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(LEAD) 'Descendants of the Sun' racks up 200 mln views in China

All Headlines 16:29 March 08, 2016

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead to reflect corrections; CLARIFIES info in 2nd-3rd paras)

SEOUL, March 8 (Yonhap) -- South Korean drama "Descendants of the Sun" has collected more than 200 million views on iQiyi, the Chinese streaming website said Tuesday.

The first four episodes have garnered a combined 280 million views as of Tuesday, the website, which holds the distributing rights in China, said.

Earlier, Chinese media reported that the first two episodes alone had 400 million views combined. Production company NEW, however, says that the figure includes views of preview and highlight videos.

The series starring South Korean actor Song Joong-ki and actress Song Hye-kyo has generated much buzz in South Korea with the viewership of each episode hovering well above 20 percent, and the same appears to be true in the neighboring country.

"Descendants of the Sun" is a love story between an Army captain (Song Joong-ki) and a doctor (Song Hye-kyo) who find themselves in a fictional war-torn country called Uruk, where both try to save lives.

"The show has become the talk of the town with the two Songs being discussed on radio shows everywhere. Some shows even had live phone conversations with viewers to discuss its popularity," a Chinese entertainment official said.

"Descendants of the Sun" is the first Korean show to premiere at once in South Korea and China. Its distribution rights have been rumored to go for more than US$250,000 per episode, thanks to the name values bestowed by star writer Kim Eun-sook and the two Songs.

"It's still too early to say, but 'Descendants of the Sun' seems to be the first Korean show to be so popular in China after 'My Love from the Star,'" an official at the Beijing office of the Korea Creative Content Agency said. "My Love from the Star" is an SBS sci-fi rom-com series starring actor Kim Soo-hyun and actress Jun Ji-hyun that is estimated to have been viewed 3.7 billion times on Chinese video websites since 2014.

New episodes of "Descendants of the Sun" air on Wednesday and Thursday nights at 10 p.m. on KBS.

sojungpark@yna.co.kr
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