Cast members of "New Heart," a new medical drama that is scheduled to air starting next week on MBC. Second from left is actor Cho Jae-hyun, who will play the protagonist, Choe Gang-guk, a heart surgeon. / Korea Times Photo
By Kwon Mee-yoo, Han Sang-hee
The year 2007 was one of hit medical dramas like ``Behind the White Tower'' (MBC) and ``Doctor Bong'' (SBS). Yet another medical drama, ``New Heart,'' now brings the hospital back to the TV screens.
Director Park Hong-gyun, who previously directed the hit drama ``The Age of Heroes'' (2004) and ``So In Love'' (2006), admitted some unease about adding another medical series to the list, but that he was taking slightly different approach, during a press conference Tuesday at a hospital in Seoul.
``While `Behind the White Tower' is about hospital politics and `Doctor Bong' traces the emotional and professional growth of young doctors, `New Heart' will mainly focus on the medical field,'' he said. Park added that they avoided using the tripod in order to fully capture the realism of the surgery and characters in action.
``New Heart'' differentiates itself from other medical dramas by focusing on heart surgeons. The drama captures the passion and pressures of the doctors dealing with the heart, an organ on which life is dependent.
The hospital set of ``New Heart'' is located in Gwangju, Gyeonggi Province and fully installed with surgery rooms and offices.
The protagonist Choe Gang-guk (played by leading actor Cho Jae-hyun), a newly appointed head of the Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery at Gwanghui University Hospital, believes that only doctors can save peoples' lives. He is a genius but a stubborn surgeon who does not care for hospital politics.
Gang-guk's pride is hurt as only two interns, apply to work in his department. Neither satisfy his standards. Lee Eun-seong (played by Ji Sung) is a below average intern from a lesser known university in the countryside, whereas Nam Hye-seok (Kim Min-jeong) is a top student, but her being female apparently is a problem. After many complications, they are finally accepted to the department, but the warm-hearted Eun-seong and over conscientious Hye-seok clash over everything.
One day, a famous actor Lee Dong-gwon (played by singer and actor Lee Jee-hoon) is admitted into the Hospital for arrhythmia surgery. He immediately falls for Hye-seok, his classmate from elementary school.
Although ``New Heart'' is Cho's seventh drama, he admitted that the character of a surgeon worried him at first. ``Surgeons are like gods, and acting the part seemed difficult at first. But I realized that the god-like surgeons had to have a human side too,'' he said. To better understand his character, Cho watched real surgeons in action in the surgery room.
The leading actress Kim Min-jeong described her character Hye-seok as a smart but unforgiving intern. ``She lives in her own world, and follows her own rules. But her rather stern character changes later as Hye-seok is caught in the center of a love triangle with Eun-sung and Dong-gwon,'' she said.
The only one unrelated to the medical scene is Dong-gwon, ``Dong-gwon is cool and outgoing, but grows uneasy as Hye-seok and Eun-seong get close,'' Lee said.
With the expectation to keep up with the popularity of medical dramas, the first episode of ``New Heart'' will air Dec. 12, Wednesday, 9:55 p.m. on MBC.