Review: Healer

THE SHORT VERDICT:

Healer is that special snowflake of a drama that manages to combine action, romance, and some nice spots of comedy, all in one tight little show. And it’s a mighty successful combination too, I might add.

Sure, the backstory runs a little bit melo and may not appeal to everyone, but the blend of adrenaline-pumping thrills, a truly sparky, heartfelt OTP, a deeply melty – yet flawed and believable – hero, and a courageous, strong heroine, makes for an exhilaratingly heady combination of feels that just sends my heart in multiple directions all at once.

Add on Show’s highly polished camera work and its very effective, very immersive OST, and it’s a combination that’s pretty darn hard to beat.

Specimen A: One Seriously Melty Hero. Swoon. ❤️

THE LONG VERDICT:

There is no such thing as a perfect kdrama, but Healer checks so many of the right boxes that it’s not only easy to forgive its flaws, but it’s also really easy to lose your heart to it. I know I lost my heart to this one, and really fast too.

For the record, I acknowledge that not everyone loved this show. In fact, Show received rather low ratings when it aired in Korea (sniffle). But those of us who loved this show, loved it dearly, and I count myself among this show’s fans. Unabashedly. Unreservedly. And wholeheartedly. ❤️

This show is consistently cracky, and hits so many right notes all the way through that I couldn’t help but be hooked. It’s fast-paced, tells a solid story, and manages to be very engaging while it does so. The people feel real, the feelings feel real, and therefore the squee feels real, too. Plus, there’s superhero-flavored cool on top of everything else, and in generous helpings to boot. Eee!

Yes, there would be flaws to be found if you looked for them, but why would you want to, really? (Ok, fine, I will list some of those flaws in this review, but still. I maintain that Healer’s fab in spite of them. 😉 )

OST ALBUM: FOR YOUR LISTENING PLEASURE

Here’s the OST album, in case you’d like to listen to it as you read the review.

OVERALL STORYTELLING AND VIBE

The thing that strikes me about Healer, is that it gets cracky real fast.

Right away, we are quickly immersed in Show’s drama world via its cinematic, stylish, fast-paced introduction, complete with tracking shots and dolly zooms that throw us headlong into the unfamiliar, disorientating world of Healer.

With its thrills, spills, and bits of comedy interspersed in between, Show manages to be a snazzy, polished beast that’s shiny and action-packed on the outside, while possessing an extremely keen and sensitive heart on the inside.

Immediately, from the very beginning of the show, I loved that characters and their existing relationships are fleshed out in nicely measured stages. People are put in one another’s orbits in plausible, narratively cohesive ways, and there’s a backstory mystery that offers up its truth, one little obtuse nugget at a time.

Additionally, I love a hero who’s a superhero, and to have our story’s hero literally leaping off tall buildings and being completely, awesomely kickass, just makes my day, really. Honestly, every time Ji Chang Wook parkoured off a building, I swooned. ❤️

So. Bad. Ass.

Spazz.

It all comes together to make this show feel like a fantastic mashup of action, mystery, romance, and superhero origin story, all in one. Sorta like City Hunter, in a way, but cooler, edgier, more grown-up, and bringing way more feels. In my opinion, anyway. 😉

Perhaps best of all, is how Show confidently drives the story forward. Show is densely packed and for the most part, moves along at a pace where I feel like it’s dragging me along, arms flailing, whether my heart is ready or not. Through Show’s run, I consistently felt like I was teetering on the edge of my seat, and usually on multiple levels, too. Show kept going in directions that I didn’t quite expect, and consistently took our story further than I expected it to, sooner than I expected it to.

Not only that, Show even lives up to the cliffhangers that it builds for itself, a feat that I don’t take lightly. So often, I’ve felt cheated by dramas that resolve their cliffhangers with a fakeout in the following episode. Not so Healer. This show consistently stands up to the cliffhangers that it builds for itself, thereby proving itself to be a confident beast that knows where it’s going. Not only does it stand up to the expectations left by its cliffhangers, it often even surpasses them, effectively blowing me away.

Watching this drama, I often felt like my heart was about to implode. Or explode. Or both. Which, basically, is a very, very, very good thing.

OVERALL PREMISE

There’s an overarching backstory that drives everything forward, and I’ll admit that on my first watch of the show, I wasn’t terribly interested in the story behind this photograph; a photograph which, in my opinion, showed up far more frequently in the show than I was interested to see.

Additionally, the fragmented nature of the information we do get, confused me as well. It was hard to keep up with the mental jigsaw that was necessary, in order to at least try to keep all the little bits of information halfway straight in my head.

In spite of my relative lack of interest in the backstory of our characters during my first watch, I did manage to love the show to pieces, thanks to the interesting characters and their wonderfully engaging relationships.

To be fair to writer-nim, though, I must say that during my second watch, I had a much better appreciation for the backstory, and how it affected my beloved characters. For the record, the fragmented pieces of information actually do fit together neatly, so working to keep them straight in your head would not be a futile exercise (as it sometimes is, with other dramas).

Also for the record, this show was just as cracky – if not crackier – on my second watch. That’s No Small Deal, especially given the fact that I’ve watched way more kdrama than most people would consider healthy. 😛

CHARACTERS

Despite this show possessing a fairly dense story, with lots of action to drive it forward, it’s really the characters and their relationships that ground everything and give the show heart.

I particularly love how writer-nim treats the characterizations and relationships, in the sense that everything and everyone (well, everyone that mattered to me, anyway) feels organic and interesting, without feeling like too little is served up, or too much.

In this section, I’ll be talking about the main characters, including special spotlights on my favorites.

Ji Chang Wook as Jung Hoo

Thanks to my lack of interest in any of his prior projects, this was my introduction to Ji Chang Wook, and what an introduction that turned out to be! Let’s just say that my fangirl appreciation rocketed from zero to well, ..about a thousand, within just a few episodes. (Pure Pretty post is here!)

Firstly, I was super taken with the matter-of-fact badassery. Jung Hoo’s ability to kick ass, often on a many-to-one sort of scale, is just so freaking cool. Plus, all the cool parkour sequences just took everything to a whole other level. Altogether, our quick-thinking, swift-footed hero had me weak-kneed and squee-ready, pretty much at all times.

Secondly, and more importantly, Jung Hoo turns out to be a faceted character with layers of angst that are not immediately apparent. I found the bit-by-bit reveal of who he is, and what he’s all about as a person, fascinating and completely engaging. As I learned more about Jung Hoo’s inner angst and vulnerabilities, my heart couldn’t help but go out to him.

In both the badassery and the deeper nuances of Jung Hoo’s person, Ji Chang Wook delivers so solidly and believably, that I legit wondered where he’d been all my kdrama life, even as I fell headlong in love with Jung Hoo as a character.

[SPOILER ALERT]

I have to give serious props to writer-nim for creating such a faceted character in Jung Hoo, and equally serious props to Ji Chang Wook, for capably showing us all of those facets, in a way that I found completely compelling.

There are literally so many different sides to Jung Hoo, that I find it difficult to condense them all into this section. But because I find Jung Hoo to be such an absorbing character, I’m gonna attempt to flesh him out, at least a little bit.

Badass Healer

I freaking love Badass Healer. The way he offhandedly infiltrates tight security and leaps off tall buildings is just so breathtakingly cool.

Jung Hoo’s daring badassery regularly had me dropping my jaw and swooning into a puddle, often at the same time. I mean, the way he deftly enters a room while people are in it, and slips in and out unnoticed, is the stuff of legends. Of course, it stretches the believability a little, but well, Healer is supposed to be a legend. And the amazing parkour moves make Healer seem like a sageuk assassin-warrior come to life, except he’s plugged into high tech wizardry that no sageuk warrior ever had.

From small moments – like him kicking a can just so in episode 2, in order to engineer the collision of the bicycle with the fruit stand – to the big dramatic moments, Badass Healer had my heart in his easy grasp. In terms of the more dramatic moments, I love the scene in episode 3, of Jung Hoo leaping off rooftops and chasing Moon Ho’s (Yoo Ji Tae) car on foot, ON ROOFTOPS. It literally gave me shivers; it was just all so thrilling.

And I love too, the scene in episode 4, when Jung Hoo goes back to save Young Shin (Park Min Young), and fights off a whole bunch of his contemporaries. I found that detail extra impressive, coz as his contemporaries in the same business, those guys ought to have a solid level of skills too, but Jung Hoo takes them all down, and pretty easily too.

Later, when Jung Hoo goes undercover as dorky Bong Soo, I love that he has to be extra smart with how he intervenes, so that he can save the day without blowing his dorky cover.

All in all, I love that Jung Hoo is this good at what he does. I mean, I always love a man who’s good at what he does, but when what he does involves badass ass-kickery and amazing-yet-effortless parkour wizardry, it just takes it all to a whole other swoonier-than-swoony level. ❤️

Socially awkward Bong Soo

I found Jung Hoo endlessly amusing as an undercover dork, since it felt so dissonant with his uber-cool Healer persona.

Seeing Jung Hoo’s hilarious and believable cover as the nervous, socially awkward Bong Soo was my first inkling of Ji Chang Wook’s excellent acting chops. I mean, it’s one thing to pull off Cool Badass, and it’s another thing to pull off Nerdy Nervous Dork, but it’s a whole other thing to be able to pull off both, while regularly morphing from one into the other, as the situation calls for it. That’s skillz.

Over time, we come to see that Bong Soo’s bumbly awkwardness isn’t just a cover, but is another part of who Jung Hoo is, as a person. It felt somewhat revelational, to realize that our Badass Healer was, deep down, lonely and socially awkward.

Lonely loner primal wildcat in a man-cave

As early as episode 1, we see that Jung Hoo has a fixation with animal wildlife, and over time, we get to see how Jung Hoo is like a wildcat himself; isolated from other people, and spending large amounts of time alone in his cave.

From the beginning of the show, Jung Hoo talks about humans with a distinct air of distance and removal, as if he isn’t one of them, and as if he would like to be removed from the entire world, if possible. In episode 3, Jung Hoo says that he’s never been that into life, all this time, and has been living it, pretty much only because he was born. I found it so sad to hear him say that, and it felt like such a pity, really, that such an amazing superhero-esque person would have this much disdain for life – and by inference, himself as well. *Heart. Break.*

Over the course of the show, we witness Jung Hoo learning to have an interest in and embrace life, and it’s a slow but gratifying journey. I appreciate that Show doesn’t wave a magic wand and make his wildcat tendencies disappear just because he finds the love of his life. His wildcat leanings continue to show themselves, like in how he struggles with adjusting to life as a regular person at a regular job, and then, particularly in how he responds to tragedy: he literally retreats from the world and checks out, and just goes to sleep.

There’s something very real and raw about Jung Hoo’s wildcat disposition that appealed to me. It felt like I was looking at the truest, most.. primal side of him, and I liked feeling like we had access to his core, in that sense.

A tenderheart who cares, in spite of himself

In spite of Jung Hoo’s badass exterior and lonely inner wildcat, we see relatively quickly that he is capable of caring for others, and in fact, loves in a profound manner, when he does love.

With his mom:

The first inkling we get of this, is how Jung Hoo maintains a sweet, warm sort of relationship with his mother (Lee Kyung Shim), even though their lives are kept separate. I love the little detail, that he orders patbingsu for them to share, and then gives her all the red beans even though he likes them too. I love how matter-of-factly he demonstrates care and consideration for his mom. Melt.

We see the depth of Jung Hoo’s love for his mom in episode 12 & 13, in his response to his mom’s abduction by Secretary Oh (Jung Gyu Soo). He walks willingly into the trap, knowing that his own life is at risk, and basically fights to the death in the process.

Once he’s discharged from the hospital, Jung Hoo is so furious that he wants to literally kill Moon Shik (Park Sang Won) and nothing Ahjumma (Kim Mi Kyung) says seems to make a dent in his resolve; he’s like a crazed dog with a bone. Until Ahjumma reminds him that Young Shin’s mother (Do Ji Won) lives in that house. So he holds back the rage that is practically bursting out of him, for Young Shin.

With Young Shin:

For all his badass Healer professionalism, Jung Hoo can’t help but start to care for Young Shin, and we first see evidence of this in episode 4, when he goes back to save her from the Double S thugs.

Over time, we also see him begin to use his skills on the more personal front. Like in episode 7, teaching President Hwang (Jung Hae Kyun) a lesson is personal; giving the video evidence to Young Shin, also personal; confronting Moon Shik with an ultimatum, most definitely personal.

On a slight tangent, as things get personal, it ups the ante. The vibe of the show becomes more intense, because it’s no longer just business. Healer’s invested now, and while that might take away a little, from his cool, detached badassery, it more than makes up for it with the added emotional depth that we get access to.

As Jung Hoo becomes more acquainted with Young Shin, he gets more exposed to what family warmth is like, and it’s heartbreakingly poignant. Like in episode 5, when Jung Hoo sits gingerly at the breakfast table at Young Shin’s house. Without saying anything much at all, Ji Chang Wook manages to convey so much emotion in Jung Hoo: unfamiliarity, hesitance, wonder, surreality.

Beneath his aloof and distant exterior, Healer actually is hungry for human connection.

With Teacher:

We also see Jung Hoo’s desire for human connection in his ultimatum to Teacher (Oh Kwang Rok): Show yourself by sunset, or else. Despite the crappy sort of manner in which Teacher had left him to fend for himself, he’s still the only family Jung Hoo ever had, and he is clearly unwilling to lose that connection. In spite of everything, he loves Teacher, and deeply too.

That depth of love is clearest in episode 14, in Jung Hoo’s reaction when he realizes that Teacher had died; it’s so guttural, and so primal, almost. He can’t think straight, and can only think to charge over to Moon Shik and kill him.

Jung Hoo’s wildcat instincts and intense love come together in this moment, and manifest themselves in a crazed, superhuman kind of strength; we see him flinging people away from him – at the police station grounds, and at the morgue – and it’s both breathtaking and alarming to behold.

The rebel

As Jung Hoo gets clues to his past, his impulsive, rebellious, hot-headed streak shows itself, as he defies both Moon Ho and Ahjumma in their efforts to reason with him. It makes him feel very human, in spite of his practically superhuman abilities to scale tall buildings like spiderman.

Against my better judgment, I actually feel quite drawn to Jung Hoo’s rebellious streak. In his rebellious moments, I found him to be.. daring and ballsy, and that upped the cool, in my (admittedly smitten) eyes.

The boy falling in love, for the first time

I’ve got a whole other section planned for the OTP, but I just wanted to focus here for a bit, on this facet of Jung Hoo; of the innocent boy, falling in love for the very first time.

As Jung Hoo’s feelings for Young Shin grow and solidify, the way he looks at her gets more intense, and I found it all very mesmerizing indeed. There’s an underlying conflictedness about that intensity which just makes it land with even more poignancy. Every time he gets That Look on his face now, it looks like he’s been hit in the gut, the emotions are hitting him so hard. And when he looks like that, I feel like I just got hit in the gut.

I love the layered manner that Show treats Jung Hoo’s growing feelings for Young Shin. Just as his wildcat core comes into play in the way that he loves others in his life, they come to the fore in the way that he cares about Young Shin as well. Like in episode 9 when Jung Hoo trails Young Shin as Healer, and walks with her as she leaves Moon Ho’s apartment; it’s just so superhero swoony.

In the midst of all this, the little beats make it really pop. His amusement at her singing, where he starts to bop along for a bit before catching himself. And his long gazes of conflicted intensity as he walks alongside her on the rooftop, several levels above her. And those continued hit-in-the-gut gazes as he watches her intently as they speak on the phone. Love it. So much. ❤️

Young Shin talking about Healer to Jung Hoo always seems to hit him deeply. In this episode, she calls him (as Bong Soo) and admits shyly that she’s waiting and hoping to see Healer. Her confession clearly messes with his brain, and you can practically see the cogs in Jung Hoo’s brain go into overdrive as he processes what it all means.

It’s so poignant, really, that an Amazing Almost Superhero kind of person like him, is basically stunned into silence at the thought that someone like Young Shin could, well, actually like him.

That sense of uncertainty continues to show itself even in the later episodes, when our OTP is cemented. Like in episode 18, when Young Shin informs a cuddles-focused, window-climbing Jung Hoo that he ought to come in through the door like a regular person and introduce himself to her dad (Park Sang Myun), he does just that. And it’s hilarious because Jung Hoo as himself is all nervous, darty-eyed and literally about to jump out of his skin. There’s just something so adorable and yet poignant, about Badass Healer being so skittish in front of his girlfriend’s Dad. ❤️

His growth journey

In episode 15, Jung Hoo says to Ahjumma, “The real me? What is that? Does that exist?”

Jung Hoo, in wanting to offer Young Shin the real him, realizes that he’s not even sure who the real him is. He’s been taking on so many identities, and keeping his real identity hidden for so long, that he’s lost sight of who the real him is. In a manner of speaking, the entire show is about Jung Hoo’s journey towards finding and learning about himself.

Even though, when we first meet Jung Hoo, he’s all Badass Almost Superhuman Healer leaping from rooftops, over time, the focus shifts to something a little more personal. His conflictedness – about his feelings towards Young Shin, about his undercover mission, and about his own past – starts to show up, and he starts to betray more emotion than ever before, which all comes together to remind us that Healer isn’t a classic superhero; he’s human too.

Beyond the growth that is sparked by his personal relationships, we eventually start to see that there is another layer at play too that’s larger; that’s about feeling like he’s part of something, where everyone’s working together towards a common goal. That sense of community, as he begins to work with the team that Moon Ho has assembled, is something that’s been missing from Jung Hoo’s entire life, and it’s gratifying to see him working hard so as not to let the team down.

Jung Hoo’s growth-in-degrees, from being a lonely wounded wildcat to finally finding himself, and allowing himself to be happy, and allowing himself to have a community, is a journey that I found compelling, heartrending, and hand-on-my-heart absolutely well worth taking.

[END SPOILER]

Park Min Young as Young Shin

I just have to say, this is my favorite role of Park Min Young, hands-down. Before Healer, I’d seen her in just a handful of dramas – namely, Unstoppable High Kick, Sungkyunkwan Scandal and City Hunter – and had always had pretty much the same impression of her: very pretty and possessing a winsome smile, but nothing to shout about in terms of her acting chops.

I take it all back now, coz Park Min Young as Young Shin is wonderful.

There’s a simple matter-of-fact quality in the way she plays Young Shin, and there is absolutely no vanity in her delivery. I literally watched this entire show without feeling like Park Min Young’s prettiness was the first thing to hit me. Instead, it was always consistently Young Shin’s realness that hit me first – and stayed with me. Park Min Young makes Young Shin come alive in a highly relatable way that made me not only feel like Young Shin was a real person, but someone that I really really wanted to be friends with.

Like Jung Hoo, there are many dimensions to Young Shin. She’s bright, sassy, a touch vulnerable, good-natured, and hard-to-get-down. At the same time, she’s full of big talk, ballsy and brave even when she’s feeling scared on the inside, and also, a little oblivious at times, to top it off.

Add on the fact that she’s the kind of girl who throws herself into singing in her jammies and rocking out with her dad, and I just can’t help but love her. Add on the other fact that Young Shin is all of this, having survived an extremely painful childhood, and I can’t help but love her even more.

I literally have not enjoyed Park Min Young more, in a role.

[SPOILER ALERT]

Again, I feel like it’s impossible the contain all of Young Shin’s facets within a single section and be able to talk about them properly, but here are a handful of highlights.

She’s strong and sassy

I love that Young Shin is a girl with a dream, and that dream has nothing to do with meeting a chaebol, or snagging a husband, or seeking revenge. It’s to be a reporter who does meaningful things. Which already sets her apart from so many other kdrama heroines. Plus, I do like the detail, that she’s an equal opportunity sort of gal, who has a male and a female role model.

I also love the fact that despite Jung Hoo’s amazing skills as Healer, that Young Shin’s no easy assignment. I find it quite impressive – and very cute – that Young Shin’s training in petty crime from her “friends” comes in handy to make her a difficult target for Jung Hoo.

The fact that she seriously contemplated suicide when she was just a little kid, just makes her strength in her adulthood all the more worthy of respect. And yet, beneath the strength, when she talks about her suicidal moments like she does in episode 2, the pain feels raw, and the wounds, open. There’s something very moving about how she chooses strength, when she has every excuse to choose self-pity. I just can’t help but love that about her.

She cares

Throughout the show, we see evidence that Young Shin is someone who cares, and cares deeply. Here are just a few times when that caring streak in her captured my heart.

1. The time in episode 2 when she trades her long-awaited scoop to look into someone else who seems to be in trouble. And I appreciate the moment that she hesitates over it; it makes her feel human.

2. When Young Shin promptly takes Bong Soo under her wing at work, and starts mothering him, even dragging him along the road by the wrist, like he’s a little kid who might run off if she didn’t hold on tight. Hee. I love Young Shin’s protective mama hen kind of attitude towards Bong Soo. Not like she really can protect him from anything, but she seems to fiercely believe that she can, and she does it consistently. Like in episode 5, right after the police get to her, after Healer saves her from the Double S guys. One of her first thoughts is Bong Soo’s safety. Aw.

3. I love that that nurturing attitude isn’t limited to those whom she feels can’t protect themselves, but also extends to Healer, whom she completely looks up to, and is fully aware that he’s a highly skilled kick-ass individual. Yet in episode 9, when Moon Ho holds a stammering post-rescue Young Shin, all she can fixate on is that Healer almost got killed because of her. That is the one thing that seems to haunt her, not the fact that she herself nearly got killed.

Plus, there’s the time in episode 13, when Young Shin chooses to pretend to buy Jung Hoo’s very unconvincing cover story. She later says it’s because she’s afraid that he’ll leave, but at the same time, doesn’t this show that top of her mind is also the fact that Healer can’t have his identity known? I believe that she held back as much to protect him, as to keep him nearby.

I love that Young Shin’s such a nurturing, protective person.

She’s brave, even when she’s scared

Perhaps James Neil Hollingworth put it best when he wrote, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than one’s fear.”

That’s exactly that quality in Young Shin that I find particularly endearing; she’s brave even when she’s scared half to death. Like in episode 5, in the way that she chooses to face President Hwang; she’s clearly at a disadvantage, but even when she’s heaving for breath and he’s glowering down at her threateningly, she won’t back down. Or the time in episode 10, when Young Shin forges ahead with her mission despite her nerves.

Whenever Young Shin is faced with a scary situation, she consistently takes courage in the face of fear. She consistently judges that something – or someone – else is more important than her own fear, and pushes herself forward anyway. There’s just something really admirable about that.

She’s quick to forgive

Perhaps my most favorite thing about Young Shin, is how she is so quick to forgive. She doesn’t harbor grudges, and the fact that she’s grown up so well-adjusted in spite of her traumatic childhood, is itself evidence of that quality about her.

The time that we see this trait in Young Shin come to the fore, is in episode 16. After having multiple bombshells dropped on her about the truth of her own identity – and by extension, Myung Hee’s identity as her bio mom, as well as Jung Hoo’s identity as the son of the man who supposedly killed her father – she huddles and hides for a time. But it isn’t very long before she reaches out to call Jung Hoo, and it isn’t very long after that, before we see her going to Moon Ho with coffee, cake and smiles, and asking curious questions about everything.

I love that about her, that she can’t stay mad for long. And I love the wonder with which she takes in all the information that Moon Ho gives her in response to her questions. Her delight that Jung Hoo’s her oppa by just one month, is so cute. How can one not love her, right? ❤️

[END SPOILER]

Yoo Ji Tae as Moon Ho

I will admit that Moon Ho was a character that I found difficult to connect with, for most of Show’s run. To Show’s credit, though, this was clearly a deliberate choice, and not, say, a fault with the writing or execution.

Moon Ho is, by design, a character that’s hard to pin down. He’s mysterious, and his motivations are kept ambiguous to us for a long stretch. As I watched the show, so many questions about Moon Ho flooded my mind. [SPOILERS] Is he really as noble and for-the-people as he claims to be? Is he addicted to his fame and popularity as one-time quasi-girlfriend Min Jae (Woo Hee Jin) claims he is? Why is he at odds with his brother? Why is he searching for Young Shin? Why is he engaging night courier services? [END SPOILERS] What’s behind that cryptic smile?

So many questions, and, for the most part, not many answers, when it came to Moon Ho.

It was really only after watching the show that I came to appreciate how a skilled actor like Yoo Ji Tae was really needed to do justice to the role. Moon Ho is a character with many facets and layers. There’s the smiling facade that is bemusingly hard to read, but it occasionally cracks to reveal layers of complex angst within him.

While my personal understanding of Moon Ho as a character felt slow and therefore occasionally frustrating, I must admit that Yoo Ji Tae does an amazing job of delivering him. He comes across as intriguing right off the bat, and is masterful at the wordless, complicated gaze that Moon Ho often wears.

I came way from this show thoroughly impressed by Yoo Ji Tae as an actor (and yes, this show was my introduction to him too, since I don’t watch all that many k-movies and that’s where he spends most of his time).

[SPOILER ALERT]

When I found him dark & dubious

For a good half of Show’s run, there were distinct occasions when I found Moon Ho’s character rather disturbing. The more disturbing I found him, the harder I found it to like him. In fact, sometimes I wasn’t even sure I was supposed to like him.

Here’s a quick list of some of those moments where I found Moon Ho’s behavior disturbing.

1. When Moon Ho tests the waters with Myung Hee in episode 5 and asks her, “What if Ji An were alive?”

The entire scene seemed cruel to my then-uninformed-eyes, because it seemed to me that he tested the waters knowing that it would bring on a fit. Not telling Myung Hee about Ji An also seemed cruel to me, because it was clear that Myung Hee was deeply heartbroken over Ji An’s death.

2. There’s a moment in episode 6 when Moon Ho’s expression becomes dark, hard and almost foreboding, during his phone conversation with Young Shin about the exposé in her hands. Given that Young Shin is clearly our heroine, and that Moon Ho’s expression as he lays out the facts about the industry to her, is anything but friendly, I found him distinctly unlikable in this moment. I found him two-faced and opaque.

3. In episode 8, Young Shin confronts Moon Ho about why he would be receiving emails from Healer. Moon Ho lies quickly on his feet, and manages a reasonable and convincing cover story. Which demonstrates how smart he is, but also shows us how natural the darker side comes to him.

4. In episode 9, Moon Ho says that Healer has no morals and no goodwill, but in the end, he’s the one who seems to skirt the boundaries of morality. Moon Ho requests Healer to give him a warning if the other side were to engage his services, and yet, he gives Healer no such benefit when he uses Healer’s information to get the cooperation of the detective. That’s a clear double standard. And the look on Moon Ho’s face as he offers up Healer to the detective, is deliberate, with a bit of dark, and a bit of relish as well.

All of this added up to make Moon Ho a very interesting character, but also a second lead that I didn’t trust.

When I found him sympathetic

Mixed in with Moon Ho’s darker behaviors, there are other moments that hint of the complexity of his hidden angst, sprinkled throughout the show.

Here’s a quick list of some of the moments where I felt his sincerity, at least in some measure.

1. In episode 2, when he receives news that Young Shin’s DNA sample is a confirmed match for the niece that he’s been searching for, his expression looks almost pained. That was the first hint, for me, that Moon Ho’s backstory and emotions were a lot less straightforward than most.

2. In episode 3, we see that Moon Ho has been having nightmares, all because he believes that he’s committed a sin, by keeping silent.

3. In episode 4, when Moon Ho asks Young Shin to leave the story to him, she takes it the wrong way, but he’s totally right about her not understanding just how precarious her situation is. In this moment, I believed that Moon Ho didn’t mean to steal her thunder, but to shield her.

4. In episode 7, there is a moment when we see Moon Ho’s eyes brimming with tears and emotion while looking at Young Shin during his flashback to the past. We see a similar moment in episode 11, when Moon Ho watches Jung Hoo walk away, and, with tears in his eyes, imagines Jung Hoo walking side by side with his father, displaying the exact mannerisms. In those moments of privacy when no one else is watching, the fact that Moon Ho’s eyes fill with tears, said so much to me, about his core of sincerity.

5. In episode 11, Moon Ho admits to Jung Hoo that he’d tipped off the police about Healer. I like that he came clean with that information without being prompted.

In these moments, I wanted to believe in the good in Moon Ho, because it was in these flashes of honesty and emotion, that I felt like I had glimpsed his truth.

My final takeaway

Because Moon Ho’s behavior dances back and forth on, around and between the line that divides the good and bad, and the moral and amoral (or even immoral), he effectively comes across as quite the mystery, for much of the show.

Yoo Ji Tae plays that moral ambiguity so very well too. When Moon Ho’s being nice, he’s got a boy-next-door quality to him, but when he’s allowing more of his dark side to show, he can look positively intimidating. Because of that, I felt conflicted about Moon Ho for a long time.

By episode 12, however, a piece clicked into place for me, that helped to shed quite a bit of light into Moon Ho as a character. He says to his brother Moon Shik that he’d always thought that he was a better person than his brother, but, “I’m becoming just like you.” It’s a sobering realization, and in that moment, I felt like there is a measure of self-loathing in Moon Ho’s voice.

He wants to think of himself as a better person, but deep down, he realizes that he isn’t really that good of a person. Perhaps Min Jae put it best, when she says to Moon Ho in episode 14, “Honestly, you have a lot of fear… Others say that you’re brave. But, no. You only fight enough, so you don’t get hurt.”

To Moon Ho’s credit, by the end of the show, he makes some tough decisions in favor of being the kind of person he would like to be. In episode 19, as Moon Ho watches Young Shin interact with Myung Hee, his smile shows how pleased he is, in the moment. It’s clear that he’s wanted this for a long time, even though he hasn’t made the bravest choices along that way.

It’s not like Moon Ho ever fully overcomes his weakness of character, but by Show’s end, it’s clear that while he may be weak and dubious at times, deep down, he does have a conscience and sincerely wants to do what’s right. Which is such a human, relatable thing, really – and is eventually what endeared him to me.

[END SPOILER]

Kim Mi Kyung as Ahjumma

OMG I freaking LUFF Kim Mi Kyung as Hacker Ahjumma! ❤️

First of all, I love what a master hacker Ahjumma is. It totally breaks the mold of what one might expect a hacker to look like, and completely raises the bar for all other drama writers in terms of how not to pigeonhole women of a certain age. I just adore how amazing Ahjumma is at what she does; just watching her fingers flying over the keyboard gives me a buzz (hey! That rhymes! Whaddya know, Ahjumma brings out my inner poet! She IS amazing).

Second of all, I love her sass. She’s witty and smart-mouthed, and consistently unleashes her sauciness while wearing the most droll, deadpan expression. So cute.

Thirdly, I love that even though she ribs Jung Hoo, and flippantly interrupts his meals as a matter of habit and entertainment, yet, she always, always has his back. She’s caring and loyal underneath the droll insolence, and it’s awesome.

As an essential aside, I can’t help but give a shout-out to her adorable kimbap obsession and her fondness for knitting, even while she keeps a hawk eye on her multiple computer screens. Guh. I lurve Ahjumma! ❤️

[SPOILER ALERT]

As we get deeper into the show, we learn more about Ahjumma, and I have to say, her backstory completely gutted me.

I mean, to have lost her son – and thereafter her husband too; effectively, her entire family – because of her dedication to her job, but then to be told to cover up the very case that cost her everything? Augh. What a price to pay, for a job that wasn’t even worth it. It’s no wonder she went guerrilla, and now looks at most things with an air of cynicism.

Despite her painful past, Ahjumma cares deeply for Jung Hoo, and I love that. We see this most in episode 14, when Ahjumma gets all dressed up and goes to the cafe to talk with Young Shin, all for Jung Hoo’s sake. For his sake, she’s coming out of her lair; for his sake, she’s harnessing Young Shin’s help; for his sake, she’s checking Young Shin’s gaze, to make sure that it’s ok to tell her.

Aw. So much love, right there. You just can’t not love Ahjumma. ❤️

[END SPOILER]

Park Sang Won as Moon Shik

Moon Shik is one of Show’s major antagonists, and Park Sang Won plays him with a smug, almost serene sense of self-righteousness that I found suitably aggravating, particularly as we got into the later stretch of the show.

To Show’s credit, Moon Shik is one of the more complex antagonists that I’ve seen in dramaland, and Show makes efforts to unveil his layers of angst and humanize him, even while his behavior remained inexcusable.

I never actually felt sympathetic to his character, but by Show’s end, I felt like I could understand how a person in his situation might have made the decisions he did.

[SPOILER ALERT]

One of the things that I found most despicable about Moon Shik, is how he seemed to genuinely believe that he was innocent of wrongdoing, in spite of doing many things that were Very Bad Indeed.

Just for the record, here are just a handful of times when I was appalled by Moon Shik’s behavior.

1. In episode 12, I was shocked at Moon Shik’s ability to smile at Young Shin and make jovial small talk, when he was the one who had allowed her to stay lost and therefore, by omission, was the one who had abandoned her.

2. In the same episode, Moon Shik uses Jung Hoo’s mom to lure Healer. I mean, that’s someone whom he knows, the wife of the friend that he ostensibly killed, and all he has to say about it is, “It’s too bad. I didn’t want to go this far.” His phrasing is especially telling; it absolves him of responsibility. He’s basically saying that Healer’s non-response is forcing his hand. Ugh.

3. We see in episode 15, in Moon Shik’s conversation with Moon Ho, that Moon Shik seems to honestly believe that he’s done nothing wrong, because Secretary Oh has done all the dirty work. Which is so delusional.

4. The fact that Moon Shik demands the best for Teacher’s funeral, when he’s the one who ordered him killed, is just sick.

5. I cannot believe how cold and calculated Moon Shik is, when in episode 16, he doesn’t even hesitate when his men ask if push comes to shove, where his priorities lie. He’d choose the tape over Jung Hoo’s life. And yet, he thinks he’s a good person. Just, how?

Intermittently, we see evidence of Moon Shik’s mental instability, in the form of his hallucinations of his dead friends. And while I do feel sorry for anyone who doesn’t have control of his right mind, I absolutely don’t excuse any of Moon Shik’s lies and crimes. For the record, I do think Show let him off rather easily (more on that later).

[END SPOILER]

Special Shout-outs

Park Sang Myun as Young Shin’s Dad

Awwww. Dadddd. ❤️

Young Shin’s Dad is one of my favorite secondary characters in this show. He’s literally one of the sweetest, most awesome dads I’ve seen in dramaland. He’s patient, supportive, caring, and loving, and manages to be protective while being an enabler. Plus, through it all, he’s completely present in his daughter’s life, while possessing a sense of humor.

Altogether, that about makes him a thousand times better than the average kdrama dad, right?

[SPOILER ALERT]

The thing that moved me most about Dad, is how he chose Young Shin at the orphanage, when she’d been a scrawny kid who wouldn’t eat nor play. I love that flashback of Dad coaxing a distrusting Young Shin out of her shell. It’s terribly sad, that Young Shin suffered so much as a child, but Dad is so kind and so awesome, in how he starts to build a connection with her. He didn’t force anything on Young Shin then, frightened and suspicious as she was; he simply waited for her, and then loved her.

Sweet Dad really is her savior, and I love him, So Much, for how well he’s loved Young Shin to wholeness. ❤️

[END SPOILER]

Do Ji Won as Myung Hee

Even though Myung Hee is a relatively minor character who doesn’t get as much screen time as some of our other characters, Do Ji Won does such a good job in the role that I couldn’t help but feel impressed anyway.

I love the sweet energy that Do Ji Won gives Myung Hee, who comes across as infinitely graceful and warm in spite of her disability. I love that Myung Hee gets a growth arc of her own, and that we get to witness it.

[SPOILER ALERT]

First of all, I just have to give a shout-out to Do Ji Won’s delivery of Myung Hee’s seizures. Each of the fits felt completely real, and I found them utterly unnerving to watch; she was so good.

I was also very impressed with her delivery of Myung Hee’s growing troubled-ness over suspicions of what was really going on with her husband. It was all very convincingly played, and given that Myung Hee often broods alone, very impressively conveyed indeed.

One of my favorite Myung Hee moments is when Myung Hee takes it upon herself to find out the truth. Her inner reporter came gloriously to the surface as she planted bugs and kept tabs on her husband, and alerted Moon Ho to her findings. I like that in the process, she regains some personal agency, and demonstrates her steely inner core.

I also love the way Myung Hee leaves Moon Shik in episode 19. She’s got tears in her eyes, but she’s not having a seizure, and she’s not assigning blame. She just doesn’t trust him, and has better things to do with her life now than be his trophy wife. She’s going to find her own daughter, whether he likes it or not, and I want to give her a standing ovation, not only for what she does, but also, the matter-of-fact, steely manner in which she does it. So good.

[END SPOILER]

Oh Kwang Rok as Teacher

I have a big ol’ soft spot for Oh Kwang Rok, coz he so often plays sweet underdog types, like his Sweet Dad role in High School King. I love that here, as Teacher, he gets to show off a bit of badassery, while still lending the role his signature brand of sweet.

[SPOILER ALERT]

The thing that lingers most with me, with Teacher, is how he’s essentially very selfless, in spite of Jung Hoo’s accusations of abandonment.

It’s true that Ahjusshi left Jung Hoo in a terribly insensitive and abrupt manner, but it’s also true that Ahjusshi had literally put his own life on hold for years, to train Jung Hoo. That’s more than most of us would do, so I’m unwilling to judge him too harshly.

Plus, in spite of it all, Ahjusshi cares deeply about Jung Hoo. We see this in episode 13, when he jumps in to save Jung Hoo without hesitation. It only hints at what is to come, that Teacher dies to save Jung Hoo. When he felt the poison in his body, he didn’t even attempt to ask for help. He simply plowed on, and made the best he could out of the situation. You can almost hear him thinking, “Ah. I’ve been poisoned. I should make the best of my time and create a cover for Jung Hoo.” Tears. Teach showed tough love to Jung Hoo all the way, and sometimes, didn’t even seem to really care. But in this one moment, we see that Teach really does care. He cares enough to die for Jung Hoo. Oof.

On top of it all, Teacher’s last message to Jung Hoo is so kind. He even smiles for the camera as he tells Jung Hoo, “Give it up. Go live with the woman you love, raising two kids, a dog, two cats, a few goldfish. I should have.”

Augh. Just so, so kind. ❤️

[END SPOILER]

Jang Sung Bum as Jong Soo

Heh. I couldn’t help a lightning-quick spotlight on Jong Soo. I found him funny, and I love that even though he was consistently at Moon Ho’s mercy, he was always, always loyal.

RELATIONSHIPS

There are so many relationships worth talking about in this show – which is evidence of some excellent writing – but it’s pretty much impossible to talk about them all. I’m gonna just zoom in on some of the more interesting relationships, with (quite a bit of) special attention on my favorite – the OTP. ❤️

Jung Hoo and Young Shin

Ji Chang Wook and Park Min Young share a fantastic, crackling chemistry as our OTP. Whether Jung Hoo and Young Shin are in a romantic space in their relationship or not, their interactions feel completely natural and organic. They are just so comfortable with each other. There is no stiffness between them whatsoever, and the result is an OTP that is amazingly easy to lose oneself in.

I lost my heart to this OTP completely, and I felt along with them, and held my breath with them, and flailed along with them, all the way to the very end. ❤️

These two are among my all-time favorite OTPs, ever.

I.. realize that I have so much that I’d like to say about this OTP that I’m not even sure how to cover it all. So I’m gonna break this section up into 3 parts, to make it easier for me to keep things straight in my head, and also, to make it easier for you guys to navigate (if you prefer to skip ahead): 1. The road to romance, 2. Why this OTP works so well, for me, and 3. Squee-worthy moments.

1. The road to romance

One of the things that Show does so well, is tease out the development of the OTP relationship in a way that feels natural and organic, in spite of the slightly fantastical premise.

More often than I’d like, dramas tend to fast-track the development of the OTP relationship using several key incidents, along with a hearty helping of tropes and romantic shorthand, to get the OTP to go from strangers at their meet-cute, to a couple that’s madly in love with each other.

Not with this show, not with this writer, and not with this OTP – and for that, I am extremely grateful.

Along with a journey of several milestones, writer-nim takes care to tease out our OTP’s feelings and develop them in a believable fashion, while imbuing their connection with meaning. Love that.

Here, I’m just going to highlight some the key milestones in Jung Hoo’s evolving feelings towards Young Shin. Because Young Shin is written as a girl who’s sunny and who reaches out easily to connect with others, and also because Young Shin already has a strong interest in Healer when we first meet her, Jung Hoo is the harder sell, and where Show chooses to focus, at least at first.

[SPOILER ALERT]

(1) There’s curiosity

I love Jung Hoo’s responses to Young Shin, as his curiosity about her grows. It’s quite thrilling to see his bemusement evolve into a genuine curiosity about her, which then builds upon itself until he’s fascinated by her – and eventually can’t help but care about her.

While all this is going on, Young Shin continues to be her cheery, quirky, likable self, and I found myself falling for her, right along with Jung Hoo.

My favorite Curious Jung Hoo moment is in episode 3, when Jung Hoo hides under Young Shin’s bed while she talks to herself and then starts singing and dancing. I love the bemused incredulous faces that Jung Hoo flashes as he hides under the bed (priceless), particularly when Young Shin starts changing her clothes and kicks her pajama pants over his face. So funny!

(2) There’s growing care

Along with the curiosity arc, we see Jung Hoo starting to care about Young Shin, in spite of himself. I found this easy to believe, since all the time that he spends observing her is time we’ve spent observing her too. I found myself caring about her, right along with Jung Hoo. Which means that when Jung Hoo showed flashes of care towards Young Shin, I cheered.

Like in episode 5, when Jung Hoo asks Ahjumma whether the Double S guys would torture or hurt Young Shin. And in episode 8, when Young Shin falls asleep in the car, and Jung Hoo drives with her head in his hand.

These are small beats interspersed in the curiosity arc, and these small beats really add up. On their own, they’re already rather melty, but added up, they build up really nicely towards the bigger, more dramatic moments. I loved watching Jung Hoo’s flickers of care for Young Shin as he softened towards her, in spite of himself.

(3) Bouts of jealousy

Jealousy is a great catalyst when it’s used well, and I must say, it’s put to judicious, savvy use by writer-nim.

Just when Jung Hoo’s becoming more hyper-aware of Young Shin, there’s occasion for him to feel peevish – like in episode 10, when he overhears Young Shin’s giddy, enthusiastic phone call with Moon Ho. Jung Hoo’s displeasure is clear as day; he hates that Young Shin is this affected by Moon Ho. Even funnier, Jung Hoo gets to be jealous of himself too, since Young Shin’s other crush is on Healer – but sees him as nerdy Bong Soo.

I found Jealous Jung Hoo endlessly amusing. And while I loved the fun of watching him squirm, there was also that added thrill of what it all meant: growing feeeelings. Eee!

(4) The desire to be honest

The evolution of Jung Hoo’s feelings towards Young Shin culminates in that Moment in episode 11, when Jung Hoo tells Ahjumma that he wants to tell Young Shin about himself, to come clean.

Squee. Swoon. Flail.

Plus, I love the fact that Jung Hoo homes in on the fact that he feels safe with Young Shin. Augh, that’s the stuff of warm fuzzies. On top of it all, the look on his face, as he says this, is so full. There’s a lot of burgeoning emotion behind the expression: caution, yet wistfulness; hope, and a warming in his heart, and I love it. ❤️

2. Why this couple works so well, for me

Beyond the swoon of cracky chemistry and growing feelings, there are deeper things about this OTP connection that move me.

There’s shared empathy

I appreciate that even though Show gives Jung Hoo and Young Shin a childhood past, that this doesn’t come off with a Fated First Love sort of vibe. Instead, the vibe it gives off is that of shared experience, matter-of-fact and poignant in one. Both Jung Hoo and Young Shin have painful childhoods, and bear the scars to go with, and neither of them actually talks about that past much at all.

Yet, this painful commonality is something that enables them to identify with each other, at a very fundamental level.

In episode 2, when Jung Hoo listens to (and films) Young Shin talking about her own past to help Suicidal Unni off the ledge of the building, he refuses to record the shared tears following after. Which makes me feel that Young Shin’s sharing about her painful childhood resonated with him on a pretty deep level.

In episode 5, Jung Hoo compares Young Shin with the leopard in the documentary who wouldn’t back down, even when it knew it had no chance of survival. It’s a point on which he can identify with Young Shin, since Jung Hoo shares that style and attitude, of not backing down just because the situation doesn’t appear favorable.

Because both Jung Hoo and Young Shin are survivors who have come through the fire with steely won’t-back-down attitudes in spite of their scars, I feel like they can truly understand each other in ways that others can’t.

He calms her and makes her feel safe

There’s just something about Jung Hoo that calms Young Shin, who suffers violence-triggered panic attacks as a result of her childhood trauma.

Young Shin may not know it yet (at the time), but she just seems drawn to Jung Hoo. Whether she’s half asleep, or hyperventilating in the office, or in the elevator – and whether Jung Hoo is Healer or Bong Soo – she’s automatically calmed each time she reaches for Jung Hoo’s hand. And oh man, the Look in Jung Hoo’s eyes each time, as she clings to his arm, is so full of heart.

I just love that she feels safe with him.

She makes him want to live and connect

I love that Young Shin makes Jung Hoo want to connect. When we first meet him, he’s determined to buy and move to his own island and leave the world behind. And yet, spending time with Young Shin makes Jung Hoo want differently. Eventually, we see him wanting to find a way to live in this world, with Young Shin, as the real him.

I believe a big part of it, is coming to terms with the fact that he can be loved, and that he can receive love. In episode 10, we see that Jung Hoo is hit hard, by knowing that Young Shin cares about him (as Healer).

Essentially, every time he looks like that in the show, is when she shows him that she cares for him and understands him. It kills me a little, that Jung Hoo hasn’t had any of that all his life, and that’s pretty much why it hits him this hard. There’s an unfamiliarity to it, which is part of his stunned vibe.

I love that Young Shin is the one who shows him that he’s precious, and that he is worthy to be loved. And I love that this basically helps him to see life in a whole new way.

Giving space

I’m coming to realize that a guy manhandling his female lead is one of my pet drama peeves. All too often, this manhandling is portrayed as romantic and desirable (like in recently-wrapped drama Beautiful Gong Shim, for example), and even though I used to swoon along with everyone else in my early drama-watching days, I find that it really bothers me now.

In a show like this, where Badass Healer really does manhandle Young Shin in the earlier episodes (like when he was on assignment getting her DNA sample, or rescuing her), I appreciate all the more, the care that is taken to show us that this isn’t how Jung Hoo relates with Young Shin romantically.

In episode 19, after Jung Hoo and Young Shin are reunited after the kidnapping arc, I love that Jung Hoo doesn’t impose his hug on her, but opens his arms, and she is the one who delves into them with so much need and relief.

Melt. ❤️

Connection, on every level

With this OTP, connection is a recurring (& very meaningful) theme.

Jung Hoo’s always been isolated from the world at large, and he’s never been one to make connections with others. But when Young Shin comes into his life, she’s the one who starts reaching out for him, on a regular basis. When he trails her as Healer and takes her bag, she chases him down. When he shows up at work as Park Bong Soo, she grabs his wrist on his first day, and walks with him like that. On the roof, she reaches for, and touches his chest.

Eventually, he reaches out too, like the time he’s instructed by Moon Ho via Ahjumma not to have any contact with Young Shin, and he willfully reaches out and touches her on the forehead, to make contact.

She reaches out to him first, and that’s how he learns to reach out too. I love that.

3. Squee-worthy scenes

There are so many OTP scenes that I find memorable and special, that I simply could not pick just a few favorites. So here’re more than just a few of my favorites. 😉

Slo-mo dash

I love this slo-mo dash in episode 5, where Young Shin thinks she’s protecting Bong Soo by grabbing his hand and running out of the fray. That alone is super cute, but what makes me swoon into a puddle is the way Jung Hoo steals a satisfied, amused, affectionate smirk at Young Shin.

Squee!!

Phone conversation

I love this phone conversation between Young Shin and Jung Hoo in episode 6.

On the one hand, we see him being Badass Healer, leaping off a tall building without even betraying a change in his breathing pattern, while on the phone with Young Shin. Eee! So. Breathtaking. On the other hand, it’s sweet, coz the whole reason he’s leaping off the building, is so that he can see Young Shin’s face while she talks to him. I love how he gets as close to her as possible. ❤️

Even more, I love the look on Jung Hoo’s face when Young Shin admits that she’s got a crush on a night courier, and the realization starts to hit. The stunned shock. The disbelief. The look in his eyes, and the softest hint of the sheen of tears, like he can’t believe someone feels anything for him. Oof.

I also love the opposite confessions, that she’s got a crush on Healer, and feels like Bong Soo is her sister. Jung Hoo’s face at both confessions is priceless. His stunned shock to realize she’s talking about having a crush on him (as Healer), followed quickly by a quick flash of amused pleasure on his face at her confession that she feels comfortable with him (as Bong Soo), then followed by completely incredulous bemusement at her estimation that it feels like they’re sisters. Ha!

Rooftop handhold

I love this scene in episode 7. The chest-touching and handholding is fleeting, but crackling intensity fills the moment. OMG the way he looks at her, it’s so intense. And the way he walks up close to her and leans in. Oof.

And the hands. It’s the first time their hands meet like this. She, reaching out to touch him, and he, reaching up to hold her hand briefly, on the necessary pretext of putting it away from him. Plus, the sexy lower registers of his voice, so alluringly sexy.

Flail.

The Look

The way Jung Hoo looks at Young Shin is one of my favorite things in this show, because it always feels like there’s so much emotion there.

Like this moment in episode 8, when a rather despondent Young Shin confesses why she’s upset & therefore preening for the camera:

Hello everyone. You are looking at a woman who has been rejected by her Crushes 1 and 2 simultaneously, who is here with clear mind to report all the same.” … “Number 1 called this woman a human shield, and Number 2 thinks of her as a delusional attention seeker. However, let us forget this readily. Like a sad dream conjured in the middle of the night, which goes like darkness at the light of dawn. Let us forget. Let us pretend it never happen-“

Throughout Young Shin’s rambling, Jung Hoo just looks at her, and the way he looks at her is intense. He’s mesmerized and yet the brave face that she puts on seems to touch him and twist him up inside, all at once. Augh.

The elevator shaft rescue + rooftop kiss

I love-love-love the combination of the elevator shaft rescue with the rooftop kiss in episode 8.

The way Healer rescues Young Shin is swift, daring and so badass. He moves so quickly and decisively, and his rescue is so confident and precise. Swoon. I love that Young Shin tearfully yells at Healer afterwards, for putting himself in danger over her, a mere paycheck. Aw, it shows that beyond the mortification, she really cares.

This is the turning point for Jung Hoo, coz at this point, his description of himself is all in the past tense:

“After becoming alone, up till now, I hadn’t wished for anything from another person. And so, I was fine.” … “I didn’t care at all whether anyone understood or misunderstood me. I was like that.”

…Which means that now with Young Shin, he does wish for something from her, he does care that she understands. And that’s probably why he kisses her. And it’s such a gentle, tender kiss, when she feels most vulnerable. Importantly, he takes off his gloves before he does; it’s not business, it’s personal. And then there’s the way he pauses and just looks at her, before tentatively, gently, moving in for the kiss. Swoon.

I love the after-kiss moments just as much. The way he looks at her is actually hotter than the kiss itself; he’s smoldering with so much unspoken emotion. And OMG it occurs to me that because of Healer’s loner tendencies all these years, that was probably his first kiss, ever.

To make a perfect scene even more perfect, I love that Healer’s legs give way under him, and his vital signs go into overdrive, post-kiss. So heart-tuggingly adorable. I was worried for a second, thinking that maybe he’d fractured his leg in the process of the rescue and was feeling it only now, but then I realized that this was his body reacting post-adrenaline, and it’s just really sweet to know that Young Shin affects him that much. Healer, who, as per Ahjumma’s description, wouldn’t fall even if someone threw him down, actually went soft in the legs and tripped, because of Young Shin. Aw. ❤️

The rooftop confession

I love how Jung Hoo leans in meaningfully, wanting to lay a kiss on Young Shin’s forehead. Though he doesn’t get to do it, that intent in his eyes and the slow way he leans in, is full of meaning and tension, and it definitely brings the feels. So swoony.

My heart completely melted at Jung Hoo’s confession, and his offer to stay by her side, living the way she wants him to; so earnest, serious and sincere. I really felt like this is Jung Hoo ready to give up his entire existence as Healer, to be Bong Soo by her side. Forever.

Wow. That’s a very big offer, and it blows me away that Jung Hoo wants to be with Young Shin this much. It’s almost like Superman offering to give up being Superman. The magnitude of his offer, made so unassumingly, simply takes my breath away.

Incognito date

OMG the date. It’s so swoon-worthy, though it borders a touch on creepy, having a date with someone whose face you can’t see. Suspension of disbelief is required, but I suspended it willingly for the sake of the OTP awesome.

Young Shin not turning around to look at him, but being so very aware of his presence, lifts the romantic tension quite a few notches. It makes me feel like she can feel him in the room, even though she can’t see him. And that moment when he reaches out to grab her hand: Eee!!! He doesn’t want her to go, isn’t ready for her to go. And reckless as it is, he reaches for her, touches her.

That tender touching of their hands, isn’t just a regular hand-hold. It’s the summation of their feelings for each other, spilling out and being expressed in that one single touch. Tenderness, wistfulness, the whole sentiment of I-want-more, and I-wish-I-could-give-more, coming together in such a burgeoning, full, shared moment, where their hands linger for as long as possible, and they each savor the moment, as much as possible.

Oof. So good. ❤️

Her hand remembers

It’s so great that it’s the handhold that clues Young Shin to Bong Soo’s real identity. I love how she pieces the clues together in her mind. They say that muscle memory is a powerful thing, and I love that even when Young Shin’s brain doesn’t register that Bong Soo is Healer, her hand remembers him. Swoon.

The folded paper star is such a sweet touch too. In that one item, she knows that he was there with her when she was waiting for him, and that he came, and that he cared enough to save that star as a keepsake. And I love how she now realizes what Bong Soo had meant on the rooftop, about living the way she wanted, and staying next to her, if she’d let him. She knows that he was willing to give up being Healer, for her. Wow.

The realization’s aftermath

I love the conversation that Young Shin has with Jung Soo in episode 13, as a result of him choosing east instead of west.

First, I love that when he realizes that west would’ve been a hug, he immediately says that he wants to change his choice. Cuteness! Second, I love everything that is said, in all its sideways hidden forms. Young Shin, telling him that she’d holding back because she wants to hug him, and kiss him, and hold his hand. That must totally mess with his mind! And how he says that that person must have a reason, and Young Shin says she knows, and that she’s waiting. Such important messages from both of them to each other.

Third, I love how he tries to react and respond to her, but fails. How she leans her head momentarily on his shoulder, and how he tries to touch her hair but fails coz she moves away, and how their hands brush ever so lightly together as she starts to leave, and how he tries to reach for her in that same moment, but she’s moved away. So well played, the timing is so perfect, and that movement, so reminiscent of the back to back handholding we had at the theatre.

Lastly, I love how Jung Hoo suddenly seems to tower over her. He suddenly appears so large and tall and broad and manly, and I swoon.

Connecting in the cave

I just have to say it: I love everything about this scene in the cave, in episode 14.

First, Jung Hoo thinking that Young Shin is a dream, and pronouncing it “daebak” despite his weakened condition. Really cute. And then how she climbs into bed to hold him, when he says he’s cold; so sweet. What totally gets me is how he snuggles into her. He finds comfort in her embrace, and it shows, and I love it.

That whole scene, of Jung Hoo trying to get Young Shin to leave, and Young Shin refusing to, is so great. I love that she’s not afraid of him, even though he’s being cold and surly, and almost threatening. Plus, Jung Hoo post-Healer-reveal, has consistently looked really tall and broad, and so with the surly demeanor, he does actually look a little threatening. But Young Shin, completely unafraid of him, refusing to leave his side, just breaks through his defenses.

The way he crumples into her and starts to cry – oof – my heart broke for him, that he was in so much pain. But my heart also welled up for him, that he was able to release some of that pain in the arms of the one he loves.

And then there’s the way she wipes the tears from his eyes, and how she leans in to kiss him, and how his lips lock on hers to kiss her right back. OMG. So swoony, and so very tender. ❤️

A sort-of tangent in defense of writer-nim

The issue of them sleeping together at this point, before he’s told her everything, before she knows his name even, was a sore point with quite a number of my dramaland friends. It felt like too much too soon for a lot of people, and I can understand that point of view.

At the same time, I do get where writer-nim is coming from, with this narrative choice.

Why sleep together now, at this point? Because, in Jung Hoo’s very raw state of pain, besides grieving Teacher’s death, he’s also grieving the loss of a connection. Jung Hoo has so few connections in the world. In shutting himself down and cutting himself off from the world, he disconnected with everything and everyone. And in this moment, Young Shin is connecting with him in the most profound way a human being can connect with another human being. Making love to him is the deepest, most complete way she can connect with him. Not with words, but going beyond words, to the heart and emotion and love that comes directly from her heart, that defy full expression in words.

Also, Jung Hoo’s been portrayed as socially awkward to some extent, because of how isolated he’s been for years, from the world at large. In his anger and hurt, he’s like an injured wildcat. Words can only do so much. She speaks to him in a language much more basic and fundamental, that reaches beyond his fears. It’s a primal, right-down-to-your-essence sort of connection, and Jung Hoo responds to it, sinks into it, clings to it.

We see him clinging to it in the way he keeps reaching for Young Shin the next day. He’s not “putting the moves on her.” He’s reaching for her, seeking to connect to her, in every possible moment, in any possible way, even if it’s just to drape himself over her as she prepares breakfast.

And Jung Hoo’s expression as he connects to her, is so multi-textured, and delivered so masterfully by Ji Chang Wook. I can feel Jung Hoo’s wonder, his need, his hunger, his comfort, and his pleasure as he cleaves to her. It’s just so, so beautiful, and fulfilling, and so gratifying to witness.

I love how he keeps reaching for her, like how he pulls her towards him even while she’s asleep. And when she wakes and thinks he’s not there, he’s right there just drinking in the sight of her, as much as his eyes can fill. In fact, in every moment that he reaches for her, touches her and kisses her, it feels like he’s just soaking her in, drinking of her presence. She’s like his life source right now, and he’s partaking of her presence like he’s parched. And so he should be, after being so isolated for so long.

To me, it all felt real and genuine; organic. This is the real him. Meeting the real her. And this is the new them. ❤️

She jumps into spy-mode

I think it’s adorable and all kinds of cool that Young Shin actively participates in Healer operations, and that she and Jung Hoo are able to work together so well.

I love the little moment when she listens in on Jung Hoo’s conversation with Ahjumma about the operation at hand, and gets this goofy grin on her face as she swoons at her boyfriend’s coolness. And I love the way Jung Hoo gets all wrapped up over the word “boyfriend” – it’s adorable. His face has that mix of wonder, pleasure, awkwardness and unfamiliarity all meshed into one, and it’s melty goodness.

There’s another little moment in episode 17, when Jung Hoo and Young Shin are in the car and Young Shin’s all in spy-mode and tsk-ing at the car on their tail. I love that Jung Hoo looks over at her with a stifled expression that’s a mix of amusement, pride, and how-can-my-girl-be-this-cool? LOVE.

“Even if you don’t find it, come back”

In episode 16, when Young Shin is unable to accept Jung Hoo’s efforts to connect, he respects her space and leaves quietly, promising to find evidence to prove that his father didn’t kill hers. I love that Young Shin takes only moments – moments! – to fly after him, and I love her earnest request, “You have to find it and come back.” And even better, “Even if you don’t find it, come back.” YES.

I love how she promises that she will look for that evidence too. She doesn’t just put it all on Jung Hoo. I love how she repeats her request, that he come back even if he can’t find it, and how she tells him he’s a good person. I love that she’s the one who pulls him in for a hug, coz this is her, reaching right back. Eee!

The scene is just full of raw, burgeoning emotion, and it’s just so beautifully played, especially in how Jung Hoo strokes her face before leaving …And then, comes right back for a deeply tender kiss.

Guh. Flail. Puddle. ❤️

Dad and Ahjusshi reacting in shock at everything is just icing on the cake.

[END SPOILER]

Jung Hoo and Ahjumma

The relationship between Jung Hoo and Ahjumma is one of my favorite things in this show. I love how well they work together; he trusts her completely, and she’s always got his back.

More than anything, I love how well they know each other, and how deeply they care, even if it’s all gruff words and sarcastic barbs on the surface. Show demonstrates that intimate understanding in a myriad of small throwaway moments, which I love. [MINOR SPOILER] Like in episode 12, when Ahjumma starts talking to Jung Hoo about how reckless he’s being while waving a spatula around, and he immediately surmises, without even needing to be there, that she must be hungry coz she’s starting to nag. So cute! [END MINOR SPOILER]

[SPOILER ALERT]

Hands-down my favorite moment of this relationship, is when Jung Hoo and Ahjuma finally meet in person in episode 19. I love how he saves her, and I love how she gruffly apologizes about leaving his evidence behind. Better yet, I love how Jung Hoo doesn’t even seem to notice it, and just keeps looking at her, as if to check if she’s real.

He’s got this thrilled little boy vibe about him, and I feel like he’s loving the fact that he finally gets to meet his virtual mother who’s nagged him for years, and loved him and protected him, in her own gruff way. And it’s just like her to feel uncomfortable about him gazing at her in his amused, sorta adoring way. Hee.

It’s so perfect that his proposal to her isn’t based on money, but on fun. And I love that even though she always says that she only does stuff for money, that she buys in anyway.

These two. So awesome. ❤️

[END SPOILER]

Jung Hoo and Teacher

Jung Hoo and Teacher don’t share a whole lot of screen time, but they go back such a long way, and their relationship runs so deep, that thinking about it still moves me.

[SPOILER ALERT]

Even though Teacher raised Jung Hoo with tough love that seemed unreasonably unsympathetic, Show demonstrates just how much these two mean to each other. I cried a river when Teacher willingly put his own life on the line to save Jung Hoo – and lost it. Jung Hoo’s violent, guttural grief at Teacher’s passing was completely heartbreaking as well.

I do love where we eventually leave these two, though. In episode 15, when Jung Hoo takes Teacher’s ashes home, it felt like a fitting and satisfying sort of closure. Since Jung Hoo hadn’t gotten to spend a lot of time with Teacher before, I find it oddly sweet that Teacher will now be spending a lot of time in Jung Hoo’s home.

I love the little detail, of Jung Hoo having Teacher’s ashes right in front of the screen when the broadcast of the exposé airs, and that Young Shin is there with him. It feels like Jung Hoo is finally at home, surrounded by the people who love him.

[END SPOILER]

Young Shin and Dad

This father-daughter relationship warmed my heart, so much. I just love that they’re the kind of father-daughter pair that sits around making kimchi together, and dance together like no one’s watching, and talk & share so openly with each other.

There are lots of lovely father-daughter moments peppered throughout the show, which gives us a warm flavor for their close relationship.

[MINOR SPOILER ALERT] 

One of my favorites is a little moment in episode 18, when Young Shin nicks one of Myung Hee’s cookies and takes it home to share with Dad. It’s so cute how they treat the cookie so preciously, and it’s really sweet how Dad savors the cookie as much as Young Shin does. He’s literally experiencing the moment with her, as she gets to know her mother just that little bit better.

Just, so much warm-fuzzy awesome. ❤️

[END SPOILER]

Moon Ho and Myung Hee

I wanted to give this relationship a quick shout-out because there really is a sweet bond between Myung Hee and Moon Ho. They care about each other deeply, and it dates back to when Moon Ho was a little kid who needed to be told that it was ok to cry over spilt milk.

I do love that they have a bond that is separate from Myung Hee’s marriage with Moon Shik. I get the feeling that whether or not Myung Hee ever married Moon Shik, that she would’ve been Moon Ho’s noona, regardless, and there’s something very endearing about that.

Moon Ho and Jung Hoo

Oh, these two. They spend much of the series apart, but once they get properly into each others’ orbits, they seem to affect each other in fairly subtle yet important ways.

[SPOILER ALERT]

For a season, Jung Hoo bristles at Moon Ho’s efforts to be chummy and familiar with him; a dynamic that I found quite enjoyable. Moon Ho definitely rubs him the wrong way, for a variety of reasons, and I love that Jung Hoo either can’t hide it, or doesn’t bother to. To Moon Ho’s credit, Moon Ho does show Jung Hoo consistent gentleness, despite Jung Hoo’s brusqueness.

Over time, these two start to challenge each other with their different ways of thinking, which not only forces some relationship development, but also drives our story forward. I do really like that ultimately, they come together to work towards a common goal. That shared goal unites them in spite of their differences, which is a detail that I liked a lot.

[END SPOILER]

Moon Ho and Moon Shik

The deeply dysfunctional relationship between this pair of brothers is something that I was curious about right off the bat. Everything’s cordial on the surface but beneath the surface, there is a lot of bad blood, and they are on opposite sides.

The unveiling of what was really going on between them, hidden in the myriad of riddles in which they spoke, was something that intrigued me all series long.

SHOW’S WEAKNESSES

Right. I did say that I would mention a couple of Show’s weaknesses, didn’t I?

Just for the record, here are a couple of them:

1. The fragmented nature of the backstory reveal can get confusing, especially since, including our leads, there are 9 characters whose younger selves show up at various times during flashbacks. When you’re in the early episodes, it’s often easy to get some of them mixed up, and therefore not really figure out what’s really going on.

To make it even harder, flashbacks are interspersed throughout the episodes, revealing only bits and pieces of information to us. With each flashback, our fragmented understanding of the past continues to build, but it’s really easy to lose track of the little details. Which means that it’s very possible to end up quite confused, if you haven’t been paying close attention.

2. Very occasionally, a character or plot point might not be treated in a way that I felt was organic.

[SPOILER ALERT]

Like in episode 10, when Jung Hoo wants to spend some alone-time with Young Shin, the way he gets the other car off their tail, and then Young Shin out of the car, is so not Bong Soo-like that I’d be totally confused if I were Jong Soo or Young Shin. That’s one time that I felt Healer’s cover as Bong Soo didn’t work so well.

For an operation so high-level and longstanding as the Elder’s, I’m surprised that they would engineer President Hwang’s death (episode 10) in a way that was so neat that it’d arouse the suspicion of the detectives. That doesn’t feel in character with the cold, efficient, hard-to-beat organization that we’d come to know.

[END SPOILER]

Yes, this is a very short list, heh.

THEMES & MOTIFS

Show’s actually pretty rich in terms of the themes and motifs that are woven into our story. Here’s a quick rundown of the main ones.

  • The influence that our environment has on us, shown in both Young Shin and Jung Hoo.
  • The cornered leopard who wouldn’t back down; being brave even when you’re scared. Facing your fears head-on and not running away.
  • Motif of the animal kingdom.
  • Motif of hands. It’s the most basic way that Jung Hoo and Young Shin connect. From the time they were children, to the present, when they don’t even know they have a shared past. She holds his arm for comfort. And on the roof, he holds her hand. Then when he rescues her, he takes off his gloves before kissing her. And the whole hand-gasm date.
  • Of needing people. Others’ care, attention and understanding. Even a rooftop-leaping superhero needs people.
  • Of family, whether biological family or gained family. Jung Hoo is like Ahjumma’s new son. Dad is both Young Shin’s father and mother. Teacher is like Jung Hoo’s dad.
  • Coldness = isolation. That’s why Jung Hoo always feels cold, because he’s isolated.
  • Healer’s cave, a metaphor for how he’s cut himself off from the world, and Young Shin picking her way in, is exactly how she finds her way to his heart.

THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING

All in all, I thought that Healer ended on a satisfying note. Yes, there were some things that I wished for, but by and large, the finale left me feeling content, with a big smile on my face, and that’s what’s important.

I love that it was Team Healer that took down the baddies, and I love – like, really love! – that we get to see them working together. Jung Hoo being a double agent was also satisfying to watch. The twist of Jung Hoo’s fake death was admittedly rather stressful to watch, but thankfully Show didn’t keep us in suspense for too long.

I freaking loved the twin looks of shock on Ahjusshi’s and Dad’s faces as they watched “timid Bong Soo” basically kick ass like a pro. The immediate respect on Ahjusshi’s face is priceless. The call-back to Jung Hoo coming back for a kiss is bonus, and really cute. It’s too bad we didn’t actually get to see any, since he decided against it, but more shocked looks from Ahjusshi and Dad would’ve been great. 😉

I really enjoyed the beat of Dae Yong (Tae Mi) kicking ass to save Moon Ho and the fabricated incriminating evidence. *fist pump* I love that small-framed Dae Yong basically drags the guy by his collar like he’s a hapless cat that’s been caught by the scruff of his neck.

One of the finale highlights, for me, is the look on Myung Hee’s face as she faces Young Shin, after Moon Ho presumably tells her that Young Shin is Ji An. Everything about Myung Hee in that moment, is so well-deliverd. Her expression is so full, that we pretty much just know, even though no one has said anything, that she knows. Do Ji Won is fantastic, seriously.

As a bonus, the small beat where Moon Ho crouches over Jung Hoo’s body and keeps calling his name, and Jung Hoo opens his eyes to look around, causing Moon Ho to cover Jung Hoo’s eyes while he desperately keeps on acting, is so funny! I nearly bust a gut, I was so tickled – and relieved.

While I would’ve liked to have seen Moon Ho actually talking to Min Jae and probably apologizing properly to her, I did like the unspoken reconciliation that we did get to see. In a way, it feels like these two go back such a long way, that they didn’t need words to make their peace with each other.

THINGS I WISH WE COULD’VE SEEN

1. Moon Ho actually telling Myung Hee about Young Shin being her daughter. That was something I’d been looking forward to all series long, so for that to have been done off-screen (if at all, since Young Shin’s voiceover implied that maybe Myung Hee didn’t know), made me feel a little cheated.

2. More of Myung Hee’s post-revelation interaction with Young Shin. I mean, it’s great to see Dad showing her Young Shin’s photos, and to see Mom being so grateful to him for how he’s loved and brought up Young Shin. But I wanted more mother-daughter screentime.

3. More of what happened to Team Healer and Ahjumma post-mission. Does Ahjumma join Some Day? I hope she did!

4. Moon Shik actually facing formal punishment from the long arm of the law. Yes, we see that his mental health is in question, with the scene of him drunkenly thinking that he’s Gil Han, but I would’ve liked justice to have been served in a formal way.

5. More of Moon Ho actually talking to Min Jae. Not just showing up with coffee and getting to put his arm around her.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Ultimately, the thing I loved most about the finale, is that in the end, we get to see that Jung Hoo and Young Shin are still on adventures together, and Jung Hoo’s using all his spy know-how, to partner Young Shin in unveiling the truth.

That they are both following in the steps of their parents in their pursuit of truth, no longer driven by the ghost of lost memories, but because it’s genuinely something that they believe in and a passion that makes their hearts race, is very, very cool. That Jung Hoo becomes a photographer just like his dad, is just icing on the cake.

Sure, there are still bad guys out there that didn’t get taken down this time, but we have the assurance that Jung Hoo and Young Shin will keep on relentlessly pursuing the truth, and that they will bring those bad guys to justice, one exposé at a time.

Plus, in my imagination, there’s totally the option of having Jung Hoo occasionally step out as superhero Healer. Simply coz Healer’s just too cool to be retired, y’know? ❤️

THE FINAL VERDICT:

Cracktastic. Fantastic. And so full of feels. ❤️

FINAL GRADE: A+

TEASERS:

EXTENDED TRAILER:

If you haven’t seen the show and aren’t afraid of minor spoilers, this is a fantastic extended trailer that will give you taste of not only the show’s brand of cool, but also a flavor for our main characters as well.

#FINDMYTRIBE!

Can’t get enough of Healer? You might be interested to check out my Healer shirt!

Forget the Cape

Inspired by how effortlessly cool Ji Chang Wook looks in the drama poster, and to celebrate the superhero cool of Healer.

Click on the image below to shop this shirt! And, please help to spread the word to other Healer fans too! Thankies ❤️

283 thoughts on “Review: Healer

  1. Princess Jasmine

    I am very late for this one but I am glad that I watched Healer at least by now and ever since then I am on a JCW drama marathon and Healer ends up in my top 5 Kdramas ever.

    I will post my thoughts on Healer for a later day but this post is specifically to address my liking for Kim Mun Ho in the drama (as was asked by Beez); I liked JCW and Park Min a lot in the show but somehow the person who won my heart and mind in this drama is Kim Mun Ho.

    First and foremost – Actor – Yoo Ji-tae: I find him very affable and pleasant in general and I think he is a great actor (watch out for the scene with the politicians in Swindlers movie); I am not sure if I would have liked Kim much more than Healer (JCW) if it was done by someone else.

    Next – Character – He came across as a very honest, altruistic and empathetic person and that stuck a chord with me. He was quite successful in his profession and nothing would have stopped him if he had wanted to take over from his brother or go abroad and settle down or got married by then and lived a practical life in Korea itself.

    But somewhere he was carrying the burden of miscommunication about Ms.Choi husband and Healer’s father to the police and not being fully truthful to Ms.Choi inspite of his “noona” love for her. I mean he was just too sensitive and deep down was feeling regretful for whatever happened even though he was just a child/teen when the whole thing happened in 1992. Nobody would hold anything against him (as he had to follow his brother’s order as his brother was the only caretaker of him) and he could have just simply forgotten about these incidents / people and moved on in life. (people do forget and move on all the time in real world)

    Again when he found out about the missing person in the grave, he could have just ignored it and minded his own business. But somewhere he felt the need to set right the “wrong of 1992” and quits everything and puts his life and his own brother at stake for this. I found this very endearing/ethical about this character and that’s why I like him a lot.

    In my 35 years of living experience in this world, I have seen people in real life being very insensitive and unempathetic within extended family/friends and it is generally accepted as normal human behaviour. And I do understand that sometimes it is practical to pretend as if nothing happened and move on and live your life. So at least in a drama to see a character being different/ethical was refreshing and I appreciate the writer/actor for this.

    Also all the while I was rooting for good things to happen to both the kids (they deserved it after all what they both have gone through for no fault of theirs….I literally cried when JCW mentions to the “Elder” to think about the kids the next time when he kills a person). But I knew that they both are too naive and inexperienced to take on the “mafia” and it was only possible if Kim gets involved seriously. In all honesty everything happened only because Kim decides to work on this. He really deserves more credit from all Healer drama lovers (they are all too stuck on JCW and Park Min and Healer action sequences…but the mind game was from Kim)

    In summary – my personal life is lot similar to the character of Healer (in terms of child abuse and growing up without parents and trying to figure out life on your own) and hence for me this drama / characters are too personal. So I know what it takes to be like Kim Mun Ho and do what he did and how much positively this can impact people’s lives. And I was really glad that he too got a happy ending at last (reuniting with the news anchor lover)

    Feel free to disagree with me and do put forth your thoughts. Thanks Beez for asking me to do this. Quite cathartic I must say 😉

    Reply
    1. beez

      @Princess Jasmine – Moon ho – honest? I suppose so, once we got to know what his real agenda was. But I viewed him more through Healer’s lens (and as a possible rival for PMY’s affections) until his true intentions were revealed.

      I agree that he carried guilt that was not his to bear. As a child he could not do anything about the circumstances that happened to the young adults around him. I agree with you that it is commendable that he did try to rectify things considering that meant betrayal of the man who raised and loved him in order to make things right. That had to be hard and he conveyed that anguish well back when we, the viewers, didn’t know what all the anguish and conflict within him was about.

      And you are right, that without Moon ho’s savvy knowledge as a reporter about how the world works, the old injustices would’ve never come to light nor would that particular Elder have been vanquished. BUT, again, I also know Moon ho could have never pushed forward with what he wanted to do without Healer’s urging him and Healer’s ability to physically bulldoze through and act on Moon ho’s plan.

      But I must say, PJ, your thoughts on Moon ho have made me pause to think about him more. And next time I watch, I’ll try to purposely look at Moon ho with a wider lens and not only from the perspective of how Healer viewed him throughout most of the drama.

      I must say, my heart did melt when Healer called Moon ho “samchoon”. 💘

      Thanks for giving me another point of view.

      Reply
  2. Sadia Farooq

    I just enjoyed reading your reveiw. Thank you for writing in such detail. I was sort of obsessed with healer’s hands. They look so big and red in most scenes, after the fights.
    That’s a tiny detail that is given so much attention.
    And I’m in love with their love story. It’s sort of so pure. I keep wanting to re-watch parts.
    Looking forward to reading more of your work.

    Reply
  3. Gloglo

    Thank you, kfangurl for recommending this show. I just watched it enjoyed it very very much. The love story developed very nicely and rationally, without none of those angsty traps which often plague these dramas. I loved the OTP. The male part was indeed very special and written with great nuance and attention to detail. With all his fairly unrealistic set of combat and acrobatic skills, his psychological struggle was one of the most believable I’ve seen in kdrama. As you have very well explained it is that mixture of the primal and the instinctual in this character with the awkward and immature what makes him genuinely magnetic. You just get him.
    I also appreciated the early sexual connection of this couple. It was relevant, it made sense and it showed that that this kdrama wasn’t following the old ticking box, which has the virtuous heroine turning sex into a prize. Instead sex is shown as a way of making these characters connect in a realistic, satisfactory way.
    I found the backstory of journalism, freedom of speech, truthful reporting, fake news as well as the the references to the beginning of democracy in South Korea very interesting and hoped there had been more of that. The show balanced well different elements but I personally would have preferred more political stuff.

    Reply
    1. beez

      If you prefer political – I recommend Tree with Deep Roots and its prequel Six Flying Dragons also known as The Roots of Throne. Both action and politics galore.

      I’ve been watching Different Dreams. A drama set in the 1930’s about freedom fighters during the time period when Japan occupied Korea. I must admit, I’m bored and can’t seem to pick it back up. It’s mostly politics with a smidgen of action. I’m determined to finish it though.

      Reply
      1. Gloglo

        Thanks for these recommendations, beez. I really appreciate it.
        The main attraction of kdrama for me is the well written love stories, but I do enjoy the cultural and social stuff, the context and also the language, which I’m just starting to learn. It’s great to see there is such a great community following these shows, talking about them in detail. So glad I stumbled upon this blog!

        Reply
        1. Bosuji

          😁
          I felt this exact same way when I stumbled on this blog after sinking into the Kdramaverse since June 2020

          Reply
  4. carpcontrol

    There were a few unanswered questions which I felt deserved answers, despite the un-rushed ending: does jung hoo get to meet young shin’s mom? Do they retire to ‘moru-moru’’ island? What happens to her mom, where is she staying now? What happened to young shin as a child? Who abused her? How did she land up in the orphanage? Did she get abused before getting sent to the orphanage, or after? Or perhaps during foster care?….

    Moving on, I really, really liked some of the stuff here, which doesn’t happen quite that often in dramas, or I am just watching crappy ones! 😛 I appreciated how there was no space for ‘noble idiocy’, despite there being multiple moments the show could have taken that path! PMY always chooses scripts w/o this trope, and I think she might secretly dislike it! ^.^
    The heroine isn’t perfect. Like you said, she’s quite real, in the sense she is a scaredy-cat but also tries to put up a brave front and stick to her principles! Quite refreshing, especially since drama-makers are afraid to make their leading-ladies LOOK & BEHAVE anything less than goddess-like perfection. Thankfully, she isn’t a Mary Sue lead (where her shortcomings actually land her in trouble regularly, and they aren’t glorified to make people fall for her, left-right-and-center!)

    I loved the casting and acting precision in the flashbacks. Jung hoo’s dad actually had the SAME smile as his son! Teenager Jung Hoo is totally believable to have grown up to be Healer, as played by JCW. And Teacher’s intonation, the way he smiled and talked, was so consistently acted out in both the flashbacks and current timeline…didn’t even feel like it was two different actors, tbh!
    While the OST was just about adequate for me, Ben’s ‘With You’ has entered my playlist! 😀

    This is undoubtedly JCW’s magnum opus, at least for me! While more people liked him more in Empress Ki (on your blog, lol), I felt it was very OTT, and his interpretation of the character seemed a little OFF, and a little un-convincing, in a way. But as Jung Hoo, JCW’s true talent shone! The way he conveyed a myriad of conflicting emotions in a span of 2-3 seconds, within a single frame usually, and with so much restraint resembling that of a feline on a hunt/prowl; the way he effortlessly switched between the two completely opposite persona (especially the body language), and made us believe that the real him was actually a mix of his two alter-egos……PLUS doing a good amount of those stunts himself requiring him to be crazy invested in fitness…. I cannot even begin to imagine HOW passionately he worked on this role; and it certainly shows on screen! I was lukewarm to his presence in the industry before, as someone who got roles only because of his pretty face, but I am a serious JCW-convert now!

    Thank you so, SO much for fangirling about Healer! I normally steer clear of super-popular & mainstream drama, but I can say, this one absolutely deserves all the love!

    Reply
    1. beez

      @carpcontrol -As someone who’s rewatched Healer more times than I can count, let me try to answer some of your questions. Jung hoo met Young shin’s mom. Remember after he broke into YS’s mom’s house then he returned as himself, Jung hoo, not as Healer? True they didn’t show them interact in the last episode but the last episode leaves us to assume YS’s mom knows that YS is her daughter as she tells YS’s adopted Dad that he raised her well as she looks through photo albums of YS’s youth.

      I don’t think they became recluses as Jung hoo originally wanted for himself, but instead had careers as we saw. Although, I suppose if you mean after retirement from reporting – perhaps. Although it wouldn’t be as isolated as Jung hoo originally planned because YS’s adopted Dad and bio mom might be living there too. That stuff is left for us to fill in the blanks to put own satisfaction.

      YS was abused while in foster care.It’s inferred, even when she was placed in a foster home that wasn’t too bad, she mentioned being afraid to ask questions for fear they would send her back. So it sounds like she was in and out of a few homes with the final home being where the hard core physical abuse happened. And then Adopted Dad rescued her from the orphanage. Although – darn it! – you made me realize as I typed that out, the inconsistencies of that. When Adopted Dad came, YS was still non-verbal so she would not have been asking questions of anyone.

      I’ve been afraid that my many rewatches would eventually lead to me seeing the flaws and any plot holes. I’d never noticed them … until now. 😠😀

      Reply
  5. JN

    Just finished watching this kdrama.

    This is indeed a gem for me. Have watched my love from the star, secretary kim, CLOY, and only this hold my interest from start to end.

    I found JCW good from Smile Again, and this kdrama further increase my liking for him.

    Reply
      1. Bosuji

        AAH!!

        I was wondering if I should watch this – so long ago and so early in his career .. and so baby face JCW .. LOL

        Three of you – BEEZ / KFanG / commenter JN .. are on the cheer team .. tonite I shall dive in then .. Monday morning may just be all extra blue tomorrow ;-p

        Reply
  6. Prashil Prakash

    Hey Kfangurl!
    Thanks for the review.

    I came to finally check this show out because of the A+ rating you gave.
    And I think when you look at this show from a distance it might not really feel like an A+ show. Hell! I just finished it and even though I definately loved it, I felt like, “yeah, it’s a good show but surely not A+”

    That is till I read your full review. And it totally makes sense. Like I said from a distance it can be a generic vigilante rom-com but it’s so much more than that and I feel this comes from amazingly written characters.
    They are so effortlessly written that you may actually forget how great they are.

    My personal favorites were:
    Miss Jo (Ajhumma) : you can say I’m cheating but that’s okay. It’s not my fault any role Kim mi-kyung plays she knocks it out of the park. (I’m a 23 yeah old man but i hope I can become as awesome as her one day, lol)

    Teacher: He was Jong-hus Father figure and seriously when he lifts the sheet to his dear body in the morgue I cried a little (I don’t cry, but no regrets)

    Young-shins Father: Father of the year. Easily! I loved loved LOVED, how Young-shins childhood (post adoption) was. It wouldn’t have been possible if it was not him and the upbringing with the excons who turned a new leaf.
    Also, how beautiful is it that he’s helped people who lost their way to turn their lives around.
    He’s like an agent of second chances. One might gloss over this but people who think we are all capable of redeeming ourselves are a special breed!

    Young-shin: Oh if I could just carry her in my pocket and pinch her cheeks all day, she’s so adorable and the way she handles things is something I really admire, A female lead who’s not a damsel in distress even though her backstory and physique should technically make her one.
    I love her dressing sense, it makes her a super approachable person and her singing and dancing,Ugh, I die.

    You are quite right about the ending episode. I feel maybe they could have increased the last episode length by half and hour and could have tied things up neatly.

    Generally other shows would be almost over by episode 15 and the 16th episode would fully be used to just close the open loops and show what happened to characters and stuff. It is weird the way they ended Healer. It wasn’t like “somethings are better left unsaid”. It was more like “how bout we close it in season 2”
    All in all great show. And I think after reading your review I came to appreciate the show more. Thanks for that!

    PS. I don’t know if you’ll read this but I have been suggested to watch ‘Pinnochio’ and since you don’t have a review on it I don’t know if should start it. I saw someone somewhere saying it’s a very sad show which concerns me a little (I sort of get affected, heh)
    But you could maybe help with this dilemma!

    Anyway thanks for the review!
    Cheers

    Reply
    1. beez

      @Prashil – Healer is my favorite show and so I feel the need to add my 2 cents. Because Healer isn’t set up as the usual Korean drama – even though those shows may be very good like Crash Landing on You – Healer is a different kind of story that, because of the generational backstory, it’s better the more often that you watch it.
      I know for myself and many others, we watched the first time a bit bored by the backstory because I didn’t think it was important to pay close attention to. (I’ve been burned by getting totally invested in supporting characters only to never get any payoff. Usually those characters are treated as filler to give the main leads time to rest during the hectic live shot schedule.) So it was upon my second watch that I began to appreciate how the entire story fit together and how important what happened to past characters was to the present.
      Anyway, imo, it really is better upon a second viewing.

      Reply
      1. Prashil Prakash

        Hi Beez,
        Thanks for the reply.
        I think I definitely agree with you on that.
        No matter how much I love a show, its difficult for me to actually re-watch a drama (and that’s not because I’d get bored)

        And Despite that I think Healer is definitely a re-watchable show.
        And I really think it’s a well written show with well written characters and maybe it’s how the characters seem to be effortlessly written that it might not seem like an A Grade show at first. But it surely is.

        And although my personal favorites (preference) are shows like My Ajusshi , Melo Suits me, or shows like Hospital playlist. Healer definitely makes a mark of being a show that I can enjoy again.(emphasis on the word enjoy as well)

        Cheers!😊

        Reply
    2. kfangurl

      Hi Prashil! 😀 I’m so glad you enjoyed Healer, and I’m even more pleased that you found the review helpful in appreciating Healer even more! 😀 And YES, I LOVED Ahjumma, and Young Shin’s dad.. SUCH awesome characters, truly. 😍😍 And this is still my favorite role of Park Min Young’s to date. She’s just fantastic as Young Shin! 🤩

      As for Pinocchio, I really liked it, actually. I was going to write a review for it, but somehow got sidetracked or derailed. I think I might’ve fallen into some kind of writing or drama slump around that time, and just never managed to go back to it. Maybe I will, one day! But for now, I’ll say that I liked it a lot, and I do recommend it! 🙂 There are sad parts, but overall, it has an uplifting message, and I wouldn’t call it a sad show per se. I hope that helps. 🙂 If you’re still wary of Pinocchio, maybe you might want to consider I Hear Your Voice? I rank them similarly in my head. And I do have a review of I Hear Your Voice 😉

      Reply
      1. Prashil Prakash

        Thanks a lot!
        You’re Always helpful, Yes I hear your voice is also in my list. I’ll be sure to plow watch them soon enough!
        And thanks for your reviews 😊
        Cheers!

