My Newest K-drama Love: Healer Korean Drama Review


Sometimes I feel like becoming a K-drama reviewer has made me a jaded K-drama viewer. I have seen and critiqued so many shows that most dramas don't get past a "that was decently fun" or "meh, not the best I've seen." I sometimes wish I could capture that magical feeling when I first discovered dramas and everything was SO AWESOME, even if it had glaring plot holes or triple amnesia.

Well, I haven't built any time machines recently (YET!), but thanks to Healer, I was able to recapture that feeling of really, really loving a drama for the first time in way too long. I loved this show. 


There's a lot of hype over Healer, which definitely added to my personal enjoyment of the series. I don't always catch the biggest shows right at the height of their popularity, but this time, my personal fangirling happened to coincide with everyone else's fangirling, which only made me more excited.

No, seriously. I got waaaaaaay too excited. Like texting all of my non-K-drama-watching friends and family and telling them to watch Healer excited. I. can't. stop. gushing. over. this. show. 

So if you want an even-keeled review, I might not be able to help this time...




I guess mass obsession is great for the people caught up in the moment, but it does tend to put a damper on the viewing experience for people who come to the drama a bit later. It's easy to think "Wait, that's it? What was all the fuss about?"

So here's my disclaimer about Healer: It's an action romance. Nothing more. Nothing less. It isn't going to shatter your worldview or leave you thinking for months after the last episode. It's just an action romance.

Do you disapprove of people leaping off of buildings? Then this isn't the show for you.


But still. As an action romance, it's practically perfect in every way.

Healer knows exactly what kind of show it is, but it doesn't let a "fluff" genre like action romance get in the way of doing a good job. The writers, actors, and directors took a decently engaging plot and executed it with care, transforming it into an incredibly engaging viewer experience.

When I say that almost every element worked, I really mean it. The pacing was excellent, spacing out less-exciting scenes to avoid that dreaded "episode 15 slump." There was a nice balance of laugh-out-loud humor, heart-thumping romance, and nail-biting action throughout the series. The soundtrack was catchy and memorable. Perhaps best of all, no one caught amnesia!

Above all else, Healer had a well-rounded cast. Instead of focusing on the main leads with maybe one or two fun side characters surrounded by one-dimensional filler characters, the world of Healer was stuffed to the brim with people you couldn't help but love and care about. There really weren't any weak links. I can't even pinpoint who my favorite character is. It's clearly Min Ja—until Young Shin's dad makes me cry. Or mini Healer pops up to save the day. I mean, my favorite part of the entire show wasn't even a romantic moment—it was that stunning training sequence between Teacher and Healer in the abandoned building.

But seriously, Min Ja is obviously my real favorite.

Even the main villain was more nuanced than usual, and I caught myself feeling sorry for him from time to time. Aside from the Big Bad Elder and his sniveling sidekick, everyone had a story and some depth.

Okay, so I know I already just said "above all else" to explain the importance of the cast, but I'm going to "above all else" that "above all else" with this most most important factor in my Healer obsession:

Ji.



Chang.



Wook.



Wow. Just WOW. Look, if you want to see some handsome eye candy, you can head to pretty much any show out there, but if you want to see some actual acting, look no further. By virtue of their scripts, the vast majority of K-drama actors (including, I'm afraid, some favorite veterans) simply swing back and forth between stoic disdain and full-on shouting with very little in the middle. Ok, so some sob-crying usually makes the cut.

But Ji Chang Wook is one of those rare K-drama finds who doesn't over-act or under-act. Instead, everything he does feels incredibly natural, like I'm watching a real person living through these experiences, as out-of-the-ordinary as those experiences may be. 

As Healer/Jung Hoo/Bong Soo, he was able to convey more emotion with the slightest little twitch of a facial muscle than many actors and actresses do with a massive screaming fit. Not only that, but he acted with his entire body instead of just his face. Perhaps that's his theater background at work. Whatever it was, it worked, and now I'm completely mesmerized by him and may have to watch Bachelor's Vegetable Store to see more (words I never thought I would utter in a million years).

