Descendants of the Sun is a gorgeous melo-romance about a surgeon and a soldier in a disaster-stricken country. It’s a beautiful show with steady pacing, solid writing, and an amazing cast and crew.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
- Descendants of the Sun Trailer
- Descendants of the Sun Summary
- Descendants of the Sun Trivia
- How To Watch Descendants of the Sun — Tips and Guide
- Descendants of the Sun Review and Final Verdict
- Descendants of the Sun Commentaries
- Related Posts
Check out the trailer, what’s it about, some trivia, my final review and rating, and my weekly commentaries.
Descendants of the Sun Trailer
Descendants of the Sun Summary
Descendants of the Sun follows the love story of Captain Yoo Shi-Jin (Song Joong-Ki) of the UN peacekeeping troops and Doctor Kang Mo-Yeon (Song Hye-Kyo).
Mo-Yeon is a surgeon who makes regular appearances on television. She is the face of the hospital she works in but has difficulty moving her career forward because she has no connections. Things come to a head when she refuses to sleep with the Chairman and she is banished to their hospital’s division in remote Urk.
In the meantime, Shi-Jin is head of the Alpha Team which specializes in the most difficult and sensitive military missions. He is an ace in hand-to-hand combat, sharpshooting, and enemy negotiations.
Mo-Yeon and Shi-Jin are attracted to each other from the get-go but their budding romance is cut short due to differing ideals. However, fate and destiny bring the couple back together in the war-torn country of Urk.
Descendants of the Sun Trivia
I first saw Song Hye-Kyo in Full House as Rain‘s female lead. I didn’t finish THAT drama (can’t remember why now) but the funny thing is that Rain’s drama — Come Back Mister — is also showing at the same time as SHK’s. It’s kinda ironic and I hope people don’t compare ratings because Descendants of the Sun (which I shall heretofore call DOTS) obviously has a much bigger scale and budget.
Another interesting trivia is that this is Song Joong-Ki‘s first drama after being discharged from compulsory South Korean military duty last May 26, 2015. Welcome back, puppy!
Lastly, one of the writer of DOTS is Kim Eun-Sook who has Heirs, Gentlemen’s Dignity, and Secret Garden under her belt. I found this out after watching Episode 1 and it sorta explained my lukewarm reception of DOTS. It just so happens that I dropped all of these dramas at the midway point.
How To Watch Descendants of the Sun — Tips and Guide
What?? I’m giving out tips on how to watch DOTS? Lol yeah! I’ve been seeing so many complaints in the forums that I decided to share my formula for enjoying this drama:
- Turn off the Brain.
- Check Reason and Logic out the door. The strength of this drama is not a layered and realistic socio-political backdrop despite all the spies, refugees, and rebels you might see. This is mainly a love story and you’ll have to go with the flow. If you want rich and complex, go watch Signal. (Not much love story there though.)
- Don’t expect a Hollywood-level foreign cast. They might have a big budget but it’s not a gargantuan one. They would have directed most of it on location shooting, the main cast, and so on.
- When the cheesy lines get cheesier, and when the cheesier lines get to their cheesiest, don’t fret. Just stare into Oppa Joong-Ki’s eyes and (perfect) face and let his magic work on you. His acting chops are off the charts!
- Again, turn off your brain! 😀
Descendants of the Sun Review and Final Verdict
The short and sweet of it is what I’ve always said all along. Descendants of the Sun is a beautiful melodrama and love story. I avoid melodramas but I delighted in watching DOTS which says volumes about Show.
Here are the strengths and weakness of Descendants of the Sun:
- Stellar cast. I came to care for everyone. Puppy Song Joong-Ki is amazing. Like, out of this world amazing. Did I mention that his pores can act?
- Interesting side stories. I loved the love story of Myeong-Joo and Dae-Young. And then there’s also Daniel and Ye-Hwa and Dr. Song and Ja-Ae.
- Steady pace. Show did not derail. That in itself is a major miracle in kdramaland.
