Here's what saved 'overrated to the max' Descendants of the Sun

27 April 2016 / 6 months 4 days ago

Tan Kee Yun
​The New Paper
30 March 2016

Descendants Of The Sun, South Korea's hottest TV drama right now, is overrated to the max.

It is pure fluff, with a simplistic storyline that relies heavily on its delectable cast to bring in the eyeballs.

There, I've said it.

Taking an unfavourable viewpoint on something so massively popular comes with its inevitable risk: Song Joong Ki's army of enraged female fans probably want to wallop me now.

The 16-episode Korean military-themed romance series, which airs on KBS World (StarHub TV Ch 815) every Wednesday and Thursday at 8.50pm, is a ratings winner across Asia. It is also available on free streaming platform Viu.

In China, the Ministry of Public Security even issued a warning on microblog Sina Weibo, cautioning against an unhealthy obsession with the show's hunky male lead Song.

My main beef with the drama is its callous waste of resources.

For a production boasting such a high budget - it was filmed in Greece and features gorgeous landscapes - the two protagonists, army captain Yoo Si Jin (Song) and doctor Kang Mo Yeon (Song Hye Kyo), spend most of the episodes flirting with each other and flaunting their good looks.

Instead of focusing on the couple's frothy romance, I feel the writers could have gone deeper into each character's motivations, desires and complex emotions while they're on their respective peacekeeping and medical overseas missions.

To me, the saving grace of Descendants Of The Sun is its official soundtrack. While the thin plot leaves me cold, I must say the music is excellent. Every song is epic, melodic and suitably melodramatic.

It helps that the artists who contributed to the soundtrack are all bona fide vocal powerhouses - as opposed to idols who can't sing - such as Korean-American Yoon Mi Rae, balladeers K.Will and Gummy, and female pop duo Davichi.

Yoon's Always, the most recognised tune from the soundtrack, has "classic" stamped over it, with its sweeping piano parts and subsequent build-up to an arena anthem.

I foresee it becoming as loved as Baek Ji Young's Don't Forget, the theme song of 2009 espionage drama Iris.

Davichi's This Love is equally amazing, with its tender, emotive quality.

I also like the fact that it is played mostly in scenes featuring Descendants Of The Sun's second leads, Jin Goo and Kim Ji Won.

Both are great actors who, given a better script, can outshine the two Songs any day.

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