Review: Hospital Playlist 2

THE SHORT VERDICT:

Show isn’t perfect by any means, but what it does right, it does so well, that I can’t help wanting to serve my heart up to Show on a plate.

It’s true that Show gets rather indulgent of itself from time to time, and it’s also true that some of the handling feels almost patronizing, in spots. However, our characters continue to be lovable and wonderful, and Show continues to do an excellent job of teasing out their growth and relationships in a way that feels organic; it just has a way of grabbing my heart.

An absolutely worthy follow up to Season 1.

THE LONG VERDICT:

So here’s the thing about Hospital Playlist 2. I’d been a little bit hesitant to start on this second season, because I’d loved Season 1 so much, that I was afraid that Season 2 wouldn’t quite feel the same. Also, when I saw that this first episode was a whopping 1 hour 35 minutes long, I balked, and wondered why drama episodes were allowed to be this long.

But then.. I watched the episode. And guess what, y’all. I felt sorry to get to the end of that whopping 1 hour 35 minute episode, and wished that there was more. 🥲 The feels are immediately familiar, warm, and welcome, and it really only took me an episode, to have my memory of character names and relationships properly refreshed, and feel like I was back in the swing of things, and ready to do life with these characters, for another season.

There’s just something quite magical about this show, in that despite the long episodes, I just don’t want to say goodbye to the characters, when I get to the end of the episode. The warm feels are uplifting and aspirational, and so comforting and calming, that I just want to linger with Show, just a little bit more.

I never wanted this one to end, y’all. 🥰

OST ALBUM: FOR YOUR LISTENING PLEASURE

Here’s the OST album, in case you’d like to listen to it as you read the review. I enjoyed the OST very well, in that, I consistently felt like the music added to my watch experience. Often, Show would have the Band play a song that would amplify the theme of the episode. I thought this was nicely done.

If I had to pick a song that I had a particular soft spot for, though, it would have to be Track 5, I Like You, sung by Jo Jung Suk. Here it is as well, in case you’d like to listen to it on repeat. Just right-click on the video and select “Loop.”

MANAGING EXPECTATIONS / THE VIEWING LENS

Here are a couple of things that I think would be helpful to keep in mind, to maximize your enjoyment of your watch:

1. Show’s episodes are long. However, this problem is easily fixed by splitting the episode into two sittings. After all, Show only aired an episode a week, so even at its longest (its 2-hour finale), that’s still equal to or less than the amount of content other dramas put out, on average.

2. Show leans into its slice-of-life nature quite a bit this season, and at times, it can feel excessive, to the point that you might start to wonder if Show’s lost its mojo. Don’t worry, this is temporary. Hang in there, because Show comes back with a bang, in its final two episodes.

A QUICK CLARIFICATION OF THE USE OF “PROFESSOR” IN OUR LOVELINES

I happened to come across some viewer discomfort on Twitter, where some viewers expressed that it felt weird to see some of our professors dating their residents in this show, and that it felt even weirder, to hear said residents address their respective love interests as “Professor,” even in a personal context.

I thought it might be helpful to mention that, yes, it might be weird for professors to date their residents, but in rom-com drama worlds where it’s common for bosses to date their secretaries or even doctors their patients, this situation is not that unusual, honestly.

As for the “Professor” thing, this is a cultural quirk. Even between married couples, it is not that unusual for a wife to address her husband as “President” or “Chairman,” if that’s what he is, and particularly if that’s the context within which they got to know each other.

While it’s perfectly possible for our couples in this drama world to evolve the way they address each other, as their relationship evolves, it is not at all unusual for the residents in question, to use “Professor” as their chosen term of address, when out on dates with their love interests.

I hope that helps!

STUFF I LIKED

Show is comforting

At the episode 4 mark, I realized that a big part of this show’s appeal, for me, is that it’s comforting.

In episode 4, while I watched Jun Wan (Jung Kyung Ho) dealing with all the stress of his various patients, I felt sorry for him, because at the time, his worries about his long-distance relationship seemed small in comparison to the life and death situations that his patients and their families struggled with.

It seemed like such a natural thing, that he would put aside his own struggles, in order to support the patients and their families, not only because that is his job, but also, because it seems almost petty, to fixate on smaller things, when you see that there are bigger, more devastating things out there, that people are struggling with.

(To clarify, it’s not that Jun Wan’s worries are petty; they just appear almost petty, when contrasted with the life-or-death struggles of his patients. This provides perspective, is what I’m trying to say.)

By the same token, while watching this show, I feel that the watch experience puts my own problems and struggles into perspective. It takes something that might have been niggling at me, and puts it in perspective, and makes me realize that it’s not such a big thing after all, compared to what these patients and their families are dealing with, and it also makes me grateful for the things that I do have.

And, I imagine that if you were facing a similar struggle as these patients and their families, that watching this show would offer a sense of solidarity. There is so much power in being shown that you’re not alone.

This sense of perspective, comfort and solidarity, is profound stuff, and I feel that part of how Show achieves it, is by giving us time with these people and their stories. I do agree that there is room for tighter editing and therefore shorter episodes in this show, but at the same time, I feel that the time I put in, to walk with these characters, contributes quite a bit to the sense of comfort and solidarity that I take away, so I still don’t actually mind the slightly indulgent editing hand.

The Fabulous Five

One of the things I looked forward to the most, with the arrival of Season 2, was seeing our Fabulous Five all together again, where we’d last left them.

It was such a comfort and pleasure, getting to see these five friends, still together in the same space, all still growing and evolving, and all still just as goofy and supportive of each other as ever. I just want this bunch of brilliant, caring dorks to be together, always.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E2. I like that when Jeong Won (Yoo Yeon Seok) finally tells the rest of the Five that he’s dating Gyeo Wool (Shin Hyun Bin), everyone else’s reactions – when he finally gets to make his announcement – are so down-to-earth.

For some reason, I love the fact that no one makes a big deal out of it, and therefore Jeong Won doesn’t get put on the spot. A few mild questions, Song Hwa (Jeon Mi Do) smiling and telling him that it’s great because she’s always thought they make a great pair, and everyone’s ready to move on, having absorbed this new piece of information into their reality. It’s pretty awesome, from where I’m sitting.

E5. The best upside to the time skip, is the fact that Song Hwa’s back from her posting to Sokcho. YESS. I love how all the guys drop in on her first thing in the morning, to say hi, and welcome her back, even though she’s never actually been absent from the group, all this time. It’s a small thing, but it brightened up my world, so much. 🥰

[END SPOILER]

Jeon Mi Do as Song Hwa

Song Hwa’s been a fond favorite of mine since Season 1, so it’s no surprise that I love her just as much, this season.

She’s as professional, competent, kind, loyal, sweet and adorable as ever, and the best thing about her, I think, is how she doesn’t even seem that cognizant of her own awesomeness. She’s so down-to-earth, even though she’s quite literally a superstar in so many ways, and I just love her, so much. 🤩

[SPOILER ALERT]

E2. I love the joy that Song Hwa gets from being Daddy Long Legs, even though it is physically taxing for her to commute between Sokcho and Seoul.

She’s practically giddy with happiness at being able to help others as Daddy Long Legs, and even asks for more VIP surgeries, so that she’ll be able to help more people. And, when Jeong Won tells her that it’s too much for her and talks about maybe taking it away from her, Song Hwa looks positively horrified, and the way she cajoles Jeong Won into letting her keep doing it, is just so, so pure. How could anyone not love Song Hwa? 😍

And then there’s how dedicated she is, when she’s preparing for the surgery. Not only does she study the case very earnestly, even though she already has years of experience, she also makes it a point to check in often, on the patient, because she feels that it would help to set the patient’s mind at ease. Plus, she doesn’t even seem to take offense, when the patient’s mother mistakes her for a resident, even though she does appear genuinely surprised.

It’s so clear that Song Hwa’s focus isn’t ever on herself, but on others. I feel like most people would take offense at being mistaken for a resident, and being talked down to in such a disdainful manner as a result. But Song Hwa’s reaction isn’t about herself; she realizes that her residents aren’t receiving the respect that they deserve, and she speaks up, not for herself, but for them.

And then, when that TV station interview comes up because the patient is a world-famous violinist, she declines when she realizes that none of the residents will be available to be interviewed alongside her. Guh. She’s wonderful, and I can see why all the residents respect her as much as they do.

E4. I’m proud of Seon Bin (Ha Yoon Kyung) for saving that patient, even if it meant talking back to her senior, and I’m so glad that Song Hwa tells Seon Bin that the only thing she did wrong, was wait so long to fight for her patient. That’s comforting AND empowering, and I love Song Hwa, for being that role model for younger doctors like Seon Bin.

[END SPOILER]

Jo Jung Suk as Ik Jun

Ik Jun’s a character whom I already liked in Season 1, but I’m almost shocked by how much more I like him, this season.

He manages to be such a bright ray of goofy sunshine, even while being a master of his craft, and while taking time to share (genuine!) care and concern for the people around him, down to the security guard whom most people avoid, because he looks unapproachable. And, amid the silly jokes and his easygoing manner, we catch multiple glimpses of his more thoughtful side.

He’s unique and special, is what he is. There were so many occasions, during my watch, where I caught myself thinking, “Gosh, I luff Ik Jun.” 🤩

[SPOILER ALERT]

E2. I was rather surprised by Ik Jun’s arc this episode, with him growing so disappointed with that transplant patient’s irresponsible behavior, that he would discharge the patient from his care, and refer him to another hospital near the patient’s home.

Ik Jun’s always come across as such a friendly and kind people’s person, that his taking this stance here, is quite startling, honestly. However, given the patient’s track record of being irresponsible enough to warrant a second transplant, Ik Jun has a very solid point: it’s highly possible that he will need another transplant, and if this patient refuses to change his ways, it would be a transplant that would deprive other patients of a chance of survival.

I completely respect Ik Jun’s decision to discharge the patient. It feels like an ethical decision, and one that protects not only the potential donor and their family, but other patients as well. Hopefully, the shock of essentially being rejected by his doctor, will cause the patient to change his ways.

I do appreciate, though, how this is a difficult decision for Ik Jun to make, so much so that it affects his mood. He doesn’t say much about it, because he chooses to give Seok Hyeong (Kim Dae Myung) a listening ear instead, but his disappointment and disillusionment is written all over his face.

E3. I love how warm and kind Ik Jun is to everyone, especially his patients. Even though he hasn’t slept all night, and has a full day of appointments, he stays cheerful and positive, and he still manages to find room in his heart to look at the Daddy Long Legs emergency case that Song Hwa brings to his attention.

He’s like some kind of superhero, honestly. And then, he manages to bust out a few choice dance moves while leaving the group, with his doctor’s coat in one hand, and his food tray in the other, too. Gosh, I luff him. 🤩

I also love that Ik Jun’s so ballsy when it comes to taking up his Chief on his offer of a favor, for Ik Jun operating on his younger brother. Sending the Chief to Mokpo, to assist in the transplant surgery, is the kind of thing that only Ik Jun would be able to get away with, I think. It’s so fantastic, and it’s really heartwarming to hear that the surgery went well, and the Chief was even able to help the team out in bigger ways than they’d anticipated.

E5. I had faith that Ik Jun would handle the situation between Jun Wan and Ik Sun (Kwak Sun Young) in the best way possible, but I’m still really impressed with how he really does keep his word, and doesn’t breathe a word of it to Jun Wan, and doesn’t change the way he treats Jun Wan or Ik Sun, even after knowing that they’d dated secretly. He’s steady as a rock. I love him.

E7. The brother of the liver transplant patient is absolutely rather trying, but it’s also clear to see that his actions are driven by stress and worry. I love that Ik Jun is so patient and understanding, in response to the brother’s sometimes insulting requests, like the way he tells Ik Jun not to drink because the surgery is the next day.

It’s completely uncalled for, but Ik Jun just smiles graciously and assures him that he will not. I like how Ik Jun reminds Yun Bok that to these patients and their families, they are facing the most terrible times of their lives.

E9. I consider Ik Jun our unsung hero this episode, for how he works quietly in the background, to create opportunities for Jun Wan and Ik Sun to sort things out between them.