- Strong ending. Not to say that the ending was perfect but I loved the reason that the boys went MIA. Very believable. I didn’t even think of that. And to think that Jung-Joon (the North Korean soldier they helped out) would actually be their savior!!
- The funny was super funny. The reason I was able to watch this melo was because of the comic relief inserts. Boy were they funny!
I don’t wanna be a wet rag so I won’t nitpick. Here are the weaknesses I couldn’t turn a blind eye to.
- Shi-Jin was Superman. It took the edge off that feeling of danger and suspense knowing he’ll just bounce back and do amazing feats.
- Lapses in logic. Which parts? I’m not sure. I’d turned off my brain, remember? Hahahaha!
- The socio-political backdrop didn’t feel realistic. Sure they had presidents, ambassadors, rebels, and merceneries. Still, it all felt like in the realm of a fairytale rather than real life.
Still, it was a GREAT show. I can truly say I enjoyed it. See my rating at the bottom of this article. Or make the jump HERE .
Descendants of the Sun Commentaries
When I first watched DOTS, I was not too enthusiastic about it as I don’t do melos. Thankfully, episode 2 changed my mind so here we are doing weekly commentaries after all!
Notes: Keep away if you don’t want spoilers! If you want recaps, my fave blog Dramabeans has them. Also, my advance apologies if there are any typos. I’m typing this fast between my day jobs. 😉
Episode 1 and 2
The opening of DOTS showed immediately what we’re in for as we see Shi-Jin in the middle of a tense situation with North Korean soldiers. We are treated to a display of his authority in the field and his fighting prowess and ability.
We also get introduced to another noteworthy character. This is Seo Dae-Young (to the left of Si-Jin in photo above) whose quiet but scary demeanor gets through to us despite the war paint on his face. I think his acting is so amazing because even if he is just a secondary character, I am already drawn to his character very early on.
Back in Seoul, we see our couple finally meet for the first time. I’m happy they didn’t meet in the middle of a war. It allowed their meeting to be have a more everyday and idyllic feel to it.
And before I move on to Ep 2, I want to show a couple of my favorite scenes. One of them is when Shi-Jin is suddenly called back to work and has to leave in a helicopter from the hospital’s roof. I was struck by the look on his face a second before getting on the helicopter. For one heartbeat, his face betrayed his fear and anxiety. After all, he wasn’t 100% sure that he was returning.
After Shi-Jin flies away, Mo-Yeon asks a colleague, “If one is in the Special Forces, do you get picked up by a helicopter, and sometimes get shot by a gun?”
And while Shi-Jin DOES make it back and they have a date and a half (dinner at home and a few minutes at the cinema), the light banter and flirtation doesn’t last long. Shi-Jin does too many sudden departures for Mo-Yeon’s liking and the two finally realize that their roles and ideals don’t seem to compliment each other’s.
(I think it was more of Mo-Yeon dumping Shi-Jin though more than anything though.)
Our main leads go on to lead their separate lives. In this drama world though, Fate and Destiny play a big hand in putting our leads in the same place at the same time — a remote (made-up) place called Urk. Shi-Jin and his men have been deployed there while Mo-Yeon has been banished for not sleeping with the slimeball Chairman.
Have I mentioned that Descendants of the Sun has beautiful scenes and shots? I particularly loved that scene where the medical personnel await their helicopter ride.
As it lands, Mo-Yeon’s head scarf unfurles from her head and flutters forward.
She steps forward away from the group to retrieve it just as a small group of soldiers disembark from the helicopter. And Shi-Jin walks past her without a glance.
What a freaking cliffhanger. There’s nothing like a snub from a handsome guy who used to swoon about my gal to get my interest up! I hate melos but I gotta watch Descendants of the Sun next week. Bwahahaha!
Episode 3 and 4
Against my better judgment, I’ve decided to continue my commentaries. Just can’t help it! 😀
A lot of exciting things happened and many were wondering what would happen with our OTP’s second meeting. In the beginning, he pretends not to pay attention to her but in the end, he just can’t help himself. Here is Shi-Jin getting a teensy bit jealous when the lady doctors ogle the bare-chested soldiers on their morning jog.
