Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim: Episode 15
At last, we get some answers about Teacher Kim’s motivations after being shrouded in mystery for such a long time. In addition, more satisfying tidbits reveal that our fledgling doctors are well on their way to maturity. This episode was more about shifting the focus back to our doctors rather than on patient cases, which created a refreshing break from the norm, and the lighthearted cat and mouse dynamic between Ki-tae and the Seo-jung/Dong-joo couple makes for an entertaining watch.
CHAPTER 15: “Cornerstone Syndrome”
A serious conversation between Teacher Kim and CEO Shin takes place, where Teacher Kim tries to find out CEO Shin’s motives for having him perform his surgery. CEO Shin reveals that he trusts Teacher Kim not to be swayed by the monetary interests at stake that depend on his health.
At Geodae Hospital, Dr. Do is in another conversation with CEO Shin’s daughter, SHIN HYUN-JUNG (Kim Hye-eun). As he informs her about CEO Shin’s pending surgery and its head surgeon, Teacher Kim/Dr. Bu Yong-joo, her eyes widen as she remembers the crazy doctor that caused a big scandal at Geodae Hospital years ago.
A flashback takes us to a medical committee hearing, with a younger Teacher Kim on trial. The chief interrogator is shown to be Hyun-jung, and she pointedly questions Teacher Kim on whether he forced his underlings to perform surgeries under his name, which led to two deaths on the operating table by inexperienced, unqualified surgeons. Outraged by these denunciations, Teacher Kim yells at the row of medical fellows behind the interrogation panelists: “Have I ever asked you to operate in my name?” Dr. Song looks down, unable to meet his gaze.
Without even attempting to uncover the truth, Hyun-jung blatantly accuses Teacher Kim of being an irresponsible egotist who uses his students for his own selfish greed, and who takes credit for their work to further his own reputation. On the panel of interrogators, Dr. Do simply nods along smugly and keeps quiet. However, it’s shown that in a previous circumstance, Dr. Do tried to push Teacher Kim to take on a VIP case while Hyun-jung was present, but Teacher Kim refused because he had other patients lined up who had been waiting their turn for surgery.
It seems that Teacher Kim discovered sometime afterwards that Dr. Do had secretly been using Teacher Kim’s name for surgeries he had not participated in so that he could increase hospital profit. When Teacher Kim confronted Dr. Do about the situation, Dr. Do guaranteed that Geodae Hospital would take care of any liabilities or consequences that resulted from any operations performed under Teacher Kim’s name.
Teacher Kim’s answer is not shown, but the scene cuts to a fistfight between Teacher Kim and Dr. Song after the operation and table death of Teacher Kim’s student, Jang Hyun-joo (the one from the 1998 medical ID card in his student files). During the fight, Teacher Kim angrily asks who told Dr. Song to perform this surgery under his name.
At the medical committee hearing, Hyun-jung issues the following judgement on behalf of the Geodae Hospital Board: From this day forward, Dr. Bu Yong-joo will not be permitted to continue practicing medicine in any capacity. Teacher Kim can only sit back disbelievingly, dazed at his sentence.
Dong-joo’s voice-over tides us over to the present:
“An age of hierarchy, when usefulness is valued and judged over personal character or ability. An elite group, and a world that’s controlled by people who know how to effectively manipulate that group. It’s become a strange world, where loyalty to the winning faction becomes the greatest virtue, and principled and skilled people are thrown away, as if they’re valueless.”
In the present day, Hyun-jung’s chauffeur asks if she wants to see CEO Shin because they’re right outside Doldam Hospital, but she refuses, saying that she wants to give him his time to rest. Teacher Kim, who has just found the anomaly in CEO Shin’s CT chart, looks in on his sleeping patient.
