Doctor Cha – K-drama Episode 16 Recap, Review & Ending Explained

The Pursuit of Happiness

Episode 16 of Doctor Cha begins back at the motorcycle shop. Jeong-suk approaches both men before making her choice… it’s the bike. She marches right past them both and decides she’s going to be riding the beautiful bike in the shop window. She tells In-ho he can go while she heads off with Roy. In-ho can only watch and regretfully tells her to hold onto him tight.

Seung-hi gets a great opportunity to work with the Hanseong Medical Corporation and working with a hospice designed for terminal cancer patients. This could be just what she needs to move forward. At the same time, Jeong-suk heads back to the hospital, where Roy tells her that getting a liver is a matter of urgency and she needs to changer her mind and allow the liver transplant.

Instead, Jeong-suk heads out on day release, at Roy’s begrudging acceptance, to meet with Min-hee. She doesn’t want anyone else to go through unnecessary stress and besides, what happens if it doesn’t work? Well, she feels like it could be just her luck for it to go wrong. And she rationales by claiming that Deok-rye has taken all of her luck.

How does Jeong-suk prepare for the next stage of her life?

Jeong-suk spends the afternoon looking over old baby photos of the kids and taking a trip down memory lane. After packing everything up, she prepares to write out letters just incase the unthinkable happens. She writes to both her kids, telling them that she hopes they both find happiness and grow up to live fulfilled lives. She also reminds them that she’ll always protect them. She signs off with “Thank you for being my son and daughter, I love you so much that it can’t be expressed in words.”

And with the letters written and the house tidied completely, everyone shows up after a long day. Jeong-suk speaks to I-rang and points out that Seung-hi is letting her go to any school she wants and she shouldn’t beat herself up about this anymore. She doesn’t want this divorce to hurt her or anyone else in the family anymore. And in fact, that night at the office In-ho signs the divorce papers and puts his stamp there too.

Ae-sim is shocked to find the whole fridge completely stocked up with food and done in a really delicate way, as Jeong-suk’s final parting gift to her. She can hardly keep it together. As for In-ho, he heads out with Jeong-suk and speaks plainly.

He’s signed the divorce papers, and doesn’t want her thinking that his act of giving up his liver to her is a way of him getting a one-up in their continued disagreements. In-ho promises won’t cling to her but he does want her to live and to let him repent for his sins. Even if they break up, he still wants to see her as the mother of his children. It’s a big moment for In-ho, who finally has the courage to do the right thing.

What’s Seung-hi going to do with work?

At work, Seung-hi points out that she’s going to run her own hospital and leave Gusan University Hospital. In-ho is pleased for her, and he similarly points out that he’s going to go through with the surgery after all. She hopes they both stay healthy (Jeong-suk and In-ho) and also gives the same ending – telling him they should meet up sometimes, given Eun-seo is still his daughter.

She happens to be downstairs and Jeong-suk shows up to speak to her. Jeong-suk admits she’s a bit sick but does have something to say to her. She wants Eun-seo to live a good life and not hate her mum too much, telling her she shouldn’t be walking on eggshells anymore. As she gets some closure, Seung-hi is also given a good deal of leaving presents from those in the department who are going to be sad to see her leave them.

The surgery looks set to go ahead, with In-ho asking Roy to remove the biggest piece he can. “Oh, I was already planning to do that,” He replies, as In-ho starts to grow nervous before the anesthesia is given. Well, the obligatory “waiting outside the surgery” scene ensues, as the whole family gather and hope that the surgery goes well for Jeong-suk.

Does the divorce go ahead without an issue?

We then skip forward in time, past the surgery. In-ho and Jeong-suk are both healthy and head to see the judge. They intend to get a divorce, properly, although the former is a bit hesitant. They’ve agreed to divide assets and everything goes through without a hitch. They both even go for lunch afterwards together. It’s been a long time since they just sat and ate like this.

As they sit together, Jeong-suk congratulates In-ho for making Hospital Director. She’s also not losing her job, thankfully, and she’s back in the residency again. She’s not going to push herself too hard though and she’s determined to do this, right after getting some much-needed rest.

Afterwards, the pair say their goodbyes but they’re very civil, even shaking hands and pointing out that they both had good moments during their marriage. Jeong-suk tells her that not everything was bad and they leave on amicable terms. But for In-ho, a big part of his life has been his family and it’s only now that he realizes what he’s done.

