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Doctor John-Episode 1-2 Recap

Doctor John-Episode 1 Recap

A gurney is wheeled into the prison’s infirmary. The patient (prisoner) seems to have trouble breathing and the medical officer is visibly stressed. The prison officers usher the doctor in charge to do something but the medical officer is clueless as to what to do. He says they have to call 911 and rushes out. The officer calls out, saying they have already called 911 and run out following the doctor, leaving the patient unattended.

A connecting door to the infirmary slides open. A figure (Ji Sung) in prisoner uniform disinfects his hands and walks up towards the gurney. He takes the required medical supplies from the cabinet and injects a needle into the prisoner’s chest/lung. He draws blood twice and the prisoner’s breathing calms down.’


The prison alarm sounds and he places the syringe back in the tray. He puts the medical chart on the gurney and leaves before the officers come back.

The officers are puzzled as they see the patient still alive, but they don’t notice the person with a cleaning trolley walking out through the connecting door. The officers find a note on the medical chart:

“Please take him to the Cardiology Department. Replace the medical officer as soon as possible.”

They wonder if it was the handy work of ‘Inmate 6238’.

(Episode 1: Between Hope And Despair)


Elsewhere, Kang Shi-Young (Lee Se-Young) is booking a flight ticket to Madagascar. Her desk and walls are covered with medical sketches of the heart. She starts packing and puts in the book “The consolation of the Moon” along with her clothes. She checks her bank balance (42 dollars). Just then, her uncle Jeong Nam sends her a message asking if she needs money. Before she replies, he calls her up and yells at her for not asking him when she needed money. He asks her to come to see him immediately and she asks him where he wants her to come.

Later, the weather is good as the petals fall from the trees when Si-Young gets off from the Taxi with her suitcase. As the taxi drives away down the deserted road, Si-young crouches and breaks down into tears.


She gathers herself after a moment and clicks the picture of the penitentiary (the sign reads, “If you have a dream, you can always start again”) she sends the picture to someone with a message saying she has come to see Uncle Jeong Nam.

As she walks into the penitentiary, a figure in a parked car clicks a series of photos without her knowledge.

Inside the prison, a prisoner passes something (pill) to inmate 5353 and 5353 takes it.

Si-young is inside Warden (uncle) Jeong Nam’s (Jung In-Gi) office waiting for him. She is grim as she sees a picture in his cabinet. She is about to pick up the picture but her uncle walks in.


He tells her that the medical officers keep quitting, so they want someone to fill in. He says that this part-time job will pay generously. When he mentions the facilities aren’t great here, she says that it is alright. He notices her luggage but she pushes it away and says she will get started.

She lists the rules told to her as they walk down the corridors, “One- Don’t have private conversations with the prisoners. Two- Do not hear or leak information that I record. Three-follow the instructions given to me by the employee.” Jeon Nam is all smiles.

Jeong Nam asks her to be wary of ‘inmate 6238’. He says 6238 is a psycho who transferred here last year. He warns her not to talk to 6238 and to never let him get to her. She asks more into it but he doesn’t explain.

He shows her into the infirmary and she is solemn as she looks at a doctor’s coat that is hanging there. another officer walks in with a Doctor coat for her, but Si Young is dejected as refuses to wear it saying she isn’t a doctor anymore.


As Jeong Nam walks out, he tells the officer to keep a close watch on Si-young as she is more dangerous than the prisoners. the officer is puzzled.

Later, Si-young starts treating the prisoners, most of whom are faking their illness. She isn’t scared of any of them and gives sarcastic remarks which makes the officer burst into laughter.

Si-Young is later scrubbing her hands when an officer rushes in saying there has been an emergency. She grabs the first aid kit and rushes out with the officers.

At the yard, she sees the prisoners crowding over a prisoner who isn’t moving. As she checks his breathing, the prisoners say that he was coughing a lot the previous day. they say he also had an upset stomach, diarrhoea and sore throat.