The next morning, Dong-joo strides through the halls of Doldam Hospital with a wide grin gracing his face. Seo-jung arrives with a similarly bright smile and an energy-filled greeting. In front of Ki-tae, they greet each other shyly after the remembrance of their second kiss. Seo-jung and Dong-joo both head on their separate ways after complaining of the sudden hotness, while Ki-tae expresses his confusion because the outside temperature is below freezing.
As soon as he gets to the ER, Yeon-hwa follows Dong-joo, reporting to him about a patient with excessive abdominal pain. He looks over her notes, impressed by her fastidiousness. They then find the patient and take down his history together.
Nursing Assistant Park glances over, happy to see Yeon-hwa back at Doldam Hospital. While Dong-joo enters patient data into the computer, Ki-tae sidles up beside him and slyly starts asking whether Dong-joo had any success with the necklace gift. Dong-joo starts smiling again in return, not denying his success.
Establishing his expertise on romantic relationships, Ki-tae explains that a man’s purpose for giving a ring is so that he can touch a lady’s hand one more time, and that the purpose of giving a necklace is to provide a natural excuse for embracing her. He then adds that a woman who doesn’t wear the jewelry item either does not like her gift or does not like the person who gave the gift. This gets Dong-joo wondering whether Seo-jung was wearing his necklace that morning, but he’s soon called away to see a patient.
Suspicious of Ki-tae’s motives, Nurse Oh, who has overheard the entire conversation, asks Ki-tae what he’s up to. He replies that he’s just creating a bit of mischief because he’s jealous of Dong-joo’s romantic success where he failed (and was subsequently rejected by Nurse Oh).
Dong-joo calls Seo-jung to ask whether she is wearing the necklace, but she evades the question and tells him to focus on his work. Seo-jung enters CEO Shin’s room, where she sees an unfamiliar face: Hyun-jung’s. Manager Joo apprises Teacher Kim of Hyun-jung’s arrival, and he’s surprised to learn that Hyun-jung is CEO Shin’s daughter.
Hyun-jung tries to convince CEO Shin to discharge from Doldam Hospital and go to Geodae Hospital. After his daughter mentions that rumors of his mental unfitness will go around if he stays stubborn in his wishes to have his surgery at Doldam, CEO Shin almost seems to relent.
A triumphant Hyun-jung leaves to process the paperwork for his discharge, but Seo-jung stops her at the door, saying that she needs the permission of the attending physician in order for the patient to be discharged. Hyun-jung condescendingly states her superiority, declaring that as a member of the hospital board, she outranks Seo-jung.
Outside the room, she encounters Teacher Kim and asks what he’s doing at Doldam Hospital—and practicing medicine, no less. Teacher Kim responds that he’s continued practicing medicine because he never did anything illegal that would have caused his medical license to be restricted. He continues saying that any wrongdoing found was because Hyun-jung and her group framed him.
She accuses him of trying to use her father to stage a comeback, but he says he was unaware of CEO Shin’s connection to Geodae Hospital when he first decided to take him as a patient. When she replies that she doesn’t want her father to be operated on by the type of doctor Teacher Kim is, he asks her to explain—in detail—what she means.
Her temper starting to rise, Hyun-jung calls him Bu Yong-joo, but he points to his name tag, saying that everyone around here calls him Teacher Kim. She thinks that he’s trying to hide his past and reinvent himself by taking on another name, but he corrects her, saying that he uses the name as a reminder to himself in repentance for believing in the illusions of success propagated by her type of people.
Seo-jung, whose curiosity has been roused after witnessing the entire exchange, takes Nurse Oh to the side to ask her about Teacher Kim’s past. But Nurse Oh firmly denies knowing anything about Teacher Kim before his arrival at Doldam Hospital before surreptitiously checking Seo-jung’s collar to see if she is wearing Dong-joo’s necklace. Then, she asks Seo-jung if they’re dating.
Flustered, Seo-jung starts babbling, “No, never,” and that Nurse Oh has to believe her. The nurse acknowledges Seo-jung’s statement, but winks at her knowingly as she leaves. Immediately, Seo-jung goes to find Dong-joo so that they can come up with a plan.
