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M*A*S*H episode
“Dear Comrade”
MASH episode - Dear Comrade - Charles hires Kwang
Charles hires Kwang, who's actually a North Korean Army spy, unknowingly to be his "houseboy" in "Dear Comrade" in Season 7 of M*A*S*H.
Season 7, Episode # 12
Number (#159) in series (256 episodes)
Guest star(s) Sab Shimono
Larry Block
Robert Clotworthy
David Dozer
James Saito
Todd Davis
Laurie Bates
Dennis Troy
Wayne Long
Network: CBS-TV
Production code: T-413
Writer(s) Tom Reeder
Director Charles S. Dubin
Original airdate November 27, 1978
IMDb logo IMDB Dear Comrade
Episode chronology
← Previous Next →
"Point of View" (T‑415) "Out of Gas" (T‑411)

(broadcast order)

(broadcast order)

"Major Ego" (T‑412) "An Eye For a Tooth" (T‑414)

(production order)

(production order)

Season 7 episodes
List of all M*A*S*H episodes

Dear Comrade was the 12th episode of Season 7  of the M*A*S*H TV series, also the 159th overall series episode. The episode, which was written by Tom Reeder, was directed by Charles S. Dubin. The episode originally aired on CBS-TV on November 27, 1978.

SynopsisEdit

A North Korean Spy infiltrates the 4077th and poses as Charles' houseboy, in order to observe and report on 4077th's efficiency and success to his superiors.

Full episode summaryEdit

Hawkeye and B.J. return to the 4077th after some days of R&R in Tokyo and present Winchester with a gift that they say he definitely needs: a Samurai wig. But Winchester has the last laugh on them when they find the Swamp not the same as it used to be: it is clean and tidy! Winchester introduces them to Kwang (Sab Shimono), a Korean man whom Winchester has hired as a houseboy at the salary of $1.00 an hour..but who only works for 1 hour a day!

Wounded arrive and the doctors rush off. We then learn, from Kwang's voiceover, that he is not what he seems: he is actually a Korean spy. He narrates a report to his intelligence chief, saying that he has secured a post as a "a grinning lackey" to "an American capitalist fool" - namely, Winchester - and hopes to observe the secret of the 4077th's efficiency and success at treating wounded soldiers.

At first, Kwang is shocked and dismissive about the 4077th. He says the OR is chaotic, and their behavior off-hours (which includes drinking and gambling) is "decadent." They are "soft and weak-willed", supplied with a lot of food but constantly whining about the quality of it.

Meanwhile, the doctors are stumped by a rash that has infected several wounded soldiers. Nothing they try seems to work. They call a dermatologist but he is more concerned about his golf and doesn't want to be kept off the dance floor and doesn't give the MASH any useful advice. The rash gets worse and the patients are scratching so severely they are tearing their stitches.

Kwang marvels that the American doctors, with all their advanced training and medications, cannot figure out how to treat a simple rash. So Kwang offers his own remedy - a concoction of boiled tree bark which stinks to high heaven. The doctors are none too keen because of the stench, but Post Op is not short of volunteers for a trial, and the remedy works.

Later that night, Kwang completes his report to his superiors and prepares to leave. He concludes that the success of the 4077th is valid but their methods are so unorthodox that the North Korean hospitals would find it impossible to duplicate. The idea to abduct Winchester for information is not practical either - he is too much trouble to be worth the effort.

As he's leaving, he's stopped by Hawkeye, B.J., and Potter who thank him for the remedy and present him with an official commendation from the U.S. Army for his contribution. They invite him to the Officers Club for a drink.

Kwang is touched, and lies to his commanders, saying he needs to stick around and observe the 4077th some more - in reality, getting drunk with all of them in the Officers Club. Hawkeye, B.J., and Potter notice that Kwang's English has mysteriously improved over the course of the night, which he chalks up to the whiskey.

A second plot line is about Hawkeye winning a jeep at poker - except that the loser, a supply Sergeant named Cimoli, doesn't deliver a jeep but a 75mm howitzer instead. Potter wants Hawkeye to get rid of the gun but it proves more difficult than it seems.

Research notes/Fun factsEdit

  • When Winchester first sees the howitzer Hawkeye asks him, "You got any rice you want puffed?". This was a reference to a one-time commercial slogan for Quaker Puffed Wheat and Puffed Rice cereals; in the 1940s they were billed as "The delicious cereals shot from guns".
  • Actor Sab Shimono who plays Kwang would return to the series, in Season 8 "Back Pay"
  • Ironically Hawkeye and Trapper John had a Korean servant Ho-Jon
  • Another episode in the almost overused "Letter home" format (see M*A*S*H TV series narrative formats). But this one is an innovative one. The narrator is not one of the regular cast, nor even a member of the 4077th but actually an enemy! Still, it is interesting to hear a view from "the other side". The remark about the abundance of food is especially poignant.
  • Another episode showing Winchester as a lazy, greed snob substitute for Major Frank Burns
  • Potter orders the howitzer taken away on the grounds that it will attract enemy fire [yet MASH despite clearly marked as a non combat hospital does come from enemy forces at least four times (for example The Sniper (TV series episode); 5 O'Clock Charlie (TV series episode); Hey, Doc (TV series episode); The Life You Save (TV series episode) despite the fact MASH is 20 miles behind the front lines]); likewise while HAwkeye whines about not giving the artillery piece away to a Artillery unit; yet Hawkeye and BJ actions only make it unfireable; they disobey Potters order to get rid of it! In Fact an old regular such as Potter should have ordered it off the hospital by those who deal with Ordance [such via Quartermaster Corps {Supplies}] instead of having two doctors! In fact the way this episode was written its a case of Potter being subsitutued for Col Lt. Colonel Henry Blake who would have been just the type of a lazy and disentrested commander who would have given such an order!
  • Hawkeye makes a joke about B.O. Plenty, a character from the comic strip Dick Tracy, which was still in most newspapers in 1978.
  • David Dozer plays Groves, who is the Corporal delivering the howitzer to Hawkeye. In Season 9 "Depressing News", he also plays delivery man, this time, delivering tongue depressors. He is also the I-Corps supply dispatcher in "Good-Bye Radar."
  • Welch is the patient who tells Margaret that Kwang's remedy is working. That leaves Latimer, who must be the patient who Potter advises not to scratch so much and he replies, "Working on it."
  • INDB goof:In post-op, when the doctors are asking for volunteers to try the skin cream, the end of the wall in post-op is visible on the left of the screen with a member of the crew visible behind it, wearing a white shirt and dark pants.

Guest stars/Recurring castEdit

GalleryEdit

  • As befits a spy's report, this episode has many good views of different areas of the MASH.
  • Dennis Troy and Wayne Long rated credits as Corpsmen #1 and #2 but they don't seem to show up anywhere in the episode.

External linksEdit

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