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Live Up to Your Name: Episode 14

The most important lessons are the hardest ones to learn, especially when the easy path will help you protect the ones you love. But today, all of the lessons Im has learned come to fruition, and he’s finally ready to embrace being the best doctor he can be. The only problem is, will our heroes be strong enough to withstand the sacrifices that might be involved?


In shock, Yeon-kyung stares at the patient in distress, Chan-sung, who it turns out is the homeless man Grandpa has been accused of harming. Yeon-kyung rushes Chan-sung into surgery to safely remove the needle.

Meanwhile, at the police station, Im protests that Grandpa couldn’t have misperformed the acupuncture. Unfortunately, another homeless man claims that he witnessed Grandpa’s hands shaking, and it looks bad when Im points out the area Grandpa operated on, since it’s the exact place where Chan-sung has been harmed.

At the hospital, as Yeon-kyung removes the needle from Chan-sung, she points out to Min-jae that it’s strange the blood pooled around the needle the way it did, and is careful in scrutinizing the offending object.

The news gets even worse at the police station, as it turns out that Grandpa was convicted of medical malpractice 20 years ago, for killing another patient. Grandpa refuses to tell Im what happened though, and instead solemnly cautions Im not to let other people sway him from his purpose, because if he does, “You will be defeated by yourself.”

Back at the hospital, Yeon-kyung looks worried when she finds an aspirin bottle in Chan-sung’s jacket, and explains to the visiting police officer that this must be why it was difficult to stop the bleeding. Yeon-kyung tries to tell the officer that it wouldn’t have been possible for the needle to end up where it did even if performed incorrectly, but he looks unconvinced when Yeon-kyung admits—to the shock of Nurse Jung and Min-jae—that the accused acupuncturist is actually her grandfather.

Coincidentally, Jae-ha is in Shinhye hospital too, and confirms to a curious Min-jae that only a really terrible acupuncture doctor could pierce a patient’s heart. However, Jae-ha looks subdued when he discovers it is Grandpa’s practice, Hyeminseo, that is being blamed.

An agitated Im arrives at the hospital where Chan-sung has finally woken up from his surgery to find that Yeon-kyung is the attending physician. The accompanying officer hurries to take Chan-sung’s statement, while Im stays behind to reassure the troubled Yeon-kyung that this definitely can’t have been Grandpa’s fault.

Unhappily, despite Im’s confidence in the injured man, Chan-sung proceeds to blame Grandpa for the needle lodged in his heart. Im’s expression turns sharp as we see in flashback that Chan-sung had insisted on Grandpa treating him, and in the present, Im rushes out of the hospital room. Chan-sung looks conflicted as we see in flashback that after Grandpa and Im left the room, Chan-sung had inserted the needle himself.

Understanding now who is behind this scheme, Im bursts in on Director Ma to demand an end to it. Smug, Ma states that it was easy for him to destroy a small, old-fashioned clinic like Hyeminseo, and he tries to coerce Im into using his skill as an acupuncturist for Ma’s benefit in exchange for Grandpa’s release. Disgusted at Ma’s attitude, Im nevertheless attempts to appeal to his better nature and earnestly declares that even if it is for money, there are some things that doctors shouldn’t do.

As Ma scoffs at the sentiment, Im realizes the futility of trying to argue any more and gets up to leave. Ma goes in for the kill as he states that Im can just go back to Joseon if he wants to—but it will be all his fault when Grandpa’s reputation is ruined and he remains in jail until he dies. Stone-faced, Im agrees that Ma doesn’t have to do that and states, “I will protect Grandpa.”

Once alone, the satisfied Director Ma ominously states, “Im is only Heo Im with the needles in his hands. Even if he wants to act, he will not be able to.” Outside, Im clutches his chest as he falls to the ground, face wracked with pain.

Back at Shinhye hospital, Yeon-kyung concernedly asks Im where he’s been and voices her suspicion that Chan-sung is lying about Grandpa. Im gives a small smile to comfort Yeon-kyung as he promises to fix this.

In Chan-sung’s room, Im pleads with Chan-sung to admit that Grandpa didn’t harm him. Seemingly unmoved, Chan-sung claims that he doesn’t even know Grandpa all that well—except he does know that Grandpa’s hands are always shaking. Im sinks to his knees to plead Grandpa’s case, sincerely asking Chan-sung to reconsider, but Chan-sung merely threatens to call the police for victim harassment if Im continues.

Expression resigned, Im asks if this is about money. Im states that he understands the temptation, but even so, he has never done anything that would harm people with his needles. Im’s voice is choked with emotion as he entreats, “Please. Can you not think about how much good [Grandpa] has done with those needles?” Chan-sung can’t bring himself to look at Im.

Outside, Yeon-kyung waits on tenterhooks, but in one shared glance with Im, she understands that Chan-sung is resolute in blaming Grandpa.

Meanwhile, Jae-ha puzzles over some things that don’t add up, like seeing Chan-sung walking into the Eastern wing of Shinhye hospital. Disbelieving, Jae-ha mutters to himself that his grandfather couldn’t possibly have orchestrated this.

The supercilious Director Ma makes an unwelcome visit to Grandpa at the jail, and Grandpa accuses him of only being able to use the talent of others to make money and power. Unfazed, Ma accepts that he is using Im—just like he used Heo Jun 20 years ago.

Ma states that even though Heo Jun ended up going back to Grandpa and his ways, it made a lot of trouble for Grandpa at that time, just like Im is making trouble for him now. Defiant, Grandpa states that Ma made trouble for his own son-in-law all those years ago by pushing him out, but this punishment is nothing in comparison. Grandpa scathingly says that he understands now why Heo Jun was worried about Ma all those years ago, “Because you are just that much of a person.”

Unbeknownst to the two old adversaries, Jae-ha is lurking nearby, and has overheard the whole damning exchange.

Outside, Director Ma pauses as he remembers back to a heated conversation with Heo Jun. Ma had asked Heo Jun to do him one more favor, and in return, he would clear Chun-sool (Grandpa) of all the false charges leveled at him. Heo Jun was firm in stating that he would not help Ma again because Grandpa would understand, saying, “A doctor is respected for their attitude of mind, not false honor. You will never be able to beat Chun-sool.” In the present, Ma darkly promises that it will be his name that’s remembered, not Chun-sool’s.

A despondent Jae-ha confronts Director Ma on the steps and points out that his grandfather is a doctor too and should know better. Jae-ha supposes that his father must have been punished for trying to stop Ma all those years ago. Unrepentant, Ma pronounces that he wouldn’t have had to use Im if Jae-ha had even half his talent, and Jae-ha looks devastated as his grandfather casually strolls away.

At the hospital, as Yeon-kyung checks on Chan-sung, she points out that he has high blood pressure which, along with the anti-coagulant aspirin he was taking, meant that he was in very real danger of dying when the needle pierced his heart. Chan-sung’s expression is one of shock, as we see in flashback that Director Ma had promised a nervous Chan-sung he would be in no danger at all.

Yeon-kyung’s smile is cold as she asks the unsettled Chan-sung if he doesn’t remember her, since she was there at Seoul station a few days ago. Chan-sung looks even more upset to learn that the doctor who saved his life is the granddaughter of the man he is falsely accusing.

At the police station, Im is desperate to prove Grandpa innocent, and illustrates his point with a practical demonstration, which involves thrusting a needle deep into his stomach in front of the disturbed police officers as he claims that a doctor couldn’t make the mistake between stomach and heart.

Though Im’s point is lost on the officers, Grandpa is freed from jail anyway while the investigation continues. Grandpa looks wan and frail from his time in jail, but he still soothes Im’s ruffled feathers when the investigating officer brusquely advises Grandpa to just confess to the crime already.

Grandpa and Im sneak back into Hyeminseo to avoid Jae-sook and Byung-ki. Im worriedly checks Grandpa’s pulse, and proclaims that Grandpa’s heart is weak and is only going to get worse. Im’s words aren’t a surprise to Grandpa, but he maintains that he will tell Yeon-kyung in due time. Anyway, Grandpa says, “Everyone’s time comes sometime. I will not leave before mine.”

Im attentively applies acupuncture to Grandpa to relieve some of his symptoms. Grateful, Grandpa grasps Im’s hand and urges him to remember the advice from earlier before wearily reflecting, “I’m so tired. It’s time for me to retire and rest.”

