Yong Pal (Q1 & Q2 Review)

Earlier this week, a bad case of insomnia gave me a chance to catch up on Yong Pal, Korea’s big summer hit. It’s almost halfway through it’s 20-episode run, so I’m not judging it too soon. I can confidently declare that this show is completely and totally insane.

Korean medical dramas take a famously casual approach to plausibility, but Yong Pal throws the old standards off a bridge, exposes them to toxic radiation and then hides them away in a secret twelfth floor Bat Cave where we may never find them again.

What do you say about a show this brazenly uninterested in logical narrative construction? I admit: Yong Pal zips along at such high speed that it’s easy to get swept up. This sucker moves. As soon as we learn our initial premise—medical resident Kim Tae-Hyun (Joo Won) is moonlighting as a doctor for gangsters—the plot is already shifting rapidly.

Yong-Pal-dark poster 4web

Police detectives start closing in. Tae-Hyun finds himself drawn into being an accomplice to a crime that’s bizarre even by K-drama chaebol standards: the evil Han Do-Joon (Jo Hyun-Jae) is keeping his half-sister Han Yeo-Jin (Kim Tae-Hee) imprisoned on the hospital’s VIP floor. And she’s not just locked up—she’s in a medically-induced coma! And her doctor is evil, too! (Though, he is not, alas, Doctor Evil.)

As a villain, Han Do-Joon is reminiscent of the Evil Brother played by Shin Sung-Rok in My Love from Another Star. Do-Joon is a very, very Bad Guy—end of story. We’re supposed to fear him, but instead I just find him puzzling. Why is he this desperate for control of the conglomerate? Doesn’t he have any hobbies?

yong_pal joo won jung woong in 4 web

Joo Won is full of charisma, and so is Kim Tae-hee, once she wakes up. In fact, the whole cast is top-notch, and the director and crew have gone all out in staging the action sequences.

The hero’s secret alter ego and the occasional outburst of martial arts invite comparison to City Hunter. But in place of City Hunter‘s suspense and psychological depth, we have speed, lots of speed. Our hero is likable, but not particularly complicated. He doesn’t get much sleep. He’s a wiz with a scalpel. He has a cool backpack. What more do you wanna know?

I still can’t figure out who double-crossed whom during the last big plot arc. I could probably unravel the mystery if I wanted to. But everything about Yong Pal suggests we’re not supposed to understand the plot, we’re just supposed to go along for the ride.

And it’s a crazy, crazy ride. I recommend taking along my lovingly crafted K-drama Today Yong Pal Bingo set (10 varied cards, click to download). Enjoy! ♥

yong pal bingo from K-Drama Today

17 thoughts on “Yong Pal (Q1 & Q2 Review)

    • You’re not missing much! But it’s kinda riveting to see how far they’ll leave logic behind. Still so many laws of physics left to break–luckily they have 12 more eps.

  1. Hahaha! The bingo cards are hilarious! You can add, “they suddenly kissed” to this. This show should really be marathoned rather than watched piecemeal. It was tolerable till episode 6 (watching House has numbed my brain to outrageous medical procedures) but 7 and 8 was like falling off a cliff. At the end, I went huh? Did they forget some intermediate scenes on the editing table?

    Its interesting to compare this to City Hunter. They story there too had big big holes. And the fact how everyone was conveniently where the plot required them to be. But it was held together by the amazing cast (big bad daddy and the upright prosecutor especially supported LMH well)

    So far the only interesting character is Chae Young. Tae Hyun has become a superhero doctor caricature. But Joo Won is so very sincere in his act. I must say I liked him better in his anti hero phase than the new knight in shining armour phase. I can’t take Yeo Jin seriously till she starts brandishing her claws (or is it teeth).

    But watching an insane show has its own charms I suppose. Remember the time Pride and Prejudice kind of went insane.. but that was after episode 16.

