Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim: Episode 19
Finally, everything is out in the open, even if the truth may painful to confront. Even though it hurts to know the truth right now, our Doldam team needs this in order to build up their core belief in each other and come back stronger than before. The enemy keeps lobbing unexpected volleys at our heroes, but thankfully, Teacher Kim isn’t going to take it sitting down this time. As we get ready for the final fight, our team of underdogs become more united than ever, making for a delightful watch.
Chapter 19: “A Righteous Person and A Doctor”
Dong-joo demands to know why Teacher Kim pushed back his father’s surgery, and whether it was him and not Dr. Do who made the decision. He (mistakenly) realizes that all those times Teacher Kim showed a soft spot for him, it was because he felt guilty for pushing back his father’s surgery for a VIP patient.
Teacher Kim does nothing to counter Dong-joo’s accusations, and tells him that both patients came within five minutes of each other. He says he made the decision that the other patient was more urgent due to his condition, not because he was a VIP. He gives a medically sound explanation for his decision, and Dong-joo can’t say a word in disagreement.
Despite his emotionally charged state, Dong-joo claims that he’s stable enough to perform surgery on the drunk colitis patient, and that Teacher Kim should worry about his own aortic dissection surgery. They go on their separate ways to prepare, but before he leaves the ER, Teacher Kim asks Nurse Oh to keep an eye on Dong-joo, because he’s worried about him.
Seo-jung watches Dong-joo as he scrubs up and asks whether he’s okay, but he’s caught up in his own world of painful memories. He says that he doesn’t know yet, but he’s not ready to think about it until after the surgery.
At Dong-joo’s mother’s mandoo restaurant, Reporter Oh questions her regarding the incident where Dong-joo caused destruction in the Geodae Hospital ER fourteen years ago. Despite the damage of more than $200,000, she didn’t end up having to pay for the cost, although there was a police investigation. The lawsuit was stopped midway, and she always thought it was because her husband had died at Geodae, or maybe because her son was so young at the time.
The conversation between Dr. Do and Reporter Oh, which we saw glimpses of in the last episode, is revealed. Dr. Do had told Reporter Oh that destroying relationships is the easiest thing to do in the world, because it takes neither power nor money, but just a single word to spread a seed of doubt.
A patient guardian (who we’ll just call Guardian #1) confronts In-soo regarding the state of her husband, whose stomach has been punctured with glass. Her husband had arrived at the ER first, so she says she doesn’t understand what is taking so long; she asks for him to be transferred so that he can get surgery as soon as possible, but the next hospital is too far.
Because of her continuous complaints, In-soo calls Dong-joo to tell him to hurry his operation so that Guardian #1’s husband can be treated soon. The caretaker for the drunk colitis patient currently in surgery (who will now be referred to as Guardian #2) overhears In-soo’s phone call.
In-soo also gives Teacher Kim a phone call to ask when he’ll be finished with his aortic dissection surgery, but Teacher Kim just ignores him in order concentrate fully on his patient. Teacher Kim continues to work at his steady pace, and finishes the main part of his operation in twenty-eight minutes. For the wrap-up, he asks Seo-jung to perform the last stitches. With grateful disbelief, she agrees; it’s a momentous occasion, because it’s the first time she’s taking the lead with Teacher Kim assisting her.
Despite Nurse Oh’s warnings not to rush through the colitis surgery, Dong-joo quickens his pace, and suddenly blood spurts everywhere. He struggles to find the origin of the arterial bleeding, but perseveres through and clamps it down to stop the bleeding.
The surgery ends successfully, and Dr. Nam compliments Dong-joo for his skill again. As he leaves the OR, he stops to check the progression of Teacher Kim’s operation in the room next door. They see each other through the window slit, but Dong-joo turns away first.
As he explains that the operation was successful to Guardian #2, she cautiously asks if it actually went well. She had read on the patient-surgery agreement that it was supposed to take two hours, but Dong-joo finished within an hour and a half. He tells her that he did his best, and that the operation time isn’t a huge factor in its success.
And over the ICU, CEO Shin lies in a bed next to the manhwa artist, who strikes up conversation about the good-hearted people at Doldam Hospital.
Dong-joo is still in surgery with Guardian #1’s husband when his phone rings; it’s a call from his mother, who is concerned after Reporter Oh’s visit. Seo-jung picks up and answers the call since he’s in surgery. His mother asks Seo-jung if anything has happened to him, but Seo-jung doesn’t want to worry her, so she says nothing has happened. They talk warmly about the food that Dong-joo’s mom brought up for them the last time she came to Doldam Hospital.
