Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim: Episode 11
Each week, I am increasingly more impressed by Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim’s ability to make genuinely engaging and creative medical stories to keep our Doldam team occupied around the clock. Sometimes, I think the show has a tendency to be subversive just for the sake of being subversive, but in this episode, its surprises are handled with grace, warmth, and amusement.
CHAPTER 11: “Psychological Entropy”
Teacher Kim catches Seo-jung in his office with his old student’s ID in hand shortly before he snatches it from her and kicks her out. She tries to explain herself, but before she is given the chance to, Teacher Kim slams the door in her face.
Meanwhile, Dr. Do continues to spin his web around a rather clear-eyed Dong-joo. Dr. Do asks Dong-joo if he thinks Teacher Kim is a good person—he frames the question as a kind of temperature check on Dong-joo’s willingness to be courted to his side. Dong-joo admits to being a bit taken aback by Dr. Do’s sudden attitude shift toward him, and Dr. Do plays off his previous dismissal of the younger surgeon as a kind of test to evaluate Dong-joo’s potential.
Dong-joo can’t help but think back to something Teacher Kim said several episodes ago: Teacher Kim declared to Dong-joo that at his age, he’s able to discern who is fake, and who has potential. The contrast makes Dong-joo smile, and with renewed confidence, he asks Dr. Do if his offer means that the hospital director has concluded that he has the necessary potential.
Dr. Do doesn’t pull any punches as he immediately begins throwing out large numbers and big promises to Dong-joo. In return, Dr. Do wants Dong-joo to ensure that Teacher Kim fails in CEO Shin’s surgery. Dong-joo is confused by the request, so Dr. Do encourages him to use his imagination.
Back at Doldam, Nurse Oh asks Seo-jung what she was doing in Teacher Kim’s office. Seo-jung defends herself by stating that she saw Ki-tae going through Teacher Kim’s trash. Nurse Oh narrows her eyes at the information, but Seo-jung is too busy bemoaning that fact that she’s now back on Teacher Kim’s bad side to notice.
Seo-jung hypothesizes that Teacher Kim’s anger is related to the student whose ID she found, and she asks Nurse Oh if she knows anything about the girl. After a slight pause, Nurse Oh answers that she doesn’t. Then, Seo-jung suddenly remembers that In-soo Sunbae was a student at Geodae around the same year listed on the ID, and after prodding him a little, she is stunned to learn that the student had a liver abscess and died during the surgery to treat it.
Dr. Do offers Dong-joo the chance to become a legend just like Teacher Kim, because, as he explains, the stories of Bu Yong-joo’s legendary skills were all manufactured by Dr. Do as a useful marketing ploy.
In voiceover, Dong-joo narrates as the scene plays:
“In an age in which the truth is concealed. In an age in which truth submits to power and runs amok. Baseless rumors and a plethora of tales have been piled up while the truth has been forced to take a back seat. And it’s become hard to tell what is real and what is fake. Such is the world we live in.”
Seo-jung and In-soo begin lining up the facts that they know, and then freak each other out at the very real possibility that Teacher Kim could have led the operation that resulted in the student’s death. Especially because, according to In-soo, Teacher Kim was kicked out of Geodae around that same time. At that very moment, Teacher Kim comes by to ask about a patient, startling the younger doctors.
Dong-joo returns to Doldam to find Dr. Song waiting for him. He asks Dong-joo about his meeting with Dr. Do, and Dong-joo divulges the details of his offer, prompting a nearby Ki-tae to swoop in and ask what Dong-joo decided. When Dong-joo plays coy with his answer, Ki-tae takes it to mean that Dong-joo will likely accept, and Dong-joo doesn’t deny it.
In the ER, Seo-jung tiptoes around Teacher Kim and tries to broach the subject of why she was in his office earlier, but he shuts her down before she can begin. The air remains awkward between them until Ki-tae barges into announce that Dr. Do is courting Dong-joo back to Geodae. Ki-tae claims that should Dong-joo leave, it would mean Doldam would be at risk of shutting down, which confuses Seo-jung. Huh? Really?
