Mr. Sunshine (2018 TV series)

Mr. Sunshine (Korean미스터 션샤인; RRMiseuteo Syeonsyain) is a 2018 South Korean television series written by Kim Eun-sook and directed by Lee Eung-bok [ko], starring Lee Byung-hun, Kim Tae-ri, Yoo Yeon-seok, Kim Min-jung and Byun Yo-han.[4][5] The series is set in Hanseong (the former name of Seoul) in the early 1900s, and focuses on activists fighting for Korea's independence.[6][7] The series aired every Saturday and Sunday on tvN starting from July 7, 2018, and ended on September 30, 2018. It premiered internationally on Netflix.[8]

Mr. Sunshine
Mr. Sunshine (2018 TV series).jpg
Promotional poster
Hangul미스터 션샤인
Created byJinnie Choi
Written byKim Eun-sook
Directed byLee Eung-bok [ko]
ComposerNam hye seung
Country of originSouth Korea
Original languagesKorean, Japanese, English
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes24[1]
Executive producersKim Young-kyu
Yoon Ha-rim
Camera setupSingle camera
Production companies
Budget43 billion[2]
Netflix has invested 30 billion won
Original networktvN
Picture format1080i (HDTV)
Audio formatDolby Digital
Original releaseJuly 7 (2018-07-07) –
September 30, 2018 (2018-09-30)[3]
External links
Production website

The series recorded the 6th highest ratings for cable television with its final episode reaching 18.129% and netting an average rating of 12.955%, which is the second highest average rating ever recorded for cable television.[9] It received critical acclaim for its cinematography and storytelling but was also criticized for inaccurate portrayal of historical facts, with some even accusing it of being "pro-Japanese".[10] Mr. Sunshine won the Drama of the Year award at the 6th APAN Star Awards,[11] as well as Grand Prize for Lee Byung-hun.[12]


Mr. Sunshine centres around Eugene Choi (Lee Byung-hun) who was born into slavery in Joseon but escaped to the United States after the 1871 Shinmiyangyo (U.S. expedition to Korea). He becomes a United States Marine Corps officer and returns to Joseon for a mission. While in Joseon, he meets and falls in love with an aristocrat's granddaughter, Go Ae-shin (Kim Tae-ri), who is part of the Righteous Army. However, their love is challenged by both their different classes and the presence of Kim Hee-sung (Byun Yo-han), a nobleman in an arranged marriage with Ae-shin. While in Joseon, he also encounters Goo Dong-mae (Yoo Yeon-seok), a ruthless samurai also in love with Ae-shin, and Hina Kudo (Kim Min-jung), owner of the popular "Glory Hotel" where Eugene stays. At the same time, he discovers a plot by the Empire of Japan to colonize Korea and soon becomes embroiled in the fight for Joseon’s sovereignty.

Historical backgroundEdit

Unlike most Sageuk dramas dealing with the Japanese occupation of Korea, Mr. Sunshine takes place before the Japanese annexation of Korea, in the late 1800s to early 1900s, with a heavy focus on the Righteous Army. Real-life historical events such as Shinmiyangyo, the Spanish-American War,[13] the assassination of Empress Myeongseong, the Russo-Japanese War,[14] Gojong's forced abdication, and the Battle of Namdaemun are portrayed or mentioned.[15]

Historical figures such as Gojong, Ito Hirobumi, Hayashi Gonsuke, Yoshimichi Hasegawa, Horace Newton Allen, and the Five Eulsa Traitors[14] appear as recurring characters, with others, such as Theodore Roosevelt,[16] Ahn Chang-ho,[17] Eum Sun-heon [ko],[18] Park Seung-hwan [ko],[15] and Frederick Arthur MacKenzie, also making cameo appearances.



Eugene Choi was born into slavery and witnessed his parents' murder at the hands of their landlord. He managed to escape to the United States with the aid of a missionary, and returns to Joseon as an American, a Captain in the United States Marine Corps and freshly minted U.S. Acting Consul. Choi is treated as a Korean in the United States, but as an American in Joseon; he falls in love with Go Ae-shin, a Joseon noblewoman who is secretly part of the Righteous army.
A Joseon noblewoman who lost her parents as an infant. She trains as a sniper and become part of the Righteous army. She falls in love with Eugene Choi.
A son of a butcher who flees to Japan upon his parent's death and becomes a fearless samurai and member of the Musin society, which is part of a Yakuza group. As a teen, he was helped by young Go Ae-shin and for that, he is grateful and has deep affection for her.
An influential widow who runs a hotel in Joseon. She was married off to an old, rich Japanese man for money by her father, Lee Wan-ik. Upon her husband's mysterious death, she inherited the "Glory Hotel" and successfully operates it on her own.
A Joseon nobleman who is considered to be the richest after the Emperor in terms of land ownership. He is emotionally tormented by his grandfather's actions and lives over a decade in Japan to avoid marrying the woman his grandfather chose for him. Once Hee-sung returns to Joseon, however, he discovers that his fiancé is Go Ae-shin and falls for her, only to realize that there is no place left for him in her heart.


