20 January 2021

K Drama Review: Hospital Playlist / Wise Doctor Life (2020)

While it's lovely to watch very good K dramas, we always struggle afterwards. The drama we watch immediately after watching the good ones suffer because of the super high standard the previous drama set. Everything else tends to pale in comparison. And I personally suffer from separation anxiety, especially if the characters are all so likable. Those are some of the reasons why we put off watching really good K dramas. And that problem has happened again after watching Hospital Playlist. It was so good that I had a hard time watching another drama right away. I felt it would have been disrespectful to Hospital Playlist if I immediately replaced it with another show. And it also took me a few days before I could finally push myself to write this review. Blogging serves as some sort of closure between me and the drama. And until now, I'm not so sure if I already have the heart to let go of Hospital Playlist. But I will try. 

Plot

Hospital Playlist tells us the story of five doctor friends who by some twist of fate end up working together as professors/doctors in Yulje Medical Center, a teaching university hospital. The five have been friends since med school and we are taken through their personal and professional journeys as we witness their relationships with their families, friends, patients, and colleagues flourish. 

Hospital Playlist is from the same makers as the Reply series and Prison Playbook. Hence, as a minimum, you can expect it to be funny and heartwarming. But if you think you've seen enough of this PD-writer tandem, then you're wrong. Hospital Playlist may give you the same fuzzy feels as the other shows but it's done in a different and refreshing manner. :) 

I honestly did not see anything bad in the show. So I'll just go ahead and review all the great things I saw. 

Yoo Yeon Seok as Ahn Jeong Won


Yoo Yeon Seok was such a revelation in this show. I loved him in Reply 1994. But I was not quite pleased with him in Warm and Cozy. I thought subdued roles like his Chilbong in Reply 1994 suited him more. And I was so wrong. Hospital Playlist showed me the wide range that Yoo Yeon Seok had to offer. This is definitely his best performance from among the three shows I've watched. 

I mean, how can you not love Yoo Yeon Seok here? He did the comedy, romantic, and drama scenes really well. And he played the drums and sang too. 

And his pediatric surgeon character was very lovable. Jeong Won was called the Living Buddha because he was just innately good-natured. He had his Daddy Long Legs program where he personally paid for the medical expenses of indigent patients. He was very compassionate and he truly cared for his patients. Once, he did not go on leave for 3 months because he had a patient who had a serious condition. And he has a very natural rapport with his patients. He is absolutely cute everytime he gushes over them. 

Jeong Won was a very reliable and dependable friend. He will be ready to give you what you need even before you realize that you need that thing or even before you ask for it. Catsup when your food needs it? It's ready. Your spoon fell while eating? He's already getting you a new one. You finished your water? He's already refilling your glass. 

But even if he is projected as someone very Christ-like, the show tells us that Jeong Won is human too. When one of his patients died and the girl's mom thanked him for doing his best, he broke down and went to confession to admit that he resented God. 

Although Jeong Won's family owned Yulje, it was quite expected that he would entertain thoughts of being a priest with all of his siblings called to the vocation as priests and nuns (Sung Dong Il of the Reply series as the eldest brother, Kim Sung Kyun of Reply 1988 and 1994 as the second brother, Ye Ji Won, the salon owner in Do Do Sol Sol La La Sol as the sister, and Oh Yoon Ah of Angry Mom as the other sister). While that is a very noble intention, I felt that that sort of life did not suit him. I thought his babies in the hospital needed him more than the Church did. 

Among the five friends, I would have to say that Jeong Won was really the best catch. He had it all - a good family, exemplary attitude, superb medical skills, money, musical talent, etc. So I was really rooting for his love life the most. 

Jung Kyung Ho as Kim Jun Wan

I've always been vocal about my love for Jung Kyung Ho ever since I saw him on Prison Playbook. There's something very appealing about him. And while his character here as the cardio thoracic surgeon Kim Jun Wan had more or less the same demeanor as his Lee Joon Ho in Prison Playbook, it was still refreshing to see him in a bit more relaxed and loose character. And although his character probably had the most limited opportunity to showcase his range because he always had to keep that poker face, I felt that Jung Kyung Ho still shined in this show. 

