[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Doctor Slump" Episode 2

Professor Kim (played by Oh Ryoong) is not an especially important character over the long arc of "Doctor Slump" as you can probably guess from his not even having a full name. But as of the second episode, "Doctor Slump" was still very much in the tone setting phase, and there Professor Kim has an important role as Ha-neul's boss. From the first episode alone, we might think that perhaps Park Shin-hye's leading doctor is turning in bad work from overexhausting herself.


Significantly, Ha-neul herself seems to believe that this is the case, even if in the first episode Professor Kim seemed a little over the top in terms of his critical demeanor. But in the midst of yet another abusive employee review, Professor Kim is interrupted by an urgent need for a high level surgery. In a marked departure from his usual berating of Ha-neul for her incompetence, Professor Kim orders her to suit up and assist him in surgery.

What we learn from this is that appearances to the contrary, Professor Kim does have great faith in Ha-neul's talents. At worst, it's clear that Ha-neul is an exceptionally talented surgeon- maybe not so great at research, possibly, but her work environment is toxic either way. It's from this backdrop, and a nudge from her own doctor, that Ha-neul is able to quit her job, and rid herself of at least some of her problems.

The moment is a genuinely inspiring one. But it's also just that- a moment. Ha-neul is still suffering from depression. And it's quite awkward for her to try to explain her actions to her family, who have invested quite a lot in Ha-neul's career. I'm thinking of Ha-neul's mom, Wol-seol (played by Jang Hye-jin) in particular. We can clearly see her heart breaking, and Ha-neul also realizing, with a depressive aire of her own, thather whole family has oriented itself around her dreams.

Contrast that with other main character, Jeong-woo, whose family isn't physically present, yet still looms in his own depression. They, much like his friends, don't especially care how Jeong-woo is doing after the implosion of his career. Hilariously, Jeong-woo's bickering and bantering with Ha-neul is the closest he gets to catharsis because by explicitly mocking him, Ha-neul at least acknowledges the sheer breadth of his personal failure. Feeling like a failure isn't a good feeling- but it's still better than feeling like nothing.

Written by William Schwartz


"Doctor Slump" is directed by Oh Hyeon-jong, written by Baek Seon-woo, and features Park Shin-hye, Park Hyung-sik, Yoon Park, Kong Seong-ha, Oh Dong-min, Jang Hye-jin. Broadcasting information in Korea: 2024/01/27~Now airing, Sat, Sun 22:30 on JTBC, Netflix.