Do Roy and Jeong-suk get together?

Eun-seo and I-rang patch up their differences and the former even learns about the divorce too. Eun-seo phones through to In-ho while he’s at the hospital and he agrees to see her. He apologizes for not doing this more, given his mind has been all over the place. He’s determined to try and be a good dad to her. But Eun-seo believes that this should stem from him attempting to get back with Seung-hi to make their family “complete”.

Jeong-suk heads out to meet with Roy, who reveals that he did donate his bone marrow after all. Not as a son but as a doctor and doing the Samaritan thing. Jeong-suk hopes he won’t regret this decision. She thanks Roy for how well the surgery went and even goes so far as to suggest she can have him by her side forever if she wants.

Jeong-suk thanks him but despite being a beautiful bright ray of sunshine in her life, what’s really precious to her is living her own life. She thinks he should marry and enjoy the newlywed life with someone else. It’s a knife to the heart for Roy but it’s an incredibly empowering moment for Jeong-suk.

How does Doctor Cha end?

We then jump forward 3 years later. Dr Jeon does a pregnancy test and it comes up as negative. Still, it doesn’t stop her from imagining a world with them getting married and having kids. In fact, Jung-min is actually feeling a bit gutted that she’s not, and the pair seem to have a similar trajectory in life.

As for Jeong-suk, well she passes her bike licence. She’s also working in a restaurant but doubling up as a family medicine specialist with her own practice. She’s multifaceted, doing a number of different roles, and even taking the time to be a volunteer too.

In-ho is now busier than he ever was before, juggling patients both in his hospital and also doing multiple favours for Seung-hi and Jeong-suk. He even ends up helping out a bunch of old people at the bathhouse, getting them all fixed up and working himself to the point of exhaustion. He’s really turned a corner, and in facthe’s also nagging his mum to do more housework too!

As the episode comes to a close, Jeong-suk heads off on a big trip on her own. She’s grateful to be alive and she believes that now, properly, she’s feeling happy in her life as she feels the wind in her fact and a big smile beams across her face.


The Episode Review

What a beautifully empowering ending. Too often in these shows we see that people need to be in relationships or live with the two kids, white picket fence and the rest to live a happy life. Sometimes people are better off on their own or are just not meant to be together – and that’s okay.

Doctor Cha embodies that beautifully and this final episode has some really powerful moments to exemplify that. The fact that Jeong-suk is off on her own at the end, finally content with her life and doesn’t need to be with Roy (whose meeting is another big highlight here) nor In-ho (who similarly has accepted his role in life now) shows what a strong, empowering woman Jeong-suk is. And the themes that this show plays with really come to the foreground here too.

The ideas of empowerment, independence, kindness and forgiveness really shine and they’re all swirled together in a cocktail of drama that’s as delicious as it is moreish. I could absolutely go for another season of Jeong-suk discovering her true purpose in life on her own but if this is the end of Doctor Cha, it quite possibly could be one of the best endings to a K-drama this year.

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You can read our full season review for Doctor Cha here!

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24 thoughts on “Doctor Cha – K-drama Episode 16 Recap, Review & Ending Explained”

  1. I would call reality defining, in the sense of unrealistic, more than trope defining. Not sure about tropes, but usually people out people read a script expecting it to make sense.

    I mean, so let me get this straight… her, as a divorced adult woman, having a relationship with a younger man that is obviously into her after a decade of loveless, sexless marriage, is supposed to be unrealistic -Secret Love Affair happened ten years ago, let’s remember-, while the way she relates to her ex husband and mother in law after decades of deception and emotional abuse, and almost watching her die while he could save her (only doing a one-eighty so comparatively fast by the last minute, despite decades of self serving behavior… talk about too little, too late), or the mistress’ daughter trying to get her father back together with the mistress who was somehow still into him and never cheated (neither did Dr. Cha) despite him cheating on both his mistress and lover, and tons of other examples on that same vein, are supposed to be realistic? Get outta here!

