A battle of principles in JTBC’s medical drama Life
Ever since I jumped on the Forest of Secrets bandwagon, I’ve been waiting on pins and needles for writer Lee Soo-yeon’s next project. And now that we’re a little over three weeks away from its premiere, I’m struggling to contain my excitement, especially since the posters and teaser that have been released for the JTBC’s Life look amazing.
The show is set in a hospital, where there seems to be a conflict of principles among the staff. Our leads, Lee Dong-wook (The Lonely Shining Goblin) and Jo Seung-woo (Forest of Secrets) are placed on either side of the divide. Lee Dong-wook will be playing Ye Jin-woo, an ER specialist who values the calling to save lives, and whose poster reads, “I saw blood spill.” He will face off against Jo Seung-woo’s Gu Seung-hyo, the new General Director of the hospital where the drama takes place. Director Gu is all about the numbers, and the tagline on his poster gives you some sense of what he values: “Hospitals are businesses, and medicine is an industry. Why should they be any different?”
The premise sounds like a familiar conflict in medical dramas, but I’m looking forward to how this writer delivers a fresh take on it. And with such a star-studded cast, which includes some familiar faces from Forest of Secrets, like Yoo Jae-myung, who plays the head of the thoracic surgery center Joo Kyung-moon, and whose poster asks, “How long do you think we can hold on like this?” I was also happy to spot Forest alums Lee Kyu-hyung (Smart Prison Living) and Eom Hyo-sub (I’m Not a Robot) in the newest teaser.
The teaser starts with Lee Dong-wook at work in the ER and narrating offscreen, “The most common question I’m asked is: Isn’t it so difficult that you’d rather die? The next question is always why I had chosen this path.” He says his answer to those questions is, “Because I studied that hard to save people’s lives.” But all that pressure takes its toll and Eom Hyo-sub tells Jo Seung-woo that doctors die of overwork: “Can you imagine how difficult it must have been to drive a doctor to commit suicide?”
But Jo Seung-woo is having none of it and fires back that they’re all looking for sympathy now that they got caught trying to hush it up. I’m not liking the fact the screen keeps cutting to Lee Kyu-hyung on a bed, looking lost and lethargic when the other characters are talking about doctors committing suicide. His character must be close to Lee Dong-wook, because he sounds regretful at having confided in the latter about something.
It looks like an incident starts the ball rolling in Life, as someone arrives DOA (dead on arrival) in an ambulance on April 5th: “After hearing a subordinate’s pointed words. Dead.” Won Jin-ah (Just Between Lovers) rushes into the hospital and gets riled up at Yoo Jae-myung’s words that surgery won’t help. As Lee Dong-wook futilely works to revive a patient, he muses, “It must have been the most difficult day for you. When I said those horrible things, on your last day.”
Man, I’m getting chills, which is strange since medical dramas are one of my least favorite genres, but I just can’t wait to see what Lee Soo-yeon does with Life, since she managed to turn the overused political thriller genre into one of the best dramas of 2017. And the directors’ credits are equally impressive, with Hong Jong-chan (of The Most Beautiful Goodbye in the World, Live Up to Your Name, and Dear My Friends) and Im Hyun-wook (of This Week My Wife Will Have an Affair and Awl) at the helm.
The cast is nothing to laugh at either, with Moon Sori (Little Forest) playing Oh Se-hwa, the first ever female head of the neurosurgery center, who looks like a force to be reckoned with on her poster, where she says, “My work can’t be evaluated by money.” Veterans Chun Ho-jin (My Golden Life), Moon Sung-geun (Falsify), and Yeom Hye-ran (Lawless Attorney) round out the impressive lineup.
I realize that JTBC’s Life is going to premiere this month, but July 23 just sounds so far away. It will take over Miss Hammurabi’s Monday-Tuesday slot on the cable station. In the meantime, I might just have to re-watch Forest of Secrets for the third time to help make the wait easier.