Episode 3 of Doctor Slump begins with Jeong-woo’s voice-over telling us how he was the model student not only in his class, school but the region and the nation as well, good at sports, popular amongst his classmates and virtually the best until our “crazy” lady Ha-neul came into picture.
She would run to save time to do one more question, eat dry coffee to avoid going to the bathroom, skip eating to save time which Jeong-woo returned with even more craziness – not sleeping, not eating and just studying. In the end, both our leads faint in the classroom with Jeong-woo fainting after Ha-neul much to his dismay.
In the medical room, when Ha-neul gains consciousness, Jeong-woo asks her if she’s alright to which she responds with revising her flashcards and running off to take the front seat of an intensive class!
Back to the present, Jeong-woo and Ha-neul avoid each other from the sheer awkwardness of their collective weeping event the previous night. Ha-neul’s mother, Wol-sean try to hold back her tears and apologise for her behaviour. Minutes later, Ha-neul’s affectionate family being too extra throws her a “depression party” to lift her spirits much to her dismay.
Meanwhile, upon meeting with his lawyers, Jeong-woo finds that the anesthesiologist Kang Jin-seok who denied being questioned has agreed to become a witness for the next hearing. He and Kyung-min discuss about this strange change of events.
Later in the day, an unknown man breaks Jeong-woo’s window apparently looking for something. Wol-Seon instructs Ha-neul’s brother, Ba-Da, to take some blankets to Jeong-woo since she thinks he’s too broke.
Upon reaching the rooftop, Ba-da finds the window broken and the door open. Jeong-woo arrives at the same time. They call the police who tell them that they will stay in touch about the case. Ha-neul convinces Jeong-woo to stay at her house since he neither has friends not acquittances anymore, reiterating that he did nothing wrong.
While having dinner with her family, he tells them about Ha-neul was in high school leading to Wol-seon changing the dishes kept in front on him from broccoli to meat depending on how favourable his answers are! Since her mother is being overly caring, Ha-neul and Jeong-woo go out together for an ice cream.
While having ice cream, Ha-neul tells Jeong-woo how she never had fun and upon his interrogating her about things that she enjoys, she cheerfully says that she wants to read dissertations all day! Realising that Ha-neul needs to experience other avenues of fun other than reading dissertations and obsessing about work, Jeong-woo takes her to the arcade and to take toekbokki. They play a bunch of games at the arcade with Ha-neul having no-brainer fun for the first time.
Bact at the house, spending time together make them warm up to each other. The next day, Ha-neul comes to Jeong-woo, frustrated. It’s revealed at her professor had her enrolled as a contract employee without telling her to cut her severance pay. He kept renewing her contract annually.
Later, she visits her colleagues at the hospital. They reveal that they are also enrolled as contract employees but they want to feign ignorance to avoid provoking the professor. They also tell her not to come to the hospital because the professor won’t be pleased if he saw them talking to her.
Back at the rooftop, Jeong-woo contemplates visiting Ha-neul. He finally decides that he needs to thank her family and should get them fruits as an excuse to see her. While coming back, he overhears Ba-da and Ha-neul’s mother talking about the court case and decides against his plan. Ha-neul sees him going back to the rooftop quietly. She follows him and finds him lost in thought. Jeong-woo leaves for his room a few moments later.
Sensing that something’s wrong, Ha-neul goes back home to find her mother mention the case. She puts two and two together and realises that Jeong-woo has heard her family’s conversation about the court. She tries to send him a text message but realises that they don’t have each other phone number.
Meanwhile, Jeong-woo receives a call from his lawyers stating that Kang Jin-seok has denied appearing as a witness and since it’s close to the court’s session, it might harm Jeong-woo’s defence. Jeong-woo visit’s Dr. Jin-seok’s new workplace but is told that he has resigned and is possibly emigrating. He realises that it was a ploy to negatively affect his case. He later drinks by himself with tears in his eyes.
At the house, Ha-neul has a eureka moment while watching the news about Jeong-woo’s case. She proceeds to look for a dissertation and after pulling an all-nighter, finds a dissertation that talks about a similar case in India, where the patient on who had been on anticoagulants for a long time, died due to excessive blood loss during surgery. She hurries to the court with this piece of evidence.
At the court, Jeong-woo’s case has further been weakened by the witness fiasco. The court concludes to continue the hearing at another date. At the same time, Ha-neul enters with the new evidence. There’s hope in Ha-neul and Jeong-woo faces but the judge asks the defence to submit the evidence at the next hearing, shattering their hope.
Leaving the court and at Joeng-woo’s former office room, where they go to treat Ha-neul’s wound from falling on the ground, Ha-neul offers to drink with Jeong-woo to help him feel better but he suggests to watch the sunrise near the beach. They reach the beach to find it overcast. They joke about the weather’s similarities with their life at the moment and decide to be friends, not former classmates. In a brief scene, we see pens with hidden cameras all around Jeong-woo’s office.
The epilogue takes us back to the medical room with Ha-neul writing a short note for Jeong-woo while he is sleeping. She writes to take it easy and suggests at they don’t over-exert themselves and he takes care.
When she’s on her way to give him the note, she sees Jeong-woo’s mother throwing a tantrum about inconveniencing her when Jeong-woo only fainted and didn’t even come first place on the test. Simultaneously, Ha-neul’s mother’s arrival and her concern makes her drop the note as they leave.
In this episode, Ha-neul and Jeong-woo find comfort in each other as they try to stay strong. There isn’t much plot development other than the hints we get about Jeong-woo’s innocence. There seems to be another murder mystery sidekick narrative as is with typical kdrama romcoms.
However, the message that the show tries to convey about prioritising one’s health and mental wellbeing in times of difficulty is a refreshing take on the hustle culture of modern life. Through Ha-neul, we also see how having fun is as important as any other task in life and life’s too short for not doing things we love and for having regrets.
So, if you find yourself being a perfectionist or sacrificing your little joys of life – maybe a cup of coffee, a piece of your favourite dessert, an hour of your favourite show, time spent with your loved ones – think if stifling your desires for a “perfect future goal” would make you happy in a long run, or even in a short run.