The King Eternal Monarch Episode 12: Key Moments

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The King Eternal Monarch slows down in Episode 12, giving us much more OTP moments and some interesting revelations. There’s not much in terms of plot movement, but that is not a bad thing as we get more invested in our characters. Here were some key moments for me:

Court Lady Noh

The biggest revelation in this episode came like a punch at the end, in a quiet conversation between Tae-eul and Head Lady Noh.

She walks through her family history, telling Tae-eul that her name is Noh Ok-nam, her father is Noh Gi-seop, her mother is Shin Jeong-ae and her sister is Noh Yeong-nam. She was born in 1932, in Pyoksong of Hwanghae Province and she left her hometown at 17. Since then, she has not heard any news regarding her hometown for 67 years.

This opens up a huge storyline about what happened to Ok-Nam, why she came over to Corea and how that ties to the story of Lee Rim and Lee Gon’s parents. Of course, this also reveals that Lee Rim was not the first to travel across the universe and Head Lady Noh must be familiar with the use of the flute to travel across universes and its consequences. I am interested to see where this takes us.

Prime Minister Koo & The consequences of travelling

We were earlier led to believe that Lee Rim and Lee Gon were the only ones who experienced pain when there was lightning and thunder. However, in this episode, we see that it’s no longer just them, but also Lee Rim’s henchman. And not just them – but also Prime Minster Koo! This confirms that she was the one in the car that Yeong was chasing. And therefore that she too is somehow involved in Lee Rim’s bigger plans, as she drove away when Yeong was shot.

I’m still a little uncertain about Prime Minister Koo’s motivations and grand plans. Her scenes thus far have been brief and focused on her wanting to be married to Lee Gon – but why? We know in this episode that she is status-conscious and her term is running out soon. Once her term ends, she’ll be back to just being the daughter of a fish-monger. Yes, so we know she wants to marry him to continue having power and status. Why are these so important to her? Her character has not been fleshed out much and currently just seems like another chess piece in Lee Rim’s big plan.

There are many theories about why the pain from lightning and thunder only affect a few, but not others – like Shinjae, Tae-eul, Luna, Yeung or Eunseob. Right now, we can see that these are the four who have moved across the universe, but have not attempted to disrupt the order. They have not been involved in taking out anybody in the other universe and largely been there to maintain order. However, the pain also affects Gon. This points to the possibility that Gon may have also done some things to affect the order of both worlds, but this has not been shown to us yet.

Our OTP: Lee Gon and Tae-Eul

While I’m taking to them as a couple more, the timelines are getting wildly confusing. The scene where Lee Gon confesses his love to Tae-eul caused much confusion earlier as to whether it actually happened, given that he just disappeared. Thus far, we are led to believe that the confession and the flowers were given before the events in Episode 11 and 12.

Strangely, in this episode, Tae-eul says to Lee Gon after she’s first seen by the doctor that she was afraid that their moment in the bamboo forest would be their last. Okay, so that confession and flower-giving moment has not happened yet? However, later on, when Tae-eul is asked to choose her clothes, she sees the coat that Lee Gon is wearing being hung up and she remembers the moment he came to her with the flowers and confessed to her. If that’s a scene from the future, then why does Tae-eul remember it? Or was it a dream?

That point notwithstanding, I enjoyed their other interactions. Like mentioned before, Lee Min Ho and Kim Go Eun do have good chemistry and they are very natural and relaxed around each other. In terms of the writing, we see them getting to know each other more as they walked towards the church and took their first photograph together.

The time pauses are getting longer as we learnt in the previous episode. However, because these time pauses take Lee Gon away from Tae-Eul, he ends up feeling more lonely and a sense of loss during them. In this episode, as he is right next to Tae-eul, the reality of being forever in a time pause dawns upon him, which leads to him tearing.

Announcing my first webinar!

Having written over 200 blog entries, I have decided to launch a webinar very soon titled “Unlocking the Keys to K-drama” soon.

The webinar will cover my Genre, Characterisation, Technical Details approach using dramas like Healer, Queen In-hyun’s Man, Legend of the Blue Sea, Goblin, Suspicious Partner, 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!

