Descendants of the Sun Review – Epic Romantic K-Drama

Descendants of the Sun

Descendants of the Sun Review

Not too long ago I posted a review for My Love From Another Star, a K-drama that rocked ratings and fans’ hearts including my own. Earlier this year, a new ratings giant emerged: Descendants of the Sun. A rare fully pre-produced K-drama, Descendants was highly anticipated for almost a year. When it aired simultaneously in China and Korea, the ratings blasted through the roof. Halfway through the season, Descendants had already reached ratings higher than My Love From Another Star’s highest rated episode. Descendants of the Sun became instant K-drama gold! Though I didn’t immediately start on the drama, once I received emails from a friend in raptures over the disaster-romance drama, I knew I had to watch it pronto. Of course, I fell in love.

RELATED My Love From Another Star Review – A Romantic Korean Drama

Captain Yoo looking too cool for school; Descendants of the Sun
Captain Yoo looking too cool for school

The story follows Kang Mo-Yeon, an ER doctor, who crosses paths with a handsome, charismatic young man, Yoo Shi-Jin, who takes an interest in her. When Mo-Yeon learns that he’s a Special Forces soldier, she’s no longer certain that a relationship could work between them. Fate is working on their behalf, though, as Shi-Jin is deployed to a (fictional) European country, Uruk, and Mo-Yeon joins a group of humanitarian doctors there. The sparks fly between Mo-Yeon and Shi-Jin… just as terrible disaster strikes.

There is honestly so much packed into Descendants that the short synopsis doesn’t cover it. There’s ER drama, action, special ops, an earthquake and disaster, several romantic storylines, epic bromance, and of course a spunky doctor and a smooth soldier.

Yoo Shi-Jin hands Kang Mo-Yeon her scarf; Descendants of the Sun
Yoo Shi-Jin hands Kang Mo-Yeon her scarf

I totally believe the strongest point of Descendants was the ensemble of solid actors. Song Joong-Ki, who thankfully signed on for this drama after finishing up his mandatory 21 months in the Korean army, brings empathy and warmth to the role of Captain Yoo Shi-Jin. Kang Mo-Yeon is played by the very capable Song Hye-Kyo, who returned to drama land after three years (she’d been filming movies during that time). She gives her character a real strength that is believable.

Soldiers: Dae-Young, Myung-Joo and Shi-Jin; Descendants of the Sun
Soldiers: Dae-Young, Myung-Joo and Shi-Jin

One of my favorite things about Descendants is the lack of major K-drama tropes. Shi-Jin isn’t a stereotypical macho hero but a layered person. Mo-Yeon doesn’t fall under the pushover “nice” heroine trope. She’s calm, intelligent, independent and knows who she is. Secondary heroine Yoo Myung-Joo isn’t another bratty, self-absorbed girl who wants the main hero. Instead, she’s an Army physician with an epic love line of her own – with Captain Yoo’s best bud, Seo Dae-Young. Really, the secondary love story is just as memorable and fascinating as the leading one.

Dr. Kang Mo-Yeon facing complications in the operating room; Descendants of the Sun
Dr. Kang Mo-Yeon facing complications in the operating room

There’s so much humor, wit and memorable moments crammed in this drama. Even with the disaster side of the story, Descendants is often quite lighthearted despite the dark elements of the story. The drama delivered a thrilling story – making me almost cry at a few poignant moments and leaving me on the edge of my seat as the heroes faced life and death situations. Also, the show was mostly filmed in Greece which gives us a stunning backdrop!

The drama isn’t without its flaws. Many of the more dramatic elements are quickly resolved, sometimes taking away any deeper impact. The “doctor” side of the story often feels over-the-top and fictionalized. People are horribly injured and then seemingly fine within a short span of time.

Kissing in the back of a truck; Descendants of the Sun
Kissing in the back of a truck

Unlike many ultra-hyped K-dramas, Descendants of the Sun actually lives up to its fame with a dramatic, gorgeously-shot story and an even bigger heart! You can watch Descendants of the Sun on Viki and Dramafever.


Photos: KBS2/Dramafever

OVERALL RATING

Five Corset Rating Lower Byte Size

“The stuff that dreams are made of.”

ROMANCE RATING

Five heart rating

“You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope.

I have loved none but you.”

Faith White

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Faith has always enjoyed movies and TV shows from swoon-worthy period dramas to heart-stopping action-adventure flicks. Her love of Korean dramas started a few years ago when she binge-watched a 62 episode period K-drama and fell in love. She also has a passion for writing stories. Even as a young teenager she entertained her sisters with episodic superhero adventures. Now she spends her time working, blogging, sewing, juggling several novels, and watching her favorite shows, mainly K-dramas. You can visit her blog at: www.justwaytooboss.blogspot.com

  • Lora Boyle

    Hi! I found your site while I was looking around for book recommendations based on my favorite novel Jane Eyre, and I was so excited to see that you review Korean dramas too! I’ve been watching Korean dramas for 10 years, way before they became as popular as they are now in the US.

    When I first heard about Descendants of the Sun I immediately decided to skip it because I can’t take too much violence, or medical stuff especially, like surgeries. But recently I’ve heard that it really focuses more on the romance more than anything, and the military and medical stuff is just a backdrop for the romance. Would you say this is true?

    I would expect there is some violence in it and maybe a surgery or two (I can’t bring myself to watch surgery scenes at all), but I’m wondering, does it feel like a “medical drama”, or is what I’ve been hearing true, that it doesn’t focus much on that?

    • Glad you found our site. 🙂 To answer your question, Descendants of the Sun definitely focuses more on the romance than on anything else. There are scenes of violence and medical situations but it’s never overly explicit. I would also say the show is part disaster flick. IE: A few episodes focus on an earthquake. There is a lot of rescuing going on through out the series. Overall, there really isn’t much of a procedural element and is definitely first and foremost a romance more than a medical drama.

      • Lora Boyle

        Thanks so much! I decided to go ahead and give it a try, and I’m up to episode 5 and loving it so far! I’m glad I found your review and didn’t end up missing this drama 🙂

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