As a doctor, it was a joy to see Jun Wan act tough and detached on the outside. But in reality, he was very soft and caring inside. Although he bluntly told a patient whose daughter was getting married that the surgery could not be delayed because the condition was life-threatening (which somehow offended the daughter), Jun Wan made up for it by attending the wedding wearing a very shiny coat he borrowed from his resident. 

Jun Wan was nice to the interns too. He trusted them enough to let them touch a beating heart. And I loved how he acknowledged the very young parents of a patient. The young parents felt that their parents were leaving them out of the equation. He talked to the parents directly to assert that he respected them as the patient's guardians even if they were young. 

And let me just say that if Jung Kyung Ho in a prison guard uniform was already appealing for me, he's even much sexier while singing and playing the guitar. *sigh* 

And as if all of those things were not enough, the show still had to make Jun Wan a very lovable boyfriend to Lee Ik Soon (Kwak Sun Young, Song Hye Kyo's secretary/friend in Encounter), who also happened to be his friend Lee Ik Joon's (Jo Jung Seok) little sister. Sure, he was a strict colleague in the hospital who would often yell at his juniors. But he was totally sweet and gentle when it came to Ik Soon. He's proof that you can be an ass with other people but still have that special soft spot for the people you love. Like, it's not an excuse that you're already set in your ways so you treat your loved ones harshly too. I mean, what will make your girlfriend special or what will set her apart from the rest if you treat her the same way you treat everyone else. And that trait of Jun Wan really made me love him more.  

Jo Jung Seok as Lee Ik Joon

This was our first Jo Jung Seok drama. We do see him sometimes on You are the Best re-runs on KBS but that's not enough exposure for him to leave an impression on us. So while he was probably the most prominent male lead character in the show, I had to mention him after my favorites. :D

From the few scenes I saw on You are the Best, there was no doubt that Jo Jung Seok was very capable of doing the funny scenes. And he surely did not disappoint here. Who can forget the surgery he did while he had that Star Wars hat glued on his head? 

Or how he looked after he burnt his fingers and Chae Song Hwa (Jeon Mi Do) turned his fingers into frog fingers with thick and tight bandages. Or his "Jessica, only child, Illinois, Chicago" spiel borrowed from Parasite

I would admit that during the first episode, I was concerned if Jo Jung Seok could do the serious scenes too. He's one of those people born with a comedian's face. But Hospital Playlist proved that just like his other co-actors, Jo Jung Seok has a super wide range of acting to offer too. It can even be argued that he was the best actor among the four male lead stars. 

As a general surgeon, I loved the positive vibe he exuded both to his patients and his colleagues. He was  a very caring doctor. He would patiently wait for his patients to come to terms with their conditions, like that patient who refused to take her medication because she hated that the liver she had was donated by her husband who cheated on her. Ik Joon explained that he was divorced too but he thought that the best revenge would be for him to live a good life. 

Ik Joon was very thoughtful too. He requested that the harvesting of the organs of a brain dead patient be delayed by a few minutes so that the day of death would not coincide with Children's Day, to avoid making it a traumatic event for the deceased's young child. 

And Ik Joon was definitely Mr. Congeniality. He knew and mingled with everyone. He was a regular in all departments. And I loved how he helped Dr. Jang Gyeo Wool (Shin Hyun Bin) who was so in love with Jeong Won. 

And as if Ik Joon were not a lovable and sympathetic super star already, the show had to make him a single parent. I felt so bad for him after his wife cheated on and divorced him. How can she possibly do that after he endured being in a long distance relationship so she can fulfill her dreams and he had to raise their kid Woo Joo (Kim Joon, who is so cute and adorable) by himself while building his practice?But I absolutely loved how he refused to let that moment define and ruin his entire life. He bounced back and I totally loved his relationship with his son. Yes, he was busy but he always made sure to set aside quality time for Woo Joo. And I loved how the show had a single dad character as opposed to a single mom that we often see in dramas. Ik Joon was like a slap in the face of all delinquent dads out there by showing them that hey, it is entirely possible to take an active role in rearing your children even if you're also busy earning a living for your family. If a single dad doctor who is on-call 24/7 like Ik Joon can do it, then everyone else can too. 

