Open Thread: Dr. Romantic Episodes 15 & 16

Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! Dong Joo’s my MVP, this pair of episodes, which is why I have him headlining this post. Don’t you think he’s come such a long way? 🤩

I hope you guys are ready to chat about Dr. Romantic episodes 15 & 16! 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 15

Post-kiss, our new maybe-couple flounders over how to keep a professional front at work, and I found it all quite amusing and secondhand embarrassing, to watch them flail about ineffectually, under Manager Jang’s knowing eye. 😆

I’ll say that some of the Intended Funny around this worked better for me than others, but the thing that consistently made everything extra entertaining, was Manager Jang’s range of excellent elastic reaction faces. I realize that I am quite fond of Im Won Hee. When I see his large, exaggerated expressions, made in response to Dong Joo’s and Seo Jung’s feints, I feel like he’s mirroring my inner tween, heh. 🤪

Plus, Manager Jang’s being such a mischievous little troll, purposely asking Dong Joo if Seo Jung’s wearing the necklace, because it’s supposedly a gauge for how she feels about him. Pfft.

This episode, I find myself feeling proud of Dong Joo again; he’s definitely becoming a better, more skillful, more patient-focused doctor all-around.

I love that Dong Joo’s able to read the CT scan more accurately than In Beom and Director Song, and not only that, when Director Song takes sides – ugh, I wanted to throttle Director Song, seriously, he’s such a weasel 🙄 – I am impressed that his first instinct isn’t to tattle to Master Kim, but to find a legitimate way to be present in the operating theater, in case In Beom’s read of the CT scan proves to be incorrect.

That feels like such a Master Kim thing to do, doesn’t it? Not to act on one’s doubts right away, but give the other person a bit of space to prove themselves right (or wrong, as the case may be), and just be within reach, for just in case.

I really like the way Dong Joo handles himself in the operating theater as well. He stays in his lane and sticks to assisting in the surgery – until In Beom’s initial diagnosis is proven wrong. I also notice that Dong Joo doesn’t step in unless In Beom fails to move. Like when Master Kim gets on the phone, and In Beom hesitates to speak; that’s the time when Dong Joo speaks up, and even then, he only frames the situation, and nudges In Beom to personally articulate what the problem is.

Additionally, when things go wrong even with Director Song in the room, I feel like Dong Joo steps up to offer to save the spleen of the patient, not out of personal pride, but because of concern for the patient’s wellbeing. I’d hate to be in the patient’s shoes, and potentially lose my spleen because the surgeon didn’t have the skills or patience to save it. 😬

Plus, what a great reveal, that Dong Joo’s been practicing his suturing skills, to closely mirror Master Kim’s. The thought that Dong Joo had been inspired enough, to be galvanized into working hard on his own time, to improve himself, is such a heartwarming one. I feel proud of him, and judging from the amused smirk on Master Kim’s face, Master Kim’s proud of him too.

On a related tangent, I have a feeling that Master Kim kind of arm-twists Director Song into going into surgery, in order to test him. As Dr. Nam observes, Director Song’s been off the field for quite a while, so it’s possible that he’s gotten rusty. My guess is that Master Kim not only wants to see for himself what Director Song is capable of, he also wants Director Song to prove to himself what he’s capable of – or not capable of.

On another note, I’m as disappointed in In Beom as Dong Joo is, that he’s still lying about his surgical experience in order to be given opportunities to operate on patients. That’s not only dishonest, it’s unfair to the other doctors, and most of all, it’s unfair to the patients. It bothers me that In Beom doesn’t see that. Or perhaps he sees it, but doesn’t see any other way to get a range of surgical experience quickly, so that he can fast-track himself, like his father wants.

I’m pleased that Dong Joo doesn’t tattle on In Beom to Master Kim, because it feels like Dong Joo’s taking the high road, by staying out of the issue.

I’m even more pleased that Master Kim then dismisses Dong Joo from the room, then calls In Beom out on his lying, without even so much as batting an eye. From what Master Kim says, it’s clear that he’s always known exactly what In Beom’s been lying about, and exactly why In Beom’s here in Doldam Hospital as well. Now that Master Kim’s laid it all out and instructed In Beom to report to his father like he’s supposed to, and then leave Doldam Hospital since he’s no longer needed there, it feels like all of In Beom’s shame is hitting him at once.