Dong-joo, In-bum, and Dr. Song carefully examine the CT scan of the abdominal patient. Dong-joo and In-bum have differing opinions on the original cause of the patient’s symptoms – Dong-joo thinks that it’s in the pancreatic tail, while In-bum believes it’s a bowel abscess.
When Dr. Song can’t seem to make up his mind regarding the patient’s diagnosis, Dong-joo suggests that they call Teacher Kim. But that suggestion pricks Dr. Song’s pride, and he assigns In-bum to the surgery despite it being Dong-joo’s patient.
Dong-joo storms out, and In-bum requests that Yeon-hwa assist him in the surgery. In his office, Dong-joo reviews the CT scan again, when Seo-jung comes in to ask whether he said anything to Ki-tae regarding their relationship. He answers that he never said outright to Ki-tae that they were dating, and that maybe Seo-jung was the one being suspicious by giving off the impression that they were romantically involved.
He then surreptitiously looks over to see whether she’s wearing his necklace. When he can’t see it on her, he asks her again if she’s wearing it, in order to ascertain that they are officially dating. She says that it’s exactly this type of behavior that makes him so obvious and what prevents her from starting anything with him.
When he points out that their amorous activities from yesterday should mark today as their first official day of dating, she pretends that she doesn’t remember, and he threatens to kiss her again to remind her. Again, Seo-jung tells him to stop being so obvious and to keep work and personal affairs separate, and in reply, Dong-joo claims that his nickname is “Kang Pokerface.”
When she turns to leave, Dong-joo casually says “I love you,” to which Seo-jung’s hands curl up in embarrassment at the nauseatingly romantic sentiment. Having fun teasing her, he repeats himself in several different languages while she tries to cover his mouth.
Teacher Kim and Hyun-jung continue their meeting in his office. He tries to direct her attention to CEO Shin’s condition. However, only thinking on her own terms, Hyun-jung tells Teacher Kim to release her father because there’s nothing to gain for Teacher Kim back at Geodae Hospital.
When words won’t work, Teacher Kim shows her CEO Shin’s CT results. Hyun-jung, who was trained as a doctor, recognizes the tumors in his lungs, indicating terminal cancer. Teacher Kim has already notified CEO Shin of his diagnosis. During that conversation, Teacher Kim gave CEO Shin his options regarding end-of-life treatment, and gave his professional opinion that CEO Shin had less than three months to live.
Dong-joo waits outside of Teacher Kim’s office to ask him about the abdominal patient’s CT, but he’s still in deep discussion with Hyun-jung when Yeon-hwa walks by on her way to In-bum’s surgery. Dong-joo volunteers to take her place, and enters the In-bum’s operating theater. When they open up the patient, no bowel abscess is found; Dong-joo was right – the origin was in the pancreas.
Yeon-hwa informs Teacher Kim of the situation regarding the abdominal patient, and when he checks the CT scan, he also suspects that it’s the pancreatic tail. He tracks down Dr. Song to reprimand him, when suddenly, In-bum calls Dr. Song to ask about how to proceed with the surgery now that it’s been discovered that the pancreas was the issue.
Dr. Song asks In-bum whether he’s done a distal pancreatectomy before, and in front of Dong-joo, In-bum feels that he has no choice but to lie that he has. However, as he continues to operate, his hands falter enough to reveal his inexperience.
In-bum calls Dr. Song again for reinforcements, and with Teacher Kim goading him on, Dr. Song reluctantly enters the surgery. Initially, when Dr. Song takes over, it seems like everything is going smoothly, and even Dr. Nam compliments him for his skilled movements despite his long absence from the operating theater. But suddenly, the splenic artery ruptures, and blood splatters everywhere.
