'Huh Joon' Series Finale June 27thWith the nation in the grips of a doctors' strike, why a television show highlighting the exploits of a selfless Chosun era doctor has a large following comes as no surprise. The historical drama, "Huh Joon", is based on the life of Huh Joon who rose to prominence practicing Chinese herb medicine and acupuncture during the later part of the Chosun dynasty. Historically and in the tv program, Huh Joon stands as the epitome of the compassionate art of medicine. "Many believe we need more doctors like Huh Joon at a time when doctors seem less concerned with their patients and more concentrated on their stirke," said Kim Sang-rae, producer of the series. "The last scene will have our hero go to the countryside in defiance of royal decree to treat vicims of a deadly epidemic. This is where Huh Joon will catch the fatal disease and our series will end. And perhaps, this is a comment on what is going on these days in the present medical profession."
Despite its topic having been treated twice before, this "Huh Joon" runaway successs is pulling in huge audience numbers for MBC TV - a record-breaking 63.8 percent of the viewing audience. The saga of our intrepid medicine man will wrap up on June 27th with again a large viewing audience expected.
The inflence of 'Huh Joon' in the popular conscience is considerable. Chon Kwang-yol, the actor portraying Huh Joon in the series, has suddenly found himself on the nation's 'A-list' of actors, uncommon for anyone who has not been featured in movies. Doctors are (or were) basking in Huh Joon's sterling reputation. Also, never to pass up an opportunity for good copy, candidates for this past general election were comparing themselves to Huh Joon. Morever, on university campuses across the nation, new 'Huh Joon'-type jokes were being heard daily.
In addition to the obvious comparisons being made with the present situation in the nation's health system, other reasons why the show is doing extremely well is that it follows a very compelling story of a humane and compassionate character overcoming difficulties. Born to a mistress during a time when the class system was in full force, Huh Joon rises through the ranks to become the doctor of the royal family and chief physician of the kingdom. With a story line that keeps its viewers tuning in to each episode, the reason for its popularity is obivous.
Another reason is that the series gives detailed insight into Oriental medicine and acupuncture whose popularity is growing.
The story line, while remaining historically accurate, also includes romantic complications with a Choson Dynasty nurse ensuring a wider range of appeal than just a simple rehashing of history. With Im Hyun-sik, Yi Hi-do and Kim Hae-suk adding comic relief, the series was from the start guaranteed to be a hit.
Experts point out that the series' success lies on its remarkable script which uses history as a basis yet enhances it to something more than a documentary and into a story. Taking their inspiration from "Tongui-bogam", a novel written by Yi Un-song, the production team put the script through numerous re-writes, with the series showing this attention to quality. From what was originally a 40-part series, with the addition of romantic story lines as well as writers constantly trying to perfect the script, the "Huh Joon" series is a staggering 60-part historical drama.
MBC also plans to air a retrospective called "Huh Joon, Amazing Glory" on July 3rd and 4th at 10:00pm.
by Kang Chan-ho