Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim: Episode 7
Day one of the Geodae invasion kicks off in this episode, and it feels like we’re still setting up for some much bigger confrontations to come. No one seems particularly thrilled about the new arrangement on either side except for Teacher Kim—who, as always, is preoccupied with his own hidden agenda. Meanwhile, Seo-jung’s got her hands full babysitting two man-sized infants, but at least she’s mature enough to see right through their tantrums.
CHAPTER 7: “The Uncertain Factor”
The two teams stare each other down as Dr. Song recalls Dr. Do instructing him to assemble a team to infiltrate Doldam in order to secure CEO Shin’s surgery for Geodae. Dr. Song’s second directive (also given by Dr. Do) was to get rid of Teacher Kim permanently, using whatever means necessary.
Afterward, Director Yeo and Dr. Do get on a call to discuss the new arrivals. Dr. Do explains innocently that Director Yeo had previously expressed staffing concerns, so he took it upon himself to temporarily alleviate Doldam of that issue. His voice then turns serious as he warns Director Yeo to shut his mouth and do nothing.
At the nurses station, the Geodae nurses strut down the halls with their best Mean Girls impersonations. We then flash back to Dr. Song instructing his task force to make sure to uphold the good Geodae name, and to never lose to the Doldam staff. The militant nurses express much more enthusiasm than their physician counterparts.
Back in the present, the Geodae nurse leader, DEPUTY NURSE JI, exchanges introductions with Nurse Oh, who immediately pulls rank over the interlopers. Deputy Nurse Ji challenges Nurse Oh’s seniority and argues that she will be taking care of the nurses from Geodae.
As the scenes play, Dong-joo narrates:
“In an era of infinite competition, it’s devour or be devoured. Trample or be trampled. People that believe that winning against someone is a fight with his or her pride on the line. A world that encourages that kind of mentality. The reality that one will not be acknowledged unless he wins against someone else. The fear of being a failure after losing made people more fiercely competitive.”
Elsewhere, In-bum is having his own little flashback to a meeting with his father, who seemed fully aware of how his son lacked in comparison to Dong-joo as a surgeon. He had invited In-bum to go to Doldam and beat Dong-joo, even just once. When In-bum tried to argue, Dr. Do shut him down and said, “I have no interest in a son who only ever loses.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Song stands in front Teacher Kim’s office and whispers for Teacher Kim to prepare himself. And although it isn’t clear if he’s heard the threat, Teacher Kim looks down at a cassette tape made for him before answering back, “Come at me, then.”
In their shared office, Seo-jung corners In-soo Sunbae for the details on his sudden transfer, while Dong-joo sits silently to the side. In-soo swears he knows nothing, and bemoans his own familial grievances because he was sent to Doldam after such short notice. In-soo wonders if Geodae will take responsibility should his wife divorce him.
Right at that moment, In-bum walks in, and the atmosphere becomes tense. Immediately, In-soo begins sucking up to In-bum in a way that seems to point to this being a normal thing between them. Seo-jung also crowds In-bum, asking him the same question she asked In-soo—she’s worried that In-bum is being punished for helping with that surgery in the last episode. In-bum cuts her off and growls at her to stop acting so familiarly with him.
Seo-jung falters at his rising temper, and Dong-joo pipes up to check In-bum’s disrespectful attitude. Trying to take the high road, Seo-jung apologies for making In-bum uncomfortable, but he just storms out with In-soo in tow.
Once alone, Dong-joo confronts Seo-jung for being so forgiving toward In-bum, and she feigns ignorance. Unsatisfied with her answer, Dong-joo demands to know what Seo-jung’s relationship with In-bum is. She retorts that her relationship to In-bum is similar to her relationship with Dong-joo: They’re just a hoobae and sunbae.
Dong-joo is insulted to be placed in the same category as In-bum, and declares that their relationship is different. With an amused grin, she asks what exactly he thinks their relationship is. He fumbles for the right words, but finally says that theirs is “special.”
He seems unsure when she questions the classification as she stands up to look at him. He eyes her nervously and backs away silently, wary of her unexpected reaction. Seo-jung just smiles as she watches him and says that he’s being cute.
Dong-joo scoffs at her comment, reminding her that he’s a grown man. He declares that he isn’t a kid, and she answers back that he is a kid, because he acts so childish all the time. She then tells him to get back to work.