I’ve always felt that In Beom doesn’t like where he is and what he’s doing, but can’t see any other way around things. I also think that he’s been able to carry on his snooping and sneaking, because he thinks that no one else knows about it. Now that it’s clear that his indiscretions have actually been clear as day to Master Kim, I feel like In Beom’s going to have a moment of reckoning with his conscience. I hope that he’ll make a choice that he’ll be happy to live with.

The other major arc this hour, is the reveal that Chairman Shin is, in fact, suffering from late-stage lung cancer. That puts a whole new spin on his impending heart surgery, since he is unlikely to have much time left.

I feel like this new information brings out the differences between Master Kim and President Do even more clearly. While Master Kim is only concerned for Chairman Shin’s wellbeing, and the options that are available to him, President Do only seems to think about whether or not the surgery to replace the artificial heart will go through, and whether Chairman Shin’s position as Chairman of the foundation for Geodae Hospital will be filled in a manner that benefits him.

The difference is stark, and quite startling, and I’m wondering what Chairman Shin’s daughter thinks of it all.

Ironically, she had played a key role in wrongfully ousting Master Kim when he’d been the star of Geodae Hospital, and even at the beginning of this episode, she’d been at instant loggerheads with Master Kim, saying that he has no business being at a hospital, since he’s no longer recognized as a doctor. Now that her father’s life hangs in the balance, though, I wonder if she’ll feel differently about Master Kim. Especially now that Chairman Shin’s come forward to say that he’d like to proceed with the heart surgery as planned.

Episode 16

It’s a tense hour as our Doldam team – Master Kim in particular – grapples with the challenges of making Chairman Shin’s surgery as safe and as viable as possible.

In the context of President Do already behaving like Chairman Shin is going to die, and trying to talk Director Shin into taking over her father’s Chairman position, while at the same time doing all he can to leverage the situation to destroy Master Kim once and for all, it’s extra heartwarming to see, after Chairman Shin’s big announcement that he wants to go ahead with the surgery after all, Master Kim take Chairman Shin aside to talk to him gently, and ask him if he’s sure about his decision. To Master Kim, it really is all about the patient, and all the politics and machinations can go stuff themselves (at least, that’s how his body language translates to my eyes 😅).

What Chairman Shin says to Master Kim is so poignant and wistful: “I know I am old and I’ve lived long enough. But it doesn’t mean that I don’t cling to life. On the contrary, I don’t have long to live, so I desperately want to live longer.”

He seems so human and so frail in this moment, that I find it even more distasteful that President Do is looking at him like an inanimate chess piece, whose death would only work to his advantage. Ugh. 😑

One of my favorite scenes this hour, is when Master Kim calls Dong Joo into his office, to hear from Dong Joo whether he thinks reducing Chairman Shin’s surgery to 6 hours is possible. That’s huge, I feel.

Prior to this, I feel that Master Kim’s always spoken to Dong Joo as a mentor to someone more junior. In this scene, it feels as if he’s speaking to Dong Joo as an equal, almost. I feel so proud of Dong Joo, for earning Master Kim’s acknowledgment and respect.

To be fair, Master Kim also speaks to Seo Jung, Head Nurse Oh and Dr. Nam, asking if they think it’s possible, so it’s not like he’s only talking to Dong Joo about it. It’s just that I feel like something’s shifted between Master Kim and Dong Joo, and I think it’s very significant, and that makes me happy.

Also, I think it’s noteworthy that now, when Dong Joo expresses his hesitation on going ahead with Chairman Shin’s surgery, it’s no longer to do with rules and guidelines, and everything to do with consideration for Master Kim. He’s fully aware that President Do is trying to take advantage of the situation, and his protests come from a desire to keep Master Kim safe from President Do’s dirty claws. I’m glad that Master Kim overheard that, because I am loving these early hints of a burgeoning bond between them.

On the other side of things, I have to confess that I don’t think very well of In Beom, for venting his anger and frustration on Yeon Hwa. Clearly, the only reason he asks her to assist him, or do things for him, is because she’s new and he’s more senior than she is. And clearly, the reason he’s so free with his verbal attacks, is because he feels safe while doing so.

