Army doctors board a hospital ship, which is a floating hospital that serves people who live on remote islands. But were these doctors interested in helping underprivileged people for free? Not at all. There is the non-army doctor Eun Jae, a cold perfectionist surgeon whose fast-track career was derailed. Kwak Hyun who practices internal medicine is the first army doctor to volunteer for duty on the hospital ship. Then there is the irritating Jae Geol, an oriental medicine doctor who drew the short straw and now has to serve on the hospital ship. A bunch of doctors with different backgrounds finds themselves afloat at sea. They are too old to be called youthful doctors as they are all in their thirties. Though they have skills obtained through long years of studying in medical school, their hearts and souls are barren. This is a coming-of-age story about doctors who have experienced setbacks in life that they are trying to bounce back from while they learn how to be a compassionate doctor and pursue fulfilling lives.
(Source: MBC America)
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The major flaws are a reliance on tired tropes, an odd but thankfully short lived love triangle, an unnecessary addition of a messed up ex, over the top medical scenario (the teacher...you'll know it when you see it) that makes me dislike the female lead for a bit. Also, and no small thing, the drama is definitely too long. In addition, the writer didn't seem able to set a tone. A little medical, a little romance, a little comedy, a little melo, a little slice of life and so on. I'm not saying that can't work but this writer does not have the skills to pull it off. (Watch Doc Martin for that.) There seemed to be an effort to make it a little bit like every other successful medical drama that had come before instead of just making it his/her own. That's unfortunate.
Also, if there is one thing I could tell drama writers who are doing a medical show, it is this: hospital politics are always boring. The writer stayed away until toward the end and it was just blah and I skipped as much as I could. I finally figured out that I liked the story more when they were on the ship, and it slowed down when they were in the local hospital. The ship is what makes this scenario unique.
I stuck with the drama because I did like a lot of the first half of the drama even with some of the tropes. Unlike many who couldn't buy into the relationship between the two leads, I actually appreciated that it was low-key and sweet. I like that she was the surgeon and he the internal medicine doc and was a good guy. Normally in k-drama, he would be a jerk or tsundere or a genius surgeon. The age difference didn't bother me, because it didn't bother the characters as relayed by the actors. I also was fine with all the actors. I am middle of the road about HJW, but I liked her here and Kang Min Hyuk matched her low key character. Again, I do understand that many couldn't buy into their relationship, but this is what kept me in the drama until the end.
Well, kind of until the end. I am doing the review but - full disclosure - I did fast forward through a lot of the last 5 hours of drama (though I did watch the last episode). So I would say that if you figure out early on that you can't buy into this relationship, drop because there is not enough other stuff to keep you going because the romance is somewhat secondary for a chunk of the drama.
Overall, I think this was a missed opportunity by the writer. I kept thinking that I wanted to know more about what it was like on the Hospital Ship. What about storms? What happens if you date and break up and are stuck together? What happens when you get sick to death of one another? I get that it is a medical drama, but I would have liked to learned more about life on the ship and had some character development that way versus everyone and their dog associated with these people having some family/medical issue. Nonetheless, I did stick it out and I would give the first half a 7 and the second half a 6 so around 6.5.
Problems others had: Medical scenarios aren't realistic. I love not being in the profession and not having to care but, yeah, I get it.
Genre : rom-com, medical, melodrama
Story : As the name suggests, it is a hospital on a ship for the rural islands not connected by the roads. I have to say this drama was planned out on a creative and unique note with a promise of delivering something different and they start it with the same energy. The characters have been dropped in for their duties who start their story with a lot of grumbling. A reckless surgeon, a warm-hearted Internal medicine doctor, a Korean herbal doctor and a dentist. The staff is well selected with a mature and experienced head nurse and an enthusiastic nurse who is excited about becoming a scrub nurse but only a few characters are well developed and the rest are just toppings on a sundae. The cliche factor isn't avoided with famous star-kids and the table is set. You start hating Ha Ji Won's character as Song Eun Jae but very soon it isn't necessary because Doctor Kwak is the cute but warm hearted caring doctor that is physically impossible but that's why dramas have the ideally perfect people i guess.
There are accidents, incidents, and a bunch of strange cases that can only happen in rural areas but the cliched endings are what get you bored after a while. This is an endearing watch but that's all. The excitement dies out after a while and you're left with sure-i'll-watch-it-meh. There are unnecessary love triangles and passionless pursuing and all that overlaps with the good characters you actually want to follow. Towards the end, the hospital politics decide it's time for the preface and you still know how it's going to end so you're watching it in the background while doing your work. The screenplay is ruined with tactless comedy and even Ha Ji Won loses out. The dialogues, cinematography and plot everything could have been better only if they had properly concentrated on the main story without poking the main couple for more.
Actors : This drama was waited more because of Ha Ji Won and she tries really hard to deliver it well. Her character as a reckless yet talented surgeon is not something you see regularly but her character shows how strong women can be, something she has done in most of her dramas. I am not going to blame her for her stunted dialogues that tried to make her look uptight but the beauty of a strong woman who cannot be perfect but i am going to comment on how the writer tried to bring about her imagination about the 'perfect' man/doctor out there and that's how Kwak Hyun was developed. What's shocking is that Kang Min Hyuk delivers it with his soft features and that slight smile with utmost perfection. There is a strange dignified maturity in their relationship that you normally don't see in k-dramas which is why i have no right to comment on the chemistry.
I would have talked about the characters more if they had been well written but somehow, they aren't exactly commendable.
Will i watch it again? It was a sleepy ride so no. (This is not good enough for the binge watch night so if you want one i would advice you to watch Emergency Couple.)
Will i recommend it to anyone? I don't think i would. There are better medical dramas out there like the good doctor.