...when the screen takes over...

Beautiful Mind, Second Week

How would you define “a good doctor”? And whose definition matters? Or does it matter as long as the doctor gets his or her job done?

As Lee Young-Oh investigates further and learns more about the circumstances around Kang Cheol-Min’s death, someone tries to keep it a secret. This results in another death of a beloved figure. A third death will be inevitable if Lee Young-Oh is unable to find the murderer and stop him in time.

“I will become a good doctor. Like you, Father.”

A heart...

A heart…

He wanted to become a doctor, “like you, Father.” He studied and memorised medical terms and human anatomy. He could recite them from memory. But Father squashed his dream. “You are different from normal people. Just live quietly!” Until an incident exposed Lee Young-Oh’s formidable medical knowledge to a wider and esteemed audience.

In an prize awarding event, which was honouring his father, a Dr Yoon fell. The more experienced doctors gave their assessment, but Lee Young-Oh pointed them to a different direction, a bleeding in the corneal area. He was proven correct as Dr Yoon began convulsing and urged Father to do emergency “drilling” to ease the cranial tension.

Basking in glory!

Dr Yoon was saved and young Lee Young-Oh earned praises from Dr Lee’s colleagues. “Are you a medical student? Or a pre-med? Which medical school are you going to?” Dr Shin Dong-Jae asked.

“I want to. But only if Father gives his permission.” He replied modestly.

“What? Dr Lee is against you going to medical school? Why?”

“I must have been lacking in his eyes.”

The remark drew disbeliefs from the doctors and pushed Dr Lee to a corner. “It’s a difficult path for someone as young as him.”

  • You defy me?

    You defy me?

  • Why not!

    Why not!

But young Young Oh saw the opportunity to extract Father’s ‘permission’ in front of his colleagues and pushed further. “But you are going to give your permission, right? I will become a good doctor. Like you.”

The doctors urged Dr Lee to say ‘yes’ while Dr Lee was apprehensive and young Young Oh’s eyes were gleaming, staring deep into his father’s eyes. Victoire!


There’s so much going on in this scene. And I am willing to give up all my savings just to know what Dr Lee was thinking at that moment. Lee Young-Oh had just manipulated the situation to get what he wanted: going to medical school to become a doctor. True. His dream was not dangerous and, in fact, noble. His manipulation was also harmless. And he is still so young and (looking) naive….

A good doctor, are you?

“You think you are a good doctor, don’t you? When the child wakes up and finds her world has changed, would you still be a good doctor then?” a referring physician Dr Hwang challenges Lee Young-Oh.

Lee Young-Oh had just completed a difficult surgery on his patient, a haemophiliac. The operation is a success and the patient will live. But before the surgery, to confirm a hypothesis, Lee Young-Oh has broken the bond of trust between a husband and a wife, and possibly ruined a family —if the girl is haemophiliac, she can’t be her father’s biological daughter which means mother has been lying all along.

“You don’t think I am?” Lee Young-Oh looks and sounds amused. “I am not the one who lies. I am not the one who misdiagnosed. The operation was successful and the child survived. And you said I am cruel?”

“I’ll let it go this time. Prioritising budget is part of being head of the centre. Think of it as a lesson funded by my pocket!”

Chairman Kang

The definition of a good doctor seems to vary. To Chairman Kang, a good doctor is someone who cares about the bottom line and brings profit. With that definition, Lee Young-Oh is definitely not one. Difficult surgeries and treatments on rare diseases, such as the one performed on haemophiliac, hurt profit because they are not fully covered by national insurance. Though Lee Young-Oh justifies his actions by appealing to reason: it’s beneficial to both of them. Chairman Kang must be aiming to make the hospital an attractive place to the wealthy private insurance holders. To do so, Hyeon Seong Medical Centre must provide first class service. He would be need someone like Lee Yeong Oh to make it happen.

To father, Dr Lee Geon-Myeong, the question expands to include acknowledgement and recognition from peers. Perhaps, Lee Young-Oh seeks his. “Is that why you ask for head of the centre’s authorities? So that I will acknowledge that you’ve become a doctor everyone looks up to?” His father asks.

“No. It’s because you are unqualified. There are weird stuff going on: a dead body was switched and then found without a heart while his medical record went missing. Instead of investigating it, you simply suspect your son.” His answer seems to rattle father a bit.

