The surreal brilliance of Descendants of the Sun

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Dazed and intoxicated in a fictional one-sided love, I got more than what I bargained for choosing “Descendants of the Sun” as my first pick this year in my favorites and placing it on my all-time-favorite list.   And no, it’s not because of Captain Yoo Si Jin’s dashing and magnetic appeal nor the running topless army guys doing their morning routine.  It is simply because it deserves all the hype and kdrama addicts’ rave it got because of its superb screenplay and well-executed story.

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When a drama is great, I usually am lost on how I can possibly write about it without prejudice, but the case for me now is how I can contain not thinking about Captain Yoo Si Jin and blushing and smiling like an idiot as if we have an existing romantic relationship.  *chuckles 

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I will try to focus with all my might.  If I get sidetrack for a bit, forgive my romantic self.  *aigoo

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I never had a standard pattern when writing on reviews, but since the hallyuwave rennaisance suddenly surged again because of Mo Yeon and Si Jin’s story.  I will now patent my flow of thoughts for a more pleasant reviews.

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SYNOPSIS

On their break after a successful military operation, Special Forces Alpha Team Captain Yoo Si Jin and Sergeant Major Seo Dae Young were lost like children playing in a bullet shooting range, they got sidetrack when a thief was declared in the area and they used their military skill in stopping the teenager who stole a motorbicycle. 

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The soldiers hit the wheels rendering the inexperience thief in place on the ground with evident body injuries.  He was sent to the hospital after a quick first aid fix done by Captain Si Jin and the two headed to a cafe with stuffed toys as their dates.  They soon realized that Sergeant Major Seo’s handphone was missing and they headed to the hospital where they saw the young thief being bullied by a gang after escaping the hospital’s ER.  They took back the fleeing stubborn patient after giving some lessons to the bullies but Dr. Kang Mo Yeon insisted on getting Si Jin’s details as she thought they cause the patient’s bruises even when the patient backed up the story.descendants-of-the-sun-song-joong-ki-song-hye-kyo

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Soon the growing attraction became evident between Mo Yeon and Si Jin, but Mo Yeon’s personal conviction that a relationship with Si Jin was not workable.  They met again after Mo Yeon was forcibly send to a volunteer work in Urk where Si Jin was leading a station.  Si Jin pushed for a second try but Mo Yeon still refused to give in.  On their way back to Korea, the medical mission team was caught up by reviving lives from an earthquake.  The outbreak summoned the Special Forces led by Si Jin for the rescue operation.

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Even when Mo Yeon accidentally declared how Si Jin occupied a place in her heart when her last will recording was aired in the camp after almost dying on a car accident, she stuck to being stubborn by not wanting to admit her true feelings to Si Jin.  But when they unfortunately landed to an active land mine and have to hitch their ride back home, she finally gave in and reciprocated his emotions.

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The second lead has a great supporting love story too.  Having been forced to not continue their relationship by Myung Jo’s general father but through their undeniable display of true love, the father finally blessed their relationship.

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STORY & SCREENPLAY

Rarely do we get a story in dramaland that is so affecting when the narrative is relying on the love plot.  Most of the time it maintains a decent showing but in the waning part of the series it will lose its magic.  No romance kdrama has made it to my top favorites basing on the screenplay and the acting.  What they all failed to achieve, DOTS casually slayed in a watch-us-this-is-how-it-should-be-done manner.

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The drama was pre-produced and raked millions with its budget.  KBS really gambled in taking over the drama meant to go to SBS, but the risk paid off a thousand fold because of its success.  So why did a drama set in a not so positive environment won over the viewers’ heart?  The raves it got can be attributed to how fit the actors to their characters were, the realistic-sometimes-cheesy-most-of-the-time-pure-love of the main characters, the snappy lines and giggle inducing captured frames and how the story depended on the fulfilment of the romance just as the romance bloomed because of the flowing story. 

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I am a Hong sisters’ fan and I will be a new Kim Eun Sook follower.  She was so efficient with how she writes the pictures of her drama.  I have lots of favorite scenes but that one scene that I love was when Si Jin rescued Mo Yeon and having left no choice but to kill the villain, he pulled the trigger while covering Mo Yeon’s eyes.  It was so beautiful that I cried and I think I’m the only person who cried over it.  *chuckles  The buoyancy of the lines she wrote suited well to the blithe characters she created.  She was very clear on the roles of her characters and she didn’t misplace or misuse all the people that moved in the story.

