Synposis: Yong Pal is a 2015 18 episode Korean drama about a doctor for hire that revives a rich woman trapped an intentional coma from her enemies. They fall in love. Her need for revenge thwarts their relationship.
Nutshell Summary: Yong Pal had two strong lead actors that overcame uneven writing and delivered a watchable but not memorable series. The series could have been called Yeo Jin because it centered around the female lead while the male lead Yong Pal receded during the revenge section of the series.
1. Our leading lady, Yeo Jin, went on a quest for revenge. Once she was revived from the forced coma and her health bounced back sufficiently, her focus shifted to one thing – revenge against those that imprisoned her in a coma for 3 years. Kim Tae Hee was superb during the revenge section of this drama. Her steely stares, clipped no nonsense dialog, her seemingly clairvoyance to discern her enemies intent to defeat them, was wonderful to watch. Kim Tae Hee delivered a strong performance, the strongest female character she’s ever played. Kim Tae Hee’s chemistry with her leading man played by Yoo Jin was solid.
2. Our leading man, Yong Pal, was strong but weak. His character was a slave to money, to support his sister’s dialysis, which made him morally weak. But he was willing to take risks, like jump from the bridge in the first episode, and he wouldn’t stop making him strong. I wondered if the 7 year age difference between Joo Won and Kim Tae Hee would be noticeable, but that was a non issue. I discovered Joo Won in Tomorrow’s Cantabile and recognized his talent in that series. There was an interesting role reversal, Yong Pal’s behavior in the second half of the series could be associated with strictly female characters – wishing the revenge driven lead would stop their quest for revenge before they are destroyed and quietly waiting for the lead to return. Joo Won did what he could with this character but Yong Pal, the character, had issues.
3. Our leads had good chemistry and delivered a decent romance. This was not a sweeping romance but it had some lovely moments between our couple. Yong Pal saved Yeo Jin multiple times in this series. She put her faith and life on the line believing he’d come through for her. When Yeo Jin went on her revenge phase, Yong Pal was willing to let Yeo Jin do what she must. Then he saved her again. The intangibles worked between Joo Won and Kim Tae Hee. They played off each other. They could be strong with each other, weak with each other, and join forces to work together. The age difference was a non factor. Stronger writing could have delivered better couple. Our actors did what they could with what they were given.
4. Multi phase story switched up the focus during the series. Writer Jang Hyeok Rin delivered some stellar moments and subpar moments during this series.
*The first phase (episodes 1 – 5) were background and set the stage for the saving Yeo Jin from coma central.
* The second phase (episodes 6 – 10) were about Yong Pal getting Yeo Jin out of the hospital and the clutches of her enemies. They had their sweet “fall in love” moments.
* The third phase (episodes 11 – 16) were Yeo Jin’s rise to power and quest for revenge. Kim Tae Hee should thank Writer Jang for delivering the strongest female character she’s ever played. Loved her steely stares!
* The fourth phase was (episodes 17 – 18) is a repeat of saving Yeo Jin when she fell into the clutches of her enemies again.
5. Interesting secondary characters.
* Sassy Cynthia – How do I love you? Let me count the ways. Smart, sassy, no nonsense but had a heart. I was sad when she left in episode 7 and glad when she returned in episode 18.
* Crazy Nurse Hwang – she was obsessed with Yeo Jin and cared for her with creepy crooning and harsh treatment too. Yeo Jin implied at one point that Nurse Hwang did more than we ever knew. Nurse Hwang wasn’t borderline crazy…she went to full crazy. Her death was perfectly timed (the character had run her course) and dramatic.
* Selfish Brother Han Do Joon – He was borderline crazy too. He kept his sister in coma for years to maintain control of the company, he plotted against his sister WITH her fiancee, he was willing to betray anyone at a drop of a hat to better his position and power…and yet…there was a vulnerability and certain likability.
1. Operating scenes too graphic. This series relished the blood and open wounds. Ick!
2. Yong Pal’s story wasn’t really interesting. Yong Pal was a slave to debt and willing to do anything for money to keep his sister on dialysis. His morals were fluid in the first part of the series but changed to become a morale barometer for Yeo Jin in the latter part of the series. That was a disconnect in the character. Yong Pal’s story didn’t resonate. His sister, his father, the jealous coworkers, the debt, the police, the gangsters…just didn’t do anything. Yong Pal became interesting when he entered Yeo Jin’s orbit. Yeo Jin was the stronger and more interesting character. So the writer missed the mark with Yong Pal, he could have been a dashing daring doctor for hire that saved the princess from the tower not once but twice. But Yong Pal was ethically murky, mired in saving his sister, surrounded by throw away characters, and unfortunately not riveting. Joo Won’s talents were never mined for this character, a waste. Writer Jang had some pluses in this series but when the leading man character is subpar, it takes the entire series down a notch.
OST: The OST has 7 vocal tracks and 7 instrumental versions of the vocal tracks. See drama wiki for all the details. My favorite vocal song was “So We Are” by Baek Ah Yun.
The Yong Pal playlist has the vocal from the OST. Check it out via the link or the embedded video below.