Dr. Frost. Sounds like the bad guy in a kids’ cartoon, doesn’t it? Well, it’s actually a ten hour/episode Kdrama about a university psychologist who often helps the police with their crime investigations. Some of the cases link together, connecting into the sub-plot which spans four episodes (not all in consecutive order) while others begin and end in the same episode.
This was aired on the OCN Network so, like other shows I’ve seen on OCN (Neighborhood Hero, Missing Noir M, Vampire Detective, Reset, Voice...), it’s content is heavy and dark most of the time, but quite captivating.
Baek Nam-Bong is a genius. He got his doctorate in one year and was awarded for having the best dissertation. He claims his job “… is to understand a person’s mentality and find answers.” And that’s exactly what he does. Because of a car accident he was in as a young child that took his parents’ life, Nam-Bong suffers from alexithymia which is a deficiency in understanding, processing, or describing emotions. (The 2016 Kdrama Beautiful Mind is about a surgeon with the same disability.) This makes him come across as aloof and distant, almost mean at times. Very few people know him by his given name. He instead chooses to go by the name Frost. He’s a counselor at Yong-Gang University during the day and moonlights as a bartender at night. Because he’s a brilliant man he is able to see things in other people and situations, subtle things normal people would miss. According to Detective Nam, “He scans for a second, and it’s over. No one can avoid it.”
Yoon Sang-Ah is the counseling assistant at Yong-Gang University. She is outgoing, positive, and personable. After working with Dr. Frost for a while, she is able to brush off his rude behavior as “that’s just who he is.” She respects him as a person and a psychologist and is fascinated at his ability to help the police with their cases.
Detective Nam Tae-Bong is a clever veteran cop who has known Dr. Frost for years and doesn’t hesitate to ask for his psychological expertise when he needs a little more insight into a case.
The professor who is head of the psychology department at Yong-Gang University is Cheon Sang-Won. He is a soft-spoken man who has a particular attachment to Nam-Bong. He and Nam-Bong’s father were best friends and he watched out for Nam-Bong when his parents died. He steered the boy in the direction of psychology and taught him when he attended the university as a young adult.
Song Seon is a beautiful, sophisticated psychology counselor at the university. She and Nam-Bong were friends when they were students but now she has a strained relationship with him. She blames him for her younger sister’s death.
Song Chang-Eui (who plays Baek Nam-Bong/Doctor Frost) began his entertainment career in 2002 in musical theater, over the years playing lead roles such as Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar, and Joseph in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, among many, many others. He began acting for TV in 2005. I remember him best in the 2011 Kdrama Heartstrings which was co-produced by the Seoul Institute of the Arts and was filmed right there, on campus. Chang-Eui had graduated from that particular university and mentioned that filming there made him feel very nostalgic.
Beginning her career as a model, Jung Eun-Chae, whose character is Yoon Seong-Ah, began acting in 2010. Her breakthrough came three years later by way of the feature film Nobody’s Daughter Haewon, opposite Lee Sun-Kyun. She has also released an EP (five songs) of indi folk songs she wrote herself.
Detective Nam Tae-Bong is played by Seong Ji-Ru. He began his acting career in 1994 with the motion picture Sado Sade Impotence but didn’t do anything else until 2001 when he was in the movie Tears. I tried to find out why six years went by without him appearing in anything else but came up blank. Anyway, he has been in a total of 30 movies and 27 TV dramas. The last thing I saw him in was You’re All Surrounded. It’s a good show, you ought to give it a try if you haven’t seen it already.
Lee Yoon-Jin, whose character is psychologist Song Seon, has been in TV, film, theater and has sung on the soundtrack of several dramas she’s appeared in. She starred in a 13 minute film entitled 992 (named after the New Balance running shoe Apple CEO Steve Jobbs liked) which was filmed entirely on the iPhone 4S. You can watch it on YouTube if you’re interested.
Professor Cheon Sang-Won is played by Choi Jeong-Woo. He began his entertainment career in 1983 in theater. Then, in 1996 he made his film debut as the grandfather in the movie Seven Reasons Why Beer is Better Than a Lover (don’t you just love that title?). Ten years later he appeared in his first TV drama, Alone in Love. I’ve seen him in several things – 49 Days, City Hunter, Poseidon, Master’s Sun, Doctor Stranger, My Secret Hotel, and just recently in The Legend of the Blue Sea.
Dr. Frost leans on the research of a highly respected American psychologist, Elizabeth Loftus, as the sub-plot. If you’re familiar with the woman’s work, then the show won’t be as mysterious as it will be for those of you who have no idea who she is or for what reason she is famous. I’m one of the latter and I’m glad because I enjoyed the mystery. I’m not saying any more on that subject because I don’t want to give anything away but I can tell you a few of the police cases Dr. Frost becomes entangled with are Dissociative Identity Disorder, murder, suicide, and sexual assault. It’s all very interesting.
The music goes well with the show. There’s not a lot of it and most of what there is is instrumental so we’re not bogged down by lyrics that interfere with the intensity of the plot.
The scenery is quite varied, with the psychology counciling center at the university as the main focus. Oh, and my favorite “scenery” in the whole show is in episode four – if you’re a Van Gogh fan you’ll definitely notice a huge print of his sunflowers painting on a wall in a hospital. It’s breathtaking.
I want to end my review of Dr. Frost with something Professor Cheon Sang-Won tells an adolescent Baek Nam-Bong…
“There’s two ways a person can find out about something. Intuitive empathy and logical analysis.”
Which one do you subscribe to?
Interesting police cases
No major character growth