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Go Seung Ji

[Drama 2018] Mr. Sunshine, 미스터 션샤인 - Winner of Critics’ Choice Award for Drama category

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Hey everyone.

 

I'm enjoying this drama and look forward to it every week, but I wanted to explain a few quick impressions I had.

 

1st, thank you Netflix for making the episodes available right away. I hated it when they locked K-dramas in a gold vault and released them a week after the finale had aired. (Live, Prison Playbook, Bap-Noona)

 

Anyway, *THIS* is a large reason for all the controversy. The Korean audience is very conscious of the fact that this show is available to the international audience.

 

And after watching this show for a while, it occurred to me that it's not really made for the Korean audience who already know and feel this story deep down to their bones, the sorrow of becoming colonized by Japan. It's made for the international audience who don't really know this story. The show is like an outcry to the world, saying, "Look at what was done to us!"

 

And I think with that nationalist-consciousness, there is a strong desire to make sure the story is represented in the right way. There is embarrassment in showing the way that slaves were treated in the Joseon society. The whole feudal society is so backwards. There is embarrassment in showing how primitive and unsophisticated Joseon used to be. There is sensitivity when showing the Ku Dong-Mae character. Koreans can accept the backstory that he had to escape to Japan in order to survive, but any indication that he was ever truly loyal to Japan is an affront.

 

This show reminds of me something that would have been made 20 years ago, but with much higher production values.

 

So when you view the show through this prism, that this show isn't just entertainment for the typical Korean audience, but a sort of presentation of Korean history for the world, then a lot of what you're watching may make more sense.

 

--

 

Anyway, through that prism, here is the rest of the story.

 

I agree with the observation that both Eugene and Dong-Mae are similar - they are like the opposite sides of the same coin. Both were born in a "low class," and as a result barely escaped with their lives while watching their parents be brutally murdered. But both will fight for Joseon eventually. Their love for Joseon will overcome whatever heartbreak Joseon made them suffer and turn their backs before.

 

Ae-Shin is a symbol of Joseon. She is everything that is good in Joseon wrapped up into one person (beauty, elegance, intellect, and fierce fighting spirit), and that is why she is instantly coveted by all the main men in the show.

 

Hee-Sung, likewise, will fight for Joseon. He comes across as a rich fop, but we already know that he has hidden depths and a conscience. These three men will be bonded by their mutual love for Ae-Shin/Joseon and become bromantic comrades.

 

They each have unique strengths: Eugene has the backing of the U.S. Army (exposited very obviously in the latest episode), Dong-Mae is in deep with Japan, and Hee-Sung is the richest heir in Korea with the benefit of a Japanese education.

 

When Dong-Mae says as he grabbed Ae-Shin's skirt, "I kept turning my back 100 times, I keep coming back to you," he's talking about her, but really talking about Joseon. He's basically saying, "Joseon, I can't quit you!" (And the old Korean people who are watching understands this double meaning and nods in agreement.)

 

 

Spoiler

And those same people will cry, because everyone will die. Because Japan wins. Says history.

 

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28 minutes ago, chickfactor said:

 

 

 

  Reveal hidden contents

And those same people will cry, because everyone will die. Because Japan wins. Says history.

 

Spoiler

 

Japanese occupation of Korea lasted until 1945 when the Japanese were defeated in World War II. Following the war, Korea was divided by Western powers. Russia occupied Korea north of the thirty-eighth parallel, and the United States occupied Korea south of the thirty-eighth parallel. 

 

Im not sure exactly what this means but i guess Korea was basically divided so maybe they dont all die and they go to the american side or something? 

 

http://caforumonline.net/CAFHandlerPDF.ashx?ID=403

 

A nice read for anyone who wants to know about that time in a sort of basic summary.

 

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Could someone please explain why they're looking for this letter?

I understand it's about the slush fund, but why are they all after it? And why was it in Logan Taylor's possession?

 

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13 hours ago, viktormani said:

How can you say that EC “atleast had America” when we saw how he was treated everyday, he was beaten and humiliated every single day. It was probably horrible to live in America at that time because he was “different” and we all know how Americans treated people who were different in those times. 

