I have been hesitant to review a Korean drama because of how obsessed I get with them! There’s nothing else quite like them. I’m worried that if I start writing about them I won’t be able to conceal my crazy love for K-dramas and you won’t take me seriously anymore (if you ever did :P).
Well, here we go.
While the plot is flawed at times and is certainly nothing new, Healer still manages to have a strong, unique appeal due to it’s superb characters and humour.
The mystery surrounding a decades-old incident involving a group of friends who ran an illegal broadcasting station is what drives the story. More and more pieces of the puzzle fall into place as the series continues and unexpected connections between characters are always just around the corner.
The story, at least initially, is basically taken right out of Superman. Seo Jung-hoo (Ji Chang-wook) , aka Healer, is an extremely skilled fighter who will do almost any job for the right price. After being hired to follow Chae Young-shin (Park Min-young), Healer ends up working undercover at her second-rate tabloid website and takes on the nervous, bumbling persona of Park Bong-soo to get closer to her undetected. Meanwhile Young-shin is, of course, slowly developing feelings for the mysterious night errand guy – Healer. The only reason I can forgive such a blatant plot rip-off is because the characters actually joke about it being just like Lois and Clark in Superman. As long as they’re honest about it, it’s all good with me!
Kim Moon-ho (Yoo Ji-tae) is a famous reporter whom Chae Young-shin has idolized since she was young. He has a troubled past with his older brother Kim Moon-sik (Park Sang-won), the villain of the series, and is determined to find out what happened to his sister-in-law’s (Do Ji-won) child who was presumed dead several years earlier. This leads him to hire Healer to follow Chae Young-shin and buy the tabloid site she works at…hmm…mysterious.
This is where my attempt at explaining the plot will end. The series is basically 20 solid hours of viewing – so yes – the plot is complicated! The relationships between the characters are what makes this drama so special.
From the few I’ve seen, Korean dramas have a tendency to go for the ‘damsel in distress’ female lead, but not in this case! Park Min-young is amazing as Chae Young-shin. She’s quirky, opinionated, strong and determined to get what she wants! Even after being abandoned at a young age and experiencing violence through foster care, Chae Young-shin is determined to be cheerful and optimistic. Her relationship with her adoptive father (Park Sang-myun), is pure magic and the flashbacks showing how he gained her trust when she was young and mute, are some of the most emotional scenes in the whole series (I only filled about 30 buckets with my tears).
When it comes to her relationship with Seo Jung-hoo aka Healer/Park Bong-soo, Chae Young-shin is often the one making the moves and being upfront about her feelings which reflects her confidence and is pretty refreshing! She respects his need to keep his identity a secret from her which of course makes room for lots of romantic hi-jinks!
Often the male lead in K-dramas can be a total jerk and treat the love interest pretty terribly for a decent portion of the series. I am happy to report that this is certainly not the case in Healer! Ji Chang-wook is just wow. I’m bias because I am, of course, now in love with him. His role as Seo Jung-hoo was the most varied and challenging performance in the series by far and he nailed it. Because of the nature of his job as Healer, Seo Jung-hoo takes on several different identities throughout the series which Ji Chang-wook seems to slip in and out of with ease. He’s totally badass and can fight several men at one time without breaking a sweat, but is also cheeky, hilarious, charming and can convincingly shed a few tears when he needs to. It’s so much fun watching him go from being a guy who likes isolation and dreams of buying a deserted island – to becoming the guy who dreams of nothing more than having a normal life by Chae Young-shin’s side.
Kim Mi-kyung is fantastic as Healer’s unbeatable hacker, Jo Min-ja. She remains dead-pan, level-headed and practical for most of the series but can certainly bring the emotions where they count!
Healer’s got to have a martial arts teacher of some kind right? Right! Oh Kwang-rok fits the bill rather nicely as Ki Young-jae, Healer’s slightly ridiculous teacher and father-figure. Even though he doesn’t feature heavily, his character has a complicated past which is intertwined with the main plot line of the series and he’s definitely the clown of the lot!
I actually loved Park Sang-won as Kim Moon-sik, the older brother of Kim Moon-ho, and the main villain of the series. Kim Moon-sik is the owner of a major media brand and is clearly involved with some pretty shady stuff, but he is also a loving husband who will drop everything to be by his sick wife’s side. He’s the kind of bad guy that you can’t help but pity at times and empathize with. Park San-won’s convincing performance leaves you unsure of what you want Kim Moon-sik’s fate to be.
I was the dangerous kind of hooked to this series for the first 3 quarters of it. The ‘oh it’s midnight and I have work tomorrow? I can probably watch two more episodes…’ kind of hooked! It doesn’t get a 10 from me purely because my interest waned a little in the last few episodes. I’m not sure if it was because they lessened in quality or if I was just mentally preparing myself for it to end.
There’s SO MUCH MORE I want to say about this series, but I also want you to discover it all for yourself and I can’t elaborate much more without getting into spoiler territory! Go forth and enjoy! Here’s one last picture for the road 😉