I've watched about 9 episodes of this projected-to-be-16 episodes saga.
I actually didn't want to watch it based on the synopses (又用這個藉口不累嗎) - a soldier and a doctor? So many things could go wrong, but then a nurse at work kept pushing me to watch it, so surely it can't be too bad.
I'm really not into K-dramas, but I understand the central characters are all pretty famous? And this is Song Joong-ki's first drama since returning from military conscription.
There's a good reason I try to avoid medical drama but I like stuff with suspense (but preferably not a convoluted plot that resolves over 50 episodes) so it's almost always police procedurals or medical dramas on my watch list.
Fortunately, Descendants of the Sun
doesn't pretend to be a medical or a military-based thriller, and so I'm far more forgiving of its mistakes. I think the wonderful thing about this show is how perfectly balanced it is between the romance and the drama, humour and angst.
I was so busy laughing at this scene (basically the doctor is 花痴ing over the guy's "only photo") to notice the dextrocardia situs inversus totalis the first time I saw this. Then when it popped up again in an MV, I thought, "Hang on...not only is the heart deviated...the gastric and colonic gas are also on the right."
SO MAYBE HE HAS HIS APPENDIX ON THE LEFT SIDE AFTER ALL. I mean, excuse my 職業病 but it looks like the bronchus on the left is also more horizontal than the right? So it's likely that he has the total inversion of the organs. The text on the Xray is not flipped, so it just remains whether this is going to be a plot point or just...some random
Also, just for the record, the only X-rays that make surgeons go 花痴 (yes, even female surgeons) are the ones of people who are not walking out of hospital the same day.
Anyway, back to the story, because I didn't know Song Joong-Ki when I first started watching (and I didn't see any posters...) I seriously thought Seo Dae-young was the main character until the scene in the hospital where the two main characters gaze upon each other as the curtain glides in slow motion between them while a love song croons in the background.
Hey, it is
a Korean drama after all.
Which brings me back to what I mentioned a few days ago in the Sungkyunkwan
post. Don't get me wrong, I love Song Joong-Ki in this role, and my lack of knowledge of Korean stars aside, I can't imagine someone else doing Yoo Si-jin. He manages to subvert his character as Yeo-rim, despite both these characters having a playful streak (okay, there are one or two scenes where his mischief overlaps with Yeo-rim). Whether 2 years of service did this, who knows, but his air is much more mature, more confident, and more manly. In a way, I think Joong-ki tries to play Yeo-rim as aesthetically pleasing as possible, which is in keeping with the character but also with a lot of idols of that age. Yoo Si-jin's expressions are much less...picturesque, if that's the word, his smiles and grimaces and snarls and shock can all contort his face into odd angles, but makes him feel more like a working man than an idol.
That said, Song has a very boyish face, and coupled with his leaner physique, his perpetual slouch, and the character's playful mannerisms...I seriously thought Seo Dae-young, who exudes much more discipline and
the manly virtues of not having an idea of romance
assurance was the main character. Or at least, the higher ranking captain. It's not that Song can't do serious, and some of his best scenes are when he's serious, but on occasions, depending on the lighting and which uniform he's wearing, standing amongst other soldiers he looks like a cornered high school student....
Kang Mo-yeon and Yoo Si-jin especially are impossibly perfect characters, written in a way that makes it hard to dislike them. I like how mature and rational they approach their vocation and their relationship. I like their level-headed discussions, where they acknowledge each other's values without compromising their own. Their discussions about the different and potentially contradictory commitments of a surgeon versus a soldier is interesting for two jobs that deal with injury and death on a regular basis. Fortunately I don't think the drama tries to preach any lessons about which side is correct, though it did have a rather painful side plot about a doctor who ran away from a building (leaving a trapped patient behind) during an aftershock and was then, despite the patient surviving, guilt-ridden for 4 episodes with many scenes of really grating mopiness.
First rule of emergency medicine: check for danger and keep yourself safe. You can't save the patient if you become a patient.
Without trying to nitpick, that entire plot was written poorly - certainly some junior doctors can be left quite unsupported in the field, but that is not characteristic of the medical team shown in the drama. They're a good cohesive team who work well together, so it was incredible that the senior doctors didn't try to mediate at all. Secondly there was no good reason that the junior doctor was in the ruins looking for survivors, he's not trained in that sort of retrieval, and when he found the trapped patient, he should have called for help first rather than trying to drag him out on his own. Third, while it's true that you shouldn't be changing treating doctors on a whim, when the therapeutic relationship has clearly broken down, it's to everyone's benefit to change the treating doctor.
Aigoo...let's stop talking about the medical aspect, because otherwise I won't stop.
I like how the relationship between Yoo and Kang plays out, even though it might feel a bit drawn out. I think Kang's prolonged misgivings about entering the relationship are perfectly justified, because not many rational people want to commit to a relationship where the other person might get sent on a job and never return. I like how Yoo is usually playful, but when questioned about his expectations and hopes for the relationship, he always approaches the discussion like an adult.
However, I think Yoo is too perfect, to the point where his biggest flaw is his job. He's perceptive, and so he's always playful when the mood needs to be lightened and serious when situations demand respect. He's smart, skillful, disciplined, responsible, brave, pragmatic, humanitarian...........He knows exactly what to say to make a girl's heart flutter (seriously, stuff like "You don't have to feel defeated just because your feelings have been exposed. Just remember that I love you more and you always have that advantage over me." - many kudos to Song Joong-ki for somehow able to carry all these sappy lines without making the audience cringe). He's the sort of character that only exists in fiction, matched with a female character who is similarly smart, strong and stoic, even if she keeps grudges for a little too long and is sometimes a little too fierce - but she's a surgeon, so that would be totally in character XDDDD
The secondary couple of Seo Dae-young and Yoon Myung-ju is a pleasant surprise. In fact, one of the best things about this drama is its general lack of people backstabbing each other (at least, not in seriousness XDDD). There's no multi-angle relationship, just two couples trying to iron out their own massive problems. Seo and Yoon's relationship is perhaps your much more traditional Asian problem of class difference. Yoon's dad is the general, Seo is unlikely to get much further past a sergeant major. Yoon's dad prefers Yoo - despite this, Seo and Yoo are still good friends, Yoo and Yoon bicker like siblings, and the romance between Seo and Yoon teeters between tragedy and hilarity. I like Yoon's forwardness, and her tireless efforts to be somewhere close to Seo despite his and her dad's efforts to keep them apart. I like Seo, or rather, I love Jin Goo's portrayal of Seo - probably one of the best 面攤 (blank faced) acts I've seen (YAMASHITA TAKE LESSONS FROM THIS MAN YO). Unlike Yoo, he is a man of few words and few expressions, but despite that it's still obvious from the way his eyes narrow, or the way his brows furrow, or the way his jaw tightens or relaxes exactly what Seo is thinking, and that is the epitome of 面攤. I like how there are several long conversations where Yoon practically talks to herself while he remains silent and unsmiling...but it still somehow felt like one of the richest conversations between two star-crossed lovers.
But what keeps audiences watching is how well the scriptwriter has balanced and juxtaposed scenes that are completely emotional opposites. After a tense gunfire or a stressful mass trauma event, there's always something sweet, something funny, something mellow, something cute to soften the pain...and just when things are in danger of getting too sappy, the tension starts building again.
Because I'm someone who always preferred thrillers to romances, I think the pace is perfect, but I wonder how people who only watch romances are able to sit through the gunfights? I know my mum runs away every time that comes on...
Really hoping for a happy ending, but somehow with their occupations that seem rather difficult....