Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim: Episode 17
The Doldam team takes a huge momentous leap forward, only to be pushed back by the precariousness of an elderly man’s frail health. Teacher Kim confronts his foes face-to-face, but no real justice is meted out, and we’re still left wondering when the enemy will finally get what they deserve. I’d have to say the best part of this episode was the tiny, tiny bud of friendship between Dong-joo and In-bum that’s beginning to bloom into a full-grown yellow rose.
CHAPTER 17: “Moment of Truth”
Teacher Kim points out CEO Shin’s aorta and cautions Seo-jung to be careful, because the membrane is thin. She tries to gently pull on it, but a sudden spurt of blood sprays onto her face. The aorta keeps bleeding out until Teacher Kim lays a finger on the small tear, but Seo-jung has already lost her sense of calm and descends into a panic. Despite the ever-running clock and looming time limit, Teacher Kim keeps his cool and sutures up the wound with quick, sure movements.
Dong-joo and In-bum watch with apprehension from just outside the OR as they wait to enter for their portion of the surgery, when suddenly Yeon-hwa bursts through the doors to inform them of an emergency ulcer patient. In-bum accompanies her back to the ER to determine if the ulcer patient is indeed critical, all the while berating her for minor mistakes along the way.
After they look at the CT scan together, In-bum confirms an ulcer perforation and calls Dong-joo to let him know that this patient needs surgery immediately. In-bum proposes that he take care of the ulcer patient while Dong-joo stays ready for CEO Shin’s surgery.
But Dong-joo disagrees, because he can’t perform the abdominal battery/controller exchange by himself within Teacher Kim’s given time limit of twenty minutes. He thinks that if they work together, they can sew up the ulcer patient in time to perform CEO Shin’s abdominal surgery.
In-bum quickly agrees, and they move to operate on the ulcer patient. Dong-joo quietly lets one of the nurses know what’s happening on their end, but asks her to not let Teacher Kim know, because it might ruin his momentum.
Inside the Doldam Hospital lobby, Dr. Do and his retinue of Geodae Hospital cardiothoracic specialists view Teacher Kim’s live surgery on a projected screen. Eyes widen and awed whispers fill the air as the doctors witness a near-perfect surgery that seems to be happening at inhuman speed.
Sure that Teacher Kim is negligently skipping necessary steps to increase his pace, Dr. Do asks his cardiothoracic department head, DR. SHIM, what his personal opinion is regarding the technicalities. But Dr. Do only receives amazed compliments regarding Teacher Kim in reply.
In two different operating rooms, Teacher Kim’s and Dong-joo and In-bum’s parallel surgeries steadily progress at astounding rates. As soon as Dong-joo finds the perforation, his hands move like lightning while In-bum and some of the other hospital staff stare at him, obviously impressed.
But there’s no time for praise, because Teacher Kim, in the room next door, is similarly moving at breakneck speed. A nurse from Teacher Kim’s side comes into Dong-joo and In-bum’s OR to hurry them along, since it’s almost time for them to perform on CEO Shin. With less than a moment left, Dong-joo and In-bum finish stapling up their ulcer patient together.
They scrub up again, and are ready just in time as Teacher Kim finishes his part. In perfect sync with each other, Dong-joo and In-bum start cutting into CEO Shin. When they finish, they’ve shaved off two more minutes from their allotted time for Teacher Kim.
Watching the twos rivals’ seamless teamwork, Dr. Song comments to Dr. Do that his son, In-bum, is screen-worthy. In the back of the audience, Ki-tae, who is acting as unofficial host of the Geodae party, intercepts a reporter who asks for the location of the restroom. Suspicious of his motives, Ki-tae watches him until he walks down the correct hallway. But the sneaky reporter is one step ahead of Ki-tae and ends up sneaking to where he wants to be: Teacher Kim’s personal office.
He takes pictures of Teacher Kim’s desk and white board, containing all the cluttered notes and research on CEO Shin’s operation. He rifles through file cabinet, and finds the binder of Teacher Kim’s students, seeing something interesting within. When he comes back to the Doldam lobby, he introduces himself to Ki-tae and flatters him to get on his good side.
