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(Yonhap Interview) Season 2 of 'Descendants of the Sun' unlikely: producer

All Headlines 12:21 April 04, 2016

SEOUL, April 4 (Yonhap) -- There probably won't be a season 2 for the popular South Korean drama "Descendants of the Sun," despite calls by fans to keep the fairytale romance between an Army captain and his doctor girlfriend going, its producer said Monday.

"Season 2 would be nice, but I don't know about its possibility," Lee Eung-bok, one of the two masterminds behind the KBS 2TV epic starring actor Song Joong-ki and actress Song Hye-kyo, told Yonhap News Agency in an interview. "We'd have to keep all the main cast, whose schedules won't be easy to coordinate. We'd also need the two writers again, and that might be hard."

The Wednesday-Thursday night show launched in South Korea and China on the same date of Feb. 24, becoming the first South Korean show to premiere in both countries at once.

It's also the first multi-million dollar drama to gain critical success and the first to break the long-held tradition here of delaying production until the last minute in as many years. "Descendants of the Sun" producers took about six months to film the entire sequence and complete its post-production before submitting them to Chinese censors for review.

Contrary to what industry watchers say, however, Lee maintains his success came because of the show's pre-produced nature, not despite it.

"'Descendants of the Sun' would not have made it to TV if the entirety weren't produced prior to premiering," he said. "The shooting in Greece alone took a month. We needed three takes to create the earthquake scenes, had to construct a large-scale set on Mount Taebaek and constantly sought permission from the South Korean military to use their equipment and locations."

Pre-production isn't for everyone, but for this military romance saga, "there was no choice," he said.

Like his production partner Bae Kyung-soo, Lee didn't foresee the sensation his team would cause across Asia. iQiyi, the video website that uploads the show every Wednesday and Thursday in China, attracted 50 percent more paid memberships, with the show having garnered billions of views in total.

In retrospect, Lee says it must have been the combination of pop writer Kim Eun-sook and the duo of Song Joong-ki and Song Hye-kyo that catapulted the show to a South Korean viewership greater than 30 percent, which is rare for weeknight dramas in South Korea.

"The writer wrote well and the actors acted well," he said. "It was critical that writer Kim Eun-sook, actor Song Joong-ki and actress Song Hye-kyo joined us. The series of events seemed coincidental then, but looking back, it was serendipitous. None of them were our first choice."

Lee says he hopes "Descendants of the Sun" instills hope in TV producers who have long wanted to try something different but were shunted by conservative management.

"It feels awesome to reaffirm the simple fact that viewers watch what's fun, regardless of the material or genre," he said. "I hope this experience encourages other drama producers to experiment."

sojungpark@yna.co.kr
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