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The King’s Doctor

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Born from a low caste, Baek Gwang-hyun first started working as a horse doctor (馬醫), then worked his way up to become a famous veterinarian. Eventually, he became a doctor appointed to the royal palace and honored with the distinction of being the king’s personal doctor. He was the first Oriental medicine doctor who practiced surgical treatments in the field of Oriental medicine and for this, he became a famous doctor and acupuncture specialist (鍼醫) in all of Asia. His tumultuous life story, which begins with him surviving on the bottom rungs of society, encapsulates his deep humanism that he practiced when healing patients. This story should be a wake-up call to the nation’s current medical establishment that puts profits ahead of the well-being of patients.


Baek Gwang-hyun (Actor: Cho Seung-woo)
The first Oriental medicine doctor in the Joseon Dynasty who practiced external medicine. He grew up in the rough-and-tumble, gang-infested farmer markets and had his fair share of fistfights. By sheer luck, he lands a job at a horse stable and this leads him to become a veterinarian. While treating animals, he realizes that he could use his skills to also heal human beings. In one of his first attempts to treat a patient, he uses acupuncture needles to treat a critical patient suffering from a boil and saves his life. Although he is not a genius in any way or a charismatic figure, he is very conscientious in carrying out experiments and procedures to replicate the results from his discoveries. This relentless drive propels him to the position of royal doctor to the king.
Kang Ji-nyeong (Actress: Lee Yo-won)
She speaks bluntly about old-fashioned customs and social mores. Although she was born as the child of a slave, she was switched with her master’s son, Baek Gwang-hyun, to appear as the master’s only child to save Baek’s life. Unaware that Lee Myung-hwan was behind the treacherous plan that altered her life, she reveres him as a father figure. Lee Myung-hwan’s son, Lee Sung-ha loves her dearly but when Baek Gwang-hyun fatefully enters her life, she is swept off her feet by his intellect, sense of justice, and accomplished Oriental medical expertise.


Lee Sung-ha (Actor: Lee Sang-woo)

Son of Lee Myung-hwan. He passes the grueling state exam at the young age of twenty. He possesses a practical mind and has an accommodating demeanor. He is also sophisticated and has a mellow personality. Many noble families wish to marry their daughters to him because he is a brilliant eligible bachelor. But he was always fond of Ji-nyeong whom he grew up with together. Her free spirit and unconventional thinking is what attracts him to her. When Ji-nyeong chooses Baek Gwang-hyun over him he is consumed with feelings of betrayal. He channels his heartache over Ji-nyeong and hatred towards Baek Gwang-hyun to embark on a path of becoming a doctor who strictly follows orthodox Confucian principles (儒醫 ).

Jang In-ju (Actress: Yoo Sun)

As a nurse working in the royal bureau of doctors, she shows far more skill in healing patients and applying acupuncture than the royal doctor Lee Myung-hwan but since she is of a lower station to doctors, she hides her abilities. After the plot to poison Prince So-hyun succeeds, she becomes greatly disillusioned with the ruthless royal politics and leaves the bureau. She then traveled to the Middle Kingdom and Japan (Wa) to learn more Oriental medical techniques. By pure coincidence, she encounters Baek Gwang-hyun and is so impressed with his medical skills that she recommends that the Hyeminseo Oriental Medical School accept him as a student.

Lee Myung-hwan (Actor: Son Chang-min)

A friend of Kang Do-jun who is Baek Gwang-hyun’s biological father. He was born as an illegitimate son of a lord and a commoner. Because he is forced to take his mother’s caste, he tries to become a royal doctor to be elevated to the Noble class. With adroit political skills and a sharp mind, he is able to become a royal doctor despite his young age. He is offered to be made a nobleman by the leader of rival political faction if he covers up the deliberate poisoning of Prince So-hyun. In the process, he does not reveal the perpetrators who assassinated his friend Kang Do-jun. H even attempts to kill Kang’s son, Baek Gwang-hyun, who poses a threat to his ambitions. He will do whatever it takes to satisfy his ambition and greed.