Hospital Ship was the last medical themed Kdrama I saw, just over seven months ago, so I figured it was about time for another one and that’s why I chose this show. However, it’s filled with much, much more than just sick people and stethoscopes. If you’re ready for an intense mystery then Cross is what you want.
When Kang In-Kyu was a teenager his father’s body was found, abandoned in a forest, completely void of internal organs. Although the man responsible, Kim Hyung-Beom, was captured, found guilty and sent to prison, it wasn’t enough to satisfy the young man’s heartache so he vowed to get revenge for his father’s gruesome and untimely demise. Now, 15 years later, In-Kyu is finally ready to carry out his carefully orchestrated plan of retaliation. After all, turnabout is fair play. He gets a job as a doctor in the prison where Kim Hyung-Beom resides and begins his malicious payback.
After Kang In-Kyu’s father passed away, a kind man took in In-Kyu and his ill younger sister. Not only does In-Kyu have to deal with the awful circumstances surrounding his father’s murder but he carries the scar of his sister’s death, as well. Because the man who was like a father to him donated her organs to patients in need without consulting him, it was like rubbing salt in an open wound. Kang In-Kyu is a double board certified surgeon who attended Myungin University, the top medical school in South Korea. In order to get a job at the prison he left school just a few months shy of becoming a specialist. When he was a young teenager he received a blow to the head and the injury caused him to have amazing eyesight. His vision is so acute he doesn’t require magnifying surgical loupes (glasses) while performing surgery, which is why the people in medical school bestowed upon him the nickname Hawkeye.
Doctor Go Jung-Hoon is an amazing surgeon and chief of the organ transplant center at Sunlim University Medical Center. All of the doctors who work under him respect and admire him as a doctor and a man. He always puts the needs of his patients above his own, his daughter often accusing him of paying more attention to them than his family. No one is aware of the fact that he has just been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease which will soon make it impossible for him to perform surgeries.
The organ donor coordinator at Sunlim University Medical Center, and daughter of Doctor Go Jung-Hoon, is Go Ji-In. Her parents divorced when she was young and she went to live with her mother in the United States. As a result, she isn’t very close to her father but desperately wants to be. At first she sees Kang In-Kyu as an egotistical, cold man but very soon realizes he is an extremely talented and focused surgeon as well as a compassionate human being.
There’s not much personal information to be found on actor Go Kyung-Pyo. His acting debut was as a cast member of the late-night comedy sketch/variety TV show Saturday Night Live Korea for the first three seasons. He has been in some excellent Kdramas in costarring roles – Operation Proposal, Tomorrow’s Cantabile, and Jealousy Incarnate (for which he won the New Star Award) to name just a few – but last year he got to try out his first leading man role in Strongest Deliveryman, which I still have yet to see. If you ask me, his superb acting in the role of vengeful Doctor Kang In-Kyu really deserves a Best Actor nomination. I hope he gets one. Cross is the last thing you’ll see him in for a while because he enlisted to serve his mandatory military assignment on May 21st of this year. Stay safe, Go Kyung-Pyo! Kdrama fans will miss you!
When he was young, Cho Jae-Hyun wanted to be a painter but wasn’t able to get into art school. He ran away from home, became a waiter, and studied for the high school equivalency test but failed it so he went back home and finished school. During his third summer as he was studying theater and film at Kyungsung University someone asked him what he planned to do after graduating and he couldn’t answer. It was then he decided to dedicate himself to becoming an actor. His acting debut was on TV in The Age of Ambition but his love was theater so he and some friends established a theatrical company called Jongak. He went on to get a master’s degree in Performing and Visual Media. He married his college sweetheart in 1989 and they have two children. His son is a short track speed skater and his daughter followed in her father’s footsteps and also went into the acting profession. Here’s a bit of a spoiler alert… his character in Cross, Center Chief Go Jung-Hoon, is killed off because of a real life scandal that happened during the time of filming – he was accused of, and plead guilty to, a charge of sexual harassment.
