3 reasons why Descendants Of The Sun is the biggest K-drama phenomenon now

Television still: Descendants Of The Sun starring Song Joong Ki (left) and Song Hye Kyo.
Television still: Descendants Of The Sun starring Song Joong Ki (left) and Song Hye Kyo.PHOTO: SINGTEL TV
Descendants Of The Sun, starring Song Joong Ki (left) and Song Hye Kyo.
Descendants Of The Sun, starring Song Joong Ki (left) and Song Hye Kyo.PHOTO: SINGTEL TV

Descendants Of The Sun, the hottest K-drama of the moment, is putting My Love From The Star in the shade.

In Seoul, the KBS show Descendants has entered the 30 per cent range in the ratings in just six episodes - or three weeks - sooner than the SBS drama My Love did, says Yonhap News Agency.

On the Chinese video website iQiyi, Descendants has been streamed 673 million times as of today. It's surely early days before it eventually surpasses the 2.5 billion views My Love had in three months.

So why is Descendants such a hit? Let's count the reasons.

1. Descendants has ended a K-drama drought on the Chinese Internet

After the feverish success of My Love in China in late 2013 and early 2014, Chinese entertainment regulators put stricter limits on foreign dramas on video websites, effectively cooling down Chinese viewers' love affair with K-dramas.

K-dramas are usually scripted and shot days before they are shown, to allow tweaks every week.

Breaking with tradition, Descendants was fully pre-produced to pass the new Chinese guidelines and be cleared for simulcasts in China and South Korea. It is the first K-drama to air simultaneously in the two countries, which certainly helps when you want a show to go viral.

2. Descendants has excellent credentials

There is not only leading lady Song Hye Kyo, an early star of the Korean Wave, but also star writer Kim Eun Sook (The Inheritors, 2013; Secret Garden, 2010; Lovers In Paris, 2004). 

Kim had a long relationship with SBS, which aired all her previous dramas but dropped Descendants. According to a report on the Korean Web portal Nate, SBS had doubts about a show about soldiers, as having characters in uniforms and military situations means that there is less money to be made from fashion sponsorship and product placement. 

Now Kim has partnered up with KBS, and SBS must be kicking itself.

3. Song Joong Ki

Every few years, the right K-drama star in the right role comes along whom millions can go gaga over collectively. In 2009, it was Lee Min Ho in Boys Over Flowers. In 2013, it was Kim Soo Hyun in My Love From The Star.

This year, right now, belongs to Song, who is giving a star-making performance in Descendants as a soldier conducting an up-and-down courtship of a surgeon - a performance that is possibly up there with the one that aeons ago made a star of some kid in Top Gun called Tom Cruise.