Nam Ha-Neul, a class topper all her life, has failed to truly live outside her studies and then work as an adult, and the years and years worth of machine-like living have rendered her hopeless.
What begins as a life busy with nothing else other than studies transforms into one poisoned by yet another phase of monotony and overworking.
It takes Nam Ha-Neul a lot of time to learn and accept that she has burned out and is in the worst slump of her life.
Sharing in her misery is her old rival who finds himself in the worst slump of his life as well.
Studying & idiosyncrasies
In 2009, her proud mother boasted to some guests that she had never seen her daughter Nam Ha-Neul walk.
She’s always running around so she can save more time to study. She reads books even while running around.
She hates wasting time thinking, so she organizes and wears socks, underwear, and all her clothes by the day.
She believes her stomach has to be comfortable if she has to sit for a long time.
So regardless of taste, she only eats easily digestible food in just seven minutes. And while she’s at it, she’s watching an online lecture.
Excluding time spent drinking water, flipping pages, sharpening pencils, stretching, and other things, she spends a total of 17 hours just studying before she goes to sleep.
Nothing and no one can stop her from studying it she doesn’t want to be disturbed.
Even with people fighting all around her and pushing her, she remains unfazed and unbroken in her concentration on the pages.
School & rivalries
At med school, she works out in her spare time to study better and longer, like hula hooping while watching an online lecture.
She also eats dry instant coffee in the classroom, so she won’t need to urinate often. She’d rather use that time to solve another problem.
She finds her one true rival at the school, Yeo Jeong-Woo, who is just as much of a topper as she is. But once she arrives, his throne is challenged.
There can only be one topper, and with that mindset, a war between the two begins. Sometimes Jeong-Woo would emerge victorious, and on the other ones, it’d be Nam Ha-Neul.
She used to think that all she had to do was look ahead and keep moving.
However, things in life didn’t work out the way they had wanted. Only one of them was accepted to Hanguk National University med school.
As an adult, Nam Ha-Neul is miserable.
She works as an anesthesiologist at a university hospital, where she pursues her fellowship working under an incompetent and abusive superior.
Despite working harder than anyone else for 17 hours a day, her superior treats her with the utmost contempt.
She spends every day being scolded and apologizing to her superior, who routinely lashes out at her for her incompetence and lackadaisical efforts.
He also gives her dissertation to someone else, even though she worked on it for so long. The overworking leads to Ha-Neul forgetting to take care of herself.
This leads to constant stomach ache which one day causes her to faint in the middle of the road. She is later diagnosed with depression brought about by her burnout syndrome.
That is when she decides it’s enough and it’s time to start living for herself for once.
At the same time, she reunites with her former rival Yeo Jeong-Woo, who is in a similarly lowest slump of his life and begins to heal bit by bit.