Joseon GovernmentEdit

The King of Joseon, who desperately fights for Joseon's sovereignty.
An anti-Japanese minister who is loyal to the King. He secretly commands the Righteous Army.
A selfish and cruel pro-Japanese Korean official who killed Go Ae-shin's parents. The father of Hina Kudo, he soon becomes the Joseon minister of foreign affairs. He walks with a limp after a young Jang Seung-goo shot his leg during the Shinmiyangyo Incident.
A pro-Japanese nobleman who works as an assistant for Lee Wan-ik. He is the abusive husband of Go Ae-soon.
The arrogant and corrupt minister of foreign affairs whose actions indirectly led to the deaths of Eugene Choi's family.
A pro-Japanese police chief, who is friends with Postmaster Yoon.
  • Shin Mun-sung as Postmaster Yoon
A pro-Japanese postmaster, who is friends with Police Commissioner Jung.
A Japanese doctor secretly working for Lee Wan-ik.
The infamous pro-Japanese minister of Korea and part of the Five Eulsa Traitors.

Righteous ArmyEdit

Japanese Government/ArmyEdit


A former friend of Ae-shin's parents, who betrays them to Lee Wan-ik.
A slave hunter who diverted and became a shop owner together with Choon-sik that takes care of any need.
A slave hunter who diverted and became a shop owner together with Il-sik that takes care of any need.
  • Jason Nelson as Joseph W. Stenson
An American missionary who helps Yu-jin escape to America and is a father-figure to Eugene.
  • Ariane Desgagnés-Leclerc as Stella[52]
An American missionary working as an English teacher in Joseon.
A student teacher at Stella's English school, who later works as Hee-sung's assistant.
Joon-young's sister, who ends up dating Hee-sung.

Special appearancesEdit


  • Netflix has invested 30 billion won
  • The series is the third collaboration between writer Kim Eun-sook and director Lee Eung-bok [ko], after Descendants of the Sun (2016) and Guardian: The Lonely and Great God (2016).[58]
  • The drama marks film actress Kim Tae-ri's small-screen debut.[59]
  • The drama was first pitched by Studio Dragon to SBS, but the latter passed on the project due to financial and advertising constraints.[60]
  • Kim Sa-rang was originally cast in the series,[61] but backed out in February 2018 due to scheduling conflicts.[62] She was replaced by Kim Min-jung.
  • Filming began in September 2017 and took place in various parts of Korea including Busan, Daegu, Gokseong, Gyeongju and Hapcheon. Several sets solely devoted to the early 1900s setting of Korea was built on a 20,000 sq.m site in Nonsan, South Chungcheong Province, and another 6,600 a 20,000 sq.m site indoor set in Daejeon. 1000 extras were hired for a battle scene.[2][6][63]
  • This was originally planned in 2009 to be a sports-themed period drama set in the 1920s and 1930s, also featuring an American lead character. Shin Woo-chul, Kim Eun-sook's collaborator for the "Lovers" trilogy, was attached to be the director at the time.[64]

Original soundtrackEdit

Mr. Sunshine
Soundtrack album by
Various Artists
Released2018 (2018)
LabelStone Music Entertainment
Hwa&Dam Pictures
Glove Entertainment
Original soundtrack (Part 1-15)

Part 1

Released on July 8, 2018
1."The Day" (그 날)
  • Park Hyo-shin
  • Jeong Jae-il
Park Hyo-shin4:52
Total length:4:52

Part 2

Released on July 15, 2018
1."Sad March" (슬픈 행진)
  • Nam Hye-seung
  • Nam Hye-seung
  • Park Sang-hee
Total length:5:25

Part 3

Released on July 22, 2018
1."Days Without Tears" (눈물 아닌 날들)
  • Nam Hye-seung
  • Kim Hee-jin
  • Nam Hye-seung
  • Kim Hee-jin
Kim Yoon-ah3:46
Total length:3:46

Part 4

Released on July 29, 2018
1."Sori" (소리)
  • Nam Hye-seung
  • Park Jin-ho
  • Nam Hye-seung
  • Park Jin-ho
Lee Su-hyun (Akdong Musician)5:02
Total length:5:02

