Looking into “The Master's Sun”: Looking straight into the sun for 4 episodes may hurt your eyes…

Hello. This a Korean in America. In Korean, there seems to be a new trend incorporating new/odd subject matters into their shows in order to bring something new into the, at this point, rather stale K-drama formula. “The Master's Sun” is one of those new Korean dramas staring Gong Hyo Jin (female) and So Ji Sub (male) as the two protagonist leads.
In the case of “The Master's Sun”, it introduces elements of the medium sub-genre into the typical romantic comedy K-drama genre. While the use of supernatural elements in K-dramas has been more common place lately, the medium sub-genre is one of those that have not been popular. This may be because of the genre’s tendency to lean towards horror which is not mainstream considering the Korean public’s appetite that prefers easy viewing and soap operatic stories.  Thus, the attempt to combine horror, comedy, and romance could be called interesting. The problem is that it is not easy to balance the drastically different tones associated with the different genres. The result of this type of attempts tends to result in very odd humor which target more niche audiences. Think about the comedy/horror movies that filled the shelves of the VHS rental shops during the 80s.
In contrast, “The Master's Sun” targets a more mainstream audience. The story following Gong Hyo Jin’s character who becomes a ghost seeing medium after being in a coma. She is in a state of desperation because she is constantly haunted/pestered by the ghosts making her daily life a loving hell. So Ji Sub’s character is the young CEO of the huge Mall who has a haunted past and somehow is able to reduce Gong Hyo Jin’s character’s abilities when there are in psychical contact. With this setup, the show puts the two together and hilarity ensues.

The incompatibility of horror and romantic comedy
This is where the problem with this show originates. Once you put the horror element aside, the show is a traditional romantic comedy K-drama. From the beginning, it is evident that the show has the now traditional square relationship. The female lead,  Gong Hyo Jin, is basically playing the same character she has been playing in previous shows but more hyperbolic and sometimes over the top. So Ji Sub plays a character who is a typical wealthy and hansom bachelor who is self-centered and narrowly focused on money but has a past that make females feel he could be saved.  While he is one of the more down beat characters, he is still over the top compared to many of his other performances.

Do not get me wrong, I actually like this slight tonal shift with a traditional K-drama setup.  However, it does not always work. In addition, this hyperbolic slightly over the top comedic tone comes into drastic contrast with the horror elements.  

The horror elements tend to go for the hard core J-horror vibe with weird imagery and scares. It is seriously creepy. It is not surprising that the two elements do not match well enough together.  This makes the episodes feel disjointed whenever there is a scare in the show. Basically, the show has not find a merge comedy and horror without making the show weirder than the mainstream audience could handle.
Since the show is now only 4 episodes in, you can say that it is still getting its feet wet. Thus, what I am criticizing not may improve in later episodes.  Even going into the fourth episode, the balance seems to have improved as the comedy part is getting better with the character dynamics getting ironed out. The inclusion of more mystery in the place of horror also helps to improve the balance since K-dramas have more experienced with it. But even so, when every there is a scare, it feels like a different show suddenly.

At the end
In conclusion, “The Master's Sun” is a show attempting to do something new and has potential even if it is not there yet. It is worth watching. 

Series Streaming link: Good Drama Net


  1. what channel and time does is this drama on? please and thank you

    1. In the US, it is an streaming sites such as

  2. viki.com has it too. with much better subs then DF

  3. Thanks! a sometimes forget about viki.com. Its selection is sometime weird. In my opinion, subs are not great in general. However, I am impressed with the speed with they come up with it. I tried to do subbing but time consuming. It is so for Friends who do professional jobs in Korea.

  4. I'm kind of weird, so I like the mix of horror and romcom, but I wondered if something like this drama could be popular to the mainstream Korean audience. A drama like My Girlfriend is a Gumiho offers a similar mixture of romcom and supernatural, but without the horror aspect, and it resonated well. Master's Sun appears to have good viewership so I think it's promising of a future that includes interesting series with fusion genres. The "seeing-ghost" theme seems popular in kdramas right now, and I'm not really sure why that idea made a resurgence. I like the experimentation, though.

  5. The supernatural genre is on the rise globally. You have the recognized the power US entertainment products have on the world. Even in Korea, US TV is seen to be superior form of entertainment which it is. I does have more sophisticated story telling, more diverse genres, and much more acting talents since it draws from all western nations. The second place in which K-drama imitates is Japan.

    At its core, Korea is not that of a creative place since it is too homogeneous with too strong social control.

