Heo Jun episode 6: The Duel of 9 Needles

heojun0605Do Ji gets some VERY bad news that sends him straight to drink and the gisaeng house. But at the same time we get to know more about his father Dr Yoo and why he is the way he is. 

Heo Jun is despondent when he discovers that his sweetheart Da Hee has left Hanyang. He has no way of finding her now – she could be anywhere.

Meanwhile, Do Ji moves on to the next part of the state medical exam which involves an interview with a panel of royal court doctors. Everything seems to be going well until they ask about his family. (coming from a ‘good’ family is very important) Do Ji knows the importance of this and proudly announces that he comes from a family of doctors, BUT there’s a gasp when he says his father’s name. Do Ji himself doesn’t pick up on the bad vibes and goes off to celebrate sure that he has passed. He doesn’t realise that the doctors failed him because of his family name.


Do Ji searches in vain for his name on the results board and then is told why he failed …

The next day he can’t believe that he’s failed. It’s impossible. So he makes such a commotion until one of the examiners reveals the shocking truth: he failed because of his father. Do Ji hears that his father also tried to take the exam 10 years ago but failed. And at the time the rumour was that the head physician failed anyone who was talented enough to  rival him in acupuncture skills!


10 years ago after Dr Yoo failed the exam, he wanted to know why he had failed and demanded to see his own test paper. His request was denied. So Dr Yoo challenged the head physician, Dr Yesu Yang, to a duel of 9 needles – put 9 needles into a live chicken without the chicken feeling pain. The task was considered to be almost impossible – only an outstanding doctor could do it.


Dr Yoo challenges the head doctor to a duel of 9 needles

But the head physician accepted the challenge. Dr Yoo was VERY confident and said he would pull out an eyeball if he lost the duel! (now THAT is confidence!) But he demanded that if he WON, the head doctor must bow before him and say that Dr Yoo is the greatest doctor in Joseon (three times!)

The head doctor was tense but Dr Yoo was calm and confident and he won on the final needle. So the head doctor had no choice but to say what Dr Yoo wanted him to say. It was a deeply humiliating moment as the head doctor should be the best in the land as he is the King’s personal doctor! And he had been beaten by a nobody. Dr Yoo made the situation worse by laughing heartily as the doctor walked away.

Since then Dr Yang has never forgotten the incident or Dr Yoo’s name. So now Do Ji can never pass the test while this royal doctor is in charge – unless he changes his name! Back at the clinic Do Ji’s mother prays he will pass but Dr Yoo looks like he knows he won’t.


Da Hee and Yang Tae arrive looking for Heo Jun


Ye Jin sees the monk off on a boat and Da Hee And Yang Tae arrive on the same boat. They’ve come looking for Heo Jun. Da Hee is weak after the boat ride. They bump into Koo Ilsu and he tries to con the strangers with his fake ID story again. Yang Tae doesn’t fall for it but becomes interested when he says he can also find missing people … Yang Tae begs him to find his friend Heo Jun.

But Koo Ilsu seems to have found some loyalty towards Heo Jun and so after conferring with Heo Jun’s mum, he tells the suspicious strangers that Heo Jun has ‘left the area’. Da Hee collapses when she hears the bad news and she is taken to the hospital …Dr Yoo is not there so Ye Jin helps Oh Gun treat her.


The monk leaves town. Ye Jin and Oh Gun look after Da Hee at the hospital

Meanwhile Heo Jun has no idea that his sweetheart and friend have arrived in Sanum and are looking for him. He is on his way back but he’s late because Do Ji is  feeling very sorry for himself, drinking and drowning his sorrows at a gisaeng house. Heo Jun finally persuades him to return home.

Dr Yoo looks pained when he hears what happened. Do Ji is resentful and convinced that his father knew that he would fail and that’s why he didn’t encourage him to take the test. But Dr Yoo says the reason he didn’t want his son to take the test was that he didn’t want him to make the same mistake he did – which was to show off. But Do Ji is furious. (and he did show off a bit when he proudly said his father’s name in the exam! He must regret that now 😉



So here we get to understand Dr Yoo a bit better. He was a show off in the past and now regrets it deeply and has gone to the other extreme –  just knuckling down and getting on with his work quietly. I feel bad for Do Ji to a point – it must have been frustrating to fail the exam over something he couldn’t control. BUT it also shows that he is ambitious and probably wants titles and prestige. He doesn’t want to settle for being a simple country doctor for the rest of his life. He’s also acting like a spoilt child which makes me even less sympathetic towards him, especially when he stands next to Heo Jun who I think has a lot more to complain about when it comes to social injustice. :( 

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