tvN drama Mr. Sunshine Ends With Phenomenal Reviews and Record Breaking Rating

I’ve been watching K-dramas over for over a decade and covering the industry via this blog a little less than that, and I can vouch for how difficult, sanctimonious, and exacting the domestic Korean netizens are even more than when the international viewers start chiming in. If I-netz are not feeling a drama, K-netz have already ripped it to shred with the most creative and acerbic biting wit possible. It’s with that background that I am truly moved by the feedback for just concluded tvN period drama Mr. Sunshine – I’ve only watched the beginning and then tabled the drama for a marathon but reading the reviews have me sobbing with tears for how the drama unfurled and touched the hearts of the viewers.

It’s time to put aside the personal dislike of male lead Lee Byung Hun for some viewers and accept that the drama truly pierced to the core of Korean pride and achieved the goal screenwriter Kim Eun Sook set out to accomplish. In the end female lead Kim Tae Ri‘s character Go Shin Ae was as stand-in for Joseon Korea/Korean Pride and the drama acknowledged and highlighted the sacrifices of so many nameless citizens who lived through a war-torn era and lived with dignity and courage. Brava Mr. Sunshine, I applaud the earned success and a slow cap for the entire cast and crew. As for ratings, the final episode took in 18.129% AGB nationwide so didn’t break Goblin‘s last episode ratings record of 18.680%, but the Seoul ratings did as Mr. Sunshine netted 21.129% to Goblin’s 20.986%.

Mr. Sunshine will also hold the record for tvN in terms of highest average ratings, and it ought to have been even higher but for that one Saturday night the ratings dropped by half due to the broadcast life of the Asian Games soccer final with South Korea. Mr. Sunshine’s average ratings are 12.955%, Goblin at 12.924%, and Answer Me 1988 in third place with 12.43%.

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tvN drama Mr. Sunshine Ends With Phenomenal Reviews and Record Breaking Rating — 34 Comments

  1. Mr. Sunshine is definitely the better product compared to previous cheesy KES dramas. Read that the plot thickened and heightened towards the end but I really didn’t have the energy and patience to wait for the momentum to pick up (somewhere from episode 16 onwards). This drama certainly is not for everyone. If it happened to be that damn good, well too bad that the slow pacing and nonsensical bits in the first half really shooed away impatience viewers.

    • Mr. Sunshine moved me in ways that still reverberate and raised questions for me that I still ponder. I was born and raised in New York City and knew little about Korea. I’ve previously watched Jewel in the Palace and adored that, too. I connected with all the protagonists, I enjoyed the moments of humor — like Choi Yu-jin, learning Korean and deciphering the love
      conveyed. The drama gave me great respect for Korean indomitability, the long struggle they waged against classism, hierarchy and occupation. It was beautiful, beautiful, beautiful to look at and deeply affecting. I wondered if I could ever make the sacrifices that each and every protagonist made. Much respect to the writers, director, producers and actors. Thank you.

  2. Wah, this drama is amazing. Even im not fond on the lead’s romance but seriously, the characters in this drama are well written. Dongmae is always be my fave. How he handle his love and his friendship, aaaahhh i adore him very much. His relationship with the hotel owner is one of my fave. From friends to someone you care more than it. I know he loves our main lead but still, he sticks to the end with his best friend. I love it.

    Im full of surprise when i’ve watched this drama. It’ so rarely to see a KES drama without ‘kissing scene’ until ep 23.

    This drama is far from being cheesy. Highly recommended!

  3. I loved it! It was a great story, characters, actors and cinematography. I loved the different relationships even if I wasn’t very invested in the love story. My only issue was how they handled the character of Ae Shin, she seemed to have less importance than the other characters. We know that she’s in the Righteous Army but we couldn’t see it.

    My favourite part was Dong Mae. YYS was perfect in this role.

    • Ae Shin’s character is partly informed by her imaginings of her deceased parents and the “what if” had they survived which they didn’t, and what they would say to her in the “now”. I understood her from that point of view. Our parents are tremendously important to us and if we have to rely on scraps of information or memory to make them into whole cloth, it may take a lifetime to do. And so I see Ae Shin’s struggle partly controlled by her past a bit.

  4. I’m so thankful to KES for writing this drama. Before this drama, I seriously do not know what the righteous army were. I’m ashamed to admit this, but for someone who has been watching Korean drama for a decade, I’ve never really bother to learn much about Korean history. This drama makes me go back and read so much about that part of the Korean history. I’m touched by the history and learned so much about human sacrifices through my reading.
    This is definitely my favorite KES drama to date.

  5. I cried so much in this final week. No writer can top what KES did in these last few episodes. I’m not Korean but I felt every bit of that patriotism. This drama was a masterpiece and I for one never had a problem with the pacing. I’m grateful for those much lighter early episodes which spent a lot of time building up each character because I felt for each of them even the most minor ones in the last episodes. I’m glad it did so well in Korea but the international audience needs to stop sleeping on this brilliant work of art. This definitely out did My Ahjusshi in the last few episodes so I’d vote it the best drama of 2018 thus far.

  6. I don’t think that people should criticize international audience , because we have a lot in our plate this year. As a french, i w’m watching a lot of works as this year we lost some famous survivor figures of Auschwitz-Birkenau and commomeration of the end of the Great War (1914 1918) . So i wasn’t in the mood to Watch a drama wich would make me cry . Sorry. But I’ll Watch it later as we are living in an era where people is forgetting about” humanity” and history is more than ever important . We musn’t forget the past, it’s the only way to make a better living for the newt générations. Love and peace.

    • I disagree with this. It covers a huge time space that’s sometimes I sometimes wish she had made two different seasons with two different generations to tell the story. It was so overwhelming to take all that in all at once by the end I was emotionally drained.

      • She could still make two seasons but quicker pace at the beginning so it keeps me riveted. I’m used to six to eight episodes BBC dramas such as the recent Bodyguard which was excellent too. As an international drama watcher I don’t just stick to SK dramas so the storyteller needs to keep my interest.

      • I also disagree. Lost would have been much of the important background of characters such that the ending would have been senseless and pointless.

  7. Such a great series. Even though it’s over you still have to wonder what’s next for the cast & writers. Will they return for another project.

  8. Overall this drama is fine. However, personally it’s way too slow. I also don’t understand why LBH regardless of what facial expression he performed seemed to have been stuck to one expression… kind of awkward for a period drama. All other things are brilliant. I hope they will continue to have this kind of production and totally stopped any live-shoot productions.

      • Mr.sunshine is one of my most favoriteand my best drama, I really love all the actors and actresses. Theirs acting was amazing and I cry so much in the final episode. Wish they will win the award cause they really deserve it. Love them all

    • In my opinion, he portrayed his character excellently. He is somewhat a cold-hearted man as what the other characters descirebed him.

    • The one with same facial expression all the time is Dong Mae. Always make the angry face.

      Choi Yu Jin is cool character, can joke, can be serious, can be deadly serious.

  9. Mr.sunshine is one of my most favorite and my best drama, I really love all the actors and actresses. Theirs acting was amazing and I cry so much in the final episode. Wish they will win the award cause they really deserve it. Love them all

  10. unpopular opinion but I think LBH lack so much because I keep getting confused what emotion he displayed while other actors are way clearer.
    He has stoic charisma and you knoe that he is there but his present is even weaker ever to Kim Tae Ri.

    The story is too slow but to be fair, it’s great, too much patriotism but that’s the era.The drama is really good, I am just disappointed with male lead acting, unrelated to his personal life.

  11. Such a beautifully told story. As a writer I appreciated KES story telling style how she got us attached to all the characters as they lived their mundane lives and then suddenly it’s all interrupted and we see everything go wrong and even worse is the thought that it all really happened.
    I am astonished that Korea went through all that and rose to be one of the first world tech leading nations in half a century.

    I am one of the few who enjoyed Lee Byun Hun’s performances. My eyes stuck to him the whole drama and now I feel like I know his character personally.

  12. Every character is such a gem!Indeed another masterpiece!
    I cried a river watching the last 2 episode..I specially died with Kim min jung confession to Yon seok in the end..among any other roles Min jung portrayed this one is the best! all the characters were equally important and I love how the writer build them in our hearts.Now Im gonna miss them:( the Bromance as always and the bad ass Kim tae ri and Kim min jung..Goodbye Mr.sunshine..Gun!Sad ending! Love!

