Shin Eui (Faith) Korean Drama Review 2012: MidSeason
By Barshapriya Darshini
Time travel combined with medicine is a safe combination for Korean Drama in 2012, supported by a long run of hit dramas such as Rooftop Prince and Dr. Jin.
Faith has taken a different spin on the theme, and a different mood, but—with a boost from superstar Lee Min Ho—it is bound to be a success.
Early criticisms on the still-running drama highlight a weak female protagonist and some other flaws, but fans seem quick to forgive with their favourite star Lee Min Ho in the lead.
Below: English trailer for Faith starring Lee Min Ho, a combination of fantasy, romantic comedy and historical, sure to delight fans of Lee Min Ho:
The Great Doctor Requires Faith
The drama is called Shin Eui which means Trust or Belief. Another interpretation of this word is Healer with Divine powers or a Great Doctor. Our “great doctor” in this drama, by accident, is a plastic surgeon, kidnapped by a martial arts warrior from the past to save a Queen. It’s a nice premise, with a comic twist.
Below: The Making of Faith with Lee Min Ho, behind the scenes look, with English subtitles:
Still Running High in the Ratings
The drama started airing on August 13th, 2012. For those not in Korea, it’s on Episode 10 on DramaFever. It consists of twenty-four episodes. Most of the action takes place in the Goryeo period of Korea’s history, featuring plenty of action, martial arts, comic relief and the occasional jaunt into the future.
Lee Min Ho Saves the Day
In more ways than one, Lee Min Ho saves the day. As king’s champion Choi Young, he saves the queen, saves the doctor, champions Goryeo—and many would argue this drama would fall flat if not for his acting and charm saving the drama. He towers above other cast members, providing the cohesion needed to hold together holes in the plot, incredible coincidences and a sometimes abrasive female lead.
Kim Hee Sun Overdoes the Comic Relief
The female lead Kim Hee Sun, is a thirty three-year-old plastic surgeon in the year 2012. She is portrayed as desperate in an early scene where she consults a fortune teller because her finances are in ruin and she wants a “rich man.” When she doesn’t get an answer she likes from the fortune teller—that her heaven sent man will be from her past—she threatens to take her business to a tarot reader down the hall.
This set the tone for an abrasive character, written with the intent to play up comedy, but coming across as loud and whiny for at least the first three episodes. Bear with her, she gets better, and it’s worth staying with the drama for Lee Min Ho’s performance.
Plastic Surgeon Abducted
Yoo Eun Soo (played by Kim Hee Sun) was a general surgeon, who switched to plastic surgery because she felt she was not being paid enough. She always thinks about starting her own practice. She is clearly self-centered. She is not, immediately sympathetic.
Fantasy and Romantic Comedy
This is fantasy from the first episode. Fantasy and romantic comedy are a perfect combination, as proven by 49 Days and Secret Garden.
In Faith, no explanation is given for the mysterious time portal, nor the “faith” main character Choi Young (Lee Min Ho) places in urgings to “step through the portal.” But step through he does. He has failed in his duty, super martial arts abilities notwithstanding, to protect a princess from Yuan Dynasty, who is to be the Goryeo queen. It is a plot to plunge Goryeo into war or occupation by Yuan in the mid thirteen century or so. With her neck slashed, a miraculous acupuncturist-martial-artist doctor —(well played by Philip Lee, previously a co-star in Secret Garden)—staunches the bleeding somehow, while our hero time-travels to 2012 to find “God’s Doctor.”
A Plastic Surgeon’s Convention
A humorous ipod-wearing monk directs a wide-eyed Lee Min Ho to a plastic surgeon’s convention to fetch a doctor. In one of the funnest moments, so far, Lee Min Ho’s character must take on crossing a busy street full of honking cars, takes on an entire battalion of modern police with martial arts straight from manga, and kidnaps our loud-mouthed doctor.