        Reply
  7. MC

    hey KFG!! I’m finally done with Healer. You’re right this is a special snowflake of a show. So so good even though it’s “older”, none of the camera effects nor writing feels dated. I’m honestly surprised how strongly this show started and more importantly STAYED. Tight writing (so well paced, well plotted, very character was nuanced and fleshed out – fan more dramas do this!!), amazing acting, directing. I would put this show up there amongst YFAS and CLOY (and my other favourite shows) as one that is truly worth recommending and almost perfectly done. I’m so glad I watched this one!! ♥️

    On a side note I may not be watching dramas or on this site as often as I’ve just given birth hurhur but I’m still around and wish you all the best! May work pick up and the pandemic go away (how I wish) and may your hand be better!

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      OMIGOSH, MC!!! Congratulations!!! 🥳🥳 What a huge milestone, and what a great cause for celebration!! 🎉🤩 I can totally imagine how you’ll have to put dramas aside for a while, to focus on the new addition to your family – as well you should. I do hope that you recover well, in body, mind and spirit, and that in time to come, be able to carve out some me-time for yourself, which maybe could include some dramas. 😉

      Gosh, given the fact that you’ve just given birth, I’m super impressed that you were able to even stop by to leave this comment! You are amazing! 🤯🤩 I’m so glad you managed to finish Healer before the arrival of your baby, because, YES, it is such a special show! 😍 It really is so well-rounded and balanced, and so well acted, overall. It’s still my top pick when it comes to kdramas, and I watch a lotta dramas! 😉 I’m SO glad you managed to watch this one!

      Take good care, dear MC!! (I know I still haven’t replied to your R1988 comment. My bad. I will do that very soon, and hopefully you’ll have time to read it, in between taking care of your new bundle of joy!) Be well, new mama! ❤️❤️😘😘

      Reply
      1. MC

        Haha thank you!! I’m still around as and when I’m free. It helps that now is the confinement nanny period so I can have more breaks – once she leaves it’ll get busier (and less sleep) but I’ll survive it somehow!! No worries on the R1988 comment, I was mainly gushing about how lovely a show it is.

        And yes to the self care – I’m even watching When My Love Blooms (in short blocks!) which is surprisingly good. So atmospheric and lovely though there are a lot of tropes and how bad does Lee Bo Young’s life have to be!! I saw you paused on it though, hopefully you’ll finish it (or have some comments on it for your end year review) cos I would love to know how you find it! I must say it’s a good thing I watched Healer – thanks to Healer I found out about Yoo Jit Tae who is really good in WMLB. And Lee Bo Young is amazing. I need to watch her in more shows!!

        Take care dear KFG and I’ll pop by once in a while cos I really do love this little community here!

        Reply
        1. kfangurl

          Oh yes, I’m told things get a lot more intense once the confinement nanny period is over.. do rest lots now, while you have the extra breathing room! 🙂

          Oh, I paused When My Love Blooms because my friend Michele & I plan to watch it together. We are starting back on it next week, so I have no plans on abandoning the show! So you should see a review on the show sometime in about one and half months or so, which is when I expect to finish watching it! 😀 Also, YES, to Yoo Ji Tae! I watched some of The Good Wife (it’s very good, but I got distracted, and also, I wasn’t in the mood for a serious legal show), and he is so dang schmexy in it! 😍😍 I couldn’t find a good clip from the show, but here’s a short promotional interview-cum-BTS-photoshoot thing:

          Ah, and for Lee Bo Young, check out I Hear Your Voice! It’s got a serial killer in it (sigh), but it’s a great noona romance! <3

          And yes, do keep popping by whenever you can, I’d miss you too much if you didn’t! ❤️😘

          Reply
          1. MC

            Awww will miss you too, so I’m still around! Hahaah. I really enjoyed that promo video of YJT – didn’t understand a word of it but the man definitely looks good in a suit. Haha and is it just me or in this promo trailer he gives me older Yoo Yeon Suk vibes?! In some far off shots (not close ups) and the way he talks during serious moments it feels like I’m watching YYS when he’s a decade older. Who I also love so it’s awesome ♥️ Hooray that you’ll be watching When My Love Blooms!! It’s definitely a melo but soooo gorgeously done. For I Hear Your Voice – you are the third unrelated person to recommend this show to me so I definitely have it on my list and it’s climbing higher each time! Sigh to the serial killers but trusting it’s a great show!

            Reply
            1. kfangurl

              Y’know, I never saw the Yoo Yeon Seok similarity until you mentioned it! They do have a similar vibe! 😀 Although, in my head, Yoo Ji Tae is sexier. 😍😍 I’ve just started back on When My Love Blooms, and it’s just lovely to have him on my screen! I had to laugh at the footage of him doing pull-ups while wearing joggers and a pressed white dress shirt unbuttoned down to there..! 😆😆 It feels like some kind of compromise they reached coz the team wanted him to be shirtless and he didn’t want to do it. At least, that’s what happened in my head! 🤣🤣

              YES, do add I Hear Your Voice to your list, I have confidence that you will enjoy the theme of unconditional love. Which is all I’ll say for now. 😉

              Reply
  8. Bosuji

    Hi Fangirl,

    As I comb my way through KDrama land I keep returning to check in on the reviews and comments and observations.

    Am.just 2 months old in KDrama land – and it’s helping me survive a Dystopic Covid world out there…

    I watched Healer when I saw your A + grade for it.
    There was a 10/10 from my other fave blog Subtitled Dreams.

    So it cut the queue and jumped right in front..

    The first paragraph of your review felt like you’d entered my head and were echoing the exact same thoughts I had while watching JCW.
    Eeeesh!!!!

    For me the show was a solid JCW magnet and everything around it iron fillings clinging to it in a most dramatic and pleasant pattern.

    Just like you for some reason I’d avoided this show and wasnt ready or willing to let go of my Hyun Bin Addiction (watched almost all his stuff) out of some strange sense of loyalty (lol)..
    This JCW whipped me off of it promptly…

    Adding one more Korean actor into my heart-racing mode.

    Eeeesh is all I kept exclaiming aloud while watching him and the show.

    Fangirl you are a deadly reviewer par excellence…

    Your blog is priceless and doubt anyone else does it to such full and filling perfection.

    I notice that the last review of this was commented on is 2017.

    Am going to direct traffic to the blog for all my KDrama buddies (friends I pulled in along with me when I discovered this world).

    Thanks again.

    Reply
    1. beez

      @Bosuji @Kfangurl – that’s odd that Bosuji mentions no new comments under Healer since 2017 because I know that I’ve commented there a few times recently as has merij1 and others. I went and looked and sure enough, I don’t see our comments made in 2020.

      I tried “find on page” for my name and it says there are 5 occurrences, but it won’t take me to those occurrences on the page. And I don’t see any more recent comments went scrolling through. Weird.

      Reply
    2. beez

      @Kfangurl – so after replying to Bosuji, that allowed me to see the comments made in 2020, I closed the page and re-opened it and, again, the more recent comments have vanished. I wonder if there’s a limit to how many comments each page can hold?

      Reply
      1. Steven

        I also always see the the 2017 comments on top.. To see the latest comments, there’s a link at the very bottom of the page that says “See Newer Comments” and you have to click on it to see the comments from the present backward.
        Not all Review pages are like that but most are. At first I thought some of my comments were deleted, and was left thinking perhaps it contained spoilers? But soon after I discovered this unusual page behavior.

        Reply
        1. merij1

          > there’s a link at the very bottom of the page that says “See Newer Comments” and you have to click on it to see the comments from the present backward.

          Unfortunately that link you mention is not a setting that can be changed. It’s just a hyperlink that takes you to the next set of (more recent) comments. If there’s only two pages worth, no worries.

          But on KFG’s “Watching” post, for example, there are FIVE pages worth of comments, so starting with the ones way back in 2013 is useless for checking to see what new ones have been added.

          But at least that link is at the very bottom of each page. So what I do is click the End key on my keyboard to get the bottom instantly, then click that link to advance to the next page; then repeat those two steps five times to advance from the Joeon era to modern times.

          Despite it leading with the oldest page first, at least the comments on each page start with the newest ones at the top.

          Reply
      2. kfangurl

        Dang. So sorry that the comment pages are buggy! 🙁 Yes, there’s a limit to the number of comments per page, I’ve set it to the maximum, which is 50 comments (excluding their replies). I think it’s possible the bugginess has to do with the size of the site. I’ll see what I can do to work with WordPress to fix it.. thanks for your patience! 😝😅

        Reply
    3. Steven

      @Bosuji Funny how we moved on the same path on our K drama journey, albeit with the opposite lead characters. I am also 2.5 months into my K drama journey, and was first hooked by Son Yejin instead of hyun bin. And for the same reasons as you, I binge watched on YSJ’s other works, ending up with 2 dramas and 6 movies. I then watched Healer mainly due to the feedback on this blog, and now Park Min Young took over the space once occupied by YSJ. :p So I am now looking at other Park Min Young dramas to put on my queue. 🙂

      Reply
      1. Bosuji

        Hi Steven..

        I received the response comment in my email inbox.. But I can’t see neither (yours or m comments) when I reached here with click on “reply”.

        Anyway cyber glitch aside…

        It’s not difficult to see how and why each gender gloms on to their opposite gender screen actors.

        I almost thought guys are not into K Drama 😁
        So refreshing to see that’s not the case.

        😄

        Reply
        1. Steven

          Yes i guess I’m in the minority of guys who enjoy K dramas.. A result of socialization boys go through in general I guess.. And also the fact that these dramas I supposed are created with primarily a female audience in mind. Most of the male leads follow the same arc — scarred or traumatic past which caused them to retreat into an inner shell, and then will discover love where the female lead will lead him out of that shell. I guess that’s a common fantasy of girls perhaps?

          So in this show, the Healer was healed by love. 🙂

          But for me, what’s there not to love in K dramas — the female leads are extremely gorgeous to look at, and their acting prowess are just unbelievable! I mean I think I’d enjoy more a second rate drama with a lead actress I like than otherwise (son ye-jin.. ehem ehem.. park min young ♥♥♥) Oh and those ear-piercings of park min young in this show was pretty dope! LOL!

          Reply
          1. Bosuji

            LOL .. I noticed the ear piercings!

            Interesting what brings us to the Kdrama world .. I agree that most of the shows seem to be agreeable to a “female gaze” with low graphic physical skin scenes / males cooking ;-p / a nurturing guy / etc

            I am looking through the list of dramas I have watched trying to check if your theory of male past being healed by female lead is true or not for me ..

            So though many fell in the category .. some were a two way healing .. but many did not

            eg.

            – Memories of Alhambra
            – School 2013
            – Cain and Abel
            – That Winter the Wind Blows
            – Our Friends, a Legend
            – What Happened in Bali
            – Her Private Life
            – Something in the Rain

            Reply
            1. Geo

              @Bosuji, @Steven,@Beez: A couple of comments:

              1. I started watching Kdramas about the same time as Steven and it took major convincing by a friend of mine to watch Mr Sunshine and CLOY; this, combined with the lockdown started me. Otherwise, I would never have thought to watch Kdramas, I think for most guys, it just doesn’t occur to us these shows might be interesting. You hear female friends and/or relatives talk about these shows but it never penetrates your consciousness.

              2. The first two shows I watched blew me away, I couldn’t believe the quality of the acting, writing, cinematography and overall production. Now, they set a high bar for subsequent shows and I’ve been disappointed a few times but every now and then a really good show (eg Healer) comes along to equal the first shows and there are also quite a few that, while they may not match my first shows, are entertaining and worth the time in their own way.

              3. There’s been some discussion about the prevalence of male leads being saved/redeemed by the female lead as a common theme in Korean shows, maybe explaining partially the bias towards female viewers who constitute the main demographic but I think that may apply universally. I vaguely remember a western film director commenting on the differences in treatment of male vs female characters and he said the audience will always buy the guy being goofy, nerdy, ridiculous, arrogant etc but he said they would not buy it for the female lead character, in general. This was a while ago and I think he was commenting on the different expectations society had of different gender roles. I was racking my brain, thinking of “damaged” female lead characters redeemed/saved by the male lead and I’m drawing a blank. Any suggestions, anyone?

              4. My challenge, now with the opening up of the economy, is to maintain the same viewing time for Kdramas!

              Reply
              1. beez

                @Geo – I can’t even get female family and friends to watch. Once they see subtitles, forget about it.

                Female characters in need of redemption:

                Couple Trouble aka Fantasy Couple – The ending fizzles out but it’s a fun ride based off the American movie Overboard (the original version with Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell)

                Veronica Park in My Scretary’s Private Life. She’s a supporting character but luckily the entire series is good.

                The Return of Baek Hee aka Becky’s Back. It’s only 4 episodes. I don’t know what I have to do to get you guys to watch!!!😖😆

                Reply
                1. Geo

                  Not a very extensive list of FL characters redeemed/saved by love. I haven’t seen any on your list and I’ll probably avoid Couple Trouble. I’ve heard about the Veronica Park character and she sounds like a lot of fun. Now, it’s dangerous to comment without watching the show but I got the impression she wasn’t saved so much as she couldn’t understand why the secondary ML, I think, wouldn’t fall for her. This show is on my list. Haven’t heard about Becky’s Back.

                  Reply
                  1. kfangurl

                    Hi Geo, if you’re interested in a female character who’s redeemed/saved by love, you might want to consider checking out the recently concluded It’s Okay To Not Be Okay. I’m about halfway through, and that’s the direction Show is taking. 🙂

                    Reply
                    1. Geo

                      Hi KFG: Thanks, I see it on Netflix so I’ll add it to my ever-growing list, it seems like for every one I complete, 5 more spring up to take its place. I’m currently watching Fated to Love You, I saw your recommendation somewhere else and noted your rating plus it features Jung Hyuk from The Tree with Deeper Roots who I was so impressed with. Unfortunately, I find him OTT in FTLY, especially at the beginning, but the show is entertaining and Jang Nara is very good, first time seeing her. He plays his role very broadly and I think this is deliberate, what the director wants, to contrast with the FL.

                      So many Kdramas, so little time!

                  2. beez

                    @Geo – Did I scare you off from Couple Trouble?

                    There’s a reason for my short list – I like alpha males and bad boys so I may have just not watched shows with problem princesses.

                    Reply
                    1. Geo

                      Hi beez: Lol, you didn’t scare me off Couple Trouble, I saw the Goldie Hawn Kurt Russell version and didn’t really enjoy it, not sure why, because I do like both stars. So I think the storyline may have been the problem at that time but who knows, there are so many factors that impact on your perspective at any given time. But maybe the Korean version improves on the original?

                      I mentioned above, I’m watching Fated To Love you right now, and I’m enjoying it even though I find Jung Hyuk a little off-putting. Interestingly, Netflix is screening the Taiwanese version, You Are My Destiny, and I started watching it out of curiosity but I couldn’t make it through the first episode, lol.

                      You commented on liking alpha males and bad boys rather than problem princesses, I think that’s universal. That’s what the western director was saying about how films need to portray male and female characters, that society is more accepting/intrigued of this rather than the reverse and interestingly, I remember him saying that both sexes prefer it that way. I wonder if I was a little turned off by My Sassy Girl because of this, hmm…

                    2. beez

                      @Geo – Couple or Trouble does change up the story although I don’t remember how the American movie ended. The actress in Couple Trouble deserves kudos for making an annoying brat still likeable somehow. When I saw the character Veronica Park (who also pulls off that same energy), I instantly thought of this character from (10?) years prior.

                      Jang Hyuk is intentionally offputting (that laugh!) in Fated to Love but an explanation is given later on for the laugh and his behavior. 👍 I did watch You Are My Destiny immediately after I watched Fated to Love You the first time. I’ve watched Fated several times. If I find something special, I want to get it engraved on the brain and especially with Fated being somewhat of a tribute to Jang Hyuk’s career with lots of in jokes as h’ommage [sic] to his career to that date.

                      “Western director?” Did I miss a comment you made about that previously?

                    3. Geo

                      @Beez: I’m responding to your comment below but that doesn’t have a reply option while this comment has. So there’s a reason for Jung Hyuk’s laugh, I look forward to discovering the reason. The show is going well though and I’m going a bit slower than usual, being a little more busy these days.

                      The comment about the western director was a follow up to my comment earlier that I had heard a western film director discuss how audiences are prepared to receive male vs female characters, that you can make the ML nerdy, a bad boy, etc, you can make him look ridiculous but you can’t do that for the FL because audiences are not conditioned to perceive such a FL favourably. Which explains, I think, universally, why romance shows have “defective” MLs rather than “defective” FLs. It’s not only a Korean phenomenon.

                    4. beez

                      Thanks, Geo, for taking the time to rewrite the content of your previous comment. Sorry😞 as soon as I began to read it, I began to remember your previous post. Which I found by going to the top of the web page, hitting the three 3 dots on the corner and using “find on page” and searched “western” as a unique word that would take me to it. (For anybody interested in finding a comment but wasn’t aware of how to do it).

                      And, hopefully, so my bad memory won’t get on you guys’ nerves, you can post links to your comments by copying the date of the comment and it will produce a link that you can send me instead of having to write it all out again. (Again, so sorry😥) Like this is a link to your original comment:

                      https://thefangirlverdict.com/2016/07/22/review-healer/comment-page-2/#comment-86040

                      I did enjoy a nerdy, sloppy female in the Japanese drama Switch Girl. But you’re right, I can’t even think of one FL in Kdrama who are less than the perfect “Candy”. Although I never read the manga where the Kdrama term “Candy” comes from, apparently, the female character was poor, worked several part-time jobs, took care of an ill grandparent, etc. all while being exceptionally positive and cheerful. Kdrama FL’s are all those things and impeccably dressed. Off topic: I’ve often seen people comment on all the clothes and the many, many different outer coats yet when you see inside her closet, it’s a tiny armoire that couldn’t possibly hold all those clothes and the coats are nowhere in sight. 😆
                      While I can’t think of any right now, I do think American shows have many FL’s in need of redemption. Anybody?

                    5. beez

                      Head *clunk*. I just finished watching it too! Yes, Mo Yeung of Its Okay to Not Be Okay most definitely needs needy neediest of all!

                    6. Geo

                      @Beez: I thought you might be interested to know there’s yet another remake of Overboard,saw listing on Netflix, and from the synopsis, it is different in that it’s the male lead who is arrogant and unfeeling who loses his memory, etc etc so a gender reversal from both the original and the Korean remake. In fact, one may say the latest remake is more conventional now.

                      I finished Fated to Love You and I like it, not quite top tier but close especially given it was done some 6 years ago. Lots of emotional highs and lows. Jang Hyuk’s quirkiness became tolerable and he was very good when he wasn’t laughing like a hyena. Jang Na-ra was excellent and someone who I’ll follow, much like Son Ye-jin and Jun Ji-hyun. Where does Korea get these excellent actors and actresses who are all so attractive?

                    7. beez

                      I saw that there’s a remake of Overboard but I wasn’t very interested. When I referenced Overboard before, it was just for purposes of describing Couple Trouble, not that I was overly fond of the original movie.

                      I’m sure you’ve gathered by now that I’m a Jang Hyuk fangirl but as to Jang Nara (which they’ve starred in three projects together), Jang Nara’s drama The Last Empress is a makjang (my definition: anything that can happen does and the crazier the better). I usually avoid melo and makjang but The Last Empress is special. I don’t know if I was supposed to, but I found it hilarious.

              2. Bosuji

                I find that it’s a two way redemption process for the OTP in fact as well as for the Second Leads .. however one side within that dynamic often ends up being the stronger focus ..

                All relationship dramas intrinsically have “damage / problem” .. so it’s a given.

                Sometimes the relationship drama is woven into the thread of the a genre eg.
                # suspense – Healer /
                # Political Thriller – City Hunter /
                # Sci-Fi Thriller – Melting Me Softly

                I’d say It’s OK not to be OK has a equally balanced dynamic of “saving the other”.
                “That Winter the Wind Blows” ?? Balanced?

                @Geo shows with males ‘healing touch” on females foregrounded .. here are a few .. IMO

                # “Something in the Rain” is SURELY .. damaged woman requiring work by main lead

                # “Oh My Venus”?? Though I dropped the show after a few shows I sensed it focuses on the woman’s severe weight complex issues??
                (Why did I drop it .. “Monkey hand cover eyes” emo please .. I just couldn’t take to the actress .. sheesh .. me shallow .. @Kfangirlverdict .. I get your Ha Ji Won moment ;-p .. But HJW grown me .. This lady just didn’t .. got worse in fact)

                # “Master’s Sun” – lady has HUGE issues .. sorted by Jo Sub

                # even “Personal Taste” I think?
                I dropped this too 1/3 way in and skimmed to half show.
                Dropped inspite of gorgeous LMH (Lee Minh Ho) and my usually loved Son Ye Jin – she just dissolved into too much cringy, ditsy, helpless, pouty; an act that kind of sets me into off mode.)

                SORRY guys ;-p

                Reply
                1. Geo

                  Hi Bosuji: I think you’re right that the romance arc always requires a “defective” character in need of fixing but typically, in western or Korean shows, it’s usually the ML. Female secondary characters are allowed to be as quirky and off-putting as they want to be but not too common for the FL to be that way. Having said that, there are exceptions as you point out.

                  I’ve seen SITR and I think both ML and FL were immature and needed “fixing” but I’d agree FL probably needed it more. I agree Personal Taste overdid the naive, ditzy FL character though I did enjoy the show for the most part, even thought LMH did an adequate job though I don’t think he is the greatest actor by any stretch of the imagination. I’ve put Master’s Sun on my list, a FL with huge issues!

                  What did you think of Melting Me Softly? I’m intrigued, a sci-fi show with a “defective’ FL.

                  Reply
                  1. beez

                    @Geo – Master’s Sun is a masterpiece! And I HATE supernatural & spooky stuff and struggled with some of the first few spooky episodes. I’m glad they let up on the scary aspect and brought a good, funny, and sometimes poignant, rom com after all.

