Descendants of the Sun A Year After Part 1

This entry is part 1 of 16 in the post series DOTS A Year After

Descendants of the Sun. That is the title of the phenomenal drama that took the world by storm in 2016. As of today, March 24, 2017, it’s been exactly 344 days since its last episode was aired on April 14, 2016. But that doesn’t mean it’s now completely forgotten.

Select Scenes from Episode 1

1. The Salute

Yoon Myeong-ju

Yoon Myeong-ju: How much longer will you avoid me? Why won’t you pick up my calls? Why wouldn’t you let me check up on you? How long will you run from me? Answer me. I’m not asking you to give me a reason. I just wish you let me hear your voice.

This heartbreaking words from Yoon Myeong-ju are unexpected. Our main couple has yet to know each other in this episode, but the secondary couple has already this kind of confrontation. We learned that they were dating each other for some time already but Seo Dae-young suddenly backs out. She thinks he’s being pressured from leaving her, but he replies that it’s not something like that.

Seo Dae-young

Seo Dae-young: My reasons are not what you think. I hope you wouldn’t think I left for your sake, Lieutenant Yoon. I had a change of heart. I do not have the skills to explain the thing of the heart. That’s all.

2. Budding Romance

Budding romance Yoo Shi-jin and Kang Mo-yeon

Yoo Shi-jin: I guess you don’t have a boyfriend. Doctors are too busy.
Kang Mo-yeon: I guess you don’t have a girlfriend. Soldiers are too tired.

That scene where doctor Kang Mo-yeon treats Yoo Shi-jin’s injury reveals the budding attraction between the two. They just met a few hours earlier but it seems that they are falling with each other’s charm already.

3. Emergency


This scene appears to be a glimpse at one of the major topics dealt with by the drama – a conflict rising from the fact the he’s a soldier and she’s a doctor. Song Joong-ki is supposed to meet Kang Mo-yeon for his injury treatment, but he witnesses her in the hospital lobby kneeling on a gurney while attending to a patient’s wound. Without noticing him, Kang Mo-yeon directs her associates to move faster. Upon hearing this, Yoo Shi-jin pushes the gurney faster towards the operation room. He waits outside the operation room for hours but eventually leaves without meeting her.

Just as when the door leading to the operation room opens, we hear the chorus of the English version of Gummy’s You Are My Everything, one of the many beautiful OSTs of the drama. Listen to the song below!

4. Let’s meet right now

Yoo Shi-jin and Kang Mo-yeon talking on phone

Yoo Shi-jin: Hello?
Kang Mo-yeon: Mr. Yoo Si-jin? It’s Kang Mo-yeon.
Yoo Shi-jin: Are you out of the surgery?
Kang Mo-yeon: Yes, I heard you came by.
Yoo Shi-jin: I’ve never had a doctor not show up.
Kang Mo-yeon: It was an emergency surgery.
Yoo Shi-jin: Did he live?
Kang Mo-yeon: What?
Yoo Shi-jin: The patient.
Kang Mo-yeon: Yes, I saved him.
Yoo Shi-jin: Good for you. Is this your number?
Kang Mo-yeon: Yes.
Yoo Shi-jin: You got mine.
Kang Mo-yeon: You can save mine.
Yoo Shi-jin: I’d like to see you tomorrow.
Kang Mo-yeon: Are you always this direct?
Yoo Shi-jin: I meant I’d like to get treated tomorrow.
Kang Mo-yeon: I know. That’s what I meant.
Yoo Shi-jin: I doubt that.
Kang Mo-yeon: You should trust your doctor. Did you take the medicine?
Yoo Shi-jin: Does it hurt more if don’t? Will I have to get admitted?
Kang Mo-yeon: When are you free tomorrow?
Yoo Shi-jin: Scratch that. Let’s meet up now…Do you mind?
Kang Mo-yeon: No. Come over.

That was fast, right? It’s funny how Yoo Shi-jin teases her during their conversation, saying that he meant to get treated when he says he’d like to see her tomorrow. Somehow that was embarrassing on Kang Mo-yeon’s part, who apparently thinks that the guy would want to see her. Anyway, they decided to meet at that instant, which is good for them.

5. Cancelled again

Yoo Shi-jin and Kang Mo-yeon meeting on rooftop

Yoo Shi-jin: Let’s make up next weekend. Somewhere other than here.
Kang Mo-yeon: What about your treatment?
Yoo Shi-jin: I’ll come back in one piece. Let’s watch a movie… I’m out of time and I need an answer. Is it yes or no?
Kang Mo-yeon: Yes.
Yoo Shi-jin: You gave me my word.

