It makes me incredibly happy to say that these next 4 episodes of Hospital Ship were much more focused on character and plot development than they were on major medical crises and overly disgusting surgeries. That’s not to say there weren’t some of both (because there was), rather the hyped-up moments of drama took a backseat long enough for us to get some real development in our leading characters and their story.
Of course we had to pick up right where we left off last week, with that poor sailor, his mangled arm and an ax wielding doctor… YIKES! Not gonna lie, I had to look away when she brought that ax down. I just couldn’t stand to watch this particular scene again. (At least I wasn’t eating lunch this time!) While I completely understand why Dr. Song had to do what she did, it didn’t make it any easier for me to watch her as she swung that ax. I also have to admit that I didn’t particularly care for the whole arm reattaching surgery either. While I admire Eun Jae’s ability to swallow her pride and ask for help, for the sake of the patient, I don’t really understand why the whole thing had to be streamed live for all the world to see. I get that the production team was invited to draw the attention of the people but really, isn’t broadcasting an actual surgery a little too much? It seems awfully selfish to me, letting the whole world watch as this poor man’s ability to provide for his family hangs in the balance. What would they have done if the surgery had failed? Thrown Eun Jae overboard? Demanded she stop practicing medicine? Would society as a whole been willing to step up and provide for this man and his family, if his arm hadn’t been successfully reattached? It just seems like a very base thing to do, just to increase ratings, not only on the part of the broadcasting company but for the hospital ship and Eun Jae as well.
To say I’m not a bit disappointed in our leading lady would be a lie. However, it would also be a lie to say that I can’t understand where she’s coming from. This week we finally learned the truth about her “accident” at the hospital in Seoul. Turns out, she didn’t actually cause any sort of medical trouble. In fact, it was her keen sense as a doctor that identified the problem with the patient and had she been free to do so, I believe she stood a pretty good chance of saving the patient. Unfortunately, it was her department chief who caused the trouble and it was his inability to admit his mistake that led to his patient’s death. As such, Eun Jae was unable to step in to help and it was when she decided to act on behalf of the deceased patient’s family, that she lost her position at the hospital in Seoul.
While knowing the truth about Eun Jae’s troubles in Seoul makes me admire her, I can’t fully support her actions, at least not when it comes to the way she’s acting aboard the hospital ship. She’s far too cold to her shipmates and surprisingly awful to her patients. I get that she’s a hard-as-nails doctor and all but shouldn’t she have at least a tiny bit of humanity when it comes to dealing with her patients? She didn’t seem to have any problem with that when she was in Seoul. I mean, she was downright pleasant to the little girl and her grandmother when she was with them after her senior’s “accident”, but now that she’s on the ship, she doesn’t feel bedside manner is important? Is she purposely acting like that so the patients will go away and leave her alone or what? And why does she have to be so cold to her shipmates? Or her aunt, for that matter. Why on earth would she treat her only remaining relative as cruelly as she’s treating her aunt? I can understand the guilt she may feel for pushing her mother away in her time of need, but why would she act that way towards her aunt as well? Is the guilt she’s living with just too much? Can she not stand to face her aunt because she’s reminded too much of her mother and the memories just hurt too much? What’s really going on here? I get that everyone grieves in their own way and maybe this is just Eun Jae’s way of dealing with her mother’s death but I’d really hate it if it takes a near-death experience for Eun Jae and her aunt to reconcile.
But enough about Eun Jae. Let’s talk a little bit about our quiet doctor, Kwak Hyun, shall we? Last week we were told that Hyun’s dad was an important man in the medical field. This week we learn that while his father may have been a big deal at one time, he’s currently living in a sanitarium on some remote island, completely hidden from the world. What I want to know is, what the heck happened to him? Was there some major medical disaster during his time as a doctor and that’s what broke him? Was he too stressed in his prominent position and it eventually got to him? Does he actually suffer from some disease that has reduced him to this state? What is his actual condition anyway? Dementia? Alzheimer’s? Something else? I’m not really sure but whatever it is, it seems to have taken its toll on the Kwak family. I can’t imagine how awful Hyun must feel, being the only one in his entire family who seems to feel any sort of pity or sympathy for the elder Dr. Kwak. Was Dr. Kwak Sr. such an awful father and husband that he deserves to be treated this way now? It’s certainly possible. I mean if we’ve learned anything from watching dramas, it’s how willing fathers are to put their own selfish career goals above the need of their own family. Maybe this is how Dr. Kwak Sr. earned the title of “Korea’s Schweitzer.” It certainly seems possible, especially considering how much venom his wife was spitting. If anyone were to be hurt by his own selfish ambition, it would be her. The fact that his daughter is embarrassed by his current state only shows that she’s a very selfish and shallow person who has no real feelings for her father. Then again, if he showed no real feeling for her as she was growing up, that would certainly make sense.
With Hyun’s father in such a state, it would make sense for him to want to be in a position as close to his father as possible. The fact that Hyun seems to have spent at least some of his childhood on the islands makes his taking the position on the hospital ship that much more understandable. If he had happy memories of his childhood in such a place, it’s understandable that he would want to return. Of course I still think him being able to be near his father is part of what inspired him to take this position. What I’m not so sure of is what type of trauma he suffered to make it impossible for him to perform a simple intubation. Clearly he knows how to perform the procedure successfully, so what on earth is keeping him from performing it on an actual patient? Does this trauma have anything to do with his father? Or is it something else? For now I want to say that this trauma and his father’s current state aren’t directly related but watch, I’ll probably end up being completely wrong!
What I do know is that Hyun isn’t the only doctor on the ship with father issues. Dr. Kim seems to harbor some pretty serious resentment against his own father and from what we learned this week, that certainly makes sense. It seems the elder Dr. Kim is only interested in those who possess exceptional medical skill. I have a feeling that the reason the younger Dr. Kim chose to practice Eastern medicine is because he knew he would never be able to outshine the brilliance of his older brother nor live up to his father’s ridiculous expectations. It seems to me, Dr. Kim the younger decided to follow a different path, perhaps in part to infuriate his father, but also to give him a chance to walk his own path. At the very least, working in this profession would give him a chance to shine on his own, rather than being forced to live in his brother’s shadow his entire life. What makes this whole thing terribly tragic is the fact that Jae Gul’s older brother has passed away. How or why is still a mystery but we already know that Jae Gul’s family holds him responsible. The question is, would Jae Gul’s brother still be alive, if Jae Gul had chosen to follow in his brother’s footsteps? Is it possible that his decision to practice Easter medicine, rather than Western, was the very reason why his brother passed away? Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying one type of medicine is better than the other, I’m simply pointing out the fact that Jae Gul’s father is insanely upset by his son’s decision to practice Eastern medicine. Could this have something to do with it or is the elder Dr. Kim really just that big of a jerk? It seems possible either way, I’m just trying to come up with some possibilities that might explain why Jae Gul has to live with such an awful, angry father. My next question is, is this constant need to prove his medicine actually works, the reason why he’s so uptight all the time? ‘Cause let’s face it, he’s not exactly the nicest guy on the ship!
There are certainly a lot of unanswered questions at this point, but that’s a good thing. With a whole lot of drama standing between us and the end, we’ve got plenty of time to have all our questions answered. For now, I’m perfectly content to just sit back and watch this drama unfold. But what about you? What are your thoughts on the way things have progressed up to this point? Do you have any unanswered questions of your own? Any theories you’ve been cooking up that you’d like to share? You know it’s always more fun to discuss a drama with friends to be sure to let me know what you’re thinking in the comments below!
You can catch up on all my Hospital Ship reviews here: