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Series / Good Doctor

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A 2013 Korean Medical Drama about a young paediatric surgeon with autism. Si-on/Shi-on is an amazing savant, but not-so amazing with people. He begins his residency at Sungwon University Hospital, where his mentor Dr. Choi works. He is put under the trust of Do-han, or Dr. Kim, another talented young paediatric surgeon, but they but heads over Si-on's ability to work. The pair form a professional rivalry, and a personal one over another peds resident, Dr. Cha.

It ran for 20 episodes in the summer/fall of 2013, and spawned an American remake in 2017, The Good Doctor starring Freddie Highmore as Shaun. It's generally remembered in the West for having one of the worst modern portrayals of autism out there, especially compared to the American remake.

A Japanese remake of the same name, Good Doctor (グッド ドクター, Guddo Dokuta) was aired in 2018, starring Kento Yamazaki as Minato Shindo, Juri Ueno as Natsumi Seto, and Naohito Fujiki as Seiji Takayama. It ran for a mere 10 episodes, but was well-received.


Good Tropes:

  • Abusive Parents: Si-on's mother is loving and caring, but his dad is clearly ashamed to have him as a son and beats Si-on, his brother, and their mother. He conveniently disappears, leaving Si-on and his brother to an orphanage for a while.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Si-on is stated to have level 3 autism, but he doesn't actually display signs of this beyond the questionable savant syndrome, as his communication is very good except occasionally being a bit of a pushover. The biggest indicator that anything is wrong is the constant gormless look he has, as if he really doesn't have anything going on upstairs, and the way he shuffles when he walks. As a child he had a Verbal Tic of speaking in an odd rhythm (like Shaun does in the American version, perhaps more noticeable in this show with the way Korean words usually have to be spoken) but this is ditched by the time he starts working at Sungwon. He's even good at making jokes. This all hints at the vastly different perception of autism in Korea, where it's often seen (even by top doctors on the show) as stupidity even if you have savant syndrome.
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  • Big Brother Instinct: Si-on has an older brother who tries to help him integrate (other kids beat him up because he's scared to talk to them) and protects Si-on and their mom from their father's beatings.
  • Death of a Child: If Si-on's being beaten by kids and his dad alike wasn't enough, his tragic backstory has his older brother and best friend being killed after they venture into a cave and it collapses on them, Dr. Choi only able to bring one oxygen mask in before it collapses some more and traps him, too. Choi chooses to save Si-on.
  • Foreign Remake: It got one in 2017, the American The Good Doctor.
    • Now has a Japanese version also called Good Doctor
  • Hollywood Autism: More like Korean Autism, which is, by Western standards, quite an inaccurate and offensive portrayal.
  • Informed Attribute: Si-on's savant syndrome isn't really evident, and, further, his autism is shown so badly it might as well not exist, either.
  • Loophole Abuse: In Korea, nobody with a mental deficit (including autism) is allowed to take the board exams and become a doctor. Even though he was "declared normal" when he was 17, and passed the boards with remarkable scores, the medical board find out about Si-on's diagnosis and retroactively disqualify him. This starts the show, because Choi is aware of a clause that allows anyone who is deemed fit to practice by an experienced doctor to be legally declared as fit to practice no matter their situation, so he brings Si-on to his hospital as a resident to prove his abilities.
  • Roadside Surgery: It takes a while, but after introducing young Si-on's troubles in flashback, adult Si-on performs lifesaving surgery on a boy at a train station where a sign fell down. It's one of the cleaner examples, though, since there was a pharmacy kiosk in the station and a first aid team and paramedics with quite a bit of surgical kit and antiseptic got to the scene quickly.
  • Tastes Like Purple: The one autism-related attribute that is shown well is how Si-on remembers events as "on the day when X smelled like Y". However, it's a bit different to the X being normal and Y being weird, since the ones he uses are pretty normal (train tracks smell like rust, trees smell like ice-creamnote ). It's more like his autism just makes him focus on smells more and remember things through them, which isn't particularly unusual with many people. Still, it's supposed to seem like this to audiences.
  • Xanatos Gambit: In the pilot, the different members of the board discuss how eventually letting Si-on in after an almost unanimous 'no' was one of these. Choi said he'd resign as hospital director is Si-on failed, which some of the power-hungry deputies are more than happy with. One mentions how she kept voting 'no' to protect Choi; a Dr. Jerk tries to encourage people to make Si-on feel unwelcome so that he "won't last a month".