‘Doctor Cha’ Episode 1: Recap & Ending, Explained: Why Was Cha Jeong-Suk Hospitalized?


Director Kim Dae-Jin brings to us what seems to be a promising series, “Doctor Cha,” a story revolving around Cha Jeong-Suk and her decision to restart her career as a doctor after being forced to abandon it when she married into a wealthy family. The story promises a criticism of the misogyny and sexism embedded deeply in South Korea as well as in other countries the world over. It seems to be a very satisfying show, and there are a lot of high hopes because Uhm Jung-Hwa, the actor, is known for a lot of her works that subtly criticize society.

Spoilers Ahead

Meeting Roy Kim: Why Did Cha Jeong-Suk Freeze In The Bus? 

Cha Jeong-Suk, the main protagonist of the drama, is a homemaker focused on ensuring her kids and husband face no problems as they prepare for their day ahead. She had visited her friend, Baek Mi-Hee, a plastic surgeon, for the day. While she was returning from the visit, she had taken a bus ride when a medical emergency arose. However, as she faced the choking person, she ultimately froze due to her lack of expertise in the medical field. Roy Kim had been around at the time the person was taken to the hospital via ambulance and had successfully saved the person during the journey. Here, we get to know more about Cha Jeong-Suk, who apparently was a doctor 20 years ago. When she returned home, her mother-in-law came to visit, and we understood more about Jeong-Suk’s situation. Turns out that once she had married Seo In-Ho, she had been expected to give up her career and focus simply on taking care of her husband, kids, and the household chores. She mulled over the conversation with her mother-in-law, and she felt that she was missing something in her life. Therefore, when her husband returned home, she tried to get closer to him; however, he rejected her. They had been sleeping in different rooms as he did not like her getting too close to him.

Why Was Doctor Cha’s Husband Stand-Offish?

The reason behind the couple sleeping in separate rooms was the fact that In-Ho had been cheating on Jeong-Suk. He preferred sleeping in a separate room because he did not want to cheat on his long-time beau, Choi Seung-Hi, with his wife. He had to marry Jeong-Suk because she had been pregnant with Seo Jung-Min. However, he still kept in touch with Seung-Hi. His mother preferred Seung-Hi too, which is later revealed; however, she was not against getting pampered by her daughter-in-law with no strings attached. At In-Ho’s hospital, he could be in a relationship with Seung-Hi, although they had to hide it from their fellow doctors due to them knowing his wife. He went on dates with her and also preferred her to pick out what he would wear. He had also scheduled a trip to Europe with Seungh-Hi, which he passed off as a business trip to Jeong-Suk. He treated Jeong-Suk almost like a maid instead of his wife. When it came time to visit his wife at the emergency room, he instead opted to continue his business trip. He had also refused to donate his liver to his sick wife and instead opted to seek help from her cousin while hiding behind his mother. However, when push came to shove, and her cousin backed out of the donation, he did agree to help her, even though in the end, he could not go through with it.

‘Doctor Cha’ Episode 1: Ending Explained: Why Was Cha Jeong-Suk Hospitalized?

Jeong-Suk wished for a problem-free trip for her husband, which is why when she saw that the sunglasses he had were worn out, she thought of buying him a new pair. Even after their fight, she stayed up to finish painting the slabs for the kitchen and prepared to go to the store to buy sunglasses for him. During her time at the store, she suddenly became overcome with fatigue and felt dizzy. She ultimately collapsed on the floor of the store, and when she woke up, she found out that she was in the emergency room of the hospital. Earlier, when she had gone to visit her friend at the beginning of “Doctor Cha” Episode 1, Mi-Hee had mentioned that Jeong-Suk looked sick and tired. She also mentioned that Jeong-Suk’s skin was tinged with a yellowness that is common among jaundice patients. Her eyes had taken on a yellowish tinge as well, which had Mi-Hee concerned about Jeong-Suk’s health. So, when she collapsed at the store and was brought to the ER, the doctors confirmed the result immediately after performing some tests on her. She was kept under observation for a few days, during which she stumbled upon Roy Kim treating a patient on the stairs while she was on her way to the convenience store. The patient had refused treatment because she had no money, but Kim could not give up on her, so he treated her on the stairs.