I think that as bad as it was growing up in USA and even likely as an adult in the USA,  they are showing that he rose to Captain in the army.  You can argue that is improbable (history) and even if he was brilliant enough to rise that high (also fluent in Japanese) it is likely at the time if he was white he would have risen higher.  Still I think the general idea is that compared to the status of slave in Joseon and confronting prejudice, there was still a huge difference regarding civil rights which he had at least in theory in the USA even if with the obstacles.  But if does make you wonder if any Asians rose as high as he did in the army during that period. It appears from wikipedia the naval academy accepted Asians as of the 1860s but they were foreign nationals who did not serve in the usa army they were elites who went back to their country. Then Asian Americas were accepted about 40 years later, so it appears this show is not realistic or stretching the truth. because Capt Choi served in the Spanish American War and then was already about 40 years old when he went back to Korea at the time of he occupation.    The Japanese were being shown as being the worst of the lot, but they do show the American wife of the assassinated official as being vile.  I read a memoir auto-bio of a woman doctor who was in Korea at the time. She wrote that the Koreans really adored the whole idea of America and really hoped they would save them from the Japanese.  We see that part when Haemon Daek is talking about Capt Choi beating up the Japanese soldier who attacked the nurse maid  and how everyone was so quick to think the US would save them, and Ae-shin warns her not to have any hopes of that; But in fact according to the lady missionary doctor's memoir there were great hopes and there were grown men crying in the streets and  in terrible despair when that didnt happen, and she was really ashamed. 

This is a good time for history of this period drama because now with so much attention on Korea people are interested and open to learning about the country.

    

 

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11 minutes ago, wchoi8 said:

Could someone please explain why they're looking for this letter?

I understand it's about the slush fund, but why are they all after it? And why was it in Logan Taylor's possession?

 

It seems that the king is using foreign banks to hide money, “slush accounts” and if people get that letter as proof of it, it will completely destroy the Korean hiarchy. That’s why everyone is after it, especially the Japanese since it will make the invasion on Korean soil extremely easy. (Correct me if I’m wrong though)

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5 minutes ago, viktormani said:

It seems that the king is using foreign banks to hide money, “slush accounts” and if people get that letter as proof of it, it will completely destroy the Korean hiarchy. That’s why everyone is after it, especially the Japanese since it will make the invasion on Korean soil extremely easy. (Correct me if I’m wrong though)

I agree, the King would appear as a traitor, ready to take off and leave his people,  perhaps even stealing from the people's defenses  just to  take care of himself. end of the monarchy

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5 hours ago, tzupi said:

 

I do not have issues with DM's lack of allegiance to his country, but I find it problematic that he does not show any sympathy for the poor and the marginalized ones.

Sorry to cut your post but for this point, the reason why he does not show the sympathy for "the poor and marginalized ones" (re: the ajumonis), imo, was because it was that very group of people who directly discriminate against his people on daily basis and treating the Baekjeong (butchers) like animals. Baekjeong's status was lower than the slaves. They're the untouchable outcast group (often compared with the burakumin of Japan and the dalits of India and Nepal). They faced contempt and discrimination by the society very severely (you can read more about Baekjeong here). In Dong Mae's case, it was the ahjumonis who contempt and punished his mother and him for daring to turn up at the market and asking to be paid, and I believe it was from that chain of event that got her mother raped (she was punished by the lowly commoners because of her audacity doing what the Baekjeong was not supposed to do), then later it was the ajumonis and her fellow villagers who beat and tortured his parents to death for killing her rapist. Those lowly commoners who gives Dong Mae's family hell, unlike the bad servant who had to kill Eugene's parents, were not forced to do what they did. They did it deliberately and was their way of life - discriminating against the Baekjeong, treating them like animals. 

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images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQcvOAshgACl1InHbXOMH79e972aca-7a84-11e8-8ce4-b59b2fedb43f_972images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQLq3cHCnu9c6lfctF4ZYG

 

I can only speak about what I know and what the story reveals to me.  KES as I have said before moves me through her writing and Mr Sunshine is just one more drama that's title seems to have a double meaning at least for someone who isn't Korean like myself. Mr Sunshine to me it's as if KES is shedding some light on the differences in which we humans respond & react to the life we are given and it's situations.  That no matter rich or poor it is the choices we make and what it is we value the most that affect not only our lives but even those around us...

 

In the episodes so far I find myself more moved by the human spirit of a young woman whose abilities are made stronger because of her willingness to stand instead of surrender.  That even if you stand alone just as EC explained in his own way to that little boy.  Even if the odds are against you.  It's your fight and whether you win or lose it is your honor in being true to yourself.

To what you believe and in who you are...

