Drama Recaps
Medical Top Team: Episode 1
by | October 12, 2013 | 121 Comments

Not the image you’d associate with a medical drama, is it? Never fear, since there’s plenty of high-stakes doctoring to go around in MBC’s Medical Top Team, which premiered earlier this week against Heirs and ratings winner Secret, which is already in its third week. (I know!)

The first half is a bit wonky, but when the show isn’t too busy touting its brilliance for coming up with the idea (of putting more than one genius doctor in the same room as other genius doctors), it manages to be an interesting if not blood-splattered character study that’s not quite as formulaic as the title.

Helmed by the PD of The Moon That Embraces the Sun and the writer of Brain, there’s no doubt that we’re at least getting a technically proficient drama, though I admit to knowing very little about medical dramas as a genre since I’m not usually part of the audience which enjoys them. That being said, there’s enough here to keep me watching for a few more episodes (though not recapping), surprisingly enough. I just have to resist the urge to mentally place this entire cast in literally any other genre… Buuut, while we’re playing fantasy dramaball with this cast, wouldn’t Jung Ryeo-won be fun in sageuk?


John Park – “Light” from the OST [ Download ]

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We’re introduced to our heroine, SEO JOO-YOUNG (Jung Ryeo-won) at an anniversary celebration for the hospital where she works.

It’s a big who’s who of doctor events, and already we can see a carousel of meaningful stares between our key players to let us know that there’s rivalry afoot. We’ll get to them later.

The hospital’s assistant director SHIN HYE-SOO (Kim Young-ae) takes to the floor to announce the creation of a new cooperative (yet competitive!) medical top team consisting of—you guessed it—the best doctors arou-…zzzzz.

Okay, so through fancy CG we’re told that this new medical top team will enhance the hospital’s global brand (because those exist?) by placing the best doctors from each separate department into one group. Or as the powerpoint presentation puts it: Welcome surgeon who has best talent, infinite challenging spirit.

Meanwhile, our hero PARK TAE-SHIN (Kwon Sang-woo) has been gussying up for a meeting about a possible future for him at an American hospital.

They’ve offered to pay him a hefty yearly salary because of his genius, but Tae-shin’s first concern is toward a young patient of his in need of a lung transplant—one of Tae-shin’s conditions was that he could take her with him for treatment. But the hospital that wants him seems to be stalling on that decision.

During the discussion, Tae-shin can’t help but notice that the waitress serving them trying to hide the fact that she’s in pain and limping. Good thing there’s a doctor in the house.

Back at the doctor’s gala, Assistant Director Shin asks after doctor HAN SEUNG-JAE’s (Joo Ji-hoon) father, the chairman of the hospital, since he’s been absent from the ceremony.

Seung-jae seems politely dismissive, especially when a team of brown-nosing doctors led by JANG YONG-SUB (Ahn Nae-sang) congratulate the assistant director on her brilliant idea of putting together a medical top team, something that’s apparently been unheard of before now. However, she gives Seung-jae all the credit for the idea, which is blowing everyone’s mind right now.

Seung-jae slips out of the party to find Joo-young, and displays an extra level of care for her as he asks if she ate, if she’d like to leave early, etc. He’s soon interrupted by other doctors needing his time, which seems like a normal occurrence by the looks of it.

On the flip side, Tae-shin passes the waitress he noticed earlier, and aside from a few looks he just lets her continue to limp/crawl down the hallway in very obvious pain.

But soon his Doctor Senses start tingling, and he makes a dramatic turn to run and find her.

We find Joo-young talking in the same bathroom the ill waitress limps into, failing to notice when the woman ends up spilling the pills she’s trying to take before she gives up on them (they’re in the sink and that’s just too far) and leaves.

Joo-young notices the pills belatedly and goes after the waitress, who’s sweating and panting as she grips her chest above her heart.

Meanwhile, Tae-shin follows the waitress into another event, where everyone around fails to notice the waitress stumbling in their midst. He gets a slow motion glory walk as he tails her before asking if she’s all right.

She isn’t, obviously, and collapses in front of the crowd. Plates smash to the ground around her as everyone backs away in shock, while doctor-hero Tae-shin rushes forward to help.

Joo-young gets to the event hall around the same time, and stands by for only a second as Tae-shin rips part of the girl’s skirt and massages some part of her neck that must be important. I’m no doctor.

Whatever he’s doing sends Joo-young into a tizzy, and she literally throws Tae-shin off the waitress before she crouches over her. She’s not able to doctor for long though, since Tae-shin gets back up and shoves Joo-young out of the way. Ha. Sorry, got to get my serious face back on.

Joo-young tells him that massaging the artery can be dangerous, and while she calls 119, Tae-shin desperately asks for ice. There’s none to be found at this party of mixed drinks, so Tae-shin scoops the waitress up to carry her elsewhere, all while Joo-young fusses at him to leave her.

“I told you I’m a doctor!” he yells at her, in an effort to shoo her away. “I’m also a doctor!” she yells right back. Ha.

They argue over the best way to treat her genetic condition using sophisticated doctor terminology (I’m not going to list the technical terms if I can help it, because you can watch the episode for that), but it all boils down to their disagreement over whether Tae-shin should take the waitress away or wait for EMS, like Joo-young wants.

Tae-shin ends up physically shoving Joo-young away again, but this time she collides with a table and hurts her wrist. Tae-shin spots an ice sculpture in a nearby event room and beelines toward it with the waitress in his arms, yelling to everyone, “I’m sorry! I have to save this patient!”

He grabs the sculpture and dramatically shatters it on the floor before he’s forced to brandish his doctor’s ID to security guards like it’s a police badge.

Then he gathers ice in his coat to place under her head before he starts tossing ice on her, which shouldn’t be that funny but it’s just played So Seriously. These are life and death stakes, after all.

Joo-young enters the hall clutching her injured wrist just as the waitress opens her eyes, causing Tae-shin to cheer in relief. She helps comfort the waitress before EMS can arrive. The day is saved.