And because of his tumultuous marriage, I could not help but wish for a happy love storyline for Ik Joon. I loved how he was always there for Song Hwa especially when she was about to get the result of her breast lump biopsy. He went with her even if he did not sleep yet after his overnight hospital duty. And it was heartbreaking to know that he planned on confessing to her back in med school, but their friend Yang Seok Hyeong (Kim Dae Myung) beat him to it. I loved Ik Joon's casual but very heartfelt confessions to Song Hwa - over breakfast when she came over to watch Woo Joo when Ik Joon was called back to the hospital in the middle of the night and he told her that having meals with her was a treat in his life, over drinks in front of Song Hwa's entire neurosurgery team, and in Sokcho when Song Hwa moved there for her year-long sort of sabbatical. And while the show did not give us closure on this, this is one of the things I really look forward to in season 2. 

And while he may not be the best looking among the male leads, Jo Jung Seok definitely won me over. His write up is the longest, I think. :D He was truly the best actor in the ensemble. He was so talented musically - he can play the guitar and sing really well. And he was very funny too - I especially loved that rap battle he had with his sister. Jo Jung Seok has it all and I look forward to seeing more of him. :D

Jeon Mi Do as Chae Song Hwa

Being the only girl in the group, it's easy to guess that Song Hwa will be special. We instantly fell in love with Mi Do the moment she appeared on our TV screen. And we loved her even more when we found out that Hospital Playlist was only her second drama. Yes, she's been a stage actress for a long time now. But success on stage would not always translate to TV drama success. And seeing how Mi Do's done both is proof that she is really a good actress. Her pretty and charming face was perfect for Song Hwa. I'm sure doctors all over are wishing they can look as fresh as Song Hwa despite their hectic schedules. 

Just like her friends, Song Hwa was a terrific neurosurgeon. Although her staff dreaded being grilled by Song Hwa during their surgeries, they appreciated her tough love. She only does that to make sure they stay on their toes, which is very important when you're performing a surgery on something as important as the brain. Song Hwa is also a great doctor to her patients. She finds ways for them even if she does not have to like in that initial episode when a surgery had to be done right away but the surgeon who can perform it was injured. Song Hwa convinced Ik Joon to do it even if the latter had a Star Wars hat glued to his head. 

Song Hwa's staff calls her the ghost because she seems to be everywhere to do everything. She goes to work early, leaves late. She does a lot of surgery. She mentors her residents really well. And she even has time to go camping every weekend. Oh, she also sings and dances in church. :D


 

Although Song Hwa is a very respectable character in the hospital, she knows how to loosen up too. And she can be quite wild, actually, when it comes to singing. She's so confident about her singing ability that she refused to revive the band with her friends unless she becomes the lead vocalist. The boys agreed half-heartedly knowing what a terrible singer Song Hwa is. A few practices later though, they seemed to have pushed her aside because it was already the very deserving Ik Joon who was doing the lead vocals. 

I loved Song Hwa's passion whenever she sang and danced. She's so cute, dorky, funny, and adorable. I totally loved her solo interpretative dance number in church while the choir sang a praise song. 

And that's the great thing about Mi Do. She's such a good actress that she pulled off singing off key even if she actually sings so well in real life. 

I loved Song Hwa's angelic radiance and how her smile brightened up whatever place she's in. I also loved her special relationship with each of the boys - how she's Jun Wan's eating buddy (and how she'd explain whenever they criticize her for eating too fast that she grew up with three brothers), how she was Seok Hyeong's could have been, how Jeong Won trusted her the most to run the Daddy Long Legs program, and the endless possibilities between her and Ik Joon. She was like the glue that held the group together and I loved how they pampered her like how concerned they all were when there was a lump found in her breast. I'm most excited to see how Song Hwa's story progresses in season 2. 

Kim Dae Myung as Yang Seok Hyeong

Among the five, Seok Hyeong would probably be the least likable one. He was aloof and quiet. He preferred eating alone while watching variety shows. Or he would rather spend time with his mother, Jo Young Hye (Moon Hee Kyung, Go Ara's piano teacher in Do Do Sol Sol La La Sol). But right from the start, I knew that there's more to Seok Hyeong and I suspected that he would be the most insightful one in the group. 

When he was with his friends, Seok Hyeong was funny and cool. He could keep up with their humor and energy. He appeared quite carefree too. When Jeong Won was convincing his friends to work for Yulje, Seok Hyeong was the only one who had a very weird condition - he would only agree if they would revive their old band. 

Seok Hyeong is proof that everyone has a story to tell. He may seem quiet but he actually went through so much in his life which probably caused him to be reserved. His sibling died. His dad cheated on his mom. He was divorced. His mom suffered a stroke. His dad got his mistress pregnant. Then his dad died and left the family business with him. Keeping to himself was Seok Hyeong's way of coping. 

And beneath that seemingly serious facade lies a very caring and thoughtful OB Gyne. When one his patients was giving birth to a brainless baby, he requested his staff to cover the baby's mouth to muffle its cries so as not to further traumatize the mother. I also loved how calm and reassuring he was when he explained to the APAS mom that what she had was not a disease and she did nothing wrong. Those were very simple words but they proved to be very comforting for the guilt-ridden parents. 

And Seok Hyeong plays the piano really well too. 

Among the five, Seok Hyeong probably had the saddest life and I'm hoping to see his happy ending in season 2. 

The Gang 

As with the other works of this PD and writer, the central theme of Hospital Playlist was focused on friendship - of friends who go way back. 

Prior to watching Hospital Playlist, my favorite gang was the one from Reply 1988. But the Yulje gang has probably overtaken the Sangmundong group. I don't know if it's because their present-day age are near mine but I find all of them very relatable. I can even relate to their problems - allergies appearing all of a sudden when you had none before, waking up with a need to wear reading glasses out of the blue, and unexplainable change in social and food preferences. 

I loved how solid their friendship was. Med school was a long time ago. They went on to specialize in different fields. Some of them got married, studied overseas, etc. But they were able to maintain their friendship. And they were always there for each other. When Seok Hyeong was troubled because of his family problems, they made sure they were with him to cheer him up. When Ik Joon has to work, any one of them can baby sit Woo Joo. And I loved how they always ran to each other when they needed advice on anything. Their friendship felt so real. 

I loved this group because just like the other gangs, all of the actors were perfect for their roles. Even the ones who were unknown to us like Jeon Mi Do and Kim Dae Myung delivered very solid performances. With their superb acting and very relatable characters, it's really impossible not to love this group. 

The Residents

Aside from the relationship among the five friends, I also loved their relationships with their own residents. Those storylines truly made the show more entertaining. 

I liked how the show portrayed the importance of having caring and supportive mentors to help ease the burden that residents carry. They work hard with 24-hour long shifts and yet they need to absorb as much as they can to help them prepare for their exams. I can just imagine what a torture it would be to have a terror superior. 

Song Hwa's relationship with her resident Ahn Chi Yong (Kim Joon Han or Looney's boyfriend in Prison Playbook) started out scary. She would always grill him during surgeries and he would sweat a lot and stutter. He was always so nervous and anxious whenever he performed surgeries with her. But Chi Yong never allowed that to get in the way of his feelings for Song Hwa. He always tried to appear cool, brave, and confident around her (outside the OR at least). I loved his persistence both in love and in his profession. He had a condition that prevented him from standing for extended periods of time, yet, he never complained. He did not even want to reveal his condition had Song Hwa not discovered it. In love, he probably knew he would not get her. She was way too much for him, especially after he found out that Ik Joon liked her too. He was really no match for a long-time friend like Ik Joon. Yet, he still carried on. He bought her shoes. He gave her flowers. He even went camping with her. And I also loved how Song Hwa did not allow things to be awkward between the two of them. She continued to mentor him just like any responsible professor. It's quite sad though because I read that Kim Joon Han will no longer be part of season 2. 