Teacher Kim stitches in the replacement artificial heart in record time. He orders for the heart to be turned on, and in that moment of truth, we know that the good guys have won this battle, because the mechanical white heart starts pumping with a steady rhythm.
As the Geodae physicians observe Teacher Kim’s success, the cardiology department head turns to Dr. Do with flabbergasted shock. When Dr. Do asks him if anything went wrong, he responds that the only strange happening was how fast and how flawlessly the surgery proceeded.
At this, Dr. Do grinds his teeth with a thwarted expression, as the other doctors around him revel in wonder. From another location, Hyun-jung watches her father’s surgery from her laptop and smiles, remarking to herself that Teacher Kim’s skills haven’t rusted a bit since his heyday.
In the OR, Teacher Kim urges Seo-jung to touch the mechanical heart, saying that this is only her first artificial heart surgery (implying that she has a bright future in cardiothoracic medicine ahead). She feels CEO Shin’s heartbeat with happy tears in her eyes.
The final time they recorded for the surgery that should have taken ten hours was exactly six hours and two minutes. The surgical team concludes their hard work with bright grins and congratulatory high fives all around.
Dong-joo and In-bum, who exited the OR after their portion of the surgery was done, watch the team’s success with relieved smiles. In an overjoyed, spur-of-the-moment gesture, Dong-joo extends a friendly fist to In-bum, and like the tsundere he is, In-bum looks away haughtily but returns the fistbump.
Later, Hyun-jung marches into Doldam Hospital looking for her father. Dr. Do is already in front of the ICU room waiting for her arrival, where CEO Shin is still unconscious. Inside, Teacher Kim, Dr. Nam, and Seo-jung watch over their elderly patient, whose vitals seem steady for the moment.
When Teacher Kim steps out, Hyun-jung demands to know her father’s condition. He says that CEO Shin is doing fine, and that he should wake sometime in the next six to twelve hours. The devious Dr. Do asks innocently about the possible neural damage that could have come from clipping the aorta.
It’s enough to make Hyun-jung nervous, but Teacher Kim confidently replies that it was a minor issue that shouldn’t have a big effect on CEO Shin’s overall recovery. He goes even further by asking Dr. Do if he even wants CEO Shin to wake up at all, seeming to know that it would be against Dr. Do’s interests.
This causes Hyun-jung to narrow her eyes in suspicion, and Dr. Do, with outrage, claims loudly he’s doing all this because he’s sincerely concerned bout CEO Shin’s health. When Teacher Kim leaves the conversation, Dr. Do tries to smooth over any misunderstanding with Hyun-jung, but she just cuts him off and asks Manager Joo to call her when her father wakes up.
When Manager Joo asks her if she wants to go into the ICU to see him, Hyun-jung replies that she doesn’t want to see her father in his sick condition. In the ICU, Seo-jung talks to the unconscious CEO, encouraging him not to give up, and to get up soon.
Teacher Kim enters the lobby, only to be greeted by a barrage of Geodae doctors who all want to talk to him about his phenomenal surgery. He brushes past them and goes to rest in his room, but he’s soon interrupted by Ki-tae, who brings in the shady REPORTER OH (the one who snuck into his room) to meet him. When Teacher Kim sees him, there’s a moment of recognition that causes Teacher Kim’s eyes to grow dark with dismay.
The manga artist lying next to CEO Shin in the ICU starts wheezing into his respirator, and Seo-jung hurries to treat him. Knowing that Seo-jung has been running on minimal food and rest since the surgery, Dr. Nam insists that she eat something first. But Dr. Song impatiently waves his arms at Seo-jung from outside, telling her to come follow him.
In-bum lambastes Yeon-hwa again for a mistake she made while taking the CT scan of the ulcer patient. With a frustrated and raised voice, In-bum yells, “Don’t be sorry, just do it well!” Around them, everyone notices the sudden tension, and this ends up being the last straw for Nurse Assistant Park, who has been watching Yeon-hwa and her negative interactions with In-bum for some time now.
After she leaves the ER, he confronts In-bum about how unfair he is being toward her. In-bum tells him to butt out, adding that this is an affair between doctors and not something a nurse should interfere in, showing a superior prejudiced attitude that we haven’t seen before.
