17 September 2021

K Drama Review: Hospital Playlist Season 2 (2021) 4.8 || 4.8

After finishing the first season of Hospital Playlist, I was really excited to watch the second installment. I loved the gang so much and I could not wait to spend more time with them. However, when I began watching the second season, I found myself a bit detached from the show. I'm not sure if I was distracted because of the turbulent times we live in or if it was just my defense/coping mechanism to fight the separation anxiety I was sure to deal with when the show ends. But I'm glad to say that the show managed to go back to and capitalize on its strengths to win me over again. 


Season 2 of Hospital Playlist picks up exactly where it left off - Song Hwa (Jeon Mi Do) moving to Sokcho, leaving the rest of her friends behind at Yulje Medical Center. Ik Jun (Jo Jung Suk of Exit and You are the Best) seems hopeful that the distance will do him and Song Hwa some good. Jeong Won (Yoo Yeon Seok of Warm and Cozy and Reply 1994) is gradually making progress in his relationship with Gyeoul (Shin Hyun Been of Confidential Assignment). Jun Wan (Jung Kyung Ho of Crash Landing on You and Prison Playbook) is adjusting to a long distance relationship with Ik Sun (Kwak Sun Young of Encounter). And Seok Hyeong (Kim Dae Myung) slowly navigating his feelings for Min Ha (Ahn Eun Jin). Season 2 takes us through our favorite doctors' personal and professional lives and how they balance these two. 

Song Hwa and Ik Jun

At this point, we're all familiar with the characters so the show now gives us a deeper look at each one of them. 

While Ik Jun was mostly funny in season 1, it was interesting to see his more serious side this time. I was surprised to see the usually calm and cool surgeon get frustrated with a patient who already had two liver transplants from his daughters but who still kept on drinking. I loved how he showed us that when chill no longer works, some tough love is needed. 

Apart from his relationship with Song Hwa, one of the things I loved most about Ik Jun was his relationship with his son, Woo Joo (Kim Joon). We all know Woo Joo was adorable from season 1. This time, he was not just cute. He became even more lovable because of his maturity. Imagine him telling his dad that he knew he was Ik Jun's universe but he also understood that Ik Jun had to save a bigger universe. Yes, he was hurt that his father could not spend much time with him. But he was totally cool with it because he understood that his dad had a bigger mission out there. And how I cried with him as he burst into tears when he visited his dad in the hospital after Ik Jun got involved in a robbery incident. Yes, Woo Joo may be mature but he's still a kid who needs his father. 

I also loved how Ik Jun is the show's cupid/matchmaker. He helped Jeong Won with Gyeoul and Seok Hyeong with Min Ha. And he even paved the way for Ik Sun and Jun Wan to meet again after the two broke up. And even if he knew his sister would kill him, he still told Jun Wan indirectly about Ik Sun's illness. For all the matchmaking he did, Ik Jun definitely deserved the good love karma that went his way. 

Of course, it won't be a Jo Jung Suk show if you can't showcase how funny this guy is. My most favorite would probably the table tennis tournament. He was totally hilarious. I find him so funny that I bet he can carry the entire comedy load of this show. And that's saying a lot because his co-actors are funny as well. 

Song Hwa is still her cheerful self. She may take on a lot of responsibilities but you can hardly notice it from how fresh she looks day in and day out. 

If you loved Song Hwa as a reliable mother hen to her staff in season 1, then you'll love her even more here. One of my favorite scenes was when she told off a patient's snooty mom that residents are just as qualified as professors to care for patients. And how she declined an interview about a complicated surgery she performed because the other doctors who assisted her could not make it. She's so good at what she does yet she refuses to take credit for everything. 

I absolutely loved how the show took us through a roller coaster ride when it came to Song Hwa and Ik Jun's relationship. 

Song Hwa indirectly dumped Ik Jun at the start of the show. It was evident that it hurt them both but I loved how Ik Jun was such a gentleman about it. You can feel his pain through his sad smiles and eyes. 

