fuss about this “Korean Wave” is all about. Then I saw some pictures of the hot dudes who star in the still-screening ‘Descendants Of The Sun’. With my curiosity suitably piqued, I decided to watch as much as I could of this 16-episode K-drama. In fact, I binge-watched the twelve episodes screened thus far in a mere two days. And ok, I understand now. *sheepish*
Admittedly, the title ‘Descendants Of The Sun’ sounds like it’d be more fitting for a North Korean propaganda film. And it IS about romance (yes, yes) but it is also about many other themes: existing political tensions between North and South Korea, the demands of politicians clashing with the aims of the military, the spread of infectious diseases, the dilemma doctors face in having to ‘choose’ a patient to save and the guilt in having a hand in a patient’s death due to negligence, the harsh conditions following a devastating natural disaster, weapons smuggling, child sex trafficking, the lives of soldiers after they leave the Special Forces, and so much more!
Song Joong-ki (age 30) is the lead actor who can arguably pass off as a 19-year-old or someone who is in his early twenties. Whatever skincare products he’s using, I need them. According to Wikipedia, he is the author of the book ‘Beautiful Skin Project’, “a bestselling health and beauty guide for men.” [If it’s translated into English, I’ll get a few copies! If not, I’m tempted to learn Korean] As for his female co-star, Song Hye-kyo (age 34), it must have been rather stressful playing the role of the male lead’s love interest while trying not to look too much older than him. Hence the bangs and cutesy look, I guess.
I found the product placements in the drama series pretty interesting too:
- Laneige’s BB Cushion and Sunblock – I think the BB cushions and lipsticks will be flying off the shelves in Korea right about now!
- Subway – It seemed like an entire scene about Subway was written in. How much money was involved, I wonder? I suppose the crew received free Subway sandwiches too? 😀
- Coffee – I lost count of the number of scenes in which the actors and actresses consumed coffee(?) right out of the sachets (no water needed).
- That brand of toiletries that got some screentime when the lead actress was washing her hair and the water supply was cut.
Here are my synopses of the episodes that have been screened thus far. Hehe! But I’ve watched all 12 episodes twice. #fangirling
Descendants Of The Sun – Episodes:
Episode 1: Team Alpha (led by Big Boss, “Yoo Si Jin”) clash with rogue North Korean special force agents who have taken some guards hostage in the DMZ area. Gunfire is avoided so they fight using daggers. In another scene, Big Boss and his right-hand man (Seo) help stop a petty thief, who ends up falling off his stolen motorbike. Seo’s handphone is stolen by said thief while the duo administer first aid. Thief is attended to at Haesung Hospital by the pretty doctor “Kang Mo Yeon” played by Song Hye-kyo. In trying to retrieve the handphone, the duo get to meet Dr. Kang and Yoon Myeong Ju, the army surgeon. Dr Kang also helps Big Boss treat a wound. Their ‘first date’ is ruined when UN employees get abducted and Team Alpha is sent on a mission to Afghanistan.
*Yoo Si Jin’s shirtless gym scene is in this episode! :D*
Episode 2: Before rescuing the 2 UN employees kidnapped by the Taliban, Big Boss and the Delta Force captain engage in unarmed combat – a way to test each other’s capabilities before starting the joint operation of the special forces. Big Boss surprises Dr Kang outside the hospital; he sends her home so she can wash her hair. At the cinema, he gets a call and has to leave even before the movie starts. Dr Kang interviews (for the 3rd time) for the professor position at the Hospital but loses to a bimbotic surgeon, Eun Ji, who screws up operations but whose family is a large shareholder in the Hospital. They have a catfight, with lots of hair-pulling. She’s forced to take Eun Ji’s place in a TV broadcast and in tears, she memorizes her script. Big Boss and team are told they will be deployed to Urk (which is at the tip of the Balkan peninsula). Over a coffee, Big Boss and Dr Kang decide to part ways because she saves lives while he kills people. 8 months later, Dr Kang finds fame after appearing in multiple TV broadcasts. Haesung Hospital also opens an eco-friendly power plant in Urk. The Chairman invites Dr Kang to his hotel room for a romp. Spurned by her, he sends her to head the volunteering team that will be sent to Urk. At the Urk International Airport, a helicopter arrives to pick up the team, and leading the crew is none other than Big Boss. *swoon*
*I hope there’s more character development in this short 16-episode drama. For instance, I’d like to know more about the doctor in the wheelchair, and how she came to require a wheelchair for mobility.
