Thursday, February 20, 2020

“Descendants of the Sun” synopsis (Eps. 1-16, no spoilers)

(Note: Click the picture above to view or download a much bigger copy.)

Jump to synopsis of Episode / Episodes 1-2; 3-4; 5-8; 9; 10; 11-12; 13; 14; 15; 16 (Finale); How I wrote these episode summaries with no spoilers; Historical backgrounders and other information; Lessons in photography from “Descendants of the Sun”

From Wikipedia: “Descendants of the Sun” is a 2016 South Korean television series starring Song Joong-ki, Song Hye-kyo, Jin Goo, and Kim Ji-won. It aired on KBS2 from February 24 to April 14, 2016 for 16 episodes.

The series was a major hit in South Korea where it drew a peak audience share of 38.8%. It received several awards, such as the “Grand Prize” in television at the 52nd Baeksang Arts Awards and the “Most Popular Show” of the year by Korea Broadcasting Advertising Corporation.

The show was broadcast across Asia where it was hugely popular and has been credited with a rise in tourism in Korea. A local adaptation has aired in Vietnam, and adaptations are planned in China and the Philippines.

How I wrote these episode summaries with no spoilers

1. I assumed that you will be reading these summaries and watching the videos chronologically.

2. I narrated the main actions in each episode (or series of episodes) without revealing the plot’s twists and turns.

3. I followed this structure all throughout, except for Episode 16 (Finale) where I included some spoilers. Reason - most people want to know if the drama has a good ending or a sad ending before they invest the time in watching it.

I used this same structure in my synopses of “Empress Ki,” “Queen In-Hyun's Man,” “The Joseon Gunman,” “Gokusen” (2002, Japanese classroom drama-comedy), “IRIS,” and “Goblin.”

Episodes 1-2

Captain Yoo Si Jin (aka “Big Boss”) and Sergeant Seo Dae Young are leaders of a South Korean Special Forces unit. To help defuse a political situation, they’re sent into the DMZ to deal with a group of North Korean soldiers who are holding two South Korean soldiers as hostages.

Days later in Seoul, Si Jin and Dae Young stop a young thief named Ki Bum from running away on a stolen motorcycle; they send him off to a hospital where he’s treated by a doctor named Kang Mo Yeon, an aspiring professor in medical school. Later, when an army doctor named Yoon Myung Ju calls Si Jin, Dae Young finds out that the young thief has stolen his cellphone.

Si Jin and Dae Young rush to the hospital, but Mo Yeon mistakenly thinks that Si Jin is the leader of the gang to which Ki Bum belongs. When Ki Bum escapes from the hospital, Si Jin and Dae Young run after him, but outside the hospital, they’re attacked by the gang members.

Si Jin and Dae Young bring Ki Bum back to the hospital; there, they meet Myung Ju, who happens to be a schoolmate of Mo Yeon. As Si Jin tries to clarify to Mo Yeon who he really is and what happened to Ki Bum, he doubles up in pain, having tore up the stitches of his knife wound.

A romance begins to blossom between Si Jin and Mo Yeon, but on the night they’re supposed to go out on a date, Si Jin and his Special Forces unit are ordered to go a mission in Afghanistan.

Si Jin and Mo Yeon continue dating, but they’re always interrupted by their duties as a soldier and as a doctor. Mo Yeon also questions Shi-jin if his duties include killing people, which she abhors. Later, Si Jin’s unit is ordered to deploy to a foreign country for an 8-month mission.

Mo Yeon loses out to Dr. Kim in being appointed as professor in the medical school. To add insult to injury, she’s ordered by Dr. Kim to substitute for her in a TV medical show. Later, she is sexually harassed by the hospital’s medical director.

Episodes 3-4

Mo Yeon and her medical team arrive in Uruk, where they’re met by Si Jin and his unit. To Mo Yeon’s surprise, however, Si Jin ignores her. Meanwhile, in Korea, as she prepares to go to Uruk herself, Myung Ju tells her father, Lieutenant General Yoon, not to interfere with her love for Dae Young, or else, he will lose her as a loyal soldier and as a filial daughter.

Mo Yeon and her medical team run into various problems as they try to settle down to their routines and to life in the camp. Meanwhile, when Si Jin runs across a gang of gunrunners, his superior officer warns him to be careful.

Mo Yeon learns why Lt. General Yoon is so against the relationship between Dae Young and Myung Ju.

