Skip to Content

'Descendants of the Sun' ends this week: Here's why it's so popular

by April 14, 2016 General

The finale of cult series Descendants Of The Sun will air in South Korea and China on Thursday (April 14).

It should be available in Singapore on Viu, the website and the app, on Friday from 5am.

KBS 2TV, the Korean network which airs the show, said that as the series was fully filmed before airing, it was “virtually impossible” to air more episodes than initially planned. As such, it does not plan to air an extension or special for Descendants.

In Seoul, Descendants had entered the 30 per cent range in the ratings in just six episodes – or three weeks – sooner than the SBS drama My Love from the Star did, said Yonhap News Agency. On the Chinese video website iQiyi, Descendants has been streamed more than 800 million times.

The show has been a breakway hit for several reasons.

Not following the norm

After the feverish success of My Love from the Star in China in late 2013 and early 2014, Chinese entertainment regulators put stricter limits on foreign dramas on video websites, effectively cooling down Chinese viewers’ love affair with K-dramas.

K-dramas are usually scripted and shot days before they are shown, to allow tweaks every week.

Breaking with tradition, 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 when you want a show to go viral.

Stellar credentials

There is not only leading lady Song Hye Kyo, an early star of the Korean Wave, but also star writer Kim Eun Sook (The Inheritors, 2013; Secret Garden, 2010; 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 SBS must be kicking itself.

Song Joong Ki

Every few years, the right K-drama star in the right role comes along whom millions can go gaga over collectively. In 2009, it was Lee Min Ho in Boys Over Flowers. In 2013, it was Kim Soo Hyun in My Love From The Star.

This year, right now, belongs to Song, who is giving a star-making performance in Descendants as a soldier conducting an up-and-down courtship of a surgeon – a performance that is possibly up there with the one that aeons ago made a star of some kid in Top Gun called Tom Cruise.

You might also like :

Amazon's latest Kindle mostly wants to disappear
Cumberbatch to voice Grinch; 'Bourne' gets a new mission
Ferrante, Pamuk up for Man Booker International Prize
'Captain America: Civil War' debuts at CinemaCon