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Hospital Playlist: Episode 1

After delving into 1997, 1994, 1988, and then prison, the spotlight turns to hospitals and the doctors who work there. This is a story about a group of friends who stumble across each other one fateful evening, and though they may all be different, their shared bond and memories hold them together for decades. Whether you’re expecting another husband hunt or hospital politics, the show subverts expectations and delivers an entertaining watch with lovable—albeit odd—characters.

 
EPISODE 1 RECAP

Thunder and lightning rumble outside as a woman, CHAE SONG-HWA (Jeon Mi-do), stands in a dark house waiting for her friend, YANG SEOK-HYUNG (Kim Dae-myung), to turn on the lights. As soon as the lights are on, Song-hwa notices the dust and cobwebs strewn over the furniture, and Seok-hyung explains that the house has been empty for years.

When one of the lights flickers off, Seok-hyung immediately calls his mom and asks for help. Song-hwa jokes about him being a “mama’s boy,” asking if he needs permission to drink coffee. To her exasperation, Seok-hyung already has his mom’s permission: “She said one cup a day is fine.” Pffft.

Seok-hyung asks if Song-hwa will do “it” with him, but she declines since all he needs is Ik-joon. She changes the topic, mentioning Seok-hyung’s younger sister Ji-eun, and he tells her that he bought her some treats and a speaker.

Th electricians arrive to fix the light, and Song-hwa advises the worker to shut off the breaker and wear some gloves lest he be electrocuted. Unfortunately, her advice comes too late as the electrician falls to the floor.

Without even blinking, Song-hwa rushes to the fallen man’s side while Seok-hyung calmly calls for an ambulance. He then holds the man’s head in place as Song-hwa administers CPR. As soon as the paramedics arrive, Song-hwa informs them of the patient’s condition and then points to the other doctor in the room who’ll accompany them to the hospital: Seok-hyung.

In the ambulance, Seok-hyung sits awkwardly, avoiding eye contact with everyone, when the patient grabs his hand to show his thanks. While Seok-hyung tries to pry his hand away, the other electrician asks why his companion feels so cold, and all eyes turn to Seok-hyung for answers. He momentarily stops pulling to explain that the patient is cold.

Doctors AHN JUNG-WON (Yoo Yeon-seok) and KIM JOON-WAN (Jung Kyung-ho) carpool to the hospital while discussing Seok-hyung’s favor. Jung-won already agreed to do “it” while Joon-wan plans to decline when he receives the text. Joon-wan would rather go on dates, and then waves at his hungover girlfriend who’s waiting for him outside the hospital.

In his office, Jung-won meets patients from a skeptical mother armed with internet-knowledge to a noncompliant toddler, but nothing ruffles his feathers as he handles both situations with poise and a smile. Afterwards, he runs into Joon-wan in the elevators and teases him about his cancelled date.

Unlike his pediatrician friend, Joon-wan is void of smiles when working. He scolds a couple of resident physicians for prescribing medicine to a patient without checking on her first and then solemnly informs a mother that her child needs heart surgery as soon as possible.

The mother asks for a week to procure the money for the operation, but Joon-wan assures her not to worry since the hospital can provide financial aid for families in need. He orders a resident to call for funds, but the confused resident has no clue who to contact. Despite his grumblings, Joon-wan helps out the resident, directing him towards the social services office and the Daddy-Long-Legs program.

Joon-wan is on the phone—most likely asking about the funds for the heart surgery—when Jung-won pops in to his office. Jung-won complains about Joon-wan ordering tteokbokki since he doesn’t enjoy spicy food, but Joon-wan tells him to just eat it.

After a few bites, Jung-won leaves to go home early for once, and on his way out, he calls Song-hwa to ask for a favor. Unfortunately for Jung-won, a patient needs his attention, and he returns to work.

Song-hwa browses the internet and reads the news about the comatose state of Yulje Foundation’s chairman. The foundation also runs the hospital she and her friends work at, and things look grim when her superior calls to ask her to watch over the patients in his stead because the chairman might not make the night.

Hospital Director Joo and the head of the neurology department (Song-hwa’s superior) greet the chairman’s wife JUNG ROSA (Kim Hae-sook) and Director JOO JONG-SOO (Kim Gab-soo). Rosa is unamused by their presence and quickly excuses herself when Lawyer Pyun arrives.

The hospital director offers Jong-soo coffee and drops all pretenses when they’re in his office since Jong-soo is his cousin. The hospital director and the neurology head wonder if the chairman’s third son will be in charge of the hospital now, and in the chairman’s hospital room, Lawyer Pyun discusses the same thing with Rosa.

The next foundation chairman will be decided by vote and the top two candidates are the current chairman’s third son and Jong-soo. Both sides need Chairman Hwang’s support to win the position, but the tide seems to be in the third son’s favor. However, Jong-soo cryptically tells his cousin that nothing has been decided yet.

The neurology head wonders why the third son is inheriting the position over the older sons, and the hospital director sighs over the doctor’s lack of interest in politics. He explains that the oldest son barely has enough time for his current job, and the second is serving a higher being: both are priests (hello there, familiar faces, Sung Dong-il and Kim Sung-kyun). He then asks the director about the daughters and learns that they, too, serve the Lord (cameos by Yeh Ji-won and Oh Yoon-ah). Heh.

Rosa asks about the whereabouts of her youngest, Andrea, and he arrives just then. He immediately walks up to his mom—his face hidden from the viewer—and wraps her in a hug. Afterwards, the oldest and youngest head outside, and following his mom’s advice, the youngest calls Chairman Hwang but can’t reach him.

Hyung is appalled to learn that his brother smokes and then tattles on him to their mother. Unfazed, Rosa replies, “I taught him twenty years ago.” Meanwhile, Jong-soo is also on the phone with someone late into the night.

Song-hwa’s boyfriend drops her off at work, and she weaves through the quiet halls into the busy hospital lobby to start her day. During one of her consultations, a patient hands her a book—with a thick envelope inside—but Song-hwa politely says that she already read that one and doesn’t take the obvious bribe.

Her next patient is an older woman and her grown-up daughter, and Song-hwa tells them with a heavy heart that the CT scans show a tumor in the mother’s brain. Though the mother remains calm, the daughter weeps uncontrollably. Once they leave her office, Song-hwa sighs since her heart feels heavy after delivering such somber news.