Jeong-Suk met him again when she was sent with her results to gauge the situation. Kim told her that her liver was dangerously close to failure and she might need a transplant. He had kept her under observation for a few more days to ensure that she did not need a transplant and hoped the medication worked its magic. However, as things took a turn for the worse, Jeong-Suk needed a transplant soon, and her kids could not help her out. Seo I-Rang, her daughter, was a minor, and Jung-Min, her son, was not a match. In-Ho had been a match, but he had refused to donate because his mother did not want him to. Kwak Ae-Sim, In-Ho’s mother, threw a tantrum at Kim’s office and also pretended to be sick so that In-Ho would not agree to the donation.

Jeong-Suk’s mother, Oh Deok-Rye, reached out to her cousin to help her; however, her cousin’s wife rejected the monetary favor she had provided in order to get him to donate. When the day of the surgery came, In-Ho hesitated to sign the form until his mother came in to rip it up, making it impossible for him to consent, much to his relief. Meanwhile, it was found out that the cause of the liver failure had been a mixture of quack medicines sold in the name of improving health. Deok-Rye had bought them for Jeong-Suk after she witnessed how tired he seemed every day.

Meanwhile, Jeong-Suk had witnessed the interactions at the hospital and how Ae-Sim had insulted her mother when she had gone to beg her to let In-Ho save Jeong-Suk’s life. Jeong-Suk had also witnessed the spectacle that had played out while In-Ho had to sign the forms. Thus, “Doctor Cha” Episode 1 ended with a successful operation, suggesting that she might have gotten a liver from somewhere else, and as she came around, she found the strength to curse In-Ho out with the anger she had held in for years.

Final Thoughts

“Doctor Cha” Episode 1 seemed pretty interesting. It shed light on how, till now, there are some places in the so-called progressive countries where women are not allowed to work after their marriage. In this episode, even Ae-Sim’s friends agreed that Ae-Sim was archaic and that they felt pity for Jeong-Suk. Her outdated thinking of wanting to be pampered by her daughter-in-law had resulted in her being a joke in front of her friends while she pretended and was unaware of how she came across to them. They had also agreed that it was a waste for a good doctor to sit at home and tend to the needs of her family when she could be saving lives.

Although Jeong-Suk could have stayed at home by choice, she was never provided with the choice to work because whenever she brought it up in front of Ae-Sim, Ae-Sim dodged the question immediately and instead told her to focus on keeping herself pretty. Her husband treated her poorly, often raising his voice at her for something as simple as her undersalting the soup. He even rejected her advances because he would not cheat on Seung-Hi. I think the reason behind ensuring that she would not work was so that she couldn’t gain independence and in doing so consider leaving because someone else would take care of everything. Even though they are rich, they would not pay for housekeeping. She could also outshine In-Ho if she practiced, and the main reason would be that she is the wife of a well-to-do family, and their daughters-in-law do not work. It is so satisfying how the next episode of “Doctor Cha” will be a clap back at her in-laws and her husband. The trailer for the next episode shows how Jeong-Suk would take back control of her life and do what she wants to do. She would also take up her studies yet again to prepare for her return to practicing medicine. Jeong-Suk is going to be self-sufficient and confident in her skills, and I am here for it.

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Alokananda Sen
Alokananda Sen
Alokananda Sen holds a bachelor's degree in Journalism and Mass Communication. She has a keen interest in graphic designing, reading, and photography. Her insatiable appetite for cinema and pop culture enticed her to work as a content writer. She is currently pursuing a Post Graduate Diploma focused in Animation & VFX to explore a new dimension in her career.

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