Dr. Jin

Reviewed by: sukting

July 28, 2013

Rating: three


Dr.Jin is a 2012 drama on a 21st century neurosurgeon who travels back in time to the Joseon Dynasty. What has he done there during this period when he is in a coma in the present day. Do you wish to watch the debut historical drama by Seung-hun and Jaejoong?
It is based on the Japanese manga series Jin written by Motoka Murakami. The Japanese series is called JIN, starring Takao Osawa which aired on TBS in 2009 and its sequel in 2011.

Story/Introduction on characters

1.Song Seung-hun - Qin He
He is a gifted neurosurgeon who was born into a family of doctors. He is the youngest to get into the medical faculty and graduate. He has an IQ of 180 to score full marks in the national exam and is in charge of neurosurgical unit of Korea Univeristy Hospital at the age of 27 years old.

His success rate in surgery is 100%, with his ability to quickly analyze any situation and extremely steady hands. His confidence is never shaken despite any critical situation. Due to his insistence of perfection, he has a cold attitude and lacks compassion. All call him the golden hand.

However, he has an opponent who is his match. That is Mei Na. Both grow up together and he is planning to propose to her. Due to his talents and success, He is unable to understand how others fail. While Mei Na is doing volunteer work to provide medical care for the poor, she sees a man that collapses. She takes the man to the emergency room and He treats him.

During the operation, He hears the words 'I have to go back' and his head begins to hurt, but he ignores the pain. He soon discovers a foetus inside the man's brain. Due to the rarity of the situation, He keeps the foetus for later examination.

He tells Mei Na that the man will not survive. She becomes upset and drives off. He panicks when Mei Na gets into a car accident right in front of him. He performs surgery on her. During the operation he again hears the words again. He is in distress when Mei Na goes into a coma.

He stands on the rooftop of the hospital. A man walks onto the rooftop. He's the patient that He performs surgery on. The man is now carrying medical tools and the foetus. A struggle begins between He and the man. He falls off the building with the medical tools.
He awakes in the forest. He sees a group of people wearing traditional clothing and fighting each other with swords. At first, He thinks he is on a filming set, but soon finds himself surrounded by the men and realizes it is real. He is soon chased by the military in the Joseon Period.

He has travelled 150 years back in time to the year 1860, when medical technology was still in its infant stages. He begins treating people of the era, but the lack of necessary implements and rudimentary medical knowledge of the period forces him to develop medical devices and medicine by himself, and seek new ways to aid the sick. That includes curing cholera, saving difficult child labour, treating breast cancer and treating head injuries with a hammer.

He meets young noblewoman Yong Lai who looks like Mei Na. Through this challenging process but with the help of Yong Lai and Yu Ying, He becomes a true compassionate doctor. But his actions start interfering with history when he keeps saving people that are supposed to die, He is faced with hard choices when he discovers that he keeps suffering from headaches.

He finally returns to the future and is puzzled when his colleagues tell him that he has slept only a day. It seems to him that it is a long time. He quickly gets to Mei Na and is relieved that she is breathing. He is overjoyed that Mei Na doesn’t die after all to wake up. He finally treasures what he has now.

Seung-hun maintains his standard and he looks dashing in the doctor’s robe. He is indeed amazing in the medical scenes. But, I can’t help feeling worried for him as it is hard for him to make a breakthrough. It seems no difference from the usual good guys he has played before.

2. Park Min-young - Hong Yong Lai / Yin Mei Na Yong Lai came from a noble family in the past and she is a kindhearted woman who dreams of becoming a doctor after she meets He when he saves her rebel brother. Her father dies due to cholera so she stays with her mother and elder brother.
She is betrothed to her childhood friend Jing Zhuo due to family arrangements since young but is not in love with him. She only knows what love is after meeting He so she becomes an imperial physician. She is unlike Mei Na to be very careful not to reveal her feelings easily. Still, she is curious over new things and her kind nature persists here. Due to this similarity, He believes that she is an incarnation of Mei Na and can’t help getting close to her.

She starts to become his assistant and love develops between them. She suffers from breast cancer but he rescues her. She is a Catholic and is under prosecution with the others. He and Jing Zhuo try their best to save her from harm. Indeed, she survives even after being shot by a gun. He returns to the present and hopes that she is happy after survival.