In the pediatric ward, a mother berates the doctors for not being more careful with her daughter. Jung-won arrives to check on the patient, and the mother bombards him with questions about every little detail concerning her daughter’s ongoing treatments. Jung-won hangs his head and advises her to prepare herself for the worse, but the mother snaps back at him, refusing to part with her child.

Song-hwa takes care of a patient and notices the daughter from early looking over her own son who’s lying unconscious in the ICU. They ride the elevator together, and the daughter explains that her son is waiting for a liver transplant.

The daughter confesses to Song-hwa that she doesn’t want to live anymore and laments her unfortunate fate. She collapses to the floor, sobbing, and Song-hwa crouches down next to her. When the elevator stops, Song-hwa tells the other doctors to ride the next one, and continues comforting the daughter in silence.

Song-hwa buys her colleague, ER Doctor Bong, coffee, and the two of them recite the medical favors they’ve done for each other. The news reports a major car accident near their hospital, and Dr. Bong runs off towards the ER. As a slew of patients are carted into the hospital, a man wearing a Darth Vader helmet stands in the middle of the chaos. Elsewhere, the daughter from before finds Song-hwa to tell her the good news: her son is getting a transplant.

Back outside the emergency room, a lady grabs a doctor and asks him to help a father who got his head glued to a helmet. However, there are more pressing issues at hand than dying from embarrassment, so the lady’s pleas are ignored. Since no one is willing to help them at the moment, the father grabs his son’s hand and marches towards the ER wielding a lightsaber.

Dr. Bong arrives at the ER to find Dr. Kwon sitting in a bed and wearing a sling. Song-hwa comes to check on the doctor as well and asks what he’ll do about the liver transplant patient. He’s surprised that she knows about his patient and then sighs since there’s no one else at their hospital who can perform the surgery.

While the doctors wrack their brain for a solution, Song-hwa looks up and says that “he” can do it. Dr. Bong quickly shakes his head, assuming that she’s talking about him, but she points to the man in the back…wearing a Darth Vader helmet. Say hello to Hepato-Billary-Pancreatic Surgeon LEE IK-JOON (Jo Jung-seok).

Dressed in scrubs—including a surgical cap for his helmet—Ik-joon mentions all the complications of an outside doctor performing a surgery, but Song-hwa has already resolved all the obstacles in his way. Resigned to his fate, Ik-joon enters the operating room without further complaints.

Given the difficulty of the surgery, Song-hwa babysits Ik-joon’s son Woo-joo and wakes up in the wee hours of the morning when her department head calls: “The chairman has passed.” At the funeral, Chairman Hwang gives his condolences to Rosa and sheds a few tears, clearly heartbroken. He bows to each of the children down the line until he reaches the youngest… it’s Jung-won.

Unlike Seok-hyung who’s been Jung-won’s friend since they were little, neither Song-hwa nor Joon-wan knew about his family background, so now they glare at their rich friend from afar. Joon-wan is especially annoyed because Jung-won has been mooching off him recently, but he can’t help but admit to understanding why Jung-won kept it a secret.

The hospital director arrives, and the friends, minus Seok-hyung, rise to greet their boss. The director asks if they know the late chairman’s youngest son, and Joon-wan claims to be his best friend. In the back, Song-hwa scoffs at his sudden change in attitude.

Jung-won thanks his friends for coming to the funeral and apologizes for keeping his family a secret. Joon-wan asks if he’s taking over the hospital then, but before Jung-won can answer, his phone rings and shocks everyone because his ringtone is an ambulance siren.

The friends exclaim common phrases to express their alarm, but the cardiothoracic surgeon takes offense to the phrase, “my heart was about to burst,” while the OB/GYN doctor is irked by the comment, “I nearly lost my unborn child.” Jung-won tells them to stop fighting because his “head is about to burst,” which upsets their neurosurgeon, heh.

Jung-won’s oldest brother calls him over and asks him why he isn’t picking up his phone. Jung-won pulls out a second phone and explains that he had it on vibrate.

Ik-joon finishes his surgery, and Song-hwa hurries upstairs to meet him. Since he’s still in his Darth Vader helmet, he thought she should inform the parents, so Song-hwa quickly goes out to tell the daughter that the surgery went well.

Adding to the good news, her mother’s biopsy showed that the tumor was first stage cancer, so with proper treatment, her mother will live for many more years. The daughter drops to the floor in tears, and taking back what she said earlier about her fate, she proclaims herself as the luckiest woman in the world for meeting such a wonderful doctor.

As the funeral nears its end, Rosa looks down the hall and shakes her head at the sight of Jong-soo. Afterwards, Jung-won helps his mother pack up his father’s belongings and notices the hospital bill. He gapes at the charges, but Rosa tells him that the VIP ward at their hospital is much cheaper than other places. Jung-won worries that the bill is too much for his mother to pay, but she reminds him that she married for convenience, not love.

Lawyer Pyun notifies Jung-won that Jong-soo is here to see him, and Rosa hits her son in the head. Apparently, Jung-won called Chairman Hwang as his mother wanted, but instead of asking for his vote, he resigned from the position altogether. As he informs Jong-soo of his decision, he asks for one thing in return: a portion of the profits from the VIP ward.

Jong-soo agrees to the terms and mentions that their hospital needs talented doctors to attract VIP patients. Jung-won tells him that he’s already got that solved, so all the director needs to do is prepare some high salaries.

Cut to Jung-won’s friends. Everyone reads over their contract with blank faces, confused over the restricting terms, until Jung-won mentions the benefit: double their current salary. The others immediately whip out their pens, ready to sign without reading further… all except for Seok-hyung.

He wants to hang out with his mom some more instead of working, so Jung-won sweetens the deal, offering him an assigned parking spot, exclusive research lab, and a personal office. The others complain about the favoritism, but Seok-hyung wants none of those things: All he wants is a band.

Joon-wan and Song-hwa refuse to participate, but Seok-hyung won’t sign the contract unless all his friends join the band. Having already predicted this situation, Jung-won easily “convinces” Joon-wan by mentioning some photos of Hawaii, but the real trouble is Song-hwa.

He asks the others if they have any dirt on her, and Ik-joon reprimands Jung-won for using underhanded means to achieve his goal. He suggests looking for positive incentives, instead, and Seok-hyung tells the others that Song-hwa agreed to join if she gets to be on vocals.

