Kolorful Palette: Open and shut [Healer]
Well who knew that a drama about a night courier getting caught up in a world of news and political intrigue would be so squee-worthy? I’m not sure I would quite label Healer as a romantic comedy, and yet it has me swooning and giggling more than I have in months. It just goes to show that we don’t have be beaten over the head with fan service to experience a great romance.
It’s probably no mystery why I chose to draw a shot from the rooftop kiss scene (if you didn’t love it you’re probably watching the wrong show) but I did specifically choose to draw Jung-hoo studying Young-shin’s face because I felt like that’s what really added the magic. The way that he looked at her was filled with a tenderness that belies his other personas, but the fact that the looked at her for so long (before and after) was telling too. This wasn’t some impetuous wrist-grab kiss, and it also wasn’t a kiss planned to be the first of many. It was a single moment to be treasured, and it felt like Jung-hoo was trying to memorize every second of it.
Jung-hoo knew exactly what he was doing, and didn’t act out of weakness or broken resolve. Of course this was something he wanted, but it also wasn’t his first rooftop meeting where he wanted to kiss her. The difference this time was that he saw how much it hurt Young-shin to think that Healer kept helping her for money, and that wasn’t something he could abide, so it gave him the push he needed. It’s bittersweet for both of them though: for Jung-hoo because he doesn’t think it can happen again, and for Young-shin because she doesn’t understand why it can’t.
Although I was pretty freaking giddy when I first watched this scene, all that bittersweetness primarily makes me sad when I look at this image. Jung-hoo deserves this moment without having to hide his identity and leave it behind him. I’m glad he hasn’t turned into a pile of mush and just thrown his life aside, but a part of me wants to berate him for not just giving up his courier job, confessing, and living a normal life. I don’t think that would be the right thing to do with everything he’s currently caught up in, but I don’t think that’s his problem. I think he’s afraid to live, and afraid to be left.
I think what makes this romance work particularly well is that Jung-hoo is essentially competing with himself (instead of the typical love triangle) and that gives us a lot of OTP screen time while also allowing the relationship(s) to develop slowly and not get stale. Unfortunately neither version of Jung-hoo is quite the real him, so matter what he does he’ll feel like he’s lost, at least until he comes clean. Initially I thought that dorky Bong-soo was nothing other than a disguise, but the more I watch Jung-hoo the more I realize he’s not just badass Healer, and he’s actually adorably awkward in a lot of situations (even when he’s not putting on a show). Bong-soo also represents Jung-hoo’s emotional side, and since he can tell himself he’s just acting, he’s free to speak and feel in ways that would normally be too scary for him. As a result I think he’s starting to recognize how much healthier Bong-soo is than Healer. When he asks Young-shin out as Bong-soo it doesn’t just feel like a desperate Plan B since Healer can’t be in a relationship. It feels like Healer is someone he no longer wants to be.
A lot of the time it actually feels less like we’re discovering who Jung-hoo is, and more like we’re watching him be born. Up until now he’s never really existed in the real world since Healer is someone who lives in the shadows, separate from society. What makes this “birth” even more enjoyable is that he’s discovering the real world through Young-shin’s eyes. In Healer’s world Jung-hoo is the absolute expert, but Young-shin’s world is a mystery to him. He looks completely stunned by his co-workers’ reactions to their first live broadcast, as if he’d never thought of an achievement beyond completing a courier job before. He seems equally mystified by friendships, doting family, and Young-shin’s hilarious dancing. It’s tragic that his life has been so sheltered, but that just makes such scenes even more uplifting to watch.
What also helps this romance work is that there are none of the typical misunderstandings or convenient obstacles to make every episode feel like an agonizing drag. Both characters fully acknowledge their feelings, so there is no pining for second leads or obtuse denial of attraction. Instead of hitting our heads against the wall we understand why they’re not together (yet) and we can just enjoy watching their relationship progress alongside the plot. It’s perfection.
Anyways, back to the drawing! My goal was to make it feel wintery and soft, so I kept the colors pastelly and didn’t try anything dramatic. It’s such a sweet moment that I didn’t want the image to feel harsh or contrasty, and I think I mostly succeeded. I tried out a new medium in Corel Painter (one of the wet gouache brushes) and I think I’ll have to add it to my arsenal (although I still have a lot of experimenting to do). I kinda just want to draw Healer exclusively from now on (not that I will) since it has such great material and so much variety (if they could just shoot a few scenes wearing hanbok I’d be set).
In retrospect I’m a little embarrassed that I just gushed about romance for this entire post, but blame the drama, not the viewer! I won’t have a new drawing for you for the next two weeks, but I’ll be squealing with the rest of you in the meantime. Happy Healer watching!
- Kolorful Palette: Wishing you a cozy Christmas [Healer]
- Kolorful Palette: Waiting for the train [Healer]
- Healer: Episode 2
- Healer: Episode 1
- High-speed thrills for hire in action drama Healer
- No mission too impossible for the Healer
- Reporters and buried secrets drive action thriller Healer
- Ji Chang-wook leaps across skyscraper rooftops for Healer
- Healer’s cast lineup and first script reading