Of course, we can't talk about him without his leading lady. I haven't really had strong feelings either way about Park Min Young in the past, but I felt that she suited this role well, and the Jung Hoo/Young Shin couple was my favorite kind of OTP—one where I could see why they wanted to be together, and I believed the relationship development wholeheartedly.


Do I really need two screenshots to prove my point? Probably not, but are you gonna complain about it?

While we're at it, we should also mention the third member of our trio, Kim Moon Ho. Yoo Ji Tae could have disappeared next to our OTP pretty easily, but he held his own really well, keeping me absolutely invested in his side of the story.



Ok, so here's the part of the review where I talk about things I didn't like:

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Uh, I guess I didn't like it when Young Shin did obviously dangerous things like getting into the villain's car? I also didn't really like that "Eternal Love" song because it sounded like it came straight out of the 90s, but not in a good way.

Other than that, I really can't think of anything. I mean, the logical part of my brain knows there were probably problems with the show, but they don't come to mind at the moment, and I would really rather just bask in the glow of my enjoyment a little while longer. Don't rain on my Healer-obsessed parade, okay?

So thank you, Healer, for reminding me how thoroughly enjoyable a K-drama can be. My feelings for you are genuine.


Where to watch Healer:

Viki (2-week delay for North America)

Comments

  1. I am quite late to the party and only started Healer recently. At episode 5 or so now, but I can totally see already what everyone has been saying, and I'm excited to keep watching now that I know for certain the story isn't going to fall apart, lol.

    I personally like Eternal Love's chorus. It was great, and when they just played that bit, I was really into it. When they played the verses, I couldn't take any scene it was playing over seriously, lol.

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  2. Hahaha....I thought I was the only one but like you, I didn't like Eternal Love too.I find it childish and cheesy amongst other things and my enjoyment of Healer has been marred somewhat by this song, with me dreading the moment every time the song's intro starts to play. But that's just my personal view and the song's now part of the show, whether I like it or not. So, I'll just have to live with it ( or turn the volume down at the cue!). :-D
    Thank you for your review.

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  3. What about the ending? Does it have a happy ending? this one reminds me of City Hunter and that ending in my opinion, sucked! So I'm cautiously
    optimistic about this one.

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  4. I loved Healer from the beginning. I just could not figure out why the actual rating in Korea wasn't high. My favorite scene was "rooftop kiss" especially when healer paused right before the kiss. I thought it was romantic!

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  5. The whole time, I was terrified it would fall apart. When I got to the end and it was stil good, I breathed a sigh of relief!

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  6. Cheesy is exactly the right word. So, so bad. Eyerolling-ly bad.

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  7. The ending doesn't wrap up every single question, but I thought it was satisfying. WAY better than City Hunter.

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  8. Yeah, the Korean ratings often surprise me, but you have to remember that Korean audiences really, REALLY like melodramas and historical dramas, and Kim Rae Won is a pretty big star compared to Ji Chang Wook.


    All of the kisses were excellent, but the rooftop kiss was particularly sweet. There are too many favorite moments for me to count.

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  9. Oh my god, yes, this song is killing me. It reminds me of that other song from the disney movie Tarzan? You know what I mean?

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  10. I love Healer more than I've loved a drama in a long time. To the point where I want to recommend it to all my non-kdrama-watching friends, except then I worry they will be ruined forever for any other kdramas.

    I found the actress playing Min Ja to be one of the (few) high points for me with Heirs, so I was so happy to see her here getting to play such a different and fun character. I find that the supporting characters really make or break a kdrama for me, and is a huge strength for Healer.

    Thoughts on the ending: I like that the ending didn't tie up every thread. The characters were built strongly enough throughout that it's easy to imagine where they might all go. They and their storylines feel like they live on, so I don't need it all written out for me. My only complaint is I found the ending scenario a bit abrupt - 'we need a way to take this guy down' 'oh look, here is a convenient person with convenient information, and they reached out to us with it at just the perfect time' - but I'm willing to accept that sometimes things just work out conveniently in life, just as sometimes everything goes 'perfectly' wrong. Especially in dramaland.