In a slip of the tongue, Seo-jung refers to Dong-joo’s mom as “Mother” (implying a mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship), and apologizes immediately. She asks if she would prefer to be addressed as “ajumma” instead, but Dong-joo’s mom chuckles and tells her it’s all right to keep calling her “Mother.”
Clearly feeling less burdened and more lighthearted than before, Dong-joo’s mom offers to bring them more food, and asks Seo-jung what her favorite dishes are. After rattling off all her favorites, Seo-jung says she’ll send over Gangwon Province’s famous sweet corn.
When Dong-joo comes out of surgery, he encounters Teacher Kim and confronts him again about his father. He asks whether Teacher Kim ever regretted his decision, but doesn’t receive the answer he wants; Teacher Kim replies that he made an unavoidable choice. With tears rolling down his face and with his voice shaking, Dong-joo says he understands Teacher Kim’s decision as a doctor, but as a son, he can’t help but feel rage. Teacher Kim tells him to deal with his feelings because he’s not a helpless teenager anymore, but a doctor now.
Dr. Nam, who witnessed the entire conversation between them, goes up to Teacher Kim afterward to ask why he didn’t tell the truth that he didn’t know Dong-joo’s father had come into the ER until it was too late. Teacher Kim says that even if he had known, his decision wouldn’t have changed, adding that Dong-joo didn’t need his excuses anyway—he needed a target for his anger.
From Geodae hospital, another one of Dr. Do’s schemes unfolds. He announces to the press the news of CEO Shin’s surgery, which is the first successful artificial heart-to-artificial heart transplant in Korea. However, he takes all the credit, and omits Teacher Kim’s name in all the reports.
Reporter Oh comes by the udon house to ask the hostess, who was a Geodae nurse, about Bu Yong-joo’s downfall all those years ago. Although the former nurse refuses initially, the persistent reporter gets her to talk after assuring her that she won’t be recorded.
When Director Yeo calls Dr. Do to ask about all the news reports, the Geodae Hospital head just says that he made the announcement to prevent all the rumors circulating about CEO Shin’s health. Additionally, Dr. Do says that he’s thinking of taking all the doctors (except Teacher Kim) who participated in the artificial heart transplant surgery back to Geodae Hospital permanently.
Ki-tae, who was right beside Director Yeo when he made his phone call, goes to rant to Nurse Oh about this new frustrating development. Nurse Oh, who already confronted Teacher Kim about the reports, says that it’s no use talking to him, because during their conversation, Teacher Kim told Nurse Oh to just let it be. He didn’t want any more hullabaloo, and had pointed out that Doldam Hospital was already full of patients, and more press would just mean overcrowding.
Teacher Kim continued by saying the best thing he ever did was to give up his name, Bu Yong-joo. He said that after he gave up his name and reputation, he felt so free, and now he wants to continue living this quiet life at Doldam Hospital.
Dr. Song gathers the artificial heart transplant team (except Teacher Kim) in the break room, and invites them to the big Geodae Hospital party that’s being held in their honor. When they learn that Teacher Kim is not coming, one by one, they all refuse the invitation, including In-bum. Only In-soo still wants to attend so that he can go back to Seoul and see his family, but Dr. Song disregards his pleas. (Poor In-soo, always being ignored.)
Seo-jung asks Dong-joo whether he resolved things with Teacher Kim, but he stays silent. She starts telling him about her conversation with his mother, when the abdomen patient starts having a seizure due to alcohol withdrawal. Although they try everything they can to stabilize his vitals, his condition doesn’t improve.
Guardian #2, who was waiting outside the ICU, breaks into tears as Dong-joo tells her to prepare for the worst. She asks if her husband is dying because something went wrong in the surgery yesterday, but Dong-joo explains that it’s alcohol withdrawal that’s causing his symptoms.
Just then, Guardian #1 storms up to Dong-joo to demand that her husband be moved into the ICU. Dong-joo tells her that it’s not possible with the current situation, and that her husband is not in a critical state that warrants entry into the ICU. But she doesn’t care and raises her voice, demanding that he be moved immediately.
Hearing the other woman’s complaints, Guardian #2 can’t take it anymore and starts an argument with her. She still thinks that her husband’s surgery was rushed and done neglectfully because of Guardian #1’s loud complaints to In-soo. But, Guardian #1 accuses Guardian #2 of being the one who started it by taking their spot in line for surgery.
