Wow. Yong-pal, the new kid on the block over at SBS, had a great start out of the gate — not only making me happy across the board but also bringing in highest ratings for a premiere episode this year, netting 11.2%. It has just the right amount of ingredients for fun and thrills, but with an added factor of keeping your disbelief suspended.
A summary — Yong-pal is about a doctor Kim Tae Hyun (Joo Won), a third year resident of a reputed hospital called Hanshin. He has a sister who needs regular treatment which requires lots of money, which leads to him being under huge amount of debt. He starts making visits to gangsters and similar shady people for treating them in exchange of money. He also becomes famous among cops as Yong-pal but they don’t know that he is actually some qualified doctor. While treating one of such patients, he gets into trouble as police starts chasing him. He is successful to run away but the scalpel that he left behind leads the cops to Hanshin hospital. Meanwhile, there is a 12th floor in this hospital, where they treat VVIP patients. Han Yeo Jin (Kim Tae Hee) is one such patient who is in coma. Everything — from her doctor-in-charge, Chief Surgeon Lee (Jung Woong In) to the nurse and staff, seems suspicious. We also get glimpses of her memory as she dreams about a romantic drive with a guy, and then getting followed by several other cars who then slam into their car. The man dies and Yeo Jin tries to commit suicide. She has a brother Han Do Joon (Jo Hyun Jae) who seems to be ordering the doctors with respect to her health condition. Tae Hyun is known to be an efficient surgeon who always saves the day in any surgery he assists. Chief Lee also takes his help when he becomes nervous during a surgery. Tae Hyun knows how to take advantage of such situations and thus he takes extra money from the patient’s family in the form of gift but is caught by Chief Lee. They have some minor argument. Tae Hyun becomes curious when he sees so many men guarding a room (which accommodates Yeo Jin). Later, when the police arrives at Hanshin hospital, Chief Lee finds out about Tae Hyun being Yong Pal but hides this fact from the cops. He then confronts Tae Hyun about it who instantly accepts the claim and tells him that he would do anything if he hides this. Chief Lee takes him to meet some rich, shady looking man and then tells him that he would not do surgery from now on and would have to work for him on the 12 floor. Somewhere else, we see that Yeo Jin has woken up and when the nurse comes to check on her, she threatens to kill herself.
I like our hero. He is so much flawed! He has no pride, no shame — of course, he has reasons for it. He doesn’t hesitate in being honest or kneeling down in front of anyone if required. But then we see that he has his caring side too — like the way he never left that gangster boss or that patient who had no guardian. But he is in dire need of money which makes him the way he is. I love how curious he seems about everything and has brains to act instantly.
The pace is very fast and the narrative sets up its story and background in an interesting manner. That hospital room with Yeo Jin seems too over-the-top but then like I said, it is a drama where one should not think about whether it’s possible or not — just enjoy whatever is happening on-screen. Joo Won is great in the titular role — shifting his emotions from frame to frame. He is cheeky, funny, serious, curious, emotional. I like the scenes of his confrontation with Chief Lee — so honest. I find Cheif Lee very intriguing. He appears to be an experienced surgeon but then why did he feel so anxious. Is he even a real doctor? LOL.
The drama has a humour bent to it as well. The scene where that nurse was applying make-up to Yeo Jin, it was so creepy! We have not been shown much, but it’s clear that many people are behind her current condition and I can’t wait to see how things turn out once our hero enters this dark world. It will be more exciting because we know he is not some good, ethical, hero-like person at the moment and thinks single-mindedly about his sister and debts he needs to pay. I was happy to see Kim Mi Kyung (hacker ahjumma!) here and liked her scenes with Tae Hyun.
To summarize, Yong-pal is lots of fun and is really exciting!