During her second year in high school, Jeon Seo-Min began her entertainment career as a fashion magazine model. She later graduated from Dongduk Women’s University with a degree in Broadcasting and Entertainment. Her acting debut was in the 2004 sitcom Miracle, and two years later she made her big screen debut with the movie Cinderella. She has held seven different ambassadorship titles from Recycling Your Bicycle Promotional Ambassador to Boryeong Mud Festival Public Relations Ambassador. I first became aware of her while watching One Percent of Anything. If you’re a big Jeon Seo-Min fan you can see her on the popular TV variety show Running Man in which she became a regular cast member in April of 2017.
Just a little shout out for actor Heo Sung-Tae who plays Kim Hyung-Beom, the evil guy in this story. His acting is fantastic. His facial expressions and the sound of his voice are quite unsettling. He’s great at being spooky.
Director Shin Yong-Hwi does an excellent job with out-of-the-box filming angels. There are a few times we see “up.” Instead of looking down on someone who has fallen we watch from underneath as their head hits the ground, or we see the bottom of a shoe as it walks through rain puddles. It’s quite interesting. I also liked how we saw through the wire walls in the operating room of the prison. It helps us remember where we are, not just in any operating room but a prison operating room. Clever.
Cross is a 50/50 drama. I just made that up so let me explain what it means. The story points out the positive aspects of organ donation along with the evil, scary side of the black market organ trade. Are you for or against organ donation? Some people see it as a good thing when they or someone they love need an organ transplant. But those very same people are often against being a donor themselves. You can’t have it both ways, folks. I’m a donor and this is my own personal take on the matter… I figure if I’m dead I no longer need what I have so if anyone else can use it I’d want them to take what they need. I donate my old clothes to homeless shelters, so why not donate my organs and help someone have a better/longer life? If my eyes could help an old woman see her grandkids, or my liver could help a teenager live long enough to graduate high school, or my skin could help a burn victim avoid having a scared face… why not give it all away? Now let’s take it one step further. What about the idea of someone who needs money being paid to donate a kidney or part of their liver? What if doing that would prevent their children from starving and being homeless, or send their child to college debt free so they can have a better life? Should we be allowed to sell an organ? Watch Cross and then discuss those ideas with a friend.
Three cheers to screenwriter Choi Min-Seok for coming up with a believable and realistic ending. The hero does some pretty shady stuff in order to exact his revenge and see justice done and that means he’s not in the clear legally. Of course we don’t want Doctor Kang thrown in prison but justice demands he pays for his crimes, which he is 100% prepared to do. I’m not going to tell you what happens but I was happy with the outcome and thought it was more than fair.
Cross is another one of those shows that doesn’t lean heavily on songs with lyrics, and that’s just fine considering the fact that the show is an intense thriller and doesn’t lend itself to gorgeous ballads and snappy up-tempo tunes. There are only a handful of lyrical songs and those are the slow and thought-provoking type. Childhood, sung by Choi Go-Eun, has a very interesting, wavy kind of sound, sort of like the background music to an unsettling, mysterious dream – foggy. Former rap and hip-hop artist MYK, now known as Saltnpaper, performs my personal favorite on the soundtrack, I Swear. The music is nice, the melody is catchy, and his voice is excellent! Thousand Times, another nice song, is sung by American singer Samuel (who debuted as Punch with the hip-hop duo 1Punch in 2015).
The scenery goes along perfectly with the 50-50ness of the show. Sunlim University Medical Center is a humongous hospital that sports all the best and most recent gadgetry money can buy. Then we have the third rate medical center in the prison or, even worse, the makeshift operating rooms in old, dark abandoned buildings. It’s not difficult to feel the desperation of the donors and the greed of the criminals in those grungy places.
This medical drama is packed with emotion. We watch as the weight of hatred Doctor Kang In-Kyu places on his own shoulders, while still just a young man, becomes an all consuming burden. Revenge can be a heavy Cross to bear.
Edge of your seat thriller
Go Kyung-Pyo’s acting
Excellent bad guy
The story sparks conversation