Live Up to Your Name

“There are people out there who don’t even get any choices. Today, tomorrow, and all the other days that you spend without much thought are precious and desperate moments for some people. Like I told you before, I’m not good at pleasing my patients, but I keep my promise no matter what; a promise that I will save them.” –Choi Yeon Kyung (Live Up to Your Name, Doctor Heo; 2017)

“Do you know what the toughest part of being a doctor is? It is when you are capable and willing, but not being able to save someone’s life.” –Heo Im (Live Up to Your Name, Doctor Heo; 2017)

“A disease is cured only when the patient is willing to overcome it. A doctor only helps them to fight against their illness. It is the patients themselves who fight against their diseases. I did not save you that day. You saved yourself; it’s your will to survive.” –Heo Im (Live Up to Your Name, Doctor Heo; 2017)

“Do you know what kind of life I led, and why I had to live like that? Don’t judge me recklessly with what you listened and saw for half a day only.” –Heo Im (Live Up to Your Name, Doctor Heo; 2017)

“A doctor should not forget the reason why they became a doctor in the first place.” –Choi Chun Sool (Live Up to Your Name, Doctor Heo; 2017)

Apparently, the world has not really changed. Power relation is still the biggest problem in the society. Though the technology has developed so much, though people have knowledge about democracy, though the governance system has been changing through time, money or material things are still considered as the most powerful thing in the social system. Though there is no slavery anymore, there are still social classes that divide people in the term of power relation. There is still this inequality in the power relation of the society, including in the health issue. Medical world has been developing so much; hence people can now treat severe illness and many kinds of disease. However, apparently not every person can receive those treatments. In the world where power and money hold the control in the power relation of society, it is hard to live as an idealist doctor who only wants to treat patient regardless of their social status and background. However, this is the ugly truth we must face. And we can see the moral and inner conflicts in the life turbulence of doctors depicted in the Korean drama series titled “Live Up to Your Name, Doctor Heo”.

"Live Up to Your Name, Doctor Heo" official series poster | source:

Title : Live Up to Your Name, Doctor Heo/Deserving of the Name
Genre : fantasy, medical, romance comedy, historical period
Starring : Kim Nam Gil, Kim Ah Joong, Yoo Min Kyu, Moon Ga Young
Channel : tvN
No. of episodes : 16
Original broadcast : August – October 2017

“Live Up to Your Name, Doctor Heo”, or also known as “Deserving of the Name” is a Korean drama series broadcasted by tvN cable television network on August until October 2017 for 16 episodes. This fantasy romance comedy drama combines a medical theme with historical and modern period. The story revolves around the titular character, which is taken from Korea’s real-life historical character, Heo Im (portrayed by Kim Nam Gil), a doctor of traditional Korean medicine from Joseon era. Though he was very skillful and was acknowledged for his excellent acupuncture skill (which at that time was considered as an advance and breakthrough medical technique in Joseon), Heo Im was stuck at Haeminseo (a public hospital in Joseon era) instead of becoming a royal doctor in the palace for his social status (his mother was a slave). One day, he got a chance to prove his skills and enter the palace by treating the King. In the morning before going to the palace, he found a set of acupuncture needles which were not belong to him and decided to bring them to the palace, but he blew up the chance because his hands were shaking in front of the King.
While running away from the royal army, Heo Im got struck by two arrows on his chest and fell down to the river. When he woke up, he found himself in Seoul, the modern day of Hanyang. He was confused by the whole new world in front of his eyes and as he was wandering around, that was when he met Choi Yeon Kyung (portrayed by Kim Ah Joong), a cardiothoracic fellow surgeon at Shinhae Hospital. At that time when they met, Doctor Choi was looking for a runaway rebel teenage patient. Since their fateful meeting, Heo Im and Doctor Choi somehow kept bumping on each other. Though at first she didn’t believe when he said that he was from Joseon era, one day she got dragged to the Joseon era along with him. In the Joseon era, Doctor Choi found out the reason why Heo Im wanted to stay in the modern Seoul and did not want to return to Joseon. Though in a way she helped him to adapt with modern life, she knew that someday Heo Im must return to Joseon, because the longer he stayed in the future, the more the course of the past would change. However, it wasn’t that easy for her to let go of someone she had grown fond of.

