23 March 2024

K Drama Review: Doctor Slump (2024) 4.8 || 5

This is another "notes-less" drama. Once again, I chanced upon my sister watching this and I'm very, very happy to have watched this with her. I'm pretty sure I would have watched this one eventually because it has Park Hyung Sik but I'm glad I watched it sooner than later. :)


Doctor Slump tells the story of two high school classmates who were both achievers and who both ended up as doctors. In a crazy twist of fate though, top student-turned-plastic surgeon Yeo Jeong Woo (Park Hyung Sik) finds himself in the middle of a malpractice suit when one of his patients died during surgery. On the other hand, bright girl-turned-anesthesiologist Nam Ha Neul (Park Shin Hye) almost dies in a traffic accident, is diagnosed with depression, and finds herself jobless after pushing back against her abusive superiors. Jeong Woo and Ha Neul were archrivals back in school and it was ironic that they would end up living near each other during the toughest moments of their lives when Jeong Woo ends up as a tenant of Ha Neul's family. The story takes us through how the best frenemies help each other come out of and survive the slumps they are in and how they end up as best friends and lovers along the way. 

Park Hyung Sik as Yeo Jeong Woo

When I think about it, I realize that Park Hyung Sik is wayyyyy up there in my list because I seem to have watched most of his dramas. Looking at his past works is like taking a trip down memory lane for me. I first fell in love with him in Strong Girl Bong Soon where he made me super swoon with how he wooed Bong Soon. I loved him in his more serious role in Suits. I even endured High Society even if I didn't really like it that much. And I know I'm crazy in love with him when I watched through all 50 episodes of What Happens to My Family, even if he was not the lead star. And Juror 8 was probably one of the first K movies I watched (and Hyung Sik's only movie to date, if AsianWiki's correct). He also had a cameo in She Was Pretty. And he made me love him even more in Happiness and the short but very sweet Soundtrack #1. So, yes, I've watched a lot of Park Hyung Sik (except for the period dramas which we tend to veer away from) and I really, really hope he'll keep on making more dramas because I can never get enough of him. 

Park Hyung Sik was perfect as the often funny Yeo Jeong Woo. We get lots of his giddy, cutie acting here. And his petty moments were truly hilarious. Yes, there were bordering on over the top moments. But I loved Jeong Woo's ability to hold things together despite the unfair stuff he had to go through. Ha Neul rightfully reprimanded him to stop saying he was okay all the time even when he was obviously not. 

And his huge, huge heart. How he always tried to be understanding of everyone, especially Ha Neul. How he waited for her patiently when she seemed confused if she should get into a relationship with him. And of course the cute way he confessed, with Ha Neul hiding in his toilet and while telling her brother Ba Da (Yoon Sang Hyeon) that he was indeed interested in Ha Neul. And the way he went super overboard with his planned proposal that he ended up buying a jewelry set for Ha Neul. So many things to love about Jeong Woo and you just can't help but wish him all the great things in life. 

Park Shin Hye as Nam Ha Neul

This is my first Park Shin Hye drama and after watching her here, I now get why she's popular. She's this pretty girl who does not hesitate to do funny stuff. She can definitely hack weird and crazy that's why she was perfect as Nam Ha Neul who oftentimes seemed deranged in her obsessions. But I loved her in her more serious and somber moments too. I loved the balance and she's definitely on my to-watch list now. 

I loved everything about Ha Neul. She's so relatable because she's so human. I usually hate it when K dramas have characters who hesitate when it comes to love but Ha Neul's situation was so understandable that I was actually rooting for her to take all the time in the world she needed to figure out her feelings. 

And Ha Neul was sooooo kind-hearted (yes, even better than Jeong Woo, I think). The way she pored over numerous dissertations to help Jeong Woo find a defense in his case. And how she convinced him (without forcing or nagging him) to seek help for his PTSD. And how even if she was not sure if she was ready to commit to him, she readily volunteered to be his anesthesiologist when she learned that he had a hard time completing his first surgery after the incident due to PTSD. And of course, how she almost died in her quest to find out the involvement of Kyung Min (Oh Dong Min of Hospital Playlist and Reply 1988), Jeong Woo's senior and trusted friend, in Jeong Woo's medical accident. Ha Neul is so, so very passionate and you know she'll never stop until she gets to the bottom of things she's interested in. 

