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[Review] ‘Hospital Playlist’: A Medical Drama Where People Comes Before the Medicine

Edited by Hwang Hong Sun
Translated by Kim Hoyeun

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Hospital Playlist is different from the medial dramas I’ve seen before. Neither the intense surgical scenes or the struggles to seize power in the hospital are shown. Patients with various stories appear, but only a few scenes are openly appealing for “tears.” It can be considered a bit “dull” for a medical drama, but it captivates the viewers with a sympathetic and honest story.

Hospital Playlist is a new drama of director Shin Won Ho, who is best known for his Reply series and Prison Playbook. It depicts the story of five medical school graduates of the same class working at Yulje Hospital. Director Shin Won Ho’s works capture the characters in ordinary stories and unravel them with delicate emotions, placing people above events.

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Credit: tvN

The same goes for Hospital Playlist. The five friends Ik Jun, Jung Won, Jun Wan, Suk Hyung, and Song Hwa are portrayed in a universal yet unique way. The overall setting is also outstanding. If most medical dramas revolve around doctors working in the same/similar fields, Hospital Playlist revolves around doctors from different fields. Even as the story takes place in one hospital, various episodes are shown depending on the fields.

It’s also impressive to see how the characters are portrayed, drawing a line between professional and personal lives. All of the main characters are doctors who are recognized in their fields. They also put their patients in front of anything else, even though their way of expression might differ. But when the five of them get together, they fight over food and show sloppy sides of themselves, drawing laughter. While portraying the life of doctors where a high level of ethical and technical responsibilities are required, their humane aspects are also highlighted, making the characters come alive.

Director Shin Won Ho has led the story well by connecting the past and the present in Reply series. The same method is also shown in Hospital Playlist. Episodes from their college days are put here and there in their present lives, adding delicious seasoning to the stories that could get boring. Especially, the way each episode is finished neatly after combining old memories and current emotions of the five under the theme of famous old songs is outstanding.

hostpital playlist review
Credit: tvN

Hospital Playlist deals with small episodes in depth rather than dramatic developments. Thanks to this, it delicately articulates the process of doctors and patients meeting, agonizing over, and moving forward together. In the fourth episode, Ik Jun, who is preparing for surgery to remove organs from the brain-dead patient, asks others to wait for 10 minutes for the patient’s son. In the fifth episode, Suk Hyung asks his student to close the baby’s mouth when he is born for the mother’s sake. At first, their actions seem a bit odd, but later they present an echo when the true meaning behind for the patient and the family are revealed. These scenes well showcase them taking objective attitudes as doctors, harmonizing them with compassion they feel as human beings. Without provocative stories and excessive directing, Hospital Playlist effectively conveys the message of the drama.

Unlike most dramas, Hospital Playlist doesn’t present strong continuity. This means the viewers are not curious about the fate of the main characters in the next episode. We just naturally assume that the five will be good doctors for patients and good friends to each other, just like they have always been. Nevertheless, we look forward to the next episode because the story among the five doctors is not much different from our own stories, except for the particular setting of doctors and hospitals. Watching them, we realize how fun and precious it is to spend time with good friends in the midst of busy days. As one of the fans of Hospital Playlist, I sincerely hope that such stories will continue till the end.

 

Verdict: A drama stamped with “Job Well Done” (8/10)

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