Afterward, Joo-young tries to school Tae-shin about recklessly treating a patient when it could’ve done more harm than good. What she doesn’t know is that Tae-shin is a Super Genius, able to diagnose the waitress by seeing only a few symptoms. That’s how he knew the situation was so dire, and why he acted accordingly.

When Joo-young asks how he knew her condition right away, Tae-shin asks, “Are you still a resident? What year? I think you need to study a little longer.”

However, he gives Joo-young the name of the syndrome he diagnosed the waitress with and tells her to look it up on her own to learn for herself. He’s very sure of himself and his diagnosis, which surprises the skeptical Joo-young a little, but he tells her to call him once the results are in. If he’s right, she has to buy him a meal—and he knows he is.

Assistant Director Shin meets with her father-in-law, the hospital chairman (also chairman of the whole big corporation which owns the hospital), and Seung-jae about the medical top team and the money that they’ll need to take up multiple floors just for them.

The chairman isn’t happy about any of this and decides to get in a personal dig at Shin by mentioning her cheating husband (aka his son), like he’s blaming her for being successful while her husband isn’t. She takes it all in stride.

Once she’s gone, the chairman complains to Seung-jae about how all his other family members call him by his title, while only Assistant Director Shin calls him “father.”

Turns out that Seung-jae is also the chairman’s son (which we might’ve guessed from the gala), but illegitimately so—the chairman doesn’t seem to have nice things to say about his mother. No surprise there.

Seung-jae’s secretary is exasperated by the fact that his boss hasn’t accepted any of the top team candidates he’s sent to him, since Seung-jae is so picky.

Tae-shin travels by bus and then by bike to a beautiful rural area where his clinic is located, his attitude carefree and fun. He knows every patient like the back of his hand and treats them all like family, which is cute. It’s nice to have a First Lead Doctor who isn’t all cold and calculating and is just… nice.

One of the doctors at the clinic ribs Tae-shin for being gone so long, showing that the two have an easy and friendly rapport with each other. He’s keeping something from Tae-shin, but we don’t know what.

Tae-shin checks up on the little girl he’d wanted to take with him to America for treatment, EUN BA-WI, and is ridiculously sweet to her even as he talks bowel movements (and her lack of them), and all but orders her to poop. Hee.

Tae-shin makes the rounds with a senile grandmother who can’t get his name straight and a girl with a speech impediment, but when the grandmother says she’ll be going to a party, Tae-shin interprets it as meaning that her son has finally come to take her to a home for the elderly.

However, the attending nurse seems very nervous in confirming Tae-shin’s belief, like she’s afraid of lying. Hmm.

Back at the hospital, we meet doctor CHOI AH-JIN (Oh Yeon-soo), right before she flips out at the news that her boss will be visiting—and her boss is none other than Joo-young.

We find Joo-young walking the halls with nervous maknae doctor KIM SUNG-WOO (Minho), and she’s just as hard on him as she is on Ah-jin.

However, when she’s about to ream Ah-jin for something she did wrong, Sung-woo steps up and falsely claims that it was his mistake so he takes the scolding. He doesn’t let Ah-jin get a word in until after Joo-young is gone, and even then he cheekily proclaims, “You didn’t get in trouble thanks to me!” D’aww. He’s not sorry, he’s proud.

Joo-young gets wheedled by the Doctor Jang—the one we saw over-reacting to the totally brilliant idea of a medical top team at the gala—about an upcoming surgery she’s to perform on an important government official.

It was Seung-jae who recommended her for the job, but Doctor Jang makes sure to remind her to do well, since her rising career will either benefit or collapse depending on the job she does.

Meanwhile, Ah-jin collapses on the desk next to her friend to complain-but-not-really about getting scolded by Joo-young, even though her friend reminds her that there’s no one Ah-jin looks up to more than her boss.

Joo-young asks after the waitress admitted to the hospital yesterday, and confirms that Tae-shin was right about her syndrome—except everyone thinks that she was the one who administered the on-location care.

Tae-shin stops by Gwanghae University Hospital while driving in Seoul to check up on the waitress, and is impressed when he looks up Joo-young’s impressive doctorly credentials (seeing as how she looked so young).

She comes down to meet him, though she seems reluctant to admit that he was in fact right about the waitress’ diagnosis. It seems to really affect her that he was right too, even though he’s not one to gloat.

However, when he asks her to buy a meal as promised, she curtly refuses and instead offers to transfer the money she’d pay for a meal to his account instead.

He tries to argue that the money isn’t the point, but in the end he just gives in and says they’re square, mostly because she doesn’t give him a choice. He’s a little bit impressed and a little bit incredulous at her feistiness.

Of course, when Seung-jae asks Joo-young to go eat with him, she nods yes.

He takes her to a fancy restaurant and encourages her to eat when she’s initially uncomfortable, though he does grow concerned when he sees her holding her injured wrist (from her earlier brush with Tae-shin).

Seung-jae doesn’t explicitly say that he’s worried about her wrist not being in top shape for her big upcoming surgery on the government minister, but it’s implied. I’m not sure if she catches that though.

She broaches the topic of the candidates for the medical top team like she isn’t first choice, causing Seung-jae to assure her that she’ll be on the team since she’s the hospital’s best surgeon.

Joo-young may know this to be true, but she’s worried that other people will think she only got on the team because of Seung-jae’s favor.

He dismisses her fears and tells her to ignore that kind of talk, since the top team is as much her project as it is his. Then he puts a piece of meat on her plate out of affection. (I can’t help it—nothing says “I like you” like the gift of protein.)

The maknae doctors are shocked when their sunbae, DOCTOR JO (Park Won-sang! You were the best thing about Shark!) shuffles into the break room.

They think he’s just arrived at work when it’s just the opposite—he’s just leaving after working for two days straight. Sung-woo describes him as a workaholic after he leaves, right before Ah-jin rushes after her sunbae to give him food (that Sung-woo made and let her take because he’s madly in love with her).

