Open Thread: Dr. Romantic Episodes 3 & 4

Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! Dr. Romantic keeps up the pace by serving up more action and reveals in episodes 3 & 4, and I hope that you guys are all ready to chat about it all!

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! ❤️

My thoughts

Episode 3

It’s a pretty confronting hour for Dong Joo and Seo Jung, as he comes face to face with some tough questions, and she, some tough consequences. It’s all very uncomfortable and angsty for them both, but it does feel necessary.

For starters, though, can I just say that Seo Jung’s surgery was particularly hard for me to watch? I mean.. that gaping cut-open wrist was enough to make me wince and clench my own fist in a reflexive brace, ack. 😝 Like I said in the last Open Thread, I am fortunate to be in a much better position with my wrist wound and lingering damage than Seo Jung, but this all just cuts rather close to home, y’know? I kept averting my eyes during this scene, as a result. 🙈

The way Dong Joo describes the surgical prowess of Master Kim, it sounds like some kind of magic, and I happily suspend disbelief because this is a foundational piece in this story world. Dr. Kim has to be something very special, in order to warrant being our titular character, who holds the promise of hope for our other characters.

Also, in case anyone is wondering, “master” (사부) in this case isn’t the master and servant sort of master, but more of the master and disciple sort of master. In this case, with both Dong Joo and Seo Jung having so much to learn from him, in more ways than one, it seems fitting to me, that Dr. Kim is affectionately known as “Master Kim.”

I also love Dong Joo’s observation of how synergistically the Doldam surgical team works together; it’s as if they are all thinking the same thoughts, and there are no extraneous actions whatsoever, in the operating theater. I’ve had the pleasure of tasting what it’s like to work in a team like that, and it’s absolutely thrilling and delightful. I very much love that our Doldam team, in a humble little hospital, out in what appears to be a ghost town, has this elusive X-factor.

Dong Joo’s reaction to Master Kim makes a lot of sense to me. He’s both deeply in awe of Master Kim, and completely flustered and thrown by how small he feels in front of him. All this time, Dong Joo’s built his self-esteem on his accomplishments, especially that bit about how he graduated at the top of his class, and now, his accomplishments, which had heretofore looked so glorious to his eyes, now appear more like rags in front of Dr. Kim. Of course he’s upset, and of course he wants to get away from this situation if at all possible.

It also makes sense to me that Dong Joo attempts to understand Master Kim in the only way he feels confident: through logical analysis. That’s why he keeps asking Master Kim about himself, and that’s also why he asks his ex-colleague at Geodae Hospital to look into Master Kim’s background. Dong Joo’s mind is basically blown, and he’s floundering, looking for a way to process it all.

And, like I mentioned earlier, the reason he’s being so belligerent about it all, is because his self-esteem, which he’s carefully curated all these years with unrelenting hard work, is threatening to fall to pieces. So while Dong Joo isn’t coming across as very likable in the way that he’s responding to Master Kim, I find him understandable.

As for Master Kim’s decision to dismiss Seo Jung from the hospital, this makes sense to me too. Although many of Seo Jung’s colleagues approach him to ask him to reconsider his decision, I have to admit that Master Kim has a point. Seo Jung’s mental and emotional state is very fragile, and she’s even gone so far as to harm herself. It would be irresponsible to put patients in her care. To be sure, Master Kim could have been gentler about it, but I agree with the rationale of his decision.

That said, I do feel sorry for Seo Jung. She’s worked hard to rehabilitate herself over the last 5 years, and now, Dong Joo’s appearance is just the trigger to unravel everything that she’s worked for. His is probably a face that she would rather forget, because he represents the crux of her guilt.

Having to face Dong Joo daily is more than Seo Jung is equipped to bear, and all the ghosts that Seo Jung thought she’d put to rest, come flooding back, throwing her back into the depths of the pit of guilt and paralysis that she thought she’d climbed out of. That’s harsh, because through no fault of her own, it feels like everything that she’s worked for in the last 5 years, is now gone.

With that in mind, I can understand why Seo Jung would be so reluctant to leave the hospital, and why she would try every means possible, to continue to do her job, in spite of Master Kim’s pronouncement.

I appreciate, though, that when push comes to shove, both Dong Joo and Seo Jung put the patients’ needs first.

For example, even though Dong Joo wanted nothing more than to go back to Seoul to that gathering, so that he’d be able to beg President Do for his job back, ultimately, he chooses to stay, in order to try to save the patient who drank insecticide. Even though Dong Joo himself keeps questioning why he should even do any of this, I feel that this gives us a glimpse of the Dong Joo that we’d met, before he’d gotten lost in disillusionment.

And then there’s how Dong Joo and Seo Jung put aside their differences to work together, after  Dong Joo admits to Seo Jung that he’s never treated a burn patient before. I love how they work in tandem, with Seo Jung observing from the side and advising Dong Joo remotely through over the phone, so that the patients receive the care that they need.

I love this little spot of teamwork, and I also love that they seem to work as well together now, as they did 5 years ago, before everything went downhill. It feels like the synergy they have is innate; even though a lot of time has passed, and Dong Joo’s changed, and Seo Jung’s no longer the superstar ER sunbae she once was, that synergy is still alive and well. I love that. I love just as much, the radiant glow on Seo Jung’s face, as she actively contributes to the wellbeing of the patients.