One night, the camp goes into an emergency alert when Mo Yeon and her medical staff are ordered to attend to the ailing president of the Arab League, who’s from the Abu Dhabi royal family and a terrorist target. When Mo Yeon insists that she must immediately operate to save the president’s life, the president’s security detail and Si Jin’s men draw their weapons against each other.

Episodes 5-8

Mo Yeon asks Si Jin for help in going to the village where the boy whom she treated lives. On their way back to the camp, however, Si Jin sees some of the gunrunners. He tells Mo Yeon to look for Dr. Daniel’s store and borrow a car that she can use to get back to camp. He then confronts the gunrunners, but, to his shock, he finds out that the gang’s leader is his former comrade, Argus.

Mo Yeon and Myung Ju continue to bicker with each other even in Uruk. By eavesdropping on Myung Ju and Si Jin’s conversation, Mo Yeon finds more about Si Jin’s background. But, to her surprise later on, Si Jin is sent back to Korea as part of the disciplinary measures against him.

In Korea, Si Jin reunites with Dae Young, who’s now an instructor for new recruits into the Special Forces unit.

Having finished their duties in Uruk, Mo Yeon and her medical team prepare to leave for Korea. But when a 6.7 magnitude earthquake hits Uruk, Mo Yeon refuses to leave the other members of her team who are stranded in the camp. Meanwhile, Lt. General Yoon sends a disaster relief team to Uruk, led by Si Jin and Dae Young.

Mo Yeon, her medical team, Myung Ju, and the soldiers rush to the power station which has been badly damaged by the earthquake, with workers trapped inside the collapsed buildings.

Despite the interference by Young Soo (the site manager), Si Jin and Dae Young finally find the plant manager and a worker inside a collapsed building; later, Mo Yeon joins Si Jin inside the building. But she’s forced to decide between saving the manager or the worker. Meanwhile, as she’s operating on a patient, Myung Ju hears that Dae Young has fallen into a hole inside the collapsed building.

While the search continues for the other missing workers, Argus threatens Young Soo to hand over the diamonds. Later, Chi Hoon, a doctor from Mo Yeon’s medical team, finds a trapped and injured worker, but he runs to safety when an aftershock hits the site.

Si Jin goes underground to find the trapped worker, but the building collapses even more when Young Soo uses a heavy equipment to drill into his office to find the diamonds.

Episode 9

Daniel accidentally broadcasts to the whole camp Mo Yeon’s confession of love for Si Jin, for which she becomes the target of endless teasing from Si Jin, the medical staff, and the soldiers. Later, while they’re traveling back from a UN meeting, as Si Jin teases Mo Yeon about her confession, their car runs into a minefield.

Lt. General Yoon arrives in Uruk; after commending Mo Yeon for her work with the Arab League leader, he confronts his daughter Myung Ju and Dae Young about their relationship; he gives Dae Young an ultimatum.

Overcome by guilt, Chi Hoon refuses to back to Korea with the other members of the medical team; meanwhile, Young Soo double crosses Argus.

Mo Yeon and Si Jin stumble upon a camp of young boys and girls. Dae Young and Daniel warn Si Jin to leave the place at once — the camp is controlled by local gangs, and the children are sold to sex traffickers. A teenage girl offers to help them if they, in turn, help her to escape. While they’re talking, Argus appears and aims his gun at Mo Yeon. But the teenage girl shoots Argus first.

Episode 10

Mo Yeon brings some of the children who are suffering from measles into the medical camp. Later, Myung Ju and Dae Young go back to the children’s camp with medical supplies.

Lt. General Yoon tells Si Jin that there’s a coup d’etat being planned by an Uruk official and that the CIA has asked the Korean forces to stand down because Argus and his gang will be supplying the weapons to the coup plotters.

Fatima, the girl who shot Argus, steals all of the painkillers from the medicine cabinet and escapes from the camp. Mo Yeon and Si Jin find out about it, and they begin searching for her and the drug dealers to whom Fatima will sell the painkillers.

Young Soo fails to escape from Uruk and is brought back badly injured to the medical camp. As Mo Yeon and Myung Ju prepare to operate on him, he coughs up blood that splatters all over their faces. Mo Yeon immediately realizes the danger and orders the other medical staff to evacuate the room; she and Myung Ju have been exposed to a contagious virus.

Episodes 11-12

The entire camp is locked down, and everyone is tested if they have been infected with the virus. Meanwhile, Chi Hoon, who came into contact with Young Soo, joins Myung Ju in the quarantine room.

Mo Yeon’s friend in the hospital back in Korea has sent to her medical team all the research studies about the virus. But, as he’s on his way to deliver the vaccines, Daniel is kidnapped by Argus’s men.

