Open Thread: Dr. Romantic Episodes 11 & 12

Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! Dong Joo gets put in the hot seat more than a little bit, this pair of episodes, and overall, I’m just really pleased with how much growth we see from him. 😊

I hope you guys are ready to chat about Dr. Romantic episodes 11 & 12! 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 11

Let’s just say that this episode, Show managed to make my blood boil more than I thought it was possible for my blood to boil. 😳 That’s quite an achievement, and also, I guess that means that I am well and duly invested in the goings on at Doldam Hospital. 😉

With Master Kim being so abrupt and brusque with Seo Jung for entering his office without permission, it sparks Seo Jung’s curiosity to find out more about the student whose student card she’d found in his office. And she does manage to come to a tentative conclusion that’s pretty close to the truth.

On the one hand, it’s not very nice, that Master Kim happens on Seo Jung and In Soo speculating aloud about the case, because this feels akin to gossip, even though it’s not driven by ill intent. Plus, I can completely understand Master Kim’s reluctance to talk about it, since this points to a dark point in his life, where he’d lost his student because of dirty hospital politics.

On the other hand, it does feel like perhaps this dark history is something that needs to come to light, not only to clear Master Kim’s name, but also, to bring President Do and all his accomplices to justice. I feel like left as it is, this can’t help but fester, at some level. And that’s not healthy for Master Kim.

I have to admit that I’m not even sure if it would be possible for Master Kim to clear his name, because it’s more than likely than any and all evidence related to the case would have been destroyed. But, I’d like to hope, because it just doesn’t feel right, that President Do would be allowed to get away with killing a patient, just to ruin Master Kim’s career. The awfulness of that never ceases to amaze me. 🤯

Another major arc this episode, is that of President Do trying to entice Dong Joo to become allies with him, in exchange for money and power. The price for this unreasonably attractive offer? Why, Master Kim, of course. Ugh. This thing that President Do has with Master Kim feels like the obsession of a dog with a bone. It feels like Master Kim’s already moved on from their fight, and yet, President Do just keeps on hanging on, like it never occurs to him that it’s better for him to just let go. 🙄

Dong Joo’s shown a good amount of growth and progress of late, so I have to admit I felt a little disappointed that he doesn’t flatly turn down President Do’s offer, but says that he will think about it.

At the same time, it does feel like Dong Joo’s become much more aware of the true nature of President Do’s offer, and the dark and slippery slope it entails for him personally, if he were to accept. I hope that this will be enough conviction for Dong Joo to decline – but we don’t see the outcome of his decision, this episode.

Even though Head Nurse Oh is very frustrated with Master Kim’s chosen response to the knowledge that Dong Joo’s considering President Do’s offer, I actually agree with where Master Kim is coming from, in giving Dong Joo the complete freedom to make his choice. It’s completely true that ultimately, Dong Joo has to be the one to want to stay, if his stay is going to be meaningful. And even if Master Kim were to say something nice to encourage Dong Joo to stay, Dong Joo’s stay would be short-lived and pointless, if his heart weren’t truly in it.

Of course, it certainly couldn’t hurt, if Master Kim were to acknowledge Dong Joo’s worth, but to be fair to Master Kim, if Dong Joo were sincere in wanting to stay, he wouldn’t need Master Kim’s affirmation to be a deciding factor.

The mother and son pair that Seo Jung finds herself up against this hour are next-level brazen in the way that they swan around the hospital and pooh-pooh the fact that Son’s drunk driving actually killed people. Their insistent lack of remorse, while clearly playing dirty to get their way, is absolutely astounding and their obnoxious presence on my screen, legit hurt my brain. 😖😳

Of course I would be on Seo Jung’s side, as she faces off with them and their smug lawyer. I had to love how Seo Jung stands her ground and refuses to bow down to them (both literally and metaphorically), even when Director Song gets involved and starts shouting at her and threatening her, in order to get her to apologize.

Ugh. I just want to say, the more I see of Director Song, the more I’m convinced that he’s a small and cowardly person. I mean, in this case, when his strong-arm tactics fail to get Seo Jung to apologize, he runs after her and tries to cajole her to apologize – because of the money and backing that the woman and her son have, and because, as he says, that’s the way the world works. He’s completely spineless, it looks like, and unless Show manages a massive growth spurt and turnaround with him in later episodes, I feel like he doesn’t deserve even an iota of respect, whether he’s Head of Surgery or no.

What a contrast, when it’s Master Kim who’s in the room with Seo Jung. Master Kim is pleasant and appears to play nice, but in actual fact, he’s ready to get down and dirty to play at the obnoxious woman’s level, if that’s what she prefers. No wonder Obnoxious Lady backs down quite quickly, and no wonder Seo Jung can barely contain her pleased smile.

