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[Drama 2016] Descendants of the Sun 태양의 후예

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One of the interesting things that the K-Drama Soompi Contest 2016 did was it brought back to mind some dramas that I hadn't seen or thought of in awhile, even if I had really enjoyed them. One of them was Descendants of the Sun. Strange as it may sound, I wasn't aware of Soompi when DotS was broadcasting. I just liked watching k-dramas, so managed to watch it during its run. However, that means that I missed out on the Soompi forums community treatment for this drama. 

Watching kdramas is fun, but watching it with a community where developments and characters can be discussed, intentions parsed, scenes dissected has taken kdrama watching to a new level for me. Even if I may not agree with someone's point of view, it will frequently be thought provoking. 

Anyway, having missed the Soompi thread for DotS, this contest was actually the first time that I read what others may have thought of the drama. I mean, I knew that it was a popular drama and a popular topic for dicussion. It was talked about on various websites, including a review site which was actually highly disparaging of it. And, DotS had its many flaws. However, it also had a number of strengths which I had not expected in a kdrama. 

First thing was that the subject was unusual, not just for kdramas, but for television in general. Medical relief work is not a popular setting for a drama series as far as I know, though every year there are more and more teams being recruited to do relief work in areas hit by natural disasters or war and/or to provide temporary medical services in underserved areas and countries. Some of these operations are big ones sponsored by well-known NGOs such as Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders, but there are also numerous smaller teams who go in for shorter stays that are sponsored by private enterprise whether that is a hospital, a church, or even some well meaning individuals who have the wherewithal and ability to put a team together and figure out the local logistics of sending a team in, either with or without private security, depending on the situation. 

The fact that the drama involved the military in a peacekeeping operation in an unstable country and acknowledged the weird duality of using men who are trained for war to also be men who try to promote the peace was also unusual. Soldiers can be seen as deterrents to war as much as agents of war, so having soldiers as peacekeepers perhaps makes sense, but having them have to switch from violent operations and preparedness for such to having to aide community development and within such short time frames is a challenge that faces nearly every military in the modern world, I think. And, it is not uncommon to use the military to secure an area which then requires the presence of civilian specialists to do relief work. 

Am I claiming that DotS is a realistic portrayal? Not at all. Though it's not the worst that I've seen.  It touches on a lot of subjects and themes that then don't get developed, but at least it touches on them. I'm just saying that it's an unusual setting to put a majority of the drama's run in. And, it's not snide about the people, not the doctors who volunteer their time and services, nor the soldiers who are trying to run peacekeeping operations as well as put the county back together again after a war, nor the local people who having survived a war are trying to make lives of themselves as best they can. 

In order to make the drama attractive viewing for the domestic Korean audience, they centered it around a romance between the heroic Special Forces Captain Yoo Shi Jin  and the surgeon Doctor Kang Mo Yeon. Both of these characters had their own development arcs, though arguably MY's arc may be more meaningful, though I would argue that SJ also had a developmental arc, if not as overt as MY's. 

MY starts as a doctor who wants to succeed, who became a doctor because she was smart and it was a good profession. However, she's a good surgeon because she's skilled and because she thinks that's the way to success, as defined by material measures. While as a doctor, she cares about the outcome of her patients, that isn't really the main motivating force even when she was a hardworking doctor at the start. Once she realizes that she's being leapfrogged by less talented doctors who are better connected, she commences to take the road for material success, and she's succeeds at it! She becomes a doctor on TV talk shows with a rich clientele who ask for her. From there, through various events, she goes all the way to really appreciating the difference that a single doctor can make in people's lives. She understands more fully the hippocratic oath that she had taken in becoming a doctor. I've always thought this oath was beautiful in its purpose and its intent. 

 

Here is a text of the original Oath that has been translated into English.

"I swear by Apollo the Healer, by Asclepius, by Hygieia, by Panacea, and by all the gods and goddesses, making them my witnesses, that I will carry out, according to my ability and judgment, this oath and this indenture.

To hold my teacher in this art equal to my own parents; to make him partner in my livelihood; when he is in need of money to share mine with him; to consider his family as my own brothers, and to teach them this art, if they want to learn it, without fee or indenture; to impart precept, oral instruction, and all other instruction to my own sons, the sons of my teacher, and to indentured pupils who have taken the physician’s oath, but to nobody else.

I will use treatment to help the sick according to my ability and judgment, but never with a view to injury and wrong-doing. Neither will I administer a poison to anybody when asked to do so, nor will I suggest such a course. Similarly I will not give to a woman a pessary to cause abortion. But I will keep pure and holy both my life and my art. I will not use the knife, not even, verily, on sufferers from stone, but I will give place to such as are craftsmen therein.

Into whatsoever houses I enter, I will enter to help the sick, and I will abstain from all intentional wrong-doing and harm, especially from abusing the bodies of man or woman, bond or free. And whatsoever I shall see or hear in the course of my profession, as well as outside my profession in my intercourse with men, if it be what should not be published abroad, I will never divulge, holding such things to be holy secrets.

Now if I carry out this oath, and break it not, may I gain for ever reputation among all men for my life and for my art; but if I transgress it and forswear myself, may the opposite befall me."