Tae-shin eats a modest dinner of ramyun with his mentor, where he mentions that he’ll be going back to the States to take up one of the many, many offers he’s been given. His mentor is sad to see him possibly go, especially because Tae-shin has been working at the clinic pro bono for the past two years.

His mentor then asks if Tae-shin plans to try finding his real parents before his big move (since he was originally adopted into the States). Tae-shin tries to act disinterested—he doesn’t see the point in tracking down the people who abandoned him when he only has one week left in Korea anyway.

An unconscious Ba-wi is brought to Tae-shin, and he immediately rushes her to the clinic. It’s not unusual for Ba-wi to escape in order to look for her mother, even though everyone but her knows that she’ll never find her. She was either abandoned, or her mother’s passed away.

When Tae-shin listens to her breathe he notices that her left lung isn’t rising. In order to fix it, Tae-shin performs an emergency surgery to insert a tube directly into her lung, and another one into her throat to prevent her airway from collapsing.

Her respiratory system is still failing, which means she has to go to a bigger hospital for treatment. The only one with the specific facilities she’ll need is, of course, The Only Hospital in Seoul.

Once there, Tae-shin instructs the emergency room doctors on what to do to help Ba-wi, and Joo-young is called to come take a look at the girl.

Joo-young and Tae-shin share a brief moment of recognition before it’s back to the task at hand—Ba-wi will need surgery, which Joo-young will perform herself. Tae-shin gives her a heartfelt, formal plea: “Please take good care of her.”

At the same time, Seung-jae gets the call that Joo-young’s VIP government patient has just lapsed into critical condition. Even though he knows Joo-young is in the operating room, he calls her anyway. She picks up.

Since the minister is going to need emergency surgery, so Joo-young tells the other doctors to hold off on Ba-wi’s surgery (despite their attempt to warn her that the device she needs has to be inserted, like, yesterday). And then she just… leaves the girl there.

Tae-shin catches her rushing out of the operating room, where she simply tells him that Ba-wi will have to go to a different hospital as the minister is wheeled past them.

She claims she has to perform an emergency surgery, but Tae-shin knows that she’s just favoring one patient over the other and refuses to take Ba-wi somewhere else.

Despite the unshed tears in his eyes, Joo-young doesn’t even seem to be considering the idea of leaving the minister—especially when Seung-jae is there to back her up.

“So you’re telling me to take her out of the operating room?” Tae-shin asks helplessly. Yes, that’s exactly what they’re telling you.

That’s when Tae-shin adds, “I’ll perform the surgery.” (Wait for it…) “I’m also a surgeon.” He show them his certifications to prove his point, but Seung-jae says no—having an outside surgeon is against the rules.

Seung-jae sends Joo-young in to perform the minister’s surgery even as Ba-wi’s blood pressure starts to drop drastically, causing Tae-shin to grab Seung-jae’s arm and plead with him for permission to perform the surgery.

We see Seung-jae taking some time to think before he comes to his decision, and then it’s back to the operating room where Tae-shin preps for surgery. Yay!

Both Tae-shin and Joo-young perform surgery at the same time, with hers going less smoothly. Seung-jae watches Tae-shin’s surgery intently from the observation deck as Doctor Jo helps Tae-shin in a big way by getting air into Ba-wi’s lungs. Aww. I just love that ajusshi.

Tae-shin completes his surgery successfully and tasks Ah-jin with suturing the patient. He leaves his surgery team impressed and pleased with his work.

Even Seung-jae can’t help but praise Tae-shin as they talk the specifics of the surgery, and at least he’s pleasantly surprised to learn that Tae-shin is working for free at a free clinic for the needy.

Their short-lived conversation is interrupted when Tae-shin notices Joo-young’s patient hemorrhaging from the observation deck, a fact which isn’t lost on Joo-young as she works to fix it.

Seung-jae hears how Tae-shin would handle the operation as Joo-young does the same things he would do, only she’s a step behind when it comes to the source of the patient’s excessive bleeding. Even with the medical curveball thrown her way, Seung-jae has full faith that she’ll be successful.

However, it’s during that most critical moment that Joo-young’s injured wrist causes her to falter during the surgery. She needs steady hands to stop the patient’s bleeding, but her sudden lack of them causes her patient to start losing even more blood.

She soldiers on like a hot mess, enough for Tae-shin to try giving her instructions on how to proceed next.

Joo-young ignores him, and her mistake causes the patient to start spurting blood all over the operating room. She’s too harried to listen to Tae-shin’s instructions, and the patient is too critical. As usual, there is no time!

So, Tae-shin declares that he’ll help Joo-young with the surgery. While he goes to prep, Seung-jae tells Joo-young to wait until he’s called Doctor Jang, the same doctor who warned her to do a good job.

That’s why she’s so insistent that he not call Doctor Jang because she can do it… when she really, really can’t.

Cue Tae-shin’s entry. Joo-young rebuffs his offer to help, until the patient’s pulse starts to drop. He’s dying. Tae-shin: “We don’t have time for this. We have to save this patient!”

It’s all up to Joo-young now.


I’ve always found medical dramas somewhat limiting as a genre–so much of the doctor/hospital imagery happens to look the same across the board in all doctor-related shows, with familiar scenes we can always recognize even if we’ve never watched a medical drama from start to finish. Inescapable examples include doctors washing up, doctors entering the operating room with their hands up, characters taking turns shouting “There isn’t any time!”, so on and so forth.

Because even the best of medical dramas can’t avoid these tropes, it really comes down to execution—and on that level, Medical Top Team is solid. The directing is slick without being overbearing, the medical prostheses are believable (no gummi babies, or whatever this is), and the stakes are expectedly life-or-death.

The first twenty minutes or so were a smidgen ridiculous with the Sick Waitress story, especially when the recently-wrapped Good Doctor’s first episode featured a sudden and very pressing emergency that could only be handled by a doctor in the room and not by normal emergency services. That’s fine if not slightly formulaic, but then we got ice-smashing and “I’m a DOCTOR!” “Well, I’M a doctor!” and enough shoving to give Joo-young an injury that affects her for the rest of the episode. (An injury which she decided to ignore rather than treat, because… wait, why did she ignore it again?)