How significant, that even though Master Kim says that he doesn’t have any students, Seo Jung insists that she’ll be his student anyway, and how poignant, that we see that Master Kim actually sees his dead student’s bright enthusiasm mirrored in Seo Jung. I suddenly feel like Master Kim needs Seo Jung as his student, as much as Seo Jung needs Master Kim as her teacher.

How significant, too, that Obnoxious Son’s conscience actually wakes up, after Seo Jung takes him to see the amputee patients at the ICU. I mean, it’s heartbreaking that there’s nothing that can give those patients their legs back, but it’s something, that he actually sees the error of his ways, and sincerely apologizes. There might be hope yet, for Obnoxious Son.

The arc with the runaway soldier is quite disturbing, to say the least, particularly once it becomes clear that the plainclothes military police guys are more intent on covering up the case, than on actually helping him in any way. That’s truly awful. My heart sank when I realized that Show was hinting at organized cover-ups at the military, for violence towards soldiers.

I honestly felt like yelling at my screen, when those military police guys tried to stop the surgery from taking place, even though Dong Joo’s telling them that without the surgery, the soldier will literally die. UGH. They literally don’t care if he dies; they only care that the people in power in the military don’t get hurt. These people really don’t seem to see the soldier as a human being.

I was ecstatic when Master Kim steps in and counters the officers’ claim of obstruction of justice, with an assertion of interference with medical treatment. Huzzah! I love that Master Kim meets them on their level, and gives just as good as he gets, such that they can’t do anything to stop the surgery.

It’s quite a treat to see Dong Joo and In Beom working together in such a synergistic manner during the surgery. It feels like they’re on the same wavelength, and make good partners. I feel like there’s a lot of potential for these two to be a combined force to be reckoned with – if they can get over their baggage and hang-ups, that is.

This episode, I noticed that In Beom hesitates, before joining the team to run to tend to the soldier patient. I wonder what his hesitation is about, and what’s getting in the way of his doctoring instincts, which we’ve seen at work before. Does he sense that his father is closing in on Doldam Hospital, and is hesitating to get involved, so that he doesn’t have to take sides?

The way President Do gets involved, and even prepares the death certificate for the soldier who is still alive, is jaw-droppingly cold. I’m hoping that Dong Joo doesn’t accept President Do’s dark offer, and I’m also hoping that Master Kim will somehow be able to stop all these dirty machinations from succeeding, and maybe even blow the top off this shady cover-up of systemic violence in the military. Would that be asking for too much..? 😬

Episode 12

Dong Joo is thrust into a whole lotta soul searching this episode, and.. it actually goes quite well, all things considered. Yay for personal growth, and yay for progress! 🥳

Unlike in our previous episode, this episode, we see that Dong Joo is actually less swayed by President Do’s offer than he might first appear. The fact that Dong Joo actually immediately pushes back on fudging the death certificate, instead of being thrown straight into a dilemma, is a big step in the right direction. Clearly, Dong Joo’s already grown some, from the time when we’d seen him reschedule the surgery at Geodae Hospital in favor of the VIP patient, because of a request from President Do.

I guess distance has helped clear his vision somewhat. Well, that and hanging around Master Kim and Seo Jung as well, since both Master Kim and Seo Jung do play a part each, in nudging Dong Joo in the direction that he’s already leaning towards. To that end, I just wanted to say that while it’s true that ultimately, the decision is Dong Joo’s, sometimes a little encouragement, and a bit of a reminder about why he does what he does, is pretty helpful too. I feel that that’s essentially what Seo Jung and Master Kim do for him. Seo Jung tries to talk to Dong Joo several times this episode, and each time, she very intentionally reminds him of his duties as a doctor. Coming from Seo Jung, who is someone that Dong Joo values and looks up to, it lands with more weight than it would coming from someone else, I think.

The way Master Kim joins Dong Joo at his table and asks Dong Joo to drink with him, feels like a pretty.. affectionate thing to do? As in, I feel like if we’d been in an earlier episode, Master Kim might not have sat down to drink with Dong Joo. My gut says that the fact that Master Kim would sit down to drink with Dong Joo shows that he’s grown at least a little bit fond of Dong Joo, and wants to relate with him on a more personal level.

I like that the conversation between them takes on a pretty philosophical turn, and I feel that it’s quite helpful that Master Kim drops a few nuggets of wisdom, to give Dong Joo some food for thought. Among them, this is the bit that lingers with me, “Greed is often self-justified. ‘I couldn’t help it.’ ‘That was the only choice I could make.'” Such a penetrating and insightful observation!

Even though Dong Joo protests Master Kim can’t read his thoughts, and doesn’t understand what it’s like to be humiliated because one has no power or money, I feel like Master Kim’s words do stay with Dong Joo. And I appreciate that Master Kim expresses empathy for Dong Joo’s situation, saying that he knows what it’s like to be torn between one’s reality and ideals.

