Yong Pal tells the story of Kim Tae Hyun (Joo Won) who is a talented doctor desperately in need of money to help his sick sister. He becomes a secret personal doctor to gangsters and rich people involved in illegal activities and goes by the code name Yong Pal.
Yong Pal was a fun drama that I found to be a nice change of pace from what else is out there. The drama started off strong as we get to see Tae Hyun being the secret doctor to gang members. Sadly, this activity didn’t go on for very long, and it would have been interesting to see a bit more of that.
His cover is quickly blown by Chief Surgeon Lee (Jung Woong In) who basically forces Tae Hyun to use his skills as a doctor on the 12th floor of the hospital. The 12th floor caters to rich people who need privacy, and Tae Hyun is called in to help cover up their illegal activities.
He soon learns of a mysterious patient, Han Yeo Jin (Kim Tae Hee), who is being forcibly kept in a coma so that her brother, Han Do Joon (Jo Hyun Jae), can run their company. While taking care of her, Tae Hyun’s sister takes a turn for the worse. He desperately needs money, and a momentarily lucid Yeo Jin says she will give him the money if he helps her escape.
Tae Hyun brings Yeo Jin completely out of her coma, and she simply pretends when around other people. While secretly making plans for the escape, the two bond during their late night talks.
Their plans end up being altered when Do Joon decides to kill Yeo Jin by faking her suicide. In the action packed escape, Yeo Jin barely makes it out alive, and Tae Hyun ends up seriously hurt from a gunshot. Tae Hyun’s team of trusted nurses and doctors, especially Cynthia (Stephanie Lee), who just happens to turn into a ninja during the escape, help him fake Yeo Jin’s death to protect her. After some recovery time, the two escape the hospital and flee to a church to hide.
Our couple’s relationship blossoms during this time, and a romance is born. It happened quite quickly, but it was nice to see the two lovebirds get a chance to just enjoy a simple life, even if it was only for a moment.
But things are still crazy back at the hospital, and Tae Hyun is forced to return. With all of the people who knew about Do Joon keeping Yeo Jin in the coma suddenly dying, he knows he is in trouble. With Cynthia ‘s help, he is able to arrange for his sister So Hyun (Park Hye Soo) to be treated in America while he deals with the aftermath.
But Tae Hyun is in for a surprise when Yeo Jin suddenly joins him back at the hospital ready to help protect him by coming back from the dead and reclaiming her name and position.
They devise a plan to marry each other so that Tae Hyun can be Yeo Jin’s legal guardian instead of Do Joon. Of course, Tae Hyun waits until the last minute to register the marriage. He agrees to make one last gangster house call beforehand and ends up caught by the police.
Luckily, he saves one of the cops lives and then Doo Chul (Song Kyung Chul), a gangster boss he had previously saved who had grown particularly attached to Tae Hyun, says he will deliver a bad guy right to the cops doorstep if they allow him to register his marriage. Doo Chul was quite a fun surprise. He starts out as a run of the mill gangster, but he ends up as a humorous, likable friend to Tae Hyun.
In dramatic fashion, Tae Hyun shows up at Yeo Jin’s funeral just in time. She reveals herself and also shows some incriminating evidence that lands Do Joon in police custody.
Now that Yeo Jin has reclaimed her position as chairwoman, our newly married couple has a moment to rest and enjoy their new mansion of a home. But Yeo Jin has plans of her own. She is ready to take revenge on everyone who was involved in keeping her in a coma.
She is a force to be reckoned with, and she doesn’t hesitate in ordering the deaths of several people. And she has big plans in store for Do Joon. She arranges an accident for him that lands him in a forced coma in the same room that she was kept prisoner.
When Tae Hyun learns what his new bride has been up to, he pleads with her to call off her revenge plans. She is not thrilled with his request, and it causes a bit of a rift between the two. But he keeps on trying to talk some sense in to her.
Things get complicated when her former fiancé’s father shows up wanting Do Joon dead for the part he played in his son’s death. Tae Hyun tries to save Do Joon by breaking him out of the hospital, but Yeo Jin uses the opportunity to hand him over.
Despite everything that had happened, Do Joon’s wife Chae Young (Chae Jung Ahn) was waiting for him to flee the country. In the end, Do Joon could have escaped, but his greed and misplaced pride in himself resulted in him rejecting their help and thus being killed.
These events deepen the rift between Tae Hyun and Yeo Jin even further. Tae Hyun decides it is time to leave, and Yeo Jin rejects his offer to go with him.
Six months pass, and Tae Hyun is now living a quiet life as a doctor in a small village with his sister who is now recovered from her illness. He is only waiting for Yeo Jin to realize she wants to be with him. But all is not well with Yeo Jin. Chae Young is out for revenge for the death of Do Joon. She orchestrates a plot to take over the company by slowly poisoning Yeo Jin. This results in liver cancer for Yeo Jin, but she is unaware of it because the hospital is covering up the real results of the tests.
Unaware of her condition, Yeo Jin decides she wants to leave the company and go back to Tae Hyun, but her condition quickly deteriorates, and she is unable to leave. With the aid of some of the staff, Tae Hyun is eventually able to break her out of the house just in time for her to reveal what everyone had done to her to the police.
Yeo Jin is then rushed to the hospital for treatment, but her condition is not good, and no one wants to operate. Even Chief Lee, who has redeemed himself for his wrong decisions, wants to help, but his efforts are in vain. Tae Hyun desperately tries to save her, but ultimately he has to say his goodbyes to her.
But at the last minute another “Yong Pal” from America is brought in to save the day. Yeo Jin’s surgery is successful, and when she awakens, Tae Hyun asks, “Do you know who I am?” And she answers, “Yong Pal.” A fitting end for the drama.
I didn’t love the little cancer bit in the last couple of episodes, but it served as a nice way to reunite our couple with high stakes and truly make them realize what they had together. So really I quite liked the ending.
As kjtamuser from the blog Amusings points out in their wonderful Yong Pal Episode 18 (Final) Recap, I particularly liked how the final episode took some events full circle such as no one wanting to perform surgery on Yeo Jin (like what happened with Tae Hyun’s mom), Tae Hyun on his knees begging Chief Lee to save Yeo Jin (like he did for his sister), and the final illegal “house call” surgery provided by another Yong Pal (just like the opening episode).
Overall, Yong Pal was a fun ride. If you don’t think to hard about some of the events that occur, the story is compelling with a great pace.
I had a bit of trouble connecting with Yeo Jin’s character in this drama. She was quite a tough and vindictive woman, but of course being held prisoner in a forced coma for three years by your brother could make you a little crazy.
Joo Won was fabulous as Tae Hyun. I would have enjoyed seeing a bit more of his darker side, maybe struggling a bit more between right and wrong. But his character was only greedy on the outside and mostly at the beginning of the drama. Underneath all that, he was a caring, ethical man who always put the needs of others first. By the halfway point in the drama, he was just a big old teddy bear. Ah, well, Joo Won plays that well too!
All in all, Yong Pal felt fresh with a fairly unique story. It had some action, melodrama, romance, and a bit of humor. The episodes flew by, and I was quite sad to see it end. Yong Pal you will be missed!
My Rating: 8/10
Click here for more Kdrama Reviews.
Sign Up to receive email updates of kdrama reviews, casting news, trailers, and more.