I will say that the episode really picked up after we got the initial introductions out of the way, if only because we took the dramatics down a notch to focus on the characters. I’m especially glad that the three leads have interesting facets of their personalities that set them apart from the normal cookie-cutter character types we see in, oh, every medical drama ever—and really I’m just basing that on the happy fact that Tae-shin is not a cold-exterior-genius-super-doc, but really a warm-exterior-genius-super-doc. Because there’s a difference, I just can’t tell what it is yet. Or ever.

By comparison, we’d normally see Seung-jae’s character take on a more antagonistic role from the start, though as of now he’s mostly conducting himself like a (gasp!) normal human being. Something about Good Doctor that could really get grating were the hospital politics and the money-grubbing group of doctors who clearly had no business being doctors, so I like that we’re seeing Seung-jae, Tae-shin, and everyone else except for Joo-young clearly in their profession because they want to save lives. Granted, Seung-jae made a questionable decision in letting Tae-shin perform Ba-wi’s surgery, but he did it because he thought it was right—even if pulling Joo-young away from her initial surgery for the more important patient was wrong.

And then he actually congratulated Tae-shin on his work? No instant rivalry or competitive angst, it was really just good old fashioned mutual respect and admiration? I’m sure we’ll get the runaround with hospital politics and obstructive bureaucracy down the line, but at least it’s not here yet. It also helps to have Joo Ji-hoon in any role that has nothing to do with Five Fingers, because he’s incredibly good at portraying inner strife (see: The Devil) and/or just emoting in general without laying on the melodramatics.

Jung Ryeo-won has really come into her own since owning her role in History of the Salaryman, so there’s really no qualms on a cast level with this show. Out of all the characters presented, I will say I understand her the least, though that’s not necessarily a bad thing—she’s just the one doctor who seems more concerned about her career than she is about saving lives, and her cold choice in leaving Ba-wi high and dry to operate on her VIP isn’t a character trait that makes her instantly likable, even if it does make her interesting.

It’s hard to balance imperfection and human error in a profession that allows for so little of either, so while we’re used to seeing the Perfect(ly Flawed) Doctor, it’s a bit fresher to see a struggling doctor who doesn’t necessarily ignore her moral compass, but is instead too busy and sleep-deprived to sit down and have a cup of tea with it. Because as every TV doctor can attest, there’s just never enough time.


121 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. Ivoire

    Thanks for the recap!

    • 1.1 jhu


      (wink. wink.)

      And HeadsNo2, you are one of the funniest, most beautiful writers I have come across. So cheers to that!

      • 1.1.1 Ivoire

        Hello jhu, and wink, wink back at you 🙂

  2. hydramirage

    Thanks for the recap! I actually am really enjoying this series so far more than Heirs.

    • 2.1 Daemul

      I agree. I’ve just watched both episodes and I am hooked. I was not expecting this at all, it is very good. This drama deserves higher ratings. Let’s hope everyone involved can keep the standard high.

  3. iamlatika

    thanks for the recap… i thought u wont make a review about MTT… i really enjoy watching medical drama since before the last i watch was Good Doctor… that’s why i’m happy ur making a review in this series..

  4. kuxi

    I thought you will continue recap secret, the story getting better now

  5. MsB

    I absolutely loved it! As a fan of the genre (more so Japanese ones), this one was on point and sadly, generally KDramas miss the mark on the medical dramas (some exceptions). I loved the fact that instead of just one super brilliant doctor, that we will possibly see the brilliance of several doctors in various fields.

    Thoracic surgery is definitely one of the more interesting fields. I thought the directing was tight and I especially loved the fact that the characters were also diverse. My preference would be to leave the love out of the story as it will just muddy the waters but most drama watchers will expect it; my preference is to leave it out. That’s what worked for me and Golden Time! it was all about medicine.

    Let’s see what happens as the drama progresses.

    • 5.1 Anonymous

      I second that we leave out the romance. It will work so much better that way, and to be honest, I like Seung-jae more than I do Tae-shin right now.

      • 5.1.1 Lord Byron

        I am all for leaving out not only workplace romance but any other baggage from personal lives so long as it has no relevance to what is happening at the hospital.

        But I fear there is very little chance of that in K-dramas including this drama, if they were to attain coveted ratings. And I hear that Medical Top Team is already a ratings-underdog.

        Never mind, I will enjoy the doctoring portion of the drama. The drama promises a feast in that area. I just dig the persona that Kweon Sang Woo brings to every role he plays. And then, there is Joo Ji Hoon, who seems made for the role he plays here. The duo will carry the drama, while Minho will take care of you know what.

    • 5.2 Arhazivory

      Agreed. Totally loved it and this genre is one of my favourites too.

    • 5.3 heiress15

      The premise of MTT reminds me of the premise of [b] LAST HOPE [/b] – *it tells the story of a medical team, that is made up of doctors from different fields of expertise, age-group and career aspirations who are the last hope for all the terminally ill patients who are sent there.

      Anyways, what other medical Japanese dramas have you watched that you could recommend? Aside from the popularly recommended [b] JIN [/b], I’ve already watched:
      [b] CODE BLUE [/b] – *the “Doctor Helicopter” system was legalized in Japan in June 2007 – a medical team is dispatched to the patients on a helicopter to provide medical care in the field as soon as possible.
      and [b] Doctor X [/b] – *a woman surgeon who holds a scrupulous compliance when it comes to her working hours, never does any unnecessary chores that do not require a medical license, and could not care less about the power struggles within the hospitals.

      *synopsis from wiki pages

      • 5.3.1 houstontwin

        There is a really sweet jdrama on viki about an easy going (but, of course, brilliant) doctor, who slowly coaxes his cynical colleagues into working together and supporting one another(not an usual theme in kdramas).

    • 5.4 deb

      Cool! I actually just started watching Doctor X (umm, Dr. Michiko DAIMON is my QUEEN IN HEELS OMG) and I like it much better than any Korean medical drama I’ve seen. I’ve dropped all of them actually. Any other Japanese medical dramas you can recommend? Thanks.

