Thanks to Healer, I finally get to discover Park Min Young: an actor so talented in inhabiting her roles that it is only now that I realize how often I have seen and thoroughly enjoyed her performances in a variety of kdramas over the past few years. Say hello, yorobun, to Park Min Young of Ja Myung Go, City Hunter, New Leaf, Sungkyunkwan Scandal, and now Healer. She is also in Unstoppable High Kick and Dr. Jin, among others, but I have not seen the first and only vaguely recall catching a glimpse or two of the second. I even remember, somewhere in the corner of my memory, seeing her in all her medical earnestness in Dr. Jin, but thankfully that story failed to capture my interest and, in retrospect, I offer tribute to the Fates for letting me dodge that particular bullet…
So, what is it about Healer’s Chae Yong Shin that made me finally notice and remember Park Min Young by name? If memory of the other roles I’ve seen her in serves me well, I believe this is the first time she has had a chance to play a truly wide range of a character’s experiences in a subtle key. Where Healer requires comedy of her, it asks for a grounded, understated humor that rings true to life; when it demands woe, here, too, everything is done quietly, in a minor key with wide silent spaces where reverberations of a profoundly moved and moving soul resound.
Chae Yong Shin is beautifully alive; vibrant, engaged, ambitious, empathic, earnest, sympathetic, loving, beloved… in short, a kaleidoscope of a woman who just happens to get swept up in an overwhelming tide of discoveries and revelations yet somehow takes it all in stride without falling apart. In fact, even as the vicissitudes of her life cause her heart to whelm time and again, Chae Yoon Shin emerges as the anchor and the buoy for the tempest-tossed people who also happen to be swept in the same tidal wave.
Park Min Young’s role in Healer is a gift to viewers who have seen her plumb the depths of a wounded heart in a role like Princess LaHee in Ja Myung Go, play broad comedy with a quick-thinking intrepid soul in Sungkyunkwan Scandal, sass it up in City Hunter, or be the dutifully meek Girl Friday in New Leaf. All these roles have been archetypal and fairly two-dimensional, not asking for much more than an outline.
Among all these characters, the most developed I had seen was the Crown Princess LaHee who, although a vain and resentful brat who thwarts the protagonist lovers and ensures the doom of her father’s kingdom, is nevertheless played with such pathos by Park Min Young that you cannot help but pity her lost soul. In retrospect, that would be the first time I noticed this actor, but not enough to commit her name to memory. Now, because of Chae Yong Shin, I will not forget this fine thespian’s name.
The list below is but a fraction of Ms. Park’s filmography; they are they only works of hers that I have seen. I may find myself seeking out her previous work (with the possible exception of Dr. Jin); I definitely look forward to her future work!
- ★☆★ ∞(5-50) Ja Myung Go (2008)  [+]
- ☆★★ ∞(1776-1800) Sungkyunkwan Scandal (2010) 
- ★★★ City Hunter (2011)
- ☆★★ New Leaf (2014)
- ★★★ Healer (2015)