You Raise Me Up is a about a struggling man (Yoon Shi Yoon) with low self-esteem that is preparing for the civil service exam who goes to see a urologist (Hani) to treat his erectile dysfunction, but the urologist turns out to be his first love. To make matters worse, she has been bragging to her current boyfriend about how amazing her first love was, but now she sees he is very different. So, she sets out to help him.
Yoon Shi Yoon plays Do Yong Shik. He has been having a difficult time passing the civil service exam. He also has developed very low self-esteem and other mental health issues. Then things get even worse when he develops erectile dysfunction. He musters up the courage to seek treatment, but he encounters an unexpected problem.
Hani is Lee Ru Da who is a urologist. She is well off in life with a successful career and boyfriend, but her boyfriend is a bit too arrogant. Then one day her first love shows up as a patient, and she is dismayed to see how different he has become.
Then there is Park Ki Woong as Do Ji Hyuk. He is Ru Da’s boyfriend and a psychiatrist that works in the same building as her. He finds himself in the middle of Yong Shik’s situation and also in a love triangle.
You Raise Me Up is a drama that I thoroughly enjoyed! It is only 8 episodes which made it a breeze to watch. Even though the plot is pretty simple and straightforward, I actually wish this one could have had more episodes because I thought it had enough story to work with to be longer. But the short episode count does allow for the main story to take center stage with solid pacing and without much filler.
The drama seemed to be billed as a comedy, but it really didn’t feel like one to me. Yes, there is some humor for sure, but honestly, the topics dealt with and overall tone felt more serious as a whole. And I was perfectly fine with that! We ended up getting a very impactful story of one man’s struggles along with his journey to overcome them.
Yong Shik is a man that has been beaten down by life, and that has taken a toll on him. He was once very confident and had a hopeful future, but that has all been taken away from him.
He now suffers from major mental health issues that have resulted in physical issues. He deals with low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, social anxiety, suicide, and panic attacks. These are some difficult topics, and that is very clear watching Yong Shik’s journey.
I personally thought the handling of Yong Shik’s mental health issues was done fairly well. We have a solid window into what he is experiencing and why. We see that even when he wants to get better, it is not a simple matter. Even getting treatment is difficult and not a magic bullet.
Of course, Yoon Shi Yoon was spectacular as Yong Shik. All of his mannerisms, facial expressions, and voice tone embodied this character and his struggle. His story was heart-wrenching to see.
I was rooting for Yong Shik so hard, and to see him continually get knocked down despite trying to get help was sobering. Yoon Shi Yoon’s acting was phenomenal, and he brought me to tears right along with him many times. Fantastic job!
One thing to keep in mind with this drama though is that none of the doctors are very professional. They get involved in bets involving Yong Shik, use inappropriate treatments, don’t maintain boundaries, and all sorts of other things. You kind of just have to roll with this as these behaviors are quite integral to the plot and carrying it forward.
One other issue I had was with the love triangle. This is a pretty solid one which I actually like. The thing I don’t care for though is that Ru Da has a boyfriend, Ji Hyuk, for the bulk of the drama. Yes, they are having issues, but it always makes it harder for me to root for the intended couple, her and Yong Shik, when she still has a boyfriend.
I was rooting for Yong Shik and Ru Da though. These two met as teenagers and were each other’s first loves. They went their separate ways, but now life has brought them back together. Ru Da really goes all in to try and treat Yong Shik after she sees the charismatic man she once knew has changed so much. It starts out as more of a bet with her boyfriend, but old feelings soon resurface.
While Ru Da’s treatment methods were definitely not professional, it is nice to watch her grow closer to Yong Shik and see him trying to come out of his shell. This is a bit of a roll reversal as Ru Da is definitely the more confident and assured one in the relationship while Yong Shik is quite timid and needs lots of support. I liked seeing their relationship progress as Yong Shik went on his own personal healing journey.
This drama has an almost slice of life sort of feel to it and actually doesn’t have a lot of the usual tropes and cliches. It definitely has a different quality to it that I found interesting. Even the ending is fairly unique.
ENDING SPOILERS BELOW
We watched Yong Shik hit some difficult lows in this show. In the end, Ru Da was ready to be with him, but he still lacked the confidence to be with her. They go their separate ways for a while.
While I do tend to like my typical kdramas and don’t mind their fantasy-like endings, You Raise Me Up went a bit of a different route, and I quite liked it here. Yong Shik has to ultimately find his own way. He pursues healing on his own as he works to better his life.
And just like it real life, things don’t always work out perfectly despite our best efforts. He actually doesn’t end up passing the civil service exam, but that leads to another opportunity at a job that fits him better. He still doesn’t make a lot of money though and struggles with bills. He still lives in a small apartment and doesn’t eat fancy food.
But he comes to accept himself and his limitations and finds happiness in the midst of it all. He realizes his worth, and that he has a lot to like about his life. Even though his external circumstances don’t massively change, his inner world does. This allows him the courage to be with Ru Da, to have confidence in himself, and to live a happy life. And yes, he even cures his erectile dysfunction!
END OF SPOILERS
Overall, I really liked You Raise Me Up. The story was very impactful and gave a great window into one man’s intense struggles. We see that healing is not easy even when you are trying your hardest. You face setbacks and even question your recovery. Yong Shik faced many demons, and it was heartbreaking to see.
But his journey was inspirational to watch as he faced so many challenges even in the midst of extreme fear and anxiety. It’s not courage that makes you brave, it’s facing your issues and trying your best even in the midst of fear. And that’s what Yong Shik did. It was a moving journey that leaves quite an impression.
My Rating: 8/10
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