Live Up to Your Name: Episode 10
Things are looking up today as our resident goofball starts to get his mojo back. There are plenty of apologies and smiles to go around as our two heroes grow ever closer, and a favored past patient makes a welcome appearance. Modern Seoul might look more civilized than Joseon, but Im still has to keep his guard up, because he has just as many enemies in the present day as he does in the past. Ultimately though, it might not be other humans that pose the biggest threat, but simply life itself.
EPISODE 10 RECAP
As Im and his heroin-addicted patient speed away from the hospital, Im flashes back to just before he entered the hospital, where he overheard one of Chairman Park’s lackeys talking about Yeon-kyung in a threatening way. Im’s patient interrupts his thoughts to demand how much Im is being paid by his father.
At the house, the chairman isn’t happy either, and he seems more concerned about curing his son of his (socially embarrassing) drug addiction than he is about hearing the news his son has a potentially fatal disease. When Im tries to tell him this, Chairman Park throws down an envelope of money on the floor in front of Im and tells him never to come back.
Back at his penthouse suite, Im stares vacantly around at the luxurious surroundings as he rubs the stab wound caused by his runaway patient. His attention is drawn to the humble ramyun noodle pots on his counter, which he solemnly prepares while he flashes back to the fond memories of Yeon-kyung teaching him how to make them.
These memories lead Im back to Grandpa’s practice, where he has the bad luck to overhear assistants Byung-ki and Jae-sook complaining about his new and aloof attitude.
Meanwhile, Yeon-kyung is unhappily drinking alone at a pojangmacha to forget the memory of Im using her trauma against her when suddenly, Byung-ki and Jae-sook enter and invite themselves to drink alongside her, much to Yeon-kyung’s chagrin.
Yeon-kyung, still reeling from letting a patient leave her care, sadly asks whether she should be allowed to call herself a doctor, to which Jae-sook declares that that should be a question for Im instead. Soju now on the table, Yeon-kyung grabs the bottle from the bickering Jae-sook and Byung-ki, and determinedly pours herself a slug of the alcohol. (Before, she’d been shooting plain soda, ha.)
Walking back from Grandpa’s practice, Im is stopped by one of the old ladies, who exclaims that Kkot-boon fainted while she was outside looking for Im to give him the snacks he refused earlier. Frantic, Im runs through the neighborhood to find her collapsed in a heap in an alley. Clutched in Kkot-boon’s hand is a cow bezoar, the special snack she wanted to give her “son” Bong-tak, and Im’s face crumples at the sight.
Im devoutly promises Kkot-boon that he won’t let her die… except when he reaches for his acupuncture needles, he remembers that he threw them into the Han River. Without a way to save her, he sobs over her prone body as he calls an ambulance, but he doesn’t know where to tell them to go.
Yeon-kyung drunkenly stumbles her way back to Grandpa’s practice, but seems to sober up rapidly when she learns that Kkot-boon has collapsed, and runs to find her. Im pleads with Yeon-kyung to save his “mother,” and Yeon-kyung’s hurriedly administered injection rouses Kkot-boon from her faint.
Yeon-kyung assures the distraught Im that the worst is over, but Kkot-boon will still need treatment at the hospital. Im’s face is wreathed in tears as he grips Kkot-boon’s hand to his chest in gratitude.
Elsewhere, at the bottom of the riverbed, Im’s needle bag flares with light.
At the hospital, Yeon-kyung comes out of surgery to inform Kkot-boon’s waiting gang of friends and Grandpa that Kkot-boon will be fine. Afterward, Yeon-kyung leaves the elated party to find Im waiting dejectedly by himself.
After Yeon-kyung tells the relieved Im that Kkot-boon will live, she asks how Patient Park (the chairman’s heroin-addicted son) is doing, but Im just replies that he isn’t her patient any longer. Putting a brave face on, Yeon-kyung tells Im that if he doesn’t trust her, another doctor can treat Park, but she adds that he will need treatment soon regardless.
