(ATTN: UPDATES with Weibo views, updated number of views on iQiyi in paras 11-12)
SEOUL, March 10 (Yonhap) -- The new television series "Descendants of the Sun" has soared past 30 percent in viewership in Seoul, which is faster than the 2014 hit drama "My Love from the Star" managed to do, data by Nielsen Korea showed Thursday.
The fifth episode of the KBS 2TV drama recorded 31.2 percent viewership here Wednesday, the first time it has reached that milestone since premiering on Feb. 24.
Across South Korea, it was viewed by 27.4 percent of TV homes, up 3 percentage points from the previous episode last week.
That is faster than "My Love from the Star," an SBS sci-fi rom-com drama that only broke 27 percent viewership nationwide on its 17th episode.
At this rate, the KBS series could surpass "Moon Embracing the Sun" in the speed at which it reaches 40 percent. The MBC fantasy period drama achieved that milestone on its 16th episode.
"Descendants of the Sun" tells a love story between an Army captain and a doctor who travel to a war-torn country called Uruk to save lives.
It's the first Korean show to be aired in South Korea and China simultaneously, and has been noted for being completely pre-produced. Traditionally, Korean shows are produced on an episode-by-episode basis to leave some wiggle room for adjustments.
On the fifth episode, doctor Kang Mo-yeon (Song Hye-kyo) complains to captain Yoo Si-jin for failing to notify her of his impending return to South Korea.
"The fact that you're upset seems to bode well," Yoo says in response. Referring to their first kiss the previous night, he asks, "Should I apologize or confess my feelings?"
In the upcoming sixth episode, an earthquake strikes Uruk, throwing troops and medical staff into panic. With Kang's whereabouts uncertain, Yoo learns the news from South Korea.
The series has garnered much support from Chinese fans too, with the first five episodes being viewed 369 million times on iQiyi, its official Chinese video platform.
The accumulated number of searches for the show topped 2.5 billion on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, on Thursday morning.
One college student there was reportedly diagnosed with glaucoma from watching too many Korean dramas in one sitting. The woman in Nanjing, according to the Chinese news outlet Yangtse Wanbao, had watched all 16 episodes of the tvN high school drama "Cheese in the Trap" and two of "Descendants of the Sun" before that diagnosis.
New episodes come out Wednesday and Thursday nights at 10 p.m.
In China, the series is distributed on the video streaming website iQiyi.
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