[K-drama scribbles] Surgeon Bong Dal-hee

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!

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27 thoughts on “[K-drama scribbles] Surgeon Bong Dal-hee

  1. Ooh, I didn’t know you liked Surgeon Bong Dal-hee too! I loved Lee Bum Soo in this drama… my favorite role of his to date.

    “Light but not fluffy, deep but not heavy, the drama is a pleasant blend of action, comedy, and romance.” Yup, that’s a perfect description of it!

    • Agree!

      I liked Lee Yo Won’s Dr. Bong a lot more than her character in Fashion 70s and it was because of her that I checked out Bad Love and oh man, one episode of BL was enough for me.

  2. What a coincidence! I completely fell for Lee Bum-soo in this drama, too, and then I, also, searched for his movies and watched Superstar Mr. Gam (which is fantastic)!
    This was my first korean medical drama (and one of the best I’ve seen in this genre though I haven’t seen too many), and I cried so hard in the scenes with the young boy patient that Dr. Bong befriends. Now I feel like watching Surgeon Bong Dal-hee again (especially to see Dr. Ahn!).

  3. Hello, I finally can contribute my two cents in one of your posts. Bong Dal Hee was my second ever k.drama and I still think warmly of it. If it hadn’t been for Obgyn doctors and Bong Dalhee, I wouldn’t have discovered the passionate world of drama away from southamerican novelas . Dr. Ahn was not my cup of tea during most of the eps but funnily enough once it finished, I downloaded something called On air because he was in it. hehehe. My hero was Kim Min-joon’s character, and I did try to find something else where he acts but I guess he’s away doing military service.

    • I actually watched this drama ONLY because of Kim Min-joon, whom I fell in love with way back in Lovers in Prague (2005). I then watched Damo and swooned even more, if it were possible. He’s a very good, usually over-looked and underrated actor who provides excellent roles on a consistent basis.

      He’s back from the military and was already in drama Romance Town early this summer and had a movie, Blue Salt, which was released at the end of August, then Pained, which came out in September, and Royal Concubine, which is currently in pre-production. No news yet on his next drama project, but I’m happily waiting and watching his movies in the meantime.

      • Thanks a bunch. As soon as I finish translating New tales into spanish, I’ll get going with the ones you mention. I’ve heard good stuff about Damo, I now will research Lovers in Prague. =0)

  4. Aw, I would totally watch this if you hadn’t mentioned the blood and gore. That’s the one reason I can’t continue with Jejoongwon, despite everything I love about it – the surgery scenes are so graphic I was seeing them in my dreams. I still haven’t gotten over that anal fistula in ep 7 or 8. *shudders* Does it get better? I’ve watched up to episode 9, right after the medical exam finishes.

    P.S. thundie, check your email :)

    • I watch the gory scenes hiding behind a pillow. When I work on subs, I stick a large piece of paper on the screen, leaving just enough room to read the words, haha. There’s always a way, dear Laica!

      Jejoongwon is LOVE. Soldier on!! :D

  5. I have watched Surgeon Bong Dal Hee. This is the drama where I saw and like Lee Bum Soo. He is great here despite the yelling.

    I think I know that actor who made the special cameo… Is the initial, OMS? :D

  6. There are two particular dramas that are not on my top five but I go back to them again and again, loving them more after each re-watch!

    One is SBDH and Lee Beom-soo’s Dr Ahn a big reason for my love. I agree with everything you said about him. He is an epic actor without the need of doing an epic drama, great in both drama and comedy. Lee Yo-won is a unique actress with some kind of awkwardness that makes her the best choice for the titular role of this drama. The relationship of the second pairing of Kim Min-joon and Oh Yoon-ah is so layered that you really feel their dilemma and pain. This is one drama that I will re-watch every now and then only to ff the blood and surgery. The human drama is really its heart and the audience’s joy.

    The other drama in this category is Lawyers of Great Korea. Hope you would talk about this one too some day, Thundie.

    • Hi epyc, I’ve not watched Lawyers of Great Republic Korea, but I remember many people liking it. Will try to get to it one day. ^^

  7. Hmm, the clips I had seen of this drama was mainly of Lee Bum Soo yelling so I didn’t watch it. But now with your review, here goes another drama on my already-too-long drama queue list. Sigh.

  8. I can totally take blood and gore in my medical dramas…..I mean what’s a medical drama without that??..I think the worst I’ve seen was in OBGYN, which btw thundie, is a very wonderful drama as well……I always like to watch at least one procedural drama every year and there’s alwys at least one that turn out to be great and surprises me……so far this year has a been a disspaointment in that respect….maybe I should dig around some oldies…White Tower has been onmy list forever but this ones seem more up my alley so maybe I’ll check ithis out first

  9. I adored this show, I actually marathoned it at some point last year after ockoala and epyc mentioned it.
    I absolutely, absolutely j’adored Lee Beom-soo’s Dr Ahn and felt robbed of him, as he wasn’t really given as much screen time as I would have wanted. As much as I didn’t mind Kim Min-joon and Oh Yoon-ah’s issues at first, I felt they eventually took too much time and attention away from our title role protagonist, and Dr Ahn. Robbed!!
    Park Geun-hyung, one of my fave veterans was also wonderful in this.