As Yeon-kyung turns to leave, Im calls out softly, “I’m sorry.”
Im explains that he knew revealing Yeon-kyung’s panic attacks could hurt her, and says that he’s sorry. Melancholy, Yeon-kyung answers that Im was right to doubt her, and adds that she doubts herself because of the attacks as well. Im disagrees, firmly stating that Yeon-kyung saved Kkot-boon just now because she is a great doctor, and will be in the future as well.
Softened by Im’s words, Yeon-kyung turns back to tell him that she knew he’d come back. Despite his protests, Yeon-kyung promises that she believes in him because she knows what kind of person he is. She walks back to press candy into Im’s hand, and explains that since she was a little girl, she took comfort from eating candy because a “strange” man once gave them to her when she was sad.
Standing just in the background, Grandpa overhears Yeon-kyung’s explanation, looking thoughtful.
Almost as if he was waiting for him, Grandpa accosts a surprised Im as he walks away, demanding to be repaid his 87 dollars. Im subconsciously rubs the stab wound on his arm as he fruitlessly attempts to deny being the Heo Im that owes money to Grandpa. Sharp as a tack, Grandpa leads Im to a medical room to apply a bandage to Im’s arm.
Having cornered Im, Grandpa takes the opportunity to lecture Im about how important it is to remember why he became a doctor, and asks why he didn’t have his needles to treat Kkot-boon. Chastened, Im sulkily admits that he threw the bag away. Although Grandpa rebukes Im for his actions, the big softie tempers the message by offering Im some of Bok-man’s dinner of fried rice.
Outside, Grandpa wonders why Im threw the needle bag away, ominously adding that even if he does, “It’s not like it will ever go away.”
Back in the penthouse, Grandpa’s words about remembering why he became a doctor trigger a flashback for Im to when he was a small child, when he had implored the local healer to teach him the ways of acupuncture. The precocious Im was enthusiastic in learning acupuncture, and had a ready answer for his teacher when quizzed about why he wanted to learn it: He said that it was because he wanted to heal people like his mom.
Thoughtfully chewing on one of Yeon-kyung’s candies, Im lays back as Yeon-kyung’s promise not to abandon him echoes through his head.
At the hospital the following day, Bong-shik the pig wreaks havoc in Kkot-boon’s room, until Yeon-kyung requests that the (adorable) little pig be removed for the sake of the other patients. A lurking Im is caught by the old lady leaving, and Yeon-kyung encourages him to go see Kkot-boon after Im proudly denies needing her help with his stab wound (I see he didn’t mention Grandpa’s help though). Yeon-kyung looks back fondly at the joyous Im outside Kkot-boon’s room.
Yeon-kyung smiles to see a text message from Ha-ra, asking if she has gotten closer with the “ajusshi” (Im) yet. Yeon-kyung ignores Ha-ra’s prying questions to remind her to take care of herself, but pauses when Ha-ra asks if the two of them had a fight. Tricked into asking if Im said anything, Yeon-kyung realizes her error when Ha-ra admits to the subterfuge, and warns Ha-ra that she better stay healthy and not need to come to the hospital again.
Meanwhile, Jae-ha pauses when he overhears Im asking for Dr. Choi Yeon-kyung at the hospital reception desk. While an amused Nurse Jung looks on, Im gleefully divulges that the patient who cancelled on Jae-ha asked for his services instead. Irked, Jae-ha invites Im to a “team dinner,” which has Im blinking in confusion, but he nevertheless agrees.
In the elevator, Jae-ha stews over some damaging information he found out after digging into Im’s past: Im’s qualifications appear to be fabricated. Oblivious to the danger, Im pushes his way onto the elevator through the closing doors (and hilariously stands on tiptoe alongside the taller Jae-ha). Jae-ha’s veiled threat that there are some doors that Im won’t be able to open is undercut by Im’s blithe “sorry” as he answers a phone call from Director Ma.