I also loved Jun Wan's love-hate relationship with his resident, Do Jae Hak (Jung Moon Sung who was Jung Hae In's older brother in Prison Playbook). When Dr. Do was having financial woes, Jun Wan even yelled at him during surgery and told him not to bring his personal life inside the operating room. However, when Dr. Do was going to be penalized with a pay cut, Jun Wan took the chief of cardiothoracic surgery position (which he refused to accept when it was first offered to him) to help sort out his problem. Jun Wan apologized to the patients Dr. Do offended and he was able to remove the pay cut penalty. But when Dr. Do came to thank him in tears, he just shrugged it off. I also loved that sweet moment between the two of them when Dr. Do voiced out his worries about being indecisive as one of his weaknesses and how it can affect his ability to be a good doctor. The Jun Wan we know would have normally lashed out at him for being weak. However, he simply told Dr. Do to call him and ask him for help if things become too overwhelming. I love how Jun Wan would always try to appear cool and indifferent but he actually cares a lot deep inside. 

Seok Hyeong's resident, Chu Min Ha (Ahn Eun Jin), started out annoying. She was always whining and backstabbing Seok Hyeong. It didn't help that the show made fun of her by having her character go through various make up experiments (that dewy look that just looked like a super oily face or the supposedly bronzed face that looked like she went to a tanning salon because she has no time to go to the beach). But as we get to know her better, we can't help but sympathize with the overworked Min Ha. I loved how in his own, quiet way, Seok Hyeong showed her that he cared. He sent her tteokboki but did not want to be credited for doing so. I liked how Seok Hyeong explained to her that yes, he had an idea that she was overwhelmed by the work, but he did not want to meddle because he respected that circle/group that residents had. And how Seok Hyeong must have been so surprised when Min Ha confessed her feelings for him. I loved her persistence even if she was rejected repeatedly. And I loved how Seok Hyeong actually cared - he did not want to entertain her because he did not want to risk hurting her like what happened to his ex-wife. 

And my most favorite professor-resident team up would have to be Jeong Won's and his resident, Dr. Jang. Their relationship started out problematic. Jeong Won didn't really like her because of her brutally frank way of communicating with patients. Her explanations tend to be too scientific that they often end up confusing patients instead of helping them. Jeong Won, on the other hand, was the exact opposite. He was so amiable and he was very good in explaining stuff to patients. Apart from that, the bigger problem was of course Jeong Won's desire to enter priesthood. 

I loved how Dr. Jang seemed lethargic most of the time. Like she didn't really care about anything. But when it came to Jeong Won, she was always so intense. And just like Min Ha, I loved how she patiently waited for Jeong Won even if she got rejected several times. 

And how that patience paid off. I super loved the build up to their relationship during the finale. I totally loved how Jeong Won realized and acknowledged little by little that he was falling for Dr. Jang (how he squirmed outside the emergency room to check on how Dr. Jang was after she suffered an allergic attack), culminating with probably the sweetest kiss in the entire series. Although Dr. Jang might not appear to be that sociable, you can see that she has a good heart and she always means well. And I believe the quiet Dr. Jang is the perfect fit for our Living Buddha. 

Other Actors

Hospital Playlist probably had one of the biggest ensembles that we've ever watched on a K drama. It was a cause of headache because it was quite difficult to remember everyone. But at the same time, it was also like a trip down memory lane. Oppa and I would try our best to recall where we saw this and that actor. Apart from those we mentioned above, here are some other familiar faces we saw:

Dr. Yong Seok Min (Moon Tae Yoo), the funny neurosurgery chief resident, was the guy Go Ara almost married in Do Do Sol Sol La La Sol.

My most favorite characters apart from the five main ones would probably be Yulje executive Ju Jong Su (Kim Kap Soo, a PD in Worlds Within and the principal in Spin Kick) and Jeong Won's mom, Jeong Ro Sa (Kim Hae Sook, Bae Suzy's grandma in Start-Up). They were childhood friends and I suspect there's more to that relationship, pretty much like Ik Joon and Song Hwa's. They look so cute together. And now that both of their spouses have died, I expect things to progress between the two of them in season 2. 

Of course we can't miss Go Ara (Reply 1994, Do Do Sol Sol La La Sol, and Ms. Hammurabi). She appeared in a cameo as herself - an actress, the daughter of a patient confined in Yulje, and Ik Joon's ex-girlfriend. 

Song Su Bin (Kim Soo Jin, the marketing manager in Hot Stove League) was a nurse assigned to the surgery department. I loved how her teenage daughter, whom she often argued with, made a tribute vlog for her. The daughter underwent surgery and while recuperating, she shot videos of her mom in action - skipping meals just to cater to patients, arranging logistics to make patients comfortable, etc. I loved how the show tells us that while we may not always get how teens act or think and they might ignore us most of the time, they actually care and they might even be proud of what we do. 

Kim Tae Yeon (Lee So Yoon, Robert Gil's wife in Hot Stove League and Choi Moo Sung's girlfriend in Prison Playbook) was the mistress of Seok Hyeong's dad. She looked a bit older here compared to her young and frail characters in Hot Stove League and Prison Playbook. 

My most favorite cameo would probably be that of Choi Moo Sung (Reply 1988 and Prison Playbook) and Kim Sun Young (Vagabond, Crash Landing on You, Reply 1988, Juror 8, and Prison Playbook). They appeared as their Reply '88 characters and were patients of Ik Joon. They even mentioned that Moo Sung has a shop in Sangmundong. :D

Lee Chang Hak (Jung Min Sung of Prison Playbook and the friend of Park Bo Gum's dad in Record of Youth) was Ik Joon's liver transplant patient. 

Attorney Pyeon (Park Hyoung Soo, jail officer in Prison Playbook and Ye Jin's brother in Crash Landing On You) was the lawyer of the hospital and Seok Hyeong's mom during her divorce. 

Ju Jeon (Jo Seung Yeon, an airport employee in A Taxi Driver and a prosecutor in Suits) was the hospital director. 

I'm sure there were many other familiar faces, considering that there were many patients throughout the 12 episodes and I apologize if we can't mention/remember all of them. 

Doctor Storylines

I've always been fascinated with medical dramas like Grey's Anatomy. And Hospital Playlist did not disappoint. I loved the bits of behind-the-scenes stuff this drama showed us. 

I wish all doctors could be as compassionate as Jeong Won - always willing to go the extra mile for his patients. I'm not asking for doctors to be too emotional or attached to their patients because that's bound to affect their personal lives too but a little empathy can really go a long way. Being too detached and rigid can also influence their patients' morale after all. I especially hated that cardiothoracic surgeon who agreed to follow the patient's wish when the latter refused to take any medication. As Jun Wan aptly put it, the moment you give up on your patients is the moment you stop being a doctor. 

I also hope doctors can be patient with difficult patients. I know their time is gold but sometimes patients just don't know any better. In the same way, I also hope patients would give doctors benefit of the doubt that they did their best and be grateful for the help they give. Unless of course there was really negligence. 

I loved Jeong Won's lecture on how doctors need to take responsibility for their words. They should be as vague as possible because no one really knows what can and will happen. And the only certain thing that they can say is that they will do their best. 

As for patients, it would also help if we don't judge doctors right away. They have different styles and personalities - some are bubbly and amiable like Ik Joon, Jeong Won, and Song Hwa, while some appear detached and serious like Jun Wan and Seok Hyeong. Some may be rough and not good in communicating with patients like Dr. Yong who got angry at a patient for refusing to change his doctor. Dr. Jang might have a difficult time expressing things verbally but when everyone was grossed out by the maggots coming out of a patient's infected wound, she picked each one of them with her hands. So at the end of the day, the only thing that would probably matter would be them doing their best to save their patients. 

And doctors are humans too. They're tired, stressed, sleep deprived, overworked, and they might have personal issues to deal with too. So a little understanding would really help. 

I also liked how the show emphasized the social responsibility of doctors in reporting crimes when they see them. Jeong Won reported a parent who kept on claiming that his kids hurt themselves in accidents when it became apparent that they were actually being physically abused. Doctors need to be keen about stuff like this to save patients who need help. 

