Is Doctor John Worth Watching?


Immediately after finishing Record of Youth, I jumped into this K-Drama. I wasn’t really sure of what to expect. And I sure didn’t expect what I was in for. So let’s talk turkey, and see if Doctor John (의사 요한 in Korean) is worth watching.

doctor john Yo-han main character played by Ji-sung

doctor john Yo-han main character played by Ji-sung

My Thoughts About Doctor John (의사요한)

After just the first episode I had only one thought in my mind. This is a romantic and Korean version of Doctor House! All the elements are there. A reckless yet extremely talented doctor with a physical problem that makes it hard for him to live. A team of doctors he constantly holds meetings with to make diagnosis for patients with mysterious diseases.

The biggest difference is that in this TV series, without spoilering anything, the general mood is lighter. Also as it often happens in Korean TV series, some funny almost comedy bits and pieces are placed into to the story to fill in the gaps and lighten the mood.

Doctor John Poster Image
Doctor John Poster Image

Is Doctor John Worth Watching? (의사요한)

I’ll be completely honest with you. Yes it is worth watching. It is easy to make your way through the episodes without getting bored. However, the first episodes are definitely more interesting than the last ones, where I feel like they did drag the story on just a little bit too much just to reach that 16 episode mark.

But overall it was entertaining, fun and also gives some food for thought on some very delicate and controversial topics of modern age. Without having a biased approach to the issues.

The Cast

  • The male lead role, Cha Yo-han, is played by my favourite Korean actor, Ji-sung. He appeared great TV series as Familiar Wife and Defendant
  • The main female character, Kang Si-young, is played by Lee Se-young
  • The prosecutor who investigated Yo-han for the euthanasia case, Son Seok-ki, is played by Lee Se-young who also featured in the two seasons of Stranger

A Little About The Story

The story starts off with a lot grey areas. We are immediately introduced to a woman (Si-young) booking a ticket to a far away destination. She’s obviously running away from something, possibly her past. Then she’s called up by her uncle, a prison warden, to take up the position of in house doctor. This allows us to understand that she was and is a doctor.

She accepts, however as soon as she arrives at the prison she start to be warned about a mysterious inmate. The inmate will turn out to be the second lead character Yo-han or John. In the first scenes we come to understand that he has great medical expertise and that he too is a doctor. He does have some very peculiar habits, such as recording his vital signs every single day. Which Si-young finds odd and misinterprets as hypochondria.

During a couple of emergencies in the penitentiary, Yo-han helps Si-young out. Also helping her find her lost confidence as a doctor and helps her build up the courage to return to her full time job at Hanse Soul Medical Center hospital. Little does she know that after being released Yo-han will also serve in the same hospital as her superior.

Doctor John shot with Yo-han and Si-young
Doctor John shot with Yo-han and Si-young

A Traumatic Past For Both of Them

We soon find out that they both have a difficult past and present. In their lives they both have had to deal with live prolonging treatment and the concept of euthanasia. Yo-han was imprisoned because he euthanised a terminal cancer patient (a murderer of 3 children) who was in extreme pain. Also as the story moves on we find out that Yo-han suffers from CIPA, which means that he cannot feel any pain. This incredibly complicates his life, in every aspect.

Si-young on the other hand, has had her father (the chairman of the hospital where she works) on life support in vegetative state after an accident which occurred while climbing a mountain with him.

Her sister, also a doctor at the hospital, holds her responsible for what happened and is totally agains removing their dad from the life support that’s keeping him alive. Also things are complicated between Si-young and her mother who is part of the board of the hospital.

Yo-han and Si-young while at penitentiary
Yo-han and Si-young while at penitentiary

The Topics of The Story

The main topic of the story is of raising awareness on pain and the need for laws that regulate euthanasia and pain management treatments in cases of terminal diseases. However as every Korean drama there is a share of romance and action involved in the story.

In fact, the two lead characters learn to support each other and slowly grow fond of each other, even though it’s not all smooth sailing during the story for them.