'The Good Doctor': Daniel Dae Kim Talks His Brash New Character Dr. Han

Ileane Rudolph
Preview David Bukach/ABC

(David Bukach/ABC)

Who’s the boss? Expect that question to come up this week on The Good Doctor when brilliant physician Shaun Murphy (Freddie Highmore) butts heads with San Jose St. Bonaventure’s confident and painfully pragmatic new chief of surgery, Dr. Jackson Han (Daniel Dae Kim). Kim — the Lost and Hawaii Five-0 star whose production company first developed The Good Doctor — was excited to debut with Highmore directing his first episode of the series.

“Freddie’s one of those people who are very good at everything,” gushes Kim. “He’s a consummate actor and a leader on the set who stars, has written an episode and now directed, all with equal aplomb.”

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Kim, signed for a four-episode arc, says the brash Dr. Han has “an established reputation and very strong opinions of how a hospital should be run. It will rub some the wrong way when he disagrees with equally capable people.” That could apply to just about every doctor on this outspoken, strong-willed staff — particularly Shaun, who, given where he is on the autism spectrum, is unable to cede his position on the correct thing to do.

As in the U.S., autism is “a significant issue” in Korea, notes Kim, and the respectful way it’s handled on The Good Doctor through Shaun’s character mirrors that of the 2013 South Korean series it’s based on. The workplace relationships, however, needed altering: In the East Asian version, bosses sometimes brutally cut others down without a second thought. “Hierarchy in Korea is very different,” Kim admits. “A relationship between a senior and a junior [official] can include barking orders and — if a subordinate screws up — a smack on top of the head!”

DANIEL DAE KIM, FREDDIE HIGHMORE

One overriding goal for Kim (an executive producer on the drama) was keeping diversity central in The Good Doctor. “Beyond Asian representation, I’m just proud of the show’s idea of representation in general,” Kim says, citing cast members who are African-American and Mexican-American. “It’s a reflection of how our producers see the world.”

The Good Doctor, Mondays, 10/9c, ABC