Open Thread: Dr. Romantic Episodes 13 & 14

Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! We get some significant movement on the OTP front, and considering that we are about two-thirds of the way through our story, I’d say it sounds about right. 😉

I hope you guys are ready to chat about Dr. Romantic episodes 13 & 14! 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 13

Dong Joo’s our MVP this episode, and watching him pour himself out for the sake of the patients before him in need, I can’t help but marvel at how far he’s come, from when we first met him.

But first, let me back up to where we left off, last episode.

We open this episode with In Beom’s voiceover, that essentially confirms that he’s lying to Master Kim about his experience with heart surgery, in hopes that he’ll be made the first assistant on Chairman Shin’s surgery, in line with his father’s orders.

In In Beom’s defense, it does sound like he doesn’t want to lie, but finds himself lying anyway, before he even realizes what he really wants.

Also, I tend to think that Master Kim doesn’t actually believe In Beom’s claims, judging from his decision to appoint Seo Jung first assistant instead. Of course, that also has to do with how qualified and prepared Seo Jung is, and I’m glad that her enthusiasm, diligence and preparedness shines through, for Master Kim to see.

I do love that we get to see Dong Joo and Seo Jung working together so that she can practice her purse string suture.

There’s something so pure about that; they aren’t working in competition against each other like other doctors in our drama world are wont to do. Instead, they are on the same side, and taking joy from the same small victories, as a team.

It’s not a romantic moment; it’s a moment of pure solidarity and teamwork. And I find it all so wholesome and pure.

What a lovely, lovely sight, truly. 😍

On that note, I think it’s significant that in the staff room, when Master Kim is getting ready to announce the team for Chairman Shin’s surgery, it’s Dong Joo who steps forward to ask who will be appointed first assistant.

The tone in which he asks it feels personal; it sounds akin to the tone he’s used before, when asking Master Kim about surgical appointments that had concerned himself. But here, he’s stepping out and asking that for Seo Jung, probably because he overheard In Beom requesting the appointment from Master Kim.

And he asks it in the same invested, personal tone. Somehow, that idea, that Dong Joo is taking Seo Jung’s appointment personally, lands sweet, to my eyes.

Seo Jung’s first assistant path is anything but smooth, however, especially with the way Chairman Shin reacts when she introduces herself as his doctor, and immediately asks to be treated by a male doctor instead.

Ugh. The misogyny is hard to swallow, and I’m glad that our girl Seo Jung refuses to be intimidated by Chairman Shin and his big voiced threats and his petty refusal to cooperate.

I just love that Seo Jung doesn’t need Master Kim to step in to rescue her from a cantankerous Chairman Shin. She handles him beautifully, I feel.

She remains polite and firm, and even manages to soften him up a bit, with a bit of gentleness and charm.

It’s clear that she eventually wears him down, because when she slips up and addresses him as “Grandpa” instead of “Chairman,” Chairman Shin even snickers to himself, as Seo Jung shows herself out.

That’s our Seo Jung; she can soften up the toughest nut, and she’ll charm his socks off while she’s at it – without even needing to try to be charming. I love her.

In the meantime, we see that Dong Joo’s growing increasingly tired, as he continues to work non-stop. From the snippets that we see, it seems that he’s only snatching bits of sleep at his desk, which appear to be regularly interrupted by work-related calls.

And each time, he simply rouses himself, and keeps on pushing on. That’s not at all sustainable, and so, when Dong Joo ends up being the only doctor in the ER when the entire ER is shut down for emergency quarantine, I started to worry for his wellbeing.

Through all of this, though, I can’t help noticing that for the first time since the start of our story, Dong Joo is consistently putting the needs of the patients, and the needs of the situation, above his own.

He knows that he’s tired, but he also knows that he’s only doctor in the ER, and he knows that the patients need him, and that’s why he keeps on pushing on, until his body gives out.

Plus, he continues to be kind to the patients, even though he’s exhausted.

That’s.. huge, coming from Dong Joo, who’d once upon a time run off to meet President Do when he should have been tending to patients, in hopes of getting his job at Geodae Hospital back. He’s come a long way, our Dong Joo..

Now, he just needs to find some kind of balance, so that he doesn’t end up running himself into the ground.

What a contrast with Director Song, who’s hurrying to get off work, so that he will have as little to do with the potential MERS situation as possible. This, even after Master Kim has specifically told him about the patient requiring surgery for acute appendicitis.

My gosh. Director Song’s petulance and lack of compassion for the patient, is so stark, in contrast to Dong Joo’s selfless actions. No wonder Master Kim loses patience with him and raises his voice.

Thankfully for the patient, Director Song’s cowed enough by Master Kim’s reprimand – and everyone else’s judgey looks – to acquiesce.

The way Master Kim readies himself to go into the ER after Dong Joo collapses, feels very personal and heartfelt.

