[Review] Yong Pal – 용팔이


Kim Tae Hyun (Joo Won) is a doctor at Han Shin Hospital, who moonlights as a doctor-for-hire for any paying customers, such as gangsters, in order to provide his younger sister kidney dialysis treatments. He uses the alias “Yong Pal,” short for skilled quack. When his scam is discovered by corrupt doctors at the hospital, he agrees to working on the 12th floor which caters to the hospital’s wealthiest clients. There he meets Han Yeo Jin (Kim Tae Hee), the daughter of a power family who owns the hospital and who has been put in a comatose state for the last 3 years.

I was drawn to the drama when I heard Joo Won was playing the lead. I quite enjoyed him in Bridal Mask and thought he’d be playing another flawed superhero type of character. At least from the synopsis, the character of Yong Pal seemed to fit this description in my head. However, I was disappointed to discover that the drama was not what I expected to be in terms of the story. Joo Won is decent enough in the role of Tae Hyun but he’s quite a passive character. While I found Joo Won to be quite charismatic early on in the drama, I don’t it plays up to how charming he could have been.

I’ve never been a big fan of Kim Tae Hee. Sure, I enjoy her in roles when she’s cute and funny but I just never think that she’s taking a big risk in the way she’s depicted on screen. It’s not that she doesn’t take a risk in the types of roles she takes on but her characters always seem to look perfect and her acting isn’t dynamic enough to make me see her in a different light. I get it. She’s Kim Tae Hee. However, as an actress, I’d like her to attempt to play a role in which she doesn’t have perfectly coifed hair and airbrushed skin.

Han Yeo Jin is quite boring in the first half of the drama. We spend most of the first few episodes seeing her asleep or trapped in the depths of comatose mind. After Tae Hyun wakes up from her coma, her rapport with him is quite mundane. In fact, it’s the other characters such as her brother, Han Do Joon (Jo Hyun Jae), Chief Surgeon Lee (Jung Woong In) and Nurse Hwang (Bae Hae Sun) who add to suspense and craziness to the plot.

However, Yeo Jin becomes quite interesting when she succeeds in surprising her brother by overthrowing him at the company. She becomes an entirely different character and although she comes off as the antagonist, I was interested in learning what made Han Yeo Jin tick. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much that made her tick beyond her revenge plot and I was quite disappointed that the drama didn’t have much more of backstory for her character.

In fact, the character I most liked in the drama was Cynthia (Stephanie Lee). She was smart, quick witted and it always seemed like that beyond her smile, she was two steps ahead of the rest of the characters. Too bad the drama decided to write her out after Episode 8 as she could have provided some interesting competition for Tae Hyun’s affections. Perhaps the strength in her character would have conflicted with Yeo Jin’s change of character halfway through the drama.

One of the most disappointing developments in the drama’s story is that of Lee Chae Young (Chae Jung Ahn). From her marriage of “convenience” to Do Joon to the secret plot to take down the corrupt powers at the Han Corporation to her role of reversal once she is betrayed.  She has a complete role reversal and I can’t grasp why her feelings for her husband changes so suddenly and why that change is necessary to the larger story.

That’s the general impression I have of the drama. It’s not the shifting revenge plotlines that’s the issue here but the drama doesn’t seem to understand what the take away is supposed to be for the larger story.  It doesn’t paint Yeo Jin in a positive light nor does it make her seem more sympathetic.  We’re also forced to watch Tae Hyun standing idly by waiting to swoop in and save her.  The drama never addresses what significance these events hold for the various characters other than the cause and effect; emotionally, the viewer is left hanging.



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