“Emergency Couple” episode 17 recap

Emergency Couple episode 17 Chang Min tears
Chang Min mourns his father.

Side dish: Apropos of nothing, I’m going to recommend Pljeskavica, or Serbian burgers as a side dish, because that’s what I had for dinner tonight, and it was delicious. If you’re in the Toronto area, head for Royal Meats in Mayor Rob Ford’s stomping ground of Etobicoke to have the Royal Burger. Or have the small size because eating one pound of ground veal and pork in one sitting is crazy.

Episode Recap

We’re back in the hospital room with Oh Chang Min (Choi Jin Hyuk) crying over his dead father, and his Evil Mom (Park Joon Geum) refusing to accept the truth. She begs her former daughter-in-law, Oh Jin Hee (Song Ji Hyo) to save him, but ER supervisor Kook Cheon Soo (Lee Pil Mo) calls the time of death. A devastated Chang Min calls out for his father.

Jin Hee sits down in the interns’ office, and spies her white doctor’s coat. Looking at the doctor’s ID that Absent Dad helped her get, Jin Hee recalls him saying that he can die happy knowing that Jin Hee has become a doctor, and cries inconsolably.

Unaware of what’s happened, fellow ER intern, Han Ah Reum (Clara) walks down the hospital hallway, playing a game on her phone. She’s interrupted by a phone call from traumatized intern, Im Yong Kyu (Yoon Jong Hoon). Yong Kyu appears to have gotten into a fight after having drinks with Ah Reum last night. When he’s brought in on a stretcher, bloody and unconscious, it’s specialist Shim Ji Hye (Choi Yeo Jin) who treats him. Ah Reum comes into the treatment room to ask how Yong Kyu is doing, and Ji Hye responds sarcastically that they’re doing well, what with Chang Min’s father dying. Everyone is shocked.

At the funeral home, Chang Min and Evil Mom look exhausted. Evil Uncle and one Evil Aunt are visiting, and Evil Aunt apologizes to Chang Min for not checking on Absent Dad enough. He tells her to take care of Evil Mom since she’s having a more difficult time, and it is hard to argue: Evil Mom looks like an empty shell of herself.

Cheon Soo is filling in Chang Min’s request for leave, when Jin Hee comes in to his office. She barely protests when he tells her to take the day off.

In the ER, Yong Kyu wakes up to see a worried Ah Reum. She asks him what happened, and he explains that he wanted to get beaten up by someone. She tells him not to get hurt and disappear again, but he’s more concerned about the embarrassment. The married interns come in to berate him for worrying them, and Ah Reum takes the opportunity to update everyone on the death of Chang Min’s father.

The interns go straight to the funeral home to pay their respects. Chang Min tells them that he’s fine, and that they should go back to work. The interns are followed by Ji Hye and Cheon Soo, who spot Jin Hee serving food to the mourners. The interns greet the two residents, then exit, commenting on their way out on how complicated Chang Min and Jin Hee’s relationship is. Ah Reum looks particularly devastated.

Jin Hee is helping out at the funeral, unasked. Evil Mom tries to stop her since it is hard on both of them to have her present, but Jin Hee doesn’t listen to reason, because it’s the only thing she can do for Absent Dad. She doesn’t leave until Chang Min physically leads her out by the hand.

Out in the lobby, Jin Hee tells Chang Min that she can’t stand herself if she doesn’t do something for Absent Dad. He stops her, and says that he doesn’t know how to console her. She replies that she should be consoling him, since he must be hurting more, and he agrees, telling her to come back as a guest, if at all.

Yong Kyu is folding sheets in the ER, when junior resident Min Ki (Kwon Min) informs him that he’s arranged for Yong Kyu to work in the radiology department for a while. Yong Kyu is initially relieved, then laments that he won’t see Ah Reum as often. Min Ki rightly smacks him on his head wound. As Ah Reum comes running to defend him, Yong Kyu smiles, provoking Min Ki to smack him again. I’m so happy we’re getting some comic relief that I burst out laughing.

Wife intern pulls Jin Hee aside to a private room to ask her to take blood for a test. It turns into a counselling session as wife intern unburdens herself about her pregnancy and relationship woes. Jin Hee doesn’t have much of a response, but looks thoughtful.

Jin Hee is sitting in a hospital waiting room when Cheon Soo comes by. He asks how she is and Jin Hee tells him how much Absent Dad meant to her. He tells her to accept the grief rather than try to get over it. She goes home to an empty house, and calls her mother.

Evil Uncle sits with Chang Min at the funeral. He tells Chang Min the reason why Absent Dad quit medicine: he blamed himself for the death of a patient in surgery. Rather than feeling better, Chang Min blames himself for not asking about it. Evil Uncle sympathizes with him, knowing how hard it must have been to watch his father die, as a doctor. Chang Min should not blame himself, nor give up like his father did, because it was not his fault. I may have to change Evil Uncle’s name to Nice Uncle, because he’s the first person to say this to Chang Min, who obviously is blaming himself.

