K-Drama ‘Mr. Sunshine’ Displays True Korean Romance Based in the Choseon Era

Love is blooming in Mr. Sunshine.

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The 24-episode weekly Korean hit drama created by the writer and director of Descendants of the Sun and Goblin (Guardian: The Lonely and Great God), is seeing romance blossom between its two main characters, Eugene Choi and Go Ae-sin, played by Lee Byung-hun and Kim Tae-ri, respectively. Mr. Sunshine is available internationally only on Netflix, on the same day of its Korean broadcast.

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Based on the period of Shinmiyangyo, or the U.S. expedition to Korea in the late 19th century, Mr. Sunshine tells the story of Eugene, a boy born into a family of slaves who then runs away to board an American warship after witnessing his parents forced to death by the aristocrat that they served. He returns 30 years later as a U.S. marine officer to his home of Choseon, which is now in need of his help. Ae-sin, on the other hand, is the daughter of an aristocrat whose love for Choseon outweighs everything else. Ae-sin increasingly aims her rifle for what she feels is right, especially because she is limited to what she can and cannot do during the day.

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Eugene and Ae-sin first meet each other on the rooftops as they aim their rifles at the same target. Ae-sin is convinced that Eugene is a Korean who is committed to fight for what is good for the country, just like she is. Eugene, on the other hand, keeps his distance from Ae-sin after finding out that she is the daughter of an aristocrat, as aristocrats have been the target of his need for revenge and hate his entire life. But the two grow fond of each other as Ae-sin is fascinated by the Korean-looking American who has the power to immediately do what he feels is right, while Eugene develops feelings for Ae-sin as she is the only aristocrat he has encountered that has treated him like a human being, and someone in a social class that he never imagined he would fall in love with.

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Ae-sin’s curiosity in the foreign language that Eugene speaks triggers her to take English lessons, and and she accidentally tells Eugene that they should “love” each other, not knowing what the word means. Eugene casually accepts, and even after Ae-sin finds out what the word means and is filled with embarrassment, they become closer to each other, leading to Eugene’s confession of him being born into a family of slaves in Choseon before running away to America. While their secret love for each other grows deeper, they are saddened by the fact that Ae-sin’s love for the troubled country of Choseon outweighs everything else.

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Even with that sad fact between them, the two develop a way to secretly communicate and meet with each other and continue their secret love. The story continues within Mr. Sunshine as Choseon continues to face unexpected trouble, Ae-sin continues her efforts to save her country with the efforts of a single rifle at any cost, and Eugene struggles over protecting Ae-sin which can sometimes mean working in the favor of the country that had abandoned him and he had built huge hate towards. Mr. Sunshine continues to build on the sad love story between two very different people born into different environment and classes, but ultimately with a strong affection for each other.

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