I have watched most of Kim Myung Min and Cha Seung Won’s dramas, both of whom are seasoned actors, but one person I hadn’t gotten around to watching was Jang Hyuk, another actor possibly in the same league. Therefore, my latest watch was: Beautiful Mind, starring Jang Hyuk and the energetic, lively Park So Dam (their 15 year age difference was truly striking for me).
After finishing this drama, I have realized that never has any kdrama made me feel like I’m back in high school, sitting in my Sociology class discussing research methods like participant observation, and arguing about socialization versus human nature. Beautiful Mind, made me feel like I was an observer, present in Hyunsung hospital, observing all the politics and happenings within the building.
I cannot explain the feeling as the audience until I set the premise of the show. The show is about our main character, Lee Young Oh, who is a doctor at the hospital, whose frontal lobe of the brain was damaged during an operation as a child, due to which sensing human emotion is something that is impossible for him to do. This helps him be calm and composed during difficult surgeries, but also makes him ignorant of how his patients or their guardians may actually feel. His apparently cold exterior becomes the reason why the entire hospital, though admiring of his levelheadedness and knowledge, also consider him to be a psychopath.
Though Gye Jin Sung, played by Park So Dam, is central to the show, she is relevant only in the context of Young Oh himself. A police officer by profession, her quest for justice makes her end up defending a patient who she sees involved in a hit-and-run. From thereon, we see her story take off, constantly butting heads with Young Oh, or working with him on one case or the other. Her status in the show changes from police officer to patient, which essentially makes her character transition through some changes. Nonetheless, her constant interactions with Young Oh, help in challenging his opinions about himself regarding his own condition, and also instigate some kind of a change within him.
I feel that the drama was centered solely around Young Oh and his predicament, though the show did bring in many supporting characters with some of their own stories, be they colleagues at the hospital, or patients. These stories also helped Young Oh to grow as a person, but everything definitely revolved around his condition and his growth in terms of his character development.
Lastly, the great sociological question that this drama posed: nature vs nurture. Never
have I seen such an academic drama before. It wasn’t till the last episode that I realized that I was an observer; I was a part of the experiment, a participant in this. Young Oh’s case develops in such a way that it comes to question that how much of who he is a result of how he was raised and how much of it may be his true personality. The question is so pertinent and thought-provoking that one is kept wondering how much control any of us can exert on how we feel. Can any of us restrict ourselves from feeling all the myriad of emotions that we do? What if we didn’t feel guilt, embarrassment and despair? What makes us who we are…?
Note: Spot the difference below: