The Korean drama industry is at a time where productions desperately try to mix every element imaginable in order to cover as many needs as possible. With ratings having severely declined over the past few years, many shows end up a mix of genres, tone and ideas. Occasionally that works, but some just become convoluted beyond repair. "Yong Pal" might be in danger of this, but its premise does have potential.
Kim Tae-hyeon (Joo Won) is a skilled surgeon who finds himself working as an underground doctor in order to repay his debt and help his sister, who needs kidney dialysis due to her condition. He takes cases of people who cannot go to hospitals or registered doctors and asks no questions about their activities. Han Yeo-jin (Kim Tae-hee) is a conglomerate heiress who is being kept in a coma by her brother, who wants her position as a successor. Her story is about her betrayal and revenge.
"Yong Pal" has an interesting premise, but some elements could potentially be used for "easy" melodrama later on. For one, a hero for whom everything goes wrong means they might rely on angst too much, especially given the heartthrob actor portraying him. Heiresses and coma conditions and evil brothers are all things one needs to suspend disbelief for quite a bit and could easily turn cheap.
Inconsistent Promotional Campaign
Trying to bait with different ideas seems to be common practice for drama trailers nowadays, but it also shows lack of focus and conviction. The first teaser for this series is more of a concept one and looks melodramatic. The second one looks almost like an action comedy and third one like a suspense thriller. It is never good when a show does not seem to know what it wants to be.
Mostly Solid Cast
The cast seems to have a bit of everything here. Kim Tae-hee has received her share of criticism over her acting, but her hallyu power can help in some ways and she is a better option than many current preferred choices. Joo Won is also famous, but has proven his skills in the past and the secondary characters have some good names among them as well. There is a good balance between talent and popularity and that is always good.
Good Basic Concepts
A hero who is trying to get by and help his family is a good archetype to develop. Sympathy is almost guaranteed and the drama can achieve a lot through his troubles and triumphs. Having a woman character handle the revenge side of things is also rare and could create an interesting dynamic. Assuming angst and damseling do not govern their existence, they and the rest of the characters are intriguing.
"Yong Pal" might be confused as to what it is or might be aiming to confuse audiences to cover as many as possible, but at the same time has enough interesting things about it to no doubt concinve many to have a look. Its actual plot and tone will hopefully be more consistent than what it has shown and assuming it uses its elements well and does not try to do too much at once, it might just be a good piece.
"Yong Pal" begins its run on August 5th and will air every Wednesday and Thursday at 22:00, on SBS.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama Preview] "Yong Pal""
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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