He’s kept pretty quiet about the whole situation between Ik Sun and Jun Wan, and has chosen to act as if he knows nothing, when he knows just about everything there is to know. And he’s stayed respectful of those boundaries, for a long time. I think the thing that galvanizes him into doing something, when the opportunity presents itself, is when he sees that Ik Sun still keeps Jun Wan’s photo as her phone screen background.

I love that he quietly arranges for Jun Wan to take the same bus as Ik Sun, so that they’ll run into each other. He doesn’t know what outcome this will bring; he just knows that these two need a chance to talk things out.

In fact, I’d go so far as to say that these two actually want a chance to talk things out – even Ik Sun, even though she’s the one hiding from Jun Wan. That phone background featuring his face, says it all. She misses him, and thinks of him, and wants to be reminded of him on a regular basis. Why else would she use his photo as her phone background, right?

I can see that there is some internal conflict for Ik Jun, in that, when he realizes that Ik Sun had actually had an appointment to meet Jun Wan, when she’d gotten sick enough to warrant a trip to the ER, he broods for a while, in his office. The last time I remember him brooding like this, in in Season 1, when he’d received the divorce papers from his wife.

I appreciate that Ik Jun chooses to call Jun Wan in the end, to tell him that Ik Sun’s in the ER. I personally see that as an act of compassion. I believe Ik Jun knows that without this context, Jun Wan’s likely to think that Ik Sun’s just making an excuse to cancel their appointment, and that is just a very painful thought. I’m glad that Ik Jun tells Jun Wan. An unsung hero, like I said.

[END SPOILER]

Kim Jun as Uju

I adore Uju so much, so I’m really glad that we get to see him again, this season. I’m a tiny bit disappointed that we seemed to get less screen time with him this season, but the scenes that we do get, are pretty darn precious, so much so that I feel I can’t complain.

I love that we get to see Ik Jun spend some time with Uju, because Uju is Adorable with a capital A, and I can never get enough of the cuteness that comes from this father and son hanging out together.

Here’s the quick spotlight on my favorite father-son moment from the whole series.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E3.  Uju trying to give Ik Jun a multiple choice quiz about what he wants to eat, and only managing to come up with variations of the word “hamburger” is so freakin’ cute, I feel like I’m about to explode from exceeding my cuteness quotient for the day.

What Uju says when Ik Jun is called in for a medical emergency, is so meaningful; I love that Show punches us with a hit of poignance, right in the middle of the Cute.

I’m not sure if Uju’s name really means “universe,” but it’s true that Uju is homonymous with “universe,” and therefore, the pun on his name becoming something so meaningful, is something that really touched my heart. Maybe Ik Jun had named his son Uju, because he really is his entire universe. 🥲

“No, Dad. You don’t need to be sorry. You’re doing good deeds. You want to spend time with your Uju (universe). But you’re busy saving the bigger universe (uju) out there.” Aw. Isn’t that the most precious, wonderful, adorable thing?? 🥰

[END SPOILER]

Ik Jun and Song Hwa

Because I enjoy both Ik Jun and Song Hwa so much as individual characters, and because, the more I get to know them, the more I think they’re perfect for each other, I was very much rooting for this pair of besties to finally take their relationship romantic.

The progress of this loveline leans slow, I have to admit. However, Show makes up for it in how this ship does eventually sail. Let’s just say that I felt allll of the feels, and then some. 🥰

To be honest, though, there were times when I found their connection so pure and so beautiful, that I didn’t even care that they didn’t have a label for the bond they shared. That is, until Show finally took this relationship romantic and I melted and flailed into a puddle, heh. 😉

[SPOILER ALERT]

E1. I’m sad for Ik Jun, because Song Hwa essentially turns him down, by giving his indirect question an indirect answer, that he shouldn’t confess his feelings, because his “friend” would probably prefer to protect the friendship that they already have. Aw.

The acute awareness of the both of them, of what’s really going on, is so poignant. And, Ik Jun’s expression, full of warmth, kindness and understanding, feels like the main thrust of his response to Song Hwa’s rejection: “It’s okay. I understand. Don’t worry.” Augh. It’s heartbreaking. 💔

E2. My three favorite moments involving Ik Jun and Song Hwa, this episode, is, 1, when Ik Jun does that funny mime in the glass panel of Song Hwa’s office door, making like he’s trapped and trying to climb out of it – so cute; 2, when Ik Jun casually puts his arm around Song Hwa’s shoulder, as they and Jun Wan walk away from Seon Bin at the tail end of the episode – so casually cozy, ahhh!; and 3, when Song Hwa finds those two cups of coffee on the hood of her car, with personalized messages on each one, so that she’ll have something to drink, whatever her condition – that has to be Ik Jun, right? Right??

Also, I love the detail, that Song Hwa is tickled by Ik Jun’s jokes, even when the others groan at his brand of humor. I mean, the fact that she finds him funny, is a very positive thing, right? As you can tell, I very much ship them together, heh.

E3. I’m glad that Song Hwa is shown receiving food for thought over that coffee date with Gyeong Jin’s brother (great cameo by Lee Kyu Hyung; ’twas a nice surprise to see him on my screen!).

Yes, it smells very strongly of coincidence, that Gyeong Jin’s brother would have a personal story to share that is so close to Song Hwa’s own experience with Ik Jun, but I’m willing to roll with it, because I do think Song Hwa needs that extra push, to reconsider Ik Jun as a potential boyfriend, rather than as a friend whom she doesn’t want to risk losing.

E4. That beat, where Ik Jun and Song Hwa make a deal to exchange banchan that their mothers have made for them, is cute, and beyond that, it’s super sweet and patient of Ik Jun to listen and wait, while Song Hwa goes off on a singing and rapping tangent, in her blithe, off-key sort of way.

According to Ik Jun, the title of the song she sings, is “Couple.” Is Song Hwa starting to search her heart a little, I wonder? Was this song title some kind of message to Ik Jun, I also wonder?

E5. Maybe it’s my imagination, but to my eyes, there seems to be an extra touch of coziness in Ik Jun’s greeting, and Song Hwa’s response, in comparison to all the rest, when Song Hwa returns from Sokcho for good.

There’s something so casual, familial and warm, about how he pops in so easily, invites her to breakfast, and suggests so spontaneously, that they eat quickly, so that they can watch the rain together. Song Hwa’s all warm smiles and easy acquiescence, and they fall in sync so seamlessly, that it makes my heart swell. 🥰

E8. Song Hwa’s been so busy with work, and pouring herself out for those who need her doctoring, and her mentoring, that she’s taken her mother for granted, and hasn’t spent enough time with her to even notice the early symptoms of Parkinson’s, that the other Professor had noticed right away. There’s got to be a great deal of guilt there, and I can completely understand Song Hwa’s need to just stop everything, and just process, for a while.

I’m so glad that Ik Jun is there for her, every step of the way. At this point, it doesn’t even matter to me what kind of label they have on their relationship.

I just love the fact that Ik Jun’s there to notice right away, when Song Hwa’s reeling from the news, and he instinctively knows how to be there for her, while giving her the space that she needs. He offers to drive her home to the countryside, to sleep for the night, but at the same time, he doesn’t smother her with his presence, nor does he say very much. For someone as naturally gregarious as Ik Jun, this restraint feels profound, to my eyes.

I also love how Ik Jun takes it upon himself to guard Song Hwa’s office, so that her rest and processing time isn’t interrupted by the steady stream of people who are so used to having Song Hwa be available, ready and willing to help them with whatever it is, that they’re there to talk with her about.

Ik Jun handles it all with such a personal touch, too. I mean, instead of just swatting people away like flies, he asks what their visit is about, and then offers his own assistance, where it’s relevant. How wonderful is he??

And then, when he perceives that the time is right, and Song Hwa’s had a bit of a rest, he goes ahead to surprise her with the one quirky thing that she’d had her heart set on: that barbecue grill that she’d loved, at the restaurant.

What an amazing gift, because it takes Song Hwa from wilted to exhilarated in 2 seconds flat. Ahhhh. Ik Jun really knows exactly what Song Hwa needs, doesn’t he? I know I literally just said this, but.. HOW WONDERFUL IS HE?!?? 😍

I’m just so glad that Song Hwa has Ik Jun, to be there for her, and support her, and make her smile, at this difficult milestone in her life.

E9. This episode, we do get a Moment, when Song Hwa seems quite hyperaware of Ik Jun, and I’m low-key squeeing at what this might signal, in terms of what’s coming next for this maybe-would-be couple. That little handhold felt so natural and so perfect; I’m guessing that that’s what strikes Song Hwa too, in the moment.

And what a perfect reveal in the flashback, that Song Hwa had actually liked Ik Jun too, back in school, when he’d had a crush on her. Aww.. Poor Song Hwa; she’d been so happy to receive his text, saying he had something to say to her, that she’d gotten all dressed up in anticipation.

How heartbreaking to know the reason that Ik Jun had canceled, was because he’d realized that Seok Hyeong had a crush on her too, and had chosen to retreat, in order to honor their friendship. If only he’d known, that Song Hwa had been as crushed as he was. 😭

I loved that little beat, where Ik Jun sees that it’s raining, and immediately drops everything, so that he can bring Song Hwa coffee, and watch the rain with her. Guh. The bond these two have is just the warmest, fuzziest thing, and I adore them together.

I almost don’t care what label their relationship has, except for the fact that Ik Jun says that thing, about not caring what birthday present she gives him, because if it’s from her, he’s sure to like it. Oof. This is the sort of thing that tells me that he most definitely still has feelings for her, and now I want her to give him something that tells him that she likes him too.

[END SPOILER]

Kim Dae Myung as Seok Hyeong

Even though I was fond enough of Seok Hyeong in Season 1, I’m quite shocked, actually, by just how fond I became of him, this season. There were several episodes, when I found my heart leaning towards Seok Hyeong as a favorite, among the Five.

There’s just something about his gentleness that really gets to me, in the best way possible. He’s great at his job, and part of that greatness comes from how empathetic and compassionate he is, and how he offers hope to his patients, in their most difficult times. He’s got such a quiet, steady energy about him, that I can completely see why Min Ha’s been crushing on him for such a long time.

Our Shy Bear is lovely, and endearing, and in some ways, really quite captivating, and I’m so glad that one of the big arcs this season, is how he finally finds his way to personal happiness. ❤️

[SPOILER ALERT]

E1. I love how gentle Seok Hyeong is, both with patients and with his juniors. Plus, there’s that thing where he’s consciously keeping a professional distance with Min Ha (Ahn Eun Jin), even though it seems like he wouldn’t mind being a little friendlier with her. It feels like he’s denying himself any sort of hope, and I feel sad that he’d feel it’s necessary to do that.

And then, layered on top of that, is the fact that his ex-wife (Park Ji Yeon) seems so keen to spend time with him, all of a sudden, even beyond the factor of her father’s hospitalization.

Seok Hyeong, however, doesn’t seem at all keen to revisit their relationship, or what remains of it, and I really feel for him, because he looks so uncomfortable and sad, as he works to do the right thing, by helping his ex-wife and her parents at the hospital. In that scene at the end of the episode, where his ex-wife asks to see him on a regular basis, he literally looks like he’s holding back sad tears.

I can’t help thinking that it’s probably better for him not to meet her regularly, if it’s going to be such an emotional burden on him.

E2. As before, Seok Hyeong’s case really has my attention. I’m really disappointed that they lose the baby, but Seok Hyeong’s soothing, encouraging approach really drew me to him.

Even when he and Min Ha were talking with the patient about her situation, which might require emergency surgery, the predominant tone is a hopeful, reassuring one. He doesn’t promise a positive outcome, but his very grounded, gentle sort of aura, is enough to tell me – and anyone else listening – that he is very good at what he does, and he will remain hopeful, and do everything he can, under all circumstances. And what more could anyone ask for, from a fellow human, right?

The thing that really gets me, is how deeply affected Seok Hyeong is, when they lose the baby. For someone with as much experience as he does, I’d imagined that he would have a more.. well, steady way of dealing with it, since it’s par for the course, that doctors sometimes lose their patients.

But, Seok Hyeong’s very personally affected by the loss, so much so that he doesn’t feel like going on his rounds, and he wrestles with what he could possibly say to the mother who’s just lost her baby. That tenderness of heart just really gets to me. I love that about him, so much.

I love that he puts so much thought into what he should say to the parents who’ve just lost their baby, and I really appreciate the sentiment behind the quote that he chooses to share with them: “Bad things at times do happen to good people.”

