Hospital Playlist Life Lessons
Warning: Spoilers for both seasons of Hospital Playlist ahead, proceed at your own risk if you’ve yet to watch the drama!
The second season of K-drama, Hospital Playlist, is well underway, and its viewership is going stronger than ever. With its constant appearance in Singapore’s Netflix Top 10 list, there’s no doubt the show is slated to be one of 2021’s most popular, comparable to the likes of Vincenzo.
After the release of the show’s latest sixth episode, Hospital Playlist has officially reached the halfway mark of season 2. To celebrate this milestone, here are 14 life lessons we can take away from the hilarious yet heartwarming slice-of-life drama.
1. Don’t be afraid to fight for what you believe in
Neurosurgical resident, Heo Seon Bin’s (Ha Yoon Kyung) convictions as a doctor are tested in Season 2 Episode 4. After operating on a patient, Seon Bin and a fellow (a doctor who has completed their residency and training to specialise) are tasked to monitor the patient.
Heo Seon Bin going against her fellow’s wishes over concerns for her patient
Throughout the night, Seon Bin notices a deterioration in the patient’s condition and informs the fellow of the situation on multiple occasions. Each time, Seon Bin is told not to worry and to continue observing the patient.
When the patient regresses into a state of stupor, Seon Bin realises how urgent the situation is. She calls the fellow and is once again told to wait, but this time, she ignores his instructions and immediately calls her professor. The team goes into surgery and the patient is saved.
Following the incident, neurosurgical professor, Chae Song Hwa (Jeon Mi Do) chastises Seon Bin for not “[fighting] him earlier”. Song Hwa asserts that Seon Bin should have “trusted [her] judgement” and insisted on operating on the patient earlier. Song Hwa stresses that if anything had happened to the patient, Seon Bin would’ve been at fault.
Similarly, when we have strong convictions in real life, we should bravely fight for our beliefs. Hesitation ultimately, might lead to regret.
2. We shouldn’t be quick to size others up
Ik Jun telling his patient’s father he is unlikely to be able to donate his liver
We’ve all heard of the saying: “first impressions count”. While that may be true, 2 incidents in Hospital Playlist show us why they shouldn’t be all we consider.
In Season 1 Episode 9, general surgeon Lee Ik Jun (Jo Jung Suk), informs the angry father of a patient that he likely cannot donate his liver due to his old age and poor health.
Upon hearing the news, the father seems to go MIA and doesn’t visit his daughter. Ik Jun, having been in the field for over a decade, confidently concludes that the father won’t return.
However, the patient’s father makes a surprise return, having lost weight while he was gone to resolve his fatty liver issue. Stunned by his determination and proven wrong, Ik Jun decides to go ahead with the liver transplant.
Due to his unsociable nature, people are also quick to pass judgment on Yang Seok Hyeong (Kim Dae Myung), an OB/GYN professor. His resident, Chu Min Ha (Ahn Eun Jin), even calls him a “total psycho” for asking her to cover a stillborn baby’s mouth so no one will hear the cries.
But, a senior nurse explains to Min Ha that he gave the instruction knowing that if the mother were to hear her stillborn baby’s cries, she would’ve been traumatised for life.
The team comes to realise that Seok Hyeong, in spite of his dull demeanour, is extremely thoughtful and cares deeply for his patients.
3. People are multi-faceted
Song Hwa dancing to a hymn in front of her church congregation
Calm, capable and friendly. Those are just some words to describe Chae Song Hwa. She even earns the nickname “ghost” in Yulje Medical Centre as her colleagues didn’t think she can accomplish everything she does.
Outside the hospital or around close friends though, Song Hwa is unafraid to show her goofy side. She’s known as the prima donna of her church congregation for her passionate singing and dancing.
Ik Jun describing Jun Wan’s character
On the other hand, Song Hwa’s friend, cardiothoracic surgeon Kim Jun Wan (Jung Kyung Ho), doesn’t have the best rep in Yulje Medical Centre. Many know him for being strict, cold and some even compare him to the devil.
However, as Ik Jun states, his tough demeanour is just a front. The professor is actually very sensitive and can get lonely very easily. Despite his abrasive exterior, Jun Wan cares deeply for people. On one occasion, he learns how to make a social media post so that he could find volunteers to keep a lonely patient company.
Hospital Playlist’s showrunners have certainly done a good job in showing how multi-dimensional people can be. Who knows? That ordinary friend of yours might just be a pop star in disguise.
4. Be willing to get down and dirty
Gyeo Ul picking off the maggots from a patient’s skin
I’m pretty sure we all collectively winced when a patient with maggot-infested skin caused by frostbite was brought into Yulje’s emergency room in Season 1 Episode 2. Though a little censorship would have been nice, the gruesomeness proved Jang Gyeo Ul’s (Shin Hyun Bin) bravery.