True to his word, Im doesn’t tell Yeon-kyung about Grandpa’s illness when she arrives home later that night. Yeon-kyung is relieved to see Grandpa sound asleep, but her expression turns sad as she pulls the blanket carefully over him. Her eye catches on a bag the Grandpa bought for her, and Yeon-kyung regretfully remembers all the times she pushed her grandfather away when he was trying to care for her.

Sitting comfortably across from Im, Yeon-kyung confesses that when she was young, she thought she had the coolest Grandpa, and when her mother fell sick, she naturally believed that he would be able to save her. When Grandpa couldn’t, Yeon-kyung resented him and became a Western medicine doctor in retaliation.

It was only after she became a doctor that Yeon-kyung understood there was nothing her Grandpa could do for her terminally ill mother but manage the pain. Yeon-kyung admits that she has only just realized that she couldn’t bear to live without Grandpa. Im smiles sadly and apologizes to Yeon-kyung, who sweetly (but mistakenly) assures him that he’s doing everything right by just being with her.

In narration, Im sighs that he wishes he could stay here at Hyeminseo with Yeon-kyung and Grandpa. Im reminisces about all the enjoyable times he has had at Hyeminseo, as well as the lessons Grandpa taught him, but his happy memories are marred by Director Ma’s threats on Grandpa’s life and Jae-ha’s insistence that Grandpa and Yeon-kyung will be in danger from Director Ma if Im doesn’t go back to Joseon.

Resolved, Im dresses in a sharp suit the following day to get ready for another important patient Director Ma wants him to treat. Ma had promised this would be the last one, and that Grandpa would be safe afterward.

Yeon-kyung immediately notices Im’s absence, but doesn’t think much of it until confronted by the gaggle of old women outside complaining that no doctor is there to treat their ailments. Jae-sook tells the enquiring Yeon-kyung that Im left early that morning, but adds that Grandpa might know where he has gone.

Unfortunately, Grandpa doesn’t know, and he becomes frantic at the news Im has left. Grandpa brandishes the magical history book at Yeon-kyung, and groans that Im won’t be able to come back from whatever he is about to do.

Unnerved, Yeon-kyung sets out to look for Im, and calls Jae-ha to determine the whereabouts of Director Ma. Yeon-kyung unknowingly passes Im in his car with Ma, although Im certainly notices and sorrowfully sinks his head at what he has been forced into.

The reason Im will be “treating” this patient is to put him in a coma while his brother arranges a takeover of the company stock. The patient’s worried wife vows that Im can have whatever he wants if he can cure her husband.

Im grasps the patient’s wrist and diagnoses him with congestive heart failure. Im knows exactly how easily he could cure the man, and imagines coaxing the blood back into his face and energy back to his limbs. Unfortunately, Im’s skill means he also knows how to make the patient worse—to pierce him in such a way that will drain him of his energy and cause the patient to fall into a faint.

Meanwhile, Grandpa holds vigil over the history book to see if Im will yield his principles, but he clutches at his chest in pain.

Seemingly decided, Im raises the needle above his head, but his hand begins to shake uncontrollably on its descent. Im is unable to complete the procedure, and can only stare at his hand as the patient’s wife and Director Ma demand to know what’s gone wrong.

Outside, Im stumbles to the ground and stares at the hand that betrayed him. His Joseon master’s words, that a needle would know if its handlers intentions were ignoble, echo in Im’s mind. Im wonders if this is why his hand shook at the palace with the king, and again today.

Nervously pacing outside, Yeon-kyung senses the tension when Im returns to the Hyeminseo clinic that night. She softly asks him if he’s eaten yet, and explains that she has made stew to welcome him back, but Im just stares blankly at her words. Offering solace, Yeon-kyung wraps Im in a hug and comforts him by saying that everything will be okay while Im cries into her neck.

Inside Hyeminseo, Im somberly says that his hand shook for the first time at the palace after he found out a child that he treated had died. He could hear the needles crying that time, but he thinks that this time, they were enraged. Yeon-kyung praises the needles for being so righteous and for saving Im from making a grave mistake, and thanks them for making Im a part of her destiny. Im stares dejectedly down at the needle bag and sighs, “I wonder what awaits me in this strange destiny.”

