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Imagined and crafted by the creator of K-drama Goblin: The Lonely and Great God, Kim Eun-sook, Descendants of the Sun packs in a little more action, darkness, and tough love than its successor. Leading characters, brave Captain Yoo Shi Jin and brilliant Dr. Kang Mo Yeon are a classic case of love at first sight after he deftly stops a thief and saves her life from more sinister foes in the thief’s gang as he is under the doctor’s care.

Impressed by one another, they agree to go out, but do not even finish a first date as Shi Jin is whisked away in a helicopter from the top of the hospital to take on a secret mission. Even this early scene hints at the show’s motif on the fragility of life and the suddenness of its direction, whatever path it takes. While it is a little grittier than most Korean dramas, it still has that sweetness that the genre embodies with moments like Mo Yeon gazing at Shi Jin’s X-ray because it’s the only picture she has of him.

The series snatches the concept and hope of love at first sight from the minds and hearts of the watchers when it begins to question Mo Yeon and Shi Jin’s relationship when they meet again not too soon after their first date. It comes to light, as things of this nature usually do, that while both are doing noble things, Shi Jin must kill others in order to protect his country while Mo Yeon follows the Hippocratic Oath to restore life.

This tension serves as the center push and pull of the plot and their relationship, which is put under particular strain after they part, unable to reconcile their beliefs, and fate pulls them back together after a few unexpected failures and re-assignments. They seem to be the most paradoxical of partners as they answer the command to a mission in Urk (a fictional Mediterranean country). Here, they must reconcile their differences (mostly Mo Yeon’s reluctance to accept the morality of being a solider who saves through death) and recognize the harshness of reality so that they can both aid those in danger in the ways necessary to survive volatile Urk. The show features Song Joong-Ki (Werewolf Boy, The Innocent Man) and Hye-kyo Song (The Grandmaster, That Winter, The Wind Blows).

Available on Netflix and Drama Fever

Time Commitment: 1 season of 16 episodes, each about an hour long.

Why It’s Worth the Binge: Questions love at first sight, has the thrill of an action movie and still retains a thorough plot and character development, ambitious yet vulnerable characters.

– Kelly Gatewood
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