K-Drama Rewind: Descendants of the Sun

There’s something about re-watching an old drama that relaxes you. First, you already know the ending, so it definitely won’t make you anxious anymore. You know who’s the endgame or who’s the killer. The plot twists don’t surprise you anymore. You can finally see through the smallest of details in that scene. Second, you get to relive those dormant feelings that you once thought to have forgotten. The sweet moments make you smile again while thinking about the first time you watched them. And the sad scenes still make you cry, but nostalgically. Lastly, re-watching K-dramas, especially those you thought you didn’t like, could change your perspective. Somehow, because it’s an older version of you, you now get to understand certain dilemmas in the story or maybe now, you’re more annoyed at the character who once made your heart flutter. No matter where you are in life right now, re-watching K-dramas is always a good idea, especially if you just want a relaxing night or a stress-free weekend.

This is why I thought of featuring Descendants of the Sun for this Flashback Sessions. I never imagined myself watching it again because of the SongSong divorce, but after playing the pilot episode, I just couldn’t stop. For all it’s worth, I couldn’t believe I managed to finish the series for a day. I may or may not have slept still while writing this rewind, but all I know is I’m in a peaceful and happy mood.

It’s no secret that my all-time favorite actress is Song Hye-kyo, so when the news about the divorce was made public, it really broke my heart thinking that unnie was in such a horrible place at that point. This is why it pained me to see Song Joong-ki on screen every time. But after watching him on Vincenzo (which is a really good drama), I know in my heart that as a fan, all I can do is move forward alongside unnie and hope that the former couple is fully healed and has forgiven each other for what happened to their marriage.

Now that I have let it all out – let’s look back at this blockbuster drama with a smile on our faces and remember the old days.

Descendants of the Sun (DOTS) was a 2016 hit drama that aired on KBS from February 24 to April 14 for 16 episodes. The drama received commercial and critical success in South Korea, where it even peaked at 38.8%. Among the numerous awards was the Daesang for Television at the 52nd Baeksang Arts Awards. It was Song Hye-kyo’s comeback drama after 2013’s That Winter The Wind Blows. On the other hand, this was also Song Joong-ki’s much-anticipated return to the small screen after his military discharge. His last drama before this was 2012’s The Innocent Man. Before the main couple was confirmed for DOTS, casting rounds were made, and some actors had reportedly turned down the Captain’s role. I would say the character was meant to be for Song Joong-ki.

Alpha Team’s Big Boss Meets Haesung Hospital’s Beauty

DOTS followed a formulaic approach in its storytelling. It was honestly nothing new for a long-time drama watcher. Mysterious soldier tries various antics during the meet-cute to win over the attractive pulmonogist-surgeon. This beautiful doctor seems to be a strong, independent woman, but she also needs a lot of care. They meet again after being noble idiots for months in a far-flung land full of guns and bombs. Together, they survived a minefield, an unknown epidemic, a terrorist group, and an earthquake. Man-made or natural disasters could never stop them from being together. But what made it worked? It’s because of the main leads’ skyhigh chemistry. Also, it was a spectacle to watch, especially with the big-budgeted CGIs in the background. Understandably, DOTS was a major hit because the cinematography challenged the times. It opened a new generation of Hallyu fans and served as a perfect entry-level K-drama for people who wanted to ride on the Korean wave.

This was a drama with a really memorable meet-cute between the main couple. Who would forget the cellphone flipping banter when Kang Mo-yeon (Song Hye-kyo) threatened to call the police to report Captain Yoo Si-jin (Song Joong-ki)? Even their characters are so remarkable, you just can’t forget them even though it’s been five years since it aired.

Another memorable highlight of the series was the deployment to Uruk, a fictional country which was actually filmed in various locations in Greece. The Navagio Beach, Monastery of Panagia Skopiotissa, and the towns of Myrina and Arachova were just some of the filming locations that you should include in your bucket list. These places played a key role in the development of Kang sonsaeng and Yoo daewi’s relationship.