source: tvN

There were things that struck my mind when I was watching this drama series. I didn’t expect it to pinpoint at some fundamental problems in the society, for the trailers had successfully made me believe that this was just a lovey-dovey romance comedy with a simple touch of medical life. However, “Live Up to Your Name, Doctor Heo” really exceeded my expectation. In a simple yet deeply emotional way of storytelling, this series depicted the difficulty faced by doctors in between the need to fulfill their moral value and the pressure of their social surrounding. Just like what Doctor Choi said in the series, “Skill doesn’t make you a doctor”. It is not only the skill what matters, but the conscience as a doctor itself. No matter how skillful a doctor is, when they don’t have the conscience that their main duty is saving people, they could lose themselves along their way. In the worst scenario, they could become a doctor who only seeks for money and power. Hence, they should remember the reason of why they became a doctor in the first place. Someone who wanted to be a doctor to become rich does not deserve to be a doctor.
Yes, in the course of life, moreover in the society where power and social classes exist, someone could stumble and got lost along their way. And it’s hard to remember the first reason why they became a doctor when they learnt it the hard way like Heo Im. However, when we met someone like that –someone who looked like he has lost his way– we should not judge them. Just like what Heo Im said in the series, “Do you know what kind of life I led, and why I had to live like that? Don’t judge me recklessly with what you listened and saw for half a day only.” No one can really understand other people, for no one can really walk in other people’s shoes. However, the best we can do is trying to understand by walking side by side. And that’s what Doctor Choi chose to do eventually. Everyone has their own pain and agony, and everyone has their own way to deal with their pain and agony. Heo Im might have lost his way by trying to deal with his pain and agony. However, all he need was a chance; a chance to make things right again, a chance to be healed, a chance to have hopes again. And if we really care for that person, we will help them.

source: tvN

Sometimes, people are too arrogant to receive some help from other people. However, most of the times, a simple help is all we need to give us hopes again. No matter how hard we try to fool ourselves, we will feel it when something isn’t right inside us. No matter how hard we try to deny, we will know that something isn’t right with us. All we need is to try to open our heart to realize that there are some people who really care. And this was what finally made Heo Im accepted Doctor Choi in his life. Just like what Doctor Choi’s grandfather said in the series, “People are shining the most at the place where they belong.” Our heart knows whether we really belong in our current place or not. Our mind knows whether we are feeling happy by doing what we do. Our conscience knows whether we have made the right choice or not. Our soul knows whether we are really being passionate of doing what we do or whether we are just trying to run away from the harsh reality. We might not be able to change the society, but we can start to contribute by not lying to ourselves about what we really want to do and need in life. This world already has too many hypocrites, so don’t add it up.
The most important thing that I learnt from “Live Up to Your Name, Doctor Heo” is that life is indeed a journey to find oneself; not other’s, but our own self. And in order to be able to do that, we must be brave to face our greatest fear, whether it’s the fear that we are conscious of all the time or the unconscious fear that we may have forgotten. As long as we cannot deal with it and find closure, those fears will haunt us for the rest of our lives no matter how hard we try to bury or run away from it. In this life, nothing is a coincidence. I believe that everything is predestined. And everything happens accordingly to every choice we make in every moment. Hence, every moment counts. And every choice is significant. There was definitely a reason why we meet certain people at certain times; just like why Heo Im met Doctor Choi among all people in the modern era. Whether we are ended up together or separated, people come and touch other people’s life and leave some marks on them. Whether it’s in a good or bad way, it affects their life and changes them at some point to some extent. In the end, time will do its job by revealing what really matters for us.

source: tvN

When I first heard about this series, I was excited knowing that Kim Nam Gil and Kim Ah Joong will be in a drama together. Moreover, the genre of the drama was romance comedy. As we all Korean drama fans might have known, Kim Nam Gil and Kim Ah Joong are both actors with sexy and sensual images. Yes, I was imagining how great they would be as a drama couple since they are the embodiment of sexiness and sensuality itself. And I got my expectations shattered after watching “Live Up to Your Name, Doctor Heo”. They were beyond what I imagined before. Their chemistry was over the top and I could not ask for more; up until the point that I really wish they would become a real-life couple. This drama marked Kim Nam Gil’s comeback after four-year hiatus from the television series and it fulfilled my longing feeling towards him. I rarely see Kim Ah Joong in a television series (mostly I watch her movies and I love every movie she was in) and this drama has successfully made me want to see more of her drama series. Overall, I really recommend watching this series. It is fun but bringing a deeply valuable moral of the story. The characters were strongly built and the script was well-written. And also, where else we can find the hot Kim-Kim couple in a same screen? It’s really worth your time to watch it.

“If doctors don’t trust themselves, how can you expect the patients to trust the doctor who will treat them?” –Heo Im (Live Up to Your Name, Doctor Heo; 2017)

“It was exactly this pulse. It seems that this pulse led me to you. I knew it the moment I felt your pulse. You are the woman who has the same pulse like mine.” –Heo Im (Live Up to Your Name, Doctor Heo; 2017)

“Just remember this, my heart that beats because of you.” –Heo Im (Live Up to Your Name, Doctor Heo; 2017)

“People are shining the most at the place where they belong.” –Choi Chun Sool (Live Up to Your Name, Doctor Heo; 2017)

“Important rewards are not given meaninglessly like that. Special gift that is visiting you when you desperately want it, that is a good reward.” –Heo Jun (Live Up to Your Name, Doctor Heo; 2017)


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