# of episodes: 16
Kim So Yeon as Kim Yeon Woo
Uhm Tae Woong as Lee Do Wook
Jung Gyu Woon as Park Ji Heon
Cha Ye Ryun as Kang Hee Young
Jung Suk Won as Yoo Sang Bong
Shin Dong Hee as Kang Woo Ram
Jung Ui Kap as Choi Dae Sub
Moon Hee Kyung Yeon Woo’s mother
Heo Joon Suk as Yeon Woo’s older brother
Im Sung Kyu as Go Bum
Kang So Ra as Kwon Yoo Ri
Another Korean romance… hurrah!
The reason I never stop watching Korean series is because I adore the
way they portray love and romance. Almost every time I watch a Korean
series, I think of the following (and no, I am not religious):
Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it
keeps no records of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preserves.
Love never fails...
--1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Korea’s version of love is always love in its simplest form: mutual
respect, mutual admiration, and unconditional. It’s love based on
knowing each other, flaws and all, and accepting and supporting one
another. More often than not, it’s portrayed as equal, something that
is often missing from other Asian series. Generally, Korean romance
series are characterized by good pacing, a good plot, great cast
chemistry, and they can turn the most WTF couples into something
believable and engaging.
Dr. Champ fits the bill. Like other Korean series, it follows
the story of two couples: the growing romance between judo athlete
Park Ji Jeon and young doctor Kim Yeon Woo, who have nothing in common
except the fact that they are both located at the Taereung training
centre for national athletes; and medical director Lee Do Wook and
swimming coach Kang Hee Young, who were once lovers until Hee Young
accidentally ended his skating career 14 years ago. It was not a good
breakup; Lee was heartbroken that Kang dumped him after he was
paralyzed, and Kang lived with the regret of leaving him (albeit for
good reason, she was only 19 at the time and had no idea about her
future) only to find out later that she still loved him and also
caused his handicap.
Uhm Tae Woong and Cha Ye Ryun had killer chemistry. Their scenes
together were excellent. The painful memories from their tragic
breakup is obvious in their performances, and though their
heartbreaking second parting made sense for the plot, I was happy to
see that the ending seemed to suggest hope for their relationship.
Individually, Uhm Tae Woong was the best actor of the main cast. His
performance is layered, compelling and consistent. Cha Ye Ryun
doesn’t look like an athlete or a coach, but she is photogenic and a
decent actress. She doesn’t offer much to flesh out what should
supposedly be enormous guilt for both causing Lee’s handicap and
leaving him, though.
I’ve never thought much of guys with angular faces but hot damn Jung
Gyu Woon is good-looking. You will never find actors who look like
this guy or Jung Suk Won in TVB: tall, masculine, and amazing bodies.
And by tall, I don’t mean 5-foot-10-on-Wikipedia-but-5-foot-7-in-real-
life like the TVB actors. I mean 6 feet plus. So yes, physically the
actors look like athletes in this series. Their training scenes look
real and tough, which is good for us to see what’s behind all the
glitz and glamour for Olympians-to-be.
Jung’s performance is also a good one. His dramatic scenes are a step
up from Hateful But Once Again, and he manages to sell the
juvenile side of his character well despite looking like a hot pop
star. His one-track-mind towards love and Yeon Woo makes him a
likeable male lead, and Jung is charming, if not a bit rough around
the edges, in the role.
I recognized Jung Suk Won instantly from Soulmate. He is
definitely better at drama than comedy, although I thought he was
underused in here and his friendship with Ji Heon could have used more
Korean drama fans will recognize Kim So Yeon from the pioneer series
All About Eve. I feel bad for her because she seemed to have
never found her footing after the outstanding success of Eve.
That was her breakthrough performance; she was arguably a much better
actress than Chae Rim (who has since become a household name) at the
time so it’s ironic that she basically disappeared off the face of the
earth after that series. It wasn’t until I watched her in
Prosecutor Princess a few months ago that I realized she was
still acting. Not a great comeback in my books because her role was a
comedic one and Kim doesn’t have a funny bone at all.
She fares much better in Dr. Champ. She looks intelligent, is
convincing as a doctor, and her best scenes were with her love
interest-turned-mentor Lee Do Wook. She looks quite a few years older
than Jung which is too bad, although the two do have chemistry. I see
no major flaws in her performance here, but the reality is nothing in
my opinion could ever compare Kim’s future performances to the one
that made her, which was Hyeon-mi from Eve. I guess that’s the
trouble with delivering one iconic performance in an extremely well-
written character – it’s so memorable that everything else you do in
the future pales in comparison (Kim Sun Ah from My Name is Kim Sam
Soon is another example). Maybe I should watch IRIS?
The supporting cast's performances were also very good, with Moon Hee
Kyung delivering a great performance as Yeon Woo’s mother. A special
mention to Im Sung Kyu who makes a terrific jack-ass. I will look out
for this young actor.
To Watch or Not To Watch, That is the Question
Recommended for Korean drama fans and people looking for decent
acting. Predictability-haters beware.
Bu Bu Jing Xinstarring Cecilia Liu Shi Shi, Kevin Cheng, Nicky Wu, Yuan Hong
The New Adventure Of Chor Lau Heung (DVD, English subs)starring Miu Kiu Wai, Barbara Yung