A doctor who saves lives in the operation room and a classified elite soldier who saves lives by killing others.
This is “Descendants of the Sun (태양의 후예)“, perhaps the greatest Korean drama produced by broadcasting station KBS World.
Yoo Shi Jin (Song Joong Ki) is the captain, or Big Boss, of Team Alpha- an undercover group of five highly trained soldiers selected by the Korean government to resolve fatal situations in war zones.
After surviving every mission in his career and bearing guilt of the death of a comrade, he finds himself falling in love with the independently vocal doctor Kang Mo Yeon (Song Hye Kyo).
Deployed in the fictional country of Urk, infected with corruption and impended fear from black market gangsters, Shi-Jin finds himself protecting- alongside his soldiers- a group of volunteer doctors lead by Mo-Yeon. Here they are faced with natural disasters, epidemics and child trafficking while clashing with gangsters.
With a staggering budget of $10.8 million and filmed in Greece, a predominantly large portion of the drama is in English, a nice break from reading subtitles. However, this drama’s popularity lies in its avoiding the traditional Korean drama equation of boy-meets-girl.
Even with Korea’s strong censorship laws and gun control laws, this drama has shown Korea in a new light. Showing how patriotic one man is, willing to risk his life for the country he loves.
In Korea, men are required to serve two years in the military. In fact, this is lead actor Song Joong Ki’s comeback after completing his two years. It appeals to the men going and those who’ve accomplished their mandatory service.
But that’s the thing. Yoo Shi Jin is not just a character. He is reality. He is the men and women who are serving in the military to protect their loved country. When military service is mandatory, people may view it as a nuisance.
Yet here we have Yoo Shi Jin and his soldiers stopping everything they are doing to salute their country’s flag when the national anthem is playing. Who spend months away from their family and friends. Who repeat their names, their country and their military rank while forgoing torture-much like a holy mantra.
If anything, Descendants of the Sun will make you more patriotic while pulling at your heartstrings and giving you rushes of adrenaline. You can watch the entire series on Viki for free. Have a box of tissues ready.