Third Episode of Descendants of the Sun Breaks 20% Ratings While the Competition Sinks

Holy cheesy crabapple goodness! I guess we have a bona fide hit on our hands, not that I was doubting it but the speed is certainly impressive and surprising in this day and age of K-drama depressed ratings. Famed screenwriter Kim Eun Sook‘s new drama Descendants of the Sun aired episode 3 today and basically went to town on the competition in terms of ratings. DotS episode 3 broke the 20% mark in ratings, garnering 23.7% AGB nationwide, which is an increase of 7.9% ratings over episode 2.

The competition was obliterated, with poor Please Come Back Ahjusshi only getting 5.2% AGB nationwide, a drop of 2.4%, while limping to the finish One More Happy Ending had a negligible drop which plopped it at a sad 3.8%. Even the usually lower TNmS ratings had DotS breaking 20%, specifically getting 21.8% nationwide (a rise of 8.3%) and 22.7% in Seoul. While Song Joong Ki‘s Shi Jin and Song Hye Kyo‘s Mo Yeon are saluting the Korean flag in that scene above, they definitely deserve a salute for doing their part in bringing audiences in.

This isn’t just Kim Eun Sook’s magic touch working all on its own – in her recent year dramas, Heirs didn’t break 20% ratings nationwide until episode 13, it was episode 10 for A Gentleman’s Dignity, but this does put DotS on par with Secret Garden which broke 20% ratings by episode 4. Congrats to the hardworking cast and crew on the impressive achievement. This might be the happiest I can imagine KBS TV execs being in a long loooooong time.


Third Episode of Descendants of the Sun Breaks 20% Ratings While the Competition Sinks — 62 Comments

  1. So, ratings aside, is it any good? Because a story about war and doctors doesn’t really interest me but I was considering for Song Joong Ki if I heard good things.

      • Embrace yourself guys, “i luphhhh youuuuu” is the new “love is the momenttttttttt”


    • Yes it is good! I am very picky about drama’s, but the love lines and the chemistry is very good. Though its SJK who delivers more than SHK, but SHK is improving! And the visuals and cinematography is just EXCELLENT.

    • Turn your brain off and just enjoy the ride and the pretty! It can be cheesy too (lots of slo-mo music heavy moments and the fight scenes can be too contrived and go on way too long) but I guess it’s part of the charm.

    • There are a lot of cringe moment but the actors chemistry are good so it’s enjoyable. There are a lot of cliche but it’s well done.

  2. Such a massive jump. I’m surprised honestly. I think this is more impressive than even Secret Garden’s ratings because it was a weekend drama, and ratings were higher back then. I couldn’t stand to watch Heirs and some of her other stuff, but I’m enjoying this so far (minus the music as everyone else mentions). Congrats to the cast and crew.

  3. So far, I think this drama deserves all the praises and the good rating. It’s super good. Before it air, I was hesitant to watch since I’m not a fan of military or doctor stuff but this one got me hooked. Especially, the chemistry between the two lead couples. I have to admit that I’m falling hard for the Song couple. <3

  4. I watched the first two episodes,and this is nothing new.Don’t get all the rating blockbusters for these kind of dramas…It just shows maybe that public always buy the romantic cheesy dramas no matter how much we cry out loud for quality writings.

    • If you’ve watched dramas for any amount of time…what is ever really new? Especially in romance ones. I’m actually really enjoying this one. I’ve watched hundreds of dramas and I don’t think this is cheesy at all. I think they are hitting it, that’s why the ratings are so good. Great chemistry, a unique setting, spot on with the mix of romance/action/comic relief. The military is very believable too…which often is not the case with Kdramas. So far, I think this is top quality.

    • When you ask for “new” is it new way of showcasing romance? Or just a new storyline? Considering what we have seen of Kdramas so far, war zone is a new area for romance (far away from chaebol corporate or high school hijinks).

