Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim: Episode 14
This episode, we learn that when Teacher Kim regulates, everyone gets schooled. He finally steps up his teaching game and has settled himself in my book as one of the best wise mentor figures in drama history. During the beginning of Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim, I just thought he was a guy who liked to shout a lot. But now that I’ve seen the full range of his tough love lessons, I realize that he truly cares for his students, and I love him for it.
CHAPTER 14: “Paragonimiasis Effect”
The scene opens with Dong-joo collapsing to the floor as Teacher Kim watches helplessly beyond the ER doors. Teacher Kim calls for a sterile mask and gown so that he can enter the physician-less ER, but Director Yeo and Ki-tae protest, because without him, the rest of Doldam Hospital’s operations would break down.
As he is about to go through the doors, Seo-jung shows up and volunteers to go instead. She reminds him that she’s the best doctor for the patients in the ER because she’s a qualified ER doctor, while none of their triple-board specialties lie in emergency medicine.
As soon as she goes inside, the first patient she checks is Dong-joo, who is running a high-grade fever. She rules it as a simple loss of consciousness due to dehydration and overexertion. As she checks the other patients, she remembers her conversation with Teacher Kim before she entered the ER, when he had asked if she would not regret her decision.
In voiceover, she says:
“At least in that moment, I didn’t think it mattered. I wanted to be with him. I wanted to be there for him, at least in that moment.”
Ki-tae sends the MERS patients’ blood samples to the pandemics lab just as Dr. Nam arrives at Doldam Hospital on his scooter. Ki-tae explains that they still haven’t been successful in tracking down the protective hazmat suits.
Dr. Song refuses to go into surgery without one, but the condition of the acute appendicitis patient (the girlfriend who pretended to swallow pills) is growing worse by the minute. Then, they receive news that the hazmat suits are on the way, and Teacher Kim orders Dr. Song to prepare for surgery.
Teacher Kim goes upstairs to check up on In-bum’s maintenance of CEO Shin’s condition. He is suspicious because Seo-jung decided to enter the ER despite not having been informed of Dong-joo’s collapse, so he asks if In-bum leaked the information so that he could become the first assistant on CEO Shin’s surgery. In-bum lies to Teacher Kim and denies everything. Although he still seems doubtful, Teacher Kim does not push In-bum further.
In CEO Shin’s room, Teacher Kim finally sees his VIP patient. CEO Shin asks why his attending physician, Seo-jung, was changed. Pretending nonchalance, CEO Shin wonders aloud if she left because she was upset by him. Teacher Kim informs him of the potential MERS patients in the ER.
CEO Shin stays calm and tells Teacher Kim to continue apprising him of the ongoing situation. Teacher Kim is surprised that he’s not more alarmed, but CEO Shin replies that if he were that easy to kill, he would have died twenty years ago.
It’s a statement that gets Teacher Kim thinking that there’s something else going on, but he gets an urgent call from the ER. After he leaves, Manager Joo asks if they should reveal the details of CEO Shin’s condition to Teacher Kim, but CEO Shin tells her not to speak a word until the surgery is finished.
A mother comes to Doldam Hospital looking for her school-age children, who are being held in the ER. Feeling frantic and guilty for leaving her young kids, she asks if she can enter the ER, but the hospital staff tells her of the strict quarantine in place.
In the emergency room, the boyfriend of the acute appendicitis patient eyes the door and carefully looks for opportunities to escape. In a moment when Seo-jung’s back is turned and the nurses are not paying attention, he makes a run for the exit. Simultaneously, the distraught mother heads toward the same double doors leading into the ER.
Both have to be stopped by physical force. The boyfriend is restrained to the floor by Nurse Assistant Park, and he starts screaming that he does not want to die from MERS, causing the anxiety in the ER to escalate as the other patients realize that the threat is real. Seo-jung tries to dissuade the boyfriend from causing more tension, when suddenly, his girlfriend’s condition swiftly declines.
The hazmat suits arrive at Doldam Hospital, which means that Dr. Song has run out of excuses to avoid performing the appendectomy. In a last-ditch effort, he cites that he cannot operate without a surgical assistant, and both In-bum and Dong-joo are unavailable to him.
Tossing him the personal protective gear, Teacher Kim says he will personally be assisting Dr. Song. The ER staff hands off the acute appendicitis patient to Teacher Kim and locks the doors behind them. Teacher Kim salutes Seo-jung with a rare thumbs-up, which she returns with a smile.
