In one of many preliminary episodes of the just lately concluded Okay-drama Physician Cha, Cha Jeong-suk (Uhm Jung-hwa), who has recovered from an enormous well being setback, is requested by her mom to remain wholesome and stay a cheerful life.
Jeong-suk is fast to retort that she doesn’t know what makes her completely happy, and when her bemused mom asks her to search out one thing she likes greatest, we see Jeong-suk confused. “What is it that I like,” she wonders.
Physician Cha (Korean with English subtitles)
Administrators: Kim Dae-Jin , Kim Jung-wook
Solid: Uhm Jung-hwa, Kim Byung-chul, Min Woo-hyuk, Tune Ji-ho
Run-time: 60-70 minutes
Storyline: After years of residing for others, a former medical scholar in her fifties decides to finish her medical residency and put herself first
Dr Cha’s protagonist, Cha Jeong-Suk, is a stay-at-home mom whose life, for the final twenty years, has revolved round her curt and standoffish Chief Surgeon husband Search engine optimisation In-ho (Kim Byung-chul), her son Search engine optimisation Jung-min (Tune Ji-ho), who’s a drained first-year surgical resident, bratty excessive schooler and daughter Search engine optimisation Yi-rang (Lee Search engine optimisation-yeon), and an exasperating mother-in-law Kwak Ae-sim (Park Joon-geum). Jeong-Suk’s wonderment about what makes her completely happy isn’t a shock, given how her life for the final twenty years has been largely confined to her dwelling. Her priorities may solely give attention to her household, however they in flip are largely dismissive of her. There’s a largely appalling mixture of a scarcity of respect, lacking monetary independence, and a whole disregard for Jeong-Suk’s wants at play right here.
Regardless of the household being apparently rich, Jeong-Suk takes the bus as she hasn’t been given a automotive, and rarely buys something for herself. Her husband isn’t one for love, affection or giving her any of his time – as a result of he’s busy having a secret affair along with his colleague and past love Choi Seung-hi(Myung Se-bin).
When Jeong-Suk lastly snaps, it’s courtesy her husband and mother-in-law’s despicable and self-centered behaviour throughout a life-threatening well being emergency. The present fortunately wastes no time in setting this up, delving straight into her journey in direction of empowerment and self-fulfillment.
Having given up her medical residency twenty years in the past, Jeong-Suk, now Dr Cha, goes again to finish it. Solely that she’s in the identical hospital as her husband and son, and is at the very least three many years older than a lot of the different younger residents there.
There’s loads to like within the first half of this 16-episode Okay-drama, particularly when a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed Jeong-suk begins her medical residency. She struggles to slot in, realises she has a slower grasp on the topic than she did as a younger scholar, and but, is earnest, empathetic, and popular with her sufferers. To the present’s credit score, the writers don’t exit of their technique to present her mess up as a rookie resident – the main focus right here is as an alternative on how she struggles to strike a stability between her skilled and private life.
On the street to happiness, Jeong-suk battles waves of mother guilt, her mother-in-law’s complaints about having misplaced somebody environment friendly round the home, her husband’s full apathy and fixed discouragement, and her daughter’s tantrums. It is a complicated function, and one which Uhm Jung-hwa aces. She’s immensely likeable because the affable titular protagonist, and makes her journey towards empowerment, independence and development really feel private and relatable.
Whereas the hospital workers are oblivious to who her husband and son are, there’s one exception – dreamy doc Roy Kim (Min Woo-hyuk), who initially handled her for her well being setback, and subsequently grows a mushy spot for her.
This preliminary set-up, coupled with whether or not or not Jeong-Suk will come across her husband’s meandering methods, is finished very well. The writing is sharp, relatable, and manages to stroll the tightrope between comedy and drama completely. In case you’re angered by the patriarchy, sexism and prejudice, you’re equally overjoyed by the little victories Jeong-suk begins to stack up.
That is additionally why it doubly hurts when the present makes a pointy flip into long-drawn, soap-opera territory after episode 9. There’s a sudden shift within the writing – to excessively villanise Seung-hi, the opposite girl, and an excessive amount of time spent attempting to provide you with a redemption arc for the husband. A much-despised villain in a number of Okay-dramas, Kim Byung-chul right here is ideal because the extraordinarily humorous, but annoyingly self-serving husband.
Within the midst of this all, Dr Roy Kim, who begins with a lot promise, is now thrust into a possible and unconvincing love triangle. Min Woo-hyuk actually is good and charming, however wanted a job that was higher fleshed out, as an alternative of a quite half-hearted story arc targeted on his adoption.
The ladies in Physician Cha are an fascinating combine. Whereas Jeong-Suk’s mom battles well being issues and is continually worrying about her daughter, her mother-in-law is busy falling for a ponzi scheme. There’s Jeon So-ra (Jo Ah-ram), a curt third-year resident, who ought to have been given far more display screen time. In So-ra, a promising surgeon who’s answerable for her life and decidedly confident, we see what Jeong-Suk’s profession or life in her early twenties may need been like if she didn’t by accident get pregnant.
Fortunately, the finale brings again flashes of a number of the preliminary brilliance, and scrambles to make up for the quite repetitive writing within the latter half of the present. There’s a variety of grace and dignity in the best way Jeong-suk is proven to maneuver on from one chapter of her life to a different. In a present like this, the pay-off is what one is ready for. Regardless that it’s quite muted right here, it feels satisfying.
Earlier this yr, we noticed a powerful, older feminine protagonist take the reins in Crash Course in Romance, and Physician Cha joins this record. It’s also heartening that the present is a scores success, and is hopefully a sign for extra tales like this onscreen. Uneven writing apart, Jeong-suk’s journey in direction of empowerment, placing herself first, and coming into her personal is refreshing, and one that you simply’re left rooting for.
Physician Cha is at the moment streaming on Netflix