It’s really rare to have a show that can create so many charming and lovable characters, but Hospital Playlist has accomplished this feat. You would think having five main characters to focus on is difficult enough, but the show is still able to give its side characters meaningful storylines that allow us to feel for and relate to them.
I particularly enjoyed Jae-hak’s storyline this week. Stuck between his patient and Professor Cheon, Jae-hak is at a complete loss. Professor Cheon knows what’s right for his patient, but refuses to insist on doing it. When the patient refuses to get an enema, Professor Cheon just lets him be. In desperation, Jae-hak runs to Jun-wan to get advice. Jun-wan tells him firmly and sternly to do whatever he can to ensure the patient gets the enema, because “if the doctor gives up on a patient, he isn’t a doctor anymore.”
Jae-hak runs off immediately and the next time we see him, he’s with Seok-min and Chi-hong and he tells them he managed to convince the patient. They ask him how he did it, expecting some impressive tale, but Jae-hak tells them awkwardly that he did so by begging the patient, telling him that he would lose his job if he didn’t do it. He’s ashamed to share it, but Chi-hong affirms him of his efforts and he is encouraged. The biggest affirmation comes when he receives a note of thanks from the patient, thanking him for not giving up on him. He breaks down and cries, which was a really touching scene. I enjoy how Hospital Playlist plays up the vulnerabilities of these doctors and doesn’t aim to show them as supremely brilliant or competent. Just like how Gyu-Wool learnt how to explain the case better to a patient, Jae-hak also learns through this situation how to protect the life of his through his genuine care and willingness to learn.
Besides Jae-Hak’s story, I also appreciated how the show started to show more of Jung-won’s tensions in this episode. While he has decided to become a priest, we also know he’s an excellent doctor and relates so well to children. This is affirmed by Jong-So and Rosa’s conversation, but also by the many scenes we’ve seen in the series of his interactions with children. He truly has a good heart and wants Song-hwa to take over as ‘Daddy Long Legs’, so that the good work he has started can continue even as he leaves the hospital. He has also made arrangements such that funding can continue.
However, just as he decides to go, we also get hints that he may be developing feelings for Gyu-wool. Ik-Joon, being the big-hearted friend that he is, also tries to engineer a situation for Jung-won to come clean with his feelings by asking Gyu-wool to bring in a bouquet of roses and pretend she was proposed to. Jung-won’s aloof reaction and refusal to join in the toast suggests he likes her. Later on, when Ik-Joon asks him point blank about it, Jung-Won does not deny anything as well. Ik-Joon tells him that God will understand if he decides to follow his heart. Jung-Won appears conflicted and uncertain after Ik-Joon leaves. What decision will he ultimately make in the end? It’s not clear cut at the moment, given that we know he’s been wanting to become a priest for a really long time.
While Ik-Joon helps Jung-won with his love life, he seems to be having some good developments with Song-hwa. At this moment, the friendship they share is so strong and they are so comfortable with each other that Song Hwa has probably never even considered him as a boyfriend. To me, it’s quite clear that Ik-Joon still has feelings for her, though he might not be actively pursuing her. In a most telling conversation, he tells her that having a meal with her, or coffee with her, is the way he gives himself a treat. There’s a moment of awkwardness, but perhaps that will be the turning point for Song-hwa to start even considering him as a potential love interest. They would certainly be so cute together and they have great chemistry.
As for Jun-Wan, I am liking his character even more when I see how he handles his relationship with Ik-Soon. He handles it so maturely, even after he learns through Chi-hong that she has been accepted to the medical programme overseas. He does not react rashly, or ask her why she never told him. Instead, he tells her in a voice message that it does not matter how he found out and they can chat more about it when they meet. Even in the last episode, when he saw a message appear on Ik-soon’s phone, he did not react with jealousy. It’s heartening to see such maturity and trust in a relationship, where potential moments for conflict are avoided because our characters know how to deal with them properly.
What I’ve appreciated about Hospital Playlist is that it tugs at our heartstrings through very genuine moments of connection, without unnecessary melodrama, tears or dramatic scores. The characters do not have easy lives by any count – their work is stressful where lives are at stake and they have personal and family issues to grapple with. However, their positive outlook on life and their unwavering support for each other help them get through each day with a smile on their face. I will truly miss these characters and their friendship when the series is over.
Episode Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Upcoming K-Drama Analysis Webinar [update on 23 May 2020]
Analysing k-drama has helped me realise how much work goes into these shows and appreciate them so much more. Having blogged on k-drama for a few years, I would like to share my approach on how to analyse k-dramas so as to enjoy them so much more.
I will be launching a webinar very shortly titled “Unlocking the Keys to K-drama” soon. The webinar will cover my Genre, Characterisation, Technical Details approachusing dramas like Healer, Queen In-hyun’s Man, Legend of the Blue Sea, Goblin, Hotel Del Luna and The World of the Married. If you are interested to sign up, please indicate your interest by clicking this link and you will be placed on a mailing list to be notified once the webinar is up. Spaces will be limited since it is my first run. Thank you!