Yong Pal: A Cautiously Optimistic Crush

(Mild spoilers for episode 1 – 4) 

There comes a time in every live-watch experience when you’ve decided you like a show enough to commit to watching it all the way through, a time when your heart wants to leap headlong into full-on crush mode, but your head tells you to stay cautiously optimistic because you don’t want to set yourself up for disappointment.

This is the state I’m in with this show now, my friends. I want to crush so badly on Yong Pal. SO BADLY. Because there are a heck of a lot of reasons to.

First, there’s this:

Kim Mi Kyung Yong Pal ep 1

Kim Mi Kyung! Nobody told me she was in this drama! I still have so much residual affection for her Ahjumma in Healer that I literally squealed when she appeared on screen as the head nurse in Yong Pal’s hospital, and being all very Ahjumma-like towards him to boot. And I was like, thank you so much show for not just giving me Kim Mi Kyung but for giving her what looks like a pretty great character as well. She’s going to be his moral compass, possibly his surrogate mother figure. I AM EXCITE.

And then there’s this magnificent creature:

Yong Pal ep 3 Cynthia Park meets Tae Hyun

Cynthia Park, or as I call her, SHEEENTHIYIAAAA (you gotta say it like you’re thirsting, but not like, in a creepy way). Where do I even start with her? First, her dimples took over the screen. And then she sized Tae Hyun (that’s Yong Pal by the way) up and took him on that makeover like a bawse. The clincher was when she flew down the streets of Seoul in an blood red sports car like an Formula 1 driver in pole position. You probably don’t know this, but I have a thing for women who literally take the driver’s seat in a K-drama, and this takes me right back to when my darling Go Eun Chan gave Choi Han Kyul a ride on her scooter in Coffee Prince. But this is a whole other level of driving that I’ve never seen before. I was dying. A hot, badass woman who knows the game and how to play it, she will guide him, and will probably fall for him too. I AM VERY EXCITE.

Yong Pal ep 4

And that’s not all, because the show had another surprise up its sleeve–Evil Bro’s wife! I can’t remember her name, but she’s played by Coffee Prince‘s Joo Yoo, and she takes the scheming wife trope and turns it on it’s head. Is she Tae Hyun’s ally? Or will is this an enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend type of deal?

And there’s a Sleeping Beauty who isn’t actually sleeping at all. Yeo Jin’s body may be inert but she is fully conscious. And she fights to awaken by replaying the trauma of her accident over and over again in her mind. And I love that she’s angry and vengeful and it’s so awesome that this is a show in which a heroine trying to kill herself feels like a gigantic fuck-you instead of a weakness.

Yong Pal Yeo Jin looks up at the light

And speaking of suicides, that meet-cute with Tae Hyun that most certainly was not cute at all, must be the bloodiest OTP first-meets in the history of K-drama. But boy, I was riveted. Their beautiful eyes! That scene was all eyes, and hands reaching out, and it was so intense my insides curled. I loved that he doesn’t hesitate for an instant.

Yong Pal Yeo Jin reaches out to Tae Hyun

Yong Pal ep 4 Tae Hyun looks at Yeo Jin

Which leads me to Tae Hyun himself, possibly the most interesting hero I’ve come across in a while.  I did not expect this. I didn’t expect him to be so…conflicted, mercenary, and pretty fucked up. But thank goodness he’s not the tortured, brooding egomaniac he could so easily be. He loves, and loves fiercely, and his instincts are always to save and to heal. But he’s enmeshed in a system that has made him weary and self-hating and two-faced, and he doesn’t even seem to realise it. And now that he’s firmly entrenched in the horrific machinations of the 12th Floor of Evil, and has become not just complicit but vital to its operations, what will he do?

Though his troubling speech in episode 4 did gave me pause, and I wrote up some thoughts on that elsewhere (TL;DR I think he was projecting, and I hope that the show was trying to make a wonkily-executed point about the explosive rage of those denied justice, and the violence that the capitalist-patriarchy wreaks on those on lowest rungs), I just really really hope he becomes the righteous hero I feel he could be.

Yong Pal ep 4 Tae Hyun on the phone

And Joo Won is totally HOT. Though he and Kim Tae Hee barely said two words to each other my body is so ready to die over them. Bring on the swoon, show I beg you.

So all in all, there’s him, there’s her, and all these ladies who feel like they could really be characters who will do significant things and make complicated choices. And unlike most dramas, the canvas feels rich and wide enough to accommodate a story that will stretch to 20 episodes without feeling like it overstayed its welcome. There’s a lot of meat here. Literally.

Yong Pal Nurse Hwang eats steak

Can you see why I’m excited about this show? Can you?

But then again, I can hear alarm bells ringing. The first two episodes were a bit haphazard. I kinda got the feeling that they blew a huge chunk of their budget on the car wrecks and gangster fights. The editing has been a mess, and they are already in live-shoot mode which is apparently according to Jung Woong-In who plays the baddie boss doc, it’s not smooth sailing.

We all know what this means: we are now in extremely dangerous territory. The dip in production quality could be imminent. It could all go off the rails very soon.

So I’m holding back just a little bit, and I remain just VERY VERY EXCITE!



10 thoughts on “Yong Pal: A Cautiously Optimistic Crush

  1. I squealed when Kim Mi Kyung showed up too : ) No matter what happens in the show at least she will be fantastic. And I’m glad you found the speech in Episode 4 troubling too. Sometimes I wonder if it’s the subtitles or if I missed something, but nice to know other people react the same way. This show feels a little bit like a cross between Bridal Mask and Good Doctor (based on Joo Won’s character) but Kim Tae hasn’t been a major character yet, so it’s hard to say which direction it will go in. Definitely something to look forward to each week.


    • I’ve never seen Bridal Mask or Good Doctor! It’s my first encounter with Joo Woon really, and I very much like what I see. Last week’s eps were awesome, and a little wacko too, in the sense that I have absolutely no idea where it’s gonna go from here, but I can’t wait to find out. The live-shoot situation is worrying, but there’s nothing we can do about that except hope for the best 😀


      • Joo Won is always great! I LOVED Bridal Mask, but if you go for it, word of caution – not the happiest drama ever.

        I love that I can’t predict where it’s going too. I think we can blame the live-shoot situation for the exceptionally long flashbacking and dream sequences in episode 7, but as of 8 it seems like we’re getting somewhere. Thought it was a bit early for that kiss though. I’m used to like, 10 solid episodes of anticipation before they scratch that itch.

        Based on the crazy rescue/murder mission I don’t quite understand why evil brother thinks Tae-hyun is on his side, did you follow the reasoning?


      • I’m honestly a little thrown by this week’s eps. Maybe it’s because I was watching it half asleep but I’m not entirely sure why anyone is doing what they’re doing. But maybe evil bro thinks since he’s employing Tae Hyun that he’s the boss of him. And at the end of last week, it looked like TH was gonna give him the (fake) body? Anyway, *shrugs*. And yes, that kiss was a little early for me too. I mean, they just started talking like, yesterday. And I was so looking forward to more banter ala that awesome one in the coma chamber with the phone! I’ll process this weekend. It’s a long one. Hopefully I’ll get more sleep and be able to rewatch!


  2. Yikes, are they already in live-shoot mode? That’s so stressful for everyone :/ I’m loving this show too, and OMG I LURVE JOO WON, so I’m crossing my fingers even as I wait excitedly for subs for the latest ep!


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