The King Eternal Monarch Episode 11

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The battle heats up in The King Eternal Monarch’s 11th installment, culminating in an no-holds barred battle between Lee Gon and Lee Rim’s forces. Let’s look at the key developments in this very meaty episode.

Lee Rim and Luna

Having done away with Prince Buyeong, Lee Rim now proceeds to move more of his plan ahead.

After Luna gets hit by a car, she finds herself in front of Lee Rim, who plays god again by offering her a new life in a parallel world. Not having a home or a family and constantly on the run, Luna is miserable and angry in the world of Corea. Given that she already has no place or sense of belonging in Corea, it is no surprise that Luna takes up the offer. Kim Go-Eun shines in this episode, playing two very different characters very convincingly. As Luna, she’s edgy, frustrated and raw.

Thus far, Lee Rim has co-opted people into his force are often those who are displaced – with no status in the world of Corea. This idea of movement across world works on two levels. Firstly, Lee Gon had referred to this in earlier episodes as illegal immigration, which is an apt metaphor. While moving to Korea gives them a better life, they continue to feel a sense of dislocation (as seen by Shin-jae) and have to hide and remain untraceable like Song Jung-hye who declares a fake address and gives cash to the undertaker so she cannot be traced.

On another level, it also works on the supernatural level as a form of reincarnation or rebirth. They are ‘born’ into a new world with a new name, new family, new destiny. Yet, they remain trapped because besides Shin Jae (who was moved against his will), they have made a pact with the devil, and are thus stuck in a path of misery and darkness.

Coming back to Luna, we see that things are not so straightforward as she also goes to meet the girl with the yo-yo, whom we’ve already established earlier represents some form of godly figure. He passes her a jack knife, but she asks him to keep it to “protect what belongs to [her]”. We later know that this knife is passed to Tae-Eul to help her to escape, as part of the girl’s attempt to restore the balance. I’m very fascinated to see what’s going on with Luna, what her bigger plan is.

Prime Minister Koo Seo-Ryung

I’m not really liking her character much thus far, because her intentions do not seem pure. Her smiling during the wake of Prince Buyeong also cemented my dislike for her.

Her storyline in relation to the parallel universes has not been so clear, but we are led to believe that Lee Rim is co-opting her into his plan and has been sending her newspapers from Korea. How would he tempt her into that world though, given that her life in the world of Corea is much better than Korea? However, in this episode, it seems like she has gone over to the world of Korea. The person that Tae-Eul meets on the street, who looks like her, may actually be her, because we see her going to a store later to purchase stilettos. The involvement of Seo-Ryung definitely has potential, but her storyline has been quite unclear so far. Given that Korea is a democracy, is Lee Rim co-opting her to rule the world of Korea, while he rules Corea? How would he convince her? I’m liking how Kim Eun Sok plots this series – we see enough each time to get interested, but we also know bigger pieces are moving which keep us asking questions.

Shin Jae

Shin Jae learns more about Lee Lim in this episode and Lee Lim sends his henchman to pass him a 2G phone. This leads to a scuffle, where we know that Shin Jae has an important part to play in this plan and cannot be killed – yet.

We know though that Lee Rim referred to Shin Jae previously as the plan that did not work out well – why is he approaching him yet again? Similarly, what could he possibly tempt Shin Jae with? On a separate note, I was disappointed that we saw so little of Yeong in this episode. Wasn’t his role in this world to help defend it from Lee Rim’s actions? He should have been more proactively defending both Shin Jae and Tae-Eul then, but in both instances, Yeong was not there to protect them.

Tae-Eul

In terms of the romance, the Tae-Eul we saw in this episode was vastly different from the weepy one that we saw in Episode 10. I much prefer her in this episode, but am also hoping the writing of the romance can be more consistent.

Once again, we go back to that conversation which seemed to have taken place when they went to look Song Jung-hye and what I liked was Tae-Eul being more assertive in this relationship, not just swooning or crying over Lee Gon. Firstly, she tells him that he never asked her to marry him, he just told her. Then, she tells him that she has decided just to live for each day, rather than think beyond that. Of course, Lee Gon responds that couples usually pledge their love for eternity, but for her, she has decided just to appreciate what they have for that day that they are together.

