Baby face saves K-drama

Baby face saves K-drama
In Doctor Stranger, Lee Jong Suk stars as a surgical genius who flees from North Korea to the South and Jin Se Yeon is his first love.

In the spectrum of cry faces, from Liu Hsueh-hua (television's most beautiful weeper) to Claire Danes (graceless and fearless), Lee Jong Suk must fall closer to Danes' end.

The South Korean actor struggles for breath, he blubbers and his face - full lips stretched thin - is contorted with anguish.

There's something babyish about him and yet he is an indisputable leading man.

What he has in spades is romantic charisma, a combination of ferocity and tenderness that makes him compelling even when he is a show that isn't.

That's Doctor Stranger, a Korean medical melodrama which needs Lee like it needs the kiss of life.

The show does get off to a rollicking start, shipping a heart surgeon off to Pyongyang to save president Kim Il Sung and preserve the delicate balance of power on the Korean peninsula.

As the superhero origin story goes, the doctor is stranded in the North with his son (Lee) and raises him to be a surgical genius. There is nothing like being in a backward, blackout-prone country, evidently, when it comes to training a doctor to make X-ray-like diagnoses by touch.

The show is entertaining in a facts- are-for-wimps way, but that's just the prologue.

Then the son returns to the South to run a ramshackle clinic, after his father's death and his girlfriend's disappearance, and the K-drama system kicks in.

Doctors discover the genius' talent after he stops at a hospital to help a friend deliver bottled water and happens to save a life.

He spots an anaesthetist (Jin Se Yeon of 2012's Bridal Mask) who looks exactly like his lost girlfriend and who might be a spy from the North. He has run-ins with a surgeon (Kang So Ra), which are sparky enough to worry her boyfriend (Park Hae Jin of My Love From The Star).

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