Ik-joon vehemently opposes the idea since Song-hwa is tone-deaf and lacks rhythm. However, Jung-won thinks they should let her sing, and Seok-hyung doesn’t care as long as everyone is together. They praise her voice as unique, and Ik-joon scowls at their blatant lies.

Song-hwa drinks a cup of eggs to lubricate her throat and takes the center microphone as the lead vocalist and bassist of their band. On first guitar is Ik-joon, on second guitar is Joon-wan, on drums is Jung-won, and lastly, on keyboards is Seok-hyung.

Their first practice song is “Lonely Night” by the band Boohwal, and Song-hwa frowns at the others for choosing this song. Gritting her teeth, she begins to sing, and the others can barely play along as she sings off-key and screeches to hit the high notes.

Rewind back to 1999. During their college orientation, a fellow freshman sang “Lonely Night” on stage, and while everyone else in the crowd cheered, Jung-won and Seok-hyung glumly drank alcohol. Seok-hyung told his friend that he would rather drop out than perform on stage, so the two of them quietly left.

As luck would have it, a couple of other students were hanging out near the entrance, barring their exit, so the two friends went to a nearby storage room to hide, instead. As soon as Jung-won opened the door, they found two other freshmen with the same, bright idea: Joon-wan and Ik-joon.

The two groups marveled at the other’s accent, and piled into the room, packed like sardines. After introducing themselves, Ik-joon said that they should be thankful no one else was coming. Cue Song-hwa. Thus, the first, fateful encounter between these five friends, and to commemorate their night, they took a group photo.

After their band practice, Ik-joon and Joon-wan tease Song-hwa’s singing, so in retaliation, she flings her shoe at them. This backfires on her as Joon-wan steals her shoe, and the others ignore her cries for help.

In his car, Jung-won receives a text message, addressing him as Daddy-Long-Legs, and he replies that he’ll be able to support more patients in the future as well. He then gets a call from his brother asking him for money to buy wine, and Jung-won complains that he’s short on funds, too. In the back, Song-hwa screams at Joon-wan to return her shoe. Hahaha!

In the VIP ward, Chairman Hwang greets Rosa, and they sit in the lobby for a moment to talk about Jong-soo. Rosa explains that she’s been best friends with him since they were little and expresses her regret for burdening him with the foundation when his wife is ill. That was also the reason why she didn’t want him at the funeral, but given his personality, of course Jong-soo would come to pay his respects.

Chairman Hwang admits that at first, he was cautious of Jong-soo because he misinterpreted his sullen expressions as scheming, so when Jong-soo contacted him a couple days before the chairman’s passing, he assumed it was about the vote. However, when Jong-soo came over to his house, he merely stared at a flower tree and asked for one to give his wife.

After their conversation, Rosa goes in to check on Jong-soo and finds him sleeping next to his wife’s bed. She leaves behind the food she packed for him while Jong-soo continues sleeping, unaware of the guest that visited.

Jung-won runs down the hospital halls to the pediatric ward where the other doctor performs CPR on the patient with the protective mother. Though Jung-won tries his best, he knows his actions are futile. With a heavy heart, he asks the mother to let her child rest, and the mother turns to her daughter one last time. With tears in her eyes, she apologizes for making her daughter experience so much pain and finally lets her go.

In the hall, the other staff members worry about what the mother wants to say to them, but Jung-won dismisses them and meets the mother by himself. When she sees Jung-won, the mother bows deeply and thanks him for loving her daughter these past three years. Her words bring Jung-won to tears, and he continues crying long after she’s left.

Later that evening, Jung-won confesses to a priest that he resented the Lord when a little girl died today. He asks for guidance, and the priest hands him a note to meet him at a restaurant. While his eldest brother eats, Jung-won gets roaring drunk and bellows out his woes.

He always wanted to join the priesthood as well and declares his intentions to quit practicing medicine since he’s unqualified. Without even glancing at Jung-won once, his eldest brother utters one piece of advice: just hold on for one more year.

One year ago, in the exact same spot, Jung-won cried to his brother about quitting after he lost a patient, but just a year before that one, Jung-won celebrated the recovery of a patient, claiming that day to be the happiest moment of his life. Then a year before that, Jung-won experienced another low and vowed to quit. Each time, his eldest brother gave the same advice: just one more year.

After pulling an all-nighter, Joon-wan drops by Song-hwa’s office, and she mentions his upcoming symposium this weekend. He realizes that her boyfriend will be in attendance as well, and promises to send her regards.

Joon-wan’s girlfriend waits outside to pick him up, but as soon as he gets in the car, he jumps out. He can smell the alcohol still on her, and though she claims to be sober, he grabs her keys. He offers to drive her car back to her apartment, but after she sobers up, he wants to end their relationship.

When the weekend arrives, Joon-wan arrives at the hotel where the symposium is held and recognizes Song-hwa’s boyfriend’s car. As he waits for the elevators, the doors open and reveal Song-hwa’s boyfriend kissing another girl on the cheek. With a hand in his pocket, Joon-wan stares at Song-hwa’s boyfriend while the cheater looks away from his piercing gaze.

 
COMMENTS

I love when this director-writer duo creates ensemble stories, and Hospital Playlist really shows how much they’ve improved over the years. With each new drama they add to their list of experience, the better they become at telling stories about a group. In this first episode, they focus on Yulje Medical Center and the ’99 friends who work there. We jump from Jung-won’s day at the hospital to Joon-wan’s and then Song-hwa’s. At first, it feels hectic with only small mentions of how everyone is connected, but once Ik-joon appears, the group slowly mingles together and becomes one. Once they become a group, the story introduces its main plot and feels centered with everyone under one roof. Rather than have a singular, main character as in their other stories (the Reply series as well as the director’s work in Prison Playbook), it feels more balanced between the characters and actors. Though this hour was more about Jung-won and Song-hwa, they don’t necessarily feel like the Deok-sun’s or Je-hyuk’s of this drama. I get the impression that this is a tale about a group of friends, and its their relationship with each other and their environment that will propel the story going forward.

While a good ensemble drama needs a capable writer and director, it’s all for naught if the cast isn’t right, and so far, I love everyone in their roles. To no one’s surprise, the actors are doing a splendid job portraying their character’s little quirks, and even the supporting roles are filled with familiar and talented faces. Though all five friends are different, they somehow work together and create interesting group dynamics. They bring out different sides of each other, and I’m already looking forward to their story, past and present (because clearly there’s something there). For anyone worried about another round of “who’s the husband,” I don’t get the impression that this is the route the show will go, since this feels more like Prison Playbook in terms of storytelling with a mix of Reply 1988. Alas, I could be wrong, but a little shipping won’t hurt anyone… I hope.

Regardless of any potential love-lines that may exist, I find all five individuals charming in their own way. Despite having small screen time, Seok-hyung is quite the oddball, and I find his dry responses hilarious. Ik-joon is also funny, but in almost the opposite way of Seok-hyung with his over-the-top reactions and overall presence (the Darth Vader helmet had me in stitches). Joon-wan is the tsundere of the friend group who’s quick to voice his dissent, but ends up smiling the biggest in the group picture (such a marshmallow). Jung-won is the sweetest and most patient doctor I’ve seen on tv, and the way he doesn’t look for recognition for his acts of kindness already have me rooting for him unconditionally. But contrasting his sweet side, he’s also quite conniving which makes him much more interesting as a character. Lastly, there’s Song-hwa who’s adorable. Like Jung-won, she’s a compassionate doctor who goes out of her way to comfort a patient, but she’s also a nerd who wants to sing in a rock band despite her singing abilities (or lack thereof). Also, for anyone who didn’t know, Song-hwa might be a terrible singer, but Jeon Mi-do is not (watch her musical performances, they’re beautiful).

While I really liked the five friends introduced this episode, my favorite part was how the show subverted expectations related to hospital dramas and completely played up the hospital politics to only throw them out the window. Part of this was hinted at with Song-hwa’s department head who was also quite the surprise. I was expecting another conniving doctor (and Rosa seemed to be, too, from her initial response), but he turned out to be the opposite. I chuckled when the show told the audience that the department head was actually leaving the hospital to go to a more rural area, which is usually the “punishment” doctors face when they get demoted, and he seemed so happy about it. Heh.

The main surprise, though, was Jong-soo and his relationships with Rosa. Again, the show played with expectations and an actor’s image to deliver its punchline. Kim Gab-soo can play endearing really well, but he’s also amazingly good at portraying bad guys. With his stoic face and some dramatic background music, Jong-soo’s presence seemed to indicate a power struggle in the horizon, but in the end, it turns out that he’s actually a simpleminded person who’s devoted to his wife. Like the late chairman who donated most of his assets before passing, the people of Yulje Foundation really do seem like decent people. Also, I’m fascinated by the friendship between him and Rosa because dramas rarely show friendships between older people, let alone one that’s also between different sexes. In general, I find Rosa to be a fascinating character, and I don’t know what surprised me more, the fact that four of her kids became priests and nuns or that she has five children with the oldest being Sung Dong-il and the youngest being a forty-year-old Yoo Yeon-seok.

While dramas about hospitals aren’t my go-to genre, I’m already enjoying how the show puts an emphasize on the relationships within the hospital rather than the mechanics. The patients and their stories reflect the highs and lows people in the medical field experience, and it’s not really about the major case for each episode that our characters have to overcome but the everyday grind. Some days a character saves a patient and their passion for their work rekindles, while other days, their hearts are broken as they face death repeatedly. However, as Jung-won’s eldest brother said, it’s all about hanging in there one day at a time because just as much as these five friends will go through heartache, the joys they experience will keep them coming back and moving forward. Because, let’s be honest, Plan B: Rock and Roll isn’t a very good safety net, and Jung-won looks much better in a doctor’s gown than a priest’s robe.

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As expected from Shin PD drama, it's refreshing to see the familiar plot point in a medical genre being told in a different way. For the first time, these doctors seem human instead of the cold robot-like creature many dramas made us believe. They cared, the patients affected them in many different ways, and they aren't effortless geniuses who produce miracles daily nor they corrupted doctors whose only concern was power and money. They are simply human with their respective character traits, and being a doctor isn't the whole of who they are.

I also appreciate the way the patients' stories being told: nothing dramatic about it because it's just the reality of life for them. They aren't there to let the doctors showing off their ability or anything like that. It's simply a part and parcel of hospital life. It's also nice to see my worst expectation being thwarted again and again. Like when Jun-wan's patient told him she can't get the surgery fee needed that quickly. I fully expected that scene to highlight the corrupt medical system in South Korea, which seemed to be the staple of medical genre. So it's nice that she get the help she needed from one of the hospital's program instead. This is also the first time I encountered a truly nice chaebol family with their equally nice family lawyer and friends (*rechecking to make sure I did watch a K-drama*). I'm looking forward to watch this drama break many other preconceptions I have about medical drama.

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i know i nearly cracked a rib laughing the moment i saw the four elder siblings in the priest and nun garbs.....that was an amazing surprise

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Ohhh I love, love, love the first episode! Jeong-won aka Andrea's family is a hoot! 😂😂😂 2 priests and 2 nuns in one family?! And the mother is saying she didn't raise them right. 🤣

Love Jeong-won and his priest hyung's chicken resto conversations. (More like drunken rants on JW's part). Hehe. Cried my eyes out when his patient's mother thanked him after her daughter died. 😭

Love that Darth Vader helmet! And their band!

Mostly, I ❤❤❤ Yoo Yeon Seok.

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Receiving thanks from patients/guardians is the best gift a doctor can ever wish for, it goes straight to our hearts 💙

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Me too, I loved those things !
For the Jeong Won's family, I was soooo happy to see a family almost like mine, I never thought it would happen in a k-drama! Not the cheabol part but a Catholic family with several siblings consacrated to God and the other part working in the social or medical field.
Also, I love how Rosa's character is depicted for the moment.
And I'm so happy to see a medical drama with doctors caring about their patients and not about dark hospital politic plots (because it's how are most of them around the world, no ?).
I although loved that they showed in the chicken resto moment something comon for doctors, nurses, social workers... : how to deal with your feelings ?
Now, I wanna know more about Ik Joon's family (we didn't see the kid's mother) and Seok Hyung.

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I loved the pilot episode and was a little sad with the one ep per week and the total episode. I honestly can watch these group of friends bicker, hang out and be doctors for 24hours!

I've always loved the humour of this PD-writer and Hospital Playlist tops it. The siblings being priests and nuns? funny! The Darth Vader? LOL! The session they had towards the end? Hilarious!! And the scene of Yeon-seok crying while Sung Dong-il eats? LMAO!