It feels like a lot of important nuggets of wisdom are put out there, and most important of all, I like that Master Kim once again puts the power and responsibility of the decision, fully in Dong Joo’s hands. Similar to how Master Kim had once given Dong Joo the option of halting the surgery on the patient with the bleeding liver if he didn’t feel up to performing it, this time, Master Kim puts the video footage of the surgery on the deserting soldier in Dong Joo’s hands, and tells him to do with it what he will.

I think it’s quite a weighty action to take; it shows that Master Kim isn’t pushing or shielding Dong Joo in any way; he’s said what he feels needed to be said, and now he’s putting the next step entirely in Dong Joo’s hands. There’s something empowering about that kind of trust, and although it’s possible that Dong Joo would make a disappointing decision, I feel like that kind of empowerment does do something, in terms of making you want to do the right thing. At the very least, it gives Dong Joo a lot to think about.

I was nicely entertained by how Dong Joo’s mom’s presence at the hospital gives rise to more than a bit of awkwardness.

First, we have Seo Jung getting all mortified, after she realizes that she’s been speaking a bit rudely about Dong Joo right in front of his mother. The way Seo Jung backtracks is amusing and even rather endearing (a trademark Seo Hyun Jin capability, in my opinion; she pulls it off so well!), and the way In Beom eyes Seo Jung with amusement seems to indicate some kind of burgeoning interest.

For the record, I am not sure whether In Beom’s growing interest (affection?) is meant to be romantic; it’s just that he seems to respond to Seo Jung, when she’s around him. I’d still be completely down for a sibling-esque connection between them, I think that would be really cute.

Second, we have the very awkward situation of a very drunk Dong Joo loudly and persistently  declaring his feelings for Seo Jung, and then trying to plant a big, fat tipsy kiss on her lips, while squishing her face with both hands. Ahahaha. The mortification on Seo Jung’s face is quite comical, and I can’t help chuckling in disbelief, that Drunk Dong Joo is actually doing this (he’s going to be sooo embarrassed when he sobers up, I’m sure).

It’s sweet how Mom asks, as she nurses drunk Dong Joo, whether he really likes Seo Jung, and Dong Joo replies in a very cozy, contented manner that of course he likes her. I love how amused and delighted this answer makes Mom; she seems so happy to realize that her son finally has someone that he sincerely likes. Aw. 🥰

In the end, the thing that, I think, is the catalyst that galvanizes Dong Joo into seeing everything with crystal clear vision, is how the daughter of the patient who’d eventually died because Dong Joo had rescheduled his surgery in favor of the VIP patient, comes back to take him to task for her father’s death.

It’s such a painfully stark mirror of what had happened when Dong Joo himself had railed at everyone at Geodae Hospital, when his own father had died after a VIP patient had been given priority. And, it’s extra heartbreaking that Mom is there to witness it, because these are her painful memories too. Yet, Mom has so much compassion for the woman who’s now railing against Dong Joo. Mom’s simple act of helping her pick up the flyers, then apologizing to her after identifying herself as Dong Joo’s mother, is so touching. That’s such a Mom thing to do, to put herself out there and apologize on her son’s behalf, even though she herself has done nothing wrong.

I feel like Mom’s actions play a part too, in Dong Joo’s turnaround. The way Dong Joo apologizes to the woman is unreserved and sincere, and a far cry from the Dong Joo that we’d first met at the beginning of our story. The woman rants and wails at him, and it’s clear that Dong Joo understands that she needs to rant and she needs to wail, because that’s how broken her heart is; he understands because he’s been there. And that’s why he stands there and lets her do what she needs to do, to process her grief as best as she can. 💔

I gotta say, I felt a lot of vicarious satisfaction from the way Master Kim marches right into President Do’s office, and punches him in the face. I mean.. I’m not a proponent of violence or anything, but President Do’s been so stubbornly, proudly, downright awful, that he’s had it coming to him. The fact that President Do’s own attempt at a punch lands him on the floor feels like bonus humiliation, to my eyes. Heh.

I’m glad that Master Kim throws down the gauntlet and declares that he will not allow President Do to take advantage of Dong Joo and Seo Jung any longer. This is an outright statement that these are his people now, and there’s so much meaning layered into that. It means that he not only sees potential in both of them, he approves them both, and accepts them both, and is now declaring that he will protect them both. Augh. That’s pretty darn cool, honestly. ❤️

Ultimately, Dong Joo chooses to do the right thing, and gives the dead soldier’s parents an accurate cause of death on the death certificate, as well as the footage of the surgery, so that they can use it as evidence. Even more significantly, I feel, is the fact that Dong Joo cries with them, and apologizes that he’d taken so long. Our Dong Joo; he’s really growing more empathetic and compassionate, isn’t he?

