“Hospital Playlist” is a crowd-favorite Korean series, starring Jo Jung-suk, Jung Kyung-ho, Kim Dae-myung, Yoo Yeon-seok, and Jeon Mi-do.
The show is more than a medical drama that incorporates “life” into the incredibly busy career of doctors and reflects the reality of life, death, and relationships through the diverse stories of patients.
One main highlight of the series is the friendship of five doctors. They met and became best of friends since they entered medical school and worked together as competent doctors in the same hospital. Despite their busy schedules, they find time to gather in one place and perform music together.
Here are the five most loved doctors of the show and why they are friendship goals:
1. Dr. Lee Ik-jun, General Surgery
Professor Lee Ik-jun is a popular liver transplant specialist and a great lecturer. On top of being a competent doctor, he is known for his cheerful charisma and sense of humor, making him “everyone’s friend” in the hospital—both patients and health care workers.
Although he is a friendly doctor, he reminds the resident doctors and interns, “Doctors have to study a lot. You can’t save patients by being friendly to them.”
In college, he was always at the top of his class, got the highest grades, and had the highest score on the medical board exam despite living a life in clubs. “I’m not sure if he’s just that smart or if he studied in secret,” a fellow doctor from the emergency department wondered.
But Dr. Lee’s life is no perfect at all. Since his wife divorced him for another man, he lived life as a single father to a smart and adorable boy, Uju. “I just need you, dad. You’re my favorite person in the entire universe,” his son affirms him.
He isn’t just a competent doctor and a loving father, but he is also a good vocalist and guitarist. Being an optimist sanguine, he knows how to have fun and acts as the circus master especially when he is with his bestfriends, turning disaster and dull moments into humor.
The doctor of General Surgery was portrayed by Jo Jung-suk who began his career in musical plays. He also co-starred with Kim Seonho in the 2017 drama, “Two Cops” where they both won the “Excellence Awards for Actor” at the MBC Drama Awards.
In 2020, he won the “Best Actor of the Year” for his role in “Hospital Playlist” at the Brand of the Year Awards and took second place in the September 2021 Brand Reputation’s list of drama actors.
2. Dr. Kim Jun-wan, Cardiothoracic Surgery
Professor Kim Jun-wan is the best heart surgeon in the city who appears to be cold and distant. “He has no interest in other people’s lives,” a fellow health worker describes him. He gives honest, harsh, and objective opinions to his patients, resident doctors, and nurses that his staff are afraid of him when he is around.
Being a powerful choleric at work, he corrects wrongs and seeks practical solutions. He tells his colleagues:
“How do feelings help with surgeries? I’ll be emotional if it helps, but it doesn’t.”
“We must stick to the facts.”
“Don’t bring your personal life into the OR.”
“Do you want the patient to die? Use all of your vocabulary, intelligence, emotional intelligence, or superpower.”
“If the doctor gives up on the patient, he isn’t a doctor anymore.”
Despite being dominant, strict, and obnoxious, he is a thorough and conscientious doctor who cares about his patients and checks in on them often. Interestingly, he hides a soft and kind temperament that rarely shows and surfaces alone on certain patients and when he is around his bestfriends.
He also gets lonely when it comes to personal matters, doesn’t open up easily, and moved to tears when a patient dies. Moreover, he is considerate to his students when problem arises. “He may look tough on the outside but is soft on the inside,” one of his bestfriends, Dr. Ik-jun says.
Personally, he loves golfing, in love with his bestfriend’s sister, and one of the guitarists of the band.
The doctor of Cardiothoracic Surgery was portrayed by Jung Kyung-ho who was also famous for his police role in “Prison Playbook” (2018).
3. Dr. Yang Seok-hyeong, Obstetrics and Gynecology
Although he appears as an aloof and emotionally distant doctor, Professor Yang Seok-hyeong is highly competent and dependable in the department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
He favors those who are responsible over the brainy and smart staff, much different with Doctors Lee Ik-jun and Kim Jun-wan who prefer intelligence at work.
Among the five doctors, he is the introverted one and has the most dramatic experience in life whose little sister died and wife divorced him.
Moreover, his father had an affair with a young woman, coaxed an employee into organ trafficking, was charged with tax evasion, and paid 10 billion won in penalty tax alone. This caused his mom to suffer from depression and worse, stroke.
Due to these unfortunate events in their family life, his mom becomes his priority more than finding a new partner and socially going out on weekends.
His bestfriends discuss, “He was brusque with his mom. He talked behind her back a lot, saying she was so spiteful and scary. But now he is a mama’s boy.”
Although he is a sociophobe who would rather stay at home and watch comedy shows, he takes the time to bond with his bestfriends. In fact, he was the one who initiated the idea of a band and since then, they regularly practiced musical pieces at the basement of his house. He is the keyboardist of the group.