It’s a short little sentence, but in it, there is sympathy for the bad thing that’s happened to them, and also, an affirmation that they didn’t do anything wrong; that it’s not their fault that this bad thing has happened. Seok Hyeong has such a deep sense of compassion and empathy, and I respect that about him, so much.

It is so heartening to know that Seok Hyeong’s efforts are so deeply appreciated by the grieving parents of that baby. Some people turn their grief into anger towards their doctors, but these two people do not. I love that they are so grateful, and so aware that it was because of Seok Hyeong’s painstaking efforts, that they had had those extra 4 weeks to bond with their baby in the womb, and listen to his heartbeat.

I also love that there is hope in the words that Mom writes to Seok Hyeong, in that card; that if she were to be visited by another angel, she’d like Seok Hyeong to be the one to protect them, again. It warms my heart so, to know that this experience has not caused her to lose hope, and she’s leaving the hospital, with a positive outlook for the future. That’s lovely.

E2. As for Seok Hyeong’s ex-wife wanting to connect with him on a more regular basis, I can imagine why she might want to, given how I’m growing more impressed with him, the more we get to know him.

I’m so proud of him, though, for being honest and telling her that he would prefer that they move on with their lives. I mean, Seok Hyeong is nice enough that I’d imagine he might have said ok, so as not to disappoint her, even though he himself felt uncomfortable about it. I’m so proud of him for speaking his truth, even though he looks quite awkward and stricken, as the words come out of his mouth. I’m impressed that he doesn’t shy away from saying the hard stuff, in order to be true to himself. Love that.

E5. We finally get more details on the background behind Seok Hyeong’s marriage and divorce. Wow. Given how obsessive and paranoid his mother (Moon Hee Kyung) was with his ex-wife, I can see why Seok Hyeong doesn’t think it’s a good idea for him to get married again.

In fact, I now see that his astute avoidance of any romantic entanglement with Min Ha, could well be his way of showing his care for her. After all, if you like someone, you don’t actually want them to suffer harassment at the hands of your mother?

That said, Song Hwa has an excellent point, that Seok Hyeong didn’t do his best by his ex-wife, through the entire situation of their marriage. It’s unfortunate that things turned out this way, but I do think that it’s a difficult set of circumstances, and not at all easy to navigate.

Given Seok Hyeong’s introverted personality and his preference for not being confrontational, I can imagine how he might have found it too difficult to be in a position where he was stuck between his wife and his mother. It’s the kind of choice no one wants to have to make, and he made whatever feeble attempt he could, to alleviate his wife’s burden, without actually stepping into the line of fire.

That context definitely colors in the loaded silences between Seok Hyeong and his ex-wife whenever they cross paths. Before, I’d imagined that she’d hurt him, and that’s why he always has this sense of sadness about him whenever they’d met. But now, I realize that his gaze was stricken not because of what she had done to him, but what he had failed to do for her. And I can see why he would keep her at a distance now; I think it’s partly to spare his conscience, and partly to ensure that her path would be completely free from any shadow of his mother.

There’s going to have to be some significant change, if Seok Hyeong’s to have a chance at a happy remarriage. The first thing being, his mother will have to change her attitude. The way Mom was going on in front of Rosa, it doesn’t at all look like she’s ready for her son to be remarried, even though she says that that’s all she really wants now, in life. And the second thing being, Seok Hyeong himself. He’s going to have to become more stable and proactive, if he’s going to be in shape to anchor his part of a relationship properly.

I love that he’s able to talk about it with Song Hwa, and I do love how honest Song Hwa is, in her feedback to him, and how practical she is, in the advice that she gives him. The subs that I have translate her words as “You talk too much,” which makes no sense in context. I just wanted to highlight that what Song Hwa said is really more like, “You. Talk a lot.” So she’s telling him to talk more, not less. However, the subber basically took it as “You talk a lot,” and went with “You talk too much” as the final subs.

It’s so cute how Seok Hyeong immediately puts that to practice, and makes conversation with Min Ha, when she calls him.

[END SPOILER]

Seok Hyeong and Min Ha

I was so invested in this loveline, y’all.

Even though the odds seemed stacked against Min Ha, I could understand why she’d like Seok Hyeong so much, and at the same time, I wanted so much for Seok Hyeong to have another chance at romantic happiness, that I couldn’t help rooting for these two.

Progress with this loveline is slow, to the point where I actually feared that Min Ha would never officially win the heart of our Shy Bear, but Show does a nice enough job of giving us glimpses of a growing closeness between Seok Hyeong and Min Ha, that I kept hoping against hope, to the very end.

..And Show delivers so well, when it finally brings these two together, that I squeed and flailed and swooned all over my floor. It was absolutely worth the wait, you guys. 🥰

[SPOILER ALERT]

E1. I feel for Min Ha, who’s helpless in her crush on Seok Hyeong. Even though, for a while there, she was under the impression that Seok Hyeong might have a girlfriend, she can’t seem to stop herself from being drawn to Seok Hyeong. She’s like a moth being drawn to a flame; the rejections and the rumors are clearly breaking her heart, but still, she can’t stop admiring him, not just as a doctor, but as a human being.

And, I can see why she’s drawn to Seok Hyeong. This episode, the arc with the patient with PROM (premature rupture of membranes) really brings out the best in Seok Hyeong, as a doctor.

While the first professor had looked at it from a purely clinical perspective, and based on the low chance of survival for the baby, basically been ready to abort the baby, Seok Hyeong looks at it from a much more human perspective, and decides that the best thing to do, is to try to help that mother and baby.

It’s even more moving, when he admits to Min Ha, that he is afraid. There is a pretty high chance that the baby won’t survive, and then the potential legal implications are there, ready to haunt him. And yet, he chooses to focus only on the fact that this mother and baby need him right now.

It’s profoundly moving, and I find myself feeling a deep sense of respect for Seok Hyeong. It’s no wonder Min Ha can’t help but like him.

E4. Seok Hyeong and Min Ha have some nice synergy going on; I love the way they fall into such a comfortable rhythm with each other, the moment Seok Hyeong sits down at the table.

I like the idea of them becoming closer, despite Seok Hyeong’s determination to stay single, so I’m happily curious to see where this goes.

E5. I really feel for Min Ha; she’s having to work so hard, to honor her feelings for Seok Hyeong. The way she asks him permission to confess her feelings for him just five times, is so endearing and so.. hapless. It takes so much guts, to have the nerve to put herself out there to be rejected, all because she can’t give up on him because she likes him too much.

I do very much appreciate that even as Seok Hyeong tells her that he will say no, he’s gentle and respectful, telling her that it’s her choice if she wants to do so. He is really likable and sweet, and I can see why Min Ha’s head over heels for him.

With Seok Hyeong’s little Aha moment this episode, where he feels for the first time since his divorce, that being married may not be such a bad thing, I’m hoping that he’ll give Min Ha a chance to be a positive addition to his life.

E9. I’m perking up at the hints that Seok Hyeong is softening towards Min Ha more and more, and might actually be considering a relationship with her.

This kinda-sorta feels sudden, and yet, not at all, because of how things have been ebbing and flowing between the two of them.

However, it doesn’t feel sudden because we know that this back and forth, push and pull, has been going between Seok Hyeong and Min Ha for some time now, and we can assume that even when the camera isn’t on them, that they’ve continued their little interactions, with Min Ha being her cute, straightforward self, and asking Seok Hyeong questions, while Seok Hyeong indulges her somewhat, while keeping his affection and amusement to himself.

[END SPOILER]

Yoo Yeon Seok as Jeong Won

I have to admit that even though I still liked Jeong Won this season, I often found his arc less compelling than those of the others.

Still, Jeong Won is an irreplaceable part of the Core Five, and I enjoyed having him on my screen, almost as a matter of principle, heh.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E2. Although Jeong Won’s challenge this episode feels comparatively smaller when contrasted with the rest of the Five, his patience is still put to the test, with that little boy who is so terrified of having his stitches removed, that they make no progress even after multiple tries.

It’s impressive that Jeong Won manages to stay so calm and so soothing, to the child and to the parents, even though it must be trying on him too. I particularly like how he puts things into perspective for the boy’s mother, by reminding her that her son has been through a lot with the cancer treatment and surgery.

That feels so universal, honestly. Humans tend to forget the forest for the trees, and in this mom’s case, she’d lost sight of how much her child had endured, and how far he’s come, and only fixated on the fact that he was fussing and uncooperative that day.

I like how Jeong Won helps her regain her perspective, and even more, I love that he does so with such grace and kindness.

E3. I like that Jeong Won’s a considerate son, and makes his mom (Kim Hae Sook) so happy, by going to visit her on the weekend, and eating her food, and helping her peel garlic.

And his puzzled reaction when President of the Foundation Jong Soo (Kim Gab Soo) tests him by telling him that Mom is giving him some land as part of his inheritance, definitely shows how truly guileless he is, when it comes to things like money.

E6. Jeong Won’s a good doctor who’s not only skilled at what he does, but also has a heart for his patients. In particular, I liked how he indirectly defended the patient to her mother-in-law, to make it clear that the baby’s birth defect is not her fault.

It’s all in a day’s work for him, but it likely makes a huge difference to the patient, who would otherwise have suffered a lot emotionally. It’s no wonder the baby’s parents decide to name him after Jeong Won.

[END SPOILER]

Jeong Won and Gyeo Wool

Confession: There was definitely a stretch, during my watch, where I had very little interest in this loveline. In fact, there were times when I found watching this loveline kind of uncomfortable.

This is likely a “just me” sort of thing; I just found Jeong Won too childlike for my taste, when he and Gyeo Wool were being lovey-dovey.

However, thankfully, Show shifts the tone by the later stretch of our story, such that Jeong Won’s more mature, thoughtful side gets showcased, and I found that much more balanced and appealing. And, I’m happy to say that I’m pleased with where we leave this loveline, by the time we reach the end of the season.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E1. I’m glad to see that Jeong Won and Gyeo Wool are doing a good job of staying professional while at work. I personally find it really awkward to watch, when a couple thinks they’re doing a good job staying professional, when all they’re really doing, is making everyone else uncomfortable.

I love that they find time to have a date, in the midst of their busy schedules, and are able to talk about work, without having that get in the way of actual work. I appreciate that Jeong Won plans to tell the rest of the Fabulous Five about their relationship soon, and I like that he tells Gyeo Wool to think about who she’d like to tell as well. This feels nice and honest, and healthy.

I love Jeong Won’s insight on why Jeon U’s mother keeps visiting the hospital, even though it’s been some time since Jeon U’s passed away. That makes so much sense, that she’d want to visit the hospital, because this is where people know and remember Jeon U, and this is where everyone addresses her as “Jeon U’s mom.”

I’m glad that Jeong Won encourages Gyeo Wool to give the lady some time and a listening ear, because when Gyeo Wool does invite her for coffee, it really feels like Gyeo Wool’s given her something very precious, and very healing as well. I love that.

E3. I have to confess that I’m not super into the scenes of Jeong Won being lovey-dovey with Gyeo Wool. I mean, I like that he’s happy, but perhaps it’s hitting too close to the nerve of mine that winces at poorly veiled secret romances? I think it’s my aversion to secondhand embarrassment that causes me to react this way. I’m not sure.

E7. I think I’ve figured out one of the key things that makes me less than starry-eyed about the relationship between Jeong Won and Gyeo Wool. It just doesn’t work so well for me, that Jeong Won appears so childlike and naive when it comes to his relationship with Gyeo Wool. I personally could do with Show laying it on a little less, because I personally don’t prefer the childlike aegyo on Jeong Won. 🙊😅

I get that Jeong Won had big plans to propose to Gyeo Wool at the cathedral, but I do find it weird, that he appears so deflated and discouraged, when Gyeo Wool is unable to make it. After all, she does text him to tell him that something’s come up and she needs to go to Gwangju.

She may not have mentioned her mother, but even so, I feel like Jeong Won should trust Gyeo Wool, that she wouldn’t up and leave for Gwangju, unless it was something really important and urgent.

Plus, since both of them are doctors with such crazy schedules, I would’ve assumed that Jeong Won would be more used to Gyeo Wool being really busy, and not always having time to talk to him on the phone, or give him all the details of what she’s up to.