I was amazed with the high standards doctors in the show had to adhere to. They were not allowed to receive even simple gifts like coffee and they could be investigated for bribery for stuff like letting companies buy them golf memberships. This might appear quite unnecessary but it's really admirable that they want to keep their profession dignified and impartial. In contrast, it's usual fare for doctors in my country to go on trips sponsored by pharma companies (all expenses paid, including pocket money). 

And while I still love doctors and that could still be an alternative career I could consider in another life, I'm just grateful that I'm not a doctor after watching Hospital Playlist - it is such a huge responsibility to be in-charge of a person's life and they're on-call 24/7. I can't imagine leaving my child in the middle of the night to attend to someone else. 

Music 

Apart from the medical drama, the other thing that really worked for me in this show was the music. I had huge expectations from this very talented cast. And I would have to say that they really overdelivered. I looked forward to their weekly performances. They all looked so cool and badass playing their own instruments.

One of our favorites was Aloha.


I also love their version of Pachelbel Canon in D. I loved it in My Sassy Girl. And Hospital Playlist's rock version was just awesome. I'm even using it as my text tone now. :D

We also like the band's version of At the Subway Stop in Front of City Hall. It sounds so nostalgic. 


 

Music is one of the things I'm most looking forward to in season 2. 

Execution

As expected, Hospital Playlist really lived up to the high standards of this PD-writer tandem. 

Initially, the medical terms were quite confusing and difficult to follow. There were explanations but they were in Korean so they didn't really help. In a way, the twin medical interns (Cho Yi Hyun as Jang Yoon Bok and Bae Hyun Sung as Jang Hong Do) were helpful in this aspect because they recited back the stuff they learned, which helped clueless viewers like me. All I can say is that I super appreciate the effort that the production team put into creating something as research-intensive as this. 

I also loved the little nostalgic stuff inserted here and there - Choi Moo Sung and his wife, Attorney Pyeon mentioning that his girlfriend was a prison guard, and Hyehwadong as the background music when Ik Joon and Woo Joo were in front of a karaoke building. 

I loved the balance that the show had. There were dramatic storylines like Ik Joon's divorce and Seok Hyeong's parents' marital problems. They were discussed but were given just the right amount of airtime to let us know what happened but the show did not unnecessarily waste precious minutes on them. 

I also loved the balance between the medical stuff and the personal storylines. Medical stories were discussed sufficiently so that medical drama fans won't feel shortchanged. But the show did not overdo it to the point that it would be too serious and boring for non-medical drama fans. 

What made the show really work was that the scenes, stories, dialogues, characters, and the actors' acting were all so organic. It was so easy to believe that they were really doctors and friends. 

Ending

I was probably crying around 80% of the time while watching the ending. Apart from feeling sad that the show was ending, I was really moved by the lovely montage of the joys and sorrows that doctors face - Seok Hyeong telling a mom who was far along in her pregnancy that her baby no longer had a heartbeat, Jun Wan telling a patient's mom that her grown-up son might not make it so she comes and brings his baby clothes to reminisce how much she's cared for him, Jeong Won being visited by his pedia patient on Christmas Day because he was the person their family was most grateful for that Christmas, Ik Joon finding a liver for a patient who was way behind the donation list but was fortunate that all the other patients ahead of him were eliminated, or Jun Wan forgetting that his girlfriend was leaving the country because he was too engrossed with his patient. 

With too many people and too few doctors, you'd wonder how doctors manage to have personal lives outside their professional lives. And how do they compartmentalize so that they won't be too attached to their patients? 

The great thing about Hospital Playlist was that although they knew they were coming back for a second season, they still tried their best to close the loop on a lot of things. And although it would have been not so satisfying if things just ended the way they did, it would still have been plausible and you won't feel shortchanged at all. With that ending, we can assume that Song Hwa turned down Ik Joon, Jun Wan broke up with Ik Soon, Jeong Won won't pursue priesthood, and Seok Hyeong's wife probably called to greet him Merry Christmas. The possibilities are limitless but the show ended in a safe way such that it won't be a totally unsatisfying and lousy ending even if season 2 won't push through. But given that season 2 is coming in April or May, I am super looking forward to finding out how things will go for my favorite doctors on TV. 

Oppa says...5.

Noona says...it's a 5. :)

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