Kill Me, Heal Me: Episode 1
Hello again drama fans! This is purplecow, back after a long recapping hiatus. Kill Me, Heal Me is a “healing romance” between a third-generation chaebol with multiple personalities and the first-year resident psychiatrist who will have to deal with each and every one of them. The first episode began a little rocky but found its stride, managing a credible introduction to our characters, their relationships and the world they inhabit. So far the show seems to be striking a good balance between the real psychological trauma our hero suffers and the comedic screw-ups and hilarious misunderstandings that ensue. And while I feel for our bewildered hero, I can’t wait to see what his bad-guy alter ego will get up to next. So break out the guyliner and get ready for a good time!
EPISODE 1 RECAP
Our story opens with a stylized flashback sequence and newspaper clippings that give us the basic outline of the chaebol family running Seungjin Group, and its string of tragedies. First, the chairman and his daughter-in-law are killed in car crash, and then his son, marked to take over, is killed in a suspicious house fire.
Thankfully, the grandson is rescued from the fire, and grows up into our hero, CHA DO-HYUN. Suspiciously, these newspaper clippings are collected, studied, and posted on a wall by an unseen figure.
We get our first glimpse of our grown-up hero (Ji Sung), who plays on an American football team while studying abroad. As his friend tells us, Do-hyun is too nice for his own good. Dozens of extracurricular groups want him to join, knowing he’s too kind to turn any of them down.
A classmate asks Do-hyun to pass some papers to another student, Jennifer, who hasn’t been to school in a few weeks. He agrees and arrives at Jennifer’s house, where he hears sounds of a disturbance. Jennifer’s father is giving her a vicious beating, and when Do-hyun intervenes, he gets beat up as well.
The shock of the assault triggers a memory of being trapped in a room when Do-hyun was younger, with a shadowy figure advancing upon him. His eyes flash violet, back in the present, but before anything happens the police arrive. They ask Jennifer who attacked her, only for her to lie that Do-hyun trespassed and her father saved her. Do-hyun is led away by the police, protesting the entire way.
When Do-hyun returns to his apartment, a close employee, Chief Ahn, calls after receiving the police report. He says that Do-hyun’s family still doesn’t know about what he’s been accused of, and that he’ll arrive shortly to sort things out.
Do-hyun is too preoccupied to answer the phone. He searches for medicine in the bathroom, but he can’t take it in time. Memories of his childhood trauma flash intermittently, his pupils dilate, and eventually his trembling ceases. His mouth curves upward into a grin that spells trouble—looks like Do-hyun’s not calling the shots anymore.
Now calm and sporting a trendier look, Do-hyun’s alter ego heads outside. He returns to Jennifer’s house and coldly, methodically beats the crap out of the abusive father. When he’s done he leans over and warns that if the man ever touches her again, he’ll come back and break every bone in his body. Jennifer catches his eye from the second floor and mouths “thank you.”
Do-hyun wakes up confused, still wearing the outfit he went out in. Chief Ahn arrives at Do-hyun’s apartment, takes in Do-hyun’s cuts, bruises, and new fashion choices, and asks what happened.
But Do-hyun can’t remember a thing. “I first realized it then,” says Do-hyun in voiceover, as we see a flashback of him choking someone we don’t recognize. “That I had a monster living inside of me.”
We see Do-hyun explaining this in a flashback to a therapy session, and he identifying each of his personas: Shin Se-gi is the violent personality, though Do-hyun is quick to reassure the nervous doctor that he only fights when he’s mad, and would never harm women or children.
Because his multiple personalities take over his mind and body, Do-hyun can never remember what happens after he loses control. In one memory we see him wake up in the middle of getting a tattoo of the Latin words for “death alone.”
Then we see Do-hyun anger a women he can’t remember meeting, because he first made her acquaintance as one of his alter egos. The woman throws water in his face, and apparently that doesn’t satisfy her because we later see her directing thugs to bind him and dunk him repeatedly in a water trough. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, I guess. Poor guy.
Do-hyun was diagnosed four years ago with dissociative identity disorder, also called multiple personality disorder, but he hasn’t found any reliable way to treat it. He doesn’t know the exact number of personalities, but in addition to the violent Se-gi there are also Perry Park and Yo-sub, the latter of whom has tried to commit suicide more than once. I was afraid of that.
Now thoroughly spooked, the psychiatrist declares that he can’t help Do-hyun. “But you said you’ve treated patients with D.I.D. before!” Do-hyun objects. “I lied,” replies the shrink. Pfft. So Do-hyun has no choice but to drive away, wondering how many personalities are hiding in his psyche, just waiting for the chance to emerge.
Back in the present, Do-hyun asks Chief Ahn why he came to the States. It turns out that Do-hyun’s grandmother wants him to return. This is a problem, because Do-hyun has yet to tell his mother and grandmother about his condition. “How can I go back in this monstrous state?” he asks.
But the next thing we know, Do-hyun opens his eyes to find himself on a plane soon to arrive at Incheon Airport. His neighbor in first class is our second lead OH RI-ON (Park Seo-joon).
On Do-hyun’s cell phone, he finds a video addressed to him, taken by his alter ego Se-gi. Se-gi suggests that it’s time for Do-hyun to make a bid to become the successor to his family’s Seungjin Group. Adding insult to injury, he tells him to change his crappy sense of style.
A car comes hurtling into the airport parking lot. The driver is OH RI-JIN (Hwang Jung-eum), who receives a phone call from a reporter who wants to know if she is the “Omega writer” (an “Omega 3 murder mystery” was mentioned in the newspaper Oh Ri-on was reading). The call sparks her temper, and she growls that she’ll put an end to this today.
Do-hyun tries to arrange for a ticket straight back to New York, but he’s intercepted by four men in suits who work for his grandmother, the current CEO of Seungjin Group. They’re about to escort him to the parking lot when a cry rings out: “YAA!” It’s Ri-jin, pointing directly at Do-hyun.
Do-hyun stiffens, thinking his alter ego has caused more trouble. But Ri-jin charges right past Do-hyun for the guy cowering behind him: Oh Ri-on.
Ri-jin shakes Ri-on by the ears, yelling about the reporters who have been flooding her phone with calls. Ri-on clings to Do-hyun, begging him for help. Do-hyun tries to get Ri-jin to calm down and talk things out, but she tells him to butt out.
“How long are you going to live off my name?” Ri-jin demands, still wailing on her brother. She says she’s going to reveal his identity right here, but Ri-on manages to clap a hand over her mouth. “My sister is very sick,” he says, pointing to her head. He starts tugging her towards the doors, while Ri-jin hilariously mimes a giant “O” and a “3” for Omega 3. Do-hyun watches, dumbfounded.
Ri-on drives along without a care in the world, though Ri-jin is still peevish. We learn that Ri-on is her twin brother, who gained fame and wealth as a bestselling author of those Omega 3 mysteries. He’s cultivated his own aura of mystery as a “faceless” writer, much to his sister’s dismay as the only point of contact for reporters.
An ambulance rolls up when they reach the hospital, and the EMTs start transporting a belligerent man from the vehicle to the hospital. Ri-jin adopts an upbeat, cheery voice and rushes right over.
The patient recognizes her, complaining in between bouts of yelling that he got stuck with her again. Ri-jin keeps reassuring him, only pausing to direct some employees to prepare to pump the man’s stomach. She takes off her jacket as they head off to reveal her medical coat, identifying her as an actual psychiatrist and not the mental patient she’s been acting like so far.
That patient is still causing trouble when she reaches the patients’ room. He fends off employees with an IV stand, brandishing it like a pitchfork. Ri-jin tries to talk him down, but the man jerks away and tries to grab Ri-jin, who unleashes some impressive martial arts skills as she flips him over her shoulder.
She calmly restrains him and then sedates him. Ri-on has witnessed the scene from the doorway, and he muses that his little sister is really impressive.
