A Poem a Day is being sold to us as a slice-of-life drama, with stories of physical therapists and other support staff in a hospital. I think whoever labeled it that way has only seen the first episode. It is clearly a comedy, and I think it would interest people to know that. The show has a kind of dry humor that comes from the personalities of the characters and all their quirks, but in the first episode, they are mostly annoying. It’s not slapsticky and so far we haven’t gotten any poop jokes, although by the second episode someone has holed up in a bathroom stall to cry.
The modus operandi is to make us expect something and then turn it on its head. We see a scene lifted right out of Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim, with a doctor riding a gurney with the patient, thumping his chest trying to restart his heart, as the staff rushes them to the operating room. Excitement! High drama! Then we turn the corner and go down the corridor to rehab. This is where our story is, the everyday efforts of trying to heal after the high drama is over. Maybe it’s slice-of-life after all.
Our main character, Bo Young, is the “straight man” and probably the only normal person in the bunch. She loves poetry and wanted to study literature in college, but decided to be practical in her choice of a career. She is kind and thoughtful and a good therapist, but doesn’t seem to be able to say no to anyone.
The person with the next most screen time is Min Ho (how can you forget that name?) who is a student trainee at our hospital. He has back history with Bo Young and is immature and quite the tease. The characters all have their little quirks and ways of doing things, and he certainly has his. In Episode 2 we find out where he gets it.
Min Ho’s pal from college is Nam Woo, and they come together as a matched set. His family used to be wealthy but went bankrupt, which he doesn’t hesitate to bring up whenever he is annoyed. He is the whiner.
I thought about dubbing those two Tweedledee and Tweedledum but decided these next two deserve it more. They are radiologists, so are in a different department. Tweedledee, with glasses, is going to be really tiresome at first, but keep an eye on him! He might be my favorite character. (This guy in real life is a rapper.) Tweedledum is a loner and thinks he is tough. He’s our puppy.
Then we have Yoon Joo, who is Bo Young’s senior at work as well as her roommate. She is competent at work but sloppy at home. And unfortunately, we aren’t without a resident jerk who talks mean and pushes his work off on others.
Not until the last five minutes of the first episode do we get to see this guy. He is Dr. Ye, a physical therapist who developed his own method and has become famous, so everyone is deferential. All these characters are called doctor in the subtitles. If you listen you can tell that the term being used is sunsengnim, which is a broadly respectful title meaning doctor or teacher. He is distant and taciturn and prone to handling troublemakers with borderline rude remarks.
By the second episode, we have gotten to know all of these people. Things are changing; we are finding the endearing sides of some, and others are bumping up against reality when a patient dies. As in the scene with the gurney, in the beginning, everyone’s annoying quirks are starting to get turned on their heads and become funny. Anticipate Episode 3!
Thanks for coming for a first peek with us! Enjoy the show!
Dramas With a Side of Kimchi