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Series / Healer

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A 2014-2015 action thriller Korean Drama which focuses on a mysterious night courier, a tabloid reporter who aspires to be a 'real' reporter, and a renowned journalist, united by the mystery of a decades-old incident involving a group of friends who ran an illegal broadcasting station.
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The series was a big hit when it first aired, and is currently available on Netflix.

Tropes used in this series:

  • Affably Evil: Mun-shik is so damned affable that even his own brother (an eye-witness to some of his deeds) can barely believe he does the things he does.
  • Affectionate Gesture to the Head: Young-shin and Jung-hu, to each other, frequently.
  • Animal Motifs: Cats, for Jung-hu. It's even mentioned out loud. He moves like a cat, is a loner, is nocturnal, sleeps like one, is occasionally a cuddlebug ... He also simply seems to like cats, if the nature documentaries he watches are anything to go by.
  • Attempted Suicide: The plot kicks off when Young-shin talks a woman down from killing herself, in part by admitting she was nearly driven to suicide, too ... when she was seven years old.
  • All Love Is Unrequited:
    • Lampshaded. Young-shin has crushes on both Mun-ho and Healer ... and then meets them both (and gets together with Healer, even).
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    • Mun-shik has carried a torch for Myung-hee since 1980, but she never returned his feelings, even after being married for decades.
  • Badass Biker: Young-jae/Teacher, who during the pirate radio days, protected the mobile station (aka, Mun-shik's truck) by blocking and diverting the police.
  • Badass Driver: Kim Mun-shik's job in the past, driving the mobile pirate radio station.
  • Becoming the Mask: In a moment of self-doubt, Jung-hu admits to Ahjumma that he fears this for himself; after hiding behind the Healer persona for years, he isn't sure whether he still knows his own identity.
  • Benevolent Boss: After buying out Someday News, Mun-ho quickly shows that he genuinely plans to be this. He starts by learning all the staff's names and makes sure to praise them when they deliver good work.
  • Beware the Quiet Ones / The So-Called Coward: Bong-su tends to cower, squeal, and run away ... at which point, Healer generally arrives.
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  • Big Bad: Kim Mun-shik.
  • Big Brother Bully: Mun-shik towards Mun-ho — more and more as the series progresses.
  • Bigger Bad: The Elder aka Park Jung-dae.
  • Cute Bruiser: Tae-young, although she's not in Healer's league.
  • Cain and Abel: Mun-shik and Mun-ho.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: Healer and Ahjumma.
  • Cool Shades: Healer's sport glasses, which include cameras, hands-free phones and face-recognition. Slightly less cool are the glasses he wears in disguise, which have the same capabilities but also look dorky.
  • Cool Old Lady: Jo Min-ja, aka "Ahjumma", Healer's boss/handler.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Jung-hu takes advantage of Secretary Oh's OCD to torment him by ... knocking books off the shelves of Mun-shik's office and threatening to smash expensive vases.
  • Cuddlebug: Jung-hu spends the morning after their Relationship Upgrade being this towards Young-shin.
  • Dark and Troubled Past:
    • Jung-hu was abandoned by his mother, stigmatized by his father's "suicide," sent to reform school, and finally, abandoned by the last adult he placed his trust in (Teacher).
    • Young-shin was abused by her foster families and nearly Driven to Suicide — at age seven.
  • Deal with the Devil:
    • Sang-su is offered a lucrative contract by Secretary Oh, and warned that the price is selling his soul.
    • Mun-shik made one in the past to protect Myung-hee.
  • Desperately Craves Affection: Jung-hu; not that he'll ever admit it.
  • Dirty Old Man: Played for laughs with Teacher, who, after scoping out Young-shin, decides to put Jung-hu on a plane to Australia:
    Teacher: "A girl like her would prefer a man with some experience and knowledge of the world. As soon as he's gone, I'll just step into his place and pick up the slack."
    Min-ja: (gagging noise over radio.)
  • Enter Stage Window: After she's finally in the know about his identity as Healer, Jung-hu starts visiting Young-shin this way — no matter how much she tells him there is a door.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Mun-shik freely admits his brother and wife are his Achilles' Heel. He is emotionally destroyed when they both turn against him.
  • Evil Laugh: Ahjumma's telepresence announces itself with a signature cackling laugh. As does Teacher.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Realising that he's been poisoned, Young-jae uses his interrogation as his final message to Jung-hu, while confessing to being Healer to try and pull police attention off Jung-hu, and dropping as many leads as he can before he dies.
  • Faking the Dead: Done for Jung-hu in the finale.
