Doctors: Episode 19
Hye-jung finds that sometimes consciously deciding to let go of a grudge can bring its own reward. While her festering hatred for Myung-hoon has only brought her pain and frustration, her easy forgiveness of what Seo-woo did to her years ago has helped heal a dark and troubling scar in her old rival’s heart. Now the question remains — will the wisdom of this lesson be able to pierce our heroine’s battle-hardened soul?
EPISODE 19 RECAP
A series of flashbacks show us moments from the past: when Grandma brought food for Hye-jung in prison, when Hye-jung kneeled before Seo-woo; when Soon-hee gave herself up to the police to get Hye-jung out of prison; when Ji-hong’s dad told him to just be a doctor, refusing to let him be involved in hospital politics; and when Ji-hong back-hugged Hye-jung, breaking the wall she put up after their fight. In voiceover, Hye-jung says: “The most we can do for our loved ones is to sacrifice ourselves; however, such sacrifice does not beautify humanity.”
In the present, Hye-jung asks Ji-hong why he gave up surgeries — something he’s crazy about. Ji-hong laughs away this description but explains that he took a step back to get Myung-hoon to put his guard down. He tells Hye-jung that he’s looking into Myung-hoon’s weaknesses and will attack as soon as he finds one.
Hye-jung complains that she can only go to work every day, and Ji-hong tells her that she should feel grateful for being able to do that much. Hye-jung points out that he tends to lecture her in these situations, and he reminds her that he used to be a teacher. Hye-jung asks him to tell her when he finds the weakness, and he agrees.
Seo-woo meets Soon-hee at her café and asks about the reason Hye-jung joined the hospital. Although reluctant, Soon-hee finally tells Seo-woo the truth. Seo-woo is shocked to hear about her dad’s malpractice and asks if Hye-jung was blaming her dad for a mistake. Soon-hee tells her that Hye-jung recently found evidence that proved it was more than a mistake and points out that Hye-jung isn’t dumb enough to hold on to something like this without reason.
She reminds Seo-woo that all Hye-jung wanted was to run the diner and live a long life with Grandma. Seo-woo defends her dad instinctively and says that Hye-jung is mistaken, but she leaves the café agitated.
Director Jin visits his son and daughter-in-law for tea. He notices that Myung-hoon has difficulty wielding a fork and tells him to get a health checkup done. Myung-hoon broaches the subject of buying more shares of a company he’s invested in. The president agrees to buy them for Myung-hoon by using the slush fund, and Myung-hoon gushes happily at his father.
Seo-woo remembers Grandma’s visit at the hospital and how her father had recognized the old woman. She now realizes Grandma was his patient. Young-kook finds her sitting alone and asks what’s wrong. She asks him to do something he shouldn’t to her. His face stills but slowly, carefully, he puts an arm around her and pulls her head to his shoulder. She sighs and closes her eyes, and he gently kisses her forehead.
Hye-jung checks on the pregnant coma patient and is impressed that she’s still holding on for the sake of her child. The patient is discussed at a department conference. Tae-ho tells Hye-jung to keep Gynecology in the loop. Tae-ho ends the conference with an encouraging word to his department: they faced a lot in the past few months and might face more hardships in the future, but they have each other to lean on.
Hye-jung’s dad has an appointment with Pa-ran and tells him about some symptoms he’s been experiencing lately. Pa-ran guesses that he’s been drinking a lot and suspects an inflammation of the liver.
Tae-ho tells Ji-hong that with the proof of Director Jin’s slush fund in their hands, the matter will be done with quicker than he’d expected. Ji-hong tells him apologetically that he can’t use the evidence since Myung-hoon is holding Hye-jung’s reputation as collateral. Instead of getting angry, Tae-ho is delighted at the realization that Ji-hong is dating someone and offers congratulations.
Although he’s understanding, Tae-ho adds that they don’t have much time. If they wait until the construction of the geriatric center begins, the hospital would take a massive financial hit, which would burden the next person to step into Myung-hoon’s shoes.
