Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim: Episode 13
With preparations for CEO Shin’s fateful operation in full swing, everyone at Doldam has their hands full trying to juggle new and ever-increasing problems. This being Doldam, things quickly go from bad to worse, until even Teacher Kim starts to feel the pressure as he desperately tries to keep everyone in Doldam safe from an unexpected and potentially dangerous threat.
CHAPTER 13: “The Aesthetics of Chaos”
In-bum asks Teacher Kim to be his main assistant in CEO Shin’s upcoming surgery (under his father’s instruction), even if it means stealing the opportunity from Seo-jung. When Teacher Kim asks after his experience, In-bum inflates the amount of relevant procedures he’s participated in—enough to make even Teacher Kim impressed by his surgical history. Outside the door, Dong-joo watches the exchange, and in voiceover, he narrates as the scene plays:
“In an age of ‘needs.’ An age in which one’s own desires are outranked by the desires of others. An age in which one is forced to live according to the world’s standards before even figuring out what he wants for himself. He adds detail to support his lies and the lies grow larger in size. One sometimes lies to make himself seem better than he is. Eventually he must even render another’s efforts useless and push them down in order to raise himself up. Such is what the world has come to.”
We flash back ten days earlier to Seo-jung eavesdropping on Teacher Kim and Nurse Oh as they discuss the preparations for CEO Shin’s surgery. Teacher Kim expresses concern over the possibility of CEO Shin’s artificial heart being faulty, and thus potentially complicating the procedure further. He adds that he hasn’t yet finalized his surgical team roster and intends to schedule the operation in ten days.
At the mention of the operation date, Seo-jung jumps to her feet and hurries out of the ER with a determined look in her eyes. Adorably, Nurse Oh asks Teacher Kim if he thinks Seo-jung got the hint, and Teacher Kim guesses that she did. So cute.
Seo-jung gets to work studying everything she’ll need to know for CEO Shin’s cardiac surgery, and even practices her stitching. She also seeks out Dong-joo’s advice, who then gives her some private tutoring. Oh, you two.
At last, the day arrives for Teacher Kim to announce his team for CEO Shin’s operation. He explains that the procedure is really a moving target, and although the aim is to replace the artificial heart battery, the plan may change after they receive CEO Shin’s test results.
Teacher Kim adds that he intends to hold a conference every night until the day of the surgery to prepare for the real thing. Regarding his main assistant, Teacher Kim names Seo-jung as his first (woohoo!), and everyone looks elated except for In-bum, who can’t hide his anxiety.
The next day, Seo-jung proclaims herself the cardiothoracic specialist in charge of CEO Shin’s treatment to the nurse team, and they congratulate her on a job well done. Meanwhile, Ki-tae, In-bum, and Dr. Song greet CEO Shin as he settles into his room to try and win some brownie points.
Seo-jung arrives shortly after to introduce herself as the doctor handling his care. Displeased with having a female doctor, CEO Shin begins making a fuss and demands to see Teacher Kim immediately. Ki-tae runs out to retrieve Teacher Kim, but Seo-jung stands her ground and begins explaining to CEO Shin that they will need to do a blood test and an x-ray before they do a CT scan tomorrow. But CEO Shin insists that he needs to talk to Teacher Kim.
Seo-jung continues to talk over him, ensuring that she’s more than qualified to supervise his preliminary tests, until finally CEO Shin breaks it down to her simply—the truth is, he explains, is that he’s uncomfortable having a female doctor. However, Seo-jung tells him that she will be more than willing to listen to any criticism he has regarding the quality of her treatment, but that she will ignore his other complaints.
Before he can argue her point, he lets out a series of coughs. Seo-jung inquires about when his coughs first began, but he plays off her concerns and blames his old age. Having seemingly won his temporary compliance with her moxy, Seo-jung instructs one of the nurses to take CEO Shin’s temperature and proceed with the other tests.
When she steps outside to begin her preparations, she is greeted by a crowd, which includes Teacher Kim and Dr. Song. Dr. Song chides her for disrespecting CEO Shin, while Teacher Kim merely asks if she thinks she can handle CEO Shin without him stepping in. Seo-jung assures Teacher Kim that she has everything under control, and will finish with his preliminary tests in two hours.
After Teacher Kim excuses her, Dr. Song asks Teacher Kim if he’s really going to let her be. He replies that Seo-jung acted exactly as she should have, explaining that if Seo-jung had allowed CEO Shin to boss her around, then she would have lost all credibility as his doctor. As he begins to walk away, Ki-tae asks Teacher Kim why he isn’t going to see CEO Shin, even though they are standing right outside his door. To wit, Teacher Kim answers back that he is busy and will speak with him later.
Unfortunately, Seo-jung is informed that CEO Shin refuses to get his blood drawn without speaking to Teacher Kim first, so she decides to do it herself. When she enters the room, she notices that CEO Shin is still coughing, and helpfully, General Manager Joo tells Seo-jung that his cough has been worsening since the week before.
CEO Shin continues to protest against having Seo-jung treat him until Seo-jung mentions that there is a possibility that he may have pneumonia. And if she fails to catch and treat it before Teacher Kim has to operate, then she’ll be in big trouble—and, she adds, there’s nothing she likes less than being scolded by Teacher Kim. Therefore, she begs CEO Shin to work with her, and thereby finally gains his reluctant acceptance of her care.
Meanwhile, in the ER, Nurse Oh calls an exhausted Dong-joo in to treat a young boy with a large gash across his head. Initially, the patient fusses against Dong-joo’s attempts to clean his bleeding wound, until Nurse Oh swoops in with some all-powerful candy and earns the boy’s cooperation. The patient has come with his older sister, who informs the staff that their mother will be arriving later.
Once Dong-joo is finished with his treatment, Nurse Oh offers to call another doctor to tend the ER after he admits to being a bit tired. He refuses, just as two more patients enter the ER. One comes in from overdosing on her medication, and the other has a high fever.
Seo-jung reports to Teacher Kim regarding the possibility of CEO Shin having pneumonia. Teacher Kim authorizes her to administer some medicine to treat it, then hands her a stack of papers containing information on a different artificial heart model than the one CEO Shin has.
He explains that the one in CEO Shin’s chest has some reported manufacturing issues, and has the potential to be discontinued. She guesses, a bit surprised, that Teacher Kim plans to replace the entire heart and not just the batteries. Instead of answering, he tells Seo-jung to study the materials, and he’ll tell her more at the conference later that evening.
Seo-jung heads over to the shared office in time to see In-soo rushing out the door to meet with his wife and mother-in-law. She tries to tell him to stay a little longer to help Dong-joo, who has been on duty for the last three days, but he apologizes and says that he can’t, so Seo-jung tries to get In-bum to help out instead. Unfortunately, In-bum isn’t in a very generous mood, and refuses to be a team player.
Disappointed, she warns In-bum not to ask for her help in covering any of his shifts in the future, then she drops the papers given to her by Teacher Kim on her desk before hurrying out to the ER. Once she is gone, In-bum immediately begins flipping through the pages.
He calls his father to relay Teacher Kim’s plan of replacing CEO Shin’s entire artificial heart, much to Dr. Do’s astonishment. In-bum also informs him that CEO Shin may have pneumonia, which he predicts will delay the surgery by a few days. His father instructs him to continue to keep him updated on any changes.
Back in the ER, Dong-joo checks in on the patient who overdosed on her medication. Accompanying the patient is her frantic boyfriend, who confesses to Dong-joo that his girlfriend took a large amount of her pills after they got into a fight. Dong-joo assesses the situation, then tells the boyfriend to wait outside. With the boyfriend out of earshot, Dong-joo tells the patient that the coast is clear, and that she can wake up now.
After a little more encouragement, she eventually opens her eyes and looks up at Dong-joo sheepishly. He asks her to tell him the truth so that he can treat her properly, so she reveals that she took only two of her pills because her stomach really was hurting at the time, but then faked her overdose after her boyfriend began saying they should die together, which made her mad.
Dong-joo scolds her for escalating the situation, but tells her to rest until she calms down. Dong-joo lets the boyfriend back in to let him know that his girlfriend is okay before moving on to his next patient.
The father of the next patient informs Dong-joo that he had a cough for a few days, and instead of getting better, he ended up spreading it to his wife and son. Dong-joo listens to the patient’s lungs and decides that they’ll need to get them scanned. The father is surprised to hear that his son may have more than a simple cold, and that he and his wife will need to get checked out as well.
Dong-joo listens to the father’s lungs before asking if he travelled abroad recently. The father casually says that he was in Saudi Arabia for two months and got home four days ago. Dong-joo looks over in horror to catch the gaze of Nurse Oh, who makes the same connection that he does. He then scans the ER, observing all the patients and employees soon to be trapped inside.
Decisively, Dong-joo gathers his team at the nurses’ station and tells them that they are now in lockdown for a possible case of MERS. Dong-joo tells the team to suit up in protective gear, quarantine the suspected MERS patients into the hybrid room, and close off the ER. They get to work immediately, hoping to minimize any potential damages.
Upstairs, Teacher Kim receives the news and hurries down to help from the outside. He instructs Ki-tae to notify the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, request hazmat suits, and inform nearby hospitals of their situation.
In CEO Shin’s room, Seo-jung is pleased to see that his fever is going down. She tells CEO Shin that they’ve begun administering the antibiotics and will monitor his condition for any changes. CEO Shin continues to complain about being ignored by Teacher Kim, but Seo-jung assures him that Teacher Kim is working very hard to prepare for his operation.
CEO Shin grumpily comments that she talks too much, but she swears that usually she doesn’t. As she defends herself, she accidentally calls him “Grandpa,” then fumbles to try and cover up her mistake with enthusiasm, only to do it again. Ha. She scrambles out of the room, and CEO Shin actually laughs amusedly at her impudence.
In the hall, Deputy Nurse Ji updates Seo-jung on the situation in the ER and warns her to be extra careful given her close proximity to CEO Shin, but all Seo-jung can think about is poor, fatigued Dong-joo. Against Deputy Nurse Ji’s advice, she rushes over to the ER to see Dong-joo through the glass.
She spots him in a weaker moment as he struggles to gather his strength, but once he sees her, he calls her phone and immediately warns her away from the door. She asks if he’s okay, and despite looking the opposite, he lies that he is. It isn’t long before Dong-joo is called away, and Seo-jung is forced to watch him go.
Elsewhere, things are not looking any better on Teacher Kim’s end. Ki-tae informs him that the health center where they get their hazmat suits from is closed, and the CDC has failed to offer any useful advice beyond telling them to move the patients to a designated hospital.
Enraged, Teacher Kim called the CDC again, and this time the agent that answers the phone begins to question if they are positive they actually have a MERS case. Teacher Kim shoots back that they should be the ones determining that. He then gets into a circular argument with the agent, who seems to be set on the being the least helpful person available.
Teacher Kim argues that it is basically a logistical nightmare trying to transfer three patients to the nearest designated hospital without hazmat suits, and with the single ambulance assigned to their area. The agent continues to insist that Teacher Kim send the patients to their designated hospital, because it is fully equipped with all the proper supplies to deal with the situation. Fed up, Teacher Kim hangs up the phone and decides to focus on doing what he can.
He calls Nurse Oh to get the latest on the situation in the ER, and after she informs him that she hasn’t told the other patients about the MERS yet, he encourages her to do so quickly since they will probably need to quarantine the entire ER soon. He also asks that she collect some blood samples from the MERS patients so they can get it tested.
They stare at each other through the glass as they talk, their expressions worried and heavy with fear. Nurse Oh’s eyes water, but she puts on a brave face and manages to tell Teacher Kim not to worry, as if reassuring him might put herself at ease.
Dong-joo and Nurse Assistant Park enter the quarantined hybrid room to collect some fluid samples from the patients and run some tests. Meanwhile, Seo-jung’s calls to Dong-joo continue to go unanswered. In another part of the hospital, the mother of the boy with the laceration on his head arrives and is informed of the situation.
Back inside the ER, the boyfriend of the woman who faked her overdose learns that no one is permitted to leave the ER. He begins causing a scene until the entire room learns of the MERS situation, then he tries to break open the door in order to leave. Using an impressive show of strength, Nurse Assistant Park restrains the man, when suddenly his girlfriend begins to complain of stomach pain.
Dong-joo rushes over to check on her, and his face whitens as he realizes that she is exhibiting signs of acute appendicitis. He reports the news to Teacher Kim, who instructs him to prepare for an emergency surgery. Oh dear. After Dong-joo hangs up the phone he stumbles over and coughs. Oh no!
Teacher Kim hunts down Dr. Song and tells him to prepare to operate on the patient with appendicitis. Dr. Song tries to weasel out of it, but Teacher Kim doesn’t let him and shouts back, “We don’t have the hazmat suits yet so nobody else can do anything and you have no chance of getting MERS!”
Teacher Kim grabs Dr. Song by the collar, but Dr. Song jerks out of his grasp and yells, “Doctors are people too. Doctors can get sick and get MERS, too! And I don’t want to say this, but doctors can die, too! You know that? I have the right to want to protect my own life!”
Teacher Kim replies that everything Dr. Song said is right, but then suddenly he growls, “So hurry up and get ready, bastard!”
The nurses in the ER crowd around a weak Dong-joo, who valiantly tries to dismiss their concerns. He manages to walk a few steps away before his eyes begin to blur, and he collapses to the ground. Dong-joo looks up, and through the haze he sees Teacher Kim through the glass calling out his name, then passes out. Gah!
