Mr. Sunshine: Korean Drama First Impressions and Review

Mr. Sunshine Korean Drama

Mr. Sunshine Cast

Eugene Choi – Lee Byung-Hun
Go Ae-Shin – Kim Tae-Ri
Goo Dong-Mae – Yoo Yeon-Seok
Hee-Na – Kim Min-Jung
Kim Hee-Sung – Byun Yo-Han
Jang Seung-Goo – Choi Moo-Sung
Lee Wan-Ik – Kim Eui-Sung
Il-Sik – Kim Byung-Chul
Choon-Sik – Bae Jeong-Nam
Haman-Daek – Lee Jung-Eun
Im Gwan-Soo – Jo Woo-Jin
Hwang Eun-San – Kim Kap-Soo
Major Kyle Moore – David McInnis
Go Sa-Hong – Lee Ho-Jae
Se-Hoon – Choi Jin-Ho
Go – Lee Si-Hoon
King Gojong – Lee Seung-Joon
Child Eugene Choi  – Kim Kang-Hoon
Eugene’s mother -Lee Shi-A

Mr. Sunshine Plot

Lee Byoung-Hun, a boy from a slave family witnessed the terrible death of his parents. He barely escaped the wrath of the family he serves. He luckily boards a ship to the United States with the help of an American after a terrifying pursuit by slave hunters and grew up as a member of the US military.

Lee Byoung-Hun returns to Joseon as a captain of the U.S. military with hatred and a goal of revenge against the nobles who are responsible for his parent’s death. He meets Go Ae-Shin, a noble lady. She is patriotic and breaks the stereotype that women should not meddle in national affairs. Behind her weak appearance, she is a trained fighter who wants to follow her parent’s footsteps who died during a revolution.

My Thoughts On Mr. Sunshine

This review contains major spoilers so carry on if you are fine reading reviews with spoilers.

When I saw the title of this story, I thought that this was a comedy-drama. The poster did not help either because nothing caught my attention to tell me that this is a historical drama.

The first episode blew my mind. It turned out to be a historical drama. Historical Korean dramas are my second favorite next to action. To top it off, this drama has actions too.

It has been a while since I’ve seen a Korean historical drama and I’m really thankful that they released it at this time of the year. This drama’s first two episodes are perfect. High-quality dramas can be seen in the first glimpse and this surely has a high budget. The cast is composed of high-caliber actors and even those who appeared for a short time are still outstanding actors.

The young Eugene in Mr. Sunshine Korean drama

The first episode of the drama about Eugene Choi’s childhood is really moving. Because he was born as a slave, he suffered a lot as other slaves do. The actress who played as his mother was incredible. Her pain as a mother can be felt in her acting. Although she died in the first episode, her contribution to the drama is really big in setting the story. She is a mother who is willing to kill and to die for her child. It implies that she died but the body was not shown so I am hoping that she is still alive.

Mr. Sunshine Korean Drama Eugene's mother

The scene when the young Eugene Choi arrived in the United States is like watching old American movies. I haven’t been to the US myself but the structures are impressive. If I’m not mistaken, the train they showed was steam powered.

I have to admit that while I have seen Kim Tae-Ri in a movie before, she did not really make an impression for me to remember her face. Not to hurt her fans’ feelings but I just started watching Korean dramas two years ago and it is hard for me to remember the actors’ names. This is the drama that makes me follow her future projects. Lee Byung-Hun, on the other hand, has proven his acting capability in numerous movies and dramas and I am really looking forward to a lot of action scenes here.

I think Kim Tae-Ri is perfect for her role even though she was not the original actress that was supposed to be the lead. She looks so fragile in this drama that fits a noble. The hanbok fits her well and makes her look like a noble. Her appearance helps in keeping her secret that she was trained as a hidden fighter for the country that is getting weaker and weaker with foreign forces invading. 

The cinematography of the drama is so good that it felt like watching a blockbuster movie during the first two episodes. The war scenes are not gruesome yet so realistic. They focused more on the anger of the young Jang Seung-Goo who participated in the war towards those who betrayed Joseon. They also used both American and Korean voiceovers during the war that made it feel more dramatic. The aftermath of the war with the sun setting down and wailing of the relatives of the deceased is also a really moving scene. If I am watching this on the big screen, I will surely not regret paying for a movie ticket.

This drama is not one-sided. They do not only portray foreigners as the bad guys. I am not sure how historically accurate it is but they also showed here that some Koreans are just after the money and sold Joseon to the Japanese. Unfortunately, this drama received criticisms from South Koreans as being pro-Japanese. I don’t think that is the case. 

Speaking of the Japanese,  Yoo Yeon-Seok’s character as a sad and angry warrior who grew up in Japan is impressive. I do not know yet if he will be Eugene’s enemy or ally but the way he wields the sword shows that he is a merciless killer.

I have to admit that this is the first Korean drama that I have seen with a lot of foreign actors in it. Some of the foreign actors are a little awkward to watch but it is far better than most foreign actors that I have seen in other dramas. The American in the first episode who helped the young Eugene Choi has a funny Korean accent but nailed the appearance of an American in that time. Major Kyle Moore also speaks really slow and his appearance becomes less and less as the drama progresses. 

I’m thankful that this drama has funny support roles to balance the drama. Sometimes it gets so sad because of the hardships of the main leads but the mood is lightened by the comedic support roles. The interpreter, Il-Sik (Kim Byung-Chul), and Go Ae-Shin’s aid, Haman-Daek are among my favorite comedians in this drama. 

The pace of the drama from the third episode slowed down as they started building the connection between Eugene Choi and Go Ae-Shin. There are too many characters in this drama. It was a little hard to follow the supporting characters introduced in the first two episodes.  So far, each of them got enough exposure for them to be remarkable.  

As of this writing, twelve episodes had been released. It’s not so surprising but it’s so good to see Hee-Na in action in episode 11. I knew that she would eventually have some action scenes because of the fencing and it finally happened in this episode. It’s nice to see Go Ae-Shin fighting another woman. 

Let me know what you think about this drama in the comments.

In the Korean drama, Mr. Sunshine, Eugene was a slave but became an American US military personnel. He went back to Joseon to avenge his parent's death. He meets Ae-Shin, a noble lady and a secret fighter. This historical drama is so good. The cinematography looks like a blockbuster movie. #koreandrama #koreandramareview #hostoricaldrama #koreanhistoricaldrama #southkorea