It’s been a little over a year since Descendants of the Sun premiered and took the world by storm during its 16-episode run. It was so popular that its viewer ratings climbed to 20 %* in just two weeks. On this day last year, March 23, it made a remarkable record by achieving 30.4 % in nationwide viewership ratings. And why is that worthy of an OTDLY feature? There is NO other weekday prime time drama in 2016 that surpassed that mark. Amazing, right?
DOTS did’t simply settle at 30 %. The remaining seven episodes have seen an increase in viewership share, leading to its finale that almost hit 40%. Its peak rating is 38.8 %, a big contribution to the 28.6 % average ratings of its 16 episodes. As a result, it became the highest-rated and most popular Korean drama in 2016, locally and internationally. What about awards? It won the Grand Prize in 2016 Paeksang Arts Awards, an award ceremony considered as the most prestigious in the Korean entertainment industry.
Just three days ago, the drama also won another Grand Prize. This time it was given by the Korea Communications Commission because the drama “beautifully embodied the human value of peace and devotion through the accomplishment of high-quality script and performers.” The award was held at the Lotte Hotel in Sogong-dong, Seoul on March 20.
Episode 9: the embarrassing confession
DOTS was able to break through 30 % on its 9th episode. Do you remember what happened during this episode that led to the record-breaking increase in ratings? (Spoiler Alert!) Probably yes. Who would have easily forgotten that epic confession of our heroine to Captain Yoo Shi-jin? The 30 % achievement was largely thanks to that cliffhanger in episode 8 wherein Doctor Kang Mo-yeon have her confession accidentally broadcast throughout the military camp. All because of a recording on her phone.
After that event, Kang Mo-yeon could hardly keep his feelings for Yoo Shi-jin and eventually give in. That particular scene attests to the writing prowess of Kim Eun-sook. Who would have thought that the cliff accident shown in episode 5 has an important role to play in that confession? In fear that she would die because of that accident, Kang Mo-yeon records her message, treating it as her last one. In that episode, we have seen her telling something to her mom and best friend. But that was not all of what she said. We learned in episode 9 that she regrets not confessing her feelings to Yoo Shi-jin, crying and saying:
If I knew I would die like this, I should’ve just lived my life the way I wanted to. I should have had fun, spending as much money as I could. No. I can’t leave that as my dying message. Shi-jin, are you on your way? You’re not coming. I don’t think you’re coming. I don’t think I can hold out until you get here. Well, I guess you’ll be the first one to find me if I die. You know what? If I had known I would die like this, I should have honestly confessed my feelings. I was kissed by an awesome man. My heart was fluttering the whole time.”
After sweeping major awards from various awarding ceremonies last year, including the KBS Drama Awards 2016, the cast and crew of the drama have more than enough reason to celebrate their success. They did have a celebration, although it was just a simple gathering to celebrate the drama’s first anniversary. On March 18, Song Hye-kyo shared a collage of photos (see below) on her Instagram showing their happy moments together. Not everyone were present during the party but among those who attended were Song Joong-ki, Jin Goo, Kim Min-seok, PD Lee Eung-book, and writer Kim Eun-sook. Song Hye-kyo expressed her thanks to the fans in the caption, saying “Thank you for the first anniversary of Descendants Of The Sun.”
Their get-together last week could be their last one, unless they decide to have another party next year or the year after to celebrate again the anniversary of the drama, or they choose to work together again for season 2. The latter one would be a better choice, especially for the thousands of fans who are eagerly waiting for DOTS 2.
* All viewership ratings mentioned in this article are based on nationwide data from Nielsen Korea.
(Kdramapal will publish starting tomorrow its 16-part post series called Descendants of the Sun: A Year After. The series will talk about select memorable scenes from each of the drama’s episodes, feature a total of 16 cast, and provide detailed facts related to the drama, including the planning stage, filming location, reception, accolades, and the possibility of season 2.)