Seeing the situation intensify, Teacher Kim paces back and forth outside, ready to save the day if the patient goes critical. However, Dong-joo steps up and says that he can patch up the tear in the splenic artery. Dr. Song is only concerned about who will take responsibility if the patient dies, and Dong-joo, while disgusted with his previous mentor, agrees to take responsibility.
Knowing the delicate nature of the artery, Nurse Oh tries to protest, but Teacher Kim gives her the go-ahead sign from outside, and she hands Dong-joo the surgical tool. After a deep breath, Dong-joo starts by imitating Teacher Kim’s self-mantra: “Concentrate.” The surgical team is surprised at Dong-joo’s rapid, sure hand movements that seem to mimic Teacher Kim’s own style.
It’s shown that Dong-joo spent many nights practicing on his own, after first observing Teacher Kim in action. Teacher Kim, who has been watching the entire scene unfold for any sign of emergency, smiles and puts down his readied hands as he sees his student confidently proceed in the operation.
The surgery ends in success, but as they leave the operating room, Dong-joo calls In-bum out on his lies and tells him not to be so irresponsible with patients’ lives. At this didactic display from his peer, In-bum punches Dong-joo, and they engage in a hair-pulling fight with the entire hospital staff watching them. They only stop when the bear-like Mr. Go pulls them apart.
In the ER, Seo-jung is told about the fight and the circumstances that led up to it. She asks for details, wanting to hear more about Dong-joo’s impressive surgical performance.
The two brawling rivals stand in Teacher Kim’s room waiting for a scathing lecture. In-bum tells his side of the story, while Dong-joo stays silent. Teacher Kim releases Dong-joo, but keeps In-bum to question further.
Seo-jung confronts Dong-joo as he leaves Teacher Kim’s office, and chides him to get along with In-bum. He tries to get her to kiss the boo-boo on his forehead to make it feel better, but she just laughs and tells him to put on some ointment. Nonchalantly, he tells her “I love you,” and her hands curl up again.
He flirts, making finger-heart gestures at her until he sees Ki-tae around the corner, watching them with interest. His attitude quickly shifts from lovey-dovey to argumentative, and Seo-jung, catching Ki-tae out of the corner of her eye, takes the hint and ends their conversation with a fierce defense of In-bum and an admonishment to Dong-joo not to fight in the hospital. Ki-tae remarks to himself that they’re both terrible actors.
When Teacher Kim tries to ask In-bum regarding the real cause of the fight, In-bum just passes it off as longstanding antagonism between him and Dong-joo. Because In-bum won’t tell him the truth, Teacher Kim tells him to leave.
As In-bum turns away, Teacher Kim tells him that CEO Shin’s surgery will probably not happen because of his lung cancer, and that In-bum should report that to his father. Teacher Kim has suspected from the beginning that In-bum’s only purpose at Doldam Hospital is to spy on him, but after In-bum’s first unauthorized surgery at Doldam Hospital, Teacher Kim thought that he saw something in him that was worth honing.
However, after experiencing so many of In-bum’s lies and his hazy principles, Teacher Kim says he prefers the “Do” who is clear in his own mind and own objectives (referring to Dr. Do as a cornerstone) rather than the “Do” with unfocused priorities (referring to In-bum as a plain, round stone). Therefore, he adds, In-bum has no further need to be at Doldam Hospital. In-bum’s eyes fill with unshed tears, but he only clenches his jaws and leaves.
He calls his father to report back accordingly and to tentatively ask to go back to Geodae Hospital, but Dr. Do cuts him off, telling him to stay until he says and not to whine. Dr. Do then meets with Hyun-jung to discuss the new development in CEO Shin’s health.
Now that he knows he’s a terminal patient either way, CEO Shin consults with Teacher Kim to ask what his medical opinion is regarding the heart surgery. Trying to lighten the mood of his troubled patient, Teacher Kim jokes that he’s sad that there will be no heart surgery because he wanted CEO Shin as a patient in order to gain his generous contributions.