I kinda love that Director Song completely loses it when he realizes what Dong Joo has done, and yet, Dong Joo is completely serene, in the face of Director Song’s mad ranting. Actually, as Director Song keeps talking about how it can’t be that hard to ignore the feeling of shame “just once,” I can’t help thinking that on that path that Director Song himself chose, to align himself with President Do, the need to ignore shame becomes a recurring thing; it’s not a one time thing at all.

I feel so glad to hear Dong Joo say, “I came to think that this might be a place where I can pretend to be a nice person,” because the fact that he can articulate it, means that it’s become that real for him. I do think that he means more than “maybe” when Director Song questions if he wouldn’t mind not returning to Geodae Hospital for good.

It’s true that not everything goes smoothly for Dong Joo, in that Seo Jung doesn’t agree to date him this episode either, when he asks, and In Beom’s now under instructions from his father to get (probably nefariously) involved in Chairman Shin’s surgery.. but for now, I’m just very proud of him. You did good today, Dr. Kang. You did good.

29 thoughts on “Open Thread: Dr. Romantic Episodes 11 & 12

  1. manukajoe

    I’m still here and following along and enjoying the show and reading the comments. I haven’t had much to say in the last few episodes.

    One thing I noticed is Manager Jang hasn’t been so prominent recently, and his attitude has been … wavering? I think it’s due to having so many characters and not enough time to give they all some space. Im Beon also hasn’t had much to do recently.

    1. BE

      @manukajoe: I do think Im Beom’s silences have to do with his observations of Dong Joo (what could he be thinking up there in his bunk about the offer to Dong Joo from his dad?) and Seo Jung with Dong Joo. He has always been a bit taciturn by contrast with Dong Joo, and he does seem to have a strange wariness tpward Seo Jung, part of it maybe(?) his original take on her being his stepsister. About the only thing we know is that he is in competition with Dong Joo. He is Dr. Do’s son; so like you, I wonder what is going on with him.

      Manager Jang up till now, like the rest of the staff, strikes me as being an ensemble support team. But I am always watching him, because even when he isn’t saying anything, he is always acting. And it is he who delivers the gossip about Dong Joo’s offer from Dr. Do. I like Nurse Park, but he is almost always a quiet presence. I like that we got more of Dr. Nam in these two episodes.

      Show always has so much going on in each set of two. It is very ambitious in that sense, and imo, always moving so swiftly through its paces. These two seemed to put the focus on Dong Joo, somewhat like the previous two did on Seo Jung. I am curious to see if young woman from China with crush on Dong Joo will come back to the show or not. (I do not remember everything from first watch)

      I do wonder, however, has your take on Kim Sabu changed much?

      1. manukajoe

        Yes indeed, as with a lot of K-dramas in the beginning the characters are often caricatures, and it’s lovely to see the become more complex, layered, nuanced as time goes by. Kim Sabu definitely has gone from asshole old man to a much more relatable figure; wise, smart, tortured, compassionate.

  2. BE

    Aside: I left a post on the February Announcement thread fwiw about our current group watches. At the time there was a great deal of enthusiasm being expressed about both shows, but our enthusiasm appears to be waning at this point. Just saying.

  3. BE

    “I kind of love that feisty Kim Sabu…” Cue up that spaghetti western music! Along came Jones!

  4. Elaine Phua

    Watching Dong Joo’s growth arc has not been easy (he took sooo long these 2 episodes to decide what to do about the soldier dilemma!) but very rewarding. He has truly repented his jerky impatience and wanting to be first, and has been reflecting on what kind of Doctor he really wants to be. Of course in real life the dilemmas would be more subtle as opposed to the in-your-face blatant corruption of Dr Do! But I appreciate this show giving us a somewhat unlikeable lead at first and very gradually he grows and develops in character.

    1. BE

      i keep wondering about how in fact slowly Dong Joo was actually reacting.