The news also disturbs Director Shin Dong-Jae, who learns about it from Gye Jin-Seong, and he goes to the hospital to check. However, someone seriously wants to cover a bigger secret — probably related to the secretive research, conducted by the hospital’s selected personnels, of which Kang Cheol-Min has been a participant — that Director Shin becomes the next victim. His medication is tampered which then causes brain haemorrhage.

failing vital signs...

failing vital signs…

Since Director Shin collapses in Lee Young-Oh’s office (after inquiring about Kang Cheol-Min’s files), Lee Young-Oh calls for emergency surgery, as soon as possible. But, alas! Someone tampers with his operation once more and Director Shin dies a table death on his operating table.

Everyone grieves in their own ways. Dr Lee Geon-Myeong orders Young-Oh to apologise to Director Shin’s family, but he insists he had done nothing wrong, leaving father to do it on his behalf. But behind closed door, or in solitary staircase moments, he breaks down and shots himself some tranquillizer. Gye Jin-Seong feels awful to have informed Director Shin about Kang Cheol-Min’s case and fears Director Shin is indeed murdered. She confronts Dr Hyeon Seok-Joo and voices her suspicion on him.

recalling the surgery...

recalling the surgery…

While Gye Jin-Seong fails to convince the family to perform autopsy on his dead body, Lee Young-Oh goes to announce that Director Shin is murdered at Director Shin’s funeral service. He brings proof, a lab test result directly sent to everyone’s phone, that pseudoephedrine substance is found in Director Shin’s blood. Mixed with Director Shin’s diabetic medication, it proves fatal as it causes brain haemorrhage. With Director Shin’s history of high blood pressure, however, it would be seen as natural death. He is convinced that the murderer is one of them and announces that he will find the murderer.

“I have to save the patient in front of me. No matter what, I won’t let those lights of vital signs go off. Wherever you come from, no matter what I am, this is a good place to hide.”

Lee Young-Oh’s Guide to ‘A Good Doctor’

Hyeon Seong’s boyband?

Lee Young-Oh’s announcement brings uncomfortable atmosphere. No one wants to be suspected as murderer yet everyone tries to play detective and guess whodunit.

Meanwhile, Chairman Kang is more concerned about the hospital’s reputation and insists Director Shin’s death is simply a mistake during operation. In Korean, a scandal would tarnish the hospital’s name regardless whether it gets resolved or corrected. Moreover, the hospital is going through an evaluation to get accreditation from JCI and the scandal will probably affect the process. But when a Reporter Kim — from third-rate news outlet whose livelihood is independent of Hyeon Seong’s advertisement money and instead depends on click-bait sensational stories — comes sniffing for a coup, Chairman Kang changes his tune, endorsing Lee Young-Oh’s self-correcting system that meets global standard. He orders Lee Young-Oh to reveal the murderer at the next mortality conference.

Discussion on a case of cerebral artery aneurysm in a child patient with a heart disease, who is doctor Kim Yoon-Geong’s daughter, ends without solution. The doctors turn to the mighty Lee Young-Oh, but his mind seems busy elsewhere. Then Dr Lee Geon Myeong comes in to inform that Dr Lee Yeong-Oh and his previous surgery team has been banned from the operating rooms until Lee Young-Oh reveals Director Shin’s murderer at mortality conference. “If an emergency occurs in a surgery in which the staff and the operating surgeon don’t trust each other, will they be able to save the patient?”

“Either be a police officer or someone with one-sided crush. Pick one!”

Lee Young-Oh
we're one team

We’re on the same team!

Gye Jin-Seong, who manages to get the investigation official, gets cold shoulders when she tries to fish for information about Dr Hyeon Seok-Joo from the staff — her investigation gets the doctors and staffs gossiping whether Dr Hyeon is capable of murdering Director Shin, who’s been like a father to him. She checks security camera’s footage. She goes to trace pseudoephedrine prescriptions. She had consulted Lee Young-Oh — “Hey! We are now a team since we’re the only ones who agree that Director Shin had been murdered…” — on going about investigating the murderer, and in her objective, eliminating Dr Hyeon from the suspect pool. She must do her part of the job, ie. the leg works, and he’d do his. He will get medical evidence and make the culprit reveal himself in the place where he’s in complete control.

When Dr Hyeon asks Lee Young-Oh for his opinion on Ji-An’s condition, he agrees to perform the surgery only if Dr Hyeon joins him in the operation room. However, they will need the guardian’s consent. So Lee Young-Oh explain the surgery to Dr Kim Yoon-Geong, the guardian. She then asks for permission from Dr Lee Geon-Myeong to allow Dr Lee Young-Oh to perform surgery on her daughter.

During the operation, Lee Young-Oh pulls a move that sends everyone into a panic, although it’s over in four minutes. The surgery has been a success. He asks Dr Kim if Dr Hyeon has been Ji-An’s sole physician. Dr Kim affirms it but he reads her lying.

Lee Young-Oh tells Dr Hyeon that he’s been written off from the suspect list of Dr Shin’s murderer and who’s taken Kang Cheol-Min’s heart. The operation has just confirmed his hypothesis. During the four minute move, Lee Young Oh studied everyone’s expressions. Since Ji-An’s heart has the same rare lesion as Kang Cheol-Min’s, if Dr Hyeon had been the culprit, he would have been uneasy. “You need that surgery to pull an emergency situation and push everyone into corners and reveal themselves? That’s why you need me in there?” Dr Hyeon’s disbelief matches mine. But Lee Young-Oh just brushes it off since the patient was never in danger. The critical moment had passed long before he pulled the trick.

Still, Dr Hyeon storms off angrily. Lee Young-Oh, however, simply throws more salt to injury. “You’ve got your doubts on Kang Cheol-Min’s death from start. But you neither knew then nor now that there was a strange lesion. Then, Director Shin died because of this secret. Are you really a good doctor? Just like how people think you are?”

The suspicion now turns to Dr Kim, the anaesthetist in both Kang Cheol-Min’s and Dr Shin’s operations. Dr Kim tells Dr Lee Geon-Myeong about Lee Young-Oh’s inquiries into Ji-An’s heart treatment and whether Dr Hyeon has been the primary physician. Lee Young-Oh observes their encounter.

Lee Young-Oh brings the lesion sample to Dr Shim Eun-Ha, the pathologist who had helped him getting information on Kang Cheol-Min’s lesion. She rejects him since she thinks he is using her for personal gain, ie. his denouement at mortality conference. Lee Young-Oh just dangles a bait that touches on her vanity. He simply wants to help her get recognised. “You’ll be the star in revealing the secret. The media and academia will focus on your articles.” She takes the bait.

Meanwhile, Dr Hyeon goes to a secretive installation in which a research on regenerative medicine has been running. One of the researcher reassures him that they are getting positive results and a patent will be filed soon after the hospital gets the accreditation from JCI. He encounters Dr Lee Geon-Myeong, who also reassures him that there would and should not be a problem with their research. “It’s Director Shin’s legacy. I’ll dedicate my life to it.”

Lee Young-Oh has dinner date with Kim Min-Jae and father. On his way out, Gye Jin-Seong throws herself in front of his car and gets in it. She shares her findings with Lee Young-Oh, a load of papers marked and taped, eager to get him to tell her whether Dr Hyeon is the one who prescribed fatal dose of pseudoephedrine.

“So you did all this, inefficiently, until this hour, to find evidence that implicates Dr Hyeon?” He asks.

“No. I did this to prove his innocence!” She had done her investigation and nothing suggests that Dr Hyeon could have met Director Shin that night. So Lee Young-Oh should reassess whatever his findings in operating room were. “He’s too good a person to do something like that!”

Her words gets him laughing cynically. “There is no one like that in the world. There are two kinds of people: those who have revealed themselves or those who have yet to reveal their true selves.” He tells her to rest easily since he has known that Dr Hyeon cannot be the culprit. Gye Jin-Seong angrily asks why then he lets the whole hospital suspect Dr Hyeon. He explains that it’s to give the real culprit a false sense of security. Jin-Seong throws the paper at him, and inflicts a small injury on his neck. “That hurts? You’ve just easily hurt someone’s feeling. You must’ve never received nor given sincere feelings!”