That last scene is another glimpse at the conflict that would ultimately test the growing relationship between Yoo Shi-jin and Kang Mo-yeon. Earlier in the episode their first scheduled meeting didn’t happen because of her emergency operation. Now, it’s Yoo Shi-jin who could not meet her due to an emergency related to his job as an elite soldier. The first episode of the drama essentially introduces the main characters of the story and the conflict arising from their professions.

DOTS A Year After

Right after the last words of Shi-jin, “You gave me my word,” Yoon Mi-rae’s Always starts playing. This is the first time we hear the song, which you can listen to below.

Focus: From Planning to Production

Did you know that it was in February 2014 when Descendants of the Sun was first announced? That was about two years before the the first episode of the drama aired on KBS. It was actually at the hands of SBS during that time, which makes sense because writer Kim Eun-sook has been working on the station for a long time (Lovers in Paris, Lovers in Prague, On Air, Secret Garden, A Gentleman’s Dignity, Heirs). However, due to some production issues, the drama ultimately went to KBS.

  • February 2014 – Descendants of the Sun announced. The producers knew at this time that the drama would become successful, which is why they announced that DOTS “will be a human melodrama on a blockbuster scale, the likes of which have not been seen in Korean dramas before.” It’s known at this time that the drama would be planned by film production company Barunson,  would be co-written by Kim Eun-sook, and would undergo a complete production before airing the first episode.
  • October 2014 – From SBS to KBS. News reports surfaced that SBS dropped the drama, giving KBS the chance to acquire it.  According to media reports, SBS was uncertain about airing a drama with disaster and war as the main theme, even if it was written by Kim Eun Sook. The doubts of the TV station reportedly stemmed from the main character being a soldier who would wear a military uniform most of the time, decreasing the profits that can be earned from wardrobe sponsorship. SBS also considered the limitations of shooting abroad and expected less corporate production support in the form of product placement.
  • February 2015 – Song Joong-ki was offered the male lead role. But we learned over a year later that he was actually not the first choice to play the main character. In an interview on March 31, 2016, PD Lee Eung-bok revealed that at first, he was not the ideal choice for the role. It turned out that Won Bin, Jo In-sung, Gong Yoo, and Kim Woo-bin were offered the role first, according to the June 6 episode of tvN’s The List 2016. These actors reportedly expressed discomfort at the role of a soldier and the pre-production format of the drama. Hence, the production team approached Song Joong-ki, who has just been discharged from his compulsory military service at that time.
  • March 2015 – Song Hye-kyo was offered the female lead role. Less than a month later, she was confirmed to play the female lead character.
  • May 28, 2015 – First script reading of the cast. The actors and staff all said that the script was so great they’d smiled so much during the meeting. At this time media reports stated that the drama was set to air later in 2015.
  • June 12, 2015 – Shooting of first scene in Seoul.
  • Sept 28, 2015 – The cast and production team left for Greece. They stayed for about a month to shoot the important scenes needed for the fictional country of Uruk, where the main characters work together as an elite soldier and a medical doctor.
  • November 23, 2015 – Song Joon-ki got injured while filming an action scene. He returned to the set in early December.
  • December 30, 2015 – Last day of shooting. The production period is exactly 6 months and 18 days (=210 days) long.
  • Jan 5, 2016 – Air date announced. It was officially announced that the drama would air every Wednesdays and Thursdays starting February 24, 2016. It aired in South Korea and China at the same time.

Question: Why is the drama called Descendants of the Sun?

Have you ever wondered how Descendants of the Sun got its name? When asked about this, Director Lee Eung-bok said, “Just as how the sun gives light to other people, we decided on the title because the selfless personalities of the main characters is a source of warmth for the people around them.” That makes Yoo Shi-jin and Kang Mo-yeon literally the Descendants of the Sun.

Happy anniversary to the cast, crew, and the fans of DOTS!

(DOTS A Year After is a 16-part post series that commemorates the first anniversary of the highest-rated weekday prime time kdrama in 2016. For your feedback and questions about the series, you can send an email to [email protected], message us through Facebook, or comment directly on this post.)


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Me? Just an ordinary lad with an extraordinary (says this something called 'stereotype') habit of watching Korean dramas. It started with action-filled City Hunter and the rest, as they say, is history.