Director Kim Jee-woon Says ‘Dr. Brain’ is Based on Science

Directed by acclaimed visionary Kim Jee-woon and based on the popular Korean webtoon Hongjacga, Dr. Brain follows a brilliant neuroscientist Sewon (Lee Sun-kyun) who suffers a personal tragedy when his family falls victim to a mysterious accident.

Desperate to find out what happened, he goes through major lengths using his research of “brain syncs” by accessing the memories of the deceased. Unfortunately, accessing those memories come at a price as Sewon begins to lose touch with reality — unable to determine what is real and an illusion of the mind.

“I believe Korean content makers know what can really go global and that their talents and their capabilities are really up to par with the global standard,” said Kim during the Dr. Brain Global press conference on Tuesday evening. “So, that coupled with the dynamic nature that we have and the creative ideas that we have such as what we can see. Dr. Brain, for instance, comprises six episodes, but all six episodes are very closely intertwined and this rhythm is maintained throughout.”

With the recent success of multiple K-dramas in western media, director Kim anticipates fans from all over will enjoy the series for its “dynamic nature” and creativity.

Dr. Brain is more than just a murder mystery thriller. It also plays into the science fiction genre with a little bit of realism. Kim hired a neuroscientist to make sure that the science was genuine and used real scientific hypotheses. 

“Based on the research by [neuroscientist] Dr. Chun, I tried to put this fun, imaginative idea into something that’s more realistic,” said Kim. “So, this concept of looking into the consciousness and brains of other people could be very new and innovative.”

Best known for his work in A Tale of Two Sisters and I Saw the Devil, Kim knows how to craft a mystery well and says the series will also focus on what it means to be human. The main character is unable to empathize with others, but after several brain-syncs, he realizes he has this emotional deficiency and begins to change. 

“This is also a sort of emotional human drama,” Kim explained. “Plus, we have the overarching theme of family, so I guess this is a very innovative take on life based on authentic science — science discourse.”

Kim also wants fans of the webtoon to be aware that the new series dives deeper than what they would expect. 

“I know that the original webtoon is popular overseas,” Kim revealed. “I am glad the Korean webtoon is getting attention overseas. While the webtoon is more fast-paced and about the mystery and murder mystery. The show adds more layers to it — family tales, more meaning, and [a] heartwarming feeling to it.”

Actor Lee Sun-kyun, best known for his work in the Academy-Award-winning film Parasite, is excited for the global reach the film will have on AppleTV+. 

“I think this press conference being live-streamed all across the globe itself is very exciting to me,” said Lee. “I feel kind of proud. of myself that I’m on this global level. Korean content has been garnering much attention nowadays. I’m sure our show is also very good. So I’m confident that it will live up to your expectations and I hope you enjoy [it].”

Kim agreed with the sentiment, “It is a great honor that Dr. Brain has become the first Korean Original Series presented by Apple TV+, which is known for its high quality content. I am very elated and excited and cannot wait for the first episode to premiere tomorrow.”

Dr. Brain premieres globally on Thursday, November 4 (Wednesday, November 3 in the U.S.) on Apple TV+. The sci-fi drama series will premiere with the first episode, followed by one new episode weekly through December 10.