So here we are at last. Episode 64, the final episode. Heo Jun has been exiled but that doesn’t stop him finishing his life’s work: The Donguibogam – The Book of Eastern Medicine. When he is finally pardoned by the king he returns to his teacher’s hospital to end his life there helping the poor …
Heo Jun has been exiled from court as a punishment for not being able to save King Seonjo. But at least his family have not been punished too. He is not allowed to make contact with anyone or leave the village. He lives in a humble hut by the sea all alone and has to look after himself. So he sets off to collect wood for a fire and dig up herbs.
The local magistrate orders Heo Jun to remain here and not leave or contact anyone
But he is not left alone for long as word spreads about him and soon a peasant brings his ill mother to see him. At first Heo Jun refuses to treat the patient – he is a criminal now and they could all get in trouble if they are caught – but they beg him and he relents. Soon there is a crowd of patients waiting. At first the young guards try to move the people away but in the end they bring their own sick relatives to get treated too!
sick locals turn up to see the doctor
Back in Hanyang, Do Ji is FINALLY the royal doctor. But he acts a lot more humble now. The king sends Do Ji to look after Heo Jun’s mum when he hears she is ill after seeing Heo Jun taken away by the guards. (so now Do Ji can look after Heo Jun’s mum just as Heo Jun looked after his mum when he was away!) The king wants to bring Heo Jun back but the Greater Northerners Faction (who are in power now) are against this.
Do Ji is overwhelmed by the book compiling project that Heo Jun left behind. He asks permission to put Heo Jun back in charge of the project. His request is denied. So he secretly sends the books to Heo Jun anyway!
Do Ji looks after Heo Jun’s mum then secretly sends Oh Gun with books for Heo Jun
Years later Heo Jun is looking older as he finally writes the title on his set of books “Book of Eastern Medicine “(Donguibogam) But the government is informed about his secret communication with court doctors and guards arrive and take away the books! Heo Jun is devastated clearly thinking they will be destroyed. But they are delivered to the king who looks very pleased indeed! And he orders Heo Jun to return to court.
The king desperately wants Heo Jun to return to the palace. Heo Jun works on his books in secret
It’s emotional for the king to see Heo Jun again after all these years. He wants Heo Jun to become his personal doctor again but Heo Jun has other ideas. He wants to go back to Sanum – where his mentor Dr Yoo had his hospital – and work there for the rest of his life. He promised Doctor Yoo that he would never forget the poor people. The king eventually grudgingly agrees to his request. Heo Jun then finally returns home to find his forlorn wife in the court yard preparing vegetables. But his mother has died. He had no idea. 😥
Heo Jun returns to find that his mother has died
Heo Jun and his wife return to Sanum with their friend Yang Tae. Oh Gun and his wife Hong Choon return with them to help at the hospital. The people are starving and Heo Jun starts to treat patients for free since they have nothing to pay with. Then an epidemic breaks out. The people are already weak from lack of food so Heo Jun pays a visit to the local magistrate. He explains the situation and orders the magistrate to give the people rice from the storage warehouses – rice is saved for this kind of situation. But the magistrate doesn’t like Heo Jun’s arrogant attitude and refuses to do anything. Duh!
The situation gets worse and Heo Jun informs the palace about the problem. The magistrate is ordered to open the warehouses and feed the people. But whilst working to help the patients, Heo Jun has become sick too. But he hides his sickness from the other doctors. He has taken some medicine for himself but when he hears that the medicine has run out, he gives his own medicine to other patients. He continues to work but his symptoms are getting worse. He doesn’t tell anyone and he collapses alone clutching his chest while a party is organised to celebrate the epidemic being beaten.
Heo Jun returns to Sanum to find some old faces there. It’s emotional.
Heo Jun says he has some patients to see, so the others go on ahead for the party. His wife feels that something is wrong and goes back to look for him. He is peacefully sitting with a patient holding an acupuncture needle and he looks asleep. But he has died.
Da Hee returns from the party to look for Heo Jun but he has already died
After the funeral Ye Jin visits the grave with a young nurse. ‘Whose grave is this?’ the girl asks. ‘Someone I respect,’ Ye Jin replies. ‘Did you love him?’ the girl asks. ‘I don’t know,’ Ye Jin says.
Well, yes it was a tearjerker. 😥 Lots of nostalgia as Heo Jun returns to his teacher’s hospital to work until the end of his life. I still feel bad for his family though. We don’t even see his son again. His wife and mother have simply spent all this time waiting for his return while Heo Jun has had his work to focus on. He has been working so hard that he seems not to realise how much time has gone by, and he arrives back in Hanyang expecting everything to be the same. They didn’t have mobile phones to call each other on back then!
While of course I admire his commitment and focus, I think he comes across as charismatic but cold to those closest to him – he pushes people away and out of his mind: The king is desperate to have him back at the court with him, but Heo Jun refuses to go. And Ye Jin was at the temple all this time and yet they never see each other again. And even when he knows he is dying, he says nothing to his wife. (Luckily those closest to him are very understanding.) But this side to his personality makes him even more compelling and of course is the reason he can be such a successful doctor.
It’s been several years since I watched this drama and I wondered if I would still enjoy it as much the second time as the first. And the answer is YES. This is still my favourite historical drama. 😀