I know that Master Kim says that same thing that we heard Seo Jung say in an early episode, that when it comes to patients, it’s not the order of arrival; it’s the order of emergency (which is a really nice callback, because it efficiently reinforces the idea that Master Kim and Seo Jung are on similar wavelengths).

At the same time, Master Kim’s reaction to seeing Dong Joo collapse feels quite personal, to my eyes. The look on his face speaks of worry and concern, and the way Master Kim rests his head on the door of the ER, to gather his thoughts, makes me feel that it’s not just his head talking; his heart is fully in this too.

Which is similar to the way Seo Jung responds as well.

From the minute Seo Jung realizes that Dong Joo was in an emergency quarantine in the ER, she shows a lot of visceral concern for Dong Joo. And before that was even an issue, Seo Jung was already concerned for Dong Joo having been on duty for 3 days in a row without rest.

Seo Jung definitely cares more for Dong Joo than she’d probably like to admit.

The way Seo Jung rushes to see if she could catch a glimpse of Dong Joo through the windows of the ER, and the way she stops in her tracks, her eyes filling with tears, when she does spot him, say a great deal about how much Dong Joo’s wellbeing means to her.

On that note, I’d like to also say that the feeling is mutual, because Dong Joo’s only concern, despite being exhausted and caught in a difficult situation, is that Seo Jung step away from the ER.

Therefore, it doesn’t surprise me that Seo Jung would step up and volunteer to go into the ER in Master Kim’s stead.

As much as she wants to participate in the heart surgery for Chairman Shin, what matters more to her, is the current situation and what is needful – and Dong Joo’s wellbeing as well, I’m sure.

I appreciate that Seo Jung has a perfectly professional reason for her decision; that in a situation like this, it’s an emergency medicine specialist that’s needed in the emergency room, and not a surgeon.

This brings to mind Master Kim’s romantic philosophy, where he simply tries to be the doctor that the patients needs, in the moment. I feel like that’s exactly what Seo Jung is doing right now. She’s choosing to be the doctor that the patients need, and as Master Kim points out, the ones who are most in need right now, are the patients in the ER.

I’m sure that beneath his concerned, gruff expression, Master Kim is proud of her.

I’m hoping that the whole MERS thing turns out to be a false alarm, so that Seo Jung will still be able to participate in Chairman Shin’s surgery as first assistant. She’s worked hard for that, and even though she’s ready to give it up for something that she feels is more needful, I can’t help but wish that she’ll get to do both.

As for In Beom, I’m hoping to see some growth from him in the coming episodes. This episode, he’d lied in order to align himself with his father’s orders, and, by a twist of fate, he ends up getting the appointment which he’d originally lost to Seo Jung.

While I think In Beom’s a competent doctor, it does niggle at me that he appears uncertain of what to do, when his father exerts pressure on him.

That’s why I feel like I can’t trust him right now. And I’d like to be able to trust him.

Episode 14

This is an episode swelling with feelings, and not just of the romantic variety, and I found it pretty satisfying to watch, all-around.

Seo Jung gets to join the team in the ER like she’d requested, and this episode, we learn through her voiceover, that she’d just really wanted to be with Dong Joo, in this moment.

Her interest is very personal after all, and while it’s not the impartial decision that one would hope for a medical decision to be, I appreciate that Seo Jung’s honest about it, at least with herself.

Also, what a relief, that Dong Joo isn’t suffering from a serious ailment, but is simply too exhausted and too dehydrated to function, and needs little more than some simple medication, hydration and sufficient sleep. Phew.

How significant, though, that even though, as his attending physician, Seo Jung now knows that Dong Joo’s going to be just fine, she still nurses him, holds his hand, and stays with him, all of which is way beyond the call of duty.

There are definitely some feelings going on around here, and I feel happy for Dong Joo, that when he groggily opens his eyes, that even in his half-waking state, he gets to see that Seo Jung’s right there with him. I feel like he’s earned that bit of encouragement, y’know?

Meanwhile, we see that Master Kim’s starting to show signs of being suspicious of In Beom, first in the way that he asks In Beom whether he’d been the one to tell Seo Jung that Dong Joo had fainted, because that information wasn’t shared with her floor, and then later, when Master Kim asks again to confirm In Beom’s claim that he’s done an ECMO operation before.

I’m disappointed that In Beom basically grits his teeth and continues to lie through it all, because that feels wrong, but I can also understand that feeling of being trapped in a lie that you now regret.

From In Beom’s shifty-eyed frowns, I gather that he does regret telling those initial lies, when he’d first requested to be the first assistant on Chairman Shin’s surgery, but he feels that it’s too late to back out now, and therefore just continues with the lies.

I’m not at all surprised at Master Kim’s approach in dealing with In Beom’s lies.

By now, it seems like quite a Master Kim sort of thing to do, to accept the lie at face value, give the person a chance to prove him wrong, and then call out the liar based on physical evidence that shows up because of the person’s lack of competence.