Teacher Kim resolves to enter the ER, but Ki-tae stops him in time. The nurse teams moves Dong-joo to a bed as Teacher Kim sighs in distress. Dr. Song enters the lobby and provokingly says aloud, “I knew you would send another one to the afterlife.” Unable to stand by, Teacher Kim asks for a surgical mask and gown. Meanwhile, In-bum informs Seo-jung on the second floor that Dong-joo fainted, causing her to rush downstairs.
Director Yeo tries to stop Teacher Kim from making a rash decision, but he just ignores him. Ki-tae informs Teacher Kim that one of their employees is on their way to get the hazmat suits, so Teacher Kim tells Dr. Song to be prepared to operate the moment those arrive. Ki-tae makes his attempt to dissuade Teacher Kim from going into the ER by mentioning CEO Shin’s upcoming surgery.
However, Teacher Kim quotes a saying: “Patients need to be treated based on how much they need attention, not in the order that they showed up.” With that said, he walks toward the ER door, only to be stopped by Seo-jung as she steps into his path.
She asks that she be allowed to go in Teacher Kim’s stead, arguing that she is the ER specialist, and therefore she’s best suited to help the patients inside. Regarding CEO Shin, she explains that she has already handed off her duties to In-bum, and is fully aware that this may mean her giving up her place in his surgery. Conflicted, Teacher Kim stares back at her, feeling helpless.
Seo-jung has come a long way from groveling in front of Teacher Kim to sticking to her guns and being her old ballsy self. Even though Teacher Kim doesn’t want her to sacrifice herself by going into the ER, he doesn’t stop her, and that’s what I like about Teacher Kim. He’ll scream your ear off into next Tuesday if you’re acting like a coward or if you’re being an idiot, but when you decide to be brave, and you fight for what you believe in, then he respect your decision, even if it hurts him a little. All because Teacher Kim is a giving guy, and one who will willingly give up everything he has to save someone else who needs it or deserves it.
I’m sure Seo-jung’s affection/concern for Dong-joo factored into her decision to enter the ER, but I think ultimately it’s because she feels a sense of responsibility, and is willing to put aside her ambition in order to do the right thing and be a team player, which says a lot about her personality. It makes me think of an earlier episode when Seo-jung was disappointed that Teacher Kim didn’t pay attention to her like he did with Dong-joo, even if that attention was negative.
Morally, Seo-jung is most like Teacher Kim by nature, so it probably was because he trusts her to make the most compassionate and righteous choice in the end, enough to where he didn’t have to keep correcting her moral compass. Teacher Kim always acts like he doesn’t care if his doctors rise or fall, but in truth, it seems like he is the one cheering them on the hardest. I usually don’t really like these kind of setups because I always feel like I’m being pushed a little too hard to be convinced that one character is noble, but in this episode, it felt like everything was well-earned, and that was a long time coming.
Speaking of cheerleaders, Teacher Kim and Nurse Oh were so cute when they not-so-subtly nudged Seo-jung along without trying to show any favoritism in the selection process. But that aside, there was a lot going on with them in this episode. I’ve been doing my best to put away the thought, because I really don’t want to trivialize Teacher Kim and Nurse Oh’s relationship by assuming there may be some kind of romantic undercurrent there between them—but, seriously, is there? I honestly blame the show for leading me on if there isn’t. All kidding aside, I’m kind of torn between really wanting it to happen and loving the way things are now, because no matter how cute they are together, I love the idea of them being colleagues who care deeply about one another, but ones who never cross that threshold. It’s like the camaraderie they’ve built over the years is somehow sacred.
That being said, I hope Seo-jung finally realizes through this incident that she can’t ignore her feelings for Dong-joo any longer. And honestly, I don’t think she’s done a great job verbalizing the reasons she feels like she needs to push Dong-joo away all the time. It has been a while since she heard Dr. Moon’s voice when Dong-joo is around, and even if she isn’t totally ready to be in a relationship (which I would totally understand), I wish she would have an honest conversation with him soon. Dong-joo is doing a great job standing by and allowing her to define the relationship on her own, but I think it’s right for him to know where he stands in her heart, even if it means that she can never give him what he wants.
In this episode, we saw Teacher Kim feel more lost and out of control than we ever have before, but because he couldn’t solve everything himself like he normally can, he had the opportunity to see both Dong-joo and Seo-jung step up and show how far they are willing to go for the Doldam team, as well as each other. You can see from Teacher Kim’s reaction that he isn’t used to standing by and being forced to stay out of the fight. He wants more than anything to jump in, but it’s a new lesson for him to sit back and watch his birds take flight.
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