- Hello, everyone! I’m Inyi Yruma, a passionate fan of movies and TV series. Lately, I’ve been immersed in binge-watching K-Dramas on popular streaming platforms in the Philippines, including VIU, WeTV, and, of course, Netflix. While I’ve always yearned to share my personal reviews of the series and movies I’ve enjoyed, my schedule rarely allows for it. Nevertheless, I’m thrilled to present my review of “GOOD DOCTOR” (Korean, 2013) as the inaugural post on my blog. Please be aware that this blog contains SPOILERS, so if you dislike spoilers, kindly refrain from reading :).
“Good Doctor” is a 2013 South Korean Medical-Romance drama starring Joo Woon as the lead role, Park Shi-on. It also features Moon Chae-Won as Dr. Cha Yeon-Seo and Joo Sang-Wook as Dr. Kim Do Han.
This drama revolves around the life of Park Shi-On (played by Joo Woon), born with Savant Syndrome and Autism. His traumatic childhood was marked by his intellectual disability, leading to his father’s rejection and repeated abuse. As a child, he struggled to find understanding friends, often falling victim to bullying by children in his neighborhood.
His sole companion was a pet bunny (rabbit), and the one person who truly cared for him was his older brother, Park Si-Deok (Jeon Jun-hyeok). Tragically, his pet bunny met its end when his father, in a fit of rage, threw it against a wall while beating him. Si-on, unable to grasp the concept of death, sought help for the injured bunny at a local clinic, where he met Dr. Choi Woo-seok (Chun Ho-jin). At that time, Dr. Woo-Seok was a doctor serving impoverished residents in rural areas. He explained to Si-on that the bunny had passed away, and when asked if it was going to heaven, the doctor replied “yes.” However, he also explained that with earlier treatment by a doctor, the bunny could have survived and not gone to heaven. This encounter ignited Si-on’s aspiration to become a doctor.
His brother gifted him a medical toy kit containing a “green toy scalpel” and encouraged Si-on to become a “Good Doctor” when he grew up. Si-Deok, deeply concerned for his younger brother’s well-being and his inability to make friends, arranged for neighborhood children to play with Si-on, provided they refrained from bullying him. In exchange, they all ventured into an old tunnel to retrieve a ball bearing. Tragedy struck when the tunnel collapsed, trapping both Shi-on and Si-Deok inside. Rescuers, including Dr. Woo-Seok, arrived to find the two children. Unfortunately, Shi-on’s brother did not survive and passed away in front of his eyes. This incident only fueled Si-on’s determination to become a doctor.
Fast forward, Si-on graduated from medical school with the assistance of Dr. Woo-Seok, who had adopted him when his mother abandoned him at the age of 7.
With unwavering confidence and a burning desire to help Shi-on achieve his dream of becoming a real doctor, Dr. Woo-Seok, now the director at Sungwon University Medical Center, embarked on a mission to persuade the board members to hire Si-on as a resident trainee in order to obtain his medical license. However, the majority of the board of trustees, except for Lee Yeo-won (Na Young-hee), the chairwoman, opposed the idea. They argued that hiring someone with an intellectual disability could jeopardize the safety of patients and the hospital’s reputation. Despite initial disapproval, a video of Si-on assisting a child severely injured in an airport accident went viral. His photographic memory and exceptional intelligence also proved invaluable in aiding the hospital’s resident surgeons in treating the child’s severe injuries. Consequently, the board of trustees decided to give Si-on a three-month trial to prove his capabilities, with Dr. Woo-Seok risking his own position as director should Shi-on cause any trouble.
When questioned about his motivation to pursue a medical career, he explained to the board of trustees that his bunny and his older brother, who passed away before his eyes, inspired his desire. He emphasized that neither of them had the opportunity to grow up, have families, or experience adulthood. His goal was to prevent children from falling prey to illness and provide them with the opportunity to lead a life resembling that of an adult.
Si-on joined the Pediatric Surgeon Team, led by the coldhearted and tough Dr. Kim Do-Han (Joo Sang-wook), alongside the warmhearted and understanding Dr. Cha Yoon-seo (Moon Chae-won).
Si-on’s journey at Sungwon University Medical Center was bittersweet. While a few characters warmly welcomed him despite his autism, the series also depicted the harsh reality of how individuals with intellectual disabilities are often unfairly treated in society. What I admired about this series was its portrayal of rudeness and inequality, yet it offered hope that such challenges could be overcome through our shared humanity.
The true beauty of this series lies in Shi-on’s character development. It masterfully illustrates how he can conquer his shortcomings, fears, and self-doubt, transforming into a better person and a competent doctor. This transformation occurs despite his status as an outcast and the challenges he faces from those who underestimate him due to his condition.