 

Just as AS pointed that gun on the train.  It is the strongest and often those willing to sacrifice themselves for an idea or belief bigger than themselves.

Whether fiction or reality the truth is.

They may not be able to tell their stories in person because they gave their all.  Yet often are the ones who inspired and brought hope to those around them and were and are written most about...

 

Something that did move me was the traditions and customs of a country and it's people.  When seeing the sward Vs the gun and the changes taking place during that era.  As much as I enjoy the comforts and progress in which I am use to today still while watching this drama one can't help or maybe I am alone in my thinking.  Still there is a sense of beauty and respect for any countries people, their customs, traditions and history.  Something progress no matter where it comes from should never be allowed to swallow up or change its richness and value...

 

I guess I look at this drama in the same way. I don't need historical or fiction perfection.

I just enjoy a story for what it allows me to see, experience and feel...

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2 hours ago, Wotad said:

Well im pretty sure this is based on history but not 100% correct, its taking inspiration from that era but all the characters are fictional. 

yes, poetic license. :)

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4 hours ago, wchoi8 said:

Could someone please explain why they're looking for this letter?

I understand it's about the slush fund, but why are they all after it? And why was it in Logan Taylor's possession?

 

 

Many have answered your questions already.  Just want to post the screenshot of the dated deposit note from the Russia-China Bank in Shanghai in Eugene's hands. :)

 

The deposit was a mix of 23 gold bars and 100,000 Japanese yen into a Russia-China Bank.  The amount then to be invested into German securities.  The transaction was made in Seoul (which I think should have been written as Hanseong) on Aug 12, 1902.  The date is after Queen Min's assassination.

 

The note underlines King Gojong's tie to Russia and China as Queen Min in 1890s did reach out for their help from the Japanese influence on Joseon.  The fund was taken from the court's treasury by a banker to China then reinvested into German securities.  The investment included Japanese yen which shows that Joseon already is involved in Japanese commerce with the court accepting/saving their currency in their treasury.


I think it's a marvelous piece of drama prop that shows how long the court has been dealing with multiple nations' interests and that the fall to Japanese imperialism was not overnight.   The betrayal is deep. This was around the time where corrupted ruling class, high taxes, and poverty lead to peasant revolts. The court was stealing the country's wealth while its people suffered in poverty.   Eugene understood its importance at first glance.

 

Logan Taylor was the American delegate in Japan.  For some reasons, he got the note and kept it as his security blanket for a rainy day.  This is the reason why he is so "valued" by the court.  The Japanese and Dong Mae want it as well since this will turn the citizens' sentiments against their own King.

 

Screenshot 2018-07-23 18.26.28

 

Screenshot 2018-07-23 18.27.36

 

Credit: Netflix

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I just saw this comment from a neitzen and holy crap it makes you think.

 

Seeing how Ae Shin was the narrator in the first episode, I feel like Ae Shin is going to be the only one remaining and the rest are going to die, that's why Ae Shin is going to be a grandma and it's going to be her reminiscing about the past  
 
 

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16 hours ago, Wotad said:

where are your gifs from/

Homemade private stash on tumblr, back when I was more leisurely. All natural , no artificial flavors or preservatives, gluten free and all that.  But I have 100 other ones of Jakdoo on that thread that I am proud of.:phew::ph34r:

 

13 hours ago, Ahpheng said:

@USAFarmgirl Eugene almost always maintained a stoic face in first few eps, almost all my screencaps were of him looking the same. Like you said, AS has the ability to bring out the boyish side of him and we finally see EC's priceless grin ! 

@inna75 thanks , glad you liked the strip. 

@Ahpheng this is daebak caption art u created! Thank you! Li Bang-Ji lives! :heartbreak:

 

13 hours ago, 12blbl said:

I think it's understandable AS threw away her skirt, she didn't has any good impression with him at all and treat him as a traitor and a stranger lol and DM indeed invade her personal space,  perhaps she felt disrespected as a lady. 

 

But that AS-DM's scene made me hooked to continue watching this drama lol

 

Anyway anyone know what's the meaning of the sentence which DM said to AS? I don't get it.

I have a slightly different take on the meaning than some have expressed here. In his moment of weakness, GDM is confessing, or rather rationalizing , why he is a traitor, which AS has accused him of. He literally had no other choice as the butcher's son who probably killed the rapist of his mother in self defense, and he became harder and stronger than anyone else in Japan until he had risen to his stature. And I agree with him that he had no other way. While he is a cold killler and not to be romanticized, he is too sympathetic a character and was not always the animal that people think he is. The fact that he feels the need to explain this to AS when he cares about the opinion of none other, is quite telling.

