Horse Doctor Episode 9

Things are looking pretty grim in Icheon as the vets try desperately to work out how to stop the cattle disease spreading. But the symptoms are different to previous infections and the disease has even started spreading to humans too. Kwanghyun goes from hero to zero as at first he makes a breakthrough in finding the cause of the sick cattle, but then everyone starts to think he is mistaken and has only made things worse …

There is panic in Icheon when the vets realise that the cattle disease can spread to people too. The palace is freaking out as well since Icheon is just a hop, skip, and a jump from the capital. Doctors and nurses are sent to deal with the outbreak. And Doctor Ko, the head of the welfare clinic, insists on being in charge of the party. The scheming Lord Jung doesn’t like this idea as he thinks it will look bad if Myunghwan doesn’t go and solve the problem.

Kwanghyun carries another patient to the makeshift hospital

At first the princess is not concerned with the nightmare that’s going on in Icheon. She is too busy getting hold of sick stray puppies so that she can call for Kwanghyun’s help! (This is SO CUTE though. ‘Puppy love!’ :) ) When she’s told that he’s gone to Icheon, she’s devastated – what if something happens to him?

As this is an emergency, all those with any relevant skills are being sent to Icheon and this includes Kibae and Jabong – although the wimpy Jabong is not into this idea at all. Doctor Ko and the doctors arrive with medicine from the capital to treat the disease but Kwanghyun is wondering if they are all barking up the wrong tree. Perhaps it’s something else? After all, the symptoms are slightly different and it’s spreading too quickly.

Kwanghyun wonders if they have made a wrong diagnosis

Meanwhile, Sungha is having fun drinking with geisha and playing polo. (It’s nice to be a yangban, isn’t it?)  But he leaps into action when he hears about the diseased cattle in Icheon and that Jinyong is there too.

And now for the inevitable. The first man dies from the disease. And the situation is even more serious. It’s assumed that the patient caught the infection from the cattle and everyone desperately tries to work out what to do. Everyone except Jabong. He is not interested in sticking around and wants to make a run for it, as fast as he can, away from the village. But when he tries to leave, he is gutted to discover that guards have closed the village off so no one can leave.

Jinyung is very upset by the death of the patient because it reminds her of the time in the cave when she helplessly watched a man die. She tells Kwanghyun this too – but he has no idea that she is talking about the death of HER father and the man he thinks was HIS father.

Kwanghyun desperately tries to work out what is wrong with the cattle

Kwanghyun decides to do an autopsy on the cattle. This might give them an idea of why the cattle died. But guards are guarding the graves of the cows. So they need a distraction and it doesn’t take much – Jinyung easily gets rid of them by taking their pulses and telling them to get themselves looked at quickly by a doctor! Jinyung helps Kwanghyun dig up a cow. Then he starts cutting open the cow and pulls out the intestine and all the organs GROSS.

Kwanghyun, covered in blood after the autopsy, gives Dr. Ko the results of the autopsy

Historical note: doctors weren’t allowed to do autopsies on people at this time in history. In the sageuk medical drama Heojun, in one of the most memorable scenes of the drama Heojun does an autopsy on his teacher (who coincidentally is played by the same actor who plays Dr Ko ). But he does this in secret in a cave as it was illegal at the time. Heojun is set just before this drama (see my chart of Joseon Kings and Sageuk dramas for reference)

Kwanghyun discovers that the animals have haemoraged in their stomachs, which means they have eaten something toxic. Does this mean that the disease is not spreading from the cattle to people after all? If so, the people must be eating whatever it is as well.

He tells Doctor Ko about what he has discovered. Some of the other doctors are arrogant and don’t want to listen to a mere ‘horse quack’. But Dr Ko is a good man and is prepared to listen to anyone with a suggestion or idea regardless of their rank. He seems interested in Kwanghyun’s theory and wants to see the dissected animals for himself.

After seeing the (gross) evidence he agrees that this must be some kind of toxin and he changes the medication for the patients. He sends out orders to start checking all the food and water that the villagers and cattle have been consuming. But one other doctor in particular is annoyed at the way he is spoken to. (Get over yourself. This is an EMERGENCY. What annoys me is that this is so true today as well. How many disasters in the world could have been avoided if people in power weren’t so ARROGANT. Grrrr. ) But before they have time to research further, orders  come from the palace to slaughter the cattle.

Doctor Ko sends orders to change the medicine and find the poison

It’s become a pretty heavy episode. At first it seemed as though Kwanghyun had solved the problem and all they needed to do was find where the poison was coming from. But gradually things turn to despair as there seems to be nothing wrong with the food and drink and still patients are dying. The only light relief comes from Jabong who is ABSOLUTELY TERRIFIED of catching the disease and is dressed up as a mummy to avoid getting sick! (I don’t think this outfit is going to help you, Jabong!)

Myunghwan is worried that Doctor Ko is mistaken in his diagnosis and wants to go to Icheon to see for himself. But Lord Jung is against this. He sees this as an opportunity – after all, if Doctor Ko fails to sort out this problem and lots of people die, then this is good news for Lord Jung and Myunghwan as they can jump in and seize control of the medical facilities. (That’s if the disease doesn’t spread to the capital and kill everyone first, of course!)

Jabong dresses up as a mummy to avoid catching the plague!

Sungha is worried about Jinyung and rides off to get her even though he has the civil exams in a couple of days. Even the boss of the shikdang closes her doors worried about the rumours from Icheon – customers may bring the disease to her place.

Sungha rides to Icheon to get Jinyung out of there

Suddenly there’s bad news for Kwanghyun and his theory. Although they have searched everywhere, no toxins have been found in the food or drink in the village. And the medicines are running out. This DELIGHTS the other officials who insist that Myunghwan be sent for to sort the mess out. But Doctor Ko is undeterred. He instructs them to search the whole village AGAIN for the toxins. They MUST have missed something.

But now Jinyung is looking ill too. And then to her horror she sees that she has the red spots on her arm. She’s caught the disease!

Jinyung realises she is sick too but tries to hide it

The princess is upset to hear that people are dying in Icheon because she is  worried about Kwanghyun. She wants to send her guard to go and get him! Meanwhile Sungha tries to get  into the village to reach Jinyung but they won’t let him in.

The princess worries about Kwanghun

Jinyung tries to hide her symptoms but Kwanghyun realises that she is sick. She admits that she has drunk the local water and then collapses into his arms. (aha is this a clue?) But as she lies in his arms Sungha turns up and drags her away from Kwanghyun. (Surely there’s going to be some rivalry here although Sungha doesn’t realise it yet. After Kwanghyun is a mere peasant)  He sends Kwanghyun to get a doctor…

Well it’s certainly exciting now and I really want to know WHAT is causing the disease. Now that Jinyung is sick too I suspect they will find the cause in the next episode. After all, she can’t die. I’m also interested to see what happens between Kwanghyun and Sungha. I’m not clear about the nature of Jinyung and Sungha’s relationship. They have grown up together from childhood as brother and sister. So does this mean that he simply feels protective over her like a brother? Or are we heading for a love triangle?  

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