How curious, that Master Kim shows up at the ER, appearing to also have been exposed to some kind of fiery – or at least smoky – situation. I wonder what that’s about? Importantly, the way he looks upon Seo Jung, with a hint of tears in his eyes, comes across as.. complicated. Is he angry with her? Worried about her? Aggrieved that she disobeyed him? ..All of the above..?

Episode 4

This show does lean more melodramatic than I’d first expected, and I think I’m still getting a handle on the tone to expect from it. This episode, the emotional shouting, particularly in President Yeo’s office, kind of took me by surprise. I think I’m just going to have to wrap my head around the fact that this is just that kind of hospital, and this is just that kind of drama world. 😅

What I find very interesting, is Master Kim’s insight into Dong Joo’s motivation for having Seo Jung on the phone with him while he treated the burn patients. That’s such sharp discernment, that Dong Joo wasn’t primarily doing it in the patients’ interests, but his own; he hadn’t wanted to look bad for not knowing what to do. Judging from how stunned Dong Joo is at Master Kim’s assertion, I’d say that there is at least some truth to Master Kim’s claim, and that truth hurts.

That said, I don’t know what else Dong Joo could have done, in that situation. The burn patients needed urgent care, he was the only doctor on duty, and he had no experience working with burn victims. What did Master Kim expect him to do, wing it..? That could have gone very badly, no? Would it have been fair to the patients for Dong Joo to have taken that kind of risk? From where I’m standing, the tag team set-up that Dong Joo and Seo Jung had going, was actually the safest choice for the burn patients. While there may be truth in Master Kim’s pronouncement, I do think that Master Kim is overly harsh on Dong Joo, in this case.

And, while it’s delivered quite OTT for my taste, I’m glad that Head Nurse Oh eventually speaks up for Dong Joo, to point out all the things that he did do well.

As much as I admire Master Kim for his amazing skill and sharp insight, I personally have strong feelings about acknowledging strengths as well as weaknesses. The way Master Kim talks to Dong Joo right now, it would seem that Dong Joo has no merits to speak of – but he does, and I’m glad, for Dong Joo’s sake, that Head Nurse Oh voices that.

To be clear, it’s not that I’m condoning Dong Joo’s angry outbursts, because those aren’t very professional either, particularly the one where he tries to come to blows with Master Kim. But, I can understand why he’s upset. He’s been dealing with a busy ER all by himself, and he’s given up (what he sees as) his one chance of getting his job at Geodae Hospital back in favor of tending to a patient, who ends up dying anyway. He’s exhausted mentally and emotionally, and the last thing he needs is Master Kim making him feel worthless.

To be fair to Master Kim, it’s not like he’s had a very average day; he’s just been beaten up and then thrown into a situation where his personal friends are burning in a sudden inferno. That’s intense, to say the least, so I’d cut Master Kim a bit of slack too, for his brusque manner with Dong Joo.

Speaking of that beating, I do not care for Chairman Shin, at all. I mean, I guess he’s used to doing things a certain way, and he’s desperate as well, but doesn’t it say something about him, that he’s made a habit of beating people into submission, before they’ve even had a chance to say what they think? Ugh. That really blows my mind a bit. I’m glad that Master Kim refuses to be intimidated, and manages to flip the power dynamics, such that Chairman Shin is at his mercy, and not the other way around.

While on the topic of power dynamics, I just wanted to say that it looks like Head Nurse Oh is the one with the real power in Doldam Hospital, heh. 😏

It seems pretty certain that without Head Nurse Oh’s intervention, Master Kim would not have reevaluated his decision regarding Seo Jung’s future at the hospital. Also, without Head Nurse Oh’s deft use of soft power, Dong Joo would not have ended up staying to treat more patients at the hospital. She is a wise and shrewd woman, she is. 🤩

Ultimately, I do think that the decision Master Kim arrives at, is a good one. It gives Seo Jung a second chance, while upholding his principle of not putting patients in Seo Jung’s care when she is mentally and emotionally fragile. It’s a perfectly balanced compromise – which he would have never arrived at, if Head Nurse Oh hadn’t essentially ordered him to rethink his decision. Truly, not all heroes wear capes. Sometimes they wear Head Nurse uniforms, heh.

The hyperawareness between Dong Joo and Seo Jung is very much alive, especially in the scene where Dong Joo’s packing his things, while Seo Jung is in the same room. Even though she presents a careful front of ignoring him, she’s very attuned to his presence in the room, and Dong Joo’s fully aware of it too, which he proves in the way he slams the door as he’s pretend-leaving the room, which has the desired effect of her finally looking up in his direction. It strikes me that these two people see each other so clearly, even though they haven’t spent much time together at all.

We do tend to be more honest when we think there are no stakes involved, and I believe this is why, when Dong Joo presses her, Seo Jung admits that she had missed him and thought of him, from time to time. It just feels good to have some honesty between these two, and it feels significant, that they are admitting that they missed each other.

Even though she’d earlier called him out for having a victim mentality, there’s kindness and acceptance in Seo Jung’s eyes, as she reminds him to keep in mind that he’s a doctor, even as he seeks to advance in his career. Augh. There’s such a lovely humanity about Seo Jung; she’s always so full of compassion. I love her. 😍

This episode is titled “Necessary and sufficient condition,” and I feel that it has to do with the idea of why we do what we do. Essentially, I think that’s what Seo Jung is trying to remind Dong Joo of; the reason he does what he does, not as a rat in a rat race, but as a doctor, whose mission is to save and help people.

