Gabby: We are finally halfway through “Healer”, and we figured it’s time for us to give our two cents’ worth about Ji Chang Wook’s latest project. After all, this site was created not merely to dish out information about him, but it was also meant to be an avenue for us to spazz about him too. We originally wanted to do episode recaps, but the lack of time forced us to consider doing episode reviews instead. That proved a little too ambitious also so we thought of doing weekly recaps. That did not materialise either, so we now end up with a mid-point review instead. LOL *face palm* Maybe there was some procrastination on our part too.
cherkell: Yeah, we had such great ideas, but Real Life slapped us hard upside both our heads. It’s a hard slog to do episodic recaps too, as evidenced by it taking me over a year to finish the “Five Fingers” recaps… but that was a show hardly anyone watched. (Except for the four people that did. I thank you for your support!) And since there are already sooooo many other sites doing recaps, why add to the dilution of the product? But you all know we spazz about “Healer” in our hearts, every minute of every day, right?
Gabby: I haven’t really been following the discussions about “Healer” on other sites or forums, but the sudden jump in site traffic at The Kitchen is a clear sign that Ji Chang Wook has become even more popular overnight thanks to this drama. Honestly, I’m very very surprised that “Healer” has suddenly gotten so popular among international kdrama viewers. Because… I don’t think it’s that great. I don’t find myself squeeing over the show like everyone else, and this is coming from a Ji Chang Wook fan, which makes me wonder if there’s something wrong with me.
cherkell: And here I am on the other side of the fence, saying GIVE ME MOAR. I wasn’t as nit-picky in the beginning upon remembering that this is a KBS venture and that their recent drama offerings were not as illustrious as once upon a time in the dark ages (circa 2009-ish). But I’m also surprised with the overwhelming interest in this show as well. Maybe because it’s something fresh and different than any other drama out there on Korean television? Maybe it’s because there’s some top-notch actors casted for “Healer”? Maybe it’s because there’s a pedigree attached to the scriptwriters and directors involved with “Healer”? Or maybe I should just shut the hell up, admit I’m a shallow pervy noona, and say it’s most definitely because of Healer’s ‘assets’?
Gabby: Not saying the show is entirely bad, but it took me a long time to genuinely like the show, because I found the editing too shoddy in the first few episodes, and the story was also rather convoluted. I’m probably among the minority of international fans who is complaining about this, but at least I know I have company over in Korea, as the shoddy editing was a major gripe among his most ardent fans over there. Some conversation scenes were too long and quiet for my liking, while action scenes seemed too short. Playing ballads like “Eternal Love” in action scenes simply does not sit well with me either. I also found it a pity (and frustrating) that the production team made Ji Chang Wook perform all those difficult stunts, but failed to make good use of slow-motion camera tricks or close-ups that zoomed in on him. Fortunately, the editing improved after episode 4. The show also became easier to follow once all the story setup was done, so I find myself enjoying the show more these days. If only it was perfect from the start!
cherkell: Agreed. My friends over there say the same thing, and lots of the comments on the DC Gallery confirmed such grumbling. The first few episodes were quite disjointed with choppy segues from one scene to another, and introductions to storylines that didn’t quite get past the starting point. But I still wake up at 4:30 AM every Monday and Tuesday, and sit there for 65 minutes with my mouth open from the beginning notes of the introduction through the final CF after the end credits. Because I cannot stand not knowing what will happen from one episode to the next, and because I must provide my support to Ji Chang Wook, no matter how high the price in personal suffering. My only beef is that I pray the overt usage of “Eternal Love” doesn’t turn out to be this decade’s version of Almost Paradiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiise…
Gabby: Maybe because the production team had billed this as such an awesome drama in their press releases, so I ended up expecting too much from them. The bigger the expectation, the bigger the disappointment. It also annoys me that they keep harping on about “Sandglass”, because me thinks they are just trying to ride on the success of that old drama. True, that probably helped to generate interest in the drama, but it obviously wasn’t a big help ratings wise. Frankly, “Healer” can exist fine enough on its own without trying to make connections to “Sandglass”.
cherkell: Oh my gosh, you couldn’t turn on your computer during the few weeks leading up to the premiere without seeing some sort of news article or photo pimping the “Healer” production and its Supreme Pedigree. And my opinion has always been that one well-known writer does not a crack drama make. (Remember what happened with “Faith”? I rest my case.) But the Korean Populace still holds Ms. Song in high regard, as do I because “Sandglass” was a drama of epically epic epicness that the impression it made on my psyche still gives me flashbacks to some of its scenes even to this day. And Choi Min Soo! *swoons* But I digress.
Gabby: I do like the show for trying to be realistic and make a statement about society though. There was one scene where Bong Su was told to write 60 articles a day by copying the news written by other news agencies, and I think that is probably what the Korean press really does. I don’t know about current affairs news, but I do notice that entertainment news are duplicated word for word across multiple news agencies. The only thing they change is the headline.
cherkell: Thank goodness that we are seeing more realistic shows about modern-day problems such as political corruption and pay-for-play news reporting — stuff that is now slowly inching its way onto the front pages of Korean newspapers. Let’s hope this trend continues, because we know how fickle the Korean Viewing Public is with their dramas (as evidenced by the not-so-stellar ratings right out of the gate for “Healer”.)