 

And, here is a modern version of the Oath that is used in many US medical schools:

I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:...

I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.

I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures which are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.

I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon's knife or the chemist's drug.

I will not be ashamed to say "I know not," nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient's recovery.

I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. Above all, I must not play at God.

I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person's family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.

I will prevent disease whenever I can but I will always look for a path to a cure for all diseases.

I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.

If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.

 

YSJ perhaps has a shorter arc of development. After all, he starts off as a Super Soldier with nerves of steel, a good leader of an elite Special Forces team widely expected to become a general some day. Btw, given the nature of Korean history and political development, being a general in Korea is a very big deal. However, SJ also has to figure out what he's really fighting for, who his ultimate loyalty is to, what happens when his loyalty is in conflict. His personal "motto" of protecting the children, the elderly, and beautiful women was initially stated as a bit of a joke. However, as with all things SJ, there is a grains of truth within the flippancy. SJ is about protection even when the individual may not deserve it, he's as much fighting for an ideal as well as actual people. Soldiers are taught to fight for each other, to fight for their family, to fight for their country. In one sense, it can be seen as dogmatic brainwashing by the powers that control the military in order to convince someone to lay down their lives willingly. However, there is a deeper question that underlies that always in terms of what is really worth laying your life down for. 

And, then there was the love story as these two different backgrounds and ideologies met and were attracted, and then had the long process of figuring out whether they wanted to do the work and take the risk of staying together. 

Okay, I realize that my post is becoming out of the control long, and I could go on and on since thematically there is so much that is brought up by this drama. However, I think your second round thesis and discussion actually did a good job of recounting why despite its many flaws (including all that ppl), this drama had drawn me in when I was watching it. 

So, this is a big thank you to the team for posting the second round material. It definitely took me back to the feelings and rumination that were evoked by watching this drama.

Edit: Also, this. 

Since it was the contest that caused me to remember and also to write the lengthy post I just put up, I figured it's only right to put a link to the contest. If anyone hasn't voted already, it would be good to click on the Round 2, go to the page, have a read of the submissions and vote. The teams have put a lot of work into their submissions, so the least we can do is go read them, then vote for the presentation we liked the best. 

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Thanks for sharing your thoughts @stroppyse; it was a treat to read.  I'm glad you were able to eventually find your way to this thread.

And to everyone who else who hasn't yet voted -- here's your reminder, as we head into the final stretch: Vote! Vote! Vote! 

But vote only once.  :) 

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@stroppyse

Thank you for the lovely post... 

The Soompi Drama Contest is closed now... Even tough DOTS did not won, I still feel blessed to be able to met everyone that supported DOTS.

We may not win, but we've tried our best... Cheers... :wub:

C74ySGa.gif

 

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Maybe you guys will appreciate this,

Onew coverd you are my everything two days ago

 

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Sorry as I don't have a lot of time but will be back later...:wub:

  A heart felt thanks to @CamelKnight for being a Mod we know we can always count on!!! Am so thankful for...  In taking the time to first hear us and then with his help reopen this thread.  I thank you not only for myself but for the 412 or more fans of DOTS who call this place their home....

I don't come as often as I should but knowing it's here like a light on, waiting when I do.  Is something I am grateful for!!!  So my love to all and let's keep this thread active so our door always stays open and our light can always be seen, allowing us to find our way back:heart:

 

 

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Eeeeeeeeee glad that we are able to post here again!!!!

I'll just share my fav ost from the show. Honestly i like all the osts, all were EPIC, but this one is just close to my heart for reasons that cant be explained. LOL. 

 

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21 hours ago, USAFarmgirl said:

Sorry as I don't have a lot of time but will be back later...:wub:

  A heart felt thanks to @CamelKnight for being a Mod we know we can always count on!!! Am so thankful for...  In taking the time to first hear us and then with his help reopen this thread.  I thank you not only for myself but for the 412 or more fans of DOTS who call this place their home....

I don't come as often as I should but knowing it's here like a light on, waiting when I do.  Is something I am grateful for!!!  So my love to all and let's keep this thread active so our door always stays open and our light can always be seen, allowing us to find our way back:heart:

 

Awwww :D 

I'm always happy to help out! You know that :) If you need my help, just tag me or PM me, I'll respond asap :) 

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@kokodus  I loved that scene too!!!  I just remember thinking dang what great writing and watching that scene over and over and over again:w00t:

 

When I look back after all this time I realize that what made this story and it's characters even more beautiful is the very fact that the for this OTP it wasn't all about acting..   No wonder it captured our heart...  How could it not....

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@USAFarmgirl YASSSSS. Thats what made this show soooo special and was able to appeal to such large audiences. THE CHEMISTRY IS REALLLLLL. Lol. Sorry i sometimes get way too excited when talking about DOTS and songsong couple.

 

Another awesome ost from this show i could hear over and over again...

 

 

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 @kokodus  I don't think even during the contest did I ever write about this scene oh how I wish I had....:bawling:

For there is so much beauty in this one moment and so much pure truth in one what would seem such a simple act tying her shoe.  When there was so much more being done and said in this one view.... So much given and so much received....

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