Show juxtaposes Dong Joo’s response to Head Nurse Oh, with Seo Jung’s response to Master Kim, on essentially this question (albeit phrased differently). It’s telling where they each are, by their answers. Dong Joo, still wrapped up in the nuts, bolts and trappings of hospital life, talks about how he dislikes Master Kim, and how he can’t see a future at Doldam Hospital, because he wants to be a great doctor. Seo Jung, on the other hand, is laser-focused. She simply wants to learn from Master Kim, and perhaps do a collaborative surgery with him one day. She’s that entranced and inspired by his art, in saving lives.

It’s because Dong Joo doesn’t have it clear in his head, of why he does what he does, that he’s struggling with his decisions around his career. In contrast, Seo Jung has no qualms whatsoever at staying at Doldam Hospital, because she is clear on why staying at Doldam Hospital would help her get to where she wants to be.

I do appreciate that Master Kim seems to soften towards Dong Joo somewhat, as they work on the patient together in the ER. He even imparts some wisdom, around not aiming to be a great doctor, but working to be the doctor that the patient needs, in that moment.

Our characters connect some important dots at the end of the hour, with Seo Jung gaining some accidental insight into why Dong Joo had chosen to be a doctor in the first place, and Dong Joo finally realizing that the mysterious wise doctor who’d stitched him up and given him important life advice back in middle school when his father had died, is none other than Master Kim. I can imagine that that this would cause Dong Joo to look at Master Kim with new eyes, and I can also imagine that this revelation would certainly turn Dong Joo’s determination to leave Doldam Hospital upside down.

How curious, though, that Master Kim had apparently gone by a different name back then: Boo Yong Joo. And how interesting, that he won’t answer to the name anymore, even when Dong Joo confronts him about it. Even more interesting, is the fact that President Do seems intent on hunting down Dr. Boo Yong Joo, and is furious when President Yeo claims to not know a thing.

Ooh. Curiouser and curiouser. Why would Master Kim need to change his name and hide from President Do, and what does President Do hope to accomplish, by tracking him down?

40 thoughts on “Open Thread: Dr. Romantic Episodes 3 & 4

  1. Pingback: This Month On Patreon: April 2021 | The Fangirl Verdict

  2. seankfletcher

    Some awesome comments going on here. Right from the get go, the question remains with me each and every episode “what is Dr Kim, as a person, really all about?” Does he see himself as a master? No. Is he a Nietzsche being? Closer, I think🤔

    Nurse Oh’s ability to cut through the Master’s view and subsequent decisions is based on that one thing we need to keep us anchored in life: trust (with a big dollop of having an open mind in there as well). Who else has been that one constant in his life that exhibits what it means to get the job done in the most professional way?

    What we see with our young tyros at this point is that very dichotomy many face: I need to feel sorry for myself and blame others; I am laser focussed and I am going to do what it takes, without excuses. Both approaches can lead to a very messy outcome. The Master’s approach is: be a better person first and then aspire to great things. However, that is precisely the causal loop our beloved super being is caught up in re himself.

    A saviour comes in many forms, I think 😉

  3. BE

    I would like to echo and elaborate a bit on Trent’s commentary vis a vis Dr. Kim. I would like to preface my comments with a side tangent. I think one of the attractions to K Drama for me has been the various differences large and small between American, by and large IndoEuropean and Judeo-Christian culture, and that of South Korea, albeit recently influenced by Christian culture and more recently by American culture, with the influences of Confucianism and Buddhism so deeply entrenched there. It is true in recent decades that various forms of Buddhist thought and practice have inhabited the US (Sokei-An Shigetsu, who was born in Japan, was the first Japanese Zen Master to teach in the United States, where he began as a Rinzai Zen Master with a center in New York City in the early thirties, that is far more recently than when the first missionaries arrived in Korea. And of course, as with Japan, Buddhism entered Korea from China.

    From the beginning, in China, Buddhism, as with religions everywhere, was appropriated by powerful politicians for their own advantage, utilizing monastic structures for their own purposes. What is more the actual practice as set out by Buddha himself, which is quite demanding in some ways, as with sainthood, not everyone is cut out to be a Boddhisattva, was replaced in a large portion of the population with a kind of comfort food Promised Land, in which Buddha, who never claimed to be a god, was seen as a kind of deity, all this of course taken advantage of by political figures and clerics in a self serving manner. The man credited with bringing Buddhism to China, Bodhidharma represented a kind of counter to that kind of Buddhism. His was an austere version that followed the example of Buddha. That is, forget all the book learning, the preaching, and so on, and wake up, and stay awake moment after moment. All through the history of Buddhism these currents ran counter to one another, and every so often when the Buddhist temple became corrupt centers of political chicanery, and its teachings reduced to monastic formalities and practices, esteem given to mere wrote understanding of the ten thousand sutras,et al, and the people had foisted upon them a groovy good vibes version of Buddhist Doctrine, some one or another master would come along to throw the pharisees out of the temple, so to speak, and renew a kind of let’s get down to brass tacks Buddhism that spoke to the essence rather than the so called law. It must be said, for the purposes our melodrama’s context as well, that many of those who claimed such mastery lived in constant threat for their lives at the hands of the more powerful bureaucratic Buddhist leaders of their eras.

    The transmission of such pure mastery, the teaching as has been recorded over centuries, is rife with shouting and blows. Indeed both are repeatedly cited as evidence of a master’s affection for his student. There are CENTURIES of such stories recorded in Budhhist hermeneutics, the whole thrust being an awakened mastery of the moment, moment after moment as the anodyne to the entirety of human suffering of the student, of humanity.