It's my first time seeing Jeon Mi-do and apparently JJS and YYS recommended her when they got the script, on separate occasions according to Shin PD. Can't wait to see more of her acting.

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I had high expectations with this drama and the first episode didn't disappoint. It feels just right and I love the ensemble already. The fact that the chaebol was a mystery at first made me laugh because I didn't expect it to be Jungwon. The fact that Ikjoon has a son was also a pleasant surprise. I ship Songhwa with everyone, too.

Also, Joowon!!!

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Please, no Chillbong vibes this time! If ever writer-nim wants Jeong-won to have a loveline, please let him have the girl.

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Song-hwa is very shippable.
And yes, I love that little surprise that Ik-joon already has a son. I mean, it's not that everyone should get married by the age of 40, but it's more realistic that some of them already has their own little family.

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yaay its here!! now off to read! thanks a lot @lovepark

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Thank you for the recap!

Actually at the start of the show, only Song-hwa works at YULJE Hospital. Jeong-won and Jun-wan worked in a different hospital - Kang Un University Hospital. Seok-hyeong just returned from overseas and it is not known where Ik-jun has been working before that. Maybe it will be revealed later on where Ik-jun worked at before coming to YULJE.

Anyway, I love how the show subverting the usual medical dramas and also chaebol family drama expectations. They did it with baits of cliches at first, then quashed them with the most heartwarming reversals after.

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Yep. Noticed that too. 😅😁

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Ahhhhhh! Thanks for catching that! I knew Seok-hyung was jobless and Ik-Jun worked elsewhere, but didn't notice that Joon-wan and Jung-won worked at a different hospital. That actually makes a lot of sense since Song-hwa was the only who said that it didn't matter when signing the contract because she wasn't planning to leave anyways, and why the hospital director was surprised to see Joon-wan at the funeral. Clearly, every little interaction and comment are done purposefully. *must stay vigilant*

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of all the things i am looking forward to in this show...I want to meet Seok-hyeong's mom the most..😆😆

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Love, love, love this episode! I usually find pilot episodes a bit boring, but this one I can definitely rewatch again and again until the next episode comes out. Hihi
The cast is just stellar, although I admit I've got a huge bias for my bb Jung Kyung Ho. But man, YYS was ❤️❤️❤️ in this episode. I loved all his scenes. That scene in the chicken resto was awww-inducing and hilarious! 😂😂
And yep. I just love how this episode just subverted all the tropes we've come to naturally expect from a medical drama. Was ROFL at the Ahn siblings having zero interest in politics and their choice of vocation. HAHAHA
Ahhh. Can't wait for Thursday. Please keep em coming Shin PD. ☺️☺️☺️

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It would be a crying shaaame if Jeong-won became a priest instead of a doctor. ^^ Then we wouldn't get to see how he did a check-up on that teddy bear. *melts*

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Yeees!!! Gaahhh! That scene is absolutely adorbs! 😍😍😍

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I melt at that scene. This is bad as I have a very soft spot for male doctors for years.......

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He better not ends up in that all black garb. I will be crying like I cried for Chilbong.😅

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You have no idea how long I'd been waiting to read the beanie review for this show. It's a lovely show and demonstrates the small joys and sorrows of the daily life of surgeons. (As a surgeon myself, it's even more heartwarming, to not see the hospital politics being played out.) Their friendship is such a beautiful thing, because it's so rare to have all your friends meeting up regularly, and even rarer to have them work under one roof. As you had seen, they were all working in different hospitals, barring Joon-Wan and Jung-Won. Ik Noon's entrance will continue to have me rolling on the floor, and in a way admire him for having done a liver transplant with the helmet on (it would never have been allowed, but the extenuating circumstances allowed him that liberty), and I love the fact that he's a dad. I hope we get to see that side of him as the drama progresses.

Counting down the days for the coming Thursday and every Thursday for the next 11 weeks.

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Can you please tell why he was wearing surgical cap over the helmet. Doesn't ths helmet itself prevents hair scalp germ? Or was the surgical cap to prevent germs from helmet?

Hope the question isn't too dumb 😂

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The helmet itself isn't the cleanest thing entering the operating room, which is a sterile environment. He would have cleaned the helmet as best he could and then put the cap. Plus it's less intimidating than Darth Vader operating.

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Darth Vader duo FOR THE WIN! I hope the kid gets more screen time in the future 😍

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I know that I will love this drama but I always need time to familiarize myself with the characters from this PD. I love the actors so it will be easier!

But when you do CPR, don't you have to give oxygen by the mouth/nose ? Otherwise you miss the main point.

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Chest compressions are the most important part of CPR. We breathe out mostly carbon dioxide anyway so mouth to mouth isn’t that effective in delivering oxygen, and we are taught that if there’s no bag valve mask, to just focus on chest compressions to keep blood flow going. And of course, to get a defib quick.

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Thank you for your recap of episode 1, @lovepark. I totally enjoyed the introduction to the doctors, their history, and their work. The cast is dandy, and that goes for the cameo roles, too. Hats off to Yum Hye-ran as little Min-young's mom who had a hard time letting go of her dying child. Hwang Young-hee turned in a touching performance as the woman dealing with her mother's brain tumor and son's urgent need for a liver transplant. I've been a fan since seeing her in my second Kdrama, THE KING'S DAUGHTER, SOO BAEK HYANG. It was a treat to see Kim Hae-sook and her entire brood, and Kim Kap-soo.

Does anyone know who played Lawyer Byun? I vaguely recognize the actor, but cannot place him, and it's making me a bit bonkers.

I loved how the show stood hospital politics on its head -- and instead went for a bunch of med school buddies literally getting the band back together to work at the same hospital. I'm not sure that "garage band" is quite the right designation for their group. Since they're doctors, does that make it an "ER band"?! LOL.

I wonder what they're going to call themselves. Intensive Care WBAGNFARB [would be a good name for a rock band] composed of doctors. (Tip of the hat to humor writer Dave Barry of the Rock Bottom Remainders.)

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Okay so I too was going bonkers trying to place the lawyer until I realised he played the second in command, corrections officer in Prison Playbook!!
It could be that you recognize him from some other drama tho!

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The lawyer was also in crash landing into you as the younger oppa to Yoon seri

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Choi Dae-hoon?! Dang! That man can be such a chameleon, especially when he's not wearing eyeglasses. He reminds me of Choi Dae-chul in that regard.

Thank you, @bluewaters20 MeloMe and @priyabhatta drkdramaaddict! You have saved my sanity. <3

I haven't seen PRISON PLAYBOOK. Although I saw Choi Dae-hoon first in SIX FLYING DRAGONS, he got lost in the cast of thousands. Next was DOUBTFUL VICTORY, but he didn't make an strong impression. He really caught my eye as the mayor's tragically pathetic and ultra-loyal toady in LAWLESS LAWYER. I immediately recognized him in CONFESSION and CRASH LANDING ON YOU, but had to look him up in AsianWiki as Queen Min's corrupt orabeoni in NOKDU FLOWER.

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@pakalanapikake,
I believe the actor playing Lawyer Pyon/Mr. Pyeon is Park Hyung-soo who as @bluewaters20, MeloMe pointed out played Department Chief Na Hyung-soo in PRISON PLAYBOOK.
For some reason he is not on the cast lists in Wiki or AsiaWiki but he is listed MyDramaList:
https://mydramalist.com/36269-doctor-playbook/cast

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Ah, this is interesting, @marcusnyc20 bong-soo. I didn't see PRISON PLAYBOOK, and only now took a gander at the cast on AsianWiki. (I can't get over how many actors I do recognize.) I was thinking of Seri's namby-pamby oppa in CRASH LANDING ON YOU (Choi Dae-hoon) instead of evil oppa, who also looks quite different without his glasses and with his bangs down in the non-evil position. That explains why he seemed vaguely familiar. Thanks for the clarification. ;-)

PS: My mind is blown! I just saw that Park Hyoung-soo played Gil-sun in ARTHDAL CHRONICLES. Dang! I truly didn't recognize him.

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Yep. Him. My brain is still trying to get over his role in CLOY and not carry over my hate to his role here. Haha

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Okay even after watching the episode twice, I completely missed that Jung Won was the Daddy Long Legs programme!! What is up with my brain!?

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@bluewaters20 MeloMe,
Re: "What is up with my brain!?"

I find myself asking that same question. You're not alone. Sometimes stuff just doesn't compute. ;-)

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Glad to see I'm not alone 😅

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I'm confused, is this part of the Reply series?

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No, but it is helmed by the same writer and director as the Reply series and Prison Playbook.

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I love it!! Thank you for the review too 🙏🏼

Small sidenote: the contract that they signed with Yulje medical centre's VIP ward doesn't require them to quit their existing jobs and move over, just that they have to be available on call for the VIP ward if the need arises. I like this since it's unrealistic (and money-grubbing) if all the doctors had just up and left their previous posts for the new job and perks. It probably also explains the different scrub colours they're all wearing because as far as I know scrub colours usually are the same within institutions (though I may be wrong)

Also very interested to see more of Seok-hyung's backstory because although we know he's an OB/GYN he seemed to be really reluctant to get close to that patient in the ambulance, and also seems semi-disinterested in doctoring yet he just returned from his fellowship? Seems contradictory to me so I'm waiting to see more!!

Love the realistic portrayal of Jung-won's yearly flip-flop on being a doctor, even after becoming a consultant he still feels disqualified to help patients when they die and I think that's the best kind of doctor - those that refuse to be jaded by patients' plights and some inevitable deaths.

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Excusing my simple mind and non-medical background, can you pls elaborate how it explains the different scrub colours ?😅

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At least in Singapore (where I come from), scrubs are like the doctors' uniforms in the institution. So all the doctors within the same institution regardless of rank usually will wear the same scrubs (same colour, same pattern), with exceptions for different areas of work e.g. scrubs for the operating theatres have to be different to remind doctors to change out of those. Sometimes Emergency Department scrubs would be different within the same hospital as well.

But from what I've watched in medical K-dramas I think this pattern seems to hold even in Korea as well!

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Thanks for explaining😅

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@ohjumma,
Thanks for explaining the deal with the scrubs as color-coded institutional uniform. I've always liked Doldam Hospital's shade of turquoise (or is it teal?!). ;-)

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Thanks for that catch! I just assumed that they would all be moving, but you're right, they never actually mention working for Yulje fulltime.

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You are right, they are all moving to Yulje too! In the synopsis it is always stated that the friends now work in the same hospital. The first poster might have them clad in different coloured scrubs ie their previous hospitals in ep. 1, but now they have released what is called as 'the main poster' where they were all clad in same scrub and same Yulje Hospital doctors' gown.

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Hmm however in the contract-signing scene, the conditions highlighted are that
1. If Party A (i.e. Jung-won) calls for surgery then even on the weekends they have to perform surgery, and
2. They have to do the surgeries that Party A assigns
and Song-hwa follows that up with "I won't resign from my job anyway. I'm in." which leads me to conclude that they're not being poached from their original jobs, they're signing an additional contract with Yulje as exclusive VIP ward doctors. This would also explain how they're all "working in the same hospital" as well as clad in the same doctors' gowns! However, I think that going forward we would still see them working in their original jobs - I can't imagine Jung-won himself giving up his pediatrician calling just to be an exclusive VIP doctor. All of them have to continue working in their specialties for them to be valuable as VIP doctors anyway.

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I think they all continue working in their specialties but now in Yulje instead? And at the same time they're responsible for the VIP wards, too? Jeong-won and Jun-wan left Kang Woon Medical Centre to YULJE, and no one is forsaking their own specialty. They're just switching hospitals. Jun-wan asked Song-hwa about what's good in the cafeteria menu on his first day in Yulje.

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@daydreamer11 ahhhh you could be right about that!! Guess we have to keep watching to know for sure whether they've left their old jobs to switch to Yulje, and it's true that Song-hwa was already working there hence her comment that she won't need to resign.

(deep down I just don't want to believe that they switched over so easily though... considering the patients they might be leaving behind and so forth)

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Yay recap! I just want to add that I love that none of them are portrayed as unbelievable geeenius doctors. They're doctors and that's all there is to it. They don't have to be geniuses to be good doctors.

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I went into this show blind. And for the first 20 min or so it felt confusing. And then before I knew it I was familiar with all the characters. When they threw hospital politics out the window I cheered. Nicely done show!!

And then came YYS in the bar. Crying, winking and sobbing. And there was no going back. Am here for him.

