Yoon Si Yoon proves once again how he’s one of the most effortlessly versatile actors today with the eight-episode Wavve drama series You Raise Me Up (유 레이즈 미 업). The series has an immediately attention-grabbing logline: a down-and-out 31-year-old studying for the civil service exam finds he may be impotent and the urologist he consults turns out to be his first love). But in familiar K-drama fashion, there’s more to the story than meets the eye. The potentially funny and raunchy first impression leads into an introspective and emotional journey for our main character that ends up being more relatable than one might have expected.
Once a star student in high school, Do Yong Shik (Yoon Si Yoon) has unfortunately struggled in his adult life. Having to juggle low-paying part-time jobs while repeatedly taking and failing the civil service exam has taken a toll on his mental health. And soon, he finds that it may be affecting his physical health too. Initially hesitant to seek professional help for his decreased sex drive, he ends up seeing a urologist who turns out to be his first love Lee Ru Da (Hani).
Ru Da is shocked by Yong Shik’s present status if only because she had talked him up to her current boyfriend, cocky psychiatrist Do Ji Hyuk (Park Ki Woong) in order to take him down a peg or two. Embarrassed by her boasting, Ru Da decides to help Yong Shik merely in order to save face. And initially, both she and Ji Hyuk use Yong Shik’s struggles in their dysfunctional relationship’s back and forth.
And this is all while Yong Shik’s mental and emotional health continues to decline under the pressures of expectations and the judgmental eyes of the world around him.
Yoon Shi Yoon’s charm as an affable everyman, boy next door is used excellently here as his knack for both comedic timing and emotionally affecting dramatic performances come together to give depth to a story that may seem very simple on the surface.
Yong Shik feels helpless and left behind and the idea of having erectile dysfunction and his first love being the doctor that might treat him is enough to push him toward the edge. The series follows his journey as he tries to overcome his struggles and tries to gain self-confidence once again in order to move forward.
The first episode focuses on what might be a predicament played for laughs at first.
You Raise Me Up, the title a pun-ny play on words relating to Yong Shik’s both physical and emotional problems, carefully tells Yong Shik’s story with both laughs and sincerity. It is a unique premise that is handled with care. Mental health and the lack of resources and support continues to be an issue in South Korea, not to mention the stigma it can carry. And the series tackles those issues in a meaningful way and from a different perspective.
Yoon Shi Yoon’s performance immediately gets you invested in Yong Shik’s story. Especially when other characters may not be as easily accessible at first, based on how they treat a man who is obviously suffering.
Thankfully, the series allows Hani and Park Ki Woong to do what they can to keep doctors Ru Da and Ji Hyuk from becoming unlikeable, loathsome characters. Their characters manage to grow and develop just enough within the eight episodes to never take away from Yong Shik’s own journey while being able to effectively tell their own stories as well.
You Raise Me Up mixes some coming of age with romance in a unique and fresh set-up. But ultimately, You Raise Me Up‘s main draw is seeing Yoon Shi Yoon doing what he does best. He brings to life an endearing and relatable character whose journey you are invested in right from the start. A short, but well-done and satisfying series.