Jan 22, 2015 | 19:07 PM EST

'Jekyll, Hyde, and I' Reflects Korea's Growing Fascination With Mental Illness Dramas

BY Adrienne Stanley

“Jekyll, Hyde, and I” premiered on January 21, with the psychological romantic-comedy serving as Hyun Bin’s return to television, following his period of mandatory military service.

“Jekyll, Hyde, and I” reflects the recent trend of dramas which have focused on dissociative identity disorder, a condition which is commonly referred to as multiple personality disorder.

Hyun Bin portrays Gu Seo Jin, a conglomerate heir who oversees Wonder Land, a Korean amusement park. Due to traumatic experiences from his youth, he struggles with dissociative identity disorder. Seo Jin is portrayed as a flawed, selfish character who is seemingly uncaring of those around him.

In the first two episodes, Seo Jin commits acts which are uncharacteristically heroic. It is revealed that his daredevil sense of heroism is attributed to Robin, another personality. Robin is self-sacrificing and appears to be superhuman. While he may seem more virtuous than Seo Jin, Robin is an effect of Seo Jin's mental illness. 

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Jang Ha Na (Han Ji Min) is a circus master who is repeatedly saved by Seo Jin.Seo Jin expressed disdain for Robin and does not openly embrace the alternate personality. Based on the webtoon Dr. Jekyll Is Mr. Hyde, the drama provides a multifaceted and action-driven look at dissociative identity disorder.

“Jekyll, Hyde, and I” is airing in the 9:55 p.m. time slot opposite MBC’s “Kill Me, Heal Me.”

“Kill Me, Heal Me” stars Ji Sung as Cha Do Hyun, a wealthy heir who deals with dissociative identity disorder due to childhood trauma. Do Hyun struggles with six additional personalities. One of his most dominant personalities is Shin Se Gi, an attractive ladies’ man with a life threatening thirst for danger. Se Gi is joined by Perry Park, a flamboyant forty-year old. The four other personalities are slowly revealed throughout each episode through the aid of Oh Ri Jin (Hwang Jung Eum), a first-year psychiatry resident.

Ji Sung previously starred as Cha Jin Heon in the 2011 drama “Protect the Boss.” “Protect the Boss” focused on Cha Ji Heon, an immature man who struggled to navigate the workplace due to several unnamed conditions which may have included obsessive compulsive disorder or Asperger’s Sydrome.

“Kill Me, Heal Me” reflects on the negative aspects of dissociative identity disorder, while also highlighting the positive aspects of Do Hyun. From this perspective, “Kill Me, Heal Me” shares similarities with the 2014 hit drama “It’s Okay, That’s Love.”

“It’s Okay, That’s Love” focused on the psychological condition of schizophrenia. Schizophrenia differentiates itself from dissociative identity disorder in that the subject experiences hallucinations and delusions, as outlined by the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder or DSM V. While he may have appeared like another personality, Kang Woo (EXO D.O) manifested as a hallucination by Jang Jae Yeol (Jo In Sung).

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