Beautiful Mind is about a super smart psychopath surgeon (Jang Hyuk) with a brain condition that leaves him emotionless towards other people. When his patients mysteriously start dying, he begins to investigate with the help of a rookie cop (Park So Dam) and along the way, he learns to love.
Beautiful Mind is a bit of a different kdrama from what fans may be used to seeing. It explores the fine line between what makes someone human or a monster. We go on an emotional and moving journey with a group of people who are trying to find the answer to that.
Beautiful Mind is not without a few problems, but there are many aspects of it that I absolutely loved. And at the root of all the goodness is a stellar cast that really delivered intense and heartfelt performances.
Jang Hyuk is phenomenal in the role Lee Young Oh (of course, when is he not phenomenal?). This should come as no surprise to fans, but it’s always interesting to see his take on a new character. And Lee Young Oh is certainly a unique character.
The first few episodes set him up as a creepy psychopath who doesn’t care at all about those around him. And Jang Hyuk definitely does creepy well! Because he is unable to sympathize with others, things are very black and white for him. We see that he is able to keep his condition hidden from everyone because his father taught him to read emotional cues from other people as he was growing up.
MINOR SPOILERS BELOW
When patients at the hospital begin dying, he becomes a prime suspect because of all the suspicious things he does. But things aren’t always what they seem. It turns out Young Oh is trying to solve the mystery and usually has good motives, but he just doesn’t understand that the way he does things can sometimes be hurtful to others even if it’s for the greater good.
As we slowly get to know him and watch him begin to change, we see just how misunderstood Young Oh really is. It’s heartbreaking watching how confusing things are for him and seeing people look at him as a monster.
But I loved seeing him try to come to terms with who he is as a doctor and eventually learn to just trust in his ability rather than always reading cues. For the first time, he gains confidence in who he is as a person. It really is a lovely journey.
This was my first time seeing Park So Dam in the role of Gye Jin Sung. She’s a rookie cop who finds herself investigating the mysterious deaths at the hospital. Initially, Jin Sung is extremely impulsive and emotional which creates a lot of problems.
Mostly, I just saw her as the force that was pushing many events along because of how impulsive she was. But she is so gung-ho that it makes her seem almost irrational at times.
But after her reckless actions lead to a potentially big mistake by arresting Young Oh, she experiences a quick turn around and becomes much more grounded. That moment was enough to knock a little sense into her and calm her down. She then becomes the crucial support Young Oh needs as he navigates his changing circumstances.
Yoon Hyun Min plays Hyun Suk Joo. He is one of those actors that has been slowly growing on me the more I see of him. I’ve always really enjoyed him, but I was particularly impressed by him in Beautiful Mind.
Suk Joo is a kind-hearted man who finds himself constantly struggling with the morality of his decisions concerning a regenerative treatment he has been working on. The role of Suk Joo is a bit different from other characters I’ve seen Yoon Hyun Min play. Suk Joo is much more quiet and reserved compared to the others, but this is what allowed me to really see his acting capabilities.
He was able to really convey the constant struggle Suk Joo was dealing with when trying to do the right thing. And it was heartbreaking to watch him experience some devastating losses along the way.
I can’t begin to describe how impressed I was with Heo Joon Ho as Young Oh’s father, Lee Gun Myung. This man has such a strong presence that I was drawn to almost immediately. Because his relationship with Young Oh is so important to the story, he had a lot of intense scenes with Jang Hyuk.
And I have to say that he shined just as much because of his talent and presence. And that says a lot considering what a scene stealer Jang Hyuk is. I really hope to see more of this talented man in the future.
MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW
We also have Park Se Young as Kim Min Jae, Young Oh’s long time girlfriend. Min Jae starts out seemingly nice, but then we learn she has her own ulterior reasons for being with Young Oh. And she quickly turns on him when it benefits her.
I think her character could have used a bit more fleshing out. The lead up to her betrayal made sense, but we see quite a shift in her personality to the negative side. Then toward the end of the drama, her good girl side just seems to resurface with little exploration as to why she suddenly wants to help Young Oh.
The relationship between Gun Myung and Young Oh is a central point of the drama. Gun Myung is the one who spent his life teaching Young Oh how to function normally so that he wouldn’t become a monster. Their relationship is quite strained with Young Oh actually fearing his father yet striving to be like him.
But we get quite a few twists in the drama. It turns out Gun Myung spent his life thinking he was responsible for the frontal lobe injury that made Young Oh the way he is during surgery.
