It’s the calm before the storm, as Teacher Kim and the Doldam team try to reconcile their desire to go through with CEO Shin’s surgery with the mounting reasons as to why they shouldn’t. Teacher Kim puts all of his energy into finding a way forward, but he’s got more on his hands than just one surgery—he also has to remind his colleagues/pupils that they are all equally important and essential members of the team, which leads to some heartwarming moments in the coziest hospital ever.
CHAPTER 16: “Taking On a Risk”
CEO Shin gives Teacher Kim the green light to continue as planned with his risky operation. Meanwhile, Dr. Do tries to persuade CEO Shin’s daughter, Hyun-jung, to start imagining herself as the new CEO, but she warns Dr. Do not to get ahead of himself since her father has yet to give up on his surgery.
In his office, Teacher Kim meets privately with CEO Shin to confirm that he is fully away of the dangers involved and the low probability of success. He manages to avoid discouraging CEO Shin too much, and instead patiently listens to the older man’s reasoning.
CEO Shin explains that even though he has lived a long and prosperous life, he hasn’t lost the will to live. In fact, he adds, the rapidly approaching time limit on his life makes him want to fight for the days he has left with all his strength. He understands that the operation will be strenuous on his body, and given its complexity, he knows his odds of surviving are slim, but he wants to live well until the very end. He implores Teacher Kim abide by his wishes.
After CEO Shin leaves, Teacher Kim paces in his office, deeply troubled by his patient’s request. In his mind, he mentally simulates the various stages of the operation from beginning to end, then finally walks to the dry erase board and scribbles down a total surgery time of six hours.
In the ER, In-bum berates Yeon-hwa for calling him to treat a patient that he deems beneath his expertise level, arguing that an ER specialist could have easily handled the treatment just fine without him. When Yeon-hwa apologizes, In-bum snaps that he doesn’t want to hear her apologies, adding that she should do her job properly so that she doesn’t have to ask for forgiveness.
When In-bum is out of sight, Nurse Assistant Park checks on Yeon-hwa after witnessing the entire exchange. He asks her what the problem is, but she just answers vaguely, then steps away to be alone.
Around the corner, she broods as she recalls In-bum previously confronting her for allowing Dong-joo to switch places with her in the surgery last episode, when he had expressly assigned her to the position. He rebuked her right after his physical altercation with Dong-joo in the hall, so his emotions were running high. She defended herself by explaining that Dong-joo insisted on taking her place, and he responded by asking if that meant that she views Dong-joo’s words as having more value over his.
To parallel the present, she apologizes, only for him to bark at her to do her job properly. Still stuck on In-bum’s bad side and feeling the weight of her newest mistake, she sighs deeply. Nearby, Assistant Nurse Park watches her with a heavy expression.
Teacher Kim meets with Dong-joo in his office to express his desire to shorten CEO Shin’s surgery time to six hours in order to give them a higher chance of success. Dong-joo thinks he’s crazy, and argues that the normal surgery time of this type of procedure is nine to ten hours. He explains that whittling it down to seven and a half hours is already ambitious, but to bring it down even further is downright insane.
Immediately afterward, Dong-joo reports Teacher Kim’s intentions to Seo-jung, Nurse Oh, and Dr. Nam. Seo-jung theorizes a way that it could be possible, given Teacher Kim’s top-notch skills, but Dr. Nam argues that it will still be difficult to cut the time down that much. Dong-joo points out that Teacher Kim has nothing to gain by succeeding or failing the surgery, as both outcomes will still incur criticism.
Dong-joo warns that should they fail, Dr. Do will use this as an opportunity to get rid of Teacher Kim once and for all. At that moment, Teacher Kim walks in on their conversation and says that the only thing he needs to do is succeed. They argue back and forth about the improbability of the operation’s success, until Teacher Kim asks if this means Dong-joo is unable to shorten his segment of the surgery.
In response, Dong-joo clarifies that he never said he couldn’t do it, but rather that he doesn’t think it’s a good idea. Glumly, Teacher Kim counts Dong-joo down as an opponent to his plan, then moves to ask Nurse Oh and Dr. Nam, who abstain for now. Finally, he asks Seo-jung, who surprises everyone by agreeing to it, which prompts Teacher Kim to give the most adorable cheer ever before he walks off, whistling.