Ha Neul and Jeong Woo

While Oppa loves high school romance, I am totally into "grown-up" romance. Maybe because the characters are nearer to me in age that I can actually imagine myself in their shoes? Or maybe because I love how they can be cute and giddy while handling serious stuff with more maturity. There's less drama and illogical/unreasonable stuff when the people involved are older. 

I loved how Jeong Woo and Ha Neul handled everything maturely despite the mental health issues they both faced. They accepted the need for space and time to process their feelings. Jeong Woo didn't rush into committing to Ha Neul when he was in the middle of his malpractice case, knowing that he would be distracted. And he probably wanted to be sure that his feelings were not just because of how helpful Ha Neul has been. Ha Neul wanted to step back a bit when she realized that her depression could suck Jeong Woo into her miserable life. And while she was confused with her own feelings, she readily set them aside when she knew Jeong Woo needed help. Jeong Woo didn't want Ha Neul to get stuck in the plastic surgery clinic helping him because he knew she had bigger plans and dreams. And he was willing to let her go overseas for an opportunity that would help further her career. Jeong Woo was not insecure at all. And that crazy and funny way that Ha Neul demanded apologies from everyone who wronged/hurt Jeong Woo due to the medical accident. 

Indeed, relationships would always have ups and downs. But if you have two mature people like Ha Neul and Jeong Woo, who are committed to make things work no matter what, then you can be sure that the relationship would last for a very, very long time. 

Supporting Cast

I loved Ha Neul's family. Mom (Jang Hye Jin of Parasite, Hospital Playlist 2, and Crash Landing on You) was your typical mom - loud, irrational, irritable, but overly protective of her family like a true mother hen. I loved how she was both feisty and gentle at the same time. And how she extended that maternal love to Jeong Woo who really needed it. 

Uncle (Hyun Bong Sik of 1987:When the Day Comes, Gyeongseong Creature, Narco Saints, Our Blues, and DP) who was mostly quiet and sometimes funny but was always there for Ha Neul's family. I loved that story of how he gave up his noodle shop in Busan to move to Seoul so he can support his sister who now had to raise her family on her own after her husband died. 

And Ba Da who was annoying most of the time with his extortion tricks on everyone but was very caring and loving towards his family in his own weird way (like how he confronted Jeong Woo about not playing around with Ha Neul's feelings and how he vowed to be a better person if Ha Neul survives the car accident). 

I knew Ha Neul won't be down for a long time because she has a very strong support group in her family. 

Although they were not really super essential to the story, I was fine watching our main lead's close friends. They did help hasten the story when needed especially with their nosiness and penchant for telling all without thinking. I'm grateful for Hong Ran (Gong Seong Ha of Jirisan) because she was patient in pursuing our introvert Ha Neul who needed a friend. And thanks to her, Ha Neul and Jeong Woo learned about important stuff that they were trying to hide from each other (like Kyung Min's involvement in the downfall of Ha Neul's career). 

I was not exactly fond of Yoon Park in his previous dramas (Forecasting Love and Weather, Itaewon Class, and What Happens to My Family) but he seemed fine here. Yes, Dae Yeong can be annoying (like with how petty he was when Jeong Woo ended up in the volunteer trip he was eyeing), but he was such a gentle soul especially with Hong Ran and her kid that I can't help but love him. And he really won me over when he offered to let Jeong Woo work for him while he was recovering from the medical accident. 

I also loved how Hong Ran and Dae Yeong gave us a glimpse of the challenges that single parents face like single dads buying underwear for their teenage daughters and single moms catching bugs with their sons. 

So, yes, I loved that while this show had its share of evil guys, the people surrounding our leads were good people who made sure they felt loved and appreciated. 