      But the old stereotypes are still there. The social hierarchy on show in Heirs has been replaced by more rigid military hierarchy. After establishing the heroine as an independent lady with a mind of her own, we fast forward to Urk where she is helpless and completely at the mercy of the hero (or so its shown). The cheese is overflowing, no doubt, but SJK makes it bearable (very!)

    • Ikr, it follows the exact formula of its other romcom predecessors, it has romance, it has comedy, male lead and female leads fall in love, second leads fall in love, Subway has a PPL. There are discerning viewers who will value a romcom with like none of these elements, like totally.

    • Nothing wrong with that (unless the show is horribly written).. More and more shows are striving for higher quality and are exploring different types of storylines so it’s nice to have more variety. Kdrama industry is going through growing pains and trying to adjust to new audience expectations too.

      Also, there are just some types of shows and movies that attract a wider range of audiences and they are usually highly entertaining fluff like romantic epics or summer action blockbusters with lots of explosions. I can enjoy an intense, realistic, well written show like Signal and enjoy something cheesy and cliche like DoTs and that is what we are seeing in the Korean audience.

  5. I didn’t have high hopes for DotS but it managed to grab my attention… or rather SJK did. Song Hye Kyo showed two facial expressions in 3 episodes, I hope she gets better. But still, I’m enjoying it. The supporting characters are interesting too, so I’ll keep watching.

    I was looking forward to Come Back Ajusshi, but boy I was bored to tears in the first episode… The second episode didn’t catch my attention enough and I paused it to do something else and haven’t got back to it yet.

    I was really into One More Happy Ending until last week… episode 11 and 12 were a tear fest and all cliches and I hated it. It started out so good… it’s a pity. I hope this week this drama gets better.

    So, I guess it’s not that DotS is a great drama… it’s good and its competition are failing to do their jobs. Still, congrats to KBS and all the DotS team.

  6. Congrats KES. Dots is a hit ladies and gents. KES keeps delivering but imho she will never top heirs international craze and blockbuster level thats is impossible for Dots or even to reach MLFTS level. I can already it would be a hit but not reach that level

    • Are you kidding me?? DotS had never any legit chance to turn into another heirs internationally to be frankly honest but it has overachieved and will become an International hit also just not on heirs magnitude but definitely bigger then what we have seen in recent history

    • Meh, Heirs got lucky Secret ended when it did or it would have stayed #2 in the timeslot. It was forgettable. And MLFTS >>>>>>> Heirs

      • Well ofcourse people was already into Secret since it started couple of episodes before that but overall average Ratings Heirs —-> Secret which means they gathered large viewers later on while they had 20episode vs 16episode for secret which is more impressive.

        LOOOOOOL MLFTS is mediaplayed to death in k-media by agencies it only topped Heirs in china by small margin and everywhere else in the world Heirs topped MLFTS BY Large margin. 3yrs going strong as a new drama talk about staying power

      • @Asol since you mentioned it I have actully lost all respect for KeyEast with there mediaplay and they really go overboard with there mediaplay dragging people to the point of privacy disrespect and to the lowest imho and I just don’t know how the korean netizens do not react negative to it and they have been doing this for years. they practise a sad mediaplay and over the line imho. Enough is enough

    • It’s still too early to predict if DotS will be doing better than crappy Heirs and over-hyped MLFATS in terms of popularity. Heirs is not even worth a mention given bad acting anď chemistry of the main leads. MALFTS was mainly propped up by the female lead (forgot her name spelling). As a fan of Kim Soo Hyun, I’ve got to say KSH’s performance in MLFAS was the most tepid and dullest among all his dramas. Many drama viewers love fantasy like MLFAS. Nevertheless, some audience prefer more realistic storyline. I personally think DotS started off with a more interesting narration than MLFAS. The action scenes in thè war zones were shot and presented in a convincing way.

      • OMG I tried to watch MFLAS the other day and KSH’s acting was more flat and dull than I remembered and I say this as a fan of the guy. unless he had to be very emotional, there was no nuance at all.

        I understand why it was such a big hit though, it was an epic fantasy-romance. K drama watchers do love fantasy like you said but they also really love EPIC storylines of any genre. DoTs production values also put it on another level.