Dong-joo is taken aback when he hears Guardian #2’s certainty that her husband’s surgery was hurried. He tells her again that he did his best, and then tells Guardian #1 that the urgency of a patient and necessity of the ICU is determined by the doctor, not the caretaker. Neither of them listen to him, and the alcoholic patient goes into cardiac arrest. Despite performing CPR for an hour, his heart rhythm stays flat. CEO Shin and the manhwa artist, who were lying in the ICU beds nearby, look over at the dead patient and his doctors with ominous expressions.
When Dong-joo informs Guardian #2 of her husband’s death, she asks why he would even operate on her husband if he didn’t have the ability to save him. She demands that Dong-joo bring her husband back to life, and blames him for not doing the surgery properly.
Dong-joo snaps at this and yells that it was alcohol that killed her husband, not the surgery. She can’t believe that a man who was fine until yesterday just died this morning, after having surgery last night. That’s when Seo-jung enters to usher away the mourning caretaker. When Dong-joo sees Guardian #1, he remarks that now her husband can be moved into the ICU (because the other patient is dead).
Teacher Kim follows Dong-joo into his office and reprimands him for his attitude with the patient caretakers. In an angry roar, Dong-joo retorts that he did his best in both surgeries. He asks why he’s being blamed for the scarcity of ICU beds and the patient’s alcohol addiction, when neither were his fault. Then he acknowledges his hypocrisy regarding his current situation and Teacher Kim’s past situation with his father’s surgery. He’s burning up with fury inside and wants to blame Teacher Kim, but he can’t anymore, because he is a doctor.
Teacher Kim, seeing Dong-joo’s ferocious flood of emotions, gives him a lesson on a surgeon’s life. He says that the two things he hears the most are: “Why did you perform surgery if you couldn’t save him?” and “He was fine before, so something must have gone wrong during the surgery.”
Although it is their duty to heal, Teacher Kim says, they often get blamed because the nature of their work (in taking knives to people’s bodies) makes them suspicious. Teacher Kim gently urges Dong-joo to go apologize to the patient guardians, and tells him that the healing process will only be complete when he, as the doctor, gives them closure. Dong-joo bows his head and says that in his current state of mind, he can’t accept Teacher Kim’s lecture.
Back at the Japanese diner, the udon hostess tells Reporter Oh that Teacher Kim was not at fault, but he took responsibility anyway because other people’s lives were on the line. A flashback takes us back to an old confrontation between Teacher Kim and Dr. Do: The Geodae Hospital head threatened Teacher Kim with the firing of seven of his coworkers who had performed the false-name surgery if he did not comply.
Taking advantage of Teacher Kim’s compassionate nature, Dr. Do further reminded Teacher Kim that three of the seven people were the breadwinners of their households who would never be employed again if news of their deeds was revealed. The former nurse reveals to Reporter Oh that she and the others were cowardly then, and had felt only relief that Bu Yong-joo had left. Reporter Oh asks who the principal surgeon for Jang Hyun-joo’s surgery was, and she points to the picture of Dr. Do in the newspaper. But that’s only half the story.
In the hallway, Dr. Nam takes Dong-joo aside for a talk about Teacher Kim. Dr. Nam explains that Teacher Kim wasn’t just covering for the seven hospital staff members — there was one other person who he wanted to protect, a middle school boy who had destroyed half the Geodae Hospital ER. Although the hospital had wanted to sue the young boy’s mother and put him behind bars, Teacher Kim’s resignation stopped that from happening.
Teacher Kim receives an envelope with documents containing information on all the patients that were falsely operated on under his name. He calls Reporter Oh, who tells him that several patients had found out later about their false operation, but that Geodae Hospital had bribed them to keep their mouths shut.
Although the multiple statute of limitations have passed, Reporter Oh says that it should be a good weapon against Dr. Do. After he hangs up, Teacher Kim looks at the sticky note the reporter had written: “Although I couldn’t reveal the truth to the world, I wanted at least give the truth to the person who needed to know it most.”
After his talk with Dr. Nam, Dong-joo cries by himself on the hallway bench, but goes back up to the ICU to apologize to Guardian #1. However, he adds that all patients that come to Doldam are treated equally, and are given every sincere effort. Seo-jung, who watches the encounter, gives him her nod of approval.
Dr. Song catches Seo-jung on her way downstairs and tries to convince her to come to the Geodae Hospital party. She refuses him again, saying that it would be weird to go without Teacher Kim. Just as they are speaking of him, Teacher Kim hears his name and asks what they are discussing. Seo-jung tells him about the party, and Teacher Kim asks why he wasn’t invited.
