Doctor Cha: Episode 1 Recap

I’m doing it. I’m doing it. It’s been a while since I’ve recapped a drama but I think I’m finally ready to begin again. ‘Extraordinary Attorney Woo‘ was the last drama that I recapped and though it was a fun and meaningful show, recapping it was on a whole new level and it really consumed all of my energy. I was still watching dramas and providing reviews of their weekly episodes but I wasn’t quite ready to dive back into the world of recaps just yet. But I think I’ve recovered enough to the point where I can resume with them again so I’m back with a recap of another currently airing drama! It’s none other than ‘Doctor Cha’ which I first wrote about after completing episodes 1 and 2. I thought about writing my review for episodes 3-6 but then I stopped myself and thought: if I’m gonna be tuning into the drama every week and I’m enjoying what I’m watching so far, I might as well recap the drama instead of writing review posts about it! So that’s how I got to this point and that’s why I decided to recap the drama in the end. I’m quite enjoying the drama so far and recaps would allow me to dive deeper into each episode as well. So with that being said, let’s get started!

As noted in my first review post for episodes 1 and 2, ‘Doctor Cha’ stars Uhm Jung-hwa (Our Blues) and Kim Byung-chul (SKY Castle). Uhm Jung-hwa plays Cha Jeong-suk, a housewife of 20 years who decides to take control of her life once again and pursue medical residency after giving up her medical dreams at a young age. Kim Byung-chul plays Jeong-suk’s husband, Seo In-ho, who is the chief surgeon at a university hospital who’s also cheating on Jeong-suk with his first love, Choi Seung-hi. To round out the cast, Jeong-suk gets entangled with the second male lead, Roy Kim, who is also a surgeon at the same university hospital.

Note: Before I get started, I would just like to take this moment to introduce a new system that I will be using for my recaps! In the past, my recap posts consisted of the recap itself (the summary of what happened in the episode) PLUS my thoughts/commentary of each episode. This time around, I’m doing something a little different with my recaps and I’m experimenting with a new subscription/premium-content tool. Essentially, the recap portion of the episode will still be free so anyone can access it and read about what happened in the episode.

But this is where things have changed and shifted: the commentary section of the post (where I provide my thoughts/reaction/opinions to the episode) will be based off of a subscription-only plan. This means if you would like to read my thoughts and commentary in the recap post, you can make a one-time payment of $5 which will then give you access to my commentary for all 16 episodes of ‘Doctor Cha.’ This subscription will strictly only apply to ‘Doctor Cha’ so if I recap another drama (let’s say for example, ‘Joseon Attorney’) and you’d like me to read my thoughts and commentary to each episode of that specific drama, you would similarly pay another one-time subscription for access to that.

It wasn’t easy for me to reach this decision and I actually postponed doing this for the longestttt time because I just wanted to be able to provide enjoyable recaps and reviews of dramas/movies for everyone. I still feel incredibly guilty for implementing this system as I currently write this because I don’t feel as if I’m deserving enough. But with how unstable and challenging the economy has been and with the amount of hours, time, and energy that I dedicate into writing each recap as well as maintaining this website, I felt as if this was the best decision to make at this moment and time in my life.

So with that being said, it’s up to you as to whether you would like to subscribe or if you are already content with only reading the summary portion of the recap. If you just want to read about what happened in the episode and you can care less about what I thought about it, that’s completely fine and that’s up to you! I respect that! Sometimes, it’s nice to just be provided with a summary of what happened in each episode. But if you’re curious about what I (Mary) had to say about each episode and you’re committed to reading more about my thoughts and commentary, then just know that I am grateful and appreciative of your support through your one-time payment (which again will give you access to my commentary/thoughts on all 16 episodes of ‘Doctor Cha’). I hope this made sense and if it doesn’t, feel free to scroll down to the bottom of this page to hopefully gain a better understanding of what I’m referring to. I’d also just like to point out that there will be no refunds after a payment is made so please decide carefully in advance if you’d like to commit to paying the $5 or not.

Phew! That was a mouthful, eh? So with that addressed and cleared, let’s get on to the actual recap now! Let’s get it, let’s go!!