Despite the rejection, I loved how these two formed a steadier kind of friendship. I loved all those moments when they'd be together, just talking or appreciating things around them. They were so cozy and comfortable with each other. They had this different kind of connection that even their closest friends won't probably get. Like the way Song Hwa laughs out loud at even the corniest jokes of Ik Jun. Or how they look at each other with pure affection whenever they talk about their problems and concerns and when they share their triumphs with each other. Nobody looks at Song Hwa the way Ik Jun does. 

But just when I was prepared to settle for that comfy friendship that they had, the show gave us a flashback confirming that their feelings for each other were mutual even way back in medical school. I felt so bad for Song Hwa and the trauma and embarrassment she probably felt when Ik Jun declined her birthday dinner invitation because he allegedly had a blind date. Oh the way Song Hwa pleaded if Ik Jun can move the blind date and how she hid her gift for him. And how Ik Jun remained firm even if he was probably dying inside, all because he didn't want to hurt Seok Hyeong, who earlier confessed that he liked Song Hwa. What a journey it has really been for them. 

And then the show surprises us with Ik Jun's accident. Which was initially heartbreaking and scary. Yet it ended up as a huge blessing in disguise because it was what finally pushed Song Hwa to confess her feelings for Ik Jun. Everything about that confession scene was perfect. It was simple, just inside the car. It was raining, an event they both love watching. Song Hwa being so shy about it. Ik Jun so chill yet you can feel his giddiness (and yes, a hint of confidence!). I Knew I Love You playing in the background. And their kiss. Every single thing was carefully thought of. And if the show ended at that point, I would have already been happy with it. 

Seok Hyeong and Min Ha 

I also loved the roller coaster storyline of Seok Hyeong and Min Ha. 

But let's talk about Seok Hyeong first. Among the five main leads, I believe it was Seok Hyeong who had the most extensive character development. He's often depicted as an emotionless and detached person. But I loved how he opened up bit by bit as the show progressed. He messaged a patient whose baby died to comfort the mother. It might not be obvious but he has a very deep sense of empathy in him. I would like to think that he's always been that way. But the troubles he had with his father and in his marriage probably caused him to put up walls. And it was great to see him go back to who he really was. That scene in the last episode where he rode the elevator even if it was full of people was very significant. In the past, he would have avoided it and waited for a more spacious one or one where he didn't know anyone. This time, despite his obvious hesitation, he still took that elevator and even greeted some of the people there. 

I believe one of the turning points in Seok Hyeong's life this season was how Min Ha helped him overcome the things that haunted him. I absolutely loved their cute and awkward relationship. He tried his best to avoid her. Yet when he heard that she fainted due to cramps, he rushed to the emergency room to be by her side - ditching band practice which is something very important to him. 

And how he casually asked Min Ha to see a movie with him. And how Min Ha was speechless in disbelief when he confirmed to Jeong Won's mom (Kim Hae Sook of Start Up) that they were on a date. And how Min Ha got Seok Hyeong to say that he liked her. His moves were simple and discreet - to the point that he actually seemed too cold and harsh on Min Ha. Yet, when he set his heart to it, there was just no turning back for the two of them. 

Jeong Won and Gyeoul 

Jeong Won was still his usual adorable self. I super loved his rapport with his pediatric patients. He does not hesitate to go down to their "level" if he knew that it was an effective way to communicate with them. He won't mind making pinky promises with them or asking for cookies from them. He's just so cute everytime he does that. 

And I loved his relationship with his mother too. They don't see each other often but you can feel how much he cares for her. She's so fortunate to have a son like him. 

And of course, I loved seeing him and Gyeoul because they looked so good together. It was amazing that they were comfortable with each other right away. And how Jeong Won was all giddy and caring towards Gyeoul. He was such a sweet gentleman - opening the car door for her, protecting her head when she gets on the car, holding her hand when she's cold, and asking the bank for a free stuffed toy so he can give it to her. 

Just like the other love storylines, the show also put me off track with this one. I really thought they were going to break up. Gyeoul did not show up when Jeong Won was about to propose. She did a very bad job communicating with him after that incident with her mom. While she probably wanted to shield him from the bad things, her refusal to share things with him did not really help. She might have been embarrassed about her family but she should have been fair to Jeong Won by probably telling him she was not ready to talk about stuff instead of just ignoring or avoiding him or leaving him in the dark. 