If this scene supposedly took place before Lee Gon went back to Corea, then why was Tae-Eul crying so much when she saw him in the forest or outside her flat last week? There seems to be some inconsistency there, but I like this version of Tae-Eul much better. While she still does not understand how the worlds work, she knows how to make the most of it. I like how assured she is around Lee Gon, yet we know she still loves him and misses him. While the love story isn’t written well, I feel that Kim Go Eun and Lee Min Ho really have great chemistry and their interactions are fun and sweet to watch.

I really like the character of Tae-Eul, because she is constantly on the move and always taking action, whether it is in the world of Korea or Corea. Once she is kidnapped in the world of Corea, Tae-Eul’s determination and quick-thinking really shine. After the girl with the yo-yo saves her, she breaks out, drives herself away, uses her limited bullets to derail a car, then walks all the way to Corea where she makes a pay-phone call to Lee Gon. She narrowly escapes from a speeding lorry and that is when Lee Gon comes sweeping in to save her. Lee Gon riding in and declaring she’s the Queen of Corea was indeed a majestic and heroic scene.

Lee Gon

And of course, we have to end with Lee Gon. I’m a little frustrated by how he still always seems to be one step behind Lee Lim, but I guess his uncle has had 25 years of scheming and universe-travelling ahead of him.

In the privacy of his home, he crumbles and breaks down over the loss of Prince Buyeong, but when facing his guards and those against him, he is authoritative, decisive and is unafraid of bloodshed. In the world of Corea, while there may be laws, the King’s word is final. While beheading is abolished, he sentences Lee Rim’s henchman to beheading, because of his silence.

The camera work for this scene is particularly powerful – with many shots where Lee Gon’s head takes centre-stage in the frame, and he is looking downwards, almost in a God-like manner, deciding on the fate of these criminals. (Yes, of course these head-shots also capture Lee Min Ho’s chiseled looks.)

Unlike Lee Rim who plays god to disrupt the order of the worlds, Lee Gon’s authority aims to restore law and order and he is willing to get his hands dirty to do this. Once the bookstore is discovered, he also wastes no time and leads his royal guards there to take it down and it’s a ruthless takedown. While most of Lee Rim’s henchmen at the bookstore are taken down, he also has another group of them at a shipyard – just how big is his army? And this leads to the final showdown that concludes the episode. Lee Gon is unafraid to get his hands dirty – he is not a king who leads from the back, but one who leads the charge in front and he gets blood splattered all over him while he engages in the fight.

While being willing to fight, we also participate in Lee Gon’s thought processes and it’s always fun to watch him piecing the mystery together by remembering what happened in the past, and then applying his knowledge of the Euclid number this round to calculate how long the time stops are.This time, he realises that at some point, the time pauses will last for an eternity. He must either work to ensure that does not happen, or somehow gain control over the time stops.

The battle for victory definitely cannot just be won through a physical fight. In order to win over Lee Rim, Lee Gon cannot just eradicate all his henchmen – Lee Gon needs to claim control over the universes and in order to do this, the flute and the sword definitely must come into play. Certainly, the yo yo boy must also be involved. I’m looking forward to how these elements and characters start to come together.

All in all, this was an engaging, exciting episode where the plot pieces moved forward while we also got interesting facts on the parallel universes. I’m hoping we see more of the flute or sword in upcoming episodes. And please bring back more of Yeong and Eun Soeb too!

Announcing my first webinar!

Having written over 200 blog entries, I have decided to launch a webinar very soon titled “Unlocking the Keys to K-drama” soon.

The webinar will cover my Genre, Characterisation, Technical Details approach using dramas like Healer, Queen In-hyun’s Man, Legend of the Blue Sea, Goblin, Suspicious Partner, 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!

First K-Drama Analysis Webinar!

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Analysing k-drama has helped me realise how much work goes into these shows and appreciate them so much more. Having written over 200 blog entries, I would like to share my approach on how to analyse k-dramas so as to enjoy them so much more. I have a degree and Masters in English and will be applying literary and film analysis techniques in the webinar.

I will be launching a webinar very soon 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, Suspicious Partner, 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!

Hospital Playlist Episode 10 (II): Song-hwa

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Thinking about my review for Episode 10 yesterday, I realised I completely forgot to capture the scenes with Song-hwa and residents, which were some of my favourite scenes in the episode!