In the staff office, Dong-joo is awakened from his nap by the loud roar of a vacuum. He shouts at In-bum to knock it off, but thankfully, Seo-jung enters the room before their conversation can escalate into a fight. She immediately questions Dong-joo about his lucrative offer. Dong-joo explains that he’s still mulling it over—but, like Ki-tae, Seo-jung interprets his hesitation to mean that he will ultimately accept Dr. Do’s proposition.
She warns Dong-joo that Dr. Do’s offer comes with some serious strings attached, and he will want something in exchange for every dime he gives. She adds that it will be a slippery slope for Dong-joo as he tries to keep Dr. Do happy and justify his high salary, when he doesn’t have the experience to deserve that much money. Eventually, she cautions, he’ll end up compromising his beliefs in order to maintain what he has.
Dong-joo thinks she being overly dramatic—he won’t sacrifice his morals for money. Seo-jung then wisely tells him, “Nothing in life is free. That’s based on my experience, anyway.” That statement causes In-bum to look at her sideways as Dong-joo leaves the room.
In-bum asks why Seo-jung is so concerned about Dong-joo making the right decision, and she tells him that it’s because Dong-joo might lose everything over one tempting offer. Her answer intrigues him, so In-bum abruptly asks if it’s because she likes Dong-joo so much.
She’s flustered by the observation and pretends not to know what he’s talking about, so In-bum clarifies that he assumed they were dating. She acts like the concept is utterly ridiculous to her, but stutters through her denial. Luckily, a phone call from Director Yeo saves her from any more embarrassment.
In the ER, Dong-joo arrives in time to tend to a patient with a stomachache. Accompanying the patient is the same man whose knee Teacher Kim stitched up in Episode 8—his name is YONG-GYUN. He requests that Teacher Kim be the one to treat his friend, but Dong-joo informs him that he’s the only one available at the moment.
The patient keeps complaining of severe stomach pains, and when Dong-joo lifts up his shirt, he’s shocked to see several large bruise marks across the man’s abdomen. Dong-joo pointedly asks Yong-gyun if he beat up his friend, but the young man adamantly denies it.
Dong-joo conducts a trauma test and sees some fluid building up in the patient’s abdomen, so he orders a CT scan and some pain medicine in the meantime. After glaring at Yong-gyun, Dong-joo voices his suspicions about Yong-gyun to Nurse Oh, and suggests they try to keep the two boys apart until they get the full story.
Elsewhere, Seo-jung learns from Director Yeo that the drunk driver who caused the massive car accident has filed a lawsuit against her. The driver’s attorney informs Seo-jung that it is illegal to draw blood without consent, and doesn’t buy her story that she received verbal consent from the patient on-site.
Annoyed, Seo-jung heads over to confront the driver in the patient’s ward, demanding to know why he’s lying about giving her his consent. He avoids answering long enough for his extravagantly dressed mother to show up and fight his battles for him. She tells Seo-jung to talk with their attorney if she has an issue, then coos over her son as she feeds him hangover soup.
Appalled by their nonchalance, Seo-jung tells the pair that people died from her son’s recklessness, and two people even lost their legs. The mother dismissively says that their attorney and insurance will take care of settlement with the victims, so Seo-jung can stop with her sanctimonious act. The mother adds that sometimes, young people get drunk and drive.
It’s a losing battle for Seo-jung, and eventually, she has to give up trying to make them feel remorseful. Then to top it off, the son disturbingly still tries to flirt with Seo-jung when his mother steps out of the room. Bleh.
In the ER, Teacher Kim looks over the CT scan for the patient with the stomach pain, and diagnoses him with pan-peritonitis, which occurs when an infection develops in the peritoneum from perforation. And in this patient’s case, it’s the result of severe trauma to the abdomen. Teacher Kim orders an emergency surgery, and Dong-joo volunteers for it right away, with In-bum as his assistant.
Meekly, Dong-joo then asks Teacher Kim if he’s heard about Dr. Do’s offer, and if so, whether he has anything to say about it. Teacher Kim dryly replies that he doesn’t, then adds that Doldam could never offer him the same kind of salary, so Dong-joo should make his own choice or be haunted by what-ifs for the rest of his life.
Nurse Oh then presses to know why Teacher Kim didn’t try to convince Dong-joo to stay, since their hospital does need him. She believes that Dong-joo was waiting to hear Teacher Kim say those words to him.