She finds In-bum down the hall in one of the offices, and tries to smooth down his easily ruffled feathers. While she admits that she doesn’t know why she makes him so uncomfortable, she hopes they can get along. She encourages him to ask her any questions he may have about Doldam, but in response, In-bum slams the door right in her face. Great attitude, this guy.
Dr. Song immediately complains about his office furnishings, only to dismiss his own complaints since he won’t be around long. He then hands Ki-tae a paper formalizing the latter’s promotion to Section Chief Administrator at Doldam, which is basically just a move by Dr. Song to try and get Ki-tae to be his little informant. Dr. Song cuts right to the chase and asks for the dirt on Teacher Kim, then offers the possibility of transferring Ki-tae over to Geodae if all goes well.
Another awkward conversation is taking place elsewhere, as Deputy Nurse Ji asks Seo-jung what her responsibilities at Doldam are. Seo-jung stops short of admitting that she’s an orderly, and instead says that she’s a board-certified ER specialist. Deputy Nurse Ji seems somewhat impressed to hear that before promptly walking away, uninterested in small talk.
Later, Nurse Oh harasses Teacher Kim in his office, demanding to know if he will allow the Geodae transplants to stay at Doldam since it’s clear what their ultimate aim is. She warns that if Teacher Kim is taken down by Dr. Do, all of Doldam might fall with him. Teacher Kim brushes her off and tells her to leave them be. Uncertain if she’s getting her point across, she reminds him that no other hospital will take him in. Her last words prompt him to pause as a troubled expression crosses his face.
In the ER, Nurse Assistant Park introduces Seo-jung to new hire Yeon-hwa moments before Seo-jung hustles over to fawn over the newly arrived medical equipment in the hybrid room. In-soo is there to take cracks at the ancient state of Doldam’s equipment and to explain a new machine Seo-jung doesn’t recognize. In-soo explains that the device uses “targeted temperature management” to achieve and maintain a specific body temperature in a person for a period of time, which can reduce the risk of tissue injury following lack of sufficient blood flow.
In-soo takes the opportunity with to ask why Seo-jung stayed at such a dated hospital all this time. Unlike in the past, she answers that it’s because of Teacher Kim. She advises In-soo that under Teacher Kim’s tutelage, he can really change if he is able to endure the surgeon’s teachings. However, In-soo intends to leave Doldam as soon as he is permitted to.
Outside, Teacher Kim smiles as he watches Seo-jung celebrate all the new state-of-the-art equipment. CEO Shin calls to confirm the safe delivery of his end of the bargain. He reminds Teacher Kim that it’s time for him to honor the bargain on his end. CEO Shin asks him to set his surgery date, and Teacher Kim promises to call once everything is prepared.
Down the hall, Dong-joo watches Teacher Kim and recalls Dr. Song’s disclosure about Teacher Kim’s past, specifically an incident where he killed his devoted student. Dong-joo links that information with his memory of his first encounter with Teacher Kim, where he nearly chopped off his hand. But then he loops everything he knows about Teacher Kim together, and struggles to reconcile all the disparate bits of information.
Elsewhere, a bleeding man stumbles into Dr. Nam’s yard, then collapses. Dr. Nam carries the man to the ER, where Teacher Kim assesses five stab wounds across the man’s abdomen and immediately puts the team to work. A few minutes later, another patient enters the ER, prompting Teacher Kim to rattle off some instructions before he tells Seo-jung to treat the stabbed patient.
The deeper stab wounds will require surgery, so Yeon-hwa runs off to retrieve both Dong-joo and In-bum. Seo-jung is surprised by Yeon-hwa’s enthusiasm, and Nurse Assistant Park beams at the compliment.
Meanwhile, Dr. Song runs into Dong-joo and calls upon him to declare his allegiance to Geodae or Doldam. Before Dong-joo can answer, In-bum walks out of one of the rooms, and Dr. Song begins fussing over him as he complains about the subpar quality of their accommodations. He then excuses himself, but not before telling Dong-joo that they’ll continue their conversation later.
Left alone to exchange barbs, In-bum asks if Dong-joo is still kissing up to Dr. Song, even at Doldam. Dong-joo pointedly asks why In-bum ended up in the same place as him even though In-bum’s got all the connections. In-bum claims to be getting “real life” experience and that he can return to Geodae whenever he wants to, unlike Dong-joo. In response, Dong-joo asks whether In-bum would be better at him at anything if not for his father and all his connections.