Doctor Cha: Episode 1 Recap

The episode begins with our main character, Cha Jeong-suk, visiting her best friend Baek Mi-hee at Mi-hee’s dermatology clinic. They catch up with each other over some coffee: Mi-hee’s worried about Jeong-suk who looks tired and unhealthy, Mi-hee’s still not married, and Jeong-suk and her husband are still sleeping in separate bedrooms after 10 years. While treating Jeong-suk’s freckles, Mi-hee questions Jeong-suk about her decision to be a housewife instead of a medical doctor. Isn’t it a waste of her medical license? But Jeong-suk advocates for herself by claiming that being a housewife isn’t all that easy. It’s a lot of work to raise two kids and to take care of a family. Though she shows no hints of regrets in her decision-making, Jeong-suk glances at a few certificates plastered on the wall in the office before heading back home.

On the bus ride home, Jeong-suk encounters an emergency situation when a passenger falls unconscious inside the bus. The other passengers panic and someone asks if there’s a doctor on the bus. Having just had a conversation with Mi-hee about her medical license and not becoming a doctor, Jeong-suk frighteningly whispers to herself that she’s a doctor. Others overhear Jeong-suk on the bus and they urge her to treat the unconscious passenger. But it’s been 20 years since Jeong-suk has practiced and so she’s not as familiar with what to do. She panics and looks around and finally cautions for someone to call the police. However, the situation isn’t done just yet. Jeong-suk is urged to accompany the passenger inside of the ambulance given her claims of being a doctor. Thankfully, another doctor miraculously walks by the urgent situation and hops into the ambulance as well. He treats the passenger while in the ambulance, saving the man’s life in the process.

Afterwards, Jeong-suk and the doctor chat about the situation in which he warns that it’s illegal for non-medical personnel to practice medicine. But Jeong-suk is a doctor; it’s just that it’s been two decades since she’s practiced so she forgot what to do in the situation. She praises the doctor for his work in saving the man’s life and it seems as if the day will end on a good note. Meanwhile, the drama focuses on another doctor working at a universal hospital. He’s none other than Jeong-suk’s husband, Seo In-ho, and he answers some questions while being followed by some residents before heading inside an elevator with another fellow doctor: Choi Seung-hi. The two chat for a bit and Seung-hi is worried that In-ho’s son – an intern at the same hospital – will find out about the two of them if they make things too obvious. But In-ho isn’t too worried about it and he fails to make dinner plans with Seung-hi. She has something else to do that night. They stop holding hands right before the elevator opens and In-ho steps out.

When Jeong-suk returns home, she converses with her Mother-in-law at the dining table about Mi-hee. Sure, Mi-hee might be a director of a clinic and a successful career woman but she doesn’t have a husband or kids. To Mother-in-law, Mi-hee will regret it in ten years when she doesn’t have a family. Therefore, Jeong-suk’s situation isn’t all that bad. And so Jeong-suk resumes her life as a housewife and she cooks dinner for her family. When her daughter, I-rang, arrives home that evening, she complains to Jeong-suk about her art academy fees as Mom forgot to pay her teachers. But things are looking good so far for I-rang who hopes to get into art school and they conclude their conversations once Jeong-suk’s son, Jung-min, and In-ho also appear at the dining table. They all sit down for dinner together but Dad’s presence and questions for I-rang and Jung-min are uncomfortable. Jung-min is an intern at the same hospital where Dad works at and I-rang is pressured to also get into medical school. Dad goes on to complain about the soup and coffee that Jeong-suk made for him and it’s obvious he’s not in a good mood (if ever). Jeong-suk remains patient and puts up with it through it all.

Seung-hi visits a fortune teller to see what her future looks like. She’s adamant on living with the married man who she’s in an affair with (AKA In-ho), but the fortune teller shares that her fortune is to just be a mistress. However, there is some hope as he also claims that an opportunity will come soon for Seung-hi so she shouldn’t give up just yet. Back at home, Jeong-suk helps In-ho pack for his trip to Europe. But there’s something heavier weighing on her mind and she proposes the idea that they sleep in the same room again. It’s been ten years since they’ve last slept in the same bedroom on the same bed and maybe it’s time that they go back to sleeping together. But In-ho isn’t interested.. at all. He scoots himself further away from Jeong-suk at every attempt so much to the point where it turns Jeong-suk off and she walks away out of his bedroom. He is in an affair after all so he isn’t attracted to her. Jeong-suk proceeds to work on the house project that In-ho had demanded she finish after drinking some medicine but it’s a lot harder for Jeong-suk to do than expected. She takes a break by drinking some coffee and stays in the same place overnight. There’s a lot going on in her mind.

The next day, Jeong-suk heads to the shopping mall to buy some sunglasses for In-ho. While shopping, she suddenly starts to feel sick and dizzy. Her vision blurs and she’s unable to walk far without limping around. Jeong-suk is eventually transported to the hospital and has her blood drawn. She’s reminded that she needs a guardian to accompany her since she will be admitted into the hospital. However, Jeong-suk grows worried about who to contact. Mother-in-law is busy at a reunion and she has additional plans for later on. In-ho is supposedly at the airport ready to travel to Europe when really he’s out shopping for sunglasses with Seung-hi. He won’t be able to be with Jeong-suk at the hospital either. Jung-min is probably busy with his internship at the hospital so he’s also not available. That leaves Jeong-suk with only one person left to contact: her own mother. And so Jeong-suk calls her mother and strikes up a conversation. In-ho and Seung-hi arrive at the airport and wait together to board. While waiting, In-ho gifts Seung-hi with a bracelet that he wraps around her wrist. He was going to give it to her later on but felt as if this was a more fitting time.

While at the hospital, Jeong-suk is reminded of the older days when she used to be an intern at a hospital. The memories of interacting with patients are still vivid in her mind and she misses those times. But Jeong-suk is interrupted by the sudden growling from her stomach so she takes the stairs to the fifth floor where the convenience store is located. On the way there, she encounters the same doctor who she rode in the ambulance with. The two chat for a bit before bidding farewell. But the farewell doesn’t last for that long and they meet again – this time as doctor and patient. It turns out the doctor – Doctor Roy Kim – is Jeong-suk’s doctor. He urges that she find a guardian to contact as her health isn’t the greatest at the moment. If anything, it should be her husband who serves as her guardian.

But of course, it’s none other than Jeong-suk’s mom who comes to the rescue to be her guardian. No matter how old you are, you will never be too old for your mother’s love and care, right? The mother-daughter pair go out on a walk to discuss Jeong-suk’s situation. Jeong-suk can’t help but worry about her kids but Mom reassures her that everything will be fine. Mom also learns that the medicine she gave Jeong-suk wasn’t great for her which lead to Jeong-suk’s health condition. But it’s Jeong-suk’s turn to reassure Mom and she’s confident that she’ll be able to get back on her feet in no time.

30 days later, Jeong-suk invites her family and her mom to the hospital for an appointment with Roy. He updates them about the donor compatibility results for a liver transplant and the only person in the family who has compatible results is In-ho. But Mother-in-law isn’t too happy with the possibility of her son going under the knife. It’s too risky and she suggests that Jeong-suk just wait until another donor is available. Mom confronts Mother-in-law afterwards about her behavior in Roy’s office. It was harsh and disrespectful of her to say such a thing in front of Jeong-suk, but Mother-in-law flips it back on Mom. If only Jung-min had not gotten into an accident on the day that Mom was watching him, then Jeong-suk wouldn’t have had to give up her dreams of becoming a doctor. Jeong-suk listens to the intense conversation while standing in the hallway and she sheds a few tears with Mom afterwards. Mom is willing to beg and get on her knees if needed if that’s what it takes to save her daughter’s life. She’s in disbelief at how In-ho didn’t stop his mom back in Roy’s office and how he refrained from mentioning anything about the surgery.

Mom takes it out on the shop who sold her the medicine that she gave to Jeong-suk to drink. She also pleads for help from Jeong-suk’s cousin who she believes is the best candidate for the surgery but he’s hesitant about committing to the surgery. News about In-ho’s wife (AKA Jeong-suk) spreads throughout the hospital he works at so Seung-hi also learns about Jeong-suk’s situation. Speaking of Jeong-suk, she’s accompanied by Roy while sitting in the hospital and they observe patients with families. Jeong-suk is reminded of the old times of being an intern and there’s a part of her that misses being in the operating room. So with that, Roy invites Jeong-suk to join him in an operating room. It’s a special occasion and it’ll help cheer her up. So the two head together behind the scenes and take a few selfies together as well as watch a group of surgeons perform a surgery. It brings back memories for Jeong-suk.

Seung-hi confronts In-ho about Jeong-suk’s health situation. She’s jealous and grows nervous thinking about whether he would risk his life for hers. It also doesn’t help that they went on a trip together on the day that Jeong-suk was admitted into the hospital which causes Seung-hi to feel guilty. But In-ho promises Seung-hi that he will never leave her alone. It’s nothing to worry about.

It’s the day before Jeong-suk’s surgery and Mom remains hopeful that Jeong-suk’s cousin will pull through for the surgery. But she’s informed by his wife herself that he won’t do the surgery. During this moment, Jeong-suk also faints and she falls into a coma. Poor Mom. There’s so much happening all at once. Later on that night, I-rang and Jung-min plead for their dad to just do the surgery. They’re obviously stressed out about the situation and from seeing their mom at the hospital. So In-ho takes it to his mother and begs her for permission to do the surgery. Mother-in-law is frustrated and she takes it out on her son. She rants about how she was against their marriage from the get-go and that he ruined his life by getting Jeong-suk pregnant. Instead, he should have just been with Seung-hi and got married to her. LOL. Oh Mother-in-law, you’re in for a surprise.

So on the day of the surgery, Mom and Jeong-suk express their gratitude to In-ho who consents to doing it. Jeong-suk admits that there may have been times where she resented or hated In-ho but she’ll forever be thankful and appreciative of him once the surgery is over. Along with Mother-in-law, Seung-hi also isn’t happy with the news. She wished that In-ho would also show her the same loyalty that he’s shown to Jeong-suk but there’s not much In-ho can do about it. In-ho also pays Roy a visit to ask him about 1) his education and 2) his success rate with liver transplant surgeries. For one, Roy went to Stanford and Harvard medical school so he’s quite the talented and smart one (LOL). And two, Roy can sense that In-ho is hesitant about doing the surgery. In-ho even dreads signing the consent forms and hesitates to put his signature down on the documents. Just right when he’s about to sign the papers, he receives both a phone call from Seung-hi and a surprise visit from his mother at the hospital. With his phone in his hand and his mom rushing towards him, In-ho reacts in shock.

Jeong-suk’s surgery resumes and Roy performs the liver transplant surgery as scheduled. Mom, Mother-in-law, Jung-min, and I-rang all wait outside in the lobby for the results. Thankfully, Jeong-suk wakes up after the surgery and she finds her two kids as well as In-ho waiting by her side. Upon seeing In-ho, she’s reminded of the exact moment when Mother-in-law ran up to In-ho and forbade him from signing the papers. So Jeong-suk whispers In-ho’s name and he leans closer towards her to listen in. She has three words that she wants to say to In-ho and In-ho only:

You. Little. Bastard.

Jeong-suk then lies back down softly on her hospital bed and relaxes with a smile on her face while Jung-min goes out to notify doctors. I think it’s safe to say: the surgery was a success.

My Thoughts:

Phew! This first episode was fun to recap and it was also fun to rewatch this episode a second time around. Upon rewatching this episode, there were certain things that I may have overlooked or didn’t notice the first time around. One of those hints being the bracelet that In-ho gifted Seung-hi which I didn’t think too much about at first. This bracelet will go on to play an important part later on in the drama so I was surprised to see it already be brought up in this first episode. Another was when Jeong-suk thanked Mother-in-law for letting her borrow her clothes and bag to visit Mi-hee’s clinic. This too was another important detail that will appear again in the later episodes.

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