  13. It’s slow at the beginning but I find it as essential to build up the purpose of each characters. Being an international audience, this drama with its great storytelling had enlightened me on this part of Korea’s history and was amazed how the country rose again to become a first world country today.

    As for the actors, they all have outstanding performances and was particularly impressed by how much kim tae ri’s acting had been continuously off the charts. Aeshin made a lasting impression on me as a symbol of endurance and patriotism.

  14. I do agree about LBH’s dislike…I almost don’t watch it, but the bautiful cinematography lured me
    I do appreciate the director and cameramen, for the last episodes some of the shoot taken in diagonal, showing dynamic, instability, just perfect. and Kim Tae Ri just wow, her acting delivered many emotion. I can not stand to not cry for her

  15. Mr. Sunshine :
    At first view, I immediately fell in love with the intensity of the film and was greatly interested in the evolution of the relationship between Aen-shin and Eugene Choi. However, my anticipation was sorrily disappointed in the stoic status quo of the never-advancing romance between the two. The writer leads us to believe there is great feeling between the two main actors; yet, there is no climactic result, resolution or forever-love, physical culmination between the two in love. I thought the writer really missed it here. This could have been a great classic that one wants to see over and over, but, alas, the writer took another less encompassing, less evocative and less interesting path. Too bad. She wrote with her “goody-goody-two-shoes”, depicting the romance as one of a no-touch, sterile embodiment and one that simply could not be believed. I do not believe for one minute that, had Aen-shin and Eugene been actual people, that they would not have been impassioned to express their passion in a more tactile way like holding, kissing with sincere verbal expressions. I feel very cheated.
    I will say the Korean history I welcomed and found it amazing. The photography was brilliant as was the scenery and the costumes. There were so many great things in the film; just such a shame that the main focus of the film was barred from blossoming into what it could have been — remarkable. I must say, the actor Lee Byung Hun was extremely brilliant in his acting and presence and had great charisma. All actors were so talented and excellent and wisely chosen. The cinematography was beautiful and engaging as were the great costumes. History and love are two magnetic subjects in a novel. Mr. Sunshine could have been a classic, but was not.

    • Marijane Stomberg: Re the characters’ lack of expressed passion — my take is that without this lack of expressed passion, the very fabric of the story line would dissolve into something else. think about it. isn’t the tension between the lovers what actually holds the story together? take that away and you have a standard made-in-america modern production. sans the sense of period (1900-1920 roughly), the complex obedience to class – it’s openly discussed in the text “differences are very real” etc. You destroy the feeling for the viewer of bringing the period alive. I LOVED the fact the romance between them is not overly expressed. I probably don’t express myself adequately here, but someone else may do it justice? The times do not seem to lend themselves to flirty, enticing moves on behalf of either lover – this way, its straightforward what “is” expressed between them.

      • Cecilia E….I totally agree with our reply. The tension between these two lovers is what makes this a stand out drama. You explained that tension very well. Neither three of these men had the abilities within the framework of the society to express physically what was in their hearts for AhShin. Her betrothed wasn’t even supposed to go to her house before the marriage took place because of cultural norms, the butcher was the lowest of society along with our slave born hero. She was unapproachable by them, but each in their own special protected her. Loved this drama…it was so wonderfully Korean!

  16. I have been trying not to get into the Kdrama series bandwagon because I don’t have the time to get caught up. I got curious and decided to see what all the fuzz was about K drama and followed Mr.Sunshine via Netflix. From the first episode up to the last I’ve been hooked. This is one disturbingly beautiful series. I don’t know how much was fiction and how much was history but this one movie gave me a huge respect and appreciation for Koreans. This is one tough act to follow. I hope Netflix can have a similar one again which combined all the elements of a true blockbuster and soon to be a classic must watch

  17. I am from NewZealand and have never watched a Netflix story as beautiful as this one It Will stay with me a very very long time Simply beautiful and I learnt a lot about the history of Korea !!

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