I won’t mind no romance. But I got a feeling that it could be Joon Won and Sung Hwa.
Also I love Buddha!!

I love how the show had the emotional punch and quirky humor nicely balanced.

And yes. Yoo Yeon Seok Is 🥰

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That winking in between tears and screams is just precious!🥰

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The winking!!! Just.Like.This. ❤❤❤

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He got me at the teddy bear scene. It's a done deal now.

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REALLY loved the first episode!! I went into this randomly on Netflix and thoroughly loved it. I was laughing, and crying and appreciating the more quiet scenes. Friggin' love the 5 friends coming together to this hospital playlist. Guessing at the plot - I have a suspicion that seok-hyung may be ill? Comes back from fellowship, doesn't want to work. But wants to spend more time with Mom and his friends. Hmmm.

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We enjoyed the first episode. The Darth Vader helmet was fun- it would have been even better if the doctor had gone out to meet the mom with it.

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It would have been hilarious, but I think Ik-joon was being considerate in that moment. He deliberately called Song-hwa to inform the parents rather than the resident that was already there. He knew how much work she put in and understood what it meant for a doctor to tell the patient the good news.

Hopefully, the Darth Vader helmet returns because Ik-joon looks ridiculous in it.

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@oldawyer, @lovepark,
Perhaps Ik-jun will wear the Darth Vader helmet sans Junior's crazy glue "greasy kid stuff" when the band practices. One can only hope. ;-)

I'm curious as to how the helmetectomy will be accomplished, and whether it involves a drastic haircut.

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None told about it, but I loved how this episode showed so many mothers, and so many believable reactions: not wanting to let your child goes, swinging moods because he's ill or safe, google-knowing everything or helping the doctor who's using a teddy bear to check on your kid ...

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I also love how real everyone is in this show.

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Oaky here is the video of this special serial in given link with video watch online https://dramasfever.com/hospital-playlist-episode-1-eng-sub/

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With all those priests and nuns lurking in the background, could they work in some sort of exorcism? A real one would be out of place, but a fake one would fit in nicely :)

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Like trying to exorcise a priest ghost they believe has been haunting Jeong Won and making him going for priesthood every single time and successfully making him such an emotional wreck? ;P

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the band reminds me of that japanese band that is comprised of all dentists... what's the name... GREEEN or something like that?
; )

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Loving reading this and all the other comments.As a newby, I am glad to learn the finer be points from you as they greatly enhance my viewing. I loved this show and from you by now get more about the intricacies of the Korean medical system. S question be I have from other series is Are funerals be held at hospitals normally? And do they happen so quickly? And why do th we women mourners wear the barrette be in their hair, and is that a mourner's hanbok? I am familiar with be Western religious customs so I find this fascinating. It also seems like a funeral meal is expected. It just seemed like the mourners had to get everything by over and done with so quickly. Also how quickly do all those flower displays come in. One last thing-the production values, from cinematography, sets. Costumes, medical equipment, research-are amazing. This K Drama is helping me get through be social distancing in New York and I also love your posts. You make this ahjumma(sic) very informed by and happy
I highly recommend this addiction.😉

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Welcome to DramaBeans, @OldAmericanLady, from a woman of a certain age in Jersey. ;-)

I was taken aback the first time I realized that Korean medical centers often have funeral homes/crematoria on site. The full-service "cradle to grave" aspect initially creeped me out, but it now strikes me as a very practical convenience for surviving family members.

The women's barrettes have bows of white ribbon. White is the traditional color of mourning in the Sinosphere. I don't know why the hanbok of immediate female relatives is black, but suspect it could be a modern adaptation of Western funeral customs. (See link below.) If you watch sageuks, you'll see that mourning weeds were made of coarsely-woven hemp fiber, which is light beige.

This article gives some insight into Korean funeral customs:
Ask A Korean: Korean Funeral Tradition
http://askakorean.blogspot.com/2008/02/dear-korean-i-just-found-out-that-my.html

If you haven't already seen it, you might want to check out the excellent ROMANTIC DOCTOR, TEACHER KIM, which also stars Yoo Yeon-seok as one of the leads in the first season. (Season 2 recently ended.) It is more of a procedural, and does include hospital politics. But the main emphasis is on the growth and development of the medical staff (and some of the patients) as human beings. I live-watched it when it aired, and can testify that the recap discussions were highly informative as several of our medical Beanies did "medicaps" to explain the procedures -- and assess the veracity of the depictions. It made for a very enjoyable viewing experience.

As with HOSPITAL PLAYLIST, the ensemble cast was terrific, and the characters and their arcs memorable. The music was top-notch, and integral to the show. I also enjoyed season 2, which had new surgical fellows in addition to the return of most of the supporting cast. Plus a very nice cameo by surgeon Yang Se-jong. ;-)

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Thank you Pakalana. We're practically neighbors. I live in Staten Island, went to college in NJ and spend a lot of time there now. I appreciate the reference material you sent and will definitely watch Romantic Dr. Teacher Kim. I now subscribe to Viki and it's on my follow list. I have Netflix and Amazon prime but realized, once I became addicted, that I needed more content. I also am blown away by the actors' and production values. I'm a lifelong tv and movie fan, but it's mainly been western content. So I'm delighted to discover this wonderful new world.

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You're most welcome, @OldAmericanLady. I'm closer to the Delaware than the Hudson. ;-)

I fell down the Kdrama rabbit hole in 2012-2013 while watching the time-travel sageuk DR. JIN on HULU. DB has recaps of it that are hilarious as it skewers the plot holes and acting. Somehow I was not scared off, but became fascinated by the real historical elements, and turned into a sageuk geek. Next my husband and I live-watched THE KING'S DAUGHTER, SOO BAEK HYANG (2013-2014 daily drama with 108 half-hour episodes) that became my gold standard for historical shows and introduced me to a wonderful cast of thousands. Unlike most sageuks, it is set in Baekje during the Three Kingdoms period instead of Joseon, with warriors running around with "manes of glory" instead of topknots and gats. Highly recommended.

After a few years I started watching contemporary dramas. Methinks COFFEE PRINCE may have been the first. I loved it to pieces, and went down yet another rabbit hole.

AsianWiki.com and DramaWiki -- actually https://wiki.d-addicts.com/Main_Page -- are my friends and constant reference sites, along with DB, HanCinema.net, and KoreanFilm.org.

