It’s time for another Korean drama review! Let’s hope I didn’t forget everything about this show because I watched it months back lol. Thank goodness I had the foresight to make notes so this review might actually have some details.
I watched Doctor Stranger only because of Lee Jong-Suk. After watching three shows of his and loving all of them, I decided I’m bingeing the shows in which he’s a lead. I tried watching I Can Hear Your Voice because I saw a blog post that said he’s amazing in it. I liked him well enough but I HATED the other main character. She was very annoying and Lee Jong-Suk’s character still pined over her. Yeah, no.
Then, I decided to try Doctor Stranger and went in with low expectations because I hadn’t heard much praise for this one. I did take me a while to get into it.
what is Doctor Stranger about?
We start off with Park Hoon’s dad—Park Cheol—a brilliant heart surgeon, being called to North Korea. He took Park Hoon along because Hoon’s mother refused to care for him. But they were tricked and the father-son duo wasn’t allowed to return to South Korea.
Years later, Hoon, a budding genius surgeon, and his girlfriend Song Jae-h=Hee try to escape to South Korea. The plan goes awry and Hoon crosses alone. Since then, he’s been looking for Jae-hee.
Through chance circumstances, he gets hired as a surgeon in Myungwoo University Hospital and meets an anesthesiologist by the name Han Seung-Hee who looks exactly like Hoon’s Song Jae-Hee. She adamantly refuses that she’s Jae-Hee but Hoon doesn’t accept that, believing that she is Jae-hee.
Two people cannot have the same heartbeat. And I know yours, Jae-Hee.
The rest of the plot is centred around two other leads—Han Jae-Joon and Oh Soo-Hyun who are also doctors at the hospital. Other than the romance, the drama is about political corruption, revenge, secret assassinations and medical drama. In fact, there’s more of all that than romance.
my thoughts on the drama
I’m doing this point-wise so that you know exactly what I liked and how much I liked it.
Lee Jong-Suk as Park Hoon was the highlight of the show. Park Hoon is eccentric (with a matching hairstyle), playful and a genius. He’s been trained well by his father and is a great heart surgeon. While this show isn’t as compelling as other shows starring Lee Jong-Suk (that I’ve seen), it is still good enough in terms of characters. If Lee Jong-Suk wasn’t the lead and someone else played Park Hoon, I don’t think I would have liked the show as much.
I also liked that Hoon used to picture and practice his upcoming surgeries before-hand. Whenever things went wrong in his head, he started over until he was sure that he can perform the surgery successfully.
I found one recurring thing unbelievable. Hoon, just by touching the patient’s chest, was able to picture the heart and immediately determine what’s wrong. It’s not realistic, especially since it happened ALL THE TIME.
I don’t know much about the heart from a medical point of view but I don’t think that you can find out exactly what is wrong just by placing your hand over the patient’s chest, no matter how skilled you are.
The mystery and thrilling underlying plotlines related to politics and disagreement between South Korea and North Korea were pretty good to watch. We got some action and mystery, which I’m all for.
While not a focus point, it influences Hoon’s life and its addition made the show more interesting.
But at some points, the plot I spoke of above, did seem unnecessary and foolish. I have mixed feelings about it because of those random pointless things.
One of the main plotlines revolves around requiring Hoon to do the heart surgery of the vice president, which was weird for a long time. I was confused as to why he was chosen and why they needed him. Honestly, by the time the backstory and reasons were revealed, I still didn’t care. There were so many elaborate plots and set-ups for a seemingly small thing.
I liked the “is she Jae-Hee or is she Seung-Hee?” debate I had throughout the show. Once I decided on something, another clue or fact would pop up and I was thrown into a loop again. It kept me interested, wanting to know her identity and reasons no matter what her identity is. If she’s Jae-hee, why did she hide her true identity from Hoon? If she’s Seung-Hee, how come she looks exactly like Jae-Hee unless they’re longlost twins twins? I kept cooking up theories.
(below is a picture of Song Jae-hee)
Unfortunately, what I mentioned above was the ONLY thing I liked about the character. I pretty much hated Han Seung-Hee and did not care about her at all.
Okay, but truly.
I kept trying to like her, or at least be meh about her because she was Hoon’s love (assuming she’s Jae-Hee) and I liked Hoon. But I just could not like her how much ever I tried.
Song Jae-Hee, in the small amount of time we saw her, was shown as a vibrant girl and I liked her instantaneously.
Han Seung-Hee (shown in the picture above), on the other hand, was just BLANK. I did not see any emotion in her. I did not see joy when she was supposedly happy and didn’t see her upset when she was supposedly sad. It was the same expression throughout her screen time in the show.
