Doctor Cha Season 1 Review – A trope-defying, entertaining but ever-so-slightly unbalanced K-drama

Season 1

Episode Guide

Episode 1 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 2 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 3 – | Review Score – 5/5
Episode 4 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 5 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 6 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 7 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 8 – | Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 9 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 10 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 11 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 12 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 13 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 14 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 15 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 16 – | Review Score – 5/5


K-dramas, like any other medium, have a good number of tropes that you get used to seeing. The white truck that hits an important character? Check. The second male lead syndrome? Yep. The obligatory “waiting outside surgery” scene? That’s gotta be in there. But ironically, when you’re given a drama that subverts some of these expectations, the reaction is undoubtedly doing to be split down the middle. And that perfectly sums up Doctor Cha.

Billed as a comedy/romance, JTBC’s latest weekend drama is a mixed cocktail of different influences. Sure, it has bits of romance and comedy, its fair share of some tropes, but it similarly works as a slice-of-life drama, a thought provoking look at one’s dreams and the real impact of divorce on a family. All of this, wrapped up across 16 episodes of various shenanigans.

On the one hand, Doctor Cha can come across as a bit disappointing. It doesn’t have all the fan service moments people may be expecting, nor does it have a traditional K-drama ending. What it does have however, is a unique storyline that values a strong, empowering woman making her own choices in life.

The storyline centers of Cha Jeong-suk, an overworked housewife who’s married to her ungrateful husband, Seo In-ho. He’s the chief surgeon at Gusan university hospital and he has high expectations for their two kids, I-rang and Jung-min. However, he also has a big secret.

It turns out In-ho has been having an affair this entire time with a woman from work, someone who also happens to be his first love, Seung-hi. In-ho has managed to juggle both these lives relatively well, until Jeong-suk decides she’s going to apply to be a doctor and follow her dream. And apply at Gusan of all places. All of this comes after a life-altering operation involving her liver.

The doctor in charge of her case here happens to be Roy Kimberley, a guy who seems like the perfect fit for Jeong-suk on the surface. He slowly grows more affectionate toward her and ends up competing with In-ho for her attention – and hopefully her heart – in a variety of amusing, comedic encounters.

As the show progresses, the usual tropes do crop up but they’re subverted in pretty interesting ways. I did briefly mention the ending before, and I’m not about to spoil that here, obviously. However, it’s undoubtedly going to be a polarizing experience for many people, especially those expecting a certain ending and not getting their wishes fulfilled.

In terms of character development, there’s a good deal of it going on here and while Jeong-suk is the main lead and gets the best arc out of everyone, there’s similarly a good deal of growth for In-ho, Seung-hi and Jeong-suk’s two kids. However, the same can’t really be said for Roy. There’s a random subplot thrown into this of him looking for his birth parents, and it doesn’t really have much substance. If anything, it just feels like busywork.

This blemish is probably the biggest negative in this drama when it comes to the characters, although the latter half of this show does start to run out of steam before pulling it back for the finale. There’s a whole episode dedicated to Jeong-suk’s mum, which doesn’t quite work, while there are a variety of different patients whose stories are interesting but largely forgettable when you move onto the next chapter.

If you can go in with no expectations, Doctor Cha is a fun and vibrant K-drama that champions interesting ideas and themes. This is a show all about finding oneself and the consequences that come with trying to achieve your dreams. It’s not an easy path, and it’s not always perfect, but the end-goal makes the struggle worth it. And that really can be projected across to Doctor Cha itself. It’s not the perfect rom-com drama many will be expecting, but it is a unique and interesting take on the genre, making for an enjoyable watch overall.

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  • Verdict - 8/10

1 thought on “Doctor Cha Season 1 Review – A trope-defying, entertaining but ever-so-slightly unbalanced K-drama”

  1. More than tropes, reality defining in the sense of unrealistic.

    I mean, so let me get this straight… her, as a divorced adult woman, having a relationship with a younger man that is obviously into her after a decade of loveless, sexless marriage, is supposed to be unrealistic -Secret Love Affair happened ten years ago, let’s remember-, while the way she relates to her ex husband and mother in law after decades of deception and emotional abuse, and almost watching her die while he could save her (only doing a one-eighty so comparatively fast by the last minute, despite decades of self serving behavior… talk about too little, too late), or the mistress’ daughter trying to get her father back together with the mistress who was somehow still into him and never cheated (neither did Dr. Cha) despite him cheating on both his mistress and lover, and tons of other examples on that same vein, are supposed to be realistic? Get outta here!

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