First Impressions: Kill Me, Heal Me (2015)
Nothing is more inspiring than the drama itself when it comes to writing down your thoughts, yet strictly writing about it would make the overall process feel incomplete. It would be something like watching an episode raw, without subtitles. Nothing is more inspiring than the drama itself when it comes to writing down your thoughts, but writing down your thoughts while listening to South Korean music whether it is k-pop, 70s/80s music or OSTs from your favorite movies/dramas, especially the last one since they enlarge the cinematic mood, they make the writing process way more pleasant and inspiring. Let’s refer to it as a multi-Korean interaction that leads to the final outcome, your thoughts expressed through words to share with the drama’s audience whether one may agree, disagree or find him/her-self in the middle.
So, Kill Me, Heal Me is the successor to Mr. Back’s Wednesday-Thursday MBC drama throne and the supernatural vibes keep reflecting still. Although not necessarily supernatural, Kill Me, Heal Me as a drama manages to depict the Dissociative Identity Disorder nature of the main male lead through a fantastical prism. Truth be told it’s not easy to depict such a multifaceted character with a realistic approach. There always has to be a transformation process from one personality to another and then to another one and so it goes on and the current filming technology and use of effects can depict the overly eccentric nature of a character’s psychology in a more distinctive vein. Something like the changes that are taking place deep inside are being reflected externally in a like-minded and representative way with the spasms, the instant change of eye-color and other specific characteristics of each character.
It’s OK, that’s Love set pretty high, nearly insuperable, standards on the way characters with mental issues were depicted and the way the psychiatric treatment they received was presented, in a realistic and humane way at the same time. It’s too early to talk about this subject on Kill Me, Heal Me since the main core of the drama hasn’t unfolded itself entirely. So far it balances between a humorous approach and an unearthly aesthetic, but it’s only the beginning and I’m pretty sure things are going to get serious from a moment and on and then each one of us will be able to judge how well the storyline deals with the overall subject on both sides, if that’s the case. Needless to say that mental issues got quite hyped as a theme during the very beginning of 2015 since tvN’s Heart to Heart is moving in a like-minded psychiatric field with different parameters of course. And let’s not forget the forthcoming SBS drama Hyde, Jekyll and I and its multiple personality disorder! It must be the It’s OK, that’s Love effect and the rave reviews it received.
A pretty strong combo supports the Kill Me, Heal Me attempt. Director Kim Jin Man of the classic East of Eden and of Scandal: A Shocking and Wrongful Incident fame and scriptwriter Ji Soo Wan of The Moon Embracing the Sun drama medals join forces. The prognostics are more than positive, all that remains only the future shall tell and we’re bound to find out one way or another. Ji Sung (Cha Do Hyun) and Hwang Jung Eum’s (Oh Ri Jin – Origin) chemistry on the 2013 SBS drama Secret must have caught the production’s attention and once a couple forges its chemistry in the world of dramas they’re bound to keep it “forever” and history has proven it many times. In the end, i’m really glad things didn’t work out with Im Ji Yun, even though i’d like to see her on the role since Obsessed is in my future watching plans, and Lee Seung Ki. Practically Kill Me, Heal Me is Ji Sung’s comeback in the drama land, but Jung Eum shone through her role as Seo In Ae in the multifaceted weekend SBS 2014 drama Endless Love and she proved once again what a terrific and highly expressive actress she is. You can consider her responsible for making me start this drama in the first place, it’s always a pleasure to my eyes witnessing her ever-expanding acting boundaries. Even if a drama fails, a good actor/actress will always shine, even if the overall outcome won’t be that pleasing.
Park Seo Joon’s (Oh Ri On – Orion – Oh Ri Jin’s brother) here as well, his performance on the refreshing and highly enjoyable 2014 tvN drama Witch’s Romance was utterly representative of his role’s requirements. On their side appear the beautiful Kim Yoo Ri (Beyond the Clouds, Master’s Sun) that depicts Han Chae Yeon, Oh Min Seok (Misaeng, God’s Gift – 14 Days) who is Cha Ki Joon. The always classy Shim Hye Jin (Endless Love, Secret Love Affair, The Spring Day of my Life) as Shin Hwa Ran (Do Hyun’s mother), Kim Young Ae as Seo Tae Im (Do Hyun’s grandmother) who has appeared on a vast list of films and dramas throughout the years, Ko Chang Seok ahjussi whom you’ve noticed in many films, but also in the recent dramas Night Watchman’s Journal and Good Doctor and he’s Do Hyun’s doctor, Seok Ho Pil. Choi Won Young (Night Watchman’s Journal, Secret Door, The Heirs) as Ahn Gook (Do Hyun’s secretary), Kim Hee Jung (Yoo Na’s Street, You’re All Surrounded) and others. This drama has such a strong and promising cast that I could go on like forever, but I guess you got the point by now. A special reference always goes to the adorable Kim Seul Gi’s (Heo Sook Hee – Miss Husky) guest appearance as a psychiatry inmate! Her grotesque figure is once again one of a kind.
