Exploring Korean Drama: Master’s Sun

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Even better, the Hong Sisters tackle tropes they have employed themselves in the past, most notably noble idiocy/the study abroad.  When it seems like Gong Shil’s time with Joong Won is over, she doesn’t fight it.  She considers leaving him to go abroad.  Once again, everyone thinks she’s doing so out of a Candy Girl ploy.  They think Gong Shil is trying to play a martyr, to sacrifice her feelings because she’s “not good enough” for Joong Won.

master's sun shieldInstead, Gong Shil wants to leave to discover herself.  She’s unhappy with her life.  She wants to try to figure out why she can see ghosts, and possibly find a way to stop seeing them.  Living with Joong Won as her protective shield, needing to hold his hand to sleep or drink a beer, isn’t good enough for her.

It’s one of the best uses of annoying tropes (particularly noble idiocy) that I’ve ever seen in a kdrama.  In a rare case the heroine gets to develop in ways that don’t have much to do with the leading man.  Another man might catalyst them, but ultimately it’s all about Gong Shil.  For once, I was interested in the journey she wanted to take abroad, and didn’t want a time jump: I wanted to go on it with her, to learn more about the mystery of her abilities along beside her.

Our female lead isn’t the only one receiving additional development.  With each new drama, the Hong Sisters continue to develop their once-hateful one-note second female leads.  Tae Yi Ryung has her share of catty moments, but for once we understand them.  She’s an old schoolmate of Gong Shil’s, and in an interesting twist, she was the unpopular outcast.  Before the supernatural turn to her life, Gong Shil was a smart and athletic popular girl at her school.  Yi Ryung was nicknamed the “Little Sun” to Gong Shil’s “Big Sun” (their shared last name is similar to the Korean word for “sun”).

Master's Sun Yi RyungNow Yi Ryung’s become a famous model/actress/singer, and when she runs into Gong Shil, she can’t help but rub in her success – particularly when she sees Gong Shil’s sun appears to have set.  Yi Ryung still bears the wounds from her high school snubs.  She might sometimes take her actions too far, but at least we can relate to her feelings.

Among the series’ other attributes is the Hong Sisters’ ever-present word play.  This time, they have Shakespearean levels of gleeful fun at the dirty double entendres presented by the show’s premise.  Gong Shil and Joong Won are always discussing how important his body is to her, or negotiating the terms of her access to his body, to the raised eyebrows of their friends and family.

The series’ title is a play on words itself: as the head of retail conglomerate Kingdom, Joong Won is often referred to by his employees as “Master.”  Gong Shil is his sun, and the couple uses this metaphor to describe their feelings for one another later in the series.  It avoids the “you’re a star that’s too bright for me to look at,” awkwardness from You’re Beautiful; Joong Won and Gong Shil are only truly ready for one another when they’re ready to ditch the metaphor for anything but a bit of playful fun.

master's sun hand holdingWhile Master’s Sun might not be the most compelling or addictive of the Hong Sister’s dramas, it’s certainly a return to form.  It’s a bit spooky, a bit silly, and the perfect kdrama to watch for Halloween.

Kdrama tropes to watch out for: Noble idiocy, the study abroad, medical drama.

Trigger Warnings: Gong Shil encounters a number of ghosts with tragic origins, and as such the story at times touches on some triggering topics.  Trigger warnings for suicidal themes, child abuse, child neglect, and amnesia.


You can stream Master’s Sun on Viki or Hulu.

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