When the surgical resident discovered the patient, she began picking up the maggots with her hands without any hesitation, to the awe of nurses and doctors alike.
Gyeo Ul chasing down a domestic violence perpetrator
Image courtesy of Netflix
Another display of Gyeo Ul’s gung-ho spirit was when she chased down a suspected perpetrator of domestic violence across the whole hospital. Again, without any hesitation.
In life, there’s bound to be unpleasant things we can’t get out of. At the end of the day, we have to bite the bullet and just get sh*t done. Fortunately, it’s likely not as gross as picking maggots.
If in doubt, just listen to the wise words of Shang from Mulan: “let’s get down to business”.
5. A good leader is someone who takes care of their subordinates
Male readers have probably heard this many times in NS but it bears repeating – good leadership goes beyond commanding.
The ‘99ers, which ICYMI is the unofficial squad name of the 5 main characters, are prime examples.
Song Hwa shoulders the blame for her intern when he accidentally shaves a patient’s head instead of his groin area. While she gets berated by her fellow professors, her resident tells the intern that if it weren’t for her, he would’ve been “crushed to pieces”.
The hospital director praising Jun Wan
Jun Wan’s reputation aside, it’s clear the professor cares for his staff too. When his resident, Do Jae Hak accidentally offends a patient, Jun Wan not only apologises on his behalf, he even takes up the position of a department chief to prevent him from getting fired.
Even the slow-witted Seok Hyeong knows how to treat his subordinates right. He recognises that his resident, Min Ha, is under a sheer amount of stress due to her colleague going MIA. The professor makes sure to tell her teammates to look out for her and buys her tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes) to relieve some of Min Ha’s stress.
What distinguishes a leader from any other person in power isn’t the ability to command, but the willingness to go the extra mile for their subordinates.
6. Setbacks are merely detours
Third-year neurosurgical resident Ahn Chi Hong (Kim Jun Han), is first introduced as a military captain turned doctor. We subsequently learn that his career switch is a result of a spinal condition he developed at 29 years old.
While assisting in an open-brain surgery, he opens up about his story to the patient, who is in a similar predicament. Chi Hong encourages him, saying that in spite of the setback, he is “living a great life now”.
In season 1’s finale, the patient makes a return to express his gratitude to Chi Hong and that with his encouragement, he’ll be returning to the police force.
We don’t have a choice in what setbacks come our way, but we can choose how to face them. Whether it’s changing your career trajectory like Chi Hong or putting a temporary pause on your dreams like the patient, an obstacle is never the end of the world.
7. Life is a marathon so don’t lose hope
Hospital Playlist’s second season kicks off with a recurring storyline involving 2 mothers, both awaiting a heart donor for their kids.
When the kindred spirits meet, one mother (whose child has been on life support longer) compares the gruelling wait to a marathon. She tells the other mother that in order to endure this trying period, they must take care of themselves, and most importantly think positive thoughts.
In the end, both their children are able to successfully receive heart transplants after enduring the agonising period.
The parallels to real life are apparent. Our journey isn’t so much a sprint, but rather, a long endurance race. In our darkest moments, we must remember to look after ourselves and never lose hope. As the saying goes: “there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.”
8. Life has full circle moments so take stock of your growth
Hong Do discovering that Song Hwa was the
doctor who inspired her to pursue medicine
Twin medical students Jang Hong Do (Cho Yi Hyun) and Jang Yun Bok (Bae Hyun Song) are inspired to do medicine by a dedicated doctor who cared for their mother before her passing.
Little did they know – the doctor was in their midst all along. In season 1’s finale, Hong Do has a tearful reunion with Song Hwa, who treated the former’s mother back when she was a resident.
Yun Bok telling Jun Wan he’ll apply to Cardiothoracic Surgery
after feeling a patient’s heartbeat
Jun Wan’s actions have an equally big impact on the students. After completing a surgery, he allows Hong Do and Yun Bok to feel the infant patient’s strong heartbeat. This touches the pair and they’re inspired to specialise in Cardiothoracic Surgery.
In a little #TBT moment for the surgeon, the students’ reactions were the same as Jun Wan’s when his own professor gave him a similar opportunity to feel a patient’s heartbeat.
Full circle moments like Jun Wan’s and Song Hwa’s are good reminders to always remember our roots. Whenever you encounter them, count your blessings, but also give yourself a pat on the back for how far you’ve come.
9. What we say and how we say them matters
As much of a boss Gyeo Ul is, the resident has a long way to go in terms of interacting with patients and their families.