The best thing about this show is how it highlighted the importance of mental health. Although society is more open about this issue these days, I know that some sectors still find it uncomfortable to discuss these stuff like the entertainment industry and the medical field. Which makes what the show did here really brave. Actors are expected to be perfect. Doctors as our healers are expected to be able to hold things together. But as we see here, no one is exempted from experiencing mental health issues. Top students who seem to have it all and doctors who are supposed to be healthy are prone to fall into this pit too. And it's unfortunate how society seems to be harsher on them like Ha Neul's aunties who think she's a total loser and Jeong Woo's parents whose only concern is that he does not tarnish their good name. It was heartbreaking to hear Ha Neul say that on bad days, you just want to quit on life and die because nothing seems to be going your way. 

And I liked how the show pinpointed one common culprit - burnout caused by stress and pressure coming from teachers, colleagues, parents, and society in general. And there's no shame in seeking help - medically and through support groups. That taking meds is not a bad thing because sometimes you really need it to get better. And how there's hope out there that things will get better. I liked that bit in the end where Ha Neul said that she finally learned how to accept that there will be good and bad days. It's a cycle where you just need to hold on until things get better. And that she should not blame herself for the bad days. She just needs to do what needs to be done to overcome the bad stuff that happen like by speaking up and expressing herself when she feels she's been wronged. So she won't hold that grudge inside her for a long time. 

And I liked that scene in the end where the people in the waiting area of the psychiatric clinic was shown. They came in different forms, sizes, appearances, demeanors. You had students, middle-aged people, the elderly, and accomplished people like Ha Neul. Some looked happy, some sad, some bored. I liked how the show tried to tell us that there's no common trait to describe people with mental health issues. They're all different. So don't be too quick to judge. The important thing is their collective desire to heal and be better. 

I liked the Kyung Min-Jeong Woo storyline because it showed us how certain people in our lives can go into a gray area - they can be both good and bad for us. Kyung Min was good for being like a big brother to Jeong Woo from his CSAT review days (he was the only one who showed up during his graduation and he even had a suit gift for him) until his trial for the medical accident. However, he was terrible for trying to kill Jeong Woo by spiking his drink and not speaking up when he knew that the medical accident in Jeong Woo's clinic was planted. Yes, Jeong Woo's mom prevented him from saving his dad but taking it out on Jeong Woo who was nothing but an angel to him was unacceptable. 

When we have these toxic people around us, the choice is ultimately ours whether we want to keep them in our lives or not. It won't be easy. The way Jeong Woo kept on moving between forgiving and hating Kyung Min. But as Ha Neul's mom said, we don't really forgive people for their sake, but for our sake. For our peace of mind. So we can let go of the bad feelings and live our lives without hatred. 

And on a related note, we should never close our doors on people. Who would have thought that fierce rivals Ha Neul and Jeong Woo would end up helping each other survive the darkest days of their lives (and falling in love in the process). Or how awkward and petty Dae Yeong would end up giving Jeong Woo a second chance at plastic surgery when he felt that it was impossible for him to go back. 

I loved the show's over-all good ending. I thought things were going to be dramatic again with Ha Neul's offer to go overseas. Fortunately, that was aborted and the dramatic moment turned into a super funny one when Jeong Woo helped her save face during her family's goodbye party. Mom is now happy to see both of her kids doing well. Ba Da finally found something he can work on and be serious with. Uncle is reunited with an old love. Hong Ran and Dae Yeong are together. The hospital acted on the corruption allegations and Ha Neul got her job back. Jeong Woo opened a new clinic. And Jeong Woo and Ha Neul are now engaged with super cute pre nup photos. Yes, with everything that they've gone through, the ending might be quite simplistic. But I'm totally fine with it. Because it gives us hope that regardless of the bad situation we're in, things can and will get better. It might take time. But it will. And that's something we can hold on to during the bad days. 

And I loved the theme song - Seulgi's In My Memory. 

Noona says...4.8.

Noona's Unnie says...5.