Seo-woo seeks out Hye-jung and asks if she really believes her father committed medical malpractice. Hye-jung tells her that it isn’t just a belief, but that she confirmed it. When Seo-woo asks how 13-year-old records could still exist, Hye-jung just tells her that they do, and that the reasons make sense to her.
Hye-jung also tells her that Pa-ran helped her analyze the report. Grasping at straws, Seo-woo points out that mistakes happen, but Hye-jung simply says that the hospital settled with her dad. This silences Seo-woo, and she leaves abruptly.
Seo-woo visits Pa-ran and asks him if he helped read an anesthesiology report for Hye-jung. He confirms that he did and that he deduced that the surgeon made a mistake. Seo-woo asks if Ji-hong and Yoon-do know about this, and Pa-ran tells her that they do.
Seo-woo meets with Yoon-do and asks why he was interfering in other people’s affairs when he never exerted himself before. Yoon-do admits that he joined the board of directors to get close to Hye-jung. Seo-woo asks if her friendship means nothing to him. He looks regretful and asks what she wants him to do. Seo-woo tells him to stop trying to bring her father down, insisting that Hye-jung is mistaken.
Kang-soo is updating the chapter on his webtoon series which covers his own surgery. When he refuses to get up to run an errand because he’s “flowing with story ideas,” Joong-dae points out in outrage that everything he writes is plagiarized from Hye-jung’s life. Kang-soo asks Joong-dae to live a life he would want to plagiarize. Hehe.
Kyung-joon walks in to ask Joong-dae if he’s done the CT scan he was supposed to, and is pleased to hear that he has. He’s uncharacteristically sympathetic when Joong-dae complains about being overworked… until Young-kook walks in with the completed CT scan that Joong-dae had fobbed off on him. They quibble about the workload until Kang-soo volunteers to get off his butt and do his job, at which point the other residents rejoice that all the guilt-tripping worked.
Pa-ran calls Hye-jung when her dad’s reports arrive. He quickly realizes that she didn’t know about his visit to the hospital. Later, Pa-ran explains to Dad that he has hepatitis, but reassures him that taking regular medication will be enough. Hye-jung waits outside and watches her dad leave but doesn’t speak to him.
She seeks out Ji-hong and tells him about her father’s illness. Ji-hong astutely observes that Hye-jung would find it hard to turn away from Dad if he were seriously ill. Hye-jung states that she doesn’t want to be close to Dad, but Ji-hong points out that she’s the only one putting that pressure on herself.
Hye-jung asks if he won’t ask her to reconcile with her father, and Ji-hong tells her that he won’t tell her to do something he can’t do himself. Hye-jung smiles and says that she’s glad that he’s her man. They grin at each other but things get awkward as Yoon-do passes by with his crestfallen puppy face. Ji-hong follows him to his chamber and invites Yoon-do to dine with him. Yoon-do declines, but Ji-hong tells him to bring wine and leaves.
Seo-woo waits in her father’s office and accidentally finds the pen with the Hye-jung’s recording in an open drawer. She listens to Hye-jung’s voice making the death threat and pockets the pen as Myung-hoon enters the room. She tells him that Hye-jung told her everything, and her father instantly knows what she means. He dismisses Hye-jung’s claims and says he’s getting a headache from stress.
Seo-woo leaves and listens to the recording in her own office. She finds Hye-jung and asks for a private word. Sitting in the empty cafeteria, she tells Hye-jung that she knows about her threatening her father. Hye-jung asks if Myung-hoon told her, and Seo-woo tells her about the recording.
Seo-woo argues again that every surgeon makes mistakes, and that patients must have died on Hye-jung’s operating table too. Hye-jung agrees that surgeons do make mistakes, but instead of earnestly apologizing for the life lost, Myung-hoon had been arrogantly dismissive of her younger self. She tells Seo-woo that if her father had shown some respect for Grandma’s life, Hye-jung would never have come this far.