The question shakes In-bum, who remembers his father’s very similar choice of words. He calls Dong-joo an asshole, which Dong-joo accepts readily before shooting back that it’s better than being irrelevant, like In-bum. At that, In-bum clenches his fist.
Dong-joo notices and practically eggs In-bum to hit him. Backing off, In-bum decides that Dong-joo isn’t worth the risk of injuring his hand. Dong-joo laughs and asks if it would matter to hurt a hand that’s lacking in surgical skills, and that last comment sets In-bum off as he lands a punch squarely in Dong-joo’s jaw, but then mysteriously clutches it afterwards. Hmm. Dong-joo rebounds and lunges to return the favor, but Yeon-hwa arrives in time to break up the fight.
Back in the hybrid room, Teacher Kim coaches In-soo through treatment for the second patient, who is unconscious. While In-soo conducts CPR, Teacher Kim tries to resuscitate him using a defibrillator. When that doesn’t work, Teacher Kim collects info from the EMTs and calculates that the patient’s heart has stopped for around seventeen minutes. The EMTs also explain that the man had suddenly collapsed at the bus station, and that his wife is on her way.
Teacher Kim then tells In-soo to keep administering CPR before he goes back to the stab wound patient after Seo-jung discovers a sixth stab wound on the man’s back. Surprisingly, Teacher Kim guesses that the blade of the knife snapped off and is still inside the man’s body. Yikes. He then growls at Seo-jung to drag Dong-joo and In-bum over ASAP.
She finds Dong-joo and briefs him on the stab wound patient, but interrupts herself after she notices the cut on his lip from In-bum’s attack. Dong-joo tries to distract her by asking more questions about the patient, but when she accuses him of getting into a fight, he barks back that he isn’t a kid.
Eventually, Dong-joo and In-bum report to Teacher Kim for duty. Teacher Kim charts out their surgical plan, but right before they break from their huddle, Dr. Song waltzes in to put a stop to Teacher Kim’s strategy. He orders that the patient be sent to a bigger hospital.
Teacher Kim steps up to mark his territory, and tells Dr. Song that it isn’t about the size of the hospital, but the competence of its doctors. Dr. Song echoes Dong-joo and warns Teacher Kim not to operate before receiving consent from the patient’s guardian. Seo-jung states that in emergency medical situations, the law requiring guardian consent to procedures can be voided.
This silences Dr. Song, and Teacher Kim proceeds as planned, assigning In-bum as lead surgeon and Dong-joo as the assistant. Of course, Dong-joo isn’t happy about it, but Teacher Kim tells Dong-joo that he can sit out if he doesn’t like it.
Dong-joo stomps out of the ER, pissed at being passed over in favor of In-bum. Caught up in his self pity, he accidentally bumps into a surly man dressed in black lurking outside the ER. The man warns Dong-joo to watch where’s he’s going before continuing on.
Before the surgery, Seo-jung visits In-bum to give him a bandage for his knuckle wound, having noticed it earlier. In-bum tries to blow her off again, but she doesn’t let him this time. She asks what she’s done to make him so upset, and he snaps back at her that he simply doesn’t like that she exists. She asks for clarification, bewildered by his claim, but he accuses her of pretending not to know why he hates her.
She maintains her ignorance, so In-bum spells it out of her: Basically, he hates her because she’s a product of his father’s extramarital affair. The revelation is stunning for Seo-jung, who can’t seem to fully comprehend what he’s insinuating. He begs her to leave him alone before storming out.
As they sterilize themselves for surgery, Teacher Kim advises In-bum not to fight with his hands—if he needs to fight with someone, then he should kick them instead, or let himself be hit. In-bum ignores his advice and asks for the reason why Teacher Kim forced him to work at Doldam. Teacher Kim guesses that In-bum thinks he wants to torture him, and by extension his father, Dr. Do. In-bum doesn’t deny it, so Teacher Kim tells In-bum to stop talking nonsense and focus on the surgery at hand.