Part 5

Released on August 5, 2018
1."Good Day" (좋은 날)
  • Nam Hye-seung
  • Park Jin-ho
  • Nam Hye-seung
  • Park Jin-ho
  • Jeong Dong-hwan
Total length:5:31

Part 6

Released on August 6, 2018
1."My Home (Eugene's Song)"
  • Nam Hye-seung
  • Nam Hye-seung
  • Park Sang-hee
Savina & Drones4:20
Total length:4:20

Part 7

Released on August 12, 2018
1."Becoming The Wind" (바람이 되어)
  • Athena
  • Athena
  • eNa
Ha Hyun-sang4:43
Total length:4:43

Part 8

Released on August 13, 2018
1."Stranger" (이방인)
  • Park Woo-sang
  • Park Woo-sang
Park Won3:53
Total length:3:53

Part 9

Released on August 19, 2018
1."Shine Your Star (Prod. by Zico)"
  • Safira.K
  • Zico
  • Zico
  • Poptime
Total length:3:35

Part 10

Released on August 26, 2018
1."And I"
  • Tenzo
NU'EST W3:55
Total length:3:55

Part 11

Released on September 2, 2018
1."See You Again (Feat. Richard Yongjae O'Neill)"Ha Melli
  • Safira.K
Baek Ji-young3:48
Total length:3:48

Part 12

Released on September 9, 2018
1."Beautiful As Fireworks" (불꽃처럼 아름답게)
  • Nam Hye-seng
  • Park Jin-ho
  • Nam Hye-seng
  • Park Jin-ho
Shin Seung-hun4:30
Total length:4:30

Part 13

Released on September 16, 2018
1."Lover" (정인 (情人))HenHenSejeong (Gugudan)3:54
Total length:3:54

Part 14

Released on September 23, 2018
1."If You Were Me"Son Go-eun (Monotree)Son Go-eun (Monotree), NOPARI (Monotree)Ben4:25
Total length:4:25

Part 15

Released on September 30, 2018
1."How Can I Forget You" (어찌 잊으오)Nam Hye-seung, Park Jin-hoNam Hye-seung, Park Jin-hoHwang Chi-yeul4:41
Total length:4:41
OST Special Album
Disc 2:
1."Mr SunShine (Opening Title)"Nam Hye Sung, Park Sang Hee5:58
2."Wildflower"Nam Hye Sung, Park Sang Hee4:30
3."What is love?"Nam Hye Sung, Park Sang Hee2:36
4."Sad Waltz"Nam Hye Sung, Park Sang Hee3:20
5."With a flame"Nam Hye Sung, Park Sang Hee3:25
6."A side-by-side walk"Nam Hye Sung, Park Sang Hee3:07
7."The Era of Romance"Nam Hye Sung, Park Sang Hee4:53
8."Glory"Nam Hye Sung, Park Sang Hee5:07
9."Waiting"Nam Hye Sung, Park Sang Hee1:11
10."Greensleeves (MusicBox Drama ver.)"Nam Hye Sung, Park Sang Hee2:35
11."No Tears (Piano ver.)"Nam Hye Sung, Park Sang Hee2:38
12."One more Step"Nam Hye Sung, Park Sang Hee4:19
13."Sad End"Nam Hye Sung, Park Sang Hee4:53
14."A Lady and Haman house"Nam Hye Sung, Park Sang Hee2:37
15."Black Bird"Nam Hye Sung, Park Sang Hee3:07


Critics praised the drama for its "deep storytelling" and its ability to raise viewers' awareness of history. The Korea Times applauded the drama for shedding light on those deemed peripheral in society, such as women and the lower classes, and for successfully laying out contradictions and hope in the fast-evolving late Joseon period; it also praised the shows strong female characters.[65]


The series has been criticized for its inaccurate portrayal of historical facts,[10] as well as for portraying Joseon's culture as uncivilized and backwards. It has also been accused of being "pro-Japanese", of being apologia for pro-Japanese collaborators before Japan's colonial rule of Korea, and of "romanticizing" the pro-Japanese stance. In particular, the character Goo Dong-mae, who is portrayed as a member of the Black Dragon Society, a pro-Japanese organization,[66] was criticized, with many feeling that the series tried to justify his actions against Joseon. Scenes where the Joseon kingdom is introduced to electricity, trains, and hotels through Western powers were also criticized,[67]

