The more you love, the more you have to give… it is the only infinite feeling …

Journalism is always the art of the incomplete – you get bits and pieces

Anthony Shadid

Title
Healer (2017)
Also known as
Hilleo 
Genre
Action, Romance, Thriller
Written by
Directed by
Lee Jung-Sub & Kim Jin-Woo
Country of Origin
South Korea 
Episodes
20

oh! … brief

Ace reporter Kim Moon-Ho engages the services of a mysterious man known only as ‘Healer’ through a ‘night courier’ service. He needs help identifying a young woman he is looking for. Healer is the best in the business.

In his quest to confirm the DNA and identity of this young woman, Healer becomes actively involved in unravelling an incident that occurred in 1992 and involves a group of five friends, four young men and a woman.

Healer’s quiet routine and secretive life are forever changed when he is assigned further work involving Chae Yeong-Shin, the woman he identified for Kim Moon-Ho.

oh! … talks drama

Can Ji Chang Wook get any cuter?

Okay, don’t answer that question because we all know that we have countless years of me being proven wrong on the horizon! Besides which, I’m far too old (but young-at-heart) to be seriously asking that question!

And I’m far too old to be fangirling too!

Let’s just say I have a fine appreciation for a young man old enough to be my son J Leave it at that!

All joking aside, I’m guessing I’m getting softer or more romantic as I get older, or maybe I’m just reminiscing my past and all the wonderful relationships I had when I was young that have given me memories to cherish? I’m far too independent for my own good, but suddenly after seven and a half years of not dating, I find myself wanting to be in a relationship. I lay the blame solely on the romance drama and film I’ve been watching lately. Its sparked emotions and desires I had long laid to rest.

Healer is a wonderful tale of two people whose karma in life brings them together and seemingly they are predestined to love each other deeply.

I’ve recently written about the difference between the simplicity of entertainment versus an offering of something a little more substantial. Healer is a kdrama offering simple entertainment in its truest form. Sure, you can look for deeper meaning and hidden messages, and certainly you’ll find them if you scratch beneath the surface, but honestly, the best way to approach this one is to sit back, relax and enjoy. And there’s so much to enjoy!

Song Ji-na penned her script with flare and presented it like a perfectly decorated Christmas tree. She orchestrated the appropriate balance of action and comedy (tinsel) and developed a youthful love story (twinkling star at the top) with characters (scattered ornaments) that were well-developed and appealing, and sub-plots (fairy lighting) that were above par and an incredible overarching storyline (a wrapped gift) that was engaging. Pretty much she delivered, for me personally, the best holiday season entertainment.

I don’t do the classic American Christmas shows that are pulled out year-after-year and have such little value after the second or third time you’ve seen them. And I’m not a huge fan of anything coming out of Hollywood recently.

So, watching Healer was a marvellous way to spend my free time over Christmas. I was rapidly absorbed by the story and anticipating plot twists and turns and when they came they were often surprised and not as predictable as some shows.  I think this is the first spy-like kdrama I’ve come across, although I know there are a number of similarly-themed shows in the industry to watch.

What I liked most about this one, is how the story develops.

Starting in the present day, one party invested in the history of the past is trying to find answers, ‘fix’ the current state of affairs with some much-needed truth and fact and find accountability for the role he played. The present-day story is pretty straightforward and easy to follow while the past is fairly complex and like a tangled ball of wool needs to be unravelled slowly and surely. That was exactly Song Ji-na’s approach. She created a backstory for each of the five friends from the past, along with present-day revelations that give the narrative structure and frame both the present and the past! It was intensely intricate and intriguing to follow along, but well worth every hour invested.

The orchestration behind the storyline is cleverly manipulated, much like a jigsaw puzzle, each new piece has its place in the bigger picture, but it isn’t instantly apparent how all the pieces fit together. Song Ji-na really impressed me with the foresight. Much of the success of her storytelling is the natural pacing and the smooth transitioning from one puzzle piece to the next. Brilliant! I became a little obsessed with the past storyline and would have liked to see more of that developed, but this isn’t a criticism, just my instinctive curiosity.