In the OR, a thoroughly covered-up Dr. Song hesitates to make the first cut. Impatiently, Teacher Kim tells him to get on with it, and Dr. Song starts the operation, nervously looking at Teacher Kim for guidance.
Dong-joo’s fever breaks during the middle of the night as Seo-jung sits by his bedside, holding his hand. Nurse Oh announces that the public health agency has sent a transport service so that the ER patients can go home one by one. However, she tells them to stay in self-imposed quarantine until the official blood results have been confirmed.
The boyfriend is relieved to hear that he will be going home soon, along with the other patients. While Seo-jung listens to Nurse Oh’s announcement, Dong-joo’s glazed eyes open for a moment, and he sees a smiling Seo-jung holding his hand.
The next morning, Ki-tae runs to Teacher Kim’s office to report that the patients were negative for MERS. The next person Ki-tae tells is Dr. Song, who has seemingly slept the entire night worrying for his life, all wrapped up in in his hazmat suit.
Teacher Kim enters the ER, where the exhausted staff are dozing. He looks over the initial lab work of the potential MERS patients to determine the original cause of their symptoms. After Teacher Kim points out the high white blood cell count, Seo-jung rushes to question the patients on their recent dietary consumption and diagnoses them with paragonimiasis, a parasitic infection caused by eating raw seafood.
When Nurse Oh asks Teacher Kim how he could have let Seo-jung come into the ER when CEO Shin’s surgery was riding on the line, he grunts that he couldn’t stop her, and points his head toward the sleeping Dong-joo. They share a laugh about young romance.
Later on, Dong-joo wakes up to find Seo-jung sleeping on a mat by his bed. She chastises him for not taking better care of his body and rises to get him some food. To confirm that he was not dreaming, Dong-joo asks if she was the one who looked after him and held his hand.
She tries to lie, but he catches the look in her eyes. He stares intently at her, and she babbles until she can’t take it anymore and confesses. She explains that she only held his hand to take his temperature (har, very believable excuse), but he doesn’t listen and pulls her into a hug. She attempts to break away, but he holds her closer and says he just needs a moment because he feels dizzy. Resignedly, she gives into his affectionate embrace.
Nurse Assistant Park is the first to see Yeon-hwa’s return to Doldam Hospital. He recognizes her figure as she climbs the steps to go to Director Yeo’s room and formally announce herself.
When everyone is initially surprised by her appearance, she explains that she was a foreign-exchange medical resident student who ran away during her training to become a general surgeon, because the pressure was too intense. She came back because her resolve was changed after seeing the doctors at Doldam Hospital.
Yeon-hwa is accepted by the council of Doldam authority figures and proceeds to make re-introductions with the rest of the staff. Seo-jung is the most welcoming, and swiftly takes her under her wing, despite Dong-joo’s warnings to Yeon-hwa that Seo-jung is a “crazy whale.”
In-soo, who is thankful to Dong-joo for taking over his shift during the MERS case, has brought pizza. Ki-tae has to swallow hard even as he resists the pizza they offer, because he’s on a diet. The others start to devour the pizza, when suddenly, Nurse Assistant Park barges in with news about incoming traffic accident patients, which causes the doctors to leave for the ER. Before Nurse Assistant Park turns to leave with them, he greets Yeon-hwa warmly.
It looks like everything is back to normal at Doldam Hospital, as the doctors move quickly to treat the car crash patients. Suddenly, the manhwa artist from Episode 10 (Shin Seung-hwan) comes into the ER, wheezing with chest pain. In-bum is the first to treat him, and the first to realize that the patient has an implanted pacemaker.
When Teacher Kim is called, he reprimands In-bum for not performing the protocol emergency procedures for a pacemaker patient. Nurse Oh notices something is off as well, and encourages Seo-jung to check in on them. When she checks the echocardiogram, she finds substantial loss of heart function.
Teacher Kim tells In-bum to perform an ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) surgery, since In-bum told Teacher Kim in the previous episode that he had performed one before (when he was trying to get on the team for CEO Shin’s surgery).
In the hallway, Dong-joo runs into Ki-tae, who is browsing through some necklaces on his tablet. He asks Dong-joo for his opinion, explaining that he is looking for a Christmas gift for an unnamed lady. Having witnessed Dong-joo hugging Seo-jung earlier that day, Ki-tae slyly suggests that Dong-joo also look for a present for his ladylove, but Dong-joo just shrugs him off. Contrary to his previous statements, however, Dong-joo gets on the computer to find Seo-jung a present as soon as he reaches the break room.
Meanwhile, In-bum starts operating on the manhwa artist with Seo-jung there to assist him under Teacher Kim’s watchful gaze. After the initial cut, he makes several mistakes that alert the staff of his inexperience. Teacher Kim traps In-bum by handing him the wrong cannula, and when In-bum doesn’t notice that it’s the wrong one, Teacher Kim pulls it back and asks if he is sure. Seo-jung tries to intervene, but the jig is up.
Teacher Kim tells Seo-jung to continue the surgery, and demands that In-bum follow him outside immediately. Teacher Kim quizzes In-bum on all the possible complications of an ECMO surgery, and In-bum answers everything correctly. In a burst of fury, Teacher Kim asks how In-bum could know all the theory behind ECMO but not the correct cannula size if he has done the surgery before.
Teacher Kim delivers the ultimate blow by saying, “You can fool me with your words, but not with your hands. A surgeon’s hands can only move with confidence through experience and effort.” He tells him that he won’t ask why In-bum felt the need to lie to him. However, he adds that he does not want to see In-bum further degrade himself.
At Geodae Hospital, another scheme of Dr. Do unfolds: This time, he has called in reinforcements to stop CEO Shin’s surgery from continuing at Doldam Hospital, and it’s a member of the CEO’s family. When she first arrives at Geodae Hospital asking for CEO Shin’s whereabouts, Dr. Do notifies her that CEO Shin is at Doldam Hospital, about to be operated on by Dr. Bu Yong-joo. She recognizes the name, remembering him as a crazy surgeon.
In a checkup before his operation, Teacher Kim listens to CEO Shin’s heart sounds. Initially, the operation was to change the batteries of CEO Shin’s artificial heart. But, the heart is malfunctioning as Teacher Kim had feared, and he informs the CEO that his artificial heart must be replaced entirely.
CEO Shin accepts the situation without much of a fuss, and Teacher Kim asks why the CEO is entrusting him with such an important, life-risking surgery. CEO Shin repeats his reasoning from before, saying that Teacher Kim is the type of doctor to do anything for a patient’s survival.
He continues by saying that he won’t have any regrets even if he dies on Teacher Kim’s operating table. CEO Shin hints that other doctors might not have the same conscience to do their best, even if bribed.
Immediately, Teacher Kim goes into professor mode by gathering his surgical team and assigning their main tasks for CEO Shin’s surgery. He restates Seo-jung as his first assistant for the cardiac portion.
He tells Dong-joo to take the lead on the machine’s abdominal portion extraction and, in an act of mercy, assigns In-bum as Dong-joo’s assistant. They prepare for the operation by reviewing the procedure and practicing surgery simulations repeatedly.
In-bum keeps his father informed on the progress that the surgical team makes. When he asks Dr. Do how long he needs to stay at Doldam Hospital, Dr. Do tells In-bum that he needs to stay until he says so, and hangs up. Frustrated by the conversation, In-bum recalls Teacher Kim telling him not to degrade himself.
Seo-jung dolls herself up as she gets ready to leave the hospital (maybe she’s trying to look good for Dong-joo). After realizing what she’s doing, she takes off the makeup and walks out of the locker room, but ends up running into Dong-joo, who asks where she is going.
At that moment, Ki-tae comes in to deliver a package addressed to Seo-jung, knowing that it’s a present from Dong-joo. She opens the package as Dong-joo watches nervously in the background, waiting for her reaction. She doesn’t seem pleased, and asks Dong-joo to come speak with her privately.
At first, Seo-jung returns the gift of a snowflake necklace back to Dong-joo, saying that she does not want to accept it. He stops her and asks her what she means by that, wondering if she doesn’t see him as a man. She admits that she likes him, but that being with him brings up memories of her accident from five years ago.
She feels guilty toward him for her thoughts, she adds. With grateful tears in his eyes, Dong-joo answers that it doesn’t matter, and moves to clasp the necklace around her. She hesitates one last time, and he asks: “Am I not allowed?” But after a moment, she acquiesces, and they share a passion-filled kiss.
In the cliffhanger before the episode’s end, CEO Shin’s family member pulls up to Doldam Hospital. While in his office, Teacher Kim searches for CEO Shin’s patient history, and discovers something in his charts that causes him to frown with distress.
Epilogue. Luxuriously dressed in a white winter coat, Nurse Oh glides down the staircase of Doldam Hospital to leave work for the day. A Rudolph-nosed Ki-tae, complete with a matching antler headband, starts serenading her with Bing Crosby’s White Christmas. After a flamboyant spin, he presents her with a jewelry case; inside is a beautiful silver necklace. She reaches toward it as if to take it from him, but instead, she snaps it shut, tosses it away, and leaves him. He stares wistfully after her, in a way that lets us know he hasn’t given up.
Each week, I become more curious about Teacher Kim’s past. We know that he was framed for the death of one of his apprentices, which caused him to leave Geodae Hospital, but not much beyond that. The man has flaws (with anger management issues and possibly a martyr’s complex), but he never seems to waver from his moral code and always seems able to catch others before they make the wrong decisions (like drinking with Dong-joo last episode, and scolding In-bum for his ECMO lies). Although his students have all had their brushes with the corrupt world of discriminating hospital politics, it seems like Teacher Kim remains pristine in both conduct and belief. It begs the question: Is Teacher Kim innately righteous like Seo-jung, or did he become that way after suffering an irretrievable loss? How does this all tie in with his mysterious “plans?” I’m glad we’re finally starting to move forward with CEO Shin’s surgery, because it seems to be the pivotal event that Dr. Do and Teacher Kim’s futures will ride upon.
That being said, this is the first episode where I felt Teacher Kim really deserved his moniker. I loved the way he regulated everyone to their place, including Dr. Song and In-bum. Teacher Kim’s scolding of In-bum was long overdue—the first time In-bum lied about his surgical record (for the Boerhaave surgery he did with Dong-joo in Episode 10), I still thought he was crossing a line, despite the positive outcome. This time, he nearly endangered the life of the ECMO patient/webtoon artist by failing to admit his inexperience. I think Teacher Kim was less harsh with In-bum than with Dong-joo because he must guess that In-bum is being pressured by his father, but ultimately, it was In-bum’s fault for lying. I don’t know if it’s intentional, but the actor playing In-bum has an unreadable face most of the time, so I’m not sure about his inner motivations, but hopefully his time at Doldam Hospital is slowly changing him for the better.
Regarding the romance-heavy scenes, I loved the first half of the episode where Seo-jung steadfastly kept near Dong-joo’s side during the MERS crisis. Despite my prior complaints about the slow progress of their relationship, their hugging interlude would have been enough to sustain me until next week. To be honest, I was more moved by her choice to enter the potentially MERS-ridden ER than by their necklace conversation. So far I’ve loved all the poignant Dong-joo/Seo-jung moments that were meaningful even when neither spoke any words, but this time around, I was distracted and disappointed by the circumstances that lead to their long-awaited second kiss.
The blatant product placement left a sour taste in my mouth, as I was left to wonder whether his confession was prompted by a genuine organic development in his character arc, or by ad executives from Agatha heckling the scriptwriters to promote their product. It seemed weird that her reason for not wanting to pursue a relationship was that she felt guilty to Dong-joo for thinking of the car accident when he was with her. If she had said something about still feeling guilty toward Dr. Moon, maybe I’d understand her reasoning, but there’s no real need to feel bad toward Dong-joo. After all, he’s not the one dead from the accident or the one dealing with PTSD from the trauma. So it ended up as a non-reason, which was decidedly an unsatisfying conclusion after twelve episodes of wondering why she kept refusing his advances.
As for the rest, I’m enjoying this drama’s presentation of medical ethics dilemmas – today’s was the MERS quarantine. It wasn’t so much of a dilemma as a no-win situation for the ER patients. The scene when the boyfriend tried to break out while the mother tried to break into the ER was especially touching, since I can only imagine how awful the hospital staff must have felt to be denying a mother her rightful place next to her children. The boyfriend’s selfish actions could have led to a mass epidemic, but the actor’s portrayal of the man’s strong desire to live was so human that I could empathize with him with complete understanding. Is it bad that I think Dr. Song was in the right when he wouldn’t operate until the MERS protection suits arrived? Logically speaking, doctors are the first line of defense in an epidemic, and if they fall prey to a communicable illness, the disease will spread more quickly, because doctors are constantly in contact with immune-compromised (sick) patients. So, I didn’t quite like that the show shrugged off Dr. Song’s legitimate concerns.
On a side note, I’m glad Yeon-hwa is back, because her leaving Doldam seemed like a random loose end. But now, with only six (possibly seven) more episodes to go, I wonder what else she will bring to the main plot. If she and Nurse Assistant Park get together, and Nurse Oh capitulates to Ki-tae’s flirtations, maybe they can stage a Doldam-style love story musical for New Year’s… *dreams*
- 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