E8. I’m glad that Gyeo Wool being away didn’t turn out to be a big deal after all, like last episode had hinted it might. Jeong Won’s worried about her, and distracted, but ultimately, it honestly doesn’t feel like it was as big of a deal as last episode had indicated. She does text and call him, and everything works out pretty fine.

However, my sense is that things are primed to get to a point where Jeong Won and Gyeo Wool will need to be more honest with each other. So far, it feels like their relationship has been in this bubble of the flush of new romance, contained within the context of their shared workspace. It’s time that they start to learn more about each other, outside of the hospital, and learn to share their burdens.

E10. When Gyeo Wool’s brother (Park Jung Woo) talks with Gyeo Wool about his fiancée breaking off their engagement, likely because she and her parents couldn’t help but wonder about whether he’d be abusive like his father, I began to understand more about why Gyeo Wool’s been reluctant to share the details of her family life with Jeong Won.

This is a shameful thing in her family, and she doesn’t want him to look at her differently because of it. Plus, there’s also the thing where Jeong Won or his family might end up judging her for it.

However, I’m glad that she tells him anyway, and I’m actually pretty happy with how Jeong Won handles it. I’m glad that he’s never pushed her to tell him, even though all the signs pointed to there being something deeper going on. And I’m glad that when she does tell him, he’s quietly supportive and doesn’t make a huge deal out of it.

Instead, he tells her that of course she should spend more time with her mother, and that he only needs to have dinner with her once a week.

Most important of all, I’m glad that he tells her that it’s not her fault, and that she shouldn’t feel guilty; that he would have made the same choices in her shoes. That’s definitely something that Gyeo Wool needs to hear, because she’s clearly dealing with a good amount of guilt, for being in denial about what her mom was going through.

[END SPOILER]

Jung Kyung Ho as Jun Wan

I do love Jung Kyung Ho as Jun Wan, so even though I feel that we got relatively less of Jun Wan this season than some of the others in our Core Five, I appreciated it each time Show chose to give him the spotlight.

Aside from showing us Jun Wan’s competence and compassion as a doctor, we do get to see more concrete glimpses of Jun Wan’s loneliness this season, which made my heart go out to him so much.

I’m glad that by the end of the season, we get to see Jun Wan forming firmer bonds of friendship with Jae Hak (Jung Moon Sung), which is something that he’s always avoided on principle, before. Jun Wan’s still the gruff polar bear that he’s always been – except that he’s now more comfortable with giving and receiving demonstrations of care and concern, and I do love that.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E2. I like that Jun Wan’s as invested as the rest of the Five, when it comes to his patients, even though he may not show it so much. I liked that scene of Eun Ji’s mother comforting Min Chan’s mother, and assuring her that Jun Wan’s a very good and caring doctor. I do think that no one would understand a mother’s fears, as much as another mother with a child in a similar situation.

I love how happy Jun Wan is, when the surgery is a success, and Min Chan doesn’t end up needing the ECMO machine after all.

E4. Even though I did say earlier in this review, that Jun Wan’s own troubles and struggles felt small when compared to the situations that his patients were facing, I do feel proud of him for the way he puts aside his own problems in such a complete way, and focuses on helping and supporting his patients. When he’s working, there really is no trace, that he’s worried or struggling on the inside. I admire him for that.

And, I love love love the way Jun Wan thinks to use his SNS account to seek support for Lee Gyeong Mi, the patient who’s always all alone in the ICU. How wonderful, that his post results in Gyeong Mi receiving visitors regularly.

I’d actually thought that his efforts had something to do with being jealous of Ik Sun being close to Se Gyeong, but that wasn’t the case at all. Even in the midst of his own troubles, his heart had been on his patient, and how to help her in a way that was beyond himself. I love it, so much.

E6. This episode, I feel sorry for Jun Wan, because he comes across as so lonely. Despite the prickly, aloof sort of persona that he adopts, he really does feel the sting of being alone.

When the idea occurs to him that Jeong Won might want to get married soon, you can practically see the panic in his eyes, because it would mean that Jeong Won would move out, and leave him alone. And then there’s how no one’s really available to keep him company during his non-working hours, and he gets all peeved because of it.

I do want Jun Wan to have someone to be with and feel that he belongs with, but at the same time, I personally find his reliance on the company of others rather unhealthy.

I’d like him to have someone to be with, but I’d also like him to be comfortable enough, to be ok in his own company, so that that someone to be with, becomes a bonus, and not a dependency.

E7. I found Jun Wan’s arc with the young mother quite touching.

He shows gentleness and compassion, even as he maintains complete honesty, in talking about her baby’s prognosis, and even though it’s a difficult conversation, he quietly pushes through with backing down. And in the end, it’s his compassion and honesty that sets this young mother free from the guilt that she’s been carrying, that she’s not doing enough for her baby.

It’s a bittersweet but needful idea, I think, that sometimes we need to be the bearers of difficult truths, and that that difficult truth, might be what someone needs, in order to satisfy their conscience.

[END SPOILER]

Jun Wan and Ik Sun

This loveline turned out to be quite the angsty, low-key one, bubbling away in the background of our story quite a lot of the time.

Without getting into spoilers, I’ll say that I didn’t think the angst was actually necessary, but I understood the reasons for the angst. And, I’m glad that by the time we get to the end of the season, we do get the resolution that we’ve been waiting for.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E1. Jun Wan’s long distance relationship with Ik Sun is sweet and lovey-dovey, but honestly, long-distance relationships rarely do well, particularly in dramas, so I’m bracing myself for some heartache along the way, for this pair of lovebirds. Plus, the package with the ring getting returned feels like a foreshadowing of sorts.

E2. I appreciate that Jun Wan puts aside his own happy news, when he realizes that Ik Sun’s had a bad day, and is struggling to process the racist behavior that she’s just encountered.

While this might look like a setback of sorts to their relationship, I don’t think it is. This is part of love; that you’d be able to put aside your own joy, when you realize that your partner is in need of your support and your listening ear. This is not a distance-related thing, from my perspective, and it’s a good sign, that Jun Wan has the sensitivity and maturity, to provide this to Ik Sun without question.

E3. What a shock it must be for Jun Wan, to hear that Ik Sun’s been injured in a car accident and needs scans for her brain. And, what a narrative-tilting piece of information for him as well, to realize that Ik Sun’s friend Se Gyeong, whom she’s mentioned several times, and who went on the trip with her, along with another couple, is a guy.

I mean, I do believe that Ik Sun sees Se Gyeong as a friend, ie, I don’t think Ik Sun is lying to Jun Wan, and I do think that men and women can be friends. It’s just.. this is going to be tough on Jun Wan, especially with him being so far away.

E4. Among our Five, my heart is most with Jun Wan this episode. The way his story with Ik Sun unfolds this episode, is such a great example of how context is everything.

I have to admit, when we went from Ik Sun reeling from the reveal, that Jun Wan’s been under a lot of stress, and has been keeping his struggles from her while making sure to be there for her, to her breaking up with him over the phone, my mind immediately went to what Ik Jun had said to her, that Jun Wan’s girlfriend appeared to be quite selfish.

Based on what the drama was showing us, Ik Sun really did look selfish. I couldn’t help thinking how it was selfish of her to not even try to find out what was going on with Jun Wan, and switching the focus to him, during their conversations. And also, I couldn’t fathom how she could even think that breaking up with him would be a way of helping to reduce his stress, because of course breaking up with her would only stress him out more.

That is, until Ik Sun calls Ik Jun and reveals that she’s really sick. Ack. That tilted my entire  mental narrative. It suddenly made a lot more sense, why Ik Sun would choose to withdraw from Jun Wan’s world, even if it meant breaking up with him.

She knew that her being sick would only stress him out further, and comparing the two options – telling him and increasing his burden even more, or extracting herself from his life so as to spare him the pain of seeing her sick – I can see why she might think that her choice was the lesser evil.

Of course, as viewers, we just want her to be honest with Jun Wan, and give him a chance to support her through this; to trust Jun Wan’s love for her would be enough to see him through. Even though that’s what I’d want Ik Sun to do and think, I can still understand her choice.

E8. I’m glad that Jun Wan runs into Ik Sun on the bus. I feel like it’s way past high time that they stop skirting the issue, and just confront things head-on. He needs to hear from her, why she’d broken up with him, and she needs to hear from him, that he’d never thought of her as a burden. I hope these two work things out soon, because they definitely miss each other.

E9. I think I have a thing for intense, broody types, because I have to say, I am feeling all kinds of swoony, melty feelings about Jun Wan, particularly in this episode, where he’s quietly intent.

The way he goes straight to Ik Sun in the ER; the way he speaks to her in quiet, low tones; the way he reaches for her phone in such a slow yet deliberate manner; the way he turns to her, when he has to go in for an emergency, and states simply, that they’ll talk properly another time; it’s all so swoony to me, y’all. 😍😍

E9. I’m pleased and relieved that at least, finally, Jun Wan and Ik Sun are positioned to talk things out. It’s entirely possible that Ik Sun might refuse a reconciliation, because she doesn’t want to burden Jun Wan, but I recognize that that’s her decision to make. I just like that they’re going to talk things out. That’s the least that she could do, for Jun Wan. I do think she owes him that much.

E10. I’m so glad, that Jun Wan and Ik Sun finally have a chance to talk things through. I was half afraid that she wouldn’t be at the restaurant anymore, with Jun Wan showing up two hours late because of his surgery going long. But she’s right there, completely understanding, without needing to be told, that he was late because of his surgery.

I really like that Ik Sun is honest about everything now, and even tells Jun Wan that she still likes him. I don’t know if they will end up back together again just yet, but I think it’s important that Jun Wan hears this from her, because he’d been so brokenhearted when she’d ended things with him. I think it’s healing for him, just to hear that she never stopped loving him.

[END SPOILER]

The band

As with Season 1, I found it a pleasure to see the Five doing their band thing together, on a regular basis. It gives me as much of a thrill this season, as it did in Season 1.

I love seeing them make time to make music together, and I love that they each look so absorbed in the music that they are creating together. I’m impressed all over again, by the thought of how much extra time and effort this translates into, for our cast, and this makes me appreciate the inclusion of the band segment, all the more.

I also thought it was great, that the Band segment is used fairly often, to amplify the themes of the episode, &/or to allow certain members of the Five, to work out their angst through music.

Also, what a thrill it was to see the Band perform “It’s My Life” by Bon Jovi, in episode 10! What a bold song choice. I love how great they all sound, and how confident they each look, on their respective instruments. They’ve come such a long way, it’s hard to believe that several of them learned how to play, specifically for the show. 🥲

Special shout-outs:

Ahn Eun Jin as Min Ha

I really enjoy Ahn Eun Jin as Min Ha, and was really glad to see more of her this season.

However, I have to admit that somewhere along the way, I started to feel that Show was amping up her silly, comedic side too much. I mean, I’ve always found Min Ha lovably funny, but these OTT touches detracted from her charm instead of adding to it, I felt. It also felt like Show was trying too hard, to make her quirky.

I honestly feel that treating those more OTT scenes of hers, with more restraint, would have yielded a more organic and pleasing result.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E8. The gregarious over-sharing of Min Ha’s plans to help her parents renovate their pension was borderline acceptable, to me, but the whole talking to the teddy bear thing, and then the thing where she bawled with happiness at the realization that Seok Hyeong was standing in her cubicle, was a bit much, I felt.

I would have preferred if Show had reined those moments in, to make them more restrained. I mean, imagine if Min Ha had started crying at the realization that Seok Hyeong had come in to the hospital to check on her, and was standing right there in her cubicle, but that she’d cried a little more quietly. The scene would’ve landed a lot cuter and sweeter, wouldn’t it? Well, it does in my head anyway. 😅

For the record, I do think it’s sweet that Seok Hyeong went to the hospital on his day off, because he’d heard that she’d fainted from her cramps. That’s sweet of him. ❤️

[END SPOILER]

Shin Hyun Bin as Gyeo Wool

I just wanted to say, for the record, that I think Shin Hyun Bin did a good job of her role as Gyeo Wool.

This season, we see a little more range and expression from Gyeo Wool, as she comes more into her own, and grows in competence and confidence, and I think that Shin Hyun Bin expressed that really well, without losing the touches of awkwardness that, to me, are part of the essence of the character.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E10. I wanted to also say that I had heard that there’s been chatter about how Shin Hyun Bin’s delivery of the crying scene this episode, was quite bad, and showed her acting limitations quite starkly.

