K-Drama Review: Live Up To Your Name, Dr. Heo (2017) by Kim Eun-hee

“Live Up To Your Name, Dr Heo” is just the first TV drama that Kim Eun-hee pens after she co-wrote the award-winning “The Queen’s Classroom.” Kim follows successfully the pattern of blending different genres and makes a part-historical and part-modern romantic comedy that is also a fantasy time-travel medical drama with elements of melodrama and suspense.

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The story of “Live Up To Your Name, Dr Heo” revolves around Heo I’m (Kim Nam-Gil), a skilful acupuncture doctor who, during the day, works at Haeminseo treating low-class citizens and secretly at night treats high-ranking officials, in order to gain money. Due to his exceptional skills, he is proud to treat the King of Joseon, despite his low-class background. As this day arrives, he finds a needle case that catches his eye and decides to treat the King with that. However, during the treatment, his hands start to shake and he fails to fulfil his mission. Being then chased by the King’s guards, he falls in the Han River and he finds himself in modern Seoul. Here, he crosses roads with the surgeon Choi Yeon-Kyung (Kim Ah-Joong) who works at Shinhan Hospital who she also despises oriental medicine.

“Live Up To Your Name, Dr Heo” has an utterly interesting and solid plot with very few exceptions and some questions left answered. Moreover, the scriptwriter adopts a refreshing way to implement the time-travel element, making the drama to stand out, plot-wise, from other similar time-travel dramas. This is non-other than the fact that both leads find themselves to an entirely new world for them and forced to get accustomed to it, delivering genuine laughs to the viewer. Furthermore, with this new aspect of their life, it comes to their growth as human beings and the discovery of what is truly important to them.

Additionally, the acting by the cast is noteworthy and especially Kim Nam-gil as Heo Im is exceptional. Everyone that has watched his previous projects won’t be surprised by his immense acting. Easily, he can be considered one of the best actors of his generation as he has great scene presence and charisma. This is proven here also, as he pulls off excellently well all scenes, from the comical to the heart-whelming ones without making his character seem like a caricature. Furthermore, he is an actor who acts also with his eyes and these clearly shows his character’s dilemma and his torn apart heart as he has to choose between helping people of Joseon as a doctor and staying at modern Seoul by the side of his love. Regarding the role of Choi Yeon-Kyung, it was a great choice to be given to Kim Ah-Joong, as she portrays the strong-willed and determined surgeon in an utterly convincing and natural way.

What is more, the chemistry between the two leads is remarkable. Not only do they demonstrate an authentic connection of their characters in intimate scenes but also in the funny ones. The duo never fails to impress in their scenes together. One of the most outstanding ones that stay engraved in the viewer’s mind is the one where the two protagonists transfer back to Joseon and Heo I’m figuring out the connection between the transfers. Then, Choi Yeon-Kyung tries everything to get herself back in modern Seoul, causing genuine laughs to the viewer.

Hong Jong-chan pays attention to the action scenes also. These scenes are impressively well-made and give the vibe of cinematic quality. Even though these scenes are genuinely rare, they are technically articulate and quite brutal. Especially fascinating are the sword fighting scenes The only drawback regarding the technical execution is during one scene involving an accident in the final episode.

Speaking of the final episode, “Live Up To Your Name, Dr Heo” also fails a little in the delivery of its ending which could be more powerful and show a greater will by the characters regarding their choices. Regardless, it is a must-watch drama due to its praiseworthy cast and its interesting plotline – two skilful doctors from different timelines despite their obvious initial differences, try to save the lives of their patients and at the same time to save their love.

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