KBS World TV on YouTube offers complete drama specials and entire drama series, some of them vintage shows that have stood the test of time, many with English subtitles.

See also:
http://www.dramabeans.com/ratings/

My go-to article -- and extensive comments -- for drama recommendations:

Top 10 favorite dramas of all time, February 10, 2017
http://www.dramabeans.com/2017/02/top-10-favorite-dramas-of-all-time/
This was posted right around the time I registered my DB account in early 2016. Beanie comments on the article and in the Open Thread discussions posted on Fridays have led me to watch many a dandy show and movie, not necessarily only Korean ones.

We have Netflix and also use Amazon Prime.

I hope this helps you discover even more great Kdramas and movies. ;-)

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Oops -- the DB Top Ten lists came out a year after I joined DB and began reading and commenting in the Open Thread. There I also found many insightful comments on dramas and movies to check out.

When I first started watching Kdramas, I didn't keep track of them. But when I joined DB, I retroactively logged as many shows as I could recall when I began keeping a Kdrama log. It consists of one long Win7 Notepad document that I can easily search and amend. I keep it squished down to a small window that I keep on the desktop for logging on the fly. I've devised a template that makes it easy to scan entries when I'm wondering if I've already watched a vintage show or movie. I use it to keep tabs on where I left off during marathon sessions and live-watches that stretch out for 2+ months. I also use it to record cast and crew information and shows in which I've seen actors appear in the past. I do not put everything in my log, but have a directory full of Kdrama scribbles. I love being able to figure out where I've seen an actor who seems vaguely familiar. ;-)

AsianWiki is especially good for identifying actors as it usually provides mugshots of the cast in costume. DramaWiki also offers cast info that is sometimes more detailed, but without the convenience of mugshots. ;-)

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I remember watching a scene of a funeral procession in a drama- and everyone was wearing white from head to toe.

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That sounds like one of the reader comments on The Korean's article. And now I cannot get Amogae's funeral procession from REBEL out of my mind. ;-)

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This looks like my new crack. What I appreciate most in this drama is their portrayal of the different personalities doctors may have. Unlike some medical dramas that glorify doctors in a way by making them ideally and overly kind, in reality doctors can be harsh (to their subordinates) or even to patients. Indeed some may be really compassionate and some may even go through different lengths to help. JKH's character is interesting in this sense.
Hospital politics aside, I hope we continue to get more character development, band time and life lessons. Like Chocolate.

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I fully agree!! Actually JKH's character is very realistic hahaha he scolds his subordinates but not because he's trying to make a power-play or because they didn't submit to him, but because they were being dangerous medically and he needed to tell them off for it. He's portrayed as the strict but passionate senior doctor here - they even managed to work in calling the social services office which is definitely part of a doctors' job but not in the way that some dramas put it where the doctor actually runs around getting the funds. Doctors do have to know who to call to get help from but other than that the rest is up to the medical social workers.

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YOO YEON-SEOK WITH KIDS ❤

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I like it so far.

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I wouldn’t mind if Jung Kyung-ho gets the girl. 💙

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Hmmmmm Yoo Yeon-seok is 35 years old?? I was going to complain that the doctors are too young lol
And is drinking Eggs normal??

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only other time i have seen raw eggs eaten on screen is in Rocky and stallone was a boxer...so i dont know what she was going for by drinking it...

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@raekaddict,
I was thinking the same thing about the scene from ROCKY. Maybe that was dinner instead of breakfast? I just hope she isn't going to go into the hospital kitchen and tenderize a side of beef! LOL!

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Andrea..lol!

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What's so funny about Andrea? That's "Buddha's" baptismal name. Latin for Andrew.

There's a precedent, too. Jo Hyun-jae's character in LOVE LETTER was Andrea -- except he became a priest and his half-brother was a physician. ;-)

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The greatest admiral in the history of the Republic of Venice was Andrea Doria. The Italian Navy has named ships after him.

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There's also the ill-fated luxury liner.

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I LOVED this! The wait between episodes will be tough.

“The friends exclaim common phrases to express their alarm, but the cardiothoracic surgeon takes offense to the phrase, “my heart was about to burst,” while the OB/GYN doctor is irked by the comment, “I nearly lost my unborn child.” Jung-won tells them to stop fighting because his “head is about to burst,” which upsets their neurosurgeon, heh.”

I had no idea this is what was happening - thanks again to recap for this!

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I found the ep 1 to be extremely fun. I loved that hospital admin was not evil, that there were no hero doctors but many competent doctors who were all real people.

I am also happy that they are all nerds and are friends.

It is quite fabulous to see so many good actors in one drama.

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So, which doctors make up the OTP?

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Just realized this. At the start of the episode at Seok-hyung’s house, Song-hwa pointed at something (or somewhere) that the camera didn’t really focus much on. It was the other side of the room!

And what was there? It seemed to be where the “band” set up was.... tee-hee

Super duper love everything from this show! Eleven more weeks, here we go!

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I totally loved the first episode, I watched all 16 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy and it somehow has the same vibe. It focuses on hospital relationships & also doctor-patient stories. It would be a bonus if you are into medical dramas too (they talk about medical stuff as if it is not boring).

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I started watching the first episode without any expectation. I haven't seen Reply series, and I did stop watching Prison Playbook midway in ep.2 as I could not tolerate seeing how prisoners lived their lives in prison cells. The toilet looked so bad, and I just could not imagine how many people could use a toilet that small.. eekkk

However, I gave this one a try, and I liked it a lot. As I haven't really been familiar with how this writer and director work, it took me some time to get used to how the story is told. What I particularly like about this ep is that everyone is so real. This is especially the case for having one main character already having a child. There are scenes that had me in stitches (e.g. Darth Vader), so overall it has a good vibe.

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Just as I expected from this director-writing team. I have a premonition that, like with Reply 1988, I will not be able to let these characters go.

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Just started watching this now, and I hate myself for that. This is goooood, I'm loving it =D

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I totally agree about how this writing and directing team has gotten so adept at balancing genuine emotion and levity. Jung-won sobbing in the confession pit was such a sad and beautiful scene, but then the note from his literal older brother popping over and the expressions of everyone else in the chicken restaurant were hilarious. I think this balance was part of what made the Answer Me series such a hit as well but it does feel even more natural this time around.
There were also just so many wonderful moments, like when the two men immediately went to cover Ik-joon's son with their suit jackets when Song-hwa left.

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