Horse Doctor Episode 23

We get to see more examples of how Confucian ideology affected life in the Joseon period. In the last episode Kwanghyun is arrested on the serious charge of immorality. In this episode the Confucian scholars are outraged to hear that Dr Ko intends to go directly AGAINST Confucian teachings and carry out an operation. It’s bad enough that the operation is going to be carried out on a person (vets can do operations on animals no problem) but the patient is a NOBLE WOMAN. And that seems to make the event even more unforgivable. 

It’s not looking good for poor old Kwanghyun who has been charged with the crime of immorality and could face the death penalty. He has to do the walk of shame through the streets to the 의금부 (ui-gum-bu) The Royal Criminal Justice Institute. When he arrives inside the palace grounds the princess happens to be outside and sees him being marched past with his hands tied. She’s devastated realising that the rumours were true after all.

Now everyone is judging Kwanghyun. The nurses gossip about him and they wonder if he was having an inappropriate relationship with Jinyung too. Daebang’s mum is not surprised to hear he has approached a noble lady because Kwanghyun also hangs around Jinyung. But the princess refuses to believe that Kwanghyun committed any crime. (She’s so loyal. How cute.)

Eunso is under house arrest and clutches her chest in pain. But the maid is not allowed to get help for her. Kwanghyun gets a glimmer of hope in his eye when Eunso’s brother Dushik comes to visit him. But Dushik simply apologises telling him that there is nothing he can do to help him. Eunso (probably forced by Lord Jung) now denies that she was treated by Kwanghyun. And so all the blame is on Kwanghyun for trying to approach a noble lady. But Dushik pleads with Kwanghyun to protect her – she has to deny any connection with a commoner to save face.

Horse Doctor MBC 2013 Eunso collapses in pain

Jinyung decides that she will go to see Eunso and try and get her to change her mind and tell the truth. She asks Sungha to help her see Kwangyun and admits that she likes him. oh poor Sungha :(  Then she visits Kwanghyun in prison prepared to back him up. But he tells her to keep out of it. He’s embarrassed that Jinyung is seeing him like this – under arrest – and orders her to leave. He suggests that he IS guilty of the crime of liking a noble lady. (ie Jinyung) But he’s aware that she risks her reputation too by being seen with him. (He must be feeling very humiliated.)

Kwanghyun contemplates his fate as a commoner

Lord Jung is furious at Kwanghun and the whole situation and is adamant that Kwanghyun must get the death penalty. He demands that the Crimimal Justice Institute deal with him promptly. Myunghwan smirks with delight at his anger.

Things are looking very bad and so Inju believes she must tell Jinyung the truth about Kwanghyun’s identity. Dr Ko is against it. It will be devastating for both of them. Just then Myunghwan arrives to see Dr Ko and so Inju leaves. But their eyes meet and she glares at him. She informs him that she knows he is after Dojun’s fortune, but that all the fortune will go to Dojun’s child. Myunghwan looks at her confused. He has a meeting with Dr Ko who also confronts him – seems like he also knows what Myunghwan is up to.

Inju confronts her old (ex)friend Myunghwan over his real motives

Kwanghyun gets tortured but refuses to admit he had any kind of inappropriate relationship with Eunso. Jinyung goes to see Eunso. Then Dushik arrives and they hear a scream from Eunso’s chamber. They rush in to find her collapsed in pain. She begs her brother to tell the truth. Dushik is furious with the way she’s being treated by Lord Jung and passionately shouts out in frustration. The maid finally drops to her knees begging for forgiveness and then she admits that she knows something …..

Kwanghyun is ‘interrogated’ to get him to admit his crime

Kwanghyun is still begin tortured and still refuses to admit the crime but now says that he did not treat Eunso – he must want to protect her. This is very dangerous for him now but just in time Dushik races in announcing that he has new evidence in the case. The officials meet to decide what to do. The maid has said that she was threatened and forced to take part in the set up. And Eunso admits that she was treated by Kwanghyun. So this new evidence is in Kwanghyun’s favour. Now Sungha pushes for another investigation to be carried out. Finally it’s agreed that the investigation will start over and Kwanghyun will be released (for the time being).

Dushik arrives just in time with new evidence

Jinyung tells Dr Ko about Eunso’s illness – she has a lump in her breast. Her illness can’t be treated with medicine and she needs an operation. Dr Ko decides to treat her in his new department at the hospital 치종청 (chi-jeong-chong). The young doctors are horrified to hear that Dr Ko intends to carry out an operation. On a NOBLE LADY!