Personally, he prefers to be alone and stay single but ended up falling in love with a resident doctor who likes him a lot.
The doctor of Obstetrics and Gynecology was portrayed by Kim Dae-myung who rose to fame in the 2014 series, “Misaeng” where he won the “Excellence Award for Actor” at the 8th Korea Drama Awards.
4. Dr. Ahn Jeong-won, Pediatric Surgery
The most compassionate, generous, and heartwarming character of all belongs to Professor Ahn Jeong-won, the doctor for kids. He is a perfect melancholy at work who sets high standards, is conscientious, and perfectionist.
“There aren’t a lot of doctors like him. He has a strong sense of duty and the way he treats patients is exemplary,” states the Hospital’s Foundation Chairman.
However, when something goes wrong with his patient, he loses sleep for a month, gets depressed when his patient dies, but the happiest of all when his patient recovers well. “Jeongwon is the kindest one out of all my kids. He’s always been very empathetic and affectionate since he was little. He’s emotionally sensitive,” his mom says.
Yearly, he complains to his older brother who is a priest about patients who died in his hands, “I don’t deserve to be a doctor. I’m not good enough and I’ve got nothing to show for. I’m going to quit being a doctor. I’m going to quit tomorrow.” His brother always responds with, “Hang in there for one more year. Let’s try this for one more year. Okay?”
Although he is the youngest son of the Chairman in Yulje Hospital, he never brags about it, nor uses his wealth to his own advantage, and doesn’t have any desire for material possession even though his family is super rich. In fact, he kept it as secret to his bestfriends for twenty years.
Another undisclosed activity in his life is operating the “Daddy-Long-Legs Foundation” that helps financially poor patients pay the hospital bills and the “Guardian Shelter Project” that provides shelter for cancer patients who live far away.
“That’s why you’re always broke,” Dr. Chae Songwa tells him, the only person who knows about his personal projects.
He is also known to be a devout Catholic who secretly plans to become a priest due to the pain caused by seeing his patients suffer and possibly influenced by his four siblings who are all priests and nuns. “He always talked about wanting to be a priest even as a little boy,” his mom reveals.
Although he wanted to abandon his profession several times, he stayed committed to his career as a doctor, decided to enrich his medical practice abroad, and later build a Children’s Hospital that offers comprehensive pediatric care.
Personally, he runs a marathon in spring, goes surfing in summer, goes hiking in autumn, and goes skiing in winter. He is also the drummer of the band and in a relationship with a resident doctor.
The doctor of Pediatric Surgery was portrayed by Yoo Yeon-seok who was famous for his role in the 2018 hit series, “Mr. Sunshine”, where he won the “Artist of the Year” and “Best Supporting Actor” at the Asia Artist Awards. He was also nominated for the “Best Supporting Actor” at the 2019 Baeksang Arts Awards.
5. Dr. Chae Song-hwa, Neurosurgery
One of the powerful and adorable doctors of the show is Professor Chae Song-hwa who is the only female among the five bestfriends and whose name pops up on search engines. She is considered perfect by her colleagues for her competence, good personality, and people skills.
Accurate knowledge is important for her. “Performing surgery is hard. We should never get too comfortable doing this,” she tells the resident doctors and interns.
While she performs hundreds of successful brain surgeries, checks residents’ papers thoroughly, and attends symposiums, she still manages to come to work on time.
Despite being nerd and workaholic, she knows how to have fun. She goes camping on weekends, plays the guitar, eats like a king, and has a strong desire to be the vocalist of the band even if she is tone-deaf and has no sense of rhythm.
She is crazy around her bestfriends, laughs so hard with Dr. Lee Ik-jun’s jokes, and acts as the “emotional pillar” of the group.
The fearless character of Dr. Chae, portrayed by Jeon Mido, stands out so well that the actress received several nominations and awards for her role in “Hospital Playlist”.
She took home the “Best Acting Award” at the 2020 Asia Artist Awards, “Newcomer Actress” at the 2020 Asia Contents Awards, “Rising Star Award” at the 2020 Asia Model Festival, “Best New Actress” at the 2020 Brand of the Year Awards, “Best New Actress” at the 2021 APAN Star Awards, and “Seoul City Council President’s Award” at the 2021 Newsis Hallyu Expo.
She was also nominated for the “Best New Actress” at the 2020 Baeksang Arts Awards.
The friendship of these five doctors compels one to ponder thoughtfully about the value of genuine and lifelong friendships. It makes you realize that life is lonesome when you don’t have someone to lean on.
They know each other’s weaknesses, scold one another like real siblings, fight for food. and annoy each other like kids. And yet, they perfectly sync when they perform a song and help each other analyze and find a solution to their problems.
Truly, they are “friendship goals”.
Although the drama has already ended, the five main casts will be starring in a new variety show named as, “Mountain Village Playlist”. It will premiere on October 8 in Korea’s TVN Channel.