There are regular, ordinary folk with an ability to cure, heal, and impart hope and make you believe in the power of miracles. These extraordinary human beings don’t wave magic wands or flash supernatural powers but come wearing scrubs and stethoscopes. Many of us whilst watching a medical K-drama have cried, laughed, cheered, and rooted for on-screen medical personnel as they struggle with morality and mortality as well as their own personal challenges and failures. They take on the blows but hold on, making one believe in the resilience of the human spirit.
Though the mere mention of hospitals and the sight of blood can turn one cold, on the other hand there is something very comforting and heart-warming about watching medical dramas, which are popular thanks to their emotive storytelling and impactful messages. So much so, that some of us at some point might have wondered, “I wish I were a doctor too!” If you love medical dramas, check out these eight superheroes in scrubs whose stories are worth the watch.
One of the most popular and viewed series “Dr. Romantic,” scores not only for its realistic and relatable subplots and storyline but for also giving us one of the finest doctors and mentor on screen. “Saving lives, thats my specialization,” says Dr. Kim, who is masterfully played by actor Han Suk Kyu.
Dr. Kim, or Boo Yong Joo, is the “Hand Of God,” a genius maverick surgeon who misses no beat, pulse, or malady. Though ostracized by the big players in the medical fraternity, he is devoted to the cause of the rundown Doldam Hospital and committed to save lives and serve people. As young doctors arrive grudgingly at Doldam bearing their own insecurities, grudges, and trauma, Dr. Kim’s romantic ideals initially come across as self-righteous and overbearing, but he gradually rubs off on them. He tells them, “If there is anything worse than failure, it’s regret,” and nudges them in his impassive way, pushing his team to test their limits and empowering them with self belief and confidence. This is one fearless mentor.
The show has starred actors such as Ahn Hyo Seop and Lee Sung Kyung, who are both set to return for a third season, and it’ll be exciting to see the Doldam Crew roll up their sleeves once again to save and nurture those around them!
Start watching “Dr. Romantic”:
Joo Won portrays the life of pediatric surgeon Park Shi On, an autistic savant in the critically acclaimed 2013 drama series “Good Doctor.” Park Shi On has a brilliant memory and spatial skills despite his emotional development being that of a child. At the hospital he is mocked by his peers and patients as being unreliable and is even labelled a “soulless robot” since he tends to use his strong sense of intuition to think rather than feel, but don’t many people do that?
Park Shi On is far from perfect, as he is prone to being judgmental, but he makes mistakes on the way and evolves into a reliable and trusted surgeon. The drama is nowhere preachy or heavy but uses humor and a touch of romance to drive the story forward. Joo Won’s sensitive portrayal of Shi On makes a lasting impact, and the romance between him and Moon Chae Won, who plays Cha Yoon Seo, is bound to put a smile on your face. The drama’s dynamic theme even spawned a remake with a popular U.S. adaptation of the same name!
Start watching “Good Doctor”:
These doctors can wield the scalpel and strum the guitar and play the drums with ease. This drama follows the lives of five brilliant surgeons at the “Yulje Medical Center,” who have not only been best friends but also band members for 20 years since medical school. The drama has an awesome ensemble cast which features Jo Jung Suk as Lee Ik Jun, the goofy general surgeon who is also a single father; Yoo Yeon Seok as Ahn Jung Won, the endearing pediatrician; Jung Kyung Ho as Kim Jun Wan, the wry and compassionate cardio thoracic surgeon; Kim Dae Myung as Yang Seok Hyung, the distant and brusque gynecologist; and Jeon Mi Do as Chae Song Hwa, the lone girl in the squad and a neurosurgeon, multitasker, and their favorite buddy.
As the “famous five” of Yulje deftly handle medical emergencies, they are friends that are like family, teasing each other, fighting over the last bite of food, or arguing over which song to practice. They are in it together, cheering and comforting each other. “Hospital Playlist” is an ode to friendship and a reminder to nurture the relationships you have. After all, the the best medicines in life are food, music, and laughter, and we get plenty of that in this drama. It’s a celebration of life and everything in between.
One of the most underrated medical K-dramas, and like the name suggests, “Chocolate” is a metaphor for life and its many flavors of sweet and sour, pleasant, and bitter. These flavours are depicted through the life of a neurosurgeon named Dr. Lee Kang (played by Yoon Kye Sang) and chef Moon Cha Young (played by Ha Ji Won).
