|Theme music composer Gaemi|
|Written by Kim Eun-sookKim Won-seok|
Directed by Lee Eung-bokBaek Sang-hoon
Starring Song Joong-kiSong Hye-kyoJin GooKim Ji-won
Descendants of the Sun (Hangul: 태양의 후예; RR: Taeyang-ui Huye) is a 2016 South Korean television series starring Song Joong-ki, Song Hye-kyo, Jin Goo, and Kim Ji-won. It aired on KBS2 from February 24 to April 14, 2016, on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 22:00 for 16 episodes.
- Main cast
- Alpha Team Members
- Haesung Hospital Medical Services Team
- People at Haesung Hospital
- Tae Baek Army
- Uruk area
- Product placement PPL
- International broadcast
- Chinese film
The series was a major hit in South Korea and received immense popularity across Asia. KBS aired 3 additional special episodes from April 20 to April 22 containing highlights and the best scenes from the series, the drama's production process, behind-the-scenes footage, commentaries from cast members and the final epilogue.
Yoo Si-jin (Song Joong-ki) is the captain of a South Korean Special Forces unit. He catches a motorcycle thief, Kim Gi-beom (Kim Min-seok), with Sergeant Major Seo Dae-young (Jin Goo). The thief is injured during his capture and therefore sent to the hospital. Dae-young realizes his cellphone was stolen by the thief and goes to the hospital along with Si-jin to retrieve his cellphone.
In the emergency room, Si-jin meets Dr. Kang Mo-yeon (Song Hye-kyo) for the first time, and is instantly attracted to her. Mo-yeon mistakenly assumes Si-jin is part of the thief's criminal gang, due to his nickname "Big Boss", which is actually his call sign. He proves to her that he is a soldier with the help of army surgeon Yoon Myeong-ju (Kim Ji-won).
Si-jin and Mo-yeon begin to date, but due to their jobs, their dates are often interrupted halfway. Si-jin receives orders to lead his soldiers on a peacekeeping mission in the fictional country of Urk. Meanwhile, Mo-yeon is upset because she failed to become a professor due to a colleague's privileged background. When Si-jin and Mo-yeon meet again, they talk about their views on life and realize how different they are. Si-jin, as a soldier, kills to protect lives while Mo-yeon, as a doctor, honors the Hippocratic Oath and tries to save lives. Due to this difference in viewpoints on life, they agree to part ways. Dae-young, on the other hand, faces a dilemma on whether to continue with his relationship with Myeong-ju or risk being removed from the army by Myeong-ju's father.
Eight months later, Mo-yeon rebuffs the sexual advances of the hospital director and as a result is assigned to lead a medical team to Urk. There, Si-jin and Mo-yeon meet again. Through their encounters in Urk—an earthquake and an epidemic—their love for each other grows stronger. While in Urk, Mo-yeon accidentally confesses her feelings (much to the amusement of their respective teams) and the two officially start dating.
Back in Korea, the two of them continue their dates until Si-jin and Dae-young are sent on an operation in which they disappear and are assumed to be dead. Months pass, and Mo-yeon mourns his death, deciding to commemorate his passing with a volunteer trip to Albania. This is where Si-jin eventually finds her after he and Dae-young are rescued from captivity by "a friend from afar", a soldier from North Korea whom Si-jin had helped save earlier. Si-jin and Mo-yeon along with Myeong-ju and Dae-young are all happily reunited with each other.
Alpha Team Members
Haesung Hospital Medical Services Team
People at Haesung Hospital
Tae Baek Army
Descendants of the Sun was fully pre-produced before airing which is a departure from the live-shoot production format that characterizes most Korean dramas. The drama is Song Joong-ki's comeback project after serving his two years of mandatory military service. The production cost a staggering 13 billion won (approximately $10.8 million) to produce.