Nurse Oh, who has been watching the entire exchange from afar, steps in as the situation looks like it’ll turn violent, and covers her hand over Nurse Assistant Park’s clenched fist. She defuses In-bum enough to get him to leave and gently advises Nurse Assistant Park not to get involved.
Dr. Song leads Seo-jung to a room where Dr. Do is waiting with a young rising star in the Geodae cardiovascular department, who is introduced to her as AHN WOO-YEOL. The meeting is clearly a setup, with Dr. Do standing in as matchmaker. Dong-joo, who was walking past the room, stops and eavesdrops on the conversation when he sees Seo-jung. (Lol, is this becoming a habit?)
When Dr. Do expresses his long time affection for Seo-jung to Dr. Ahn, she’s taken aback, because she remembers that only a couple weeks ago, he cut off all ties with her for her support of Teacher Kim. They never resolved their problem since then, so all this matchmaking now seems fake and pretentious to her.
He smoothly says that their argument was a short lapse in judgment, and tells her that she should not be so upset. Dr. Song then goes on to try to kindle a romantic relationship between Seo-jung and Dr. Ahn, blatantly pointing out that they are both single and available.
When Dr. Do suggests that they all meet in Seoul for dinner and drinks, Dong-joo finally takes a stance and barges in on them. He grabs Seo-jung and announces that Teacher Kim is trying to find her (which is a lie). She quickly rises, and he leaves after her, but not before he sends a death glare in Dr. Ahn’s direction.
Dong-joo tells Seo-jung to go to the break room, where he sits her down and asks what she wants to order for lunch. It’s then that she realizes that Teacher Kim never called for her; it was just a part of Dong-joo’s plan to get her out of an uncomfortable situation.
She starts smiling, while he jealously pouts and tells her not to go to those types of meetings again. He offers to make a sign for her back that states: “Yoon Seo-jung has a man. If you touch her, be prepared for instant death.”
Dong-joo threatens to confess all to Dr. Do by saying, “Seo-jung already has a man. I am that man,” and she can’t stop beaming at his sweet declarations. Thinking she isn’t taking him seriously, Dong-joo stands up to find Dr. Do and tell him exactly those words, when Seo-jung stops him by expressing that she wants pizza for lunch.
He sits back down and looks at the menu to order, but she scoots her chair next to him and lays her head on his shoulder. Frozen with fluttery tension, Dong-joo attempts to play it cool by asking what type of soda she wants. But when her hands wrap around his arm, he drops all pretense of trying to order, and they enjoy a moment of romantic togetherness.
Ki-tae is alarmed to realize that Reporter Oh and Teacher Kim already know each other. Ignoring Ki-tae for now, Teacher Kim calls Reporter Oh a trash investigator and tells him that although he doesn’t know what orders Dr. Do gave him, he should leave, because he’s not going to talk. Reporter Oh retorts that at least he never killed anyone by making others perform surgery in his name.
Teacher Kim rebuts by saying that Reporter Oh has ruined lives by the skewed words he writes. Reporter Oh tells him not to avoid the subject, trying to get Teacher Kim to spill the beans. He warns Teacher Kim that if he doesn’t explain the truth to the world, the world will continue to view him unfavorably. Then Teacher Kim asks Reporter Oh: “If you knew the truth, would you even have the courage to write it?”
After having heard of Nurse Assistant’s Park encounter with In-bum on her behalf, Yeon-hwa has a talk with him to clear up her stance on the matter. Yeon-hwa expresses that although she appreciates what Nurse Assistant Park was trying to do, she still needs In-bum’s criticism, no matter how scathing, to learn and grow as a doctor.
Nurse Assistant Park explains that Doldam Hospital is a place where people show basic respect for each other, no matter how young or inexperienced. Then, he tells her that she’s being bullied more because she does not defend herself. He adds that no matter who it was, if he saw them being treated the way she was by In-bum, he would have stood up for them.
