This episode was rather uneven, with parts that worked, but others that didn’t work. I’ll start off with what worked.
I’m enjoying the developing relationship between Master Kim and Dong-Joo and how it overturns our expectations. The moment Dong-Joo realises that Master Kim is Boo Yong-Joo, his impression of him completely changes. He decides to stay on in Doldam Hospital and even tells Master Kim he wants to do a surgery together with him. He then starts to look upon Master Kim in a “romanticised” manner, admiring all his efforts to save the patients and even thanking Dr Song for leading him to a great teacher. Later on during surgery, Master Kim is hard on Dong-Joo, cutting off the phone line after telling him to stitch up the patient if he’s decided to give up. However, he does appear at the last minute to assist him through the surgery. When the surgery is finally over, Dong-joo sits down, exhausted (he seems to do that a lot, doesn’t he?) and tries to talk to Master Kim, and that’s where Master Kim completely shatters that “romantic” image that Dong-joo has of him.
Master Kim tells him the brutal truth that he would have done nothing if Dong-joo had decided to give up on the patient, because he would be the one who’d have to live with regret all of his life. Dong-joo was under the impression that Master Kim wanted him to stay in Doldam, but Master Kim responds harshly with “Why would I want to keep you?”. He then goes on to call Dong-joo a fool for not running a CT scan on the patient and by trying to give up his own principles so as to mimic Master Kim’s style. He rubs it in, that Dong-joo almost caused a patient’s death in trying to follow him and calls him out for all his excuses. He ends off by telling him,
“It’s up to you to stay or go. Do what you like. However, if you’re expecting something from me, you should stop dreaming. To a guy who bends his rules according to the situation, I have nothing to give, other than neglecting, mocking, despising and swearing at you.”
It’s scathing, cruel and heartless, and I love it! Master Kim has such a strong personality and is so different from the stereotypical tender-hearted, caring teacher that he’s really refreshing. His treatment of Seo-Jung is no better, cruelly rubbing into it that she’s now an orderly, but she takes it with humility because she knows there’s much to learn from him. I’m starting to appreciate Dong-joo for his willingness to question and even talk back to Master Kim, because he’s not one who will just take Master Kim’s scoldings. Even though he may be a coward, I like that Dong-joo is able to stand up for himself, defend his own actions and even question Master Kim. In that aspect, I think he’s a notch above Seo-Jung, because it’s only through his insistent questioning of Master Kim that he’s able to glean out more learning points for himself.
On a related note, I also liked that the show provided us insights into Master Kim’s past very quickly, where we learn that a third year medical student died under the hands of a younger Doctor Song and President Do attempted to pin the blame completely on Master Kim. While I appreciated that we found out more about Master Kim’s past, I did find the portrayal of President Do very unrealistic and unbelievable. Perhaps it’s the idealistic side of me in relation to the medical profession, but I find it difficult to imagine that a President in a hospital can rise up the ranks by being so conniving, cruel and vengeful. Right now, his motivation seems to be largely for power, which makes him even more unrelatable. I understand that the show is trying to portray a world that’s hierarchical and status-driven, but I would appreciate more humanising of the medical profession, that we do not have straight-out “villains” whose motivations are so unrelatable. Chief Surgeon, Dr. Song, also comes off equally bad as he’s so spineless and cowardly, cowering in his car when he sees Master Song walk by. Overall, the simplistic portrayal of President Do and Dr Song did not sit well with me. Somehow I would be more forgiving if we painted businessmen as villains, but where it comes to the medical profession, I do feel there needs to be more sensitivity in portraying them.
I also found the introduction of Do Im-bum, President Do’s son, rather awkward and we’re not exactly sure what he’s doing there. My guess is that he’s going to be introduced as a love-rival to Dong-Joo, which I also groan at. I found the final scene with Soo-yeon looking so surprised when Dong-joo introduces Im-bum very strange and bewildering. Why would she be so stunned upon that revelation? I can understand the tension between Dong-joo and Im-bum, but I cannot understand Seo-jung’s reaction, which was also rather long-drawn.
Nonetheless, on the note of budding romance, this episode did a better job than many of the earlier episodes and we do get some nice moments between them, especially when Dong-joo tells Seo-jung that romance can be as simple as sharing a meal together. He hasn’t lost the directness that characterised him when he was an intern, yet it has become more muted. I still don’t really see the chemistry between the two of them, perhaps it’s because Yoo Yeon-Seok plays Dong-joo with in such a stern, straight-faced and serious manner. I wish that Yoo Yeon-Seok would add a touch of softness and gentleness to the way he portrays Dong-joo. This came through in the early sequence with Mr Jang when he questions him about Master Kim, where we saw a playfulness and ease in Dong-joo that we rarely see. I hope we get to see more of that, so that we can connect better to Dong-joo and also the romance.
The past two episodes have been rather heavy on Dong Joo’s journey and Seo-jung’s character has been rather sidelined. I’m hoping the subsequent episodes build on her journey, rather than use her mostly as a foil for Dong-joo’s. As always, I’m keen to find out more about Master Kim’s past because there are still gaps regarding the student who died, what happened after that confrontation and what he’s doing lurking around casinos at night.