...when the screen takes over...

Beautiful Mind, First Week

This is another attempt to follow ‘Beautiful Mind’ while it’s still airing.

As usual in Korean drama, ‘Beautiful Mind’‘s first two weeks look polished and are meant to entice viewers. The real test would be in the third week which often serves as ‘indication’ on how the series would fare. Yet I found it quite difficult to get into ‘Beautiful Mind’ at the beginning.

The thing is, I like the casts.

First of all, it’s weirdly wonderful to have ‘Volcano High’ reunion between Heo Joon-Ho and Jang Hyuk. In Volcano High, they played ‘arch enemies’ in the form of strict dictatorial teacher and reluctantly rebellious student. Now they are playing father and son, whose relationship is wrought in tension and shadows.

  • Heo Joon Ho as dr Lee Geon Myeong, the father

  • Jang Hyuk as dr Lee Young-Oh, the son

Making up the imperative four leads are Park So-dam bringing her brand of charm into a naive rookie cop Gye Ji-Seong who is about to confront the darker side of humanity, Park Se-Young playing Lee Young-Oh’s girlfriend doctor Kim Min-Jae, and Yoon Hyun-Min playing heart surgeon Hyeon Seok-Joo who is struggling to keep his ideals.

And there is a myriad of always dependable actors in supporting roles: Oh Jung-Se playing Kang Hyeon-Joon, the self-serving chairman of Hyeon Seong hospital, emitting malice yet sporting laughable hairdo; Shim Yi-Young, who just transforms effortlessly in anything I watched, playing doctor Kim Yoon-Geong who is thrown into a hellish situation; Ryu Seung-Soo and many more.

The problem was that a jumble o’stuff were thrown at me right from the start. On structural level, there is hospital politics, research politics, the usual medical procedural drama, and a murder mystery. On organic level, there’s the wrapping of individual human dramas: father and son relationship, Lee Young-Oh’s antisocial personality disorder, Gye Jin-Seong’s quest for truth and justice, interpersonal frictions. I could see the scale and range with which it tries to engage. Yet, instead of complicated and complex, it is crossing into convoluted territory and it felt so. Or perhaps I just haven’t got the brain power to keep up with ten things at once.

Of course, this jumble o’stuff reflects in plotting. But I like the casts a lot. I don’t want to give up this drama just yet.

Lee Young-Oh, The Black Box

It’s not just because he dresses in black that he is a black box.

The first week establishes Lee Young-Oh as an arrogant, manipulative, super star neurosurgeon of international acclaim (“the Mayo Clinic scouted for him!” declares the rumour mills), with a flair for the dramatics. He likes to show off that he is a superlative. Already, his superlativeness breeds disdain and envy among colleagues and rubs the hospital administrations the wrong way. But no one can discard him, and he would not let them. They need him for he is a highly intelligent and capable doctor, sometimes the only one who can fix their problems on operation table.

“Well, since I also violate traffic rules…”

It also introduces Gye Jin-Seong, first as a cop from traffic division who is generally a stickler for rules even if she must break them to catch offenders, and as a former patient of Hyeon Seong Hospital under the cardiology department. She has developed feelings for her attending physician, Dr Hyeon Seok-Joo, and formed attachment with the department head, Dr Shin Dong-Jae. Both had helped her case when she had been subjected to a malpractice.

Set in a Hyeon Seong Medical Centre, currently on the forefront of a research on regenerative medicine, the hospital is a point where various ambitions and interests meet and clash.

I figured it out. My ability as a doctor comes from my lack of emotions. That’s how I saved Party Leader Kim’s life. With neither hesitation nor fear.

Did I say that I would become a good doctor like normal person? I’m sorry. I don’t think I can keep that promise since I’m already a far superior doctor than anyone else.

Lee Young-Oh

Lee Young-Oh’s stellar reputation is marred by accusation of murder, put forth by a nobody rookie cop Gye Jin-Seong. A hit-and-run victim, Kang Cheol Min, died during surgery on Lee Young-Oh’s operating table. The circumstances around his death raises alarm as the body first is switched, and then found heartless. Moreover, Lee Young-Oh is seen through the camera recordings to have visited the morgue after the surgery and has kept a recording of the surgery.

Unable to investigate further on her own, Officer Gye steals Dr Lee’s thunder in a conference for an upcoming high profile surgery to cast suspicion on Kang Cheol Min’s surgery and the operating surgeon and force the hospital to conduct, at least, an ethical evaluation.

Lee Young-Oh is suspended and banned from performing any surgery until the ethics committee sees to the case. But the hardest blow comes from his father. “What do you think of [the accusation]?” he asks. “I believe in you,” his father says. However, Lee Young-Oh reads physical cues and his father’s body language says differently.

the writing on the wall

Lee Geon Myeong has been haunted by the diagnosis that his son has antisocial personality disorder and he can be dangerous. He had tried to give his son a normal life and equip him with tools to read the other persons from their body language. Now, he wonders whether he had done the right thing.

Wanting to clear his reputation and teach Officer Gye a lesson, Lee Young-Oh brings her to the hospital to get her to see that her irresponsible intervention wreaks havoc. The high profile surgery, on a presidential candidate, indeed turns dangerous and gives everyone panic. Knowing that it depends on him, Lee Young-Oh pushes the Hospital Chairman Kang Hyeon-Joon to give him authority to perform the surgery. During the operation, which is broadcast live, he gives a more plausible explanation to his visiting the morgue and getting the footage. He found medical peculiarities in Kang Cheol Min’s condition that he wished to investigate further. But he could not do it since certain someone butted in during the conference.

And then Lee Young-Oh throws a possibility to Officer Gye. He was not the only one present during Kang Cheol Min’s surgery nor he the only one visiting the morgue to inspect the corpse. Dr Hyeon Seok-Joo was also there. Shouldn’t Dr Hyeon, a cardiothoracic surgeon, be the more logical suspect and subjected to the same scrutiny?

It’s hard to cheer for Lee Young-Oh. The arrogance, the over-bloated confidence, the better-than-thou attitude just invites revulsion. And the worst of all, he is right. I think his introduction is part of the drama’s repellent at first since I’m following his story. I am used to get a more sympathetic protagonist. But the end of episode 2 does ask for a fairer assessment. “Is it the person you know so well, or the person you trust?” Since he is neither, he is suspicious in everyone’s eyes.

Okay, Show! I’ll try following you…


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