Argus also kidnaps Mo Yeon; he tells Si Jin that he will release her if Si Jin helps him escape after he delivers the weapons to the coup plotters.

Dae Young finds out that Si Jin has gone rogue by trying to rescue Mo Yeon all by himself. After saying goodbye to Myung Ju, he recruits three other members of their Special Forces unit, and they rush after Si Jin.

Episode 13

After returning to Korea with the rest of the medical team, Mo Yeon establishes the guidelines for her relationship with Si Jin. She also plans to resign from the hospital and start her own clinic, but when her loan application is disapproved, she’s forced to beg the hospital director to retain her.

Mo Yeon and Si Jin reunite in Korea, but after several days, Si Jin and Dae Young are called to duty, this time, as security escorts for South Korean officials who will visit North Korea.

Dae and Myung Ju spend happy moments together, but conflict arises between them when Dae Young meets Lt. General Yoon to fulfill his promise of resigning from the army.

Si Jin and Dae Young are called to duty for the 2nd half of the talks between South and North Korea.

Episode 14

Si Jin finds out that Jung Joon, his North Korean counterpart, is on a secret mission to expose the mastermind behind the hiring of North Korean Special Forces soldiers as assassins; he’s also wanted in Japan for a murder case.

South Korean intelligence agents lock down the room where Jung Joon is recuperating. When Mo Yeon finds a chip embedded in Jung Moon’s body, she cuts it out and gives it to Dae Young, who immediately sends it in for decryption.

When Dae Young and Myung Ju meet each other as they visit him, Si Jin senses that something’s wrong; he urges Dae Young to run after Myung Ju and fight for her.

Knowing that Jung Joon’s room has been bugged, Si Jin manages to get him to an isolated room in the hospital. There, Jung Joon reveals that the mastermind is Commander Choi, the head of the North Korean delegation.

Episode 15

Si Jin is released from the hospital. Meanwhile, Dae Young meets Myung Ju, and they discuss the status of their relationship. Knowing that Dae Young won’t be happy leaving the army, Myung Ju says that she’s willing to cut off her ties with her father.

Si Jin, Dae Young, and their Special Forces unit are ordered to go a 3-month mission. But the mission turns ugly, and as the other members of the unit return, they report that Si Jin and Dae Young died in battle.

In grief, Mo Yeon throws herself into her work, while Myung Ju returns to Uruk.

Days before Si Jin’s death anniversary, Mo Yeon asks Daniel to help her get into Albania to visit the place where Si Jin died.

Episode 16, Finale (with spoilers)

Historical backgrounders and other information

1. What’s the meaning of the drama’s title “Descendants of the Sun”?

(a) PD of “Descendants of the Sun” Shares Reasons for Casting Song Joong Ki: When asked about the title of the drama, he 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.”

(b) “Why is Descendants of the Sun called Descendants of the Sun?” (Quora)

(c) IMO, the title and the basic concept for “Descendants of the Sun” are based on the 2003 movie “Tears of the Sun” starring Bruce Willis and Monica Bellucci. Why? In “Tears of the Sun,” Bruce Willis played the role of a US Navy Seal officer, while Monica Bellucci played the role of an American medical doctor serving in Nigeria. In “Descendants of the Sun,” the character Si Jin is a South Korean officer in the Special Forces, while Mo Yeon is a medical doctor who goes to and works (in certain episodes) in a foreign country. The similarities in the main characters and of the titles are too obvious to be simply coincidental.

2. South Korean Special Forces knife fighting training

Lessons in photography from “Descendants of the Sun”

Conveying depth through foreground and background blur
Balance and symmetry
Shallow depth of field, line of direction
Local frame (natural frame), background blur
Balance and symmetry
Conveying depth through overlapping forms
Dutch angle or Dutch tilt
Establishing shot
High angle shot, converging lines, vanishing point
High angle shot
Low angle shot, golden hours
Conveying depth through foreground and background blur
Rim lighting, balance and symmetry
Shallow depth of field
Background blur
Background blur
Out of focus highlights,
Bokeh (aesthetic quality of blurred areas of a photograph)
Cross dissolve
Foreground and background blur, compressed perspective
High angle shot, natural frame
High angle shot, shadows
Low angle shot
Lens flare, shooting against the light
Low angle shot
Low angle shot
Low angle shot
Lower quadrant framing
Natural frames
Shallow depth of field, natural frame
Conveying depth through overlapping forms
Rack focus (focus in, focus out)
Reflections, natural frame
Reflection, Dutch angle
Shallow depth of field

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