Lee Kang is a neurosurgeon at his family-run hospital. He is hard-working but an emotionally unavailable man bearing grudges, resentments, and regrets from the past. Manipulated by his dysfunctional family, Lee Kang is caught in an inheritance power play with his cousin, but things change when he takes charge of a hospice and meets Moon Cha Young, with whom he has a childhood connection.
Taking care of the grievously ill, he learns lessons in reconciliation, forgiveness, and strengthening yourself morally. “The day you wasted today is tomorrow for someone who died yesterday” is a lesson both Lee Kang and Cha Young take home. Lee Kang seems as real as any one of us and that is what resonates most. Food is also intricately woven into the narrative. After all, a bowl of dumpling soup or jajangmyeon or kimchi stew can help the wounded soul. “Chocolate” is picturesquely shot, and the storytelling is unhurried. And with the lilting background score, it makes for one relaxing watch.
What happens when a super talented yet arrogant and selfish doctor, Cha Young Min (played by Rain), possesses the body of an intern named Go Seung Tak (played by Kim Bum), who though born with a silver spoon lacks the talent and expertise of being a doctor? What follows is a series of mis-adventures, a few comedy of errors, and a lesson in human revolution for both. Cha Young Min realizes that in his haughtiness as “Dr. Golden Hands,” he had treated his patients as “profitable assets” – those worthy of treatment and those not. He not only turns into a worthy mentor to Go Seung Tak, but he also helps him overcome his own fears and self-esteem issues. “Ghost Doctor” is a comforting, fun watch, and the bromance between Rain and Kim Bum gives the necessary shot of adrenaline!
Start watching “Ghost Doctor”:
A volatile high school delinquent named Yoo Hye Jung (played by Park Shin Hye) has never had it easy, and the only person who takes any interest in her well being is her teacher Hong Ji Hong (played by Kim Rae Won). Years later when she is a neurosurgeon at a hospital, Hye Jung’s prickly personality keeps her aloof until she once again meets her mentor Ji Hong, who is now a senior doctor at the hospital. Though it sounds like a simple straightforward story, this drama endears in many ways. Hye Jung is no damsel in distress. She does not need saving and she can take on gangsters with her bare hands, but then when it comes to herself she is a self critical mess, which many can relate to. And Ji Hong, unlike the usual “knight in shining armour” leads, tells Hye Jung to not care about whether people like her, but to be the person she likes. This drama has high rewatch value as it gets the right dose of drama, romance, and humor to make it an enjoyable show.
Start watching “Doctors”:
“Doctor John” tells the story of a brilliant anesthesiologist named Cha Yo Han (played by Ji Sung), who is convicted for medical malpractice. He returns to the same hospital where he was revered as “Dr. 10 Seconds,” since that’s all it took for him to diagnose patients. Though Dr. Cha himself suffers from a condition known as CIPA (he is unable to feel pain or temperature), he is sensitive to the pain of others and being an anesthesiologist makes him a pain reliever of sorts.
This drama scores on many points, especially as it handles the controversial topic of euthanasia with sensitivity, giving the perspective of patients and their guardians. It highlights how doctors are emotionally invested in the lives of their patients. And Ji Sung gives a flawless performance as the empathetic Dr. Cha, who is a mentor and friend to those around him.
Start watching “Doctor John”:
“Poong, the Joseon Psychiatrist”
Though this drama is set in the Joseon Period, its story stays relevant. Yoo Se Poong (played by Kim Min Jae) is the royal acupuncturist, who is unfairly banished from the palace after a conspiracy. Like any other person in his position, he is traumatized and looses confidence in himself and his skills. Lost and disgruntled, Poong’s wanderings lead him to a village where he meets a young widow named Seo Eun Woo (played by Kim Hyang Gi), who defies societal norms to pursue her interest in medicine. Along with the village head doctor, the trio set about healing people.
What struck me most about Poong is that he realizes that his purpose is to heal people irrespective of their status and how hard work and skills can unlock new doors, a life lesson many of us so need in these trying times. The drama also highlights archaic laws pertaining to women and their social status, but its strength lies in a straightforward story, the bickering amongst the village folk, and Poong and Eun Woo’s easy going relationship. This drama makes you root for each character! “Poong, the Joseon Psychiatrist” will be back for a second season in January 2023.
Start watching “Poong, the Joseon Psychiatrist”:
Hey Soompiers, which medical drama do you love best? Let us know in the comments below!
Puja Talwar is a Soompi writer with a strong Song Joong Ki and Lee Jun Ho bias. A long time K-drama fan, she loves devising alternate scenarios to the narratives. She has interviewed Lee Min Ho, Gong Yoo, and Ji Chang Wook to name a few. You can follow her on @puja_talwar7 on Instagram.
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