| Behind The White Tower
|As Korean dramas enter the new millennium, it is impossible to deny that the genre of the 뱈ini series?is at a crisis. Audiences have long since turned away from TV dramas, jaded by the same old stereotypical characters, farfetched storylines, and the formulaic 뱎airing off?of male and female characters. Over the years, the mini series has even devolved to the level of a mere 뱓ime killer.?This can be seen as a recurrence of the crisis that American TV shows faced in the late eighties for the same reasons. Romantic comedies, increasingly concerned with reproducing the same styles and patterns, were no longer able to captivate audiences. Fortunately, two shows that appeared in the 1990s effectively put an end to this slump: ER and N.Y.P.D. Blue. These two shows redefined the paradigm for TV dramas. By offering a level of realism reminiscent of documentaries and populating their vividly realistic settings with ensemble casts of true-to-life characters, they succeeded in drawing the masses back in front of the TV. Both shows have amply stood the test of time: they remain on the air to this day, more than ten years after they first debuted. The success and longevity of these shows demonstrate the fact that the public can no longer be won over by 밼ake?stories, and at the same time suggest the only alternative for rescuing Korean TV dramas from the mire of mediocrity. That alternative, in short, is the fusion of 밶 realistic depiction of the professional world?and 뱒tories about living, breathing people.?Behind The White Tower perfectly satisfies this criterion. Set in a university hospital, Behind The White Tower follows one brilliant doctor뭩 relentless pursuit of his ambition to its conclusion. By microscopically depicting the hidden side of the medical profession, it sheds light on a variegated spectrum of human types. The show recounts the friendship and conflict between two male doctors뾬ne with a brilliant gift for his craft and the other with an innate warmth and a firm devotion to the healing art뾞nd tenaciously investigates the lust for power that moves human beings in the 뱖hite tower?that is the university hospital. Ultimately, Behind The White Tower poses the fundamental question, 밯hat is a human being??and provides its viewers with an opportunity for self-reflection.
||Jang Jun-hyeok / Kim
An assistant professor in the department of
general surgery at Myeongin University.
Strikingly tall with a stony
demeanor, Jun-hyeok is an ambitious individual with an unrivaled drive for
success. He is particularly renowned for his skill in hepatobiliary cancer and
pancreas transplant surgeries, and is a celebrated scholar in the field of
carcinogenesis. His dexterity with a scalpel is astounding.
decision-making, a confident attitude, and a cold personality are his defining
characteristics. As a result, he often rubs people the wrong way and, in
particular, makes Professor Lee Ju-wan deem him unsuitable to become the head of
the department. Still, his talent and ability as a doctor are unsurpassed. What
really sets him apart from other doctors is the fact that he obsesses more about
his patients’ diseases than about the patients themselves. In other words, he
derives exhilaration from encountering new diseases and conquering them.
This attitude coincides with his life’s goal of becoming the best surgeon in
the world. The first step in his journey toward this goal is to become the chief
of the department of general surgery. This would make him the best in Korea, and
provide the foundation for his intended rise to the top of the world. However,
he comes across the first stumbling block in his life when Professor Lee Ju-wan
tries to bring in someone from his alma mater as his successor.
||Choi Do-yeong / Lee
An assistant professor in the department of
gastrointestinal medicine at Myeongin University, who graduated in the same
class as Jang Jun-hyeok.
Although he initially majored in basic medicine and
pathology, Do-yeong switched to clinical medicine out of a desire to heal
suffering patients with his own hands. He is gentle, kind, and considerate.
His warm nature makes him the kind of a doctor that every patient wants to
entrust their health to. Believing that a doctor must be rigorously scientific
for his patients, he does not jump to conclusions in his diagnoses but poses
question after question until he obtains absolute certainty. This places him in
stark contrast to the intuitive Jun-hyeok. For this reason, they are constantly
at conflict with each other. That is, as doctors, Do-yeong is idealistic whereas
Jun-hyeok is pragmatic. Within the insular world of the university hospital,
Do-yeong’s humane and idealistic attitude comes up against endless challenges.
Clashing with surgeon Jang Jun-hyeok, with whom he has an organic
relationship as a physician, Do-yeong is sometimes wooed and at other times
threatened by the hospital, but he firmly stands his ground and defends his
||Noh Min-guk / Cha
The candidate for department chief recommended by Lee
An alumnus from Lee Ju-wan’s alma mater, Min-guk received his M.D.
overseas at Harvard University.
He is introverted and somewhat lacking in
social skills, but he has a strong desire to win. Moreover, he is talented
enough to rival Jang Jun-hyeok when it comes to surgery. Having published
numerous articles in Science and SCI, he is amply qualified to compete against
Jun-hyeok for the position of chief in the department of general surgery at
Myeongin University. Because he is still single, Do-yeong is also regarded by
Lee Ju-wan and his wife as an ideal candidate for a son-in-law as well.
||Lee Yun-jin / Song
Professor Lee Ju-wan’s daughter.
appears shy and docile, she is in fact strong in character and firm in her
convictions. Having observed the life of doctors from an early age, she is jaded
by the hospital and rebels against her parents’ desire to marry her off to a
However, when she meets Choi Do-yeong?an academically-astute doctor
with a dedication to healing?she begins to love and admire him. Unfortunately,
Do-yeong is a married man with a son in kindergarten. Rationally, she tells
herself that her feelings are inappropriate, but the more she tries to convince
herself, the deeper her love for Do-yeong gets. Alongside Do-yeong, she begins
assisting in the trial of the Kwon Hyeong-geun family, and does everything in
her power to put former nurse Yu Mi-ra, a vital witness in the case, on the
||Kang Hee-jae / Kim
Jang Jun-hyeok’s beautiful girlfriend.
Hee-jae runs a bar near Myeongin University, a frequent haunt for doctors
working at the university hospital, she serves as Jun-hyeok’s information source
and even acts as an invaluable “spy” for him from time to time.
once attended medical school, she has no problem carrying on a professional
conversation with the doctors who visit her bar. She is smart and intellectual,
but her situation as an ex-med-student-turned-bar-hostess has made her rather
cynical. She loves Jun-hyeok, but does not try to possess him.
testifies to the extent of her willingness to submit to reality. She regards
Jun-hyeok, who single-mindedly follows his ambition, with sympathy rather than
envy. When Jun-hyeok is dying of cancer, she wants to remain by his side;
Jun-hyeok, in turn, also wants her to stay with him.