Dr Ken: Ken Learns Korean – Out of the Mouths of Babes (Review)


Dr. Ken this week leaves traditional Halloween tales behind and focuses instead on heritage and honoring our past. “Ken Learns Korean” is a more intimate look at remembering our family’s traditions and culture.

Another theme addressed is how children can surpass expectations and teach us as parents. “Out of the mouths of babes” means just that as Dave shows Ken later in the show.

Molly also teaches Allison something while practicing to retake her SAT.

The Storyline:

Dr. Ken starts with Ken encountering a patient who only speaks Korean. She talks to Ken who immediately checks that a translator has been called for. In seconds Troy shows up.  The patient has Troy translate her apology. She explains that she thought Ken was Korean.

Clark has been made the union rep for all the nurses and he will be handling negotiations with management. Pat overhears and tells the new negotiator that he will be looking forward to the meeting. Clark is intimidated.

Molly is working on improving her vocabulary for her upcoming SAT retest and practices on her mother at dinner. D.K. tells Allison that he is having a card game and needs a bag of ice around nine o’clock.

She is not impressed and tells Ken that she will not be bringing ice for D.K. Ken says he will tell his dad that there will be no game. D.K. then comes in to say they need a fourth. Would Ken like to sit in?

Ken would.

D.K. and his old buddies make fun of Ken for not knowing how to speak Korean.  Hurt and angry Ken goes in the kitchen and tells Dave that he will go to Korean class with him.

Pat rips Clark apart at  the negotiations. The hospital administrator has the floor and uses it to verbally run circles around Clark.

At the school Ken gets off to a shaky start.  The class are calling out numbers in Korean and Ken says his name. He then learns that they are doing numbers so he says “four.” The teacher asks for the number in Korean and Ken says it with an accent.

The teacher is not impressed.

Molly and Allison continue their vocabulary contest and confuse D.K. while back at the school Ken has more problems with learning  his father’s language.

He manages to successfully translate “where is the zoo”  but cannot give the directions in Korean. The phrase she wants is “over there.”  Ken asks the boy beside him for help. This is a bad move as the child has Ken say the zoo is on the teacher’s bottom.

The zoo is where?

Once again the teacher is not amused and she forces Ken to stand in the back corner…Again.

At Welltopia Clark is frustrated at how the negotiations went. He mentions striking and Damona goes off.

Meanwhile Ken tells Dave he is giving up Korean lessons.  Dave sets his father down and talks to him.  He explains that taking the lessons connects everyone. He does not “want to be the one to break the chain.” he says. “Do you,” he asks his father.

Ken is impressed enough to continue taking the lessons.

Back at the hospital Clark is pushing for the nurses to strike and no one supports him. Pat overhears and tells Clark that he stands alone, “like the cheese.”

Clark’s response is to go full out Norma Rae and his spiel is so impassioned that everyone, even the doctors, agree to the strike. His sincerity and passion moves Pat as well who agrees to the shorter hours.

Clark has won.

Molly finally stumps Allison with the word adumbrate, “to foreshadow or portend,” and Allison gracefully accepts defeat. When Molly leaves the kitchen, savoring her victory, Allison mutters, ‘Adumbrate. You’re adumbrate.”

D.K. comes in the kitchen to ask for ice and Allison puts her foot down. “You need to show me more respect,” she says and D.K. reaches into his back pocket for an envelope.

It is her “cut” from the last game. Allison is impressed. She will be cheerfully providing ice and scotch.

Ken comes in to play in the card game and speaks Korean  to Bum-Kun.  D.K.’s card playing cronies are not impressed till Ken goes on to “burn” Bum-Kun…In Korean.  Ken now feels accepted. He does, however, mess up by calling his fellow card players “old people.”

The episode ends with D.K., Dave and Ken watching Korean soap operas.

Standout Moments:

Luke Cage.

Ken being placed in the corner at Korean School.

Dave’s “Whose dad is that” and “DAD!”

Clark’s impassioned “Norma Rae” speech.

Allison and Molly’s “dueling vocabulary.” (Like dueling banjos but with words.)

D.K.’s game night and Allison’s reaction to her “cut.”

Ken at the card game.

“You wouldn’t understand, its a Korean thing.”

“Four.” (With an accent.)

Pat “owning” Clark at the negotiation table.

“Wounded gazelle meet hungry hyena.”

“I didn’t even want to date him!”

“You’re both sounding super silly.”

“Sure your dad is jacked…”

“The peninsula country in Asia where we come from.”

Final Thoughts: 

This episode was primarily about keeping in touch with our roots and how easy it is to forget where we come from.  It is also, like the rest of the season so far, about family.

Even Clark’s storyline was about “family” the people we work with day in and day out, our work family.

Since the underlying theme was about children teaching their parents a thing or too, Clark standing up to Pat, as daddy, is also a parent child relationship. Although arguably the hospital administrator can be seen as another child more often than not…


The end of the episode with the three generations of the Park men watching a Korean soap opera was just brilliant.

Major kudos to Jonathan Slavin for knocking it right out of the park with his nurses speech.  His passion was so real that it induced goosebumps in at least one viewer…

Mad props to Dave Foley for his politician style double-talk during the negotiation segment. (And his Farmer in the Dell reference.)

Also a huge nod to Albert Tsai. His embarrassed cry when Ken tells the teacher that the zoo is on her bottom had this reviewer in stitches.

Dana Lee and his two card playing chums were spot on in this episode as well.

Another win for the Dr. Ken cast and crew, “Ken Learns Korean” was warmly funny and touching in all the right places.

Dr. Ken airs Fridays on ABC. Tune in for a family friendly comedy show that will light up your night.


Guest starring Joshua Elijah Reese as Troy the translator, Tom Yi  as Bum-Kun, Nancy J. Lee as the teacher, 

Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, http://MikesFilmTalk.com Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

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