  2. I might be just watch this drama for Joo Won only, he look so sincere and I loved his character even when I don’t get where the plot come and go.
    It satisfying (me) to see Joo Won portrayed many emotion, from serious, angry, worry, kindhearted man to genius doctor in action-packed scene (in high rating drama), remind me of how cute kang dong won when he is younger (joo won is cute too ^-^)

    This drama could be spin off “Good Doctor” .
    Honestly I’ve been thinking about making Shi On (good doctor) and Yongpal as 1 drama when the male lead switch, 16 episode, the male lead can be twin (or doppelganger due to recent trends by Mask) and the only way to solve this is join force cause they both genius doctor.
    Yongpal who is injury by his part time job contact someone with same ability and same face to continue his part time while he takes Shi On shift (cause it wasn’t a shady job) in hospital.
    Their world clash and collapse but it helps them grow to understand that Yongpal can have normal life (not out of the world rich to the bank of Swizz) and Shi On can melts a heart of Young Ae despite his understanding about how the world works.
    They can spend 1st week to each life then 2 weeks later for the switch part, then they get sick of each other world .
    Yongpal is healed at the next week but their world just become more complicated so they need to overcome many things that makes them can lives as diff people again.
    For some light episode they can ask Park Bo Yong and Kim Seulgi as cameo in episode 9 or maybe until ep 10. then solve what exactly being a doctor for both of them. Seeing love from diff woman (or if the woman is not a good character, fanfiction has their own – yaoi – ver) then choose what exactly make them stay to the woman character. This can end with Yongpal works as doctor in rural area but happy and Shi On as Director in famous hospital, or Shi On became advocate for health world and Yongpal travel around the world and they build a school /hospital together. Yongpal can save a boy and gives him card to get education and the one who wait in the entrance in Shi On.

    Idk why, it just even though I’m sure keep watching it, I’ve lost interest to the character except for Joo Woon (the actor). Strange to feel that I can’t remember the scene for last episode or connected the episode but I already watched it and my brain told me it wasn’t worth to dropped.
    I loved the acting, loved the actor and actress but the plot is weird.

    Sorry for writing too much again,thanks for the bingo cards, how many lines we need to get to win? I have 2 lines already (LOL)

    • 😀 Oo, the “Good Doctor”/”Yongpal” mash-up totally makes my day! You’ve got everything in there! Doppelgangers, hidden identities, hero doctors, even a touching final scene that shows us our heroes have been redeemed! I can hear the music playing now. I wonder if Yong Pal will run into the Song Joong-Ki and Song Hye-Kyo from the upcoming Descendants of the Sun when he’s traveling the world with Doctors without Borders. Seriously, you should write these things.

      I love Joo Won, so I’m glad this show is doing well. But if I keep watching, it will be simply to find out how much crazier it gets. Yong Pal hasn’t had any stunts involving moving aircraft yet, for instance.

      • Cross over drama? Yeah we can make that, stop with too much cameo if we can have cross over KDrama .
        What bring superhero together is their universe and KDrama has their own chaebol universe when the bankruptcy is because another drama chaebol evil character.
        Have Healer and Yongpal work for same target while accidentally sabotaging City Hunter plan, or have bad guys from OCN try to capture Shin Se Gi and Perry Park cause it been confusing the police when Seo In Geok helps him.
        We can have chaebol conference consist of male lead from the little prince Goo Joon Pyo to the eccentric heart owner Kang Min Ho (Falling for Innocence), or Master’s Sun.
        but then the secretaries would be a weird room cause they may came from same family (onsidering it almost playud by same actor),
        the imagination run wild, LOL

        it’s nice to know that you also interesting in DoS, this is gonna be completely bias cause I take interest on it simply cause Onew (SHINee) played there, well I am SHINee fans, of course that spike my interest.

        Hope the drama get better, they already had suspicion on plagiarism last week.

        • DOS! I’m already so torn about this one. I finally watched Innocent Man, so now I’m a Song Joong Ki fan, and I’m excited to see him in something new. The cast looks great. But I just don’t know about Kim Eun-Sook as the Writer–I can predict there will be some great, snappy dialogue, but that the characters won’t always make sense. But with this cast, how can I not watch?!?