At the end of the previous episode, we were led to believe that she was meeting only Chi-hong for dinner, i.e. it was a date. However, we learn in this episode that it’s it’s not just two of them as Seok-min and Seon-bin join them as well. We see a lot of the four of them in this episode and besides our 5 friends, this is the next group of people I love in this show. At the restaurant, they take turns to tease each other – first poking fun of Song-hwa for her speed of eating, then there’s a fun exchange where Chi-hong and Song-hwa call Seok-min and Seon-bin out for dating, which finally leads to a confession. Their interactions are so natural and relaxed that it’s fun to watch.

Later on, after a discussion is over, they tell her about the intern who got scolded, which leads to yet another cute exchange where they challenge her to swear. She gamely takes up the challenge, yet her ‘swearing’ is so sweet that Seon-Bin and Chi-hong teasingly tell her that they feel blessed by it. Her saintliness is then reinforced by when they realise that she is actually taking the intern out for dinner. And that isn’t all! Later on, when they see a full moon, she asks them to make a wish and her wish is not for herself, but the intern to become a good surgeon. Her only self-centred wish is to get a good spot for her weekend solitary camping.

Let’s make a wish!

Seok-hwa’s almost overwhelming goodness and kindness could easily come off as unconvincing and bland in another show, yet somehow it’s believable and we buy it in this show. This is because of how the dynamics have been set up, such that the show does not overly exalt her goodness and uses her residents to mimic our reactions to her. In some strange way, the fact that the residents tease her for her goodness and find it amazing makes it easier for us to accept. It’s both heartwarming and funny to watch.

A show that is willing to poke fun at its own characters is always fun, and while we know Song-hwa is virtuous and selfless, she’s also has quirks that both bewilder her friends and endear her to them, like the ravenous way in which she gobbles down her food. She’s also human in the way she takes care of herself by buying a wood stove for herself, and then a rack for logs. These little touches of characterisation make these characters more complete and relatable.

Although I know the show is moving towards a Song-Hwa and Ik-joon relationship, I’d be equally satisfied if Song-hwa ends up in the series without being paired with someone. Not because I feel she does not deserve it, but because I know she’ll continue to be happy and fulfilled leading her life the way she wants to, as she knows how to care for herself. It’s no wonder that almost every mother wants their child to be with her!

When My Love Blooms: Episode 8

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I am usually not a big fan of romances, so I usually do not watch shows with titles like this. However, I was drawn to this drama because of the two leads – Yoo Ji-Tae and Lee Bo Young – both of whose work I’ve been incredibly impressed with previously.

Yoo Ji-Tae’s performance in Healer was extremely memorable, but unfortunately, I have not seen him in any other outstanding shows thus far. As for Lee Bo Young, I really enjoyed her performance in I Hear Your Voice and thought it was very memorable. I know she has had several outstanding dramas so far like Whisper and Mother, but I have not been able to catch them. After watching this show, I have to say their performances continue to shine. There’s just such a maturity and weight in their performances – they embody their characters, Jae-hyun and Ji Soo, so well and really convey the characters with their entire being. Ji Soo’s brokenness and misery is conveyed so evidently through the way she looks at people, how she speaks to others, and how she walks.

It’s unlikely that I will be blogging about every episode, but Episode 8 deserves a review because it marks a turning point for our leads. Both our characters take decisive and important steps ahead. Ji Soo calls Se-hoon and tells him that she will not proceed with the reunion of marriage. Her son, Young-min, sweetly shares that he will forgive her, because he knows she’s not comfortable staying with him. The mums at Young-min’s school attempt to ambush her and condemn her, unaware of how fiery she can be, and she proves to them that she is not to be messed with. It was honestly quite unexpected, especially as she responded to violence with even stronger violence at the end.

As for Jae-hyun, he rises up in heroic defense of Ji Soo, saying that if the video leaks and she loses Young-min, he will swoop in to take her. He convinces Ji-Soo not to proceed with the marriage reunion, but eve as she decides not to proceed, she also tells him that they should stay apart. He still wants to protect her, but respects her decision, hence he watches over her from afar. On the corporate battlefront, Jae-hyun decides to work with the prosecution officers and the investigation is now all out in the media.