  2. I would also say that everyone getting a happy ending -as opposed to, say, getting to take a bit of their own medicine- is not necessarily a good thing. I don’t want the wife beating drunk to get a happy handing, nor someone that spent the last decades lying to her, emotionally abusing her, and that was not willing to save her life until the very end -and this someone’s mother-, and he was not the only one I would have liked to get some comeuppance, and, for obvious reasons, as a viewer I don’t really look forward to, say, a wife beating drunk getting a redemption arc and getting to be the one to save the day, and continuing being friendly with the battered housewife after their divorce… he and his mother in law were emotionally abusive, he deceived her for decades and they almost let her die.

    I actually don’t really like it when the conclusion are as they are and essentially reinforce stereotypes. It’s basically pandering to notions which are definitely a step back in terms of depiction of female characters (compared to Secret Love Affair, 2014, for older woman/younger man relationship, or the movie Crazy Rich Asian, 2018, or the drama Once Again, 2020, for realistically dealing with divorcing a cheating husband with a small child in the mix). Though, if you go back to things like 2014’s cdrama Divorce Lawyers, you do get a bit of similar vibe in terms of the SFL in that show goes through (though, impressively in comparison to Dr. Cha, there FL doesn’t accept being the “other woman”, on the other hand SFL gets stabbed in the back and mistreated, and comes back for more, while when it happens to ML, he gets to have a new chance at love).

    Her not being entitled to have a second chance at romance, certainly not with, gasp, a younger man, and having to choose between her independence and having a sex/love life (a false dichotomy and, frankly, cope)… I mean, after decades of a sexless marriage, surely I cannot be the only one concerned by this notion that self care requires her remaining celibate after divorce (ironically, the husband seems poised to pick up the relationship with his mistress, who, absurdly, is still hung up on him). It’s hinted that her husband might get back with his mistress, and Dr. Roy finds someone else, while this supposed conflict between being self-sufficient and having a love life seems to exist only for her. This on top of years of sexless marriage gives some very disturbing messages: it’s like the show is denying her, as a woman her age, the right to have a sexuality and sleep and date other people -even younger men-, as if it was somehow in conflict with her self care and being self sufficient: it’s not a healthy way to live relationships, and sex and love are parts of life.

    The humor kind of changes the perception of the events and makes the depiction of the themes less serious. Here we were not even just talking about him cheating (on his wife and mistress both), but about him letting them down each in various ways, and in terms of the wife, deceiving and emotionally abusing her for decades, and being unwilling to save her life, though he could, until the very last minute one-eighty. That’s basically the most messed up thing I have ever contemplated aside from physical abuse, and I wouldn’t enjoy a show treating flippantly physical abuse. I do think that the comedy detracts from the seriousness of the matter, and drastically limits the ability of this kind of shows to tackle the issue honestly and as deep as if they were serious (kind of a point My Mister made, when they talked about the way such pain and betrayal is romanticized in dramas, but the paint and trauma in reality are a whole different matter). I think that a reviewer of Crazy, Stupid Love made essentially the same point by calling it phony and fake, a PUA inspired fantasy that never comes close to touching marriage counselling or pychological trauma. Which is not to say that good dramas cannot have this element of comedy, for example in cdrama Divorce Lawyers the ML’s wife’s affair was treated comedically (by contrast the SFL’s husband’s one was very much not), and that was a good drama (not sure how much the comedy element contributed or detracted from the overall quality of the drama).

  3. Terrible ending. Nothing is wrong with woman’s independence, empowerment and love at the same time. I stopped watching at episode 10 after I found out the ending. Cha’s adulterous and his cheating lover got off easier with promotion and upscale job. Nothing was wrong in giving a woman who for 20 years had little love, was treated like a slave from every family member , insulted at every turn …..both at in her workplace and home to end with a great love.
    The ending is too much like life. People watch movies to briefly get away from the injustice life sometimes pile on. I will not recommend.

  4. Good tv series show of Dr Cha
    Although it would’ve been nice to see she’d eventually find some love and happiness. She was a devoted housewife and mother, just to be slapped in the face by her sorry excuse of a husband who committed Adultery. He’s so selfish and it would’ve been nice to see her get a happy ending with the handsome caring Dr. Who seems to cherish her. Uh disappointed with this series ending. Come on make it a must watch from beginning to end!