Fantasy, History and Romance
Fans of science fiction, fantasy, historical drama and romantic comedy may all find something here in this intricate story line—as long as you suspend disbelief. Once you put aside science and sink into fantasy-reality, this works.
Most of the scenes, so far, by episode 10, are convincingly set in the Goryeo past. The story depicts how history can changed because of actions taken by a single individual—thematically similar to Dr. Jin Time Traveler.
Not Much Romance So Far
The romance between Choi Young and Yoo Eun Soo (Lee Min Ho and Kim Hee Sun), is so far under-developed. Once again, Lee Min Ho is cast with a romantic lead who is ten years his senior. Here, the chemistry is not as great as it was in City Hunter. The fault in this relationship lies more with the writers of the script than actress Kim Hee Sun.
Lee Min Ho Growing in Stature
Lee Min Ho, aged 25, looks different with long hair and way-cool warrior armour. His towering height coupled with his classic good looks and strong acting ability makes this his show. Not to mention his massive fan base. The chemistry between the romantic leads (Lee Min Ho and Kim Hee Sun) is good after episode 5 or so. Here, Lee Min Ho has a unique ability to be convincing in any role. In City Hunter he convincingly played the super-spy-type. In Boys Over Flowers, the rich, handsome romantic comedy lead. In Personal Preference, he played a straight guy pretending to be gay. Here, he’s the martial arts warrior, complete with super abilities and mystical powers. He demolishes two dozen police offers with a pulse of energy from his hands. Somehow, Lee Min How makes this convincing.
Kim Hee Sun is Beautiful
Kim Hee Sun returns to dramas after a gap of six years. She looks as stunningly beautiful as ever. She plays well within the script given her. The character is written as abrasive, loud-mouthed and greedy, at least in the beginning. For our idealistic warrior Lee Min Ho—willing to die simply because he couldn’t keep his word of honour—there couldn’t be a more opposite character pairing. Not to mention a few centuries in cultural difference between them!
Plot So Far
After the initial excitement—assassination attempt, time travel, kidnapping, saving the queen—the doctor ends up stranded in the past. Of course, this is a nice set up for the relationship between her and the warrior to develop. stoic elite warrior first considers the doctor as a means of discharging his duty. Typical of Korean Drama (if it works, why fix it), the leads don’t get along in the beginning. He threatens her with death and a sword, she never stops yelling at him. Naturally, this evolves, as any good story should.
The drama is quite fast paced and balances out romantic and action scenes perfectly. Lee Min Ho is quite remarkable in action scenes—action sequences that are quite different from those seen in City Hunter. Here it’s swords and super martial arts. In City Hunter it was suave, elegant James Bond.
A Must Watch for Fans
The drama is a must watch for Lee Min Ho fans—who are in the millions (over 5 million on Facebook alone!). Many fans of historical dramas will find thrills here as well. Manga and martial arts followers will likely enjoy Faith. Aside from quibbles about the female lead character—the fault of the writers—it’s well worth the watch.
Lee Min Ho as Choi Young
Kim Hee Sun as Yoo Eun Soo
Yoo Oh Sung as Gi Cheol
Lee Philip as Jang Bin
Ryu Duk Hwan as King Gong Min
Park Se Young as Princess Nogook
Sung Hoon as Chun Eum Ja
Shin Eun Jung as Hwa Soo In
Lee Byung Joon as Jo Il Sin
Baek Gwang Doo (백광두) as Baek Choong Suk
Kim Jong Moon (김종문) as Oh Dae Man
Jung Yoo Chan (정유찬) as Joo Suk
Kang Chang Mook (강창묵) as Deol Bae
Yoon Kyun Sang (윤균상) as Deok Man
Kim Soo Yun as Deo Gi
Kim Mi Kyung as Court lady Choi
Kwon Min as Ahn Do Chi
Ahn Jae Wook as Eun-Soo’s ex-boyfriend (ep.1)
Choi Min Soo as