태양의 후예 (Descendants of the Sun Final)

For non-Korean viewers, we have to wait another day to see the episode with subtitles. Since there are many speculations about the Descendants of the Sun‘s ending, it’s better to stay away from the internet to avoid spoilers. I chose to hear the spoiler though. I’m an online English instructor for Koreans and one of my students happen to work behind-the-scenes. She was also generous enough to send me pictures from their reunion party.

Big Boss

Knowing the ending did not affect my feelings about the final episode. I wasn’t too disappointed since I know that there’s no way the series could ever top the intensity of its Uruk arc. The ending was a little far from epic but it’s the one that everyone would most likely approve of: the happily ever after. But I personally think that a death of a character brings much more depth and a bit of sadness in this illogical, product placement heavy, saccharine episode. Until now, I couldn’t forget Eun Shi Kyung’s death (Jo Jung Suk’s character in King 2 Hearts). I was worried that Seo Dae Yong would meet the same fate. I won’t be happy if he did but I would surely remember it for the rest of my Kdrama-watching life.

Descendants of the Sun ended with a nationwide rating of 38.8% which says a lot about its popularity. Since it is pre-produced, it is also aired simultaneously in China via the video streaming site iQIYI with an average of 2.5 billion views per episode, according to a report by Chinese media. Many people would probably say this is overrated but I don’t think so. I’m not gonna go around singing high praises about it either. The drama has flaws everywhere but if we were to count the good and the bad, there are things to like in this drama that I could somehow disregard its glaring plot holes and unrealistic characters just as I did when I watched Secret Garden and My Love from the Star.

I’m not a fan of Kim Eun Sook but if there’s a formula for getting viewers hooked and turning lead characters into household names, then she certainly knows it. There’s Kim Joo Won, Kim Tan and now, Yoo Si Jin. I read the news that Song Joong Ki wasn’t actually the first choice for the role. Director Lee Eung Bok stated in an interview that they initially wanted a brawny, more tough-looking actor. A-listers Kim Woo Bin, Jo In Sung, Gong Yoo, and Won Bin were all considered for the role but they declined the offer for various reasons. So the writer and the director tweaked Yoo Si Jin’s character a bit as befits Song Joong Ki.

The whole alpha male and pretty boy humor with Joong Ki’s romantic voice and acting ability contributed to the making of this perfect dreamy character. All of a sudden, the Korean nation forgot about the Choi Taek-Jung Hwan shipping feud. I’ve been waiting for Joong Ki’s comeback but I didn’t expect that it would be this big. His success is long overdue and totally well-deserved.

It’s quite unfair that Song Hye Kyo didn’t get as much attention as Song Joong Ki when she’s 1/2 of the drama’s main OTP. Her youthful face and petite frame makes Joong Ki look mature despite his babyface and their real age difference. She isn’t one of the best Korean actresses for me but we have to admit that when it comes to romance, she can effortlessly generate chemistry with his leading men, some of which even led to real life relationships.

I like seeing Kang Mo Yeon’s character development. She went through a bigger change compared to Yoo Si Jin who’s confident but not arrogant and consistently resolute about keeping peace and protecting justice.  Kang Mo Yeon seemed to have more personal struggles like being indecisive about what kind of doctor she’d like to be and about the kind of man she’d want to be with.

I love dramas where female characters shine as much as the male leads. And aside from  Kang Mo Yeon, Descendants of the Sun has Yoon Myeong Joo.

Kim Ji Won is young and beautiful but I’ve seen her play snotty roles (To The Beautiful You,Heirs) and she was really good at it. I was worried that the usual Kdrama love triangle will suddenly appear in the middle of the show and I’m so glad it didn’t. After that hilarious Temptation of Wolves parody in the previous episode, I liked that Yoo Si Jin said he and Dae Young would never fight over a girl. If they were to fight, then they would fight on the same side. The bromance is strong on this one. Jin Goo is an award winning actor but quite unknown to international fans and now he’s receiving praise and recognition thanks to his awkward and adorable but equally badass character.

There were rumors about a Descendants of the Sun sequel. I’m sure it’d be difficult but if there would really be a sequel,then I’d love to see a Seo Dae Young – Yoon Myeong Joo spin-off. I’m emotionally invested in watching their relationship more than Yoo Si Jin and Kang Mo Yeon’s.  I love how they bicker but love each other in sometimes the most indirect but totally heartfelt ways. Even Lieutenant General Yoon’s tough dad personality can’t separate these two. Literally, only death could tear them apart as I believed that Dae Young and Myeong Joo was an ill-starred couple right from the start so I had mixed feelings that they got a happy ending. Mostly glad about it of course.

I also love the supporting characters especially Lee Chi Hoon and Kim Ki Bum. Onew’s acting talent was a huge surprise. Although his storyline was pretty stretched, I felt his sincerity and I unconsciously cried with him as he questioned himself as a doctor when he faced a life/death situation in Uruk. I think we all had that one moment in our lives when we doubted ourselves on whether we’re doing the right thing or not; on whether we should get going or choose a different path. I was able to relate with his character on that.

I love Kim Ki Bum’s relationship with Seo Dae Young and how their encounter has changed the former’s life. I’m not saying I’m eager to see Dae Young get killed. I love his character so much. I just thought he had the makings of a tragic hero who lived earnestly and will pass on his legacy by changing a young delinquent’s life and turning him into a great soldier just as he was.

More than just the beautiful cinematography; the series relied heavily on its actors, their characters and the relationships they’ve built amidst the conflict in their jobs’ principles and responsibilities.

The finale wrapped up loose ends with cuteness, kisses and unfortunately, excessive product placements. I was also a little bit disappointed with breaking the fourth wall. I thought that scene was unnecessary since the “volcano disaster in Vancouver” idea was absurd and the acting was like a scene from a gag show.

Convoluted storytelling and fluffiness aside, I loved Descendants of The Sun for making me look like a crazy person when I’m watching. It made me laugh out loud when I haven’t even wiped my tears from the previous scene. The hospital staff thinking Yoo Si Jin’s ghost was eating his memorial offering was so hilarious, I replayed that scene three times. Dae Young and Si Jin dancing and fanboying to Red Velvet was just epic.

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Descendants of the Sun was made to entertain and entertain it did.


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