In their shared office, Dong-joo whines to Seo-jung for going along with Teacher Kim’s plan, pointing out that all of Doldam could fall with him. She answers breezily that she trusts Teacher Kim’s judgment, which makes him wonder how she can have such blind faith in Teacher Kim. Dong-joo then teases her and asks if she would die just because Teacher Kim says so, to which she replies cheekily that she’d at least pretend to.
He groans at her response, so she explains honestly that for her, the benefits of success outweigh the cons of failure. And should they fail, she would still be grateful for the opportunity to work alongside Teacher Kim, and to witness him perform such a rare and complicated procedure.
Back at Geodae, with the reality of CEO Shin’s surgery quickly coming to fruition, Dr. Do devises a new strategy to tackle his Teacher Kim problem. He heads down to Doldam after warning Hyun-jung to prepare for the worst should CEO Shin die on the operating table. He then meets with Teacher Kim, and after pretending to be executing Hyun-jung’s instructions, he gives Teacher Kim two options: First, Teacher Kim will have to switch out all the staff members assigned to the surgery with Geodae staff members.
Apparently, the cardiothoracic department at Geodae is well-known, and Dr. Do offers Teacher Kim the best of the best staffing. He then begins criticizing the skills and credentials of our beloved Doldam staff, taking particular issue with Dr. Nam, who we learn is being sued for medical malpractice. A situation, as Dr. Do explains, that resulted in a patient’s death.
Teacher Kim does not even pretend to entertain Dr. Do’s first option and swiftly refuses, so Dr. Do presents his second option: If Teacher Kim will not use Geodae staff, then he will have to perform a live surgery with all of the Geodae staff watching.
Team Doldam meets to discuss Dr. Do’s choices. Nurse Oh rants to Ki-tae about Dr. Do being the worst person alive and how they should reject both Dr. Do’s offers, but she really is just ticked off that he called her a second-rate nurse. Ki-tae tries to reason with her, explaining that the case is really high profile, and a great opportunity to show Teacher Kim’s legendary skills to the world.
Depressed, Dr. Nam suggests that they allow the Geodae staff to take over their roles, since he would feel responsible for any consequences should they all fail. Dr. Nam explains that his main concern is not to be a burden and to do whatever he can to help Teacher Kim out.
With that thought, Dong-joo jumps to his feet and knocks off five minutes from his portion of the surgery. Teacher Kim grins widely, loving the support. Then, he explains to Dr. Nam that he needs people he trusts to be in the surgery room with him, because he can’t waste a minute worrying about some Geodae flunky messing things up. Teacher Kim also butters Nurse Oh up by telling her that she knows she’s the best nurse in the entire country, adding that she should ignore Dr. Do’s nonsense.
In conclusion, he says that he thinks the surgery is only possible because of the team he has, and not a single member is interchangeable. To seal the deal, he calls up Dr. Do then and there and agrees to the live surgery.
Teacher Kim visits CEO Shin to go over the final details before the big day. CEO Shin apologizes for his daughter’s conditions, but mainly, he apologizes for making things difficult for him. Teacher Kim assures him that it makes no difference. After a pause, CEO Shin places his hand over Teacher Kim’s and thanks him, but the surgeon advises him to withhold his gratitude until they are done.
General Manager Joo follows Teacher Kim out into the hall to thank him, and he uses the opportunity to ask her if CEO Shin is hiding anything else from him. She doesn’t deny it, but admits that she has orders not to tell him until after the surgery.
For the rest of the time until the surgery, the team diligently prepares their various duties to ensure that everything goes flawlessly. They practice and practice late into the night, while Teacher Kim continues to think things over again and again—tightening this part, shortening this step, etc.
In the ER, In-bum irritably calls Yeon-hwa over to assist him with some stitching, proceeding to shout at her for every little error. It’s a little awkward because he does it right in front of the patient who looks between them, concerned. Seeking to help, Nurse Assistant Park steps to take over, but Yeon-hwa looks more troubled than ever now that she’s been displaced.
A little later, Dong-joo speaks with In-bum to ask why he isn’t involved in CEO Shin’s surgery anymore. In-bum pretends that he asked to be taken off the roster, but Dong-joo doesn’t really believe him. In-bum maintains his stance and adds that he didn’t have an important position in the surgery, so it’s not like it matters either way.
With a thoughtful look on his face, Dong-joo asks enticingly if In-bum would come back if he was given a new position. He proposes they split Dong-joo’s current responsibilities, which will help shorten the time a little. Dong-joo adds that CEO Shin’s surgery is really rare and will really boost his resume. After going back and forth, In-bum eventually accepts.