What does surprise me is Master Kim’s words to In Beom, “I won’t ask you why you had to do all those things. But, do not degrade yourself… by acting as if you were expendable.”

How interesting, that in reprimanding In Beom, Master Kim chooses to affirm In Beom’s worth, instead of tear it down.

It feels like Master Kim sees strength and potential in In Beom that In Beom himself may not realize, and I’m curious to see how In Beom’s personal journey develops, going forward.

I was struck by the strong emotions driving the behaviors of Terrible Boyfriend and Concerned Mom, this episode. Both of them are so intent on breaking through the locked doors of the ER, but there are such different emotions and motivations propelling them.

Terrible Boyfriend is driven by fear and self-interest, and is ready to abandon his girlfriend, even though she is suffering from acute appendicitis and in a lot of pain, if it means that he can get out of there.

And on the other end of the scale, we have Concerned Mom, who is driven by worry and love for her children. She doesn’t care if it means that she might be exposing herself to a dangerous virus; she just wants to be with her children. Night and day, seriously.

I was rather nervous that either or both of them might successfully break out of or into the locked ER, but thankfully, Mr. Gu and Eun Tak come to the rescue.

I loved the sudden badassery that we see from Eun Tak, who basically throws Terrible Boyfriend to the floor in a single move.

Wow! I never knew Eun Tak had it in him, and I’m suitably impressed. 🤩

And while I appreciate the angst of Concerned Mom, I would have expected Doldam Hospital to have handled this with more humanity; what happened to the possibility of connecting Concerned Mom with her kids over the phone?

I feel like that was a deliberate oversight, in order to amp up the drama in this scene.

I get that that’s how Show rolls, but in a case where we actually see doctors and nurses communicating over the phone with people on the outside of the ER, it’s hard to forget that this is also a possibility for the patients and their guardians, y’know? 😜

On another note, I just wanted to say that I’m pleased that Director Song is cornered into performing the surgery, even though he really would have preferred to go home. Muahaha. Time to join the rest of your colleagues in the trenches, Director Song. 😏

I’m relieved, along with everyone else, that it isn’t a case of MERS after all, and this means that Seo Jung gets to retain her position as first assistant in Chairman Shin’s surgery – YAY! I’m so happy for her, that she doesn’t have to give up the surgery after all.

It says a lot about Master Kim, that he would still allow In Beom to be part of the surgical team for Chairman Shin’s surgery, even though In Beom had lied about his credentials. It’s a gracious person who is able to give someone else a second chance, and so soon after discovering that person’s misconduct, too.

I do think that, left to his own devices, In Beom would take this lesson seriously, and become a better doctor and person for it. However, he’s currently still under orders from his father, so I’m a little nervous at where this might go.

It’s great to see the team working so well together, as they prepare for the surgery. I love that they are all on the same side now (well, aside from In Beom, potentially), and it’s really heartwarming to see them gathering themselves around a common goal. 🥰

My drama senses are perking up because of what Chairman Shin says to his assistant about not telling Master Kim about what happened 20 years ago, until after the surgery is over.

Might this mean that Chairman Shin was a VIP patient that was prioritized over someone else, which then resulted in another patient’s death?

And might that patient be Dong Joo’s father..? Or did Chairman Shin have something to do with the death of Master Kim’s student..? 😳

Whatever it is, it promises to be something dramatic. 😬

I have to admit that I’m quite taken with Dong Joo’s contented expression, when he wakes up and finds that Seo Jung’s asleep next to his bed, on the visitor’s cot.

He just looks so gratified and.. fulfilled, to see Seo Jung there. It’s like looking at her is enough to make him happy, and I like that.

I also like that, once Seo Jung wakes up, the way they talk to each other is casual and familiar. Even though, at this point, the romantic possibilities in their relationship is still in question, there’s clearly a personal connection here, in the way she asks after him and in the way he answers.

They are definitely comfortable around each other, and their sleepy voices are just bonus, and super endearing to my ears.

While part of my brain started sending off early alarm bells at the fact that Dong Joo invades Seo Jung’s personal space, by first grabbing her arm and getting her to sit down on the bed beside him, then leaning into her face, and then hugging her, I rationalize that the manner in which he does these things, definitely helps to make it all land more comfortably.

There’s a distinct gentleness about Dong Joo, even as he leans in to search Seo Jung’s face, and I like that through it all, there’s also a good-naturedness about him that shines through.

He tells her that he’s checking to see if she’s lying about not staying with him and holding his hand when he’d been unconscious, and when she admits that it was her, he leans back and smiles amiably.

And then when he pulls her in for a hug, he does so very gently as well, in a way that makes me feel that Seo Jung could actually push him away, if she was uncomfortable enough to want to stop the hug from happening.

..And importantly, Seo Jung doesn’t. She gives in to the hug, and the expression on her face is happy and contented too, which in turns makes me happy and contented too, for this pair of maybe-lovebirds.

