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'General Hospital' a cheerful sequel

2008/11/18 | 796 views | Permalink | Source

MBC struck ratings gold for two years running with medical dramas "White Tower" and "New Heart". Now the broadcasting channel is going for a third win by resurrecting an oldie.

Fourteen years have passed since "General Hospital" aired in 1994. And now, in the hopes that a revival of a past favorite will keep viewer ratings up, "General Hospital 2" is coming to TV screens across the nation tonight.

But in a market saturated by international medical dramas, namely America's "Grey's Anatomy" and "House", and Japan's "Iryu-Team Medical Dragon", MBC's latest medical installment will need novel plot twists and a fresh approach if it wants to wow audiences already numbed by gruesome surgeries, high-stakes stories and touching moments of humanity.

On second thought, a hefty dose of comedy just might do the trick.

And judging from the lead actor and actress, Cha Tae-hyun and Kim Jung-eun, it looks like MBC is going for a feel-good and laugh hard approach. "I want to make it as fun and cheerful as possible", said actress Kim, 32, at the press conference held last week.

Co-star Cha will be joining in on the fun by playing the usual dimwitted yet lovable sidekick.

When asked about his tendency to get typecast into comedic roles, Cha, 32, answered: "I am not an actor who tries to play radically different characters".

Standing in his scrubs, actor Cha -- who bowled Asian audiences over in "My Sassy Girl" (2001) -- looked every bit the part. Wearing an expression of childlike wonder, he posed for the press, not, it seems, as Cha, but as first year resident Choi Jin-sang.

Kim Jung-eun, also in scrubs, joined Cha on stage, carefully putting on a pair of spectacles to pose as Jung Ha-yoon, a first year resident who wants to become a lawyer that specializes in medical lawsuits.

While her character has entered the profession with a vindictive purpose in mind, namely to use her expertise against doctors, Kim Jung-eun refrained from pulling a "Kill Bill".

"I think it is more realistic to mix humor with melodrama, rather than just be a dark and vengeful character", she explained. "So, I went for a lighthearted approach".

But not everything will be fun and games on "General Hospital 2". And while both Kim and Cha are more known for their comedies, "General Hospital 2" director Noh Do-cheol testified to the hard work this pair put into their roles as surgical residents.

"These scenes are made from the broth of their sweat", he said.

According to Noh, both Kim, Cha, and fellow cast members took part in a three-day workshop at the Catholic University of Korea Kangnam St. Mary's Hospital. They slept for two nights in the hospital's dormitories, shadowed both surgical and medical emergency residents and took part in morning rounds.

A firm believer in teamwork, director Noh even brought his gargantuan cast, which includes four members who starred in the original "General Hospital", to the press conference.

Noh's commitment to his team and his decision to film the series at the Catholic University of Korea Seoul St. Mary's and Kangnam St. Mary's Hospitals may help him pull off the crucial balance of humor, wit and drama needed to make "General Hospital 2" worth watching.

"General Hospital 2" airs tonight on MBC at 9:55 p.m.

By Jean Oh

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