'Like a close friend,' Park Shin-hye and Park Hyung-sik offer laughter and hope in 'Doctor Slump'

From left, actors Park Hyung-sik, Park Shin-hye, director Oh Hyun-jong, actors Kong Seong-ha and Yoon Bak pose for photos during an online press conference for the JTBC drama ″Doctor Slump″ on Thursday. [JTBC]

Most medical dramas depict doctors as near superheroes in the ways that they work ceaselessly to save lives, but in the new JTBC drama “Doctor Slump,” Park Shin-hye and Park Hyung-sik play burnt-out doctors stuck in a rut.

“Countless other films and dramas have portrayed doctors professionally, but in ‘Doctor Slump’ we show the human side of the job by dealing with the emotional burden and inner turmoil of doctors,” director Oh Hyun-jong said Thursday during an online press conference for the drama. “We had actual doctors advise and consult us on ‘Doctor Slump,’ and they told us that the people who face these burdens are those who have worked as hard as they could at their jobs.

“Ultimately, I wanted to relay the message that everything has to do with the human heart and how people treat each other,” Oh said. “Even doctors who are socially recognized, paid well and arguably have the most coveted job can fall into distress due to certain interactions with others.”

Park Shin-hye, who is returning to work after three years since getting married and giving birth to a child, agreed with the message of “Doctor Slump” and explained why she decided to appear in the drama.

“I empathized with my character Ha-neul very much because I have a lot of friends who have been burnt out or depressed,” Park said during the press conference. “When Ha-neul becomes depressed, she thinks that there needs to be this grand solution to her depression and that she can only overcome her burnt-out-ness through that. But I think that happiness isn’t far away, and it doesn’t rely on some big answer. I wanted to tell viewers this through playing Ha-neul.”

A scene from the new JTBC drama ″Doctor Slump″ [JTBC]

Park Hyung-sik had a slightly different reason for joining “Doctor Slump” — he wanted to laugh at himself, and the script of the drama made him do just that.

“Recently, I have participated in mainly serious and dark stories where it was hard to find comedy,” Park Hyung-sik said. “Then I read the script for ‘Doctor Slump’ and found myself laughing aloud at the lines and how the characters mingle together in the story. When you mention burnout and depression as the key material for this drama, it may sound like a downer; but ‘Doctor Slump’ is like a close friend telling you that things will be alright, instead of having a serious and heavy tone.”

The two actors previously acted together in “The Heirs” (2013), and the “Doctor Slump” reunion is their first in 11 years. Having the two main cast members already know each other well helped in collaborating and building up the chemistry between the leads, Park Shin-hye and Park Hyung-sik said.

“It is almost impossible to put into words how glad I am that I am working again with Park Hyung-sik,” Park Shin-hye said.

“I am always nervous and scared when starting a new work, and this time, because I have Park Shin-hye with me, I feel like I have an army beside me,” Park Hyung-sik said.

“Doctor Slump” airs its first episode at 10:30 p.m. on Jan. 27.

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