It's hard to believe that medical dramas were once a serious staple of South Korean entertainment. But after the high profile failures of "Blood" and "Medical Top Team" several years back, the genre fell into a slump. That was cast off though, by the surprising success of "Doctor Prisoner". Well, perhaps not so surprising given the popularity of leading actor Namgoong Min, but then that's what gave the genre such a fresh spin.
"Doctor John" is also showing signs of popularity. Where "Doctor Prisoner" had an unusual setting, "Doctor John" deals with an unusual specialty - pain management. The titular doctor is obsessed with pain, something that normal people deal with in daily life all the time. Yet it's a question we never really ask ourselves - what is pain, and where does it come from? In "Doctor John" this common facet of daily life is deliberately analyzed through its obsessive doctor.
The drama has also taken on dark undertones by having the titular doctor struggle with how to help patients who cannot be helped, whose pain is beyond their control as well as the doctor's. "Doctor John" deals with morally amiguous questions and the doctor himself is not above reproach. This kind of storytelling can be repulsive to some, but it is nonetheless quite engaging.
It also helps that, for his questionable activities, "Doctor John" is filled with compassionate doctors who deal with the emotional issues surrounding pain as well as the physical causes. They listen to people and even in exotic situations, that's exactly the kind of attitude people want to see in their medical practitioners. This easygoing style to life-and-death situations is perfect bedside manner - that's the sentiment the drama has been leaving viewers with.
Written by William Schwartz
"Doctor John" is directed by Jo Soo-won, Kim Young-hwan-I, written by Kim Ji-woon-II, and features Ji Sung, Lee Se-young, Lee Kyu-hyung, Hwang Hee, Jung Min-ah, Kwon Hwa-woon. Broadcasting information in Korea: 2019/07/19~Now airing, Fri, Sat 22:00 on SBS.
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.
"[HanCinema's News] "Doctor John" Shows Medical Dramas Making a Comeback"
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