Live Up to Your Name: Episode 11
Our leads find themselves back in Joseon at a very inopportune time, with the invading Japanese army adding a new threat to an already dangerous era. But for Yeon-kyung, who is still reeling from recent events, this may be just be a blessing in disguise—a chance to remember why she became a doctor in the first place, and a chance to learn some new lessons about what the profession means.
EPISODE 11 RECAP
We return to the moment before the truck hits our lead couple: Im flies toward Yeon-kyung, embracing her just as the truck hits them both, and they blink out of sight. Jae-ha and the truck driver search unsuccessfully for them, and a stunned Jae-ha wonders at this second disappearance.
Im awakens on a grassy knoll in Joseon to find the magic needle case in his hand and Yeon-kyung lying nearby. He stares at the needle case in shock, and then his expression turns to disappointment when he spots the nearby village.
When Yeon-kyung wakes up, he asks in concern if she’s all right as he apologizes for ending up here again. Taking her hand, he assures her that they can go back right away, but the she pulls away from him. “You should have just left me to die,” she says numbly.
Dismayed, Im tells her not to say that as he tries to pull her up again, but she won’t budge. He sighs, then says that sometimes it’s good to rest for a while when you fall down, adding that she can rest here for a bit.
As they sit in silence amongst the grass and flowers, Im remarks that time seems to have stopped here, in contrast to the din and pollution of modern Seoul that leaves a person with no time to think. He tells her that the village he grew up in was like this, with women gathering every morning at the well in its center while children played in the water until they got in trouble. He says that he really misses those short, carefree days when he played with his friends.
Im tells Yeon-kyung to wait while he goes to the village for water. Alone, she thinks about Ha-ra’s death, as well as her father’s accident. However, a rustling sound alerts her to the presence of two smiling children watching her.
Im leans on a wall for support and wonders how he ended up back here. He stares at the magical needle case in frustration, which now has a partially drawn bamboo tree on its previously blank surface. He asks it if he should be grateful that it saved his life, or resent it for not letting him go.
The little boy and girl approach Yeon-kyung and offer her a rice ball, making eating motions in case she doesn’t understand. Yeon-kyung takes a bite and looks up them, moved, but they run away at Im’s noisy approach.
He asks where she got the rice ball, and she nods toward the kids, who are now peeking shyly at them over the village wall. Im and Yeon-kyung smile at them, and then he gives her a bowl of water with two leaves floating on top. He tells her that it means that she should drink slowly.
“In the same way, let us go slowly, so as not to get an upset stomach,” he tells her gently. She seems affected by this but doesn’t answer as she looks back at the kids. They’re re-enacting Im giving Yeon-kyung the water and giggling, and the adults laugh to see the adorable display.
Their moment of peace is broken by a distress call: The Japanese army has arrived. Im and Yeon-kyung watch in horror as the soldiers sweep through the streets, mowing down the villagers with swords and guns. Im urges Yeon-kyung to run.
In the present, Grandpa paces in front of his gate in worry; he told Im the previous night about Yeon-kyung’s father’s accident and her trauma-induced memory loss, and Im had said that he would go after her.
Jae-ha is the one who shows up now, however. He’s spent a sleepless night, and he asks Grandpa where “Heo Bong-tak” really came from. Jae-ha says he thought at first that Im was a quack or a fraud, but he’s noticed too many strange things about him. Grandpa asks what he means, and Jae-ha mentions his name, clothes, and way of speaking—but most importantly, he’s disappeared into thin air and has taken Yeon-kyung with him.
“Again?” barks Grandpa. Jae-ha’s eyes widen at this as he asks frantically where they’ve gone, but Grandpa clutches his chest and staggers. Assistants Byung-ki and Jae-sook, who have just arrived, usher him inside, leaving a frustrated Jae-ha on the street.
At Shinhye Hospital, Min-jae, Man-soo and Nurse Jung also worry about Yeon-kyung. Professor Hwang joins them, and when Man-soo asks after Ha-ra’s parents, he replies that of course they’re inconsolable.