          I think Gu Joon Pyo, Kang Min Ho, SJS from Master’s Sun would make a great get-together, but the real crowning touch would be to add Shin Seki into the mix. Because he would annoy all of them so much. I really, really, really want to see that scene.

        • Makes that three of us interested in DotS! Want to see it on screen soon, but I am tempering my expectations. I hope the writer has a good story to tell. Already it feels like they have bitten off more than they can chew.

          @anastasya, I am ready for any crossover that involves City Hunter! That was LMH’s best role to date imho.

  3. Arrgh! What did I just watch!!??!! A random romance episode? How is she suddenly so much in love with him? They are house hunting together? She shed 2 (crocodile) tears and gave up on revenge?

    The C section was ridiculous. You don’t tear the abdomen apart for it. And if you are going to be so confident that bat cave will accept the patient, why not send her there BEFORE the surgery.

    I can see future plotline a mile away. She will wait and wait. He will be stalled there by Chief Lee by holding his sister’s life ransom. She will chance upon some conversation between him and Chae Young. Cue misunderstanding and misdirected rage. *Head meet desk*

    PS: How goes Innocent Man? Every time I see Yeo Jin, I wish she was more like Seo Eun Gi.

    • Innocent Man!!! I tried to go slow but I ended up binge-watching much of the second half. So. Good. I can see why you adore Song Joong Ki. He has such a baby-face that it’s weird and dissonant to see his character turn into a con man. Reminds me of the effect of seeing John Cusack in Grifters. Seo Eun-Gi is a great character, and I agree Yeo-Jin should be more like her. I did NOT see that twist in episode 9 coming, and I’m still trying to emotionally process all the suffering in the second half. But it really pulls everything together pretty elegantly in the end. I can also see how High Society had a few Innocent Man elements, though it never found its feet. SJK’s character just made much more sense. The second half of the series also reminds me somewhat of That Winter, the Wind Blows, probably because of all the brain injuries and that sense of time running out.

    • This was CRAZY. I was never sold on the romance, and they made my fave character suddenly turn villainous. I just watched the last episode to see how they wrapped it up and wow is it bad! I feel sorry for the actors, for having to act out things which made no sense.

      • I checked back in to a couple episodes in the second half of the series, and I was totally confused. From what I could tell, it turned into a different series, the only similarity being that there still wasn’t much logic to the plot. But I didn’t watch the final episode, so I’m glad you did! (BTW, I still haven’t watched the 5th ep of Assembly, so I think I’ll let it rest. I like the heroine, but if the hero is going to remain this naive, it will be tough going.)

        • I think you have made the right call about Assembly. No, he doesn’t get better. Don’t watch episode 5, I was fooled into continuing further by that episode. I thought he was getting smarter, figuring out that you have to lose some battles to win some wars, but no.

          But watching Assembly did make me wonder. I am ok with an idealistic common girl falling in love with a mean chaebol and turning his world upside down, but I am not ok with an idealistic common man entering the assembly and turning it upside down. Both are preposterous events, the latter in fact being a more likely than the former.

          Oh well. At least he should have been a smart guy. Watching this show you’d think crying and screaming hoarsely is all thats required to get bills passed.

        • Bummer. I’m a sucker for politics shows that give us a little hope, but the hero’s naivete was starting to get to me. You’ve saved hours of my life and I owe you one!

          “Both are preposterous events, the latter in fact being a more likely than the former.” Ha! I wonder which one is less likely for real. To me, the stories of one person’s redemption are more plausible, because individuals are unpredictable. While political systems have a way of taking on a life of their own. Systems change more slowly than people. Makes it hard to make a good show about politics.

        • BTW, I saw Descendants of the Sun just started filming overseas on 9/28. Pity it’ll be awhile before we see it.

        • You had to rub that in 🙁
          Between that and the cancelled LJW and MCW drama based on Count of Monte Cristo, nothing I want to watch is airing currently 🙁

          Where I come from, there are (a few) rookie politicians, but the chaebol and waitress love story hasn’t happened yet.

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