Kdrama Review: Doctor Stranger (2014)

DoctorStrangerTitle: Doctor Stranger
Episodes: 20
Duration: 60 min.
Aired: May 5, 2014 to Jul 8, 2014
Cast: Lee Jong Suk, Park Hae Jin, Kang So Ra, Jin Se Yeon
Genre: Drama, Medical, Romance, Thriller

The Synopsis: As a child, Park Hoon and his father were kidnapped by North Korea. In North Korea, Park Hoon was trained to become a doctor by his father who was already a doctor. Park Hoon became a genius like chest surgeon.

He then flees to South Korea. Park Hoon begins to work as a doctor in South Korea’s top hospital Myeongwoo University Hospital, but he feels like a complete outsider. To bring back his love from North Korea, he does anything to make money.

The Review: Let’s get this out of the way; the suspension of disbelief is very important in this drama. It gets pretty ridiculous at times, even for kdrama standards. I’m still appalled that they had surgical competitions that gambled with the lives of their own patients, and managed to drag it out for almost the entire drama. Not to mention Park Hoon had this almost supernatural ability to hold a heart and be able to “feel” what was wrong with it. Seriously?

The worst part, however, was the incredibly convoluted plots. There’s the mystery of Jae Hee/Seung Hee, the Prime Minister’s surgery, Jae Joon’s past, the disappearance of Hoon’s mom; it was like a soap opera. Yet there were still times I enjoyed watching Doctor Stranger. The story was different and while it could definitely be hella confusing, it was also exciting and heartbreaking at times.

DoctorStrangerTitle2

I think the main reason to watch this drama would be for the slew of famous actors. Lee Jong Suk doesn’t disappoint as Park Hoon, the main lead with a tragic backstory and a heart of gold. Park Hae Jin as Jae Joon also puts in a good performance during the many angsty moments, but also while portraying the underlying feelings and motivations of his character. Jin Se Yeon is the lone weak point in an otherwise strong cast. Much like her performance in Bridal Mask, her acting tends to consists of two different expressions: pretend heartbreak and completely blank. Either way, it’s entirely unconvincing and at no point did I find myself actually caring about her character, Jae Hee.

Saving the best for the last, though, I was highly impressed by Kang So Ra as the second female lead, Oh Soo Hyun. Especially compared to Jin Se Yeon, her way of expressing emotions was amazing; whether Soo Hyun was devastated by unrequited love, vulnerable and unsure of her abilities as a doctor, or kicking ass and standing up for herself.

DoctorStrangerCouple

Most of the disappoint and heavy criticism of this drama came from the terrible writing. I don’t know what possessed the writers to include so many different storylines, hidden agendas, misunderstandings, and frankly, situations that defied all logic. I had to physically force myself to finish watching the last six episodes of this drama. The ending was satisfying, though, and they somehow managed to tie up all the loose ends.

If you’re looking for a medical drama along the lines of God’s Quiz, this is definitely not for you. Doctor Stranger spends most of its time on the characters and conspiracies. The surgeries are there as background, to be used for the many unethical competitions between our main characters. In terms of music, I thought it fit well with the drama and the instrumentals were beautiful. While I often find the ballads in kdramas overly dramatic and annoying, Bobby Kim’s theme song “Stranger” only grew on me as the story progressed.

Final Verdict: This would never be on my re-watch list, but if you’re a fan of any of the main actors you may enjoy watching their performances. Overall, though, I would recommend skipping Doctor Stranger in favor of a drama that’s not so confusing, convoluted, or full of wasted potential.

Rating: 6.5/10

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