At a pojangmacha Jae-ha finds Chan-sung’s homeless buddy drinking a bottle of soju, which Jae-ha sarcastically notes must be thanks to the money he received from Director Ma for his part in the deception.

Meanwhile, Chan-sung himself is being afflicted with a crisis of conscience as he remembers Yeon-kyung’s warning and Im’s pleas. Chan-sung sighs loudly, unaware that Grandpa has come to visit until he interrupts, “That wasn’t loud enough. Why would you commit something you are not capable of?”

Chan-sung furtively tries to deny that he did anything wrong, but Grandpa corrects him—Chan-sung hurt himself, which is the biggest wrong he could have committed. Unrelenting, Grandpa asks what Chan-sung was thinking to risk leaving behind the son that lost his house to pay for Chan-sung’s debts.

Grandpa opens the porridge he brought, and encourages the tearful Chan-sung to eat up and get better for his son. Grandpa wipes away his own tears at the sight of Chan-sung’s suit, which the homeless man wore because he was afraid that no one would believe him otherwise.

Director Ma scrambles to recover from Im’s gaffe earlier, though he quickly becomes more concerned when Jae-ha comes in wielding incriminating audio and photos of Ma’s machinations. Heavy-hearted, Jae-ha declares, “That’s enough, Grandfather. It’s time for you to stop.”

At Hyeminseo, Grandpa admits that the incident 20 years ago happened because Heo Jun was threatened by Director Ma the same way that Im was today. At first, Grandpa resented Heo Jun for not causing the seemingly small harm to save Grandpa’s reputation, but now he thinks differently. Heo Jun’s reaction allowed Grandpa to continue being a good doctor, and remain proud of himself.

Abruptly turning on Im, Grandpa admonishes that he shouldn’t have to keep repeating himself, and he orders Im not to do anything silly for his own sake. Alone, Im is reminded of Jun’s harsh warning that his twisted perception of the world is stopping him from becoming a great doctor, and a look of dawning realization crosses Im’s face.

The following day, Im and Grandpa are delighted and exasperated, respectively, to find the old women extolling Grandpa’s virtues (while wreaking havoc) at the police station. Just as the police officer gets the situation under control to take Grandpa’s statement, a horde of rowdy homeless men burst into the station to defend Grandpa’s honor as well.

Fortunately, Grandpa’s loyal following isn’t required, since Chan-sung and his friend have had a change of heart and came to correct the accusations against Grandpa themselves. Grandpa graciously accepts the duo’s heartfelt apology, and Im’s quick reassurance that they will still get treated by the Hyeminseo clinic leaves the four men in better spirits.

Im’s mood is lighter that night when Yeon-kyung arrives home, and she crows over her “cool grandfather” whose patients saved him in the end. Im still has a weight on his mind though, as he admits that he can’t be satisfied when he knows he has broken a promise to the sick little girl Yeon-yi in Joseon. Yeon-kyung realizes this must be the Yeon-yi she met last time at Jun’s clinic, and informs the jubilant Im that Yeon-yi is still alive, and she’s waiting for him to come and heal her.

Knowing what has to be done, Im tells Grandpa and Yeon-kyung that he must return to Joseon to fulfill his promise to Yeon-yi. Grandpa understands that Im’s heart would always be heavy otherwise, but is hesitant to ask the unspoken question of when Im will be able to return to Seoul. Im fervently promises that he doesn’t know when he can return, but he definitely will.

This time, Im is prepared, and he dresses in traditional garb for the Joseon jump. As he gets ready, the needle bag’s outer pouch glows brilliantly. Outside, Yeon-kyung waits with a desolate expression, but she schools her face into a neutral mask when she hears Im coming. Grabbing Im’s hand close, Yeon-kyung smiles through her tears as she asks him to reconsider bringing her along to Joseon.

Im gently says that he couldn’t bear going through what happened last time again, but Yeon-kyung vainly promises that last time was a mistake, and she’ll stick to Im like gum this time round. Im scoffs that Yeon-kyung used to complain when he stuck like gum to her, and some of Yeon-kyung’s spirit returns as she sarcastically asks why he doesn’t just leave her for good then.