It turns out that Director Ma wants to tell Im that Chairman Park’s son only wants treatment from Im. The smarmy director promises that Im’s life will be on the right track if their business together succeeds. Meanwhile, Jae-ha watches from afar as he takes a call and asks the person on the other end to show up that evening at seven.
At the hospital, Director Shin and Professor Hwang covertly discuss Chairman Park’s son’s emergency treatment, which Chairman Park asked to be struck from the hospital records. Director Shin quickly realizes the cause of the son’s illness and exultantly punches the air when Professor Hwang declares that he didn’t delete the records—he just hid them.
At the chairman’s house, Im informs Patient Park that his acupuncture treatment is at an end. Park sits up to resolutely declare that he will try, since he knows his treatment isn’t over.
In flashback, we see that Im had ordered the car to a stop after they fled from the hospital. Grabbing Patient Park by his shirt front, Im had challenged him to break free.
When Park claimed that he couldn’t, Im softly stated that if he let others control his mind and body, he would be that way in the future as well and would never be able to see the one he loves. “You need to think about your reason for living,” Im had added adamantly.
In the present, Patient Park strokes the ring on his hand, and his expression is determined as he tells Im to call his father, the chairman. A triumphant Im leaves the house as Patient Park’s conversation with his father is overlaid. Park states that he wants to go free to protect the person he loves the most as he plaintively asks his father, “What good is all that money?”
Outside, Im receives a call that lights up his face, and he excitedly runs off to meet up with… Ha-ra, who looks much happier now. The two are adorable as Ha-ra shows Im how to pay with her phone, and she repeats Yeon-kyung’s wisdom that the best thing to do when you’re feeling down is eat something sweet. Im gorges on the cake once he realizes how delicious it is.
Even though Im doesn’t know how to ride a bicycle, or take a good selfie, the duo enjoy themselves anyway on their cute “date.” When Im is caught staring at Ha-ra, he sighs that she reminds him of someone—though not his daughter, since Im indignantly proclaims he’s too young for that—that he couldn’t keep a promise to. Im’s earnest plea for Ha-ra to stay healthy is met with typical teenage exasperation.
Instead, Ha-ra perkily asks why Im and Yeon-kyung had a fight, but rolls her eyes when his response is exactly the same as Yeon-kyung’s. Hesitantly, Im asks if he became unlikable.
Ha-ra decides that it’s time for a little retail therapy, and she picks out a rather pretty bracelet with a heart to symbolize love. Ha-ra points to one of the heart pendants and declares that since it’s the shiniest, this one represents her heart. Outside, she unexpectedly gifts the bracelet to Im for him to give to Yeon-kyung (aw). At Im’s confusion, Ha-ra instructs Im, “You need to apologize to Yeon-kyung first, and then give a heartfelt gift.”
Good deed done, Ha-ra merrily skips away. However, out of Im’s sight, Ha-ra comes to a stop and clutches at her heart. Uh oh.
At the hospital, Yeon-kyung is surprised to be greeted by Chairman Park, who churlishly says that his son insists on being treated by Yeon-kyung. Patient Park, his demeanor more open now, warmly tells Yeon-kyung that Dr. Heo recommended her because she was an excellent doctor.
Meanwhile, Im’s team dinner at the noraebang is a mixed affair—his irrepressibly enthusiastic nature loves the singing and atmosphere, but it takes a dent whenever his eye catches Jae-ha’s. Im’s own pick for karaoke—a very old folk song—goes down hilariously badly, though he doesn’t seem to notice as he belts out the gloomy lyrics.
As Yeon-kyung completes her rounds, she pauses at the sight of the father with the newly disabled leg, remembering his calamitous fall to the ground. Today though, he is cuddled up sweetly with his daughter.
At the noraebang, Jae-ha inquires about Im’s volunteer trip to Cambodia last year, his tone far too casual, and Im carefully lies about his exploits there. Right on cue, Jae-ha’s guest shows up—another doctor who volunteered on the same Cambodian trip, and who graduated from Im’s college. Except he doesn’t recognize Im at all.