Will I go to hell for replaying this several times over?
Lady 1: Will we get to see this every morning?
Mo-Yeon: If they do this every evening too, I might just move here permanently.
Lady 2: I’d like an advanced notice. I’d have to talk to my landlord.
They even visit a gorgeous island with a derelict beached ship. (They shot this in Greece)
Some netizens have been questioning the foreign cast or some of the military portrayals. My concern is higher level than that…. Who washes and irons Mo-Yeon’s clothes in Urk? She’s always wearing light clothes that look neatly pressed. Hehe. I keed. Toldja I turned off my brain.
This week’s episodes were high octane due to an emergency operation at their base. I loved how a couple of the medical team were whining and losing hope, but Mo-Yeon never faltered nor lost confidence. She may not be a genius doctor but she’s a competent one. And that’s even rarer in kdramaland.
And my last rant for today, why is Song Joong-Ki so damn perfect in EVERY single shot?
Oh oh oh! I almost forgot. The secondary love story is SOOOO cute! And I’m not the only one finding it so.
Their repartee is so funny. Myeong-Joo helps out Dae-Young at the wedding and he helps her out by pretending to date her. But it gets out of hand…
Myeong-Joo: So why is there a rumor that we slept together?
Dae-Young: Because soldiers are imaginative? (deadpan face)
And the adorable thing is, they keep meeting. And the seasons change and they’re still cute-bickering.
Dae-Young: You might not win, but there’s a way to get even.
Dae-Young: Turn the rumor into fact.
Beatings ensue. Ha ha ha!
Episode 5 and 6
A HUGE lightbulb came on for me this week while I was watching Descendants of the Sun. I just realized WHY it’s so addictive… for me at least. It’s the constant Push and Pull that’s actually very cutely written.
Obviously, their first meeting at the hospital was the first “pull”. But later, Mo-Yeon chose to end their relationship after the movie date. That was the first “push”. Then, Destiny brings them both in Urk, and sparks fly between our OTP once again. And last week, Shi-Jin swooped in for a taste of wine… on Mo-Yeon’s lips and mouth. Ayieeeee! What a cliffhanger!
They share the softest kiss but when Shi-Jin goes for a deeper kiss, Mo-Yeon moves her head, a sign of rejection. Later, our gal outright rejects him because Shi-Jin is too dangerous for her peace of mind.
So while we fretted, of course, Writer-Nim gave us the plot device needed to bring them back together. A vicious earthquake that had Shi-Jin frenzied and alarmed for Mo-Yeon’s safety. He even volunteers for the rescue team.
Wasn’t it so cool when they went down from the helicopter in ropes??
And weren’t we crushed again when they briefly met, eyes super speaking to each other, and then shouldering their packs and going their respective ways?
Yes yes yes, Drama sisters! Writer-Nim is playing with our heartstrings like a genius pianist. (Ha! I made you think of Baek In Ho, didn’t I???!! Lawls.)
I’ll confess I cried a bit though during Mo-Yeong’s recitation of the doctor’s oath. It’s just the realization that while I may be watching a drama, there are REAL people with these jobs somewhere out there.
And of course, I can’t just end this week’s commentaries without mentioning our second leads. We got more flashbacks and more cute. Sigh. Now I understand a bit more why this separation is so painful. It’s because they were so good together!
Episode 7 and 8
I want to thank Descendants of the Sun for introducing to me the two BEST confessions ever.
First was Shi-Jin. I’ve said this over and over, Boy can act. His eyes, his voice, his face… even his pores can act! So my heart was totally enthralled when confessed to Mo-Yeon with so much gravity…
I really missed you. No matter what I did, I couldn’t stop thinking about you. I tried tiring myself out. I tried very hard to forget. I drank and did everything but I still missed you a lot.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who wished I had a Shi-Jin to confess so sincerely like that. If you’ve been cheated on or left behind, surely you know how it is to long for one heartfelt moment like this.