As events start to overwhelm both our leads, they both go to a church, which Jae-hyun sought asylum in 1995. There, they find each other and sit outside the church and chat. Jae-hyun puts his arm around her and she does not reject him. Instead, she leans into him and tells him that she has been so afraid of the past, that she kept walking forward without looking back. However, her legs are now tired and she just wants to stay here today because “if we’re here, we will be okay.” Jae-hyun is completely silent throughout the last few minutes of the show, but Yoo Ji-Tae’s eyes and his frown convey his tender concern, quiet affection and calm protectiveness.

It’s not just the church, but being in each others arms is an asylum for both of them. It was in the past, and it has once again become so now. The scenes from the past and present in this drama are so seamlessly weaved together that it does not seem as if one story is secondary to the other. Both the past and present stories are equally important. While we as viewers are discovering more of their past, our leads are also rediscovering their past and finding strength and their true selves in the past. I must say the music does a wonderful job of tying everything together as well – so stirring, moving and nostalgic. This show is like a rich tapestry that draws us in with its charm and beauty.

It’s a quiet yet powerful message about identity – even though our past may be painful, distancing ourselves from it and ignoring it only makes us weaker. For Jae-Hyun, he has already discovered his strength. For Ji Soo, we’ve seen her strength emerging in this episode – let’s hope her journey from this point onwards is not just forward, but upwards as well as she rises victoriously from her circumstances.

Hospital Playlist Episode 10

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U-Ju being absolutely adorable!

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

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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!

Hospital Playlist Episode 9

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I really enjoyed this week’s energetic upbeat OST contribution, Songolmae’s “Met you by chance”. The song was fun, and everyone looked like they were really having fun, with smiles on their faces. Rosa clapping and singing along cheerfully added to the joy and Joong-Soo being aloof while tapping along quietly was a nice touch. I’m sharing it here because I loved it so much.

Mirroring this week’s OST, this week’s episode was definitely more light-hearted and more light-touch. Some potentially heavy topics like divorce, depression and marriage were raised, but not explored further. We have small movements in relationships like Song-Hwa meeting Chi Hong for dinner (or are they really – we’re not sure if they are smiling or waving at each other?), and Jung-wan smiling at Gyu-wool, but no clarity as to where the show is really taking this. I much preferred entries like Episode 8 where we explored two characters in greater depth, whereas Episode 9 felt a little touch and go, with no clear sense as to where our characters were heading.

That’s not to say there weren’t enjoyable moments in the episode. Overall, it was still an enjoyable episode, because there’s such chemistry and camaraderie amongst the cast. I always enjoy scenes of all five of them together chatting, teasing, bantering and just being comfortable with each other. Even conversations between the residents like Min ha and Gyu Wool, and our elderly characters like Rosa and Joong-Soo are fun to watch.

The character who had more screen time this episode was Ik-Joon and he is such a lovable character. He’s such a reliable and encouraging friend to have around, as he fetches Song Hwa back to hospital when she has an emergency, runs out of the car to close her door for her, and then waits for her. The case of the father losing weight and changing his lifestyle so he can donate his liver makes Ik-Joon reflect on him wrongly thinking that he knew everything about the world and its people. He then decides to understand more from Chi-hong about what happened to Ik-Soon and pays her a surprise visit at her army camp, which was a very sweet and touching scene.

I’m largely enjoying the show, but if there’s one complaint I have, it is that many difficult conversations or emotional scenes seem to take place off-screen. It would have been powerful to see how Seok-hyung finally convinced his mum to get the divorce, given how we saw her so vehemently opposing it previously. Similarly, Joon Wan and Ik-Soon’s conversation ended abruptly when he asks if they will have to break off, and she has no answer. Surely, that was not how the conversation ended?

Also, for Ik-Joon, how about his divorce and its impact on him and U-ju? I’m ok that the divorce happened off-screen and given that he was already living as a single dad, it likely did not have much impact on him. But how about U-ju? So far, we’ve only seen sweet and adorable scenes of him, but it wouldn’t harm to show the impact of the divorce on him. Jung-wan hasn’t had much of a sustained storyline as well, except for the one-sided romance, of which we have no idea how he feels at all.

