I haven’t said much about Healer on this blog, cos there are juz too many fansites out there which have a lot to say. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the show or have nothing to say about it. On the contrary. Healer will go down in my kdramas’ memories as being one of the better scripted shows, with an OTP that shows good chemistry and solid acting all round. I even kinda like the villain.
I credit most of Healer‘s success to the story’s development. Healer very cleverly uses past events and intertwines it with the present without having too much logic gaps (think Reset, with its spotchy past-present filterings which leave us going ?? rather than enlightened), and actually makes whatever happened in the past very relevant to characterisations as well. I see Healer as a show that compares 2 generations of characters: the “oldies” and the “young’uns”. And in most cases, the young’uns fare much better than the oldies.
Young-jae (ex-Healer)/ Jung-soo vs. Jung-hoo (Healer)
Jung-hoo’s dad (Jung-soo) doesn’t have a chance to influence his son’s character and upbringing, cos he died even before Jung-hoo grew up. Therefore, much of the “fathering” is done by capricious Young-jae. In many ways, Jung-hoo emulates Young-jae and subconsciously uses him as a role model. Jung-hoo not only inherits Young-jae’s skills but he also adopts Young-jae’s flippant attitude and prefers to remain very much the loner — evident in the earlier parts of the show when he hasn’t met Young-shin.
However, while Young-jae prefers to turn his face away from the conflicts between his friends, Jung-hoo doesn’t. Young-jae took the “safer” route to juz ignore and not pursue the cause of death of two of his friends, even though he guesses it has to do with Moon-shik. Jung-hoo, on the other hand, takes on the case like a dog with a bone. Even without knowing Young-shin and her involvement in the affair, he is ready to uncover the truth behind the picture he spotted in Myung-hee’s bedroom.
It took Young-jae in his final moments to acknowledge that Jung-hoo is simply braver than he is, for not running away and choosing to reveal the truth, no matter how scary or ugly it may be.
Myung-hee vs. Young-shin
As Young-shin observes, both of them have debilitating physiological responses to the trauma they experienced in 1992. In Myung-hee’s case, the reference to her presumed dead child and her husband’s murder sets off her fits. Young-shin freezes up when she sees violence and feels uncomfortable in speeding cars — leftover responses from being abandoned and later abused by her foster families.
To their credit, both manage to overcome their PTSD to a certain extent. Myung-hee actually recovers almost completely from it, managing to tell Moon-shik she knows about her missing, but alive, child before she leaves him for good and not collapsing when she finally meets Young-shin as her mother for the first time. Young-shin too, isn’t so helpless as before, as she acclimatises to Jung-hoo and his modus operandi. In ep20, she doesn’t even close her eyes to Jung-hoo whacking those thugs that much.
But while Myung-hee spends much of her life post-1992-trauma incapacitated, Young-shin manages to outgrow her initial childhood fears of abandonment and abuse. Imo, Young-shin as a character really impressed me more in the earlier eps than in the later. Her willingness to acknowledge her fear and overcome it, in the bid to “protect” her hapless hoobae, Bong-soo, her chasing after Healer into the gents to retrieve her bag, her spunkiness in lying through her teeth to get the interviews she wants as a paparazzi reporter — I fully understand why Jung-hoo will fall for her.
Moon-shik vs Moon-ho
In many ways, they are the same. While Moon-shik sells his soul to the dark side, he does it with the intention to save the girl he loves from being murdered. And he does feel guilty for betraying his friends, and smearing Jung-soo’s reputation by pinpointing him as a murderer. I admit, I felt kinda sorry for him, especially in scenes where he sees the ghosts of his friends taunting him for his decision to “lose” Ji-an. And later, in ep20, the very powerful scene of Moon-shik deluding himself and taking on the identity of Gil-han. Although he may not have a direct hand at Gil-han or Jung-soo’s murders, he subconsciously feels responsible for them.
But that doesn’t redeem him for his later crimes, which he ordered Secretary Oh to carry out. And also his earlier decisions to stop looking for Ji-an, and keeping Myung-hee drugged in order to keep her.
Although Moon-ho is on the side of the Good Guys’ camp, he is juz as culpable for Jung-soo/ Gil-han’s murders. He helped Moon-shik lie to the police, falsifying a statement to prove that Gil-han and Jung-soo are at loggerheads with each other over financial issues. Young Moon-ho knows this is wrong, and it eats at him. Like how Min-jae describes him, Moon-ho is basically a coward. Although he plots against Moon-shik, he hasn’t dared to enter a full fledged war against his brother. Not until he meets his catalysts — Young-shin and Jung-hoo.