  6. subbing/translating is hugely difficult, and people don't seem to appreciate it. It isn't like a code where you can just replace words and boom you're done.
    DF has a bad habit of summarizing. someone will talk in Korean for 2 minutes and 2 lines will result. They also ruin the jokes. (Calling Baby Powder, "Baking Powder" is funny; so is calling beef, "cow"; my Korean is almost nonexistent but I heard and laughed and then got annoyed when i read the subs)
    I think DF should concentrate on getting older dramas and get them subbed well and realize that they won't be winning on the simulcast front because viki is faster with better subs because they have more people. They should also try to get stuff that viki doesn't have.
    I'm astounded (and grateful) that Master's Sun subs are ready on viki the night of (or by the next morning).

  7. yeah! I think the fansubs are done in through teams! divide the subs into 5 or 10 chunks! I personally don't know how DF is legal since there are using fansubs which I think is illegal. And the sub quality is terrible! But Korean subs for US stuff is terrible too! so equal? although its getting better as I have the friend who does sub professionally

  8. As an amateur, I have become a fan of the way the Hong Sisters mix the elements that should make a drama, and are able to serve that one one plate ! ( My Girlfriend Is A Gumiho and The Master's Sun ) If you analyze it, it consists of the main ingredients. But it is the chef using those who makes the dish. In this case two chefs.
    And it worked. They are real Chefs !

  9. One reason why I got bored by a lot of Hollywood-stuff is the overdose of huge multi-million dollar effects.
    While the story underneath is not always that great. Sylvester Stallone a few years ago: "We need to go back to the base: A good story, and a few people that can act it" . That is why I admire how drama's like Secret Garden, The Moon That Embraces The Sun and Arang and The Magistrate, ( OK, a little bit special-effects for Arang ), are able to create that supernatural atmosphere, without hardly any special effects.

    Specially for a Western person like me, who grew up in a rational Western country, these dramas are a great way for opening the world of a culture that has still visible roots deep down in ancient history.

    I think Korean drama-writers are better with exploring that heritage.

  10. A Korean in AmericaOctober 7, 2013 at 10:55 PM

    It only really seem new to people from other cultures... To us, it is more of the rehash and same old. LOL

    So, don't to too harsh on old Hollywood. K-drama uses an old fashion type of story telling that is alikn to Soap opera story telling. And like those shows, they are easier to digest once you get accustomed to it. But after a while, you see the limitations.

    Mainstream US audiences don't go for this old fashion type of story telling any more. It is not as stimulating and dense as what they are accustomed to now. In contrast, a lot of Korean audiences cannot follow a lot of the US stuff coming out of the market... mostly about 40 crowd who make up the majority of the K-drama market.

  11. The mix of horror, magic, suspense, drama and romance is a specialty of the Hong Sisters I think. And I like it. In Arang And The Magistrate, ( not Hong Sisters), it works too. Example: Ghost Arang's medicine to become visible works only half. As a result we see either her upper part, or the lower half, still scaring the former magistrates to death.
    The shaman's works are pictured very well: She does things, but at the same time it is a joke.

    My Girlfriend Is A Gumiho: I tried to watch it 4 times, and could not go further, some years ago. Too light, too funny.
    I pushed one minute further the 5th time, and finished it with pleasure. Re- watched it a few times !

    I am not a hardcore-horror fan. But I love it if writers or filmmakers are able to just lift the curtain a little bit between Reality and what is beyond there. Between this Life, and beyond. And let your own fantasy fill in the rest. Nice to see Harry Potter flying on a broomstick, but that is not the essential part of the story.

    Comparing different large filmcultures: JK Rowling insisted to have the Harry Potter-movies made in England: She feared the typical Hollywood-way of overdoing it . Sometimes the British are more restrained, more sincere with the story they are working with. ( Compare Jane Austen miniseries Pride & Prejudice 1995 and 2005 )

    There will be nice comparing next year:
    "Hello Ghost" , Korea 2010.
    A boy tries to commit suicide again, he is rescued just in time.
    But why keep those 4 ghosts hanging around him ?
    It is a simple made movie, the cast is not even beautiful or sexy.
    But the story is brilliant !
    Chris Columbus, ( 2x Harry Potter , 2x Home Alone ), is currently working on a Hollywood-remake, scheduled for 2014.

    About remakes: Older Korean movies feel a bit empty, but that is part of their charm.
    IL Mare: Much prefer this one compared with remake The Lake House.
    Fantasy Couple, ( Hong Sisters ) is the remake of Overboard: I prefer the Korean, because of the subtle humor and other little gems, and the well-done funny characters in this drama. The dog is playing it's dog-role perfect here !