I kinda love that Manager Jang ends up nudging Dong Joo into buying a necklace for Seo Jung for Christmas (which has evolved into something of a couple’s holiday in Korea, rather than a family event).

I’m pretty sure that without that nudge to buy it, along with another huge nudge in the way Manager Jang basically gives the box to Seo Jung for Dong Joo, I don’t think this gift-giving milestone would have happened.

Or at least, it wouldn’t have happened so soon. Maybe Dong Joo would’ve had to wait for someone else to give him a nudge on White Day (14 March, a day where guys give girls tokens of their affection, after the girls give guys chocolates on 14 February, Valentine’s Day) instead, heh. 😉

I like how honest this conversation is, where Seo Jung asks Dong Joo what the necklace is supposed to mean.

Not only is there a nice amount of honesty in this scene, there’s also a sweet tentativeness about Dong Joo (in place of the brashness in episode 1), as he tries to understand why Seo Jung is trying to return the necklace.

Here, and now, I feel like he’s sincerely trying to understand her, and is genuinely uncertain of himself, and that appeals to me quite a bit.

Significantly, I appreciate that Seo Jung doesn’t lie to him, as she tells him that she doesn’t want to receive the necklace, and why.

I really like that she tells him things that she’s felt unable to articulate all this time; that she likes him; that she can’t help thinking of the accident from 5 years ago, the more she likes him; that it’s not fair to him.

I’m moved by the single tear that leaks out of Dong Joo’s eye, as he tells her that he doesn’t mind; that all he’s ever wanted, was to hear that she likes him too, and that nothing else matters.

When he leans forward to put the necklace on her, and she instinctively steps back, I’m quite struck by how vulnerable Dong Joo looks, as he gazes uncertainly into her eyes and asks, “Is it a no?”

I feel like it’s his plaintive vulnerability that speaks for him, and that Seo Jung responds to. I feel like it’s why she lets him put the necklace on for her, and receives his kiss.

And what a lovely kiss it is. There’s a whole lot of pent-up emotion on both sides, but the kiss itself is gentle and tender, even though it’s threaded through with hunger. Melt. ❤️

Last but not least, how interesting that Yeon Hwa is back in our story world, and she’s now going to work as a pay doctor at Doldam Hospital!

I’d had a feeling she’d be back, after that very abrupt exit, and I’m glad we get more backstory on her this time.

How heartwarming, to hear that it was the Doldam team that had inspired her to continue with her chosen career in medicine, and how cool, that she’ll now get to work among them.

Her crush on Dong Joo still seems to be intact, though, and I wonder how she will react, once she realizes that Dong Joo’s now dating Seo Jung? 😛

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2 years ago

Okay…first dear KFG: what is this? the fifth extensive piece of review and reaction in the past seven days? Just saying, no wonder you identify with Dong Joo so well!
Which is to also say how much I appreciate how you brought Yoon Yeon Seok’s acting to light in your reactions to episode 13 for me. Up to this point, he is often quite the unappealing “vanity is youth” kind of character, a role that however well he might be playing it is not nearly so appealing as he finally appears completely in episodes thirteen and fourteen. I particularly liked him lying on his side in the hospital bed looking down upon Seo Jung, so obviously basking in the glow of his affection for her. Scene kind of reminds me of an American popular rock and roll song from when I was a little boy…”Everyday getting little closer, going faster than a roller coaster, love like yours will surely come my way, a hey, a hey hey.” That delicious time when one knows finally and with some certainty something very very good, something longed for is about to happen. Yoon Yeon Seok really delivers that feeling in that brief scene.
As I noted two weeks ago, we really see for the first time an acknowledgement within Seo Jung that Dong Joo is “the one” when she sees him outside the hospital having come to Seoul, and somehow knowing where she would be in Seoul. It is true he backslid in episodes 11 and 12 in her estimation because he had allowed his ambition to take precedence over even his desire to remain working in the same hospital as her, not to mention for the sake of greed, compromising her ideals of what it is to be a doctor.
But I would like to argue how well show has prepared us for all this. The two of them…their romance is doctoring, doctoring romantics–Dong Joo fell for Seo Jung watching her work in episode one, and she him in surgery with him assisting her. The chemistry between them was there from the beginning, enough so that Seo Jung knew she was “wavering” on a man she might consider marrying. And Dong Joo, however clumsy and aggressive about it at the beginning and since, not only knew then–really while love at first sight or early sight is no more common than any other kind of love, it is common enough–but had not wavered since, even during a five year absence. Everyone at Doldam knows, Manager Jang knows, Kim Sabu knows, Nurse Oh knows, Im Beom knows–they all know, and given how many romantic couplings we see in K Drama they make such a very believable otp: the fact that Dong Joo and Seo Jong are not simply physically attracted, albeit they most certainly are, they are comrades in both surfaces and in depths–from working on her suturing ability together to her worry for him working himself to the bone and in danger in the emergency room during the MERS scare. Even given show’s hyperbolic tendency to turn up the swoony music every time they are near, or in part because of it, Manager Jang’s happiness at their embracing echoes the audience’s.