The new doctors are horrified at the thought of an operation

Now for my favourite scene of the episode as we have a very intense scene between Lord Jung and Dushik. Dushik wants Eunso to have the operation and he is furious that Lord Jung just seems to want to leave her to die. (That would probably solve one problem for him – I guess she is just a nuisance to him now. Lord Jung is much more worried about his reputation than anything else). Dushik threatens to reveal the real reason why Lord Jung’s son died – he was sick and Lord Jung was too ashamed to have him treated by doctors. I love the intense glares they give each other. Dushik gulps and his mouth quivers but he still stands up to him. Lord Jung may be powerful but Dushik comes from a powerful family too. And he suggests that he could make life very difficult for Lord Jung if he doesn’t allow Eunso to have the treatment.

Lord Jung and Dushik 

Myunghwan is bemused to hear that Dr Ko is going to carry out an operation. He knows there will be uproar and is very pleased. As predicted, Confucian scholars gather outside the palace gates to beg the king to stop this operation going ahead. Their complaint is that surgery goes against the Confucian idea that the physical body is inherited from one’s parents and should be cherished. (filial piety is Very Important in Confucian ideology). But the king allows it to go ahead. He agrees with Dr Ko that saving the patient is the most important thing. All doctors refuse to take part in the operation and so only Dr Ko, Kwanghyun, Inju, and Jinyung are left. Later Taeju joins them too.

Before the operation Eunso is given an anaesthetic of medicine and alcohol to drink. Dushik and Sungha wait nervously outside as the operation begins. Dr Ko tells Kwanghyun to do the operation – although this is his first time to operate on a human he has experience operating on animals. So he has the most experience! Knives are sterilised on hot coals and a stack of clean white towels (beautifully ironed by the look of them) wait to mop up the blood.

We get some grim yucky sound effects as Kwanghyun makes the first incision. But as he searches for the tumour, blood spurts out from the wound – yikes. The nurses mop the blood with the beautiful towels. And finally Kwanghyun finds the tumour and removes it all. He sews up the cut and it looks like the operation was a success. Dushik is now allowed in to see his sister who is still unconscious. He grabs Kwanghyun’s hand and cries with gratitude. He’s feeling pretty guilty at the way he’s treated him.

Eunso prepares for the operation

Myunghwan is not impressed that the operation went well. He thinks that the Confucian scholars will make a big fuss about this and Dr Ko will be removed from his position. And when that happens Myunghwan will take his place. He clearly doesn’t trust Inju now though after their altercation earlier and he tells Guard Kwang to have someone follow her too. But Sungha is standing outside so did he overhear the conversation?

Inju is determined that she will tell Kwanghyun who he really is. She gets out his father’s acupuncture kit and calls Kwanghyun to her office. She gives him the box telling him that it belonged to his father. Kwanghyun is confused. Inju prepares to tell him everything but before that she has one question for him ….

Eunso is recovering and Jinyung is giving her some medicine. Eunso asks Jinyung – what is Kwanghyun to you? At the same time Inju asks Kwanghyun what is Jinyung to you?


We are heading towards the half-way mark in the drama and it looks like FINALLY Kwanghyun is going to discover his true identity. Things are about to change! And there’s going to be a shake up as some people adjust to their new roles. Even Dr Ko is not well and who knows how much longer he can keep going. And when he leaves and if Myunghwan steps into his place, what’s going to happen then??

I find Dushik’s character very endearing. He’s so passionate showing his emotions so openly. And we’ve seen several sides to him in this episode: ashamed and apologetic to Kwanghyun for not helping him; throwing a fit of rage over Eunso’s neglect; intense and threatening towards Lord Jung; tearful and grateful to Kwanghyun for saving Eunso’s life. He is so different to Sungha who seems to keep all his emotions bottled in.

So I started wondering who we could pair Dushik with. (He’s not married, right?) I know that Jinyung and Kwanghyun are probably supposed to end up together, but I have been thinking about some alternative pairings..

 I’d like to see Jinyung and Sungha get married just to see Myunghwan’s reaction when he discovers that she is a mere peasant and does not have a fortune at all! And I’d like to see Sungha try harder to win Jinyung’s heart. He just stands there and watches Kwanghyun get all her attention. Come on, Sungha. Sort yourself out. 

How about the princess and Dushik? Two passionate personalities would be very entertaining. And she needs someone who is outgoing and not too quiet and reserved. 

And Kwanghyun and Eunso. I did like the idea of the princess and Kwanghyun for a while. But now I think Eunso deserves some happiness and needs someone open-minded. I think there is potential here. Just a thought. 


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