Seo-woo asks why she never told her about any of this. Hye-jung answers that she wanted to be considerate of Seo-woo because of the kindness she’d shown the younger Hye-jung. Seo-woo looks away from Hye-jung with tears in her eyes. Back at her office, Hye-jung recalls a previous conversation with Ji-hong and realizes that the recording was the leverage Myung-hoon used to force Ji-hong to give up being a surgeon.
Yoon-do turns up at Ji-hong’s place for dinner despite his protests. He even brings wine. Yoon-do is adorably awkward as Ji-hong serves him steak and pours out the drinks. Ji-hong thanks him for what he did after Chairman Hong’s death and for casting his vote in their favor. He asks if Yoon-do really likes him that much, and when Yoon-do exclaims that he knows why he did those things, Ji-hong asks if it is possible for Yoon-do to like him more than Hye-jung.
Yoon-do nearly chokes on his wine as Ji-hong affectionately puts another piece of steak on his plate and asks if this is a new way to make him give up on Hye-jung. Ji-hong asks if such a way would work, and Yoon-do confirms that it’s already working. He mutters that it seems like he had no chance anyway.
Ji-hong asks if Yoon-do can work things out with Seo-woo, but Yoon-do says that they are just friends. He tells Ji-hong that he’s decided not to interfere in their affairs anymore and explains that he could have helped him bring down Myung-hoon by revealing his weakness. Ji-hong tells him that he already knows the weakness, but doesn’t explain why he hasn’t used it yet.
Hye-jung meets Tae-ho and asks him if Ji-hong took the transfer to the research department for her sake. He confirms it and asks when she would be marrying Ji-hong. Pushing past his teasing, Hye-jung asks what else Ji-hong has been giving up because of her. She tells him about Myung-hoon calling her a “stumbling block” for Ji-hong, and pleads with Tae-ho to not let her become one.
We don’t hear his answer but later, Hye-jung thinks back to Ji-hong’s words that what Grandma would want most is for her to be happy. She visits Grandma’s remains with flowers. She confesses to Grandma that she had been obsessed with her death all this time and has never known happiness. But Ji-hong makes her smile. With tears in her eyes, she asks if it’s all right if she thinks of Grandma only sometimes from now on.
Hye-jung goes to Ji-hong’s home and tells him that he has two strikes now, and if he gets a third, he’ll be out. Ji-hong asks when he fouled, and Hye-jung tells him about her visit with Tae-ho. He looks immediately contrite, and Hye-jung tells him to use the USB as he intended. She tells him she knows about Myung-hoon’s recording, and that Ji-hong is hesitating because of it.
She admits that she used to think that if she didn’t follow through on her decisions, then they were meaningless. But now she thinks differently. She tells Ji-hong that she can’t do everything on her own, so he should make Myung-hoon pay for what he did. Ji-hong tells her that Myung-hoon might sue her for threatening him and then her past might resurface and ruin her reputation. Hye-jung tells him that she’ll deal with it when it happens, and asks him to trust her.
In a board meeting, Myung-hoon declares the construction for the new geriatric building has begun. Later, in his office, Myung-hoon and Director Jin laugh over their victory. But their happiness is short-lived as men from the prosecutor’s office come in with an arrest warrant for Director Jin.
As the president is escorted out, the images are flashed all over the news, and Seo-woo finds out when she walks by a TV in the lobby. Hye-jung meets Ji-hong in the cafeteria and comments on the disorder in the hospital. Ji-hong is nervous that Myung-hoon will retaliate, but Hye-jung smiles at his visible worry and calls him cute. She tells him that she would be worried if it was him in danger, but she’s alright since it’s her.
Ji-hong says she’s cute too, and they argue sweetly until Ji-hong falls silent and stares at her. Hye-jung asks him what’s wrong, and he says, “I want to kiss you.” Hye-jung squeals in surprised embarrassment. Impatient now, Ji-hong gets up and beckons a grinning Hye-jung to hurry. Both doctors run out of the cafeteria like teens looking for the nearest make-out spot.