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  11. This drama is pure perfection. I still can't believe how tight the writing is and how there wasn't ever a moment or episode that I didn't enjoy. City Hunter has been my favorite drama since it aired (minus the weird ending of course), but I can officially say Healer has definitely taken over my #1 spot. I'm already counting down until this summer when my husband has promised to watch it with me. He doesn't watch dramas but if there is one that I KNOW he'll enjoy he gives it a shot when he has time (and yes, he did love City Hunter minus the ending).


    I agree about the song. A better song could've been chosen, but at this point I loved everything else so much that I can forgive the song. I really wish more dramas would be as amazing as Healer. There are so many that start out with so much potential (I'm looking at you secret hotel, prime minister & I, marry him if you dare, etc.) but the writing is so strange that it just completely falls apart. Seriously though, I wish I could be a writer for these shows sometimes! If only I spoke fluently and was actually Korean...


    It is funny that the Korean audience views dramas so differently. I have a couple native Korean girlfriends who I chat with about dramas and a lot of the time when they give me suggestions of what to watch I don't see what is so great about them or I just flat out hate them.

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  12. PolynesiankdramafanfromUSAFebruary 21, 2015 at 11:19 AM

    I completed watching Healer a week and a half ago and I kept checking your blog twice or thrice within that time frame to see if you had watched it....so you can imagine how elated I am right now after reading your thoughts because you accurately expressed how many of us feel about this drama(especially in our household). Funny I had zero awareness about Healer nor about Ji Chan Wook but I decided to check it out after reading some fan comments while watching Kill me, heal me on viki. I truly am hoping and rooting that Ji Chan Wook and Ji Sung (of kill me heal me) wins a tie for a Daesang. (I don't know if that is even possible but I think they equally have this natural ability with their acting (especially in the above mentioned shows) which is just so believable. Anyhow, yeah, i don't care if it's too soon to say this but Healer is definitely the best kdrama for 2015. Oh and yeah, the best OTP for 2015 as well....oooh la la they were so adorable and sweet together; the only other drama I saw Park Mi Young in was City Hunter and I didn't really care much about her on that one....but on Healer, her chemistry with Ji Chan Wook was so believable and such a delight to see. Btw, I couldn't get enough of Ji Chan Wook and his acting skills that I decided to watch Empress Ki...all.51.episodes.in.7.days.(If I didn't work and have a family I probably could've finished it in 3 days hehe) But I think he did a great job as an emperor and I'm quite surprised that he didn't win any best acting or excellence award for it. So I'd be pretty disappointed in the Korean entertainment industry if he doesn't win some sort of excellence acting award for Healer and like I said, truly Daesang worthy and I've never really said that about any kdrama actor before. He is my newly found korean actor.....how was Bachelor's Vegetable store? Lmk how you think of it because I just might check it out only for the sake of Ji Chan Wook hehehe I am so going to make my husband watch Healer very soon. He hasn't been able to watch any kdrama with me despite my many attempts but I think this one would be something he'll watch from beginning to end. Thank you for the opportunity to still gush about this wonderful kdrama!!!

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  13. PolynesiankdramafanfromUSAFebruary 21, 2015 at 1:44 PM

    LOL I don't know why Koreans trust ost's from foreigners on their kdramas; reminded me of "This is the moment" from heirs it was just off hahaha I loved Ji Chan Wook's ost I'll protect you on Healer..I also loved his ost on empress ki as well called "To butterfly" I was so excited to find out that the boy not only acts amazingly but he could blow those vocal singing pipes too. ;-)

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  14. IIRC, "This is the moment" is the only English phrase in an otherwise Korean song. "Eternal Love" is just bad as of itself (again, my very own personal view). Yael Meyer's " When You Hold Me Tight" on the other hand, was a nice inclusion into the soundtrack, even if foreign. I'd fault the production team for the wrong music choices. Case in point would be "It's Ok, It's Love" use of multiple foreign songs that was just right, with a shout-out to "Hero" by Family Of The Year, which use was appropriate and made the scenes more poignant. A bad song is just bad, anytime and anywhere. :-P

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  15. The OTP in Healer is THE pairing to beat, to emulate. The trust, the communication, the loving without having to say 'I love you', the cute moments, the banter and all else in between, really made this OTP real and relatable. I love them to bits. Healer has a huge following in dramabeans dot com, with comments from ep 8 onward running into thousands. Do check it out, if you have the inclination.