      I will still be checking this our for Ryu-Won. She’s one of very few actors whose films I will watch without question because of strong trust in their career choices.

      • 5.4.1 heiress15

        Doctor X 2 would start this season! The first episode will air on Thursday, 17th of October.

  6. Cynthia

    Thanks for the recap, HeadsNo2!

    Like you, medical dramas aren’t my thing – I made an exception for Good Doctor so right about now I’m pretty much medically terminated brain dead, unless **fingers crossed** this drama takes a steep nose-dive ala Dr. Jin – then I’d be in like Flynn, especially with you at the helm for recaps! One can only hope.

  7. snow_white

    Thanks for the interesting recap….
    I wanted to watch this but there is no time…
    I’m watching only Heirs right now…..
    And the plot sounds boring….but I love Jung Ryu Won 🙂

  8. Mar

    I watched the first 2 episodes-no spoilers here do not worry. I really enjoyed them. And if you can watch on Viki, the commenters often correct or explain the medical content. i’ve dubbed the two male leads as Dr. Kirk (emotional passionate) and Dr. Spock (reason and restraint). I do not understand Seo Joo-young either yet. Choi Min-ho was sporting more pink lipstick and bronzer than all the Heirs guys put together. Joo Ji-hoon is so striking, almost otherworldly. i feel like Taeyang in Master’s Sun, I want to reach out a finger and poke him to make sure he is real.

    • 8.1 Dukdam

      Totally agree with you about JJH. I had no interest whatsoever in this drama but he caught my eye whilst I was changing channels during a particularly cringe inducing scene in Heirs. Now I’m bleary eyed due to the resulting JJH induced nostalgic marathon rewatch of Goong.

      • 8.1.1 Mar

        omg haha. You must have been terribly nostalgic to get through all of that. Next time just go to you tube, I am sure there are many segments of just the good parts! You know, I wish someone would just edit Goong down to nothing but JJH/YEH scenes, oh, and the Grandma.

        • Dukdam

          I definitely should have. My brain had selectively edited out all that needless angst in between the seaside trip at the winter palace and TEH KISS with the floppy bow outfit. Hehe.

  9. Noelle


  10. 10 ilikemangos

    Heads, thank you so much for these first episode recaps you do for several shows — really appreciate them.
    Sometimes i don’t have the time or interest to check out a show but you providing a recap with your first impressions helps a lot with whether or not i do give a show a chance.

    I just hope to god you end up recapping a good show out of all the fall premieres coming up. I think you’ve been stuck with more duds than actual good shows, and it makes me sad cause you’re such an awesome writer (yeah, fangirling here).
    Fingers crossed!! 🙂

    • 10.1 Laica

      I second this! Thank you for the first episode recaps, they really help me decide what to watch, especially since this is a crazy time at school with midterms and stuff.

      And also hoping that you get to recap a really GREAT show this time that stays quality from beginning to end. ^^

  11. 11 Narina

    I really enjoyed the firs two episodes.Thanks for recapping.

    • 11.1 eny

      I’m surprise that I like the first two episode so far, I try many medical drama n I never grab my attention except Good doctor, so I really surprise I enjoy watching Medical Top Team after just finish n love Good doctor.
      The story is different except for medical aspect

  12. 12 chane

    I would love it if you recap this series, your recaps for Jung Ryeo Won’s 2 previous dramas (Salaryman and KoD) were one of the main reasons why I loved those 2 dramas and thorougly enjoyed the whole watching and recap-reading experience of both dramas. I just LOVE all your recaps.

    As for the drama, I’m watching this for Ryeo won, my kdrama actress bias but I actually hate that I dislike her character so much. But it’s only been 2 episodes and plenty of time for character development.

    • 12.1 Lilly

      omg, those salaryman recaps were so funny

      • 12.1.1 MAC

        Haven’t watched Salaryman. Now I have something to look forward to.

  13. 13 chane

    Thanks for the recap 🙂

  14. 14 zsa

    i haven’t watched this…heirs too….i m now watching secret and loving it….my drama watching order is all messed up…i planned to watch 1.heirs 2. MTT…but it’s the other way around now….hehe

    • 14.1 eny

      I just start watch secret, still in ep 1,haven’t like it yet but I still watch next episode, not interested with heirs
      I watch The firstborn n Unemployed romance too

      • 14.1.1 Tata

        Just try the first 5 or 6 ep, I wasn’t a big fan in the beginning, but seriously I am hooked now, the last 2 ep were great. Secret is getting better and better.

        About MTT I actually enjoyed the first 2 ep.

      • 14.1.2 zakin89

        I’ll give it next week’s episode until I reach my verdict but I think I might drop this one.

        The waitress incident was ridiculous and I was rolling my eyes at how long they dragged this one.. I mean she’s sumbling around and when she turns around she looks like she’s about to faint on the spot with a pained expression and yet Mr super doc decides to just follow her… But well…

        The rest was kind of okay and I actually like that it seems to be more centered around the medical procedures than anything else. I liked Good Doctor but the medical stuff was not as present as I would have wanted.

        I have a difficult time to tolerate Ahn Nae Sang here because he’s quite shouty (esp. in ep 2) and his facial expressions scream over acting… big turn off for me!

  15. 15 Yanny

    Please continue recapping Secret! I think it’s the best out of the three wed-thur dramas currently!

    • 15.1 Elfie

      totally agree!!

  16. 16 Rachel

    I haven’t watched a medical show in a while, but I enjoyed this one. I like the competitive tension between Tae-Shin and Joo Young, although it’s a pet peeve of mine that the man always has to outshine the woman in workplace dramas.

    I am watching Heirs too, but so far this show seems much more tightly written.

    • 16.1 megumi

      i think it like he’s outshining the woman because he is the main lead, if she was the main lead she’ll outshine him too…anyway i really like the characters of both male leads…

  17. 17 rabbitsfortea

    Whee, there’s a recap for this! Thank you!
    I’ve been enjoying this drama quite a bit and I hate that it’s competing with Heirs, ratings wise, in Korea.

