Doctor Cha: What the Show Got Wrong About Crohn’s Disease?

Uhm Jung Hwa as Cha Jung Sook in Doctor Cha
Credit: Netflix

Uhm Jung Hwa as Cha Jung Sook in Doctor Cha
Credit: Netflix

There is quite a number of binge-worthy K-dramas on Netflix right now. If you want a fun and lighthearted show, Doctor Cha is one of the shows worth checking out.

There is a total of 16 episodes on the first season of Doctor Cha. Right now, however, the show is only on its 10th episode.

As a medical drama, you would think that the writers of the show have done their thorough research on the show. Unfortunately, a recently released episode revealed to be problematic for the show's fans.

More importantly, netizens criticized the show for its poor portrayal of Crohn's disease. So what really happened and have the show's writers apologized for the faux pas?

What Is Crohn’s Disease?

Uhm Jung Hwa as Cha Jung Sook in Doctor Cha
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Credit: Netflix

According to Mayo Clinic:

Crohn's disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It causes swelling of the tissues (inflammation) in your digestive tract, which can lead to abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss and malnutrition.

The disease is said to be painful and tiring. In some cases, it can progress to life-threatening complications.

Unfortunately, there is no cure yet for the disease. But thanks to therapy and treatment, many patients are able to function normally.

Up to this day, doctors are still unsure about what exactly causes the disease. Although poor diet and stress can aggravate the condition, they do not cause it in the first place.

Doctors believe it could be part of a person's immune system or hereditary. But while it can be common in individuals with family members who also have the disease, a number of patients diagnosed with Crohn's disease have not listed this disease as part of their family history.

How Did Doctor Cha Portray Crohn’s Disease?

Kim Byung Chul as Seo In Ho in Doctor Cha
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Credit: Netflix

In Doctor Cha Episode 7, the K-drama touched base on a patient diagnosed with Crohn's disease. The episode aired on May 6 on JTBC and Netflix.

The episode showed that a patient got diagnosed with Crohn's disease. Unfortunately, his in-laws blurt out painful words that seemed to suggest the disease was hereditary.

After a failed anus restoration surgery, the patient grew depressed and attempted to kill himself. He even wrote a will explaining himself.

How the Audience Reacted

Uhm Jung Hwa as Cha Jung Sook, Kim Byung Chul as Seo In Ho in Doctor Cha
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Credit: Netflix

When the episode came out, the viewers' bulletin board of the show was filled with criticism from the viewers. The viewers argued that the disease is not inherited and that the show "hurts real patients and their families by belittllng Crohn's disease."

The viewers also filed 43 complaints to the Korea Communications Standards Commission. An official from the National Guard wrote:

"We are currently reviewing the contents of the complaint."

Did the Cast and Crew Apologize for This?

Min Woo Hyuk as Roy Kim in Doctor Cha
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Credit: Netflix

Once the cast knew about the complaints, they responded that they were looking into the matter. This was then followed by an apology from the production team who admittedly did not do enough research about the disease as well as the wrong portrayal that hurt the patients and their families.

The apology letter read:

“This is the production team of JTBC's 'Doctor Cha'.
We would like to thank the viewers who love and watch ‘Doctor Cha’, and apologize for hurting patients with a specific disease and their families with episode 7 which aired on May 6.
The episode was intended to deal with a specific case of a patient with moderate chronic complications among the symptoms of Crohn's disease, but the explanation that it was not a typical Crohn's disease case was insufficient during the content development process.
We failed to pay careful attention to the fact that lines spoken by characters without medical expertise with the intention of putting the blame on the patient could foster negative perceptions of certain diseases.
The production team of ‘Doctor Cha’ would like to say that they had no intention of lightly dealing with the pain and depression of patients who are struggling with the disease, and we will be more careful in producing the drama so that there is no discomfort while watching it.
Thank you.”

Hopefully, the show will not have another mistake in the future since it is doing well with the viewers.

Doctor Cha is currently airing on Netflix. Two episodes get released every week.

RELATED: Doctor Cha Kdrama Enters Top 10 List on Netflix in 17 Countries

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