Could it be that the success for hit drama, DESCENDANTS OF THE SUN, started from production?
According to a statement given on March 21 from Next Entertainment World, the production company behind DESCENDANT OF THE SUN, the series had already started profiting, despite the staggering 13 billion won budget (about 11 million USD), through sales and product placement advertising prior to the drama’s premiere on February 24.
This makes sense considering the fact that unlike most other, “live-shoot” Korean dramas, where episodes are filmed on a week to week basis while currently on air, DESCENDANTS OF THE SUN was filmed and edited in its entirety before it premiered. Early filming not only allows for a higher quality of production, it gives actors more time to more fully understand and develop their character. However, most other pre-filmed dramas have been largely unsuccessful due to non-guaranteed sales and broadcasting times, leading production firms into bankruptcy. The success of DESCENDANTS OF THE SUN is not only driven by the casting of their star leads, Song Joong-ki and Song Hye-kyo, but because it was able to secure sales from China before filming even began.
Although KBS has not confirmed the sales price of the drama, it is rumored that iQiyi paid nearly $250,000 to $300,000 per episode–more than one-third of the total production cost. The pre-sale of Chinese rights was necessary for the show to broadcast nearly simultaneously in China as in South Korea. Because China regulates Korean drama imports, DESCENDANTS OF THE SUN required preliminary review months prior to airing, which would not have been possible without early filming. It appears that the near simultaneous broadcast could be the reason for DESCENDANTS OF THE SUN’s incredible popularity and hype since it allows the drama to gain momentum both domestically and internationally.
Meanwhile, whereas the Chinese Ministry of Public Security have cautioned viewers against watching DESCENDANTS OF THE SUN, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha has encouraged his citizens to tune in to the hit K-drama. He told delegates that the Korean drama included “a sense of patriotism, sacrifice, obeying orders, and being a dutiful citizen.”