She’s too junior to fight back, and too timid to complain to someone else, and so he continues to take things out on her. Ugh. That’s cowardly, bullying behavior. I guess In Beom’s learned some stuff from his father?

To In Beom’s credit, I do think that he’s wrestling with his conscience. We see that he looks pensive and quite troubled, as he stands outside the staff room, having overheard Seo Jung and Dong Joo talking about Chairman Shin’s surgery, and why Seo Jung has such implicit faith in Master Kim.

While we’re talking about this conversation, I just wanted to mention that I found it a little.. odd, to hear Seo Jung talking about the surgery as a rare chance to be in surgery with Master Kim,  possibly even the operation of a lifetime, and that even if the surgery fails, she would be grateful that she could be part of the process.

Basically, it just felt weird to my ears that our Seo Jung, who’s so deeply empathetic, doesn’t seem to consider the patient’s risk, as she says all this. That part about being grateful even if the surgery is a failure felt strange to my ears, because a failure equates Chairman Shin’s death. I had to keep reminding myself that Chairman Shin himself is the one insisting on having the operation, which is likely why this patient dimension is omitted from the conversation.

Although Show has President Do explain to Director Shin that having Master Kim perform the surgery with a live audience is like digging his own grave, I have to confess that I don’t really get it? Why would simply having an audience be a death sentence to Master Kim’s career?

I’m guessing that it might have to do with the fleet of cardiothoracic surgeons from Geodae Hospital being present to nitpick any and every mistake or shortcut that Master Kim’s team might encounter during the course of the surgery, but I’m honestly not really sure.

And of course Master Kim would choose to do the live surgery rather than switch out his staff members. The switching of staff members was something that I knew from the start, that Master Kim wouldn’t agree to. But, it does showcase Master Kim’s protectiveness of and loyalty to Dr. Nam, that he’d refuse to swap out Dr. Nam, even though Dr. Nam’s currently still litigating case might give President Do’s side something to pick on.

I do appreciate that Dr. Nam is so considerate of Master Kim’s position, that he’d hesitate to agree to join the surgical team. There’s so much mutual consideration and teamwork among the Doldam team; I really like that. It’s really stirring stuff, to witness how each of the team members works hard at the drawing board, to prepare themselves to perform at their best during the surgery.

I hafta say, I’m enjoying Dong Joo more and more, as we get deeper into our watch.

Even though he and In Beom had had a fight, the way he reaches out to talk to In Beom is amiable instead of hostile, even though In Beom is still very gruff and prickly towards him. And, despite (or because of?) seeing In Beom’s frustration, Dong Joo chooses to refocus on the needs of the surgery, and suggest to In Beom that they work together, to further reduce the time needed for the changing of the battery and the replacing of the controller. That’s so mature, honestly.

I love that he manages to reach an agreement with In Beom, because this means that instead of competing against each other, they will now be working on the same side, with the same goal in mind. The idea of that pleases me greatly.

I also appreciate that Dong Joo doesn’t waste any time in updating Master Kim, so that there are no unpleasant surprises on either Master Kim’s or In Beom’s side. In Beom’s leaked smile as he listens to Dong Joo’s conversation with Master Kim confirming all this, before he catches himself, is gold. This is the side of In Beom that I’d love to see more of. And I appreciate that In Beom waits outside Master Kim’s office, just so that he can tell Master Kim that his participation in the surgery has nothing to do with his father.

As we close out the eve of the surgery, we see that even after all the preparation and discussion, that the estimate for the surgery is 6 hours and 20 minutes – 20 minutes longer than what Master Kim is aiming for. That’s not great.

And then, pretty early into the surgery itself, the aorta starts bleeding, despite Seo Jung’s best efforts to handle it gently, which eats into the surgery time by another 10 to 12 minutes. Guh. And to make things even more tense, an ER patient requires immediate surgery, which would take both Dong Joo and In Beom away from their stand-by positions outside the operating theater. What if something goes wrong and they don’t make it back in time? Ack. This is nerve-racking to watch, and I find myself feeling quite perplexed that Show doesn’t actually finish up its narrative arc before the end of the episode.

