“The Master’s Sun” (주군의 태양)

The Master's Sun 1

By Jae-Ha Kim
jaehakim.com
January 14, 2016

2.5 stars

Joo Joong-Won (played by So Ji-Sub)
Tae Gong-Sil (played by Gong Hyo-Jin)
Kang Woo (played by Seo In-Guk)

Note: Korean names denote the surname followed by the given name.

Joong-Won is the president of a huge department store and refers to himself as the master — a fact that doesn’t go unnoticed by his employees.

Tae Gong-Sil can see dead people. They keep her up at night, asking her to help them resolve their unfinished business so that they may rest in peace eternally.

Taeyang, in Korean, means sun. And for much of the series, Tae Gong-Sil longs to be Joong-Won’s girl. (The Master’s Sun. Get it?)

When they meet up, Gong-Sil realizes that when she touches Joong-Won, the ghosts that torment (and entertain) her disappear. Why? We don’t know, but that’s the premise of this 16-episode ghost story, which provides equal parts drama and humor.

Joong-Won isn’t without his own tragedy. As a teenager, he and his girlfriend were kidnapped. He was rescued, but she died.

While this 2013 series clearly wants viewers to root for Joong-Won and Gong-Sil to couple up, the burgeoning romance grew old fast. The audience is expected to believe that Gong-Sil, with all her ghost-related problems and lack of appropriate hygiene, would be the object of affection not only from persnickety and unlikable (but handsome) Joong-Won, but also the sweet, young, model-worthy security guard, Kang Woo.

No. Just, no.

Masters_Sun-0045

It is not easy to make So Ji-Sub appear anything less than swoonworthy. But here, he’s forced to wear a frown that’s almost as unpleasant as the unfortunate Boys Over Flowers hairstyle he’s sporting. (Whyyyyyyyy???)

As with many series, “The Master’s Sun” would’ve benefited from some judicious editing. Too much time is spent on whether or not this couple will get together. We all know they will. That’s a given.

The real meat of the storyline is Gong-Sil’s ability to put restless souls at ease.

When she goes all Nancy Drew and Joong-Won revs up his inner Remington Steele, they are unstoppable.

The stand-out episodes focused on abuse in the military, bullying at school and a hit-and-run death. There was also a rage-inducing and heartbreaking scene where a mother beat her pre-school age child for misplacing his backpack. When caught, she said it was her right to do so, since he was her son.

When I used to watch Korean dramas with my mother way back in the day, the storylines tended to be non controversial. I’ve been surprised that for all the chaste kisses that the leads bestow on each other, the subject matter in the current dramas are very progressive.

Besides the rich man/poor woman (or vice versa) storylines, the showrunners tackle child abuse, cosmetic surgery, adoption and transgender issues.

Kim Myung-Soo (Left) plays the younger version of So Ji Sub's character.

____________Kim Myung-Soo (left) plays the younger version of So Ji Sub’s character.

Lee Jong-Hyuk (“Once Upon a Time in High School“) guest stars as Joong-Won’s business nemesis, Lee Jae-Seok. Gong-Sil is being haunted by Jae-seok’s father, who died suddenly. His wish is that she hide something from his son. Jae-seok is positive that his father had a secret mistress. And by the look of all the high-end dresses and accessories in his father’s closet, it certainly appears that his suspicions are correct.

But Gong-Sil discovers that the elder Lee was a cross dresser who wanted her to destroy the photos that would out him to his family.

Throw in a few juicy subplots — a Mean-ish Girl movie star, a case of mistaken identity — and “The Master’s Sun” is entertaining enough.

But, it’s not in the same league as So’s superior series, “Oh My Venus.”

Spoiler alert:

It turns out that Joong-Won was kidnapped by his girlfriend and her twin sister, who no one ever knew about. One twin had been adopted by a rich English family. The other had grown up in an orphanage in Korea. When one of them dies, the other twin takes her place.

Co-star bonus: 

Seo In Guk, who portrays Kang Woo — the head of security — made a big splash starring in K.Will’s 2012 music video of “Please Don’t.” In less than four-minutes, the director presents a love triangle in a beautiful and tragic way. I’m not saying that “The Master’s Sun” should’ve been a 4-minute video. But, there’s something to be said for brevity once all the bases have already been covered.

If you haven’t already seen this video, I highly recommend it. The ending surprised me.

© 2016 JAE-HA KIM | All Rights Reserved

Comments (7)

  1. Carol says:

    Really great review, Jae! ANd thanks for the music video link too. I had never heard of KWill before but look foward to seeking more out!

  2. Mary says:

    I loved this series! I was scarede of all the ghosts at first but got used to them and even began caring about them, like the dad at the mall by the garbage can. I probalby liked him ’cause So Ji Sub befriended him. Hehe! 🙂

  3. Alessandra says:

    LOL at the Boys over Flowers hair comment. Yes he’s had better hair days but So Ji Sub is still lucious and I’ll take him any way I can get him! 😛

  4. Alicia says:

    THAT”s where I saw Seo In Guk before! I couldn’t palce it! I love that KWill video!!And I didn’t guess that ending eitehr.

  5. Amy says:

    love love love all your kdrama reviews! I have bookmarked it ’cause i want to read more and see what else you recommend. for what it’s worth, i’ll watch so ji sub even if he’s reading the telephone book, so i’m defi goign to give this one a watch. ha!

  6. Jyun Kim says:

    This wasn’t the best KDrama. Like you said, it went on for too long. I enjoyed it, but I used it more like background material as I did other stuff. THanks for the review! I’m looking forward to reading more.

  7. Kathy Hewett Tsudama says:

    I love when the “sub” plots are progressive in these dramas. Oh My Venus had domestic abuse, fat shaming, health (Thyroidism) and eating issues etc.

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