"Descendants of the Sun" Breaking New Ground with Korean Drama Viewers

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    Has any ROK Heads been watching the Korean drama “Descendants of the Sun” which is taking South Korea by storm?  Is it as good as advertised? What I think is good about the drama is that it was entirely pre-produced and does not follow the normal K-drama format which means it is something new at least:

    Anticipation is growing after the South Korean drama “Descendants of the Sun” achieved what has been perceived as near impossible here with the rise of cable channels recently: a terrestrial drama garnering more than 30 percent of viewers nationwide.

    For those living under a rock, “Descendants of the Sun” is a popular KBS 2TV series that portrays the unlikely romance that develops between a South Korean special forces captain, Yoo Si-jin, and Dr. Kang Mo-yeon, who volunteers for a medical non-profit organization. They first meet in South Korea and then coincide again in the fictional war-ravaged country of Uruk.

    For the first time since premiering on Feb. 24 in both South Korea and China — which made it the first South Korean show to do so — the show was watched by more than 30 percent of viewers across South Korea on its ninth episode Wednesday. In Seoul, the figure passed that milestone two weeks ago, so it had been widely considered a matter of time for the nationwide figure to follow.

    The last terrestrial TV series to have reached that sacred territory was “Moon Embracing the Sun,” an MBC period drama from 2012. Considering that there has been a tectonic shift of sorts in the local TV scene in the past four years — most notably, with the rapid ascent of cable channel tvN — the feat by KBS 2TV is hoped to breathe life back into the terrestrial drama game, which has been in the doldrums for as long as one can remember.

    The “Descendants of the Sun” syndrome is also noteworthy in that the show was entirely pre-produced with no additional episodes to be made. The South Korean tradition has been to adjust the plot and characters on a real-time basis depending on the viewer response — a practice that resulted in part due to producers’ lack of confidence in their material. (…..)

    What “Descendants of the Sun” has also shown to South Korean TV producers is that a human interest, disaster-themed story — and not always the typical romantic comedy between a rich man and an average woman or vice versa — can be popular among viewers too. That such experimentation is appreciated by viewers has already been proven by tvN, the prolific cable network behind several drama successes, including the web cartoon-based office drama “Misaeng,” nostalgia-inducing coming-of-age story “Reply 1988” and time-travel crime thriller “Signal.” It had remained to be seen, however, whether terrestrial channels would ever break away from their cookie-cutter style, risk-averse storytelling. “Descendants of the Sun” has done just that and is bound to open a new chapter for rival channels MBC and SBS. [Yonhap]

    You can read more at the link.

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