Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim: Episode 12
This may be my favorite episode yet, and that’s including the steamy first episode. Dong-joo’s quandary puts him between a rock and a hard place as he struggles to make the right decision for both himself and his patient. But it’s his loving mother and her upstanding moral guidance that really shine this episode — for me, his devotion toward her redeems many of the unlikable flaws of his personality, and makes me love him more as a character.
CHAPTER 12: “Boiling Point”
Dong-joo reviews the document that Dr. Do handed him: It’s the death certificate of the deserter soldier stating that he died as a natural result of sickness (rather than from trauma) with Dong-joo’s name at the bottom as the signing physician. Dr. Do tells Dong-joo that he just has to initial his name. Dong-joo is taken aback, considering that the patient hasn’t even died yet. Dr. Song urges him to sign, saying it’s only a matter of time.
The insidious policeman, who had questioned Dong-joo about the deserter, pushes a manila folder in front of him, stating that it’s an official record from a military hospital showing the patient’s long history struggling with a medical condition. Dong-joo firmly declares that the patient’s injuries were not due to a chronic illness, but a physical trauma.
Dr. Do cuts in, telling Dong-joo to think about the ramifications of his actions – if he enters in the factual information, the case could become a national news story about bullying assault within the military, which would not be good for anyone.
Subtly threatening him, Dr. Do adds that Dong-joo could even get fired as a result. With incredulity, Dong-joo asks if Dr. Do expects him to lie on the death certificate. Dr. Do replies that he’s just nudging Dong-joo to make the wise decision, and that sometimes letting things slide is better than revealing the truth.
Disgusted, Dong-joo stands up to leave, but Dr. Do goads him to reconsider as he places the death certificate back in Dong-joo’s hands. That’s the scene Teacher Kim finds when he opens the door, but Dong-joo just brushes past him on his way out.
The parents of the deserter patient, PARK JOO-HYUK, arrive at the hospital and see him strapped to multiple machines. They start crying over his body when he goes into cardiac arrest for the second time. Dong-joo is called immediately, and Seo-jung starts CPR, but the patient still remains unresponsive.
Dong-joo, who was contemplating his distasteful meeting with Dr. Do, throws away the false death certificate in the break room trash can and rushes to the ER. Teacher Kim comes in and retrieves the document, and when he sees it, his expression turns to fury.
In the ER, Dong-joo defibrillates the patient in-between several rounds of CPR, desperately imploring him to live. But after several minutes with no sign of recovery, Nurse Oh gently prods Dong-joo to call the time of death.
To the mourning parents, the policeman acts sorrowful as he tells them that the military will take care of all the expenses related to the funeral. Joo-hyuk’s father bows his head and conveys his thanks and apologies for his considerate offer, even though his son was a deserter.
Unable to see this horrible farce play out any longer, Joo-hyuk’s friend, Yong-gyun, announces that his friend was murdered. He elaborates that almost every day, three superior military officers would beat Joo-hyuk on a whim, and that was why he deserted the army.
The policeman loses his calm and tells him not to say unproven things, but a seed of doubt has already been planted in the minds of Joo-hyuk’s parents. Yong-gyun claims that he overheard the conversation between the policeman and Dong-joo, who concurred that his injuries were due to trauma.
Dr. Song attempts to persuade Dong-joo that the best course of action, now that the soldier is dead, is to write off his death like Dr. Do said. Dong-joo looks conflicted by his choices, and Dr. Song makes an appealing argument: If Dong-joo concedes this one time, his golden future is guaranteed with Dr. Do.
Seo-jung comes in with Joo-hyuk’s parents, who plead for Dong-joo to provide evidence of their son’s assault. Joo-hyuk’s mute mother signs with frenzied motions, and his father translates to Dong-joo: “How did our son, who was healthy two months ago, become so ill? Please tell us what you know.” When Dr. Song prompts him, Dong-joo replies that he can’t give them an answer because there are still some loose ends to investigate.
The parents are dejected, while Dr. Song and the policeman look on approvingly. Completely baffled, Seo-jung demands answers from Dong-joo, but his mind is far away as he glances at the keys to the car that Dr. Do bought him. On his way out, he sees his new SUV again, but chooses to walk to his destination instead. Behind a pillar, a woman with a white barrette of mourning in her hair looks at his retreating form.
Dong-joo arrives at Dr. Nam’s batcave/restaurant, where Teacher Kim is already having a drink. Teacher Kim buys Dong-joo a drink, and somehow this turns into an all-out drinking battle. After their eighth bottle of soju, Dong-joo asks Teacher Kim when he recognized Dong-joo as the kid who made a ruckus at Geodae Hospital all those years ago.
Without replying, Teacher Kim counters with another question: Why did Dong-joo become a doctor? Dong-joo says he became one because Teacher Kim once told him that the best revenge is to win against his enemies, and to rise above them in skill.
Dong-joo continues, saying that he wanted to show the world that he’s a better, different type of person than his enemies. Teacher Kim interjects that Dong-joo’s choices don’t seem too different from what his enemies did to him.
Dong-joo explains that he only did those things because he needed to rise up, so that he could be on the same level as those he wanted to defeat. Teacher Kim asks whether Dong-joo believes that he will achieve true success by throwing away his conscience and pride, and by kowtowing to corrupt people like Dr. Do.
Still convinced that he has to bow to the ways of the world to achieve success, Dong-joo demands to know how he can afford to keep his pride and conscience without the power to back it up. Dong-joo asks if Teacher Kim knows how hurt and scarred one can become because one has nothing. Teacher Kim goes to the heart of the issue, and tells Dong-joo that in his eyes, it’s not Dong-joo’s conscience, but rather his ambition that has been hurt.
He reminds Dong-joo that although he has a dilemma, he should remember that he is a surgeon – someone who wields a person’s life in his hands – and that he should keep the burden of that responsibility in mind when he makes his decision. Teacher Kim then hands over the memory stick containing camera footage of Joo-hyuk’s surgery to Dong-joo and tells him to take care of it.
Meanwhile, Dong-joo’s mother has come down from Seoul to see him at Doldam Hospital. She takes a taxi to the hospital when Dong-joo won’t answer her calls, since he’s distressed and drinking with Teacher Kim. She comes to the front desk at Doldam where Ki-tae is manning the counter, and he starts to do his ridiculous “Window 1, Window 3” transition until she asks for Dong-joo.
Ki-tae takes her luggage and heads towards the doctors’ rooms, where they meet Seo-jung and In-bum in the hallway. Ki-tae asks where Seo-jung and In-bum are headed, and Seo-jung complains that they have been called by Dr. Nam to retrieve a very drunk Dong-joo. Although Ki-tae tries to interrupt, Seo-jung proceeds to rant about how much of an inconvenience Dong-joo is while In-bum nods in agreement with her sentiments.
When Ki-tae finally gets a word in, he introduces Dong-joo’s mother to them. Realizing that they’ve made a big faux pas, both Seo-jung and In-bum’s hands start to fold together in a respectful position. Suddenly changing her tone, Seo-jung makes a 90-degree bow to Dong-joo’s mother, who smiles in reply. Seeing her rapid attitude turnaround, In-bum stifles a giggle.
In the break room, Dong-joo’s mother and Seo-jung wait for Dong-joo to arrive, and Seo-jung stays in her hands-clasped, respectful pose while Dong-joo’s mother asks her about Dong-joo. When responding to her questions, Seo-jung accidentally refers to Dong-joo several times informally as “that rascal,” after which she winces and corrects herself, calling him the more respectful “Dr. Kang.” Detecting her jittery demeanor, Dong-joo’s mother tells Seo-jung to relax.
Yelling that he wants to go for another round at the karaoke place, Dong-joo crashes into the break room with Dr. Nam and In-bum holding him up. Seo-jung tries to shake him back to his senses, but upon seeing her, Dong-joo captures her in a drunken bear hug and calls her “My Pretty Seo-jung,” without any honorifics. Seo-jung attempts to pull him off her, but Dong-joo just holds her closer.
When he finally pulls back, he stops for a moment before grabbing her face in his hands. Right in front of his mother, he declares: “I really really like you, Sunbae.” Dr. Nam and In-bum both cringe at hearing his awkward confession, but drunk Dong-joo doesn’t care, and even repeats himself.
He goes in for a kiss, but Seo-jung kicks him down. He falls to the floor in an unconscious slump, and Seo-jung fears that she’s done some lasting damage. She shakes him frantically, but he starts making snoring noises and taking off his clothes – he’s just asleep.
On her way out, Seo-jung encounters Nurse Oh, who asks what’s wrong when she sees Seo-jung’s expression. Seo-jung replies in full deadpan as she tells Nurse Oh that she wants to disappear from the face of the earth. Dr. Nam, Ki-tae, and In-bum, who witnessed the entire scene, snigger knowingly behind her.
After putting him in bed, Dong-joo’s mother softly asks her son whether he likes Seo-jung. Half-asleep, Dong-joo replies in the affirmative. Dong-joo even holds his blanket closer and smiles while saying so, eyes still closed. Chuckling to herself, Dong-joo’s mother keeps vigil over him.
The next morning, Teacher Kim sees a red poster of Dong-joo on the front doors when he arrives at the hospital. Ki-tae, who has also just arrived at work, sees a hallway full of the same posters that read: “Kang Dong-joo is not a doctor. He is a murderer.” The whole hospital has been plastered with them, from the nurses’ station to all the bathrooms. An alarmed Ki-tae, Nurse Oh, and Teacher Kim assemble in Director Yeo’s office to deliberate on the matter.
Dong-joo’s mother has already discovered the posters attached near the break room, and rips several down to throw away. Dong-joo wakes with a killer hangover, wondering when his mother arrived. She fusses over him while pretending nonchalance, but he finds the posters that she threw away in the trash can.
Seo-jung confronts the young woman with a white barrette currently putting up the posters of Dong-joo. The woman responds that even if she is jailed, she’ll come back until Dong-joo is expelled from the hospital. That’s when Dong-joo appears to ask her who she is and why she’s putting up these posters.
She reveals that she’s the guardian of the Geodae patient that he rescheduled in order to make time for the VIP surgery that got him sent down to Doldam Hospital. She says that after Dong-joo rescheduled, her father was assigned a different attending physician. His surgery was pushed back even further, and he died due to acute sepsis while waiting for the operation.
She badgers Dong-joo for an explanation, asking whether he made his decision because the other patient was a VIP, while her father was someone without money or power. She screams that as a doctor, he should not have discriminated. Her accusation reminds him of his own adolescent anger-filled tirade when his own father died.
Finally, she adds that she can never forgive him, and that she will do whatever it takes to get his medical license revoked. Around the corner, Dong-joo’s mother has overheard everything, and her heart goes out to the young woman.
In Director Yeo’s office, Teacher Kim wants to let the matter play out and gives his opinion that if Dong-joo doesn’t confront this now, it will come back to haunt him later. Nurse Oh and Ki-tae think otherwise, and the police are called.
In a parallel discussion in Dong-joo’s office, Dr. Song tries to convince Dong-joo that the posters are no big deal. He says that if Dong-joo wraps up the death certificate situation according to Dr. Do’s wishes, everything will blow over soon.
Dong-joo is contemplating his decision when Seo-jung walks in asking him for the death certificate. Dong-joo repeats the same arguments that Dr. Do gave him earlier to Seo-jung, saying that the case could become a larger, more complicated issue.
She inquires suspiciously as to whether he’s being swayed by the offer of a salary raise and bonus from Dr. Do. He claims that that’s not the case, but Seo-jung tells him not to sell his conscience, adding that if he does, she would be deeply disappointed in him.
The police come to Doldam Hospital to take away the young woman. She struggles against them, and the posters in her hand fly everywhere. Dong-joo’s mother kneels down to help gather the posters for the young woman, and apologizes to the her for her son’s actions.
When Dong-joo reaches the scene, his mother reprimands him and tells him to beg for forgiveness. In a broken voice, she asks how he could have done the same thing that caused the death of his own father to this young woman. In reply, Dong-joo tells the police to leave the young woman alone.
With a bowed head, he apologizes to the young woman, saying that he is ashamed of his actions, and that he wishes he could go back to that moment to reverse his decision. She breaks down, pounding her fists against him as she tells him to bring her father back. Silent tears roll down Dong-joo’s face as the young woman cries out in grief.
Teacher Kim, who can hear the anguished lamentations from his office, gets up to go to Geodae Hospital. In the Geodae lobby, some of the older physicians recognize him, and they are all surprised to see Dr. Bu Yong-joo back in the flesh. But Teacher Kim just heads straight to Dr. Do’s office.
Slamming the door open against the protests of Dr. Do’s secretary, Teacher Kim barges in and punches Dr. Do in the mouth. Teacher Kim warns Dr. Do never to come back to Doldam Hospital again, and not to use young students to fulfill his own greed. He unfolds the fake death certificate from his pocket, throws it at Dr. Do’s face, and leaves after calling him a worthless fool.
Dong-joo hands Joo-hyuk’s actual death certificate to his grieving parents, who verify that it states the cause of death as an outside factor (not medical sickness). He gives them the memory stick containing their son’s surgery footage, and offers his testimony should they need it in court to prove that Joo-hyuk was assaulted during his military enlistment.
Joo-hyuk’s mother conveys her thanks through the father, and Dong-joo apologizes for the delay. Through the window, Yong-gyun bows his thanks at Dong-joo, and Dong-joo acknowledges it with a small smile. When Dr. Song checks Dong-joo’s computer for a record of the death certificate, he finds out that Dong-joo has gone against Dr. Do’s wishes.
He rages at Dong-joo when he sees him, demanding to know whether he realizes what he’s giving up by doing this. Dong-joo answers that he understands the repercussions, but he also knows how despicable the action would have been. He says he didn’t want to be caught being so dishonorable, and that he liked the idea of being a good guy.
At the bus station, Dong-joo sits with his mother as he waits to see her off. He apologizes to her for showing her this disgraceful side of him and says that he won’t be able to go back to Seoul for a while. She comforts him, saying that she’s happy for him to stay at Doldam Hospital. She goes on to say that she’s also very satisfied with his sunbae.
When he asks who she means, she specifies Seo-jung, and a surprised Dong-joo suddenly bursts into a coughing fit. He presses her for details, so she brings up the night of his drunken antics. Dong-joo blacked out and doesn’t remember what happened, and despite his questions, his mother just laughs and says to ask the lady herself.
Dong-joo tiptoes into the break room where Seo-jung is studying. He sits down next to her and tries to bring up his drunken actions from yesterday, but she quickly shuts him down. Disappointed, he slides back to his desk, and she asks him how he’ll cope with staying at Doldam now that he’s thrown away his chances for returning to Geodae Hospital.
With a sly smile, he says that he is already dreading the long winter at Doldam Hospital, and so he makes his second proposal to her: “Let’s date, Yoon Seo-jung.” She rolls her eyes, but he pulls her chair toward him and asks why she’s avoiding him when she already likes him.
She refuses him with a firm “No,” and leaves after saying that he only has one chance left to ask her again. With a crestfallen expression, Dong-joo puts his head in his hands. Outside, Seo-jung catches her breath after having her heart shaken again by Dong-joo’s impulsive confession.
Teacher Kim meets with CEO Shin to tell him that his surgery has been scheduled. CEO Shin is delighted that he will be hospitalized soon and expresses his satisfaction that the machines he bought will be put to good use. Meanwhile, In-bum gets a call from his father, who orders him to join the CEO’s surgery team at any cost.
