Finally Heo Jun comes face to face with Dr Yoo, his future mentor. The meeting changes his life forever as in a flash he goes from a lost soul to a man with a mission – to become a talented doctor just like Dr Yoo. Dr Yoo is fab but freakishly direct and doesn’t suffer fools gladly. And he’s not interested in taking on any students. So from now on Heo Jun is really going to have to prove he’s worthy. The problem is nobody wants to help him succeed especially Dr. Yoo’s long suffering workers who have been at his clinic for years but seem to have learnt very little.
BTW Lee Soon-jae (80), the actor who plays Heo Jun’s mentor, has recently been in a popular reality show called ‘Halbe over Flowers‘ (halbe means grandfather) which follows a group of four veteran actors travelling around other countries.
Heo Jun is devastated and looks on helplessly as Da Hee is dragged away by guards sent by her father’s ‘friend’ Lord Min. Heo Jun has no choice but to go to the police and tell them that he knows Lord Min is the one behind the conspiracy. (and that he has kidnapped Da Hee). Happily his tip-off means Da Hee is rescued and Min is arrested. Heo Jun rushes to see Da Hee but looks on helplessly as she is carried away in a palanquin. She’s been cleared of any wrong-doing and has become an aristocrat again. But this is not good news for Heo Jun. Because a yangban lady won’t marry a man like him.
Heo Jun looks on helplessly as Da Hee is taken away in a a palanquin as a noble lady
Having to accept the reality of the situation, Heo Jun packs up and leaves the capital with his mum. They travel by boat far away to a place called Sanum with a letter from Heo Jun’s father addressed to the local magistrate there, asking for help.
When they reach Sanum things start to look up. Although the rest of the country is suffering from the after effects of natural disasters and weak leadership, this area is blessed with mountain herbs and work can be found at a nearby iron mine. Heo Jun and his mum feel optimistic. And although Heo Jun is still disappointed about losing his love, he vows to make a new start.
Heo Jun and his mum are determined to make a fresh start but dodgy Koo Ilsu is waiting to pounce
But of course it’s not meant to be.
At the local government office Heo Jun is told that the magistrate has retired and moved back to Hanyang! To make matters worse he also hears that the new magistrate is very strict and wants to get rid of any wanderers with no proper ID! (i.e. people like THEM! Oh no!)
Helpless and vulnerable Heo Jun and his mum discuss what to do as they have no proper ID. A dodgy local character Koo Ilsu listens in to their conversation and offers to ‘help’ them. Heo Jun’s mother suddenly collapses and Heo Jun gratefully follows his new friend to Dr Yoo, a famous doctor in the area.
The direct but talented Dr Yoo (Lee Soon-jae)
Dr Yoo and his assistant Do Ji are gifted doctors and seem to be able to cure any sickness. Unfortunately they have no bedside manner and often their words are harsh. If a patient can’t be cured he is told unceremoniously to go home and write a will! Luckily, when they take a look at Heo Jun’s mum, they simply send her away saying she is fine – she just has seasickness. Despite their harsh approach Heo Jun is impressed with the doctors’ skills. How did they know we travelled on a boat he wonders!
With no friends in a new town, Heo Jun has no choice but to trust the dodgy Koo Ilsu when he promises to bring him a fake ID. But of course Koo Ilsu simply takes their money. Later, an angry Heojun finds him gambling his money away and beats him up. But the money has gone. Koo Ilsu (who now has a black eye!) is forced to let Heo Jun and his mum stay at his place! He gets beaten up by his wife too when he brings the strangers home with him!
Koo Ilsu has no choice but to take Heo Jun and his mum to his house!
So for the time being they at least have a roof over their heads. But this accommodation is only temporary and Heo Jun needs to get a job and decides that he wants to work for Dr Yoo. But apparently Dr Yoo isn’t interested in teaching. And the ‘students’ under him don’t learn anything – they just do the cleaning and dirty work. They are also a jealous bunch of men and don’t even want Heo Jun to speak to the doctor. They get into an unseemly brawl giving Heo Jun another chance to show off his fighting skills.
Dr Yoo sees this and to everyone’s surprise (and horror) accepts Heo Jun as another apprentice pointing out that a man who knows martial arts will know the pressure points around the body. And this could make him a talented doctor. Do Ji and the other workers are not happy. Looks like Heo Jun is about to make himself some more enemies.
Dr Yoo’s assistant and workers are not keen to have another man on the team!
So here we are at last. Heo Jun meets his mentor and starts the long journey to reach his destiny – Royal Doctor to the King. Structurally this drama is the same so far as the other Lee Byung Hoon sageuk dramas that I’ve seen – so far we’ve just had the introduction to the main character of the story and his/her problem. It’s not until episode 4 that the main character gets the first foot on the rung to their destiny.
For example in Dae Jang Geum (MBC 2004) the first 3 episodes set the scene. The story starts way back before Jang Geum is even born. Then we see Jang Geum as a child losing her parents during the political conspiracies. Her childhood is dramatic and losing her mother the way she does makes her determined to enter the royal court which she achieves in episode 3. In Horse Doctor (MBC 2012) the story starts before our hero Kwang Hyun is born. But everything is background info and it’s not till episode 3 that he finally ends up on a horse ranch and starts his journey to his destiny.
We don’t meet Heo Jun as a child, we see him as a young man. But we still have the 3 episodes of background presenting his character to make absolutely sure we know what his problem is – he is the illegitimate son of a yangban and has no idea what to do with his life. But now he DOES know and the background story is over. From now on the drama really starts. And things are going to get exciting.