Hospital Playlist still remains my bright spot of the week, and one of the more light-hearted and enjoyable offerings currently. Nonetheless, since the show has already created such lovable characters with such strong bonds, it wouldn’t harm if they allowed us to know and connect with them on a deeper level. I’m looking forward to more opportunities for this as the show enters its final few episodes.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Hospital Playlist Episode 8

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Funniest moment of the episode!

What is so enjoyable at Hospital Playlist is that with each episode, we get deeper insights into our characters as we peel away the layers and see the love and warmth inside of them. This was particularly necessary for the two characters who seem cold and aloof on the outside – Seok-hyung and Joon-Wan.

Seok-hyung is often awkward and seems like he is unaware of how others are feeling – which frustrates Minha, adding emotional strain on top of her physical strain that causes her to almost collapse. Kudos to her that even in her most anxious, most stressful moments of self-doubt – she holds on to that shred of strength and willpower within her, and gives her best to her patient and her child. Later on, Seok-hyung affirms her, and tells her that her responsibility – and not her wisdom – is what will make her a good doctor. He expresses his trust in her – that seems to be a running theme of the show, because this is what Song Hwa told Chi-Hong last week as well.

On a more touching note, Min-ha thanks Seok-hyung for the food the other day and asks why he did not mention it earlier. Seok-hyung may seem aloof, but he is watching out for others, and we know this is true in how he expressed his care for Song-hwa the last episode by calling her so early in the morning.

While Seok-hyung seems aloof and unaware, Joon-Wan is intimidating and may appear cruel. However, when push comes to shove, he stands up for Jae-Hak and puts himself forward so that Jae-Hak can avoid punishment. We know from the start that Joon-Wan is reluctant to take up the Chief position. However, when Jae-Hak gets a sticky situation because a patient’s daughter is unhappy with his comments, Joon-Wan steps up to the position, apologises to the daughter and takes responsibility for his resident. When Jae-Hak goes to Joon-Wan with tears in his eyes, I was expecting a touching scene where we see the softer side of Joon-Wan. However, true to himself, Joon-Wan maintains his stern and unyielding exterior and simply asks Jae-Hak to change into a suit, so they can go attend the wake of the baby.

While it may seem cruel for Joon-Wan to ask the parents for the heart of their baby, he has the bigger picture in mind and will not put aside his mission to save lives just so as not to offend someone. Yet in attending the wake, he shows in his own stoic way that he cares, and is there for the parents during their grieving.

Besides these heartwarming and sad moments, there were plenty of humorous, fun moments to provide that nice balance. I enjoyed Jung-Won’s excitement over the baby’s green poop, which causes Song-hwa and Jun-Wan to hide his bread from him. LOL. Then later, we have Ik-Joon’s accident with Song-Hwa’s hot flask, that causes her to wrap his fingers till they resembles Demetan Croaker, a frog in a Japanese anime series. Besides those moments, their tteokbokki dinner and their car ride to their rehearsal were both hilarious, where they discussed serious matters while teasing and joking with each other.

Besides Jun-Wan and Ik-soon, there are several other potential couplings in the show that have been hinted at, but not realised. However, I have no complaints about this because there’s so much love and warmth in all the friendships, work relationships and the parent-child relationships that make Hospital Playlist such an enjoyable watch.

Episode Rating:

The World of the Married Finale

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“I think it’s finally over now”, says Sun Woo to Ye Rim three weeks before the events last week. If there’s one thing we’ve learnt from “The World of the Married”, it is never over and the show has shown us that there are no easy ways out. Mirroring the reality of broken marriages, the emotional impact on the couple, but most importantly on the child, will take a long time, if not forever, to heal. The show ends on a strong note with another intense, heart-rending episode and gives each character the hopeful ending they truly deserve.

Joon Young continues to yearn for a happy family

At the start of the episode, we see that while Sun Woo and Joon Young have finally settled back in Gosan after a long tussle, their hearts are still unsettled. Joon Young still yearns for that happy family life, whereas a simple phone vibration shakes Sun Woo. She looks uneasily at Joon Young until he shows her that the message is from No Eul. Nonetheless, the relationship between Joon Young and his mum has definitely improved and they tease each other and have found community with Ye Rim, Ja Hyuk, Myung Sook and Yoon-ki. They go out for dinner with them, and she invites them over for dinner. Joon Young is happy and has a love interest – it looks like life is starting to take off again for him.

