K-Drama Review: ‘Poong, The Joseon Psychiatrist’ A Heartwarming and Healing Drama

Poong The Joseon Psychiatrist review

Edited by Seo Hae Lan
Translated Kim Hoyeun

Poong The Joseon Psychiatrist review
Credit: tvN

Poong, The Joseon Psychiatrist follows a doctor who treats the minds rather than the bodies in the Joseon dynasty. The interesting topic of psychiatry in the olden days and the impressive cast of Kim Min Jae, Kim Hyang Gi, and Kim Sang Kyung have drawn keen interest from the production stage. The drama is as warm and beautiful as expected, and the plot is just as intriguing with distinctive characters and therefore the viewers don’t lose their concentration.

Yoo Se Poong (Kim Min Jae) was born to a prestigious family, smart enough to pass both state medical and liberal arts exams, and even became the chief acupuncturist at the royal palace. Confident that he could save all illnesses, he was so full of himself and his own skills, but his ego hit rock bottom when the most important patient, the king, died under his care. Even his father passes away shortly after, and when he’s banished from Hanyang (capital of Joseon) and can no longer perform acupuncture because of shaking hands, he decides to end his own life. But just before he jumps off a cliff, a girl saves his life, and she persuades him to keep on living. One year later, Se Poong, who still hasn’t found his way, rescues a woman from drowning in a small village called Sorak County. And in that process, he catches the eye of Gye Ji Han (Kim Sang Kyung), the head of Gyesu Clinic, and starts working there. Checking the patients’ pulse and asking about their sickness, he starts to find new ways to use his medical knowledge. Also, while treating Eun Woo (Kim Hyang Gi), a girl that saved him and also a girl he saved, he helps her to free herself from the restraints of the world.

The show brings a doctor who can no longer practice acupuncture because of trauma to the fore and highlights the psychiatrist who “performs acupuncture on wounded hearts.” Se Poong asks questions to his patients, takes notes, and ponders over what he’s found to solve the mystery lying ahead. The same goes for when he has to listen to the dead. Alongside Gye Ji Han and Eun Woo, Se Poong solves various cases. Eun Woo, a smart, inquisitive girl who’s also well-versed in forensics and is not afraid of dead bodies, becomes Se Poong’s reliable partner. The two listen to the voices of women and commoners who never get the chance to raise their voices in the male and noble-centered society and run around to dig out the truth and bring the wrongdoers to justice.

Poong The Joseon Psychiatrist review
Credit: tvN

The story of the people and patients at Gyesu Clinic that Se Poong meets is another key feature of the drama. From a clown suffering from dizziness and a girl framed because of sleepwalking to a noble lady with shaking hands and a slave who was killed unfairly, all kinds of people come by the clinic. As the writers said in an interview, they have unfolded stories that modern people can relate to in the old era. Poong, The Joseon Psychiatrist unravels them in various ways, such as a journey of self-discovery, a family drama that draws out the tears, and even an exciting mystery. Although the causes, symptoms, and solutions are all different, all the stories reach the message the drama wants to convey – when it comes to discovering the illness and healing the wounded hearts, the patients are never alone. If you empathize with those warm hearts, the story will come as a “healing.”

There are several characters in the drama who are as unique as Se Poong and Eun Woo. And of them are definitely the people of Gyesu Clinic. Ji Han takes money from the rich to help the poor and clashes with the nobles of Sorak County but never bends his will. Even while grunting, he saw right through Se Poong’s pain and embraced him, and even took in Eun Woo, who was mentally abused. Besides him, there are also Ip Bun who doesn’t know anything about medicine and cooking but is good at drawing; Grandmother who still hasn’t forgotten the love for her son despite her sickness; Nam Hae, an immigrant who acts as a housekeeper of the clinic; and Jang Goon who boasts impressive intelligence. They are considered outsiders – both then and now. From Se Poong, who has been deprived of all opportunities, to Eun Woo, who has decided not to follow the norms of the aristocrats anymore, the way these alienated people live together touches the hearts of viewers.

Having finished introducing Gyesu Clinic and Sorak County Poong, The Joseon Psychiatrist will now begin its story in earnest. Of course, Se Poong and Eun Woo will be at the center of the story and tell a medical mystery drama of treating the sick and uncovering the stories of the dead, but there will also be other stories as well. The truth about the murder of the late king, which caused Se Poong to lose his family and to be expelled from the royal clinic, will be revealed and the process of uncovering the evil deeds of the nobles who wield power in Sorak County will be illustrated as well. Moreover, Se Poong and Eun Woo, who saved each other’s lives, will be building up their emotions for one another as master and pupil and investigation partners. Since Poong, The Joseon Psychiatrist was planned as a seasonal series, I’ll keep an eye on how the show will solve complex stories and provide fun for the viewers. (7/10)


Editor Seo Hae Lan: I’m not picky and like all genres. I am in constant search of a balance between criticism and a fan’s heart.


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