… One year later. Damn, I really missed this title when it was first airing, but at least I still saw it! I did it after much prodding from gummimochi and because I was left with a vacuum after She Was Pretty ended. I needed more of Park Seo Joon and Hwang Jung Eum! And this drama certainly did not disappoint.
Kill Me Heal Me follows a young man Cha Do Hyun (Ji Sung) who has dissociative identity disorder (DID), broken down into seven different personalities. Shin Se Ki, the bad boy; Ahn Yo Seob, the studious, suicidal high schooler; Ahn Yo Na, the oppa-crazy twin sister of Yo Seob; Perry Park, a drunkard and amateur bomb maker; Nana, a young child with traumatic memories; and Mr. X. He lives in the States seeking treatment, but when Se Ki comes out in full force, Do Hyun finds his life going out of control when he returns to Korea with a new position in his grandmother’s company.
Ji Sung navigates between the different personalities with great aplomb. He makes every single one different enough that you can tell who he is at each time. It also helps that he switches between costumes for all the personalities, and the lighting generally changes and a tint is added depending on his personality. (For example, when Yo Na appears the scene has a light pink tint around it.) They all have their own “belongings” that they will change into, provided that Do Hyun is home and has access to his closet. Otherwise, the outfits are “imagined,” and seen only by the viewers to reinforce which personality is alive at the moment. It’s clear that Yo Na is the favorite personality, as she appears more often than is necessary towards the end of the drama. Thankfully her trigger is whenever Do Hyun must internalize pain while out in public, and that can happen easily and often enough. Perry Park seems to have changed, going from a bomb maker to avid fisherman but he’s still as whimsical as ever. I have never really cared for Ji Sung in any drama, but this show completely changed my perspective on him. He’s got an amazing range to be brooding one minute, bubbly the next.
There are business issues to be dealt with in the drama, as well as succession issues (he and his far more capable cousin Ki Joon are constantly at odds), but Do Hyun is most worried about his other personalities coming out. And that’s no wonder since they all have various stress and trigger points, and he’s working in a stressful environment with his secretive and suffocating family. So with the help of his trusty Manager Ahn (Choi Won Young, delightfully good), they seek out a psychiatrist to help him. Enter Oh Ri Jin (Hwang Jung Eum), who is a talented first year resident under the tutelage of Dr. Suk Ho Pil (Go Chang Suk). Dr. Suk also worked with Do Hyun before, so there is some inherent trust in his protégée. Ri Jin first meets Se Ki and has no idea what to do with him, especially since he proclaims his love for her at first sight. But she’s quick on the uptake and realizes his disorder, and, feeling the need to look after him, chooses to be his personal psychiatrist.
One thing to note is that Hwang Jung Eum does not really have a variety of acting styles. She just goes all out in her role, screaming like no other. She doesn’t care how she looks in the drama, which is great, but she also is always loud and abrasive. It works considering she adds to the comedy, but it’s also glaringly obviously when I watch this and She Was Pretty almost back to back. It’s a little disappointing coming from her, but she does hold her own well enough with her costars.
No drama is complete without a triangle. However the third wheel is a surprise considering it’s Oh Ri Ohn (Park Seo Joon), an accomplished author under the pen name Writer Omega and twin brother of Ri Jin. Now we can’t have incest in a drama! Or can we? Ri Ohn is hilarious and quite the character, making fun of his sister at her expense in one moment and then being completely understanding and supportive the next. He finds himself wrapped up in Ri Jin’s secret job, especially when Yo Na takes quite the liking to him. But more mysteriously, Ri Ohn holds the key to Do Hyun and Ri Jin’s connected past.
I think Park Seo Joon is one of the biggest delights in this drama. Being annoying to Ri Jin seems to come naturally to him, and it makes their relationship one of the highlights of this drama. My ultimate favorite moment is in episode 11 when Ri Ohn and Ri Jin make up after a fight with a rendition of Team Rocket’s motto. Ri Jin is so lucky to have such a supportive family, and it is so important later in the series when you discover more about Do Hyun’s family and secretive past. And it’s lucky for us that Hwang Jung Eum creates great chemistry with her costars in a very platonic way. I believe her platonic relationships more than her romantic ones, so Park Seo Joon gets the benefit here.
There are moments where you wonder if the love triangle really is between two siblings and Do Hyun, which is really weird when you consider all the incestuous innuendos. But it is a love triangle in that it’s two men competing for Ri Jin’s attention, affection, and adoration. Ri Ohn isn’t necessarily looking for romantic love, but he’s always been the hero to his little sister and the one she always turned to. And now he has to share her with Do Hyun, and that has got to be a bit of a blow to his pride and his role in Ri Jin’s life. And that’s as far as I’ll go without sharing more spoilers…
Because spoilers will ruin this drama for you, Viewer Who Has Yet to See It. And the twists are certainly surprising. I will hand it to the writer for plotting out the story of Do Hyun’s past and his downward spiral to developing DID very very well, so well that little tidbits pay off. It’s a twist that I managed to avoid all year until I finally watched it, and I’m so glad for it because I was hooked into watching the last eight hours straight. Which is bad when I usually do marathons in more manageable 2-4-hour chunks.
The one area of writing that failed for me was coloring the other characters in Do Hyun’s life. Chae Yeon (Kim Yoo Ri) was bland as your typical evil female second lead who’s used to getting what she wants. It’s a role not unlike her character in Cheongdamdong Alice, and I didn’t like her there either. She was a b*tch, and it was frustrating to watch her. I also didn’t care enough about Do Hyun’s corrupt uncle, whose fraudulent activities are merely hinted at but never fully explored. I guess they’re not that important to begin with, but it’d be nice to make the uncle a little more evil and colorful if Do Hyun is battling him for succession of the company. Even Ki Joon (Oh Min Suk) could use a little more coloring as an evil person. He’s superbly capable and I don’t even think he’d be a bad choice to take over the company. However he always seems ready to destroy Do Hyun and find out something to soil his name, only to never fully finish the deed. In the end, Ki Joon is just painted as a bad guy by association with his father, which is kind of unfair. And the way Do Hyun handles his uncle and cousin is unsatisfying to say the least. You could argue that Do Hyun beats the both of them to the punch, never allowing his uncle and cousin to get the best of him. But their rise and fall from power is sudden and feels like an afterthought in the writing.
But we don’t watch this drama to see the tension in the company. We watch it to see how Do Hyun will battle his demons with Ri Jin by his side. And defeat them he does, giving each personality a loving goodbye for both Ri Jin and our benefit.
Verdict: Had this drama made it to my 2015 year end review, it would easily have been in the top five. 9/10. That should teach me to watch dramas sooner than later!