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Director: Kim Jong Hak

Writer: Song Ji Na

Genre: Romance, Fantasy (Time-Travelling), Politics, Fusion Sageuk.

Broadcast: 2012.08.13 - 2012.10.30

Episodes: 24



Kim Hee Sun as Yoo Eun Soo

Lee Min Ho as Daejang Choi Young

Ryu Deok Hwan as King Gongmin

Park Se Young as Queen Noguk

Yu Oh Seong as Ki Chul

Philip Lee as Jang Bin


Plot Summary


Some time in 1352 a group of Woodalchi soldiers escort the newly appointed King Gongmin, who spent majority of life in Yuan China as a hostage, and his Yuan wife, Queen Noguk back to Goryeo. When they reside at an Inn, they were ambushed by assasins and Queen Noguk's neck were slashed. In fear this would anger Yuan and initiate a war, Advisor Jo Il Shin persuaded Gongmin to bring the Heavenly Doctor, Hwata, to heal the queen via the legendary Heavenly Gate. As the leader of the Woodalchi, Choi Young offers to go and rather than going to the heaven he was transported to the present day 2012. After making some commotion in the present day and confirming plastic surgeon Dr. Yoo Eun Soo (Kim Hee Sun) is the person that can heal the queen, Choi Young made a promise to Eun Soo in his name that he will bring her back and brought her to Goryeo.


Believing she was forced, Eun Soo performs the surgery on Queen Noguk. Once the queen wakes, Choi Young brought her back to the gate but they were stopped by Advisor Jo with Gongmin's order that Eun Soo is too precious with her advance healing skills that she would be useful to Goryeo if Gongmin has her by his side. Bound by his duty as soldier to serve the King, Choi Young had no choice but to stop Eun Soo and the gate back to the future closes before their eyes. Devastated, Eun Soo grabs Choi Young's sword ran towards him. Choi Young, tormented that he could not keep his promise, allows Eun Soo to stab him in the gut. Shocked by his action, Eun Soo forgets her anger and focuses on saving Choi Young as she is a doctor who saves life, not take them.


Unable to return to present day, Eun Soo follows Choi Young and et al. back to Goryeo palace. Her healing skills were spread throughout Goryeo and Ki Chul wants her for himself as he is obsessed with the possibility that the "heaven place" would enhance his magical power and potentially make him immortal. While Choi Young intended to leave the palace for a quiet life after escorting Gongmin to Goryeo, the unexpected turn of events that involves Eun Soo gets him entangled in the power struggle between Gongmin and Ki Chul while trying to protect Eun Soo. 


Review & Thoughts

The drama has another title "The Great Doctor"; however, its original title "Shin Eui" is definitely a more fitting title to the story and the characters involved as "Shin" and "Eui" conveys a much deeper meaning. Shin Eui doesn't work on one person and it can only happen when describing "relationships" of two or more people. In combination Shin Eui means "Faith" and "Loyalty" but separately they also have their own meanings.


Shin (信) = faith, trust, letter, sign

Eui (義) = justice, righteousness


Whether it is two words combined or each individual word by itself, Faith accurately describes the underlining message writer wants to convey and what the characters are upholding or working towards. In my humble opinion, Faith disguises itself in a time-travelling fantasy fusion sageuk that may seems like a light fun watch at the time, but it is actually not light-hearted at all. It challenges you to think as it explores the topic of politics, love, honour, faith and what country means to each of us. 


An old friend summarises her love for Faith beautifully below:


Faith was so long ago that I cannot recall most of the events that took place. I just know that no matter the time that has passed and no matter the dramas that came and gone, it remains as something special in my heart. Perhaps it was the complexity of the lonely and sad Choi Young, who I deeply felt and rooted for. Perhaps it was the beauty in the way these two contrasting souls found each other and changed and grew together. Perhaps it was the dying Choi Young who gradually learned the meaning of life and what it feels like to want to live. Perhaps it was the way Eun Soo hugs him and teases him, placing a flower on his hair, laughing and reminding him about the happiness in life. Perhaps it was the way she suddenly came into his life and melt away the ice cold barrier he'd been building and saved him. Perhaps it was the way he traced her shadow or the way she made his heart flutter simply by placing her head on his shoulder. Perhaps it was the sweet, subtle intimacy of their love that was deeply felt without much physical contact. Perhaps it was the way she turned his world upside down. Perhaps it was the way he waited for her, visiting their tree every day in hopes she may return. Whatever it was, they created something magical and everlasting, something that, search as I may, I have never found again in other dramas. Faith is by no means a perfect drama. No, it has many flaws. But Eun Soo and Daejang made it special in every way. The imja couple is dear to my heart and Lee Min Ho as Daejang is still my favorite Lee Min Ho's character. I'm just a sucker for characters with depth and layers. I look forward to the day Lee Min Ho plays a character that replaces Daejang in my heart. But let's be honest, it's probably never going to happen because Daejang was the first and he's left such a deep and lasting impression.