Gabby: With regards to acting, Ji Chang Wook has done really impressive emotional acting in previous dramas such as “Five Fingers” and “Empress Ki”, and he has also proven that he can do comedy in “Empress Ki” and “Secret Love”, so I don’t think his performance in “Healer” is the best that we’ve seen from him. But this is not to say that “Healer” doesn’t challenge his acting enough. His character in “Healer” was rather cold and slick in the beginning and hence did not require much emotional expression, but at least he didn’t come across as wooden (which could have been the case if done by a less competent actor). Other than his stint in “Warrior Baek Dong Soo”, Ji Chang Wook does not have much experience in the action genre, so this proved to be a good chance for him to show his athletic side also.
cherkell: Again, I’m still the slack-jawed fangirl that will sit through anything that Ji Chang Wook stars in (still giving the side-eye to “Bachelor’s Vegetable Store”). The man could have chemistry with a tree stump and still come across as credible. My main concern right now with his acting is that the production is in live-shoot mode as of Episode 10, and that he could possibly get hurt performing all these rolling and jumping and leaping stunts. We all know that he is the consummate professional and gives 157% to every character he’s involved with, but it’s bloody frigid in Korea right now while he’s working on unheated sets and outdoor locations. A few trips to the infirmary during “Empress Ki” filming proved he’s not invincible, so I hope the production keeps a close eye on their actors and their staffs to ensure their safety until the end.
Gabby: I also LOVE that he gets to play multiple characters in this show, albeit through disguises. I’ve always had this strange desire to see my biases act as nerds or village idiots, so I’m glad he got to act silly and clumsy as Park Bong Su. And him disguising as a weirdo with nerdy specs and ugly wig remains as one of my favourite scenes in the show thus far. I don’t care about kissing scenes. I just love seeing him act stupid and weird. I’m probably weird myself. I find myself liking Park Bong Su more than Healer though. How about you?
Ah, and may I add that I really really love his fashion in this drama? It got me a bit worried when we kept seeing pictures of him dressed in black back then before the show aired.
cherkell: *making unintelligible gurgling sounds* My Boy always be looking good in ANYTHING, no matter what the occasion. Having the backing of his endorser AD HOC behind you doesn’t hurt either – this is one case where the PPL totally works for instead of against a production. That whole Makeover Arc? I replayed those scenes at least 10 times as soon as the raw was available. (Anyone else think that ‘Stayin’ Alive’ should have been playing in the background when Bong Su was walking back after his transformation? RAWR.) Let’s give the costume director a huge round of applause for a job well done for all the actors involved!
Gabby: Can we gush about other actors too? This is my first time seeing Yoo Ji Tae in any show, and I must say I’m impressed! The character Moon Ho seems very ordinary to me on paper, but he gives the character much depth with his superb acting. I also have my eye on the actor Son Seung Won who plays the young Kim Moon Shik. He catches my eye just like how Ji Chang Wook caught mine when I saw him in a small role in “Hero” back in 2009. I’ll be curious to see if he becomes a bigger star in the future.
cherkell: HACKER AHJUMMA!!! Oh my gosh, Kim Mi Kyung has found her Signature Role — not that she wasn’t already awesome, she has added even MORE levels of awesomeness to her resume. How can you *not* love a kimbap-making, scarf-knitting, pigtail-wearing, cosmo-drinking cyber-sleuth? And even though we have barely scratched the surface of their interactions, we see the makings of the Show’s own ‘Scooby Gang’ in the Someday News Group dynamics and I foam at the mouth awaiting further adventures from them. (But why does my Spidey Sense tingle over thinking we’re going to see an extremely brutal disaster befall the Someday newspaper before all this is over? *noooooo*)
Gabby: Lastly, my wish for the second half of “Healer”? That Ji Chang Wook will contribute a song to the OST! The songs in the show have been very good so far, but it would be good to have at least one song that is more intense…something along the likes of MC Sniper? I’m also looking forward to see how Jung Hu will change. I noticed in episode 10 that he was the only one who wasn’t impressed with Moon Ho’s live broadcast, simply because he did not share the same passion for news reporting like the rest of the Some Day News team. As he spends more time with them, I can imagine Healer rising above the level of thief/businessman and growing to become some sort of hero for press freedom in the second half. And of course, I hope the production team will keep up the good work with the editing and improve on the pacing. Make me love you more, Show!
cherkell: Nine Thumbs Up in agreement for an OST contribution! *squeeeee* But could we please not have his tune be yet another ballad? I know that genre suits his voice so well, but I vote for an up-tempo pop song this time around. Something different! Yes! And as always, I hope the script doesn’t take that Left Turn Into Noble Idiocy anytime soon either. It won’t make me stop watching the Show because I will suffer through anything for Ji Chang Wook… but it will decrease my enjoyment by leaps and bounds.
So we’re 10 down with 10 to go. Let’s hope this momentum carries through to the finale. Thanks for reading and supporting Ji Chang Wook’s Kitchen!