Urgently, Ki-tae calls a meeting with Nurse Oh and Director Yeo. He apprises them about Reporter Oh’s intrusion, and how it could negatively impact Teacher Kim’s peaceful life at Doldam Hospital by public defamation. Nurse Oh rages like a mother bear protecting her cub, but it’s Director Yeo who suddenly stands up and leaves, saying that he has urgent business elsewhere.
At the batcave restaurant, Dr. Nam and Nurse Oh share a drink and discuss the death of Teacher Kim’s former student, Jang Hyun-joo. She asks Dr. Nam why Teacher Kim won’t explain himself after all these years. She doesn’t understand why Teacher Kim is keeping silent about Geodae Hospital’s framing of him.
Dr. Nam tells Nurse Oh that Teacher Kim has his reasons, and the most that he can reveal is that it’s partially because Teacher Kim is protecting another person. Nurse Oh inquires further, but Dr. Nam zips up, saying that he promised to take the secret to his grave. At another table, Reporter Oh, who was posing as a customer, has overheard everything.
The scene cuts to Teacher Kim entering the ER, where Dong-joo is examining another patient. (Is Dong-joo the one Teacher Kim is protecting?) He remarks to Dong-joo that he heard about the ulcer perforation patient’s surgery that happened during CEO Shin’s operation.
Dong-joo apologizes for making the decision to operate on the emergency patient, since it meant going against Teacher Kim’s orders to stand ready for his part in CEO Shin’s surgery. Instead of berating him like he expects, Teacher Kim tells him he did a good job and leaves. Wondering if he heard Teacher Kim correctly, Dong-joo scratches his ear, but ends up smiling at the unanticipated compliment.
At a bar, Dr. Do meets with Reporter Oh, and they discuss what the latter man found out about Teacher Kim on their visit to Doldam Hospital. It seems that Reporter Oh found Teacher Kim’s ambitious “plans,” which he took pictures of on his phone.
Dr. Do scoffs at the preposterousness of Teacher Kim’s dreams, but Reporter Oh counters by saying that they could be possible with CEO Shin on his side. Dr. Do says that while CEO Shin may be on Teacher Kim’s side, God seems to be on his own because CEO Shin has not woken up yet, even long after the predicted 12 hour window.
Hyun-jung screams into the phone, upset that her father hasn’t regained consciousness yet. She goes to the hospital right away, where Teacher Kim and Seo-jung are already checking up on their sleeping patient, whose vitals still remain steady. Hyun-jung bombards Teacher Kim with a barrage of questions regarding her father’s condition. He replies that they need to observe him for another 48-72 hours, and Hyun-jung expresses her agitation.
With his followers in tow, Dr. Do arrives and advocates Hyun-jung’s position. As the director of the main Geodae Hospital, Dr. Do orders Teacher Kim to begin all sorts of tests on CEO Shin. However, Teacher Kim refuses by saying that any accidental perturbation of the many tubes and wires connected to the CEO could endanger his life. Dr. Do believes Teacher Kim is afraid that CEO Shin won’t wake up, and therefore is hiding his true condition.
He reveals that he knows Teacher Kim’s “plans,” and throws the photo documents he received from Reporter Oh in a showy display of indignation. He asks if this was all Teacher Kim wanted: to create a trauma center at Doldam Hospital with a motley team of misfit medical professionals (malpractice suit defendant Dr. Nam, PTSD patient Seo-jung, disgraced fellow Dong-joo, etc.).
Dr. Do demands to know if Teacher Kim pushed a terminally ill elderly man to undertake a risky surgery just to fill his own ambitions. He then puts Dr. Shim in charge of CEO Shin’s well-being, and demands that a CT scan be taken immediately. As Dr. Shim steps to follow Dr. Do’s orders, Teacher Kim calls for Mr. Go (the bear-like orderly) to guard the ICU against the malicious Geodae intruders.
When Dr. Do asks on what authority he’s acting on, Teacher Kim takes out a handwritten contract and shoves it in front of his face. It’s a sworn notarized statement from CEO Shin, legally giving Teacher Kim all the power necessary to take control of his treatment after the surgery. Manager Joo confirms that it is a real and valid document, and Hyun-jung turns around in surprise.
