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! ❤️
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..?
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?