Yes to all the perhaps. And I'd add that it all comes down to Song Ji Na's:


(1) Writing

Her writing challenged our brains and kept forcing us to think. We all know it's killing our brain cells, but we sadistically enjoyed and willingly let her kill our brain cells. She made us question a lot of things thrown in the script. I went into watching the drama for enjoyment purposes but in the end I find myself and others looking up on the history of Goryeo, to get a better understanding of Goryeo's history, King Gongmin and General Choi Young. Another friend even went into deep research on the Goryeo soldier's ranking. 


(2) Characterisation

Faith, is by far, very flawed and poor in terms of directing, editing, action, costume designs and visual quality etc. I'd say it's very bad, especially compared to what we get these days. But then there's that Song Ji Na's magic where she introduced me to her Choi Young—an uptight, but upright and always proper conservative man; a broken and quiet character who has very little words and speaks his emotions to me with his eyes. Yoo Eun Soo, whom she throws into Choi Young's world and mess it all up—was a LOT of fun to watch. I love seeing a flustered Daejang in episode 6, and love seeing him being teased by his Woodalchi puppies. I love Song Ji Na for giving me a sageuk where the heroine is spunky—yes, she is physically incapable of protecting herself, but mentally, she is as strong as the men and she confronts fear head-on. She was written and presented in a way as an obstacle for Daejang, a Healer, a Lover, a conflict, a miracle, soul mate and many more. The imja couple face many tests, but it's not those typical Korean drama gimmicks e.g. amnesia, third wheel, birth secret, noble idiocy or any other makjang.


I also love that even though Song Ji Na did not have time to explore further on all the vast characters in Faith, she somehow managed to make most of them memorable and interesting. Ki Chul ended up being a ridiculous villain, but so much parodies were made out of him by the Faith fans that makes him unforgettable. The side characters had little screen time, but they all possess colorful personalities and thus, stand out. I'd never forget Kim Mi Kyung's Lady Choi, the one & only who dares to abuse our Daejang. Yoon Sang Kyung is now a male lead in his own dramas, but I'll forever remember him as the cute and dumb dumb Deok Man. Choong Suk, who disrupted the possible hot kiss imja couple nearly had. Daeman, the puppy with explosive hair that follows Daejang everywhere; Do Chi, the cheeky eunuch that teaches young Gongmin and Noguk's what it means to be husband and wife.


Flaws aside, which mainly stemmed from financial and uncontrollable circumstances during production, Song Ji Na gave us a really good history-based story with well written, layered and in-depth character growth for Gongmin, Choi Young and Eun Soo. Like a baby bird, Gongmin was forced to lead a nation corrupted by Ki Chul. To do so, he has to gather his own people, build up his own force and Choi Young played a big part in all of it and by mentoring him into who he later became. Having served many useless kings before Gongmin, Choi Young lost his faith in the kings and the country. Before he met Eun Soo, he was alive but wilted inside, Eun Soo gave him a purpose to live and Gongmin restored his faith. Throughout the drama, he was faced with many challenges and conflicts, forced to make difficult decision and choose between Eun Soo and Gongmin. It was interesting, to watch him juggle and balance between serving the king, fighting for the country and protecting Eun Soo all at the same time. And that makes him a very charming male character because he is not portrayed spending various episodes fawning over a woman and neglecting other things. On top of being in love, romancing Eun Soo, the man has a lot of responsibilities and duties.


P.S. I would look out for top-notch excellent performance from actor Choi Min Soo's cameo in episode 4.




Plot/Story: 8
Cast/Acting: 9
Production values: 5.5
Re-Watch value: 9*
Overall value: 7.8


*Many have rewatched it countless times and throughout the course of 8 years, fans of Faith have done a total of 4 recaps. If you happen to fall in love with Faith, follow up with the omitted script tidbits (link) which Song Ji Na that helps us better understanding story she wanted to tell, and the translated novels (link) to get more insights and details of the story.

Edited by mademoisellesia
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Thank you for the review. There is definitely a lot about Faith the drama that was memorable despite the troubles that it had in production.


Just one comment regarding the title of this drama. The characters "신의" in hangul also stand for a godlike doctor where 신 means a god and 의 is the first syllable of the word that means doctor. So, the title of The Great Doctor is actually a decent translation of the title in Korean.


There is another drama starting Jo Seung Woo actually called The Horse Doctor where the hangul is written as "마의" where 마 is the first syllable of the word meaning horse and 의 is, again, the first syllable of the word meaning doctor. That Joseon-era drama is literally about a veterinarian who rises to become the king's physician, but for the English title, they chose the blander "The King's Doctor" and ignored the Korean title.



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  • 5 months later...

I finished Faith last night (yes, very late to the party) and I think I’ll have a hangover for quite some time. Everything you’ve said in your review and your friends description of why she liked Faith is spot on. The character of Choi Young and the relationship between him and Eun Soo is hard to forget and would probably be one of my favourite K drama romances forever. I wonder why this drama is under rated! 

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