Saturday, March 17, 2018

“Jejoongwon” synopsis by episode, Eps. 1-36 (no spoilers)






Three excellent reasons for watching “Jejoongwon” even though it isn’t as well-known as other historical dramas such as “A Jewel in the Palace” (2003) “Jumong” (2006), or its contemporary “Dong Yi” (2010):

1. Highly-respected K-drama websites such as Dramabeans, Thundie’s Prattle, Electric Ground, and Korean Historical Dramas all love this drama. There are also lots of positive comments about this drama in The Talking Cupboard and Dramafever.

2. Superb acting by the cast led by male lead Park Yong-woo and female lead Han Hye-jin (she played “So Seo No” in the 2007 hit “Jumong”); other notable performances by Yeon Jung-hoon (“Baek Do-yang” and Jang Hang-sun (“Yard Dog”). Jang Hang-sun won “Best Supporting Actor” in the 2006 Grand Bell Awards for “King and the Clown” which was Korea’s entry to the 2006 Oscar Awards for Best Foreign Language Film category.

3. Great script by Lee Ki-won, who also wrote the critical and commercial hit drama “White Tower” (2007).

Briefly, this medical/historical drama is a fictionalized account of the founding of Jejoongwon, the first hospital of Western medicine in Korea, during the waning years of the Joseon Dynasty in the late 1890s.

(Jejoongwon survives up to these present times as Severance Hospital; it is part of Yonsei University, which is one of the top three universities in Korea. A detailed, full-sized reproduction of Jejoongwon’s first building has been placed in the university campus. You can see below pictures of Jejoongwon down through the decades.)

The American medical missionaries in this drama are all based on historical figures; the Korean medical students portrayed in the drama are mostly fictional, except for the character “Hwang Jung” which is based on Park Seo-yang, the first Korean doctor of Western medicine and an independence fighter, who came from a slave family.

To find out more about this drama, surf to:

A tribute to Jejoongwon

Jejoongwon (Part 1): The history

Jejoongwon (Part 2): Lead cast and characters

Jejoongwon (Part 3): Supporting cast and characters

JeJoongWon (제중원) (Part 1)
Jump to synopsis of Episode 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12; 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, and 36; Historical backgrounders and other information; Free 500-plus interactive grammar and vocabulary exercises from “Jejoongwon” and other Korean historical dramas (external link); Lessons in photography from “Jejoongwon”

How I wrote these episode summaries with no spoilers


1. I assumed that you will be reading these summaries and watching the videos chronologically.

2. I narrated the main actions in each episode without revealing the plot’s twists and turns.

3. At the beginning of each summary starting with Episode 2, I placed in a table a recap of the major twists and turns of the previous episode. But because you have already watched the video of the previous episode, they aren’t spoilers anymore.

(I used this same structure in my recaps of “Dong Yi,”Six Flying Dragons,” “The Flower in Prison,” “A Jewel in the Palace,” “Moonlight Drawn By Clouds,” “Rebel: Thief Who Stole The People,” “Jumong,” and “Saimdang, Light’s Diary.”)

Episode 1: The butchers


1884, the 20th year of King Gojong’s reign ...

While Little Dog and a group of butchers are performing the traditional ritual for slaughtering a cow, policemen led by Officer Jung arrest and beat them up.

After being reprimanded by the village elder, Little Dog finds an alternative way of making money to buy medicine for his sick mother. But he and his father Yard Dog argue about disobeying the village elder. When his father says that he will just call a shaman to perform an exorcism, Little Dog (who has learned how to read and write) says that it’s all superstition.

In Sungkyungkwan, Baek Do-yang (the only son of the Justice Minister) gets into trouble with his professor for reading a book on Western medicine.

Little Dog delivers some beef to Translator Official Yu’s house for a party that’s attended by foreigners. There, he comes across Official Yu’s only child Seok-ran and her childhood sweetheart Baek Do-yang. He also witnesses an emergency surgery performed by Dr. Watanabe from the Japanese embassy hospital.

Little Dog’s cousin and best friend, Jak Dae, takes him to see Six Fingers, the man whom Officer Jung wants to arrest for illegal butchery.

At the hospital, Dr. Watanabe tells Baek Do-yang that, to properly learn human anatomy, he must learn how to dissect corpses.

Little Dog finds his mother unconscious, with blood in her mouth and hand. He rushes her to the hospital, but Suzuki, the nurse, tells Dr. Watanabe that Little Dog may be a butcher and cannot afford to pay the medical expenses. Dr. Watanabe orders Suzuki to kick Little Dog and his mother out of the hospital.

Note: During the Joseon Dynasty, society was divided into four castes, with the “yangban” (nobles) as the highest caste. The lowest caste was “chonmin” that consisted of slaves, convicts, shamans, and entertainers (such as gisaengs and storytellers).

At the very bottom of the “chonmin” caste was the outcast group known as the “baekchong.” Consisting of butchers, gravediggers, and executioners (anyone associated with death), they lived in segregated communities and had no family names; other castes treated them like worthless dogs. (Based on “Jejoongwon, Part 1: The History”)



Episode 2: Hwang Jung


Episode 1 recap:

Little Dog turns to illegal butchery to raise the money for his mother’s medical expenses. But Officer Jung and his men catch him and the other illegal butchers in the woods.

Instead of locking up Little Dog, Officer Jung takes him to a shed where Baek Do-yang orders him to dissect Six Fingers’s corpse.
Threatened by Baek Do-yang and Officer Jung, Little Dog agrees to dissect the corpse. Later on, after he buries the corpse, he escapes from Officer Jung and rushes back to the hospital.

King Gojong decides to inspect the capital incognito, but Queen Min cautions him that the ministers who urged him to do so are members of the Reform Party, a pro-Japanese faction.

Officer Jung and his men pursue Little Dog; meanwhile, Baek Do-yang is expelled from Sungkyungkwan.

On the run, Little Dog and Jak Dae steal the clothes and identity tags (“hopae”) of a nobleman and his slave; Little Dog now becomes Hwang Jung.

Hwang Jung, along with Jak Dae (now Yi Gwak), goes to a bookstore to sell the nobleman’s books. There, he meets Baek Do-yang. They both find out from the bookseller that the dissected corpse has been found by the Police Bureau.

Hwang Jung and Yi Gwak reach the port of Jaemulpo. Also at the port are Official Yu, Seok-ran, and their servant, all waiting for the arrival of Dr. Horace Allen, an American medical missionary.



Notes:

1. Dr. Horace Allen Newton (1858-1932)

“The trip to the motherland: Bestowing the legacy upon the next generations”

“But in 1884, a young medical missionary from Ohio, Horace Newton Allen, requested the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. to transfer from his mission post in China to a new mission post in Korea. A year later, with the support of the Korean royal court, Allen established the very first Western-styled hospital in Seoul, which became the first official Presbyterian outpost in Korea.”

“Celebrating the Life of Dr. Horace Allen” (2011)

“More Koreans know of Dr. Horace Newton Allen than residents of Ohio or even Delaware, where he was born and raised. Twenty-one Koreans visited Delaware during the week of February 14 to join members of the First Presbyterian Church to recognize Allen and acknowledge the end of a year-long celebration of the church’s 200th anniversary.

“Nineteen of the visitors, most of whom did not speak English, came from Namdaemoon Presbyterian Church in Seoul, Korea, which lays claim to Allen as its founder in 1887. Two others came from Yonsei University and Severance Medical Center, which also attribute their founding to Allen, who received a donation from Cleveland philanthropist Louis Henry Severance to build the hospital.”

2. “Hopae” or identity tags during the Joseon Dynasty for all men above 16 years old (download my infographic on the “hopae”)

Episode 3: The rebellion


Episode 2 recap:

When Baek Do-yang refuses to give up Western medicine, his father disowns him.

After being shot by Officer Jung, Hwang Jung ends up by the river bank, where Seok-ran finds him.
Dr. Allen performs surgery on the bloody Hwang Jung, as Seok-ran and her servants watch in shock and amazement.

Through Dr. Watanabe, Baek Do-yang asks the leaders of the Reform Party (Ministers Kim Ok Gyun and Hong Young Shik) to send him to Japan to study Western medicine. But the leaders reject him when they find out that his father is the Minister of Justice.

Jak Dae tells (Little Dog) Hwang Jung’s father what happened, and together, they search the river for his body.

Baek Do-yang visits Official Yu to ask for his help, and while there, he meets Dr. Allen and Hwang Jung.

Finding out that the authorities will be coming to question him about the shooting, Hwang Jung escapes from Official Yu’s house. As he collapses on the street, several child-beggars find him; they force their leader, Mongchong, to bring him to their shelter.

Led by Lord Min Young-ik (Queen Min’s nephew) and the Minister of Justice, the royal court rejects the Reform Party’s proposal to allow Japan to build for Joseon a hospital of Western medicine. Learning about the rejection, the Japanese ambassador pressures the Reform Party to launch a rebellion.