Teacher Kim merely answers back that if he had told Dong-joo to stay at Doldam, then Dong-joo wouldn’t have been happy. He explains that Dong-joo needs to find his own reason to stay at Doldam. Nurse Oh counters that Dong-joo respects Teacher Kim, but he argues that Dong-joo just wants to learn surgical skills from him. Frustrated, Nurse Oh calls Teacher Kim a twisted person before stomping out.
She continues to fume out in the hall, and hilariously runs into Seo-jung, who is doing the exact same thing following her altercation with the unrepentant mother-son duo. They complain about their respective scenarios, but it’s clear that neither is really listening to the other. Eventually, the get on the same page and take turns expressing their outrage at the other’s situation.
They cool down for a second when two policemen arrive in search of a military deserter who they suspect is at Doldam. They begin searching the grounds, and Yong-gyun spots them before they reach his friend. He manages to carry him out of the ER in time to escape capture.
Nurse Assistant Park comes by moments later to prep the patient for his surgery, but is alarmed to see that he is not there. The policemen catch wind of the news of the missing patient, and after looking at a picture, Nurse Assistant Park confirms it is the same man they are looking for. Seo-jung reports the situation to Dong-joo, who expresses concern that the patient will be in serious danger should he fail to receive his surgery soon.
The two young men don’t make it very far, and soon the patient collapses on the ground. Dr. Nam happens upon them and manages to talk some sense into Yong-gyun, then eventually brings the patient back to Doldam, where the team is waiting for them.
Just as the team prepares to roll the patient into the OR, one of the policemen reads the patient his rights. (Are you serious, dude?) Dong-joo tries to tell him off for trying to arrest an unconscious patient, but the policeman doesn’t budge.
When Teacher Kim shows up to ask what the holdup is, the policeman argues that he will consider it obstruction of justice if the staff continues to get in their way. Teacher Kim shoots back with his own governing laws and says that the policeman’s actions could be interpreted as a “prevention of medical care.” The policeman finally backs off, and Teacher Kim shouts at Dong-joo to get going. Afterward, Seo-jung quietly tells Yong-gyun to tell his friend’s parents to get to the hospital right away.
In the OR, Dong-joo commences the operation, and Nurse Assistant Park records the procedure with a camera under Teacher Kim’s instruction. Outside, the policemen talk on their phones frantically as Seo-jung and Ki-tae watch on. Ki-tae tells Seo-jung that it becomes a huge issue whenever the media learns about any sort of violence occurring within the military, and several people are often forced to resign. But Ki-tae is strangely evasive when Seo-jung asks what branch of the military he served in.
Dr. Song calls Seo-jung over for a chat, and she is surprised to see the mother of the drunk driver and their attorney. Dr. Song asks Seo-jung if she went into the patient’s room and threatened his safety, scolding her for demanding the mother and son show penitence for the son’s actions.
When Dr. Song orders Seo-jung to apologize to the mother, Seo-jung refuses and admits that while she probably should not have yelled at the patient, she stands by what she said. Seo-jung adds that the woman’s son and his friend have no injuries and can leave the hospital at any time, but they refuse to go because they don’t want to be investigated by the police. With that, she takes her leave.
Dr. Song catches up with Seo-jung in the hallway to level with her, asking her to consider how bad she is making him look. He informs her that the mother is the wife of a certain assemblyman and has friends in high places. He encourages Seo-jung to swallow her pride a little, make a simple apology, and put the issue to rest. Dr. Song then promises to put in a word to try to get them to dismiss their lawsuit, but Seo-jung tells him to just sue her instead.
Unable to get Seo-jung to change her mind, Dr. Song pretends to yell at a retreating Seo-jung as he demands that she submit an apology letter loud enough for the influential mother to hear. Oh, this is so sad.
Motivated into action, Seo-jung gathers up the drunk driver in a wheelchair and steers him to the ICU, so that he can see the damage he’s done and the people he’s hurt. She asks him if he thinks money will undo the pain he’s caused them, adding, “Money is your skill, and your rich mother is your credentials. That’s fine. That’s fine and all, but still. You should have the basic idea of what it means to have a conscience.” The drunken driver begins tearing up at her words, his guilt hitting him at last.