With In-bum on board, Dong-joo immediately presents his plan to Teacher Kim, who surprisingly puts up very little resistance to the idea–anything to shorten their time. Outside the door, In-bum watches Teacher Kim and Dong-joo talking, then smiles widely to himself. His reaction confuses him so much that he scurries away, flustered. Oh, you’re so precious.
Elsewhere, in a dimly lit bar, Dr. Do meets with a reporter to discuss Teacher Kim’s “comeback.” Dr. Do spins his fiction, wondering aloud how the world can continue to reward such an unethical person. He then requests that the reporter help make things right by covering the surgery.
At the end of a long day, Dong-joo catches Seo-jung and In-bum walking out of Doldam. He stops them to ask why they are going home together, and is shocked to learn that they live under the same roof in the staff dorms. He pettily complains about not being notified earlier, and deciding the arrangement is simply unacceptable, he hurries off to grab his things to go with them.
As they wait for Dong-joo, Nurse Oh and Ki-tae come out, and the women make plans to eat together. In-bum excuses himself after remembering he still has some unfinished business to attend to, and soon, the four of them find themselves at Dr. Nam’s restaurant for some ramyun.
With Dr. Nam still within earshot, Dong-joo obtusely brings up Dr. Nam’s malpractice suit and asks to know more about it, making everyone (and me) visibly uncomfortable. Nurse Oh promises to tell him on another day, and Dong-joo relents. Suddenly, the conversation switches over to Seo-jung and Dong-joo’s relationship status.
With bated breath, Dong-joo waits to hear Seo-jung’s answer when they are asked to define the relationship, but is disappointed when she denies that they are anything more than colleagues. She chalks up their close relationship to the fact that they worked together at Geodae years ago, and Dong-joo pouts at her reply.
Then, out of nowhere, Dong-joo tells Seo-jung that he loves her, stunning everyone. He proceeds to dish out love declarations for each person in the room, grossing everyone out. He pretends to be professing his love for his Doldam family and commitment to their bond.
Through gritted teeth, Seo-jung asks him what he’s doing, and he sweetly defends his small revenge by promising that there’s more to come, and two can play that game. He then continues to whisper “I love you” several more times (when he thinks no one is watching), and she continues to try and shush him.
Late at night, In-bum waits outside for Teacher Kim to head home. He begins clarifying his intentions to Teacher Kim and promises that he isn’t participating in the surgery because of his father, but purely because he wants to help. Teacher Kim threatens to chop off his hands if he makes any mistakes, but he’s clearly already accepted him back.
Teacher Kim then leaves In-bum to survey the empty surgery room. The camera then pans over to the dry erase board, and at the very bottom we see that Teacher Kim has managed to bring down the overall surgery time to six hours and twenty minutes.
The next morning, Dr. Do arrives with his team of Geodae observers, and immediately heads to see the star of the show: CEO Shin. Dr. Do offers his support to the elder, and as they wheel CEO Shin out of the room, Dr. Do also extends Teacher Kim his best wishes, which Teacher Kim immediately questions as he wonders what outcome Dr. Do is rooting for. Inscrutable as ever, Dr. Do does not respond.
In the ER, Nurse Oh readies the ER team and remaining staff for another day. She warns everyone that no surgeons will be available until after Dong-joo and In-bum finish switching out the battery and controller, so until then, they will have to hang on.
A patient comes in the moment the doors open: A man complains of abdominal pain, which is compounded by some recurrent heartburn he’s had for a couple of months, as well as some nausea. Yeon-hwa examines him, and worries that he may have ulcer perforation.
In the surgery room, CEO Shin’s procedure begins. Dong-joo and In-bum wait just outside the OR until it is their turn, while Teacher Kim enters first. He begins by opening CEO Shin’s chest cavity as Dr. Do and the flock of Geodae doctors watch outside on a big screen.
At first, things seem to be going more or less as planned (other than a few remarks from Teacher Kim about the severity and difficulty of CEO Shin’s condition). Seo-jung begins her cannulation, but almost immediately, she hits an artery and blood begins squirting out. She’s shaken, and begins to chant “I’m sorry” over and over again, until Teacher Kim tells her calmly to shake it off and focus. With tears in her eyes, she manages to regain control of her nerves, and they continue.