                    Reply
                    1. Geo

                      @Beez: Thanks for the referral to The Last Empress and Master’s Sun. Like you, I don’t like horror/spooky stuff but I’ll give Master’s Sun a chance. I’m in a bit of a Kdrama lull now as I focus on the NBA playoffs. I can’t decide which show to watch, I’m not sure I want to start a very good show when I can’t give it my full attention so the alternative is to start a show that’s not high on my list (but still worth watching) since I know I’ll be distracted while watching it. Rather perverse logic, lol.

                    2. beez

                      @Geo – why don’t you give The Return of Baek Hee (aka Becky’s Back) a look-see during this time. It’s only 4 episodes and nothing deep so being distracted won’t be a big deal. But it’s quirky in that it takes place in a rural fishing town (although the particular residents that it focuses on are not fisherman). The show is quiet, quirky, goofy and charming. Imagine the movie Fargo without the gangsters. lol The villagers have a different air about how they go about things. They’re hicks, but for us westerners who enjoy Korean culture, it’s like a culture within a culture. Seeing a part of South Korea that we don’t usually see since its not in the big city.

                      Or Girl Who Sees Smells is also fun and features the lovely Shin Se Kyun whi’s sweet (but not cloying or whiny) and innocent here. The first episode seems serious but that’s just for the set up.

                    3. Geo

                      @Beez: I’m using this to reply to your later comments as there’s no “reply” option to the later comments. This is the 2nd time you’re recommending Becky’s Back and it’s only 4 episodes so I might give this a shot. I’ve also lined up a Gong Yoo movie, Finding Mr Destiny. Girl Who Smells seems pretty serious, about a serial killer.

                      I’m a basketball fan and have been to a number of the playoff games though those days may be long past now. In any event, there were about 10-11 hours of playoff games showing every day for about the past two weeks, now mercifully reduced to about 6 hours daily at prime time. Combined with stuff I have to attend to during the day, that doesn’t leave much time for Kdrama viewing so you can see why I’m distracted. I learnt my lesson watching Because This is My First Life on an intermittent basis, I had to speed re-watch past episodes just to remember where I was in the drama whenever I came back to it, especially as I was more focused on other shows at the same time. My typical pattern has been to watch a couple of shows at the same time to completion in a week or so, I find this allows me to really get into the show.

                    4. beez

                      @Geo – THAT’S a LOT of basketball. lol Girl Who Sees Smells – yes, there is a serial killer but the title tells you how serious it is. lol Nothing deep here. Whatever you decide to do, Kdrama will be there when you’re done. But I’m rolling laughing because it just proves how addictive they are that you know you’ve got this other thing that’s your usual old life but you feel torn. 😆

                    5. Geo

                      @Beez: Yes, that’s a lot of basketball but I can’t say I watch every minute, like Kdramas, there are some very good games and some duds, lol. But this will be over by end September, I think. Having said that, you’re right that I’m still looking to make time to watch Kdramas. I couldn’t find Becky’s Back so I’m casting my net wider.
                      @KFG: Mulan is the big Disney movie out now and i was thinking a list of Kdramas or Cdramas with female warriors might be interesting. No hurry, I have enough to occupy me right now, lol.

                    6. beez

                      @Geo – As to Becky
                      Depending on if it’s in your region – Viki’s got it. I’m don’t know if you frequent Those That Shall Not Be Named, but I just checked and both of the main Unamed sites have it. It’s listed as Baek Hee Has Returned. I hope you find time to check it out. I’d like to hear what you think. Each episode is only 1 hour. None of this hour and a half we’ve been seeing lately.

                    7. Geo

                      @Beez: Thanks for the name format for Becky’s Back, I’ve found the show and watched the first episode and I enjoyed it, show looks promising, looks like a combination of Mamma Mia and “You Can’t Go Home Again” theme.

                2. Geo

                  @Bosuji; @ Beez: I started a new comment under ‘What are some dramas that would make my day better” and credited Beez incorrectly for referring Melting Me Softly as a sci-fi show with a “defective” female character. Beez was quick to correct me so Bosuji, you deserve the credit for the referral though I’m not sure if it’s credit or blame, as per Beez’s dim view of MMS, lol.

                  I’m on episode 3 of MMS and it’s going fine, it’s lighter than I expected and not a true sci-fi film but I’m enjoying it despite the glossing over of important plot points. I’m thinking, the writer/director’s thoughts were “we don’t care how the lead characters sleep through 20 years of life, we just want to focus on what happens after they wake up” so there’s very superficial treatment of how the freezing and awakening occur. Perhaps they’ll explain more in later episodes.

                  Reply
                  1. beez

                    @Geo – I take my recommendations very, very seriously. I know Kdrama hours are precious because a person could be watching something good from their watchlist with those hours. I don’t recommend anything that I don’t think is worthy of those viewing hours.

                    Reply
            2. Steven

              Wait a minute.. all that in 2 months?! And that’s just the list where leading men weren’t redeemed by the heroines.. Which means that’s probably just 5% of the total list.. LOL! ;p

              Something in the Rain – yeah true Joon Hee didn’t need redeeming here, it’s the show itself that did! 🙂

              Reply
              1. Bosuji

                @ Steven

                ROFL .. I don’t know if I should cuss the Virus {who should not be named ;-p
                a nano-Voldemort? } for eating up so much of my active life .. Or Kdrama??
                Kdrama is on a winning streak I think .. Even vaccine invention may not kick me off the couch.

                SO yeah .. I have done marathon binges (choosing A listers from KFanG as well as another blog that follow http://www.subtitledreams.com) .. and have run though a significant amount of top rated dramas.

                # Dear KFanG I hope you won’t mind me mentioning this barely frequented witty and hilarious blog by Lady Divine .. You may already now her writing.

                The upside to that is .. I DROP WAY more dramas the minute I get a sense of .. oops this is not going my way .. or seen that done that ..
                I’ve become better at sniffing out the ‘freshness factor” .. picking the stand out ones from the Kdrama stables.

                ;-D

                Reply
                1. beez

                  Yeah, but you might miss out on some really, really good shows if you drop too soon. I know I would have regretted dropping something like Rooftop Prince because the first episode seemed almost unnecessary or too much time spent in the set up. 15 minutes at most would’ve been enough. For such a fun and completely zany show, the first episode went full on serious saeguk.

                  Reply
                  1. Bosuji

                    Aah!!!

                    I’ve been picking up that Rooftop Prince is good..

                    But if it’s lead in the OTP is Park Yoo Chun ( Lee Seon Joon in SungKyunkwang Scandal) then I’ll give it a skip..

                    I couldn’t bear to watch that delightful show and dropped it because I couldn’t attach to his acting.. And because Song Joon Ki character wasnt the main OTP lead I thought he was a better and more flutter and funner match for Park Young.

                    I agree that sometimes if I leave too soon I might miss the juice inside the not so great crust 🙂 will keep in mind and sink at least 3 episode layers of crust 🤪

                    Reply
                    1. phl1rxd

                      Hi Bosuji – I have watched Rooftop Prince several times. My favorite piece of music in my OST collection is ‘Hurt’ from this drama. Park Yoo Chun is OK in this because his acting is suited to the writing of the character he plays (a stiff and rigid Prince). The boys are great in it as well and provide a ton of laughs. You will know by the end of the second episode if this is for you or not.

                    2. Bosuji

                      😁 that’s such a super tip.. To watch at least 2 episodes before deciding on RTP
                      Cool I’ll add one more to it.

                      And will chk out the OST anyway 😄

                    3. beez

                      Yeah, I answered earlier today (you probably haven’t seen it yet) that I wanted anyone else to be in the OTP but Yoochan. It was his first drama so I cut him some slack (and he did improve on other dramas). But, honestly, he doesn’t mess up Rooftop Pronce because, even more than the character in SSSK, he’s supposed to be super stiff. The fish out of water thing is my thang!

    4. kfangurl

      Aw, thanks for the love, Bosuji!! <3 I've never been described as a deadly reviewer before, but it sounds very badass – I like it!! 😀 I'm so glad you decided to bump Healer to the top of your list; it really is such a great show, and YES, JCW is so fantastic in this! 🤩😍 I've watched this show twice and loved it both times!! 🥰🥰 Also, I appreciate the emphatic support, I hope your kdrama buddies will enjoy hanging out here too! 😀

      Reply
  9. Geo

    I’m late to the Healer party but thought I would add a few comments since this blog recommended Healer as a great show…and it is. I can’t add much to your detailed and excellent analysis of the show but I would say I found the ending quite abrupt (and I think you kind of felt the same way as well), we don’t get full closure of all the open situations, eg we assume Young Min and her Mom know their relationship but it’s not clear. I suspect many Kdramas, probably because they run on a defined # episodes, usually find themselves either having to stretch out the final episode or cut it off abruptly as the defined limit has been reached. In Healer’s case, the writers may have had an abundance of material with all the different plot points and and they suddenly realized they are on the final episode and they have to wrap it all up, so it ends up feeling hurried.

    Still, a great show with some of the best action sequences and a truly wonderful OTP..

    Reply
    1. beezrtp

      I understand how you feel. I think I felt that exact same way upon my first watch of Healer. But now I feel the mom-daughter relationship was definitely clearly revealed that they both know now and have a relationship although it wasn’t shown in the way most of us would’ve liked to see.

      I’m okay with it now though because I did get to see what the OTP’s relationship is like beyond the “we feel in love and overcame our obstacles”…the end). We get to see the OTP working together as a team. I wouldn’t trade that off for a mother-daughter emotional scene as I could imagine that (and had a little of it when they were together although they didn’t know who they were to each other during that scene) but I never would’ve imagined Healer officially taking on the job as Young shin’s photographer so that was a pretty satisfying ending.

      Reply
      1. Steven

        I agree that the mom-daughter relationship was clearly revealed and clues were also laid down how everyone would move forward after the revelations:

        – Mom saw the family picture of Yeong Sin with new dad when Yeong Sin was perhaps only a year or two older than her pic with mom. So that’s the most obvious clue that the mom knows.
        – Dad showing mom growing up pics of Yeong Sin and mom referring to Yeong Sin as HIS daughter. This shows everyone knows of their proper places in the scheme of things even after the big reveal.
        – In an earlier scene, Young Sin insisting that she would follow Healer to hide in another country if that’s what’s needed to be done, even at the expense of leaving her dad and her new-found mom. This emphasizes where her priorities lie and what future choices she would make.

        What I found amusing though was how the character of Moon Ho was portrayed. Many facets of him were made to look vague in the first half of the show, primarily on the nature of his motivations (whether good or bad) in finding Jin-a and also in using Healer. Also I think the first few episodes deliberately made it vague if he also had a love interest in Yeong sin, thus forming a possible love triangle. What I found really funny was that it also seemed to show a possibility that he also had a love interest with the mom.. (I think it was in Ep 2 where Min Ho was telling mom to just leave and go to Seoul with him..) So it seemed like he can have a love interest with the mom and also with Yeong Sin! Now that can make the reconciliation between mom and Yeong Sin messy.. LOL!

        Reply
        1. beez

          @Steven, but I think the episodes after the episode you’re talking about show there was nothing romantic, at all, about Min ho’s relationship with his sister-in-law. If anything she’s like a true “noona” or even a mother figure because from what we were shown, Moon ho and his brother had no living parents. Moon ho’s brother was the only father and Noona was the closest thing he had to a mom. She allowed him to be a little boy and play and cry when he needed to.

          Reply
          1. Steven

            Somewhere in the middle of the show, Moon-Ho and his ex, the news chief, were reminiscing about their past relationship. It was revealed that they were dating but the news chief was ready to bring it to the next level, from which Moon Ho replied that if it is ok for her to just be no. 2 in his heart, as he still isn’t over his first love until he had corrected the past wrongs committed. And that is why he is committed to make things right for Yeong Sin. Though first love was obviously referring to the mom, I agree that at this point there was already no doubt in the viewers’ mind of a possible romantic link between Moon Ho and the mom. But the fact that he admitted there still no space for romantic love in his heart made things remained fuzzy a lil bit longer for the viewers of his past feelings.

            But admittedly a more firm romantic reconciliation between Mooh Ho and the news chief is definitely one of the things viewers were hoping to see more of at the end rather than just a hand over her shoulders. But that was definitely a satisfying start of a promising future for them. 🙂

            Reply
            1. beez

              Haha! I couldn’t have cared less about Moon ho and his relationship with the newscaster! lol!

              I agree that Show did try to make us wonder about who exactly Moon ho had feelings for (PMY or the Noona) and they did try to set up some jealousy for Healer by staging what we thought was going to be the typical triangle. But, as much as I liked seeing petty jealous Healer, I’m so glad Show had much deeper stuff to hit us with. 👍

              Reply
            2. beez

              Let try to express better my views on Moon ho and his girlfriend’s relationship. I’ve learned that in order to have given more time to Moon ho’s relationship, that leaves even less time to give toward the OTP’s relationship. There were already complaints about not enough time invested in PMY’s character’s reunion with her mom as it is. (Plus, I just wasn’t invested in Moon ho outside of how he affected our OTP. I’ve been looking for an excuse to rewatch, again. Maybe I’ll shift my focus to Moon ho and try to observe everything from his POV. He does have an extraordinary story of his own.)

              Reply
    2. kfangurl

      It’s never too late to join the Healer party, Geo!! 😀 It really is a fantastic drama, despite the things it could’ve done better.. I feel like I can’t find too much fault with it, out of gratitude for all the awesome it serves up otherwise. I freaking LOVE how superhero-esque Healer is, leaping off buildings as easily as other people hop on a bus. 🤩🤩🤩 SO pleased you loved this one too, Geo! 😀

      Reply
      1. Geo

        @beez @ kfg: The more I reflect on the show, the more I think how good it is; not only the main but the secondary characters are well drawn and developed, the mystery storyline really draws you in (though as kfg says, a little confusing at first), the action sequences are excellent and the two leads are superb. The Healer, Jung Hoo, is modelled after Superman, a superhero who is a wimp in his alter ego, Clark Kent, and Jung Hoo, in his Bong Soo identity, even works in a news company, same as Clark Kent. JCW’s handling of these two identities is convincing and adds much comedic relief. Park Min Young outdoes the plucky heroine stereotype and her character shows remarkable courage in very difficult situations.

        I speed watched Healer with another show and when I finished, I thought, already? and immediately regretted not watching it at a more leisurely pace and taking it in more slowly, but maybe that’s for a re-watch. Unfortunately, I have so many other shows lined up!

        I’m surprised the show did not do well in SK, it has all the elements that should attract all demographics and it is well done.

        Reply
        1. beezrtp

          @Geo @Kfangurl – After my many rewatches, there were a few surprising tidbits I caught that I missed the first two times –

          1) Ahjumma actually compares Healer to Superman but Healer is such a recluse who only watches nature documentaries that he asks her who she’s talking about because he’s never heard of Superman!

          2) Healer is super high functioning on the autism scale (a conversation briefly touched on between Ahjumma and Teacher)

          3) After his mother left Healer wasn’t interested in any girls and “viewed women as gum to scrape off his shoe” (again a conversation between Teacher and Ahjumma

          4) Healer’s desire to purchase an isolated island is subconsciously motivated by his suppressed memories of playing as a child with Min Young in the tent that Uncle Moon ho constructed for them under the dining room table to keep them out of his way while he studied. (That one’s not outright said, but is my deduction from the flashback to their childhood.)

          Sigh. Maybe it’s time for another rewatch. 🙂

          Reply
          1. Steven

            Just finished watching Healer and spent another 2 hours soaking up everything that’s written in this review. It is indeed a superb drama, and thanks to your comments and feedback in the CLOY thread that prompted me to watch this show!

            I think most of the good points have already been discussed and I just wanted to add one more thing..

            Park Min Young totally slayed it sporting short hair!! A quick search oh her images on google seemed to show that most of her characters have her with long hair I guess. But yeah, more short-haired Park Min Young pictures and/or characters please!! 🙂 🙂

            Reply
            1. beez

              @Steven – I’m glad I could steer someone to the Healer experience. 😊 Yup, you’re right about PMY’s hair is usually long. In fact, her haircut for Healer caused quite a commotion in media. Everybody was talking about it. PMY even commented herself that with the shorter hair, she didn’t worry about being pretty all the time and committed herself to the role. (paraphrased) It worked because many news outlets said it’s her best acting to date (of Healer) and I agree, not only for Healer but since, imo.

              Reply
          2. Bosuji

            😀 YEEEAH ..

            I caught on all these clues exactly the same way you mention them.
            Love the nuggets hidden away that clicks into place at different points in the plotline

            Reply
  10. beezrtp

    I was sure that I commented on Healer here many years ago but since I wasn’t notified when a lot of the newbies commented, I guess I didn’t. (And I,d been waiting to hear what you guys thought.)

    I’ll have to take the time to read all of the new comments. Meanwhile, here was my little take away from Healer :
    Secret place rooftop tent
    +
    Healer’s secret isolated island he’s saving to buy
    =
    Jung Hoo’s unconsciously longing for childhood secret island tent shared with Young Shin and made by Uncle Moon-ho

    Reply
  11. Pingback: Inner Workings: Practical Factors That Affect Onscreen Chemistry | The Fangirl Verdict

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  14. marj lorenz

    how do i say it…. i’m now on the 15th episode and really enjoying every moment, bit by bit. the show is amazing. that’s why you love this series.

    … finishing the remaining episodes.

    many thanks!

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      So glad you’ve been enjoying your watch of Healer! 😀 Yes, I do love this show, and I’m glad you’re loving it too! <3

      Reply
  15. Mariclare Arandela Punongbayan

    that is so sad that you have only watched Ji Chang-wook here. I personally like Empress Ki than Healer. Ha Ji-won and Ji Chang-wook is really a darling in Empress Ki.

    Reply
    1. marj lorenz

      oh no! i have done watching Empress Ki few years back and truly, they have a very good chemistry. from then, i started following Ha Ji-won’s dramas. and lately, i also watched Suspicious Partner. Ji Chang-wook is really a versatile actor.

      Reply
  16. Rashi Dhariwal

    Hey,
    I loooovvvvve your reviews! I just finished watching Healer and the first thing I did was read your review. While watching also there were times when I wished when will this show be over because I want to read your review.
    I thoroughly enjoyed Healer and you have summarized it and given some important moments so neatly, kudos!
    Also, this is the first review that I read that has rating A. So can you recommend other shows that you have rated A? Also, it will be really helpful if there is space and reviews are segregated by ratings. (Just for easy recognition. I know physically it’s not that easy)
    Keep writing such awesome reviews!

    Reply
    1. Rashi Dhariwal

      Hey, I just saw the full list of dramas which is what I have been looking for! So just ignore the last part!

      Reply
    2. kfangurl

      Aw, that’s really sweet of you, to look forward to this review so much! <3 So glad you enjoyed the show – and this review, Rashi. Also, I'm glad you found the Full List – that will direct you to all the A-rated dramas I've written about! 😀

      Reply
  17. Pingback: Dear kfangurl: Which dramas have strong, interesting female characters? | The Fangirl Verdict

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  19. Joan Paula

    Of course, Healer has been included in my bucket list after scanning thefangirlverdict.com ‘s review (:
    [carefully avoiding the spoiler alerts] haha!

    Thanks heaps!

    *Edited to remove download links, to stay on the safe side of the DMCA bots. ~kfangurl

    Reply
  20. Lucy

    Hi, I read your review with pleasure. it was great to give voice to the emotions I felt. return to the drama vision to fix all the points you mentioned

    Reply
  21. Vekster

    Great Review. Just finished this show recently and is in my top 5 Asian dramas. Up there with Eternal Love (10 Miles of Peach Blossoms). So intense up until the end! Your section on things you wish you could have seen was dead on. 1 and 4 being the big culprits! Story was great and so were the OTPs. Ahjumma was the MVP character on this show! Loved every scene she was in and if she died, I was going to quit the show! She is equivalent to animals in movies. We get more sad when dogs die over humans! Kim Mi Kyung is such a great actress. I actually watched her reunion with Park Min Young in Her Private Life before Healer. Funny how she played Park Min Young’s mom on that show. Also, her performance in Healer is her best performance so far. I have seen Secretary Kim and Her Private Life. Now what to watch? Tried Boys Over Flowers (about half way) and can’t get over the hype. Bullying and then being boyfriend? Same with Playful kiss. Watched anime and was disgusted at how mean he was and she still thinks he loves her. Being reluctantly nice 1 out of 10 times does not mean love. Of course those other 9 times are him being harsh and uncaring. Not into abusive relationships. I guess I narrowed it down to While You Were Sleeping, Fated To Love You and Secret Garden. What do you think is the better one to watch?

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Hi there Vekster! I’m so glad you loved Healer, and that you enjoyed this review! 😀 Healer is one of my top favorites of all time, and I do think that I’ll enjoy another rewatch – and then another 😉 It’s just that good. <3 Ahjumma really is the best, and I loved her so much. Kim Mi Kyung really is a wonderful actress, and she's totally one of my favorite actresses now.

      Out of the shows that you mentioned, I liked Fated To Love You, and you can check out my review of that here. I couldn’t get into While You Were Sleeping, and even though I loved Secret Garden back in the day, I couldn’t actually get into it again when I attempted a rewatch a couple of years ago. I found Hyun Bin’s character too much of a jerk this time. Based on your comments about BOF and Playful Kiss, I don’t think you’d like Secret Garden, to be honest. If you’d like to browse my other top rated shows, you can check out this page. I hope that helps! 🙂

      Reply
      1. Vekster

        Funny you should mention Fated To Love You. I started to watch that before reading your recommendation. Since I’m a dude, I watched it for Jang Na Ra. She was good in One More Happy Ending. Not the best but enjoyable. Didn’t finish Last Empress due to the episode expansion. Was awesome until I heard Choi Jin Hyuk couldn’t finish the show. What was the point in continuing knowing how the show ends by a simple guess? Of course read your review to confirm. Dropped after 44 episodes. Goes to show money can ruin something already great with greed.