One thing that struck me in this week’s episodes was how show varied the motif of voice over. In episode thirteen, we have a distinct contrast to that of how it was used in episode nine. That is, while show does double purpose with voice over presenting an element of the ongoing theme of the upshot of hospital corruption and character speaking–the demands placed on young doctors to deceive, lie, and even betray their colleagues, when Dong Joo was speaking, he was undercutting and rebelling against Director Do, while when Im Beom was doing so, he was rationalizing his own behavior. In each case this set us up for how each would behave differently in the subsequent episodes.
Then in episode fourteen, the voice over, usually up till now eschewed in the second of each set of weekly episodes was again brought into play, but this time, in this variation on the motif, presented without regard to the any larger theme or plot line other than that of Seo Jung’s feelings for Dong Joo, and in this case it sets us up for that scene in which she confesses her feeling for him, and the reason for her hesitancy and stand offishness which she also confesses has to do with her own emotional difficulties rather than her feeling for him. There is a lot in this show that other writers of melodramatic romance can learn from in terms of pacing, preparation, and atmosphere. Of course it does take two actors who are willing to put in the effort to create with one another the requisite chemistry. But show does an excellent job with these two.

Finally, at the end of episode 14, we get the mysterious entrance of the spectacular and charismatic character actor Kim Hye Eun, whose very presence if one has seen her in other dramas, is ominous. So late in the game…what does this mean?

2 years ago
Reply to  BE

Voiceover contrast b/tw episode 13 and 11.

2 years ago

While in general agreement that the MERS escapade was contrived and overstated – especially since we knew (KNEW!) that it was going to be a red herring – one thing that struck me about the deployment of that plot line was that it mirrored, in miniature, some features of the emergence of real-world infectious disease outbreaks (I’m sure we could all think of an example or two). The immediate reaction, even by professionals, being fear. The most immediate response, to shut things down pending more information, facing immediate backlash from some civilians and other civilians have to deal with ramifications not of their own fault. Bravery in the face of danger by Seo Jung (even if partly due to other motivations). And finally, the toll that visits upon caregivers working themselves to the max to make things better.

2 years ago
Reply to  j3ffc

@jeffc: My only problem with the MERS incident [given show is wont to present every sort of extreme medical emergency under the sun, in for a dime, in for a dollar, not to mention the fact of Chairman Shin’s pneumonia echoing away in the background along with Dong Joo’s collapse and fever also echoing away–can’t say it enough, show writers really do a bang up job of rendering the world of Dr. Romantic, however melodramatic, a world which continuously makes internal sense–not the least of which, Dong Joo’s diagnoses always going to extremes, while Seo Jung’s always arcane and accurate (who knew that eating unfermented soy marinated crab could lead to coughs and fevers after a couple of months?)] were the little inconsistencies in how staff protected themselves. Lack of head covering, lack of hand washing, Kim Sabu,and whole staff besides Dr. Song not in PPE’s during surgery.
As an American having witnessed the past year here, knowing good and well how differently South Korea responded to Covid, I generally found the reaction at this little hole in the wall, understaffed, underequipped hospital in a small tourist town no more unreal than all the other emergencies they had faced. And in line with those others how show writers used the typical trope of hospital shows, episodic emergencies, as a mechanism to move the larger plot forward, especially in this case with the character growth of Dong Joo, the blossoming of Dong Joo and Seo Jong together, and more incrementally the chairman’s heart surgery and Director Do’s proxy through his son plot to obstruct it.
I do think Seo Hyun Jin giving such an excellent “slice of life” drama kind of performance in this sometimes leads me to forget or want more from show than simply melodrama, and I have to constantly refocus my lens to adjust and enjoy show for what it is in its larger sense, so that I can appreciate just how well it is doing in delivering an elevated piece of work as a melodrama.

2 years ago

Was it just me or did anyone notice a little something between Kim Sabu and Nurse Oh? Wouldn’t that be lovely?
Slimy worm Director Song and evil snake Director Do..ugh.
I’m so disappointed in I’m Boem. Lying and manipulative…sad turn of events.

2 years ago

My reaction might wait till tonight, but I have a couple questions. Does the Korean word translated as the word “like” as in I like=I have romantic feelings and longings for someone also translate to the more widely used after secondary school in American English, “like,” as in I like ramyeon or I like murder mysteries, or I really like my cousin Jack. I think the last I heard the word “like” used in the way it is commonly translated in Korean shows as a signifier of romantic interest was in secondary school gossip when everyone wanted to know if x liked y and so on.
Also, culturally speaking, and maybe it has changed here in the US, but it strikes me that “dating” here is not necessarily a sign of some sort of ongoing romantic relationship, but rather as part of the exploration young (or even older) people engage in exploring the possibility for romantic relationship. That is, people start dating before they confess their deeper feelings for one another. How much this has to do with television and its censorship limitations and how much it reflects actual social practice perplexes me sometimes as I watch these shows.