Before our favourite #wintergarden ship sets sail, professor of pediatric surgery, Ahn Jeon Wong (Yoo Yeon Seok), criticises Gyeo Ul after overhearing her speak to a child’s mother. In the exchange, Gyro Ul tells the mother that her son would’ve had a better chance of survival had she performed CPR.
While Gyeo Ul believes that the mother deserves to know all the facts, Jeong Won prompts her to think about how guilty it would make the mother feel. He reminds her that “doctors must take responsibility for their words”.
Gyeo Ul explaining surgical procedures to a patient’s mother
Similarly, Gyeo Ul also initially has trouble explaining surgical procedures to a concerned mother. Jeong Won has to step in as a result.
When the mother seeks clarification for a second time, Gyeo Ul switches up her approach. She makes use of pen and paper to aid her explanation. The mother is able to understand clearly and feels immense relief, hugging Gyeo Ul in thanks.
We may not be doctors, but what we say to people and how we express it to them can have a huge impact. Sometimes, it’s what determines the other party’s reaction.
10. Have a little faith in people
This one’s from my personal favourite scene of Hospital Playlist.
Seok Hyeong is popular among expectant mothers, and his outpatient appointments often encounter delays. To the chagrin of frustrated women, of course.
However, when one expectant mother finds out she has miscarried during an appointment, she starts breaking down, holding everyone up. Hearing her cries, the pregnant woman outside now patiently wait for their turn, giving time for her to grieve. One prevents her husband from confronting the nurses over the delay.
Seok Hyeong himself, knowing that the other women understand the pain, tells Min Ha that “there’s no need” to explain the delay to the patients.
You might think this is the bare basics people should do. But in our world today where so much of our news is negative, this scene comes as a welcome reminder that most people will come through at the right moment.
Faith in humanity: restored.
11. Death is a harsh reality we need to accept
Despite being a funny and comforting show, Hospital Playlist doesn’t shy away from portraying death.
Not every patient’s story is a successful one. Ik Jun has a patient that recovers and is happily discharged just in time to celebrate Children’s Day with his son. The next day, he returns to Yulje as a victim of a traffic accident and becomes a brain-dead organ donor.
The parents of Jun Wan’s infant patient, Hun, struggle with the fact that their kid has almost no chance of survival. When they realise the suffering Hun is probably going through, they decide to take him off life support. They donate his heart in the process so Jun Wan can study Hun’s rare genetic disorder.
Death doesn’t really show up on our radar until we’re nearing our sunset years. However, one moment someone can be around, and the next they’re gone. It’s not something pleasant to think about, but death is something we just have to accept.
12. Relationships come and go
Seok Hyeong’s ex-wife unexpectedly comes into his life again when her father ends up warded in Yulje. The pair grab a bite at the cafeteria and she asks if they can meet for a meal from time to time.
Unfortunately (or fortunately if you’re on team Chu Min Ha), Seok Hyeong rejects this request. He says that seeing her reminds him of an unhappy period in his life and that he would rather put their relationship behind him.
We’ve all had people we were once close to but are now no longer in our lives. From friendship breakups to just simply drifting apart, relationships ending are part and parcel of life.
13. Family is what we make of it
The iconic ‘99ers karaoke scene from their medical school years
I’m sure we all aspire to have the ‘99ers’ level of squad goals. The 5 may not be related by blood, but they’re as tight as an actual family.
Apart, these doctors are professional experts in their fields. Together, they engage in all sorts of goofy antics, squabble like actual siblings and form each other’s biggest support systems.
The elderly gang fighting over a spirited game of Mafia
In your golden years, you’ll probably think most of your time will be spent with your spouse or children. The elderly squad of Hospital Playlist is similar to the ‘99ers, spending most of their time with each other. They keep each other active and support one another in their old age despite being unrelated.
The people closest to us don’t have to be blood related. Instead, find a support system you can be unashamedly yourself around and who will see you through thick and thin. After all, isn’t that why the concept of chosen family exists?
14. You don’t have to forgive but learn to forget and move on
Early on in the show, Ik Jun gets a divorce after his ex-wife cheats on him. His pride is hurt and he is hung-up over the separation until he “realised how much time [he] was wasting”.
He shares this with his patient who refuses to take medication post-liver transplant as the organ she received was from her cheating husband. Ik Jun encourages her to live her life for her own sake, and not harm herself just to get back at her husband.
When people have wronged us, we don’t need to feel pressured to forgive. At the same time, being vindictive or harbouring a grudge does us no good either. Living your best life is way sweeter than revenge.
Hospital Playlist Lessons To Accompany You Through Life
As we approach the second half of Hospital Playlist season 2, hopefully these life lessons from the K-drama will remind you what makes the show so special. With that said, given the enduring popularity of the show, fingers crossed Hospital Playlist will earn itself a 3-season run.