“Emergency Couple” episode 14 recap

Presenting the most popular form of interaction this episode.

Side dish: A love triangle played out over rice and soup in this episode. When I think of rice and soup, I think of congee, which, admittedly, was not what the characters were enjoying. Before you equate congee with watery rice gruel, you should try Congee Queen. They make some of the best congee in Toronto: thick, flavourful, and smooth. The rest of their menu consists of rice, noodle and BBQ meat dishes. Everything is good.

Episode Recap

It is a cold, rainy night as Oh Chang Min (Choi Jin Hyuk) sits in his car outside the house of his ex-wife, Oh Jin Hee (Song Ji Hyo). In spite of the weather, Chang Min can clearly see that Jin Hee has been driven home by their ER supervisor, Kook Cheon Soo (Lee Pil Mo). In fact, the entire scene slows down so that it can wring every bit of hurt out of Chang Min.

Cheon Soo sees Jin Hee safely into her house then drives away. Chang Min continues to brood in his idling car. Inside her house, Jin Hee is reading the book she borrowed from Cheon Soo. It appears to be poetic and philosophical as opposed to practical and dry, which does not bode well for Chang Min.

The next day, Chang Min sees Jin Hee waiting at the elevators, but stays behind her without announcing his presence. Specialist, Sim Ji Hye (Choi Yeo Jin) comes across this scene, and knows that Chang Min is trying to avoid Jin Hee. She approaches Chang Min after Jin Hee disappears into the elevator. He admits that following Ji Hye’s advice to be patient and wait for Jin Hee to come to him is difficult.

Fellow intern, Im Yong Kyu (Yoon Jong Hoon) is examining an old man who can’t stop coughing, and decides to prescribe him antibiotics to deal with the bronchial infection. The patient has been taking an unknown supplement provided to him by another hospital, which may or may not be related to his high blood pressure. Yong Kyu pauses only briefly before recommending that the old man take both the antibiotics and his old medication. The potential of a deadly reaction seems obvious, but I guess book smarts do not equal common sense.

An injured child comes into the ER. Chang Min and Ji Hye assess the damage before calling in Cheon Soo to make the final call. Some medical terms are thrown around, then the two interns wheel the child away to get x-rays. Jin Hee is amazed that Chang Min was able to assess the child’s injuries so easily, but Chang Min seems uncomfortable with Jin Hee’s awe.

After the hospital fails to contact the injured child’s parents, the boy reveals that his mother is in the US, and he does not even know where his father is. They divorced when he was three years old, and he was living with his grandmother until last year when she died. He has been living by himself ever since. This is a prepubescent child; does South Korea not have child welfare services?!

Cheon Soo softens his usual gruff approach as he asks the child for his name; it’s Goh Eun Chul. Jin Hee partners with Cheon Soo to reassure the child before they reset his shoulder. When Chang Min mentions that the boy’s guardian has not arrived, Cheon Soo brusquely directs Jin Hee and Chang Min to put a cast on the boy, and steps away. As usual, Ji Hye laughs about how incorrigible Chief Grumpypants is.

Jin Hee may have a fantastic bedside manner, but she is garbage at putting on a cast. Eun Chul is crying out in pain before Chang Min steps in to position his arm properly for the cast. “I guess you’re not that good,” observes Eun Chul. From the mouth of babes…

Jin Hee continues to get it from both sides as she applies the cast; Chang Min directs and corrects her while Eun Chul taunts her. Eun Chul is clearly on the mend when he complains about being bored then pretends to be in pain to amuse himself. Chang Min grabs Eun Chul by the cheeks to inflict some physical punishment that won’t get him into trouble with the law, while Jin Hee ineffectually protests.

Intern and prospective wife for Chang Min, Han Ah Reum (Clara) watches this mock family unit in dismay. Meanwhile, Yong Kyu watches her from behind with more concern than she deserves given how insensitive she was in rebuffing his affections.

Ah Reum sits listlessly in an empty waiting room, thinking back to all the times Chang Min showed obvious preference for Jin Hee over her, when Yong Kyu interrupts her thoughts. Ah Reum admits that she knows Chang Min likes Jin Hee, and is resigned to not having her feelings towards Chang Min returned. Love is not something Ah Reum can steal; Chang Min must come to her willingly. Yong Kyu listens in complete agreement then asks Ah Reum if she remembers what day it is.

