I finally got to see the extremely famous and much talked about fictional Yoo Kang couple and the real life Song Song Couple. Descendants of the Sun is the drama that did not simply create a love story but also brought a couple to life since our two lead actors ended up marrying each other last year, if I am not mistaken. However, since we are here to discuss the actual drama instead of their real lives, let’s just jump right on to the bandwagon.
The drama is both a military and medical based drama, so it’s professional even though it’s not an office drama. However, the romance element is a little too strong in this one compared to many other professional dramas I have seen in the past. It tells us the story of Captain Yoo Si Jin (Song Joong Ki) who is leading a South Korean special forces unit, which has the code name of Alpha. As with all other special units, they get some of the most secretive missions and have to go into war-time situations while maintaining anonymity. However, because of the nature of his work, his life is always at stake. While off duty with his friend, Sergeant Major Seo Dae Young (Jin Goo), they notice a robbery taking place and see to it to catch the criminal. Since they end up hurting the robber, they make sure he goes to the hospital, but the thief makes sure to steal their cellphone before leaving. Because of this situation, both army officers end up hunting for him at the hospital only to run into the doctor, Kang Mo Yeon (Song Hye Kyo) who is taking care of him. The moment the captain and the doctor meet, we can literally see the sparks flying off of the screen. The awe and fascination with which they stare at each other’s eyes is really hinting at the real life romance that was taking place offset while this drama was being shot.
However, after two or three very shoddy dates, Mo Yeon decides not to pursue a relationship with a man who will always keep her on the edge by the dangerous nature of his work. In the meanwhile, Si Jin shifts with his unit to this fictional country of Orok (Iraq, anyone? Rings a bell, doesn’t it?) Only for Mo Yeon to follow as a volunteer in a group of medics who are supposed to work with the Korean military stationed there. She does not know that the man she loved will land in the same place as her and so their resumed interactions are actually rather evasive. The love is still there but all of her fears keep her away from him, even though he persists to confess his love for her over and over again. They continue to come closer regardless of the reservations as disaster strikes the country in the form of an earthquake. As they provide relief and rescue people, their work always makes them end up together. Caught in a war torn country, with armed gangs involved in smuggling drugs and precious gems, the military man ends up being the doctor’s bodyguard of sorts while the doctor continues to treat him for any wounds he receives while in battle. The story simply continues with the both of them continuously being in the line of fire and saving each other.
Nevertheless, I felt like their chemistry was overdone simply because it was sappy romance since I watched this drama knowing that these two are married now. The second lead romance was a lot more believable for me and their problems a lot more real. Sergeant Major Seo Dae Young and army surgeon Yoon Myung Ju (Kim Ji Won) have had an on and off relationship for a year or two. Being her junior in rank, it is Myung Ju who pursues him as a romantic interest only to see her advances reciprocated. However, it’s her father, Lieutenant General Yoon Gil Joon (Kang Shin Il) who is completely opposed to their relationship because of Dae Young’s poor background affiliated with gangs and street crimes. Even though he is a reformed man in the army, it is impossible for him to prove his true worth and so keeps denying Myung Ju despite her constant wish to be with him. Her father continues to unfairly shift either of the two away from each other by giving completely different assignments just to keep them apart. With the social pressures of Korean society placed upon Dae Young’s shoulders instead of Myung Ju’s, it was rather interesting to see the female in command, both because of rank and because of her own family background.
Now, before ending this piece of writing, I must add some serious critique I have of the drama. The beginning of the show displayed the Alpha Unit around the Pakistan, Afghanistan border, which we call the Durand Line, by the way. Right before the unit was shifted from Korea to Orok, there was a display of the ISIS flag signalling that this unit would be going to the Middle East. The theme was clearly one of showing the military groups that have sprung up and are causing havoc all across the Muslim-majority countries of the world. However, they somehow ended up in a land which had Greek signs everywhere? It really doesn’t make sense. From what I could tell, the rare occasion there were Arabic letters anywhere, they weren’t exactly making sense. Furthermore, most of the people shown were a strange mix of South Asian and African, instead of Arab so I didn’t understand any of this. Lastly, I didn’t understand why people placed in a fictional Arab country were wearing shalwar kameez, which is in the least bit Arab. Hence, while I do understand this was a fictional place, they could have worked a little bit harder on researching about differences between South Asian Muslims, Arabs and Africans. It was all a big mashup that really was horrible to digest for a South Asian like myself. Me, and many like me take our identity very seriously, much like how Koreans would not like to be called Japanese or Chinese. Hence I wish they paid more attention.