    One such master was the 9th C teacher Lin Ji, founder of the sect of Ch’an Buddhism that became in Japan the Rinzai Zen sect, quite known in his own day and ever since for the ferocity of his Zen. He is most famous in America, albeit hardly known outside of Buddhist circles, for having said in one of his lectures to his followers that they should “kill the Buddha.” A phrase widely misunderstood, but simply meaning if the concept of Buddha gets in the way of your own enlightenment, cut that concept off. You aren’t concerned with Buddha’s enlightenment, but your own, and you won’t find enlightenment in Buddha, but in yourself. Or to put it in terms of Dr. Romantic–what kind of doctor do you want to be?

    In one of Lin-Ji’s lectures, he says the following: “Brothers, when students come from all directions and host and guest have interviewed one another, the student puts forth a query to measure the teacher. The student selects a slippery line of words and throws them in the teacher’s face, asking, ‘Do you understand or not!’ The master understanding it to be an external feature, seizes it and flings it into an abyss. But the student, nevertheless fearlessly inquires after the master’s teaching. The master then demolishes the student’s attitude. But then the student says, ‘Superior wisdom! A Great Adept!’ Shouting at the student, the master says, “You cannot even tell good from bad.'” Kim Sabu and Dong Joo? Instead of the temple, the temple of healing, the hospital?

    As I have noted I believe this is a melodrama, but one in which particular social values and approach to basic how to live values are delivered. Another element of Buddhism has to do with the Boddhisattva Avalokiteshvara, who mythos has been the embodiment of compassion, of being the ear and comfort to the sufferings of all individuals, and who in his most famous incarnation, most beloved incarnation is a woman, most celebrated in Japan as Kwan Yin. Spoiler Alert for It’s Okay to not Be Okay, as last week so many noted the resemblance of the two hospitals between that in It’s Okay and Dr. Romantic, I do believe that It’s Okay riffing on Dr. Romantic, has its largest twist work so well because in Dr. Romantic, Head Nurse Oh borders on boddhisattva, her preternatural calm, her in the moment in crises presence, and above all, like Kwan Yin, her powerful compassion which trumps in those moments even the master whom she serves.

  4. BE

    Hi all. As usual long comment ahead. Followed up by one other. First I want to repeat my initial caveat when it comes to my affection for this show. This most certainly is a MELODRAMA, Hospital Show iteration, most certainly not a slice of life piece. The melodrama is used as a vehicle to make some commentary about social realities and more basic approaches to living, but it is absolutely a tropey as all get out bit of melodrama. It has highbrow elements to it, but they are delivered in a low brow popular entertainment. For me, it is really good fast food entertainment.

    As I also earlier stated, when I first saw the series I felt like it was more of a guilty pleasure as such, because I was enamored of Han Seok Kyu’s over the top persona, which he performs with such panache, and the ensemble cast, particularly the crew at the Doldam. I did not particularly see show as work of art as I do with some of my favorite dramas in contemporary settings like My Mister, Secret Love Affair, Dear My Friends, or one I most recently viewed on KFG’s recommendation, My Unfamiliar Family. But I did think there was/is a cracky element to this, I could not really explain to myself, and I have approached my rewatch to figuring out what that is exactly beyond the two elements I mentioned above.

    So, I do find some of the reactions to this given my willingness to accept the limitations of the piece interesting. The shouting to begin with. Okay, let’s say in our contemporary world professional situations have rendered such anachronistic if not straight up abusive workplace communications and interactions, a bug if not a feature of patriarchal systems. However, I do think it should be pointed out in many high stress, professional fields, we are not so far away from the time when such was ubiquitous. What is more, given all the ticks of South Korean culture on display in K Drama, not the least of which, despite the general cliche about Asian culture being one of behavioral restraint, hyperbolic emotionalism, shouting but one iteration, does not really strike me as out of the ordinary, especially given the life and death consequences of being distracted to the point of failing patients.
    Last week one poster, also pointed to manipulative “schmaltzy” music (schmaltz for those of you who do not know is chicken fat, the butter of 19th and 20th century eastern European Yiddish cuisine) in the grab and kiss scene directing the audience to interpret that scene in a way that overlooked the real world implications of its shorthanded choreography. And yes, the ost is as manipulative as all get out in this, but for the most part I would also say it is masterful in its appropriate highlighting and/or underscoring the meaning show wishes to convey about each scene and the overall pacing of each episode. It’s only melodrama, but I like the way Dr. Romantic rocks it. As if the bloody operative and er scenes weren’t already intense enough, the interactions fraught with conflict, pathos, and on occasion, thankfully, humor (and I find it a bit humorous how the placid, centered, restrained Nurse Oh can by going completely out of character and cutting loose get everyone else, not the least of which Kim Sabu or the voluble Dong Joo), the music like a kick of whiskey turns up the volume on the whole.
    I like how while, as one poster put it, it moves at a rather rapid clip, it does so while providing an enormous amount of information, first with foreshadow and then by going back to the foreshadow and developing upon it. The comedic scene in the casino kitchen in episode two wherein the chefs have a thuggish aspect to them, not to mention a kind of irrelevance, and Dr. Kim a sadistic aspect, when seen in the light of episode three and four (at first sight, why does Dr. Kim have a burned face?) where one gets what kind of guy the head chef really is, what the relationship between Dr. Kim and him really is, how the chef has witnessed on more than one occasion Dr, Kim bringing people back to life from near death situations, something also echoed by Casino owner’s interrogation of Dr. Kim, and Dr. Kim’s willingness to put his life on the line on behalf of the kitchen staff including the man most seriously threatened in the conflagaration. That is, for those who find Dr. Kim arrogant, perhaps you might consider the reality in which Dr. Kim lives and the requirements of that reality in which a lack of attention, the simple drop of a surgical tool at a crucial moment, could cause permanent damage to a dear one’s hand.