        Anyway congrats to everyone involved! What makes me mist happy about the success of this show so far is that it will greatly encourage network execs to try to produce more pre produced dramas. I hope they understand they have to hire more skilled writers (or allow them to write outside the box) and *ahem* sensible PD’s.

    • In terms of couple pairing LMH + PSH = Leonardo dicarprio + Kate Winslet. There will always be a golden couple onscreen which the audience love and there is no reason for it.

  7. Ah congrats to DOTS team! But sad for Come back Mister because I love that show also! Why did they have to compete with each other?!!! Both dramas would be a hit if one air during different time.

  8. I really dislike Heirs but enjoyed Secret Garden.
    DoTS does not have a particularly new or refreshing premise like SG but so what?

    At least for me, not every drama has to have intelligent or witty dialogue or male and female leads that are realistic to be engaging.
    Just switch off the left side of my brain to watch DoTS unless the story goes completely wonky that even my right brain is crying foul (that’s you Dr. Stranger).

  9. Hopefully DotS success in rating and Chinese market will convince Korean drama industry to pre-produce their drama more. With CitT controversy recently some people start to put the blame on pre producing system. When actually CitT is not really pre-produced.

  10. I don’t care about ratings. Regardless of the ratings, DOTS has offered the best first three episodes of any dramas that I have watched so far. Hope that it will keep being this good.

    • This.

      We’ve seen the formulae in other dramas, what’s exciting about this particular drama is the smart lines (great editing too) and apparently sizzling chemistry from the ensemble, not just the lead actors. This drama also has the most breathtaking cinematography shots I’ve ever seen in a drama. Or maybe that’s just the filters they used :p

      Oh the foreign extras were a bit meh though, other than the main villain, his lines were quite good.

  11. I don’t care about ratings. Regardless of the ratings, DOTS has offered the best first three episodes of all dramas that I have watched so far. Hope that it will keeping being this good.

  12. I have never been this attached to a drama since City Hall. I love the directing, the writing, the dialogue, the acting, esp from SHK and SJK. Daebak!

  13. Heirs was a high school drama… which don’t usually do well in Korea.
    I’d still say it’s KES’s power and the star power as always.

  14. Miss Koala. I have refreshed your page for more than 100 times since the morning to read your recaps. Can’t wait

  15. Like I said in a prior thread, I would not be surprised if DoTS averages 20% or more. 🙂 I’m not surprised but I actually didn’t think it would hit 20% so quickly. KES, star power of the actors, big budget, nice cinematography etc is a good formula for success. We’ll see how it holds out.

    Ultimately, I hope it’s really enjoyable and a good drama through to the end. I really like KES’s City Hall and AGD. SJK is the reason why I am watching, although he really isn’t a must see for me. So I am just casually watching it. It’s really different from the competition so I can see why it is killing it. But I am also casually watching the other two as well.

    • Hahaha. I agree! Song Hye Gyo’s character is a tiny bit petty. And Song Joong Ki’s character is so playful. BUT I LIKEEEE. HAHAHA.

  16. It is such an excellent drama from all aspects. I especially love Song Hye Gyo’s character here as well as her acting.

  17. this is a good drama and all leads are doing great on their job.

    music… i love Always by Yoon Mirae but the rest meh and even then it does not have the same effect when used as background in the drama

    • I think this is quite typical of KES drama. They sometimes put music at inopportune times. 😛 But the song sounds good though! And not overplayed enough to be distracting. 😛

  18. I am loving the drama its refreshing, love the story, scenery and love all four leads haven’t liked anything in awhile this is a keeper Congratulations to the writer.

  19. In the third episode, they finally calmed down the music and some of the camera work. Greece looks fantastic. I don’t think DOTS is all that original but it’s fun and romantic so far. Maybe CITT didn’t ruin the reputation of pre-production after all.

    I hope people give Come Back, Mister a chance because now that the story is set up, it is great. Multiple laugh out loud moments mixed with more serious moments. Regardless of ratings, they’ll be able to sale it to China for serious money because they love Rain. The whole ensemble is doing a great job thus far.