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CAST & CONFLICT
I am still moving on from the fictional separation to my favorite imaginary soldier.  I’m sure as of this moment, a lot of kdrama addict girls are still viewing back episodes in trying to cope up with the mass break up we have with Alpha Team and Captain Yoo Si Jin.  So far Descendants of the Sun is the yardstick of what to achieve by upcoming kdramas this year.  That being said it has one of the best cast ensembles that communicated with impeccable chemistry to grace a superb kdramaland show. quot-Descendants-of-the-Sun-quot-Episode-16-final_97bbeddb709304e6b91b5137a5f153a00346fede20

Even the supporting casts who are newbies were not sleeping and did well their homework.  The main lead hands down displayed a memorable love couple we can all relate to and we wished we could have.  Wolf and Myung Joo’s love affair was equally amusing as the main leads which made me realize why all those past dramas relied on making the second leads hinder the success of the lead couple when they can do it neat like this.  I didn’t suffer on a second-lead-syndrome but I was always all smiles to Alpha team’s bromance.

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The issues resolved in the story focused on braving the odds for love and the death defying conflict in the finishing kick of the series.  The charm of Captain Yoo Si Jin would have not been possible if his lead girl was not as endearing as our clever surgeon Mo Yeon.  I have to admit that episode 15 was the weakest episode because it struggled in a denouement or conflict limbo.  I was hoping the finale week would just be a fan service but they scared me when I thought it would push an open ended closure or everything-is-a-dream-lead-man-is-dead ending.  That’s the only negative point I had in its entirety but it was definitely forgivable given the balanced conception of a drama thriving in a love premise.photo697049

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RATINGS & RECOMMENDATION
I gave a 10/10 score for Descendants of the Sun for its ingenuity in capturing the heartfelt romance even with violence and disaster plot.  It left lessons on patriotism, life, career and friendship.  There are stories that need not to be embellished because they can stand alone when you chronicle it without confusion and with a direction.

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It was a finale befitting of the beautiful story we all watched from day 1.   It is safe to say now that “Descendants of the Sun” will become one of the best korean dramas that ever aired in kdramaland.  It defied all the resident kdrama cliches and presented a balanced character portrayals and heartfelt, unscripted romance.  I have never seen a drama so beautiful in each chapters and even more stunning as it flows in the culminating closure.  I’ve never been so dazed until Captain Yoo Si Jin strut his army uniform looking dapper and manly honoring the call of the country he serves while fulfilling his promise to the woman he loves.  

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Now I won’t be confused and answer right away when asked for a kdrama recommendation.  Not only did the drama nail the romantic notes to an almost impossible perfection, but it created a story where every person who knows how to love can relate to.  It left an inspiring message to become the best that we can ever be to the person we love, to the profession we have and to the life we live. -jediprincess♥♥♥

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The sweet “Scent of a Woman”

Looking back what I loved most about this drama is how for a change I got the conflict first in one big blow at the beginning of the series and I stayed glued at it all throughout even if I knew the expected possibilities.

 

This was a favorite of mine for the dramas aired in 2011.  I felt that the tears, the smiles, the bright side, the falling flower petals, the optimism, the strong heroine and Lee Dong Wook oppa were all perfectly placed to the finish line.

Lee Yeon Jae deprived herself of the many comforts and pleasures of life only to find out that her wallpaper existence is bound to be shattered into pieces because of cancer.

She went through the stages of grief, and when she finally accepted that it won’t do her any good, she decided to fulfill her bucket lists and used her abundant savings to splurge on the luxury she chose to evade.

“To fall in love” was included in her wish list, but what she was not prepared was along with the bliss of loving she will have to confront the reality that it will be eventually short lived, and that she will only hurt the person in the process.

She had what she yearned for and met chaebol prince Kang Ji Wook who was so bored in his being rich and his predetermined life.  She met him after she made the best vocal resignation over her user friendly boss when she set sail for a vacation in Japan.  He accidentally mistook her as the interpreter that would help him with his market research for the family’s travel and tours business.

 

After their memorable encounter in Japan, they continued the blooming emotional attachment when they got back to Korea alongside learning tango and Yeon-jae’s struggle as her sickness is becoming more evident.

Yeon-jae’s doctor, Cha Eun Suk played the second male lead.  He was Yeon-jae’s oncologist who harbored secret feelings for her.  The other person completing the love square was Im Se Kyung who was supposed to be engaged to Ji-wook and was unreasonably jealous over Yeon-jae.