Teacher Kim repeats himself and tells Dr. Do to leave, and having no choice now, Dr. Do turns and marches away with an enraged glare on his face. Hyun-jung, on her way out, threatens Manager Joo with expulsion if her father does not wake up. Dong-joo picks up the stray papers of Teacher Kim’s plans that Dr. Do threw up in the air, while In-bum watches as his father storms out of Doldam Hospital.
Director Yeo enters a Japanese-style diner and greets the elderly hostess, whose expression suddenly turns to stone. She asks what he’s doing here again. He says he’s there to eat some udon, but she still seems wary.
Meanwhile, in a cafe somewhere, Reporter Oh writes his first sentence of a new story featuring Teacher Kim. It’s extremely sensationalistic: “Dr. Bu Yong-joo, formerly lauded as a medical genius, proceeded with a risky daring surgery on Geodae Hospital Board’s chairman, who now lies in a coma since the surgery.” However, after reviewing Teacher Kim’s student files, Reporter Oh has a slight change of heart. He decides to call the doctor before he publishes anything in print, and asks him whether he’s ready to let the world know the truth.
Dong-joo’s voiceover in the background says:
“An age where real facts are ignored, and the words of the powerful become fact while the powerless stay helpless. Although the truth is based on fact, not all facts were righteous.”
Despite this being the seventeenth episode, the pace is keeping steady and pushing forward. By now, I expected things to get laggy, but I’ve gotten so invested in the entire Doldam team that I want to know more about all the back stories behind the secondary characters as well. I can’t wait until next week when Director Yeo’s relationship with the udon restaurant hostess and Dr. Nam’s malpractice suit history might be revealed, and maybe we’ll even get to see how Nurse Assistant Park arrived at Doldam Hospital. After his talk with Yeon-hwa, it seems like he might also have a troubled past worth recounting.
The romantic aspect of the show took a backseat as hospital politics occupied most of the screen time this hour, but I’m grateful to the writers for at least giving us some squeal-worthy tidbits. After the will-they/won’t-they part of a love story is over, usually much of the tension disappears, making the couple less interesting as a result. Not in this case: I love all the Seo-jung/Dong-joo moments that capture their natural chemistry and evolving relationship. I’ve noticed that Dong-joo always seems much younger than usual when he’s playing the jealous possessive boyfriend to Seo-jung. It’s exactly like Seo-jung said before — he’s still an elementary school kiddie when it comes to her. Those two together are more adorable than a basket of puppies.
Speaking of puppies, how cute was that fist bump between Dong-joo and In-bum? Too cute for words! I may be in the minority, but I’ve been secretly (or maybe not so secretly) rooting for In-bum to throw off the shackles of his prejudiced background and become the loyal patient-saving doctor I know he can be. But this episode totally threw a curveball in my expectations/dreams for his growth. I can’t tell if In-bum knows he’s being an ass toward Yeon-hwa or if his behavior is just a byproduct of his upbringing from Dr. Do, who taught him that the powerful can trample all over the weak. Either way, it’s clear that she’s being treated unfairly, and that he’s making her a convenient target for him to vent his all of his frustrations. Bad boy, In-bum. Bad.
Another thing that threw me off guard happened way at the beginning: Seo-jung’s sudden minor meltdown during CEO Shin’s surgery. I’m not too knowledgeable about PTSD, but it seems weird that Seo-jung’s triggers are all so random and inconsistent. Initially, it was Dong-joo, which made sense because of the context of her accident with Dr. Moon. But now, it’s minor squirts of blood? I guess that the high-stress situation of the OR could have caused a panic attack. But given that she’s an ER doc who has to face blood-gushing scenarios on a daily basis, at this point, her PTSD just seems like a convenient plot device, rather than a real mental disorder.
All in all, I’m ready for this entire CEO Shin business to end, and to witness Dr. Do’s satisfying downfall from power. Hopefully, they won’t wait until the very end to conclude the story arc, because I want to see Teacher Kim’s vision of a humanistic trauma center at Doldam Hospital come to fruition. Now, wouldn’t that be something – a world where healers can just heal without being tempted by worldly greed for money or fame?
- Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim: Episode 16
- Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim: Episode 15
- 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