Ghost Doctor | Series Review

Ghost Doctor has been a fun watch from start to finish. Hopeful real-life lessons were finely intertwined with its fantasy narrative and one couldn’t help but support one of the best K-drama duos created in recent times. 

Cha Young-min (Rain) and Ko Seung-tak (Kim Bum) started off on the wrong foot. It was a given since our two main leads have opposite personalities. On the surface, Young-min is a hard worker (although a bit arrogant) while Seung-tak is very laidback. It doesn’t help them that they also come from different backgrounds. But since Young-min went into a coma and Seung-tak was the only one who could see him as a ghost, these two were forced to work together. They since became enemies-to-partners (Seung-tak said this is their story’s trope in the finale episode haha).

Aptly, this duo was the strength and core of this series. Rain and Kim Bum were not kidding during their pre-drama press conference when they said they put an effort in trying to match each other’s actions. Their chemistry is really overflowing in every scene they’re in be it a comedic one, a dramatic situation, or inside the operating room.

Young-min and Seung-tak’s individual storylines are also interesting. Although they kept on insisting on protecting their “privacy”, they eventually got involved with their backstories. We know Young-min’s story from the start. Young-min may seem arrogant but he’s very softhearted – a tsundere through and through. And since becoming more experienced as a doctor, he temporarily forgot his roots and the reason why he became a doctor in the first place. He saves lives not because he wanted to become a famous doctor. He saves lives because of his principle that every life in this world matters. The side stories they inserted along his journey reminded him of that eternal verities.

Seung-tak’s story though leaned more on the fantasy genre of the series but there are still some real-life truths in his story that some people can relate to. He can see ghosts/spirits after the accident that took away the life of his father. Despite his good-for-nothing chaebol façade, Seung-tak actually has confidence issues with his skills. Spending time with Young-min helped him resolve that. Their mentor-mentee dynamic is one of the elements I enjoyed the most in this series. They denied it from time to time but these two had fun while learning lessons from each other.

Aside from their friendship, Young-min and Seung-tak also have interesting love lines. Young-min and Jang Se-jin (Uee) grew apart because of external factors including Se-jin’s family problems. But as they said, distance makes the heart grow fonder. Although in their case their distance is caused by being in different realms. Good thing, Seung-tak was also there to help Young-min make amends with his heart problems (not just the medical one). The flashbacks scenes to their good old days are bittersweet but that is what makes their happy ending – squealed hard on the back hug scene in the last episode – more satisfying to watch. I was actually hoping Seung-tak and Oh Soo-jung (Son Na-eun) would also get a romantic grand gesture like that. Throughout the series, Soo-jung was always ready to help Seung-tak. She was consistent in looking after her childhood friend but clearly, they shared something deeper than friendship. There were obvious cues but alas, Kim Bum really likes picking series with an open ending for his love lines.

At least, Soo-jung did have a good emotional farewell with her grandfather. I knew the moment that she cried in from of Miss Kim (Hwang Suk-jung) that she finally figure out that Tess is actually her haraboji, Oh Jung-myung (Sung Dong-il). His soul stayed at the hospital for more than two decades, even helping Young-min in his surgeries when he was just a resident. His character is one gem of a plot twist. The parallel narrative between his experience with Young-min and the latter’s current dilemma with Seung-tak enriched the main plot. Meanwhile, Jung-myung also acted as some kind of a leader with the other coma ghosts in the hospital. Just like our main characters, I grew fondly attached to him that his farewell scenes surprisingly became a tearjerker.

Speaking of tearjerker scenes, the side stories are very much welcome addition to the main story. I somehow expected the additional hospital cases since the main plot wasn’t really that layered to drag for a 16-episode series. The backstories of the coma ghost trio – Hwang Guk-chan (Han Seung-hyun), Im Bo-mi (Yoon Seo-hee), and Choi Hoon-gil (Choi Seok-won) – were build-up slowly throughout the series. At first, I thought they were just there for comic relief but eventually realized, they were also part of Young-min and Seung-tak’s journey. Although I have a minor complaint about these side stories. They sometimes include them in random moments that it disrupts the flow of the main plot.  For instance, I thought they would resolve the stories of all the coma ghosts before the finale episode but they did drag it on, their scenes almost happened alongside the main plot’s climactic scenes. But I already grew attached to the side characters that I also care enough about what happened to them. And these side characters are more well-rounded than the actual villains of the story, who are more of 2D/stock characters than actual attention-grabbing antagonists.  But these minor observations are forgivable since the series’ pros outweigh the cons.

As I’ve said, Ghost Doctor is a fun series to watch despite it being tagged as a fantasy medical drama dealing with difficult subjects like life and death. Its predictability is quite comforting as well especially if one is just looking for a lighthearted series to watch amidst all other brain-wracking K-dramas out there.

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