Published on January 12th, 2015 | by porninja0
First impressions: Kill Me, Heal Me
It probably isn’t an exaggeration when I say that Kill Me, Heal Me seemed doomed from the start. The drama once reportedly courted Hyun Bin but lost him to the other split-personality drama Hyde, Jekyll, Me (premiering in about a week’s time on 21 January), then was said to be in final contract negotiations with Lee Seung Gi and Im Ji Yeon before they pulled out last minute, citing scheduling conflicts. Thankfully, third time appears to be the charm and with two months to the premiere date, the drama finally locked down Ji Sung and Hwang Jung Eum as leads, who both will be reuniting since their stint together as twisted lovers in last year’s ratings hit Secret.
It does raise a red flag when so much drama surrounds the production before it’d even begun – not to mention, the premise sounds… well, kind of crazy. Deemed a “healing romance”, the story’s about a third-generation chaebol with dissociative identity disorder, who has six other personas. The heroine is a first-year resident psychiatrist who will become his secret family doctor, and along the way, she ends up falling for one of his personalities.
Going in, I really didn’t know what to expect, especially in terms of tone. Were they going for the light-hearted approach? How were they going to tackle the sensitive issue of mental illness? Dramaland doesn’t exactly have the most sterling reputation when it comes to medical ethics so it was a little worrisome. After watching the first two episodes, I might have to eat my words because it was a lot better than I could have imagined (once you get past the first 15 minutes or so that was set in the States, which included lots of stilted acting and awkward English). A little over the top, yes, but thoroughly enjoyable. It’s even got some genuine laugh-out-loud moments. Admittedly, a large part of why this isn’t a hot mess (yet) is Ji Sung, who plays his character (characters?) with a certain groundedness that makes you empathise and want to root for him. Watching a veteran like him tackle seven different personas with complete ease makes me kind of glad that Seung Gi decided to sit this one out.
Ji Sung is Cha Do Hyun, the sole heir to a large corporation called Seungjin Group. He’s a nice, gentle guy who’s been battling dissociative identity disorder for the past few years due to a childhood trauma and his six other identities include Shin Se Gi (an unapologetic playboy with a violent streak), Ferry Park (a 40-year-old man), Ahn Yo Sub (a suicidal teenage boy), Ahn Yo-na (a sassy teen girl), Nana (a 7-year-old girl), and Mysterious X (a mysterious guy). (Source)
Do Hyun’s been living in the States and trying to keep his illness a secret from his family but after a run-in with the police (no thanks to Se Gi), his family now wants him back in Korea. While he refused at first since he hasn’t yet recovered, Do Hyun realises belatedly that Se Gi has stirred up trouble once again when he finds himself on a plane arriving at Incheon International Airport. Via a recording on his phone, Se Gi informs Do Hyun that he’s taking them back to Korea so that they can take over the corporation.
So far, we’ve only gotten acquainted with Do Hyun and Shin Se Gi, which makes me believe that Se Gi will probably be the most prominent out of the six split personalities – though I’m definitely not complaining. Ambitious and fiery, he’s a lot more interesting than Do Hyun, and I really like the idea that he’s slowly gaining strength and actually has the intention of taking over all the other personalities, including Do Hyun’s. To make things even more complicated, Se Gi takes an immediate liking to Oh Ri Jin (Hwang Jung Eum) and it’s all a little too intense and sudden, though Ri Jin would be lying if she said she weren’t a little swoony. Jung Eum’s playing her character a little shouty for my liking at the moment, but I have no doubt that she’ll tone it down in due time.
We know that Ri Jin will soon be hired as a secret doctor to treat Do Hyun without the family finding out about his illness, but it’s going to be a dilemma for her once she falls in love with Shin Se Gi – torn between treating her patient and saying goodbye to the guy she loves, and staying with the guy she loves even if it means that Do Hyun will continue to live with his dissociative personality disorder. Or will it come to a point where she’ll support Shin Se Gi in his aim to become the one ruling personality amongst them all? This conundrum is made even more interesting because these are questions we’ll probably end up asking ourselves as viewers as we go on. I can definitely see myself being swept away by the charismatic Shin Se Gi, and eagerly wanting him to overstay his welcome.
From an acting standpoint, I cannot emphasise enough how wonderful Ji Sung is. When he’s Do Hyun, he’s anxious and meek and his eyes, gentle and kind. And when he’s Shin Se Gi, he suddenly snaps into this very intense man, with a smirk at the ready and a gaze that can penetrate into your soul (god, those eyes). I don’t even think there’s a real need to use physical markers like a tattoo or eyeliner to highlight the transformation from one personality to another, simply because Ji Sung plays each one so differently. From the facial expression, to body language, to the way he walks and holds himself, there are absolutely no similarities, which only makes me more assured that he’ll bring this same quality of acting to the rest of the personalities that we’ve yet to see (Who else is excited to see Ji Sung play a sassy teenage girl?).