Episode 4: Dr. Allen and Dr. Watanabe


Episode 3 recap:

Baek Do-yang bribes the Reform Party officials with the large sum of money that he borrowed from Official Yu; the officials use the money to finance their rebellion.

Hwang Jung and Mongchong are hired to transport and set the explosives at the Postal Administration office.

As the rebellion starts, Lord Min Young-ik is slashed with a sword several times. Hwang Jung saves Official Yu, and together, they rush Lord Min Young-ik to safety and call for Dr. Allen.

The Reform Party officials pressure King Gojong to move into Kyunghu Palace, which is being guarded by Japanese soldiers.
Despite Baek Do-yang’s threat, his father still goes out; meanwhile, the Reform Party officials and their men massacre the government officials who were summoned to Kyunghu Palace.

After the Joseon doctors leave grudgingly, Dr. Allen begins treating Lord Min Young-ik. Meanwhile, concerned about her father and remembering that Dr. Allen might not have enough medical supplies, Seok-ran sneaks out of their house.

A Japanese embassy official orders Dr. Watanabe to kill Lord Min Young-ik.

The Reform Party officials try to mislead King Gojong into thinking that Qing China started the rebellion and massacred the government officials. They submit a list of Reform Party members who can immediately fill the vacant government posts.

Baek Do-yang rescues his father by killing a Japanese officer. Carrying his father on his back, he hurries to Official Yu’s house, where Seok-ran and Hwang Jung have just arrived. He wants to call for Dr. Watanabe, but Hwang Jung says that it’s better to call for Dr. Allen.

Episode 5: The medical assistant


Episode 4 recap:

Dr. Allen saves Lord Min Young-ik, as Hwang Jung threatens Dr. Watanabe with a hypodermic needle.

Hwang Jung is amazed when Seok-ran tells him that butchers have the skills to become good surgeons.

Baek Do-yang’s uncle pressures Hwang Jung and Seok-ran to operate on the Minister of Justice.
As Dr. Allen and Seok-ran stop him from killing Hwang Jung, Baek Do-yang orders the servants to lock up Hwang Jung and Jak Dae; his uncle, meanwhile, runs to get the police officers.

Jak Dae is able to free himself from the ropes that bind him, but as he begins to untie Hwang Jung, Seok-ran shows up at the storage room.

Under siege by the angry Joseon crowds, the Japanese ambassador, Dr. Watanabe, and their staff hastily evacuate from their embassy.

Official Yu scolds Seok-ran for her rash actions and then grounds her. Later, when Dr. Allen visits her, she learns about consular jurisdiction that protects Americans from being prosecuted under Joseon law.

Remembering that Seok-ran could also be implicated in Lord Baek’s death, Hwang Jung refuses to escape with Jak Dae. He rushes to the bookstore and reads through the night all of the medical books there. Later, he sneaks into Dr. Allen’s house and confesses everything that led to Lord Baek’s death.

On Baek Do-yang’s orders Officer Jung begins looking for Hwang Jung, and he immediately tracks down Jak Dae at the butchers’ village. Later, after Lord Min Young-ik visits him, Baek Do-yang finds out Hwang Jung’s whereabouts.

Episode 6: “Elele” (thunder and lightning)


Episode 5 recap

Seok-ran helps Hwang Jung and Jak Dae escape.

Dr. Allen accepts Hwang Jung as his medical assistant; as such, Hwang Jung is now protected by consular jurisdiction. Later, Dr. Allen opens his clinic.

After meeting Mi-ryung and Nang Nang, Jak Dae finds out where Hwang Jung is staying.
Baek Do-yang orders Officer Jung to find out all that he can about Hwang Jung.

Officer Jung captures Jak Dae near Dr. Allen’s house. Later, as the clinic is about to open, he also captures Hwang Jung.

Official Yu, Seok-ran, and Baek Do-yang arrive at the clinic. With patients coming in and Hwang Jung nowhere to be found, Baek Do-yang volunteers to assist Dr. Allen.

Traveling incognito, King Gojong arrives at the clinic with Lord Min Young-ik and observes Dr. Allen’s treatment of the patients. Meanwhile, as Officer Jung beats up and threatens to shoot Hwang Jung, Jak Dae tackles him. Officer Jung falls over backwards and cracks his head on a rock.

King Gojong wants to establish a hospital of Western medicine with Dr. Allen in charge, but Queen Min cautions him, saying that it could mean an endorsement of Christianity. Besides, Queen Min adds, Qing China can manage the hospital.

As the Japanese ambassador, Dr. Watanabe, and their staff return to their embassy, they find out about King Gojong’s plan for a hospital of Western medicine.

Note: Geum Bo Ra, a veteran Korean actress, plays the part of Seok-ran’s mother in “Jejoongwon.” At the 37:02 mark of Episode 6, she tells Seok-ran that King Gojong might be interested in taking her as his concubine.

The writer of “Jejoongwon” seems to pay homage to Geum Bo Ra’s career-defining role as the mother of Jang Geum in the 2003 classic “A Jewel in the Palace.” At the 39:30 mark of Episode 52, she talks with her husband and Jang Deuk about Jang Geum becoming King Jungjong’s concubine.



Episode 7: The foreign devils


Episode 6 recap:

With King Gojong watching, Hwang Jung revives Officer Jung by applying electric shock.

Thankful that Hwang Jung saved his life, Officer Jung secretly leaves Dr. Allen’s clinic, without revealing Hwang Jung’s real identity to Baek Do-yang.

King Gojong gives to Dr. Allen the abandoned house of one of the Reform Party’s leaders as the site for the hospital. But Dr. Watanabe orders Kim Don, an undercover agent of the Japanese embassy, to sabotage Dr. Allen’s hospital.

Kim Don spreads the rumor that Dr. Allen and other foreigners eat Joseon’s children and turn their eyes into camera lenses. As a result, a riot breaks out during the opening of Jejoongwon, with the mob demolishing everything in sight.

While Seok-ran is in the market, she reads the poster about the foreign devils who eat children. Despite her servant’s plea, she rushes over to Jejoongwon to look for her father.

After the riot is quelled by the police, Dr. Allen begins treating those who were injured. When he notices that one of the rioters is bleeding from a hole in his anal canal, he prepares immediately for surgery, with Baek Do-yang as an observer. On their way, however, an argument ensues between Baek Do-yang and Seok-ran over Hwang Jung.

With the people’s anger continuing against the foreigners, the Japanese ambassador pressures King Gojong to replace Dr. Allen as director of Jejoongwon.

Despite the warnings by Baek Do-yang and the police officer, Dr. Allen leaves Jejoongwon with Hwang Jung, Jak Dae, and Mongchong to look for the man who’s suffering from the anal canal hole. But at the man’s home, his wife and children panic when they see Dr. Allen. With shouts against the foreign devil, the villagers come running with weapons and torches against Dr. Allen and his group.

Note: “The Baby Riot of 1888” (from Wikipedia citing “Korea Through Western Eyes” by Robert D. Neff, 2009):

“The Baby Riots of 1888 took place in the summer of 1888 in Joseon Korea. Rumours circulated that foreigners in Seoul were kidnapping young Korean infants and children, gouging out their eyes for use as camera lenses, grinding their internal organs for use in medicine, and eating them. These rumours implicated both the western powers that were present in Korea at the time, as well as the Japanese. These riots saw Koreans gathering outside hospitals, schools and churches run by foreigners to rail against the ‘baby-snatchers’ inside. Many in the foreign community were alarmed by the ferocity of the riots and made preparations to leave Korea, and diplomatic representatives of the foreign legations pressed the Joseon government to repudiate the rumours, which they did reluctantly.”

Episode 8: Jejoongwon’s entrance exams


Episode 7 recap:

Baek Do-yang becomes jealous over Seok-ran’s concern for Hwang Jung.

Dr. Allen operates on the man, but when the man doesn’t regain consciousness, the villagers take Hwang Jung to smash his hand on a rice mortar.
The villagers smash Hwang Jung’s right hand. In anger, Baek Do-yang grabs the revolver, fires a warning shot, and threatens to shoot the leaders.

As he walks back to Jejoongwon with Dr. Allen, Baek Do-yang, and the others, Hwang Jung passes by his father Yard Dog on the street.

King Gojong allows Jejoongwon to set up a medical school; announcements are then made all over the capital for intelligent men over 17 years of age to take the qualifying exams, which include an exam on English proficiency. Those who pass will have free tuition, board, and lodging.

In Jejoongwon, Seok-ran finds out what happened to Hwang Jung’s hand; Dr. Allen also asks her for help in talking with a woman who had tried to end her life with poison.

Baek Do-yang decides to study medicine in America; he visits Seok-ran and proposes to her, so that they could leave together as husband and wife.