Regaining a bit of his former spirit, CEO Shin insults Teacher Kim back for his boldness. But then the atmosphere turns serious again when Teacher Kim gently tells CEO Shin of the risks of the surgery, and it seems like the situation is settled.
Seo-jung bumps into Ki-tae and Director Yeo while she gets some coffee. Ki-tae starts spouting praises regarding Dong-joo, laying it on thick as he calls him “best husband material.” They all laugh together, but as Seo-jung walks away, she urgently calls Dong-joo so that they can allay Ki-tae’s suspicions.
She suggests that they have a pretend fight, so they proceed to have a shouting match in the ER. Watching the loud altercation, Nurse Oh and Dr. Nam think that Seo-jung and Dong-joo are fighting way too often recently, but Ki-tae lets them know that it’s a ruse to distract the staff from the strong romantic vibes coming from them. Dr. Nam disagrees, and Ki-tae makes a bet with him regarding Seo-jung and Dong-joo’s relationship.
Dr. Do, who still believes CEO Shin will not go through with the surgery, urges Hyun-jung to take her father’s place as the chairman of the hospital’s board of directors.
Teacher Kim calls for a team meeting to announce that they will not be proceeding with CEO Shin’s artificial heart surgery because of his terminal stage lung carcinoma. But CEO Shin rolls in on his wheelchair to tell them that he wants to go ahead with it, saying that he wants to live his last few days with a healthy heart.
Epilogue. Yeon-hwa tiredly wakes up to another morning at Doldam Hospital. She exits the ER and runs into a bright and cheerful Seo-jung in the hallway, underneath the big Christmas tree.
Seo-jung hands Yeon-hwa a drink, which she gulps down gratefully. While thanking Seo-jung, Yeon-hwa notices a snowflake necklace sparkling on Seo-jung’s collar and asks if it was a gift from someone. Seo-jung bashfully mumbles noncommittally and tucks the necklace back inside her sweater.
Finally, we gained some understanding about Teacher Kim’s past, and through it, we learned that the greater the pain, the greater the lesson. Although he only succumbed to ambition halfway (by not saying no to Dr. Do) and very momentarily, he lost his reputation and status for that brief lapse in judgement. Now, we know the root cause of his antagonism toward Geodae Hospital and its proprietors, which drives him to steer his students away from the deceptively glittering path. It’s a testament to the endurance of his mental spirit that he rose from the ashes of his downfall to become a wiser, better doctor.
At this point, I know Dr. Do is firmly entrenched on the dark side, and all I want to confirm is whether Hyun-jung is so far gone that she will sacrifice her own father to gain what she wants. I think Hyun-jung and CEO Shin provide an interesting foil for In-bum and Dr. Do. We know that despite CEO Shin’s support of Teacher Kim, he is a ruthless businessman at heart, and his daughter seems to be the same way. If In-bum continues on the path that Dr. Do has set him on, it looks like he could end up like Hyun-jung, hardened with greed and willing to sacrifice his loved ones in order to secure his own future.
But poor baby In-bum! Lying never ends well, but I can understand his feelings, trapped between his need to win his father’s approval and the Doldam’s strangely appealing, ethically righteous ways. Just seeing his tearful sad eyes after Teacher Kim’s lecture was painful, but it was his father’s rejection after their call that made me actually cry. It’s not his fault that Dr. Do is an amoral megalomaniac, but unless In-bum grows a spine soon, he’ll be helplessly swept away by his father’s machinations.
Love is in the air for Dong-joo and Seo-jung. I agree with Ki-tae that Seo-jung and Dong-joo are hopeless at hiding their feelings for each other, and can’t wait to watch their coming-out to the rest of the Doldam staff. How could Dr. Nam bet against their relationship, even after seeing Dong-joo’s drunken confession last time? I’m pretty sure Nurse Oh suspects something, and even Teacher Kim knows there’s something going on between them. But I don’t mind their failed attempts at discretion, as long as it leads to more adorable mushy moments.
- 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