Now that I’ve seen the scene for myself, I personally think that it’s not as bad as the rumors say. Yes, it’s a little stiff, but I think Show does a good enough job of softening the flaws, with camera angles, and with Gyeo Wool leaning her forehead on Jeong Won’s shoulder, which effectively hides most of her face. Also, I can rationalize that Gyeo Wool’s a bit of a stiff character anyway, and perhaps this was Shin Hyun Bin’s interpretation of the scene.

I mean, I did once think that Shin Hyun Bin was a terrible actress, but that was back in her Warrior Baek Dong Soo days, and in both seasons of Hospital Playlist, I’ve found her significantly more watchable, which is why I’d like to give her the benefit of the doubt.

[END SPOILER]

Jung Moon Sung as Jae Hak

I wanted to give Jae Hak a shout-out because he’s just the kind of cheerful, uncomplaining character who would get taken for granted and relegated to the sidelines.

This season, I came to appreciate just how much sincere effort he puts into his interactions with Jun Wan. The more we learn about him and his personal situation, the more I realized that it mustn’t always be easy for him to put on a smile, and ingratiate himself to Jun Wan, and yet, he keeps at it anyway. And he does that, not for his personal gain because Jun Wan’s his professor. He does that, because he can see that Jun Wan’s lonely, and too proud to acknowledge it, and so Jae Hak puts himself there to close the gap, and offer Jun Wan company even when Jun Wan vehemently refuses it.

He’s such a good egg, seriously. I’m glad that by season’s end, we see Jun Wan being more expressive about his care and concern for Jae Hak, and I’m glad too, that Jae Hak gets some important good news, on the personal and family fronts.

Kim Hae Sook as Rosa

I’ve always had a soft spot for Kim Hae Sook, and for Rosa, so it was lovely to spend some extra time with Rosa this season. I loved that that spotlight wasn’t on her in relation to her children, but the spotlight was on her, just for her. That felt meaningful to me.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E8. It was tough watching Rosa grow more and more scared of the possibility that she had Alzheimer’s. The scene, where she huddles in bed to cry, after writing out her front door passcode, and her children’s birthdays, in a notebook, is so poignant. This scene really drove home, for me, how frightening it is, for people to start to lose their memory.

It’s such a huge relief, that Rosa doesn’t have Alzheimer’s, but has something that is treatable and reversible. I’m heartened by the different prognosis that this provides, not only for her future, but for the future of all the people who love her.

The other thing that strikes me is, this works out to be a blessing in disguise, because this health scare serves as a wake-up call, not only for Rosa herself, but for Jeong Won as well.

It’s such a touching mother-son moment, when Jeong Won sits with Rosa, and tells her to be selfish, and live the life that she wants to live, and not worry about her kids, and then tells her that even if she gets Alzheimer’s at some point in the future, he and his siblings will remember everything for her, and remind her that they’re her kids and she’s their mother, every day. Guh. That’s such an assuring thing to hear, I’m sure.

I’m glad that this whole episode gives Jeong Won a renewed appreciation for and awareness of his mother, and I’m also pleased to see Rosa finally make the decision to go back to the passion of her youth: playing the keyboard.

That was such a great little scene, to have Rosa replace Seok Hyeong on the keyboard during band practice, because Seok Hyeong had emergency surgery. It was a true treat watching Kim Hae Sook play the keyboard, for posterity.

I know lots of Korean actors have some kind of music background, because so many kids receive some kind of music lessons growing up, but it was still a legit thrill to me, to see veteran screen mom Kim Hae Sook display those keyboard skills. 🤩🤩 As someone who plays the keyboard, I can verify that Kim Hae Sook played that herself, just like everyone else on the band. How awesome, yes?

Also, this is a great mother-son screenshot, dontcha think? ❤️

[END SPOILER]

Rosa and Joon Soo

I personally love the idea of men and women being friends and being comfortable about it, most likely because my closest friend in the world is male, and we have always been completely platonic, and I think it’s great. So it really does warm my heart to see Rosa and Jong Soo hanging out together, and teasing each other, and laughing together, and just generally living life adjacent to each other, in the most warm, guileless, comfortable sort of way.

I loved this pair of besties, so much. ❤️

[SPOILER ALERT]

E8. I really love the friendship between Rosa and Joon Soo. They really are soulmates and besties. The way he potters around her house like it’s the most natural thing in the world; the way he called her as a matter of habit, and that’s how he found out that she’d had a fall; the way he turned that car right around to go get her, and then rescheduled his meetings so that he could be with her while she underwent her tests; the way he basically was her caregiver at the hospital.

He did all of those things like they were second nature to him. I love that. I love how well Joon Soo and Rosa know each other; he’s the one who nudged her to reconsider her music passions from her youth. And he was right there, cheering her on, and recording the whole thing, when she played with the band. Augh. I love it.

E10. I love the detail, that Joon Soo turns out to be a natural at the cooking, and is churning out delicious meals for himself, Rosa and Jeong Won’s mom. That’s part of living his best life too. And, what a cute detail, that Jeong Won’s mom has a slip of the tongue, and addresses his as “Hyung-bu” which is “brother-in-law.” My subs translate her as addressing him by name, but the actual dialogue is so much better, because this means that she effectively thinks of him as filling the role of Rosa’s husband.

[END SPOILER]

Seon Bin and Seok Min

Because theirs is really a pretty small arc, I hadn’t expected to grow a soft spot for Seok Min (Moon Tae Yoo) and Seon Bin’s loveline, but I really did. I think they’re very endearing together.

[SPOILER] I especially liked this scene in episode 6, where Seok Min talks about needing to earn money in order to get married, and Seon Bin jumps in and declares that she has money, so all he needs to do, is come to her. Tee hee.

It’s bold and cute at the same time, and I like the freshness of the prospective bride not being shy to talk money with the prospective groom, even though this seems to be the first time they’re actually talking about settling down. [END SPOILER]

STUFF THAT WAS OK

The patient cases

This season, part the reason we get such long episodes, is because Show takes more pains to acquaint us with the nuances of the patient cases, from episode to episode.

In principle, I liked this, but I did find myself gravitating towards certain patient arcs more than others, which is why I’ve got this in this section.

Here’s the quick spotlight on some of the patient cases that I found particularly stirring.

[SPOILER ALERT]

Eun Ji’ mom and Min Chan’s mom

E3. This episode, the arc that stood out most to me, is the one of the moms. Eun Ji’s mom is such a sweet, earnest, empathetic lady, and goes out of her way to comfort and take care of Min Chan’s mom, that it feels like a punch to the gut, that Min Chan would receive a donor so soon, while Eun Ji’s been on the waiting list for so much longer. But this is not a case of first come, first served, because there are so many other factors at play that determine compatibility.

Eun Ji’s mom knows this, certainly, after having been in the system for so long. She does her best to take it in her stride, and she does an admirable job of congratulating Min Chan’s mom and being happy for her, but at the same time, I completely understand her need to cry. The desperation that comes across as she sobs by herself in the garden, feels so raw. I’m sure she must be wondering when there will be a miracle for Eun Ji too, just as there’s been a miracle for Min Chan.

I imagine it must be so hard, so trying and so exhausting, to be in her position, and it must be so difficult, to keep on keeping on, and keep on hoping, when hope doesn’t seem anywhere in sight. I hope that we’ll get to see Eun Ji and her mom receive their miracle, sometime this season.

E4. This episode, I’m so very glad that Eun Ji gets her miracle. This entire arc brought tears to my eyes.

It was touching to see how sincerely determined and hopeful Jun Wan is, in breaking the news to Eun Ji’s parents, and in how he approaches the transplant itself, and it was utterly moving to see Eun Ji’s mom cry with such relief, disbelief and gratitude. She’s been through a lot, and I’m glad that her patience and endurance has paid off.

I’m also really glad that Min Chan’s mom comes to wish her well, with such heartfelt tears. It’s really heartwarming and poignant to witness how close these women have become in such a short time, because of their shared experience.

E5. I found the arc surrounding Eun Ji’s mom very touching. The way she desires to express her gratitude to the donor’s family is so deeply heartfelt. I love her choice of making a donation in the donor’s name, to honor his memory, and I do think that his parents would be comforted, if they received that note and certificate from her.

The security guard

E7. I liked the story of the security guard this episode. It’s a good reminder that we don’t know what other people are going through, and should give them the benefit of the doubt.

Seong Yeong (Lee Chan Hyeong) and the rest of the team are only concerned about how slow the security guard is, in making the decision on whether to donate his mother’s organs, but what a narrative-tilting reveal we get, that for our security guard, this is his reunion with his mother, with whom he’s lost touch, for 30 years.

What a bizarre and surreal sort of experience it must be for him, to find her and lose her, all in one stroke. And what a sudden burden it must be, to make such a big decision, when he hasn’t seen her in 30 years and doesn’t even remember what she looks like.

I do love how he reconciles it all, eventually, though. I really like the idea that he’s landed on, to process it all; that this is his mother’s final gift to him, to allow him to help other people, while offering him one last chance to do something, as her son. This is poignant and beautiful, and I really liked this beat a lot.

The best friends

E10. Then there’s the pair of friends, where one wants to donate his liver to the other.

The donor friend doesn’t know for sure what kind of after-effects he might have to suffer as a result of the surgery, but he just wants to make sure that his friend survives, so that they can continue hanging out together. When he says that without his friend to hang out with, he’d be bored, it dawned on me that this is also his way of living his best life. His own quality of life would be affected without his friend to share it with, and that’s at least part of the reason he’s so determined to go through with this, even though it’s a risk.

I must say, I found this pair of friends increasingly endearing, the more I saw of them. On first impression, they appeared so disconnected and deadpan, that I almost thought that they weren’t real friends. But the more we find out about them, the more we see that they do care about each other, and this is just the unique tone of their friendship.

[END SPOILER]

The interns

The roving spotlight on the interns just wasn’t one of my favorite things in this show. I understand that they’re needed, in order to fill out our drama world, and also, to give our doctors some young people to mentor. I just didn’t exactly look forward to the intern spotlights.

On top of the existing interns carried over from Season 1, Show introduces more new interns at the episode 6 mark, along with new positions for a number of our characters. Like most people, I don’t take easily to change, and so, I felt that twinge of discomfort, at having my drama world tweaked.

However, I will say that Show manages, with its signature touch, to make the change ultimately land as something that’s warm and even comforting.

STUFF I LIKED LESS

Show’s management of time – sometimes

I’d heard some viewers comment that this season feels a little hollow compared to Season 1, and that it’s too slice-of-life, ie, Show takes us on our characters’ days in too literal a manner.

I didn’t feel it at first, but at around the episode 5 mark, I started to understand why some viewers complained that this show is too literal with the slice-of-life approach. I did feel like the episodes were more meandering, with less going on, on the narrative-driving front.

By episode 8, I felt that Show was definitely becoming more indulgent of itself. The emphasis on slice-of-life got pretty heavy-handed, and some of the writing / directorial choices did bemuse me from time to time.

I love this show, but I do think Show could have exercised some restraint in this area.

Show’s management of themes – sometimes

Like I mentioned earlier in this review, Show’s got an overarching theme each episode, which I thought worked well, for the most part. However, I felt that episode 6 leaned so heavy-handed and saccharine, that it ended up landing rather patronizingly, to my eyes.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E6. The main idea this episode, is about how mistakes are all part of the growth process, and how we shouldn’t be paralyzed by them, but see them for what they are, and keep on keeping on, because that’s the way we learn and grow and become better.

To be clear, I liked some of the individual pieces.

I liked the patient who is kind to Yun Bok, even though she makes a mistake that results in him feeling very uncomfortable. Most patients would show some displeasure, or even kick up a fuss, but he doesn’t. Instead, he keeps in mind that his own daughter is just starting out at work and probably making lots of mistakes too, and he extends the understanding, patience and grace to Yun Bok, that he hopes others will give his daughter. That’s such a lovely way of thinking about it, isn’t it?

And for those who don’t have kids who are just starting at work, there’s always the option of remembering what it was like, when they themselves were just starting out. We get a fair bit of reminiscing this episode, with our Fabulous Five thinking back to the days when they’d been a lot less experienced, and therefore a lot more mistake-prone.