Lord Min Young-ik appoints two administrators for Jejoongwon, and immediately, they clash with Dr. Allen over the entrance exams and the qualifications of his staff. They insist that Hwang Jung must pass the entrance exams if Dr. Allen wants to retain him as his assistant.

More than one thousand men begin registering for the entrance exams, and among them is the nobleman from whom Hwang Jung stole an identification tag.



Note: The entrance exams to Jejoongwon include an exam on English grammar and vocabulary (since the instructor is an American and the medical books are in English). Thus, at the 37:11 mark of Ep. 8, the men who registered for the exams rush to the bookstores to buy copies of English dictionaries, and Seok-ran later tutors Hwang Jung (as you can see in the GIF above).

From “Learning English in the 1880s, A glimpse into the history of learning English in Korea” by Robert D. Neff:

“In 1882—just prior to Korea opening to the West—Koreans who desired to learn English had to travel to Japan.”

“Missionaries also established schools. In 1886, Mary F. Scranton, an American, established Ehwa Hakdang (Pear Flower School), a school for girls. One early teacher recalled that it started out as more of a place where poor girls would be fed and clothed rather than a place of education. The school is now known as Ewha Womans University and is one of the most prestigious schools in Korea.”

“English was also learned on streets and around the ports that foreign sailors and soldiers frequented.”

Episode 9: The topnotcher


Episode 8 recap:

Seok-ran tutors Hwang Jung for the English part of the entrance exams.

Dr. Watanabe orders Kim Don to take the entrance exams.

The husband of Seung-yeon, Seok-ran’s best friend, files a complaint, and Hwang Jung is arrested.

Seok-ran disguises herself as a man to take the exams.
Hwang Jung strikes a deal with the nobleman: he will take the exam on the nobleman’s behalf in exchange for not being charged before the Police Bureau.

At the palace, Dr. Allen asks King Gojong for some women to be appointed as nurses for Jejoongwon; King Gojong agrees, and he also orders Lord Min Young-ik to make sure that there’s no cheating in the entrance exams and that cheaters must be punished to the fullest extent.

The last part of the exams is the dissection of pigs by groups. Baek Do-yang and his cousin Jae Wook are joined by Kim Don. On the other hand, Hwang Jung partners with Seok-ran and another examinee. Because Hwang Jung can’t use his right hand, Seok-ran volunteers to dissect the pig. But, in her nervousness, she drops the scalpel and damages it.

Note: At the 20:19 mark of Ep. 9, Dr. Allen says that King Gojong is suffering from insomnia because of the several cups of coffee that he drinks every day.

In history, King Gojong did have a fondness for coffee. Most sources say that he came to know about coffee during his 1896 stay at the Russian embassy. But historian Robert D. Neff proves in “Koreans, coffee and the king’s court” (Jeju Weekly) that coffee was known and served in Joseon’s royal court even before 1896.

King Gojong’s fondness for coffee provided the means for an assassination attempt against him and the Crown Prince. This is the historical basis for the 2012 movie “Gabi” aka “Russian Coffee” starring Park Hee-soon (as King Gojong), Kim So-yeon, and Joo Jin-mo (he played the role of Wang Yu in “Empress Ki”).



Episode 10: The chaperone


Episode 9 recap:

Hwang Jung breaks the cast of his right hand and, in great pain, dissects the pig. Later, after the nobleman and his slave try to kill him, he brings them to the Police Bureau and shows them the punishment for cheaters.

Administrator Baek (Baek Do-yang’s uncle) steals Hwang Jung’s exam paper and exchanges it with another paper with the wrong answers. Hwang Jung thus fails to qualify for the medical school. But Seok-ran tops the exam, with Baek Do-yang getting the second place. Later, Baek Do-yang realizes that the topnotcher “Yu Seok-hwan” is none other than Seok-ran.
Seok-ran sees Hwang Jung, on his knees, begging Administrator Oh to be allowed to stay in Jejoongwon. Guilt-ridden, she confesses to her father about what she did. And despite her father’s warning, she goes back to Jejoongwon, disguised as the topnotcher Yu Seok-hwan.

Several women volunteer to become nurses in Jejoongwon.

After the commencement exercises attended by King Gojong and Queen Min and the orientation activities, classes begin in Jejoongwon.

While Kim Don continues observing everything and everyone, tension arises when some of the medical students accuse Dr. Allen of favoritism when he allows Hwang Jung to assist in surgery.



Episode 11: Dr. Lillias Horton


Episode 10 recap:

Seok-ran is exposed as having disguised herself as a man to take the entrance exams. The administrators want her and her family to be punished, but Lord Min Young-ik orders them to keep quiet about everything.

When the gisaengs who volunteered to become nurses arrive, Administrator Baek fires Seok-ran as Jejoongwon’s chaperone.

Hwang Jung returns the trinket to Seok-ran and says goodbye.
Dr. Lillias Horton, a female American medical missionary, arrives in Joseon to teach obstetrics and gynecology in Jejoongwon. Despite her doubts, Seok-ran accompanies Dr. Horton to Jejoongwon, and there she meets Hwang Jung again.

As the medical students protest learning from Dr. Horton how to deliver babies, Administrator Baek calls Dr. Allen to attend to a life-threatening situation. But the patient’s husband doesn’t want to have anything to do with Dr. Allen, and Administrator Oh scolds Seok-ran for coming back to Jejoongwon.

Official Yu accompanies Dr. Horton to meet King Gojong and Queen Min. When Dr. Horton mentions that she needs a medical assistant, King Gojong tells her that he already has assigned some former gisaengs to be nurses in Jejoongwon.

After Dr. Allen teaches the students about artificial respiration, he begins teaching them about nitroglycerin, its medical uses, and the dangers in handling it. Kim Don seizes this opportunity to create havoc in Jejoongwon.



Note: This romantic scene between Seok-ran and Hwang Jung was copied by the 2012 drama “Queen In-hyun’s Man” (Episode 8) where the character played by Yoo In-na drives her car round and round the male lead character played by Ji Hyun-woo. (“Queen In-hyun’s Man” even had a scene where Yoo In-na teaches Ji Hyun-woo how to ride a bicycle, just like in this drama.)

Episode 12: The accused


Episode 11 recap:

Dr. Horton performs a Caesarean operation on a mother with a breech baby; when the baby fails to breath on its own, she applies artificial respiration.

King Gojong allows Seok-ran to be Dr. Horton’s assistant.

Kim Don sabotages the chemical experiment with nitroglycerin; while Baek Do-yang is inside the room, it blows up.
Despite the fire that’s engulfing the room, Hwang Jung rushes into it and pulls Baek Do-yang to safety.

Kim Don goes back to the burned-up room to clean up any evidence that could implicate him. Later, to take the suspicion away from himself, he decides to frame Nang Nang and Hwang Jung.

As Nang Nang begins to feel sick, she tells Hwang Jung that she wants to become a nurse.

Dr. Watanabe goes to Jejoongwon to visit Dr. Allen and Baek Do-yang; on his way, he meets Hwang Jung and then remembers that it was Hwang Jung who threatened him with a hypodermic needle.

The smallpox epidemic rages on in the capital.

Episode 13: Jejoongwon versus the shamans


Episode 12 recap:

After Kim Don frames Nang Nang for stealing the medicines from Jejoongwon and selling them in the market, the administrators kick her out.

Hwang Jung’s father injures himself when he steps on a nail.

Hwang Jung rescues Nang Nang, who exposes Kim Don as the one responsible for the explosion.
Kim Don escapes from Jejoongwon. As Dr. Horton and Seok-ran examine Nang Nang, Mi-ryung tells Hwang Jung that she has seen Kim Don several times with Dr. Watanabe.

Fear and dissension spread among the medical students as Dr. Allen tells them that the pus powder didn’t inoculate them against smallpox.

Jak Dae and Mongchong try to earn some money at the market by selling talismans against smallpox. The Jejoongwon staff and the medical students, meanwhile, start distributing masks and soap to the people in the market. But elsewhere, Baek Do-yang and the other students are confronted by the angry shamans.

Dr. Horton diagnoses a woman to be suffering from a phantom pregnancy.

As Nang Nang recovers, Ggotnim (one of the beggar-children) becomes sick with smallpox.

Official Yu and his men are on their way back to the capital with a new batch of pus powder, but they’re ambushed by Kim Don and his thugs.

Dr. Allen decides to try and make Jejoongwon’s own vaccine; he gives different assignments to Hwang Jung, Baek Do-yang, and Seok-ran. They also send Mi-ryung to Dr. Watanabe.

Note: At the 29:49 mark of Ep. 13, Dr. Lillias Horton says that she will write about the strange customs in Korea. The historical Dr. Horton did write a book titled “15 Years Among the Top-knots, or Life in Korea” published in 1904.

Episode 14: Back to the Butcher Village


Episode 13 recap:

Hwang Jung remembers that, during his childhood, he saw a Joseon scholar-minister creating the vaccine in the butcher village.

