Romantic Doctor, Teacher Kim Episode 9: The Boundary of Good


This episode contained one of my favourite scenes in this series ever, which has to be Seo Jung and Dong Joo mimicking Master Kim while driving back to Doldam Hospital. It was adorable and hilarious and I have to say, Seo Jung does a much better impression of Master Kim than Dong Joo! Beyond being fun, it’s nice to see both of them not taking Master Kim so seriously and laughing about his harsh treatment of them.

We’re at the halfway point of our series and our protagonists have certainly been through a lot since the first time we saw them in the pilot. While initially I was complaining about how there’s little to admire about Dong Joo, I’ve come to appreciate his portrayal as the flawed hero in our show. He’s certainly giving his best in all that he does, and genuinely wants to do good, but he continually makes mis-steps which help him to learn more about himself and the complex, political world of medical care. In this episode, his supposed heroic act of bringing Chairman Shin in is undercut by Master Kim, who tells him off and reprimands him for playing right into President Do’s hands by magnifying the issue. Dong Joo evidently has much to learn, but his attitude towards Master Kim has mellowed as there’s no talking back this time, just a quiet realisation that he has made a mistake.

Seo-Jung’s journey has been equally challenging as she’s battled with PTSD and her sense of failing all those around her. President Do’s declaration that it’s the end of their relationship was the nail in the coffin, causing her to put in her letter of resignation because she feels she has failed all the fatherly figures in her life.

Seo Jung has certainly been growing in her self-assertiveness and fighting spirit, as we witnessed her standing up to Master Kim just a few episodes ago. In this episode, she learns once again to fight for herself. Putting in her resignation letter may seem like the noble thing to do, but it’s also defeatist, because as In Bum accurately points out, the investigation is not over. Seo Jung then runs to the psychologist to answer his question, telling him that she had never thought about killing herself, even when her mom or Dr. Moon died. Seo Jung’s journey has been one of recovery, not just from PTSD, but also in terms of her confidence and assertiveness. The death of Dr. Moon has shaken her up so much that she’s lost the spunk we saw in her in episode 1, but that’s gradually returning.

The relationship between Dong Joo and Seo-jung in general hasn’t quite clicked for me yet, but their hand holding in this episode was rather touching. I could have done without the first snow falling just at that time though, but well, it certainly created a beautifully shot sequence. It was also a meaningful moment, because Dong Joo who initially never wanted to be at Doldam is now coming all the way to Geodae Hospital to bring Seo Jung back to Doldam.

The episode also establishes that Doldam Hospital is a family, a place where people feel a sense of belonging and are willing to fight for it. It’s a place where relationships matter more than rules, where people matter more than policies and where teamwork matters more than technology.

On a crazy Friday night where emergency patients come in fast and furious, it’s the readiness and responsiveness of the team that ensures everything can be handled. Dr. Song, who keeps trying to establish his stature and position, is unable to handle the stress because he’s unwilling to listen to Nurse Oh’s advice. Master Kim is able to handle a challenging suicide patient because he has seen him before and knows what needs to be said. When Seo-jung’s status is at risk, the staff at Doldam band together to talk to the psychologist, speaking up for her and defending her. When Master Kim’s operation is being hindered by the two men from Geodae, Nurse Assistant Park punches them, unafraid of the trouble it will cause him. Things may be dysfunctional in Doldam when seen through the eyes of policies and procedures, but there’s certainly something beautiful at work, which ultimately benefits the patients.

On a final note, I’ve mentioned previously about how I felt President Do was unrealistically evil for someone in the medical profession. That view has altered slightly as I’ve come to appreciate his ruthlessness just because it provokes and brings out a similar hard-heartedness and ferociousness from Master Kim. I love their tense, charged exchanges, especially when Master Kim put President Do in his place after he says that there are doctors only when there are hospitals. Master Kim corrects him, saying that there are doctors only when there are patients. In some senses, President Do’s perspective isn’t necessarily wrong as strong institutions are also important in the delivery of good healthcare, so I hope the show doesn’t swing to the other extreme of demonising large hospitals. Nonetheless, there’s a good message about delivering our professional roles with heart and that’s what makes this show such a charming one.

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