Mr. Sunshine: Korean Drama First Impressions and Review

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Table of Contents

Mr. Sunshine Cast

Mr. Sunshine Korean Drama

Eugene Choi – Lee Byung-Hun
Go Ae-Shin – Kim Tae-Ri
Goo Dong-Mae – Yoo Yeon-Seok
Hee-Na – Kim Min-Jung
Kim Hee-Sung – Byun Yo-Han
Jang Seung-Goo – Choi Moo-Sung
Lee Wan-Ik – Kim Eui-Sung
Il-Sik – Kim Byung-Chul
Choon-Sik – Bae Jeong-Nam
Haman-Daek – Lee Jung-Eun
Im Gwan-Soo – Jo Woo-Jin
Hwang Eun-San – Kim Kap-Soo
Major Kyle Moore – David McInnis
Go Sa-Hong – Lee Ho-Jae
Se-Hoon – Choi Jin-Ho
Go – Lee Si-Hoon
King Gojong – Lee Seung-Joon
Child Eugene Choi  – Kim Kang-Hoon
Eugene’s mother -Lee Shi-A

Mr. Sunshine Plot

Lee Byoung-Hun, a boy from a slave family witnessed the terrible death of his parents. He barely escaped the wrath of the family he serves. He luckily boards a ship to the United States with the help of an American after a terrifying pursuit by slave hunters and grew up as a member of the US military.

Lee Byoung-Hun returns to Joseon as a captain of the U.S. military with hatred and a goal of revenge against the nobles who are responsible for his parent’s death. He meets Go Ae-Shin, a noble lady. She is patriotic and breaks the stereotype that women should not meddle in national affairs. Behind her weak appearance, she is a trained fighter who wants to follow her parent’s footsteps who died during a revolution.

My Thoughts On Mr. Sunshine

This review contains major spoilers so carry on if you are fine reading reviews with spoilers.

When I saw the title of this story, I thought that this was a comedy-drama. The poster did not help either because nothing caught my attention to tell me that this is a historical drama.

The first episode blew my mind. It turned out to be a historical drama. Historical Korean dramas are my second favorite next to action. To top it off, this drama has actions too.

It has been a while since I’ve seen a Korean historical drama and I’m really thankful that they released it at this time of the year. This drama’s first two episodes are perfect. High-quality dramas can be seen in the first glimpse and this surely has a high budget. The cast is composed of high-caliber actors and even those who appeared for a short time are still outstanding actors.

The young Eugene in Mr. Sunshine Korean drama

The first episode of the drama about Eugene Choi’s childhood is really moving. Because he was born as a slave, he suffered a lot as other slaves do. The actress who played as his mother was incredible. Her pain as a mother can be felt in her acting. Although she died in the first episode, her contribution to the drama is really big in setting the story. She is a mother who is willing to kill and to die for her child. It implies that she died but the body was not shown so I am hoping that she is still alive.

Mr. Sunshine Korean Drama Eugene's mother

The scene when the young Eugene Choi arrived in the United States is like watching old American movies. I haven’t been to the US myself but the structures are impressive. If I’m not mistaken, the train they showed was steam powered.

I have to admit that while I have seen Kim Tae-Ri in a movie before, she did not really make an impression for me to remember her face. Not to hurt her fans’ feelings but I just started watching Korean dramas two years ago and it is hard for me to remember the actors’ names. This is the drama that makes me follow her future projects. Lee Byung-Hun, on the other hand, has proven his acting capability in numerous movies and dramas and I am really looking forward to a lot of action scenes here.

I think Kim Tae-Ri is perfect for her role even though she was not the original actress that was supposed to be the lead. She looks so fragile in this drama that fits a noble. The hanbok fits her well and makes her look like a noble. Her appearance helps in keeping her secret that she was trained as a hidden fighter for the country that is getting weaker and weaker with foreign forces invading. 

The cinematography of the drama is so good that it felt like watching a blockbuster movie during the first two episodes. The war scenes are not gruesome yet so realistic. They focused more on the anger of the young Jang Seung-Goo who participated in the war towards those who betrayed Joseon. They also used both American and Korean voiceovers during the war that made it feel more dramatic. The aftermath of the war with the sun setting down and wailing of the relatives of the deceased is also a really moving scene. If I am watching this on the big screen, I will surely not regret paying for a movie ticket.

