Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim Episode 17: Moment of Truth

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Mysteries continue to abound in Episode 17 of RDTK, mostly surrounding Master Kim/ Boo Yong Joo and it’s about time because I’ve been wondering why the show has taken so long to reveal his backstory to us.

The successful completion of the surgery was never really in doubt, given how the odds seemed to be piling against Team Doldam so as to prepare the way for a great victory for them. In spite of the initial delay, the surgery is still completed within 6 hours and 2 minutes, largely due to Master Kim’s deft hands and clear mind as well as Dong Joo and In Beom’s team-work. While the success was never in doubt, I enjoyed the precise and detailed capturing of the entire process of replacing the artificial heart, especially all the shots of the swift and intricate stitching being done. While I have no knowledge of the process at all, I could tell that the entire team behind the show – writer, producer, director and actors – had to familiarise themselves thoroughly with the process to ensure it was portrayed in both a convincing and thrilling manner that was still relatively easy to follow.

Before going on to the mysteries introduced, I wanted to add a comment on In-Beom. While the writing of most of the key characters generally well done, In-Beom’s characterisation is less satisfactory because his character seems to encounter shifts behaviour and motivations, without showing exactly how he arrives at those changes. His treatment of Yeon Hwa, previously explained by his anger at her for allowing Dong Joo to take her place, persists in this episode without clear motivations except to foreground her humility and willingness to learn and Nurse Park’s sense of righteousness. In-Beom has also been largely disconnected from the main Doldam family, perhaps to emphasise how he’s still thinking of returning to Geodae, but I’m hoping we see more genuine interaction between him and the main characters, other than just during surgeries. He seems to largely be a closed book to us, also because he doesn’t have any other characters to talk to in Doldam. The budding friendship between him and Dong Joo should therefore be a step towards us gaining more understanding of In-Beom.

Back to Master Kim, who certainly was the focus of this episode – we are introduced to even more questions regarding his backstory. First of all, in his conversation with Reporter Oh, Master Kim asks the reporter if he has courage to tell the truth. Beyond the details of the ‘truth’, this also opens up the question of why Master Kim has delayed telling the truth for so long, especially back then when his reputation and license as a doctor was at stake.

Secondly, we learn from Dr. Nam knows what happened with Jang Hyun-Joo (Master Kim’s student who died), and has sworn not to bring this secret with him to his death. He tells Nurse Oh that Master Kim had made the inevitable choice to save a child’s life. Too many questions here – Who was this child? Why did he put that child over his favourite student, Hyun-Joo? Why was she his favourite student – what made her so special? Also, regarding Dr. Nam, we still have no information about the medical litigation investigation that he’s undergoing. It would also be nice for the show to give us some backstory between the close friendship shared between Dr. Nam and Dr. Kim.

Finally, and to me most interestingly of all, President Cho decides to go to Sokcho, in the middle of a conversation between him, Nurse Oh and Manager Jang about Master Kim. Nurse Oh has a knowing look, suggesting that she knows why he’s going there. We are then subsequently shown a scene of him in the restaurant, ordering udon, with the elderly waitress looking extremely uncomfortable at his presence. Would she happen to be one of the nurses involved in the surgery of Hyun-Joo? Does she have the key to the truth and become a key witness subsequently to tell the story to Reporter Oh? I’m more keen to find out story of how President Cho came to know of Master Kim and recruited him into the hospital under a fake identity, which got hidden for so long. Given that Geodae is the parent hospital of Doldam, how is it that it took so long for President Do or anyone to discover Master Kim’s re-emergence? I’ve always felt that President Cho deserves more attention in the show, hence this new development is fascinating to me.

In the midst of all the mystery and suspense, what I’m enjoying too is the show’s exploration of truth – so relevant in what we now call our “post-truth” world. The voice-overs towards the end speak of how those in power insist their opinions are the facts of the world – “the truth is based on facts, but not all the facts are always right”. While this is certainly related to what happened between Master Kim and Geodae hospital, it also applies to the surgery of Chairman Shin as well.

With Chairman Shin remaining unconscious, President Do tries to cast doubt on Master Kim’s surgery and provoke anxiety in his daughter by suggesting that there may be a problem in his brain and asks for a CT scan. Even with something as scientific as medicine, there are always differing interpretations of the “truth” and President Do presents his opinions as a truth, to provoke fear and anxiety. Master Kim, on the other hand, knows what he’s doing and holds firm to his belief that monitoring is best for the patient now, because of all the tubes connected to him. Thankfully Chairman Shin has written a letter prior to the surgery to give full authority to Master Kim, thus ensuring President Do cannot do anything further. It’s a nice touch to see that the whole surgery doesn’t end with the success of it, because it’s ultimately about the post-recovery process.

With so much to unfold and three episodes left, the show is certainly in for an intense and exciting end!

Some miscellaneous comments:

  • The scene between President Do, Dr Song and Seo Jung was rather weird and out of place. What was even stranger was Dr Song’s attempt to “match-make” Seo Jung. Was that his attempt to get into President Do’s good books? While the scene was weird, it did allow us to see Dong Joo get all defensive and jealous – which was fun.
  • I admired Nurse Oh’s professionalism in breaking up the almost-fight between Nurse Park and In-Beom. She tells Nurse Park off for not handling the situation correctly, even though she also does not agree with In-Beom’s treatment of Yeon Hwa. She also manages to stop In-Beom from over-reacting by telling him there are patients around. Nurse Park also comes off well in this episode as we learn that him standing up to In-Beom was not because he likes Yeon Hwa and not specifically for her, but because of his personal belief that nobody should be treated without respect.
  • I’m keen to find out more about why Master Kim wants to set up a trauma centre at Doldam Hospital. If that means we’ll get a final look at Seo-jung’s handling of PTSD, then I’m keen to see how this storyline progresses.

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