Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim 2: Episodes 1-2 (Review)
The world wanted more Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim, and SBS has kindly provided us with a Season 2! Han Seok-kyu reprises his role as the eponymous hero, and we’ve got Lee Sung-kyung and Ahn Hyo-seop as the two good-looking youngsters who need a mentor more than they realize.
Second seasons of a K-drama are a rarity, and I’d kind of like to keep it that way. But, that being said, the team behind Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim 2 is doing a really nice job pulling the story (and storyline) together between seasons.
As someone who actually missed the drama’s original season (full disclosure here), even I can feel the weight of the history that’s continuing from the first season. There are mentions of previous headlining characters and where they are now (ah, fan service), old villains resurrect, great supporting characters return, and there’s even some recapping of Season 1 footage for continuity’s sake. If you’re going to do a second season in dramaland, this is how it’s done. Don’t rob us of the greatness that was the original drama — instead, give us as continuing a narrative as you can.
Much like its first season, Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim 2 gets off to a roaring start. I wasn’t expecting to be clutching the couch within the first ten minutes, but I was. Yet for all the excitement, the opening scenes also give us tidy introductions to our new characters — and a fitting return for Teacher Kim himself.
We meet CHA EUN-JAE (Lee Sung-kyung) at a live surgery that’s being broadcast to staff at Geodae Medical Center. More than for teaching and instructing, though, this thing has the feel of a dog and pony show — but things get hairy when they almost lose the patient. Thanks to the quick wit of Teacher Kim (in the audience) and quick running of Eun-jae (also in the audience), the patient’s life is saved by Teacher Kim.
Simultaneously, we meet our other new character, SEO WOO-JIN (Ahn Hyo-seop), who’s working construction jobs in addition to his role as a general surgeon at Geodae. The boy needs cash — but he’s got even more problems than that. He’s being ostracized at the hospital (and his previous workplace as well) for being a whistleblower, and exposing some shady dealings. I can’t help it; I love him already.
Both Eun-jae and Woo-jin already know each other — they were the token overachievers in med school (and, ahem, clearly there’s something between them). They should both be doing better at their jobs at this point, because they’ve the got skill and passion — but they’ve also got problems.
For all her talent, Eun-jae can’t be in the operating room without being overwhelmed by anxiety and either fainting or throwing up. When we meet her at the start of the drama, she’s already at the point of self-medicating to deal with it (and not very well).
As for Woo-jin, we have a charmingly complicated hero. Though we’ve already seen his diagnosing skills and his passion for medicine, he’s also mercenary (thanks to his debt), embittered (thanks to his history at the hospital), and disinterested. Clearly, they both need Teacher Kim.
After a first episode of set-up in Seoul, all of our characters coverage at Teacher Kim’s countryside Doldam Hospital. This place is the polar opposite of the hospital our characters came from in Seoul and we’re treated to a nice contrast of ERs to prove it. At Geodae, the ER was pure chaos, with the attending doctor missing in action, his boss unreachable, and one lonely doctor trying to triage critical patients.
Later, when we get to Doldam hospital, we get a picture of their ER, and it’s worlds apart. Teacher Kim runs a tight operation. When they receive a call about incoming patients, he assigns doctors, and they swiftly establish a baseline plan for what they’ll do. They are poised for action when the patients arrive — proactive, instead of reactive. It’s a beautiful thing.
There’s never a dull moment, of course, and the next patient that comes into the ER is the Minister of National Defense. With him, he brings an army of secret service, a pre-existing medical condition that creates complications, and a whole lot of doctor-politics. All of this, and more, lands in Teacher Kim’s lap.
The stakes might be sky-high, but Teacher Kim is so clear-minded and perceptive, I could probably watch him do his thing all day. He pulls our new doctors into the OR with him, and Woo-jin and Eun-jae are basically as much trouble as ever. Teacher Kim observes them carefully (and not just in the OR), but they don’t yet realize the extent to which he knows their stories, their gifts, and their troubles.
The overall story is set up quite well, but my favorite part is this idea of Teacher Kim and Doldam Hospital as a doctor rehab, of sorts. Teacher Kim has carefully selected both Woo-jin and Eun-jae — he sees diamonds in the rough. Though he’s as hard on them as you can imagine, we can also tell that he’s rooting for them all along. If anyone can get Eun-jae over her debilitating fears, and turn the talented Woo-jin “from a punk into a doctor” — well, it’s Teacher Kim.
It’s curious — the story, characters, and dynamics in Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim 2 are so familiar, I feel like I’ve met them all before. Is it because of dramaland familiarity, or are the characters and setting so strong that I already feel at home in this story?
I’m not sure if it’s either or both, but it’s skillfully done — I’ve already been vacuumed up into this story. I’m invested in the two youngsters and their rehabilitation and transformation into kickass doctors. I already adore Teacher Kim and his awesome team at Doldam. And I can’t wait to watch our good guys outsmart (and out-heart) the foolish doctors that try to trample them. It’s an age-old story, but I never get tired of hearing it. Or watching it.