CHARACTERS TO LOOK FORWARD TO
Joo Woon as Park Si-On
Joo Woon’s portrayal of Si-on was truly exceptional and spot-on. I found myself emotionally connected to his character throughout the entire show. While there were only two or three instances where his character shed tears, I couldn’t help but cry buckets every time he appeared on screen. His non-verbal communication skills were top-notch, with his eyes and body language crafting a profound appreciation for the character as a whole. I must also commend Choi Ro-woon, who portrayed the young Shi-on, for delivering a highly believable performance.
Si-on as a character is very lovable. I really adore his passion and drive to become a doctor in order to help sick children heal from sickness. Due to his traumatic childhood he unconsciously deleted all his memory including her memories about his Father and Mother, but only kept the memories of his Bunny and brother whom are his main inspiration to keep going, and to become a Good Doctor. I really love the plot between Si-on, the Bunny and his brother Si-Deok, I literally cried bucket of tears whenever flashback of his childhood are shown in the screen.
Si-on, as a character, is incredibly endearing. I deeply admire his unwavering passion and determination to become a doctor, driven by the desire to heal sick children. Due to his traumatic childhood, he unconsciously erased all memories, except those of his Bunny and brother. These memories serve as his primary sources of inspiration on his journey to becoming a Good Doctor. The storyline revolving around Si-on, the Bunny, and his brother Si-Deok resonated with me profoundly, often bringing me to tears during childhood flashbacks on screen.
Despite facing constant disrespect, bullying, and belittlement from some of his colleagues at the hospital, Si-on relentlessly strives to prove his worth. He finds support from a few individuals like Dr. Yoon-Seo, Senior Nurse Jo Jung-mi (Ko Chang-seok), and Dr. Han Jin-Wook (Kim Young-kwang). Si-on actively contributes to numerous surgical cases in the Pediatric department, offering children a chance to recover, pursue their dreams, and eventually lead adult lives. Regrettably, he seldom receives due recognition for his good deeds. I keenly empathized with his character as he struggled to express his feelings, recognizing the immense difficulty he faced, much like real individuals in similar situations, adapting to such a challenging environment that demanded the approval of others.
Moon Chae-Won as Dr. Cha Yeon-Seo
Moon Chae-Woon was ideal for the role, portraying Dr. Yeon-Seo with unwavering conviction, empathy, and striking the perfect balance to make her character truly believable.
Dr. Cha Yeo-Seo was one of the first individuals to warmly welcome Si-on to their team. She consistently assumed the role of a big sister, dedicating herself to guiding and understanding Shi-on. Amidst the reluctance of others to acknowledge Si-on’s potential as both a doctor and a person, she stood as a formidable support system. Dr. Cha herself had encountered her share of challenges in the medical field, which only enhanced her reliability and reputation as a well-regarded doctor among her patients.
The budding romance between Shi-on and Dr. Cha adds a breath of fresh air to the series, juxtaposed with the more intricate medical aspects that create tension. To truly grasp what I’m referring to, I highly recommend watching the series 🙂
Joo Sang-wook as Dr. KIm Do-Han
I genuinely admired Joo Sang-wook’s portrayal of Dr. Kim Do-Han. He was remarkably effective, to the extent that I found myself genuinely irritated with his character during the first half of the series. (I even cursed at him a few times, LOL).
Dr. Do-Han held the position of head surgeon in the pediatric division and served as Dr. Cha’s mentor. Dr. Woo-Seok assigned him to help and guide Si-on. He had a reputation for being cold-hearted and rarely smiled, except when interacting with Dr. Cha. His reluctance to welcome Shi-on to the hospital stemmed from his desire to prevent Dr. Woo Seok from losing his position as President and his personal history, as he had a younger brother with intellectual disabilities who tragically passed away in an accident.
While Dr. Do-Han recognized Shi-on’s exceptional photographic memory and intelligence, which proved invaluable in their surgical procedures, he often referred to Shi-on as a “SOULLESS DOCTOR” and a “ROBOT.” He deliberately made life difficult for Shi-on, displaying a degree of disrespect and issuing challenges in an attempt to compel him to quit (I must admit I was quite affected and resorted to cursing him out several times, like “STUPID DOCTOR” and “SHUT UP B*TCH,” LOL). However, I came to appreciate that his tough approach was his way of helping Shi-on overcome his limitations and fears. Eventually, he warmed up to Shi-on and even extended an offer to become his brother (which was quite touching). Watching the series, you’ll likely experience a love-hate relationship with him as well.
Chun Ho-jin as Dr. Choi Woo-seok
Chun Ho-jin is undeniably a highly respected veteran actor in South Korea. His silent yet incredibly powerful portrayal of Dr. Wook-seok was truly exceptional.