I like that we see them take their experience, and use that to shape how they treat the less experienced colleagues under their charge. Song Hwa defends Seong Yeong’s right to feel attached to a patient from his hometown; Jun Wan and Seok Hyeong tell their juniors that it’s ok to cry in front of patients and their families, even though they themselves had been taught not to cry under any circumstances.

It feels very meaningful to me, that they aren’t handing down rules and instructions that they’ve received from their own professors; they are evolving those rules and instructions in a way that makes sense to them, and which allows for doctors to be more in touch with their emotions and therefore their humanity. I like that.

All that said, this very clearly-themed episode, where even the band’s rehearsal song functions as a mouthpiece for this episode’s key message: “You have a bright future ahead of you; we believe in you; it’s okay, you’ll be fine,” was rather heavy-handed, when everything was put together, side by side. This honestly felt like one extended-play PSA, and I would have much preferred the  feels of simply following our Fabulous Five on their journeys.

[END SPOILER]

When Show kinda-maybe lost its mojo – a little bit

After the PSA-heavy vibe of episode 6, there was a (long) hot second in episode 7, when I feared that Show had lost its mojo.

While I liked episode 7 more than episode 6, it did feel like Show was having some trouble finding its way back to its own X-factor. There were things this episode that should have made my heart sing, but, strangely, didn’t.

Happily, Show does find its way, after episode 7. Phew, and yay. 😅

[SPOILER ALERT]

E7. The main thing that comes to mind, is the connection between Ik Jun and Song Hwa.

Theirs is a bond that has a very special place in my heart, because I think they are perfect for each other, and also, because their relationship just feels quite distinctive, among the other relationships among our Five. So color me bewildered and disappointed, when I felt the lack of spark in their interactions this episode. This is all the more perplexing, because this is the episode where Ik Jun and Song Hwa actually get to spend a good chunk of time together.

For a start, I like the concept of Ik Jun knowing everyone at the hospital, and stopping to talk to many friends on the way to the cafeteria, and I also like the idea that Song Hwa’s reaction is one of affectionate indulgence rather than of irritation – especially since she’s hungry. It’s so easy to be hangry, when your promised meal is getting delayed again and again, because your companion is just too gregarious to stay focused.

However, I did not care for the execution of this. There’s just something that feels.. forced, about this whole thing, like Show feels the pressure to deliver on this point, and goes in too hard and too strong in attempting to deliver, and ends up.. not delivering, as a result. Does that make sense?

The mantra thing also felt forced, like Show was trying too hard to make Song Hwa cute. Listen, Show, Song Hwa is cutest when she’s just being herself. You don’t need to manufacture moments like this, where a grown woman who is a star professional in her field, needs to be forced to recite a mantra, so that she’ll eat slower. I think this is supposed to be funny; I was not amused.

I loved the idea of Song Hwa and Ik Jun going camping together and having lots of time to just chill and hang out together. But somehow, even though we get pretty extended conversations between them about a range of things, it all felt a little hollow, to my eyes.

[END SPOILER]

Some of the jokes / running gags [SPOILERS]

I have a great deal of affection for this show, but I have to confess that sometimes, I just didn’t agree with what Show found funny.

E5. For the record, I do love Sung Dong Il, but I didn’t like how his cameo was directed, this episode. His character’s shouty ways are supposed to be childlike, I think, but I found it all too heavy-handed for my taste.

E9. I have to admit that I was only half interested in the table tennis championship; that felt like quite a random narrative arc, and the humor around it felt extra corny, and even a little bit lame. However, it’s all in good fun, and I appreciate the point, that despite all the posturing and rivalry, these doctors literally drop everything at a moment’s notice, when they hear that a patient needs them.

Special shout-out, for Na PD’s surprise cameo

E10. I was pretty amused by Na PD’s cameo, as Mo Ne’s father.

It’s totally in Show’s quirky style, to have him act offended when Ik Jun says that his character looks like Na PD; that gave me a bit of a chuckle, though I kinda would have preferred it if he’d made that cameo, literally as himself. For those not in the know, Na PD is a star variety show PD; just about every variety show he’s served up, has been a hit, because he’s just that good at weaving a story out of seemingly boring footage.

THEMES / IDEAS

Once I realized that Show tended to have an overarching theme with each episode, I started consciously looking for them. I found that it helped to provide some kind of mental structure to the episode, even when the storytelling approach leaned scattered.

Here are some of the ones that I found more pertinent.

Love is putting someone else’s needs before your own

E2. This episode, we see that done twice. The first time, is when Ik Jun puts aside his own poor mood, in order to give Seok Hyeong a listening ear, and the second, is when Jun Wan puts aside his good news, to give Ik Sun a listening ear. I like that this gesture of love is demonstrated in both platonic and romantic contexts, because this giving attitude is needful and precious in every context.

Being single is a valid state of being

E3. There isn’t much screen time with Seok Hyeong this episode, but I do appreciate the scene where he’s having dinner with his mom, and they acknowledge that there are joys to being single too. Of course, Mom’s point is that there’s even greater joy in having someone to love, but, as a single person myself, I just like the fact that Show acknowledges that the joy in being single is valid too.

Sometimes time and patience is your best answer

E4. I do appreciate the idea of giving things time to blow over, as in the case of Seon Bin and Seok Min. Certainly, this isn’t always a suitable strategy, because sometimes, you do need to get out there and apologize and set things right. But it’s also true that sometimes, you just need to give the other person a bit more time. Wise words from Song Hwa. Again, such a great Unni to have. I love her.

Be generous with your understanding and empathy 

E7. I do like the theme of empathy this episode, because that’s something that we could all use more of, in this world.

I thought the thing with Yun Bok (Cho Yi Hyun) was particularly thought-provoking, because Yun Bok is especially annoyed with the brother’s behavior, and yet, she’s the one who has had personal experience of being at her wits’ end while her mother had been in critical condition.

Her horror at her own lack of understanding and empathy, from having forgotten her own experience, is such a human thing. As humans, we do tend to forget, when time and distance come between us and our past experiences. And it’s so important to gain understanding and empathy for others, from our past experiences, even as we ourselves heal from the pain that we’ve experienced.

Remember to be kind to your parents, even while you’re being kind to everyone else

E7. I did feel like Show’s spotlight on elderly parents this episode, was needful. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the demands of life, and take our elderly parents for granted. Even lovely Song Hwa and wonderful Ik Jun share similar experiences, of feeling impatient with their moms when their moms ask them about work.

Show points out, with sobering accuracy, that our time with our parents is limited, and we can sometimes lose the chance to spend quality time with them, without warning. Like in the case of our security guard who loses his mother this episode, and now, also, with Gyeo Wool’s mother suddenly seriously injured and requiring emergency surgery, and also, Jeong Won’s mom, who’s suddenly losing her memory. It’s a heartachey, uncomfortable topic, but I do think that this is one PSA that more of us need, than we’d like to admit.

This episode, it feels like one of the big ideas Show is serving up, is choosing to love the people around us – particularly our parents – through the seasons.

Don’t be too quick to judge

E8. It’s a good reminder that, 1, just because a patient is elderly, doesn’t mean that they won’t respond well to treatment, and 2, we shouldn’t be too quick to judge the words and actions of their family members, because there are many factors that we wouldn’t know about.

Like the son who hesitated to have his mom go for surgery. He’d been worried about the medical expenses, and he’d also been worried that she wouldn’t be able to tolerate the invasiveness of the surgery at her age. Yet, in the end, he was the one caring for her, after her surgery.

Let’s celebrate unsung heroes

E9. This episode, the focus is on unsung heroes. And, while that may sound a little PSA in nature, this PSA lands a lot more comfortably with me, possibly because I, too, think that these silent heroes deserve more acknowledgement, support and encouragement.

On the hospital front, we have unsung heroes in the nurses, the interns and the emergency care personnel, who all provide essential support, so that the patients are in good enough shape to go into surgery, and also, recover well after surgery. Surgeons like our Fabulous Five might be superstars, but they don’t save the patients on their own. It takes a village, and I appreciate that Show takes the time to demonstrate that to us, this episode.

It’s a good, warm, life-giving sort of sentiment, that we ought to appreciate the unsung heroes around us more, particularly because they tend to have to deal with a lot of stress, while they do their jobs.

I especially liked that arc where the new mom made food for the NICU nurses, after realizing that the nurses had done so much for her baby, and gone largely unnoticed. I thought it was quite perfect, because not only did her note serve as important encouragement to the nurses (who legit teared up), her choice of giving them food felt perfectly fitting, because these nurses had cared for her baby, until her baby had been able to swallow well on her own.

And then there’s Professor Shin, who literally rushes back to the hospital for surgery, even though he was already en route to Busan for a conference, and the bus he was on, was already on the highway. The way doctors are basically on call even when they’re technically not on call, means that their plans, personal or otherwise, often get derailed because of an emergency at the hospital. That’s something that they do as a matter of course, but so often, this goes under-appreciated as well. So in a sense, all the doctors are unsung heroes as well.

SPOTLIGHT ON THE PENULTIMATE EPISODE [SPOILERS]

Listen. Only this show would have the audacity to serve up an almost 2-hour episode – and leave me feeling like I’m ready for more, and soon, if possible, pretty please with a cherry on top.

I was stunned, of course, to see Ik Jun so beat up and so bloody, as he gets taken into the ER. I mean, I would’ve been just as gutted if it had been Jun Wan, I’m sure, but it was just.. really hard to see him all bloodied up and swollen, and only semi-conscious. Ack. I can only imagine how horrifying it must’ve been for Song Hwa, to see him like this.

On hindsight, I realize that it makes narrative sense for Ik Jun to have been the one attacked, because this is exactly the kind of push that Song Hwa needs, in order to finally gather her courage to actually do something about her feelings for Ik Jun. I think without this accident acting as a catalyst, our Song Hwa would have been perfectly content to leave things vague between them, because this way, they would continue to be close, but they wouldn’t have to risk their friendship, in taking things romantic.

This episode, it’s immediately clear just how important Ik Jun is, to Song Hwa.

From the way she rushes down to the ER, to how she instinctively reaches for his hand, to how she insists on staying with him every night, even though the other boys are ready and available to stay with him too. And, her explanation, “I want to stay by his side; let me,” says so much, about how close he is, to her heart.

I’m almost surprised that the other boys don’t pick up on how oddly soulmate-flavored this statement is, but I rationalize that it’s the middle of the night, and everyone’s in shock and therefore possibly not thinking very straight. Plus, Song Hwa’s the neurosurgeon among them, and Ik Jun’s suffering from a head injury. And there’s the decades of friendship that all of them share, where any of them would be willing to do the same for Ik Jun, which is why I think Song Hwa’s earnest and quietly desperate request doesn’t ping their interest more.

We have to wait until the end of the episode, before we actually see Song Hwa make her confession, but my goodness, it was totally worth the wait. More on that in a little bit.

In the meantime, I’m just glad that Ik Jun’s not too hurt after all, and is recovering quickly. I love-love-love the scene where Uju comes to visit Ik Jun at the hospital, and sobs his little heart out, while clinging onto Dad. Awwww. I think my heart burst, a little bit, during this scene. It’s just so poignantly sweet to see how precious these two are, to each other. 🥰

Also, I like how this situation creates a reason for Ik Sun to come to Seoul, because I still want to see how things sit, between her and Jun Wan. Show still hasn’t revealed what Jun Wan said to Ik Sun at their last meet-up at the restaurant, but there’s still this hyperawareness between them that’s tinged with awkwardness, even as they try to act normal around each other.

In particular, I like the softness in Ik Sun’s voice, whenever she speaks with Jun Wan; that feels like a tone that she’s reserving just for him, and I’m definitely curious to see how Show treats this loveline, in our finale. Especially since it looks like we won’t be getting a Season 3 anytime soon, if ever. (I just read that they’ve already started demolishing the Yulje set. 😭💔)

I liked all the various side stories, this episode, but Imma be honest, I was most taken with the progress that we get in Seok Hyeong’s loveline with Min Ha.