On the Tae-Oh front, he has been stalking Sun Woo and Joon Young. Sun Woo is definitely uneasy and her suspicions are confirmed when she receives a torn wedding photograph that is taped up.

Joon Young sees it too and tells her to ignore it, not to take matters into her own hands and to call the cops immediately. No action is taken though, which leads us to Joon Young’s disappearance that ended off last week’s episode. Sun Woo calls Tae-Oh continually after Joon Young disappears and he finally replies, apologising to her and saying that he wanted was to be with Joon Young.

Sun Woo rushes over to meet him and Joon Young at a deserted river bank. There, we see him that Tae Oh ultimately meant no harm, and all he is doing is to tell Joon Young about how his dad abandoned him when he was young and how he did not want to abandon Joon Young. Once Sun Woo arrives, Joon Young runs over to her and they are almost going to leave, but Sun Woo’s heart softens and she offers to go to a meal together with Tae-Oh and Joon Young – which shocks Joon Young completely. The whole sequence of Tae Oh walking slowly to the car, Sun Woo entering the car and Joon Young in the car is one of the most powerful scenes in the show – though no words are exchanged, the turmoil, pain, uncertainty and struggle within our three characters are so clearly conveyed.

Sun Woo still wants to give Tae-Oh a chance to make amends and apologise when she sees him all broken. However, when he starts talking about how he has forgiven her and she should now forgive him, she knows there’s no point and that he is truly hopeless. After a futile conversation at the restaurant, they walk out and just before parting, Tae Oh apologises to Joon Young, but Joon Young is unconvinced and walks off with Sun Woo.

Just as they are going to enter the car, they see a lorry coming and Tae Oh runs in front of it. Sun Woo instinctively runs over to see what happened and realises Tae Oh is safe. She brings him out and he kneels down, hugging her. Joon Young sees this and it is too much for him to take, so he runs off.

Fast forward to a year later, we see that he has gone to Runaway Children’s Counselling Centre and they are working to reunite him with her. Tae Oh has picked himself up – he’s not successful yet, but he’s making attempts to get employed. Sun Woo has not found anyone new, but she has been processing. She’s not doing well, but not doing poorly either – enduring each day, not allowing the pain to overwhelm her. We get hints that she may finally decide to forgive herself when she meets her past patient and sees he does well. She looks at Yoon Ki – perhaps wondering if she should give it a shot with him, and give herself a shot at happiness.

“Setting aside my arrogance, of thinking that I set the rules, judge and take responsibility, is probably the best that I can do,” she says after she reads the letter from the Counselling Centre. After fighting for so long, she decides to sit back and do nothing. Not just for Joon Young, but also with Tae Oh – we only see brief messages exchanged about Joon Young, nothing more. There’s a sense that she has also gradually moved on from the divorce. The series ends with the door opening – Joon Young has returned – and she walks to him, ready to receive him and a new beginning for both of them.

Speaking of new beginnings, we also have Ye Rim, who finally decides to let go of Je-Hyuk. Although they have many happy moments at the start, she is still unable to let go of his past betrayals and hurts, no matter how hard she tries to forgive him. In a heartbreaking exchange, she lets him know how she feels and that he may forever have to live such a tormenting life. They have decided to part ways and Ye Rim has started her own cafe, with no regrets at all. Da-Kyung starts to pursue her dream, but the pain of relationship lingers as she walks off from a guy who shows interest in her.

“The World of the Married” ends on a very satisfying note for all our characters. There’s no ‘happy ever after’ even after all the battles have been fought. The pain still lingers, but the best we can do for ourselves is to forgive ourselves and to not let the pain dominate each day.

For the finale, the show has once again broken the ratings records for a cable drama and it’s not hard to see why. This has truly been a very enjoyable and meaningful drama – well-paced, extremely well-acted and complex in its characterisation. Kudos to the entire team behind the drama for an excellent production.

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!