Dr. Song reluctantly invites him, thinking that he wouldn’t come anyway. But he readily accepts, and gets Seo-jung to come along as well. In the ER, Teacher Kim tells Nurse Oh, Ki-tae, and Dr. Nam to come with him to the Geodae party, and he makes arrangement to leave Dr. Song, In-soo, and Yeon-hwa at Doldam Hospital to attend to the patients.
He then carefully asks Dong-joo if he would also come with them. And he replies, “Teacher, if you go, I will go.” Everyone smiles as they realize that the animosity between Dong-joo and Teacher Kim is at an end.
Spineless weasel Dr. Song is left with a dilemma as to whether he should inform Dr. Do that Teacher Kim is going to the party, but it seems like a no-win situation for him. If he tells Dr. Do, he’ll only be blamed for not preventing Teacher Kim, and he knows that he won’t be able to convince Teacher Kim not to go.
In his office, Nurse Oh asks what Teacher Kim plans to do when he goes to Geodae Hospital, and Teacher Kim says that he’s going to do what he wasn’t able to do fourteen years ago.
Like a badass team of superheroes, the Doldam Hospital staff strides into Geodae Hospital with Teacher Kim leading the charge. (Oh my god, my girl-crush on Nurse Oh just grew 1000x times because of her awesome black leather trench coat.)
In the banquet hall, Dr. Do greets reporters with a benevolent smile as he takes credit for Teacher Kim’s work. He receives a call from Dr. Song, who informs him of the Doldam team’s imminent arrival without mentioning Teacher Kim, and adds that he’s sorry, but he won’t be able to come because of a stomachache.
Everyone in the banquet hall eagerly awaits the Doldam people. When they arrive, Dr. Do is shocked to see Teacher Kim on his home turf. He asks his nemesis what he’s doing here, and Teacher Kim replies that obviously, he’s here because he’s the one who led the artificial heart-to-artificial heart surgery.
Dr. Do recalls his bar conversation with Reporter Oh, who had said that the hardest thing in the world is to break out of your comfort zone. At the time, Reporter Oh was thinking of his phone call with Teacher Kim, who had revealed that he had been a coward as Bu Yong-joo, who feared that would lose the battle and wanted to run away. To Dr. Do, Reporter Oh had only mysteriously said that next time, he probably wouldn’t get his way.
Realizing that this is what the reporter had meant, Dr. Do asks Teacher Kim if he really wants to duke it out. Breaking out into a smile, Teacher Kim asks in reply, “Are you afraid?”
Goodness, that was intense. Dong-joo’s story arc has come full circle, starting with his initial impetus to become a doctor (his father’s death) to his acknowledgement that as a doctor, he’s grown to understand what he hadn’t as a grieving adolescent. I don’t know if he would have reached the same conclusions even a couple months ago. Being at Doldam Hospital has given him a maturity that he didn’t have before, and it shows through his actions and attitude. This time, he didn’t use violence to solve his problems and vent his frustrations, like he did as a child or even in his first few weeks at Doldam Hospital.
Dong-joo knew that his immediate priority was saving the patient, not his own emotional dilemma, so he calmly decided to operate on the patient before delving any further into his new revelation about Teacher Kim. It’s also a testament to his growth that he understood he was being hypocritical when he blamed Teacher Kim for his father’s death. Back at Geodae Hospital, when he decided to take on the VIP patient instead of his scheduled patient, he must have known his actions were hypocritical, but he didn’t acknowledge it until the daughter of the dead patient showed up at his doorstep.
But this time, he was the first one to admit that he was being hypocritical. His anger and hurt were understandable, given that he felt betrayed by a mentor who had become his role model. But I’m glad that when Dr. Nam told him the truth, he was quick to make amends. His remarks to Guardian #1 about Doldam being a place of equality where everyone tried their best to treat their patients really showed that he had accepted that Teacher Kim tried (or would have tried) to do his best for his father under the circumstances.
On a different note, I know there weren’t many Seo-jung and Dong-joo moments this episode, but that last scene where the Doldam team stomped into Geodae Hospital like they owned the place almost made up for it. How badass was that entrance? I loved that they were fashionably late to the party, glammed up like supermodels, and completely rocking it in the confidence department. I can’t wait to see the Geodae Hospital shakedown happen!
- Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim: Episode 18
- Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim: Episode 17
- 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