In-bum protests that he is a general surgeon and not a cardiothoracic surgeon, so he has no justification for being in the operating room for that surgery. However, Dr. Do is adamant that In-bum watch and report everything that happens during that surgery.
Nurse Oh calls Teacher Kim to advocate for Seo-jung to be his assistant for CEO Shin’s surgery. Teacher Kim says that he hasn’t decided yet, and will mull it over for the next day or two.
That’s when In-bum enters his office and requests that he join Teacher Kim in the CEO’s surgery. Dong-joo overhears their conversation with interest, while in the ER, Nurse Oh and Ki-tae say that whoever gets chosen to assist Teacher Kim for that surgery will be a very lucky doctor indeed.
I knew it! I knew Dong-joo had a heart of gold underneath all that self-absorbed muck. He really showed it this episode, but I think it was his mother that made him realize the magnitude of his actions. Had it not been for his mother’s presence, would he have made the same decision? I hope so, but I don’t know, because even throughout his whole soju battle with Teacher Kim, Dong-joo stayed stubborn in his conviction that the world was against people like him, who come from nothing. I fear that this good streak might crumple under greater duress, because Dong-joo looked like he could have easily swung the other way. But the way he referenced Doldam Hospital as a place where he believed he could be a good doctor in his conversation with Dr. Song gave me hope that this change might be permanent.
Clearly, Dong-joo was in the wrong when he postponed the Geodae patient’s surgery for the VIP, but I thought he made an admirable apology, enough to where his sincerity shone through to the patient’s daughter. But was that enough? He distinctly remembered her father and his misdeeds toward him, but would he have sought her out personally to apologize if she hadn’t come looking for him first? I don’t think so, but I believe this situation helped him to mature and learn about responsibility. By the young woman’s public denunciation of him, he realized that there were real consequences to his actions, and that if he did continue on the path that Dr. Do wanted to put him on, he would continue to face these painful recriminations and further damage his conscience.
On a different note, Drunk Dong-joo was embarrassingly adorable, but the best part was Dr. Nam and In-bum trying to suppress their snickers when they obviously wanted to tease Seo-jung about Dong-joo’s crush on her. I’ve replayed the scene over multiple times just to watch their grinning faces. I was on the Teacher Kim/Seo-jung ship for a brief moment way back at the beginning, but after this episode, I know it’s sunk, because who could pass up Dong-joo’s cheeky heart-stopping confessions?
But Seo-jung’s repudiation of his confession leaves me with one question: What’s going on with her? The best man candy at Doldam has been pursuing her with dogged devotion since his first day, and she has rejected him repeatedly despite her noticeable feelings for him. I’m afraid that her reluctance to evolve in her relationship with Dong-joo has to do with her PTSD. I know that the psych examiner cleared her for duty, but I never felt like that arc was satisfactorily concluded, and think that it might come back as the biggest hindrance to their romantic involvement.
The love story was a major highlight in this episode, but for me, the climax was when Teacher Kim stormed into Geodae Hospital to confront Dr. Do. I definitely let out a loud “HURRAH!” watching Teacher Kim take Dr. Do down with a clean right hook. I understand violence is not the right answer, but boy did it feel satisfying when Dr. Do was flattened to the ground. I loved that Teacher Kim is finally taking an active stance against Dr. Do — before, it just seemed like Teacher Kim was tolerating Dr. Do and egging him on while standing under CEO Shin’s influence. Now, he has bared his fangs, and I’m excited to see what happens next.
This may be a tangent, but I’m extremely curious. Where did Yeon-hwa disappear to? Is she ever coming back, or was that just a long extended cameo that ended without any real explanation? Do I have to give up hope that Nurse Assistant Park’s broken heart will be mended by her return? He is such a sweetie that I want him to get his happy ending too. But speaking of happy endings, I’m concerned for In-bum’s future. His heart seems to be on the right side, but his power-hungry father looks to be an insurmountable obstacle, at least for him. For now, I’ll try to have faith that Teacher Kim’s ways will rub off on him and get him to change for the better, like Dong-joo.
- 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