Behind The White Tower
- Running time 60 min
- Starring Kim Myung-min, Cha In-pyo
- Director An Pan-suk
- Writer Lee Ki-won
- Episode 20 Eps
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 Myeong-min
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.
Intuitive 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 Seon-gyun
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 beliefs.
|Noh Min-guk / Cha In-pyo
The candidate for department chief recommended by Lee Ju-wan.
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 Seon-mi
Professor Lee Ju-wan’s daughter.
Although Yun-jin 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 doctor.
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 stand.
|Kang Hee-jae / Kim Bo-gyeong
Jang Jun-hyeok’s beautiful girlfriend.
Because 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.
Because she 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.
This 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.