In the shared office, Dong-joo stews alone, refusing to be second to In-bum. His rebellion doesn’t last long, and he finally resigns himself to his fate. When he opens the door to leave, he surprises Yeon-hwa, who had been waiting outside the door to deliver some medicine for Dong-joo’s cut. She nearly tips backwards, but he rescues her in time, making her swoon. He rights her, checks that she’s okay, then rushes off to the surgery. Poor Nurse Assistant Park.
Dong-joo’s tantrum and resulting tardiness disqualifies him from the surgery by Teacher Kim, who assigns himself as the assistant surgeon in the procedure. We then see that his aim was to watch In-bum in action and evaluate his skills, not to slight Dong-joo.
Out in the hybrid room, the patient with no heartbeat continues to flummox the ER team. Seo-jung recommends using that new machine to lower the patient’s body temperature and mitigate the brain damage. She goes out to explain her recommendation to the patient’s family, who express concern over the high cost of treatment, despite also caring deeply for the patient. Determined, the patient’s daughter swears to come up with the money to pay for the procedure no matter the cost.
However, when Seo-jung tries to get clearance, new Section Chief Ki-tae puts a stop to it, citing the low probability of success and the family’s inability to guarantee the fees since it’s not covered by insurance.
Seo-jung takes issue with both points, complaining that this type of procedure should be covered by insurance. Ki-tae says that even though it’s unfortunate, his hands are tied.
Seo-jung vows to do it without permission, but Ki-tae keeps telling her that she can’t. He’s stopped when one of the hospital staff runs up to tell him that the police are outside to discuss the patient with the stab wounds.
That man in black from earlier sits in the ER demanding a vitamin drip, and we learn that he intends to finish off the stab wound patient, who is still in surgery. Seo-jung tries to send the man away, ignorant of his plans, but he parks himself down and refuses to leave. She takes care of the problem by calling in Mr. Go, Doldam’s muscle, to escort him out.
Seo-jung finds Dong-joo sulking outside the OR and chides him for not listening to Teacher Kim. She treats the cut on his lip, nagging him the entire time. He watches her intently, then suddenly out of the blue, he says, “Date me, Yoon Seo-jung.” He offers to also forgive her for calling him childish.
She flicks him in the forehead and scolds him for speaking informally to her. She then orders him to go back inside the OR and do whatever it takes to stay in there. He tells her that she has three chances: He’ll ask her two more times, so she better think carefully before answering the next time. He takes his leave and she watches him with a wide smile. She sighs to herself and says, “One is always asking me out whenever our eyes meet, and the other one is writing himself a makjang drama about his family. How exhausting.” HA.
Dong-joo is in the bathroom inspecting his lip when that murderous man in black walks into the bathroom. The man begins griping about Seo-jung, and Dong-joo rightfully senses something dangerous about him. He takes note of something in the man’s pocket before quickly exiting the bathroom.
The wheels start spinning in his head, and he rushes out to find Ki-tae. He learns from a staff member that the police had come by because they suspected that the stabbing patient is a victim of some gang activity. Dong-joo hurries out to tell Ki-tae of the man in the bathroom, who he believes has some kind of concealed blade wrapped in a cloth.
Dong-joo returns to the OR and alerts the staff inside of the outside threat, but Teacher Kim doesn’t care and dismisses Dong-joo again. This time, Dong-joo refuses and remains adamant about staying. And because Dong-joo loves digging his own grave, he asks what he did so wrong to deserve this treatment, arguing that he was only a few minutes late.
Teacher Kim points out that the problem isn’t that Dong-joo was late, but the “useless thoughts” that led to his tardiness. Teacher Kim says that his attitude is all messed up, and that he let his useless thoughts interfere with their mission to save the patient. Teacher Kim tells Dong-joo that he doesn’t have the right to be in the OR. It’s that last statement that defeats him, and Dong-joo backs down.
Ki-tae calls the police and then mobilizes a small group to assist him in searching the grounds. They’re pretty ineffectual, and end up running around like Scooby’s Gang, terrified by the slightest movement.
Back with the unconscious patient, it looks as if Seo-jung’s recommendation paid off since the patient’s heartbeat is back up, but he’s still not awake. In-soo presses to know why Seo-jung wanted him to do the procedure when she could’ve done it herself. She tries to play it off, but he smells that something is off, and she shuffles away to avoid confirming anything.
