Donna A Hays
Korean Good Doctor vs American Good Doctor TV Series The Good Doctor, which is now the most-watched drama of the 2018 fall season. However it didn’t exactly come out of nowhere. The series, which follows a young surgeon with autism savant syndrome, it is based on the Korean show of the same name, which premiered in August 5, 2013. The Korean Good Doctor was a award-winning smash during its run, which lasted only 20 episodes. Through your American minds, that doesn’t sound like a lot, but the most popular and successful K-dramas are usually short, air about 10 to 24 episodes(some go up to 176 episodes for one season) for an hour or more that air twice a week, as the Korean Good Doctor did. So the question is how do they compare to each other? What’s the same for the most part they stuck to the pilot script, even adapting the lead character’s name as closely they could. In the Korean version, his first name is Shi-on and in the American version, it’s Shaun. The pilot is almost a frame by frame replica of the original one. With Shaun is en route to his first day at a hospital when he saves a boy who is struck by a falling glass sign with a procedure the paramedics on the scene don’t know. The boy just so happens to be taken to the same hospital Shaun’s going to, where Dr. Aaron Glassman, the hospital president and his mentor, is trying to convince the board that Shaun’s autism won’t be a hindrance on the job and he himself won’t be a liability. When a viral video of Shaun’s heroic deeds convinces the board to hear Shaun out. Shaun delivers the exact same speech, word for word, about how his pet bunny’s and brother’s deaths inspired him to be a doctor, which finally persuades the board to give him a chance. There are flashbacks to both of those aforementioned deaths in the Korean version as well, along with the abusive childhood and bullying Shi-on suffered at the hands of his father and other kids, respectively. However in both versions, the brother gifts Shi-on/Shaun a toy scalpel; medical illustrations float on the screen as our hero is thinking of or performing a procedure; Shi-on/Shaun befriends a female doctor and works under an arrogant surgeon who’s dismissive of him and is a total jerk. What is different is since the pilot, The Good Doctor has deviated completely from the Korean version. The slight changes in the pilot sets the stage for The American Good Doctor’s own storylines. One very American tweak is a post-coital hospital scene between Claire and Kalu in the pilot however in the Korean one there is no such hookup (K-dramas are also far more modest). While Shi-on works at a pediatric hospital, Shaun works at St. Bonaventure which is a general teaching hospital, paving the way for him to treat a greater variety of patients and cases. Shaun’s boss, starts warming to him a little more quickly over a handful of episodes, even allowing him to scrub into surgery at the end of the pilot unlike in the Korean version. It’s plot points like that that moves the American Good Doctor along at a faster pace. The action from the chaotic procedures to the dialogue and editing operates at a quick clip, creating a sense of urgency, versus the slow, steady stride of the mothership, which, like most K-dramas, lets the scenes and emotions marinate to draw you in. One major change is a storyline from the end of the Korean pilot: Yoon-seo/Claire, drunkenly stumbles into Shi-on’s apartment, because it used to be hers before she moved to a different unit, and falls asleep in his bed. The next morning the beginning of Episode 2 she wakes up to him brushing his teeth, shirtless, in front of her. It’s the kind of contrivance that works in a K-drama but would have everyone rolling their eyes stateside. A different love interest is set up in the third episode of the American show, as Shaun befriends a neighbor, Lea, who borrows his batteries and gives him a ride home after he misses the bus stop. Then Lea buys him an apple after eating his last one during a vent-fest about their landlord and in a huge development for Shaun, he lets Lea hug him after he tells her had made a mistake that day. Which in the Korean version Lea do not exist. Here’s where things get really different: Shi-on and Yoon-seo later start dating and, by the series finale, are totally serious and eventually live together. In contrast, Shaun and Claire are just pals, and Shaun has yet to date anyone. Though Lea at the moment seems like the most likely possible love interest, but they’re working best now as a budding friendship. In conclusion the American version is not horrible. However it does not reach the magic that the Korean one attained. I do not regret watching some of the episodes but I am not sure whether I should continue. I do not sense the heart and humanity that touched me so deeply in the Korean version. If you love the Korean version so much like myself, I would not watch this. But who knows maybe you might like the fast pace in the American version.