Then we learn the shocking truth that Young Oh was actually fine after the surgery. Gun Myung never knew that and ends up being the one who actually molded Young Oh into a monster because of his intense training. It was a heartbreaking revelation for all involved.
While they will probably never have a normal relationship, in the end, we do see some healing begin between the two. It was very moving to see Gun Myung finally take responsibility for what he had done and for Young Oh to finally begin to understand his father. The simple moment of grasping hands pictured above was so touching.
Young Oh and Jin Sung are such an interesting couple. At first, they have quite a tense relationship as she sees him as the number one suspect in the hospital deaths (and he has this little habit of choking people from time to time). They go back and forth a lot with some very intense moments.
But eventually Jin Sung begins to see who he really is. While she knows she can’t offer him emotional support, she finally breaks through to him by showing him she is at least moved to do something to help him. That becomes the very beginnings of understanding for him.
The two go on to become a nice little detective duo with a subtle chemistry slowly blossoming between them. They are a very atypical couple, but they become quite adorable in their own unique way. I ended up loving this pair.
Okay, let’s take a look at some of the negatives I had with the drama. The mystery gets going early on in the drama as patients mysteriously start dying at the hospital. But I felt that the first few episodes of the drama were a bit confusing in the presentation of the mystery. It was just a bit difficult to follow what was going on at times, and things really should have been presented better. This does improve later on though.
This is also more of a personal preference, but I really dislike surgery scenes. I know, it’s a medical drama so I should expect them, but there really were a lot of them! I also don’t care for hospital politics, and there is definitely plenty of that. But the hospital politics are part of our grander story so they are necessary.
The drama also spends a lot of time developing the supporting characters. That was both good and bad for me. I like that the drama really cultivated the community at the hospital by exploring all the individual characters. They provide moments of both humor and heartbreak. But many times I just found myself wanting to go even deeper and spend more time with the fascinating character that was Young Oh.
And the supporting character I was most interested in, Suk Joo, mostly falls to the wayside. He’s very prominent in the first half of the drama, but after spending so much time wrestling with the morality of his decisions, once he goes over to the ‘dark side’, the drama spends very little time with him other than on a surface level for a good while.
Luckily, we do get to revisit him in the last couple episodes. When Jin Sung is faced with death, Suk Joo is finally forced to re-evaluate his decisions. This is what ultimately allows him to do the right thing and come back over to the good side. Again, I was very impressed with Yoon Hyun Min in this role.
And my biggest negative is that the drama took on a very episodic patient of the week structure about halfway through the drama. On the plus side, the patient’s stories were all very engaging. They were also important in highlighting Young Oh’s growing emotions.
But this coupled with the focus on supporting characters left very little screen time to go really in depth with Young Oh or for our leads as a couple. And Jin Sung’s screen time really goes down too.
I would have preferred more of a balance in seeing Young Oh’s emotional growth inside and outside of the hospital as well as more interactions with his father. There was just so much material to work with by going deeper with Young Oh.
And since the drama did highlight a budding romance, I do think it would have been nice to at least share a bit more of their relationship. The drama simply spent way too much time on everything else especially considering what an excellent main story it had to work with.
Beautiful Mind also fell victim to an episode reduction. After suffering from low ratings for most of it’s run, it was given little time to adjust and wrap up it’s story. The whole ordeal left fans understandably upset over the situation.
But luckily, I don’t think the cut was too hurtful to the drama story overall. Things did move very quickly though. The last couple episodes move away from the random patient of the week format with Jin Sung becoming the one fighting for her life when she is need of a lung transplant.
Young Oh has to quickly come to terms with what shaped him into the person he is. Young Oh and Jin Sung’s relationship is fast tracked to get them to a good place with each other. The hospital corruption is dealt with, and Suk Joo does the right thing. Young Oh saves Jin Sung’s life by giving her his lung. Gun Myung and Young Oh finally begin to address their issues and take a small step toward healing too. A lot happened there at the end!
It was also a nice change of pace that Young Oh wasn’t completely cured of his disorder. He definitely improved, but after years of conditioning, he will likely never be ‘normal’. But that’s okay. He realizes he is not a monster and is able to be open about his condition with those around him. Jin Sung is also able to accept him for who he is. A pretty good ending all around.
All in all, everything wrapped up quickly, but nicely. While there were definitely some issues with the drama, Beautiful Mind had a whole lot going for it. It had an intriguing story that explored the morality of our decisions and what really makes us human. With excellent and nuanced performances from all of the cast, the drama was really able bring an emotional and moving story that I know many fans will remember for a long time to come.
My Rating: 7/10
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