Ggotnim dies, and instead of being buried on the ground, her body is tied up on a tree.
Noticing that his father is limping badly, Hwang Jung, with a mask on, gives him an antibiotic ointment.

As Hwang Jung, Baek Do-yang, and Seok-ran work on the young cow to prepare the vaccine, several shamans arrive and attack them. Baek Do-yang fights the shamans off and orders Hwang Jung to escape with Seok-ran.

As Hwang Jung and Seok-ran are escaping through the woods, they run into the village elder; later, the elder tells Yard Dog that he has seen Little Dog.

Yard Dog finds the young cow that Hwang Jung, Baek Do-yang, and Seok-ran used to make the vaccine and brings it to Official Yu. When Jak Dae sees Yard Dog and Seok-ran leading the young cow to Jejoongwon, he runs to warn Hwang Jung.

Episode 15: Baek Do-yang’s experiments


Episode 14 recap:

With the vaccine that was developed by Jejoongwon, the smallpox epidemic is stopped. In gratitude, King Gojong promotes Dr. Allen as a 3rd-rank government official.

Hwang Jung takes some antibiotic ointment to his father, but unknown to him, Seok-ran has followed him.
Hwang Jung makes up an excuse to Seok-ran about why he’s at the Butcher Village at night.

The next day, Hwang Jung wakes up feeling pain on his side; Dr. Allen says it’s caused by stress and fatigue and orders him to rest.

Mak-saeng, Seok-ran’s servant, becomes suspicious of Hwang Jung.

An old woman and her young grandson (who was inoculated against smallpox) visit Jejongwon to thank the staff; she makes Hwang Jung promise to take care of her grandchild if he becomes sick in the future.

A man and his father, both critically-injured, are brought into Jejoongwon. With Hwang Jung in pain, Dr. Allen orders Baek Do-yang to stop the father’s bleeding by applying pressure on the wound. But with time running out, Baek Do-yang decides to do the surgery himself.

Later, Baek Do-yang begins collecting and studying blood samples from the medical students. But Hwang Jung refuses to give his blood sample, fearing that his status as a butcher will be revealed.

On their day off, Hwang Jung, Jak Dae, and the kids fly their kites. As they go sledding on the frozen river, they see Dr. Horton who’s teaching Seok-ran how to skate. Later, Dr. Horton, the other American women, and Seok-ran visit Queen Min in the palace.

Despite Dr. Allen’s stern warning, Baek Do-yang continues his studies about blood. He secretly performs blood transfusion with himself and Jae Wook. But the next day, Jae Wook collapses.



Episode 16: New blood


Episode 15 recap:

Hwang Jung wants to confess everything to Seok-ran, but Seok-ran stops him.

The man whom Baek Do-yang operated on dies because of severe blood loss. After being scolded by Dr. Allen and confronted by Hwang Jung about what happened to Jae Wook, he secretly studies blood transfusion under Dr. Watanabe, who has been experimenting on sick, abandoned men and women.

At the palace, as Queen Min watches Dr. Horton, her friends, and Seok-ran demonstrate what skating is, part of the lake cracks open. Dr. Horton crashes against Seok-ran, slashing Seok-ran’s forearm with her skates. Seok-ran plunges into the lake.
Seok-ran is rushed back to Jejoongwon, but she has lost so much blood. Baek Do-yang proposes a blood transfusion, but Dr. Allen forbids it because of the danger. With Seok-ran’s life in the balance, Official Yu accepts the risks and allows the transfusion. But during the transfusion, Seok-ran begins vomiting blood.

As the conflict increases between them, Dr. Allen removes Baek Do-yang as his medical assistant and reinstates Hwang Jung. In anger, Baek Do-yang seeks out the new, American medical missionary Dr. Heron.

Episode 17: Dr. Heron


Episode 16 recap:

Hwang Jung’s blood is compatible with that of Seok-ran; when Dr. Allen points out that blood pressure from the veins is weak, Hwang Jung suggests elevating himself to increase the pressure.

As Seok-ran recovers, Hwang Jung visits her. Not knowing that Seok-ran is conscious enough to hear him, he confesses, in tears, that he is the butcher known as Little Dog.

Dr. Heron arrives in Jejoongwon; he’s the missionary who was supposed to be posted in Joseon instead of Dr. Allen.
Dr. Allen’s diagnosis proves to be wrong, and, with Baek Do-yang assisting him, Dr. Heron operates on Mongchong and saves him.

Seok-ran visits Hwang Jung in Jejoongwon and gives him the stethoscope, but Baek Do-yang finds out about it.

King Gojong appoints Dr. Heron as the new Director of Jejoongwon. Later, the two administrators begin badmouthing Hwang Jung with Dr. Heron.

While Hwang Jung helps Dr. Allen pack his things, the nurses and the two administrators get drunk.

The Japanese ambassador and his staff begin taking pictures of the poorest and crudest people in Joseon.

Dozens of Japanese and Qing Chinese soldiers get involved in a brawl; those injured are rushed to Jejoongwon.

Dr. Watanabe and Suzuki arrive in Jejoongwon to look after the Japanese patients; at the gate, Suzuki sees Yi Gwak (Jak Dae) and thinks that she has seen him before. In the operating room, they see Dr. Heron, Go Jung-geun, Baek Do-yang, and Hwang Jung treating the patients.

When the medical supplies run out, Hwang Jung suggests a local alternative, but the administrators mock him and order him to shut up.

When Dr. Heron rejects him as Jejoongwon’s medical assistant, Baek Do-yang takes a small sword, goes to Dr. Heron’s quarters, and calls him out.

Episode 18: The frame-up


Episode 17 recap:

King Gojong sets up a Joseon embassy in America and appoints Dr. Allen as its advisor.

Dr. Heron fires the nurses, except for Mi-ryung, and appoints Nang Nang and Park So-sa (the abandoned woman) as their replacements.

Seok-ran and Hwang Jung spend time together at the river bank, lighting fireworks.

Suzuki recognizes Hwang Jung as the butcher whose mother died years ago in their hospital.
Baek Do-yang cuts off his topknot to symbolize his complete break with his noble status. As he leaves Dr. Heron, the nurses, and Jak Dae in disbelief, a stranger approaches him and gives him a letter for Hwang Jung.

Seok-ran teaches Hwang Jung how to ride a bicycle.

Dr. Heron announces the criteria that the students must meet for them to continue with their medical training; he also imposes standards for the nurses.

The Japanese ambassador and Dr. Watanabe hatch a plan to bring down Jejoongwon through Hwang Jung and Official Yu.

To meet the criteria imposed by Dr. Heron, Baek Do-yang and Jae Wook visit their former classmates in Sungkyungkwan; meanwhile, after traveling with Dr. Horton and Seok-ran, Hwang Jung and his roommate Go Jung-geun position themselves in the market, with Jak Dae gathering the patients.

While Hwang Jung and Seok-ran are at the market, one of the former nurses in Jejoongwon arrives and begs Hwang Jung to go to her gisaeng house to help someone.

Alarmed by the picture that Hwang Jung received, Jak Dae warns him about getting romantically involved with Seok-ran.

Official Yu is arrested by the Police Bureau.

Note: Similar scenes in “Jejoongwon” (2010, SBS) and “The Princess’s Man” (2011, KBS2):

At the last part of Ep. 17 and the start of Ep. 18, Baek Do-yang cuts off his topknot (“sangtu”) to symbolize his break with his noble status.

Upon reaching manhood or upon getting married, a Joseon nobleman or scholar pulled his hair to the top and tied it into a topknot called “sangtu.” A headband called “manggeon” was used to hold the hair in place. Joseon commoners and slaves also used a topknot called “minsangtu” but without a headband. For more information, surf to “A Guide to Joseon Hairstyles and Headgears” (The Talking Cupboard).

“The Princess’s Man” has a similar scene in Ep. 19. Se-ryung cites an old saying, “Everything you have been blessed with is a gift from your parents.” Using a small knife known as “eunjangdo,” she then cuts off her hair to symbolize her break with her father King Sejo (Grand Prince Suyang).

Episode 19: Saving Official Yu


Episode 18 recap:

Dr. Watanabe sends Hwang Jung a picture of his father Yard Dog.

Official Yu is framed by the Japanese ambassador for providing guns to the roaming bandits and for possessing sulfur, a prohibited item.

Hwang Jung remembers the journal that Dr. Allen gave to him; in it, Dr. Allen mentions that he prescribed sulfur for a patient with skin problems. Despite the darkness, Hwang Jung and Seok-ran ride on her bicycle to look for that patient and to ask him to be a witness for Official Yu. But while traveling in the woods, they’re accosted by bandits.
Hwang Jung and Seok-ran escape from the bandits and hide in a cave. Meanwhile, Baek Do-yang gathers some men and begins searching for them.

The State Tribunal officer works secretly for the Japanese ambassador and obtains the confessions that implicate Official Yu and the other translators.