Outside in his car, Ri-on rummages in a bag, taking out a binder full of newspaper cutouts about the Seungjin Group and a picture of Do-hyun in his football uniform. Either he’s got a man-crush, or else the plot is thickening…
Do-hyun arrives at the family compound, where the staff has assembled to greet him. Chief Ahn is there too, with a full entourage in tow. After eleven years, the prodigal son has returned.
Do-hyun’s mother and grandmother talk in another room. Grandma Seo is also the Seungjin Group CEO, and her relationship to her daughter-in-law seems antagonistic. Mom wants to know where Grandma is hiding someone from her, moving him to a new nursing home whenever Mom finds one.
Grandma breaks her icy composure to scold that Mom has no right to act so proud. Do-hyun’s mother she may be, but she’s not officially on the family register. That’s the moment Do-hyun enters, interrupting the argument as his mother rushes over to fawn over him.
The family sits down for a luxurious yet awkward dinner. The atmosphere is charged, with Grandma reacting to Do-hyun with coldness while his mother dotes. Do-hyun’s alter ego has been busy, since Grandma has a whole list of conditions that “Do-hyun” supposedly sent her before agreeing to return. He wants to be named the successor to Seungjin Group, which she won’t do, but she agrees to give him a vice president position of a subsidiary called ID Entertainment.
Do-hyun also apparently asked for stocks, and Grandma is willing to give him 0.5% of the company stocks each year. As Grandma Seo coldly lays out the deal, Do-hyun tries to get a word in edgewise, but is unable to say a thing.
Do-hyun talks alone with Chief Ahn, who explains about the video call made by Do-hyun’s alter ego, Se-gi. Things aren’t looking particularly bright, but Chief Ahn swears that he will keep searching for a way to cure Do-hyun, no matter what. A call comes in from Do-hyun’s second cousin, CHA KI-JOON (played by Oh Min-seok).
Do-hyun takes the call, though the look he shares with Chief Ahn before picking up is intriguing. The conversation is friendly on the surface, and Ki-joon invites Do-hyun out for drinks later that night. When he hangs up, however, he laughs that Do-hyun’s as innocent and clueless as ever.
Ki-joon’s father warns Ki-joon to be on his guard. Ki-joon doesn’t view Do-hyun as a real threat, but his father orders him to find Do-hyun’s weakness anyway.
Meanwhile, Chief Ahn advises Do-hyun not to get treated for his multiple personalities at a hospital. That would expose his weakness to Ki-joon and anyone else looking to gain a hold over him. Do-hyun asks Chief Ahn to find Dr. Seok Ho-pil, who treated him in the States previously.
That’s the doctor (Go Chang-seok) who leads rounds, to whom Ri-jin reports patient statuses. Unfortunately Ri-jin’s patient has escaped, leaving a note saying she has gone to a “paradise” where she can express herself with bright lights, music, and dancing.
Ki-joon has arranged to have drinks at the Paradise Club in Gangnam. Do-hyun finds that “drinks with his cousin” actually means a night out with the ID Entertainment staff—he is introduced to his new team as their vice president, while Ki-joon’s double-layered greetings seem closer to establishing dominance than greeting a cousin.
Do-hyun asks why Ki-joon didn’t warn him in advance. Ki-joon asks if he would have come if he’d known, and says this is also a party for the newly hired director of the art team. Do-hyun recognizes her when she arrives from the powder room: This is HAN CHAE-YEON (Kim Yoo-ri), whom he clearly has feelings for.
Meanwhile Ri-jin gets her brother’s help to track her patient’s phone, but the patient is one step ahead, having taped the phone to the bottom of the hospital bed. Thankfully, a message on the phone points Ri-jin to the Paradise Club in Gangnam.
Ki-joon and Chae-yeon laugh about Do-hyun’s coldness with women, recalling how he stood up a chaebol heiress who’d begged to be set up with him. But Ki-joon also hints about Do-hyun being hung up on a woman he can neither confess to nor get over. Chae-yeon asks who that is, and Do-hyun can only look at her. Thankfully the other team members arrive just in time, pulling them out to the dance floor.