Evil Aunt tries to convince Evil Mom to eat something. Evil Mom only wants to drink soju, while reliving her memories of the last few weeks with Absent Dad and crying.

Jin Hee comes back to the funeral with her mom (Lee Mi Young). Jin Hee’s mom, also a widow, tells Evil Mom that she knows how hard it is to have your husband die before you, but she has to stay strong, at least for her son. Evil Mom cries as she listens, then thanks her. As they leave, Evil Mom calls Jin Hee back and thanks her in a wavering voice.

Chang Min drives up to his father’s office, and sits at his desk. He looks through the drawers and finds brand new fishing gear and a calendar with his birthday marked. He remembers his dad asking to go fishing, and starts crying his heart out, apologizing.

The next morning at the hospital, Ji Hye is on the phone with her baby daddy asking for a blood test. He hangs up on her, and she turns around to find Cheon Soo. When he curses the guy, she tells him to watch what he says about the father of her child, and walks out. Cheon Soo goes back to the ER, and watches Ji Hye as she works on a patient. He’s interrupted in his admiration of her when Nurse Choi tells him to see the ER director.

It’s bad news from the ER director: Cheon Soo is being suspended without pay for two weeks for punching out Prof. Ahn, a compromise solution since the specialist has a grudge against him and wants him fired. Cheon Soo stalks out of the office.

He finds Prof. Ahn at the elevators and apologizes to him for the punch, but adds that he hopes Prof. Ahn will no longer act inappropriately with women in the hospital. Hats off, Cheon Soo; that was a pretty slick put down.

Ji Hye does an ultrasound on wife intern who is pleased to find out that she’s not pregnant. Husband intern looks disgusted at his wife’s happiness, indicating marital strife on the way. Uh oh.

Cheon Soo packs up his books to leave for his suspension, while he explains the situation to Ji Hye. He asks Ji Hye about her baby daddy, who is now shacked up with another woman. He curses him again, to Ji Hye’s amusement. Cheon Soo feels bad for the kid, but Ji Hye shrugs it off, since she’ll be going back to the US soon enough. He asks her if she has any intention of staying in South Korea, and she says no, because she and her family feel more comfortable in the US. He finds the Polaroid of the two of them from when they were dating. Ji Hye makes a grab for it, to throw it out, but Cheon Soo rescues it from her. Surprised, she laughs.

Jin Hee works on a patient with the male nurse, who points out how busy the ER is since Chang Min and Cheon Soo are not working. At the nurses’ station, Jin Hee finds out that Cheon Soo has been suspended, and goes running to Ji Hye, who plays it off like Cheon Soo has gone on vacation. Jin Hee asks if she knows where he went.

Cheon Soo’s sodium levels must be through the roof, because he’s eating bowl ramen again in a vacation house, while reading a medical textbook. He gets a phone call from Ji Hye, who first reassures him that all is well in the ER, and then, impishly tells him that Jin Hee is on her way to see him. He barely gets time to eat another mouthful of ramen before he gets a call from Jin Hee, who is nearby, but lost.

Cheon Soo panics, running upstairs to fix his hair and shave, cursing all the while. He goes running out to meet Jin Hee, and conveniently finds her in front of some beautiful scenery. Cheon Soo bluntly asks her why she came, and she says it was not that far. Cheon Soo abruptly invites her back to his vacation home. As Jin Hee enters the living room, he belatedly notices that the place is a mess, with clothes and books all over the place. Cheon Soo lamely attempts to clean up, as she laughs at him for living like a student.

Jin Hee hands Cheon Soo a bag full of her mom’s side dishes, which he accepts with the proviso that she not do it again, then tells Jin Hee to sit. They make nervous small talk.

Cheon Soo asks why Jin Hee came and she responds that she feels guilty for causing him to be suspended. He tells her, rightly, that it’s not about her. They have an awkward silence as Cheon Soo moves his half-eaten ramen out of Jin Hee’s sight line.

At home, Chang Min answers his phone from bed, apparently ill. He reassures Yong Kyu that he’s okay, then goes back to sleep. Yong Kyu tells a concerned Ah Reum that Chang Min did not sound good, but there is no way to console him. Ah Reum asks for her x-rays, and he watches adoringly as she walks away.

Jin Hee tells Cheon Soo how much she wants to go to Chang Min, and console him. He advises her to follow her heart, adding that she and Chang Min remind him of his divorced parents. She asks if they’re the reason why he thinks divorced people are irresponsible, and he responds that no one really knows whether they’ll be happy in marriage. Instead of savouring this deep thought, Jin Hee points out that he’s quoting from the book he lent her, and she reads the relevant passage aloud. It is a nice sentiment about how the process of doing something is the only thing that will give you the answers.

They don’t have much time to savour the moment before Jin Hee’s bottomless pit of a stomach informs her that it’s hungry. Rather than feed her ramen, Cheon Soo decides to barbecue! I love him.

Cheon Soo leaves Jin Hee alone with the grill to get something from the kitchen, and while he’s gone, she manages to set her jacket on fire. Cheon Soo comes running and puts it out. Jin Hee explains in a little girl voice that she was only trying to help, but he only asks if she’s okay, then tenderly wipes her messy face. It was way hotter when Cheon Soo did this with Chang Min, but whatever, I’ll take it.

Cheon Soo gives Jin Hee his jacket as they sit down to eat a barbecue feast, but her enjoyment is momentarily ruined when she remembers Absent Dad. As they eat their meal, I think about the hotness of guys who can cook, and look fondly at my significant other, who I may or may not have married for his excellent curry.

After the BBQ, they sit down to coffee, and Cheon Soo looks more relaxed than we’ve ever seen him. Jin Hee takes the opportunity to ask why he never married. He is caught off guard, but answers that he’s not sure about starting a family.

As Cheon Soo drops Jin Hee off, she apologizes again for the trouble she caused, but he tells her that he wouldn’t have done what he did if she didn’t mean something to him. Cheon Soo finally understands why Chang Min has been so rude to him (I assume alluding to the fact that he’s now jealous, too), but it looks like it is not over between her and Chang Min, and she agrees. He’s about to say more when her phone rings. Because it’s a drama, Jin Hee actually answers, and it turns out to be Ah Reum, who is worried about not being able to get hold of Chang Min.

Jin Hee drops everything to run to Chang Min’s side, convincing the landlord to open the door by claiming to be his wife. She finds him passed out on the bed, and is about to call for an ambulance when he wakes up and weakly stops her.

Jin Hee tearfully apologizes for not having the courage to come to Chang Min sooner. She makes him rice porridge, and brings it to him in bed to eat. He really looks awful as he thanks her, and tells her to leave. Jin Hee refuses to go until Chang Min eats, so he picks up his spoon, heaving a sigh.

The doorbell rings, but it’s just Ah Reum, checking up on Chang Min. Jin Hee invites her to come in, but when Ah Reum refuses, she reassures her that Chang Min is okay, and thanks Ah Reum for calling her.

Jin Hee goes back to the kitchen to pour a glass of water when she spots a jar on the table with her wedding ring in it. She takes it out, as the music swells, in case we didn’t know this was a significant moment. Chang Min drags himself out of the bedroom in the meantime, and she scolds him for getting up before finishing his porridge. Jin Hee tells him about Ah Reum’s visit, saying she feels bad for her, but Chang Min is sure he feels worse.

Jin Hee calls Chang Min by name. He looks at her with red-rimmed eyes as she brings her arm up then opens up her fist to reveal her wedding ring. They both look from the ring to each other, and the episode ends.


Where to begin? Let’s start with Jin Hee, because I think I may have screamed “hallelujah” when she finally acknowledged that she should be the one consoling Chang Min, and not the other way around. Going back to their argument in episode 4, Chang Min said that when Jin Hee gets emotional, nothing matters to her except what she’s feeling. Ever since Absent Dad was admitted into the hospital, Jin Hee has been letting Chang Min console her, even though it’s his father who is dying, because her own grief is the only thing she can see. At the funeral, she helps out against their wishes until Chang Min kicks her out, telling her that it is hurting him to have her there. It’s only then that Jin Hee belatedly remembers that Chang Min has feelings, too.

I’m glad she noticed, because Chang Min is drowning under grief and guilt, shouldering the blame for the divorce, for Evil Mom’s behaviour, for Ah Reum’s broken heart, for Jin Hee’s sadness, and for not knowing about his father’s illness. He seems to have little in the way of support, especially from Jin Hee. He can’t handle her being hurt on any level, and the events of the past couple of episodes can only have made things worse. If this is what it was like during their marriage, it’s no wonder Chang Min and Jin Hee broke up; the toll on him would have been too high.

As for Cheon Soo and Ji Hye, I’m choosing to believe that, even though he’s attracted to Jin Hee’s puppy-like tendencies, there’s some significance in Cheon Soo’s refusal to throw their Polaroid away, because it makes me feel better. I could analyze it forever, but whatever; Cheon Soo and Ji Hye should just get together already.

I love this show, for the character consistency and the way it hits its emotional marks, but while I think that the aftermath of Absent Dad’s death was really well done, I’m not convinced that killing him off was necessary, except for the fact that it instantly flips the script. Chang Min is so devastated that it’s unlikely he will come back as the same immature, jealous guy, while Jin Hee has belatedly gained some insight into him, and the feud between the moms is no longer even relevant. I’m predicting that the next few episodes will have Jin Hee looking for Chang Min instead of the other way around; I can only hope the show will also feature Cheon Soo chasing Ji Hye.

Here are some bonus shots of Cheon Soo smiling, since it’s such a rare occurrence.

Emergency Couple episode 17 Cheon Soo smiles

Emergency Couple episode 17 Cheon Soo smiles 3

Emergency Couple episode 17 Cheon Soo smiles 2

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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