Do you want to know what I loved about the script? The melodrama was kept to an absolute minimum – nothing worse than killing a potentially good drama with hyperbole! There was also just one main thread of conflict, focusing on just one incident – no makjang here! If I could give Song Ji-na praise it would likely be along the lines of how gifted she is at creating an exciting action-packed script with unparalleled romance and cliff-hangers that worked well.

The two directors for this production, Lee Jung-Sub and Kim Jin-Woo had their work cut out from them given the excellent script and the demanding action scenes. But, they accomplished an incredible visual narrative. It’s no easy feat to choreograph attention-worthy scenes episode-after-episode, but they achieved it with a combination of shy-to-guffaw humour, breath-taking action, mind=bending mystery, and pulsating romance. And the cameras caught every little detail, from start to finish.

This was a very active cinematographic production with the filming quality one would expect on a big screen movie set. Mind you, South Korean cinematographers, even those working on television productions excel in their field! There are so many scenes to talk about, the numerous parkour scenes involving Ji Chang Wook’s character (Healer) alongside some very dramatic jump scenes. There’s also a slow-motion dash involving Ji Chang Wook and Park Min Young characters, where she grabs his hand and yanks him along escaping a cluster of thugs – it was captured in all its glory along with a slow smirk from Healer! Then there’s the intense nail-biting elevator shaft rescue scene – wow! Just brilliantly executed and choreographed. The clandestine movie theatre date was filled with sexual tension and lays the foundation for the muscle-memory scene later when Young Shin remember how her hand was held by Healer when she holds hands with Bong Soo. There is one epic fight scene using a construction set that is simply amazing! And there are countless other scenes that are beautifully captured and as exhilarating or breath-taking as any James Bond movie would be! Here’s a snap shot of the kind of action scenes you can expect!

 

 

I must give a shout out to the stunt director for Healer, Jung Du Hong. He choreographed the actions scenes – parkour, chase or running chase scenes, incredible fight scenes which are barely graphic, so if you’re not into violence, don’t worry there isn’t graphic violence. He is an artist in his field and one of South Korea’s best. I’m also going to give a shout out to Kyung Seop, Ji Chang Wook’s stunt double who took over the more complicated manoeuvres. That’s not to say Ji Chang Wook didn’t actively participate in the scenes, just left the wire work and more complex choreography to Kyung Seop.😊

And if this hasn’t got your attention then the aesthetics of this kdrama will surely. There is so much to appreciate, from the wardrobe to make-up and props – Healer’s technological eye-gear just one of those props. And don’t get me started on all the dashing men, not just the leading male roles! But, having said that, this show was assuredly created for a female audience!

I did enjoy the musical accompaniment but was very disappointed to find that a full playlist is not available on Spotify? What gives? I want the playlist for my long commute to and from work and apart from one or two songs available from the Danish artists, none of the Korean pieces is available. Very disappointing KBS!

What completes the success of Healer is undoubtedly the phenomenal cast, including South Korean sensations and supporting actors and actresses. Together the leads and supporting cast collaborated to deliver strong performances and from behind the scenes footage and photos, it looks like everyone had fun!

