Doctor Cha Season 1 Review and Episode 1 Recap – A Humorously Told Tale of Renewed Freedom

By Nathan Sartain
Published: April 17, 2023 (Last updated: March 13, 2024)
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Doctor Cha Season 1 Review and Episode 1 Recap
Doctor Cha Season 1 (Credit - Netflix)


A comedically packaged medical drama powered by a formidable lead.

When we stop living for others, that’s when life gets fun. Or at least that’s the message Kim Dae-jin’s Doctor Cha seems to drive home. Laced with fun humor and centered around a seamlessly likable lead character, this is a medical comedy you’d be wise to catch.

Doctor Cha Season 1 Review and Plot Summary

Unsurprisingly, the show revolves around Cha Jeong-suk, the titular character who, after almost experiencing death via liver failure, decides she’s fed up with living life on her family’s terms.

So, she subsequently changes her behavior to suit herself, going on excessive shopping sprees, refusing to complete trivial chores, and biting back at her egotistical husband, Seo In-ho.

To further compound her switch in lifestyle, as well as mark her newfound freedom, Jeong-suk makes one major decision: she’s going to go back into healthcare, a field she left 20 years ago, to become a “housewife” for the sake of those around her.

In just two episodes, the scene is well set for this medical drama, one syringed with undertones of subtle revenge, resilience, and rekindled ambition. Uhm Jung-hwa is outstanding as the lead protagonist, giving her depiction of someone ready to take control of life before it gets away from her plenty of depth.

The viewer can really sense the fire that was lit under Jeong-suk as she grows from a wistful, deflated reflector to a determined hospital resident, and that’s undoubtedly down to how well the character is portrayed.

In the same vein, Kim Byung-chul is strong as the smarmy Seo In-ho, a chief surgeon controlled by his thorny mother, and a man without regard for others around him (proven by his affair with Seung-hi).

Together, these two make for perfect petty enemies – despite their marriage – which in turn allows the comedic chops of the two performers to shine.

Is Doctor Cha Season 1 worth watching?

With all that in mind, it becomes easy to enjoy Doctor Cha. For one, people generally like underdog stories, and showing the life of a middle-aged woman who, against the odds, trades her deceptively comfortable life for the demands of a busy hospital is unique enough to have its own appeal.

Plus, the character of Jeong-suk is so smartly written that audiences would be hard-pressed to want her to do anything but thrive. After all, why wouldn’t you want someone to show their cheating, almost oppressive husband that they’re every bit as professionally capable as them?

All in all, Doctor Cha is a K-Drama with lots of heart, coupled with definite potential. Jeong-suk proves an excellent titular character, balancing freedom, desire, and a want of payback with joyful flair.

Likewise, In-ho is the perfect foil for his wife as a man drowning in understated insecurity and submissiveness, but equally someone quick to write off the person he is supposed to love.

Thus, Doctor Cha comes recommended, even if just for the fact it’ll be a fun ride to see Jeong-suk, with the potential help of Roy Kim, thrive in the very profession she so selflessly quit all those years ago.

Doctor Cha Season 1 Episode 1 Recap

Jeong-suk’s hectic day

Upon visiting her friend, Baek Mi-hee, for a dermatology appointment, Cha Jeong-suk begins to reflect on her life choices. Was becoming a “full-time housewife” really a misuse of her medical license?

It’s a poignant question, but it’s clear Jeong-suk mightn’t have been cut out for the medical field when she struggles to deal with a man who falls ill on the bus she’s traveling on.

Nevertheless, the ill man is subsequently nursed back to health, thanks to the assistance of surgeon Roy Kim in the back of an ambulance. What this means for the nervy Jeong-suk, though, is that she has to fess up to not practicing medicine for 20 years.

As Seo In-ho’s workplace affair with Seung-hi is established, Jeong-suk continues to contemplate. This time, there’s a positive spin put on life as a housewife, as the qualified doctor’s mother-in-law stresses the importance of a “healthy family.”

Later, however, we get a true look at how dejecting this stay-at-home responsibility can be when the extremely strict In-ho is happy to critique everything about his wife and relentlessly quiz his children.

Doctor Cha Season 1 (Credit – Netflix)

Jeong-suk collapses

While In-ho prepares to jet off to Europe with Seung-hi for a “conference,” Jeong-suk collapses during a shopping trip. The cause of this occurrence is acute hepatitis, meaning the family manager must be properly admitted for treatment.

Yet Jeong-suk finds herself in a bit of a sticky situation, needing to rely on her working mother to be her guardian because In-ho and Ae-sim have labeled themselves too preoccupied.

Following on from some more reflections on her previous life in healthcare and a clumsy interruption of Roy Kim giving a patient treatment, Jeong-suk is informed of the potential dangers of her condition, should it lead to kidney failure. Thus, the housewife calls upon her mother and prepares to be admitted.

Jeong-suk needs a liver transplant

30 days later, the situation is vastly different. Jeong-suk now needs a liver transplant, and despite In-ho’s compatibility, Ae-sim objects to her healthy son undergoing surgery, instead wishing her in-law would hold off for a “brain-dead donor.”

What follows is a private argument between Ae-sim and Deok-rye, where the latter hears she was basically responsible for Jeong-suk leaving the healthcare business because she was watching over Jung-min when he got in a car accident. Outside, the real person in need listens on.

As an upset Deok-rye becomes increasingly desperate to find a donor for her daughter, Roy Kim provides comfort to the worried Jeong-suk by allowing her to observe a surgery. Elsewhere, Seung-hi vents frustrations about her adulterous relationship with In-ho yet seems calmed by assurances she wouldn’t be left alone if sick.

With Jong-su rescinding Deok-rye’s money offer in exchange for becoming a donor, things look increasingly bleak for Jeong-suk, who collapses again.

Fortunately, she does pull through, though her critical condition means In-ho, in spite of both his mother and Seung-hi’s frustration, has to agree to donate his liver.

“I’ll never stop being grateful to you for the rest of my life,” Jeong-suk tells her husband after admitting there is some resentment she holds towards him. Then, once he’s finished consulting with Roy Kim, In-ho prepares to sign the consent forms to donate part of his liver to his wife.

Doctor Cha Season 1 Episode 1 Ending Explained

However, this doesn’t go to plan, and Ae-sim dramatically arrives at the hospital to stop In-ho from going through with his promise. Luckily, Jeong-suk does still end up having a liver transplant, in addition to the chance to get one over on her husband.

“You little bastard,” she happily tells him when waking up, bringing an end to the episode.

What did you think of Doctor Cha Season 1? Comment below.

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