Jae-ha’s smirk at Im’s obvious discomfiture is abruptly cut off when Director Ma enters the room to offer money for the team dinner. Director Ma salvages the situation, but his expression is tight as he looks down at the disconcerted Im.
Away from prying eyes, Director Ma angrily demands to know what Jae-ha was thinking. Although Ma tries to bluff, Jae-ha catches him off guard by exposing the lie regarding Im’s qualifications, and asks whether Ma has considered the dangers of what he’s doing. Defensive, Ma warns Jae-ha not to do anything, since it will all be over in a month anyway.
Jae-ha’s expression turns hard as he asks what would happen if he did expose Ma’s lies—would Ma chuck him out like he did with Jae-ha’s father? Shaken, Ma can only bluster as Jae-ha warns him, “You were right. I am different than my father.”
Back at the hospital, Yeon-kyung is horrified to see Ha-ra being admitted on a stretcher after she collapsed in the street. Im, there to give Yeon-kyung the very bracelet Ha-ra gifted him, watches on with dawning realization and fear.
Yeon-kyung quickly discovers a blockage in Ha-ra’s heart and orders Min-jae to prepare for emergency surgery. As they rush to save Ha-ra’s life, Yeon-kyung flashes back to Ha-ra’s discharge—Ha-ra had uncharacteristically hugged Yeon-kyung and asked her if she could feel the heart that she had healed.
Yeon-kyung’s expression is determined as she preps for surgery and enters the operating theater. Ha-ra’s situation is dire, so the team must operate quickly if they hope to save her. At first, Yeon-kyung is baffled as to what went wrong since the previous surgery is still intact, but she resolves to stop the bleeding and fix what looks like a delayed reaction to anti-coagulation medicine.
Meanwhile, unbeknownst to the emergency team, Im is in anguish as he tries to gain access to the operating room. As Im’s protests go unheeded by the staff barring the door, he resorts to desperately calling out, “Remember, it is your will to survive! You must be healthy! Please!”
Yeon-kyung’s surgical skill manages to stop the bleeding, but she urges Min-jae to wait to sew Ha-ra up for another ten seconds. The atmosphere is tense as everyone stares down at the beating heart… which suddenly starts erratically pumping as Ha-ra goes into cardiac arrest.
Im and Nurse Jang, having taken pity on Im, stand behind the theater window watching the unfolding disaster. Im tautly asks what a cardiac arrest is, and Nurse Jang reluctantly tells him that it means that Ha-ra’s heart has stopped. The pair watch as Yeon-kyung, increasingly distressed, tries to revive Ha-ra with the defibrillator and finally with her bare hands.
Despite Yeon-kyung’s efforts, Ha-ra flatlines, and the rest of the team members shake their heads in defeat. Yeon-kyung’s memories flash to the day her father died, when she was a helpless child, and she fights off Min-jae to keep pumping Ha-ra’s heart. The fight is over though, and Yeon-kyung’s last memory of Ha-ra smiling and thanking her ultimately makes Yeon-kyung give up.
Devastated, Yeon-kyung gently places her hand over Ha-ra’s eyes to call out time of death. Im watches in defeat through the window, but Yeon-kyung can only meet his eyes briefly before she has to turn away from his painful understanding. A single tear tracks down Ha-ra’s face.
In a fugue state, Yeon-kyung comes face to face with Ha-ra’s parents outside. Yeon-kyung initially has no words, but she bows deeply before she explains with difficulty that the surgery went well, but a sudden cardiac arrest took Ha-ra’s life. Ha-ra’s mother stumbles in shock before she turns on Yeon-kyung in pain and orders her to go back inside and save Ha-ra. Falling to the floor in despair, Ha-ra’s mother cries out, “Ha-ra, you should have taken me with you.”