Ji Chang Wook played Seo Jung-Hoo aka Healer aka Bong Soo. WOW! This was another amazing performance by Ji Chang Wool! This young man continues to impress me as he grows his portfolio with fine examples of his acting prowess. He may not yet be in the league of Jang Hyuk, but give him time and some exceptional roles and he will be up there among the best. As Healer, Ji Chang Wool delivered an honest portrayal of a lone-wolf eking out a lonely existence as a ‘night courier’. I relished in the confidence that Ji Chang Wool’s Healer exuded. His interpretation of his character was astute, and he delivered an athletically fit mystery man with more than enough sex appeal and allure, but obviously isolated and lonely. My heart broke for how lonely Healer’s existence was. I appreciated how intelligent Healer was and Ji Chang Wook managed to skilfully display that intelligence through body language, the tone of voice and facial expressions. It was entertaining to watch. As undercover Bong Soo, Ji Chang Wook was comical and dorky, the opposite of Healer. In this undercover role, Ji Chang Wool blended so well into the office environment although at times I did feel the dorky act was taken a little too far, made him just too cute and less appealing. My favourite moments were when Ji Chang Wool was able to be Seo Jung-Hoo, as himself, and those moments occurred mostly when he had alone time with Chae Young-Shin when he could be true to himself. Ji Chang Wook was the best choice for this role and I’m glad he was cast. He gave each of his persona’s unique character traits, facial expressions and personalities. If you think about it, he really played three distinct roles which must have been quite exhausting! Phenomenal performance from a phenomenal young man!

Yoo Ji-Tae played the larger than life journalist Kim Min-Ho and I found his performance refreshing.  As the second male lead in kdramas there is typically excessive angst and a love-triangle but fortunately, Song Ji-na didn’t go that route for her script. Yoo Ji-Tae was able to depict his character as a concerned man riddled by the guilt of the past he knew but frantically trying to discover the real truth behind the incident of the past and the role he was forced to play by his brother. Yoo Ji-Tae’s interpretation was to cover the guilt and frustration with smiles and a cool demeanour, that was what made his performance so refreshing. Yoo Ji-Tae’s performance also never appeared to be torn between loyalty to his brother and the quest his character had to uncover the truth. It was a remarkable performance and one without flaws.

Park Min-Young played Chae Young-Shin enthusiastically. Park Min-Young gave a balanced performance as Chae Young-Shin, delivering the energy, vivaciousness and spunk required to entice a positive reaction from the audience. It was easy to be drawn to Chae Young-Shin and be captivated by her fierce courage, resilience and sheer determination. But Park Min-Young also gave Chae Young-Shin a tender side, a kind heart, and a gentle demeanour that appealed to audience emotions and encouraged warm feelings.

Chae Young-Shin complemented Seo Jung-Hoo and the shared chemistry between Ji Chang Wook and Park Min-Young was youthful and exciting. The developing love between the two characters was destined or fated, per the writing of the script, but it was the comradery and energy that Ji Chang Wook and Park Mi-Young shared together that allowed for authenticity in the visual narrative. And boy were they ever cute together! The shy loving glances, the cute hand-holds and the sensual ‘man-cave’ scenes. Not to mention those tender kisses. Oh, to be young and in love and feeling the thrill of blood rushing through your veins, or butterflies in your chest! The chemistry between these two perfectly subjected the audience to the exact same emotions. Not surprising though because both are fine performers!

Two other exceptional performances in this kdrama came from Kim Mi-Kyung and Oh Gwang-Rok.

Kim Mi-Kyung took on the role of Jo Min-Ja, partner to Healer. She gave an extraordinary performance, but Kim Mi-Kyung is an exemplary actress so it was as I expected. I was hooked and believe Kim Mi-Kyung inhabited her character. The performance was seamless, Kim Mi-Kyung delivered the quirkiness of her character with flare and unbridled humour which made me cackle like a hyena. Even in the more serious moments, Kim Mi-Kyung never let her guard down and stayed true to her role.

Likewise, Oh Gwang-Rok who took on the role of Ki Young-Jae gave a stellar performance. Admittedly a minor role, it was an important one and also gave me my favourite scenes of the entire show! The first being when he was training a young Healer, that scene was fantastic, the bond between the two grew strong and unbreakable. It was more than a surrogacy role that the character Ki Young-Jae took on, it was more than just a mentor, it was a coming together of two souls and two spirits. Watch it and you’ll get what I mean. The second scene is when Ki Young-Jae’s body is being removed from the police station and Healer wants to intervene. That scene was heart-breaking! Ji Chang Wool and Oh Gwang-Rok shared a chemistry that was depicted as something other-worldly, almost ethereal. Hats off to Oh Gwang-Rok for a solid performance.

oh! … sidekicks

There were far too many actors and actresses in this production that gave a strong supporting performance that allowed for the overall success of the show. I can’t mention them all, but I can certainly speak to some that captured my attention. In no particular order, they follow in the next few paragraphs.

