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5 Reasons Why Descendants of the Sun is the Best Korean Drama of 2016

Ma-re is a certified K-drama and K-pop enthusiast. She always likes to discover something new about the wide world of Korean entertainment.


Every year, K-drama fans are very eager to find out what would be the next best drama. Two years ago, the drama My Love From the Star was a huge success and a massive hit in Asia which results in fans going crazy over the story and the actors. But this year, the award of being the best K-drama goes to Descendants of the Sun. Here are some of the reasons why:


1. It's A Little Bit Unpredictable

When it comes to drama, we all know what it's going to be. But this is an exception.

High school love story, a third-party affair and revenge, and the infamous rich and poor social status are just some of the most common concept of drama that we're always watching. But Descendants gives us a "fresh", if not totally new, concept of romance drama. Who would have thought that a doctor and soldier's love story would be a massive hit? Initially, there were doubts about the overall gain of the drama, as a story involving a soldier may not be enough to garner a very high successive rate. This is revealed when SBS were reluctant to continue with the project despite initial discussions and confirmations were given by SBS itself. The project was instead passed to KBS and finally, as we know it, the drama became a hit.

The drama is considered unique among other Korean dramas as there were no dramas that portray a love story involving a soldier and a doctor. What's more, this is not just an ordinary love story between two people. There are so many outside factors that affects both Captain Yoo Si Jin and Doctor Kang Mo Yeon's personal lives, such as the difference of their jobs, the nature of their work, and the time they need to spend while working separately. But still, they found love amidst the many grasses that grows on the pathway of their relationship. This is what makes the audiences go for their story as they advances towards another problem, and find another solution to continue.


2. The Writer is a Legend

The writer, Kim Eun Sook is notable for his works such as The Inheritors (2013), Secret Garden (2010), and Lovers In Paris (2004).

Kim had a long relationship with SBS, which aired all her previous dramas but dropped Descendants. According to a report on the Korean Web portal Nate, SBS had doubts about a show about soldiers, as having characters in uniforms and military situations means that there is less money to be made from fashion sponsorship and product placement.

Now Kim has partnered up with KBS, and Descendants has become one of the most successful K-drama in history.


3. The Two Lead Actors Are Brilliant

Every Korean drama that goes worldwide hit would always have the rightful K-drama actor whom millions of fans can fall over collectively. In 2009, it was Lee Min Ho in Boys Over Flowers. In 2014, it was Kim Soo Hyun in My Love From The Star. Now, it's Song Joong-ki from Descendants, thanks to his absolute performance as a soldier who is going off to war while courting a beautiful doctor.

Song Joong-ki as Captain Yoo Si Jin (Big Boss)

The leading man of the story is a handsome, cool, and brave Captain Yoo Si Jin, who is brought to life by Song Joong-ki. He is popular for his role in the historical drama Sungkyunkwan Scandal (2010) and the variety show Running Man as one of the original cast members when it premiered in 2010. He played his first TV leading role in the melodrama The Innocent Man (2012). He has also starred in feature films, notably as the title character in the box office hit, A Werewolf Boy (2012).

Given his huge success in his acting career, Descendants is Song Joong-ki's comeback project after serving his two years of mandatory military service.

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Song Hye Kyo as Doctor Kang Mo Yeon (Doctor Beauty)

The leading lady, Doctor Kang Mo Yeon, is portrayed by one of the most beautiful and brilliant actresses in Korea, Song Hye Kyo. She gained popularity through television dramas such as Autumn in My Heart (2000), All In (2003), Full House (2004), The World That They Live In (2008), and That Winter, the Wind Blows (2013). And now, taking the lead role in the massive pan-Asia hit 2016 drama, Descendants of the Sun gives her this year's spotlight as the most praised actress for her remarkable performance in the drama.


4. It Has Record-Breaking Viewership Ratings

Descendants started out at 14.3 percent on its first episode which aired on February 24. Ever since then, it has been dominating the viewership race by constantly being in the number one spot with the steady increase in the rating. The second episode scored 15.5 percent, third episode 23.4 percent, fourth episode 24.1 percent, fifth episode 27.4 percent, and finally the sixth episode 28.5 percent, breaking it’s own record as the drama went on.

It was not only a major hit in Korea, it also gained popularity worldwide. The show earned high ratings in China on iQiyi, from February through middle of April 2016 and broke viewership records. Since then, many Asian broadcasters bought the rights to air the 16-episode drama which led its producers to have the show translated into 32 different languages. It has been sold to more than 27 countries, including the UK.

Second season coming?

Following the success of the drama, Jung Sung Ho, the head of KBS Drama Department, has announced that the network is planning to do the second season next year. “KBS will strive to produce a second Descendants Of The Sun to meet expectations and repay viewers,” Jung said. “We plan to launch Descendants Of The Sun project for broadcast in 2017 through negotiations with the cast and production team,” he added.


5. Following The Success of 2014's My Love From The Star

Descendants is not just stealing the spotlight for breaking the ratings record set by 2014 hit drama, My Love From the Star, but it succeeded to do so with mere six episodes. Descendants surpassed My Love From the Star record rating of 28.1 percent from February 27, 2014 on its last episode with its 28.5 percent in the sixth episode. Finally surpassing the rate of My Love from the Star with an average rating of 30.09, Descendants holds the record of Korea’s No. 1 drama to date.

However, there are possible factors which contributes greatly to the success of Descendants. When My Love from the Star became popular in China in 2014, Chinese entertainment regulators put stricter limits on foreign dramas on video websites, effectively cooling down Chinese viewers' love affair with K-dramas. In order to solve this, Descendants was fully pre-produced to pass the new Chinese guidelines and be cleared for simulcasts in China and South Korea. It is the first K-drama to air simultaneously in the two countries, which certainly helps the show become more popular and gain fans in a shorter period of time.

Even so, the two dramas are uniquely beautiful on their own, and no matter what the difference is - may it be the ratings, actors, story, etc., we still love these two massive hit K-dramas.

That's it!

Express your insights by writing a comment below, and tell us what you think about the second season by participating in the poll.

© 2016 Mare-sensei


Watchman Jan from Space Coast on July 16, 2018:

K-dramas are often produced to run one season so they have a beginning and an ending. I like it that way as it avoids the cliffhangers often associated with American dramas, especially those cancelled.

And sorry to burst your bubble but technically "Goblin" was the best K-drama of 2016. If we were to weight the viewership of "Goblin" which aired on a pay channel to that of "Descendants of the Sun" which aired on free-to-watch television, it would be twice as popular. :P

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