  5. i wanted ending to be diff and them both together0should off ignored her hubby from day 3,sad i stopped at ep 15 otherwise foot be in tv

  6. As someone just exiting a stressful relationship, I can totally relate to Dr. Cha living her best life alone. I am in the same boat. I was kind of hoping for a hookup with handsome Dr. Roy Kim but I could see the signs throughout the series that it wasn’t going to end up like that. She lived her life for others for so long, she needed to make up for all those years living her best life free and happy.

  7. I finished off episode 8, and after reading the ending plot, I am not going to watch further.
    Bullshit ending I say. She should have ended up with Roy.

  8. Thanks for the review. First time writing comments like this. I’m just so disappointed, Not gonna watch the last episode. So crappy ending to much water at the end. Just satisfy knetz viewers. Dr Cha went all the pain and trouble just to end up with self-empowerdment. For real she deserves more than that, she deserves a second chance to be Happy and be loved. And Dr Roy was a cool character with so much potential for growth, but the writers did him dirty. He was just there to make the husband jealous paired with that kind of ending. It was sad when in fact he’s character was desperate for love for family. Which he never give up finding he’s origin. So he’s the type who will not give up easily. The writers just cuts he’s character abruptly. And change he’s end to suit conservative knetz taste. The husband (Kim Byung-chul) was my favorite actor watch most of his dramas and the reason why I watched this. His portrayal was good. And it’s frustrating to watch his character here. But overall the drama was good except for the crappy ending.

  9. Horrible ending, and I’m sorry I wasted so many hours watching this series. Dr.Cha could be empowered and independent, with a fully vibrant and satisfying life, while also enjoying a growing romance with Dr. Roy. And why give that jerk of a husband so much airtime in the last few episodes? Good—he faced his selfishness, but we didn’t need or care to see any more of him.

  10. I enjoyed the ending. She was fair to her friend Dr. She was not going to have children now. She was older ,not that that matters love it how every grew from it. Thanks

  11. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about the ending…Yes it is about women empowerment, that people can be happy with their best friend and other family members without a romantic relationship. It’s unthinkable for a Kdrama to present Dr. Cha and Dr Roy as lovers at the end. It just violates the Koreans’ sensibility. Makes you realize that Kdramas are not purely for entertainment

  12. We love this Dr. Cha Kdrama Series it also has a good ending.
    They forgive each other and move on for the better.

  13. Not even going to bother watching the last 4 episodes…waste of time. A woman can still find empowerment while finding a new love. Crappy ending…writers blew it at the end.

  14. Most people commenting seem to be satified with the ending. Personally, I’m in mourning for Roy. What would be wrong with (after a couple of years have passed) newly licensed Dr. Cha and Roy riding their motorcycles into the sunset? Sorry, real life is realistic enough. I guess I want my K-dramas to be romantic!

  15. Horrible ending. I loved the drama but expected more at the end. She put up with infidelity for decades and deserved to be able to find the love of her life at the end.

  16. yes, I was not satisfied with the ending of this series, I thought it was a happy ending, I am disappointed☹️😔

  17. So crappy ending and unrealistic. Too holiwood fantacy ending. Empowerment, really? So not realistic.

  18. Absolutely on point with you. Beautiful ending and better than what I had hoped for! Second chance at self discovery and embracing a fulfilling life journey as Dr Cha defines for her own self, I am rather envious of her TBH!!!!

  19. What an utterly crap ending. So disappointed and unsatisfying I feel I wasted about 17 hours of my life on this rubbish ending of a series. How do I get those hours back??. Think Good Bad Mother will show how to really end a series in style and with a genuine believable ending.

  20. Loved this K drama, but enough of the empowerment, independence and kindness 😂 I’m a little disappointed that she didn’t throw caution to the wind and take a chance at love with that handsome, Dr.Kimberley Roy! Give us a 2nd season and a little spice 😉 I love K dramas. All these handsome Korean men. Beautiful! ❤️❤️

  21. Nice recap and I agree with how empowering it was. There’s was a tiny part of me that wanted her to end up with Roy, though. And, while showing his moving on validates what Dr. Cha said, I still felt a bit of ‘aww man’, lol.

  22. Thank you for your kind words Sarah, I was literally hitting the refresh button on Netflix as soon as it hit 4pm, desperate to see how this one ends! Really appreciate you reading through this post, hope you enjoyed the ending as much as we did!

    -Greg W

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