This story tells of doctors stationed in the fictional war zone of Urk (Uruk), and follows the love story that develops between a surgeon, Kang Mo Yeon' and a special forces officer, Yoo Shi Jin, both elite in their respective fields. The story will track both their personal and professional struggles while exploring issues about the value of life.
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People often think that because something is popular, means that it's good. Lots of people don't understand that something being popular doesn't necessarily correlate to the quality of it! Quality is what makes something popular, not the other way around. People are often get sucked into peer-pressure from talks and gossip and buy into the fact that something bad is actually good because people keep saying that it is.
Well, Descendant of the Suns is no exception here. One of the co-writers, Kim Eun-Sook, is revered as a popular screen writer who has written a slew of popular dramas in the past, but most of her dramas are not written very well (IMO). In the early 2000's, her writing style was a hitting trend in the drama business. Writing dramas with the happy-go-lucky damsel in distress with the misfortune of having to put up with a pompous rich and handsome chaebol who has a heart of ice that can only be melted by her cheerful attitude. But these days, the trend of dramas demands a little more realism and a deeper understanding and display of human emotions, instead of superficial dramatics scenes and fleeting emotions driven by the moment. Her characters lack depth, her plots are horrendous (and that's putting it nicely) and her pacing is erratic, if not, very inconsistent. I admit, I find two of her dramas, mildly entertaining, Lovers and Secret Garden. But Descendants of the Sun was just a complete and utter mess.
I don't know what this writer wanted to do with the army and soldier part of it all, because it just seemed like an excuse to somehow squeeze in some action into it, but the relationship development between the two leads were hard to watch. It was like a child pushing a naked Barbie and Ken doll together, and see if they'd make a baby. Kim Eun-sook literally did just this with our two leads, and created no real connection with the two aside from the super cliche bump into each other, hate each other, share a memory or two and (BAM!) fall in love. The feelings that Yoo Shi-jun had for Dr. Kang Mo Yeon felt like it just suddenly appeared out of nowhere when he met her. There was no real gradually (realistic) feelings of romance, it was just WAM, hes sees her across the hall and he thinks to himself "I love this woman!" deal.
I didn't know what this drama wanted to be! A rom-com, a melo-drama, an action movie?! It is possible to combine so many kinds of genres into a drama, but it needs good timing, wit and creativeness to pull it all off. This drama tried to do that, but it all felt very rushed as if it couldn't wait to get to the next drama-filled scene.
Cliches are sometimes a guilty pleasure for South Koreans, and we love a typical love triangle and angst (myself included), and that's fine, but it would be appreciated if you at least TRIED to develop your writing more to grow your talents and maybe realize, "Writing fun dramas is fine, but I think I can do better!". Most of Kim Eun-sook's dramas are very typical, and really boring! REALLY BORING! The Heirs was like nails on a chalkboard. If you're going to ask me, then why watch them? Because of the wonderful and talented actors that are involved. T-T It makes me wonder why they chose her dramas. Because they thought it was a good drama, or because they thought the press involvement would be good for their career. To be honest, I'm hoping it's the latter. After Descendants of the Sun, Kim Eun-Sook is a drama writer that any actor/actress wants to be involved with because lately, by being a part of her dramas has helped dramatically in furthering their exposure and acting career. It's a career move, and we can't blame an actor/actress for wanting to take advantage of that. After all, actors/actresses make a living off our consistent admiration and interest in them.
To be honest, I'm really scared of what she's going to do with Goblin, because it's got some of my favorite actors/actresses in it, and I'd hate to see their talents diminished by such horrible plot writing and lack of character development. I know this review has been mostly centralized around Kim Eun-Sook's writing, but it's been frustrating to see how her dramas, that involve great and amazing actors/actresses, fall so short and end up being a very long and boring 16 or 20 episode thing. I'm willing to give Goblin a chance because of the cast, but we'll see if maybe Kim Eun-sook can bring something new to her repertoire of boring-and-typical-drama, product line.
I think the biggest problem I had with this show is that it tried to mix in three genres without a coherent plot to bring it all together. It's part rom-com, part military drama, and part hospital sitcom. The love story is probably what makes most people excited about the show, the military scenes are a cool action bonus, and the hospital sitcom keeps things from getting too heavy and depressing. Unfortunately, because the script is so weak, I was too disconnected to keep caring about the show, and it started to become very boring. I kept watching for one reason only Song Joong Ki.
Song Joong Ki is oddly cast in a lot of ways. He has a super baby face, and boyish charm, but still managed to be a believable [email protected]s soldier. I would easily rate his character/acting 10. Not only did I develop a 16 episode crush on him, but I really cared about his assignments. The show would have been a million times more enjoyable for me if they just let his story be the center, or rather, the bromance between Shi Jin, and Dae Yeong. Their relationship was my favorite part of the show. Their characters didn't have much depth individually, but their bromance was solid.
There is also great chemistry between Song Joong Ki, and Song Hye Kyo, but not much to their overall story. Every moment with them is exactly the same - they flirt, they separate, she gets mad, he's extra charming, they flirt again. Early on, I really started to dislike Dr. Kang Mo Yeon, which made it hard to sympathize with her anger at him. Eventually I started to like her a little more, but no matter how cute their flirty scenes, or how strangely amusing their brink of death dating was, their story is still repetitive, which gets old quick.
The 2nd leads also had a romance, that had a few more obstacles thrown their way (parents, distance, almost dying), but was just as repetitive - fight, confess, spontaneous affection, fight. It's like each story just filled in the same blanks for each episode. It was actually the older minor characters who had the most interesting love story. I thought Seo Jeong Yeon and Lee Seung Jun were really cute, and deserve an honorable mention.
The supporting cast was pretty good. Some were much better than others, and some were almost completely useless (the head of the hospital... that ditzy doctor... ugh). I had to bring the acting down to an 8 because of that, but the cast is really the only good thing this show has going for it.
What was the point of this drama? At first it seemed like a way to show how hard it can be to date a soldier, but because the show didn't take itself seriously, it was hard for me to take that too seriously, even with that emotionally manipulative 15th episode. The conflicts at the hospital were ridiculous, and mostly filler. The best episodes took place when the medical staff went overseas to Urk, but once that was over, the show seemed to have no clue what to do. Did they run out of travel budget, so they decided to just wing it for the last episodes? Even in Urk, the plot was super predictable, and totally unrealistic, but it was still very entertaining (yummy Cheese!!!). When they returned, my feelings about the show went downhill, and I was no longer excited about watching the next episode. Then suddenly things got very serious out of nowhere, only to end with the silliest (and worst) last episode I've ever seen in any drama (yes THE worst!). I wonder if episode 15 was the original ending, and then it was changed last minute to avoid a backlash. That's the only thing I can think of as an explanation for why it was so bad.
The music? meh. The scenery? epic. The english spoken? decent. The shirtless men running? Daebak.
Would I rewatch? Not unless someone makes an edited version of only scenes with Song Joong Ki.
Overall It's like they rolled a kdrama dice and just threw stuff in at random to get people hooked, then they just focused on all the ways they can successfully incorporate product placement. Maybe that was the real point, to see how many ads they could sneak into a drama.
Even though there were moments I really enjoyed, I can't recommend this drama, especially after sitting through that ending. I wish they cut it down to 10 episodes, removing all the unnecessary fluff, and sneaky ads (subway, hyundai, make up, coffee, snacks, hiking equipments, travel apps... umm... except for the self driving car, because that scene was actually cool ) then maybe it would be a drama worthy of all the hype.
Or maybe you can treat my review like lactaid. Now that you know what to expect, maybe you can better digest all the cheese this show has to offer.