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July 11, 2018
'Mr. Sunshine' impresses audiences, debuts at No. 3 on TV chart
By Woo Jae-yeon
SEOUL, July 11 (Yonhap) -- "Mr. Sunshine," one of the most eagerly anticipated television series of this year, got off to a strong start by ranking on No. 3 on the weekly TV chart, data showed Wednesday.
The epic drama, which depicts the lives of unsung heroes of the national independence movement in the early 1900s Joseon Dynasty, recorded a score of 235.4 on the weekly Content Power Index (CPI) for July 2-8.
Written by Kim Eun-sook of two hugely successful television series, "Descendants of the Sun" and "Guardian: The Lonely and Great God," the series created a buzz in the Korean entertainment industry from the early stage of production for its big budget, interesting plot and A-list actor Lee Byung-hun's first TV appearance in nine years. No less importantly, producer Lee Eung-bok, who made the aforementioned two dramas, directs Kim's latest scenario.
The first two episodes, aired last weekend, showed how the two protagonists have become who they are now -- Choi Yoo-jin, a son of a servant family who flees Joseon following the death of his parents and returns as American Captain Eugene Choi of the U.S. Marine Corps (played by Lee), and Ko Ae-shin, a daughter of a nobleman fighting against Japanese invaders, as her parents did.
The first episode garnered 8.9 percent in viewership ratings and the second one 9.7 percent, higher than those of "Guardian," whose first two episodes drew 6.3 and 7.9 percent, respectively, airing on the same cable channel, tvN, from Dec. 2, 2016 to Jan. 21, 2017.
In a press event held prior to its July 7 premiere, the director said, "There are many dramas set in the 1930s when the Japanese occupation of Korea was in full swing. But there weren't many dramas -- or historical documents for that matter -- about the early 1900s when people struggled to protect the country from an impending invasion by Japan." Japan occupied Korea from 1910 to 1945.
"We want to talk about the people of that period ... Most nations have their own story about modernization and invasions by outside forces. So the story has universal appeal," he said when asked if overseas audiences, who can watch it on Netflix, could connect with the Korean period drama.
The CPI, created by CJ E&M and Nielsen Korea, measures the level of popularity, social media trending and influence on consumer behavior of entertainment TV programs aired on three major terrestrial networks -- MBC, SBS and KBS -- and seven cable channels owned by CJ E&M, including tvN, Mnet and OCN, during prime time. JTBC, another cable network that airs some highly popular entertainment shows and dramas, is not included in the measurement.
MR.SUNSHINE PPL.. by Eugene Choi
Mr. Sunshine' features high-end cinematography
By Park Jin-hai The Korea Times
The much-anticipated blockbuster drama "Mr. Sunshine," which premiered last Saturday, has shown how far a Korean drama can go when it is handed a 40 billion won budget.
The first two episodes of the 24-part weekend drama overwhelmed viewers with their scale and stunning cinematography, giving viewers the impression they were watching a Hollywood wartime romance drama.
Computer graphics have been lavishly used for graphic battle scenes where many nameless civilian soldiers fought for their kingdom, Joseon, under the pressure of foreign powers, to depict the most tumultuous time in history when "yesterday seemed distant, today seems strange and tomorrow, fearful."
The first epic blockbuster by star writer Kim Eun-sook, whose long track record includes pan-Asian smash hits "Descendents of the Sun" and "Guardian: The Lonely and Great God," devoted the first two episodes to telling the backgrounds of the lead characters in the fast-evolving Late Joseon period, where slaves were freed, and foreigners and Western culture were introduced before Japan annexed the Korean Peninsula.
Reflecting viewers' high expectations for the drama, its first two episodes received 8.9 percent and 9.7 percent viewership ratings, which surpassed the initial two episodes' ratings of "Guardian," whose first episode hit 6.3 percent.
The drama, starring veteran actor Lee Byung-hun and rising star actress Kim Tae-ri, is set in Korea in the late 1800s and early 1900s, telling the story of the wartime romance between Korean-born American Marine Eugene Choi who says "Joseon has never taken me" due to his painful memories involving his family, and Ko Ae-shin, a daughter of a noble family who became an assassin to fight the Japanese.
"Mr. Sunshine" was inspired by historical events concerning a U.S. expedition to Korea in 1871, the first American military action on and around Ganghwa Island, which killed over 200 Koreans. It forced Regent Daewongun to strengthen his policy of isolation until Korea established a trade treaty with Japan, after Japanese ships approached Ganghwa and threatened to fire on Seoul in 1876. Korea's treaties with European countries and the U.S. soon followed.
To tell the epic story that has seldom been dealt with in dramas, the production team built a 20,000-square-meter outdoor set in Nonsan, South Chungcheong Province, and another 6,600-square-meter indoor set in Daejeon based on research of the time period.
The drama began shooting last September teaming up with the music, art and visual effects staff Kim worked on with "Guardian." Staff members who worked on films such as "Assassination" and "The Handmaiden" joined in this blockbuster drama as well. All the star staff as well as many great actors explain how all the money has been spent _ on making the show good.
The story runs a bit slow as the show sets up its premise and introduces so many characters all at once, but the drama was nothing short of raising expectations for what stories will be unfolded in this great _ after all _ romance drama.
Jung Duk-hyun, a culture critic, says the episodes aired demonstrate the power of the writer, with 15 years of a successful career. "The first episode was like showing Kim's self-confidence as one of the most powerful writers whose name can earn easy access to investment, enabling her to cast A-list actors and attract viewers to sit in front of the small screen," he said.
Another culture critic Kim Kyung-nam said, "The attention is on whether Kim, who has shown strength in portraying romance, can succeed in the epic drama as well. So many incidents unfolding to describe the confusion of the era might scatter viewers' attention, but it could come fresh to Western audiences."
MR.SUNSHINE Bromance: Kyle x Eugene