K-drama midseason recap: Ghost Doctor – medical drama starring Rain and Kim Beom delivers comic banter and smooth emotional beats

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K-drama midseason recap: Ghost Doctor – medical drama starring Rain and Kim Beom delivers comic banter and smooth emotional beats

This article contains spoilers.

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Sometimes all a show needs is enough of a story to fuel a fun concept. This is exactly the balance that Korean medical comedy-drama Ghost Doctor, starring Rain and Kim Beom, strives for, and while it seemed a little unsure of itself early on, after some trial and error it has found that desired equilibrium.

The premise of an arrogant protagonist forced to reflect on what they’ve become after being prematurely separated from their body is a familiar one. The writers know it and, rather than reinvent the wheel, they rely on the subgenre’s enduring popularity to fuel a tale that mixes comedy, light drama and a hint of romance.

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There’s little doubt how the story of Eunsang Medical’s star doctor Cha Young-min (Rain) will unfold, but that’s not the point. Ghost Doctor’s supernatural premise is a pretext to bring two likeable stars together for an engaging weeknight bromance.

Yet this is exactly where the show briefly struggles early on. Cha Young-min spends several episodes possessing and talking at an unresponsive Go Seung-tak (Kim Beom), the cocky new intern at the hospital, in what threatens to become a grating one-way dialogue.

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Finally, at the end of episode four, a twist emerges – Seung-tak is clairvoyant and has been able to see Young-min this whole time. Why he needed to pretend otherwise until then isn’t terribly well explained, but no matter – at least now the fun can start.

Young-min and Seung-tak learn to set their differences aside and work together, so that Young-min’s “golden hands” can be put to use in the operating theatre to save lives.

They establish ground rules for their mutual collaboration: different hospital routes to avoid bumping into each other, no involuntary possessions, and Young-min cannot tell the other coma ghosts roaming the hospital about Seung-tak’s ability.

Seung-tak even starts to wear a Bluetooth earpiece to pretend that his animated and very frequent hallway conversations are actually phone calls.

Beneath the banter and the medical heroics of the leads, Ghost Doctor maintains a very simple foundation. Young-min’s old flame Se-jin (Uee) has transferred to Eunsang to take care of two comatose patients – Young-min and her adoptive father and corporate CEO, Jang Kwang-deok (Lee Moon-soo).

K-drama midseason recap: Ghost Doctor – medical drama starring Rain and Kim Beom delivers comic banter and smooth emotional beats

Kim Beom in a still from Ghost Doctor.

Meanwhile, slimy hospital vice-president Han Seung-won (Tae In-ho) is in cahoots with Kwang-deok’s thuggish son, an alliance that involved hiring the delivery bike driver who crashed into Young-min.

Injured in the crash, that driver was also brought to Eunsang and since he’s in a coma as well, his ghost soon begins to skulk around the hospital. He appears before Young-min and drops to his knees begging for forgiveness.

The writers give us a reason to pity him when we meet his high-school student sister, who cries at his bedside and is unable to pay his hospital bills. The poor driver had turned to the dark side to pay her tuition, but now his villainous clients have left him to languish in the hospital and his medical bills to mount.

K-drama midseason recap: Ghost Doctor – medical drama starring Rain and Kim Beom delivers comic banter and smooth emotional beats

Rain (left) and Uee in a still from Ghost Doctor.

Se-jin, with the help of Seung-tak and Young-min (though she doesn’t know it), finally gains admittance to Kwang-deok’s VIP ward. However, the ailing chairman isn’t long for this world and, although she manages to foil part of Seung-won’s plan, his clock runs out.

Kwang-deok’s graceful exit from the show is an emotional highlight. After making peace with his fate, he plays a round of go (a traditional Korean board game) with the veteran ghost Tess (Sung Dong-il) while Se-jin tearfully but resolutely removes his body from life support downstairs.

Despite their new system, Seung-tak and Young-min soon discover that their secret friendship isn’t quite as well hidden as they had thought. In fact, a lot of people seem to suspect that Seung-tak is being possessed by Young-min.

The intern’s sudden surgical knowhow could certainly raise suspicions, but a number of characters independently arrive at the conclusion they are witnessing “ghostly possession”, and they don’t seem too shocked by it.

The characters who cotton on to Seung-tak’s supernatural skills include his mother, fellow doctor and potential love interest Oh Soo-jung (Son Na-eun), and, eventually, head villain Seung-won himself.

K-drama midseason recap: Ghost Doctor – medical drama starring Rain and Kim Beom delivers comic banter and smooth emotional beats

Tae In-ho in a still from Ghost Doctor.

Seung-won attempts to thwart Young-min by barring Seung-tak from performing any more surgeries, a dictate that is enforced just before Seung-tak and Young-min are due to operate on a young boy whose coma ghost recently joined the others in Eunsang’s halls.

With the help of a few other colleagues,Seung-tak gets the better of Seung-won and manages to scrub up but, just as he lifts his scalpel, Young-min’s spirit begins to detach itself from Seung-tak, leaving the fate of the boy up in the air at the close of episode 10.

Given Ghost Doctor’s low stakes, any anxiety caused by this cliffhanger should quickly be relieved. And hopefully the show will deliver a few more smooth emotional beats before it concludes later this month.

K-drama midseason recap: Ghost Doctor – medical drama starring Rain and Kim Beom delivers comic banter and smooth emotional beats

Rain (left) and Kim Beom in a still from Ghost Doctor.

Ghost Doctor is streaming on Viu.

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