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  16. YES. Now that you've said it, I will imagine Phil Collins singing the Healer song for the rest of time.

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  17. You perfectly captured my feelings about the finale. I didn't need everything tied up with a perfect bow, but I WAS annoyed at how easy the resolution was with the villain after all that buildup.

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  18. Seeing how excited everyone was about Healer on Dramabeans was one of my favorite things!

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  19. I've been thinking about doing a post about "shows your husband might actually watch with you" for a while now. Maybe I'll actually get around to it one of these days, and Healer will be on that list for sure.

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  20. I didn't start liking it till the end of episode 8 and the elevator falling scene, I thought that was stupendous and then when the writer immediately followed it up with the couple's first kiss, I was like "Yeah!" and it wasn't one of those ridiculous open eyed kisses. I really hate those.

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  21. Nothing is pure perfection, all the dramas have flaws in the writing and production and acting. But we the audience are human and can understand that nothing is perfect, it just doesn't need any glaring mistakes or spending too much time on random car chases just to have car chases or kiss scenes so forced and stiff looking that you want to slap your own eyes closed and scream, "Gah! Not AGAIN!!!" Just have a nice steady flow of a storyline and I can forgive a lot of continuity mistakes or lapses of logic. I just can't forgive BOREDOM. I really didn't start liking Healer until the end of episode 8. In fact I fell asleep four times in the first episode. As soon as he started showing real feelings toward the girl I started liking it better.

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  22. Honestly I hate going on dramabeans. I've seen some excellent shows lambasted terribly by the person who runs that site, and it seems as if you need to agree with that person and walk lockstep like a Nazi over there instead of expressing your honest opinions. And the worst thing is these lockstep people come over to other websites and lambast the shows the dramabeans person likes. You can tell who they are because they will often admit they only watched one or two episodes of a drama and then they are slamming it because the dramabeans Nazi slammed it.

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  23. I meant to write "the shows the dramabeans person doesn't like".

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  24. I do think Healer and City Hunter have a lot in common and they both made stars out of their leading men. This genre isn't really my cup of tea though, so it takes me a long time to drum up my own personal interest in these kinds of stories. I DO think that the FIRST EPISODE of City Hunter was OUTSTANDING. When those men were being shot at and murdered by their own countrymen I lost it and sobbed, whereas with Healer I fell asleep four times in the first episode and kept saying to myself, "WHAT is so great about this show?" However I did persist with both, they were simply more of a chore for me to watch personally.

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  25. I agree it was tacky. I would turn the volume down each time it came on. They overused it more than they used that tension music female choir driving beat piece in The Princess' Man. Gah! They played that piece so many times in each episode I'd scream at the screen: PLAY SOME OTHER MUSIC INSTEAD!!!!

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  26. thank you - an ending will dissuade me from watching a k-drama. I like happy endings and don't like open ended ones.

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  27. Attention Healer fans! Vote for Healer to make it the best drama of the month at:
    http://dramabuzz.com/viewtopic.php?f=26&t=21
    Healer ANTI Fans, you can vote for Kill me heal me to bring it down. Just kidding. ;) Don't you dare!!

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  28. Attention Healer fans! Vote for Healer to make it the best drama of the month at:
    http://dramabuzz.com/viewtopic.php?f=26&t=21
    Healer ANTI Fans, you can vote for Kill me heal me to bring it down. Just kidding. ;)

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  29. Jill, that's actually funny you say nothing is pure perfection because when I started writing I meant to say that it's pure perfection to me. I still mean that for ME it is pure perfection in the way that it's exactly the drama meant for me because it has all the elements I love in Korean dramas--and it actually does them well. However, I realize not everyone loves this genre or show as much as me! I love action/thriller/romance with riveting background stories so obviously these types of shows will almost always wind up as my favorite despite tiny imperfections.