  • Generation Xerox: Jung-hu looks exactly like his father, to the point that Myung-hee recognizes him on sight.
  • Genre Blind: Jung-hu walks right into a Two-Person Love Triangle.
  • Glory Hound: Mun-ho is accused of being this, milking his reputation as "the honest reporter" for fame and adulation. Tellingly, he doesn't deny it.
  • Happily Adopted: After a time of traumatic experiences with foster homes as a child, Young-shin got lucky and was adopted into a loving family.
    • Jung-hu clearly sees Teacher as his adoptive father.
  • Heroic BSoD: After Teacher's death, Jung-hu doesn't know what to do with himself. He ends up holing up in his lair without eating or communicating for days on end — until Young-shin arrives with comfort and love.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Young-jae takes Jung-hu's place when the latter is cornered by Double-S goons.
  • He Knows Too Much:
    • Go Sung-chul is killed and Healer framed in Episode 1 because of this.
    • Hwang Jae-guk is killed for knowing about the Elder. (And for being a pain in the ass.)
  • Hollywood Hacking: Healer's boss Min-ja to a T.
  • Holding Hands: Used thematically. Young-shin tends to grab Jung-hu's wrist in his Bong-su persona; he does the same to her as Healer. By the end of the series they are holding hands with Intertwined Fingers and she lampshades the change.
    • Mun-shik and Myung-hee initially hold hands warmly; later, as Myung-hee finds out more of his illegial activities, she allows him to hold her hands but does not reciprocate. When she finally leaves him, she actively pushes his hands away.
  • Honey Trap: Yeon-hee is accused of this.
  • Ill Girl: Myung-hee, though she's middle-aged. And maybe not actually that ill, since much of it seems to be a form of gaslighting on the part of her husband.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Young-shin yearns to be one. Mun-ho plays the trope straight.
  • In the Hood + Coat, Hat, Mask: Defines the Healer getup, with mask replaced by Cool Shades. Impractical, but quite cool.
  • Kick Chick: Healer's "minion" Tae-young has a fighting style that relies on this.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Young-jae and Min-ja. The former admits that he forbore to dig into the true cause of his friends' deaths because he doesn't want to lose what interest he has in humanity; Min-ja resigned her position in the police when forced to destroy evidence against the Elder.
  • Kubrick Stare: Secretary Oh's default expression.
  • Lap Pillow: After being drugged by the Elder Jung-hu lays his head in Young-shin's lap while trying to recover.
  • Legacy Character: Jung-hu isn't the first Healer. His teacher, Young-jae, set up the Healer business twenty years ago and later on trained Jung-hu to be his successor. Ahjumma mentions that once Jung-hu is ready to step down from the role — which may be soon — it will be time to find a replacement to continue it.
  • Lethal Chef: Jung-hu cannot cook.
  • Loners Are Freaks: Near the beginning of the series, Jung-hu mentions that he only has three numbers saved to his phone: that of his boss, his sidekick, and his favorite fried chicken takeout.
  • Makeover Montage: When Jung-hu and Young-shin have to go undercover to sneak into a screened press conference. Complete with Jung-hu (as Bong-su) fidgeting, fighting back, and trying to run away from the stylists.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Mun-shik begins as one of these; the Elder is behind him.
  • Memento MacGuffin: The photograph of the five friends from 1981. It shows Mun-shik, Myong-hee, Teacher, Jung-hu's father and Young-shin's father, and Mun-ho is the one who took it. Finding out why Jung-hu, Young-shin, Mun-shik and Mun-ho all possess versions of this photo, and how all of the people in it are connected, drives Healer's investigation into Mun-shik's dark deeds and thus much of the series' plot.
  • The Mentor: Young-jae took Jung-hu in when he had no one and trained him to be Healer.
    • Mun-ho starts mentoring Young-shin to be a better journalist after he finds out who she really is.
  • Missing Mom:
    • Jung-hu's mother, although he later contacts her and is on friendly terms with her now.
    • Young-shin's adopted mother is dead; and she begins the series believing her biological mother dumped her.
    • Min-ja, a former police detective, was one of these to her son — who died while she was working a case.
  • Morality Chain / Love Makes You Evil: Myung-hee manages to be both of these for Mun-shik, who accepted a Deal with the Devil to save her life from the Elder.
  • Never Trust a Title: Healer isn't about someone working in the medical field. It's derived from the title of a magazine the five friends (the parent generation) created during their college time. They named it thus because they wanted to heal society by uncovering political wrongdoing ... And also because it sounded cool.