Park Sang-Myeon played Chae Young-Shin’s adoptive father, Chae Chi-Soo, and I adored this character. Park Sang-Myeon brought Cha Chi-Soo to life in the most understated performance by an actor in this drama. In many regards, the quiet nature that Park Sang-Myeon gives his character reminds me so much of my late father- soft, gentle spirit and slow to anger. There are scenes with Chae Young-Sin as a child that are both heartbreaking and awe-inspiring. This gentle giant, Chae Chi-Soo, is the kind of man any woman would aspire to have as a husband and every young girl would dream to have as a father. Park Sang-Myeon used facial expression, the tone of voice and body language to depict the emotions and sentiments of his character and it made his performance tangible and real.

Do Ji-Won played Chae Young Shin’s birth mother, Choi Myung-Hee and I enjoyed her performance. Choi Myung-Hee, as a character, was the motivation behind much of the wrongs committed by Kim Moon-Shik, mostly due to jealousy and his one-sided affection towards her. Limited to living out her life in a wheelchair, the role did not allow this character much opportunity to move around freely but Do Ji-Won still managed to get the audience invested in Choi Myung-Hee’s backstory and current sad situation.  It was a strong performance!

Tami starred as Kang Dae-Yong, a member of the night courier network supporting Healer. She gave a strong performance and managed to give some fun to her character’s rebellious spirit. I enjoyed her performance because of the fun element she brought to the show and the fact that her character proved that women are capable of entering into dangerous situations and make do by themselves. It was inspiring!

Gyeong Gyu-Su played Secretary Oh and did a great job of portraying his character as a sly, creepy old man and evil right hand of both Kim Moon-Shiki and the “Elder’. My skin crawled every time Secretary Oh made an appearance, he reminded me of a snake, and I loathe them. But Gyeong Gyu-Su was just spectacular with his sly features and cunning demeanour, he almost slithered his way along, and those smiles he gave as Secretary Oh made me want to disappear. He certainly got the creepy score above par.

Park Won-Sang played cheerful Jang Byeong-Se with charming hilarity. I enjoyed the banter between him and his staff and he didn’t disappoint. Also, his performance was energized and pragmatic at the same time. Good job!

oh! … that’s a wrap

In summary, this drama may not have garnered excellent ratings or as much popularity as anticipated.

Having written that however, I appreciated the fact that there were a solid script, sufficient action and visual aesthetics, mastered stunts, and superb acting.

If you enjoy action genre then you won’t be disappointed with this piece of work. And, if you like mystery and thriller genres, this show has enough of those concepts to be appreciated. Lastly, if you’re into the romance genre then this kdrama will meet or exceed your expectations.

Strictly speaking, when a show has low ratings, most people tend to avoid them, but this is an exception to the rule. This is a show that didn’t bring in the ratings, but, surprisingly has the trifecta effect nonetheless.

I will certainly watch this kdrama again and I will add it to my Keepsakes collection.

oh! … tidbits

Park Min-Young won the Excellence Award, Actress in a Mid-length Drama at the 2014 KBS Drama Awards ceremony.

Ji Chang Wook won the Popularity Award for an Actor at the 2014 KBS Drama Awards ceremony.

Together, Park Min-Young and Jo Chang Wook won the Best Couple Award at the 2014 KBS Drama Awards ceremony. They also won the Best Couple Award at the 2016 4th Annual DramaFever Awards ceremony.

Healer won the Best Korean Drama at the 2016 4th Annual DramaFever Awards ceremony.

oh! … soundtrack

oh! … gallery

oh! … trailers

oh! … nooz

Healer Stunt Director Heaps Praise on Ji Chang Wook

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