A drama’s secret weapon is always its OST, it has to depict its overall aesthetic translated in sound and the first hints in Kill Me, Heal Me are more than positive. But let’s see what’s going on in this drama, even though it’s too early for every part of the synopsis to make its appearance on screen yet. Do Hyun has more money than you could ever imagine, thanks to his family. His childhood past is quite traumatic and we get glimpses through his instant flashbacks. In future episodes I’m pretty sure more details will be revealed and I’m looking forward to it. He’s suffering from Dissociative Identity Disorder which means that many personalities live underneath his skin and they take control of his mind and body from time to time. One body for seven personalities is too much of a burden and quite a risk both for the scriptwriter and the actor, hopefully enough everything will flow well! Do Hyun’s studying abroad and one of his personalities decides that he should head back to South Korea and take charge of his family’s grandiose company! On his way back he meets unexpectedly Oh Ri Jin and Oh Ri On who are sister and brother, twins. Oh Ri Jin is a junior psychiatrist and Oh Ri On is an undercover renowned writer. As the main core of the plot indicates Oh Ri Jin will try to help Do Hyun get cured and Oh Ri On will be on a journey so as to uncover the truth behind Do Hyun. About their special interactions we’ll find out steadily in the near future as the episodes will be parading one after the other before our very eyes!
As the very beginning of Kill Me, Heal Me indicates, a comic-like aesthetic embraces the drama, at least for the time being. The drama incorporates many elements, from comedy to romance and from drama to medical/psychological aspects. Blending all these together a comic-like vibe, if interpreted well, is quite helpful. After all that’s how tragic aspects of one’s story in collaboration with comical events is being presented at its best, by taking things seriously while at the same time you’re not taking them seriously at all. Well, seven personalities inside a single body is quite a busy weekly schedule dare I say!
MBC seems to be suffering from the Batman/Alfred syndrome lately that made its shy appearance on Mr. Back with Go Bong and Gyung Bae. This time it’s more apparent, even during the first two episodes one can notice that Do Hyun’s childhood background is traumatic and secretary Ahn Gook who’s by his side tries to help him hide the real nature of his seven personalities and that’s why they make Do Hyun’s apartment something like his own secret base where he can keep under control his other selves. South Korean dramas lately have become a more socialized modern equivalent of Gotham City with every main male lead serving his duty as a little piece of Bruce Wayne’s heritage. The main idea’s there, the details differ according to the scenario’s demands. And this time the hero’s greatest enemy is his own self, well, the rest six popping up every now and then, especially Se Gi who’s a hero and a villain at the same time, depending on the circumstances.
Even though I started watching Kill Me, Heal Me just for Hwang Jung Eum’s presence and astonishing acting and the absurdity of seven souls in a single body, I have to admit that this drama earned my trust with just two episodes. It can’t be taken that seriously, but it’s not lighthearted either. I’m pretty sure we’re about to witness hilarious moments and tones of intense emotions when the scene will be asking for their presence. As for its serious self it relies its success in the hands of the scriptwriter and how well he will blend the past at the present on how the events of Do Hyun’s childhood forged all these personalities. There has to be a pretty good explanation for every single personality, from where it derives and how it unfolds its characteristics. The interactions between characters is always important in dramas. In this specific one a particular emphasis should be given in the way Do Hyun interacts with the rest of the cast, but also in the way every single personality that possesses him interacts with the people he encountered previously as Do Hyun. We have to witness how much his reactions towards them change and how differently he treats them whether he is Se Gi, Perry Park, etc. It’s a race against time and between personalities. The stronger one will survive and to quote Highlander, “in the end, there can be only one!”