  18. 18 xxvxx

    I enjoyed it so much! Joo Ji Hoon was everything. Although I can’t say the same for Oh Yeon Seo, she tends to over exaggerate her expressions, making Minho look like a passable actor lmao. So far the set up is steady, i’m interested (cos JJH duh) it’s a shame you’re not gonna recap this series!

  19. 19 kdramafan

    Thanks so much for the recaps! I really loved the show cause I feel the urgency and the drama behind emergency situations better than in Good Doctor. And maybe it had to do with the fact that the cast are more experienced actors and the writing and directing are almost seamless to me.. The viewing experience I had was akin to watching countless ER episodes eons ago..

    Found my crack and I really want to watch JJH in something where he’s super intelligent and devious at the same time. He’s truly superb in this character!!

    • 19.1 rhienz

      Super intelligent n devious? Watch JJH in The Devil aka Mawang.. Its really great, full of mistery,, co-starred Uhm Taw Woong n Shin Min Ha
      But note that its not everyone cup of tea 🙂

    • 19.2 pogo

      ^ as above – watch The Devil/Mawang. Though he is definitely not your traditional hero there.

  20. 20 Kat

    Aw, this is just a one-time thing? I was hoping someone would recap this show here at DB. I wasn’t thinking of watching this show after just finishing a medical drama (Good Doctor), but I tried one episode and surprisingly, I liked it a lot and wanted more. Maybe after watching a medical drama that’s too feel-good and centered on the characters, my brain is wanting a bit more of the thrill and case-centered medical drama? IDEK. In any case, I’m hoping they keep the pace, lower the dial on the romance, and give more complicated cases, especially ones I haven’t heard of.

    I hope you’ll continue recapping this, Heads, but if this really is just a one-time thing, thanks for the recap! I hope many others will give this drama a shot.

  21. 21 xiaoSxin

    Jung Ryeo Won was in a sageuk already with Jung Kyung Ho, the Princess Ja Myung Go.

  22. 22 owl

    Cinderella man!

  23. 23 Arhazivory

    I really love how the characters are written just as you pointed out Heads. We have a lead guy who’s nice and warm even though he’s a genius so in one fell swoop he destroyed the cold genius stereotype. We have a very flawed heroine who seems to be fighting between her morals and career. While the second lead just seems..normal. Dude just wants to get a top team of the best and do his thing.

    As a fan of Brain, I’m expecting to see multi-faceted characters and I expect that as we peel away he layers we’ll get more drawn into their world. I’m glad that the drama I was looking forward to the most, did not disappoint me at all.

    • 23.1 houstontwin

      Arhazivory, I know that he has a calm affect, but don’t you think that there is a hint of darkness in Dr. Second Lead? Another character asks him what his real motiv is in pushing Top Team and instead of answering, we see a subtle but scary expression on his face.

      • 23.1.1 Arhazivory

        That’s true…he does. He’s too normal and I believe there is a hint of darkness as you pointed out. So far his normalcy makes him the most intriguing.

  24. 24 Quiet Thought

    Well, the concept is dumb as a box of rocks . . . among research scientists, unique genius is possible. Among scholars, architects, design engineers, artists, or classical musicians, certainly. Doctors, ultimately, are just highly trained technicians, like electrical engineers or programmers or baseball pitchers. You want the most skilled individuals available, but they all do the same thing and some just do the thing better than others. And virtually none of them are so uniquely skilled that you need to spend huge sums to pay them to cross an ocean.

    I always liked the way surgeons were treated on ‘House, MD.’ When House’s team needs a surgeon, he cons Cutty into getting him one. Same as when he needs a plumber.

    • 24.1 Windsun33

      Yes, but even in House, there were some doctors that he would not tolerate, and considered some of them total idiots.

      But House was set up a little different than this one – that team specialized more in difficult to figure out cases, often with obscure or rare causes. I don’t see any of that here.

    • 24.2 houstontwin

      I think that there can be brilliance in almost any occupation – an ability to think outside of the box, to be flexible, to recognise opportunities and potential problems unseen by others.
      I think that one of the reasons that workers are held in such low regard in many parts of the world, is that we don’t wish to acknowledge the contributions and glimmers of brilliance, in the people who labor on our behalf.

  25. 25 Jensredshoes

    Waaaa – No Alex in this episode? Just a glimpse of his charming self in a line of other actors? The waste of it all! I know he’s not a lead but I’m still so disappointed.

    • 25.1 cherkell

      Well, ya can’t show all your cards in a first episode now, can ya? His appearance was oh-so-fleeting, but his storyline gets a good chunk of advancement come Episode 3. 🙂

  26. 26 kit

    I was hooked with the first two episodes. I love it. The acting is solid to fantastic (even Minho doesn’t make me wince surprise! …. and sigh I say this with absolute love for shinee, calm down people). Kwon Sang Woo really shines. I’m not even getting turned off by the politics. It’s not going to be able to stray from comparisons to Good Doctor because it’s so different and aired at a similar time, but I’m going to say this style suits me better. They’re doctors, they get life threatening cases, I want a sense of urgency along with some good bromance.

    Thanks for the recap!

    • 26.1 houstontwin

      Minho might not be much of an actor, but isn’t he cute?

  27. 27 Fun-Lugha

    Not for me, one medical drama should be enough for one year, maybe next year! Bring on Reply 1994 (& that new basketball drama too!)

    • 27.1 nomad

      Reply 1994!! Epi 0 is DAEBAK!!!

  28. 28 Laica

    I love this cast, but I’m going to give this one a pass unfortunately. I’ve spent too much time with doctors in real life (mostly unpleasant) to enjoy watching medical dramas. I made an exception for Good Doctor just because Joo-won love makes me do crazy things, but that means I’m even more over my quota – don’t think I’ll watch another anytime soon.

    I did enjoy the recap, though – thanks Heads!

  29. 29 Windsun33

    I only watched Good Doctor up to around ep3 or so, the makjang and too much attention to hospital politics and villain doctors for me.

