Drama fans who follow the domestic ratings for shows will know that the numbers have not been doing well in the last few years. Because of this slump, "Yong Pal" has been quite the pleasant surprise, with ratings most shows of its kind can only dream of nowadays. There is good reason for those ratings. The series has appealing drama and an intriguing story. Even so, there are issues which will cheapen it if continued.
With the promotional material being quite confusing in tone, some potential future viewers might be wondering what type of show this is. While there is a medical theme and some action, "Yong Pal" is still within the melodrama genre. We have an anti-hero whose hard life has forced him to act selfishly and put himself through danger for money. We also have a comatose heiress who is after revenge. The melodramatic premise and its potential are solid here.
The elements the drama uses for emotional impact and its two main characters are well-written. Kim Tae-hyeon (Joo Won) is not an honorable person to outsiders and he carries trauma and disappointment, but also a thirst to survive and protect his own. Han Yeo-jin (Kim Tae-hee) is a tragic heroine trapped inside her own mind by the people who want to use her. Revenge, the power of money, injustice, corruption and the like are all quite captivating concepts and they are implemented well into the story of "Yong Pal".
The drama is also quite suspenseful and exciting with its action, sound and visuals. There are some ideas which are fresh and really used well, like a scene where a very disturbing person is enjoying a meal near the comatose female lead. The scene is filmed in a way that really highlights the disgust and coldness of the situation and it shows the series can do well if it focuses on how to best convey its story through its plot, but also presentation. With all of this in mind, things look great and for the most part they are.
Where the series makes its mistake is in trying too hard to impress with superficial, illogical and quite cheap tricks that its otherwise appealing drama does not need for support. There is no reason for a patient's room to look like it came out of a sci-fi work or for random makeovers that do not make sense for the function they supposedly serve. Futuristic equipment, expensive cars, fancy clothing and outrageous situations make it feel as if the business part is overtaking the creative one for the drama. In trying to be cool, it comes off as rather silly.
If you wonder in what kind of universe an abused patient suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder turns into a terrorist and threatens a building with major radiation leak, only to be stopped by a random physician, then that universe would be "Yong Pal". Such situations make one doubt the respect had for the audience's intelligence and they serve no purpose in a melodrama other than to fill up time and as an attempt to weird viewers into watching. There are a few other issues, but compared to this, they are minor.
"Yong Pal" offers a really good premise of survival and revenge, a cast doing very well with it and everything else a good melodrama needs. Its presentation is good, its pacing spot on. Money is tempting and corrupts, as the drama itself preaches, so the production will hopefully remember that moral and refrain from breaking out the flying cars and shark tornadoes.
Written by: Orion from 'Orion's Ramblings'
Vasia, also known as Orion or Ori online, is currently doing opinion pieces and database upkeep. She has a love for good TV and a penchant for rambling in written form. Vasia can be contacted via email@example.com.
"[HanCinema's Drama First Look] "Yong Pal""
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