A panicked Director Shin arrives and pulls Hwang aside. He asks what happened to Ha-ra, and Hwang explains that they discovered her too late, adding that Yeon-kyung tried her best until the end. But Shin only cares that this might harm his chances of promotion, and suggests they use their information about Chairman Park’s son now. Looking a bit disgusted, Professor Hwang tells him that the young man already came clean about his drug use and checked himself in.
Meanwhile, in Joseon, Yeon-kyung spots the children they met hiding under a porch from the invading Japanese soldiers. Im tells her to wait and darts over to the children, avoiding the soldiers as he goes. He has to convince them to come out, but he’s able to get them safely back to Yeon-kyung.
The four of them run up the hill into the woods, and as they do, a cavalry officer spots them and shoots at them. He misses, but he and his men chase the little group and quickly surround them. Im tells Yeon-kyung to take his hand (planning to time travel back), but since they’re unsure whether the children can come with them, they abandon that idea. The officer orders his men to kill them, and Im and Yeon-kyung wrap their arms around the children and each other and brace for impact.
A man calls for them to stop—it’s the general whose life they saved previously, and they look at him with hope. The general tells the officer that Im is a doctor, and suggests that they use him to treat their comrade. He tells them to take the women and children as hostages, leaving Im and Yeon-kyung struggling to hold on to each other as the soldiers tear them apart.
Im is dragged to the Japanese army’s base camp and left alone with the general. Im asks how the man can repay them this way for saving his life, but the general replies that saving him was their choice. He indicates a man lying nearby with a grotesquely swollen stomach and tells Im to save him.
Im says he won’t make the same mistake again, adding that saving the life of someone who will go on to kill innocents is akin to killing them himself. The general repeats Yeon-kyung’s words about the patient being the one who decides how to live his life, while the doctor is simply supposed to save him. Im says that Yeon-kyung would be crushed by this outcome, but uncaring, the general tells him to save his comrade if he wants to save himself, Yeon-kyung, and the children.
Locked up with the children, Yeon-kyung reflects that Im was right when he said that a doctor’s good will can turn into harm. The little girl, Dam, has a scrape on her knee, and Yeon-kyung sighs that she can’t even help without her bag. Meanwhile, Kang, Dam’s older brother, uses his hair tie to bandage her leg.
A frightened Dam asks Kang if they’re going to die, but he vows not to let that happen. Yeon-kyung says that their parents must be worried, but Kang reveals that they were orphaned two years ago. “I will protect my sister,” he promises as he puts his arm around Dam. Yeon-kyung tells them not to worry, because Im will save them.
Im refuses to treat the general’s comrade unless the general promises to let Yeon-kyung and the kids go. When the general asks if Im trusts his word, Im responds, “I will trust the promise of the man that woman saved.” Outside, the officer from earlier eavesdrops on their conversation.
Im carefully treats the unconscious comrade, tense under the general’s sharp gaze. After some time, Im completes his work in releasing water from the man’s bowels and gives instructions to the general, saying that his comrade should feel better in three days. The comrade groans and opens his eyes, and the general emotionally assures him that he’ll be all right now.
Soldiers come and drag Yeon-kyung and the children roughly into the woods, where the general awaits them. He dismisses his men, and Im emerges from behind a tree, waving. He takes her hand and they confirm to each other that they’re all unharmed.
The general thanks Im for saving his comrade and asks if there are many doctors like him in Joseon, explaining that they’ll be needed now. Im and Yeon-kyung sober at this roundabout expression of regret.
The general then takes out a case from his pocket: a scalpel that Yeon-kyung left behind when she saved his life. He says that for some reason he’d had the feeling that he shouldn’t reveal this object or its owner, and gives it back to her.
Im asks his name, and the general says that it’s Sayaka. (Also known as Kim Chung-seon, Sayaka was a real historical figure who defected to Joseon during the invasion and fought for the Joseon army for decades.) He smiles and asks if they’ll remember him, and Im nods.
As they walk back to the children’s village, Yeon-kyung asks if Im was able to save Sayaka’s comrade, but Im says that Sayaka would have let them go anyway. “I think you saved all of our lives,” he tells her.