    Or how show juxtaposes the emotional scene in which a mother begging for Dong Joo to save her forty eight year old son’s life because she ought to be able to one day witness that son marrying a good woman with Dong Joo calling his mother, whom he has ignored since arriving at Doldam hospital, who immediately gets her son in crisis and Dong Joo uncontrollably breaks down crying without saying a word on the phone with her. Mother-son love, melodramatic style, but so touching, effective, economically, rhythmically presented.

    Then there is Seo Jung. One of the things that attracts me to all forms of fiction is having a rooting interest for my characters. For example, I get given the obvious comparison, why folks think Money Flower is a more intriguing piece than Doctor Romantic, but I just cannot stand any of the characters in it. From top to bottom a bunch of deeply creepy folk. But I root for so many characters in this. I want these people to succeed. Whatever their flaws, they are in the business of saving lives, and trying to go about it in the best way they are able. And there is no one we root for more than Seo Jung, probably the most complexly drawn character in the whole show. That is why I have no problem with her mixed reactions to Dong Joo. So human. Her sensitivity and her strengths are as with ourselves all bound up in one another. Seo Hyun Jin’s portrayal is so sympathetically done, and show’s excellent portrayal of Dong Joo’s romantic attraction to her, Dr. Kim’s paternal affection for her framing that portrayal are major attractions of Dr. Romantic for me, even moreso in this rewatch than it was in my first. She is so touching, so easy to root for.

    Finally, in this first comment, along with several other support actors in this, I want to say how much I appreciate watching veteran actor Joo Hyun, as Chairman Shin, menacing, sagacious, such an old soft spoken tiger in this. He is a wonderful actor, and it makes me smile to watch him run through his interactions with drama’s chief protagonist and antagonist in this. You want to know why Dr. Kim is what he is, listen to Chairman Shin–his own life on the line, trust Chairman Shin to tell the wheat from the chaff.

    Oh and SPOILERALERT –Friday Night at the Doldam! You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

  5. Sharra

    I have to say I found Dr Kim or teacher Kim ( in Netflix here) conversation where he basically breaks Dong Joo’s personality down bit by bit so uncomfortable. My first thought was I know he is supposed to be a maverick but this is bullying but so loved Nurse Oh standing up for him. Yes it was OTT but also glorious at the same time. I would follow her into battle as she can see she would have your back. I am still not 💯 sold on Dr Kim there is a lot of suspension of disbelief and putting on the maverick lens but I feel that the show will get me there or I hope it will.

    1. beez

      @Sharra – white it’s only been 4 episodes so far, I get that impression that Head Nurse Oh doesn’t raise her voice often thereby commanding everyone’s attention when she does.

      1. Sharra

        @Beez I agree and that is true is real life as well. When someone who is always gentle and kind loses it everyone takes notice. I once worked with someone who was so lovely but when the frowned and used the words ” I am perturbed” everyone panicked in the project team.

  6. Elaine Phua

    So much shouting! Dong Joo was annoyingly confrontational, I would have expected him to be more professional in front of the patients but then again at least it is a consistent character trait for him, he finds this situation unfair and beneath him and Dr Kim gets under his skin. (BTW Netflix translates it as Teacher Kim, not Master Kim). But I found the characters and conflict interesting enough to continue.
    I feel so doubtful about the suicide arc though, Dr Kim did the responsible thing in removing Seo Jung from duty, but then why didn’t he follow up to order her to go for counseling? And none of the other characters ask her how she is or offers a listening ear or comfort, they are all eager for her to get back to work (as in they seem to think that is the best thing to cheer her up). Nobody looks out to make sure she doesn’t try to self harm again. Not ideal from a mental health standpoint.

    1. Ele Nash

      I agree, Elaine. I’m really sorry to say I’m finding this show very hard to watch. I don’t like the characters – or at least I don’t like how they’re representing themselves. There’s too much judgement and unkindness going on for my taste. Nurse Oh is the only one who seems to have sympathy and even she’s not asked Seo Jung if she ought to seek professional help. I find it kind of dispiriting when Master Kim tells her she needs to basically pull herself together without using medication 😳 Urgh.
      I am a little intrigued by Master Kim’s name change so may be curious enough to keep watching but I’m not sure if I have enough will. It’s kind of upset me as I enjoy the group watch aspect. At least there’s Money Flower which literally makes my soul sing it’s so good 😊

      1. Trent

        @Ele Nash (and others) I know I just wrote a big long comment kind of defending Master Kim and outlining how it helps me to view him through the lens of a “zen master,” but that I said, I definitely respect this point of view as well.

        The truth is, Master Kim is not modeling a traditional nurturing, mentoring relationship very well at all, to say the least. And even though Doldam hospital technically isn’t a “teaching hospital,” nevertheless, as the chief surgeon as well as (let’s face it) the de facto head of the hospital (the nominal head, Director Yeo, defers to Master Kim in every major decision), it’s totally legit to fault him for not being more of a respectful, non-abusive, mentoring leader.

        Like I said, I personally find it interesting what the writers are doing in constructing this character, and how Han Suk-kyu is bringing him to life, but I totally respect those of us who aren’t on board with him and who find Master Kim uncomfortable or off-putting.