Im jokes that he might just do that, easing the tension and impending heartbreak between the two just a little. Im turns to Yeon-kyung and seriously asks her to wait for him, because he is definitely coming back to her. Glancing over at the house, Im urges Yeon-kyung to take care of her grandfather, but makes light of the request by explaining that it’s only because she won’t have any time to do so when Im gets back.

The two wistfully hug each other goodbye, while Grandpa watches the pair sadly. He notes, “The child must have been the last test. You idiot. You can’t come back just because you want to.”

In Joseon again, Im is perturbed by how quiet the night is, and he narrowly makes it into hiding from the approaching Japanese army. Im clutches his chest as he realizes that he is still in pain, and not healed.

In Seoul, Yeon-kyung is horrified to find Grandpa collapsed, and rushes him to hospital in an ambulance. Meanwhile, Im reaches Heo Jun’s house where Yeon-kyung saw Yeon-yi last, but all he finds are dead bodies and no sign of Heo Jun, Mak-gae, or Yeon-yi.


This episode was a really lovely one, even if there was a tinge of sadness running throughout. I certainly never thought that Grandpa’s practice was ever in serious jeopardy, or that Im would sacrifice his principles, but I did enjoy the journey to the resolution. It was truly touching to see how beloved Grandpa is by his patients, especially when the old women and homeless people rallied around him at the police station, turning their idiosyncrasies and irritating presences into a force for good. Grandpa may have chosen a difficult life by surrounding himself with outcasts, but this show has done a very good job of humanizing the forgotten, reviled, and impoverished of society.

We are all just people in the end, with the foibles and strengths all humans have, and I even came to appreciate Chan-sung’s treachery as an example of this. Initially I thought it was too convenient that he betrayed Grandpa, but in reality, being homeless is gruelling and dispiriting, and it makes total sense that he would consider sacrificing principles to put an end to that. In fact, there has been very little self-righteous moralizing in Live Up to Your Name, it’s just an honest depiction of humanity and the people strong enough to try and leave the world a little better than how they came into it.

Which is more than can be said of Director Ma and his almost cartoonishly evil plans. While Ma was ostensibly motivated by his latest scheme in trying to coerce Im into his service, Ma actually seemed more invested in ruining Grandpa’s life. It is still unclear why these two are connected, but it is blindingly obvious that Ma is jealous of Grandpa and much less happy with his life despite all the money and power he has accumulated. Someone really should have told Ma that alienating his last remaining relative—and one who has learned from Ma’s manipulation before, at that—wouldn’t be a very good way to make it better. Jae-ha hasn’t impacted either very negatively or positively on me in this series, but today, my heart pinched for the man.

While I appreciate that this show has been very light on the hospital politics, I am actually really enjoying Ma’s continued presence in the show. I’m sure I would want Ma to disappear from our heroes’ lives if he was a more effective threat, but because he isn’t, I’m actually fairly amused at this point by how gloriously villainous he is. It doesn’t hurt that Kim Myung-gon is playing him with such exaggerated relish.

This episode was markedly slower and less dramatic than previous ones, but emotionally, this is the watershed moment for Im. He has finally realized what it means to be a good doctor, even if his unconscious mind knew it long before today. The revelation that his incident at the palace occurred because of the guilt he was carrying with him isn’t surprising, because Im is a sensitive, generous man who was destined to be a great doctor from the first lessons he had with his teacher. Even when Im tried to become a mercenary doctor, his hand betrayed him because he always knew that deep down, there are some things that a doctor just shouldn’t do.

The melancholic tone of this episode comes because both Im and Yeon-kyung understand that their time together is quickly running out. The last scene of them together is striking, with Im in his traditional garb ready to go home, and Yeon-kyung dressed entirely in modern clothes, highlighting just how much distance there will be between them. Even though Yeon-kyung pleaded to go with Im back to Joseon, neither of them thought this was ever a real option, which was why she didn’t change clothes. And as much as I have loved the skinship between Im and Yeon-kyung, when she grabbed his hand this time, it was just a woman touching the man she loved. The depth of emotion between these two evolved slowly and organically, but now there is no question that they love each other. I really hope that Im can prove Grandpa wrong and come back to Yeon-kyung, because these two belong together. In any era.


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