    @epyc; omo, where’ve you been sis?

    Ps, thundie, fancy making us guess the name of this actor who cameoed but then tagging him anyway? Heh.

    • Hi Supah, where have you been too? I’ve taken on a new role in a new country…. But, let me share with you my latest love: the TW drama In Time With You. This may not be your thing though knowing what you usually like. It is a very quiet and slice-of-life drama depicting two ‘best’ friends from high school days till now as the girl turns thirty wondering if she will ever get her man while the boy never seems to be able to get hold of a girlfriend for long. What’s good about the drama is its script, dialogue, acting of the two main leads and how close to real life the characters are. There’s none of the over-the-top cheesiness or exaggeration normally associated with TW dramas. I felt this could be the best TW drama I’d ever seen, and this view hasn’t changed now that four episodes have aired. In fact, each episode contains its own theme that really moves you and touches your heart. I feel the pain seeing everytime how this pair were so close to the truth but yet so vulnerable in agonising the prospect of bursting the platonic friend bubble to own nothing.

      The downside is TW drama only airs one hour per week and the wait is killing me.

      • Excuse me for butting in here but I just had to second this recommendation for “In Time With You.” It is everything that epyc says it is and I absolutely adore it. There is so much gentleness in this drama and the lead actor (Bolin Cheng) and lead actress (Ariel Lin) are gorgeous separately and together.

        • You’ve moved yet again? o_O *hug*
          Ohh… Sounds good, epyc. I’m a bit (ok, very) tomboyish in my film and drama tastes and tend to avoid anything overtly girly and chick-flicky, but seem to take to it better when presented in bitesize amounts, a la the Drama Special format (wub!). But the way you and joonni are describing this… I’m definitely very tempted. Not watched a cracktastic TW drama in aaaaages.

          • Arghh, Ariel Lin’s charcter in ITWY is very identifiable to many of us (if you know what I mean). Highly independent and prideful of herself as a person and as a professional, a rare breed in Asian dramas.

            Sorry for distracting the focus of this post, our beloved SBDH!

            • ”Highly independent and prideful of herself as a person and as a professional, a rare breed in Asian dramas.” — is personal space also sacred to her? If so, SOLD!

  10. oh such a nice surprise to see this review!

    i initially started watching this on a whim coz of lee bum soo (love him!)… not really a fan of lee yo won so didn’t expect to be wow-ed by this drama. but as i watched on, i started to root for e characters n of coz, njoyed all e scenes of lee bum soo with his lady love.

    indeed, this kdrama is quite e unexpected gem n i thoroughly enjoyed watching it! thank you for writing about this… so that more people can check it out! =)

    P/S: I thought e blood & gore here was still ok…. i couldn’t stomach all e blood in ob/gyn though! had to fastforward alot of e operation scenes there. *gulpz*

  11. IMO, drama “Surgeon Bong Dal-hee” is good but not great. I like all the actors, as they are really good protraying the characters. I didn’t like Dal-hee and Dr. Ahn intereraction because I didn’t feel the two main leads have the right chemistry. May be is the lacking of the script that I feel Dal-hee didn’t really response her same feelings of love like how she is for Dr. Lee Geon-wook. I only feel that Dr Ahn expresses more of his love for Dal-hee than Dal-hee. The couple I like best is Dr. Lee Geon-wook and Dr. Jo Moon-kyung. Best acting in the drama is definitely Lee Bum Soo. His presence in the drama is overkilled !!! XD

  12. Pingback: [K-drama scribbles] White Tower – thundie's prattle

  13. I love this drama! It’s currently airing daily on cable here in the Philippines but the 24-hour wait was killing me oh-so-softly so I watched it online to keep me healthy. Three consecutive sleepless nights later and I was done. Love, love, love it!

    My ROFL moment came when Dal-Hee walked in on Dr Park sticking a needle into Dr Ahn’s butt. The ensuing dialogue between the leads is priceless.

    A constant irritant though are doctors who don’t know their CPRs. Hello, a little training before filming won’t hurt, ya know.

    I kept replaying scenes of smiling Dr Ahn. So. Cute!

  14. I love what u said about Lee Bum Soo …. and I love all his movies, dramas, shows and music too :X :* … has anyone watched the movie Oh! Brothers (2003) yet?? :|

  15. I LOVED this drama!!! <3 I keep remembering Lee Beom.soos walking and cant help but smile, so short but so much attitude! And the cameo of OMS! I literally screamed! I saw him in The Vineyard man and fell in love

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