        1. Ele Nash

          @Trent, yes, I can see how Master Kim might grow because he clearly has a story to tell and wisdom to impart. Perhaps part of what makes it tricky for me is that we’re put more on Dongju’s shoulder so when Master Kim is all judging, I feel like the show has guided us to feel bad for Dongju and therefore annoyed by Master Kim. Han Suk-kyu is a fantastic actor so that too is why I feel conflicted, wanting to like something that is overloud for my taste with actors who I have loved in other things. Ah, I rate your opinion highly – along with others on here – so will try again, perhaps on mute 😊

          1. Elaine Phua

            @Ele Nash I too was rather put off in the earlier episodes but I decided I liked the challenge of having a flawed protagonist to follow. Dong Joo is prickly and pompousaand frustrated, not easy to root for at the start and I found this a contrast to many other K dramas I’ve seen where you pretty much are shown from the start that the main character is good and deserves to have nice things happen to him. It was an interesting watch (I’m up to episode 20 now) and while I probably wouldn’t rank it in my top few fave shows, I definitely found a lot to enjoy and like in the character growth and team dynamics. And I kinda got used to the gory operation scenes too lol.

            Oh yes what BE has been saying from the start about this being a melodrama helped my lens adjustment – I was like OK this is pulp fiction so had to just roll with the sometimes OTT and ridonkulous moments ha ha.

            BTW kfangirl this season is 21 episodes long, not 20! At least on Netflix…

            1. Trent

              Just to jump in–the 21st episode is kind of an “appendix” (what the show calls it), but it is a genuine part of the show, with a narrative and everything, featuring the same characters and continuity with the episode before it. It’s not a “making of” or “behind the scenes” special at all, like some extra episodes are for some dramas.

        2. beez

          @Trent – wellll, it’s not quite as bad as watching that crazy Hell’s Kitchen chef (he sends my nape hairs into some kind of protective stance as if I have PTSD or something)… but only because I’m sure Master Kim has some horrendous backstory of dealing with the rich sh*thead-heads of hospitals so I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt for that giant chip on his shoulder that he keeps shoves off onto YYS’s character.

          1. phl1rxd

            @Beez – the idiot sandwich did it for me. I then and there swore to never waste one precious moment of my valuable time on anything to do with him. That was truly deserving of a kimchi slap smite if I ever saw one. Where was Lee Hyo Choon when we needed her?

            1. beez

              @phl1rxd – I don’t know about anything that’s happened on Hell’s Kitchen since the first season. I can’t handle watching all that abuse.

      2. BE

        @Ele: I think what one likes and what one doesn’t simply varies from person to person. And we cannot like things simply because it would be good to. You say Money Flower makes your soul sing. My reaction to it is so different than yours; watching it I have a hard time getting my soul out of the gutter. Like what in this drama is close, in the ballpark, nation, or continent to the unkindness equivalent of selling the one person who has ever been decent to you down the river (of marriage and all that implies) to a sleazebag creep of a human being for the sake of greed and power?
        Reason is not always reasonable. I am doing my best to provide in this commentary what I appreciate about Dr. Romantic, and perhaps that might enhance others’ appreciation. But we all can’t like everything. And even if we change the lens we look through at something, that does not make it necessarily more palatable. I had a friend who once told me that she did not think oatmeal was all that bad tasting, but just that it was so hard to swallow.
        I think the big thing I would say for you at this point is I believe the best way to enjoy this is to see it for what it is, its limitations, and get a kick then of what it makes of those limitations. Little things, like the silences and pauses in Han Seok Kyu’s reactions to Yoo Yeon Seok, or his facial expressions in those silences. Without a word, he makes his character’s presence known; every second of this drama, Han Seok Kyu is in character. But the reason to watch is to enjoy, and if you do not, why bother?

        1. manukajoe

          I guess we all know that K-dramas often start with extreme (e.g. tsundere) characterizations, and these soften over time, so we’re willing to give shows a few episodes to reveal/open up what’s going on under the surface. But if after a few episodes we still don’t feel it then there are other shows to watch! 😀

          1. BE

            @manukajoe:Yes, I would say, I tend to give shows a few episodes to cotton up to, albeit I am finding that I pretty much know more quickly than when I first started watching. For example with the two current Netflix K dramas, I was intrigued with misgivings when it came to Sisyphus, and those mixed feelings tend to keep on sticking with me intrigue on a diminishing return as misgivings keep on, whereas even though I saw a bunch of holes from the beginning in Vincenzo I just really dug it from the get go, and with that too, I continue…seeing the holes, digging it immensely.

            I liked Dr. Romantic in my first viewing immediately, and given the show’s popularity, I am not alone in that, and had a far different reaction than you have had. That is, I really dug Dr. Kim from the beginning. And to be honest, if anything on second view, I tend to see him as more multidimensional in this viewing than the last, more contextualized.

            FWIW I do not think it likely his character softens, tsundere is his middle name, although I do believe that Dong Joo as he grows and changes might see him differently, and the forces opposing him will in their contrast picture him in a different light, and because the show point of view is from the beginning established as Dong Joo’s and the melodrama good v. evil story at its heart highlighted by the era commentary at the beginning of each episode, has Dr. Kim as chief advocate of good, one might see him in a different light.