By the way, it looks like his Japanese geisha girlfriend might be the one who gets AS in trouble in the next episode, and in turn EC will get entangled. If I saw it correctly, how GDM responds to this as he becomes indebted to EC should be telling what's in DM's heart with respect to lives of those other than Ae-Sin's.

Love how we have a horse race of sorts and we have to almost make a chart of who all owes what to whom, and how those will play out in critical moments when sworn enemies will have to show mercy to one another because of the unwritten honor code that exists and is kept score of on who owes who. I loved that the thing EC did for the poor siblings  has already been repaid amply by those grateful Korean siblings, and also the boy's confession of his 14+hour toils as a water carrier. Drove me to tears too, for sure.:glasses:

Edited by Jillia
Please do not quote IGs! Thanks! :)
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15 hours ago, tzupi said:

Like some of the people who commented before, I am baffled by the defence of DM as a character, although I find the discussion about him extremely interesting and illuminating. So why exactly do people relate to DM (except for his looks and his unfortunate childhood)? We do not talk about the child DM, but the adult DM. - The taming of a rogue is more intriguing to some  :wub: besides, I would like to reiterate, he is not all bad... he does have a soft spot which has been displayed on a number of occasions on screen. It's just that he doesn't show it in front of his guys. I think most people here can make a guess what will happen if he did that. Who knows what transpired in his journey to be that yakuza leader. He might have to fight off a few Japanese senior members for that one spot since he was at a disadvantage of being a lower than slave Korean.

 

He is a thug, a yakuza member (or gang member), who, if left by himself, can kill people almost indiscriminately. (See the episode in which he hears about the return of the fiancee and starts beating other people). - in addition to the fiancee news, he was also irate to see so many Japanese coming to Joseon for business roaming about the street dressing like this is their own motherland. He mentioned the lack of cloth. I took that the news led him to accidentally show his real self to his men, when he usually is more composed and maintains that unpredictable air when he walks with them. That gives a glimpse that he is perhaps not 100% Japanese in contrast to what he wants people to believe. I haven't seen him killing others yet except that two Japanese guys who leered at AS. I think they deserve to die because the way they behave and words that they say represent who they are. Very bad jokes to be honest. Unless they have done it, or intend to do it, they wouldn't be so easy to joke about it in broad daylight on a busy street. If they speak Korean, I would think the Joseon people would take offend of such rudeness. I would, even if I am a foreigner there. Oh, and the maid girl was informed by DM himself that she should not fear him since he only kills those who he can benefited from e.g. paid to kill. From my observation, he tends to lower his guard when his men are not around but when they are he becomes the fearless leader that demands their respect. Despite that I can also see that he cares about his men and he listens well to his right hand man. That guy really can manage his leader's roller coaster emotions well. Secretary Kim Mi So in a body of a guy, perhaps? hehehe...

 

He is unnecessarily cruel, or even sadistic (see how he mutilated the woman who humiliated him as a child). In my opinion, DM does not have any excuse for what he does now. He inflicts more pain on people who are already in pain and suffer and he only thinks of himself. There is already a lot of violence in a poor community, DM is just an instrument of increasing that violence.

Does DM act like he does because he needs to survive? No, he acts like he does because he can. - I am with @Wotad on this. Those slave ahjummas are no better than the two Japanese leering at AS. I cannot comprehend the treatment they gave to DM and his mother. It was like taking revenge for being bully by the noble so they bully the butchers in return, trying their hardest to act like a noble of their own class, I guess. Morally speaking, that throwing of the stink liquid and the beating are very very unnecessary as well as the subsequent beatings that ensued when his mother killed that man who tried to rape her. DM saw, experienced the bullies and listened to the harsh words, so it easy to understand looking at it from his point of view, being in his shoes. How would a normal person feels if he had and breathe that kind of life every single day? And a teenager at that. It is gonna be traumatic.