Episode 3: Big Boss starts off ignoring Dr Kang / not acknowledging her presence. Then she heads out of the fenced area to talk to the kids roaming about. They surround her asking for food. He pranks her by saying she has stepped on a landmine; she leaves in tears. She takes revenge by pretending she cannot locate his vein for a blood sample. He heads out to investigate an accident – a fake “UN” truck has overturned, but is carrying smuggled weapons. Big Boss and Dr Kang visit a beach with a shipwreck. Big Boss tells her about the ‘love triangle’ between him, Seo Dae Yeong and Myeong Ju, the Commander’s daughter. A kid shows up with lead poisoning. A VIP patient is flown in – he is President Mubarat. His security team tries to stop Dr Kang from operating on the patient and wants them to wait for the Arab doctors to arrive, but Dr Kang insists that the patient will be dead by then. Big Boss tells her to go ahead. Team Alpha and the President’s security team have guns pointed at each other while the operation goes on.
Episode 4: President Mubarat’s surgery is a success. Big Boss is dismissed from his post and detained because of insubordination. Seo is recalled to Korea, and he bumps into Myeong Ju at the airport. The President awakens and Big Boss is released. The President gives them two special business cards which will grant them help anywhere there are Arabs. Big Boss and Dr Kang go for a coffee date and he receives a call from the UN, and they attend a funeral together. Dr Kang tries to intervene when Big Boss is told he’ll get a 3-month salary reduction and be struck off the list of people in line for promotions. They quarrel and she drives off in his car, abandoning him so he has to find his way back to the barracks alone. He returns and is about to enjoy some wine when she comes and drinks it instead. However, he cannot drink in the presence of a witness so he kisses her as a way of tasting the wine! 😀 😛
Episode 5: The kid who suffered from lead poisoning goes missing. Dr Kang gets to meet the tall and dashing Dr Daniel. Big Boss spots the fake UN staff drinking along the street, and then meets Captain Argus who was from Delta Force but now heads a gang in Urk. Dr Kang nearly drove her car off a cliff and Big Boss saves her in a daring rescue. Before he arrives, though, she does a voice recording of her “will” using her handphone, in which she confesses her love for him. (Important scene because the ‘will’ comes back to ‘haunt’ her later) The dispatch term is over and Big Boss has to return to Korea.
*The car was driven off the cliff and landed in the sea(?) but for some reason, the phone survives and the recording of Dr Kang’s will remains intact for another episode in which it is played. Hmm… 😉
Episode 6: Big Boss asks if he should apologise for kissing her, or confess his love instead. She tells him to apologise. Back in Korea, there is a hilarious chasing scene as Big Boss and Seo are chased by the soldiers whom Seo had ‘tortured’ when he was their “evil instructor”. In a rare scene, Big Boss looks absolutely comical (and less of his usual handsome self) when he wears a black-and-white striped shirt for a game of billiards. Seo shows up wearing the exact same shirt. Big Boss even goes fishing, in a bid to forget Dr Kang. It is now the medical team’s turn to return to Korea. They are split into two groups for the helicopter ride to the airport as it cannot take the whole team at once. Dr Kang’s group goes first, but they return after noticing the earthquake in Urk while the helicopter was still mid-air. It’s a major earthquake and even the power plant has collapsed. The medical team go to work at treating the survivors. Dr Kang even knocks off the heels from her sandals so they instantly become ‘flats’. Chi Hoon assigns the wrong label to a patient, who dies from lack of immediate medical attention. He is devastated. As Dr Kang’s strappy sandals are cutting her feet and making them bleed, an injured worker removes his boots and gives them to her. Big Boss returns! And there’s the scene in which he helps her tie her shoelace. 🙂
Episode 7: There is a dilemma as Big Boss wants Dr Kang to decide who to save: the Manager Ko whose lower body is trapped under a concrete slab or the local worker whose chest has been pierced by a beam. The ‘structure’ is such that saving one will instantly kill the other. Big Boss’ shoulder is hurt when he is hit by a falling piece of concrete in a bid to save Jin Young Su, the arrogant loudmouth who is chief manager at the power plant. Dr Kang treats his wound, and he confesses that he has missed her.
*I don’t know how to make a decision in such a situation, when two lives are in my hands and I have to decide who to save. It’s too brutal. 😦
Episode 8: Argus hounds Jin Young Su for the diamonds but the diamonds are in a safe in his office in the collapsed power plant. Dr Chi Hun finds a worker trapped in the building but has to abandon him when the structure shows signs of collapsing again. Because of the abandonment, he suffers from guilt thereafter. Dr Daniel fixes the PA system and decides to play some music for all the patients. Dr Kang selects some songs on her handphone playlist. Unfortunately, her recorded “will” is also on that list, and Big Boss (and everyone else) gets to hear it.