Official Yu is set to be transferred from the Police Bureau to the State Tribunal where King Gojong will personally conduct the interrogation; when Dr. Heron refuses to help, Baek Do-yang decides to do something drastic.



Episode 20: The engagement


Episode 19 recap:

Baek Do-yang forges Dr. Heron’s signature and presents to King Gojong a letter that justifies Official Yu’s possession of the sulfur.

Baek Do-yang decides to send a marriage proposal to Seok-ran’s parents.
When Official Yu gives her time to think over Baek Do-yang’s marriage proposal, Seok-ran immediately goes to see Hwang Jung.

Dr. Heron confronts Baek Do-yang over the forged signature and letter; later, he warns Hwang Jung that he has not completed the required number of medical consultations.

Hwang Jung receives a letter from Dr. Allen; meanwhile, Seok-ran’s mother brings a shaman to examine her.

Lord Min Young-ik brings police investigators with him to check on everything that’s going on in Jejoongwon.

The qualifying exams start, consisting of written tests, anatomy, and medical examination.

Yard Dog finally decides to seek medical help in Jejoongwon.

The Jejoongwon staff and students get ready on the day of the cataract surgery; Dr. Watanabe and Suzuki plan to expose Hwang Jung and bring Jejoongwon down after the surgery.

Note: After the exams, Seok-ran gives Hwang Jung some sweet rice cakes (“hwajeon”) that are topped with Korean azaleas.

For more information about “hwajeon,” download my infographic on “hwajeon,” a popular Korean delicacy or surf to (1) Pan-Fried Sweet Rice Cakes with Edible Flowers; (2) Fresh Flower Rice Pancake.

Episode 21: The revelation


Episode 20 recap:

Seok-ran rejects Baek Do-yang’s marriage proposal and gets permission from her father to start a relationship with Hwang Jung.

Lord Min Young-ik discovers the corrupt activities of Jejoongwon’s administrators.

Hwang Jung tops the exams, earning the right to assist in the cataract surgery. Baek Do-yang finishes fourth in the exam.
Near Jejoongwon’s entrance, several men repeatedly kick and curse Yard Dog. Baek Do-yang later sees him and orders Yi Gwak (Jak Dae) to bring him inside; he promises Yard Dog that he will treat him after the cataract surgery.

After the surgery, Baek Do-yang confronts Dr. Watanabe about Yard Dog’s picture that he sent to Hwang Jung.

When a nobleman complains about the foul smell from rotting flesh, Administrator Baek kicks Yard Dog out of Jejoongwon. But Dr. Heron, Dr. Horton, Hwang Jung, Seok-ran, Baek Do-yang, and the guests arrive and see them. Yi Gwak (Jak Dae) says that Yard Dog is a patient but is about to leave. Yard Dog then recognizes Hwang Jung as his son Little Dog.

Baek Do-yang stops Yard Dog from leaving Jejoongwon, and later, Dr. Heron orders Hwang Jung, as a doctor-in- training, to examine Yard Dog as his first patient.

Note: Starting at the 15:06 mark of Episode 22, the drama uses as background music Korea’s unofficial anthem “Arirang.”

At the 17:21 mark, Nurse Park throws salt at Hwang Jung; during the Joseon Dynasty, throwing salt was to scare away bad luck.





Episode 22: The War Minister’s daughter


Episode 21 recap:

Hwang Jung’s true identity as Little Dog, the butcher, is finally exposed. With Lord Min Young-ik, Dr. Heron and Administrator Oh being sympathetic to his plight, he’s kicked out of Jejoongwon instead of being arrested and charged before the Police Bureau.
Little Dog (Hwang Jung) returns to the Butcher Village along with his father and Jak Dae. But the butchers recognize him and impose on him their punishment for engaging in illegal butchery.

On Dr. Horton’s pleadings, Official Yu allows Seok-ran to return to Jejoongwon.

Official Yu orders his servants Mak-saeng and Chilbok to accompany Seok-ran wherever she goes. But as Seok-ran and Dr. Horton leave Jejoongwon, Chilbok suddenly collapses. Dr. Heron diagnoses that he has cholera.

After informing King Gojong and Queen Min about the spread of cholera, Dr. Heron meets all the medical students to plan their trip to Jaemulpo where the cholera started. But at the meeting, Jae Wook and other students question Seok-ran’s presence there.

Cholera also spreads to the Butcher Village; after taking care of a sick man, Little Dog (Hwang Jung) is surprised to see Dr. Watanabe and Suzuki in the village.

In Jaemulpo, the cholera has now become an epidemic. As Jejoongwon’s students move to stop it from further spreading, soldiers quarantine the affected villages.

After meeting Jak Dae who’s visiting Chilbok in Jejoongwon, Seok-ran decides to go to the Butcher Village with some medical supplies.

Queen Min asks Dr. Horton to check on Young In, the daughter of the War Minister. But the Minister has already called shamans and refuses to let Dr. Horton examine Young In, who now has difficulty breathing and is continuously coughing up blood.

Episode 23


Episode 22 recap:

Dr. Horton and Dr. Heron agree that they will take turns in teaching Seok-ran so that she can be a full-fledged doctor.

The fiancé of the War Minister’s daughter (Young In) brings her to Jejoongwon; Seok-ran and Go Jung-geun diagnose her sickness as pleurisy that needs immediate operation. But Dr. Heron, Dr. Horton, and Baek Do-yang are all in Jaemulpo, which is six hours away. Go Jung-geun suggests to Administrator Oh that they should call Hwang Jung for the operation.
From outside the operating room, Hwang Jung instructs Seok-ran on how to perform the operation. But then Young In suddenly stops breathing. Despite the warning of the administrators and the servant’s protest, Hwang Jung enters the room and takes over from Seok-ran. Using a scalpel, he cuts open Young In’s throat.

Baek Do-yang arrives, later on, after the operation and is stunned by what Hwang Jung did.

Young In wakes up and asks her servant about everything that happened during the operation. The servant confesses everything, and that night, Young In commits suicide.

Hwang Jung is arrested by the Police Bureau.

Note: To understand why Young In (the War Minister’s daughter) took her own life after Hwang-jung operated on her or why she thought that she has been disgraced, we have to consider the issue of female chastity during the Joseon Dynasty and up to the late 1970s:

On the other hand, women in Korea were clearly divided into two camps along the dichotomy, and it is a one-way street if they do cross the divide. The “proper” women must remain chaste, and the requirements of being chaste are utterly crazy. As a rule, a traditional Korean woman carried a small silver knife. The knife is for self-defense, but not the kind of self-defense that you are thinking. The knife is there to kill yourself with if you are about to be “disgraced”. Realistically, “disgraced” means “raped”. However, technically “disgraced” meant any man other than your husband touching you.

One story during the Joseon Dynasty speaks of a virtuous woman who, because a boatman held her hand while helping her into the boat, either jumped out of the boat and drowned herself or cut off her own hand, depending on the version. It is unlikely that this story is true, but this was the moral code to which traditional Korean women were supposed to aspire. In a similar horrifying vein, rape-marriages – forced marriage to a man who raped you – happened regularly until late 1970s, since living with the rapist as a proper woman is better than living as a fallen woman.

(emphasis by boldfacing supplied)

Episode 24: The execution


Episode 23 recap:

With Young In’s life at stake, Hwang Jung takes over from Seok-ran. After cutting open her throat to allow her to breathe, he performs the operation to remove the pus from her lungs.

Believing that Hwang Jung violated her body, Young In commits suicide.

The head of the Police Bureau finds out about the illegal butchery that Hwang Jung (Little Dog) did years ago. Hwang Jung is sentenced to die.
Despite appeals from the Jejoongwon staff, medical students, and the American missionaries led by Rev. Appenzeller, King Gojong refuses to lift Hwang Jung’s death sentence.

The Russian ambassador needs an immediate cataract operation, but Dr. Heron refuses to operate on him, despite Lord Min Young-ik’s appeal that Joseon desperately needs Russia’s help. The ambassador then goes to Dr. Watanabe.

Dr. Watanabe and Suzuki visit Hwang Jung in prison and offer him a way of escape. On the night before his execution, Seok-ran visits Hwang Jung, and he hints to her about accepting Dr. Watanabe’s offer.

The next day, on the execution grounds, Hwang Jung is snatched away.

Note: Starting at the 47:04 mark, Hwang Jung kneels before the two wooden posts where he will be beheaded. To his surprise, he sees at the smaller post a single, yellow chrysanthemum. (That chrysanthemum probably has grown as nourished by the light snow and the blood of those who have been beheaded there.) He smiles as he sees the chrysanthemum and peacefully prepares to die.

Nothing in the previous scenes or episodes says anything about chrysanthemums. But here’s what I think the drama’s writer is trying to say:

Chrysanthemums grow during late autumn until early winter, when most flowers have already faded. In East Asia (China, Japan, Korea, etc.), chrysanthemums are considered symbols of nobility; in fact. the Japanese emperor is referred to as the “Chrysanthemum Throne.” While white chrysanthemum is a symbol for death, yellow chrysanthemum is a symbol of the “elegance of people who keep their integrity under hardships and refuse to be polluted by society.” (From “Behind the Design: Chrysanthemum the Noble Flower”)

In effect, the drama’s writer is saying that even though Hwang Jung is considered by Joseon society as a worthless “butcher vermin,” he is the real nobleman because of his choices and actions. And that his life has a far truer meaning and contribution than those who have been born into the “yangban” caste.

Episode 25: Wishes and dreams


Episode 24 recap:

King Gojong sends soldiers to take Hwang Jung to the palace. He tells Dr. Heron that if Hwang Jung is able to successfully perform the cataract operation on the Russian ambassador, he will pardon Hwang Jung.

With the successful operation, King Gojong pardons Hwang Jung and promotes his status to freeborn. He also orders Hwang Jung to continue his studies in Jejoongwon.
Hwang Jung returns in triumph to Jejoongwon, with a new haircut and wearing Western clothes. As Dr. Heron promised, he’s given his clinic schedule to treat his own patients.

Hwang Jung’s father visits Official Yu and his wife; he promises them that he will order Hwang Jung to stay away from Seok-ran.

Finding out that Hwang Jung’s father has difficulty moving about because of the amputation, Dr. Heron suggests something to Hwang Jung, but unfortunately, there isn’t one in Joseon. Hwang Jung, however, gets an idea when he sees Seok-ran’s broken bicycle.

The Minister of War vows revenge and sends his man to kill Hwang Jung.

Hwang Jung fulfills his father’s wish to eat a special kind of soup in a tavern. But while they’re at the tavern, the men who were sent by the Minister of War use a fake medical emergency to lure Hwang Jung away from the tavern.

Dr. Heron collapses due to fatigue and becomes very sick. And yet, he insists to Baek Do-yang and Hwang Jung that he will operate on a patient who needs an emergency surgery.

Episode 26: The fox hunt


Episode 25 recap:

Hwang Jung’s father dies after being beaten up by the men who were sent by the Minister of War.

Hwang Jung breaks off his relationship with Seok-ran.

Dr. Heron gets sick with dysentery.
Dr. Heron is so sick that he can’t continue with the surgery. Later on, King Gojong orders him to recuperate at a retreat for missionaries.

As his icy relationship with Seok-ran continues, Hwang Jung is bullied by some medical students and staff in Jejoongwon.

At the retreat, Dr. Watanabe visits Dr. Heron and Baek Do-yang. Later, as Dr. Heron’s condition worsens, Baek Do-yang orders Mongchong to immediately notify Hwang Jung.

Five years later ...

Jejoongwon now belongs to the American Presbyterian Church and has a new Director, Dr. Avison. It holds its very first graduation, with Hwang Jung, Seok-ran, and Go Jung-geun becoming full-fledged doctors. But Baek Do-yang has been missing for the last five years.

While King Gojong sets up in the palace the “Health Agency” (a network of all the hospirals in the capital), the Japanese embassy celebrates the opening of Hansung Hospital.

Hwang Jung and Dr. Avison find out that contagious diseases are plaguing the eunuchs. Meanwhile, Seok-ran and Dr. Horton inform Queen Min about the problem that also affects the court ladies.

The Japanese ambassador orders his men to attack the palace and kill Queen Min.



Episode 27: Death and new life


Episode 26 recap:

After Dr. Heron dies, Baek Do-yang leaves Jejoongwon and studies medicine in Japan.

Seok-ran is threatened by the leader of the Japanese assassins to identify Queen Min.
King Gojong and the Crown Prince are captured by the Japanese assassins. Meanwhile, Queen Min has escaped by disguising herself as a court maid.

The Russian ambassador protests the attack on the palace, but the Japanese ambassador claims to know nothing about it, despite the testimony of Rev. Horace Underwood (Dr. Horton’s husband).

To help protect King Gojong, Rev. Underwood volunteers to enter the palace to provide security. Finding out that King Gojong refuses to eat for fear of being poisoned, Dr. Horton and Seok-ran come up with a plan to provide safe food for him.

Dr. Watanabe and the Japanese embassy continue to pressure Jejoongwon into closing down.

As Hwang Jung tries to reconstruct the medical records, Seok-ran rushes Dr. Horton into Jejoongwon.

Mak-saeng gets pregnant and marries Mongchong, with Seok-ran as the maid of honor and Hwang Jung as the best man.

Seok-ran’s friend, Seung-yeon, asks her to leave Jejoongwon and transfer to Bogu Women’s Hospital, where her services are badly needed. Seung-yeon also tells her that it will ease the pressure that she feels in working so closely with Hwang Jung. Seok-ran replies that she will think about it.

As people begin rioting against the Japanese, Baek Do-yang returns to Joseon. After finding out that Seok-ran and Hwang Jung broke up years ago, he goes to Jejoongwon that night.



Episode 28: The great escape


Episode 27 recap:

Baek Do-yang completes his medical studies in Japan; while there, he becomes engaged to Naoko.

Seok-ran and Hwang Jung reconcile.
Despite Dr. Watanabe’s order, Baek Do-yang answers Jejoongwon’s emergency call for doctors. But later on, he gets into a misunderstanding with Hwang Jung and Seok-ran as he refuses to believe that Queen Min was murdered by the Japanese.

Official Yu brings Hwang Jung to a secret meeting with Lord Lee Yong-ik (the pro-Russian Minister of Home Affairs), the Head Eunuch, and Rev. Underwood. They plan to help King Gojong and the Crown Prince to escape from the palace.

Administrator Oh and the Sungkyungkwan scholars protest at the palace gate against Queen Min’s murderers and against King Gojong’s order for all Joseon men to cut off their topknots.

Seok-ran meets Baek Do-yang at a restaurant to urge him to leave Hansung Hospital. But as they’re talking, Naoko (Baek Do-yang’s fiancée) shows up. Later, as the three of them walk through the streets, Baek Do-yang notices some men who are following them.

Seok-ran’s mother visits Baek Do-yang at Hansung Hospital and tries to restart his romance with Seok-ran.

With guns at the ready, the Head Eunuch and Rev. Underwood watch from a distance as Hwang Jung and Seok-ran try to help King Gojong and the Crown Prince to escape. But at the palace gate, Kim Don and the Japanese soldiers arrive and block their way.

Episode 29: “Do no harm”


Episode 28 recap:

Naoko brings to Hansung Hospital her father’s gift to Baek Do-yang, an x-ray machine. No other hospital in Joseon has an x-ray machine.

King Gojong, along with the Crown Prince, escapes through the palanquins that were prepared by Hwang Jung and Seok-ran. Later, he issues orders against the pro-Japanese ministers.

Lord Lee Yong-ik suffers from terrible pain in his stomach area; because of the difference in diagnosis between Hwang Jung and Baek Do-yang, he agrees to go to Hansung Hospital to have an x-ray examination.
Complications arise as Baek Do-yang operates on Lord Lee Yong-ik, and Naoko urges him to end the operation at once. As Dr. Watanabe leaves the operating room, Hwang Jung stops him.

When King Gojong learns that Lord Lee Yong-ik was brought to Hansung Hospital, he scolds Hwang Jung and orders him that Jejoongwon patients must never be brought there.

At the restaurant where Jae Wook works, Baek Do-yang overhears some Japanese men talking about the late Queen Min. Later, at the hospital, Dr. Watanabe orders him to kill Lord Lee Yong-ik.

In Jejoongwon, while Dr. Avison and Seok-ran are reminding Hwang Jung that his primary responsibility is not to King Gojong but to his patients, Baek Do-yang rushes in, bringing with him Lord Lee Yong-ik.

Returning to the hospital, Baek Do-yang is confronted by Dr. Watanabe and later threatened by the Japanese ambassador.

Naoko informs Seok-ran about her and Baek Do-yang’s wedding plans; she tells Seok-ran not to meet Baek Do-yang anymore as he'll be busy with their wedding plans.

Seung-yeon brings to Seok-ran a female patient who tried to commit suicide. With the patient unwilling to talk, Seok-ran decides to bring the patient to Hansung Hospital and to ask for Baek Do-yang’s help. Upon learning of what she did, Hwang Jung rushes there.

Episode 30: Revenge


Episode 29 recap:

Baek Do-yang refuses to follow Dr. Watanabe’s order; later, the Japanese ambassador tells him that the order to kill Lord Lee Yong-ik came directly from Naoko’s father, the Foreign Minister.

The bomb planted by Kim Don explodes, but Lord Lee Yong-ik survives.

With Hwang Jung and Naoko watching from outside the operating room in Jejoongwon, Seok-ran and Baek Do-yang operate on a cleft lip patient.
Naoko becomes jealous of Seok-ran and confronts Baek Do-yang.

The hospitals in the capital begin offering free harelip operations to children.

Naoko’s father arrives in Joseon and pressures Baek Do-yang into hurrying up his wedding to Naoko.

The man whom the Minister of War ordered to kill Yard Dog offers to confess everything to Hwang Jung in exchange for some morphine. Later, Hwang Jung goes home and takes his father’s knife.

The Japanese ambassador assures Naoko’s father that he has a contingency plan if Baek Do-yang doesn’t do what they want him to do.

Baek Do-yang diagnoses that the former Minister of War has lung cancer and needs an immediate operation. When the Minister says that he doesn’t want to be operated on in Hansung Hospital, Dr. Watanabe reassures him that everything will be alright, saying that he has a personal interest in the operation.

Naoko gets drunk at the restaurant where Jae Wook works. Later, she tries to commit suicide.

Episode 31: Choices


Episode 30 recap:

Dr. Watanabe finds out that, just like the former War Minister, he’s suffering from lung cancer.

Naoko confirms from Jae Wook that Baek Do-yang and Seok-ran had a romantic relationship.

Seok-ran, Baek Do-yang, Official Yu, and Administrator Oh warn Hwang Jung about taking revenge against the former War Minister. But later, Hwang Jung barges into the Minister’s room in Hansung Hospital and demands that he apologize for his father Yard Dog’s death.
Despite Baek Do-yang’s protests, Dr. Watanabe allows Hwang Jung to observe the operation on the former War Minister. Finding out that Hwang Jung is in Hansung Hospital, Seok-ran rushes there.

As Dr. Watanabe’s condition worsens, Baek Do-yang says that he must be on operated immediately. But instead of undergoing the operation, Dr. Watanabe sends Baek Do-yang and Naoko on a vacation.

The husbands of the women who were operated on for cleft lip barge into Jejoongwon and Bogu Women’s Hospital, looking for their wives.

Dr. Avison announces to all of the staff that Jejoongwon has received a donation of $10,000 from an American family.

The Russo-Japanese War begins.

Seok-ran forgets all about Hwang Jung’s birthday. To make up for it, she, Dr. Horton, Nang Nang, and Miryung prepare a surprise birthday party. But, it’s already late at night, and Hwang Jung still hasn’t come back from a meeting.



Episode 32: The cornerstone


Episode 31 recap:

Baek Do-yang and Seok-ran stop Hwang Jung from killing the former War Minister. Later, Baek Do-yang and Hwang Jung finally make peace with one another.

Baek Do-yang finds out that Naoko faked her suicide attempt.

Dr. Watanabe orders Kim Don to kidnap Hwang Jung after he refuses to perform the surgery.
Dr. Watanabe and Kim Don force Hwang Jung to perform the surgery. Meanwhile, to Naoko’s irritation, Baek Do-yang offers to help Seok-ran in looking for Hwang Jung.

Hwang Jung makes up an excuse about why he disappeared so as not to alarm Seok-ran and the Jejoongwon staff.

After Hwang Jung asks him to provide security for Seok-ran, Official Yu reveals that he has decided to fight for Joseon’s independence from Japan.

At the restaurant, Seok-ran and Baek Do-yang meet to their surprise a famous American novelist. Naoko arrives later on, however, and creates a scene.

After being up beaten up and quitting his job at a gold mine, Mongchong runs to Jejoongwon. But the Japanese men who beat him up follow him there.

Hwang Jung, Seok-ran, Dr. Go, and Administrator Oh meet to plan the program for laying the cornerstone of Jejoongwon’s new building. They’re stumped, however, by what song to sing during the program.

As Seok-ran and Hwang Jung walk back home under the rain, someone from Hwang Jung’s past passes by them. Meanwhile, Naoko is at the door of Baek Do-yang’s house, being drenched by the pouring rain.

After the laying of the cornerstone, Seok-ran, Hwang Jung, and Baek Do-yang meet with Consul-General (Dr.) Allen, and they reminisce about their early days in Jejoongwon.



Episode 33: The freedom fighters


Episode 32 recap:

Hwang Jung escapes from Hansung Hospital with Baek Do-yang’s help.

Officer Jung comes back to the capital.

Baek Do-yang performs an emergency surgery on Naoko.

With the connivance of some Joseon ministers, Japan imposes the Eulsa Treaty on King Gojong, making Joseon a protectorate with a Resident-General in charge.
Widespread grief and anger engulf the people as Joseon becomes Japan’s protectorate. While the Japanese ambassador and his staff celebrate, Baek Do-yang is at a crossroads.

The Japanese Resident-General orders that the Health Agency network be placed under Hansung Hospital.

Official Yu starts buying guns and coordinating with the patriot army in the capital and its supporters. He also assigns someone to assassinate the ministers who signed the Eulsa Treaty.

Administrator Oh and Monchong lead the protesters outside the house of Minister Lee Geun-taek. As the protests and riots spread, Jejoongwon is flooded with patients; the medical supplies start to run out, and the staff are pressured by ethical dilemmas.

Minister Lee Geun-taek is attacked by assassins, and he’s rushed to Hansung Hospital.

Despite the threats against him, Baek Do-yang resigns from Hansung Hospital and returns to Jejoongwon. Later, Official Yu leads him and Hwang Jung to the hideout where the assassins are hiding.

After the Japanese ambassador finds out who were responsible for the assassination attempt against Minister Lee Geun-taek, he orders Japanese soldiers to raid Jejoongwon.

Episode 34: Farewell, Official Yu!


Episode 33 recap:

Officer Jung gets shot while trying to assassinate Minister Lee Geun-taek.

Naoko also resigns from Hansung Hospital and brings the rabies vaccine to Baek Do-yang.

Official Yu is arrested by the Japanese soldiers.
Despite Seok-ran and Hwang Jung’s protests, the Japanese soldiers take Official Yu with them.

While Seok-ran burns all documents that could implicate her father, Hwang Jung runs to the camp where Officer Jung and Official Yu’s men are training. But they’re suddenly attacked by Japanese soldiers.

As Baek Do-yang continues to work on the rabies vaccine, Kim Don arrives in Jejoongwon with some soldiers and demands that Naoko be turned over to them.

Hwang Jung appeals to King Gojong to help secure Official Yu’s release, but the Imperial Herald (Head Eunuch) says that they must wait for the report of the secret emissaries to the Hague Peace Convention. Meanwhile, Official Yu continues to be tortured by the Japanese officer and by Dr. Watanabe.

The Imperial Herald (Head Eunuch) asks Hwang Jung to take over from Official Yu as the leader of the patriot army in the capital, but Hwang Jung says that he’s merely a doctor who doesn’t know anything about warfare.

While walking to the prison where Official Yu is being held, Dr. Watanabe, Suzuki, and Dr. Sato are kidnapped by masked men.

Note: Episode 34 and Episode 35 deal with the human experiments and clinical trials that Dr. Watanabe and Dr. Sato did on Joseon citizens. The drama’s incidents have their historical basis in the infamous Unit 731 of the Japanese Imperial Army. From “Unit 731: Japan discloses details of notorious chemical warfare division” (The Guardian, April 2018):

“Other accounts indicate that similar experiments took place in other parts of Asia. In 2006, Akira Makino, a former doctor, said he had been ordered to conduct experiments on condemned men while stationed on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines.

“Formed in the mid-1930s in Harbin, north-eastern China, Unit 731 conducted lethal experiments on an estimated 3,000 prisoners, who were mostly Chinese and Korean.

“According to historical accounts, male and female prisoners, named ‘logs’ by their torturers, were subjected to vivisection without anaesthesia after they had been deliberately infected with diseases such as typhus and cholera. Some had limbs amputated or organs removed.”

Episode 35: The abdication and the wedding


Episode 34 recap:

Before Officer Jung dies, he tells Hwang Jung to give the list of the commanders of the various patriot armies to General Huh Wi.

Using false identities, Baek Do-yang, Hwang Jung, and Seok-ran visit Official Yu.

Official Yu is executed.

Naoko’s father forces her to return to Japan.

Hwang Jung treats General Huh Wi who has been shot.
Against King Gojong’s will, the Japanese Resident-General and the ambassador force his abdication in favor of the Crown Prince.

After seeing the staged abdication, Hwang Jung meets Consul-General (Dr.) Allen and says that he regrets not accepting the leadership of Official Yu’s patriot army.

The two former (gisaeng) nurses rush to Jejoongwon after they were beaten up by Kim Don in Hansung Hospital. Later, Kim Don and Dr. Sato harass Seok-ran, Seung-yeon, and their patients in Bogu Women’s Hospital.

Seok-ran, Hwang Jung, and Baek Do-yang find out that Hansung Hospital is doing clinical trials of Japanese medicines on unsuspecting Joseon citizens. Baek Do-yang goes to Hansung Hospital to protest, but Dr. Sato threatens him.

After finding out that Hwang Jung is encouraging people to boycott Hansung Hospital, the Japanese ambassador orders his arrest and torture.

When a newspaper publishes a news article about his arrest, Hwang Jung is unexpectedly released. Nursing him back to health, Seok-ran tells Hwang Jung that it’s time for them to get married.

When a Japanese officer finds from a recently-captured prisoner the list of all the leaders of the patriot armies, the ambassador orders that Hwang Jung be arrested during his wedding to Seok-ran.

Note: “Korean Wedding Traditions”

“Traditionally, Korean betrothal gifts were brought to the bride’s home by a band of the groom’s closest friends. The gifts were placed in a box called a hahm. The group, dressed in costume with blackened faces, would arrive singing at the bride’s family home. They would stop just outside the house, chanting, ‘Hahm for sale, hahm for sale!’ The bride’s family would rush out and offer money to the group. Through fun negotiation and laughter, the bearers would be bribed until at last the hahm was delivered.”



Episode 36: Finale (with spoilers)


Hwang Jung and Seok-ran get married, with Consul-General (Dr.) Allen as the officiating minister. Baek Do-yang is the best man, while Seung-yeon is the maid of honor.

After the wedding, they visit the graves of Hwang Jung’s parents.

Baek Do-yang becomes Chief of Staff of Jejoongwon Severance Hospital, while Hwang Jung becomes a leader in the anti-Japanese patriot armies.

Jejoongwon’s new building is inaugurated, with its facilities better than that of Hansung Hospital. Hwang Jung, in disguise, sneaks into the inauguration to see the building and Seok-ran.

After the patriot armies are scattered by the surprise Japanese attack, Hwang Jung decides to continue the fight by going to Manchuria with Seok-ran.

At the last moment, however, Seok-ran backs out when her friend Seung-yeon dies. Hwang Jung leaves for Manchuria by himself.

Five years later ... Hwang Jung and Seok-ran are reunited, and they plan to build their own hospital and medical school.







Historical backgrounders and other information


History of Jejoongwon (later called Severance Hospital; now part of Yonsei University, one of the top three universities in Korea)



The Real People Behind JeJoonWon, Part 2 (Sageuk: Korean Historical Dramas); Backgrounders on historical figures like Dr. Horace Allen, Dr. Lillias Horton, etc; Historical figures who inspired the characters Seok-ran, Baek Do-yang, etc.

JeJoongWon. Part 1 (Sageuk: Korean Historical Dramas): Quick History of Jejoongwon; Joseon’s Social Caste System; Jejoongwon: A Who’s Who of Early Korean Christianity

A tribute to Jejoongwon (Electric Ground): Park Seo Yang, the real-life Hwang Jung; The discovery of actor Park Yong Woo

Jejoongwon (Part 1): The history (Thundie’s Prattle): Joseon Caste System; Jejoongwon (House of Universal Helpfulness); Queen Min (aka Empress Myeongseong)

Jejoongwon (Part 2): Lead cast and characters (Thundie’s Prattle)

Jejoongwon (Part 3): Supporting cast and characters (Thundie’s Prattle)

[Foreigners Who Loved Korea] Tracing Underwood’s legacy

Celebrating the Life of Dr. Horace Allen

Lillias [Horton] Underwood – Missionary to Korea

“Antique books on old Korea by western writers displayed in National Library of Korea” (Lillias H. Underwood is mentioned beginning at the 1:33 mark)



Arirang Special M60Ep199 The Untold Story - “The Korean Empire”
(Story of King Gojong and Queen Min aka Empress Myeongseong; Lord Min Young-ik, who is portrayed prominently in the first few episodes of this drama, is mentioned at the 3:38 mark)



“Queen Min of Joseon Korea” (ThoughtCo)

“Typically, queen consorts concerned themselves with setting fashions for the noble women of the realm, hosting tea parties, and gossiping. Queen Min, however, had no interest in these pastimes. Instead, she read widely on history, science, politics, philosophy, and religion, giving herself the kind of education ordinarily reserved for men.”

“In the period after the Ganghwa incident, Queen Min spearheaded a reorganization and modernization of Korea’s military. She also reached out to China, Russia, and the other western powers in hopes of playing them off against the Japanese in order to protect Korean sovereignty.”

“The Sword With No Name” (2009 movie, fictionalized account of Queen Min aka Empress Myeongseong; Lotus Action Asia– Grand Prix Action Asia/ Best Action Asia Film - 2010 (12th) Deauville Asian Film Festival)



Jejoongwon’s building down through the decades


First picture below shows the original Jejoongwon building, while the 4th picture shows the detailed, full-scale reproduction of the original building which has been placed in the campus of Yonsei University. The 2nd and 3rd pictures show the Jejoongwon Severance Memorial Hospital in the early 1900s. The last picture shows the ultra-modern Severance Hospital, which is part of Yonsei University.



Lessons in photography from “Jejoongwon”


Lessons in photography: warm and cool colors
Lesson in photography: Bokeh (aesthetic quality of blurred areas in a photograph)
Lessons in photography: shallow depth of field, compressed perspective
Lesson in photography: natural frames
Lesson in photography: dynamic symmetry
Lessons in photography: background blur, compressed perspective
Lesson in photography: Dutch angle or Dutch tilt
Lessons in photography: high angle shot,  red is a dominant color
Lesson in photography: low angle shot
Lesson in photography:out-of-focus elements as foreground frame
Lesson in photography: silhouette
Lesson in photography: Dutch angle or Dutch tilt
Lessons in photography: natural frames, linear perspective
Lesson in photography: natural frame
Lesson in photography: conveying depth through overlapping forms
Lessons in photography: partial frame, background blur, focus on the eyes
Lessons in photography: sidelighting, partial frame
Lesson in photography :high angle shot
Lessons in photography: low angle shot, keystoning
Lesson in photography: reflections
Lesson in photography: symmetry
Lessons in photography: ABBA shot, compressed perspective
Lesson in photography: Bokeh (aesthetic quality of blurred areas
of a photograph)
Lessons in photography: conveying depth through overlapping forms,
diagonal lines
Lessons in photography: establishing shot, high angle shot
Lessons in photography: foreground and background blur, natural frame
Lessons in photography: foreground and background blur,
compressed perspective
Lessons in photography: partial frame, background blur, focus on the eyes
Lesson in photography: high angle shot
Lesson in photography: low angle shot
Lessons in photography: low angle shot, diagonal lines
Lesson in photography: natural frame
Lessons in photography: out-of-focus element as foreground/partial frame,
background blur
Lessons in photography: out-of-focus elements as foreground/partial frames,
compressed perspective
Lessons in photography: partial frame, background blur
Lessons in photography: partial frame, compressed perspective
Lessons in photography:partial frame, background blur
Lessons in photography: partial frame, compressed perspective
Lesson in photography: local frame
Lessons in photography:sidelighting, partial frame
Lessons in photography: conveying depth through overlapping forms,
foreground blur
Lessons in photography: linear perspective, natural frames
Lessons in photography: foreground and background blur, diagonal lines,
natural frame
Lessons in photography: shadows, high angle shot
Lessons in photography: local frame, line of direction
Lesson in photography: leading line
Lessons in photography: keystoning, low angle shot, natural frame,
linear perspective
Lesson in photography: reflection
Lessons in photography: linear perspective, natural frame
Lessons in photography: foreground and background blur, local frames
Lessons in photography: low angle shot, symmetry
Lesson in photography: symmetry
Lesson in photography: symmetry



Lesson in photography: local frame, portraiture (catchlight in the eyes)
Lesson in photography: reflection
Lessons in photography: symmetry, natural frame
Lessons in photography: warm and cool colors
Lessons in photography: natural frames, foreground blur
Lessons in photography: backlighting, rim lighting
Lesson in photography: Dutch angle or Dutch tilt
Lessons in photography: background blur, line of direction
Lessons in photography: sidelighting, rim lighting.
chiaroscuro (interplay of light and shadows)
Lessons in photography: out-of-focus element as partial (foreground) frame.
conveying depth through foreground and background blur
Lesson in photography: natural frames
Lessons in photography: out-of-focus foreground element as partial frame,
compressed perspective, background blur
Lessons in photography: partial frame, background blur,
compressed perspective
Lessons in photography: line of direction, focus on the eyes, background blur
Lessons in photography: out-of-focus foreground element as partial frame,
shallow depth of field
Lessons in photography: background blur, focus on the eyes
Lesson in photography: low angle shot (low angle point of view)
Lessons in photography: odd-numbered group is easier to shoot,
hidden geometric pattern
Lesson in photography: Dutch angle or Dutch tilt
Lesson in photography: shooting against the light
Lesson in photography: natural frames
Lessons in photography: Rule of Thirds, off-center emphasis
Lesson in photography: compressed or stacked perspective
Lessons in photography: light tones,
emotional content of colors - white symbolizes purity
Lessons in photography: out-of-focus foreground elements as natural frame,
bokeh (aesthetic quality of blurred areas in a photograph)

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