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'Kill Me, Heal Me' Portrays A Sexier Image Of Mental Illness Than 'Heart To Heart'

BY Adrienne Stanley | Jan 29, 2015 08:58 PM EST


The ratings for “Kill Me, Heal Me” increased as episodes seven and eight explored the darker side of dissociative disorder. The drama has continued an empathetic approach of mental illness through its heart wrenching exploration of the tragic polarizing personalities of Ahn Yo Sub and Nana.

The brilliance of “Kill Me, Heal Me” is the competent dramatic performance delivered by Ji Sung. He is compelling in his portrayal of Cha Do Hyun, a businessman who is struggling with a psychological condition commonly known as multiple personality disorder. The suicidal personality of Yo Sub serves as a juxtaposition to the daredevil persona of Shin Se Gi. Both characters are flawed and self destructive but Se Gi exudes charismatic energy which could be misconstrued as shedding an attractive light on dissociative disorder.

While “Kill Me, Heal Me” delivers a romanticized portrayal of mental illness, “Heart to Heart” is a bit more honest in its execution of social anxiety disorder. Choi Kang Hee is Cha Hong Do, a socially awkward woman who shrouds her youthful appearance in the guise of a matronly costume. While the actress portraying the role is stunning, Hong Do is considered very unattractive.

The role of the unattractive woman who is socially awkward is commonplace in Korean drama. Another notable example is Park Shin Hye’s delivery of Go Dok Mi in the 2013 tvN show “Flower Boy Next Door.” Dok Mi is fraught by anxiety and views the world from the confines of her tiny apartment. She is drawn out of her cloistered writer’s den by Enrique Geum (Yoon Shi Yoon).

Ji Sung and Choi Kang Hee starred in the 2011 office comedy “Protect the Boss.” “Protect the Boss” provided a cursory analysis of anxiety and mental illness through its portrayal of the overwrought character Cha Ji Heon. Ji Heon is a character who is portrayed as weak and flawed, while “Kill Me, Heal Me” allows Cha Do Hyun to maintain his masculine confidence.

The contrast between “Kill Me, Heal Me” and “Heart to Heart” provides a look at the ways in which gender dynamics influence Korean drama. Male leads who struggle with mental illness will generally have great wealth and are exceedingly attractive, while their female counterparts tend to be poor or mousy.

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