Myung-hoon visits his father in prison, and Director Jin tells him to deny all involvement in the slush fund. He argues that he’ll get bailed out quickly due to his old age, but he wouldn’t be able to sleep if Myung-hoon is in prison. Myung-hoon vows to get back at Ji-hong.
Yoon-do sits in silent support with Seo-woo. She asks him to get on with the consoling, but he simply observes that nothing he says will comfort her. He tells her that he’s gone through similar situations twice. His empathy seems to help, and Seo-woo thanks him.
Back in his office, Myung-hoon can’t find the pen with Hye-jung’s recording. He calls Seo-woo in and tells her that he’ll teach Ji-hong a lesson by exposing Hye-jung to the media. When Seo-woo asks how, he tells her about the missing recording.
Seo-woo tells him that she destroyed it. She cries that she took his side because he’s her father, but Myung-hoon protests that he was never at fault and that Hye-jung’s family settled. He asks if Hye-jung is normal for coming to this hospital to avenge something that happened thirteen years ago. Seo-woo says that Hye-jung is not normal, because if it had been him in Grandma’s place, Seo-woo would have killed the doctor right there.
She asks Myung-hoon why he had to hurt Hye-jung’s feelings — why he couldn’t just apologize for his mistake. Myung-hoon yells that people try to get more money out of you if you apologize for things like that. In disbelief, Seo-woo asks what kind of people he’s been dealing with all his life; did he never see the good ones? She asks if he really thinks that the whole world is like that.
Seo-woo tells her father that she’s embarrassed of both him and herself. She tells Myung-hoon that Hye-jung’s dream was to run her grandmother’s diner and live life with the woman. She asks why he can’t empathize with people. If he’d only apologized and showed remorse, Hye-jung wouldn’t have come this far. Seo-woo gets up and leaves, while Myung-hoon sits nursing a bad headache.
Ji-hong comes on an off day to visit Hye-jung, and the staff clearly knows about them dating. They get teased and walk away quickly, pretending to discuss work. Ji-hong tells Hye-jung that everyone knows about them, but Hye-jung says they should pretend not to know that they know. Ji-hong asks why, and Hye-jung just says: “To entertain people.” Pfft.
They’re discussing the recording when Seo-woo calls Hye-jung. She says that it’s important, and Hye-jung meets her on the roof. Seo-woo hands her the pen, admitting that she stole it from her father. She tells Hye-jung that she remembers Grandma visiting her at the hospital with juice. She confesses that she was only kind to Hye-jung because she didn’t consider her an equal. Hye-jung insists that her reason doesn’t change the fact of her kindness to Hye-jung in the past.
Seo-woo says that she hadn’t wanted to admit that Hye-jung was better than her. “That’s when my tragedy began,” she observes. Hye-jung takes part of the responsibility, saying that she hadn’t known what competition was before then. Seo-woo apologizes sincerely. She looks back at the past with regret and says that she missed several chances to make things right. Recognizing another chance in that moment, Seo-woo kneels in front of a startled Hye-jung and apologizes on her father’s behalf.
Hye-jung returns to Ji-hong’s side and shows him the pen. She says wistfully that she’s so glad she decided not to hate Seo-woo for all these years. Ji-hong looks at her with his smiling eyes and abruptly asks her to marry him. She looks up, almost offended at his unromantic proposal.
Ji-hong said that he thought she hated romantic gestures, and Hye-jung is all, “Why would I hate it? I don’t hate it!” Ji-hong asks if she would like a do-over and she readily agrees. Ji-hong turns the tables on her and asks if there isn’t something she has yet to say to him. Hye-jung looks caught, and Ji-hong insists that he doesn’t really need to hear it. It’s just that she should learn to express herself, he says.
Hye-jung nods, but says that she won’t say the words. Ji-hong is almost comically disappointed, but Hye-jung just says that it should be darker when she says it… and they are still at work. They hold hands and laugh, giddy with happiness.