Any other guy would have given up. But let's not forget that it's saint Jeong Won we're talking about here. He's one person who never seems to run out of patience. He waited until Gyeoul was ready to open up and he just understood and accepted everything. Gyeoul is very fortunate to have him. Jeong Won showed us that when somebody comes to you with a problem, you don't really need to say anything all the time. Sometimes, a listening ear or your mere presence is more than enough. 

And while I had no doubt that Jeong Won's mom would not object to their relationship despite the condition of Gyeoul's family, I loved how Jeong Won still told her about it out of respect and probably to show that he will stand by Gyeoul's side no matter what. And I absolutely loved his mom's nonchalant reaction and how she said that Gyeoul turned out well despite the situation. And it was soooo refreshing to see a rich mom thrilled to have an "average" daughter in law whom she was excited to give her pearls, jewelries, and plates. 

Jun Wan and Ik Sun

It was evident from season 1 that Jun Wan only appears tough on the outside but he's actually very soft and caring inside. It was so cute to see a quite technologically-inept guy like him post on social media to look for people who can visit a patient who did not have any guardians. And of course, his caring nature is most apparent in his relationship with his junior, Jae Hak (Jung Moon Sung of Prison Playbook). Even if he tries his best to look annoyed when Jae Hak acts sweet with him, he really, really cares for him. Especially when Jae Hak's pregnant wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. 

With regard to his relationship with Ik Sun, that last episode in season 1 when the ring he sent her overseas was returned, was very ominous. I felt that things were not going to be smooth sailing for them. And I felt so bad for Jun Wan. I didn't even know what was worse - that he thought Ik Sun fell for someone else or that he didn't know she was sick. The way he found out about her illness was heartbreaking. And despite his pain, he still managed to focus on his work like a true professional. 

I loved that scene where he saw his photo as Ik Sun's phone wallpaper. I guess that was the confirmation he needed that Ik Sun still wanted him in her life. And when Ik Sun bravely (but hesitantly) admitted that she still had feelings for him, Jun Wan told her straight away that he can't continue meeting her without remembering their past and what they meant to each other. I was scared that the show was going to give them an unhappy ending. So I was so glad to see them back together.  


I admit that in the beginning of season 2, I felt that the show went quite astray. It set such a high standard in season 1 that was just absolutely difficult to match in another season where you need to build things up again and you can't start at the peak right away. Oppa often complained that the comedy was bordering on slapstick and that the storytelling tended to be quite disjointed unlike the super seamless one in the first season. One example was Song Hwa going back and forth between Seoul and Sokcho like she was never really gone. The timeline leading to her permanently returning to Seoul was quite confusing for me too. 

But as I mentioned above, when the show found its way back to its strengths, I finally enjoyed it again the way I did the first time around. When it focused on the relationships - both the love storylines I discussed above and the friendships - the show was really at its best. The relationships were all so organic. Nothing ever felt contrived. 

The comedy magic came back eventually too. Like when everyone was trying to keep their relationships secret. And how Ik Jun pestered Jeong Won and Gyeoul non-stop in front of their colleagues threatening to spill on their relationship. Or how nobody wanted to believe that Song Hwa and Ik Jun were dating. 

And of course, we all loved this show because of the thought-provoking themes it presented. I loved how it showed us the different facets in a doctor's life. We mostly see them as our healers but there's so much more that goes on in their lives than we'd ever know. 

Like how doctors give hope to their patients. Like that mother who finally became pregnant after three rounds of IVF. Or the transplant candidates who patiently wait for their turn yet having that unavoidable feeling of guilt when they finally find a donor, knowing that somebody probably lost a loved one so they can gain back theirs. And how Jun Wan never fails to remind patients who thank him after a transplant that rather than thanking him, they should be eternally grateful to the donors. 

And how they give hope to their colleagues too, especially their juniors - by affirming that doing their best should be enough. And how they help each other survive the tough parts of their training. 