At that moment, his mother marches up to Seo-jung and slaps her hard across the cheek. Seo-jung is stunned by the attack and wonders how the woman can be so shameless, and have so little remorse. She asks, “When did the world become a place where people like you can act so high and mighty?” Then she promises to sue the mother for hitting her, adding that she’ll refuse any attempts to settle out of court.
In the OR, the surgical staff are horrified to see the extent to which the patient was beaten and the resulting wounds. It isn’t hard for them to understand why the young man decided to run from the military. Soon after, Ki-tae comes by to retrieve Teacher Kim in order to enlist his help defending Seo-jung against the driver’s mother.
In Director Yeo’s room, Dr. Song continues with his fake outrage on the mother’s behalf. The mother then announces that she will make Seo-jung apologize on her hands and knees. Seo-jung scoffs, but in a surprising move, Teacher Kim tells Seo-jung to apologize, adding that a forty-five-degree angled bow should be enough to call it even. But before that can happen, he says, the mother must apologize for hitting Seo-jung.
The mother thinks Teacher Kim is pulling her leg, so Teacher Kim eyes her peculiarly and confirms that he is, in fact, very serious. This pushes the mother over the edge, and she threatens to take the issue to court. Teacher Kim accepts her decision, but warns that he plays really dirty. He adds, “Once I go crazy, I’m unstoppable, and I don’t quit until it’s over.” He informs her that should she persist, it will likely result in her humiliation.
The mother asks if Teacher Kim is threatening her, and he points out that she was the one to raise her hand first. Finally, the Teacher Kim we know and love emerges to put the mother in her place, brutally chastising her for coming into their hospital and bullying its doctors after the mess her son caused. He flaunts the possibility of releasing the story of their situation to the media, then pressures her again to apologize first.
After the dust settles, Seo-jung asks Teacher Kim if she can interpret his actions to mean that she is finally one of his disciples. He rejects her immediately and says that he doesn’t raise disciples, but then she vows to become one anyway. We then see the short exchange from Teacher Kim’s perspective, and how Seo-jung’s words remind Teacher Kim of his old departed student. He tells Seo-jung to mind her temper in front of her patients because they are still doctors, reminding her that the drunk driver is still her patient.
Speak of the devil, they come across the driver staring into the ICU with a conflicted look on his face. After a moment of deliberation, he enters and apologizes to all the patients’ families inside. He then bows his head, prompting tears all around. Outside, Seo-jung and Teacher Kim smile warmly as they watch the moving moment.
Back in the OR, the surgery on the deserter patient concludes, but unfortunately, there isn’t any room in the ICU for him to continue with his treatment. Instead, the staff decides to send him the patient to the hybrid room until a bed opens up. Post-surgery, the prognosis doesn’t look good, and Dong-joo diagnoses him with severe acidosis. Moreover, the patient’s guardians have not yet arrived.
Dong-joo briefs the policemen on the critical situation, explaining that while their surgery was successful, he has septic shock and severe inflammation in his abdomen. Dong-joo adds that if the patient’s blood pressure continues to fall, his organs will fail and he will eventually die, which is a prospect that has the policeman biting back a smile.
Dong-joo presses the policeman on the cause of the patient’s injuries, and states that he was probably severely beaten up by at least two people to have sustained the injuries he has. The policemen asks if Dong-joo is implying that the patient is a victim of group bullying in the military. Dong-joo doesn’t take the bait, and answers that he’s asking about the cause of the patient’s injuries.
After receiving a call, Dr. Do orders Dr. Song to look into the situation with the deserter and report back to him. Upon accepting the mission, Dr. Song immediately speaks with Dong-joo, who tells him everything he needs to know. Suddenly, the deserter falls into cardiac arrest, and the team gathers to resuscitate him.
Dr. Song reports back to Dr. Do with the case details, who then tells Dr. Song that he is on his way to Doldam. In the hallway, we overhear one of the policemen talking on the phone as he promises to write the cause of death on the death certificate as: “Soldier on active duty.” Teacher Kim overhears the man talking and asks to know who is dead, but the policeman just plays dumb.