        After 3 episodes into FTLY, another rich tsundere main dude. Of course! Funny so far and ridiculous, but the OTP do make it interesting and captivating. Seems like these rich tsundere types write themselves when you watch any Asian drama. Cliches are easy to write since it all has a formula that is constantly in all of these.

        I would like to recommend a movie that I watched recently that has become one of my favorites along with Battle Royale. Confessions which is a Japanese revenge thriller. This revenge is for the death of a teacher’s daughter by two of her students. Sound bad because an adult getting revenge on a kid, but it’s how it’s being done that makes it satisfying. The movie is based off a book that is just as fantastic since the movie follows the book really close. In other words, someone read the book before making the movie and did not just look at the back for a cheap synopsis. First novel by Kanae Minato. Also, the Teacher, played by Takako Matsu, also provides the dubbing for Elsa in Frozen and sings Let It Go. I had to buy that movie with the Hong Kong blu-ray release because USA doesn’t have it in a region A. Good thing Hong Kong editions have English subs and menus. Price was reasonable.

        Reply
        1. kfangurl

          Yes, that was too bad about Last Empress. Jang Na Ra is great, I do enjoy her a lot. If you haven’t seen Go Back Couple, I highly recommend it. 😀 She was excellent in that.

          Yes, tsundere male leads are almost everywhere in Dramaland, lol. But FTLY is quite a fun ride with a surprising amount of heart, so I hope you enjoy your watch! 🙂

          Since you mentioned in your other comment that you enjoy martial arts, I thought I’d mention that the male lead in FTLY Jang Hyuk, is a Jeet Kune Do practitioner and does all his own stunts and fighting. One of my favorite actors! I think you might like watching him in Chuno (period piece about Slave Hunters, not a romance, but a story of personal journey) and Money Flower (not a lot of fighting, but there is a little, and it’s an excellent revenge melodrama, and I see that you enjoy revenge thrillers as well). I think you might also enjoy Jang Hyuk in Tree With Deep Roots (period piece about how Hangul was developed, Jang Hyuk plays a key role and there are fight scenes as well). I hope you’ll give some of these a try! 😀

          PS: I’ll put Confessions on my list! 🙂

          Reply
          1. Vekster

            Go Back Couple is on my radar. Of course found out Son Ho Jun was in it after watching Terius Behind Me. Terius was a good show with a small hint of romance which would have made it a bit better but then again the ending could have set up the hinted romance into something more for another season that probably will never happens. I am use to my Asian shows and anime not giving me another season. I’m use to the disappointment. To be honest, I read all your reviews when they come out as something I look forward to. Always worth the wait due to the well thought out content. keep up the good work.

            Reply
            1. kfangurl

              That’s great that Go Back Couple is on your radar! It’s a rare chance to see Son Ho Jun in a leading man role, and I think he does a very nice job of it. 🙂 Thanks for your encouragement on the reviews, I’m glad you’re enjoying them, and I’ll do my best to keep writing ’em! 🙂

              Reply
  22. haart

    Hi kfangurl, I just discovered your blogs and Godddd, your taste is so like mine! I get a glimpse of your full review list and realised so many of my favourite dramas are A and A+ (except I’m not a robot with a B+). And I know it, I know that you must love Healer just like I do (like all of us do?) I has written a short recap for myself (https://wp.me/swFGq-healer), but this detailed recap of yours makes me squeeze (now I believe people can squeeze because of a recap, not the drama itself).

    I know it’s the feels of Healer that never changes anytime I rewatched it. And event after a few years, this could still my Top favorite drama and I haven’t stopped spreading Healer love to people around, including friends and colleagues. Just this month, one of my friends actually blamed me because she was so into Healer that she forgot to attach a very basic document to her Doctor application and thus, disqualified for it!!! But I know it’s not really a complaint, because she is SO in love with Healer. Love comes with a price!

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Hi there haart! Wow, sounds like we have very similar tastes in dramas indeed! 😀 Hi5, drama sista! <3

      Indeed, Healer is a very special drama. I watched it twice so far, and loved it even more on the second watch I think! So much to love. 😍😍 Yay that you're continuing to spread the Healer love – altho, I have to admit, I'm kind of stunned that your friend got disqualified from her Doctor application because of the show. Yikes! I hope it all works out for her, so that there will be no taint on her Healer love 😉

      Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Thanks, CardiganGirl! 😀 Healer really is a special drama, well-deserving of an epic monster of a review, lol. I’m so glad you enjoyed reading it! <3

      Reply
  23. Sharbani Mukhopadhyay

    LOVED that you loved Healer as much as I did! Your review as usual is on an extraordinary level! Thank you for it!

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Aw, thanks Sharbani! I’m so glad you enjoyed this review! <3 I absolutely loved Healer, and I'm glad you did too! Hi5! 😀 This review was a bit of tribute to a very special show. 🙂

      PS: I feel like I should warn you that not all my reviews are this detailed or robust, heh. 😉

      Reply
  24. Pooja

    Loved the show.. Loved your detailed analysis.. Such a thoughtful and well sorted post.. Healer is certainly one of it’s kind drama.. After DOTS, healer is the drama I have thoroughly cherished.. Thanks for your beautiful review..

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Aw, thank you for enjoying this review, Pooja! <3 Healer really is a special drama; I can see myself reaching for this one every once in a while, to revisit the awesome. 😉 Healer-yaaa~! <3

      Reply
  25. varsha

    Hello Fangirl!! I love your detailed review. Your review captured my emotions and put into words much more than i ever would. I thank you for that. I loved loved Healer. IF there was any perfect drama this would be it . Since it is on Netflix , I keep watching my favourite scenes over and over. The moment I hear Healer I am reminded of the word ‘Ajumma’. I am not sure why though. This is one of the few shows where I love the supporting characters to bits. Apart from the OTP scenes( one of my all time favs) , 3 scenes stand out to me

    1) Park Min meeting her mother for the first time in person and she crying . I found that scene very moving
    2) Park Mins asking her father why he stayed with her in the orphanage – very beautiful
    3) Healer telling ajumma that he cannot run and hide and that he likes park min young

    What i take away from this drama is that the parents/father figures messing up the lives of young kids . Both the children carry the scars to their adulthood. But the young kids find each other eventually but also have wonderful parental figures acting in their best interest when their lose their way or not sure of themselves. This is captured beautifully in healer.

    I also loved Healer and Parkmin yound spending the night together. IT is done very realistically and since their connection is so strong , they connect at the most basic level.

    Thank you once again for such a beautiful piece.

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Thank you for enjoying this review, varsha! <3 I share your big Healer love, and I totally get what you mean about this being the kind of drama that you can just keep revisiting, over and over again. And yes, Dad being patient with her at the orphanage was truly sweet and beautiful. So lovely. <3 He's the father figure that's helping to heal the scars that the biological fathers inflicted, if you think about it. <3

      Reply
  26. niju

    i was able to discover this drama by accident on youtube. And i fell in love with the story from episode 1. Everything you have written here is on point and i enjoyed reading it. So much love for this drama and i have to admit that i am not a fan of korean dramas since i do not like watching long episodes.hehe

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Aw, you stumbled on a really good one, niju! 😀 So glad you found it, and that you enjoyed it as much as you did! I personally love this drama a lot, and I’m so happy to know that you became an accidental fan! 😀

      Reply
  27. Pingback: Flash Review: What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim? [Why Secretary Kim] | The Fangirl Verdict

  28. Jesse Gray

    @phl1rxd — I certainly will! After reading many of the reviews, I noticed that a lot of the deal breakers KFG listed (sorry, Gurl–I’m talk’in as if you’re not in the room!) are things that would put me off of a show as well; I feel safe that if I invest time in a series she gives top billing to, I won’t be disappointed. I think I’ve watched four of her A’s (making my way through a fifth), and thus far I’ve enjoyed them all–even one that frequently rankled me.

    I actually don’t watch TV myself. I do have a rather large digitized library on my computer (created from DVDs I still own) that includes several hundred movies and many TV shows I liked in the past, but I don’t even own a TV anymore. I’d much rather be writing/making movies than watching them. That said, Kdramas scratch an emotional itch and let me see life (or at least the dramatized version of it) through a whole new lens, so I’ve been carving out time. (Case in point, I have two movies a friend let me borrow and highly recommended, and those are still sitting on my desk untouched whilst I have since viewed two Kdrama series.)

    It sounds like “Nirvana on Fire” isn’t really an option–it’s a must-see in the literal sense of the phrase. 🙂 My curiosity is piqued, and I shall endeavor to give it the attention it clearly deserves. It will be a first for me, in that I haven’t really been drawn to period pieces thus far. Not sure why. But I see it’s got Wang Kai in it, who I know from “Wen a Snail Falls in Love”, so that’s cool. (I’m still new to the genre, so any time I see a familiar face, it’s a big deal.) Thank you for affirming Gurl’s endorsement of the show, and enjoy your “Healer” revisit!

    Reply
  29. phl1rxd

    Ok – time for a Healer re-watch! Fits in perfectly while waiting for every new episode of Secretary Kim which can’t come fast enough – and I get a double dose of Park Min Young LOL!

    @JesseGray – do yourself a big favor and bookmark Fangurls list of Full List of Shows. After several years of just wandering around in Drama Land I found this site and I treasure it. I started out with all the A ratings and worked my way down. Fangurl is spot on. If there is an A rating it is deserved and will guarantee a solid investment of your watch time. For someone like me who does not watch American TV at all (I stream everything through Viki, Drama Fever or online) this list has been a time saver.

    Eternally grateful to Fangurl that I found Nirvana in Fire through her post – hands down the best of the best of the best! A must watch – seriously and undeniably magnificent. Not kidding when I said I have watched it several times and each time it just gets better. Find it and watch it – the best 50+ hours you will spend in Drama Land.

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Lol. I feel like ANYTIME is a good time for a Healer rewatch! 😍 This was the show that made me think of Park Min Young as awesome. I’m only a few eps into Secretary Kim at the moment, it’s cute! 🙂

      Reply
  30. Jesse Gray

    *Chuckle* Also, the keyboarding peeve is much akin to your CPR “What the heck?!” moments–which I share, by the way. As someone who had to certify in First Aid several times for lifeguarding and security work, it blows my mind how CPR is done in most shows. Particularly when the proper procedure has changed like six times since I first learned to do it; somehow TV manages to find a seventh, more ridiculous way, to portray it.

    It’s a detail that doesn’t break the show; you just wish they could have put a little more effort towards polishing some of the smaller details to avoid momentary interruptions in immersion.

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Lol! YES. That CPR thing is ABSOLUTELY one of my pet drama peeves. Shows keep portraying CPR as romantic, and IT IS SO NOT. 🙄

      Reply
      1. Jesse Gray

        Oh, come now! What’s not romantic about breaking someone’s ribs while frantically searching for signs of life? Do you have a heart of stone?! 😉

        Reply
  31. Jesse Gray

    Ah, I didn’t realize that was the theme song (painful admission)! In that case, I can appreciate the nod. And you’re right, it does pulse…so maybe it’s someone *running* happily through a forest. 😉 I realize its a bias; anytime I see a dark, gritty fight or chase scene, I think of their counterparts in “The Matrix” (1999) which were accentuated by a very dark, hit-you-in-the-face soundtrack. Perhaps I had just not fully acclimated to the overall tone of the series at that point.

    It’s funny you mention misaligned music in the genre as a whole. (After reading more of your reviews and perusing the list o’ series you’ve watched, I realized we have virtually no overlap in viewing, so my sweeping generalizations here and elsewhere may miss the mark.) Oftentimes I find that the piece itself is more-or-less appropriate, but the cues are way off. The music usually starts at an appropriate place, but then it either abruptly stops or fades awkwardly into a completely different song. For as many hours as these series run, and for all the fluffy filler that is put into them, I’m thinking, “Give the scene another few beats for crying out loud! Let me see that reaction for another two or three seconds! Give your music time to gracefully exit instead of chopping its legs off!” That said, “Healer” was the first show that nailed those cues. If the songs or score weren’t custom-made for the moment, they at least were brought in and out tactfully enough so as not to be noticed.

    I think I could have accepted the whole “daughter-is-alive” delayed reveal more if the show didn’t do such a good job of showing the gut-wrenching pain Myung Hee was in because of the loss of her daughter. My heart went out to that woman in almost every scene she was in. It got to a point where I was feeling like there was nothing as important–in this world or the one on-screen–as letting her know her girl was alive and well. I was like, “Demmit, Moon Ho, you tell her! You tell her right now! Stop tearing up and just say it! Use your words, man!” You make a good point about all the uncertain conflict swirling around the characters, and if the missing daughter aspect wasn’t such an acute emotional kick to the feels, I could have let it slide. But when a woman is in a frigg’in wheelchair, the love of her life is dead, and his replacement is a scheming lying turd muffin…I mean c’mon! Throw the poor lady a bone!

    I did enjoy Ahjumma’s character a lot. I particularly liked her goofy, wide-legged gait as she walked/ran from the minions when they were raiding her place, especially when you see the confidence strides she makes when she’s not in hacker mode. I wasn’t expecting them to flesh her out as much as they did, and was very appreciative that she was given a backstory to explain her knowledge and prowess. The fact that they gave her quirky-yet-functional hobbies was an added bonus. I will say I thought there would have been more emotional emphasis put on the scene where she holds up a hand and says, “I’m not a mother” (for the life of me, I can’t recall what she said that in response to), considering the denial was tied directly to her being an absentee mother before actually losing her child. That detail is tragic yet believable, and does an amazing job of explaining why we see cold n’ calculating mixed with a big heart.

    I didn’t have so much trouble with Jung Hoo’s ability–it was more of how Teacher gleaned such amazing techniques to pass on in the first place. I thought Teacher would have a bit of flashback to explain his credentials, but it never happened. For some reason though, the series took on an extra level of depth for me when it’s said that Jung Hoo is borderline autistic in some respects. It explained so much and gave him an obstacle of sorts while also lending his other abilities a somewhat viable justification (not that one was needed). My tentative understanding of autism in the real world is that it devastates a person’s ability to socially interact, but it usually comes with a heightening mental awareness or aptitude. If those traits can be slightly exaggerated, they could easily correlate to heightened reflexes and perception–both of which would make someone a terrific fighter and traceur.

    Thank you for another intriguing recommendation in “Nirvana in Fire”–it has been added to my list! While I do lament the lack of a romantic angle, the quality of “Healer” gives me a freshly legitimized belief that I will enjoy it all the same. I have been avoiding anything without romance because the shows I’ve been exposed to thus far were usually pretty bad in terms of production quality; the action and fight scenes just didn’t hold up well, which is a problem when they comprise a considerable chunk of a show’s constitution. Contemporary American shows seem to have shifted a lot of emphasis towards action and special effects (sadly at the expense of more noble aspects like love, character, and story), so I’m partially burned out and partially spoiled in that department. But again, high praise like what you gave “Nirvana” cannot be ignored–particularly when your last unbridled praise brought me to “Healer”. 🙂

    I did actually do a bit of a palate-cleanser after “Healer” (technically it was also after IHYV) with “We Married As a Job”, which I discovered after wandering down a trail of linked reviews on this site. I found it to be a very light, fun, yet surprisingly deep and insightful jaunt that I enjoyed a great deal. I don’t think that it lowered my expectations (’cause like I said, it was pretty darned good), but it was certainly a deviation from “Healer”.

    I’m still too new to the drama world to have any preference between countries of origin. I recall you mentioning somewhere that you’d started watching Taiwanese shows for a stretch, which you said was odd because you usually favor Korean fare. I was like, “Eh?” Aside from beginning to pick up language cues and take note of certain actors/actresses, I haven’t been able to discern the differences in shows from different countries yet. I’m sure they exist–they would have to–I just don’t have a preference. That to say, any recommendations are welcome, regardless of what part of the world they came from. 🙂

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Ah, I’m glad you enjoyed We Married As A Job! It’s currently my favorite J-drama – which isn’t saying all that much, since I watch far less Japanese dramas than Korean or Chinese. But I loved that quirky cuteness, and the thoughtful undercurrents. An excellent pick for something different after Healer, I must say! 😀

      I think the differences in dramas between countries of origin will become more pronounced to you, as you watch more dramas.. For a start, Taiwanese shows tend to have very crude production values while Korean dramas have generally high production values. That makes a difference to me. And, there are differences in language for sure, and the Taiwanese dramas in particular have a more whiny rendition of Mandarin, and there is also an inclusion of Taiwanese (which sounds like Hokkien, a Chinese dialect), and I do find that distracting. I personally have come to enjoy the Mandarin in dramas coming out of China. The general writing and handling tends to be different too, across countries. 🙂

      Reply
      1. Jesse Gray

        It is indeed a wide, wide world out there. I’m sure I’ll pick up more of the nuances you mentioned in time. I’m pretty bummed at my inability to perceive distinctions right now–it’s like seeing a rainbow with different shades of one color. I don’t necessarily like all the colors of the spectrum, but I at least want to be able to notice them.

        I did notice in certain shows identified by Netflix as “Chinese” that there were a lot of noticeable “Sch” sounds. Like instead of “She-shay”, it would sound like “Schhhee-Schhhay”. Not sure how well that’s translating here. If you’re familiar with Sean Connery at all, and the way he pronounces his “s”s, you may get what I’m saying. It’s probably the only lingual distinction I’ve been able to make at this point. *Sigh*.

        It’s interesting you said “whiny rendition of Mandarin”, because that’s something I think that has been messing with my ability to appreciate good performances. In English, the only time I can think of that a sentence or word will exaggerate/elongate vowels is in the employment of sarcasm. (With the notable exception of the colloquial “Daaaaayyyyuuuummmm!” used to express appreciation or exasperation in a very informal manner.) But in many of the shows I watch, the last vowel of a sentence will get kind of sing-songy and extend for like an extra four syllables.

        My very elementary understanding of the language is that the duration and inflection of a word can actually alter its meaning. Whether that’s actually true, and if it is, to what extent, I haven’t a clue. All I know is that some line deliveries sound odd or even juxtaposed to their translation (as perceived by these western ears), but I have always assumed that’s the way the language is spoken. The fact that there are even differences in the level of “whininess” just exasperates my ignorance. *Heavy Sigh*

        Fortunately, my primary focus is more on the differences in the writing and the way characters interact. You mention there are variances–any chance I could get some generalizations just to trigger some awareness?

        I’m with you about the production values though. Regardless of cultural nuance, bad audio is bad audio. Poor contrast is poor contrast. I have definitely seen significant swings in presentation quality, though admittedly I haven’t flagged them according to country of origin. Apparently the good ones I’ve seen have been coming out of Korea for the most part. 🙂

        I noticed, too, a general lack of extras. I think that may be across the board, but maybe it’s more prevalent in non-Korean shows. Like someone runs a restaurant or a coffee house, but there’s almost never any through-traffic or guests. There are plenty of people in train stations and malls n’ such, but streets (particularly at night) and even stores/shops/businesses seem to be largely devoid of background talent. It’s not a big deal ’cause I usually only care about what’s happening in the story, but I just started noticing a heightened sensation of intimacy when I was watching these shows. On closer examination, I realized it was because the cast pretty much has the city all to themselves! And trust me, I get it. If you’re shooting at 2am because that’s the only time you can get the location locked down, trying to get low/no-paid talent to just sit in the background or make a few foreground crosses can be pretty difficult.

        Reply
        1. kfangurl

          The thing about shows classified as Chinese, is that it can be misleading. For example, on flights, when it comes to movies from Hong Kong, the movies are listed as being in Chinese as well. But the language is really Cantonese, which is a Chinese dialect, instead of Mandarin, which is the official language of China. But in China itself, there are multiple Chinese dialects spoken across the various cities and provinces. Mandarin just happened to be the one that was picked to be the official language of China. Therefore, it’s not technically wrong for the HK movies to be listed as “Chinese” since it is, after all, a Chinese dialect. Unlike the different accents that you find across the various states in the US, the Chinese dialects are considered languages (or, sub-languages, if that is a thing) and can sound unrecognizable one from another, and need to be learned as languages in their own right, even though, by and large, they still use the same Chinese characters. I’m sure that sounds very confusing. 😛

          In terms of how the writing and handling tends to differ from country to country when it comes to dramas, here are my broad generalizations. Generally speaking, production values tend to be lower in Taiwanese and Japanese dramas, while the production values in Korean and Chinese dramas are higher. This is fairly new for Chinese dramas, where production values have only shown a serious uptick in the last several years. In terms of writing, Japanese dramas are generally known for being the more thoughtful and well-written ones. Taiwanese dramas tend to either be idol dramas (which feature very popular young actors, and which tend to be rom-coms), or long-drawn-out family affairs. Generally speaking, the writing in both types tend to be convoluted, and the acting style, generally OTT.

          From my observation, Korean dramas tend to almost always feature a loveline, and I find that the Korean dramas generally do well in breathing life into the relationship nuances, particularly in the early courtship period. I personally think this is one of the success factors that have made Korean dramas so popular worldwide. Comparatively, I find that Chinese dramas are less attuned to the emotional throughline, generally speaking. I do find that Chinese dramas tend to have a stronger overall narrative because the dramas are completely pre-produced, versus the live-shoot system which is more popular in Korea.

          Of course, these are very, very broad generalizations, and there are always exceptions. I hope that helps! 🙂

          Reply
          1. Jesse Gray

            As usual, thank you for the enlightening educational expose (accent over the “e”)! I do think I understand what you mean regarding the different dialects in China. I took four years of Spanish back in HS, and while the regional variances aren’t drastic enough to be considered completely different languages, I have been assured by native speakers that nuances and slang can make it extremely difficult to understand fellow Spanish-speakers around the globe. Same core language, same alphabet, but different execution. I’m guessing the principle is the same as what you’re describing, even if the distinctions aren’t quite as…well…distinct.

            (And for the record, there are places in the US where people are technically speaking some form of English, but I can’t understand a lick of what they’re saying–particularly in the deep south. Between the thick accents and uniquely abbreviated/altered turns of phrase, it’s very easy to get corn-fused ’bout dewaays demfowks lips be flapp’in! –What makes it extra challenging is there are no translators ’cause it’s not an official dialect or anything; people who talk that way think it’s fine, so asking them to interpret what was just said draws blank stares.)