Dam’s shoe falls off, and Kang says he’ll go and get it. He retraces their steps and picks it up, waving it at her triumphantly. Oh no, I have a bad feeling about this…
A shot rings out, and Kang falls to the ground. Im and Yeon-kyung, who were following, run to his prone body. The Japanese officer grins at the group through the trees and prepares to shoot again, but Sayaka stops him with a blade to his throat.
At the same time, Im hoists Kang onto his back so the group can make a run for it, and they don’t stop until they meet a pair of monks and beg for their help.
The monks take them to their shrine where they lay Kang on a pallet. Im warns that his pulse is dangerously weak, while Yeon-kyung explains to the others that the unfamiliar wound is caused by a bullet, and that they must get the metal out of Kang’s body.
But as she stares at the wound, Yeon-kyung’s vision begins to blur, and she shrinks away from Kang, shaking her head. “I can’t do it,” she says. “What if I treat him and he dies too?”
Im grabs her shoulders and makes her look at him: “You are a doctor. One who does her best to treat every patient, no matter who it is. You are the best doctor I know. I do not know what a gun is; I have never seen or treated such a wound. I cannot do this on my own. The only one who can save this child is you.”
Yeon-kyung stares at him, and then at Dam, who tearfully pleads for her “orabeoni” not to die. Yeon-kyung hears her own voice as a child, fruitlessly calling out to her unconscious father. She takes a deep breath and points out that she doesn’t have her bag, and thus has no way to disinfect and anesthetize.
Looking relieved, Im nods and, consulting with Yeon-kyung, asks the monks for the Joseon alternatives of everything they need. Yeon-kyung bends over the wound intently, and Im smiles, moved to see her back to her laser-focused self.
Both gather the tools of their trade, nod at each other, and begin. After Im uses acupuncture to help with the pain, Yeon-kyung carefully removes the bullet and then sews up the wound. While she works, Im prepares a poultice to fight infection. He applies it to the stitched wound, and then they bandage Kang up carefully. They wipe their brows wearily, then grin at each other.
As night falls, Im checks Kang’s pulse and says he’s out of danger, since Yeon-kyung saved him. She smiles and indicates toward Dam, who’s sleeping in her arms. “No, this child saved her brother,” she says.
Some time later, Im finds Yeon-kyung in the shrine’s courtyard, staring at her scalpel. When he joins her, she says she’d thought she would never hold it again. Im calls it a smart and praiseworthy fellow like its owner, since it seemingly stayed behind in Joseon just for this.
She marvels that she performed a life-saving surgery with a single scalpel, in a place like this. Im says that it must have been Kang’s desire to save his sister that saved his life, adding that the will of a patient to live is more important than a doctor’s skill. He adds that his teacher’s first lesson to him was that he must study the patient’s mind in order to heighten their healing power.
But what his teacher didn’t tell him, says Im, is that a doctor’s fate is to lose more patients than he or she can save. He explains that when he lost his first patient, he cried out loud for a whole day, although as time passed, he couldn’t even cry. That’s when he turns to look at Yeon-kyung and takes her hand.
Im: “Death is sad, but it is heaven’s will that decides who lives or dies. We only do our best to stop people from dying. Ha-ra and your father must have tried their hardest until the end because they knew how you felt.”
Im takes out Ha-ra’s gift from his jacket and conveys the girl’s message that her heart is the shiniest charm on the bracelet as he puts it in Yeon-kyung’s hand. “Even though her heart stopped, the soul that lived in that heart still shines brightly,” he adds.
Yeon-kyung closes her hands around the bracelet and presses it to her chest, tears finally falling. Im gathers her close as she silently cries, his own eyes shining with unshed tears.
In Seoul, Grandpa removes a picture of young Yeon-kyung from a frame and unfolds a portion of it to reveal Heo Jun. He asks the man in the picture to take care of her if they happen to meet.
Director Ma argues with someone over the phone, asking for a few more days, as Dr. Heo is away for personal reasons. After hanging up, Ma mutters that Heo Im is just doing whatever he pleases now, and wonders if he’s gone back to Joseon.