For the first time since I started my watch, I’m finding it difficult not to plow ahead, just so that I can see what happens. I guess that’s a compliment to Show? 😅

I’m also curious to see what the deal is, with the reporter that President Do’s invited to the live surgery. It appears that this reporter has previous ties to Master Kim. I wonder what that’s about? I’m guessing that it might have something to do with the death of Master Kim’s student, but why would that be relevant to the current situation? That doesn’t really make sense to me (yet).

All I know is that President Do is waiting in anticipation for our Doldam team to fail, which makes me root for them even harder. Go, team! 👊🏻

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j3ffc
5 months ago

Random thought: I will be sooooo disappointed if we do not get another mention of Crazy Whale before we are done.

BE
BE
5 months ago

@KFG–the reason, I infer, Devil Dough would say Kim Sabu would be digging his own grave goes to the way he has always been able to pack the kangaroo court against Kim Sabu combined with an arrogance that can only be exemplified by his oily, slicked back, hairstyle and his whole dressed to impress persona. When he had Dr. Kim booted the first time, he seemingly managed to get folks on board with a complete fabrication; ie. that it was Dr. Kim who both ordered the surgery and then had–can anyone really imagine?–Nincompoop King Doctor Song lead the thing in the operating theater. A room full of witnesses ordered to stack the deck against Kim Sabu doing what looks to be an impossible surgery all under Dr. Do’s thumb?…Dr. Do has golf partners in powerful places, is utterly full of his own self absorbed cunning, and he completely seems to underestimate the Doldam crew considering them all, including his own son, as a bunch of amateur hour hicks. Hubris!

beez
5 months ago
Reply to  BE

@BE OT – Devil Dough’s toupeé has been making me crazy! I’ve seen this actor wear his hair like this before and I never knew it was a wig. Unless in the past it was his real hair but he’s gone bald since then. shallow waters me is back! That tells you I’ve almost finished with the unpacking so I’ll have more time to be critical!

BE
BE
5 months ago
Reply to  beez

@beez: His toupee in younger days does seem to be a sloppy oversight, but if he is wearing a toupee in real time, that slicked back iron grey job is pretty darn good. Han Ye Ri wore a wig in My Unfamiliar Family as a marker of youth in flashback that also drove me nuts. These shows that put so much into production values elsewise should really do a better job for signifying younger iterations of their main characters.

beez
5 months ago
Reply to  BE

@BE – Nope. It’s when his hair is straight back that the hairline is just off in some episodes of Dr. Romantic.

BE
BE
5 months ago
Reply to  beez

!

Shyama
Shyama
5 months ago
Reply to  beez

Haha! I’m glad you mentioned it! It’s freaking me out…that oily helmet hair. Makes him look like the snake he is!

Shyama
Shyama
5 months ago

Who is this smiling, sweet, kind, fair, even tempered young man?! Our Dong Joo is reborn!
I want to punch Director Do and Dr Song! Maybe even Im Boem, though I’m willing to give him a chance to redeem himself.
I liked this show from the beginning, but I’m enjoying it a lot more these days.

j3ffc
5 months ago

I found myself thinking about the ethics of doing an expensive and challenging heart procedure on a patient with a limited time to live due to an entirely unrelated condition. Not aa simple call (and, while not to be heavy, one that relates to something going on in my personal life right now). In the end I found it acceptable that they left it up to the patient – who can obviously afford the treatment – and that they respected his desire to live, even if only a short time longer. As kfangurl might say, guh!

I too am feeling propelled by the drama. And this was a terrific cliffhanger. So, yeah, I’ve already seen ep. 17. It has just occurred to me that we’re now very close to the end (I somehow conflated the episode numbers with those of Money Flower!) and that the real stuff is about to go down. AnSeod am so glad to see Dong Too starting to man up to earn Seo Jung’s affections.

And, just between us, I have money on what kfangurl’s final grade is going to be.

manukajoe
5 months ago

“Ok!” – I laughed so much when Dong-joo said this!

That reporter guy is the same actor (Jo Han-chul) who played the detective in Healer, right? I just finished Healer for the first time. Huh I’m wrong, he’s Kim Min-Sang.

BE
BE
5 months ago
Reply to  manukajoe

Kim Joon Won, the auditor who was giving Dr. Romantic a hard time before his daughter and wife came in from that multi car crack up and he had to allow his daughter to have Kim Sabu do surgery on her, has played very similar kinds of inquisitorial characters in at least two other big ticket shows, My Mister, and more recently Mr. Queen.

manukajoe
5 months ago
Reply to  manukajoe

Hey did you guys notice that most of Kim Sabu’s whiteboard is written in English? I’m guessing this is authentic, but I was a little surprised. To be a doctor in Korean apparently you need to be fluent in (medical) English?

j3ffc
5 months ago
Reply to  manukajoe

This is also the case with a lot of the spoken dialogue. Interestingly, when English words are used they are often translated (and presumably defined) in Korean on the lower left screen.

manukajoe
5 months ago
Reply to  j3ffc

I thought the explanations at the bottom left are for medical technical terms, rather than English terms specifically?

j3ffc
5 months ago
Reply to  manukajoe

You are right, of course, but I had noted that many of those medical terms are in English. It is common in my field as well, judging from when I’ve listed to speakers of languages other than English describe their work – I often here a stray technical term here and there that seems to be taken from English.

beez
5 months ago
Reply to  manukajoe

– the thing I’ve noticed on this show is when they’re using the defibrillator, they say “shock” at the same time as shocking the patient instead of what I’m used to seeing in American (and also I think on Korean) shows of saying “clear” (or “shock”) so everyone is hands off and then using it.

manukajoe
5 months ago
Reply to  beez

Yes I thought they should wait for a moment before triggering it too, to make sure everyone is clear.

Trent
5 months ago

Alrighty, here we are for the main event we’ve been leading up to for some time: the artificial heart replacement for Chairman Shin. Now, I confess that one of the big draws to me of hospital procedurals like this (and Hospital Playlist) is the opportunity to indulge in competence porn (a descriptive term that I picked up from another forum, back in the day). And this big, flashy, maybe-once-in-a-surgeon’s-lifetime artificial heart operation is setting up to be a prime exemplar of competence porn: skilled, well-trained people working in concert to exercise their skill and ingenuity to bring about a measurable, positive result. I love watching that sort of thing, it really scratches an itch.

So I am really into this operation, and then we barely get started and get hit with a multiplier effect: Dong-joo and In-beom have to go off and be all skilled and competent on a little side mission, just so they can beat the clock and get into the main game in time for the team to have a chance of hitting their time mark. It’s all very delicious, and the only thing I’m mad at is that Show had to go for the cheap cliff-hanger-y hook and leave us hanging for a week to get the latter two-thirds of the big event. Bad form, Show!

As far as In-beom, yeah, he is really not covering himself in glory at the beginning of this two episode block (and it’s seriously uncool how he’s dumping on Yeon-hwa, who is still very much in timid noob mode to begin with), but I feel Show is definitely trying to set him up for a kind of mini-redemption/personal growth arc. I hope he manages a turn to the light side of the Force (especially since I enjoyed his turn as the male lead in Still 17).

Anyway, get me some more open-heart surgery, stat!

BE
BE
5 months ago

More later, but I would be willing to say show is doing a couple things to propel us, giving the feeling that just as manukajoe has from the beginning anticipated subsequent episodes with his questions, show is now saying to us, end game has started, ball rolling down hill; first, all the previous surgeries have prepared us for this big show…and how so? We have seen enough of these now to feel their rhythms and the interplay among the staff, who continue to act well all behind masks in a way that we can by now read their expressions. And this is the first time, two episode set does not have some sort of closure, and the second episode this time ends in a cliffhanger. Think of how many shows pile up the cliffhangers, and how Dr. R, has reserved this for now. I would be surprised, to be honest, if anyone following has stopped here, but I cannot help but think of the folks who saw show for the first time in real time…

Secondly, how about the scene with Han Seok Kyu and Joo Hyun as they take up the matter of the seriousness of Chairman Shin’s condition of which you so well summarized its drama–what a pleasure it is to watch two masterful old pros in that back and forth, the timing, the phrasings, the breath, the tone….For me, the pleasure in rewatching this has been that I have been able, already having an idea about show’s direction, to take the time and relish some of the performances. I would not have predicted it, but I am finding that I appreciate Dr. Romantic more this time around than I did the first time.