In this third special episode we get the behind the scenes look at the production of this series.
Descendants of the Sun Episode 19 “See You Again” (Special Episode 3) Recap
We begin with behind the scenes footage, with facts sprinkled throughout – production took 258 days, record ratings was 33.8%, etc.
Song Joong Ki (Yoo Shi Jin) worked closely with a martial arts director for the fight and action scenes. The martial arts director comments the fight scenes were to be “light and quick”. He noted that Joong Ki was able to bring the character of Shi Jin from fantasy character to a realistic and relate-able character. We see behind the scenes footage of the knife fight in episode 1. Joong Ki comments that it is natural playing a soldier as he’s only been discharged from the army for 3 months. Cute scene when Joong Ki admits his character loves Dae Young (Jin Goo). Agreeing, Jin Goo states they have a bromance.
Jin Goo’s birthday was on the day the filmed the emergency room scenes in episode 1. Joong Ki leads the cast and crew to sing Happy Birthday. He asks Jin Goo what he should say to his superior before receiving the cake. Power of Unity was the correct answer. Joong Ki complements Jin Goo’s timing in scenes and his focus.
Joong Ki found the story of soldier and a romance between a doctor and soldier refreshing and different from other dramas. The director, Lee Eung Bok, comments that Joong Ki is not overly masculine which brought a balance to the role an offered appeal to men and women. Song Hye Kyo felt that Joong Ki was the perfect person to play Shi Jin. Joong Ki says that Shi Jin is a cool character. Joong Ki said that writers focused on Shi Jin’s patriotism. Originally he thought the series would be a romantic comedy. But with the underlying patriotism for Shi Jin, he focused on this through out his portrayal. Joong Ki notes that in the face off scene with the Arab diplomats he was nervous but he realized he had to relax to deliver. He notes he wanted to take Shi Jin beyond the words on the page. The scene were he mourns killing Mr. Bad was challenging. The director noted Joong Ki’s first take was emotional perfection and the one they used. Joong Ki noted that killing Mr. Bad was killing Shi Jin’s role model and difficult but necessary because his love for Mo Yeon was trumped his former respect for Mr. Bad. Joong Ki said he was thrilled to work with Hye Kyo. He felt they were both sincere and had mutual respect.
Now we turn to the character of Mo Yeon. Hye Kyo states that Mo Yeon was unusually forward and opinionated. As this was her first time portraying a doctor, it was challenging. Shi Jin comments that Hye Kyo nailed the emotional part of Mo Yeon. In the scene where she grabs her phone from the base broadcast system, the director tells her to only quickly glance at Shi Jin because she doesn’t know he is in the room and she’s focused on disconnecting her phone. Hye Kyo apologized for acting cutesy at her age. She admitted that getting hyper when Mo Yeon got drunk was natural to her as she does the same when she drinks. Hye Kyo states the scene when she signs the confidentiality agreement after Shi Jin dies was her standout scene emotionally. The director noted that watching Hye Kyo letting her eyes fill with tears was impressive and impactful.
On the to kissing scenes…Joong Ki notes that the director told him to stare intently at Mo Yeon in the scene. He wasn’t 100% on board with that but during the taping of the scene, he realized that it was the right thing to do. Lots of laughter on the set when these two were together. Joong Ki had a tough time putting the rubber band in her hair.
Jin Goo said he was a bit jealous of the lead couple’s story because they were happy and cute. While they could only be happy in the flashbacks. Kim Ji Won (Yoon Myeong Joo) said they had to portray a heartbreaking love. Their airport scene took time in rehearsals to block correctly. It was hot and noisy at the airfield. Jin Goo wanted Ji Won to feel comfortable with the emotional scene. Jin Goo shares that in the scene where Dae Young hugs Myeong Joo after finding out she was infected with the virus it was late (the sun was rising), everyone was tired, but because all 4 leads were in the scene it upped the emotional moment for Dae Young and Myeong Joo. I found that insightful.
Now the doctor, young doctor, and annoying manager are interviewed. The annoying manager loved being called the nation’s trash.
Category 1 – novelty couples.
*Third place – Scenes of snoopy and Mo Yeon. They noted their chemistry was good.
*Second place – Scenes of the commander and Shi Jin.
*First place – scenes of the young doctor’s mother and the hospital chairman. The young doctor offers his congrats to his mother. The doctor states he was surprised that the annoying manager lived.
Category 2 – Role reversal favorite scenes.
*Third place – 3 days/night drinking.
*Second place – the package for Dae Young.
*First place – Mo Yeon’s camp wide confession.
Category 3 – scene stealers.
*Third place – annoying manager demanding medical treatment at the camp medical center.
*Second place – young doctor working with pregnant mother, getting bite by annoying manager, CPR.
*First place – doctor and nurse scenes.
Cameo by Yoo Ah In. Cameo by Lee Kwang Soo (Running Man). Cameo by Lee Jong Hyuk.
September 2015 Script reading taping. Hye Kyo was positive about the writers Kim Eun Sook and Kim Won Suk. Joong Ki also trusted the script.
They built the set in Korea and it looked like it was in Greece. Fun on the set scenes.
The producers wanted the earthquake as big and fearful as possible within budget. The after scenes were filmed in Korea in a vacant building next to the Urk set. 20 bags of gray dust covered everything. Joong Ki states the iconic poster scene was well written and he was excited to portray it. We see the blocking of the scene. We see the shooting of the scene. We see the final scene. The director notes that as a soldier Shi Jin had different duties than Mo Yeon did as a doctor but the earthquake allowed them to work together creating the melodrama aspect.
The actors endured dust, gravel and tight spaces during filming of the after earthquake scenes.
October 2015 they filmed in Greece but unexpected rain and wind forced many schedule changes and challenges for the production team. Most of the child actors are native and this was their first time acting. We see the blocking for the Shi Jin and Mo Yeon saving the young girl scene. Joong Ki said that was a difficult scene it was hard for all the actors to gell. We hear the high winds during scenes of Shi Jin and Mo Yeon. The director compliments Joong Ki and Hye Kyo for emoting under difficult situations. Joong Ki notes the “should I confess or apologzie line” was brilliant. We see the blocking for the Myeong Joo and Dae Young scene and the final scene. We see the director blocking the kissing scene in the truck with Joong Ki and Hye Kyo. Every detail is defined. Cool, they had a drone film the boat scene. Blocking and filming the final scene on the beach.
Blocking and filming the parking lot scene in episode 14. Joong Ki was injured in the scene. Per the dramafever article “While filming an action scene on November 23 for Descendants of the Sun, Song Joong Ki fell and was injured. At the time, despite having his arm in a cast, his recovery was estimated to be “speedy,” according to his agency, Blossom Entertainment. Subsequently, it was reported on November 27 that, upon closer examination at a hospital, doctors determined Song also suffered a damaged ligament to his right knee in addition to the fractures in his arm. The treatment involved physical therapy, and it was estimated that he needed 8 weeks for a full recovery.” Joong Ki took 2 weeks off. The director noted that the final showdown with Mr. Bad was filmed after Joong Ki’s injury so he was not 100%. He compliments Joong Ki’s focus and drive in those scenes. He could hardly walk in those scenes. Joong Ki got a call from Hye Kyo and she told him to relax and recover. Hye Kyo notes that Joong Ki struggled with being injured and unable to perform. She noted in their couple scenes they filmed her scenes first to reduce his set time.
December 2015 final taping. In the restaurant scene. Hugs all around. 258 days of shooting done!
* This was the last of three special episodes. I enjoyed the behind the scenes look at this series. While I’m watching a drama I’m not thinking about the cadre of people that work to create every scene. This episode brought that home. I didn’t realize they recreated Urk in Korea and filmed there first. That makes sense. The bad weather was challenging for the Greece portion of the production. They were expecting mild temps and sunshine but got wind and rain. The best part of the episode was the comments from the lead actors and the director. I would have loved to hear from our writers, but that did not occur. It was obvious that everyone felt this drama offered a unique mix of military and medical, a focus on patriotism and service, a cool leading man, a strong leading woman, and a secondary couple that came into their own. I can only concur!