    Your post reminds me that there are some people who are great Kdrama bloggers and they really enjoy it--like this blog for example :) I already know I would be the worst Kdrama blogger in the world. I hate ripping every little detail apart. If something isn't good I refuse to put any time into it whatsoever. Then if I reallllly love something I simply acknowledge how much I loved it and move on with my life, even if there are a few little things that could be criticized. I guess I watch Kdramas to escape from my stressful life and Healer was the first one in a while that really spoke to me.

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  30. Loving this drama! The acting by so so hit Ji Sung is amazing and the chemistry between the leads is off the chart. Fave personality? Se Gi...but starting to fall for Do Hyun!

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  31. I consciously decided Not to start watching it until it was over and everyone had said that the ending was a good one. A drama that gets that much praise and love for the storytelling, etc. before ever reaching the end is that much more heartbreaking to watch if it completely falls apart in the last few episodes. I was not interested in dealing with that kind of heartache.

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  32. I need to pick a weekend for marathoning the rest of it, because it really sounds like a drama I will love. The first five episodes are a very good, but they haven't gotten me hooked either. I think marathoning might solve that problem, lol.

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  33. Yeah, I got my husband to watch Liar Game with me (imo a perfect kdrama to watch with a guy) and when he said it was "okay" at the end I wanted to smack him. I think I'm giving up on trying to pull him into my kdrama world and will just enjoy it with the girls :)

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  34. I had the same problem, every one of my non kdrama friends got tired of hearing me talk about this show. and seriously. Ji Chang Wook. Awesome. Loved this drama.

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  35. Priscilla Bean-HlasMarch 19, 2015 at 9:42 PM

    I started watching Kdramas about 5 years ago with Boys over Flowers. I felt like almost every time I watched a new show-it became my favorite. But Healer... Healer is just something special. The engaging story, actors who actually acted, a villain who actuay stayed a villain. Park Min Young was absolutely adorable. And Ji Chang Wook... Wow. Their romance was great. How he just wanted to be near her while she was cooking in his warehouse. I watched that scene over and over again. I did start the Vegetable Store show. His smile just lights up the entire show.

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  36. I started watching Kdramas about 5 years ago with Boys over Flowers. I felt like almost every time I watched a new show-it became my favorite. But Healer... Healer is just something special. The engaging story, actors who actually acted, a villain who actuay stayed a villain. Park Min Young was absolutely adorable. And Ji Chang Wook... Wow. Their romance was great. How he just wanted to be near her while she was cooking in his warehouse. I watched that scene over and over again. And every time I did I would just grin. I am grinning just thinking about it right now. I did start the Vegetable Store show. His smile just lights up the entire show.

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  37. I must join your discussion because YES to everything above. Healer, when it first started airing, was one of the first dramas I started watching. After about 5 episodes and realizing how much I loved it (and how in love I was with Ji Chang Wook) I saw that there were only like 7 episodes on Dramafever so I stopped watching it, waiting until the rest of it was posted to finish.


    I watched about 4 or 5 other dramas in between, and by the time I got back to Healer I was already hooked on K-dramas. As soon as I got back into Healer, however, I knew it would always be one of my favorites. You are spot on about his acting; he was good at being all the different characters he had to be. And as his feelings grew for Young Shin, he was just cuter and cuter with her.


    I made it all the way to the second to last episode and I stopped watching for a few weeks. Why? Because I knew it would be over when I finished the last episode. I didn't want it to be over. Yes I can go back and re-watch but I really didn't want it to end, and let's be honest, most K-drama endings are meh at best.


    Yet I did watch it and it was a good ending, one of the few I have approved. So, yes, in summary, I agree with you and your whole post here. It was pretty amazing. And I am love with that guy more than all other guys (for now). You post made me chuckle because you were writing thoughts that I have had.


    Love your site. Can't wait to read more. :)

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  38. i have a new profound love for ji chang wook!!! saranghae oppa

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  39. I love this show!!!!! Park Min Young and Ji Chang Wook should do another drama.