A second lead couple that’s worthy of their own drama

If you ask a drama fan to make a list of their top second lead couples, it’s a rare case if Seo Dae-young (Jin Goo) and Yoon Myeong-ju’s (Kim Ji-won) love story isn’t included. They had their fair share of screen time in the series, which made fans invested in their storyline. It was a you-and-me-against-the-world romance, and the whirlwind of events surrounding them could afford them their own miniseries. Yoon Myeong-ju’s father, the Special Forces Commander, does not approve of a non-commissioned officer for a son-in-law and continuously roots for Yoo Si-jin as a potential match for his daughter.

Seo Dae-young is just a poor punk who entered the military to escape his bullies. He had no connections yet he was undaunted to offer his life as a soldier. He’s a simple man who just happened to fall in love with the Commander’s daughter. At first, it was hard to watch him follow the unfair deployment orders to be far away as much as possible to Myeong-ju. I also admired Myeong-ju for not giving up and for understanding Dae-young’s situation. She was his rock, and she made him realize that their love is worth all the sacrifice. I cried when they finally stood before Myeong-ju’s father hand-in-hand and determined not to leave each other’s side as long as they live.

Grumpy Alley

Of course, it’s not a perfect drama at all. And mind you, as much as I loved SongSong, there were moments in the drama that really made me scratch my head. Overall, the drama felt dragging and there were so many events happening all at once. It was a mess at first, but you just can’t drop it, iykwim.

First on the list was First Year Resident Lee Chi-hoon’s (Onew) arc. I get that he was a sheltered rich boy growing up. And volunteering for Uruk was just like a vacation for him. But his character development was overly dramatic. He had so many breakdown moments, which was admirable for Onew’s part as an actor, but for the character himself, it’s just too tiring to watch.

Next was the Argus (David McInnis) subplot. Everything about Argus and his incompetent gang, the literal blood diamonds, and the kidnapping fiasco. I don’t know if it’s just me or it was just too much. Kang Mo-yeon and the Haesung volunteer medic team are still in the middle of the rescue operations in the earthquake-stricken power plant, yet she was kidnapped by Argus. And right after the kidnapping, a virus outbreak hit their camp! These characters had no chance to breathe, honestly.

Lastly, the characters broke the fourth wall in the ending. During the wedding of Daniel (Cho Tae-kwan) and Ye-hwa (Jeon Soo-jin) in Canada, Lee Chi-hoon broke the fourth wall and talked to the audience about the drama’s ideal ending. Like what for? And then they marched towards the end like The Avengers. It’s just weird.

The Frown Crown

🪖 Kang Mo-yeon’s morning “bideulgi-deul”

I could not blame the medic team for waking up early just to watch their shirtless “doves” do their morning run, military style!

🪖 SongSong’s wine kiss

It was lovely for the first time, and painful for a re-watch.

🪖 The Alpha Team’s admirable nationalism and love for their homeland.

Countless moments proved how much the Korean military loves their country more than themselves. The Alpha Team showed how much they selflessly dedicated their own lives for the lives of their countrymen and the people in need.

🪖 Kang Mo-yeon’s “confession”

One of the best confessions in K-dramaland, in my opinion. Although it was not meant to be on Kang Mo-yeon’s part, her phone blurting out her feelings for Yoo Si-jin on speaker with the entire Uruk fam hearing it was just classic!

🪖 Seo Dae-young and Yoo Si-jin’s package

LOL. Every time I see the clip of Big Boss and Wolf running for their lives when an unexpected package from their blind dates arrived in Uruk, I still laugh out loud! We always welcome a classic romcom punch in this heavy romance drama setting!

🪖There were a lot of memorable appearances in the drama but these cameos were my favorites:

☀️ Lee Kwang-soo (Hyung squad reprezent)

☀️ Yoo Ah-in (who used his real name Uhm Hong-sik in the drama! Huhu)

☀️ Red Velvet (Who would’ve thought Big Boss and Wolf were Reveluvs?)

I could go on and on, but some moments are best left unmentioned to preserve them, don’t you think? What’s your best memory of Descendants of the Sun? Did you like the drama, why or why not? Have you tried the “three days, no nights” drinking game? Share with us in the comments!

Photo, Video, and GIF Credits: KBS, Viki, Beach, GIF1, GIF2

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