First of all, let me just say that I’m thrilled to know that Seok Hyeong doesn’t actually have plans to leave Korea to move to the US. Now that he’s said that, I can totally see where he’s going with this; he’s using this idea of him moving to the US, to put things in perspective for his mom, so that Mom will be more forgiving and tolerant of Min Ha – because, if I read Seok Hyeong’s intentions correctly, he’s planning to tell Mom that he’s only staying because of Min Ha. Ahh! Who would’ve guessed that our Shy Bear would have this much strategic savvy in him?

I loved that moment at the movie theater, when Seok Hyeong answers yes, when Rosa asks if he and Min Ha are there on a date. I was as happily shocked as Min Ha, and then eagerly lapped up every little hint that Seok Hyeong is now treating Min Ha romantically.

Like the way he calls her, just to ask if she’s had dinner, and offers to buy her food on his way to the hospital – and then gives her a feast to share with her colleagues. (I would’ve preferred if he hadn’t scammed that feast off Ik Jun, but whatever, at this point. 😆) And there’s also how he drives her home, and then gets out of the car, so that he can walk her to her door.

I am so very proud of Min Ha, though, for nudging him – so politely, and with some fear and trembling in her eyes (because, what if she gets rejected, right?) – to clarify their situation. I love how she asks him to tell her how he feels about her, in that dogged yet gentle way, even though there’s a part of her that’s afraid and mortified, and even though Seok Hyeong starts chuckling nervously in response.

I laughed out loud in delight, when Min Ha says, “If you ask me out, my answer is yes.” Tee hee. She’s adorable, and I can totally see why she’s managed to melt Seok Hyeong’s heart.

Seok Hyeong’s confession is so perfectly him. It’s shy and quiet, but there’s certainty in his voice, as he says, “I like you.. I like you too. So you can stop confessing your feelings now.” Eeee!!! I honestly literally silent-squeed at my screen, and had to hug myself to calm myself down; this was just too perfect and too delightful. Their hug is so heartfelt, and the tinges of awkwardness amid the heartfelt, make it all so charming. ❤️

I’m so happy for these two. I’m so glad that Min Ha’s choice to keep wearing her heart on her sleeve, despite all the previous rejections, has paid off, and I’m glad, too, that our Shy Bear has finally found the courage to give love another chance.

As for Jeong Won and Gyeo Wool, I really liked the scene where Rosa asks Jeong Won about whether he and Gyeo Wool are planning to get married. Jeong Won’s explanation about what Gyeo Wool’s been going through, and how it’s just not a good time right now, and how he’s planning to wait until everything’s more settled, for Gyeo Wool, before talking about marriage, feels so grounded and mature. And the way he’s actively deferring to Gyeo Wool, for steps forward, instead of asking to meet her mother, for instance, feels really considerate too.

And, more than this, I love Rosa for her empathetic response, when Jeong Won asks her if she’s bothered by Gyeo Wool’s family situation. I love Rosa for not only being understanding, but appreciative, even, for how Gyeo Wool’s managed to grow up so well, in an abusive environment. I didn’t think I could love Rosa more, but apparently I can. She’s so awesome. ❤️

Last but not least, I sincerely loved the confession scene that we get, between Song Hwa and Ik Jun.

It’s so perfect, that Song Hwa chooses a time when they’re doing one of their favorite activities together: watching the rain, while sipping on coffee. This has been A Thing between them for a long time, so it feels like the ideal setting, for Song Hwa to lay her feelings out in the open.

I love how awkward and yet how candid her confession is. And, even though she says that she’ll say it quickly, she really doesn’t rush it. She gets her words out carefully and honestly, and pushes through, even though she feels embarrassed. I love it.

“Ik-jun-ah.. I’m a little embarrassed, so I’m only going to say it once, quickly. Listen carefully, okay? Don’t look at me. Keep your eyes ahead. Do you know what was the first thought that crossed my mind when I heard you were attacked? “I should have told him… that I like him. I really should’ve told him.” That was the first thought that popped into my head.

(Awkward pause) (Aside to Ik Jun: Look ahead.)

So with that said… If your feelings for me haven’t changed, how about we… start seeing each other?”

When Ik Jun replies, “I’ll give you my answer,” I half thought he meant, like, soon, or some other time.

But instead, he moves in and grabs her for this deep, heartfelt, ardent kiss, with years of pent-up emotion built in, and I’m a flailing puddle of squee, all over my bedroom floor. Eeeeeahhhh!!

And, I do love that afterwards, he cradles her face, and then draws her in for a hug; a wonderful, hold-you-tight sort of hug, like he never wants to be apart from her, ever again.

Melt. Meltmeltmelt~ 

YESSSS. It’s taken literal decades, from the time they’d nursed crushes on each other, for them to finally be on the same page at the same time, and take this step to become a couple, and I couldn’t be happier for them. These two dorks are just perfect for each other.

Be happy together, you two. 🥲

THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]

I have such mixed feelings coming to the end of this show, my friends.

On the one hand, I felt eager to see what Show had to serve up, in its finale, and on the other hand, I sincerely didn’t want this to end, especially since more and more articles have come out stating that Season 3 is not likely to happen. What a sucker-punch to the gut, to realize this only as I was getting close to the end of Season 2. It felt like Show was breaking up with me, after promising to be with me for at least 3 seasons.

I wanted to inhale this finale – but slowly and carefully. Because this might be the last we see, of our Fabulous Five, ever. 😭

I’m one of those who never struggled with this show’s long episodes, so I appreciate that Show takes the time to still shine the spotlight on patient cases, in this last episode. It could have just focused on our core five, and I would have had no complaints whatsoever; they are why I am loving this show as much as I am, after all.

In deciding to share the spotlight with various patients and their families, Show feels rather generous, to my eyes. I mean, I imagine that making a shorter, more focused episode would have been faster, and a lot less work, and I am guessing that no one would have minded in the least. But Show demonstrates that the patients and their families are worth the investment of time and effort, just as our core five are worth the investment of time and effort, and I rather like that.

Plus, I am happy to see that Jae Hak’s wife and baby are well, AND that he gets his money back from that scammer from Season 1. I really am happy for him.

Having said that, I have to admit that my heart was wholly set on our Five, through this entire two hours. What can I say? The heart wants what it wants. 😅

I truly love how matter-of-fact and upfront our friends are, with one another, in terms of their changed dating status. Aside from Jun Wan, who kept – and it appears, continues to keep – his feelings for Ik Sun a secret, everyone else seems so candid. I love how, when the rest of the Five realize that Seok Hyeong’s dating Min Ha, they’re genuinely thrilled for him.

I also love how Song Hwa, when confronted with the question of what she’s doing that weekend, chooses to be honest, and says that she and Ik Jun are going on a date. The running gag, that the other boys simply don’t believe it, is quite amusing to me. It’s so great, though, that Song Hwa and Ik Jun aren’t being weird about it with their friends.

Instead, they’re feeling weird about it with each other, which tickles me quite a bit. That little scene, of Song Hwa trying to feed Ik Jun in an effort to be romantic, and fails, might be a little sad for any other couple, but these two just laugh at the goosebumps that they’re getting, and just carry on eating, in good spirits. I love them.

I kinda-sorta wish that we’d gotten to see them do more lovey-dovey couple things, but they seem to fall into their new dynamic so seamlessly, that there’s nothing especially lovey-dovey to see. I guess that’s testament to how well they know each other, and how well they fit together. Taking things to a romantic place was just the natural next step, it kinda feels like.

And, I do appreciate the low-key, matter-of-fact way Show confirms, at the end of the episode, that these two have gotten comfortable enough in their relationship, to sleep in the same tent. It just works, for these two. 🥰

Conversely, I love that we do get to see Seok Hyeong and Min Ha sharing their first kiss. I love how Seok Hyeong’s always the one reminding Min Ha to take things slow, and get to know him better first, and I do love Min Ha’s response, as she reminds him that while this is all very new to him, it’s already been a long time, for her. Aw.

I love how Seok Hyeong considers that for a moment, and gazing at her with the most gentle look in his eyes, steps in closer to her, and then closer still, before he finally kisses her. And then kisses her again. Eee!!! The way they wrap their arms around each other feels so.. tentative, yet so sweetly hungry. I’m flailing all over again. Ahhhh!!

And the little mini gurgles we hear from them, as they hug each other tight afterwards, are just so precious.

Also, I love how, after this point, we see that Min Ha starts addressing Seok Hyeong as “Oppa,” whenever they’re alone together. This is so adorable. I luff this.

On a slight tangent, I do love that little scene where Song Hwa and Seok Hyeong confirm their respective dating situations. I love how Song Hwa congratulates him so happily, and it’s so funny to me, that Seok Hyeong needs to confirm twice, that Song Hwa’s not kidding about dating Ik Jun, and then congratulates her really happily too. Tee hee. Seok Hyeong can be such an adorable dork. 🤩

Plus, this scene of Seok Hyeong being sincerely happy for Song Hwa, leans poignant, since Seok Hyeong’s crush on Song Hwa, back in college, had been the whole reason Ik Jun had decided to hold back. 🥲

I was honestly really taken aback by Jeong Won’s announcement that he’s planning to go to the US for a year, to study small bowel transplantation in a more in depth manner. I’m immediately gutted by the idea that our Five will be missing one of their own, for a whole year.

However, I do appreciate that this feels organic to Jeong Won’s character, since we see him struggling with the small bowel transplant this episode. Also, I’m heartened to know that Gyeo Wool will be going with him. That will be an opportunity for them to deepen their relationship, outside of the context of the hospital.

Still, it pains my soul to hear Ik Jun say, “But why do I… get the feeling that this will be our last jam session?” Argh, Show. Did you have to kick me where it hurts?? 😭

I was mesmerized by the band session this episode, partly because the vocal harmonies sound SO good, and also, partly because of the poignance of this very likely being the actual last session that they have, together. In particular, I thought Seok Hyeong’s and Ik Jun’s voices blended together perfectly (literally gave me chills, you guys), and I couldn’t help thinking to myself, that this band is such great evidence, of just how well these people fit together.

As for Jun Wan, I’d been wondering what Show was planning to do for his loveline with Ik Sun, and in the end, I do think that Show’s choice is quite perfect. The way he goes to Changwon to see her, claiming that he’s there for jjajangmyeon and ganjjajang, is SUCH a perfect throwback to how he’d first gone to see her in Season 1, to confess his feelings for her. Ahhh.

I LOVE the way he grabs her hands and puts them around him, as he draws her in for a hug. And I love, too, that Ik Sun only needs that initial prompting a little bit, because her arms automatically go right to where they need to be, to hold him tight. Awww. I love it, so much.

This episode, it also warms my heart, to see that Rosa and Joon Soo are going to live together in her house, now that it appears he’s sold his house in order to help his son with setting up a clinic in Seoul. I don’t even care that Show doesn’t give their relationship a label; I don’t care if they’re platonic or romantic; I just love how comfortable they are together, and I love the idea that they’re going to be there for each other, comfortably in the same space, for the big things as well as the little things.

In the end, I’m gutted that we’ll be unlikely to share in more of our Fabulous Five’s lives, but based on everything that I’ve seen of their friendship, I have confidence that they’ll continue to be there for one another, no matter what, for a long, long time – kinda like Rosa and Joon Soo. And that thought comforts me, as I say my goodbyes, to my Favorite Five. 🥲❤️

THE FINAL VERDICT:

A little indulgent in spots, but brings all of the feels so well, that it doesn’t even matter.

FINAL GRADE: A-

TRAILER:

MV:

PATREON UPDATE!

The next drama I’ll be covering on Patreon, in place of Hospital Playlist 2, is Hometown Cha Cha Cha. I’ve taken an initial peek, and I like it very well, so far! 😄

If you’d like to join me on the journey, you can find my Patreon page here. You can also read more about all the whats, whys, and hows of helping this blog here. Thanks for all of your support, it really means a lot to me. ❤️

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beez
9 days ago

@Eric – I doubt The Bear came down hard on his mom or even had a serious talk with her. He might, some years down the line after the Harriden causes his wife many, many headaches. But for now, the fact that he used the ruse that he was moving to America so that his mother would be grateful to his girlfriend says a lot. Not standing up to the Harriden is what cost him his first marriage and I don’t think he’s truly learned that he needs to grow a pair when it comes to mom.

Sam Butler
Sam Butler
14 days ago

Sadly, I didn’t enjoy this season as much as the first. Where the first season was a character driven drama set in a hospital,I thought the second was more a hospital drama with occasionally interesting characters. The acting and production were still superb, but a hospital drama is still a hospital drama. You either like them or you don’t.

