THE BATTLE OF MULTIPLE PERSONALITIES
Kill Me, Heal Me is about the heir to a corporation, Cha Do Hyun (Ji Sung) who hides the fact that he suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder. Suffering from a traumatic childhood experience, he suffers lapses in memory and his personality is fractured into seven different personalities. He meets Oh Ri Jin (Hwang Jun Eum), a first-year psychiatric resident who helps treat him secretly.
However, her brother Oh Ri Ohn (Park Seo Joon), whom Do Hyun meets first and works secretly as a mystery novelist, has a particular interest in uncovering the secrets behind Do Hyun and his family.
Hyde, Jekyll, Me is about Goo Seo Jin (Hyun Bin), an Executive Director to a theme park. Jang Ha Na (Han Ji Min) works at the theme park’s circus. She meets Goo Seo Jin and immediately dislikes his cold, distant personality but falls for Robin who happens to be Seo Jin’s alternate personality.
Ha Na discovers that she’s met Robin in her past as the boy who saved her life when she fell from a bridge trying to save Seo Jin, little does she know that they are both embodied in the same body. It was that incident in which Robin was born as the warm, sweet personality who saves lives as a hobby.
It’s rare that I write two reviews in one but since both of these dramas deal with the same subject matter and ended around the same time, it felt only right to discuss the similar themes and compare them in one post. Kill Me, Heal Me is a romantic comedy/melodrama while Hyde, Jekyll, Me is a syrupy romance/fairy tale. The fairy tale aspect works for the latter because it is set in the world of a theme park while the darker tone of Kill Me, Heal Me seems to work in depicting the conflicting personalities inhabiting Cha Do Hyun’s body.
The amazing thing about Kill Me, Heal Me is simply watching Ji Sung play literally 7 different characters. The two most dominant personalities are well-rounded. There’s a gentle sensitivity in the way he plays the meek but kind, Cha Do Hyun, but as he works with Ri Jin, he finds the confidence to overcome his other personalities. Shin Se Gi is brash and rebellious but there’s also a very comical side to his character.
As for the lesser dominant personalities, they all add a bit of comedy or depth to the drama overall. Perry Park is erratic and dangerous. Ahn Yo Sub is the suicidal teen while his sister, Ahn Yo Na is a capricious, teenage fangirl. Nana is a young, innocent girl and Mysterious X is a mysterious magician. They are all characters from Cha Do Hyun’s life and not only does Ji Sung take on costume and make up changes, he’s quite adept at adapting his voice or body movements to suit that character.
Jang Jae In – 환청 (feat. 나쑈) (Auditory Hallucination (feat. NaShow)
On the other hand, I found it odd that the first episode discussed the real-life case of Billy Milligan who had about 24 different personalities. I suppose it was essential as a character reference but Hyde, Jekyll, Me really only had 2 (maybe 3) personalities that were depicted. I have to admit that I wasn’t very interested with Goo Seo Jin and was just about to quit the drama until Episode 3.
It wasn’t until the appearance of Robin when Hyun Bin’s charms as a star shined through. Hyun Bin is one of those star actors whose strength lies in making the most banal characters on paper shine on the screen and draw in the viewer. It’s incredibly difficult to explain but I think Kim Soo Hyun and Gong Yoo have those qualities as well. If it weren’t for that ability, I don’t think I would have stuck with this drama all the way until the end.
Park Bo Ram – Falling
Besides the strength and the weaknesses in the leads, I think both dramas suffered from the problem of pointless antagonists. It didn’t seem like the drama knew what to do with these characters so they pretty fizzled from the plot before the 3rd act. For Do Hyun, he had his cousin, Cha Ki Joon (Oh Min Suk) and his cousin’s fiancée, Han Chae Yun (Kim Yoo Ri). Cha Ki Joon and Cha Do Hyun have a long-standing rivalry with each other about who deserves to be the heir. Han Chae Yun is added to that mix by being conflicted about her emotions towards Do Hyun. Certainly, Shin Se Gi takes advantage of that with both of them but in the end, it’s Do Hyun’s past that acts a bigger hurdle for him to overcome.
As for Goo Seo Jin, once Yoon Tae Joo’s (Sung Joon) real intentions are revealed, there was some interesting tension between him and his involvement with Ha Na. However, beyond the big reveal, we get repetitive storylines and then Tae Joo’s story is wrapped up before the 3rd act, leaving viewers nothing more to debate than whether they are Team Goo Seo Jin or Team Robin.
We also get a hint at a third personality in the form of Terry but we’re never fully introduced to it nor really get any closure about it. I don’t see the logic of the writer’s thinking in this instance and felt that writer lost control over the story. I just didn’t see the purpose of this reveal and the purpose it was supposed to serve in the relationship between Seo Jin and Robin.
At least with Kill Me, Heal Me, we saw that each personality had a specific purpose in Do Hyun’s life so much so that I didn’t really feel the absence of Han Chae Yun or Cha Ki Joon all that much. In fact, their characters were merely a nuisance to the plot which had other things working for it and sometimes it made the drama feel overcrowded. I would much rather see more scenes like Shin Se Gi yelling at the outcome of the unfairly divided roulette wheel to make Ri Jin choose him over Do Hyun or Ahn Yo Na chasing Ri Ohn around Hong Dae just to get a kiss. I would have just rather not have wasted my time with Chae Yun or Ki Joon because nothing really happens with them and I just didn’t care about them.
Having said that, they are a small problem when you compared to the issues I had about Hyde, Jekyll, Me. The major problem that I felt with this drama is that the plot, characters, and setting felt all to familiar, especially for a Hyun Bin drama. It’s been almost 4 years since we last saw him on screen in Secret Garden and here again, we find a cold chaebol, living in this fabulous mansion,
who changes because of the heroine. As if we wouldn’t remember who sang on the Secret Garden OST, did they really have to use the voices of Kim Bum Soo and Baek Ji Young again? Of course, Han Ji Min is no Ha Ji Won but Han Ji Min’s character, Ha Na, is supposed to be very athletic and able to do stunts which just made me think of Gil Ra Im all over again.
There was a lot of talk about plagiarism from the original Hyde, Jekyll, Me webtoon author. Although the story of the webtoon was vastly different from the drama, certainly the producers of this drama didn’t hesitate to use the same elements from a past hit. Viewers made their dissatisfaction known by the final rating numbers.
As for Han Ji Min, I like her sweet, girl-next-door personality but I didn’t really find anything dynamic about her character, Jang Ha Na. Her singular focus on Robin/Goo Seo Jin and resolving their past issues made her come across as one-dimensional and boring. It’s incredibly unsatisfying watching female characters who have nothing else to do but worry about the guy in their life.
In that way, I found Oh Ri Jin distinctly more entertaining. Sure, she leaves the hospital to focus on Cha Do Hyun but through it all, she discovers herself and the past she’s locked away in her mind. Hwang Jung Eum can be quite over-the-top as an actress but I find her quite amusing in the way she adapts her tactics in treating each of the personalities from treating Shin Se Gi like a child, to being a drinking buddy with Perry Park or treating Ahn Yo Na like a misbehaving younger sister.
All in all, Kill Me, Heal Me has a lot more to offer the viewer in terms of the story and characters. It’s not a perfect drama and there a number of far-fetched developments but at least it’s not a repetitive cycle of the same character outlines and plotlines being played out from a successful drama that’s about 4 years old.
Kill Me, Heal Me
Hyde, Jekyll, Me