Do-hyun thinks of the past Christmas, when he was overjoyed to receive a call from Chae-yeon about meeting in the States. But while waiting to meet her, he’d encountered the woman seduced by Shin Se-gi. She threw water in his face just as Chae-yeon entered the café, and Do-hyun hid to avoid being seen. Ouch—poor guy can’t seem to catch a break.
As Do-hyun watches Chae-yun dancing, a woman approaches and says she knows how he feels: “That feeling of being alone in the world. Of having many selves living inside of you. Of not knowing when they might come out!” Ha! Sounds about right.
This is Sook-hee (a cameo by Kim Seul-gi), the patient Ri-jin is looking for. She claims to be a psychiatrist, and just as Do-hyun is about to politely get the hell out of dodge, they see Ri-jin making her way across the dance floor.
Sook-hee enlists Do-hyun’s help, lying that Ri-jin is a patient who has followed her here. We know the truth, but Ri-jin’s crazy eyes certainly don’t help the misunderstanding.
Ri-jin identifies herself as a doctor, but Do-hyun was already warned that she would say that. He also remembers her antics at the airport, when her brother announced to everyone that she was sick in the head. So he implores her to calm down, and grabs her by the hood when she shoulders past him.
That’s Ri-jin’s cue for another judo throw, sending our hapless hero flying. Do-hyun hits the ground hard and Ri-jin feels guilty for a moment, but she has an escaped patient to attend to. Meanwhile Do-hyun staggers into the bathroom, trembling like mad with his pupils dilating. His medicine slips from his grasp, and then it’s too late—Shin Se-gi has joined the party.
Outside of the stall is a clubber with a studded jacket, earrings, and a year’s worth of guyliner. He yells at Se-gi for messing up his makeup. Se-gi only looks him up and down, inspects the outfit, and says: “That’s exactly my style.”
Se-gi takes to the dance floor with his new threads, walking past Ki-joon unawares. In the bathroom, the guy whose clothes Se-gi stole calls someone to bring “the boys” over, and says that there’s ecstasy in his stolen jacket. Uh-oh.
Ri-jin has successfully apprehended her patient, but her conscience reminds her of the man she roughed up in the club. She sends the ambulance ahead and goes back to check on him. As she approaches the entrance, she doesn’t notice Se-gi walking by. He grabs her by the arm.
While Ri-jin wonders why he changed his outfit, Se-gi pulls back her sleeve to show her watch. When the watch face shows the hour, Se-gi tells her to remember this time: “January 7, 2015, 10 pm. The time when I fell for you.”
Romantic music starts to play… and Ri-jin can’t control herself any more and lets out a half-laugh, half-shriek. She wonders if he’s the kind of man who’s attracted to women who rough him around. Her inner monologue thinks, He’s not going to say something cheesy like how this is the first time he’s fallen for a woman who’s treated him roughly, right?
“It’s the first time…” Se-gi begins. Ri-jin thinks: Don’t say it, don’t say it!
“…a woman treated me roughly,” he finishes. Ri-jin dissolves into involuntary shrieks of laughter, before bringing herself under control. She assures him that she’ll pretend he didn’t say anything, and that she doesn’t have the confidence to keep treating him roughly in the future. I’m dying here.
Before she can make good her escape, a bunch of guys in motorcycles arrive and surround Se-gi. Ri-jin wonders at how quickly the vibe changed from romantic comedy to action, while the leader from the bathroom walks deliberately towards Se-gi.
“Take it off!” he orders Se-gi. Ri-jin thinks, And now erotic?! HA! Se-gi retorts, “Try taking it off me.” Ri-jin: Or bromance? Ri-jin tries to talk sense into him, but he refuses and the fight begins, and Se-gi takes out eight or so thugs without even smudging his makeup.
