Yong-pal: Episode 4
Our hero will quickly learn that movin’ on up isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be when the end of the road is hiding a massive secret. Being privy to why the heiress has been kept in a three-year long sleep ought to come with its own advantages, even if it’s just to take calls in secret for now. Knowledge may be power, but it appears that in this world, threats will still reign supreme.
A rogue patient puts the hospital on alert, giving Tae-hyun his first challenge ever since giving up the scalpel. It’ll be up to him to preserve the hundreds of lives in the hospital, especially the one he would do anything to protect.
EPISODE 4 RECAP
Chief Lee does the honors of giving Tae-hyun (and us) the rundown of our resident Sleeping Beauty: despite being the true owner of Hanshin Group as its majority shareholder, Yeo-jin is simply a figurehead kept in a persistent vegetative state while the decision-making power and authority belongs to whomever holds the key to this very room.
It’s a lot for Tae-hyun to swallow, not because he’s afraid of being linked to hiding the truth about Yeo-jin’s comatose state, but because he’d rather not know the details of a story that doesn’t concern him. Grabbing him by the shirtfront, Chief Lee tells him that it’s too late for that—now he knows who the culprits are, and feigning ignorance will do him no good.
Reminding him that Tae-hyun was the one who ignored his attempts to stay away, Chief Lee breaks the news that there’s no pot of gold at the end of this rainbow.
Once they sit, Tae-hyun asks the question burning in all of our minds: how is it that Yeo-jin is first in line to inherit Hanshin Group vs. her older half-brother? The answer is matrilineal succession, as her mother was the sole heiress to the conglomerate. Upon her marriage to the late chairman, he had brought a son from his first marriage—Do-joon.
Yeo-jin was later born out of that marriage, which makes her the true heiress. If she weren’t in a medically-induced coma, she’d be running the company right now instead of Do-joon. Tae-hyun had passed the point of no return the moment the security camera assessed him. Furthermore, choosing to come in here is the last decision he’s made.
He should be well aware of what will happen to him and his sister if he dares to speak a word about any of this. Chief Lee hadn’t wished for Tae-hyun to cross this threshold, but he did—and while he may have freely entered this place, leaving it is an entirely different matter. His every move will be watched from here on out.
Tae-hyun is introduced to Nurse Hwang, with whom he shares a momentary telepathic conversation. “So you too are an accomplice,” he thinks. “Of course. Just like you,” is her reply.
Just then, Tae-hyun gets the good news that his sister has been bumped up on the transplant waiting list. He has the hospital director (and indirectly Chief Lee) to thank, so he offers a deep bow to his new master, who dismisses him for the day.
He retires to his office for the evening, only to find himself with unexpected company: it’s Chae-young, who offers him a smoke. When told that the hospital is a smoke-free zone, she points to the ashtray sitting on the table. Needless to say she finds the rule-abiding newbie adorable.
Tae-hyun heads outside to call his sister to remind her about her dialysis appointment tomorrow. Hearing their father’s voice on the other end wipes the smile off of his face, however, and he tells her to get out of the house. He doesn’t believe for a second that their good-for-nothing father has changed his ways, so when So-hyun invites him home for dinner, he hangs up indignantly.
Reflecting on how he’s now seen the man behind the curtain, Tae-hyun pours himself one shot of soju after another. His last shot gets swiped by Chae-young, who helps herself in joining his drinking party of one. Still believing her to be a VIP guest, Tae-hyun tells her to go to a host club if she’s seeking attentive conversation with a young man.
She’s affronted, but then asks if she looks like the type to frequent those establishments. He nods in agreement. They both crack a smile at the shared moment, and the two drink the night away.
After waking up in a hotel room the next morning, Tae-hyun hurries over to the hospital to meet the first patient of the day. Once again, it’s Chae-young, who pretends that she’s meeting the handsome newbie for the first time. Conversely, Tae-hyun gawks when he hears that Chae-young is none other than Do-joon’s wife.
It turns out someone has photographed the previous night’s outing, as pictures of Tae-hyun and Chae-young at dinner and later heading into a hotel reach Do-joon’s secretary’s inbox.
Tae-hyun and Chief Lee make their rounds to visit the Hallyu star’s girlfriend. Chief Lee shuts down his suggestion of seeing a psychiatrist (because she could be suffering from post-traumatic stress), saying that Tae-hyun isn’t thinking of what’s best for the patient. Though I wonder if it’s because he wants to keep the attention on the beaten girlfriend to a minimum.
Then it’s time to check in with the celeb himself, who’d been given a small scar as evidence of his “valiant efforts” yesterday. He and the doctors catch a report of how the police have the “suspect” in custody after the alleged stabbing of the star and his girlfriend. The star laughs over how that guy will be charged with assault but will ultimately get off scot-free, then remarks that he and Tae-hyun should go out for drinks sometime.
Though their next patient is registered under a placeholder name, he’s another familiar face: the gangster boss Tae-hyun had rescued in Episode 2. I think we’ll be seeing a lot of him, so let’s introduce the man, DOO-CHUL, who awkwardly explains his persistent wound as the handiwork of a quack.
Chief Lee is just as polite with Doo-chul as with any of his other patients, telling him that the stitching was well done. Tae-hyun winces at the obvious hints Doo-chul makes about the alias Yong-pal, and it isn’t until they’re alone does he drop the formalities with the gangsters.
Doo-chul is just happy to see him, impressed that the doc stitchin’ up gangsters works at such an upscale institution. He tells Tae-hyun not to be mad at Man-shik for squealing about his workplace, and swears he doesn’t want to get Tae-hyun fired from this hospital either. Why who would treat him then?
They both have their reasons to help the other out, and Doo-chul can’t help but wonder why Tae-hyun looks like a mere bellhop in this hospital whereas he came off as super cool outside of the hospital. Ha.
Tae-hyun passes by the injured girlfriend to make a call in the safest place he knows—Yeo-jin’s room. He tears a new one into his loan shark buddy Man-shik, not buying his blatant lie that the gangsters beat the information out of him. Since his covert house calls as Yong-pal are a thing of the past now, he asks Man-shik to figure out the remaining total on his loan.
He can’t afford to be arrested alongside Doo-chul, lest he leaves his sister untreated and left to die. All this talk of cops and illegal activities leaves Yeo-jin perplexed in her mental prison. Curiosity takes over as Tae-hyun approaches her bed and asks if she can hear him right now.
And deep within her subconscious, Yeo-jin wonders if he might believe her to be aware of her surroundings. He doesn’t see her eyebrows twitch, and dismisses the thought a moment later, finding it far-fetched to think she could possess any awareness after all these years.
He’s never felt as awful before than he has in these past two days, then turns to leave. Down below, Yeo-jin screams that she can hear everything and flails her arms to grab his attention. It’s at that moment, Tae-hyun turns back and assesses her for any signs of consciousness—the light he shines into her eyes bathes her face in her deep subconscious.
Next, he checks for any sign of sensation on the soles of her feet, and catches her toes slightly jerk in reaction. He’s interrupted by Nurse Hwang’s entrance just then, but keeps his cool to ask after Yeo-jin’s comatose state.
His attempt to pull rank backfires because Nurse Hwang knows of his illegal house calls. In this ward, she is his superior, so Tae-hyun will do well to remember that.
The beaten girlfriend is sitting alone in the courtyard when she begins to imagine everyone around her ridiculing and jeering at her. She staggers in shock, then runs up the stairs to try and escape the mockery.
A senior operator rips into his employee for not checking the panel board properly because a negligence over a switch could result in an explosion. Little do they know that the girl has found a way inside the control room and overheard the entire exchange.
Tae-hyun returns to his office to find Chae-young already waiting for him. It’s then that snippets of the previous night return to him—the last thing he remembers is passing out at the bar and then onto the bed at the hotel. Wincing at the memory, he asks that she turn a blind eye to the situation this once, willing to grant her request in return.
It’s a tall order: to meet Yeo-jin in the flesh. When told that she’d be better off asking Do-joon himself, Chae-young says she wouldn’t have gone through the trouble of spending the night with a resident if that were the case.
She knows that nothing happened between them, but that’s not what it’ll look like on the security cameras—they were seen entering a hotel together, after all. Desperate times call for desperate measures, Chae-young argues, and Yeo-jin is currently in danger.
Tae-hyun barely has time to react to that statement before the two are told that an evacuation has been ordered. Cynthia doesn’t quite understand what’s going on either, but Tae-hyun has orders to evacuate Yeo-jin, and everyone in this hospital will die if he doesn’t hurry.
We see the commotion is because the girlfriend has locked herself within the Proton Center. Up in the VIP suite, Tae-hyun finds Nurse Hwang unhooking Yeo-jin from her monitors. She stops him from handling one of the intravenous bottles (likely the one containing the coma-inducing drug), and opens up a hidden bookcase door to reveal the personal elevator and gurney for transport.
Tae-hyun hurries to carry Yeo-jin over, and in her haste, Nurse Hwang fails to notice that lifting the guardrail accidentally cuts off the drug supply. They bring Yeo-jin downstairs and into a van, and Tae-hyun picks up when his sister calls, recalling that she has an appointment today.
He demands to know where she is, expecting that she skipped out on her dialysis like she usually does. But no—she’s being treated as we speak, which means she too is in danger.
So Tae-hyun swipes the car keys and runs inside to an open window. The keys dangling from his hand, he demand to be told what’s really going on. After learning the truth, Tae-hyun takes off again, only to stop in his tracks to take in all the lives who are oblivious to the impending danger whereas the rich and powerful are evacuating the building.
He finds himself at a literal crossroads when he has to decide between the dialysis center and the Proton Center. He chooses the latter, where he’d barred entry despite arguing that he’s the physician in charge. So he threatens to blab everything to the media and shine a spotlight on this fiasco, and eventually gains entry.
Currently, the girlfriend has locked herself inside with the partial accelerator, which will reach its limit by the time they can break down the door. The most pressing concern is the resulting radiation leak, and she’s the only one who can manually turn off that switch.
Tae-hyun attempts to speak to the girlfriend through the speakers—he’s the one person who knows what really happened and can make sure her abusive boyfriend gets the punishment he deserves. He mentions how blunt Chief Lee was this morning, which at least gets her to pick up the phone, and then she utters, “Everyone, die.”
He takes a beat before broaching from a different angle—yes, she will die. But that day won’t be today; instead she’ll go through the most horrible pain imaginable before death comes. The dramatic explosion that she imagines will obliterate everyone and her celebrity boyfriend won’t happen from this particle accelerator.
What will happen is that the radiation leak will envelop everyone, including herself, and they will all die a slow and painful death from the radiation exposure. What’s more is that her star boyfriend has already evacuated the premises, along with all the people in power she might see wish to suffer.
The powerful ones in this world don’t fall that easily, and there’s no way his words could ever ensure that her celeb boyfriend pays for what he did. Instead, it will be the hundreds of innocent lives—the patients and the families who weren’t told of any evacuation—who will suffer.
Among those is his sister who has been sick ever since she was young. Although she had received a new liver, her body had rejected the transplant, and she’s been on dialysis ever since her kidney started failing too. Family life wasn’t better either, as their family was poor and their gangster father was abusive to his family.
Their mother had spent years putting up with the constant abuse to protect her children, and eventually died in an accident during his first year of residency. He wasn’t able to save her because he didn’t have the means to. He’d vowed to himself to become successful and make sure their mother and his sister would live comfortably.
As the girlfriend sheds tears, Tae-hyun continues that while her boyfriend is in the wrong for hurting her, she still walked into that hotel room looking for an easy way into stardom. Additionally, she’s endangering many lives just to cover up that sense of guilt.
It’s possible she’s using that heavy door between them to put herself in a seat of power for once, and the girlfriend falls to her knees, crying.
It looks like they’re in the clear when the operator manages to dupe the system into automatically shutting down the accelerator before it reaches its limits. Tae-hyun instructs the girlfriend to leave, but that’s when another warning goes off—the door will lock itself if the radiation levels within the room are higher than it should.
She must exit through the door before the oxygen is sapped out of the room, but she’s already struggling to breathe and collapses every time she pulls herself up. So Tae-hyun tells the operator to undo the computer hack so that the door remains unlocked.
It will be faster to go inside and manually turn off the switch, Tae-hyun argues. Now it’s a matter of who will venture inside that room, and Tae-hyun steps up (though whoops, the editing error here makes it look like he prematurely leaves before arriving at that decision). He orders the control room to open the door, then runs inside to retrieve the girlfriend.
Once he safely drops off the girl, Tae-hyun rushes inside again to manually disable the panel. He struggles to get back to the door due to the radiation exposure and falls to the ground, which is when Cynthia (who had returned to the hospital) and the others hurry over to retrieve him.
The van carrying Yeo-jin is given the all-clear to the return to the hospital. In the back, Yeo-jin forms a fist.
Tae-hyun drinks in the night air from his rooftop and sees a silhouette inside the house. He opens the door to see his mother with dinner ready. Oh man, this has got to be a dream and it’s going to be a heartbreaking one, isn’t it?
She tells him to come and eat, and he starts tearing up when he tries the stew, realizing that it’s just as delicious as he’d remembered it. His mother’s eyes well up with tears as well, saying that this is all she can do for him.
She apologizes for leaving him to take care of So-hyun on his own, knowing how hard it must’ve been for him. Tears stream down Tae-hyun’s cheek as he admits that it was really hard. She gathers his face in her hands and apologizes again…
… as we see Tae-hyun getting checked for radiation. He calls for his mother again and again until he finally comes to with a start. He isn’t contaminated and it looks like the girlfriend will make it after all, much to his relief.
Tae-hyun is out of breath by the time he reaches the dialysis center where So-hyun is still receiving treatment. At his somber expression, she asks if something happened, and he tells her that he had a dream. That has her wonder if he dreamt that she died or something, and reassures him that dreams are the opposite of reality.
Later, Tae-hyun returns to the VIP floor where upon he greets that Hallyu star with his right hook. Oh, that’s so satisfying. Just a few feet away, Doo-chul remarks that that’s like the Yong-pal he knows.
The VIP suite is still empty when Tae-hyun enters. His private moment doesn’t last long, as Nurse Hwang returns with Yeo-jin. Judging from how she reprimands him for his reckless behavior, she must’ve heard what had transpired earlier.
Tae-hyun and Yeo-jin find themselves alone after hooking her up back to her monitors. He gets a call from Man-shik about his remaining balance on his loan. It must be higher than he’d anticipated even though he’s been working for a bunch of thieves all this time. There’s no way he’d be able to repay that amount when he hasn’t been able to do house calls either.
He’s unaware of Yeo-jin opening her eyes behind him when he hangs up, muttering that it’s one thing after another. And a voice behind him asks, “Should I… give you that money?”
Awwww yeah, the princess is awake. This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for: when Tae-hyun would finally meet the woman purposely kept in a coma while her enemies were running the show. It makes me excited for next week already, and my mind is spinning just thinking about the revenge-fueled possibilities the show can take us now.
So it’s a good thing that the show cleared up Yeo-jin’s backstory and familial background in these four episodes. Not only does it answer some of the burning questions on our minds, but doing so also allows the show to focus on what’s more important (and potentially fun to watch): her revenge. Furthermore, both parties now know of each other’s predicament: Tae-hyun knows why her adversaries need to keep her barely alive, and in turn, Yeo-jin knows that he’s in need of money. And as much as I’ve enjoyed the stunning visuals of Yeo-jin entrapped in her metaphorical prison, I’m looking forward to seeing more of her in action. One can only hope that her fighting spirit is just the outer layer of a badass woman hell-bent on taking down her enemies.
Her power and influence, albeit solely on paper at present, is still better than Tae-hyun’s situation with the loan sharks. As long as he’s making payments, he’s stuck in a never-ending cycle (since loan sharks offer private unsecured loans with exorbitant interest rates) that he can’t escape from. Compound that with being powerless on the most lavish floor in the hospital, and it’s no surprise that the pressure would wear him down.
Not that he can afford to let his guard down when his sister is sick and he knows the truth behind Yeo-jin’s state. I do hope he finds a potential ally in Chae-young, who has her own reasons to see and presumably protect Yeo-jin. When one is swimming in a sea of sharks, it’s at least nice to know that there’s one face who would extend a hand, save for the whole part of blackmailing Tae-hyun into considering her steadfast request.
For a guy who lets everyone think that he’s a money-grubbing doc, it was a relief to see some insight into his motivation for doing so. We’d already seen why he allows people to focus on his fixation on money, but there’s something about Tae-hyun sharing his life story with the girlfriend that peels back another layer to his character. He knows that the elite don’t give a damn about the ordinary folk, and that money and influence is what makes the world go ’round. Even in his own fight up the ladder, it’s one obstacle after another.
So it’s such a heartbreaking moment when Tae-hyun dreams of his mother, with whom he drops the tough facade. He’s just a little boy who misses his mother with her, as he lets his troubles and fears wash over him through his tears. It’s a poignant moment for him and a necessary one in order for him to regain the strength to take on a new day.