  • Nice Guy: Bong-su, the persona Jung-hu assumes when going undercover at Someday News; he's just so nice and normal that Young-shin quickly adopts him as her confidant. And after finding out about Jung-hu's real identity — even though she loves Jung-hu — she immediately starts to miss Bong-su.
  • Nonchalant Dodge: A beautiful one in the final ep. Sang-su attempts to slap Jung-hu who is supposedly working with them and will theoretically have to take it, who dodges, causing SS to slap his own sidekick.
  • Not a Morning Person: Jung-hu, owing to his nocturnal lifestyle.
  • Omniscient Council of Vagueness: Played for chilling realism. The council isn't a group of supernaturally or technologically advanced supermen — it's merely a handful of wealthy and connected politicians and businessmen using their power to control the media and sway public opinion, buy politicians, intimidate the police and murder whoever gets in their way.
  • One Degree of Separation: As symbolized by the photograph from 1981.
  • One-Word Title: Appears to be a Job Title. See Legacy Character.
  • Only in It for the Money: What Healer is supposed to be. Of course, that is before he stumbles across a certain memento macguffin and becomes interested in an inconvenient young reporter ...
  • Parkour: Healer is a true master. Tae-young aspires to be his equal but still has a way to go.
  • Paparazzi: Young-shin works for internet tabloid Someday News as this, chasing celebrity gossip, but dreams of becoming a serious reporter like her idol Mun-ho. Someday News itself shifts from celebrity gossip to hard-hitting investigative journalism after Mun-ho buys them out.
  • Parental Abandonment: Young-shin believes she was subjected to this.
    • Jung-hu's mother remarried after his father's death and left him with his grandmother.
    • Jung-hu's Teacher (Young-jae) left the country after training him and hasn't contacted him in eight years.
  • Pet the Dog: Subverted example. Although Mun-shik sincerely congratulates Young-shin on making an impression (crashing his press conference), Mun-ho is quick to point out that this doesn't absolve him for abandoning her as a child and telling her mother she was dead.
  • Plucky Girl: Young-shin.
  • Post-Dramatic Stress Disorder: Myung-hee has an epilepsy-like condition that could possibly kill her if she is exposed to too much emotional stress. Young-shin has panic attacks when exposed to violence, as a result of past trauma.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Teacher gets one on himself.
    "I told you. I don't have much time."
  • Punctuated Pounding: In the final ep, Jung-hu beats up a couple of thugs who tried to kidnap Young-shin's father and uncle, while formally introducing himself to the latter, apologizing for having deceived them earlier, and warning Young-shin to keep her eyes closed.
  • Protagonist Title
  • Rape as Drama: Chae Young-shin exposes a prostitution ring involving high political figures as clients.
  • Relationship Upgrade: Happens around Episode 14, after Young-shin realizes that the mysterious night courier who saved her and the friendly guy from work are the same person.
  • Rescue Romance: Young-shin becomes truly interested in Healer when he saves her from mooks.
  • Roof Hopping: How Healer gets around CCTVs.
  • Secret Identity: Healer, naturally. Keeping his face and name hidden is an essential part of the job. He extends the same courtesy to his clients; all business deals remain anonymous.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely:
    • Ahjumma usually loafs around her computer lair in pyjama pants and unkempt hair. When she dresses up to go out in public, however ...
    • In order to get into Kim Ui-chan's press conference, Mun-ho arranges for Young-shin and Jung-hu to get glammed up so they can gatecrash the engagement party next door and use that to slip in.
  • She-Fu: Male version. One fight literally takes place with Healer bouncing off a construction scaffold as if it's uneven bars.
  • Sleep Cute: When Jung-hu as Bong-su stays the night at Young-shin's house, a sleep-walking Young-shin cuddles up to him. Her father, observing them, first wants to strangle Bong-su, but then realizes how nice it is to see Young-shin sleep so peacefully.
  • Smug Snake: Secretary Oh.
  • Theme Music Powerup: Whenever the main theme is playing, something amazing tends to happen ... or it makes normal things seem amazing.
  • True Companions:
    • One of the driving questions of the series is how the friendship in the parent generation was broken, by whom and in what way.
    • By the end of the series, Jung-hu, Young-shin, Mun-ho and Min-ja have grown into this.
  • Two-Person Love Triangle: Young-shin is interested in both Healer and Bong-su, but says she only has room in her heart for one of them ... Jung-hu, you should have seen this coming.
  • Wig, Dress, Accent: Jung-hu's disguises are pretty much this, especially in his Bong-su persona.
  • Voice with an Internet Connection: Literally in the case of Min-ja, who functions as Healer's eyes and ears.

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