So many Korean dramas started out strong, but fell flat in 2015. Even though it might be too early to tell, you might want to start Yong Pal now and enjoy the potentially thrilling (think Healer, complete with Kim Mi-Kyung!) ride.
First off, Kim Tae Hee (as Han Yeo Jin) is back! It’s been about 2 years since we last saw her in a drama and we have mainly heard of her personal life instead. I really enjoy watching her. I don’t think she’s a compelling actress, but she has charm and dedication. While her role as a chaebol daughter
locked up in a hospital recovering from a horrific accident that we see over and over in flashbacks remains to be seen after the first few episodes, I am hoping some of the cheeky moments in it bring parts of her acting that really shine. Sure she can do some melo, but if you remember My Princess, she was so bright and amazing. I’ll be happy with just a hint of that.
Joo Won (as Kim Tae Hyun) is starring in his annual drama. He’s been in one every year since his first one in 2010. He’s a pretty busy actor, but I like that he doesn’t oversaturate us in dramas. Yes, there can be too much of an actor. I’m looking at you Lee Dong Wook in 2014. He is great in dominating this role. And like Ji Chang Wook in Healer, he’s seemingly in every scene. I think he looks exhausted a lot, but being a doctor helps with that accidental aegyo-sal.
Back to the actual drama, Tae Hyun/”Yong Pal” is basically a highly skilled doctor (I mean, they are always like that) who needs money to help his sister. Apparently a lot of money. He moonlights as a doc who helps gangsters. He’s really good at it, but for sake of a storyline, he gets found out fast by and by equally shady doc at his hospital. He’s “promoted” to the 12th “VVIP” floor, works with a glamorous doctor and has run ins with a cunning chairman’s wife. His life is monitored, but he naively dismisses being told this.
Issues I have:
- He doesn’t tell anyone about his sister. Maybe it is because he wants to bear that responsibility himself. Maybe there’s some shame because he owes so much money. How much does he owe? What is the debt? These are things I need to know.
- Then the role of Cynthia is interesting, as well as stunning. How did she get there? Who is she? Why do the doctors wear nice clothes? Do they actually doctor? Why am I so curious?
- Yeo Jin’s nurse is up to no good and I’m going to need Kim Mi Young’s nurse character to kick her ass or something.
- I get it! Yeo Jin was in an accident with her Romeo and she survived. Oh wait, ANOTHER flashback? I guess they want to make every cent of that car they ruined by milking it dry.
Things I like:
- The nurses. In both the general floor and VVIP, they are all gossipy, cheerful and bright. A pretty nice change from the hard ass ones.
- Cynthia is also kind of awesome. I hope she has a further awakening of her doctor conscious. Pairing her with Tae Hyun as a non-romantic interest works well.
- I really like dramas with B/C stories and I expect this one to have a tons of them.
- Yeo Jin hears everything. Sure she has an internal Groundhog Day movie happening in her head, but she hears everything.
- Cynthia’s flats are just worth another mention.
After passing the *4 episode test (SBS has 16 planned, but may extend to 18), Yong Pal is looking to be one of the big drama hits of the summer with ratings hitting over 15% nationwide. I’m hooked so far and Joo Won has been pretty consistent with good dramas, so this might be a really safe bet. One might worry that their current schedule is completely crazy (they are filming/editing up until broadcast) , but I have faith in Joo Won!
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*4 episode test – An unofficial test that is given to Korean dramas in the dramaverse. First taught to me by India of DramaDebussie.com, it is basically a trial watch of a drama. If after 4 episodes, it does not progress well, you drop it without any conscience.