Korean Drama Recommendation: “Mr. Sunshine,” a story about freedom and independence

“Mr. Sunshine” is a fictional Korean drama set in the late 1800s and early 1990s based on some historical events in Korea during the reign of the last king of Joseon and the first emperor of Korea, Emperor Gwangmu, also known as Gojong of Korea. The series tackles the pre-colonization of Joseon, how the Righteous Army fought for the country’s freedom and independence, and a subtle romance in the midst of the war between a Korean-born American and a noble lady who is secretly working as a sniper.

The American, Eugene Choi (portrayed by Lee Hyung Hun), was born as a slave in Joseon, but managed to escape to America with the help of a Korean potter and an American missionary. Years later, Eugene becomes part of the United States Marine Corps and was assigned to return to Joseon to be a part of the American legation in the country. He then meets Lady Ae Shin (portrayed by Kim Tae Ri) — the granddaughter of a powerful family who has direct connections to the emperor of Korea and is also one of Righteous Army’s assassins — during an undercover mission to kill a certain American man. As the story progresses, the two learn about each other’s identities and become involved in fighting for Joseon’s sovereignty, while hiding a forbidden romance between a noblewoman and a former slave.

“Mr. Sunshine” also highlights the lives of the people staying at Eugene’s current inn called Glory Hotel. The owner, Hina Kudo (portrayed by Kim Min Jung), is in a battle with her own father — a traitor who is willing to sell Joseon to other countries — as she tries to take back her mother, her lost youth, and her name, Lee Yang Hwa, from him. The hotel is protected by Goo Dong Mae (portrayed by Yoo Yeon Seok), a butcher’s son who is now living as a Japanese Yakuza leader. Living next door to Eugene’s room is Kim Hee Sung (portrayed by Byun Yohan), the son of the richest man in Joseon and is also Ae Shin’s fiance. Kim Hee Sung is a man who is forever haunted by his father and grandfather’s evil deeds, including being responsible for the death of Eugene’s parents.

The five of them get entangled in both love and combat, as they find answers about their past, while they fight for their individual freedom and their country’s independence.

As we celebrate Independence Day in the Philippines, “Mr. Sunshine” is something Korean drama fans might want to consider watching as the show focuses on Joseon men and women’s passion in maintaining their country’s autonomy and fighting for their people’s democratic rights.

The series is also written by “The King: Eternal Monarch” writer Kim Eun Sook, who also wrote other well-loved dramas such as “Goblin,” “Descendants of the Sun,” and “Secret Garden.”

“Mr. Sunshine” is available on Netflix, along with Filipino historical movies “Heneral Luna” and “Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral.”
Also posted on Facebook: “Mr. Sunshine”

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