At that moment, Deputy Nurse Ji, who had been observing the events at Doldam all day long from the shadows, walks into to corroborate In-soo’s suspicions. She wonders why Seo-jung, who is a board-certified physician, acts like a mere intern.
Seo-jung runs off in time to protect her secret, and finds herself in front of the OR. She stares at the door longingly, yearning to be in there, then turns and notices the man she had shooed out of the ER earlier. He asks for her confirmation that the stabbing patient is inside.
In the OR, phase one of the surgery comes to an end, and Dong-joo stands away from the activity. As they switch over to phase two, Dong-joo finally decides to give up and opens the door to leave. He’s alarmed to see Seo-jung standing in the doorway, a strange look in her eyes. Teacher Kim yells at Seo-jung for entering without sterilizing herself, but quiets down after he notices the man in black standing beside her with a sickle held to neck.
The man demands to know who’s in charge, and after Teacher Kim identifies himself, he orders him to stop the procedure, or he’ll kill Seo-jung. When nobody moves, the man shouts for Teacher Kim to stop the operation, and grabs Seo-jung closer as the blade inches toward her. She screams, and Dong-joo cries out.
I was hoping the Geodae arrivals would seriously shake up the dynamics at Doldam, and at first it seemed like it would, but by the end, the status quo remained more or less the same. (Serious question: Where were the other Geodae nurses for the majority of the episode?) However, it does appear as if something is going to give soon, and we will be moving forward into new territory.
I was pretty disappointed that Teacher Kim and Dr. Song’s relationship ended up being so cartoonish after all. Their interaction in last week’s episode was much more contemplative and layered. Now Dr. Song is back to acting outlandishly and being an overall pain in the ass, which seems to be his sole purpose. I fully understand why this is being done, because without Dr. Song at Doldam, there really isn’t anyone with the power (or desire) to directly oppose Teacher Kim and disrupt his “romantic” life. Because at Doldam, Teacher Kim’s influence frankly looms too largely, and with the way things stood, there was no reason for him to ultimately change his ways for the better, or to heal the pain and fear he harbors inside. That said, I wish Dr. Song was given a little more nuance and complexity.
On another note, if the main purpose of In-bum is to make Dong-joo look more desirable, then it’s working. Though, to be fair, they both came off as petulant, self-absorbed little children in this episode. Their lack of emotional maturity gave me so much secondhand embarrassment. I do wonder sometimes if the characters are being written to ham it up a bit so that the impact of Teacher’s Kim’s lessons seemingly hit harder. Which is unfortunate, because Teacher Kim’s tirades are often extremely compelling—I only wish they were given the proper amount of emotional weight they deserve.
If Teacher Kim’s interest in In-bum and Seo-jung’s generous treatment of him is any indication, then In-bum is going to have a nice character trajectory. I love the idea of bringing in the heir of the baddie empire, breaking them down, and making them an ally. Because it’s one thing to change a powerless, talented surgeon like Dong-joo and expect him to remain unpolluted in a broken world, and quite another to change the ideals of the prince, then send him back to implement those values systemically. I know In-bum thinks the only thing he’s gaining at Doldam is “real-life experience,” but I would so love it if he also gained a few comrades as he fights in the trenches, where status means nothing. Bring on the bromance!
I appreciate that Seo-jung is very aware, and understands how childish both Dong-joo and In-bum are acting. (I loooved when she made that comment about Dong-joo asking her out every time their eyes meet! Gave me a good laugh.) However, I do mourn the extent to which she’s being forced to live as a casualty of Teacher Kim, Dong-joo, and In-bum’s constant mood swings and overall all churlishness, though.
In any case, I know I’m not alone in sorely missing that the bright-eyed heroic firecracker we met in the first episode—someone who even made a hardass like Dr. Moon crack a smile with her mettle. I understand that Seo-jung is going through some stuff right now, but I wish it didn’t mean she had to lose all her spunk, enough to where she’s constantly groveling at Teacher Kim’s feet and doubting herself at every corner. I was hopeful last week to see her finally stand up to Teacher Kim, but it’s clear that changes occur slowly at Doldam. And perhaps that pace of development fits in with the overall theme at Doldam, where the morals are rigid, the technology (was) ancient, and the people are slow to change their ways. So maybe that’s the beauty of Doldam—because there isn’t a timeframe for mending your heart.