Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! Before we get into anything, I just wanted to say, thank you for voting for this show, you guys. Honestly, even though I’d heard lots of good things about this show, I am generally very unmotivated when it comes to watching medical shows. Unless it’s something like Hospital Playlist, that is, heh. So it’s only because Dr. Romantic won the poll, that I’ve found a reason – and the discipline! – to check out this medical drama. And – color me surprised – I’m actually enjoying it way more than I’d expected to. Huzzah! 🥳
I hope you guys are ready to chat about Dr. Romantic episodes 1 & 2! Here are our usual ground rules, before we begin:
1. Please don’t post spoilers in the Open Thread, except for events that have happened in the show, up to this point. I repeat: no spoilers for future episodes please! We have quite a few first-time viewers among us, and we don’t want to spoil anything for anyone.
2. Discussions on this thread don’t have to close when newer threads open, just so you know! But as we progress through our group watch, please keep the discussions clear of spoilers from future episodes, so that future readers coming to this thread won’t be accidentally spoiled. Does that make sense?
Without further ado, here are my reactions to this pair of episodes; have fun in the Open Thread, everyone! ❤️
Woof. Despite so many of you telling me that this show is exciting, this episode was wayy more of a rollercoaster than I’d expected, seriously. This episode felt like it was running on adrenaline, while being pumped up on steroids AND Korean ginseng. Ha. And what an effective episode this was, too, in terms of giving us a good sense of our characters, as well as the kind of environment they exist in.
I’m not super familiar with medical dramas, having only seen a handful, and I must say, the tension-filled atmosphere of the emergency room feels relentless as it’s portrayed in this show. I imagine that ERs aren’t constantly this hair-raisingly tense, but I also imagine that they can and do get like this. Watching the stress that these doctors have to deal with in a very real and in-yo-face way, made me feel relieved that I don’t work in an ER. 😅
I thought it was a smart decision, to open our story with a flashback to what had happened to Dong Joo’s father in the ER, and how Dad had died because a VIP patient had been given preferential, earlier treatment. We experience Dong Joo’s fury and frustration first-hand, and afterwards, it’s much easier to feel empathy for adult Dong Joo, when he’s being curt and drawing lines with his sunbaes, because we already understand that he’s carrying a great deal of anger, pain and trauma, and has channeled it into an unrelenting effort to do well as a doctor, in order to exact vengeance on the doctors – and perhaps the system? – that had ignored his father in his time of need.
I mean, I don’t find Dong Joo very likable – at least, not immediately – coz he is coming off as a bit of a prick, but I feel like I can understand why he is the way he is. He’s applied himself so resolutely, and entrenched himself so deeply, within the very system that he believes killed his father; it’s impossible to expect him to be authentic AND pleasant at the same time. And if I had to choose between him being authentic and him being pleasant, then I’d rather have him be authentically prickly, than inauthentically pleasant. Y’know, I do think that that’s my favorite thing about Dong Joo so far: he’s unapologetically authentic, even though he knows that he might not have a popular opinion.
As for Seo Jung, I have to admit that I pretty much like her right away. She strikes me as a pretty wonderful bundle of contradictions. She’s deeply vulnerable, yet impressively capable; she can sometimes be frozen to the spot and not be able to function, yet she often grabs a situation by the horns and rises up to tame it into submission, even if she has to put her job on the line; she can come across as a petty sunbae who takes pleasure in hazing her junior, but she really is a caring coach who observes her junior closely, and takes the trouble to explain things, and give praise when she feels it’s right.
I find that early scene, where Seo Jung overcomes her nerves and makes a potentially risky decision in order to stop the bleeding – while going against protocol – and succeeds, all while she’s still shaking from the stress of it all, such a great summary of the kind of person Seo Jung is.
It’s not that she’s fearless; she’s so scared that she’s shaking; but she won’t allow that to get in the way of doing what she believes is the right thing, in order to save the patient.
I find her relatable yet admirable, and I kinda can’t help but love her right away. And therefore, I can totally understand why Dong Joo would be smitten with her so quickly – because I, too, am immediately smitten. 🤩😍
Although Dong Joo and Seo Jung appear to be quite different at first glance, I like how Show demonstrates that they are very similar in a deeper way, where it matters. They both are unflinching when it comes to making unpopular decisions for the good of the patient, and they both fiercely carry a spirit of excellence when it comes to the quality of the care that they provide.
That scene where Seo Jung operates to insert the ECMO machine to oxygenate the patient’s blood, and Dong Joo assists, I’m struck by how in sync they are, even though this is the first time they’ve worked together in such a manner. It’s as if they are of the same mind, drawing on the same thoughts, in the same order. It’s an amazing experience to have that kind of synergy with a teammate, and I love that Seo Jung and Dong Joo have this, so naturally and instinctively.
