THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW
When a major earthquake hits Seoul, a team of doctors and emergency personnel struggle to deal with the aftermath. The drama centers mostly around Mirae Hospital, a renowned cancer treatment center. Lee Hae Sung (Kim Young Kwang) is a doctor who believe that he has a duty to treat everyone that needs help but he is often barred by the hospital’s director, Park Gun (Lee Kyung Young). Park Gun would rather use the hospital’s resources for building up the hospital’s (and his own) reputation.
In the fallout of the earthquake, the hospital’s supplies are running low and the victims of the earthquake are in need of urgent care. Hae Sung and his team try to do whatever they can to keep the hospital running and help as many people they can.
Kim Young Kwang leads a big cast and he’s great at playing the heroic doctor because he wears the white hat well. He’s that K-Drama hero that gives his all even if it puts his own life at risk and never lets others know of his own hardships.
However, what makes this drama is the ensemble cast. I was compelled by the lives and the various stories of the people. They all come from different backgrounds and we get to see how their individual personalities affect how they handle things in the face of disaster. Some are courageous, other are naturally crippled by fear and still others are cowards. There are those characters who believe in coming together and helping your fellow man and there are those that who believe in every man for themselves. It’s a realistic depiction of people’s reaction and how they would go about surviving this disaster.
While the romance is not at the forefront of the drama, I like how there was a very natural progression between our characters. Jung Ddol Mi (Jung So Min) is a plucky, orthopedic surgeon from Busan that ends up getting stuck in Seoul and while she and Hae Sung start off bickering, they soon find out how similar they are. Ddol Mi had become a surgeon after being saved on the operating following a car accident. Since then, she saw the profession of a doctor as being honorable. It’s their compassion as doctors that make this couple charming.
Kang Joo Ran (Kim Hye Eun) was another character I liked for her passion but in a very different way than Hae Sung and Ddol Mi’s passion. Early on in the drama, Joo Ran loses her son during the earthquake’s chaos and after being unable to find him, she returns to the hospital in hopes that he was able to get there himself. As she works to save the lives of other people, she holds on to the belief that as much as she helps others, there is a kind soul out there helping her own son.
She also admires Hae Sung’s passion and skill as a doctor but Joo Ran tows the center line between appeasing to Director Park Gun and providing the support that Hae Sung needs. Just like her fiancé (Cha In Pyo), she’s a masterful negotiator and makes deals so that Hae Sung is able to continue to help people.
On the flip side, Park Gun gets progressively worse and unbearable as the drama goes on. He spends so much time scheming and being nefarious that by the end of the drama, it’s hard to give him the benefit of a doubt even though he is at the mercy of the doctors that he’s tortured. He goes so far as to plotting the death of his brother-in-law. If he had moments of humanity that peeked through all of his shady deeds, combined with the compassion of his daughter, Nurse Park Ji Na (Yoon Joo Hee), then perhaps I could believe he has had a change of heart.
Just as the drama depicts the various personalities of individuals, it’s important that the drama highlights their relationships within this strain of the environment. The vulnerability of human beings can especially be seen in many of the estranged relationships. Despite once being close colleagues, Han Woo Jin (Ha Suk Jin) does not see eye to eye with Hae Sung’s rebellious nature and stands in his way. Woo Jin believes that Hae Sung is being reckless and prefers to be safe by following the Director’s rules. However, the real cause for their discord and distrust with each other began when Woo Jin performed surgery on Hae Sung’s mom, causing her to end up in a coma. It’s this event that caused Hae Sung to become estranged from his younger brother, Firefighter Lee Woo Sung (Song Ji Ho). Through the various events of the earthquake and the trials they face, they each gain a greater understanding of each other and able to heal old wounds.
Though the lives and motives of the characters are essential in bringing the emotions of the drama, the visual effects heighten those emotions and the scale of the visual effects and sets seen in this drama brings it to a new level for K-Dramas. It’s not often that we get to see this level of visual effects in dramas because there simply isn’t the luxury of time and money but by filming in advance, the drama does an excellent job in realizing this world of chaos and the fear and panic it ensues.
While the drama does get formulaic and even has a few repetitive plotlines, the drama gets you emotionally involved in the characters’ struggles, fears and triumphs that it’s easy to overlook those elements. I did not expect to get emotional by the visual effects but there’s an odd feeling in seeing familiar structures and buildings in Seoul collapse. However, the natural disaster drama is about the vulnerability of human beings and it does a good job in bringing that to the surface.