Apart from Si-Deok, there was one individual who provided Shi-on with the motivation to persevere and chase his dreams, and that was Dr. Wo-Seok. I was deeply moved by how he embraced young Shi-on as his own son immediately after his brother’s passing, especially considering that his mother had abandoned him and never returned. Dr. Wo-Seok not only guided and encouraged Shi-on to pursue his aspirations but also took the remarkable step of risking his position as the hospital director to persuade the board members to give Shi-on the opportunity to become a doctor.
Kim Hyun-soo as Na In-hae
In general, Shi-on’s character was both endearing and relatable. However, I also found Kim Hyun-soon adorable and exceptionally pretty. Since this series aired in 2013, she was quite young, but her acting skills were remarkably good. I’d go so far as to say that her role as In-Hae became one of my favorite side characters in the series.
In-Hae was one of the pediatric patients in the hospital who had lost her intestine in an accident. This compelled her to make frequent visits to the hospital, awaiting the right time for a transplant while hoping for a suitable donor, which (SPOILER) turned out to be her older sister, Na In-Young (Uhm Hyun-kyung), adding an intriguing and tear-inducing subplot to her character.
What I particularly appreciated about In-Hae was that she was among the few people who befriended Shi-On (I even suspect she had a crush on him). She played the role of a cupid between Shi-on and Dr. Cha, offering Shi-on advice on how to win Dr. Cha’s heart. Her medical case became one of the final and most crucial surgical missions in the entire series. Though her chances of survival seemed bleak, thanks to Shi-on, the doctors managed to devise a solution to execute the intricate operation successfully.
One of my favorite scenes in the entire series occurred in Episode 10. It took place right after Shi-on’s very first surgical operation, in which he actively participated. The operation aimed to help a patient, whom Shi-on had become friends with, preserve his ability to sing. While the operation was successful, it triggered anxiety within Shi-on. He feared that if anything had gone wrong, his friend might lose the ability to sing again.
Seeking solace, Shi-on stepped outside the hospital to get some fresh air. A stranger in a white polo shirt approached him and inquired about his well-being. The surroundings seemed to blur, hinting at the possibility that Shi-on might be hallucinating. Shi-on explained that he felt dizzy because he had just taken part in his very first surgical procedure. The man sat down beside him and inquired further about why Shi-on felt dizzy.
Shi-on responded by confessing his nervousness and fear of potentially harming the patient, likening himself to a coward, much like the pet bunny he used to have. The man asked why Shi-on thought bunnies were cowards, and Shi-on simply stared at him. The man went on to explain that bunnies possess longer hind legs, enabling them to run faster and making it challenging for predators to catch them. He also mentioned that bunnies are quite clever and skilled at hiding eggs (possibly referring to Easter eggs). Shi-on’s response was that bunnies also consume their own waste, to which they both shared a hearty laugh.
My fav scene in #GoodDoctor 🥺 Right after the successful surgery, thnks to Shi-on, he became dizzy and went outside. He met a stranger and talks to him (abt his pet bunny as a child). It’s a reference that the guy he’s taking to is his bro who died when they were kids 😭 #kdrama https://t.co/WGhAjIASE4 pic.twitter.com/KFqWQ9AX8O— Inyigo (@inyiyruma) July 21, 2021
The man then proceeded to encourage Shi-on to be like a bunny, advising him not to be a coward and to run with determination. Shi-on expressed his gratitude to the man for the support.
At that moment, the man noticed Shi-on’s hands and complimented him, mentioning that he had pretty nails for a man, resembling “Crescent Moons.” This deeply moved me, and I found myself shedding tears like a baby (I’m actually tearing up while writing this T.T). It was especially poignant because it was Shi-on’s late brother who had once told him that his fingernails resembled “Crescent Moons.” Despite being a brief and concise conversation, it provided immense comfort and touched my heart.
The man essentially served as a representation of Shi-on’s older brother, who had tragically passed away when they were still young. 🙁
9.5/10: I would certainly rewatch this series if I had some free time. It’s truly an excellent show.
To be honest, the music used in the series didn’t particularly resonate with me because the story itself was so emotionally moving. However, one piece of music that did stick in my head while watching the series was “Love Medicine,” performed by Joo Woon.
I’m not sure if I’ve been feeling more sensitive and emotional lately, but I have a soft spot for series that bravely address the topic of intellectual disability. “Good Doctor” is a prime example of this. The series was profoundly comforting and heartwarming, shedding light on the challenges people with this condition face and encouraging us to be more sympathetic, understanding, and kind in general.
Moreover, the series provided viewers with a window into the world of doctors, nurses, and medical professionals, highlighting the demanding and emotionally taxing nature of their work. Saving lives is no easy task.
If you’re in search of a #KDrama that inspires you to appreciate life more, fosters understanding of those with intellectual disabilities, and promotes kindness and humanity, then “Good Doctor” is a must-watch.
WHERE TO WATCH (PHILIPPINES):