Having capitalised on the popularity of Kdrama’s, Netflix has amassed such a rich catalogue, it’s hard to know where to start. Hospital Playlist debuted last year and was met with critical acclaim, becoming one of the highest-ranking Kdrama’s of all time. The show centres on five friends that met at medical school in 1999 and, years later find themselves working at the same hospital. A slice of life drama that is heartwarming and charming, Hospital Playlist is easily one of the most endearing Kdrama’s to grace our screens. Need more convincing? Here are 5 reasons you should be watching Hospital Playlist.
Juggling five leads can be a challenge. More often than you find one or two characters end up overshadowing the others, but Hospital Playlist does not fall into this trap. The five leads have their individual arcs, and within that, we explore the bonds of their friendship in the face of both personal and professional struggles. It’s a support system that is essential in their line of work, but also one that extends to their day to day life. A clear example of this is in Song-Hwa’s medical scare, which sees the other four take time out of their busy schedules to check in with her and offer their support regardless of the results. However, some of the most heartwarming scenes take place in their out of office hangouts. Having been convinced to set up a band by Seok-Hyeon, the “band practices” they hold that allow them to escape from their busy lives and enjoy the freedom of losing themselves in the music. There’s also something so endearing to see 5 talented and crazy busy doctors actively take the time out of their day to sit down and enjoy a meal with their friends. It’s in these moments they can take off their professional mask, literally and figuratively, and let their personality shine in the comfort of those that know them best. The banter that stems from their contrasting personalities makes for a slew of hilarious moments that emphasise the depths of their friendship.
No Unnecessary Drama
So often do medical dramas rely on angst-driven conflict, which is often romance centric, that it usually overshadows the day to day operations of such settings. Hospital Playlist does none of the above. Instead, we get a slice of life narrative that spotlights the highest of highs and lowest of lows of being a doctor. In every episode, we are witness to several medical cases that range in complexity. The emphasis on the dialogue between patients and/or their families and doctors before, during, and after treatment allowed viewers to explore the nature of the relationship between both parties, highlighting the sincerity of their work. When faced with life and death daily, the show reminds you of our mortality and all the emotions that come with it. From the joy of new life, the fear of the unknown, the grief of loss, and everything in between. So many moments in this show were subtle in their execution, heightening that sense of realism, making these situations all the more heartbreaking as the emotions are so raw. The most difficult pill to swallow is knowing that sometimes, giving your all just isn’t enough. In these moments we are privy to the acceptance that some things are out of their control, one that is followed by a resolve to learn from their experiences. Hospital Playlist gives you get a realistic take on the very human reactions we have to matters of life and death.
Out of the five, Jeon Mi-do’s Chae Song-hwa is the only female amongst our leads and she more than holds her own. As a woman in her 40’s, Song-hwa is at the prime of her life. She’s a woman that doesn’t let her worth be tied to the men in her life. She’s the heart of this group. The glue that holds them together and provides words of encouragement when they most need it but also isn’t afraid to call them out. Professionally, she’s compassionate, diligent, and an all-round brilliant professor of neurosurgery. Many people want to be her, and many want to be with her. She’s close to perfect but isn’t without her vulnerabilities. Song-hwa is one of the many females that are resilient, passionate, and integral to the show.
Emotional, Layered, and Character Driven
This is very much a character-driven series, and with that, we get to see our doctors at their highs and lows. Every character has a layer of depth to them that heightens your understanding of the choices they make throughout the series. The best example of this is in Kim Jun-wan. As a doctor, he’s often perceived as insensitive and blunt, but his actions speak louder than words, and he cares just as deeply as his colleagues and is also a romantic at heart. This is evident in his relationship with Do Jae-hak, a man that pursued cardiothoracic for its financial benefits and, to start, came across as a nuisance. However, with every episode, we see his genuine passion for his work and great respect for Jun-wan. In turn, Jun-wan, who’s often hard on Jae-hak turns out to be his greatest supporter, seeing his potential even when Jae-hak doesn’t. It’s one of the most compelling dynamics on this show.
Jae-hak is just one example of how crucial the supporting characters are to the narrative as we come to know the residents and interns working under the tutelage of our leads. Through them, we see the passion, the uncertainty, the willingness to learn, and the personal conflicts that sometimes dictate their paths in life. They highlight the joys of working as a doctor, but also the work that goes into maintaining this standard of care without compromising your wellbeing.
Hospital Playlist is the kind of show that warms your heart and melts your soul. It’s the ultimate comfort show that showed a surprising amount of depth and relatability. The characters at Yulje Medical Centre will instantly carve a place in your heart where you’ll feel their joy, their frustrations, and their sadness. Their line of work is often stressful and challenging, but it’s seeing the support they find in each other that becomes the shows true strength. Hospital Playlist is the perfect hug that will make you smile through the tears. It makes you appreciate the friendships you have in various stages of life and reminds you of the importance of taking time for yourself. It’s a simple concept, but with its strong cast, this show is a prime example of how this slice of life drama can peel back the layers and introduce us to instantly relatable characters while treating us to a sincere and heartwarming narrative.
What to expect from Season 2
A second season is set to air sometime this year, and the show did a good job of setting up a few unanswered questions that should be addressed in season 2. The season ended with Kim Jun-wan’s relationship on the rocks, a new romance blooming, new career choices emerging, and an unanswered question that could change the dynamic of this friendship group. Season 2 is shaping up to be as engaging as the first. Do yourself a favour and watch this treasure of a show.