We get the answer from the married interns, who reveal to Jin Hee that it is White Day. Men are supposed to receive gifts from women, but the husband intern has gifted his wife with candies shaped like a bouquet of flowers. Yong Kyu has also bucked tradition by buying a huge bouquet for Ah Reum. Ah Reum asks Jin Hee if she received anything, and when Jin Hee says no, Ah Reum is surprised, clearly expecting Chang Min to give her something.

Cheon Soo asks Eun Chul if he has any relatives, and the boy assumes that Cheon Soo is thinking of the hospital bill. Eun Chul insists that he still has a little money in his grandmother’s account. Cheon Soo does not bother to correct Eun Chul about his actual meaning, and asks if he has eaten. The boy claims not to be hungry.

Eun Chul is eating too fast for his own good in the next scene. Cheon Soo tells Eun Chul to listen carefully as he eats, and states plainly that his parents are not coming, and he will have to fend for himself from now on. If someone buys Eun Chul a meal, he should eat ravenously. This advice instantly makes me worry that Eun Chul will fall prey to any pedophile who buys him a cup of ramen.

Cheon Soo continues with his rather brutal talk, directing the boy to work hard at school, and not to bother sleeping. When Eun Chul says he prefers to play, Cheon Soo tells him that he does not have the luxury of playing, because he is an orphan. If Eun Chul shows talent outside of studying, he should pursue it, but hobbies require money, and school is the most economical path.

Eun Chul is sober and no longer eating, but he defiantly asks Cheon Soo if he was a good student. Of course, he was. That’s when Cheon Soo reveals that he was an orphan, too. He recommends becoming a doctor, though Eun Chul would prefer to be a policeman. Regardless, Cheon Soo tells him to remember to study. He and the boy stare at each other, each understanding how alone the other is.

Sitting at a nearby table behind Cheon Soo, Jin Hee overheard everything he told the boy. Later, the boy relays what the man “with the scary look” said to Jin Hee and Chang Min. Chang Min disapproves of Cheon Soo’s inappropriate words, whereas Jin Hee backs up Cheon Soo’s advice, but sugar coats it with talk of stars in the heart.

Eun Chul’s guardian arrives, and it turns out to be the priest who married Chang Min and Jin Hee, and who also used to be a professor to Chang Min. Things get a little awkward when the priest assumes that they are still married, and is delighted that they are working together as doctors, too. Chang Min is about to reveal the truth, but Jin Hee stops him, and lies to the priest.

Eun Chul is surprised to see the priest, and says he need not have come since Eun Chul has money and stars. Before anyone can explain what nonsense has been taught to the boy, Cheon Soo and Ji Hye walk up and introductions are made. The priest explains that he has known Chang Min and Jin Hee since way back. Chang Min nervously places his arm on the priest’s shoulder as the man of god calls the couple “a match made in heaven”. Chang Min and Jin Hee each take an arm and rush the priest away under the suspicious eye of Cheon Soo. Ji Hye, fully aware of their divorce, laughs to herself.

While signing papers, the priest overhears the married interns being sassy with each other, and reprimands them for being disrespectful towards one another. He points to Chang Min and Jin Hee as shining examples of harmony, even given the fact that they are husband and wife. Jin Hee cringes visibly while Chang Min attempts to hug the priest into silence. The puzzled married interns interject that they are the husband and wife interns here. Chang Min distracts the priest with instructions regarding Eun Chul, while using his unseen hand to shoo the married interns away.

The priest laments at the irresponsibility of Eun Chul’s parents who married for love then quickly divorced and unloaded custody of the boy onto the other, willfully ignorant of the boy’s current situation. Chang Min and Jin Hee look shamefaced at each other.

Ji Hye enters Cheon Soo’s office with dessert, and rightly guesses that Cheon Soo is thinking about Eun Chul. He points to the boy’s situation as the reason he doesn’t want to marry, because he doesn’t want to be irresponsible. Ji Hye is amazingly good humoured in the face of Cheon Soo’s obvious disdain for marriage and non-married parents. She asks if he considers her the worst, being a single, unwed mother. Cheon Soo flounders then clarifies that the ones he can’t forgive are divorcées. Uh oh!