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When the time came that Yeon-jae has no choice but to confront her feelings toward Ji-wook she faced the dilemma that she was not really prepared to give up on life.  When the time that Ji-wook learned Yeon-jae’s dying condition, he agonizingly dared to be brave against time and after embracing the anger, he remained by her side as they go together fulfilling Yeon-jae’s bucket list. 

Knowing that the conflict was initially laid, what I anticipated was how they will reach the climax, and how the characters will play together to achieve it.  Since the conflicts were mostly character-based, the portrayals should be able to thrive in the emotions of the viewers, I say I got affected so much and was moved beyond what I expected of it.  

I did expect and prepare myself for the pain because I know that she will eventually die because that was the main premise of the story, and I did appreciate that they were able to come up with an ending that Yeon-jae, Ji-wook and I deserve.   It was a conclusion that was so befitting of this death defying romance.

This was one of the most endearing love drama binge I have seen.   It was so love and life affirming.   If you are looking for a drama that will make you laugh, fall in love, cry and be hopeful all at the same time, this one is for you.

The Princess’ Man who will be mine in another lifetime

This Romeo-and-Juliet-like drama sent me to the edge of a cliff and I got affected so much with the struggles and motivations of the main characters.  It has the best villain you will hate and love at the same time because he was so effective to his role as the evil Crown Prince Su Yang who defied fate and the heavens to fulfill his wish of sitting on the Royal throne.

In his ambition to ascend to the Royal throne Crown Prince Su Yang pulled all the evilness in the world by killing all the people that would hinder him in his goal even his brothers, relatives and government officials.  The odds submit to his cunning ways and finally achieved the power he so wanted to have.

Meanwhile his most cherished daughter, Lee Se Ryung, fell in love with the son of his arch enemy, Kim Seung Yoo.  What started to be a sweet romance turned into a nightmare as Seung Yoo is torn between the love he felt for the daughter of the man who killed his father and brother.

Princess Se Ryung who saw and realized the dark side of her father rebelled and fought hard to be with the man she kept dearly in her heart.  It was a long shot even making her took an arrow on his behalf but the cold exterior of Seung Yoo melted with Se-ryung’s sincere adoration towards him.

My dilemma every time I watch a period drama is I have to do a background check and keep my attention focused so I won’t miss the important details, and with my grasshopper-ish attention span, it was really hard, but no matter how dramatic the series went, I did not halt my horse and stayed with it because they made it so stirring and so emotionally invoking.

The directing and cinematography were captured efficiently projecting a gripping story throughout its conclusion.  How they maneuvered the movements of the conflict without making the protagonists looked so annoyingly pathetic was strategically laid which made me admire the writer of the story. 

The acting was top-notch.  Everyone stepped up and portrayed their characters as they balance their roles to complement and support each other.  I was so moved with how the lead couple struggled to claim the love that is rightfully theirs.   Feeling Seung-yoo’s pain sent me crying and cursing at the King who I believe was Voldie’s cousin, and I applaud Se-ryung’s facets of characters displayed throughout the story.  Again, the main villain here I hated so much and was already placed in my hall of famers.

The Princess’ Man is a drama so complete and will suffice the addiction you will endure as you gape each episode.   It has a conflict that was justified well and was concluded in a realistic manner.  It was agonizing and yet a very loving tale that will remind you of the risks in committing yourself to someone, the bittersweet pain of coming to terms that love has always casualties and the reality that until you learn to forgive, you will not be able to feel in your arms that person who defined you what is love.

The girl who loved the Flower Boys in the Ramyun Shop

 

This was my 2011’s last quarter addiction, and what a way to end that year dreaming of Jung Il Woo’s flirty eyes.

It is a definite rom-com drama at its best, full of sweetness, charm and endearing characters that you will surely adore. 

Jung Il Woo is a big pile of bubble wrap.  He always give me that comforting feeling if I’m bored, mad, stoic and saturated and he’s been thriving in my fantasies for a while now… and no you don’t get to ask me to share those fantasies, but if you’ll insist… I won’t submit.  *wink

It was one of the quirkiest-so-pleasing-to-watch-cast-ensembles.   You will keep in your heart the love story, the characters in lead and supporting roles, the humor, the wit, the love triangle sometimes love polygon, and the drama moments.

Cha Chi Soo is the heaven’s gift to women.  He is rich, handsome and knows how to lure ladies to submit to his whims.  He met his match to a woman he never expected he will be falling in love with.

