Sunday, August 9, 2015

Faith or The Great Doctor - 2012

Faith or The Great Doctor is a Korean Drama series that aired in August 2012.  It was not a very big hit but seems to have acquired quite a cult following now.

It starred Lee Min Ho as Choi Young and Kim Hee Seon as Yoo Eun Soo.

The story goes as follows.  It is close to 1350 AD. King Gongmin is on his way to Goryeo (Korea) with his queen Noguk.  King Gongmin has been held hostage in China ever since he was a child.  He is now married to the Chinese Princess.  He is expected to rule over Korea as a vassal of Chinese King.
Queen Noguk and King Gongmin
He is accompanied by Choi Young, a Captain in the army. Choi Young and his men are responsible for the safe return of the King.  On the way, they are attacked by some bandits.  Fearing further attacks, Choi Young takes refuge in an inn and seeks to defend his king. 

As expected by Choi Young, the bandits return in a larger number.  He tries to drive them off and almost succeeds.  He is not able to prevent an attack on the Queen who gets her neck slashed

Royal Doctor
The Royal Doctor, Jang Bin, is at hand.  According to him the slash on the Queen's neck will prove fatal in time.  He cannot do much for such injuries.  The issue is complicated as the Queen is also a Chinese Princess.  It is quite likely that the King will face the wrath of the Chinese monarchy if she dies.

Jo Il Shin, the King's caretaker since his childhood, talks about a holy place nearby.  In ancient times, there was a great doctor called Hwa Ta who disappeared into a pool of light.  He has faith that anyone who steps into the pool of light can bring back Hwa Ta.  Choi Young volunteers to step into the pool of light.

He finds himself in an unknown world.  There are high-rise buildings and bright lights everywhere.  The portal he stepped into has actually brought him to current day Seoul.  He seeks directions from a passing monk.  He is directed to a Doctors Conference going on close by.  He walks into the conference and is taken for a dressed up actor from a film shoot.

He runs into a lecture being conducted by Dr. Yoo Eun Soo.  When being chased by the security guards, he takes the redhead doctor hostage.  He forces the doctor to demonstrate her skills on stitching up a cut similar to the one the Queen has suffered. He picks up some things that he deems necessary for the doctor and carries her back into King Gongmin's time.

The reluctant doctor does not understand what is going on.  She thinks there has been an accident on a film set and they want her to stitch up the patient so there would not be a scandal.

Soon she realises where she is.  With a sinking heart, she learns that a return will not be immediately possible.

 An injured Queen is not his biggest worry, King Gongmin finds.  There is the Chinese Empress' brother, Ki Cheol, who controls the purse and the army of Goryeo and is in no hurry to relinquish it.  He also possesses super powers and is a formidable enemy.

He is flanked by his pledged brother and sister. Eum Ja can blast people's insides by playing his flute, while his sister, Hwa Soo In can invoke fire and burn people.

She is a Dolores Umbridge sort of a character, who smiles and says witty things while casually hurting people.

In the middle of all the court intrigues and danger, Choi Young and Yoo Eun Soo fall in love with each other.  Their love is not easy.  She is thought to have come from Heaven, and is keen on returning to her time.  Choi Young cannot follow her, he is tied to his king.  The more she stays on in his world, the more embroiled she becomes in the intrigues of the times.

Ki Cheol is very interested in the Heaven Doctor and wants to go to Heaven along with her.  He holds some evidence regarding the original Hwa Ta. When the relics of Hwa Ta are put before Yoo Eun Soo, she goes into a deep shock. Why does the original Hwa Ta write in Hangul, the script she is familiar with?

Will the love between Choi Young and Yoo Eun Soo ever be allowed to flower?  Who was Hwa Ta? Will Yoo Eun Soo ever go back to Seoul? Will the King Gongmin survive the various conspiracies against his regime?

The series are spread over 24 episodes of one hour each.  They are available on youtube with English subtitles at the moment, which is not the best way to watch them, but I do not know how to procure a proper DVD here in India.  

Almost all the episodes are very gripping and often end with a cliffhanger.  The plot is meticulously worked out.  There are elements of fantasy in this historical drama. It combines romance and action in an equal measure as well.

The acting is very well good all around.  I instantly crushed on the gorgeous Lee Min Ho.  I found the Royal Doctor played by Philip Lee very cute.  The flute playing villain Eum Ja played by Sung Hoon is good eye candy as well.  The ladies are equally good looking.  You can depend on K-drama for providing cute and good looking actors always.

The Lady of the Court played by Kim Mi Kyung reminded me very strongly of Lalita Pawar.

Although this is a historical drama, the series does not go overboard with too many costume changes. 

 Lee Min Ho has three makeovers in the series and wears the same clothes most of the time. 

 Kim Hee Soon is also dressed mostly in blue and white as befits a doctor.  

The other characters also stick to uniform dressing.  It is less distracting and is easy to recognise a character based on the dress.

The sets are all old Palaces and open fields which is very apt.  The palaces and living areas are very well depicted.  I am not an expert on the era, so I cannot vouch for its authenticity, yet nothing rankles.

I do not understand Korean, but I found that even in intoning the dialogues a lot of meaning is conveyed.  It is easy to recognise a playful, angry, worried, tearful voice and get the drift about the goings on,  Then there are the subtitles to help you de-code the situation.

This was my first K-Drama but it is not going to be the last.  Happy viewing to me!