Okay. I’m going to do my best (my very best!) not to be a total fangirl in this review…but bear with me. The lead in this series is Lee Min-ho and I have a hard time keeping it under control when my favorite Flower Boy leads a story. You’ve been warned!
Series Name: Faith (or in hangul “The Great Doctor”)
Run date: The series ran from August 13, 2012 to October 30, 2012 on Mondays and Tuesdays on Seoul Broadcasting System for a total of 24 episodes.
I watched a subtitled version via Hulu. See the Faith series page here.
Stars: Kim Hee Sun and Lee Min-ho
Basics: The series is about a modern-day plastic surgeon (Kim Hee-sun) who gets kidnapped and travels back in time to the Goryeo period, 700 years in the past. There, she meets and falls in love with a warrior who is the leader of the royal guard (Lee Min-ho).
It took me about six episodes to recognize Lee Min-ho from Boys over Flowers. Seriously. I was so engrossed in the story that I didn’t glance up and recognize that smoulder from the VERY LAST drama I’d finished. Silly Megan. The beginning moves very quickly. We meet a very young king of Goryeo (for more info about ancient pre-Korea Goreyeo, go here) and his Yuan (province in China), bride. They’re pretty icy towards each other. Yikes.
We meet a cocky young captain of the royal bodyguard, Choi Young (Lee). There’s an attack, the queen is nearly killed and Choi Young needs to travel to “Heaven’s Door” to find a doctor to save the queen. He’s told to bring one back. (Back story…a legend exists about an amazing healer named Hwa Ta. The character believes that his descendants live in heaven, which is really the future, and this descendant can save them.)
Choi Young goes to modern day Seoul and drags a plastic police shield he takes a shine to back in time with him, along with a very unwilling plastic surgeon who thinks she’s being kidnapped by a dude in some serious cosplay.
The first third of the series is establishing a lot of the world Yoo Eun-soo (our doctor) inhabits.
We also meet the bad guy named Gi Chul and his supernatural cronies, a firestarter femme fatale named Hwa Suin and a flute-playing guy who can burst your eardrums and brain named Chun Eum-ja.
The bad guy is really creepy in this drama and is used to running Goreyeo for his Yuan relatives so when our king comes along and wants to be his own man and has a doctor from Heaven to validate his kingliness, Gi Chul sets to the business of being nasty right away.
The only other thing I want to say about the beginning is that I love the character of Dr. Jang. He’s a mentor and protector of Eun-soo and was one of my favorites. My other favorite is Oh Dae-Man, this scrappy, crazy-haired kid that can basically parkour his way out of any mess and be at Choi Young’s disposal at all times. He’s basically and equilizer to the fact that Gi Chul has two people with superpowers (along with himself and his freezy-hand thing) on staff and Choi Young basically has this electricity thing he can do once in a while and his all-around badassery with his former master’s sword.
Oh, my. By this point, my husband has signed on and is watching nightly with me. Our story has all of the serious romantic elements to it but it seems to be repeating patterns when it comes to Eun-soo. She gets poisoned a time or two. She gets kidnapped a time or two. She gets rescued a time or 15…always by Choi Young and always with that darn knee-weakening smolder from him.
The middle slowed considerably for me and I felt like so many episodes weren’t really necessary. I mean, I’m glad I watched, but it never really mattered to the biggest dilemma of the story…when Heaven’s Door opens again, will she (or won’t she?) return to her old life? Life in Goreyeo is brutal and bloody and Eun-soo really gets beat up and tossed around a bit because she’s so important to so many people.
Oh. Mah. Gersh.
So much political intrigue and sword fighting and more poisons, I couldn’t keep up. (But I did!) I really don’t want to completely spoil the series for anyone interested, but understand that it’s Kdrama…and after sticking around for 23 episodes, the writers give us our happily ever after….after sticking our hearts in the meat grinder a couple dozen times.
My final thoughts after the last scene were….”I need a beer. A big one.” and…”Oh no! It’s over. Now what do I do with my life?”
A cultural note: So, in American prime time, you basically see your two romantic leads mauling each other at every opportunity…even in historicals. Like, open-mouthed face kissing and grabby ands and often even nakey butts to imply they “did the deed.” Not so in most of what I have seen in Kdrama. There were times when the American in me was seconds from screaming “Just kiss her already!” but, that said, there is something nice about leaving the intimacy (even the implication of it) to the imagination. I really like it and appreciate not having sexuality forced down my throat.
Would I recommend it? Yes. Absolutely. Think “Robin Hood” (either version…Kevin Costner or Russell Crowe)….the hero does save the day with a bit of begrudging attitude and our heroine is smart and savvy…and funny. Faith is definitely a keeper.