Leading up to the premier of D-Day, I was wavering as to whether I was going to sit down and watch it or take a pass. Why? Well, I love b-disaster mini-series and I now have a big affinity for Kim Young Kwang so was excited to support him in his second leading role. The downside was the fact that it was seemingly set in a hospital and while I don’t mind a good medical drama, I hate, hate, hate, the bureaucracy and infighting that goes with it. The news kind of sucked the fun out of my potential b-grade happiness. It took a good six weeks but I finally gritted my teeth and tried it but here we are. How did it go? I freaking LOVED it.
So, was I wrong about the hospital infighting and the all consuming power of those in charge? Unfortunately, no. As a matter of fact, when I first started the show, I didn’t think I was going to make it through, as the entire first episode was JUST about that. Not even my love of the hero and the Busan accent they gave the girl from Playful Kiss, who would be the heroine if D-Day were that sort of drama, made me want to keep going.
We were introduced to the main players and they all seemed the regular cardboard cutouts of medical dramas past. We have the rogue fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants hero, Dr. Lee Hae Song, who is willing to do anything, risk anything, in order to save a patient. We meet him as he’s off to one of his many malpractice suits–which he always wins –probably due to one of his empowered speeches. Can I ask to anyone who has seen this, why is he wearing his doctor coat to the trial? Why does he wear it on his motorcycle? Is it just me or that super, super dumb? Anyway, his tragic backstory has something to do with his mother who is in a vegetative state, and who he has some sort of agreement with the hospital powers that be about her where she stays where he works. (We learn more about that later, this is just how we were introduced.) There is the cold, analytical golden child surgeon, Dr. Han Woo Jin, who butts heads with the hero and is buddy buddy with the butt-hole director of the hospital. Then there is the plucky naive newbie heroine doctor, Dr. Jeong Ddol Mi, fresh from the sticks (or Busan) who idealizes the Golden Child Surgeon and butts head with our hero. Then there is the big bad. The head director, Director Park Geon, who puts results and money over patient care. Who wants to expand the hospital, and thereby, his own glory. Yep, all these characters are straight out of the standard medical drama playbook. One of our other big players is one of the head doctors, Dr. Kang Joo Ran, who seems to want the best for the hospital and the patients, but her way to go about doing it is to go along with what the Director wants and try to work around him.
It’s at the end of the first episode, when Lee Hae Song and his motley crew have been shuttled off to the inferior hospital and, you know, the disaster actually begins that the show really starts to shine and becomes the engrossing, fascinating drama that made me stay up until 5 in the morning doing the “Just one more episode” Dance.
First off, let’s come right out and say, holy smokes the effects this drama has! I’m not sure what sure what sort of budget this drama was given, especially since it’s from one of the smaller cable networks, but they full on destroyed Korea on an almost movie level looking budget. With the effects and the sheer number of scenes this thing just had to be pre-produced. With the production, the cameras, sets and costumes the team is able to pull of the plight, the oftentimes helpless moments. There were times that I cried during this drama, and it’s not because someone died in particular, but for the humanity it depicted. I felt for not only these main characters but for the bystanders looking on.
Within the drama, these cardboard cutouts we are introduced to at the beginning of the drama open up and turn into interesting chewy characters (well, except for the asshat director who, despite all the times he’s proven wrong, despite all the chances he’s been given, continues to be a one awful note wonder.) Let’s take a look at Dr. Kang Joo Ran, who yes, sometimes isn’t as strong as she needs to be in order to stand up for her convictions against the director and Han Woo Jin, really does want to do what is best for everyone and can look at both sides of the coin–even if that means she doesn’t agree with eager Lee Hae Song. And she does all this while keeping the information that her 7-year-old son is out there lost on his own. When the earthquake happened and they got separated, for a few episodes, I couldn’t understand her or her motives. How could she be back at work like nothing happened when he son was either lost or probably dead? Wouldn’t any mother in her right mind be out there looking for him? She knows though, better than me, that she looked for him and she couldn’t find him. However, she realizes that her son is smart enough that he knows exactly where to find her. They made a plan, if anything were to happen, to meet up at the hospital. She is exactly where her son will find her. She is also smart enough to know the evil that is the director and knows that if she isn’t there to wheedle at him he would shut down the hospital and no one would be helped.
(Good lord, now I remember, that is one of the scenes that made me cry! When they shut down the hospital and the people inside looked out at the surrounding masses of people, people who did the best thing they could think of when they or their loved ones were injured–go to the hospital–thinking everything would be okay if they could just go to the hospital. Then to be so close only to be turned away? Broke my heart.)