Lee Young-Oh recalls the end of conversation with Dr Hyeon after Ji-An’s operation, why Dr Hyeon did not defend himself. Hyeon Seok-Joo let it be because otherwise the staff would have doubted each other every day. Their workplace would’ve been like hell.

Gye Jin-Seong, feeling guilty to have made Dr Hyeon a suspect, rushes to the hospital to apologise to him. “You can hate me for the rest of your life. I will not hate you or curse for the rest of mine.” She cries. Dr Hyeon pacifies her and invites her to get something to eat together.

Lee Young-Oh and Kim Min-Jae break the news to Father that they’re getting married. When Kim Min-Jae leaves the table for the restroom, he assures father that there is nothing to worry about. For ten years he has been a normal and ordinary guy to Kim Min-Jae, even though she is a neuroscientist. He will continue to be one and make the marriage work. He won’t get caught having a disorder.

An eerie family dinner

An eerie family dinner

Asked about the upcoming mortality conference, Lee Young Oh promises that it will be interesting and fun. Father tells him off that normal people don’t find death or talks of death fun. “But isn’t death just losing? Like doctors losing to diseases, human losing to old age, and weaker people, like Director Shin, losing because someone he’d trusted betrayed him. It’s the way of the world to have the weaker eliminated.”


“In order to save more lives, some people sacrifice their lives. Didn’t you often say that? Have you changed your mind? But I’ll go by your teachings. Someone dares to taint my surgery room just to kill Director Shin and still lives loftily. I’ll make sure he’ll pay in mortality conference. By all means.” Lee Young-Oh calls to have the mortality conference moved up to tomorrow.

But Dr Shim Eun-Ha, the pathologist, changes her mind. She cites small amount of the sample brings no result. She apologises that she couldn’t find anything that would help him. Lee Young-Oh reads her lies and just congratulates her on her research findings. He reminds her that people who knew about the lesion have been killed in order to silence them. To guarantee her safety, she should expose her findings in the mortality conference.

She then meets a mystery man, wearing wristwatch similar to Dr Lee Geon-Myeong’s, and hands him a report. She says it’s out of courtesy since a regenerative medical research that is worth billion of dollars will be at stake because of her research.

A call comes in from Dr Shin’s number on Lee Young-Oh’s phone as she falls from the hospital’s roof and hits the ground. She is brought to the hospital’s A&E.

As everyone is rushing to prepare the surgery, Dr Lee Geon-Myeong calls Officer Gye Jin-Seong. He hands her a master key to check Lee Young-Oh’s locker. Whatever she finds will enable her to arrest him without warrant.

Lee Young-Oh means to perform surgery on Dr Shim, alone, with nurses without the other doctors to avoid any more inexplicable table death on his watch. So far, the operation goes well with minor mistakes. In a four minute window break Lee Young-Oh goes out to the locker room to get himself injected with a substance. As he makes his way to operating room, Gye Jin-Seong arrests him.

Some notes

This has been another tense and surprisingly suspenseful week. And it surprised me as well that it pushed me to “recapping”, something I’ve been resisting for recapping demands serious commitment. Well done, Beautiful Mind!

The most fascinating thing for me so far is the father and son relationship in Lee Geon-Myeong and Lee Young-Oh. I sit up straight whenever they are on screen. The flashback at the beginning of episode 3 throws bits and pieces that may have characterised their relationship. It gives a taste of how Lee Young-Oh takes the opportunity, or manipulates, to get what he wants. I wonder about their usual daily dinner conversations, how it must have been developing, what they’ve been talking about.

It seems that the father-son relationship will go the direction that Luke and Darth Vader once have been as the show reveals that Dr Lee Geon-Myeong inhabits some grey areas. He has been an important part of the secretive research. How far he is willing to go to keep its secret is still unknown. And his turning Lee Young-Oh to the authority directly puts him opposite of his son.

It’s obvious that Lee Young-Oh enjoys being a neurosurgeon to the point of being too territorial. His approach may cause frictions, discomforts, and displeasure, of which neither he is aware nor cares, that will surely come back to bite him. Watching him scheming or orchestrating surgeries and people around him is fun, and more so in knowing that he does not have complete control over his own schemes for human is unpredictable and he is yet to grasp the finer points of human relationship.

I’ll look forward to that…


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