 

He can be sadistic, he can mutilate, he can kill without impunity and so he does it if it pleases him. - I am reading psychopath here. Killing for the sake of smelling blood and tasting it, literally speaking. For DM, he did say he kills only if there's a pay for such work. He didn't actually mutilate the ahjummas. His men did the deeds. He might have in other occasions that we are not privy to since those are not in the script thus far, just in our imagination. Despite the image that he portrays, I think he is someone who stands by his words. If he said he will not kill for no money, he will not unless of course there are reasons he feels justified to raise his sword and eliminate e.g the japanese guys whose motivation in Joseon is to screw the noble ladies. On his promise to kill the person who has the letter, it can be for many reason, one of which I am very intrigued to know. We know the Japanese paid his gang to look for it, and we also know he claimed that he was once a Japanese (since he is now in Joseon, he no longer is? Maybe this is one of the few edits they made to DM's character).

 

He is different from the slave servant that beat the child Eugene, at least that guy was a slave, for whom it was hard to say no to his master. But DM actively offers his services to those in power for more looting and crime. - See where he came from. He is a leader of a gang who has to work for a pay. He is responsible to ensure the money comes in cause he has responsibilities e.g. his people to feed. Can he really stomach going to the poor to offer his service e.g. killing the bad nobles, perhaps? hehehe, just joking. well, pun aside, if he did that I will not feel good about it as well. That just spells a thug through and through. Seeing that he even paid for his candies at the bakery, another point to ponder about his real self.

 

I do not have issues with DM's lack of allegiance to his country, but I find it problematic that he does not show any sympathy for the poor and the marginalized ones. - so far, he only stares and they are the ones bowing to him, intimidated by his very presence. Except those slave ahjumma, that's just about as far as him showing unsympathetic-ness to the poor. He even gave big buck for such minimal news to the old guy who delivered it, despite his stern-ness when he listened to it. How can I not see these little things about him? He is clearly a broken soul, holding onto that one light to keep on living. The DM that the people see is just a facade of what lies beneath that villainous look, and cold attitudes. KES obviously did not make his character to be one to hate for by the audience. In contrast he becomes one to root and cried for, or even to console. The general perception is also very well indicated even in this thread. That is how good the character was created, developed as well as displayed by both KES and YYS, respectively. Some even are readying themselves with loads of tissue box for what to come. cos we can see that his fate is not a happy ending. DM is gonna be an upgraded version of Lee Dae Gil, version 2.0.

 

I find the introduction of a point of view that is neither of the higher class, nor of the army, nor of the thugs, to be the most interesting aspect of the story so far. I loved what the bad servant said to Eugene in the last episode: you cannot carry your revenge only on the weak, because they are not the only one who did wrong; go after the powerful ones too. I also liked what the gunner said to Eugene about how for the poor people, there is not much difference between the violence of the Japanese and the American army. There is also the potter, who helped Eugene, but did not take anything in return, although he does not show the same restraint with the rich ones.- I think this is another substances that KES trying to distinguish between EC and DM. They are similar yet there are gaps in how next they lived their lives following their escape from Joseon. In the end, they grew to become the men that they are, yet despite sharing the similar fate during their childhood, they returned to the land and the people that did not protect them when they most needed protection. DM was at the mercy of AS who hid him to allow him to run away; and the former yakuza leader who took him in. Whilst EC was at the mercy of those who helped him escaped as well as the US itself who took him in as one of their own. But one differences to note, regardless of his contributions, DM is never a Japanese to the Japanese while EC is an American by his own merit. One thing I find interesting while watching and analysing this drama is comparing these two. I look forward to the cooperation between them in the future when they plans their mission. DM has developed a liking to EC and EC is growing to like DM as well. In recent episode, I see EC as having that strategic thinking, considering whether he can trust DM, wondering why DM needs that letter with such claim that those who have it will definitely die. If AS fails to develop such strategic thinking to bring DM to Joseon's side, I think the best person who can is EC. Bromance in the making ~~~

 

It is interesting to read your post as it portrays a contrasting view on the character. I may sound sympathetic towards DM, but truth is thus far I find his character's development the most consistent. It makes it easier to walk his path, by his side. Looking out to those little points that indicate a DM of Joseon under that facade that is a DM of Japan is like completing a puzzle. Having YYS as DM is definitely a bonus most welcome hahaha

 

Anyway, thanks for the good read! 

 

Cheers!

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The actress that plays Hee Na, with that hairstyle and the wardrobe,

looks straight out of the colonial period.

 

I like hers and DMs calm relationship.

He didnt like when Wan-ik said , he might take over the hotel.

 

Although Im a bit disappointed, that she didnt know that someone  searched

the room, and left the hotel unnoticed.

 

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