Suddenly appearing, Jae-ha asks what he means by that. Shocked to find his grandson is his office, Director Ma tells Jae-ha abruptly that he misheard, and leaves. Jae-ha goes into Im’s office and stares at his nameplate, remembering Im’s strange speech, his skills, and his own speech about the genius Heo Im. “Unbelievable. Heo Im? Does that mean they’ve gone to Joseon?” he says to himself.
The next morning, Im covers up a still sleeping Yeon-kyung and checks on Kang, whose first thought on waking is of his sister. Yeon-kyung and Dam both wake up as well, and Dam cries as she apologizes for Kang getting hurt. Kang says that it’s not her fault, and promises to buy her shoes that fit next time. He wipes her tears, and Im puts his hand over Yeon-kyung’s, who is getting teary-eyed herself as she watches the kids.
They set out again, this time dressed in Joseon clothing, causing Im to steal glances at Yeon-kyung. She asks if these clothes look strange on her, but he says she’s beautiful no matter what she wears. Walking like this, they seem like a family, he says with a goofy laugh. (Wow, get a load of Mr. Smooth here.)
Yeon-kyung protests that she’s too young to have a son this age, but he says people marry young here. She asks why he’s still single then, and he boasts that though plenty of women chased him, he was too busy saving people with his extraordinary talents.
Yeon-kyung bursts out laughing at this, and he looks affronted. She remarks that he’s just like her then, and he wonders if that means they’re meant for each other. Man, these two are adorable.
They stop to rest and eat, and Yeon-kyung gazes at Im fondly as he plays with Kang. She feeds him a bite of her potato, wiping his mouth afterward with her fingers. Im is clearly in heaven, and he excitedly pulls out plants for the kids and puts a flower in Yeon-kyung’s hair.
Their idyll is broken when they return to the village, which has been transformed into a tableau of horror. Im and Yeon-kyung cover the children’s eyes as they walk through streets, which are lined with bodies. They finally find a small group of survivors, and one man joyfully greets the children, whom he’d assumed were dead.
Im and Yeon-kyung do their best to treat the many wounded. As they prepare medicinal herbs, Im tells Yeon-kyung that he was surprised by the ambulance in her world, which meant that anyone could get treatment anywhere. He adds that the people here, however, will probably go their whole lives without seeing a doctor, not having access to even Hyeminseo as the poor in Hanyang do. He sighs that he hasn’t been able to do more for than the bare minimum for them.
Noticing Yeon-kyung’s gaze, he asks why she’s looking at him like that, and she says it’s because she wants to engrave who he really is in her heart. Aww.
Dam has a stress-induced seizure and throws up, and as Im tends to the little girl, Yeon-kyung suddenly remembers herself being taken care of the same way after her father’s death… by Heo Jun. She asks Im if they can go to Hanyang to meet him, and although he’s reluctant to take her into danger, he agrees when she says that Heo Jun might offer clues about their situation.
Im and Yeon-kyung arrive in Hanyang to find people evacuating while the palace burns in the distance, set afire by angry citizens when the king ran away this morning. When they arrive outside Heo Jun’s home, Im warns Yeon-kyung that as the royal physician, he may have gone with the king.
The door is opened by Mak-gae in women’s clothing, who squeals and hugs Im happily. She tells them that Heo Jun has gone to treat patients, and Im asks Mak-gae to lead them there.
As they descend some broken steps, Im takes Yeon-kyung’s hand, and Mak-gae asks pointedly what their relationship is, which makes them let go of each other immediately, ha. Changing the subject, Im asks why she’s been staying with Heo Jun, and she tells them that it’s because he was confident that Im would come back eventually.
They run into the minister of war and his entourage, dressed as commoners. From afar, Jin-oh also sees them on his way out of the city, but his guard notices that the men with the minister are warriors, and stops him.
Im tells Mak-gae to run, promising they’ll be fine. She goes reluctantly, and the minister of war advances on them, smirking at the thought of finally putting an end to Im.