        2. beez

          @BE – believe it or not, BE, I’m right with you as far as Money Flower is concerned. I was able to watch it initially only because I watched while being conscious of what Jang Hyuk, the actor, was doing with the role. I enjoyed that, but not the story itself. Which is the reason why, I’ll reading the comments here and there on the open thread, but despite my Hyuk love (and my Lee Mi sook love), I can’t sit through watching that darkness again.

      3. Ally

        Keep watching, it gets better, the back story is heart breaking, but explains Master Kim’s actions and psychological make up. He’s wounded as well.

  7. Shyama

    No one comes out looking good in the last two episodes, except maybe Nurse Oh. I found all of them annoying and childish.
    I expected to love this drama more than Money Flower. Surprisingly, it’s going the opposite way.

  8. beez

    Ohhhhhhh *Master” Kim. That makes so much more sense than “Teacher” Kim because throughout the entire show I was wondering why dues he insist on being called “Teacher”? His technique and skill may be amazing but I don’t see how he’s teaching anyone. And from what the Administrator said, because of Teacher Kim they couldn’t keep any young doctors on staff. I’ll call him Master Kim from now on.

    I totally felt Master Kim was justified in his stance regarding Seo Jung not being allowed to treat patients. I also have no issue with him demoting her to orderly for a while to make her appreciate being a doctor. She already had one scare involving her extremities so why jeopardize her ability to perform surgery (or now, since the first wrist injury obviously left her with damage, to perform basic treatment)? But why didn’t he stipulate that she’s required to undergo psychiatric care? I wonder if he’s trying to have her avoid the stigma of being a psych patient on her record?

    Also was she trying to self harm by taking her life or only trying to cripple her medical skills? I know both are problematic but I’m curious as to just how deeply does her guilt run? Suicide?

    I do think Master Kim was going to reinstate Seo Jung all along (as he implied but didn’t finish during Nurse Oh’s tongue lashing).

    Loving Head Nurse Oh!

    1. BE

      I think because of the pace of this show, and our current view of interaction between people, what constitutes appropriate behavior, especially for younger viewers, there might be a tendency to overlook that Dr. Kim, who does teach, but not perhaps in ways we ordinarily think of a teacher, feels quite tender toward and protective of Seo Jung. There is much evidence for this both in unspoken back story, beginning with saving her from exposure in the mountains, healing her, watching her suffer through and recover from psychological disturbance, and being the supervisor under whom she was nurtured to become the trusted emergency room supervisor over a five year period, as well as in small affectionate gestures or the threat to Dong Joo in the surgical room about paying attention. Not only professionally was it necessary to suspend Seo Jung, but there is also the issue of what she would think of herself if she failed a patient because she went into a depressed or hallucinatory state, not to mention od’ed on drugs in a stressful situation, while doing so. Yes Nurse Oh pushes him to it, but the “orderly” solution does appeal to him as a way to keep her in the game, especially given his own disposition about what it will take for not just her but anyone to be a medical professional worth salt, complete commitment, revealed in her response as to why she wishes to stay.

  9. j3ffc

    Bad news, kfangurl. It appears that the “group watch” concept is digging in deep. Hope you’re OK with us all playing along. Could be a long-term thing as far as we’re concerned…

    Show thoughts: these episodes were where I got engaged in the drama, and I think it’s because I found myself getting traction on the secondary characters, especially Head Nurse Oh (oh!) and the hospital manager. But I was most affected by Seo Jung’s “demotion” to orderly, I think to give her some perspective and, hopefully, a runway to make it back to her true path in life.

    I am brought back to a transforming experience in life. Some years ago, I had the opportunity to visit a hospital in a very poor country. The clinics were mind-blowing: going into a waiting room for the HIV clinic, packed to the gills with over 80 patients – image the worst day ever at the DMV – all handled by 2 overworked physicians. Despite these responsibilities, they also maintained a world-class research program in infectious disease biology. Beyond impressive.

    On a tour given by the clinic’s founder/director (we’re talking a doctor w/o borders level of commitment and worthy of any accolade you can imagine), he makes a point again and again and again. Which is this: every single member of the team is essential for the success of this endeavor. Not just the doctors and nurses. EVERYONE. “We could not do what we do if the IT guys don’t play their part. Or the accountants. Or the custodians.”

    Taken in this context, Seo Jung’s seeming “demotion” to orderly takes on a much more meaningful slant to me. As much as I’ve tried to adopt a stance of humility in my own life, I can only imagine and hope that she will regard it, not as a humiliation, but as a necessary step toward her goals.

    1. kfangurl Post author

      Tee hee. I’m glad to hear that you are enjoying the group watch, Jeff! 😃 If everyone enjoys it enough, we could definitely keep going, with the group watches! Although, I might not choose to host 2 at the same time.. let’s see how this dual thing works out! 😅

      That’s a great story about the hospital you visited, and the founder’s words as wise indeed! Definitely a helpful way to look at Seo Jung’s apparent demotion! Thanks for sharing! ❤️

  10. Trent

    Alrighty, here we go!

    We begin to see the awesomeness that is Head Nurse Oh (“Kiiim. Saaa. Booo.”). I agree that she (and some of the others who also spoke up for Seo-jung, but mostly her) was the catalyst for getting Master Kim to revise his order of exile. I tend to think that if Seo-jung had persisted in trying to stay, Master Kim would have found a work-around to agree to it, even without outside pressure, but it’s a counter-factual, and maybe I’m being too kind to him. I also agree that–though it may seem harsh to us as a lay audience, who just wants to cuddle our sympathetic FL and make it all better–Master Kim is correct to cut Seo-jung off from seeing patients. He just can’t mess around with patient safety by allowing a doctor with her very recent past of self-harm and tranquilizer OD to be involved with life and death situations. There’s a reason for the regulations he quotes, and although Master Kim is fine with flouting some rules and conventions, he’s not okay with ignoring those ones.