*Once again, I have no idea how her handphone survived that plunge into the sea after the car fell off the cliff. But the effect is hilarious and I’m glad Big Boss now knows how she feels about him. 😀
Episode 9: The teasing begins as now everyone knows about how Big Boss and Dr Kang had kissed. The pair go to the UN meeting together. On the way back, they accidentally end up in a minefield. They make their way out of the minefield together and hitch a ride back to the barracks in the back of a farmer’s pickup. She tells him that she is staying back in Urk because of him. They kiss! Argus goes after Jin Young Su who hands over a broken safe then seeks help in the medicube. Chi Hun offers Jin his plane seat to Korea. The Commander has a meeting with the two couples: Big Boss + Dr Kang, and Seo + Myeong Ju. Seo says he will hold on to Myeong Ju’s hand, and the Commander allows the pair to date but wants Seo to leave the military. Big Boss and Dr Kang meet a boy who was caught stealing medicine. He has measles, so they bring him back to his village. It is the Haunted Village, where boys are sold to gangs and girls are sent to pimps. They are war orphans who are victims of sex-trafficking by gangs. Argus appears and Red Rose (aka Fatima) shoots him from the back. She urges Dr Kang to let him die and not save him. Dr Kang agrees that it is better to let him die so others might live. However, Big Boss tells her to save Argus.
Episode 10: Argus is saved by Dr Kang, who takes the bullet out of him. Argus became a weapons smuggler after leaving the Special Forces. He tells Dr Kang that it is dangerous to be around a man with a gun. Fatima wants to leave. Big Boss is ordered to avoid conflict with Argus because the US wants to supply Colonel Amang with weapons through Argus, and have the Col establish a pro-US government via a coup. Big Boss ties Dr Kang’s hair for her. Parcels arrive from Korea. A ‘Shin Ji Young’ sent a parcel for Seo. The latter and Big Boss race to intercept it. But Myeong Ju has opened the parcel and discovered that the two men have gone on a date with cute ladies. Fatima escapes after stealing medicines but her boyfriend plays her out. Big Boss and Dr Kang save her from the 7 young men who are armed with guns. Big Boss and Dr Kang eat ramen like the Special Forces when the power goes out yet again. Manager Jin has been swallowing, defecating, and re-swallowing the diamonds that he was supposed to hand over to Argus. Using a fake passport, he is caught at the airport and turned over to Argus’ gang again. They are about to slice open his abdomen to retrieve the diamonds when Team Alpha save the day. After Jin coughs up blood, Myeong Ju and Dr Kang perform an emergency operation on him, and discover that he (and also the doctors) are possible carriers of the M-type virus. Blood samples sent to a nearby US lab confirm that the patient and Myeong Ju have tested positive for the deadly M3 virus – which is supposedly just a little better than Ebola.
Episode 11: Seo gets quarantined after he hugged Myeong Ju. During the blackout, Dr Chi Hoon saved the diamond-swallowing Jin’s life when the latter’s respiratory machine stopped working. Chi Hoon got bitten in the process. Dr Song finds a possible cure for the M3 virus in Cefotaxime. Myeong Ju phones her father in a touching scene, and collapses soon after. She is given an ice bath to bring down her temperature. Daniel is stopped at gunpoint and his truck carrying vaccines is stolen by Argus’ gang. Fatima is taken away by the Urk ‘local police’ and Dr Kang insists on following. Fatima ends up getting shot and Dr Kang is taken hostage by Argus. Argus knows that the US will want him killed after the weapons are delivered so he wants Big Boss to plan the escape route for him. The Chief Commander gives Big Boss 3 hours to save the hostage on his own. Argus ‘advises’ Dr Kang to break up with Big Boss.
*In this episode, it is discussed about how medicines which can save the dying are not discovered simply because there’s little to no money to be made.
Episode 12: Big Boss goes to save Dr Kang on a one-man mission. Thankfully, Seo brings the rest of the Alpha Team as backup. Dr Kang is made to wear a vest with a time bomb attached. Big Boss shoots the wireless transmitter on her left shoulder, and the team manages to get the vest off her before it explodes. Big Boss then shields Dr Kang from a bullet. Back safely, Dr Kang confronts Big Boss about the lies he’d told her (so she’d not worry). He asks if she wants a breakup. Later, she comes to her senses and hugs him after asking him to make her coffee. Seo and Big Boss “cook” for the ladies some chicken stew. Dr Kang and Myeong Ju end up arguing over a Min Yoon Gi, and the two men rise and leave in a huff. Fatima is handed over to Valentine, the hot lady who works at the bar and who will be her guardian. Dr Song joins the shirtless soldiers in their morning jog. The medical team returns to Korea.
*Politicians vs Military. I love how the Korean ‘President’ thanks the Commander for saving a Korean citizen, even though diplomatic relations and trade deals might be affected because of what had happened.
Looking forward to episode #13!!! 😀 I know episode #16 will be heartbreaking because it’ll be the end of this Korean drama. But I sure hope there’s a movie in the works! 🙂
Click on the links below for my synopses of the rest of the episodes…
Descendants Of The Sun Episode 13
Descendants Of The Sun Episode 14
Descendants Of The Sun Episode 15