  20. This drama is aptly named. Indeed they came down from the heavens. I already see viewers worshiping the leads and KBS exalting KES as their savior.

    Is this the best drama? Not by a long shot. Is it good? Not to me. But thankfully, I am not the majority. The masses obviously love every single bit of it. They want more and will get more. I see kdramas going back to what they do best. Simple story that anyone can follow, blast the music early to numb any overworking brain cell, load on the pretty and pile on the best and tested tropes. If you got the benefit of a huge budget, spare none on production. Spend it on exotic locations, best cinematography team and get the hype up.

    People like me can only hope to get one or two dramas a year like Signal. Not the most original but solid story, great direction and good acting.

    • Indeed,we would want more signals or reply 1988.If anything the quality dramas have made it harder to watch anything too easy on eyes.For instance,the love factor in DOTS,it seems too fast,too staged.The way SJK’s character glanced back at SHK’s doctor on the first episode,as if there was a play of destiny,mutual attraction between them,I found it kind of forced?They kind of threw in the romance from the get go,and it did not look anything extraordinary to me.As for the backdrop,yes there is war,yes there is the random mention of Afghanistan lol,[when the war is not there anymore],and SJK is a war commander or something,but take away the war,the imaginary country,and it is similar to any romantic dramas.And I’m sure like most of the dramas,DOTS would also clichedly explore more romance,and more romance,and we audience would dive in with them.However,I would prefer ‘signal’ or IRY or any good story more rather than watching another romantic story with just two new faces with extraordinary good looks.Ratings does not vouch for quality works really.Anyway this is just what I think though.

      • I have nothing against pretty except when it’s all just about pretty and usually at the expense of other things. SJK is looking handsome,cute and many would say hot in this drama but I see no improvement from his previous shows. The cheeky, flirty and devil-may-care Shi Jin is an exact replica of Gu Yong Ha. Serious Shi Jin is just like Kang Maru. Even Jin Goo who looks a lot more masculine and the part of a soldier was better in Ad Genius. That drama wasn’t good but he was.

        When I watch dramas like Signal or Reply 1988, I don’t go thinking Cho Jin Woong is so manly or Park Bo Gum is so cute! I am blown by their acting. That they are indeed hot or cute is just bonus.

        I have no problem with fast romance. It’s drama and they can stage it all they want. Just be a little more subtle? We can deduce that Shi Jin fell in love with Mo Yeon at first sight as long as they follow up with his actions. There’s absolutely zero need to hammer it into our heads with that comical slow mo and ‘meaningful’ stare. But I guess KES does understand her viewers.

      • Interesting comment. As you know this is a big budget production. They have spent it on production. Thats why everything looks so polished. If you mean it has to be spent on getting a better screenplay, then you got the cause effect wrong. The big budget is because of the writer and her screenplay, not vice versa.
        It was going to be cheesy. Don’t know if you were expecting Saving Private Ryan here. I am no fan of her shows, but just stating the reality. Already I am happy seeing a non-chaebol in a lead role. Yes he is in a position of authority vis a vis the doctor, but he is also just one link in the chain of command. So far I haven’t seen his or her interfering family at all! The leads talk like adults, no sulking and hiding feelings, all that is left to the second pair.
        SJK is really selling it in this role. I would not fault the actors for the writers heavy handed style. Already he is the most likeable of all her lead characters, that in itself is an achievement of acting. Its also quite different from GYH and Kang Maru. Even Kang Maru had 3 different phases so I don’t know which one you are referring to.

  21. Happy to be in the majority to give the drama high grade for the story, the acting, the directing and the cinematography.

  22. It is rare to see a film receiving praise from both critics and audience. The majority of people are not shallow. The drama is very well done.

  23. I’m usually a lurker but I just have to say that I’m watching this to see how the secondary leads’story will play out. Though, Joonki makes my heart flutter with his manly gaze and cool gun handling.

    This is medicine to my broken heart due to Reply 1988 and Cheese in the Trap.

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