He thrashes them handily with acrobatic kicks and the strategic application of a stolen club, then walks calmly towards Ri-jin. She screams at him to watch out, but it’s too late—the leader hits him square in the face with a two-by-four. Se-gi falls back, then we cut to the DJ who’s whipping the crowd inside on the dance floor into a frenzy. He cranks up the music… and Se-gi pops right back up, ready to finish the fight.
What a fun first episode! I’m glad it ended so well, because I certainly wasn’t sold in the beginning. The setting in an American university gave me Heirs flashbacks (never a good thing), as did the profanity-laced scene of a white guy cruelly beating up an Asian woman. Add to that the cringe-inducing English, and I’m right back in 2013 watching all my hopes for a fantastic drama crumble in front of my eyes.
But that’s Heirs, not Kill Me, Heal Me, and thankfully I didn’t have to wait three episodes this time to get the hell out of the United States. There was only one more issue that irked me, which was the way the show handled Do-hyun’s first transformation into Shin Se-gi. It was understandable given the motivations of his alter ego that he beat the crap out of the abusive father, but what I took issue with was the daughter thanking him for what he did. Beating an abuser and threatening him is NOT the right way to ensure that he won’t hurt his victims again; in fact, it’s more likely to drive him to further violence, because of the shame of being seen as weak by the person he wants to have control over.
It felt like the show was trying to introduce us to the hero’s violent alter ego in a way that made us want to root for him, but if that’s true then the show failed. The moment that father gets over his fear or has a few too many drinks, he’s going to lash out with even more violence. And even when he regained his right mind, Do-hyun didn’t try to talk to Jennifer or help her overcome her fear so she could seek real, lasting protection. I know this is meant to be primarily a romantic comedy, but the opening to any drama is important and this one left a very bad taste in my mouth.
Moving on. Once we leave America, thankfully, I’m back on board (if only that had happened with Heirs). I loved the sequence that brought Do-hyun back to Korea, when he learns that Se-gi has his sights set on his family’s company. And once Ri-jin entered the picture, I was completely sold. Hwang Jung-eum brings a great energy to her character, emphasizing her openness but also her competence. She doesn’t hide her frustration with her brother (quite the opposite), but when it comes time to do her job, she assumes a professional demeanor and handles herself with class. Dramaland has been delivering some wonderful heroines lately, from Chun Song-yi in You From Another Star to Chae Young-shin in Healer, and I hope that Ri-jin will join their company.
I’m always happy when a leading lady can execute a good judo throw, and it was hilarious to hear her inner monologue when Shin Se-gi was delivering his cringe-worthy “I’ve fallen for you” speech. Already I think they have great chemistry, even though it’s neither bickering nor sizzling just yet.
There’s a lot we still need to learn, whether it’s about the dynamics within Do-hyun’s family, the specifics of his past traumas and his alter egos, or Ri-on’s motivations. But we’ve been given enough to be curious, and after only an hour I’m sufficiently a fan of Do-hyun and Ri-jin that I want them to overcome the obstacles they’re certainly going to face in upcoming weeks.
My favorite moment in this episode was definitely Ri-jin’s observation about the mood outside the club changing from romantic comedy to action, followed by a hint of the erotic with the whole jacket misunderstanding. It was more than a great comedic beat—it’s a statement about the potential of the show as a whole. With such distinct personalities all fighting for primacy inside of Do-hyun, we never know which genre we might enter at any moment in time.
Shin Se-gi, as we know, can turn any scene into a fight scene, and we’ve also learned that he hopes to spark a succession battle in the style of a corporate thriller. Then we have the suicidal personality, which could transition to hard-core melo at any moment, and a number of personalities we have yet to meet. Add that to the romance that seems to be shaping up already, and the potential is almost unlimited.
If Kill Me, Heal Me can play all of these genres off each other, staying ironically aware of itself the same way that Ri-jin gauges the mood before the fight, this show could turn into something great. But even if it doesn’t, I think we’re still in for a rollicking and enjoyable ride.
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