Initially, there were doubts about the profitability of the drama, as a story involving a soldier may not be enough to garner a very high successive rate. This is revealed when SBS were reluctant to continue with the project. It was then passed to KBS. According to tvN, lead actor Song Joong-ki was not the first choice of writers and directors for the hit South Korean series. The 6 June episode of tvN's The List 2016 revealed the names of four actors who rejected the role before Joong-ki was chosen. As per the show, the A-listers who passed the role includes Won Bin, Jo In-sung, Gong Yoo, and Kim Woo-bin. Reportedly, the actors were skeptical on sporting the army style short hair. It is also said that the artists expressed slight discomfort on portraying a role of a soldier and could not commit with the pre-production format of the show.
On June 12, 2015, lead actors Song Joong-ki and Song Hye-kyo filmed their first scene in Seoul. On September 28, 2015, the entire cast and crew (including the four leads, Song Joong-ki, Song Hye-kyo, Jin Goo, Kim Ji-won, as well as supporting actors Kang Shin-il and Onew) departed for Greece. The team resided in the country for approximately a month to shoot episodes crucial to the drama's plot. According to Greek and South Korean news portals and blogs, filming mainly took place in Zakynthos, Arachova, Lemnos, and Navagio.
On November 25, 2015, it was announced that actor Song Joong-ki injured his arm while filming an action scene for the drama on November 23. On December 7, 2015, Song Joong-ki returned to work only 2 weeks after he was injured and spotted filming at a station in Seoul. The MERS-CoV outbreak in South Korea in 2015 also seriously hampered filming schedules. The outbreak claimed the lives of 33 people, according to WHO.
The location which served as the Mowuru Company's base camp was set at the exhausted Taebaek Hanbo Coal Mine while earthquake scenes were mostly filmed at the Samtan Art Mine. Filming also took place at Camp Greaves DMZ Experience Centre, once a US Army base camp during the Korean War. Filming at Haesung Hospital was actually done at the Seoul St Mary's Hospital.
The crew wrapped up the last shoot in the early morning of December 30, 2015.
As per KBS's Head of Drama, Jung Sung-ho, the sequel is set to premiere in 2017. He added that the planned project may involve an entirely new story than the first series, which may instead involve second leads Jin Goo and Kim Ji-won, who play Master Sergeant Seo Dae-young and Lieutenant Yoon Myeong-ju respectively. The sequel, this time, will be co-produced by Jidam Inc., the production company behind the hit and award-winning TV dramas My Daughter, Geum Sa-wol and Jang Bo-ri is Here!.
Less than a year after Descendants, director Baek Sang-hoon, cinematographer Kim Si-hyeong and music director Gaemi, real name Kang Dong-yoon, once again collaborated for another hit KBS drama, Love in the Moonlight (2016).
Product placement (PPL)
There has been coverage in the Korean media about the controversy surrounding the use of product placement in this drama. Laneige, Dal.Komm Coffee, KGC Cheong Kwan Jang Korean Red Ginseng, Subway and Hyundai all reported a surge in sales after exposure of their products in the drama. Some critics argued that there was too much product placement in the drama and that the use of product placement undermined the drama's content and artistry.
The "Two Tone Lip Bar" lipstick that Song Hye-Kyo wore in a scene on the show has broken sales records for Aritaum in South Korea with Laneige subsequently hosting its own Descendants of the Sun makeup event on its homepage. The product became so popular that it sold out four days after its release on the popular Chinese shopping website, 11th Street, owned by its Korean parent-company, SK Planet. The same product also experienced "double digit growth" in Singapore.
The success of Descendants saw a change in tide toward pre-produced Korean dramas. However, in an interview, Kim Won-seok (co-writer of Descendants) stated that said there were some parts that could have been improved on if the show had been shot as it was being aired, per local industry norm. The show also revived hallyu, or the Korean pop culture craze, that was in decline over recent years.
In the tables below, the blue numbers represent the lowest ratings and the red numbers represent the highest ratings.