[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Doctors" Episode 2
By William Schwartz | Published on
As the first episode showed us who Hye-jeong was as a person, the second episode gives a powerful hint of who she could be, and what Hye-jeong is capable of given a genuine crisis situation. The entire medical emergency is tense and Hye-jeong, unrattled as she is thanks to her tough girl demeanor, quickly proves a worthy nurse to Ji-hong's medical administration. Ah, but the title of this drama is not "Nurses". but "Doctors", so Hye-jeong needs to get to work studying.
While Park Shin-hye has built most of her career as an actress by being cute and smiley, it's only in "Doctors" that she's able to make these expressions feel really substantial. Because we've seen Hye-jeong's generally bad attitude, the improvement when she starts to pursue an actual dream is that much more marked and impressive. Hye-jeong feels like she has a real purpose in life to fight for now, and that makes all the difference.
Seo-woo (played by Lee Sung-kyung) also makes a strong appearance as the girl with an actual birthright for medicine who ends up helping Hye-jeong. Together with their bridge character, the clumsy Soon-hee (played by Moon Ji-in), the three girls demonstrate how friendship and common purpose are all essential elements to success. The eventual rift that grows between Hye-jeong and Seo-woo is all the harsher precisely because it's easy to see how teenage girls can fracture under pressure.
The main problem this episode is Ji-hong. Yes, he is very cool and effective in the crisis scene. But the way Hye-jong ascribes his performance as being her motivation to do better seems unfair. Ji-hong has little screen presence after the medical emergency and in fact explicitly rebuffs an opportunity to be Hye-jeong's study mentor. In an episode that shows off the strength of girl power, an undeveloped teacher/student romance just feels inappropriate.
And let's be honest. The relationship is inappropriate, at least as presented here. Ji-hong is a high school teacher. It's his job to make sure there isn't even a hint of impropriety. Seo-woo is right to feel insulted that Ji-hong would rebuff her while being openly flirty with Hye-jeong, and her eventual response to that situation is understandable even if it is wrong. Fortunately this wrinkle will disappear once the high school phase of "Doctors" is over, so all that's really left to focus on is the explicitly crazy cliffhanger. Which I don't even mind that much because so far, "Doctors" has been good enough to deserve it.
Review by William Schwartz
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org. He also has a substack at williamschwartz.substack.com where he discusses the South Korean film industry in broader terms and takes suggestions for future movies to review.