Ji-hong meets Myung-hoon and asks to be reinstated as a surgeon. Myung-hoon makes it clear that he won’t let it happen, and Ji-hoon good-naturedly wishes him luck and walks away. Next, Myung-hoon walks into his office and finds Hye-jung. He asks if they’re working as a team to corner him. But Hye-jung just wants to say that she’s quitting her revenge. She came to face him one last time to get closure.
Yoon-do asks Seo-woo to eat a meal with him, but she turns down his pity lunch. Young-kook walks in a minute later and when he invites Seo-woo, she immediately accepts. Yoon-do calls Seo-woo mean, but is glad that someone is making sure she eats. He even offers to pay for the meal and tells Young-kook to buy her something expensive.
After he leaves, Seo-woo scoffs that Yoon-do is trying to act cool. Young-kook corrects her and says that Yoon-do is cool. He also says it’s okay to still like him, but Seo-woo just says that she regrets making a fool of herself in the past.
Seo-woo gets called in for lunch by her parents, celebrating her grandfather’s release on bail. Myung-hoon’s hand fails him again and his wife and father both insist he immediately get a checkup. Seo-woo goes back to the hospital, and Tae-ho picks up on her discomfort because of her family. He tells her that he chose her as a fellow on merit, so she has nothing to be embarrassed about.
Tae-ho gets a call from the hospital’s test center about Myung-hoon’s results. Myung-hoon himself sits in shock, looking at scans of his spine where several tumors are obvious. Tae-ho calls Ji-hong in and lets him examine the scans before revealing whom they belong to. Ji-hong says that it’s a difficult operation even for him, but Tae-ho observes that he’s the only one who can handle such a surgery.
Director Jin speaks to Ji-hong about operating on Myung-hoon. Ji-hong points out that Myung-hoon wouldn’t trust him enough to allow the surgery. He says that the patient’s lack of trust can lower the chances of a successful surgery. Director Jin still insists on Ji-hong performing the operation.
Seo-woo is studying up on the surgery her father will need when Hye-jung comes in from her rounds. Seo-woo poses a question to Hye-jung, indirectly trying to find out if Hye-jung thinks Ji-hong’s time away from the surgery table might have dulled his skills. Hye-jung dismisses it, saying that Ji-hong watches videos of surgeries all the time, and that he has deft hands.
Seo-woo asks Hye-jung how she felt when she found out about her Grandma’s cancer. Ignorant of why Seo-woo was asking the question, Hye-jung recalls how much she cried, how helpless she felt when she founds out, and how she wondered if Grandma would have been all right if Hye-jung had been a nicer person.
Suddenly, she realizes that Seo-woo is crying and asks what’s wrong. Seo-woo tells her that her father has always been nice to her and she has a lot of good memories with him. She brushes away her tears as she tells Hye-jung about how they’ve fallen out recently.
Just then, Hye-jung gets a call from Kyung-joon about a male patient who came into the emergency ward after taking too many sleeping pills. Hye-jung rebukes him for calling her about something so minor, but Kyung-joon says that it’s Myung-hoon, and that a recent checkup had revealed tumors on his spine. Telling him to call Ji-hong, Hye-jung looks at Seo-woo’s worried face with dawning comprehension.
In the ER, Seo-woo and Hye-jung arrive to look in on Myung-hoon, who refuses to let Hye-jung check him. Within minutes, Ji-hong arrives. Myung-hoon’s wife recognizes him as her daughter’s high school teacher. Then her gaze falls on Hye-jung again, and her eyes widen. In voiceover, Hye-jung says: “You have to wait till that final moment in life to learn what it is trying to teach you. You have to wait till the very end.”
