The Korean Surgeon is the 106th episode of M*A*S*H, the ninth in the fifth season of the show, which originally aired on CBS-TV on November 16, 1976. It was directed by George Tyne and written by Richard Cogan.
Instead of turning him in as a prisoner of war, Hawkeye and B.J. pull some strings to get a wounded North Korean surgeon a spot on the staff.
Full episode summary
A batch of wounded arrive, including some North Koreans. Even more unusual, one of them is a doctor - a surgeon and an officer named Dr. Paik (Soon-Tek Oh).
Frank, of course, wants nothing to do with him, so Hawkeye offers to perform the surgery, and tells Dr. Paik to assure another wounded North Korean - who is afraid he will be killed during surgery - that he will be treated well by the 4077th.
Later, in Post Op, Dr. Paik tries to help clear the breathing tube of a soldier laying nearby, but is spotted by Hot Lips, who mistakes him for trying to kill the young man. Frank and Hot Lips want Dr. Paik strapped to his cot, but Hawkeye and B.J. refuse to treat Dr. Paik so suspiciously.
In conversation, Dr. Paik mentions he's not looking forward to going to a prison camp, where, as a doctor, he'll treat such mundane conditions as foot fungus and worms. He says he'd even be willing to work at the 4077th, if possible. Hawkeye and B.J.'s wheels start spinning, and soon they are asking Radar for help in getting a set of fake papers, in an attempt to get Dr. Paik transferred to the 4077th.
Soon, they are faking Dr. Paik leaving on the bus. They sneak him off, shave his goatee, give him a haircut and glasses, and within a day he arrives as Captain Cho-Wan Ho, Class of 1949, Chicago (which is really where the doctor went to school).
Col. Potter is happy to have the extra help, but Hot Lips seems suspicious, wondering if she and Dr. Ho have met before. He tries to throw her off by suggesting they met a bar one night, but she remains unsure. Dr. Ho proves to be superb surgeon - Col. Potter is pleased, but Frank and Hot Lips are not so easily mollified.
Later, two South Koreans arrive, claiming to be from a nearby unit, asking for medical supplies. Frank initially refuses, but after they butter him up, he orders Radar and Klinger to get what they ask for.
Dr. Paik oversees this, and tells Radar and Klinger that the two men are impostors - North Koreans dressed in stolen uniforms. He tells them that they are "heavily armed and dangerous", and the best thing to do is to simply give them what they want, and they will go, peacefully. Frank, in an attempt to brag to the two North Koreans, ends up talking himself into going along with them, "back to their camp", ostensibly to give a lecture.
Radar rushes into Col. Potter's office, telling him what happened. Potter asks how Radar knew the two men were North Korean, and he says Captain Cho told them, a fact that only underscores Hot Lips suspicions - she was in Potter's office, insisting he check up on the new doctor. Later, Col. Potter arrives in The Swamp, and tells them he knows what's going on. Hawkeye and B.J. try and defend Dr. Paik, and Potter, while sympathetic, insists Paik must be put under arrest.
Meanwhile, the two North Koreans stop their jeep with a jerk, and order Frank out - he's such an annoying chatterbox they can't stand him anymore, even with his worth as a hostage. They drive off, leaving Frank to wander home.
Dr. Paik packs up to leave, and Hawkeye and B.J. give him a cake as a going-away present. Dr. Paik is philosophical about the whole thing - he knew it couldn't last, but was happy to have helped while he could. In the back of a jeep driven by some MPs, Dr. Paik passes Frank walking by. Laughing and waving, he whizzes by, leaving Frank confused.
Later, Frank tries to brag to Potter, Hawkeye, and B.J. by claiming that he subdued the impostors with karate - but can't explain why he didn't bring the jeep back. As punishment, Frank is put in charge of treating the injured North Korean P.O.W.s. (This scene is usually omitted in syndicated airings.)
- This is actor Soon-Tek Oh's third appearance on the show.
- This is pretty much the last episode featuring Frank and Hot Lips as a team, where they are trying to thwart the rule-breaking schemes of Frank's Swamp tentmates. There's some tension between Frank and Margaret, as Frank is clearly still upset by Margaret's engagement -- he feigns being unable to correctly remember Donald's name (referring to him as "Ronald") and makes it clear that he would welcome a romantic reunion with her. For her part, Margaret makes it clear her alliance with Burns is simply out of a shared sense of American patriotism, nothing more. Frank and Margaret's relationship had been deteriorating since the episode Mail Call...Again (TV series episode)
- One of two North Koreans is played by actor Larry Hama, who would go on to have a hugely successful career as a comic book artist, writer, and editor, best known for being the main creative force behind Marvel Comics' long-running G.I. Joe series. The other North Korean was played by Robert Ito who became the co-star of the Medical Soap Opera "Quincy ME."
Guest stars/Recurring cast
- Soon-Tek Oh as Dr. Syn Paik
- Robert Ito as North Korean soldier
- Larry Hama as North Korean Soldier
- Uncredited appearances: