Good news. The ratings climb continues. Episode 3 ticked up 0.4 percentage points from last’s week second show for a 14.5% ratings share. Episode 4 did even better, earning 16.3%. As for me, I’m still loving the show and don’t plan to go anywhere anytime soon. I’m dying to know how Yeo-jin will ultimately come out on top. She is going to prevail in the end, isn’t she!?


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We back up to Tae-hyun introducing himself to Yeo-jin. He’s shocked to see she’s unconscious, and he’s even more surprised to realize she’s the one he saved from committing suicide in the O.R. Chief Lee tells him Yeo-jin is in a persistent vegetative state, but Tae-hyun knows he’s lying and realizes the team is keeping her in an induced coma.

He learns that Yeo-jin’s mother’s family owned Hanshin Group, making her its sole heiress. Her stepbrother Do-joon is serving as chairman because of her condition, but he can’t inherit the company because he’s her father’s son from a previous marriage. The ostensible reason for keeping her alive is to protect the company, but Tae-hyun is no more fooled than we are, and he disclaims against hearing any more particulars about Yeo-jin’s condition.

However, Chief Lee tells him it’s too late. He’s an accomplice now, and it’s not just his life on the line either. If he mentions a word about what he knows, his little sister is in danger too. That nodding camera he saw when he entered the room was his final interview. From now on, “they” will be watching his every move.

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When he heads back to his office to let everything he’s learned sink in, Chae-young is there. She’s been waiting for him and startles him when she offers him a cigarette. She acts coy when he rebukes her for entering his office without his permission, and he decides to excuse himself instead of bantering with her.

He goes outside and calls his little sister So-hyun. However, their light-hearted conversation goes down hill quickly when he hears his father in the background. (I didn’t know dad was alive!) He tells So-hyun not to stay home alone with dad and hangs up when she refuses.

He’s angry and still reeling from everything that has happened, so he heads out to drink away his frustrations. Chae-young has followed him and shows up at the restaurant where he’s drinking. The next morning, his cell phone rings, waking him up, and he finds himself alone in a hotel room.

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He has to hurry to the hospital to do rounds with Chief Lee. His first patient is none other than Chae-young, and he’s floored to learn she’s Hanshin Group’s samonim. Do-joon’s secretary already has the pictures from their late night meal and trip to the hotel, but in front of Chief Lee, Chae-young pretends she’s meeting him for the first time.

Their next two patients are Hallyhu star Se-hoon and the girlfriend he assaulted, Hye-in. Tae-hyun thinks Hye-in is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and needs a psychiatric consultation, but Chief Lee wants to avoid the real story getting out at all costs and ignores his suggestion. Se-hoon has paid someone to take the fall for his crime, and we see news of the “culprit’s” capture circulating on the news when Chief Lee and Tae-hyun get to his room.

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Their next patient is registered under a fake name and turns out to be none other than Mob Boss Doo-chul. Chief Lee leaves Tae-hyun to do some wound care on Doo-chul’s injury, and Tae-hyun uses their time alone to impress upon Doo-chul how imperative it is that his identity as Yong-pal be kept a secret.

Tae-hyun goes to Yeo-jin’s room so he can call Man-shik in private and yells at him for revealing his identity to Doo-chul. If Doo-chul is caught, then he will be too and his little sister will die, he says. He says his days of making illegal house calls to the underworld are over and tells Man-shik to calculate how much he owes so he can repay him.

Yeo-jin hears his conversation and tries to make sense of what he’s saying. After his phone call, she wills him to look at her closely, hoping he’ll realize that she’s awake underneath the heavy sedation. Nurse Hwang interrupts his examination and scoffs at his attempt to pull rank as the doctor in charge. She conveniently forgets her part in imprisoning Yeo-jin for the past three years as she makes it clear she has no intention of treating him as a real physician considering his previous job of covertly treating gangsters. She tells him she’s the veteran in the operation and warns him not to overstep his boundaries with her again.

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Meanwhile, Hye-in proves that Tae-hyun’s concerns about her mental state were justified. During a walk outdoors, she starts having hallucinations and runs inside the hospital to hide. She finds herself in the basement control room and overhears a technician reprimanding his hoobae for not properly locking the main control panel. She learns that the hospital can be destroyed if the panel is not calibrated correctly.

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Tae-hyun makes it back to his office only to find that Chae-young is there again. This time though, she reveals the reason she followed him and set him up so it appears as if they spent a night together. She wants to see Yeo-jin and offers to keep their hotel rendezvous a secret in exchange for his help.

They’re interrupted when Cynthia barges inside to evacuate Chae-young. She sends Tae-hyun to help evacuate Yeo-jin. No one is allowed to leave until Chae-young and Yeo-jin are out, so he has to hurry to avoid putting them all in danger, she says.

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It turns out, Hye-in has locked herself in the control room and has switched the control panel to manual operation. If the system overheats, everyone in the hospital will be exposed to fatal levels of radiation.  Technicians and security guards pound on the door pleading with her to unlock it to no avail.

By the time Tae-hyun arrives on Yeo-jin’s wing, Nurse Hwang is already there, and he helps load Yeo-jin onto a stretcher and takes her to an awaiting van in an underground parking garage. Notably, Yeo-jin’s IV line gets pinched between the guardrails, preventing her from receiving the medicine used to keep her comatose. Neither Tae-hyun nor Nurse Hwang notice.

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Tae-hyun gets a call from his sister right before he’s about to get in the van with Yeo-jin. She’s already started her dialysis treatment on the renal ward, which means she’s in danger along with everyone else still in the hospital. He decides he has to know what’s really going on so he takes the keys from Yeo-jin’s van and runs to the nearest window, threatening to throw them to the ground unless someone tells him why they have to evacuate.

Having learned about Hye-in going rogue in the control center, he rushes back inside to save his sister. However, as he’s passing through the children’s wing, he has to slow down to let a group of children pass by. He’s struck by the sight of all the innocent children and their families and all the other visitors in the building.

When he sees Director Byung, Cynthia, and the VIPs rushing to safety—callously leaving everyone else behind to die—he rushes to the control room instead of going to save his sister. (This guy has a whole lot of heart!)

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Security gives him access to the intercom system so he can speak to Hye-in. She’s stubborn at first, but he eventually manages to talk her into giving up. He uses his own life story to soften her heart, pleading with her not to hurt innocent people when the ones who harmed her have already escaped. We learn that his mother suffered extreme domestic abuse at the hands of his father, and he donated a piece of his liver to his sister but the transplant was unsuccessful because her body rejected it.

While Tae-hyun is working on Hye-in, we see he’s clearly rubbed off on Cynthia. She tells Director Byung she has to head back to the hospital and has their driver drop her off so she can hurry to help Tae-hyun.

It’s a good thing she turns around too. Although Hye-in is willing to surrender, the control panel starts to overheat and releases a toxic gas inside the control room. Hye-in collapses, unable to make it to the door, and Tae-hyun saves her but is unable to make it out after successfully getting the system back online. Cynthia arrives with some guards just in time to pull him to safety.

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With the crisis over, Yeo-jin’s team receives a call that it’s safe to return to the hospital. Tae-hyun recovers from his bout with the toxic gas and goes to check on his sister before heading back to the VIP ward. When he gets to the 12th floor, his first order of business is delivering a punch right to Se-hoon’s jaw. Attaboy! Mob Boss Doo-chul is among the group of patients streaming back to their rooms. He sees Tae-hyun punch Se-hoon and approves, noting that Tae-hyun finally seems like the Yong-pal he knows.

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Tae-hyun then meets Nurse Hwang in Yeo-jin’s room and helps move Yeo-jin back to her high tech bed. With Yeo-jin settled, Nurse Hwang leaves, and Tae-hyun gets a call from Man-shik. He has the revised figures on how much Tae-hyun owes him. We don’t get to hear the sum, but by Tae-hyun’s reaction, it’s exorbitant. He hangs up, muttering to himself that it’s always something, and is stunned to hear Yeo-jin’s voice behind him. “That money . . . should I give it to you?”



Noooooooo . . . . another doozy of a cliff hanger! Show, didn’t I warn you last week not to do this to me!? And yet, here we are again. Another week to wait to find out what’s in store for our resident Sleeping Beauty and our resident, well, resident now that the princess is awake and angling to prevent her brother’s lackeys from taking her down again.

I think these first few episodes have been spot on. I find the show interesting, visually appealing and full of enough thought-provoking subject matter to keep the most avid philosopher full of musings. At the same time, it’s not full of itself or stuffy. The plot, and its subject matter, is pitch-perfect. But therein lies the problem, because if I had one criticism, it’d be that this show is a little too self-aware of what it’s doing. I think it takes things a little too far at times striving to tug at our emotions instead of just letting the actions speak for themselves.

I felt it during the first episode with the stirring music played during Tae-hyun’s conversation with his sister. And as much as I loved the scene in Episode 3 when Tae-hyun took the shard of glass from Yeo-jin before she could slit her throat, the music that punctuated it was implemented for maximum emotional impact. Yes—it worked and I liked it (which was the whole point). But it also felt slightly manipulative and that bothers me because if the show crosses the line (from merely suggestive to beating us over the head with things), it’ll change the whole tone of the show and turn viewers off instead of continuing to keep us engaged.

Having said all that, I’m still enthusiastically on board this train. With Tae-hyun getting almost all the screen time, it’s no surprise that I’m finding him more and more compelling. Last episode, I guessed that he’s someone who’s really vested in saving lives despite his attempts to appear to be all about the money. This episode we confirmed that commitment when instead of merely saving himself and his sister, he took the time to help everyone around him as well.

It was really disheartening to see “that ilk” saving themselves without even a thought to try to help the hundreds of unsuspecting people on the hospital grounds. The good thing is that their apathy was a nice juxtaposition against Tae-hyun’s refusal to behave the same way—in spite of the fact that a person he loves very much was in danger as well. I almost cheered when I saw him go to the control room instead of to help his sister because a part of me really did expect him to grab his loved one and get the hell out of dodge instead of striving to prevent harm to everyone else around him.

I think that part of him—his innate humanity—will be what ultimately drives him to help Yeo-jin.

Yong Pal: Episode 3 Recap
Yong Pal: Episode 2 Recap
Yong Pal: Episode 1 Recap

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