Only a few times did I see her smile and look sad but that also didn’t look genuine, somehow. I don’t know. I found her weird.
It’s obviously not bad acting because the same actress played Jae-Hee, whom I liked in one minute. I just do not like the way Seung-Hee’s character was written and directed.
Oh Soo-Hyun, on the other hand, was a really good lead. I really liked her.
She tries very hard to be a good doctor even though she “doesn’t have the talent” so that she can prove herself to her father, who’s the chairman of the hospital.
She was also really entertaining to watch while simultaneously being someone I related to. She’s vulnerable and under-confident but tries to do well and handle herself in situations. She was clumsy in feelings and had funny expressions, and she was a determined doctor.
She’s the only doctor I’ve seen studying hard in dramas (and shows and movies). She legit sat with medical books and tried to understand the problem and all of the theory when any new case came up. She worked hard.
Soo-Hyun ends up liking Hoon and her journey on that plotline was pretty interesting to watch as well. I was actually rooting for her and Hoon even though I kinda wanted Hoon to get his one true love back? I was very confused on the shipping side of things.
Coming with a completely different storyline, Han Jae-Joon held his own on screen against Hoon and Soo-hyun.
He’s a skilled surgeon who graduated as a top medical student from Harvard. Why’s he in Myungwoo, you ask? Well, it turns out that when he was a teenager, his father passed away during surgery due to medical malpractice. The head surgeon (currently the chairman) did not apologize at all. Jae-Joon also lost his mother to grief.
He’s back in Myungwoo to destroy the hospital, and the chairman with it, to get revenge. That’s his aim. But while pursuing that and using Soo-Hyun for his goals since she’s the chairman’s daughter, he ends up falling in love with her and tries to suppress it.
I really liked watching his character development and all the obstacles he had to go through in terms of his heart. On one hand, he’s furious about his parents, but on the other, he’s now in love with Soo-Hyun. If he pursues one side, the other isn’t possible.
The plot holes were annoying as heck. Since most of the show was medical-related, I knew nothing. But the plot holes that I did pick up annoyed me so much because any explanation was NOT given. The story seemed very incomplete.
I will mention the details of the plot holes in a spoiler section below.
The supporting characters were okay but not that impressive. Some were funny, some helped the main cast but overall I’m not impressed by them.
I only liked Lee Chang-Yi (who’s like a younger sister to Hoon in present-day) because she was cute and level-headed, and Moon Hyung-Wook (Hoon’s direct boss in the hospital) who was there mostly for humour purposes.
I couldn’t decide if I wanted to give this -1 or -2 so I just went with -1.5.
There were a series of surgical competitions set up by the hospital’s authorities for Hoon and Jae-Joon. It was to decide who would be performing surgery on the vice president.
I didn’t like that they made a competition out of important surgeries. They chose patients based on the level of difficulty of the surgery and not from a doctor’s concerned point of view.
I know that it’s supposed to show Hoon as the only good doctor who cared about the patients and Jae-Joon as someone willing to do anything to climb ranks and destroy the hospital, but still. I do not approve of it. There were multiple (four, if I remember right) such competitions held over several episodes.
Since I did not really notice the songs in this show and don’t care to listen to them specifically, I don’t have a section for my favourite songs.
discussion (INCLUDES SPOILERS)
If you don’t want to get spoiled, click here to skip to the “overall” concluding section.
Okay so let’s see the plot holes that annoyed me so much, it almost ruined the whole story because these don’t make sense.
One, how did Hoon finally reach South Korea from Budapest? There was just a time-jump resulting in him being South Korea with no elaboration whatsoever.
Two, how did Jae-hee survive the fall the first time in Budapest? How was she saved in time because she was shot and she was in the water? I’m sure Hoon would have stayed there for a long time staring or would have tried to save her as well.
Three, how did that North Korea military captain whatever guy survive? He also got shot and fell into the lake. Searches were done to search his body pretty soon.
Four, how did Hoon and Jae-hee survive the fall the second time in the last episode? Soo-Hyun and Chang-Yi ran over and saw them fall. They were standing right there. I’m sure even the police would have been called and searches would have been done. How did they escape and why didn’t they tell anyone??? Surely the people close to them would have been happy to know they’re alive and would have kept it a secret.
There seems to be a lot of surviving in this show with no explanation.
Five, Jae-Joon knew that they survived. Of all the people, why him? And how? One side would have had to reach out or Jae-Joon would have saved them and I don’t see how? IT was not explained as well??
Oof what foolish plot holes. They’re so obvious! How did the writers or anyone else in the making of the show not notice??
Final score = 1
Do I recommend it?
Go for the show if you really like Lee Jong-Suk and want to see more of him. Otherwise, just skip it.