This drama is not one-sided. They do not only portray foreigners as the bad guys. I am not sure how historically accurate it is but they also showed here that some Koreans are just after the money and sold Joseon to the Japanese. Unfortunately, this drama received criticisms from South Koreans as being pro-Japanese. I don’t think that is the case. 

Speaking of the Japanese,  Yoo Yeon-Seok’s character as a sad and angry warrior who grew up in Japan is impressive. I do not know yet if he will be Eugene’s enemy or ally but the way he wields the sword shows that he is a merciless killer.

I have to admit that this is the first Korean drama that I have seen with a lot of foreign actors in it. Some of the foreign actors are a little awkward to watch but it is far better than most foreign actors that I have seen in other dramas. The American in the first episode who helped the young Eugene Choi has a funny Korean accent but nailed the appearance of an American in that time. Major Kyle Moore also speaks really slow and his appearance becomes less and less as the drama progresses. 

I’m thankful that this drama has funny support roles to balance the drama. Sometimes it gets so sad because of the hardships of the main leads but the mood is lightened by the comedic support roles. The interpreter, Il-Sik (Kim Byung-Chul), and Go Ae-Shin’s aid, Haman-Daek are among my favorite comedians in this drama. 

The pace of the drama from the third episode slowed down as they started building the connection between Eugene Choi and Go Ae-Shin. There are too many characters in this drama. It was a little hard to follow the supporting characters introduced in the first two episodes.  So far, each of them got enough exposure for them to be remarkable.  

As of this writing, twelve episodes had been released. It’s not so surprising but it’s so good to see Hee-Na in action in episode 11. I knew that she would eventually have some action scenes because of the fencing and it finally happened in this episode. It’s nice to see Go Ae-Shin fighting another woman. 

Let me know what you think about this drama in the comments.

In the Korean drama, Mr. Sunshine, Eugene was a slave but became an American US military personnel. He went back to Joseon to avenge his parent's death. He meets Ae-Shin, a noble lady and a secret fighter. This historical drama is so good. The cinematography looks like a blockbuster movie. #koreandrama #koreandramareview #hostoricaldrama #koreanhistoricaldrama #southkorea

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26 Responses

  1. Phil says:

    I am an American. I loved this series! I watched it when it first came out on Netflix last summer. Then I just bingedwatched all 24 episodes again this last weekend. I loved it, but the ending was too much. Greensleeves…not a happy ending. Thank you for the great series. I’ll re-watch it in 3 months.

  2. Phyllis says:

    What a beautiful story! I just watched the entire series over again, and it really helped
    understand things more. It was just amazing: costumes, photography, acting, music –
    like a wonderful novel you don’t want to end and can’t put down. Thank you all of something “special”!!!!

  3. Fernanda Coit says:

    It was awfully romantic and sad at the same time!!!! I cried my eyes out!!!
    They never kissed!!!! That was terrible!!!! I watched for 24 episodes and not 1 kiss!!!!
    OST amazing!!!

  4. Rosa Palacios says:

    I love this series. I watched almost everyday and cry and hope Eugene and Ae sin have their first kiss.. which they didn’t I don’t know why? Also, what happened with the photographs that were buried? Did Ae Sin get to see the photo of the two of them….definitely hope there is a sequel with a happy ending.

  5. Kylie says:

    Love this series. History is a passion for me and yet I did not realize how much suffering went on during this period. The characters are so real and unique, funny ones and dramatic ones. We need more of these genre to tell the public what really goes on in this world

  6. Erika says:

    I hope that this series will have a happy ending for Eugene and Ae Sin. I hate to see either one of them die at the end. They have suffered enough, especially Eugene who did not have a very good life since childhood.

  7. Alena says:

    I really love korean historical drama, but this one is really remarkable, the actors are so good. Mr. Sunshine is so impressive together with her lading lady…

    Congratulations to the cast, to all the people behind the scene., to the director, and of course to the script writer. You are really excellent. Keep up the good work and congratulations… Team Mr. Sunshine!

  8. Diana Kaneko says:

    I thought that this drama was taken from a novel because the story is complex and beautiful. Can’t wait for episode 13!

  9. Strydom says:

    Gosh, another excellent Korean series. ! Thoroughly enjoying Mr Sunshine, thank you. The cast in this show is magic. ! Lee Byung-Hun is .. special. !!! Everything about this drama works. Everything! Thank you. !