Cheon Soo catches Jin Hee as she’s about the leave for the day, saying he has something to discuss, which is witnessed by a sad Chang Min. They go to the nearby restaurant they ate at previously, and the proprietress again marvels at what a great couple they make. Instead of correcting her, Cheon Soo distracts her by pointing out some new customers, and she scurries away.

Jin Hee tentatively asks what Cheon Soo wanted to talk about. Cheon Soo is busy piling rice into his dish, and flippantly says that he did not have anything to say; he just wanted to have a meal with her. He belatedly asks her if she wanted to, to which Jin Hee responds in the only way that can be considered polite.

Cheon Soo admits that he is not in a good mood today, and he had hoped to feel better by eating with Jin Hee. Jin Hee asks if something happened today. Cheon Soo does not have the chance to respond, because Chang Min comes charging in, pulls a chair up, and sits down uninvited at their table. I laugh at Chang Min’s audacity. What happened to being patient and not rushing at Jin Hee?!

Chang Min and Cheon Soo stare pointedly at each other, while Jin Hee is flabbergasted. Cheon Soo asks Chang Min what he wants while returning his attention to his food. Chang Min just as nonchalantly orders rice and soup. Annoyed that Chang Min is obviously here to stay, Cheon Soo repeats his question more forcefully. Chang Min obnoxiously says he’s hungry so he came to eat. More staring ensues between the two men.

Chang Min throws Cheon Soo’s question back at him, but in regards to Jin Hee. Jin Hee tries to interject, but Chang Min shuts her down by stating that he has no business with her. I suppose that means he’s sticking with the letter if not the spirit of his promise not to rush Jin Hee.

Chang Min bluntly asks Cheon Soo if he is on a date with Jin Hee. It’s the last straw for Jin Hee who gets up and attempts to take Chang Min outside. Chang Min pulls his arm away, and continues to barrage Cheon Soo with questions about his intentions towards Jin Hee. Cheon Soo finally shouts that he likes Jin Hee, and why shouldn’t he? Chang Min roars that Jin Hee is his girl. It is funny how both men are staking a claim on a woman whose protests they are barely acknowledging. Granted, Jin Hee’s approach is pretty weak; she continues yelling at Chang Min to get outside, instead of directly addressing what is being discussed.

The alpha male staring contest continues a little longer before Cheon Soo dismisses both of them. Chang Min wrist grabs and drags Jin Hee out as she struggles while apologizing to Cheon Soo profusely.

Chang Min releases Jin Hee’s wrist outside the restaurant and she slaps him in the face at the first opportunity. Chang Min looks shocked. Jin Hee gives voice to all her bad memories about their marriage and divorce, and asks why Chang Min wants to return to that. Chang Min says he remembers the past, but he has no intention of repeating his actions.

Jin Hee angrily asks if he thinks all the pain and resentment from hitting rock bottom after their divorce are simply going to disappear. How could they possibly start over when she can’t stand him? Chang Min attempts to get closer to Jin Hee, but she steps back. Jin Hee orders him to keep his distance, and walks out, leaving Chang Min teary and devastated.

Jin Hee cries and drives. Chang Min is drinking soju in a restaurant when Cheon Soo saunters up to his table. Cheon Soo ends up sitting down, and pouring himself a drink. He tells Chang Min about a cold he suffered from for almost a year that he just learned to live with until it disappeared. He says Jin Hee is much like that cold to Chang Min. Cheon Soo is less cryptic about not believing that he came in between Chang Min and Jin Hee. He simply likes Jin Hee for who she is.

Chang Min states that he wants to tell Cheon Soo something, probably about their divorce, but holds back for Jin Hee’s sake. Cheon Soo goes back to his cold analogy, and tells Chang Min not to fight it, but to see if he can get through it on his own.

Back at home, Jin Hee and Chang Min sit in their respective living rooms having deep thoughts. Chang Min flashes back to Jin Hee screaming her dislike of him, and to Cheon Soo equating Jin Hee with a cold virus.

Jin Hee goes for a walk, and ends up at the same love lock display that Chang Min had visited previously. She is able to find their love lock, and thinks back to the White Day that they happily attached the lock.

The next day, Jin Hee drifts into the happy scene of her mother (Lee Mi Young), sister (Jeon Soo Jin), Jin Ae and brother-in-law, Kwang Soo (Park Doo Shik) doting on Baby Gook. She instantly ruins the mood by asking who would get custody of Gook if Jin Ae and Kwang Soo divorced. Jin Ae and Kwang Soo instantly start bickering until Mom snaps at them to be quiet and reprimands Jin Hee for bringing the topic up. Jin Hee shows a sadistic side, admitting that watching the couple squabble was amusing. Though her shift doesn’t begin until the afternoon, Jin Hee leaves home early.

Chang Min’s Evil Mom (Park Joon Geum) wanders into her brother’s massive office much earlier in the morning than she is usually capable of. Evil Mom is still harping on about a potential marriage between Chang Min and Ah Reum. She is trying to get her brainy brother to come up with a way to get Chang Min to have dinner with the parents of both him and Ah Reum, as a first step towards their marriage. Evil Uncle promises to make it happen, because he has a trump card. Evil Mom perks up at the mention of this special ability to make her son obey, but Evil Uncle just tells her to come to dinner when it is arranged. Evil Mom is all smiles after that and coquettishly calls Evil Uncle “oppa”.

Jin Hee drives up unannounced to the home of Chang Min’s Absent Dad. She is concerned about his recent surgery, which Absent Dad was trying to keep secret. As Chang Min had predicted, Absent Dad downplays the severity of the surgery, and is incredulous that Jin Hee traveled all this way to ask about something so trivial. Absent Dad tentatively asks if she and Chang Min are getting along. He is gauging their relationship since he already received news of their reunion from raging Evil Mom. Jin Hee just laughs and answers in a positive, noncommittal way.

Absent Dad and one of his research assistants walk Jin Hee outside, and watch her drive away. As they turn back towards the house, Absent Dad doubles over. His research assistant asks if she should call an ambulance, but Absent Dad insists that he just needs his medication, until he completely collapses.

An ambulance arrives at the hospital, and Yong Kyu receives the old man who was suffering from coughing fits earlier. His coughing has gotten worse, and he is now coughing up blood. Chang Min comes in to assist, and figures out that Yong Kyu prescribed the patient antibiotics that interact badly with the mystery medication that the old man was taking. The reaction is especially severe, because the old man took all of the pills he had missed in one go. Not surprisingly, blood starts spurting out of his mouth. A flustered Yong Kyu is shouted at by Chang Min, then Cheon Soo, as the patient is rushed away.

Yong Kyu is seated in a state of shock when Chang Min sits down beside him, telling him to be more careful next time. Yong Kyu echoes my exact thoughts as he asks how he could be so stupid. Chang Min is a better person than I am, and comforts the idiot.

Fortunately, Cheon Soo and Ji Hye are able to save the old man, and have the leisure to discuss Yong Kyu’s mistake. Ji Hye claims that interns in US hospitals commonly make the same mistake. Cheon Soo denies that all interns are so careless since patients would have no reason to trust them if they were. Ji Hye optimistically predicts that Yong Kyu will be more careful and bloom into a good doctor. Cheon Soo chooses to ignore her prediction, and is thankful for Chang Min’s quick thinking. Ji Hye suggests that Cheon Soo treat the interns to dinner and drinks for a job well done. Cheon Soo grumpily asks what the interns did to deserve that, then stomps away as Ji Hye laughs.

Ji Hye clearly knows Cheon Soo, because the next scene is the interns raising their glasses of beer with Cheon Soo and Ji Hye. Cheon Soo does not let the mood nor an air vent get in the way of him reprimanding Yong Kyu. He pushes the air vent to one side with a pair of tongs, and forces Yong Kyu to verbally promise not to repeat his mistake.

Wife intern brings up the juicy gossip that two of the doctors at their hospital have divorced. She shudders to think how uncomfortable it will be for them to work together, especially with the rumours flying around. Though the divorced doctors are in different departments, she thinks one of them should decamp to another hospital.

Chang Min and Jin Hee initially stay silent with eyes downcast, until Jin Hee asks aloud what is wrong with divorce. Is it a sin punishable by exile from the hospital where the couple work at? Wife intern is at a loss for words, before asking why Jin Hee is so sensitive about the topic. That’s when Jin Hee reveals to everyone that she is divorced. The whole table is in shock; wife intern covers her mouth in horror. However, Jin Hee continues to provocatively ask if mistakes can be classified as failures in life and if they are deserving of the derision of others.