      First, I have to say the voice over (which I am beginning to notice occurs at the beginning of the first of each week’s two episode set) in which we hear Yoon Yeon Seok line for line alternating editorially with each comment made by Director Do, all the while punctuating show’s fundamental theme–institutionalized corruption, how it works, and its upshot–makes me wonder how to take that voice over. Is it meant to merely be a thematic cue for the audience, an after the fact reflection made by the character speaking, or an in time response by the character speaking, all 3, some of each, or a couple of the three?
      What’s more after Dr. Do makes his first pitch, Dong Joo is not only plainly aware that there is going to be a price to be paid for such an offer, but openly demands of Dr. Do to explicitly lay out just what that price is. And that price is: when Kim Sabu brings Chairman Shin into the operating room, the operation must fail. As Dr. Do implies, he does not really have to spell out what that means. Dong Joo is not such a fool to be unaware that he is being asked to conspire in murder. Why then does he hang fire and refrain from outright refusal?
      I think there are two clues show presents: the first is, that he may not intend to ever take up Dr. Do’s offer (and in truth before he ever does anything with the death certificate, he tosses the one foisted upon him into the trashcan), but he wants more leverage at Doldam Hospital and a clearer message of support from Kim Sabu (he is in fact quite chagrined about having Kim Sabu find him in the room with the military police guy, Director Do and Dr. Song, death certificate in his hand). Allowing Manager Jang to know the score insures that the whole hospital will hear about it. This puts him in a difficult hole with Seo Jung, no doubt, but one can see that Dong Joo is considering a long game here.
      Secondly, as it comes up in the soju laced convo at Dr. Nam’s bistro, from his first impulse to become a doctor, inspired by Kim Sabu’s counsel that revenge is best exacted by skill, Dong Joo has not so much considered the relationship between doctor and patient his chief motivation, but rather the ability to achieve prestige and power in order to take on the Dr. Do’s of this world. And one must admit, it appears that Kim Sabu, whose skill has led to the kind of prestige and power to stand up to Dr. Do, albeit for years he has had to hide himself away, is just about the only one with such skill. Dong Joo is ambitious, it is true, but part of his ambition is to be in a place to take down a Dr. Do.
      And he is, one also must remember, the son of a single mother who works by herself trying to eke out a living in a one person noodle joint. Never mind that he likes to deck himself out in what appears to be a several hundred dollar overcoat (and one must note that K drama guys in contemporary dramas do seem to sport really snappy overcoats), who in his position can blithely turn down not only the fifteen per cent raise–money to help out his mother–and the huge research grant, but also the hyped build up that might lead to his ultimately achieving his real goal of becoming the top dog in the surgical profession in the entire country the way Kim Sabu once was?
      Kim Sabu correctly perceives that Dong Joo’s greed has got the best of him, not to mention his youthful stubborn vanity, a stubborn vanity, however, that his mother has pointed out to Seo Jung has led to his incredible work ethic and the success he has had at such a young age. But that does not mean that he is necessarily considering that he might be selling his own soul in such a way that he might become the very thing he wishes to vanquish. His problem is rather one of tunnel vision, being manipulated by a very adept and powerful conniver in Dr. Do, who appears to have the levers of societal power at his finger tips. Even Chairman Shin is not so sure that Kim Sabu might be equal to such a task.
      Fortunately, for Dong Joo, he has his mother, Seo Jung, and Kim Sabu in his corner, not to mention his own conscience. He not only wishes to acquire skills, skills he admires in Seo Jung and Kim Sabu, medical skills that both Dr. Song and Director Do do not have, but we can see from the way he treats patients, he largely wants to do right by them, heal them. Dong Joo might be a knuckle head at times, but he is a big hearted knuckle head.
      And of course, at this very crucial moment of temptation he is confronted by the daughter of a former patient who in the end died because he had done the bidding of Dr. Do to move up the medical ladder in such a way as to echo what had been done to his father, and thus his mother and himself. On the one hand, there is pleasing Dr. Do for the sake of ambition, going along to get along like the toady Dr. Song, or for once trying to look like a good guy in front of his mother, Seo Jung, Kim Sabu, and above all himself. Dong Joo after all is not a stupid young man.

      This pair of episodes seem to hone in on show’s fundamental proposition of how corruption actually works from the top down, from complicity, beginning with the voice over in episode 9, and utilizing the melodrama format to which it is entirely committed, best demonstrated by having the mother of the dead soldier being unable to speak and thus logically expressing herself with such extremely muted and frustrated emotional expression that we the audience, once again in just a small of screen time, register how the stakes of the systemic corruption is personified. I love how KFG is outraged as she is watching, aren’t we all? and over and over in my rewatch, I am quite impressed how show takes a pretty troped out hospital melodrama format and with such detailed care in writing and structure makes it come alive.

      1. Leslie

        @BE Appreciate your observations about Dong Joo’s decision-making process in this episode. I didn’t think he’d actually opt to be a murderer, but I couldn’t quite suss why he was taking so long to say no. You connected the dots for me.

        This is my second watch. In my first, I found Dong Joo a little dissatisfying as a romantic lead, and I’ve been heading that way with this one, too. Yes, he’s cute and brainy and brawny and he has his compassionate moments, but mostly he’s been kind of whiny, neglectful of Mom, has a chip on his shoulder, is self-centered, and insecure. His expressions of affection for Seo Jung are about what you’d expect of a 9th grader. Hubba, hubba, romantic lead. 😉 I’ve kept wanting to say “Grow up already.”