Still, we can understand Mo-Yeon for trying to keep her distance. I wasn’t counting but Shi-Jin apparently is as he told the earthquake survivor that he’d been rejected a total of 3 times already. It must have been hard for him not to hear echoing sentiments from the woman he loves.
And that’s what makes the cliffhanger of this week’s Episode 8 DOUBLY funny. Mo-Yeon’s own secret confession to Shi-Jin (while she was suspended over a cliff and about to die) was BROADCAST to the whole camp when she lent her mobile phone playlist to Daniel.
If I knew I’d die like this, I should’ve just lived my life the way I wanted to. Shi-Jin, are you on your way? You’re not coming. I don’t think you’re coming. I don’t think I can hold out until you get here. Well, I guess you’ll be the first one to find me if I die. You know what? If I had known I would die like this, I should have honestly confessed my feelings. I was kissed by an awesome man. My heart was fluttering all the time.
Ha ha ha. Run, girl, run!
Episode 9 and 10
Every Descendants of the Sun fan was waiting for this episode! After all, Mo-Yeon makes an accidental and unplanned confession to Shi-Jin. Understandably embarrassed, she tries to run away from Shi-Jin at every opportunity. There was so much running away that I was taken by surprise when Mo-Yeon actually confesses when they are face to face in the truck (with the resplendant sunset in the background).
And how funny was their stiff and proper goodbye later on? They didn’t even know they had so much hay at the back of the heads bwahahaha! My imagination is running riot!
Now, honestly, this commentary is late because I saw in the preview for the next episode that there was going to be some dangerous viral outbreak. With blood spurting into Mo-Yeon and Myung-Joo’s eyes, I was very afeared. And true enough, my fears were real.
I learned some fine facts in Episode 10. Mainly:
1. Getting busted by girlfriends is fun and funny… for those of us watching, that is! For Shi-Jin and Dae-Young though, it means pain, rivulets of sweat, and evasive action under pressure.
Look at them try to head off impending disaster!
2. You can use military night goggles for eating ramen in a blackout.
3. If you’re eating, you can skip this. There’s actually people who will eat their poop again and again if it contains diamonds.
Technically, the diamonds were washed but still! Ewww. I can’t even.
It’s another cliffhanger for us as Myung-Joo contracts meningitis. Man, if there’s anything, Descendants of the Sun can be relied on to give us cliffhangers guaranteed to keep us on tenterhooks!
Episode 11 and 12
I sometimes keep away from Descendants of the Sun because I can’t bear bad stuff happening to everybody in this universe. Writers-nim have been awesome at making me care for everybody including the medical staff, the soldiers in Big Boss’ unit and so on that I am sometimes anxious to start watching.
I realized something in these episodes though. The humor runs throughout each episode and gives us that much-needed respite and relief. Some of it is intentional and some accidental.
1. Mannequin guards
Like, when Mo-Yeon was all tied up and about to meet a despicable end at the hands of Agus, I was laughing at her two guards. Haha! I thought they were mannequins. Why are they so stiff!!
2. Dr. Song surprise!
And I was so surprised to see Dr. Song running along with the soldiers. Laughing mindlessly again at 1am. (And so sorry again, neighbors!!)
I kinda expected it after his constant complaints but haha! Those shorts. They really set him apart. He’s not as muscled as the other guys (obv) but I love his chutzpah. (Hah! First time I got to use that word. Thanks Sang-Hyun!)
3. Indecent Joong-Ki thoughts
And while I should have been suspensefully gripped while Shi-Jin was shooting it out with Agus, I was instead wondering (the thought came unbidden! stupid wayward thoughts!), “Does Joong-Ki have pores??”
4. Funny conversation between Chi-Hoon and Chwadi (goat boy!)
Hahahaha! That convo between the young doctor and the local boy was gold. This is real life. No translator in sight. I just hope boy gets his goat haha!