How doctors need to be patient with their patients and how they can provide a listening ear to them. Like that mom who kept on going back to the hospital after her son died that the nurses were scared that she was going to sue the hospital. In the end, they found out that she was just really happy there because that was the only place where she was acknowledged as the mom of her deceased son. 

Or that patient's brother who kept on pestering the doctors and demanding that they confirm that the transplant would work. Instead of getting angry, Ik Jun opted to be more understanding, saying that the family went through a lot to get there. 

And of course, patience with geriatric patients who have lots of fears and concerns. And how you can give them all the options but still need to respect their final decision, whatever it may be. 

And patience with kids and their parents. I love how Jeong Won always politely tells off parents who are being too pushy with their kids, like that mom of a 6th grader that Jeong Won reminded that her son was old enough to answer for himself. Or how he talked to a mom who was complaining about how fussy her child was for refusing to have stitches removed. That adults often expect kids' reactions, tolerance, and strength to match theirs. And because we do not want to be embarrassed in front of doctors, we chastise the kids, forgetting to appreciate the fact they've bravely endured so much more than they actually can. That really hit home.  

Or how doctors must genuinely advocate for their patients because their lives depend on their doctors and how the doctors will be found responsible if something bad happens. I was really moved by that scene where Song Hwa affirmed her staff who yelled at a more senior doctor who was dillydallying about a patient with suspected brain hemorrhage. Song Hwa's only complaint was that the junior should have yelled/cursed more. 

And how doctors are humans too. They have personal lives, yet they try their best to compartmentalize things so their problems won't interfere with their performance. Like Jun Wan still performing a heart transplant right after Ik Sun broke up with him in a very devastating way. And how it's okay for them to be emotional too. Because they also have feelings. As Jun Wan told his intern, it's okay to be emotional as long as you can still do your job. 

And how some doctors go beyond their medical responsibilities to serve their patients. Like how Gyeoul risked her life to rescue a patient who turned out to be a battered wife. With all the things doctors have to worry about, I'm sure it's easier to not care beyond the medical aspect of things. Yet, many opt to still do the more humane thing. 

And how doctors and their families get sick too. It must be very unsettling to have a loved one like a spouse (Jae Hak's wife), a sibling (Ik Sun), a parent (Gyeoul, Jeong Won, and Song Hwa's moms), and a doctor himself (Ik Jun) get sick or hurt. They must feel helpless yet they have to be objective and not emotional about it. 

My most favorite storyline in this aspect was the one about Jae Hak's wife - how they waited so long to get pregnant that they actually gave up already. Yet, when they were finally pregnant, the wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. And how the wife transitioned from not wanting to continue with the pregnancy because she was old to wanting to keep the baby after seeing the ultrasound to refusing to undergo chemotherapy to protect the baby. I loved Seok Hyeong's gentle persuasion that finally convinced the mom that she can and should do both. 

And how, most of the time, doctors are really unsung heroes who work on their thankless jobs each and everyday. Like how the senior doctors often get credit for everything when in fact, they were not really the ones who did the dirty work. I loved that episode where the show honored emergency room frontliners who often have to endure the family's nagging, anger, etc. yet they're never fully appreciated for all that they do even if their decisions provide the first step in saving the patients' lives.


Around episode 10, I already felt that the end was near for the show. It was slowly tying loose ends, unlike in season 1 where everything was business as usual until the finale. The love stories were being resolved. And my separation anxiety was starting to develop.

But when the end finally arrived, I admit that it was a bit underwhelming for me. I'm not sure if it was because everything had proper closure? It feels so certain that there won't be a season 3 because there's nothing left to resolve. But overall, I was just glad that everyone got the happy ending that they deserved, even if Jeong Won would be leaving for a year (he'll be with Gyeoul anyway). And as Oppa said, the drama probably intended to have an underwhelming ending to show that it's really slice of life - life goes on even after the drama ends. 

And while season 2 had its ups and downs for me, unlike season 1 which was up all the way, I still enjoyed this one tremendously. 

My favorite performance would probably be It's My Life

Oppa says...4.8.

Noona says...4.8.