It’s almost hilarious that Myung-hoon’s wife only now realizes that Ji-hong and Hye-jung work in the same hospital as her daughter. Always the last to know everything, this woman. I would feel bad, but the show has ensured that I’m not at all invested in such a minor character. What Doctors has done well over the last nineteen episodes is get me thoroughly hooked to Ji-hong and Hye-jung’s romantic development. A large part of my interest was also caught up with Seo-woo, but that just seemed to invite frustration. However, I do believe I have been rewarded for my patience. So, this is the Seo-woo the hospital staff knew before Hye-jung turned up. Never having met the “nice” Seo-woo everyone liked, I simply assumed her default mode was insecure and inept.
I really like present Seo-woo. She has grown by tiny increments over many, many episodes — so quietly, that I didn’t even realize when she stopped blaming Hye-jung for every single thing under the sun. In a way, that’s pretty realistic. Most people don’t really have “Aha!” moments when their whole perspective shifts. The evidence of reality piled higher and higher on Seo-woo until she could ignore her own unfair prejudice no more. And just like in the real world, once the shift happens, clarity brings peace. Both in Seo-woo’s romantic life and in the way she went about verifying the truth about her father and Hye-jung, she showed unexpected maturity. She argued with Hye-jung without lapsing into any angry tirades, posing perfectly sensible questions. The fact that a 13-year-old record existed, and that anyone could tell without reasonable doubt that malpractice occurred in the OR is a bit ridiculous. And even when she couldn’t dispute the “truth,” she tried to protect her dad by asking Yoon-do to stop interfering.
I always appreciated that the Jin family — antagonists though they may be — shared a deep bond of affection for their own (well, except for the wife — no one cared about her). Seo-woo’s every action in this episode made me root for her, and wish that we had seen more of this girl before. I also loved the way they differentiated her infatuation with Ji-hong and Yoon-do, and her growing feelings for Young-kook. While the very idea of a man waiting around in the wilds of “the friendzone” to leap out and win the girl when she’s at her lowest makes my blood boil, the show avoided that pitfall by creating in Young-kook a real friend — one who genuinely liked her as a person, and is only now realizing that he has deeper feelings for her. And again, unlike the sadly wasted Yoon-do, Young-kook shows pride and maturity and never pushes the issue, content to preserve their friendship as much as he’s disinclined to make Seo-woo uncomfortable. Her growing relationship with Young-kook seems so natural, I can only feel sad that we get just one more episode to explore it.
I also wanted a few more episodes of Seo-woo and Hye-jung’s growing friendship. Maybe I’m being optimistic, but I really think that they need each other in their lives. I loved the way they juxtaposed Hye-jung’s choice to “not hate” Seo-woo and the slow change that wrought in Seo-woo’s heart with the futility of Hye-jung’s quest to find a drop of remorse in the coldness of Myung-hoon’s soul. In many instances — the way Seo-woo would justify a selfish action by shirking off the blame — we could see that Myung-hoon had been moulding his daughter in his own image. And perhaps over time, Seo-woo’s inner goodness would have died a quiet death, and she would have become what her father wanted. Fortunately, a gangster-doctor erupted into their lives and scattered such plans into the winds. Now, just give me an epilogue where they become best friends along with Soon-hee, okay, Show? You owe me that.
Ji-hong and Hye-jung have become one of my favorite drama couples to date. There have always been shows where I would have loved to just watch the main couple live their daily lives without much in the way of conflict — this is one such pair; and Doctors is one such story. Their characterization has (mostly) been consistent, and the writers have done a pretty great job exploring the issues two such strong-willed people would face in the initial days of their romance. It was the strength and selling point of the show. I was personally never uncomfortable with this pairing. Hye-jung has been this mix of aged cynicism and childish obstinance from the very first scene. For one such as her, Ji-hong — an old soul himself — seemed like a particularly good fit. I also loved that her struggle to be who she is now was independent of him. It wasn’t possible for Ji-hong to love Hye-jung the teenager, because she would never have been the equal partner that this confident, older Hye-jung is. At this point though, between arguments, kisses, supporting each other, and more kisses, Ji-hong and Hye-jung’s relationship is my new life goal.
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