If anyone is looking for a feel-good drama, I suggest checking out Surgeon Bong Dal-hee (2007).
Light but not fluffy, deep but not heavy, the drama is a pleasant blend of action, comedy, and romance. It does not make my Top 10, but I liked it enough to miss it when it was over. Certain scenes I even replayed ad nauseam because they made me feel all warm inside. Of particular note is a love confession where the three standard words aren’t even uttered.
When Dr. Ahn Joong-geun (Lee Beom-soo) says to Bong Dal-hee (Lee Yo-won) that he has always felt naked and vulnerable in front of her, that he is as nervous as a child because he thinks she can read his mind, and that he has felt this way from the beginning, her eyes fill with tears and so do mine.
He does not have to say “I love you” because his own words go deeper. After drinking in that moment (and will I ever get enough of it?), I want to rewatch the drama from the start so that I can see the moment he first sees her. I want to rewatch all his scenes with her, to see beneath his brusque exterior to the real Dr. Ahn – the one who feels anxious and naked standing before a woman he is falling in love with. And how I love the way he leans forward after that confession and wipes away her tears, his action gentle and yet somehow also unsure, as if he can’t believe what he has just done and how she has responded. And then the kiss that follows, the first one and then the second. Aw.
I love all the times he makes me laugh because he says something unexpected to Dal-hee. The first time he asks her for a date and his rebuttal when she asks him to ask someone else. When she talks about wanting babies and he says, “Did I say I was going to marry you?” When he buys all that food for her when she is hospitalized and as she is grinning, he says, “Don’t smile. What are you so happy about?”
I love, love his smile when he is happy because of her, as if he is trying not to smile but can’t help it because his heart is just bursting with joy. I love his penguin swagger, so cute and confident. I love how, despite being surrounded by taller and better-looking doctors, he becomes the most attractive (and also the sexiest) man in the drama with each passing episode.
This is the drama where I fall hard for Lee Beom-soo. His large and slightly bulging eyes remind me of the pair of eyes belonging to a certain
buffalo golden retriever living in my house. You know, woeful-looking eyes that make you want to pat him and say, “Now, now, that’s a good boy.” Not that I feel any affection for the guy right away. In Episode 2 when he embarrasses a junior doctor in front of an auditorium of doctors, making her cry and telling her to quit medicine, I feel like spanking rather than patting him. What’s with all that constant yelling and telling people to buzz off?
It takes at least seven episodes for me to realize that our loud and seemingly mean Dr. Ahn is really a sweet and warmhearted man who just needs some love in his life. Should I fall sick, I want a doctor like him. A man who rarely smiles but when he does, it’s like the sun coming out. A brilliant man but still human and given to occasional misjudgments (please don’t cut my larynx chord by mistake; I need my voice). I love all his scenes with Dr. Bong (okay, I don’t love all those early yelling scenes) and the little lie he uses as a pretext to ask her out on a first date. When he is sad, my own tears fall in tandem. I will watch this drama again just for him.
By the way, I don’t blame the good doc for being Mr. Crankypants at first. If I have to see Lee Yo-won’s absolutely awful hairdo every day, I will start shouting, too.
Speaking of Lee Yo-won, I must confess that I did not enjoy her bland acting in Fashion 70s and was thus not planning to watch Surgeon Bong Dal-hee. But our lead actress is a natural in this drama (I especially love her innocence and spunk) and has great chemistry with the cast, as evident from the behind-the-scenes clips that I watched. Because she’s so giggly on the set, she’s the one with the most NGs.
And then there’s Kim Min-joon, playing Dr. Lee Geon-wook. If Dr. Ahn’s initial nickname is Mr. Mean or Mr. Get Out (because he’s always yelling at the junior doctors and demanding that they scram), then Dr. Lee’s is Mr. Nice. The first seven episodes I liked him more (and Kim Min-joon’s acting is excellent in the drama) and wanted Dal-hee to fall for him.
On the other hand, his relationship with his ex-wife Dr. Jo Moon-kyung (Oh Yoon-ah) is complex and richly-layered and I also wanted the two to reconcile. When he recalls their life together and says the seven years were like seven days, it’s a glimpse of the happiness they once shared and a tacit admission of how much he loves her.
To conclude, Surgeon Bong Dal-hee is occasionally predictable and not exactly addictive, but I enjoyed the ride enough to watch it all over as soon as I finished the first round, skipping only the surgery scenes the second time. Because the blood, the blood, eww. I thought Thank You (also a 2007 drama) had desensitized me with its sloppy medical scenes but it is worse in Surgeon Bong Dal-hee. The way the doctors dig and poke inside their patients’ bodies, they are like vultures devouring a carcass. It’s a wonder the poor patients have any intact innards left.
Stomach-churning scenes aside, the drama is fast-paced, entertaining, and gripping with nary a dull moment. Seeing how hard the doctors work and how close they are to one another (well, except for the two men with their sights on the same Dr. Bong), I gain a new appreciation for them.
I also learn, albeit unintentionally, that if I have to wait a long time for a doctor, there’s a small chance he’s held up in a yelling match with another doctor. And if I have to be operated on, let’s hope the surgeons in the operating theater are not rivals with much bad history between them because then I’m going to be lying there comatose while they are shouting above my body and accusing each other of stealing patients and withholding scarce blood supplies. Ah, so much drama. Love it! But not as much as I love our lead actor.
After Surgeon Bong Dal-hee ended, I went on a giddy Lee Beom-soo buying spree, snapping up movie after movie, such as Superstar Mr. Gam (what a gem) and My Wife is a Gangster 3. (Of the latter I have only this to say: I want my money back!)
Watch this. It’s pretty neat stuff. Not only is the main romance very sweet, there’s a surprise cameo by a special actor. Not gonna tell you the name; you should find out for yourself!