Yeon-kyung walks blankly away to find an empty room, where she curls in on herself as she remembers the arrogant promise she made to Ha-ra to save her life, as well as Ha-ra’s simple wish to live like a normal teenager. Alone, Yeon-kyung finally breaks down in sobs as she recalls more bittersweet memories of Ha-ra, including the last shot of Ha-ra as she cheekily encouraged Yeon-kyung to get closer to Im.
Just outside the door, Im can do nothing but stand and listen to Yeon-kyung’s gut-wrenching weeping. Im’s own pain puts him in a less than receptive mood when Director Ma calls and tells him to attend to an incoming important patient. Im refuses while he watches Yeon-kyung exit the hospital in a daze and says, “I have an important patient here.”
Yeon-kyung pulls out the emergency medical kit from her bag and dumps the contents in the bin. When this isn’t enough, she raises the whole bag high and slams it in the bin as well before walking away.
Back at Grandpa’s practice in Hyeminseo, Yeon-kyung greets her Grandpa with tears in her eyes and says, “You must have really hated me, right? The granddaughter that killed your son.” Yeon-kyung continues to berate herself, as she says that she thought she had become an excellent doctor, but the real reason she worked so hard to save her patient’s lives was because of her father’s death.
Although Grandpa tries to comfort Yeon-kyung by saying that none of this is true, she’s too upset to listen and turns to leave. Im has followed her home, but Yeon-kyung passes him too, after she says that he was right to call her unfit as a doctor.
Outside Hyeminseo, the ever-present Jae-ha drives up and agrees to drive the distraught Yeon-kyung anywhere she wants.
Alone, Grandpa mutters to himself, “This is all my karma. Yeon-kyung is being punished for my failing as a father.” In flashback, we see Yeon-kyung’s father and Grandpa in a fight on the night of the accident. During the fight, Yeon-kyung’s father had angrily shouted, “Yes, everything is my fault!”
Yeon-kyung’s father moved to storm out of the house, but had stopped at the sight of his wife and little Yeon-kyung. Immediately, Yeon-kyung’s dad had smiled for Yeon-kyung’s sake despite the tense atmosphere, and he asked if she wanted to go get chicken. In the present, Grandpa rubs his eyes.
Meanwhile, in Jae-ha’s car, it looks like Yeon-kyung is remembering that evening too. Little Yeon-kyung and her father were driving along when the pink rabbit fell from Yeon-kyung’s grip to the road. Being a good dad, Yeon-kyung’s father stopped to retrieve the toy, and he held it aloft to the smiling Yeon-kyung, safe on the other side of the road.
Just as Yeon-kyung’s father was driving back, a bus came from out of nowhere and slammed into the side of his bike. Little Yeon-kyung slowly made her way across the road, ignoring the horrified crowd, and had found her father lying prone on the ground, covered in blood. Yeon-kyung’s father, still clutching the pink rabbit, had held it out for Yeon-kyung to take as his last action before he died.
Little Yeon-kyung had taken his pulse and tried to shake him awake, but nothing worked. Yeon-kyung could only cry out for her father as the snow gently sifted down around her.
In the present, Yeon-kyung weakly asks Jae-ha to stop the car, her breathing heavy and erratic. Im, who has followed in a taxi, rushes to Yeon-kyung’s side to help, but is stopped by an irate Jae-ha. Images of her father and Ha-ra race through Yeon-kyung’s mind as she stumbles out onto the road.
Bewildered, Yeon-kyung doesn’t see the truck that is racing towards her. Jae-ha and Im see it though, and both sprint out to save her, while we see Im’s magic needle bag lying useless on the bottom of the riverbed. Im reaches Yeon-kyung, but he only has enough time to spin around so the truck hits him first.
Even though it looks like Im doesn’t have his needle bag, when the truck slams to a stop, Im and Yeon-kyung are gone.
You know, I think it might be the show’s mission to break my heart. After Ddak-sae’s harrowing death and Im’s total traumatic shutdown, Ha-ra’s death comes as a punch to the gut that I really didn’t need.