So as time when on, I grew to understand and respect her strength. She believed that if she stayed there keeping the hospital open, helping other people, somewhere, out in that mess that was Seoul, someone would be doing the same for her son. Which also made me look a little side-eyes at her in the beginning episodes when she followed the directors orders and closed the hospital. Just how was her son and this guardian angel going to find her if they were turning away the masses?
We also learn that Dr Lee Hae Song and Han Woo Jin’s fates are tightly crossed as well. They were close in the past and when Dr Lee and his parents came in after the accident, it was Dr Han he depended on to save his mother. We’re still unsure as to exactly what happened, but apparently something went very badly wrong in the surgery and everyone covered it up so they couldn’t get sued. Dr Lee agreed to not sue the hospital for malpractice if they would agree to take care of his mother. This of course drove a wedge between him and his only living relative, his brother, who we meet during the drama as he is a fire fighter. Dr Lee Hae Song believes that one of these days his mother will wake up and won’t let anyone tell him otherwise.
I have wondered though the drama, like at the beginning when they kick him and his mother out to the bad hospital and then later fire him all together telling him to take his mother with him, why he doesn’t bring up the whole malpractice thing? Did he not get it in writing? Or does he not realize he could do this? Or does the director think that they are now so big of an entity that a suit by him wouldn’t hurt them? Whatever it is, I keep crossing my fingers for the moment when someone will put a stop to it and take a stand.
Dr Han Woo Jin is a bit of a harder egg to fry. He seems to be all about his career, not wanting to take cases which will damage his track record, bending to the whim to the director. For an apparent miracle surgeon, during these dark hours we see him doing very little doctoring unless it directly benefits him. He’s more about the backseat doctoring, standing around Hae Song, telling him he can’t possibly succeed, telling him what a waste it is to help these people–which is when Hae Song pulls out one of his impassioned speeches about what being a real doctor is all about. Throughout the drama though, I think we’re starting to get a handle on him. He used to be a doctor like Hae Song, until the incident with Hae Song’s mother, when he realized the risk to taking those sort of chances–then slowly closed himself off. It still doesn’t explain why he is still such an uber douche, especially considering the makjang turn his storyline is taking, what with him losing his sight and everything. What does he care about his career as a surgeon if he’s going to lose his sight in a matter of months? Why can’t he just do what is best for people now while he can?
Whatever it is I’ll be interested in seeing where his character lands.
Even the Dr. Jeong Ddol Mi, gets her own bit of backstory–and a slight potential love interest in Dr Lee. First off, I love the fact that not only did they give the Playful Kiss girl a bad attitude and a Busan accent, but it always gives me a giggle when I see her doing CPR, what her character struggled with in Playful Kiss. I could be completely wrong on this–like really wrong-but I think her mother has Alzheimer’s or something to that effect. She wears the scissors her mother used as a hairdresser around her waist, which means her mother is not using them anymore, and at one point after she is attacked by a patient, talks about how it’s nice his mother will remember him. Again, I could be very much off base, but there is some sort of story there and I hope we find out exactly what it is.
I also hope she comes back, as the last we saw her she was winging off to Busan with a critical patient, not to return. If she doesn’t return, I’m going to be very sad. It’s not really a romantic drama, but I like her character, and I like the light love line she has with Dr Lee and the moments it gives us away from the angst and blood–especially now that the twins have left for the boat. (Although, if she only gives that lovely man a fish eyed kisses, I’m going to be very upset with her–this is cable for crying out loud!)
It’s these moments when we are away from the hospital infighting, where we are actually able to enjoy the disaster part of this drama where the show is awesome. Those other moments are unfortunately coming more and more and I’m having a bit of trouble not fast forwarding through them. I sit there and wonder to myself just how many times the director will fight to shut down the hospital and at this point–why? They got the minister and the congressman on his side. Everyone thinks the hospital, and him, are wonderful and they have even gotten a waiver against possible potential law suits because of the earth quake. What does he have to fight against now? Why does he need to keep fighting against Dr Lee? Because he can? Well, that much evil without reason gets old and boring. I actually sit there during his scenes and try to figure out how he’s going to get his in the end. It might be bad, but I hope he dies. I hope there is an after shock, he gets crushed, begs to be saved, but since he’s fired Dr Han, there is no one to save him. Sadly of course, this is a Kdrama,so the possibilities of that happening are pretty slim. I’m crossing my fingers that someone simply records him and his evil doings and once things settle after the earthquake, he’ll be exposed for the asshat he is.
That’s not too much to ask now is it?
Either way, 10 episodes in and I’m bummed as I’m caught up with the of the crowd (or I will be in 2 more episodes) as it is going to be very hard to simulcast this drama. I haven’t been this excited, this engrossed in a show in a long time and it’s a really good feeling. I can’t wait to see where this show takes us and just hope that it keeps up but narrative and production steam for the rest of the trip.