Mei Na is very cheerful and is a second year freshman. Unlike He, she is kind and unable to ignore those in need. Due to her impatience, He always calls her the impatient Mei Na. She wants to be a surgeon like him. What happens to Seung-hun also happens to her. It is not much difference from how she acts in ‘City Hunter’. She looks listless as Yong Lai and the shocking expressions are not convincing enough. The only thing is she and Seung-hun do look like a couple together.

3. Lee Beom-soo - Lee Yu Ying Yu Ying is a nobleman who becomes He's trusted friend. He is the future Heungseon Daewongun (Great Prince Regent, Father of King Gojong). However, his family goes into poverty. In order to survive, he leaves politics and can swallow his pride. He can cheat as long as he can earn money. Still, his thirst for hunger can’t be suppressed. Yu Ying is no longer just a historical to He but is his friend.

His outlook of life changes after knowing He. He decides not to live lowly anymore and wants to end the cruel era to build a new dynasty. Even though he makes use of He, he still guards their friendship. He is forced to protect his son to prosecute the Catholics but he also tries to save them secretly. He is overjoyed when he comes into the present to visit him once to make sure that everything is fine.

I have often seen him as serious roles and not in a slight comical role like this. I must say that he acts very well here as the coward-turn-ambitious man.

4. Kim Jaejoong – Jin Jing Zhuo He is the illegitimate son of Minister Kim and his concubine. He is a military officer who is in love with Yong Lai, the sister of his friend Yong Hui to become her fiancé. He is a martial arts expert and has a strong stubborn streak in him. He is not only good in archery but also a sharp shooter.

He tells himself that he can’t fail due to his status so he has never shed tears. Yet, his weak side is shown only to Yong Lai. He gives orders to catch He when he finds him suspicious with his modern medical tools. Still, worried over his ailing father, he gets He to save him before He is executed. Since then, although he regards him as his enemy, he is impressed by his healing skills.

He yearns to get acknowledgement from Bing Xi. Everything changes when He comes. Ever since he knows that her smiles are for He, his tolerance to wait for her love is replaced by the feelings of betrayal when she calls off their engagement. He can’t bear seeing her getting close to He. So he tries to make life difficult for He. He sacrificed his life to save her when the Catholics are harmed.

Jaejoong totally outshines Seung-hun in this drama. He is simply fascinating! Jing Zhuo’s inner feelings about his love and struggles to know about Yong Hui’s identity are obviously shown. No wonder all call him the most outstanding military officer in Josen period.

5. Lee So-yeon – Chun Hong She is a mysterious gisaeng. She is beautiful and intelligent – to seem to be able to read the future. Yu Ying has once told her to be the best gisaeng when she is still a child since she can’t get away from her fate. So she tries her best to tempt the men of high status.
He once rescues her from drowning as she tries to get away from Da Yun. She has never given her heart to anyone except He but he is the first to reject her. So she tries to make him hers…..in vain. She fell in love with He when he saved her as a child in the modern era, revealing that she is a time traveler herself.

She has once tried to jump off the cliff away from the torture but ends up going to the past. She is the girl with the Rubix Cube. However, she doesn’t tell him how to return to the future. She knows why he has headaches – the tumour in his head grows bigger as he changes history once. He realizes that he is the mysterious man who is adamant to return to the past. However, he just can’t leave others to die so he insists on saving.

All along, she is Yu Ying’s spy to help him to dispose Andong Kim clan. He is stunned by the turn of events and asks her about Mei Na’s fate. He is shattered to know that she dies and nearly tries to kill himself. She later sacrifices herself in order to save him from Andong Kim clan. When He sees her as a little girl again, he quickly tells her that Mei Na is still alive.

So-yeon is also another actress who offers surprises and changes in every drama. It is a joy to see her acting here. She really stands out as the woman who is difficult to guess her next move. Her moves as a gisaeng are also elegant. I must protest – how can she not win any award?!