2 years ago
Reply to  kfangurl

@BE – if you think about it we sound strange to other counties in that we use “love” the same way that Koreans use “like”. We lovvvvve our favorite food. We love our favorite shows. I think the tone of voice with which Korean actors say “I like you” makes it obvious whether it’s romantic like or friendship like. The only language that I know of that leaves no doubt which type of feelings they’re referring to is Greek which has a different word for every situation. There’s probably others but I’m not familiar with any.

2 years ago
Reply to  beez

@beez & KFG: in Spanish the verb “querer” adds the feeling of desire to the verb “amor” (te quiero sounds so much more thrilling than te amo), something I really like about Spanish, and French seems to have the same verb for both like and love, “aimer.” but I am trying to think how adults of my generation and subcultural background in the states refer to the emotional state I see being inferred by the use of the word “like” in K Drama.
American English is so fluid, full of continuously upgraded slang and imported words, I have no idea if words for such might be different for younger generations or groups of people. I think it is also difficult to actually say “I love you” here in budding romantic situations, in part because that statement seems to indicate some sort of duration and durability. At first, one might stay “I have feelings for” or the more phenomenally accurate “I can’t stop thinking about.” but we also use the word “infatuated,” although that sounds so academic to me, and as the relationship progresses “in love with,” which has a definite romantic connotation without necessarily the commitment of “I love,’ which would be inappropriate unless reciprocated and perhaps having stood up to at least some tests of time.
I do think K Drama does a bangup job of exploring the vicissitudes of this stage of romantic involvement. But I wondered because in my experience the way “like” is used in K Dramas reminded me of how we spoke of those feelings in school yard talk rather than in the world of adults in the US, and I did not know if the word in Korean was being accurately or literally translated, as now that I have been listening to dialogue for a couple of years, it has led me to understand such is not always the case. Thanks.

2 years ago
Reply to  BE

I don’t have the linguistic chops to add much in the way of illumination here, but by way of passing comment on your original observation, I’ll just note that the very particularized use of “choh-a,” “I like (you/him/her)” in K-dramas as a specific marker or signal of romantic feeling and intention was one of the things I flagged in my mind as being of note or interest back near the very beginning when I first started watching them, almost a year ago now.

It was evident almost from the first, even to my very novice viewing eyes, that a character using “choh-a” in reference to an object of their interest or affection was making an almost formal declaration. It seemed to be related to, and go hand in hand with, that other almost ritualized step in the K-drama romantic progression, the “confession”, which seems to hold down a rather significant conceptual space in the communal imagination. I may be grasping it imperfectly, but the observation seems like it’s been recapitulated many many times, across numerous dramas spanning a number of different subgenres.

(It’s such a signpost or shorthand at this point, that, just to take an example from the most recent drama I’ve finished: when in the penultimate episode of Signal–which is decidedly not a romance, nor anything like unto it–one character tells another that they like (“choh-a”) them, it feels like a very significant culmination of something, all out of proportion to that simple phrase…)

2 years ago

The way Seo-jung handled Chairman Shin was like a master class in effectively wielding soft power to achieve your goals. His casual reflexive old school misogyny has to have everyone’s–up to and including Seo-jung’s–blood boiling, but rather than getting up in his face (which wouldn’t have worked), she deflects and cajoles and refuses to back down, and by the time she’s done, she’s not only (I feel) convinced him of her competence, but has definitely achieved a shift in attitude. Very deft, and also took a lot of moxie.

This show first came out in late 2016, so it was really kind of shocking to have the little MERS-scare subplot after the last year of global pandemic we’ve been experiencing (the translation even used the term “coronavirus” at one point as the Deoldam staff was discussing it). Hit a little too close to home, although I’m sure the writers weren’t looking into their time-traveling crystal balls to see another viral respiratory illness popping up to sweep the world a few years in the future. I was actually quite relieved that it turned out to be a “false alarm” as to the MERS diagnosis, at least.

Yes, In-beom is making some bad/questionable decisions, but I feel like they are understandable, if not excusable, given the pressure of his demanding, morally and ethically challenged father. I also feel like we are seeing the patented Master Kim treatment, summed up in his appeal to In-beom’s better nature, and his admonishment not let In-beom degrade himself and make himself just a disposable commodity. Clearly Master Kim wants to give him the benefit of a doubt and the chance to choose a better path. Hope he’ll take it.

