Starring Lee Min-Ho as Choi Young, Kim Hee-Seon as Yoo Eun-Soo, Yu Oh-Seong as Ki Cheol, Phillip Lee as Jang Bin, Sung Hoon as Cheon Eum-Ja, Ryu Deok-Hwa as King Gong-Min, Park Se-Young as Princess No-Gook who are joined by an amazing supporting cast.
What it’s all about: ‘Faith’ aka ‘The great doctor’ is a historical drama containing elements of fantasy that is set in the Goryeo period. Choi Young is the General of the Woodalchi, a small group of highly trained warriors in charge of protecting the King & Queen. Emotionally scarred by events of his past he has spent the past 7 years like a living corpse going through the motions of his daily routine, following the orders of different kings as head of the royal bodyguards (Woodalchi). His life gets turned upside down when he meets and falls in love with Yoo Eun-Soo. Yoo Eun-Soo is a skilled doctor living in modern-day Seoul, South Korea. After experiencing disappointment in the world of general medical practice years ago, she decided to switch to plastic surgery instead as this also paid better.
It all begins when Choi Young and the Woodalchi are on their way back from Yuan (China), escorting the newly appointed King Gong-Min and his young wife Queen No-Gook to their palace in Goryeo. King Gong-Min has been chosen by the Chinese Emperor to become the new ‘acting’ king of Goryeo after marrying the Yuan princess No-Gook. King Gong-Min was brought to Yuan as a young boy and essentially held as a prisoner which filled him with disdain toward anything or anyone in Yuan. He fell in love with Princess No-Gook not knowing that she was of the Yuan imperial family. Finding out her real identity made him feel betrayed and hurt, not aware that the princess fell in love with him long before he ever noticed her and even learned the Goryeo language in the hopes of one day talking to him in his mother tongue.
Things start going wrong when Lord Ki Cheol, King Gong-Min’s scheming estranged uncle who is also the brother to the current Empress of Yuan, starts putting his plan in motion to take the King’s throne and title for himself. Backed by his close allies who possess supernatural powers and a powerful army, he tries at every turn to undermine his nephew and block his path back to Goryeo. This leaves the King & Queen and their entourage stranded in a little seaside village without an available boat and vulnerable to an attack by Ki Cheol’s hired thugs. During the attack the Queen is badly injured by a sword cut to her neck and the royal doctor Jang Bin is barely able to stop the bleeding but advises it will take a miracle to save her live.
The King is informed by his adviser of a ‘Door to heaven’ nearby and signs indicating that it recently opened. This door is tied to a legend of the great doctor ‘Hwata’ who many years ago disappeared through it in order to escape after rejecting an offer by a previous king to serve as the royal doctor only. Looking desperately to save the woman he loves, the King decides to send someone to fetch a ‘heaven doctor’ and Choi Young ends up volunteering to go while everyone else hesitates or flat-out refuses as no one knows what really awaits on the other side of the door.
Upon exiting the other side of ‘Heavens Door’, Choi Young finds himself outside a temple in a strange world known to the viewer as modern-day Seoul (Korea). Undeterred, Choi Young makes inquiries for a doctor with a monk and is pointed towards a nearby location that is hosting a medical convention. This is where he first encounters Yoo Eun-Soo who is there to give a seminar on plastic surgery. Choi Young slashes the neck of someone there in a similar fashion as the Queens injury to confirm Yoo Eun-Soo knows how to suture the wound. He then grabs some medical supplies he sees her using and forces her to come with him through the ‘Door’ back to his world.
Once in Goryeo the confused Yoo Eun-Soo ends up agreeing to treat the Queen, all the while not sure what is happening or where she is at. This makes her increasingly more scared of her current surroundings and also angry at Choi Young who brought her there against her will and refuses to return her. After a failed escape and the ‘heaven’s door’ closing, she is forced to follow the Kings order to remain and travel with them to the palace.
Thrown into a tumultuous political time and surrounded by strangers, Yoo Eun-Soo has to learn how to navigate this world by relying on her quick wit, positive attitude and snippets she remembers from her history lessons in her younger school years. While on this journey and through the interactions with the people around her, Yoo Eun-Soo discovers friendship and love and also re-discovers herself.
Why I keep re-watching this drama: This is one of my favorite Lee Min-Ho dramas to date, partially because it’s one of the few mature roles he has played and also because he made me forget Lee Min-Ho. I was able to see Choi Young, the young brave and fearless General who is both respected and admired by his fellow warriors. Choi Young starts out as a quiet, almost sullen character who through his interactions with Yoo Eun-Soo and the ensuing events is able to evolve as a person and once again find a purpose in life.
Yoo Eun-Soo is just the spunky character one can image turning things upside down inside the royal palace with all its rules and regulations and in the process melting the frozen heart of a general. Hinting several times that she is used to dealing with difficult personalities due to her profession, she courageously goes her way despite the dangerous people and situations surrounding her. It is Choi Young’s loyal and unwavering protective personality that makes her believe in men again and fall in love with him.
Watching the once tender love between the King and the Queen that is now marred by mistrust and misunderstanding break out of its shell and develop into a strong relationship and turning them into a power couple was such a pleasure.
I still have not figured out how a villainous character like Lord Ki Cheol can also add so much laughter to a drama without making the character lose any of its fierceness and scary essence. Mad props to actor Yu Oh-Seong for doing an amazing job **slow claps**.
The Woodalchi warriors is the kind of people I would want on my side if I was ever in trouble. The way they show their admiration by following Choi Young’s lead, trusting in his decisions even if the big picture is not clear to them is admirable.
The entire drama was laced with twists and new evil plots by the callous Lord Ki Cheol from beginning to end. Never a dull moment.
My big regret about this drama was that the last 5-10 minutes at the end left me feeling like a deflated balloon. There had been such a build-up of the final momentum when Choi Young and Yoo Eun-Soo are reunited and I was expecting a kiss, a hug or some sort of ‘skinship’ but all I got was a too short longing look between the two. – However, this has obviously not kept me from re-watching the drama several times.
The Soundtrack: Ali’s song ‘Carry on’ is still stuck in my head and remains a top 10 song on any of my Korean karaoke choices. ‘Because my steps are slow’ by Shin Yong-Jae still brings me to the brink of tears. The instrumental pieces are also a perfect fit throughout the drama. I would like to mention the ‘Main Title – string version’ and ‘Great Big Choi Young’ both by Oh Joon-Sung.
Well… this review turned out a lot longer then expected. But what can I do? It’s gotten a hold of my ‘feels’. I hope you chose to watch this drama and enjoy it as much as I did.
Carry on 😉