I am new to the whole K-Drama scene. The first Korean show I ever watched was Crash Landing on You. The series was so impressive; I am planning a rewatch soon. After I finished Crash Landing, someone recommended Descendants of the Sun, and I was both impressed and slightly bummed.
Descendants of the Sun is a show credited with bringing K-Dramas back to mainstream success in Asia and the West. The show is also lauded for increasing tourism in Korea and the locations where it was shot. Reading all of that and thinking of Crash Landing on You, my expectations were sky-high.
After taking a whole week, to finish the show, there were mixed feelings inside me. I loved how the show ended, but some shortcomings screamed loudest in the first half of the show. In the end, I was impressed with the show, but there are always good and bad moments about everything.
Descendants of the Sun – The Bad
Descendants of the Sun K-Drama was good, mostly, with some lingering flaws.
Image Source: Netflix
We all associate K-Dramas with romance; if the letter “K” appears before the word “drama,” most people imagine slow motion and abrupt hugging and awkward kisses. There is definitely some truth to that assessment; it is somewhat of a defining trait for the Eastern TV shows.
But that defining trait, I found, was somewhat lacking in Descendants of the Sun. The romance between Yoo Si-jin and Dr. Kang Mo-yeon began so suddenly and endly equally abruptly, I didn’t even have time to process the whole thing.
And the romance thing was not only limited to the two main characters. The start-stop relationship between Seo Dae-young and Yoon Myung-Ju was also jarring. Though the romance arc developed better, I would say with the later duo than the former, but it was still a missed opportunity for the writers.
The other thing I was mad about while watching Descendants of the Sun was how much of it was shot in a single location. I can show you two helicopter scenes that were used multiple times, and also the same S-curved elevated road made the scenes kind of bleed into one another.
This all may sound like nitpicking things so that I can justify my “hate” towards the show. But I was really troubled by those two things. Maybe the whole time I was watching each episode of the show, I was comparing it to Crash Landing on You; that was probably the issue.
I wanted Descendants of the Sun to be as good as Crash Landing that I was probably unfairly judging the two shows against one another. But let’s be honest, the start-stop relationship in the show was unnecessarily complicated.
Now comes my final issue with the Descendants of the Sun, the pacing. I am a fast streamer; I can sit and watch an unhealthy amount of episodes in one sitting. But with this show, I really struggled in the first few episodes. The pacing was just not there; even at sub-one hour length, the first few episodes were a slugfest.
But I will say it was impressive how the story and the pacing increased dramatically in the second half of the season. That is all for the bad section, now to the good ones.
Descendants of the Sun – The Good
The best thing about Descendants of the Sun was the cast. Captain Yoo and Seargent Seo were amazing as work brothers, and the love-hate relationship between Dr. Kang and Dr. Yoon had me cracking up. But the one person who deserved more screen time was nurse Choi; just mentioning her name, I can hear that shrill voice in my head.
Nurse Choi‘s scenes were the ones where I kept hitting the rewind button multiple times, and it still made me laugh every time. Then there were the almost-couple Dr. Song and Nurse Ha. Be honest, you were rolling on the floor laughing in the final episode when Song proposed, and Nurse Ha started running, weren’t you?
I love those kinds of moments; allowing actors to shine in between dialogs is what I look for when watching anything. Descendants of the Sun allowed plenty of moments for the actors to shine; Dr. Kang‘s drunk dance after the three-day drinking marathon is one shining example.
The cast of Descendants of the Sun was spot on in their execution of jokes and dramatic moments. When a show or movie leaves me with more than enough moments to remember it by, good or bad, I always think of it as time well spent.
Watching Descendants of the Sun, though it was a struggle at first, was definitely time well spent. And I can see how the show inspired travelers to go to Korea and Agios Georgios in Greece (where the shipwreck is located). Looking at those wonderful scenarios, I want to go there right now, but who are we kidding? It is still 2020!
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