Move through Fantasy and Reality while watching Asian Drama!
Description: ?Time Slip Dr. Jin? has themes of time-travel. Jin Hyuk (Song Seung Hun) is a genius neurosurgeon with a cold and severe attitude in his interactions with other people due to his personal pursuit of perfection. Through a mysterious power, Jin Hyuk finds himself transported back to year 1860 (Joseon Dynasty Period). He begins treating people there, but the lack of necessary implements and rudimentary medical knowledge of the period forces him to seek new ways to aid the sick. Through this challenging process, Jin Hyuk eventually becomes a genuine doctor.
"Time-Slip" Pales In Comparison to "Jin"
Korean mega-broadcasting network MBC decided to produce a remake of Morishita Yoshiko?s ?Jin? derived from the manga of the same title by Murakami Motoka that chronicled the plights of a misplaced 21st-century medical doctor transported to the Edo period. The Korean version ?Dr. Jin?, also inanely called as ?Time Slip Dr. Jin?, follows a very similar plot—though Joseon rather than Edo—led by a protagonist named ?Jin Hyuk? played by the young Song Seung Hoon. Though potentially powerful, in substance and in essence, the remade Korean version disappoints.
After two excruciating episodes, the Korean ?Dr. Jin? established two important things: that it pales in comparison to Morishita?s and Murakami?s, and that the Korean ?Dr. Jin? is another typical Korean drama series following the equally typical Korean drama template.
The Japanese ?Jin? proved to be a masterpiece. Sure there were a lot of brilliantly executed pathos; but looking further and more in-depth, one could easily find themes of the human condition. Among them were the dilemmas of one?s intervention in the past and one?s intervention in other people?s lives; another were the repercussions of one?s actions. In fact, Miki—in the Japanese version—introduced the audience to the idea of a ?butterfly effect? in the second episode to support the themes that the scriptwriter deliciously weaved into the series.
Not only that the Korean version lacks powerful themes for substance, it is, as stated earlier, very typical. Sadly, the Korean version is on the brink of disgrace. It is, like many other Korean dramas, a public squabble of love triangles, jealousy, and pathetic macho-conflicts or ?my horse is bigger than yours? arguments.
(I also could not help but cringe at the presence of Kim Jaejoong. I know many fan-girls go gaga on him, but I don?t. I am not a fan girl. I am someone who relishes in the power and exquisiteness of a plot and the brilliance of elocution and execution. I don?t need a boy-idol whose acting maturity is as juvenile as his face to mess up one of the best plots ever made in manga-drama history!)
But looking back at the Korean ?Dr. Jin? with kinder eyes, one can enjoy the typical thrills and ironies that Korean dramas typically provide. But I lament! Of all plots, why take ?Jin? and butcher it? Why, oh why?! Lack of ideas? (Lack of) Originality? Oh well? I move on.
Another very crucial aspect of this drama is the title. ?Jin? comes from ?Jinsei? (人生) which means ?life?. It is a double entendre as ?Jin? can be the name of the doctor or ?Jin? as the chronicle of his life and the lives of others around him. It is even more remarkable as ?life? in itself is yet another pun as it can be the essence of being alive as well as the amalgamation of one?s entirety. "Jin" by itself also means "charity" which truly reflects Jin-sensei’s personality and the intricate care and kindness that he expresses as the protagonist. The Korean title of ?Time Slip Dr. Jin? is like puke on silk. Lost in translation? Who knows? Cry me a river.
Another crucial aspect that the Korean version left out is the character of ?Miki? (Jdrama only) as the lover of Dr. Jin in the 21st century who will also appear as the elegant and divine courtesan in Edo. ?Miki? is crucial as her existence reflects the internal turmoil that Jin-sensei (Japanese version) experiences when he is faced with an infatuation for Saki (a different character in the Edo period). This infatuation with Saki and his past (or future) relationship with Miki presents a conflict of past and future. It will also constantly intrigue the audience with the question, ?Who will Jin-sensei choose?? Will he stay in the past or will he try to go back to the future? Will it be Miki or Saki?
Perhaps I can forgive the Korean version for such insulting omission but I cannot help but lament at Park Min Young?s limited acting abilities. Her Min Ah (21st century) and Young Rae (Joseon) are so similar that one cannot see the difference between the two—and yes, they are supposedly two different people. On the other hand, Nakatani Miki?s acting, who played both Miki (the 21st century doctor) and Nokaze (the Edo courtesan), makes Park Min Young?s look like rotting bitter-melons in a fresh vegetable stand. Nakatani?s Miki and Nokaze have very similar personalities but her acting is extremely superb that the audience forgets that they are actually acted by the same person. Still, I do commend actor Song Seung Hoon for his okay acting.
Among the important motifs in the original Japanese version that are absent in the Korean version are the butterfly, the kaleidoscope, the red district, the cliff, the steam ship, the forest path, the lantern, the fried tofu and penicillin (though penicillin may appear in the Korean version?s future episodes). The butterfly is important as it represents the ?butterfly effect? that was discussed earlier. On the other hand, the red district reflects Nokaze?s plight and seclusion—the red district being her prison. Effectively, the existence of the red district intensifies Nokaze?s yearning for happiness and freedom. Furthermore, the cliff is important as it is where Jin-sensei ponders and thinks of the things happening around him, it is where he presents his solemn soliloquies concerning his actions, their repercussions, and his yearnings. To an extent, the cliff is parallel to that of Hamlet?s ?to be or not to be?; Jin-sensei entertains the thought of jumping off the cliff as he hypothesizes that his death will lead to his return to his era. (I will not pain myself to write more as this is getting really long, so watch the Japanese original if you wish to understand the importance of the other motifs.)
Nonetheless, the Korean version still has potential. If, by some miracle, MBC evades the typical Korean love triangle, then maybe the plot’s effectiveness will not be lost. I am also expecting to see growth in many of the characters, the effective utilization of time, and proper tempo that corresponds with the effective utilization of time. This is a time-traveling story so it is expected for the re-makers to know how to manipulate time. I am also looking forward to Korean Dr. Jin’s posse of enthusiastic western medicine practitioners especially the Korean Ogata-sensei who is another crucial character.
All in all, I am extremely frustrated and disappointed as—for now at least—SK?s Dr. Jin pales in comparison to the original.
(for more: http://wumiko.blogspot.com/2012/06/sks-dr-jin-pales-in-comparison-to.html).