It hits even harder because it comes just as Im was snapped out of the terrifying blankness he defensively threw up after Ddak-sae’s death. One thing I really appreciate about this show is how it carefully balances the exaggerated humor with the more emotional through lines, and makes sure that we get enough of the good times as a salve for the tough ones. Im has still not fully recovered from Joseon, and Kim Nam-gil’s performance has been accordingly more muted, but it was undeniably a relief to see Im smiling and pulling ridiculous faces again.
It was fitting that it took Kkot-boon’s collapse to shock him out of his stupor, because it showed him that avoiding being involved with patients isn’t going to save them or him. I understood why Im tried to cut off all the connections that made him vulnerable, since such vulnerability can be dangerous in Joseon, but it is also what gives Im his life purpose, and what ultimately saved him in this episode. To look at it a different way, Ddak-sae might have been killed because Im treated him, but he was also given his only chance to live because of Im.
Im’s fear of losing his “mother” also opened the way for Im to apologize for his betrayal of Yeon-kyung when he revealed her secret panic attacks. Although the show hasn’t emphasized the romance between Yeon-kyung and Im, there were some lovely moments of genuine connection between them that I think might be even better. Yeon-kyung is free to confess her own (quite crippling) insecurities to Im in a way that she can’t to anyone else—and in return, Im’s apology was beautifully heartfelt. I’m content that they are making each other better, happier people.
I think that part of the reason Yeon-kyung and Im are so drawn to each other can be explained by how similar they are. They both lost parents at a very young age, and both became selfless doctors to make up for that loss in some way. Outwardly, it may look like Im and Yeon-kyung are polar opposites, but I was struck today by how Yeon-kyung uses her smiles as a shield. Im does something similar with his goofy persona—making himself non-threatening in dangerous Joseon, and hiding his immense pain—but Yeon-kyung always seemed more stalwart. But not today. Today, she smiled as her heart broke when she told Im she doesn’t deserve to be a doctor, and with her Grandpa, she smiled through her tears even as she accused herself of killing her father. Yeon-kyung’s stoicism has been hiding just as much as Im’s frivolity was, but it’s all crashing down now as her paper thin defenses have been breached.
Unfortunately, Yeon-kyung’s breakdown looks like it was a disaster that was always going to come, because the tragedy she suffered as a child shaped her in ways she didn’t even realize. Yeon-kyung may have been skilled enough that she was able to keep her promises to save her patients for longer than other might have, but that was always destined to be unsustainable no matter how good a doctor she is. I actually think that Im will be the perfect person to help her rebuild herself though, since he is so used to dealing with death. Im has already mentioned that in Joseon, more patients die than live, even when they can get tretment. So while Im will undoubtedly be upset by Ha-ra’s death (especially because she was the symbol of the little girl in Joseon he couldn’t keep his promise to), this may be where his and Yeon-kyung’s roles switch, and he becomes the mentor. Yeon-kyung is going through one of the most painful lessons a doctor has to learn, but Im will be there to help her.
When he will be able to help her may be another question though. Im’s needle bag was clearly at the bottom of the Han River seconds before he saved Yeon-kyung, but they still disappeared when Im was hit by the truck. Did the needle bag magic itself into Im’s possession again when he needed it? Is the needle bag the reason Im can time travel at all, or was that a red herring? What does Grandpa really know about time travel? I have so many questions, and I want answers!
- Live Up to Your Name: Episode 1
- Premiere Watch: Manhole, Live Up to Your Name
- Acupuncturist versus surgeon for Live Up to Your Name
- Jaw-dropping, club-hopping Kim Ah-joong in Live Up to Your Name
- Kim Nam-gil flaps his wings to travel back to the past in Live Up to Your Name
- The needle vs. the knife for Live Up to Your Name
- Time-slip drama Live Up to Your Name gets a time slot on tvN
- Kim Nam-gil, Kim Ah-joong offered new tvN time-slip drama