Master Kim has really upped the stakes on the Chairman’s surgery, and gotten the Chairman on board. Now it’s no longer just swapping the battery, they’re going to change the whole artificial heart. That would seem to be a big big step up in difficulty and complexity, and this team has its work cut out for it to prepare for and orchestrate such an operation. I’m looking forward to seeing how it plays out…

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
2 years ago
Reply to  Trent

Agree, I found Seo Jung’s reaction to Chairman Shin’s demands to change doctor something to learn from!
I think she impressed him by not backing down and running off to complain to Dr Kim, which showed she had guts and a spine of her own. The other thing that impressed him was her demonstration of medical expertise and an air of doctorly authority and competence.

2 years ago
Reply to  Elaine Phua

@Elaine Phua: I really liked how she told him that she was working hard not to be crushed by his power. But along with her business like attitude, plea for the Chairman’s support with the cantankerous Doctor Kim (demonstrating both her medical astuteness and her insight to both the Chairman and how he might view Kim Sabu himself), it strikes me that her affectionate “grandfather” followed up by behaving (twice) as if her affection for his elder status were a mistake for the more serious respect accorded him as Chairman of the hospital association, that (seemingly) knowingly wins him over. (And after she leaves the room Chairman Shin’s wonderful reaction…I know I have commented on Joo Hyun a couple times, but that reaction after she leaves the room–what a demonstration of the old adage that to a good actor no role is too small).
Show, as always, doing such a good job of rhythm and rhyme, follows this with the scene of the little boy who has banged his head and will not allow Dong Joo to give it a gander. When Nurse Oh does the old tried and true lollipop on the boy, Dong Joo praises her to high heaven, but she simply shrugs and tells him, just “basic.” Now I am going to talk from my perspective of “old man.” We aren’t all that different from little boys in someways. Being old and male, probably even moreso for a male who has in his life wielded no small amount of power, is to be especially vulnerable in medical situations. We are not in control, we are in danger, and we have to be willing to expose our corporeality to our medical caregivers. Calling Chairman Shin “grandfather’ is like giving him a lollipop. Calling him that twice, two lollipops.
Which also leads me to a consideration of whether Chairman Shin’s apprehension of having a woman doctor is actually misogynistic or something else. Again pov old man on this: to put himself in her care means to have his body exposed to her, a woman in the prime of youthful maturity, knowing or at least feeling that being old is to be unattractive. Show goes to some length to show that opening his shirt exposes a long and unsightly scar above his heart. It may be nothing to Seo Jung, but it well may be very much something to Chairman Shin. Chairman Shin might very well not think because she is a woman she is incompetent; after all, his manager, companion, and all around business right hand person is a woman whom he seems to trust implicitly, but rather has to do with his pride as a male, as foolish as that might sound. And indeed he expresses his feeling as one of discomfort, not apprehension with regard to Seo Jung’s professional abilities.

2 years ago
Reply to  Trent

Started Let’s Eat 2, thanks. And 3 eps in I really like Seo Hyun Jin already, but I tend to think unless it changes drastically, Doctor Romantic was more for her than just a good career move. It is a role that demands considerably more from her. The scenes with Chairman Shin (again not just her acting but the interplay with the wonderful Joo Hyun) reveals so much about character Seo Jung when she is in full doctor mode, her confidence and adroit manner, befitting someone experienced with every type of patient including old powerful misogynist men, and the closing scene with Dong Joo in which she reveals her hesitancy (all this time) had to do with her own insecurities and desire to acknowledge his feeling for her in an honest way, that she is hindered in her ability to respond because of the accident, both scenes require considerably more of Seo Hyun Jin than comedic caraciture, it strikes me. Again and again and again her emotionally complicated Seo Jung touches such a sympathetic and attractive chord.

2 years ago
Reply to  BE

@BE I think it was others that recommended Let’s Eat 2 (since I haven’t seen it, and was considering it just based on the recs saying how fun SHJ is in it), but that aside, I am fully on board with praise for the job SHJ is doing as Seo-jung in this show. She is putting in a lot of subtle, nuanced work that is really conveying a lot of character information and having a great effect. She’s delightful to watch in this, for sure.

2 years ago
Reply to  BE

So glad you’re enjoying LE2. I found that the journey of the character and the way things went near the end was very satisfying, even given the moderate ceiling that that relatively light drama offered. Certainly in agreement that DR offers a great opportunity for her to shine, even given the words of Edmund Gwenn (quoted memorably by Peter O’Toole in “My Favorite Year”); “Dying is easy….comedy is hard.”

2 years ago
Reply to  j3ffc

: Old man POV, this week on Tuesday in texting to my family about a get together we had on Sunday, I referred to get together as if it had happened the day before, Monday simply elided as if it had not occurred. My elder daughter snidely commented about how they might stick me away in some home for the elderly addled soon. Yuk. Thanks for turning me on to Let’s Eat 2.
Inre comedy and drama, two of the most beloved actors of my and my parents’ generations are Tom Hanks and Jimmy Stewart. Both capable of comedic acting, and Tom Hanks actually got his start in stand up, but it is because of their appealing ability in dramatic roles, to which their comedic timing and sense sometimes elevated, that they are so beloved.