Im’s demeanor changes suddenly, and he begins to mock and insult the man, calling him less than a dog or pig, as well as a traitor to king and country. Understanding what he’s doing, Yeon-kyung takes his hand.
But the minister’s men pull them away from each other, and one of them runs Im through from behind. Horrified, Yeon-kyung reaches for him, and he does the same as he falls to the ground, but they’re too far from each other.
Yeon-kyung finally breaks away from her captors, but one of the men slashes her across the back, and she falls to the ground, limp. NO!
The scene blurs and fades to black, and then Im awakens on a blurry, rain-drenched street in modern Seoul. He wheezes and looks around him, but he’s alone.
“Yeon-kyung,” he gasps.
How is it that this show continues to raise the stakes on us every week, tearing my heart out in the best of ways? We were teased with the possibility of Im and Yeon-kyung being unable to travel back to Seoul together earlier in the episode, when they were separated by Japanese soldiers and very much in danger of losing their lives. Yet just when we think that our heroes are (literally) out of the woods, the show blindsides us with the very thing we feared, and I love the writer for it even as I’m in danger of a heart attack.
Before that shocking twist at the end, however, this episode was all about Yeon-kyung’s journey out of darkness. It was heartbreaking to see how broken she was by Ha-ra’s death, and sweet beyond words how Im took care of her. I was already half in love with Im before this, but the way he gently reminded Yeon-kyung of her passion and skill as a doctor and the way he comforted her from a place of total empathy won me over completely. I’m pretty sure he won his fair damsel’s heart, too—did you guys see the way she fed him that potato? Im practically forgot his own name. Once they’re officially together, he’s going to be putty in her hands.
We saw evidence of the leads’ rapport last week as well with Yeon-kyung promising Im that she’d be there for him no matter what—these two give each other unconditional support in times of need, challenging each other to be better without anger or condescension. I loved how Im saw everything that Yeon-kyung was going through without being told, but he didn’t force her to talk about anything that she wasn’t ready to discuss. He just took care of her, pulled her out of her panic by explaining that he needed her help, and quietly explained his own experiences with loss and heartbreak—all the while looking at her with those eyes full of empathy and love.
Because what he feels for her is clearly love; this episode made that more abundantly clear than a thousand grandiloquent confessions. (I also can’t get enough of how comfortably, yet respectfully Im touches Yeon-kyung now. Never once did he grab her wrist instead of taking her hand.) Im and Yeon-kyung have gone from acquaintances, to friends, to true partners, and the scene where they worked together to save Kang felt like the fulfillment of long-anticipated potential.
The plot device of Kang getting hurt trying to retrieve Dam’s lost shoe echoed Yeon-kyung’s trauma a little too conveniently, but the execution was good enough, and the emotional payoff more than rewarding enough, that I forgave the show the indulgence. It took seeing this other little girl experience something very similar to her to truly understand how young and innocent she really was at that time, and that of course she wasn’t to blame for her father’s death. I appreciated Im also gently reminding her that as doctors, they can’t promise to save their patients—they can only do their best and leave the rest up to fate, or the will of higher powers. It was wonderful to see Im and Yeon-kyung growing closer, especially because she’s always pretending she’s okay and refusing comfort even from those who love her. As Nurse Jung pointed out, when people like that finally fall, they crash hard. I’m glad Im was there to catch her and remind her how to stand on her own feet again.
A common theme of stories like this is the loneliness of the (usually male) time traveler, belonging nowhere and understood by no one, not even the girl he inevitably falls in love with. Live Up to Your Name turns this trope delightfully on its head: The leads are a man and a woman out of time in each other’s eras, but there’s a camaraderie in that loneliness. Each has one other person who knows exactly what they’re going through without a word needing to be exchanged. It adds another level of equality to an already wonderfully balanced relationship; not only does each act as a guide for the other in their respective worlds, they provide each other with a safe haven. Time travel has given them their own secret world that no one else can enter, and that in turn allows them both the freedom to be themselves when they’re together, in a way that they can’t in front of anyone else. I just hope they find their way back to each other very soon, so that we can be treated to more flirting and long, tender looks.
- 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