I try to avoid makjang Korean drama most of the time, with several exception. I somehow get trapped watching Young Lady and Gentleman, which is a full-on drama with controversial age differences. However, as I was in between kdrama, I accidentally watched Doctor Cha, which I discover is a light makjang and medical drama. This is a drama whose stars are not the typical young mega stars. So it really relies on the storyline and the acting. Doctor Cha is also an interesting thinking on what if Makjang can be made light and with strong comedy twist instead thriller drama vibe.
The story revolves around Cha Jung Sook (Uhm Jung Hwa) who is a house wive for the past 20 years. She was ill and need liver transplant from her husband who has a match but due to his mother refusal, nearly failed the surgery but saved last minute with a donor. The experience revives her into chasing her youth dream to become a doctor and despite she is in her fifties, she restarts her medical residences. Her husband, Seo In Ho (Kim Byung Chul), who works as a chief surgeon and at the same hospital as well as her son Seo Jeong Min (Song Ji Ho), both are unhappy for different reasons. Seo In Ho has an affair with his university sweetheart, Choi Sung Hee (Myung SeBin) and has a daughter, similar with Cha Jung Sook and these daughters go to the same school. Meanwhile the surgeon who operate on Cha Jung Sook, Roy Kim a wealthy doctor transplanted from New York (Min Woo Hyuk), accidentally also work on the same hospital and now has feelings for Cha Jung Sook. This storyline can easily turn to very strong drama with thriller suspense vibe. Mother-in-Laws are essential players and we have veteran like Kim Mi Kyung and Park Joon Geum playing them.
However, it is turned to be created into strong comedy vibe and this am sure in the process make it difficult to balance on how to stay dramatic and not missing all those essential comedian timing. In the process the comedic timing and comedy-laced frames at times more emotionally charged than turning it into typical makjang emotional charged frames. Of course the fact that Uhm Jung-hwa played Dr Cha role beautifully is a great plus, I have never watched her acting before but for sure to me Dr Cha is her breakout role. She can balance beautifully the acting of hopelessly dutiful mother and wife, driven and kind hearted doctor as well clueless woman when it comes to love, all of which tinge with fine comedic even slapstick timing, sassy comeback and tearful drama. Seo In-Ho is another critical role that needs to balance between funny hapless doctor and husband as well despicable men who balance two families albeit sometime in hilarious way. Kim Byung-Chul is a veteran actor in many of the series as supporting casts such as Sky Castle, Mr Sunshine and Doctor Prisoners so is truly experienced with Makjang stories and demand. Yet to see him as male lead delicately balancing between comedic and dramatic timing, playing slapstick frames, it is an absolute pleasure. Adding the acting of Min Woo Hyuk as another male lead who pursues Dr Cha passionately and helplessly watching Dr Cha tripped in her life as someone he can only love from afar, the series becoming really enjoyable. Especially having the usual but enjoyable mother-in-laws encounters as well wive and mistress daughters as well – all of them played powerfully. There are many additional stories, all of them are fitting well into the entire plot nicely and making the entire series fast paced. I do not want to compare this to Park Eun Bin’s Attorney Woo or Kim Hye-Soo’s Under The Queen’s Umbrella exquisite K-drama series with strong women theme as each one is truly unique with powerful messages, but indeed it fits into the same broad categories, all of them to be are feast for those hungry for memorable strong women chick flick with powerful comedic sense.
For sure this is a drama that is a must-see that you can discuss during dinner with your family (with sharp glances to husbands absolutely), girlfriends or even lunches with your work mates. Enjoy !
Final verdict : an absolute must watch !