    I appreciate your bringing up the nuance of the title “master,” because it leads into my theory, or at least my lens for viewing his character. I believe (I could be mistaken!) that the term “sabu” is analogous to the Chinese shifu (师傅), which is like “master” in the sense of one with an accumulated body of knowledge and wisdom who is passing it on to a group of disciples or apprentices. Very much including the “zen (chan) master” or daoist sage (think Lao-zi, or better yet, Zhuang-zi) who uses koans and seemingly nonsensical or confusing aphorisms to stimulate the student to break through to a deeper understand of self and the world. Once I made that connection and started actively trying to see Master Kim through that lens, I found it really helped my interpretation and understanding of the character. It’s not a perfect one-to-one correspondence (for one thing, he’s not an eremitic sage living in a cave), but it allows him flaws and imperfections while demanding that I consider what he said for deeper meaning (many a zen master or daoist sage in the literature can seem fantastically irritating or annoying in the things they say that don’t immediately make sense). I dunno, maybe I’m off base, but I found it a useful paradigm to interpret Master Kim.

    Oh, and we do eventually get the backstory for how he got that name and why he’s been concealing his real name.

    I completely agree with you about this show being kind of melodramatic. I found myself at points comparing it with Hospital Playlist, the only other recent medical show I’ve watched, and this seems to me noticeably more melodramatic than HP, not only in some of its story lines and narrative beats, but just the arrangement of the story’s constituent elements. I recall HP being generally more subtle.

    1. kfangurl Post author

      Hi Trent! Yes, I do think you are right that “sabu” is basically the Chinese shifu, although, on a tangent, when I looked up the hanja for “sabu” it was “师父” and not “师傅.” What I found out is, even though the two sound the same when spoken, the implication is different. “师父” is the respectful term for the person who teaches you skills, including but not limited to areas like martial arts, whereas “师傅” is apparently the term used to address craftsmen in a respectful way. Interesting!

      Since we are on the topic, there is also an element of paternal respect built into the use of the term, since “父” means father, so “师父” means something like “teacher father.” And this is why, disciples of the same master would address one another in familial terms as well, because they share the same teacher “师,” for example, 师兄, 师弟, 师姐 and 师妹.

      All that to say, I would agree that you are on track with your lens for seeing Master Kim as a 师父! 😃

      1. Trent

        Ah, the nuances continue to unfold…thank you for running that down.

        I suggested that lens just because I found that it made some of Master Kim’s actions more understandable or easy to interpret, leading me to wonder if the writer(s) were explicitly thinking in that direction. Some of his expressions or answers are downright gnomic, and although sometimes I wonder if that’s the subtitlers struggling with finding the balance between a literal versus a “smooth” translation (I sympathize, truly!), I don’t think that’s the only or even the major explanation. I do think the writer and PD intend Master Kim to be kind of enigmatic, and to have that sort of masterly aura (even though it can be, as noted, fantastically annoying sometimes).

        How far any given watcher goes with that lens, or even rejects it entirely, is up to the individual viewer, of course!

        1. BE

          @Trent: The best, most wonderful teacher I ever had in my life was a master watercolor and concrete mixed media artist (first exhibition at 19 Philadelphia Museum of Modern Art, studied with Mark Rothko, groomed by Peggy Guggenheim, till he sick of the big time art scene ran away to Mexico City in the fifties to learn painting on concrete as a muralist). A wonderful man who refused to model his painting in front of students for fear they would only imitate him, he would respond incessantly to technical questions with long enigmatic pauses, in which I could see how seriously he would be thinking of an appropriate response, but instead of actually directly responding to the question, he would take the question as opportunity to speak in terms of life rather than painting. Ask him about color value, you were asking for a conversation about value period and what it constituted personally.
          As you might imagine, I was an expressive, gestural painter, and I had a hard time bringing my paintings to a smooth finish. My teacher’s work was painting after painting perfect in every way, his brush work, his layering of color, representative, abstract, perfect, perfect, perfect. When I queried about how to approach my work so that it might appear more “finished,” he put his hand to a very furrowed brow, as if he had headache or something, and after a long pregnant silence, said to me, “B… you are not a finished person, are you? Let’s trade paintings.”

          He could scold too, though he was not apt to do so with beginners, but like most great artists had very unkind words for those whom he thought were posers. I do wonder if the folks watching will see Dr. Kim in the same light after episode 5, however.

          1. Trent

            There are definitely revelations coming in the next couple of episodes (5 & 6), so it will be interesting to see if or how they change folks’ perceptions…

  11. manukajoe

    Hello all Ep 3 and 4! I must admit I didn’t like these episodes very much, the story chops around a lot and is not settling into a groove for me, I am not yet seeing what the story is or what the show is. I feel sympathetic towards our ML and FL but loathe Master Kim’s constant arrogance. I don’t really have much else to say.

    1. kfangurl Post author

      Hm.. I haven’t seen the show myself, so I can’t tell you how things will unfold with Master Kim.. however, I feel like perhaps trying a different lens might help you to enjoy the show more.. Perhaps Trent’s explanation of his lens above might help you? 😃

  12. Pingback: Announcement: Dr. Romantic Group Watch! [plus bonus Money Flower Group Watch!] | The Fangirl Verdict

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