Alexandra
Alexandra
21 days ago

Great review, Fangirl, thank you! I agree with many things you said, although the patronizing factor was more disturbing for me.
I loved Season 1 although I agree it’s a fairy tale for grownups. Everyone is so professional, good looking, kind etc. It didn’t bother me in the first season, but it did bother me a lot in the second one. I thought it was way too preachy. I didn’t like many of the patient cases because of this; the theme was too obvious to me (almost everyone admitted their own mistakes in the end, said sorry, changed their ways, so not happening in real life). I would have liked more focus on the 5 friends and their friends at the hospital and not so much on the patients and their by the book cases. I felt the cases in Season 1 showed more about the doctors themselves or the relationships between them, they were more entangled with the story of the main characters.
Also the senior doctors were too perfect. Never making a professional mistake (only the juniors)? Never losing their temper? Always so understanding and angelic?
I felt the break up between Jun Wan and Ik Sun was way to draggy, I mean more than a year and a half before their eventual reconciliation? Too much superfluous sadness for Jun Wan as far as I’m concerned. Also the IkSong couple felt too dragged, also almost 2 years before they got together? This people are in their 40ties, don’t they fell they have to hurry a bit? J
In the first Season it was obvious for me that Jeong Won liked Gyeo Wool, there were many little moments that suggested it, but in the second one they were just too childish. Not even in my twenties did I behave like that or my friends. They were not believable too me. Also not believable that they could hide their relationship for so long at work.
I agree with what you said about Min Ha written a bit over the top and about Song Hwa acting too silly for her age sometimes.
But what bothered me the most is that they were really too flawless. Not being able to sing is not a flaw, really J No one is that perfect, considerate, professional, patient, kind. Too much sugar is just too much.
Also there is too much work in this drama. Everyone takes their jobs too seriously. Even though you are a doctor, you should have a meaningful and fulfilled life outside the hospital. You are not God to save everyone at any given hour. I also find it difficult to believe they would be so happy and perfectly relaxed without a family of their own. I just don’t see this in real life.
I watched the first Season several times but I don t feel at all like rewatching Season 2, maybe just some scenes. I did like many particular scenes, but not so much the whole. The actors are great though and they deserve praise.

beez
23 days ago

@KFG – Did you know Kim Hae Sook sings really, really, really well? After hearing her sing in Robbers, I went searching to see if she had any albums or of she had been a famous trot singer or something back in the day. Alas, I found nothing. 😥

As for Hospital Playlist, I loved the slice of life and even loved the meandering but I could’ve done with less time with the patients if that would’ve allowed for more time for certain things to be shown. Of course I wanted to see more of Ik jun and Songhwa, but what I was really dying to see is The Bear’s difficult mother realizing that the young lady that she was so rude to will become her daughter-in-law. 😆

Eric
Eric
23 days ago

Wow, great review. Show deserves an A. I agree with almost everything.

The problem with the Shy Bear arc is that his initial marriage was completely destroyed by his abusive mother. (I use that word advisedly, she is abusive). Worse, he passively watched while his mother harassed his first wife until things exploded. He just watched while his first wife stole from his mother (no sympathy, the crazy old lady deserved worse) but didn’t even talk to her about it. The bit where Song Hwa confronts him about his failure to even try to solve the problem his mother and his marriage – yes, showed him the problem and how serious his failure was. Now, we’re all cheering for Min ha to get what she wants – but how is this supposed to work without the Shy Bear doing something dramatic to change things with his mom? Has he really stopped being a mama’s boy loser? I had a lot of trouble believing he should be in a relationship. He did engage in some subtle manipulation to try to make mother see Min Ha in a good light. But still, the mother shaped truck of doom is bearing down on his relationship. If there’s a season 3, something has to change for this relationship to have a prayer. I wish they’d given him a real chance to show he can manage abusive mom during season 2. Someone that crazy isn’t going to just stop on her own.

Loved the “It’s my life” song set! And the part where Song Hwa sings and we realize how Ik Jun hears it! Ha, golden. I knew that they had to let her sing in her real voice at least once.

I had so much sympathy for Jun Wan. He’s so dedicated but seriously burned out in this season. Excellent writing, excellent acting. I don’t think his problems are small at all. He’s a real person and stretching himself very thin, unable to tap into much happiness (?except the music sets with his friends, and chats with work friends) for much of the season. Powerful stuff. The noble idiocy arc with Ik Sun – I wish that hadn’t been written, and it should have been solved sooner and more definitively. Physicians have among the highest suicide rates of any profession, and the burn out problem is the iceberg under that tip. And doctors do NOT just read their ex-girlfriends chart! But good to see him with a hopeful happy ending.

beez
23 days ago
Reply to  Eric

@eric – did I miss Overbearing Mom finding out that Min ha, the girl she was so rude to, is The Bear’s girlfriend? (I tend to fall asleep and sometimes never realize that I did)

Eric
Eric
21 days ago
Reply to  beez

I’m not sure this was ever addressed. The part I may have missed (but I don’t think I did) is where Shy Bear has some hard conversations with his mother. He might explain how destructive her past behavior has been, or tell her flat out that he won’t let her treat Min Ha that way. Or that if she doesn’t change her ways she won’t be having any grandchildren (or seeing them if they come), etc. Having Rosa (for example) come down harder on his mother could have helped, but this was really his fight. This is really what is needed for us to really believe that he has a chance at happiness. It’s cute that he manipulated things so his mother thinks his girlfriend convinced him to stay in Korea. But this is hardly solving the problem or showing him really completing the heroic journey that his character needs. I’m not at all opposed to the character or his story arc, I just think the writers cheated their way out of a difficult problem.

MC
MC
24 days ago

Oh KFG! Thanks for such a lovely detailed review. It’s impossible to capture everything but I think you are as close to it as it can possibly be. Loved the show so much and love everything you said.

I agree with you on everything. How are we drama twins?

Random thoughts cos nothing else to add to your marvellous review:

  • Did not see dark horse Seok Hyung sneaking up to become my favourite of the five? And this is coming from a diehard Jung Kyung Ho fan girl!
  • Loved the couples bur my favourite was Chu Chu and Bear. Seok Hyung had to come so far to get to this point of being so open, it was so lovely to see his growth and Chu Chu’s persistence winning.
  • The heartbreak around Ik Sun and Jun Wan was hard to watch but it made sense and I’m glad they found their way back to each other at the end. And Ik-Song couple – I loved the slow burn and Ik Jun is seriously the perfect boyfriend – the way he cares for Song Hwa is ♥️
  • The doctors being so compassionate and capable was a highlight especially Chu Min Ha and of course favourite perfect girl Song Hwa.
  • I actually liked all the themes and all the episodes I didn’t find any a drag. I liked the one on their parents growing older and sick and having to face that cos that’s something that hit close to home recently, my mum becoming ill. I love that it was so realistically done.

Just too much to say so I’ll stop here. There’s so much this show does right. I mean it’s the same for all Shin Won Ho shows – they’re so hard to watch sometimes cos you feel so much but yet also it’s so comforting.

The last thing I wanted to say is that for all the derision kdramas get (thankfully lesser now but the roll eyes effect still comes when you tell people you watch kdramas) – this show (and some others like My Mister, Misaeng) made people say things like “thankful I watched it, I grew watching them” “it was a comfort to me in dark times” “I laughed and cried and journeyed with them” “it taught me to be brave and strong” and that, friends, is the power of the kdrama – makes you heal, learn, and feel. I too am one of them – grateful to have watched this show, comforted by it, and grateful for your lovely review that brings me back with all the feels and lessons learnt. Thank you so much, KFG ♥️♥️

Sara
24 days ago

Thanks for the review!

It took me several episodes to get into season 1 but after that I was hooked, and I enjoyed season 2 just as much as the first season.

It seems like a common criticism of this show is that the characters are too perfect. I agree with that but somehow don’t mind it because they’re just so damn likeable.

I love Song-hwa and Ik-jun, but found myself more invested in Seok-hyeong and Min-ha this season. Love the shy bear.

Susan
Susan
25 days ago

Thank you, Kfangurl! Your review completed my viewing experience. Totally agree with your analysis…so profound! This show was a joy to watch–season 2 was a bonus for fans. My favorite aspect of the finale was that it remained true to it’s “slice-of-life” format. For example, Ik Jun’s comment about the last band practice was not the ending, but easily could have been as it was expected. While watching dramas, I tend expect and prefer an ending where the character arcs and plot are neatly wrapped up in a believable and satisfying conclusion. However, as much as I didn’t want it to end, the last episode concluded logically, and within it’s format using the beautiful sunrise-sunset scene–LOVED it! 🌅👏😭 Thanks again ,Kfangurl!

Antonio
25 days ago

In this show all the protagonists, and in particular FL, are not only annoyingly flawless, but even perfect saints.

Boredom and indifference took hold of me around episode 9 of the first season and I left with no regrets.

Leslie
Leslie
25 days ago

Thanks for a wonderful wrap up, Fangurl. Your review hits every nail on the head, from my perspective.

Like you, I didn’t want the show to end, and kept putting off watching Ep. 12. Knowing your final review would post tonight, I made myself sit down this afternoon, Kleenex in hand, and watch it. I promptly shed a few good-bye tears at the beginning, and then again at the end of the show. In between I enjoyed every single 120 minutes. I loved having a drama on my docket that was a sure bet for emotional satisfaction (95%+ of the time, at least.) For me, everyone’s story wrapped satisfactorily (although I would have been happy with more!), so I’m making myself ok with no Season 3. In a year, or so, I’ll rewatch Season 2, and get the feels and satisfaction all over again.

Trent
25 days ago

Another great review, and it comes pretty close to my reaction to the show. The show, and it’s roster of characters, particularly the core five, just feels like drama comfort food.

One thing that really drew me to the first season, and remained a consistent hallmark of this season as well, is how much I liked how our core characters were just so good at their jobs–at the top of their respective specialties, basically–while still being humble and not all puffed up and arrogant about it. And so, unlike various U.S.-based medical shows or movies that I’ve glanced at over the years, it never needs to resort to either the doctor blowing it and worrying that their own malpractice or screw-up caused something bad to happen, on the one hand, or wrestling with the doctor’s “god complex” and arrogance on the other hand, for its dramatic conflict and tension.

Because I just get so tired of those tropes. One thing that makes this show so comforting is that its dramatic focus and narrative tension is all directed elsewhere, allowing our core cast to be just really good at what they do (we talked a lot about “competence porn” when we were group watching Dr. Romantic, and although this show is less overtly melodramatic than that one, that’s kind of what I’m getting at. It’s very soothing for the well-trained professional to just expend their best effort, with care and compassion, to fix things. Sometimes it doesn’t work, even in this show; as the man reminded us “sometimes bad things happen to good people,” but it’s the overall effect that is strong and present here, and I appreciate it).

In the end, really appreciated being able to spend another twenty hours or so (I actually added up the running times, and it’s just around twenty hours) with the Yulje crew.

Medea
Medea
26 days ago

Great review, KFG! I enjoyed this season a teensy bit less than the previous one, but it was still very good! I definitely felt the length of the episodes though – I used the fast-forward button far more than I did season 1, and I had to split the episodes into three parts towards the end.

I’m also really happy to hear that you’re covering Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha next! I’m enjoying it a lot so far, though I feel like the show goes rather ham with the music and the slo-mo whenever our OTP has a “romantic moment.” I love all of the side storylines though, and the small-town community feeling! It’s quite Stars Hollow-esque, and that’s very high praise in my book 🙂 It’s also nice seeing Kim Young-Ok on my screen again.

Are you considering watching Yumi’s Cells? The concept is a little out there, but I’m rather liking how they’re handling it so far. I was worried about all of the animations involved in the show, but it’s actually working quite well!

Snow Flower
Snow Flower
26 days ago

I am not much of a medical drama person, but I did like Season 1. As for Season 2, I found it rather boring most of the time. There were some great scenes, and I did like the last episode, but I thought that the story could have been told in fewer (and shorter) episodes. As much as I enjoyed the characters, I am glad that there is not going to be a Season 3. I am happy that things work out for Jun Wan and Jae Hak, so I am not complaining…