For this episode, I’m so glad that Show deviated and instead of the formulaic Push I was expecting from Mo-Yeon, we got a Pull instead. Yehey! She’s committing to the relationship with the full knowledge of the risks that Shi-Jin has at work. (I’ll be supremely pissed if he dies at the end though… like what the rumors are saying!)
We’re going back to Seoul! I can’t wait!
Episode 13 and 14
I thoroughly enjoy having our missions and adventures in Seoul setting this time with familiar faces and surroundings. We even see the North Korean soldier that Shi-Jin had hand-to-hand combat with in Episode 1. I’m glad that the writers have enough forethought to circle back to some plot points.
Two things caught my attention in these two episodes of Descendants of the Sun though.
The Chairman wasn’t the singularly evil man I thought he was.
He was a total jerk in the first few episodes so I am caught by surprise that he might ACTUALLY like Mo-Yeon. In this apology, he explains that he gets flustered around her. (Yes, and that’s why you wanted to skip the preliminaries of courting and go straight to sex.)
Call me weird but I found his one-sided courtship sweet. And it’s made me thoroughly anxious.
I’m thinking, why are they setting him up to be a good guy? Will he be the guy that Mo-Yeon falls back on when Shi-Jin dies? Because I’ve heard that rumor. And MAN OH MAN, please don’t make it happen!!!
Secondly, Shi-Jin has physical abilities that are beyond belief.
I take my own advice and suspend my disbelief. It’s just that it was so glaring in this episode. Three gunshot wounds at close range and he’s still running a mission and sniping after a few hours. Not complaining. Especially if the super powers keep him from dying!
And what in hell was that preview???!!! Noooooo! WILL SOMEBODY DIE???!!!!
We’re near the finish line of Descendants of the Sun, folks. Hang in there!
Episode 15 and 16
Omgggg! I REALLY thought Descendants of the Sun was going to go awry at the last minute and end up like this:
- With Shi-Jin dead or;
- We’re not sure if he’s dead or alive but we get a tiny bit of a hint (maybe a figure of a man in the distance) or;
- Shi-Jin finds himself somewhere after many years and all the good stuff happens offscreen (you, Cheese in the Trap... I’m looking at you)
I haven’t mentioned the part where the writers get a lobotomy and the plot implodes toward the end. This has been too often my experience in my years of watching dramas.
Happily, it’s neither of those things. Sure they made me drown in tears first. Again, I was eating AND crying. This time though, I was crying so hard I actually ended up eating my tears. Ewww.
Man, I truly felt it when the girls lost their beloved boys. If you’ve been left behind or lost somebody to death, you know what I’m talking about. The pain is beyond belief which is why I cried even harder when Mo-Yeon was talking to her doctor friend and accidentally remembered Shi-Jin. It’s when you’re caught unaware that it sometimes hits the hardest.
So call me surprised that the boys are alive. Everything got wrapped up neatly in a bow. Too neat if you ask me but gah, who cares.
I’m happy that we could have one episode of last and final cute.
Wasn’t it funny that Chi-Hoon still didn’t find out Blackey’s name? Boy got his goat though! And wasn’t it so sweet when we finally learned what Dr. Song’s “secret” folder contained?
And that “food for the dead” scene with Mo-Yeon and her colleagues was SUPER hilarious. I just had to replay that several times. HAHAHAHAHA. Everyone’s reaction was priceless. Have to say that Onew is really shaping up to be a really good actor.
Omo omo omo! I almost forgot that crazy VIP scene. Not sure why they put that in there but it’s a hilarious insert. I’d say they might have survived fearsome foreign militia but very little is gonna save them from the wrath of their girlfriends!
(If you’ve been following my commentaries weekly, please know that I updated the blurb above and put in a Final Review so do check that out for my final thoughts on DOTS.)
And with these two episodes, Descendants of the Sun wrapped up. Show let us know that there will always be a calamity going on in their dramaverse but our characters (including super human puppy of mine Shi-Jin) will always be there to save the day.
Did you like Descendants of the Sun, drama friends? Tell me all about it!
DOTS hugs everyone,