The second male lead “Pillar”, Choi Kang Hyuk, who made me happily slept imagining his buff body was a long lost half- brother to Chi-soo and has fallen in love with the same girl his brother likes.  He used to be Eun-bi’s father student and took care of the Ramyun shop business when his old master died.  He also assumed his husband-to-be-role to Eun-bi because he made an agreement with her dad in a paper and crayon marriage pledge that is sooooo binding. 

Ergo the quest to win Yang Eun Bi’s heart was set to be fulfilled, with two equally dashing men claiming to be her prince.  So what I did and would have wanted to wish if there was a genie at that time is to enter a portal so I can be at Eun Bi’s character, enjoying Kang Hyuk’s ramen and sweet, romantic moves and anticipating Chi-soo’s devilish see how much I love you antics.

Chi-soo and Kang-hyuk happened to share the same mother, but the mom opted to be with Kang-hyuk and his dad thus Chi-soo was never aware of his hyung’s existence and what he’s missing growing up was filled by his chaebol father, thus he grew up flamboyant and always wanting to get what he desires. Including me… *giggles

Eun-bi has been estranged to his father and used to be a great volleyball player.  She has also struggled with her previous relationship when after her boyfriend’s military service he dumped her over another girl.  When her father died she went back to their old house and lived with Kang-hyuk, her little adopted brother and Chi-soo’s friend.  Just as she was not believing with her man-luck anymore, they invaded her life and her world and her heart were turned upside down.

The series tackled the different fears of falling in love.  On Eun-bi’s perception, she was crossed with falling for someone out of her league, and it made her even more confused when Kang-hyuk tries claiming ownership of her too.  In Chi-soo’s mind, his passion over wanting to be with Eun-bi when he finally admitted his feelings for her was overflowing that it sometimes drowning Eun-bi who was still in the process of healing with so many things that happened in her life. 

What I loved in this drama was when Chi-soo and Kang-hyuk set to claim the cup on Eun-bi’s heart.  It felt like Legolas and Gimli boasting at their orc kills.  The kiss scene after Chi-soo snatched Eun-bi while she was on a date with Pillar, was the defining kdrama kiss for me so far.  It was like “you are mine” kiss nailed and defined.

I was so puppy faced all throughout my stay at Flowerboy Ramyun Shop.  I craved for more and they sufficed me beyond what I expected.  I got the closure I hoped for and this will be included in my yearly series to watch tradition.

 

The Moon That Embraces The Sun and Abby who embraced the other Sun that was not embraced.

How’s that for a title huh?

This has long been overdue, guess the push came to the thought of having four darlings currently airing and I might lose myself if I let my musings pile up to the size f a skyscraper.

My motivation for watching this drama is of course Jung Il Woo, and I’m gonna spoil a little but I hate his character’s closure here.  Well come on, he didn’t get the girl and you let him die… that’s my boyfriend over there trying to be a man for the love of his life, and a brother to a King who sometimes forget he is a King.

*deep breath calming myself now, I’m sorry I got carried away.

This drama opened the year with a grand fireworks display.  The ratings stayed up even if there were times that I was wishing for it to speed up.  But the production team sure know when they should wake you up when you were about to doze off so I remain positively raving.

The young love which bloomed and defied time, reasons, and political issues were the reasons why the production was applauded I believe.  The strong and consistent character portrayals, supernatural seasonings, family issues and brotherly love cemented the viewers’ loyalty I say…

Set in the traditional Joseon era, the Crown Prince fought for the love of his life against the pressure of the position he held being manipulated by his grandmother who was intent in keeping the Royal line under her family.  Just as he got to get the girl of his dreams, an evil plot through shamanic ability was disposed to kill the princess-to-be.   The woman who put up the fake death took care of the princess who lost her memory after being traumatized waking up inside the wooden box.

Years later their paths crossed again, and what the mind can’t remember for the lost princess, was felt strongly by the prince who eventually became the  King.

I like that the villains annoyed me to a hilt and made me scold the King when I felt he was not realizing he has actually the power to use as a King, but since he was really caught in between a not so good eventual outcome for the people he was protecting and the evil ploys of the head queen, I let his state of being caught off guard pass, and just prayed hard to heal his brother’s pain.

The second leads I can’t really complain much.  They have justified whatever their roles require to help the story spinning.

The series as a whole was creatively conceived, but I won’t say I’m all praises to it compared to what I felt with the recent sageuks I saw (Tree with Deep Root and The Princess Man).  It was euphoric on its strong notes and contemplating on its sad tones.

My verdict?  This is a drama full of love and anguish, but you will eventually CHERISH it.