2 years ago
Reply to  BE

I remember Dawn French once got a serious role, and she said something along the lines of “wow serious acting is so much easier than comedy!”

2 years ago
Reply to  manukajoe

The serious actor who cannot incorporate comedic acting in his or her repertoire is bound to be wooden and limited, but comedic actors often get stuck in the single note of comedy rather than getting the whole scale drama can offer. I think of Shakespeare–it is hard for me to say I love his tragedies more than his comedies or vice versa.

2 years ago
Reply to  BE

Right in there with you, BE, on the old man POV. Jimmy Stewart is one of my favorite actors and I’ve admired much of Hanks’s work as well.

By the way, I do heartily recommend “My Favorite Year” if you’re up for a light comedy with heart. It’s set in a 1950s variety show modeled after the Sid Caesar show, where a young writer (a young Mel Brooks type) is required to ride herd on a notoriously unreliable and aging movie idol who is appearing on the show. Fun and breezy with an academy award nominated performance by O’Toole as the idol.

Come to think of it, it would make a great k-drama.

2 years ago
Reply to  j3ffc

I think I have seen it. Or at least parts of it on TCM.

Sid Caesar (and one of the great and unheralded early tv comic geniuses Imogene Coco)–gosh one of my earliest (black & white) tv memories, my dad’s laughter from the couch behind me.

2 years ago

Thanks for your thoughts KFG! A few things struck me from these eps:

I love the green/white/brown colour palette of the staff as they walk down to meet Kim Sabu to announce the operation team. Always like to see what directors do with colour and sound and camera.

I didn’t know much about MERS, but Koreans in 2016 would have been very familiar with it, as Korea had an outbreak in 2015. From wikipedia:As of 27 June 2015, 19 people in South Korea have died from this outbreak, with 184 confirmed cases of infection. There have been at least 6508 quarantined. These numbers doubled by the end of July 2015!

Ugh I thought In-beom was going to be a hero and go into the quarantined ER. He let me down! Augh we already knew he is a liar 🙁

The whole MERS/ER situation seems a bit contrived to be honest.

So it’s Ep 14 and I really don’t know what the end game is. There’s not much of a larger arc to this show, or at least I’m not seeing it. I now Pres Do has something he’s trying to do but I’m not sure what exactly. I think he’s hoping Shin will die in the op so that Do will have direct access to the money?

Keep it up!

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
2 years ago
Reply to  manukajoe

Haha yes manukajoe, this whole show is filled with super contrived situations for extremely heightened dramatic tension. I guess if you can roll with it then you’ll enjoy it! I greatly enjoyed big chunks of this show, like the main characters’ growth arcs and the family dynamic in Doldam. For the super dramatic, high-stakes standoffs, hit and miss especially at the start but I grew to enjoy the medical crises too (truck driver hitting the cyclists, multi-car collision and how Seo Jung got through to the drunk driver’s conscience, this MERS scenario too).

BTW this show is not in the ending arc yet, there are still 7 episodes to go (21 episodes in total). I also expected things to be wrapped up by episode 16 like the vast majority of series I’ve watched, so was confused when they didn’t wrap up and there were more episodes to go through, ha ha.

2 years ago
Reply to  manukajoe

Larger story arcs:
Of course, one is the rivalry between Director Dough and Kim Sabu in relation to the larger theme of corruption in the South Korean medical, particularly hospital arena, the broad story arc so far revealed.
The more specific story arc has to do with Doldam Hospital: Doctor Dough wants to tear it down and turn it into a money making elder care complex, whereas Kim Sabu want to “paint” some sort of picture, the plan Chairman Shin’s manager had read in Kim Sabu’s office and asked him about, meaning perhaps he wants to expand and update hospital in order to deal with all the emergency patients that come into hospital instead of having to send them elsewhere at least two hours away. Getting the Chairman’s backing as a result of this operation thus is the key for each. At least this is what has been revealed so far.
In re In Beom: well we do have to take into account his whole relationship with his father, the purpose his father initially sent him to Doldam, how Doctor Do treated Seo Jung when she defended Kim Sabu before him (while Im Beom was eavesdropping), how Doctor Do does seem to have a talent for playing the ambitions of budding talent in general, and now that he has played both the Seo Jung and the Dong Joo cards, his remaining Ace in the hole is his son.
Perhaps, Kim Sabu’s reaction to Im Beom’s lying, considerably more gentle than his way of teaching Dong Joo or Seo Jung (perhaps indicating whom he really cares about), warning Im Beom about not becoming a mere object to be consumed, echoing Kim Sabu’s quiet remonstrance of the inspector whose child needed an operation, may yet have a positive impact on Im Beom, whose stakes in all this are considerably more than even professional.