My first impressions are highly positive, it turned out to be more intriguing and interesting than expected, a more than pleasant surprise to my arch curiosity and Hwang Jung Eum adoration. And its sense of humor is laughter-evoking and once a drama achieves something like that it’s a win-win situation, who doesn’t enjoy laughing while treasuring drama land’s precious offerings? Everyone partaking in front of the cameras is doing an exceptional work, all the actors and actresses, main or supporting. Ji Sung’s character is multifaceted and he will have to show his acting skills to a wider extent, something he’s already achieving step by step in the first two episodes as the humble and worrying Do Hyun whose heartbroken aspects due to his first love and his traumatic childhood appear, but also his concerns about the people around him when it comes to his other personalities. And his real self is the most difficult to deal with because of the way he struggles to remain himself by battling his other selves. There are so many things going on in his mind, at least in the part that remains as his own, it’s too much of a burden to bear. The skull-crusher Se Gi that whenever he’s not about to break your bones or smash your face to the ground he becomes an obsessive hopeless romantic in search for utter love or destruction of the person that occupies his interest if he doesn’t receive back an amount of emotion. His suicidal or urban guerilla bomber self, alongside other faces, we’ll get to know as the story processes. A villain, a victim and a saint at the same time.
Jung Eum as Oh Ri Jin is a great character as well. She’s hysterical… and I love her. She’s not sane, she’s not sane at all, but who said that psychiatrists have to be absolutely sane? The amount of happiness that is painted on her face by the time the drunkard ahjussi arrives at the hospital or when she finds Sook Hee at the club is representative of her odd passion around her patients! Whenever anything sudden, silly, unexpected or just whatever that doesn’t seem ordinary to her eyes happens she screams, she just screams as if she fell on a cactus! Her facial expressions are priceless and spot on, always emerging from a lake full of Jung Eum smileys! Oh Ri On is another specific character presented really well by Park Seo Joon who’s a rising force in the South Korean acting community. He’s living in three parallel dimensions, as Oh Ri On for his family and friends, as Omega for his readers and as Oh Whee for his player life when it comes to girls! Another multifaceted personality with distinctive and intentional roles that offer him the freedom he requires so as to live as a non-celebrity in the real world unaffected by the devouring jaws of the media. Their parents are crazy, no wonder Oh Ri On and Oh Ri Jin are their children! Ri Jin takes after her mother when it comes to hysterical and hyperactive reactions and Ri On after his father when it comes to his soothing madness!
Chae Yeon who’s Do Hyun’s first love and Ki Joon who’s his cousin are ambitious careerists that hide pretty well their claws and wait for the right time to strike down their victim. Ki Joon follows the advices of his shady teacher, Young Pyo, who is a threatening person thirsty for power, more power than he already wields and his snake-like face is representative of his hideous personality. Do Hyun’s grandmother is the austere iron lady of the family, she’s the one who sets the rules of the game and all the others have to obey if they want to play along. Ahn Gook who’s Do Hyun’s secretary has dedicated his life to his boss, it’s the typical relationship of the main lead and his right hand when it comes to the world of dramas with the difference that their relationship is civilized, only when Do Hyun is Do Hyun. Do Hyun’s mother is the so-called country bumpkin in South Korean dramas that nearly became a princess overnight due to giving birth to Do Hyun, the only legal heir to the throne of the family. She’s not recognized by the family, yet they can’t do otherwise but silently approve her. Psychiatrist Ho Pil is Do Hyun’s doctor, not quite a doctor due to his carefree personality, but a doctor still, no wonder he’s Oh Ri Jin’s supervisor!
So far we’ve known only one personality, Se Gi and on the third episode we”ll find out more about another one, the bomber Perry Park. Could it be that the storyline follows the seven colors of the rainbow when it comes to the seven personalities and their specific characteristics? So far we have violet for Se Gi and yellow for Perry Park, i’m really curious about the other ones!
Director Jin Man performs a really good work behind the cameras and composes a scenery worth of the story with the closeups depicting perfectly well the character’s feelings. The sense of distance between the characters is distinctive and enlarges the relations between them. My expectations are really high and i really hope that Kill Me, Heal Me won’t disappoint me in the end and i do hope it won’t lose its consistency as the storyline will become more complex in the future episodes due to the appearance of the other personalities. The foundations have been set, all that remains is for the whole team to strengthen them and offer an overall rock solid performance that will leave us speechless until the very end! Thumbs up and fighting!