My favorite moment of the scene, though, has to be when the surgery is successful, and Seo Jung asks for the patient’s name, so that she can talk to him, update him, and encourage him not to give up, because he’s going to be ok. There’s so much gentleness and compassion, not to mention humanity, in the way that she talks to him, that my heart is melted into a puddle on the floor. What an amazing lady. 😍
I do hate that Seo Jung’s attending doctor takes her to task so harshly for her actions, when it’s her actions that saved the patient’s life. Although I understand that there is protocol to be followed, and that Seo Jung’s actions carried a definite amount of risk, I feel that the attending doctor’s anger at her is personal; it’s as if he feels personally insulted by her behavior, and plans to punish her for having the audacity of offending him. UGH.
My heart goes out to Seo Jung completely, as she cries by herself in the supply room, telling herself that she did do the right thing, and that the patient had lived, and that’s the most important thing. She strikes me as particularly vulnerable and tenderhearted in this moment; the badass vibes are nowhere to be seen right now, and all I want to do is give her a hug.
..Which, I guess translates somewhat similarly to how Dong Joo feels, when he sees her there like that. 😏
First of all, I appreciate the fact that the first thing Dong Joo does, is apologize for his inadequate handling of the CPR, which he feels caused the problem. There’s that unapologetic authenticity again. I also really like Seo Jung’s response. She doesn’t take the opportunity to allow Dong Joo to take the blame, even though that’s essentially what he’s doing; she focuses instead on the fact that they saved the patient, and did what they had to do. And then she even tells him not to be discouraged, and praises him for his excellent assistance, telling him that he did good work. Augh. How is this woman so lovely? ❤️ I can’t blame Dong Joo for being overcome with his feelings for her.
I am rather taken aback by the fact that he simply moves in for the kiss, and when she asks him if he’s gone crazy, he merely murmurs, “Am I not allowed? Am I not allowed… to go crazy for you?” – before he moves in to kiss her again. Blubber. Daze.
Part of my brain protests that this is all very inappropriate, and that this is basically workplace sexual harassment, since he kisses her without her consent and despite her protests. On the other hand, it’s true that Seo Jung isn’t completely hating it (as she later half-confesses to Dr. Moon), and actually responds to the kiss.
There’s a deep sense of sensuality about Dong Joo’s vibe here that is quite intoxicating, and the synergy that we’d seen between Dong Joo and Seo Jung when they’d worked together in surgery, now comes into play in the most heady, sensuous way, and I can’t blame Seo Jung’s heart for wavering, in this very potently sensuous moment. Spazz.
It makes complete sense to me, that Seo Jung would later take it all back and explain it away as them not thinking straight while high on adrenaline, because, as she states, she’s in a relationship with Dr. Moon. What pretty much stuns me, though, is Dong Joo’s bald admission that he’d like to date her, and sleep with her, which he states so matter-of-factly, while she’s still trying to tell him that she’s seeing Dr. Moon. That’s some next-level nerve, yes? I mean, if the lady is explaining that she’s seeing someone else, it seems highly inappropriate to just keep telling her that you want to date her and sleep with her..? 👀
On that note, I wanted to give a shout-out to Tae In Ho, whom I feel did a really great job in his short appearance as Dr. Moon.
Dr. Moon isn’t shown to be extremely expressive, except when he’s barking out orders during an emergency, but it honestly wasn’t long before I sensed that Dr. Moon had some kind of soft spot for Seo Jung. There was just something in his gaze – a slight glint of softness and appreciation – that communicated that fondness so well, even though there was nothing in the script to indicate it. I thought that was very nicely done.
I was sorry to learn that Dr. Moon was cheating on Seo Jung, and I was also sorry to see him die as a result of the accident. Even though it doesn’t excuse his cheating, the fact that he’d put Seo Jung’s safety and well-being above his own, and had insisted on operating on her himself, even though he was the one who had suffered head trauma, tells me that he was sincere in his care for her, in his own very flawed way.
I can completely understand why Seo Jung feels as guilty and grieved as she does; the last thing he’d heard from her, was her admission that her heart had wavered at the love confessions she’d received – and right after that, is when the accident had happened. I’m sure there are a ton of “what ifs” racing through her mind, not least, what if she hadn’t told him; would that have changed the course of events enough, to prevent his death? It’s an awful kind of guilt to live with, and it’s clear that the weight of it is crushing Seo Jung.
I hate to think that Seo Jung might’ve gone into that forest to maybe hike until she’d died, but that is not impossible, given her fragile emotional and mental state, after Dr. Moon’s death. Although, her survival instincts do give a good showing, which gives me hope that she doesn’t actually want to die.
How appropriate, to bookend the episode with our titular Dr. Kim saving each of our leads. We begin the episode with Dr. Kim saving Dong Joo, and end it with him saving Seo Jung. I’m guessing that that’s exactly what Dr. Kim will continue to do, in the coming episodes – save the both of them, in spite of themselves.