  10. Suzanne from Florida says:

    I’m an American, crazy in love with this series! My eyes are puffy from binge-watching late into the night and crying for the characters. By the way, the reason why the American missionary had “a funny Korean accent” is because he’s not a native Korean speaker. The reason why Kyle “speaks very slowly” is because he has an American Southern accent. It’s called a “drawl,” very slow with long, drawn-out words.

  11. Maria says:

    I’m completely in love with this drama. Hope Eugene and Aesin stay together.

  12. Liz says:

    I’m really enjoying this story unfold. My favorite episodes so far is 7 & 8 where characters true intentions are revealed. The cinematography is amazing it showcases some beautiful scenery. Episode 10 (latest) where the river has frozen and they walk on it…simply beautiful…unfortunately it was a sad scene between Eugene and Lady “Gun”. My only criticism would be the subtitles appear and disappear very quickly in some scenes and I think sometimes not all…. Wishing Netflix would just put them all on so I can bing watch :-). Don’t leave Joseon Eugene xxx

    • kahlan says:

      I personally like episodes 1 and 2 because they were fast-paced. I also like the river scene! I don’t know where that scene was shot. It’s so hot in Korea right now because it’s the middle of summer.

    • TN says:

      Agree with u on everything u mentioned, specially, the subtitles issues. What I did was re-watch and put stop on parts subtitles moving too quick so I can understand, I enjoy the movie even more.

  13. Tony Cocozza says:

    Overall, this is a very well-made drama. It’s absorbing and beautifully filmed. I just wish the actors portraying Americans actually *sounded* like native-English speakers! (This is a recurring problem in K-Dramas, btw.) Its a bit ridiculous when even Teddy Roosevelt in Ep 1 doesn’t sound remotely like an American. But the worst performance is that of the Korean-American actor playing Kyle (David Lee McInnis), who manages to sound as though he’s speaking English as a second language (even though he apparently *is* a native English speaker) and can’t act to save himself. I find myself cringing every time he appears 🙁

    But apart from this complaint, I’m really looking forward to watching this drama develop over 24 episodes.

    • kahlan says:

      I have the same opinion regarding foreign actors here. I’m not surprised anymore. Most foreign actors in Korean dramas act horrible anyway. I think they speak really slow for the Korean fans. Most likely they were told to do so.

  14. paty says:

    I feel the same as Yuen Mi, and I have a question: Will it become Xrated later, because I wanted my granddaughters [teenagers] to watch it too, but not if there will be xrated scenes, you understand.

    • kahlan says:

      I don’t think the drama will take that turn. It’s rare for Korean dramas to have X-rated scenes. Koreans are very strict with this and normally they are censored. They even blur knives in dramas. Movies is a different story. The female lead starred in The Handmaiden movie which has xrated scenes.

  15. Blake says:

    Good story plot, keeps you wanting more. My one main criticism is that the marine emblems on their collars are backwards.

    • kahlan says:

      Great plot indeed. I did not notice the emblem. I cannot tell anyway if it’s wrong or right because I’m not familiar with it. 😁

      • Jeff says:

        Good afternoon, everyone … actually, the emblems are correct. On a U.S. Marine Corps uniform, the Anchor and the Eagle in the emblem on the left collar are reversed on the right collar, while the Globe remains the same.
        I just finished the series, and I STRONGLY recommend it to everyone. A beautiful production … story, sight, sound, acting, music, everything.

        The attention to historical detail was, for me, amazing. For example, the image of the U.S. soldiers with the Joseon flag in Episode 1, and image of the Righteous Army soldiers in Episode 24, where both accurate reproductions of photos from that time.

      • Jeff says:

        Actually, the emblems on the collar are NOT reversed by the show’a producers. United States Marine Corps collar emblems, reverse the Eagle and the Anchor (depending upon which collar the emblem is on), while the Globe remains the same on both collars.

        This is just one of many examples of the producers’ attention to small historic details. Another example: the eimage of the United States soldiers standing before the Joseon flag (in Episode 1), and the image of the Righteous Army fighters having their photo taken (Episode 24), are nearly exact reproductions of actual photos taken at those times.

        This attention to historic detail was just one of many, MANY things I enjoyed about this show … the story, the acting, the camera work, the settings, the costumes, the music … I loved it all!

  16. Yuen Mi says:

    I am loving this drama right now. Finally, another historical piece centred around the 1900s, like Chicago Typewriter. The pacing is fast and the cinematography is breathtaking. Too bad the episodes are coming out so slowly since it’s on Netflix.

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