“Emergency Couple” episode 16 recap

The unbelievable hotness of Cheon Soo.
The unbelievable hotness of Cheon Soo.

Side dish: Crying over a K-drama can be embarrassing. The solution is to eat something spicy so that when people ask, “Are you crying over a TV show?” you can just point at your dish and continue bawling without shame. You will find five of Korea’s spiciest dishes listed by CNN Travel.

Episode Recap

Oh Chang Min (Choi Jin Hyuk) and his ex-wife, Oh Jin Hee (Song Ji Hyo) watch helplessly as Chang Min’s father (Kang Shin Il) struggles to breathe. Absent Dad becomes still, but Chang Min is determined to stop the bleeding. He sobs as he sutures.

After a desperate moment, Absent Dad’s blood pressure rises. This buys enough time for Chang Min to call his ER supervisor, Kook Cheon Soo (Lee Pil Mo) before speeding Absent Dad to the hospital where he works. Absent Dad is rushed into a treatment room upon arrival and Cheon Soo, Chang Min and Jin Hee work together to treat him.

Chang Min’s Evil Mom (Park Joon Geum) and Evil Uncle arrive at the ER. Evil Mom must be worried, because it is the first time she does not instantly lash out at Jin Hee on sight. Cheon Soo reveals to Evil Mom and Uncle the congestive heart failure brought about by diabetes. Evil Mom asks if he will die, and Evil Uncle reassures both her and Chang Min enough to usher them out of the treatment room.

Jin Hee braces herself as Evil Mom approaches, but her former mother-in-law stumbles by in a daze. Evil Mom manages to shake herself out of her stupor to blast Chang Min for not knowing about his father’s condition in spite of being a doctor. Chang Min admits that he only learned about Absent Dad’s collapse because of Jin Hee. If not for her, Absent Dad would be in much worse shape.

Rather than be grateful, Evil Mom is livid that Chang Min missed a matchmaking dinner with his fellow intern, Han Ah Reum (Clara), and her prestigious parents, for Jin Hee. Chang Min angrily tells Evil Mom that he had no desire to attend the dinner, doing it only because he owed Evil Uncle a favour. In fact, he is grateful that Absent Dad’s collapse intervened. Evil Mom is held back by Evil Uncle from throttling Chang Min, and Chang Min goes back to work.

Chang Min returns to Absent Dad’s treatment room to find Jin Hee sitting by his side. He bluntly tells her to leave, but thanks her as she gets up to go. Jin Hee is sorry for Chang Min’s worst birthday ever. Cheon Soo walks by, pauses to watch the couple, then walks on.

Back at Jin Hee’s home, her brother-in-law, Kim Kwang Soo (Park Doo Shik) is recounting to her sister, Jin Ae (Jeon Soo Jin) the epic battle that took place at the hospital between her mom (Lee Mi Young) and Evil Mom. Jin Ae instantly goes to confront Mom about it, asking if ‘brother-in-law’ bothered to intervene. Mom defends Chang Min, saying that at least he dragged Evil Mom away. Jin Ae leaves it unsaid what she will do to Evil Mom if she harasses Jin Hee again. Oh, please don’t leave it to the imagination!

Everyone at the hospital cannot stop talking about Chang Min’s personal business. Cheon Soo reveals to specialist and ex-girlfriend, Shim Ji Hye (Choi Yeo Jin) that Chang Min’s dad is the famous lung cancer researcher, Dr. Oh Tae Suk. Meanwhile, wife intern is shocked when husband intern reveals that Chang Min and Jin Hee are a divorced couple. Apparently, wife intern is the last person at the hospital to find out. Ah Reum walks in to the interns’ office, and discovers that Absent Dad was admitted to their ER.

Ji Hye is examining Absent Dad while Cheon Soo, Chang Min and Jin Hee look on. She recommends a chest tube insertion, and Chang Min cannot even watch as Ji Hye completes the procedure.

Chang Min’s famous father has prompted competition among specialists at the hospital for the honour of attending to him. They object to Cheon Soo treating Absent Dad, because he is not a specialist. Even the head of ER comes to take Cheon Soo to task for failing to contact one. However, Cheon Soo did call the cardiology department several times, and no one was willing to come for an unknown patient. Ji Hye protests that patients should be treated based on urgency and not status. However, what the head of ER is really worried about is that Cheon Soo will come under fire again. Cheon Soo sighs and says nothing.

Ah Reum checks in on Chang Min, who is at his father’s bedside. Chang Min takes the opportunity to apologize for missing dinner with her and her parents the night before. Ah Reum is understanding, given the situation. Chang Min bows his head, choosing not to reveal that he preferred having his father skirt death than have dinner with Ah Reum and her parents.

Cheon Soo passes Prof. Ahn, who stops him to make snide remarks about his ambitious move in treating such a renowned and well-connected patient as Absent Dad. Not coincidentally, this is the same specialist who shifted blame for a patient death onto the ER, which almost resulted in the firing of Jin Hee. Heeding his boss’s warnings, Cheon Soo attempts to avoid confrontation with Prof. Ahn by deferring to his superior skill. The specialist wonders how Cheon Soo could even dream of challenging him after eight years of career stagnation. Cheon Soo throws the same question back at Prof. Ahn, before giving him the faintest hint of an eye roll, then walking on.

Prof. Ahn overhears nurses gossiping about Jin Hee, the old divorcée, using her feminine wiles on Cheon Soo to get her way. When Jin Hee arrives shortly thereafter, Prof. Ahn brings the lurid gossip up with her, clearly equating divorcée with slut. Jin Hee is shocked, and takes issue with Prof. Ahn’s insinuation, but the specialist gives free reign to his fantasies and leers at Jin Hee.

In the background, Chang Min loses his cool, but before he reaches Prof. Ahn, Cheon Soo punches the specialist in the mouth. Cheon Soo incurs Prof. Ahn’s wrath in the process, thus placing himself in the trouble that his boss had feared. Cheon Soo grimly locks eyes with Jin Hee before storming out of the ER. Ji Hye likely echoes Cheon Soo’s fears as she chases after him, but she receives no response from Cheon Soo as he escapes into his office.

Evil Mom returns to the hospital and runs into Ah Reum. She asks if Ah Reum and her parents got home safely (obviously, they did) then apologizes unnecessarily for cutting dinner short. Ah Reum states the obvious that Absent Dad’s collapse was more important. Even in the midst of her husband’s health crisis, Evil Mom is attempting to keep the hope of marriage alive between Chang Min and Ah Reum.

With Chang Min at his side, Absent Dad finally opens his eyes just as Evil Mom arrives. Evil Mom proceeds to scold Absent Dad for not taking care of himself. Chang Min objects to his mother raising Absent Dad’s stress levels, but Absent Dad guiltily accepts the verbal assault.

Cheon Soo is busy cutting away at a patient’s damaged toe while Jin Hee watches. Nurse Heo watches both of them with disapproving pursed lips. Jin Hee asks to try the procedure, and Cheon Soo agrees. Nurse Heo narrows her eyes. Jin Hee asks if she did alright, and Cheon Soo gives his approval. Nurse Heo’s eye widen and she smiles excitedly. Cheon Soo leaves the nurse the finish up while Jin Hee trails behind. Nurse Heo totally thinks that this is a soap opera performed live for her delectation.

Jin Hee follows Cheon Soo into a lab where they are by themselves, and quietly tells him that he went too far in punching Prof. Ahn. She apologizes for causing him trouble, but Cheon Soo knows that Prof. Ahn was really aiming to give him grief, and Jin Hee was just collateral damage. She correctly surmises that everyone now thinks she is easy, because she’s a divorcée. Cheon Soo says no, it is more difficult for him. Jin Hee smiles a little and observes how a divorcée can be perceived as easy while making things difficult for others; either way, her divorcée status is an issue. Cheon Soo can only blink stoically.

Separately, Jin Hee thinks of Cheon Soo standing up to Prof Ahn for her while Cheon Soo recalls their conversation about her divorcée status. Cheon Soo then remembers Ji Hye advising him to make amends with his parents in order to be able to have a relationship again. Cheon Soo instantly whips out his phone, but thinks twice, and puts it away.

Nurse Heo is gossiping away with another nurse about the hospital’s favourite subjects: Jin Hee, Cheon Soo and Chang Min, when Cheon Soo rounds a corner, and rushes past. The nurses are horrified at the prospect of being overheard. Cheon Soo is too busy making a beeline for a surprised Jin Hee. He wants to talk to her in his office, possible scandal be damned.

In his office, Cheon Soo acknowledges that he might have hurt Jin Hee’s feelings earlier. Jin Hee denies this, smiling then ducking her head, causing some of her hair to fall loose from her ponytail. Cheon Soo is staring at her in a way that is usually a precursor to passionate action. Sure enough, Cheon Soo steps closer to sweep the stray lock of hair back, apologizes, then stares at Jin Hee’s lips. Jin Hee stands still as Cheon Soo inches his head bit by bit towards hers. Jin Hee closes her eyes expectantly, and so does Cheon Soo, until the moment is interrupted by Jin Hee entering his office! Cheon Soo turns his back on Jin Hee in embarrassment at his romantic day dreaming.

The reality is more brusque than the fantasy. Cheon Soo bluntly states that he does not care about Jin Hee’s divorce, and she should not let it define her, no matter what others say. Cheon Soo exits abruptly, leaving Jin Hee blinking.

Absent Dad has been moved to a private room, and Cheon Soo tells Evil Mom that he must be kept as stress-free as possible. Chang Min and Absent Dad chime in with an ‘I told you so’ at Evil Mom. Two of Evil Mom’s siblings arrive and are relieved to learn that Absent Dad is stable. Everyone commends Chang Min for saving his father except an exasperated Evil Mom, who is reminded of the disastrous dinner with Ah Reum’s family.

Ah Reum is alone with Jin Hee when she awkwardly brings up her divorce. Jin Hee reassures Ah Reum not to worry about the divorce. Ah Reum asks why they got divorced, and Jin Hee simply says that she and Chang Min disagreed on many things. Ah Reum probes for possible children, but there was none, then naively suggests that a baby might have changed things for the better.

Ah Reum acknowledges that Chang Min likes Jin Hee more than she expected. She then reveals the aborted dinner, which she realizes was not preempted solely by Absent Dad’s crisis. Sadly, she knows Chang Min did not want to come. Jin Hee encourages Ah Reum to be patient with Chang Min. Ah Reum smiles and nods, thanking her for her empty words, then exits.

Husband intern is frantically taking over tasks such as x-raying patients for his pregnant wife. He suggests that wife intern stop working tomorrow, prompting his wife to say she isn’t sure yet, which husband interprets as musings on an abortion. Wife intern says nothing to clarify the issue and walks away as her husband tears out his hair.

Ah Reum asks husband intern if he has seen fellow intern, Im Yong Kyu (Yoon Jong Hoon), but neither of them have seen him all day. At that very moment, two of the residents come frantically looking for Yong Kyu, but one censors the other by pinching his lips shut. passing on the abuse done to him previously.

Evil Mom and her two siblings leave Absent Dad, with Evil Uncle telling her to lay off of him, because the situation is serious. Evil Mom asks if she is evil, and her sister tells it like it is, but shows concern for her health.

Absent Dad’s health scare not only foiled the matchmaking dinner, but it brought Chang Min and Jin Hee together, much to his delight. Absent Dad and Jin Hee exchange caring words as Chang Min watches on uncomfortably. After Jin Hee leaves, Absent Dad asks Chang Min if they will ever reconcile. Chang Min wants to, but Jin Hee is afraid. Chang Min admits that he might be in the way of someone better for Jin Hee, and that he should let her go. Absent Dad agrees, but objects to Chang Min letting go of someone he loves. Chang Min challenges Absent Dad for failing to follow his own advice. Absent Dad calls Chang Min a punk.

Ah Reum is looking over the potted plant that Yong Kyu gave her, and wonders if he has indeed run away, having lost his nerve to treat patients. She attempts to reach him, and finds his number disconnected. Ah Reum suddenly recalls Yong Kyu inviting her to see an indie band. She goes straight to the club, and actually finds him there, looking glum with headphones on. They are both wearing motorcycle jackets, which I suspect foreshadows couple status and the matching outfits that go with it.

Yong Kyu is amazed that Ah Reum remembered his invitation, and came all the way just to find him. Ah Reum admits to being worried and asks how he could disappear like that. Yong Kyu is thinking of quitting the medical profession. He makes a good case when he recalls refusing to treat a Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease patient and almost killing another by prescribing antibiotics without checking his drug history. Still, Yong Kyu is grateful for Ah Reum’s presence, and Ah Reum gives him a pat on the arm, and a sad smile.

Evil Mom and Chang Min keep vigil over Absent Dad, both encouraging the other to rest. While Chang Min steps away, Absent Dad suddenly has a breathing issue. Evil Mom goes running for the nurse’s station, asking for a doctor. Jin Hee just happens to be passing by, and ends up going straight to work on Absent Dad. Evil Mom desperately begs Jin Hee to save Absent Dad, just as she saved her (!). Jin Hee is too preoccupied to notice this unbelievable acknowledgement.

Back in the ER, Cheon Soo is informed that Absent Dad is having problems breathing. Ji Hye stops him from rushing to the rescue, because Absent Dad is no longer in his care, and she doesn’t want him to court trouble. Cheon Soo stares at Ji Hye then removes her hand from his arm. Poor, patient Ji Hye is left exasperated and running after the man she loves.

Absent Dad is wheeled into an operating room by Cheon Soo and Ji Hye. Chang Min, Evil Mom and Jin Hee are left in their wake to wait for news. Chang Min tries to get Jin Hee to leave, because he does not want to see her suffer for a family she no longer belongs to. Of course, Jin Hee’s feelings for Absent Dad did not end with their divorce, and she refuses to leave. Chang Min takes her in his arms to comfort her.

Cheon Soo and Ji Hye come out to notify them that additional surgery is taking place, and Evil Mom collapses. After the end of a third surgery, Absent Dad is returned to his room, but the surgeon is advising that family members be contacted to say their last goodbyes. The ordeal is taking a toll on Chang Min, and Ji Hye tries to give him hope, saying that Absent Dad will be fine if he can survive the night.

As Chang Min and Jin Hee sit by Absent Dad’s bedside, Jin Hee reveals that it was his father who sought her out after their bitter divorce. Absent Dad encouraged her to pick herself back up, and the strides that she made stem from his support. He was her father figure in the absence of one. She asks Chang Min not to send her away from Absent Dad’s side, and he relents.

Evil Mom is sitting in a daze in the ER, and Cheon Soo and Ji Hye approach her to update her on Absent Dad’s condition. Cheon Soo decides not to sugarcoat the situation, and Evil Mom snaps to attention in outrage. Evil Mom does not understand how she could outlive Absent Dad, given that he got away from her toxic influence to do research in the fresh outdoors. Evil Mom starts to cry as Cheon Soo and Ji Hye stand by.

Evil Mom and Chang Min are back to trying to get the other to step away from Absent Dad’s bedside to rest. This time, Evil Mom succeeds, and Chang Min finds Jin Hee waiting in the hallway outside. He sits down beside her, and they say nothing.

Evil Mom regards Absent Dad, thinking back to the temper tantrums she inflicted on him. Evil Mom tearfully takes his hand and passes out by his bedside. An alarm wakes her up the next morning, and doctors rush in, but there is nothing more they can do. Jin Hee desperately suggests a heart transplant, but it is too late, as Absent Dad flatlines. Chang Min frantically performs CPR while shouting for his father. Evil Mom is in a state of confusion, then screaming for Jin Hee to save her husband. One of the doctors begins to call time of death, but stops as Chang Min falls to his knees, and Evil Mom flails wildly at Cheon Soo. In the end, Cheon Soo calls time of death, as Chang Min howls for his father.


It is a testament to how emotionally invested I have become in this K-drama that I veered between outrage and weeping while watching this episode. The writers did an excellent job of making the grief of Chang Min, Jin Hee, and even Evil Mom palpable. When Absent Dad finally kicks the bucket, all the screaming and crying does not seem as over-the-top as it usually does for me.

Instead, it was the hospital fixation on Chang Min and Jin Hee’s divorce that I found cartoonish. Perhaps I am unfamiliar with the Korean prejudice against divorce, but the nasty gossip and Prof. Ahn’s lewd speculation were a bit much. Having said that, watching Cheon Soo punch his nemesis in the face was very satisfying.

I am also dismayed that Jin Hee and Cheon Soo appear so oblivious to courting scandal by repeatedly meeting up with each other in private. As loath as I would be to change my behaviour simply to prevent gossip, both Jin Hee and Cheon Soo are hanging by a thread in the hospital, as Cheon Soo’s boss has stated. I suppose Cheon Soo is too swept up by his feelings to care. Again, Jin Hee is a bit of a mystery, and she seems to be more of an object of desire for Cheon Soo to bounce his newfound feelings against.

One lighthearted note in this episode: Cheon Soo’s hotness. From his dignified acceptance of Prof. Ahn’s taunts, to the defiant stare after punching out the odious man, to the conflicted gaze he gave imaginary Jin Hee before moving in for a kiss, Cheon Soo is out of control. Now, if only he would direct that heat towards the equally hot Ji Hye.

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

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