Ji Hye tells Jin Hee to stop, because she is ruining the mood and spoiling for a fight. Jin Hee gets up and leaves. You can just see the wheels churning in Cheon Soo’s head as his attraction to Jin Hee clashes with his hate on for divorcées.

Chang Min goes out to find Jin Hee, and stops at a distance behind her. He says he finally understands what a burden she considers their divorce, and he promises not to bother her any more.

Back at the table, Ah Reum is the only one to figure out the true relationship between Jin Hee and Chang Min, though she does not share her revelation. Wife Intern is angry with her mouth and burns it as an unconscious form of retribution. Cheon Soo’s head is still going a mile a minute, and he abruptly goes looking for Jin Hee only to find her with Chang Min standing between them. He regards them both, before retreating without announcing his presence.

Chang Min continues to apologize for continuing to be selfish. Jin Hee cuts him off by thanking him for worrying about her and taking care of her. She then turns and walks past him without making eye contact.

As everyone leaves the restaurant together, wife intern is apologizing for her insensitive remarks, and Jin Hee brushes off the incident. Ah Reum suggests a second round of drink with karaoke, and the interns leave Ji Hye and Cheon Soo behind. Cheon Soo is still thinking about Jin Hee, now a hated divorcée, as Ji Hye drives him home, chatting brightly to herself.

At the karaoke bar, only the married interns are dancing and singing on stage, while everyone else sits glumly at a table staring at nothing. When the married interns return to the table, Ah Reum and Jin Hee give them as much enthusiasm as they can muster; Chang Min and Yong Kyu can’t even look up. Chang Min ends up getting shuffled up onto to stage to help lighten the mood. Unfortunately, Chang Min chooses to sing a slow, sad sounding song (no subtitles for the lyrics), because he is reminiscing about his past with Jin Hee. Below him, Jin Hee is thinking about his recent acts of skinship and her eyes well up with tears. She is clearly crying by the time she raises her eyes to look at Chang Min on stage.


I am impressed with how consistent the writers make the characters. Cheon Soo’s orphan background makes perfect sense given that a merciless upbringing probably made him the tough, no-nonsense ER supervisor that he is today. It also explains his inability to soften his approach towards even those who have his affection or sympathy. The results are him dragging Jin Hee to lunch instead of asking her, and telling the orphan boy like it is without any cushioning.

The discovery of Cheon Soo’s hard childhood places him in even starker contrast with Chang Min, the pampered son in a family of doctors. Chang Min seems frivolous in comparison, though the results can be amusing, as in his half-serious cheek pinching of the misbehaving orphan boy. Unfortunately, Chang Min’s immaturity also resulted in the dissolution of his resolve to stay respectfully away from Jin Hee, though he paid the price, forcing Jin Hee to say things she probably didn’t mean out of frustration.

Jin Hee is also consistently a mess of emotions. It is actually believable to watch her flop between the gruff doctor who she does not have any baggage with, and the ex-husband that she still has lingering feelings for. This kind of indecision is common in K-dramas, but rarely does it feel this messy and real.

The only character’s whose consistency is making me cringe is Ji Hye. How much longer can she laugh and be the better person in the face of Cheon Soo’s grumpy bitching and clumsy pursuit of Jin Hee? As much as her mature approach has appealed to me, I think it is acceptable for her to start getting angry, before she becomes the Joo Wan of this series.

A final superficial note about the the show: how pretty was the lighting in this episode? Everything was bathed in a glow that was especially beautiful in contrast with the nighttime. It almost distracted me from the scene where Jin Hee reveals herself to be a monstrous divorcée (marvel at the HD screen caps below).



Emergency Couple (응급남녀)

 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21 || series review


  1. In SK, Valentine’s Day is the day where women give chocolate to men and White Day is a day for men to give women sweets, as a sort of repayment for the gifts women gave on Valentine’s Day. And if I’m not mistaken, 14th April is a black day, where single people who didn’t receive or give gifts on Valentine’s Day go hang out together to eat jajangmyun.


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