6. Jin Yi-han - Hong Yong Hui He is Yong Lai's older brother and best friend to Jing Zhuo. Yong Lai is seriously injured in the head during an attack with Jing Zhuo when trying to kill Bing Xi. Luckily, He treats him. He is an idealistic nobleman who leads the rebels in secret to pretend not to know martial arts. He fails repeatedly in the imperial exam to become a scholar and is disillusioned with the rigid rules.

His identity is then discovered. Yong Lai falls out with He when He insists of treating a cruel official who later shoots Yong Hui. Yong Hui falls off a cliff and all think he is dead. He still continues his rebel activities and urges Yong Lai to forgive He. Yong Hui later works with Yu Ying as an official for a better future.

7. No Eul – Lian Xin She is a gisaeng with Chun Hong. She is alert and helps her to manage the others. She pities Gui Xiang and begs He to rescue her.

8. Kim Eung-soo - Minister Jin Bin Xi He is the nobleman and head of the powerful Andong Kim clan. He never stops belittling Yu Ying and can’t wait to dispose He. He often comes up with evil plans even though he saves him.

9. Kim Hye-ok – Yong Lan Mo She is Yong Lai's mother who wants the best for her, waiting for her to have a better life with Jing Zhuo. To her dismay, Yong Lai refuses to marry Jing Zhuo and she nearly disowns her. Thus, she is very hostile to He. Still, she forgives her in the end. I don’t really like her acting, very exaggerating. It also took me some time to accept her in this role as she acted as Seung-hun’s mother in ‘East of Eden’.

10. Kim Il-woo – Liu Hong Bi He is the imperial physician who is jealous of He’s medical skills. He can cure different illnesses that he can’t. Thus, he conspires with Bin Xi to harm He.

11. Jung Eun-pyo – Xu Guang He is a Joseon doctor whose medical skills are less than satisfactory. After learning from He, they set up the medical hall and his attitude changes. He is keen to learn and even operates on He when he is ill. He is more confident of himself now. Seeing that He doesn’t know of court struggles, he urges him to try to please others even though he dislikes as this can ensure the hall’s survival to save the poor.

12. Lee Won-jong – Shen Zhu Ba He is a local gangster but after He treats him, he turns for the better. When knowing that the military is going to kill He and the others suffering from cholera, he saves them. Later, he is like a bodyguard to them after knowing Andong Kim clan will not let them off easily. He turns over a new leaf and later works for the court as a guard.

13. Kim Myung-soo – Jin Da Yun He is Bing Xi's legitimate son and heir. He looks down on Jing Zhuo and keeps humiliating him. He is greedy so Zhu Ba has a hold on him when knowing that he tries to smuggle gold. He is later put into exile for betraying Korea but Bing Xi gets him to return. Still, he is ungrateful and tries to kill Bing Xi.

14. Lee Hung Sik - Ming Fu He is Yu Ying’s son who will become the latter ruler. He is very intelligent so Yu Ying grooms him, hoping that he will not disappoint him.

15. Kim Byung Sik – Zhe Zhong He is the ruler who suffers from gastric pains. He is actually helpless in ruling as Andong Kim clan has taken over his power and he is only a ruler in name. He knows that he is dying despite him trying to save him. Still, trust develops between them and he allows He to treat him.

16. Yoo Choo Hee – Gui Xiang She is a gisaeng who suffers from Syphilus after sleeping with a foreigner. Actually, he is the one who works with Da Yun in smuggling gold. Even though He successfully treats her, she later dies to commit suicide in prison when the guards capture her. Yu Ying is bitter over this and regrets not marrying her. Thus, he vows to seek revenge on Da Yun, revealing how he smuggles the gold.

17. Jing Hye Sun - Empress Shen Zhen She is Zhe Zhong’s mother and wants the best for him but he has no heir. She is also Yu Ying’s relative so he tries to get him to adopt Ming Fu. She is initially reluctant but later agrees to it as Bing Xi gets arrogant. She has stepped into the court affairs for too long and Yu Ying gets her out as she hinders his progress. She has outlived her usefulness and gets into his way now.

18. Fabien Yoon - Priest Liddell He is a French priest to spread the Catholic faith. He has never expected this to turn into a war and he has to run for his life with the other priests. He is nearly caught but He and Yong Lai rescue him. He returns to France but French armies launch an attack. That is how Jing Zhuo gets killed while shielding Yong Lai from the French soldiers.

Interesting facts from wikepedia, magazines and newspapers
Revamped with Korean sentiment, the setting was changed from the original's Edo period to the Joseon Dynasty, and real-life Japanese historical figure Sakamoto Ryoma was replaced with Joseon political figure Lee Ha Eung (Heungseon Daewongun).

This marked Song's return to television in 15 months since My Princess in 2011. It was also Kim Jaejoong's second drama since Protect the Boss in 2011, as well as his first historical drama. The series was initially planned for 20 episodes but both the production and actors felt that the 20 episodes were not sufficient enough to tell the full story.

However this was strongly objected to by the actors' agencies citing low viewership ratings, the story's slow pace and future schedules. The ratings were from 10.5% to 17%. Seung Hun went to observe how surgeons operated before filming this drama. All were won over by his diligence and joked that he could open his own clinic after filming.

It was also Seung-hun’s first historical drama. He made plenty of notes in his script. He also observed how the veterans acted while waiting for his turn. The biggest uproar came when coming to the scene where Yong Lai was treated for breast cancer and He felt her breast. Some asked him how he felt and he blushed. So was Min-young. It took lots of courage to shoot that scene for both of them.

Min-young was excited to work with Seung-hun. She was glad that he was nice and humble although he was very experienced. She hoped to work together with him soon again. This was her second period drama but she was equally as tense as the guys as it was more historical.

Kim Eung-soo and Kim Myung-soo acted as Jing Zhuo’s ruthless father and elder brother in the drama. There were scenes of them hitting him but when the cameraman shouted cut, they immediately went to ask him anxiously if they had hit him too hard. They had indeed treated Jaejoong like their own family and he was touched. All laughed when seeing how the two veteran actors doted on him.

In 2012 MBC Drama Awards, The Best New Actor went to Kim Jaejoong. All cheered for him as they knew how hard he trained on horse riding, martial arts and reciting the ancient lines. Moreover, it was his debut period drama. He suffered from headaches wearing the wig. They really had fun seeing how he communicated with the horse before riding it to feed it with grass.

Seung Hun came to Singapore to promote this drama in 2012. I went to see him in person. He is handsome and approachable in person. He was popular with the reporters too with his endearing personality. This made my dream of meeting the five drama kings complete (the others being Bae Yong Jun, Won Bin, Lee Byung Hyun and Jang Dong Dun who came before him.)

His female fan base was large belonging to different age groups. He was amused to see some mothers with their children. This was his first time singing a drama theme and he hoped that all could accept it. Fans mobbed him everywhere so he only had his meals in the hotel, suppressing his urge to taste our local food, roti prata and chilli crab.

Most favourite character He, he was a dedicated doctor who isn’t deterred by setback. The second is Jing Zhuo for his undying love for Yong Lai. The third is Chun Hong who puts others above self.
Most hated character
Bing Xi, for belittling Jing Zhuo. He looks down on Jing Zhuo over his status but hasn’t he thought of what he does to Jing Zhuo’s mother is shameless? If not, he will not have fathered him.

It is sung by Seung-hun. Not bad for his debut- looking forward to him cutting his own album one day.

The drama has an engaging start. After that, it dips. The healing scenes are well done although some can be overstating. He is only a doctor but he also draws well, showing how modern tools can be made. The poor goldsmith gets the idea upon one look. I simply crack up on how glass is obtained. You will need to find more from watching.

The power struggle scenes can be boring. I have seen similar dramas before this drama and this can be boring. I am astonished that the supporting cast act better than the leads. More exposure could have been given to them. Thus, I can understand why the viewership weakens in the later part. It gets too melodramatic and predictable.

Even good-looking faces fail to save it. The supposedly French-Korean war is also unattractive. It is just like a normal narrative story as we know that Yong Lai will still survive after all. I hardly feel that she is being the underdog. All must be grumbling over Jing Zhuo’s death. It is sad that even his death fails to move Yong Lai and his sacrifice is nothing.

Still, many must be relieved over the happy ending. It still serves to pass your time after all if you are not too demanding.

Sukting’s ratings :
On acting : *** (Scale of 5)
On story : *** (Scale of 5)
On song : *** (Scale of 5)

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