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Director says Song not first choice in 'Descendants of the Sun'

All Headlines 19:25 March 31, 2016

BEIJING, March 31 (Yonhap) -- Song Joong-ki, the lead male character of the hit South Korean TV soap opera "Descendants of the Sun," was not the first choice for the role, a director of the TV show told China's state-run media on Thursday.

In an interview with China's Xinhua News Agency in Seoul, director Lee Eung-bok said a "muscular and tough-guy" actor had been originally wanted, but Song was eventually cast in the role because producers decided to change the character of the role.

"When we had chosen the lead male role at an initial stage, Song Joong-ki was not an ideal choice," Lee was quoted as saying in the interview.

"As we tried to change the original image, however, he became more appealing," he said. "He had just been discharged from his compulsory military service, he was handsome and he loved the script," Lee was quoted as saying by the news agency.

Song plays an Army captain Yoo Si-jin who falls in love with a female doctor in the fictional war-torn country named Uruk.

The show has been aired in both South Korea and China since late last month.

In South Korea, the KBS network TV series has reported a nationwide viewership of more than 30 percent.

IQiyi.com Inc., the video-streaming website of Baidu, China's top search engine, has exclusively streamed the TV drama in China and there have been more than 1.2 billion views of the TV show, according to Chinese media reports.

Lee said he did not expect the TV drama to be a huge success in both South Korea and China.

"Descendants of the Sun" is the first TV series jointly produced by South Korean and Chinese firms since Chinese media regulators imposed the condition that foreign TV programs must get prior approval before being aired in mainland China.

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