Si Young listens for the rhythm and hears stridor (abnormal rhythm indicating a blockage in the airway). She wonders if something is blocking his airway. Upon asking the prisoners, she learns that the prisoner had swallowed a fishbone. They say he had later on eaten a rotten sausage that he had hidden. They add that this caused the diarrhoea. Si-young wonders if its bacteria.

She uses the Ambu bag to assist breathing, but says that his throat is swollen and is not allowing the oxygen in. She is told that the ambulance isn’t nearby and she panics since the patient has to be intubated (a tube inserted into the trachea to open airway for breathing).

Just then, she hears a voice, “Cricothyroidotomy” (incision made into the skin (cricothyroid membrane) for allowing the airway to breathe ).

Inmate 6238 watches from the crowd of prisoners. Si-Young immediately searches for the kit, but is flustered as the kit isn’t there. Jeong Nam is worried but is reluctant for when the officer asks him to call inmate 6238.

Si-Young again hears a voice say, “Deep neck infection”. She asks who spoke and Jeon Nam immediately calls for him. all the prisoners move away and Si-Young sees inmate 6238 standing there with the cleaning trolley.


Jeon Nam asks him what he said and 6238 says with a smirk that he was asked not to obstruct. Jeong Nam urges him to answer. 6238 disinfects his hands and walks towards Si-young. He explains that the man has an infection in his throat. He says that the fishbone ruptured the man’s throat and the bacteria from the rotten sausage got into the rupture, creating an infection. Si-young realises that the infection has caused the obstruction of the airway.


He asks her if she has seen a case like this and she says she hasn’t. As he fills the syringe, he asks if she knows what he is about to do and she replies in the negative. He hands the syringe over to her and says that it has to go into the airway. He says that if she doesn’t do it fast the man will go into respiratory arrest.

Si-young asks if he is a doctor and he says he isn’t. He asks if she is a doctor and she doesn’t respond. He hands the syringe over to her and ushers her to do it. He explains the procedure and guides her hand. Si-young is hesitant but she does as instructed.

As she gets the needle into the airway, he removes the Ambu pump and attaches it so that it’s connected through the incision. He asks her to squeeze the pump at the right breathing interval.

After a few moments, everyone let out a sigh of relief as the man starts breathing. As she hears the ambulance approach, she looks up to find inmate 6238 gone.

Inmate 6238 wheels his trolley out of the yard as the gurney comes in.

As Si-Yung goes along with the prisoner, inmate 5353 picks up her bracelet that has fallen on the ground.


The ambulance reaches Kyungwon Hospital.


Dr Lee Yoo Joon (Hwang Hee) takes over at the Emergency Room. She explains the status to him and he intubates the patient. When asked, she explains that she is a part-timer. He commends her for diagnosing and treating the patient with the bare facilities and just by just looking. She murmurs that it wasn’t she who did it. She is pensive as she looks at her hands.

Elsewhere, Prosecutor Son Seok-ki stands before Son Seung Yoo’s (6-year-old child) memorial. A woman walks up to him carrying a soft toy. She says that Son Seung Yoo would be 10 years today. He nods as he presses into the ring that he has on.


A team of doctors (anaesthetists) rush into Operating Room 28. The surgeon tersely says that the vitals are not right. The anaesthetists greet Dr Min Tae-Kyung (Kim Hye-Eun) – Chief of anaesthesiology, as she walks in. She is stern as she gives instructions to bring back the vitals. As the vitals are brought back, the surgeon comments that the patient is alive because of Dr Min. Dr Min yells at the anaesthetist team for not calling her earlier. She then waits until the patient is stable.


As she walks out of the OR, she receives a call from Jeong Nam saying that Si Young saved someone’s life. He says he had called Si Young there since she didn’t do anything for one year. She doesn’t believe it when he says Si Young decided to work there. he is puzzled as she hangs up.

At Kyungwon Hospital’s cafeteria, Jeong Nam and Si Young have lunch. He says he is proud of her. She says she was struggling. She then asks about inmate 6238. Jeong Nam explains that inmate 6238 became the king of the penitentiary the day he transferred. He goes on to say that 6238 was stabbed in the chest the day he came, by another inmate. He says inmate 6238 asked for the first aid kit and stitched up the wound all by himself without anaesthetics. He says he wore a smile all the time as he stitched the wound.

Jeong Nam says 6238 is the reason why all the medical staff quit. He says inmate 6238 attacks the medical officers if they aren’t up to his level. He adds that 6238’s nickname is “Medical Officer Killer”. Si Young says that she is just part-timing. Jeong Nam then comments that she would look great in a Doctor’s gown. Si-Young doesn’t respond.

At Si-Young’s house, Dr Kang Mi-Rae (Jung Min-A) looks at Si-young’s white coat (anesthesiology). She finds a photo (facing down) of Si-yang and a man (looks like her father). She then finds the ticket on the desktop screen. She makes a call and informs that Si-young is going abroad and doesn’t seem to be coming back, as it is a one-way ticket.


As Si-young and Jeong Nam walk out of the hospital, he gets a call from Dr Min asking him to keep Si-young with him till she comes there.

Meanwhile, Si Young’s senior at college, spots her despite her trying to avoid him. He starts to casually chat with her and she realises that he doesn’t know about the incident. She tells him that she came to see her uncle and that she is going abroad today. He says he is jealous that she is on a break. She takes leave.

Once she leaves, another doctor asks him if he doesn’t know about the incident. The doctor comments that she is the top student in her school and also explains that she must be taking time off work because of the huge incident.

Si-young has a painful expression on her face as she remembers the incident. In a montage, we see a sobbing Si-young, whose hands are covered in blood.

In the present, Si Young crouches against the wall and starts gasping before breaking down into tears.

Episode 2

Jeong Nam finds her crying. She wipes her tears and blames it on the pollen.

As they drive back, Jeong Nam tells her that she can start over again. Si-Young says she might do a good job if she goes back to the hospital. She adds that it is what she wants to do, but says she can’t be punished for the rest of her life if she does it. She says she doesn’t deserve to save patients and in turn feel rewarded and happy. She says her punishment is to never wear a doctor’s gown again. She looks away grief-stricken.


At the memorial, the woman tells prosecutor Son that “he” will be released from prison soon. She says “he” should never wear a doctor’s gown again or treat patients. She says they shouldn’t allow him back and Prosecutor Son says he can’t wait for it. He says he will make sure Cha Yo han pays the price. He says he looks forward to Cha Yo Han’s release.

Back at the penitentiary, inmate 5353 addresses inmate 6238 as, “(Cha)Yo Han”. Cha Yo han checks 5353’s eyes and 5353 says he will stop by the infirmary later. Cha Yo Han finds rashes on 5353’s palms and learns that they have been there since the day before. Yo han asks about the test results from the outside hospital and 5353 says there wasn’t much to say. He says he will get checked once he is released next week. Yo han asks what would 5353 do if he died before his release.

Yo han tells 5536 to ask the medical officer to send him to a big hospital today. 5353 acknowledges and gives Yo han some freshly picked tomatoes before leaving with a smile. Yo han seems concerned.

Later, Yo Han checks inmate 5353’s medical records at the infirmary. He finds symptoms listed as abdominal pain, diarrhoea, hyperthermia, spotted fever. Yo han taps his finger (his fingernail has blackened – perhaps from tapping repeatedly) on the desk as he starts thinking.


He walks out just in time as Si Young and Jeong Nam walk in. Si Young thanks him for earlier. Yo han tells Jeong Nam to get someone proper as the medical officer. He calls Si-young a novice. He calls her stupid and clumsy for not being able to diagnose and treat properly. He asks how a second-year resident can do it. Si-young is annoyed at this. Yo han smiles as he threatens to complain about Jeong Nam the next time if he keeps hiring incompetent people.

Si-young raises her voice and says that she did a good job despite it being her first time. Jeong Nam tries to silence her but she keeps at it. She says that the patient survived. Yo han sarcastically repeats her words in a sing-song way. He tells her that this is not a place for training and tells her to go back to school if she wants compliments for trying. He walks away as she yells after him.

Si-young wonders how he knows that she is a second-year resident. She walks into the infirmary mumbling about Yo han. She then asks the officer in the infirmary about Yo Han but they are interrupted by a patient before he responds.


Inmate 5353 (Park Jung Bo) comes into the infirmary. The officer says Park always feigns sickness. Si-Young examines him and he shows her the rashes saying it hurts and stings. She checks his temperature and finds he has a fever. He says he has had it since yesterday. She then checks his previous test results and says they are normal. She prescribes antibiotics and fever reducers.

Park Jung Bo then gives her the bracelet that he picked up from the yard and she thanks him. He asks where he can buy a similar one for his sister. She says they are easy to find in the malls. He smiles and gets up but loses his footing. She asks if he is okay and asks him to lie down till his fever reduces. She asks him to get a check-up at a big hospital once he is released next week. He agrees and goes to lie down in the adjacent room.

Park Jung Bo is lying on the bed shivering and Yo han checks the medicines on the table next to the bed. He moves the cleaning trolley into the infirmary where Si-young is. He stares at her and she asks what is wrong.


He sits across the table and asks her to tell if he has a fever. She opens his record and starts checking his temperature. She tells him he doesn’t have a fever and he asks her to chart it. He asks her to check his blood pressure and pulse. She notices that he checks his temperature every day and asks if he has hypochondria (Obsession with the idea of having a serious but undiagnosed medical condition.). Yo han smiles and says it is his hobby. She asks him to check his pulse by himself.

As he checks his blood pressure, he says, “Madagascar” and asks what time her flight is. Si-young is taken aback as she asks him how he knew that. Yo han asks her to give an order to transfer Inmate 5353 to the nephrology department at a tertiary hospital.

As he is about to walk out, Si-young asks why he wanted the transfer to nephrology. He asks her which department she is and she says she is with anesthesiology. Yo han lists the symptoms and mentions the rashes and that the test results were clean. He says it could be CTS or CRPS and she explains that the rashes didn’t change the skin colour. He looks at her condescendingly when she mentions acute appendicitis.

He urges her to chart, “Needs to visit Nephrology at a tertiary hospital”. She asks him for a reason and he says she wouldn’t believe his diagnosis. She asks how he got a diagnosis with just an X-ray and he says he has his assumptions. She is angry that he is diagnosing based on assumptions.

Yo han walks towards her desk and leans towards her. He suggests that they diagnose the patient together. Si-young visualises both of them in Doctor’s gown for a moment before shaking the thought away.


She still is against his suggestion and he keeps reiterating to give the order before she flees to Madagascar.

She is stunned as she asks him how he knows so much about her. He tells her to give the order and walks away. She asks him what was his crime. Cha Yo han points out the Madagascar address on her luggage tag.  He observes that she owns expensive accessories but they are 2 years old. He says she has the money but no time. He says that was the basis of assuming she was a second-year resident. He says he said she is ‘fleeing’ because despite being a hardworking 2nd-year resident she was fleeing to Madagascar, which isn’t in Europe, Asia or the US. He comments that she was trying to run away from a crime similar to his and asks if she thinks fleeing will give her freedom. He says listening to his advice will help her attain freedom.

Yo han wheels the trolley out of the infirmary. As she sits holding her head in her hand, Yo Han peeks back in and asks her to give the order.

After he leaves, she receives a call from Jeong Nam. She opens the door to his office and finds Dr Min sitting there. Jeong Nam asks her if she is really going abroad tonight. Dr Min asks her to pack her belongings and come along with her. Si Young asks if Min thinks she might not come back. She asks if Min thinks she is laid back and will kill herself. Min asks Si-young why she was leaving. Jeon Nam tells her not to go.


Si Young says that it is a faraway Island, which has a time zone different from Korea. She says she thought going to a faraway place will make her forget everything and the incident would feel like a dream. She tells Jeong Nam that he must be hating her. He says it isn’t her fault and says it was an unpredictable accident.

Si-young says that it pains everyone to see her. Dr Min tells her not to act like a baby.  Si-young addresses Dr Min as “Mom” and says that acting like a baby would never work on her because Min always put her own feelings before others’.

Si-young says that it pains up to a point of wanting to kill herself but she says that she won’t put her mother through any more tragedies. She walks out with Jeong Nam calling out to her.

Jeong Nam asks Dr Min if she is going to let her go like that. Min says that she didn’t ignore Si-young because she couldn’t face her. She says it was unavoidable. (We see a montage of Si Young who is visibly shaken with blood-covered hands. She sinks to the floor and cries in the corridor as Min looks on. ) Min says the ‘usual her’ would have lectured her but she couldn’t do that. She says she had accepted it when Si Young had fallen down and given up.

She is surprised to hear from Jeong mun that Si-young wants to go back to work. She realises Si-young feels she doesn’t deserve to go back.

At the infirmary, Si Young is all set to leave. She glances at the doctor gown hanging behind her desk. She finds that Park has left the infirmary as his fever had gone down. She asks the officer to transfer him to a hospital for a thorough check-up if he again shows symptoms.

Meanwhile, Park is lying down, shivering in his cell. His inmates turn him over and are alarmed to see his palms covered with rashes.

Yo Han is mopping the floor as he hears the inmates shouting. He rushes over as he sees the officers enter Park’s cell.

Si-young walks towards the entrance with her suitcase.

In the cell, Yo Han finds the rashes have become worse in Park’s hands and feet. He also finds that Park isn’t sweating. He is told that they have called 911. He tells them to call Si Young and not 911.


Si-young stands at the entrance as she waits for the taxi. She types a message on her phone, “I am leaving” but doesn’t send it. she notices an ambulance drive into the penitentiary.

The medics bring the gurney into the cell and shift Park onto it. Yo han asks them where Si Young is. he walks out when he doesn’t get a response.

As Si Young is about to get into a taxi, an officer stops her. He says it’s an emergency regarding inmate 5353. She is hesitant and the officer says that they can’t save him without her. She asks who said that and he says inmate 6238 asked him to bring her. Si-young’s gaze falls on the bracelet as she contemplates.

Meanwhile, Yo Han asks the officers to call Si-young. They say they can’t locate her. Yo han loses his temper when he finds that they don’t have Si-young’s phone number. He yells at them to find her. He notices the gurney being wheeled out and he runs down the stairs and holds the gurney. He doesn’t allow them past him, saying Si Young has something she should do.

He hears a voice, “What should I do?”. He turns around to see Si Young standing there. He is relieved as he walks over to her and asks her to take Park to the hospital. She asks what she should do after that. He tells her to save her patient. She asks how and he says he will tell her what to do. He asks her to promise that she will save Park.

He says that if Park dies tonight it is not because of an illness but because the doctors did nothing. He says, “to a patient, an illness is a despair and a doctor is a hope. That hope… will you let it down?”

Si-young remembers trying to stop the bleeding on a person during the incident.

Si-young asks what she must do to save Park. Cha Yo Han smiles as they stand facing each other.


Image Courtesy- SBS


That was a gripping first episode. I didn’t expect the story to unfold in the prison and that made it even better.

Cha Yo Han portrayed by Ji Sung is an intriguing personality. He isn’t only talented as a doctor, but he also has amazing deduction skills, which make his scenes more interesting. The instances where he diagnoses patients are a great watch. He is feared by everyone but he doesn’t seem like the psycho, that the officers describe him to be. He is excessively concerned about the health of the inmates, which make him more responsible than the previous medical officers.

Kang Si-Young portrayed by Lee Se-Young has had a tough time in her career which has made her give up practising medicine for a year. She comes across as a compassionate doctor but has resolved to punish herself for something that has happened a year ago. The scenes with her finding it difficult to cope are not overdone and are well made.

The drama seems to be fast-paced. I like the fact that it incorporates other genres smoothly in it without losing the medical aspect of it. As the plot supposedly revolves around pain medicine, it looks like there will be more scenes similar to the ones we saw here and I look forward to watching the cases.

-By Soul Sword-

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