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  40. Lovely review!!! It's incredible how your review mirrors my feelings completely!!!
    It's been about two months now since I saw and rewatched again this drama!! I fell completely in love with this drama and Ji Chang Wook aka Jung-Hoo!!! <3 (I hope he 's gonna win an award for this performance!!! his acting felt so natural and was so deply layered at the same time!!)
    Anywa, even now, I find it hard to get interested in other Kdramas! I find them all 'blah" compared to Healer!!! It has been such a wonderful viewing experience, the kind that you have once in a decade!!!^^ I'm exaggerating but not so much!!! I hadn't watched anything so intensely for a long, long time and I've seen many dramas now, some of them are very good and the viewing was also kind of intense, like I was eager to see the next episodes but still Healer wins big time!!! So thank you again to the actors, the screenwriter and the director for producing such a brilliant TV show!!

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  41. Pratikshya MishraApril 19, 2015 at 8:01 AM

    i'm watching the 9th episode... i love it so so so much... gushing... blushing.. swooning... :) :D

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  42. k-dramas.. &gt;May 3, 2015 at 1:32 PM

    To me, it felt like it could have been better if it was shorter. But needless yo say, this drama is an absolute genius. Thanks to the scriptwriter of course, but still without the casts perfect acting, it wouldn't be as amazing as it is. But I have one question, is it just me or I thought that Bong Soon aka Jung Hop should have use the glasses that are able to darken its visibility from an outsider (to shield his eyes-his identity as Healer)??? That would have decreased a hell lot of trouble and he wasn't as smart as he appeared to be as compared to the beginning of the drama. That's a bit weird though I think. But other than that, everything else was utter perfection. :)

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  43. Who walks around wearing darkened glasses in public, at work, etc People dont really know who Healer is anyway. As you saw, he lived alone and no one was around him. He was isolated from the world, so his identity is not much of an issue. Elder is in jail, and doesnt know he is still alive. Also, Jung Hoo is not living publicly, but carefully by Young Shin side :)

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  44. I LOVED this drama! And I usually stop watching a drama after the first 3 episodes if I don't like it (which happened a lot) but this one, oh let me tell you, it blew me away! I pulled 2 all-nighters and don't regret it. It's seriously a must watch, and I felt like the characters were really in love, their chemistry was amazing.

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  45. GrowingbeautifullyJune 12, 2015 at 10:12 PM

    Attention: All ‘Healer’ Fans
    Join us in the fun and vote for your favorite things about Healer at
    the Healer Kdrama Awards! Simply click the following link to cast your vote:

    https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1DRKl7PBJqamTAJvwskoHTDr-tMoJ9oHrdjaHhxK4wPA/viewform?usp=send_form

    This online poll was created by some Healer fans in Dramabeans. We hope you’ll enjoy all the
    categories we’ve come up with and can find your favorites among them.

    Voting will end at 23:59 hours (GMT) on July 4th, 2015. Official results
    will be released on July 5th, 2015 (Ji Chang Wook’s birthday).

    You are all cordially invited to Healer Ji Chang Wook’s online birthday
    party on July 5th 2015 at Dramabeans (see link below) We will relive the
    phenomenon that is Healer, and enjoy celebrating Ji Chang Wook’s 29th birthday.

    All are welcome to join in the fun, see you there!

    To find out the latest vote tally and if you have any questions or need
    clarifications with the awards OR the show itself, please head over to
    Dramabeans (http://www.dramabeans.com/healer-episode-20-final),
    and we’ll be happy to help you.

    Thank you!
    “There will never be another one."

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  46. ENSERIO, EL MEJOR DRAMA DE TODOS LOS TIEMPO !! HACE MUCHO QUE NO ME QUEDABA TAN TRAUMADA CON UNA HISTORIA QUE ME HAGA SUSPIRAR!!! ENSERIO SE MERECEN TODO EL EXITO DEL MUNDO !! ESPERO QUE SI LO HAYAN TENIDO, PORQUE ESTOY DEACUERDO CON TUS COMENTARIOS 100%. GRAN HISTORIA, GRANDES ACTORES!! ESPERO QUE EL PUBLICO DE COREA HAYA SABIDO APRECIARLOS!

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  47. Ha! We really don't know if her eyes were open or not! ;)

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