Life (2018) poster
8.0
Your Rating: 0/10
Ratings: 8.0/10 from 5,937 users
# of Watchers: 20,579
Reviews: 30 users
Ranked #2205
Popularity #734
Watchers 5,937

This series examines the hospital as a breeding ground for misuse of power. It is a place of conflicting interests and clashing egos. The doctors have the power to save lives, but the board has the power to kill doctors. In a building supposedly dedicated to the public’s health, it’s the personal vendettas that fuel people to get up in the morning. (Source: JTBC) Edit Translation

  • English
  • 中文(台灣)
  • Arabic
  • Español
  • Country: South Korea
  • Type: Drama
  • Episodes: 16
  • Aired: Jul 23, 2018 - Sep 11, 2018
  • Aired On: Monday, Tuesday
  • Original Network: jTBC Netflix
  • Duration: 1 hr. 10 min.
  • Score: 8.0 (scored by 5,937 users)
  • Ranked: #2205
  • Popularity: #734
  • Content Rating: 15+ - Teens 15 or older

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Life (2018) photo
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Life (2018) photo
Life (2018) photo
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Reviews

Completed
Ahjusshi
108 people found this review helpful
Sep 12, 2018
16 of 16 episodes seen
Completed 2
Overall 10
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 10
This is one of the greatest Korean dramas I have ever seen. Easy 10/10.

Primarily a dialogue drama that is relatively slow-paced. I wouldn't recommend it for viewers who are impatient and want a lighthearted watch. The show focuses on business, politics, and societal issues in South Korea. Having lived in Korea, Life is so real that it hurts sometimes. If you liked Stranger, chances are you will love Life.

Following her first megahit drama, Stranger, writer Lee Soo Yeon brings us a refreshing drama that touches on societal problems while bringing to question how one's life should be lived and valued. This drama is entirely business, political and psychological, with surprisingly minimal medical scenes despite taking place within a university hospital. Unlike Stranger, there is moderate romance involved but it is definitely woven into the story without ruining the dark bureaucratic atmosphere. Moreover, rather than focusing on mysterious deaths (which is the opening scene), Life depicts the struggles of just your average-day life from numerous different perspectives.

I tend to stay away from medical dramas where nothing much really happens besides some overreaction with a patient dying and the heroes coming to say the day. Medical dramas are boring to me. But Life is completely different and kept me captivated the entire ride without a single moment of boredom. You know when you have snacks to eat when you watch a show, and by the time the drama ends you ate it all without realizing? Well when I watched Life, all my snacks were left untouched because I had to give the drama my undivided attention.

What makes one Life one of the best dramas I have ever seen is how they portray a certain situation or community problem from angles. Most dramas have a clear villain, a clear hero protagonist who will save the day, and the thin line between good and evil is easily distinguishable. Life shines all characters in a favorable and negative light at the exact same time. In the beginning, from one perspective, it's easy to characterize a person as "bad" for reasons such as "greedy" or "heartless." But then when you look at it from their perspective, there is no true right decision or wrong decision. Life really makes you confused and hating a character yet understanding and loving the same character at the same time. And I'm not talking about the bullshit kdrama "oh this handsome serial killer was neglected as a child so it's totally understandable for him to torture and murder people" type of understanding.

The beginning of Life starts out slow, especially in the first episode. But the beginning episodes lay out the political and business foundation that the rest of the story will revolve around. It's important to really comprehend what the problem at hand is in the beginning or else the characters and the ending will be pretty damn confusing. The story is brilliantly written and all the mysteries are woven together with little to no plot-holes left behind. The characters are well-drawn out, and the complexity of each person's position brings to light the different pains people have in their daily lives. Even if you're not a doctor, I think the daily struggles that these doctors have generalize to everyone who feels like life can be hard and distressing at times. The ending of the drama... Oh my god the ending. It's one of the best endings I have ever seen.

If you want to get pretentiously deep, Life does debate a lot of moral themes. Some themes I observed were:

What makes one person's life more meaningful or successful than another persons?
What makes one person a "good" person, and another a "bad person." What's the criteria of judgement?
Should all people be treated equal? Or should discretion based on circumstances rule (individual bias good or bad)?
Legality or Morality? Should we follow all procedures by the law or use our own moral judgement?
What's more important, the discovery of the truth or resolution of conflict?

Acting was phenomenal 10/10. I must say, the cast was one of the most stacked casts I have ever seen.
Yes, Lee Dong Wook was a bit underwhelming, but that's okay. I think he played his character well (his character wasn't a charismatic character, not much he can do).
Cho Seung Woo is a phenomenal actor and I felt like was clearly the main character of Life over Lee Dong Wook. I personally don't think Korean actors are the best at acting, but Cho Seung Woo is just brilliant. His acting in Life may very well have exceeded his acting in Stranger which is saying something!
It's time for Yoo Jae Myung to get a main character role. He has proven his brilliant acting again and again.
Lee Kyu Hyung takes on such interesting roles in all his dramas (Haerong in Prison Playbook) and Life was no different. You'll love him in this drama. He actually plays two characters, you'll see what I mean.
The rest of the cast, Moon So Ri, Cheon Ho Jin, Moon Sung Geun... just stacked I tell you. The acting matched the loftly quality of the drama.