    Will give this a try for a couple of episodes, and see from there.

  30. 30 oneclearnight

    The bit where he chucked ice at the waitress made me choke on my drink, it was so hilarious. And what was with all that blood in the last scene? Unnecessary tbh.

    One thing I did like about this episode was its colour palette. It was ridiculously pretty. (Also Joo Ji Hoon’s face. I cannot get over how good looking he is.) Shallowness aside, this was okay. Better than Heirs and with a better cast too, but still not all that great. Wed/Thurs is looking pretty bleak rn in kdramaland.

  31. 31 Laura

    It looks very nice so far (well, tossing ice and shouting “I am the doctor” made me chuckle, I have to admit that). Despite the fact that I do not know any ANY of those medical terms (and I cannot read them anyways, because subs are going so fast in those places), I still find this drama interesting. It’s a good sign. I just hope, they have many interesting cases in hand, so as not to make the drama boring. I liked the inner struggle of our heroine (in the second ep. too). Though, I really fear the issue of that secret concerning the parents of the good doc. Just… no no no…

  32. 32 Momo

    CAN’T doctor women never do their surgery well without needing the genious doctor help?? Really?w

    when the doc. girl will ever enter the room and help the guy doc and save the day? HUH??

    I’m so pissed.

    And the girl that almost feel asleep while on surgery, wtf girl? are you crazy?

    • 32.1 canxi

      Well, I’m giving this particular situation a pass because of her hurt wrist.

      To answer Heads question also–I’m guessing she didn’t treat it because it would require some kind of bandage or something? That would draw attention and then she would probably be off surgeries for a while which would no doubt be detrimental to her pride judging from what I’ve read so far. I bet she is the type to want to be perfect and tops ALL the time.

    • 32.2 houstontwin

      Watch Dr X, she saves the day over and over again!

  33. 33 min

    i watch good doctor and medical top team but i must say when it comes to drama about medical, Japan is still much better. I would suggest people who love medical drama to watch Emergency Room 24 Hours(Kyumei Byoto) series 1 and 2.

    • 33.1 iamlatika

      tanx for the suggestion… i will add that to my watchlists… any other medical drama (japanese) u could suggest? the only jdorama i like is code blue

    • 33.2 Arhazivory

      Also Iryu. That was fantastic. All about the doctoring too and no romance stuff in the midst.

  34. 34 cynkdf

    Hi HeadsNo2, I apologize for writing about another drama in here but am truly curious to know if you gave Secret another chance and watched further episodes? If so, do you think the drama has a chance to be considered as memorable (in a good sense)?

    Since you write brilliantly, it would be great to have your insights on Secret but if not, never mind – as one of Bae Soo Bin’s biggest fans, I kinda feel uncomfortable (not sure about the right word, really) reading all the vitriol being heaped on his character on other sites.

  35. 35 pogo

    aaaah, Joo Ji-hoon.

    I love when an actor I’ve adored ever since he was playing floppy-haired teenagers just keeps ratcheting up the hotness scale with every single project he does (Five Fingers and that atrocity of a hairdo do not exist), and has now landed safely in his 30s, hotter than ever.

    I’ve always wanted to like Jung Ryeo-won, but her chemistry with her leading men can be a bit off – it was fine in Ja Myung Go even though that drama was a mess, but I didn’t feel anything for her and Anthony in King of Dramas even though romance was not the central focus there. And I can’t get a read on her and both her leading men here, yet.

    • 35.1 canxi

      She was also with Kwon Sang Woo before in the movie Pain, if you wanna gage their chemistry there. Only 2hrs. I thought they were pretty cute.

  36. 36 canxi

    Hmm, I kinda like the role reversal here, where the girl seems to be the over-confident meanie pants who won’t accept help. I’m sure she isn’t cold,cold like male doctors of other medical dramas, but it’s pretty cool and interesting still.

  37. 37 SHINeeGirl

    The only reason i wanted to watch this was Minho. But i guess there’s no point in it when he only gets hardly 5 minutes.
    And is Secret that good??? I’ve just watched 2 episodes. I had thought i won’t be watching it. But i liked Ji sung in those episodes. And everyone here says its good. So i think i’ll continue 🙂

  38. 38 jomo

    Thanks for recapping this.
    I really liked the first two – now that you pointed it out, more because of the characters than the set up.

    So that is how I feel about this genre in general and this writer in specific. Couldn’t watch Good Doc, though, so I can’t compare.

    This is my first KSW show. I hear SK doesn’t like his soft delivery of some of the medical terms – his lisp doesn’t help – but I wonder who these folks’ doctors are IRL. Doctors don’t deliver clipped crisp jargon like TV docs do, because they are overworked humans with lots of things going on at one time. They have all kinds of voices and some have accents and some talk funny. Just like real life everyone else.

    I really like JRW here by herself, or with either lead. The faces she makes walking away from KSW are so funny.
    I can see how this romance will not be predictable at the end. She could end up leaving both of them.

    I am watching at viki, so half of the commenters are smh-ing at how misused some of the medical jargon is, and the other half are yelling, “Relax! It’s a TV show!”

    The ice sculpture destruction was very cathartic for me. I have been wanting to do that since I started watching dramas. Just to see. It made my day!

    • 38.1 houstontwin

      I also was a big Brain fan, although it would have been much better without the lame romance.

  39. 39 John

    Wouldn’t Jung Ryeo-won be fun in sageuk?

    Hmmm. That’d be interesting. I bet she could do an action thriller. Not a cop, but perhaps a crime figure. A bad girl? A gangster?

  40. 40 biankoy

    seriously that camera is so pretty. Every shot seems to be intagram-ready.

  41. 41 hui3r

    Oh man… we’re on a medical roll here aren’t we.

    First ep is pretty solid although I would agree with recapper: the MELAS emergency is way OTT.

    JRW’s character is really… well… cold. Very unlikable and just an inch short of unethical that she very obviously values the life of the VIP over that of the little girl. If the call had came a few minutes later, I wondered if she would have threw down the scalpel and tell her minions to close the little girl up so she can run to the VIP. erk.

    • 41.1 Windsun33

      I see that “more important patient” trope in a lot of Korean medical dramas, and it always bothers me. In reality I doubt that such “this patient or that” situations actually arise more than once in 10 years, the fact that it is used so often tells me something .. but not sure what. Perhaps a backhanded swipe at Korean society?

      • 41.1.1 hui3r

        If this was the ONLY k-drama to highlight this, then perhaps it is a swipe at Korea’s (allegedly?) elitist tendencies (which I am in no way meaning to be insulting because I ethnic Chinese and we’re pretty much build along the same cultural lines in that regard).

        But if every K-medical drama has been trotting out this trope since time immemorial, then I would argue that it is more indicative of society perception that it IS ok to value human life unequally. Note that I am not saying that actual doctors do this – but it may be argued that this is Korean society implicitly saying this is ok – otherwise, there should have been hulabaloo against such depiction in primetime television.

        If you go to the other extreme and watch US TV shows, this kind of character dilemmas are unheard of because it is unfathomable to them. Which brings me back to this: putting aside that it makes for good drama, what does it say about Korean society that implicitly condones such tropes on their airwaves? And in this case, it isn’t even stretched out as character development, ie she is struggling to make the right choice. She made what many would argue to the WRONG choice, ethically, seemingly without hesitation.

        • Windsun33

          I think that was bothers me about this showing up so much in Korean and even in Japanese med dramas that have seen is that it seems to be OK with the viewers. In the Western cultures there would be a lot of negative reaction.

          I don’t now that every med drama ever has had that trope, but every one I can recall does – sometimes in extreme forms. In one show a patient was kicked out to make room for a VIP patient.

  42. 42 infiniti512

    The waitress incident almost had me turning it off. Must you break the ice sculpture at a ballroom of a hotel which has ice machines EVERYWHERE? And must you use your expensive suit blazer when there are tablecloths EVERYWHERE? I guess it was to add to the dramatics.

    I must say the show gains its footing in the second episode. Once I was able to block out Kwon Sang Woo’s acting, perm, and manner of speech, I was able to enjoy.

    • 42.1 Windsun33

      But it was so much more dramatic to smash the sculpture. 😀 Why use mundane ice from one of the 97 ice machines when you can make a big scene…

  43. 43 Mystisith

    Thanks for the recap!
    I loved the first 2 eps of this show. All the ingredients are here in good proportions and the cast is good. It’s not ground breaking but it deserves more than 6% for the ratings…

  44. 44 kikidee

    Sure global brands exist! Would anyone know a thing about Rochester, Minnesota if not for the Mayo Clinic? Everyone knows the go to places for cancer are Sloan-Kettering in New York City and MD Anderson in Texas. Don’t forget Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.

    • 44.1 Windsun33

      And in fact Korea has a couple of hospitals that are world renowned for plastic surgery – not just the “make me prettier than Shin Min Ah” type, but also reconstructive.

      But still, that phrase did not ring true – you need more than a single team of super-docs to be a “global brand”.

  45. 45 darksilvercloud

    Interesting drama, can’t wait to see how it’ll go. Oh awesome, Park Won-sang is in this drama! Loved his character in Shark! Hoping to see more of him on Medical Top Team 🙂

  46. 46 laraffinee

    Oooooo……this looks like it is going to be good! I do love a good Medical drama, and have no patience for stupid ones (Dr. Jin’s utter stupidity). This one has a great cast! Jung Ryeo-won is a great actress and is one of my favorites, and Joo Ji-hoon might finally have a good role to sink his teeth into! I am definitely going to watch this one!

  47. 47 Quincy

    Sjy and hsj are intriguing and layered characters whose back stories and motivations I’m interested to find out.

    I’m still not convinced that sjy is morally flawed- granted she chose the VIP patient over the girl but I wonder if she would have done the same had her patient not been someone important. It could jolly well turned out that she holds the belief that her first duty lies with her existing patients. It’s not certain to me that she’s merely motivated by ambition, will have to wait and see. Having said that, I’m excited to see how she overcomes her insecurity and pride in time to come.

    Hsj is interesting insofar as his true motivation for creating this team is not revealed as yet. His relationship with the vice director is probably not as chummy as it appears.

    Pts, in contrast, is least interesting IMO and could potentially become a flat character. I hope to see some changes in him over time. I find him too idealistic and brash tbh.

    • 47.1 Windsun33

      And the fact is, she did not make the initial choice to treat the minister instead of the girl – her boss did.

      But in ep2 I am already seeing signs of politics and the “Korean Drama Land Immutable Hierarchy of Status vs Competence” raise it’s ugly head. She got yelled at for trying to trample all over some apparently less competent but somehow more “deserving” doctor who was competing with her for the MTT position.

      • 47.1.1 megumi

        i don’t know how some people can even find excuse for her for doing that, she knew what she was doing…

  48. 48 Daemul

    The recap has made me interested in this Drama, it sounds really good, I think I might check it out.

  49. 49 exoticshawol

    Thanks, HeadsNo2 for the recap! I’ve been visiting dramabeans ever since I saw the Heirs recaps since they are on the same day.

    Medical shows aren’t really my thing but the first time I learned about the cast, why not give it a try? I found the writing solid and the informations quite good. It definitely gives me the same vibes I had about law in I Hear Your Voice. And like you said, the prosthetics were really believable here unlike the gummy baby in Dr. Jin *chuckles*

    Also, loving Joo Ji Hoon’s hair here. Rawr. And then laughing over Minho’s pink lips.

    Surprisingly, I enjoyed the second episode of MTT more than Heirs’ just bc of Heirs’ last 5 minutes: they ran from MALIBU to HOLLYWOOD? and then entered a theater without even buying tickets? I know most of you wouldn’t mind these but I like focusing on small details, dunno why.

  50. 50 Skwonto

    Again, hilarity! Love your penchant for bloody medical dramas. Hope you continue to recap!

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