The thing about coming into this show relatively blind, is that I actually had no idea, that our main setting wouldn’t be Geodae Hospital, so I’m slightly amused and quite blindsided, that we are not in that big busy hospital, but in a ghost town of a rural hospital instead. Talk about having my expectations overturned. 😆
I do hate that President Do had basically used Dong Joo’s insecurities to turn him into the scapegoat that he needed, because – UGH – that is so low and evil and manipulative. I can see this as a necessary evil, though, since the whole idea is to get Dong Joo to Doldam Hospital. However, I did feel rather disappointed at the way Dong Joo puts asides his principles in order to take the sliver of a chance to prove himself. As Seo Jung puts it later, what’s happened to him in the last 5 years, that he’s so different from the Dong Joo that we’d met in episode 1? Where before I’d felt like he and Seo Jung were fundamentally similar, this episode, it feels like they are now fundamentally different.
Where before, Dong Joo had been the one swooning at the way Seo Jung had saved the patient by slicing into his abdomen in the ER, and he’d also been the one racing to bring her the ECMO machine when everyone else had been urging her against it, now he’s the one getting all up in a twist, that the Doldam Hospital team is slicing into a patient while not in an operating theater.
Clearly, Dong Joo’s been heavily disillusioned by the systemic discrimination and preferential treatment that he’s had to live with in the last 5 years, and the letter of the law’s been so ingrained into him that it now becomes the thing that comes out of his mouth as a default. Funny how things can change in just a few years, eh?
To be honest, I’m still coming to terms with this show’s brand of quirky. For example, I found the entire sequence at the bar, where Dong Joo meets Dr. Kim and Dr. Kim pretends to want to slice his hand off, kind of bizarre. But, I have a feeling that once I get used to how this show rolls, that I’ll be happy to roll right along with it.
I do think that this posting to Doldam Hospital is going to be so much more than Dong Joo expected or bargained for.
For one thing, I’m pleased that this plot development brings Dong Joo and Seo Jung into the same space again. I honestly am quite struck by the way Dong Joo’s expression morphs, from one of irritation and disdain, to plaintive vulnerability, the moment he registers that Seo Jung is right there before him. That’s some lovely emoting there by Yoo Yeon Seok, and I love it.
It’s also poignant to learn that after Seo Jung’s disappearance, Dong Joo had tried desperately to reach her. This touches me, because Dong Joo’s feelings for Seo Jung now appear to be something deeper and more sincere than a fleeting, visceral attraction. He’d really liked her – and probably still does.
I can understand Seo Jung’s utter horror at seeing Dong Joo, though. She feels guilty enough for (what she sees as) contributing to Dr. Moon’s death; it just makes it so much worse, because Dong Joo’s confession and her reaction to it, is the very thing that she’d told Dr. Moon about, that she believes then affected his driving decisions and ultimately caused his death. I believe just seeing Dong Joo makes Seo Jung relive those terrible thoughts and memories, and therefore, I can imagine that she’d want him to leave Doldam Hospital as quickly as possible.
On a tangent, I just want to say that I very much identify with Seo Jung’s wrist injuries. As many of you know, I had a freak accident with a broken glass last July where I ended up having my right wrist sliced into. Although it’s not as serious an injury as Seo Jung’s, the cut is short but deep, like hers, and there is some lingering nerve damage as well.
I’m in a much better position than Seo Jung (as you can see, from the fact that I am still able to blog), but her struggle to make the mental shift, from doing something simple like twisting a door knob with her right hand, to doing so with her uninjured left hand, is something that I feel very keenly. I, too, have to favor my right hand when doing various simple tasks, and it can be a bit of a downer. I can only imagine how painful it must be for Seo Jung, to struggle to even hold the surgical instruments, when she’d once been so adept and confident at it. 💔
I appreciate that Seo Jung is working to be strong, and has made a great deal of progress in the last 5 years, but it’s also gutting to realize that despite her rehabilitative progress, she’s haunted by voices, and hallucinates that Dr. Moon blames her for his death. She looks so drawn, and so haunted, as she stands there, struggling not to give in to the voices. Ack. It’s hard to watch, and my heart aches for her, so much. 💔
Dong Joo is clearly very affected by all this; you can literally sense the blood draining from his face, as he looks upon Seo Jung holding the scalpel with her left hand, ready to slice into her right wrist, which is shaking uncontrollably.
I feel like the shock of witnessing what’s really going on with Seo Jung possibly galvanizes Dong Joo into seeing beyond himself. Up to this point, it’s seemed that he couldn’t think of anything else but his revenge plan and his need to prove himself. Now, though, with his genuine concern for Seo Jung pushing to the surface, and her very real struggle to just stay alive, I feel like it’s giving him cause to reevaluate his entire approach to life, possibly.
His tears feel laced with regret and possibly self-reproach, though I could be projecting here; whatever it is, it does feel like a significant moment of reckoning. And, judging from the focused, determined and appropriately respectful manner in which he enters the operating theater to assist Dr. Kim on Seo Jung’s surgery, it feels like Dong Joo’s turned an important corner.
It’s been tough watching both Dong Joo and Seo Jung fall to their lowest lows, but now it looks like they’re positioned to start making their journeys towards better and brighter days, and I’m glad to be here, to cheer them on. Fighting~! 💪🏻