Honestly the worst thing about this drama was the music, and the music was pretty good too. Just nothing that stood out that much to me other than that obnoxious loud "epic" boom soundtrack when the end of the episode draws near. I suppose Han Dong Geun's OST 1 "Home" was really good but it never really played during the show. Now that I think of it, because this drama was mostly a dialogue show, there wasn't as much music that played between scenes compared to other kdramas.

This is one of the rare dramas where I give the re-watch value a 10/10 because the mysterious death isn't the important point in this drama. It's about problems in society (particularly in the bureaucratic Korean society) and how different people, given their different positions, have different perspectives on how to solve the problem. In the process, how people view themselves as right and good, while viewing others with different opinions as wrong and bad. I think a lot can be learned about psychologically or at least thought about by watching Life. I think this drama would be just as interesting the second time around. It was a complex drama for sure, so watching it again would also clarify a lot of things for me.

Masterpiece! Thank you to everyone who produced this enlightening drama!

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Completed
Jeana Flower Award2
55 people found this review helpful
Oct 8, 2020
16 of 16 episodes seen
Completed 12
Overall 9.5
Story 9.5
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 5.5
This review may contain spoilers

Reasons why you need to drop everything and watch Life right now:

▪︎The baddest of bad, the ultimate, Jo Seung Woo▪︎

JSW's character here is one of the best drama characters I have seen in a long long while. He is such a legend. His acting is nuanced to the core. His character is the very much competent, cutthroat, focused, driven CEO who demands respect and time and time again proves himself to be worthy of the authority he has. Often he  seems quite vicious and a corporate slave through and through as he spoke to the economist in me and tried his best to maximize his profits no. matter. what. And he is hella good at what he does too which basically means he is the resident bad guy.

Everybody hates him as they are powerless to do a thing against him. But under that slick suave bastard exterior, he is compassionate, fair, intelligent, caring and has a heart of gold. Ofcourse that doesn't give way to noble idiocy on his part and just because he can beautifully balance his humane and cunning side, it doesn't mean he isn't a force to be reckoned with.

The drama tried desperately to promote Lee Dong Wook as the main male lead but while he has his moments Life is Gyu Seung Ho's playground. It's his show through and through and I loved him so incredibly much that I can't even explain it.

▪︎Bromance & Friendship▪︎

Half of the show revolves around Lee Dong Wook and his brother and their bond is so adorable, sweet and heartbreaking that it gives you all the feels. But other than that brotherhood the drama is filled with relationships, loyalty, camaraderie and friendship between characters which is so endearing and treasured in such a hostile and brutal environment.

▪︎The tension▪︎

Oof. Like all 3 of Lee Soo Yeon's dramas, there's a lot of politics, philosophical questions and moral debates in this one too. It's less medical and more focused on the power struggle between the doctors and the management. And so I understand why people think it to be slow paced with heavy dialogues but goddamnit for me it was so engaging that I was hung on every word that came out of a character's mouth. I was completely attuned to them, focused and on the edge of my seat. It holds the same gravity and feeling of importance that Stranger 1& 2 had and the epic soudtrack just enhances it.

▪︎The romance▪︎

While not the main focus, it's woven so effortlessly and gorgeously in the storyline and just goes to enhance the personalities of the characters and make them more lovable. I am also extremely happy that my ship sailed hehe.

▪︎The FEELS▪︎

The show appeals to both your mind and your heart. While there is intelligent writing to satisfy the analytical part of your brain with a lot of mental workout there's also enough emotion for you to form a personal connection with the characters. I cried so much and surprisingly every time at small subtle moments, actions and interactions that weren't even tragic or done solely for some big emotional impact. There are no deaths or tragic birth secrets or white trucks of doom or other cheesy bullshit, there are just some extremely real, flawed and well developed characters that you hurt when they hurt and you are happy when they are happy.

▪︎Badass Women▪︎

You know me. You know if the female characters suck, no matter how awesome the male leads are, I am ready to fight. Thankfully all the females in this show are strong, some kick more ass than others but overall they are all extremely likeable.

The only reason I didn't give this show a 10 (tho it was a very very close shot) is because I expected more of the ending. It's very typical of Lee Soo Yeon. Her dramas always progress in such a grim way that you are expecting the worst to happen but then she comes in and hands you a bouquet of flowers with half of them missing.

Which saves your heart from breaking but it's also a bit lacklustre. Parts of it are uncharacteristically idealistic but then parts are extremely realistic as she doesn't try to solve every issue and leaves it up to the audience. It's a little frustrating and makes me not give her a full 10 but that also means I don't dare dock more than half a point 'cause these endings are still very much infused with warmth, hope and love.

It's definitely one of the best dramas out there. The cast is the same in all of her three shows so you know they are extremely gelled in with the writer and the acting is great across the board.

A must watch. Even more so for fans of Stranger 'cause there is a cameo in the last episode that will blow your socks away. ;)

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Details

  • Drama: Life
  • Country: South Korea
  • Episodes: 16
  • Aired: Jul 23, 2018 - Sep 11, 2018
  • Aired On: Monday, Tuesday
  • Original Network: jTBC, Netflix
  • Duration: 1 hr. 10 min.
  • Content Rating: 15+ - Teens 15 or older

Statistics

  • Score: 8.0 (scored by 5,937 users)
  • Ranked: #2205
  • Popularity: #734
  • Watchers: 20,579

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