            I guess this is a case where ignorance is bliss, ’cause it’s all Greek to me! 😀 It is a tad bit discouraging, as I have often times contemplated learning a second language (Spanish doesn’t count ’cause 20 years later I scarcely remember more than basic vocabulary words), but I want/need it to be super functional for me to stick with it. A good chunk of my genetic make-up is German, so that was a consideration, but aside from a visit at some happy point in the future, I don’t think I’d have much cause to use it. Mandarin seemed like a good choice considering current global dynamics, and I thought it would be awesome to either make a film in China with other Chinese filmmakers or at least make one for a Chinese audience. But now, alas, it seems that ambition was doomed to be swallowed by the reality of dialect divergence.

            Thank you for the illumination…and for killing all my hopes and dreams. 😉

            I also appreciate you making me aware of the general differences between dramas produced in different countries. It would seem that there is a wide spectrum from subtle to overt, so having these guidelines will give me keener eyes to note the strengths and tendencies of each one.

            I can’t imagine going into a series without extensive pre-production, so I have great appreciation for both the Chinese (with whom my overall process and desire for a strong, unwavering narrative aligns) and the Koreans (with whom my appreciation for a more improvisational, flexible style very foreign to my own resides).

            I actually got to use the success of Kdramas during a discussion with a friend who sayid that American studios have data to back up the claim that “sex makes a movie more popular”. I’m sure it’s true that studio execs genuinely believe that throwing a sex scene into a movie or show makes it more successful, and I’m willing to believe there are some metrics out there that support the idea. I would argue that the people who gravitate towards shows that include such things comprise a specific type of audience and do not reflect the tendency of the majority. But that’s purely speculative. What isn’t speculative is the fact that Kdramas have global appeal, and the raciest sex scene I’ve seen thus far was a shirtless dude next to a t-shirt-wearing gal who, after sharing a kiss, disappear completely under a comforter. As you said, I think it’s more the relational nuances and dynamics that resonate with people as opposed to overt acts of physical intimacy. …That said, we do get copious amounts of kissing, typically in slow motion from multiple angles. But they are presented as a pretty big deal, not merely an obligatory springboard for bedroom shenanigans.

            But I digress. Point being Kdramas (and actually most Asian dramas in general that I’ve seen) are a wonderful, massive exception to the perceived rule.

            I’m glad you mentioned that Taiwanese/Chinese shows tend to have OTT acting, ’cause that lines up with my observations as well. Wasn’t sure if it was cultural, culturally reflective, or intentionally stylized, but it definitely seemed to skew towards bizarre. Some shows give obvious cues as to the tonal approach, like throwing in cute/goofy SFX for exaggerated movements, eye blinking, raised eyebrows, etc.., which I appreciate. Once I see stuff like that, I know to expect wacky adventures and unbelievable contrivance, and I can enjoy it for what it is. …Come to think of it, those all have been Taiwanese shows! Hot dog–I’m seeing distinctions!

            Thank ya kindly, KFG!

            Reply
            1. Growing Beautifully

              Jesse Gray, you don’t have to let your dream of making a film/show in China die 😉 … just concentrate on learning Mandarin. In the end, all shows will be dubbed in ‘standard’ Mandarin and most or all mainland Chinese can speak it, so you’ll be able to communicate with just about everyone. 😄

              Reply
              1. Jesse Gray

                Thank you for the encouraging words, @Growing Beautifully! They are greatly appreciated! Rest assured I am not forfeiting my dream of making foreign films in foreign countries. My lament was mostly in jest, though I was genuinely flabbergasted by how many languages (of sorts) there were that I was unaware of. Granted, there is a great deal I am unaware of in general, but this caught me off guard. I guess it’s only fair, considering how big of a country China is. Ah well.

                I think you’re right that learning Mandarin is the best way to go. First, however, I must master the filmmaking process here in the States using my native tongue. Production has formidable enough hurdles without throwing a whole new communication paradigm into the mix. 🙂

                Reply
            2. kfangurl

              Hi there Jesse! I’m sorry for the recent radio silence, real life caught up with me and I basically ignored the entire blog for almost 2 weeks. 😛

              In terms of the language thing, I agree with Growing Beautifully, if you want to make a Chinese film, then the language to learn would be Mandarin, because that is the official language of China. 🙂 Also, congratulations that you’re starting to see distinctions in the style and general execution of the shows you’re watching! You are very right, that OTT stylized approach is something that is common in Taiwanese dramas. 🙂

              Thanks for sharing that conversation you had with your friend. Indeed, Asian dramas are a big exception to the perceived rule that Sex Sells. In fact, from multiple conversations I’ve had with western fans of Asian dramas, many of them share that one of the reasons they got into watching Asian dramas in the first place, was because they felt so tired of the sex and violence on western TV. So, there’s that! 🙂 I’ve found that Asian dramas sometimes do present a more western approach to love and sex, but those dramas are in the minority, and I personally would prefer that it stays in the minority, so that Asian dramas can continue to retain one of the big core things that make them appealing: the understanding of the emotional journey, and the ability to make that emotional journey a vicarious experience for the viewer 🙂

              Reply
              1. Jesse Gray

                No worries, KFG! I know how it is! I’m in the same boat myself. In fact, I haven’t watched anything at all for the past two weeks. Running crazy. But that’s a good thing, right? Hard to complain when life is so full there’s too much to do to watch or comment. I’ll save that for my golden years!

                I find it impossible to do, but I like to try and figure out what it is about a country’s people/culture/history/tendencies that produces such specific flavors in entertainment. That includes things like going OTT in Taiwan productions…or, sadly, the proliferation of the sex n’ violence tendencies of a lot of western fare.

                To be fair, in both cases, and any other generalizations I can come up with in terms of entertainment, the media doesn’t necessarily reflect the values or perspectives of the viewers. If the head of a network thinks green polo shirts are the best thing in the world, guess what? You’ll see green polo shirts pop up all over the shows in that network. Sex and violence may permeate a good chunk of western TV, but, as you’ve said, there are many people who either put up with it ’cause that’s all they have, or they turn to other (foreign) sources for something that aligns more with what they want to see.

                It was a debate in some of my film classes whether society influences art, or if it’s the other way around. While there is some back and forth (mostly when it comes to things that a vocal niche of society may perceive as ‘offensive’), I think the swing goes largely in favor of media imprinting on society. Maybe that’s more so the case now than in the past, because the world is smaller and society has a bigger voice. And it is not unified by any stretch. And it’s fickle. And while communication methods are numerous and simplified, actual communication is turning into some kind of rarified art form. Which is bogus. Put all that together, and you’d go crazy trying to reflect “society”, so you put out the part of society that you’ve experienced or that you choose to magnify.

                Not sure where I was going with all that, other than to say I wonder if shows in other countries are managing to reflect values and lifestyles that are truer reflections of the population, or if they are simply catering to the whims and ideals of the few people putting up the money. I ain’t saying it’s wrong; if someone is paying/investing, they have a right to dictate the content. I’m just wondering is all.

                Thus concludes my sliver of free time. Stay busy, stay fresh!

                Reply
                1. kfangurl

                  Ah, sounds like you’ve been super busy as well! I thought that perhaps by now you might’ve finished a big chunk of Nirvana in Fire, but with life being so busy perhaps you haven’t after all!

                  In terms of the question of art imitating life or life imitating art, the general vibe I get from remarks made by Koreans, is that it flows both ways. For example, with the TV shows depicting people eating ramyun all the time, it does actually make people eat more ramyun, the more they watch it. Which, in turn, makes the drama depiction closer to real life. As for the way dramas depict perfect boyfriends, Korean men have said that it does put a lot of pressure on them, and that it’s an unrealistic portrayal. At the same time, some have said that these drama depictions have influenced the way they court their girlfriends as well. I thought that was pretty interesting. 🙂

                  Reply
                  1. Jesse Gray

                    Alas, these eyes have seen naught but daily life for many days now. I’m in the midst of editing a wedding video, which is cool, but it lacks the drama of…well…dramas. (Though the story of how they got together actually has some Kdrama-ish elements to it.)

                    Ah, so media engages in self-fulfilling prophecy, eh? Show society something so that when society eventually absorbs or adopts it, the earlier content is retroactively made accurate and relevant. Clever. Unfortunate that the weather folks can’t have the same suggestive impact on climate behavior. 😉

                    I can definitely see how guys could feel pressure from unrealistic expectations, but I don’t think those are created by the main leads. The number one guy is usually pretty flawed and has his own journey to go through–even if that means learning pursuit in moderation. I guess there are a few shows I’ve seen where the guy mostly has it together and just needs a little polish, but overall I recall there being some hurdles and personality quirks that have to be overcome.

                    It’s that darned second lead whose unwavering unconditional love and exaggerated acts of sweetness are wrecking the curve! But he HAS to do those things ’cause otherwise he wouldn’t have a snowball’s chance in Hell of getting his brief, ill-fated relationship off the ground. Second leads are the perfect specimens of romantic expression, rarely showing any weaknesses or change. They come in strong, stay strong, and exit like champs with little more than a stoic sniffle to indicate their shredded hearts.

                    Overall, aside from being a bit saccharine at times, I think the relationships are relatively fair in terms of what they depict–provided it’s a two-way street. What makes it stretch credulity is when one half of the relationship is doing everything right in spite of the other side continuously bucking, fighting, or doubting. While loving someone steadfastly is the ideal, and it is possible to do so even when it is one-sided, the human heart can only handle so much. The capacity of the leads to endure what they do over the course of a show, particularly at a relatively young age, does stray into a fantastic realm of sorts.

                    In the real world, if both people can process the “ideal” and try to walk out a modified version of it, I think there can be a somewhat successful manifestation of said ideal. It’s when one side decides, “If he/she really loves me, they should tolerate anything and everything I do!” that the system breaks down.

                    This is another reason why I support these kind of shows. If watching actors eat ramyun can inspire viewers to consume copious quantities of nearly toxic noodles, then watching a couple treat each other with unconditional love should be able to inspire a modicum of imitation in their own relationships.

                    Reply
  32. Jesse Gray

    First, I want to thank you for emphatically pointing me to what I think is one of the best shows in the Kdrama genre. My sample size is relatively small, but there is such a gap between this show and every other one I’ve seen that I have to put it in its own tier. Second, thank you for taking the time to explore all the great things about it; your adoration is readily apparent through both volume and articulation.

    Ultimately I agreed with pretty much everything you wrote regarding the many highlights of the show. There was no arc-fatigue, no recycled plot points, and there was a glorious failure to linger on any one crisis. Most of the shows I’ve seen grossly exaggerate the impact of a mistake, misunderstanding, or lie; one simple communication glitch can take three episodes to resolve, which is asinine. “Healer” gives its characters 10-20 minutes to react, process, and deal with pretty much any bump in the road. And there is discernible growth. As soon as Young Shin discovers the truth about Jung Hoo, her trust is understandably shaken. It takes some time (a chunk of one episode), but her love for him quickly overwhelms her ire and distrust. Later on when presented with new reasons to doubt her beau, she absorbs the information, grapples with it for juuuust a bit, then shakes it off and moves forward.

    I also agree with your stance on the (apparently) controversial sex scene. Personally, I think sex is a unique and special experience designed to further intertwine two people who have committed their lives to each other. I admit I raised an eyebrow in surprise when I realized the copulation was happening, but it felt right. The show did a great job of setting up a deep connection between Jung Hoo and Young Shin almost from the beginning. Their comfort and compatibility with each other bypassed all the superficial constructs that are built throughout a typical dating process and went straight to interpersonal resonance. The minute Young Shin showed up at Jung Hoo’s secret apartment, her heart and mind were aligned, and there was no doubt she was committed to him for the long haul. Her adamant refusal to leave despite his equally adamant attempts to drive her away (the equivalent of countless rejections) just made that truth even more apparent. The same is true for Jung Hoo when he finally surrenders and tearfully embraces her. I agree that emotions and a sense of mutual vulnerability probably helped draw them together in that moment, but the full realization of their love for each other made their indulgence in intimacy seem very natural and appropriate. There would be no contrived illness, ill-fated rival, or crotchety elder to get in the way of their relationship in this series! Ultimately, after we witnessed the profound connection between those two characters and saw the resolve of their commitment, what happened shortly thereafter in Jung Hoo’s bizzarre-yet-awesome bed was pure consummation.

    You often used the word “organic” to describe events and characters, and I think that’s a large part of the reason I enjoyed the series so much. Good story-telling comes from creating good characters, building a world for them, and letting them interact with it naturally. As an audience, we know that we are watching something that has been crafted by a linguistic puppet master to elicit emotional reactions and engage us–the question is how many of his or her strings we see. The more natural the progression, the more genuine the reactions, the more we get a sense of narrative propriety. Overall, “Healer” did a fantastic job of hiding the mechanisms that moved the story forward, removing a huge mental wall that has often kept me somewhat detached from other series I’ve watched.

    All that said, there are four things that tweaked my brain:

    1. Derailed Soundtrack — About 75% of the time, I thought the music did a great job of emphasizing moments without drawing undue attention to itself, but there were a few times when I was taken aback by musical choices. The first time was during the subway fight scene in the first episode. The tone was dark, the mood tense, and I expected an angsty score or some heavy riffs to go along with the battle. Instead there was this weird, airy, fantastical score that seemed more appropriately paired with a scene of someone walking through a garden during sunset. The same thing happened a few episodes later when Jung Hoo was being chased across town and over rooftops. Admittedly, I kinda bought into the lighter, bouncier music at first. After all, the soundtrack is supposed to help guide your feelings in the scene, so I just accepted that I was supposed to be marveling at the grace with which our hero dashed from pipe to brick to wall to window. But then he crashed through said window, and my ability to align with the music was shattered just like the panes of glass. First because glass easily rends flesh, so my suspension of disbelief was unnecessarily taxed. Second, because it reminded me that this guy is running for his life, and no matter how graceful or cool it is, I should feel tense and there should be a driving energy to the scene. The final time I recognized a disconnect between the music and visuals was when Jung Hoo was remembering touching moments with Teacher shortly after his death. The scenes were of teacher and student growing closer together, but the song was clearly about a guy/girl relationship. Granted, Jung Hoo was with Young Shin while he was remembering those moments, but I still found the romantic ballad an odd choice when the focus was on his relationship with Teacher.

    2. Convoluted Convulsions — I’m almost certain I somehow missed a detail here, but why couldn’t Moon Ho tell Myung Hee about Young Shin as soon as he found out she was still alive? I get that mentioning Myung’s dead/lost daughter caused her to have violent convulsions, but why is it assumed that revealing said daughter was alive would also cause issues? Maybe I don’t understand stress-related illnesses, but refreshing a trauma is vastly different from correcting it. And as painful as the episodes are, they obviously aren’t inherently fatal. Even if there’s only a slim chance that seeing her daughter again won’t be a trigger, wouldn’t it be worth it to give it a try? Was Moon Ho genuinely planning to never disclose the truth? If he was, sooner is always better than later. I dunno. I think/hope I’m missing a crucial fact here, because otherwise this was a rather central point of tension that was needlessly kept on life support for nearly the whole series.

    3. Keyboarding Shenanigans — It is a testament to the high quality of this show that such a small nitpick like this finds its way into a critique. It’s relatively insignificant, but it developed into something of a peeve for me as the show progressed. That is Ahjumma’s lack of keyboarding prowess. Yes, it’s true that almost every show involving computer hacking features some cyber wizard navigating a visually-stunning yet utterly impractical UI with naught but a rapid series of keystrokes. It is an absurd concept that strains credulity, which is why it’s so important to make those keystrokes look as genuinely functional as possible. Flapping your fingers on a keyboard isn’t the same as actually hitting keys with discernible purpose. Ahjumma dances her fingers spastically over roughly the same group of keys before emphatically striking the “Enter” key. (It doesn’t help that the keyboard is clunky and looks like it was bought off Amazon for $9.) It’s a small detail, I know, but we see it done like ten times per episode. Tell the actress to type actual words, or invent her own hotkey system–anything to make it look like the keys she’s hitting are in some way correlating to the crazy visuals happening on the computer screen. *Exasperated “Gah!”* But Ahjumma was an awesome character, so though I am somewhat traumatized, I can forgive. 🙂

    4. Mystical Martial Arts Porn Stash — Not only are the Healers able to almost effortlessly beat down any single opponent one-on-one, but they are able to dispatch multitudes (provided they haven’t been tranquilized first). We never get an explanation for that. Where did Teacher learn such overwhelming skills in so many areas? Was he the ward of an eccentric billionaire in the States who taught him fighting techniques from around the world (Batman)? Was he a $10 million weapon trained by the gov’t to be the ultimate assassin (Bourne)? Was he trained in prison by a master fighter who offered lessons in exchange for help tunneling his way freedom (Monte Cristo)? As far as we can see, Teacher was just an athletic, daring member of the Fab Five who went to prison for 11 years. My understanding of eastern prisons (which is admittedly narrow in scope) doesn’t exactly make them out to be centers for combat training and self-improvement; I imagine he spent most of his time just trying to survive for a decade. So how in the heck are the Healers so darned good? The only answer we have is the contents of a briefcase that Teacher says can enhance Jung Hoo’s martial arts prowess three-fold. The reveal is meant to be a joke (and was admittedly funny), but there’s no other explanation! Apparently there are great combat truths and techniques hidden in the centerfolds… It’s not a huge deal, but it was one of the few questions I had that didn’t seem to get a satisfactory answer by the end of the series.

    Aside from those relatively minor qualms, I thoroughly enjoyed the show. It did a great job of raising questions that were compelling but not distracting, and then answering those questions in a timely way. There was a beautiful subtly to some very powerful moments, managing to render essence without mechanics. The production value was incredibly high with some of the best camera work, editing, and performances I have seen. I’m glad this wasn’t my first exposure to Kdramas, because it set the bar incredibly high.

    Admittedly I’ve skipped chunks of other shows because there was so much filler and scenes with characters I didn’t give a fig about. I knew the frequent recaps and flashbacks would fill in anything important I missed, so I jumped to the good stuff with impunity. This was the first series I didn’t skip through. I cared about all the characters, and was interested in the dynamics of almost every interaction. And, as you pointed out, the plot is presented like a jigsaw puzzle at times, so even a quick 20-second reference can make a huge difference. I didn’t want to miss anything (though apparently I still somehow managed to do so), so I stayed true. It was a crazy three-day marathon, but it was a very rewarding experience. I kinda wish there had been five more minutes at the end to give fuller closure to all the characters, but I’d prefer to left wanting a little more than wading through a filler-saturated series that should have been 4-5 episodes shorter.

    Not long ago I asked for a recommendation that avoided many of the typical tropes but still had a strong romantic focus, and “Healer” was spot on. Ironically, I found this superhero drama to be more grounded and relatable than almost all the slice-of-life series I’ve seen to this point, which is a bittersweet realization. I’m grateful to have had the experience though. I was actually so inspired that I bought a black flattop hat as an homage. I never do that sorta thing usually, but I allowed myself a little geek-out this time.

    Much Obliged!

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Hi there Jesse! 😀 Great to hear from you! And, great to see that you loved Healer – your appreciation is ALSO shown through volume and articulation 😉 (Sorry, couldn’t resist! 😁)

      You are absolutely right, I would put Healer in a different tier than most other kdramas. For dramas of similar tier, the various titles I sent your way would be a great place to start, although there isn’t one that I would say is similar to Healer. They are all excellent in their own way.

      1. Your comment on the music made me curious, and so I revisited the subway fight scene in E1. The track that plays is the main title track, which is this one:

      In using that track, I tend to think that the music director was showing us the essence of Healer’s style; he’s nimble, fast, and doesn’t take things too seriously. The job is important, but he doesn’t get stressed about it – because he doesn’t need to be, he’s that good. The music has a lightness to it, yes, but there’s also a pulsing to it, which feels like a driving force, so I personally wouldn’t associate that track with someone walking through a forest 😛 Also, this track is often used when Healer is doing his “thing” so I do feel this was a very deliberate choice on the part of the music director.

      That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if some music wasn’t aligned well, to a scene at hand. Unfortunately that is a fairly common occurrence in dramaland. I didn’t revisit the scene with Teacher, because I can’t recall which episode that happens in, so I’ll withhold comment on that. 🙂

      2. As for the convulsions and why Moon Ho didn’t reveal to Myung Hee that he had found her daughter, this niggled at me too. I think we are to believe that the convulsions really were life-threatening, and so perhaps Moon Ho was afraid of jeopardizing her health. At the same time, I guess there was a whole other web of lies and corruption that he was investigating, that involved both Myung Hee and Young Shin, and perhaps Moon Ho was playing it safe by delaying the conversation with Myung Hee.

      3. Lol. I never noticed that about Ahjumma! I just thought it was really cute, that the hacker behind uber cool Healer, was a gimbap-eating, scarf-knitting middle-aged ahjumma, so I never begrudged any clunky keyboard handling from her. In my mind, Ahjumma rocks <3

      4. As for Healer's prowess, I think we are to believe that he picked up his quick reflexes from sparring with Teacher in his younger days, and then honed the skills further with practice. Also, I think we are to believe that he's got innate talent, because if memory serves, doesn't Teacher mention it at some point, that Jung Hoo is more talented than he?

      Yay that you allowed yourself to geek out a little bit, with the hat purchase! Healer does deserve the homage 😉

      And yes, that's the thing about very good dramas.. it does ruin you for other dramas afterwards – at least for a while. So, Healer will be a tough act to follow, I think. My usual strategy, after a particularly good show, is to watch a show that is completely different in genre and vibe, so that it's hard to compare. One day, when you're up for something Chinese instead of Korean, and are ready to have your drama world ruined for a good long while, I highly recommend Nirvana In Fire. I gave it the highest score I possibly could, and heartily consider it a masterpiece in every way. I think your detail-oriented viewing eye would be very pleased indeed. The cinematography is top-notch, and it felt like I was watching one very long film, instead of a drama. Fair warning that it is not a romance, so don't expect much in terms of a loveline. But the bromantic friendship and loyalty is strong in this one, and well worth your while. <3

      Reply
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