On July 16, 2018, a petition was made on the Cheong Wa Dae website, calling on the South Korean government to correct historical inaccuracies in the drama. It stated: "In the historical facts that there are definite perpetrators and victims, Joseon was not depicted as a victim of colonization but instead one that invited it. Goo Dong-mae's character is a villain but by showing reasons why he had to join the pro-Japanese organization, his actions have been justified." More than 20,000 people have joined the petition.[67]

However, the series has also been criticized for the exact opposite: enforcing stereotypes of the Japanese as villains and Americans as heroes.[16]

The production house of Mr. Sunshine responded to the criticisms by stating that the organizations and characters portrayed in the series are fictional and that they will modify the character description of Goo Dong-mae accordingly.[68] The Black Dragon Society was changed to a fictional organization, the Musin Society.[67]


Mr. Sunshine recorded the 6th highest ratings for cable television with its final episode reaching 18.129% and netting an average rating of 12.955%, which is the second highest average rating ever recorded for cable television.[9] A 8.9% viewership rating was recorded nationwide for the series first episode, making it the highest premiere rating of the network.[69][70] This series aired on a cable channel/pay TV which normally has a relatively smaller audience compared to free-to-air TV/public broadcasters (KBS, SBS, MBC and EBS).

Mr. Sunshine : South Korea viewers per episode (millions)
SeasonEpisode numberAverage
Source: Audience measurement performed nationwide by Nielsen Media Research.[71]
Average TV viewership ratings
Ep. Original broadcast date Average audience share
AGB Nielsen[72]
Nationwide Seoul
1 July 7, 2018 8.852% (1st) 10.636% (1st)
2 July 8, 2018 9.691% (1st) 11.511% (1st)
3 July 14, 2018 10.082% (1st) 12.386% (1st)
4 July 15, 2018 10.567% (1st) 11.865% (1st)
5 July 21, 2018 10.835% (1st) 12.717% (1st)
6 July 22, 2018 11.713% (1st) 13.481% (1st)
7 July 28, 2018 11.114% (1st) 12.563% (1st)
8 July 29, 2018 12.330% (1st) 13.912% (1st)
9 August 4, 2018 11.695% (1st) 12.763% (1st)
10 August 5, 2018 13.534% (1st) 15.400% (1st)
11 August 11, 2018 12.792% (1st) 14.227% (1st)
12 August 12, 2018 13.399% (1st) 15.378% (1st)
13 August 18, 2018 13.327% (1st) 15.576% (1st)
14 August 19, 2018 15.626% (1st) 18.126% (1st)
15 August 25, 2018 12.893% (1st) 14.686% (1st)
16 August 26, 2018 15.023% (1st) 17.370% (1st)
17 September 1, 2018 7.694% (1st) 8.140% (1st)
18 September 2, 2018 14.722% (1st) 16.387% (1st)
19 September 8, 2018 14.114% (1st) 14.775% (1st)
20 September 9, 2018 16.500% (1st) 18.178% (1st)
21 September 15, 2018 14.280% (1st) 16.013% (1st)
22 September 16, 2018 16.588% (1st) 18.749% (1st)
23 September 29, 2018 15.419% (1st) 17.272% (1st)
24 September 30, 2018 18.129% (1st) 21.828% (1st)
Average 12.955% 14.747%
Special September 22, 2018 8.937% 9.404%
  • In the table above, the blue numbers represent the lowest ratings and the red numbers represent the highest ratings.

Awards and nominationsEdit

Year Award Category Recipient Result Ref.
2018 11th Korea Drama Awards Grand Prize (Daesang) Lee Byung-hun Nominated [73]
Best New Actress Kim Tae-ri Nominated
Best Original Soundtrack "Days Without Tears" (Kim Yoon-ah) Nominated
6th APAN Star Awards Grand Prize (Daesang) Lee Byung-hun Won [74][11]
Drama of the Year Mr. Sunshine Won
Excellence Award, Actor in a Miniseries Yoo Yeon-seok Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Kim Min-jung Won
Best New Actress Kim Tae-ri Won
2nd The Seoul Awards Best Actor Lee Byung-hun Won [75]
Best Supporting Actor Yoo Yeon-seok Won
Best New Actress Kim Tae-ri Nominated
2019 55th Baeksang Arts Awards Best Drama Mr. Sunshine Nominated [76][77]
Best Director Lee Eung-bok Nominated
Best Actor Lee Byung-hun Won
Best Actress Kim Tae-ri Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Yoo Yeon-seok Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Kim Min-jung Nominated
Best Screenplay Kim Eun-sook Nominated
Technical Award Kim So-yeon (Art) Nominated
Lee Yong-seob (Special effects) Nominated


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