        ….and then.💡! ! Dong Joo is immature! He’s meant to be immature, as in, still growing up and forming. He’s had his eyes on the prize of being a successful (= powerful) doctor for so long, that he’s paid little heed to developing intelligences beyond medical book learning and surgical technique. He is not yet bona fide good or bad, brave or cowardly, honest or corrupt, or even a romantic lead. It’s his growth from man-child to adult (we hope) that we’re supposed to be witnessing, not primarily tracking his way into the girl’s heart. (Although – be worthy of the girl, Dong Joo!) In kfangurl parlance, I’ve adjusted my lens from “romantic lead” to “coming into one’s own”, and that’s a different story entirely. One that makes Dong Joo a more satisfying character to me. Call me late to the party. 😅

        The good news for Dong Joo? He seems to be getting lots of help growing up from a community where developing emotional intelligence is an esteemed accomplishment. Go Doldam Hospital.

        1. kfangurl Post author

          Ooh, that’s a nice switch in lens that you made there, Leslie!! Very useful! 😃 That might actually help other viewers too, who might have difficulty warming to Dong Joo. 😊

        2. BE

          @ Leslie: I, like you, thought less of Dong Joo, and Yoon Yeon-Seok’s portrayal of him the first time I watched the show, but because of the show’s unique lead acting structure, in which the lead character has no seeming love interest (at least up to this point), while the two second leads seemingly do with one another, but in the context of their being young and not as the most important or central element of the story. I did not then think so much of Dong Joo one way or another as a “romantic” lead. Rather I just did not find him to be that sympathetic a character, and I thought Yoon Yeon-Seok’s performance rather bland.
          I must say like you paying closer attention to all aspects of show this time around, I am finding I see Dong Joo’s character a bit more clearly, part of that being how show actually gives both Dong Joo and Seo Jung agency independent of one another, and in part like you, as a result seeing him as a rather unfinished person, and as a beginner in the romance department, someone whose experience up to that point had more to do with imposing his own stubborn will and effort to succeed discovering the hard reality of both courtship and life is that not everything can be simply controlled by one’s will, and indeed, when one’s will is directed by tunnel vision, one is prone to error.
          And I am finding I am admiring Yoon Yeon Seok’s enactment of Dong Joo more as well, as he seems to clearly get Dong Joo and his limitations and is doing the unflattering and nuanced work of bringing such a character to life.

  5. BE

    More tomorrow. But a couple of things. Inre Dr. Song: never forget he was the actual operating surgeon on Kim Sabu’s student. Jang Hyun Joo.
    Secondly, it makes me happy, K, that you are noting and digging on what a gosh darn hero Kim Sabu is. The scene in the office with the rich woman and her lawyer demanding an apology from Seo Jung, where he flips the switch on them is so satisfying to watch. Handing Dong Joo the film of the surgery, which Dong Joo (great work by Yoon Yeon Seok in that moment) appeared to question when in the operating theater, as if he were worried that Kim Sabu were using it against him instead of preparing insurance on Dong Joo’s behalf, just that gesture, the way Han Seok Kyu handles the back and forth with Yoon Yeon Seok, his wonderful silences as Dong Joo raves on, followed by his considered nuggets, wonderful work. Or his accosting Director Do on Dong Joo and Seo Jung’s behalf, albeit that at the remembered prodding of Chairman Shin (who hair askew and voice a-husk, a wonderful little support performance by the inimitable Joo Hyun, another one of these great elder support actors that populate K drama), putting that pathetic bastard on notice.
    And I can’t help but be touched by how with just the subtlest facial shading Han Seok Kyu registers his deep sorrow concerning the death of his student whenever it surfaces.
    My fave staff moment, however, the grin on Manager Jang’s mug as he and Dr. Nam and Im Beom are following behind the seriously embarassed Seo Jung down the hall after her encounter with the drunken Dong Joo. Again and again and again, Im Won Hee is such a delight to watch in this.
    But in truth as much as I continue to really be fond of the always watchable Seo Hyun Jin, who has stolen my and I suspect everyone else’s heart, along with just about every scene she is in, for me as far as these two episodes go, my Best in Show award has to go to Kim Jung Young, who note after note is pitch perfect as Dong Joo’s mom.

    1. kfangurl Post author

      Master Kim IS a badass, and I’m digging it, yes! 😃 Show’s done a really nice job of unwrapping his softer underbelly, which is often obscured by his prickly sardonic outer shell. Also, that’s such a great observation, of his subtle changes in expression, whenever the death of his student comes up. Really consistent, and so well done! 🤩 And I did neglect to mention it in my notes, but YES, Kim Jung Young is great as Dong Joo’s mom! ❤️

  6. j3ffc

    For now, just one comment: I love, love, love Dong-joo’s Mom (and Kim Jeong-yeong’s portrrayal). She combined a sincere compassion for the protestor, clear love for her son, and still finding the strength to provide a motherly lesson in such a difficult spot. Bravo.

    And she is all on board, I dare say, on the prospect of welcoming Seo-jung into the family as a potential daughter in law (despite all of the drama).

  7. Trent

    I’ve gotta say, I kind of love feisty Kim Sabu. When that entitled upper-class lady tried to steam-roll him in the director’s office, he didn’t even bat an eye before getting right back in her face. And his affect and syntex as he did it was perfect, just a lazy, unconcerned smile and he’s like “you want a dog fight? I love dog fights, and I’m good at ’em, too”. His whole vibe was smiling assassin, why’d you bring a knife to a gun fight, go ahead and test me if you think you gotta…and she backed right off. Loved it! (just like Seo-jung, who couldn’t hide her smirk, of course).

    And then a little more concrete, or at least physical, when he showed us all that he had just about had enough of Director Do’s BS, bursting into his office to plant one right on his ol’ kisser, and tell him he better leave his people alone–stop leaching on them, as I believe he put it.

    It’s becoming evident how much of a rock and a shield Master Kim is to the hospital, on an almost metaphysical level. Scheme as he will, Director Do can’t actually really touch anyone as long as Master Kim is extending his protection. In principle that shouldn’t be the case, but look at the results and outcomes, and it kind of is. I think the Director is starting to realize it, and it’s driving him crazy. Master Kim has built up the reputational and relationship and moral (for lack of a better word) credit along so many axes, that he looms large (of course, that’s what the show has been building toward all along, so big surprise, huh?) (along those lines, it brings to mind that scene from an earlier episode, where Dong-joo has been tirelessly calling around to every hospital imaginable trying to find a couple beds and an orthopedic surgeon for a couple emergency cases, with no luck, and Dr. Kim walks in and within thirty seconds on the phone, has a flight for life helo evac scheduled and on the way…).

    Just a couple thoughts on the ballad of Seo-jung and Dong-joo. I couldn’t help but laugh over drunk Dong-joo. I mean, it’s cliche and obvious and all that, but that whole drunk confession, with your mom as an audience, no less, the squeezy cheeks and attempted kiss…usually I flee in horror from second-hand embarrassment, but I couldn’t help but laugh. And then, more seriously, Seo-jung didn’t say yes this time, but she’s clearly softening her resistance, and she did point out he gets three chances, and there’s a very positive vibe that if he picks his timing just right, third time will in fact be a charm…

    1. kfangurl Post author

      That’s a great point, Trent – I usually feel secondhand embarrassment very acutely, but somehow, just found the whole drunken almost-kiss hilarious! It’s like I forgot to feel the secondhand embarrassment. 😆😅

      1. BE

        @KFG and Trent: I think we have to really thank Seo Hyun Jin for that scene. What one might define as pure comic aplomb. I understand this summer she is going to be in a show where she gets to play a seven year old living in an adult body. If anyone has the comic chops to make something like that work I suspect it would be her.

        1. manukajoe

          As a big SHJ fan, I feel she’s a bit wasted here, since she’s not getting much chance to show off her comedic skills. Dr Yun is a very muted character, I feel a little disappointed.

          1. BE

            I haven’t seen her in other things, but she, continuously the most engaging character in the story, is more than holding her own in this, which after all while having comedic moments is a pretty serious drama with two major male lead actors, each with serious resumes. But then when I first watched this after seeing Yoon Yeon Seok completely walk away with show in Mr. Sunshine, and that spectacularly casted, I was a bit disappointed in the narrow confines of his role. What have you seen her in in which you thought she was especially good?

            1. j3ffc

              I suspect manukajoe would second my suggestion for “Let’s Eat 2”. It’s a pretty straight-ahead comic role, in which she is hilarious, but there is an emerging depth that comes out as the show proceeds. I really came to care for that character.

              I understand mj’s thought, above, that her character is muted here, but I think she’s bringing it to life in a way that serves the drama. It feels right to me. I just watched her in “Beauty Inside”, where she was also very good in a different kind of role (I ironically watched it because I wanted an SHJ fix before I knew we were doing Dr. R), but haven’t seen Another Miss Oh, which many think is a highlight role for her (it’s on my drama bucket list for a special occasion) or Black Dog from last year.

              Taking all of these together, I think she’s made pretty shrewd choices of roles to avoid being totally pigeon-holed and to expand her brand. Definitely one of my faves. Right now, I kind of want to see her with Shin Hye-sun and Kim Seul-ji in some sort of buddy cop thing. Just thinking out loud there.

              1. manukajoe

                Thanks Jeff, yes Let’s Eat 2 is my soft spot too. And I agree that she is doing a great job in DR and it is probably a smart role for her to broaden her resume.

                I’m glad to know that Beauty Inside is worth a watch!

