I’ve been in a bit of a drama rut lately because the shows I’ve gotten excited about haven’t panned out. I’m down to watching only one currently airing drama now, but Yong Pal is here to save the day (at least I hope it is) so I’m super excited.
The premise of this show intrigued me as soon as I heard about it: a brilliant surgeon, whose side hustle is privately treating wealthy (and shady) patients in order to pay for his sister’s medical bills and avoid the loan sharks who constantly harangue him, meets a comatose heiress whose half-brother’s greed for control of the family business has driven him to harm her. Having piqued my interest, I’ve been full of questions about how the writers and PDs will pull this one off every since, especially if the heroine is comatose for most of the drama. I’m most curious about whether the couple meet before or after she becomes comatose, and if he becomes acquainted with her while she’s unconscious, what will spark his romantic interest in her? (There will be a loveline between the two, right!?)
I’m also really excited about the cast, which is just ridiculously pretty, so Iet’s delve into this one together as I try my hand at weecaping a series.
Title: Yong Pal
Starring: Joo Won, Kim Tae-hee, Jo Hyun-jae and Chae Jung-ahn
Original air date(s): August 5, 2015 to September 24, 2015 (Scheduled)
Episode(s): 18 (16 + 2)
EPISODE 1 WEECAP
As Han Yeo-jin (Kim Tae-hee) lies comatose in a state-of-the-art private hospital room, we get a brief overview of what led to her current condition. At first it appears she got injured during the car accident that killed her significant other. However, we see that she’s alive and well when she appears at his funeral service.
Later she’s in a hospital room and she’s just had a heated argument with an older man—her father perhaps? They stare at each other, and when he turns away, she runs and goes barreling right out of the window. He turns back in horror as the glass shatters and he sees her falling from the high rise building. He runs to the window screaming her name, but it’s too late.
The scene then shifts to Kim Tae-hyun (Joo Won) as he sleeps in the residents’ on-call room at the hospital where he works. The call is from Man-shik (Ahn Se-ha)—who it turns out is the loan shark to whom Tae-hyun is indebted. There’s been a police raid on an illegal gambling spot and the gangsters have called on Tae-hyun to patch them up.
The police wonder where the injured gangsters are—well aware that there must be several who need immediate medical attention. One of the officers, Detective Lee (Yoo Seung-mok), muses that the gangsters must have called on “Yong-pal.”
Cut to Tae-hyun (aka Yong-pal) arriving at the gangsters’ hideout and treating their wounds, stitching their cuts, and even performing surgery on one of the gangster’s spleens as Man-shik keeps tabs on the bill.
He makes it out as the sun is starting to rise—which makes him late to work the next day. It’s the first day for the new batch of surgical interns and, as a third-year resident, Tae-hyun is part of the team of doctors responsible for training them.
However, Chief Surgeon Lee Ho-joon (Jung Woong-in) calls him away before he can get the orientation underway. Chief Lee is in the middle of operating on a VIP patient and when Tae-hyun arrives he claims he needs Tae-hyun to take over because he has an important meeting to attend. However, we soon realize he actually bailed on the patient because he couldn’t handle the surgery. The patient is bleeding out and his vitals are crashing, and apparently Tae-hyun is the only one skilled enough to save the guy.
Tae-hyun perks up when he learns that the patient is a VIP, and we learn why after he successfully wraps up the surgery: he hits the grateful family up for a monetary “offering” afterwards. Chief Lee catches him counting the money though and takes him to task for manipulating the families to make extra cash. Tae-hyun feigns innocence and points out that the family will give the Chief even more money when the patient is discharged. Chief Lee starts to protest, but he gets a phone call and has to hurry away.
We then get to meet Han Do-joon (Jo Hyun-jae). He’s with a group of shareholders who have come to the hospital with him to see Yeo-jin. They obviously don’t know about her real condition. It appears Do-joon has convinced everyone that she requires any visitors to get her permission before she’ll see them. Chief Lee tells the shareholders he’ll take their names and ask Yeo-jin if she’s willing to see them. He comes back and claims she refused the meeting so they leave a set of documents with Chief Lee to deliver to her and head out.
Do-joon sees them off, then Chief Lee takes him to Yeo-jin’s high tech hospital room. Do-joon goes to Yeo-jin’s side and greets her. There’s an undertone of malice as he marvels that she still has visitors lined up to see her. As he turns to leave, we can hear Yeo-jin’s thoughts and she calls him a devil. Is she awake then?
We get to meet Tae-hyun’s sister Kim So-hyun (Park Hye-soo) next. She’s come to the hospital for her dialysis treatment. When Tae-hyun gets a spare moment (after eavesdropping on the drama surrounding the shareholders’ attempt to visit Yeo-jin), he visits the treatment room and we get to see how much he dotes on her. He pretends it’s not a financial hardship to pay for her dialysis and tells her not to skip any more appointments, which she admits to doing in order to save money.
That night, he gets his usual call to help out the same set of gangsters who kept him awake the night before. This time they’re at a nightclub and the police have wounded the head gangster, Doo-chul (Song Kyung-chul), with a gunshot to his torso. Tae-hyun is livid that Man-shik has him mixed up in something so serious, but when the second-in-command declares that Tae-hyun will die along with his hyungnim if he doesn’t save him, Tae-hyun springs into action.
He has to cut short stitching up the wound when the police arrive so they can all hightail it out of the club though. Tae-hyun, Man-shik and Mob Boss Doo-chul are the only ones who make it out after Detective Lee corners the group on the roof. Man-shik bails on him so Tae-hyun loads Doo-chul into his car and they make a run for it. After a high speed chase and numerous attempts to catch them, the police finally surround the car on a bridge. Doo-chul is ready to give up, but Tae-hyun refuses to surrender because surrendering means his little sister dies. Instead, he climbs out of the car, gives himself and Doo-chul a shot with an epi pen, and leaps off of the bridge and into the water.
And that’s how the episode ends. What a cliff hanger!
It was slightly different than I imagined, but so far so good. This episode was clearly just set up so we haven’t gone into the real story yet, but I like what I see and I look forward to more.
One of the things I liked is how the episode really zipped along. Even in the quieter moments, there was an emotional undertone (perhaps because all of the quiet moments involved Tae-hyun’s family) that made them really interesting. I did think they went overboard in the scene with Tae-hyun and his sister. The melancholy music and syrup sweet dialogue was a bit unnecessary, but that was such a minor point I almost wonder why I mentioned it.
I also liked the visual effects—especially the opening sequence showing the heart beat as the camera panned to show Yeo-jin lying in her hospital bed surrounding by the futuristic equipment tasked with keeping her alive. However, I could have done without the blood and gore peppered throughout the episode as Tae-hyun worked on his patients. I had to watch those scenes between my splayed fingers to avoid gagging. This is a medical drama though and I’m sure there’s a lot more to come so perhaps I shouldn’t have complained about that either.
Ultimately though, I’m still left with a whole lot of questions. Why did Yeo-jin try to commit suicide? Is she really comatose now or is she faking her illness? If she’s faking, what is she trying to gain by pretending to be incapacitated?
And don’t even get me started on her half-brother Do-joon. The questions are endless and they all surround his role in Yeo-jins’ plight and what the public believes about her condition. How long has she been unconscious? And why is it that he seems to be the only one who knows she’s not lucid yet? Is Chief Lee helping her brother or is he legitimately trying to treat and help her?
It’ll probably be a few more weeks before we can nail down answers to those questions, but we seem to be in luck that the journey to finding those answers will at least be interesting.
Coffee Prince: K-Drama Review