In the hybrid room, Dong-joo manages to get back a pulse, but the patient’s vitals are still worsening, and he predicts a high chance that the patient will become brain-dead if his condition continues to deteriorate. Teacher Kim sees the suffering Young-gyun outside and assures him that his friend is in good hands. He then asks Yong-gyun to tell him why his friend deserted the military.
Dr. Do arrives to meet with Dong-joo to ask for a favor. As the acting surgeon, Dr. Do asks Dong-joo to sign a death certificate stating that the patient died in active duty. Teacher Kim crashes Dong-joo’s meeting with Dr. Do, and the sight he sees is rather damning. From the outside, it looks like Dong-joo and Dr. Do have sealed their deal, and when Dong-joo sees Teacher Kim, he looks back at him guiltily while crumpling the certificate in his hand.
As the scene plays out, Teacher Kim thinks back to CEO Shin’s warning of how Dr. Do would attack him. CEO Shin had warned him, “Dr. Do won’t give up. He’ll start with whatever you consider important and take them one by one. So, how are you planning to protect them?”
Do I think that Dong-joo decided to implicate himself with Dr. Do and sign the falsified death certificate? No, not really. However, I do think that the show is successful at using these kind of moments to broaden the moral scope of the issue at hand, making us as viewers think a little deeper about the struggles doctors face every day. It would simply go against the development of Dong-joo’s character to have him slide backward in this way. Taking that raise, however, seemed like a more plausible reason for Dong-joo to jump ship, even though I still think it is highly unlikely at this point.
Despite being a bit outrageous at points, I’m really starting to like that way that Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim is delving into the complicated moral dilemmas that occur in the healthcare profession. Objectively speaking, if you are spending ninety percent of your life at the hospital as a doctor, wouldn’t you want to make a little bit more money and earn some extra prestige? It’s something I can understand, and I appreciate that Teacher Kim also recognizes that as well. He chooses not to pressure Dong-joo with his personal way of thinking and invites Dong-joo to make the choice that best befits his circumstance. And he does it without any kind of condescension, because Teacher Kim understands that Dong-joo is young and may not always be content at Doldam the way he is.
Back to the whole death certificate issue, I know there’s going to be a whole lot more to it, but when I was listening to Dr. Do’s plan I kept thinking how short-sighted he sounded. I couldn’t really understand how the plan would hold water. I mean, Dong-joo wasn’t the only one the ER or OR, so there are many witnesses that can testify to the state the deserter was in. Wasn’t Nurse Assistant Park videotaping everything? Couldn’t they theoretically get another surgeon to testify that the injuries were a result of trauma in a courtroom once they sued the military for the bullying? There’s a lot of holes here that I’m hoping will be stitched up in the next episode.
It’s really interesting to me that Dr. Do credits himself as the originator of Teacher Kim’s myth. I find it to be an intelligent twist, and an important examination of how myths are created. Because until Dr. Do took credit for it, I never once questioned how Teacher Kim’s fame was created. I don’t doubt that Teacher Kim holds up against his own mythos, but I liked that the issue was framed in this way.
On another note, when Seo-jung said that she understood what the cost of Dr. Do’s help really is, it gave birth to so many more questions. I really want to know what she meant. Also, I enjoy that Seo-jung now freely trash talks Dr. Do in front of his own son, and In-bum just kind of rolls with it like it isn’t that surprising. In fact, I’m kind of shocked by how easily In-bum became a part of the Doldam team. We saw him kind of struggle with it for a second when everyone was rushing out to meet the deserter in the ER, but I like how there’s almost no angst there because everyone is really busy and an extra (highly capable) pair of hands is helpful. I’m sure we’ll explore his allegiance in the coming episodes, but I like that for now, everyone is pretty cool about everything. Those odd Geodae nurses basically dropped off the face of the Earth, but I’m actually glad they did.
The drunk driver storyline was really satisfying in this episode, mainly because the mother was so delicious to hate. It was so fun to watch Teacher Kim put her in her place, and it was done in his usual unconventional way, which added to the entertainment. The thing that I really like about Teacher Kim’s characterization is that he is super critical and abrasive with our Doldam doctors, but to outsiders, he has a great set of manners (at least initially), even if the person is wholly undeserving of it. It was a great episode with some interesting ideas thrown into the mix, and overall I’m just happy to be at Doldam.
- 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