                I have seen 10 Eps of Another Miss Oh (Oh Hae Young) so far and let me temper your expectations – I don’t think there’s enough story there and also I think the ML is a wet sandwich; the women actors carry the show to be honest. Also it’s not an upbeat comedy like you might expect.

                1. BE

                  The “wet sandwich” male lead: I can think of many I have seen, almost a trope so ubiquitous, especially soggy when casted next to one of the excellent women holding up shows in K Drama land.

                  1. Trent

                    It’s really kind of amusing to me to watch when our commentary about actors in our favorite dramas breaks down along gender lines. We have all of us guys singing the praises of the amazing actresses and how they get stuck with good-looking stiffs who are not worthy of their female partners’ depth and quality; while on the other hand, the ladies in the crowd are thrilling to the amazing male leads they’ve seen and how awesome they are…

                    (TO BE CLEAR, before I get flayed for this…1) I’m not making this observation as a criticism, I think it’s fairly normal, and I certainly do it as much as anyone. I notice that I tend to expend more time and space talking about the female leads in the dramas I discuss, and I have to consciously try to correct for that tendency, and 2) I’m not saying we guys don’t appreciate and discuss great male actors and acting, because we do, and vice versa–the ladies certainly discuss great actresses and their fine work, too).

                    1. BE

                      In Dr. Romantic 2, Ahn Hyo Seop, who takes over the second male lead from Yoon Yeon Seok, acts circles around Lee Syung Kyung who plays a similar role to Seo Hyun Jin.
                      And I do not believe I have seen a single Jang Hyuk vehicle, perhaps Bad Papa being the exception, where I felt the FL was half so compelling as he is.
                      But in my three favorite contemporary period dramas, Secret Love Affair, My Mister, and Dear My Family, I felt despite being over the moon by the female leads’ performances, that the male leads were also similarly terrific, albeit in Dear My Family the men had smaller roles.
                      I think it mars even good dramas when there is a lack of balance among the leads.
                      But yes, it is true, I feel especially disappointed when a woman puts in a wonderful piece of acting in a show where she is relegated to a less than substantial male lead.

                    2. Trent

                      @BE Yeah, I’ve seen it, and I agree with you on that one, actually. Although I don’t think Lee Seong-kyung is bad, per se, Seo Hyun-jin is clearly on a different (higher) level. And Ahn Hyo-seop is really good, although I personally think it’s also a better role than our Dong-joo in the first season.

                      (parenthetically, Ahn Hyo-seop was good, and really fun, in one of his earlier roles playing second to Shin Hye-sun and Yang Se-jong (our Do In-boom!) in Still 17. It was actually hard to recognize him, and I kept having to double-check that it was the same actor. I am looking forward to seeing him playing opposite Kim Yoo-jung in Red Sky later this year. Assuming we don’t get another “historical inaccuracy” or bullying scandal blow-up (knock on wood)).

                    3. BE

                      @Trent. Red Sky looks good. I am always a sucker for shows in which an artist is a leading character. I would really like to see the Choi Min Sik movie Chihwaseon about a famous early 19th century painter.
                      Red Sky has the same writer as for Be Melodramatic. Will be interested to see how he deals with the sageuk platform.
                      I think deal with history flap up had to do with repudiation of historical record in show rather than any actual inaccuracies of history, which seem generally tolerated insofar as I can tell.
                      And speaking of FL’s I as a male am in infatuated by, I am looking forward to seeing Go Hyun Jung in A Person Similar to You, which should be coming this year as well.

                    4. Trent

                      I know you’re really high on Queen Seondak (Go Hyun-jung), but so far I just can’t muster up the energy to embark on a 60+ episode odyssey…

                      I have put Be Melodramatic on my watch list because you and others have spoken well of it, and I actually went and read the non-spoiler-y parts of KFG’s review, so once again the site proves its worth… (Also, I’m crushing a bit on Jeon Yeo-bin, just watching her in Vincenzo).

                    5. BE

                      @Trent: I also very much like Go Hyun-jung in Dear My Friends, although she is just (the) one (younger) among the amazing cast of elder lead women actors in it. She is quite touching in it, and I cannot recommend that drama, albeit a tear jerker without question, highly enough. I can hardly think of a show that deals with aging better.

                      Queen Seon Deok is an epic undertaking no doubt, and my feeling about it is that it is really three separate stories all connected by the life of the main character, each a bit slow in getting off the ground, Go Hyun-Jung largely featured in the first two of the three, and yes, both she and it are worth the time. I do not remember why I binged it, but that I think is the only way to get through something that long and with its down periods. Nonetheless, having seen it through, I would definitely rank it way, way up there in sageuk land.
                      You will be surprised after seeing her in Vincenzo with Jeon Yeo Bin in quite a different role in Be Melodramatic, in which, imo, she is the best among the also very good three other leads. A quite enjoyable series.

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