Don’t be surprised if I make my entire personality this show after watching only two episodes. I might go so far as to say I can see Netflix’s Doctor Slump becoming my favorite K-drama of 2024. Of course, it’s possible it’s my bias towards lead actress Park Shin-Hye that’s making me say this after watching a couple of episodes of the show; however, the way it’s progressed thus far has made me very excited for whatever’s coming next. Doctor Slump follows the story of two school rivals who grow up to become successful doctors. The problem is that one of them falls from grace after an incident in the surgery room, and the other works so hard that she becomes depressed. Don’t worry, we will get the romance we’re looking for; all we need to do is wait a little bit before things get more touchy-feely and the two main characters become completely open with each other. But, until then, let’s quickly recap the second episode of Doctor Slump.
How Did Jeong-Woo and Ha-Neul Become Enemies?
In episode 1, it appeared as if Ha-Neul threw away her medication; however, we see her pick it back up in episode 2. We learn that Jeong-Woo learned from a friend of a friend’s about the flat that he could rent and had no idea that it was a part of Ha-Neul’s house. Then we take off where episode 1 ended, and Ha-Neul and Jeong-Woo point at each other like they’re both Spider-Man. Although it looked like Jeong-Woo was living a fabulous life, he’s under huge pressure because his father is a reputed doctor (so we think) who is a candidate to become chairman of the American Heart Association. In a flashback, we see that Ha-Neul topped the midterm exams a little after joining Jeong-Woo’s school in Seoul, which started a childish competition between the two of them. At the time, even their classmates bet on who might top the class, and when they got the result, Jeong-Woo ended up slumping to the floor, making everyone worry that he’d fainted, or worse, died.
In the present day, Ha-Neul tells her friend that she might be a little bit depressed, and her friend gives the usual response, “Who in our generation isn’t? even I’m depressed.” Ha-Neul doesn’t make much of it, and the subject switches to Jeong-Woo. Ha-Neul is certain he’s going to move out now that he knows that she lives there; however, the universe might have different plans for the two of them. On the other hand, Jeong-Woo has nightmares regarding the surgery where the patient died and also a little bit of paranoia, thinking someone’s come looking for him to cause harm.
Why Does Ha-Neul Quit Her Job?
Jeong-Woo visits his friend in the hospital and even bumps into Ha-Neul later to ask her for a favor to “allow” him to stay in her house. However, when he sees her, his competitive spirit returns, and he can’t help but be a mean-spirited child in front of her. They blabber about which one of them is smarter until Jeong-Woo tells her that it’s great that she’s happy and has everything she ever wanted, but someday, it’ll all fade away, and she’ll end up at rock bottom just like him. I suppose it’s a case of “the grass is always greener on the other side,” because neither of them knows the extent to which the other’s struggling.
Later that day, Ha-Neul’s senior abuses her again, throwing some papers at her face, leaving a cut. Immediately, she’s also taken into surgery even though he’s the one who has been called because he’s a coward and the patient is the hospital chairman’s daughter. Ha-Neul is an anesthesiologist, and she’s only there to watch, but watching her senior struggle to put the tubes in, she asks if she should do it. The senior tries 3–4 times and hits a vein every time, making many blemishes on her skin and blaming it all on her weak veins. However, when Ha-Neul does it, she gets it done in one go.
In between, Ha-Neul visits her psychiatrist, who tells her that her condition is quite bad since she gets heart palpitations and severe anxiety while working. He tells Ha-Neul that she desperately needs a break right now and compares her illness with breaking a bone, which somewhat drives the message home. By the time Ha-Neul returns to the hospital, her senior has told the chairman’s wife that it was Ha-Neul who messed up with the pipes and left the patient with multiple blemishes on her hand because of her inexperience. In that moment, Ha-Neul apologizes and bows down to the patient; however, when they’re alone, the senior tells her that she must go and beg on her knees for forgiveness. This is the limit for Ha-Neul, and she finally decides to fight back. She speaks informally and tells the senior to go get on his knees himself if he needs to, physically kicking him in the shin, just like he used to do. Obviously, he’s frustrated and tells her that he’ll make it so that she’ll never get to work in her field again if she walks away at that moment. Ha-Neul finally doesn’t care and tells him that he can do whatever he likes, removing her coat and ID card and quitting the job (yes, girl! Also, nobody can do this kind of thing better than Park Shin-Hye, please.)
What’s Ha-Neul’s mother’s reaction?
Ha-Neul’s mother overhears Ha-Neul’s friend shouting at her for quitting her job. Ha-Neul rushes to speak to her and tells her what’s really going on, but her mother’s in a difficult spot mentally at that moment and tells Ha-Neul that she has no right to be “mentally ill” when she’s raised her so well (sigh). Ha-Neul feels absolutely awful and runs out of the house, while Jeong-Woo overhears the whole conversation. Later at night, Ha-Neul’s brother finds her medication hidden somewhere and tells their mother and uncle that it is depression and anxiety medication.
Why do Jeong-Woo and Ha-Neul decide to drink together?
In the last act of Doctor Slump episode 2, Jeong-Woo finds Ha-Neul in the street and asks her to grab a drink with him. She tells him she’ll join only if he’s willing to have at least three bottles of Soju. They’re both desperate for some time off, so they head to the nearest barbeque spot, which is, unfortunately, where the school reunion is taking place. Jeong-Woo gets insulted by one of the men, and his friends don’t even bother defending him. Finally, Jeong-Woo decides to leave, and his friends follow him out. He clears the air, saying he feels like the only person who thought they were friends. He tells them how he cleared their debt off first by selling his house, car, etc., and only then do they realize that he might not have actually killed someone on purpose (what kind of friends do you have?). Ha-Neul hears this whole conversation and ends up following him back home from a distance because he’s obviously upset (aww).
What triggers Ha-Neul and Jeong-Woo to cry?
They finally do end up getting those drinks, and they even turn that into a competition. They both claim to be strong drinkers and end up getting very drunk trying to drink each other under the table. In their drunken states, they become honest with each other and also empathize with each other. Jeong-Woo admits to overhearing Ha-Neul’s conversation, and she’s embarrassed because the depression is something that hurts her pride (you know how it goes). Despite them both being in a slump life-wise, they seem to be quite happy with each other. Jeong-Woo even tells Ha-Neul that he’s afraid of anyone in a black suit because he thinks some thugs will come to get him in his sleep. At the end of the episode, Ha-Neul’s mother finally admits that she was wrong and sends Ha-Neul a message saying she doesn’t care if her daughter’s successful or not, but she wants to see her happy. She apologizes for not understanding the gravity of the situation, and this opens the tap in Ha-Neul’s heart as she bursts into tears and bawls her eyes out in front of Jeong-Woo. This causes a chain reaction, and Jeong-Woo begins to cry, too, hugging her tight. As they weep, holding onto each other, through a voice-over, they admit how warming and comforting the whole experience is for them. It’s interesting to see the parallels between Ha-Neul and Jeong-Woo’s lives. In this episode, we see how their mothers have completely different reactions to everything that’s happened to them, while in the first episode, we see how they’ve lived completely different lives and yet wanted the same thing. I can’t wait to see what happens next in Doctor Slump.