Outside the door, In-bum estimates that Seo-jung’s misstep has cost them around ten to twelve extra minutes of time.
At that moment, Yeon-hwa rushes in to tell the two young surgeons about the patient with ulcer perforation who will need immediate surgery. Dong-joo suddenly gets a crazy idea to quickly do the ulcer perforation surgery together with In-bum, then finish up in time to help with CEO Shin’s surgery. Inside the OR, Teacher Kim looks up toward Dong-joo and In-bum, as if sensing something has gone wrong.
Who would’ve guessed that Teacher Kim, Mr. Grumpypants himself, could be so darn cute? You could practically see him wagging his tail when Seo-jung and Dong-joo joined his side of crazy. It seems that Teacher Kim finally feels like he’s found his place in the world and doesn’t seem so alone anymore. Before, Teacher Kim loved being at Doldam, but he was basically living in the shadows in order not to draw attention to himself. Now that everything is out in the open, it seems like he’s positively tickled by the idea that he has so many people he can trust and rely on.
I’m glad we’re finally moving forward with CEO Shin’s surgery, because I don’t know that I could handle another episode of delays. I’m almost wondering if it would be narratively more successful for CEO Shin to actually die on the operating table. Sure, it would be a huge blow to everyone at Doldam, but a successful surgery would weaken Dr. Do a little too much, and since CEO Shin’s been at Doldam, he’s somewhat lost his bite. Unlike Dr. Do, Hyun-jung isn’t on the war path and doesn’t really seem like she’s putting much energy into taking down Teacher Kim, since she isn’t blinded by a personal vendetta. In-between moments, it almost seems like she’s just tired and worried about her father.
Which I think makes sense given the character’s circumstance, but I have to admit that I’m a little disappointed that she isn’t proving to be much of a threat to Teacher Kim or Doldam at large. That’s why I wonder if having CEO Shin die might propel her into action and give us some explosive dramatic showdowns.
When Dr. Do proposed an entire surgical team swap out, it never really seemed like a real option, even though it makes a lot of sense in the framework of the setup. It makes me kind of wish that the show introduced someone new who could be a real contender in terms of surgical skill to threaten Teacher Kim in his realm of expertise (even just a little) in order to make our good guys sweat. Someone who could play at Teacher Kim’s level and mess things up very subtly in the OR so that only Teacher Kim could notice. But it looks like there’s enough trouble brewing in CEO Shin’s surgery, so I’m sure we can look forward to a lot of heart-stopping moments.
There were enough cute moments in this episode to keep me occupied, but this episode did feel like it was spinning its wheels. Not just in terms of CEO Shin’s will-they-or-won’t-they surgery question, but also in the relationships. Seo-jung refusing to acknowledge her relationship with Dong-joo, Dr. Do at it again, and even Yeon-hwa and Nurse Assistant Park were circling the same grounds, both being broody and sad and bumming me out. The only person who really had a breakthrough today was In-bum. I thought it was sweet that he’s slowly finding himself falling in love with Doldam and its people. It’s like he reached that point emotionally already, and is only now figuring it out.
In terms to storytelling, I think his character arc suffered slightly given the episode pre-emption. I see how this episode and the one before paired together and helped tell his story with a little more tension and payoff. But overall, I wish we went a little deeper into his life and thoughts to go beyond the obvious, since it all seemed to resolve itself quite easily. Alas, that did not occur.
Lastly, I am interested to know where Yeon-hwa’s story is going, especially with her calling the surgeons for the ulcer perforation surgery. I wonder if, based on In-bum complaints about her judgement in this episode, she misdiagnosed the patient with ulcer perforation, which could lead to a series of unnecessary risks taken by In-bum and Dong-joo and further jeopardize CEO Shin’s surgery. I hope her character gets a little more integrated into the main staff and not just through Nurse Assistant Park—because right now, she just seems outside the action, and that makes me sad. She’ll need to regain confidence in herself and her abilities, but I hope the team will be there for her until then.
- Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim: Episode 15
- Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim: Episode 14
- Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim: Episode 13
- Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim in talks for extension
- Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim: Episode 12
- Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim: Episode 11
- Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim: Episode 10
- Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim: Episode 9
- Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim: Episode 8
- Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim: Episode 7
- Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim: Episode 6
- Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim: Episode 5
- Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim: Episode 4
- Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim: Episode 3
- Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim: Episode 2
- Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim: Episode 1