First Impression: D-Day

Ok, this is based on ep1 of D-Day. I am quite tempted to do recaps, so cross fingers and hopefully I get enough time to watch — and screen caps.


Main cast:

  • Kim Young-kwan (from Plus Nine Boys) as Lee Hae-sung. ER doctor, he is likely to be the doctor you want on your side if you are involved in an accident. Cos his maxim is never to give up on the patients, and he is quick thinking and calm under extreme stress.
  • Jung So-min (from Big Man) as Jung Ddol-mi. Intern doc from Busan, she is in Seoul to transfer an elderly patient to the hospital where Hae-sung and Dr Han Woo-jin work.
  • Ha Seok-jin (from Thrice Married Women) as Han Woo-jin. Oncologist, specialising in robotics surgery. Like Hae-sung, he too, is a good doctor. However, like his specialist field, Woo-jin is rather too cold and calculative.
  • Yoon Joo-hee (from God’s Quiz) as Park Ji-na. Nurse from the ER ward, but she is as capable as any doctor. She is very driven to save lives, at no matter what costs.
  • Kim Sang-ho (from Ten) as Choi Il-sub. Fireman/emergency aider. Although gruff, he is a big ol’ softie: he will complain about a hobo taking up his time with all his faked suicide attempts, but will still pay daily visits to said hobo to check up on him.


The earth only starts to shake dramatically at the end of ep1. Juz as well, since it gives us time to know our core characters better.


D-Day immediately introduces Hae-sung as a hothead — he is hauled to Court, cos a previous ER patient sued him for breaking his ribs while performing CPR. Hae-sung is let off and charges dropped, when he counters and asks the patient whether he prefers death or a few broken ribs.

Back in hospital, Hae-sung again displays the same disregard for authority when he insisted on performing an operation on a severely injured patient, even though the hospital’s Chairman, Park-gun (played by Lee Kyong-young) wanted to transfer the patient to another hospital. Park-gun, unfortunately, is those type of businessman-doctor, who only sees bottom lines and KPIs. To him, the severely injured patient poses a death risk and a drop in his hospital’s KPI.

In a meeting later, Chairman Park decides to drop the funding and purchase of disaster medical supplies to Hangang Mirae Hospital — the poorer (and less glam) branch hospital. He also praises Dr Han Woo-jin’s efforts for steering the hospital towards being an oncological specialist hospital, and Dr Kang Joo-ran (Kim Hye-eun), Hae-sung’s superior, for increasing the KPI of the ER ward. (in other words, she has been turning away the very sick patients, and only accepting those who have a higher survival rate)


For his insubordination, Hae-sung is transferred to the shabby Hangang Mirae Hospital — together with his mum, who is a vegetative patient at the hospital. We learn later that Hae-sung has an estranged brother, who works as a fireman and is Il-sub’s subordinate.


At a (very empty) press conference, Politician Goo Ja-hyuk (Cha In-pyo) speaks to the few (very bored) reporters about the possibility of a severe earthquake hitting Seoul. Nobody is impressed (or even convinced) over his rhetoric. (if only they knew…)

We switch track to see young intern, Dr Jung Ddol-mi, transferring a patient to Woo-jin’s hospital. She, like every other young doctors, is in awe and has a fan crush on Woo-jin. However, she doesn’t get to see him as he is busy with an op. Deciding to hang around instead of returning to her hospital in Busan, she wanders around the Han river with her ambulance’s driver at night.


And on the same night, fireman cum first aider, Il-sub, is hanging out with his hobo frenemy. A fight breaks out between the hobo and some cyclists after a few drinks on both sides, and the cyclists get into an accident after fleeing the scene. Nurse Ji-na happens to be jogging around Han River, and drags intern Ddol-mi to help perform first aid on the cyclists. In the ambulance, Ddol-mi is unable to perform pneumothorax on a severely wounded cyclist and Ji-na takes over.


Later in the hospital, Ji-na urges Ddol-mi to take credit for the pneumothorax since she cannot legally perform such procedures as a nurse. Woo-jin overhears their conversation and berates Ji-na for risking her job over a patient. It appears that Woo-jin and Ji-na were a couple (working in ER) previously, but broke up over differing views. (obviously) However, Ji-na tenders her resignation to prevent bringing the hospital any lawsuits later.


Hae-sung hears about Ji-na’s resignation, and brings her out for drinks and samgyeopsal. Nearby, Ddol-mi reflects on the scolding Hae-sung has given her (he too, has heard of the pneumothorax incident). Hae-sung sides Ji-na though, and chides Ddol-mi for only thinking about her career and not the patient’s life when she chooses not to perform the emergency procedure. Like Ddol-mi, it is also Ji-na’s first time performing a pneumothorax.


To end our doctors’ very busy day, an explosion suddenly rocks the city. Hae-sung and Ji-na escape the shik-dang where they are having dinner, only to stare in shock at the ground opening up in front of them. A crane breaks loose from its moorings and swerves towards them.


I like that D-Day gives us 3 interpretations of “D” in its title: Disaster, Despair and Determination. Which kinda sums up the psychological path which the victims and doctors will take — from desperation and hopelessness to a desire to survive, whatever the odds. And who else to help the victims increase their odds of survival but our team of dedicated doctors and nurses?


Hae-sung and Ji-na have already proven their worth as calm and capable ER frontliners. Il-sub with his no-nonsense, yet caring personality, is also a good add to our disaster team. As for calculative and robotic Woo-jin — I don’t doubt his skills, but his heart isn’t really in “saving people” at the moment. But very likely the scenario of a massive disaster will tweak that mindset. As for young intern Ddol-mi, not that she doesn’t have her heart in the proper place, she is juz too inexperienced. Again, that lacking in experience bit will be remedied as she will very soon be working on Ground Zero.


Since D-Day is focused on the earthquake(s) that strikes Seoul, and the subsequent life savings (?), I really hope to see very, very much less of the annoying corporate side of medical kdramas. As it is, I already detest Chairman Park, and his manoeuvrings to make his hospital THE oncological hospital of Seoul, to the extent of cutting budget for disaster-related supplies in Hangang Mirae Hospital. In his words, he’d rather pay the “cheap fine” imposed by the govt, than “waste” resources on purchasing emergency supplies which he assumes will never be used. (excuse me, that’s what “emergency supplies” are for)


I can’t wait to see how he will end up eating his own words.

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