Hospital Playlist Season 2 (2021): Bildugi

I’m having a ridiculously busy weekend not helped by the fact that members of my family are watching Beyond Evil (on my recommendation) within hearing distance but I wanted to make a general response to a whole range of comments about Ik-sun in the last episode. It’s true that she’s been getting a bit of bashing around the web for playing the noble idiot or whatever expression one prefers. As an observer from the sidelines I am inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt because we don’t know everything although I think we know enough to be able to comment. It also crossed my mind that her grand gesture of saving Jun-wan from a potentially disastrous outcome can be explained by her previous experience with a former boyfriend and I wrote about it here. I never discounted that. But as the other half says, “Where does that leave Jun-wan?” It seems to me too that it’s infinitely unhelpful to Jun-wan, as it resolves nothing even if Ik-sun makes herself the villain of piece. I would go so far as to say that she learnt all the wrong lessons from her previous breakup and arguably made an already challenging situation much more complex with that little piece of theatre. All based on second-hand information as well.

On my second watch I observed the change in her expression when Jun-wan reaches for suspects that fit the bill of “new guy for Ik-sun”. When he names Se-gyeong, she looks surprised… shocked even. It occurs to me that what their problem was and is broadly fall under the umbrella of “communication”. Their phone exchanges were generally surface-level stuff. It wasn’t that they were deliberately keeping important information from each other… but they were essentially keeping important information from each other. Consciously or unconsciously. Maybe it didn’t seem relevant at the time. Nor did it seem consequential. Long distance relationships are notoriously hard but so are relationships between two busy professionals who work long hours. They’ve been dealing with one on top of the other. Jun-wan knew all of this and yet he still wanted them to maintain this relationship during her overseas stint despite all the inherent difficulties they would face.

Frankly I can understand why so much of the Hospital Playlist fandom is raging against Ik-sun because it does look like she’s giving up practically without a fight. She seems less committed to the process of making it work than he does. For instance Jun-wan is frantically busy at work, plainly exhausted and yet he stays up till 2 am KST for her call. He seems to be doing his best, though not perfectly to keep fire burning. Although he should have probed further into her relationship with Se-gyeong despite his doubts. It’s harder to know what’s going on with Ik-sun because we don’t generally have her POV but it seemed at first she had come a long way since her really nasty breakup. She liked Jun-wan enough to give it a shot and she even admitted that being with him was a healing experience. Se-gyeong being a guy was probably not a big deal to Ik-sun who has spent her entire career breathing the air of a male-dominated profession. In likelihood it never occurred to her that it could be a problem and it might not have been if Jun-wan was not already stressed out about Ik-sun going on a road trip with people he didn’t know in a country he was unfamiliar with and ends up in an accident.

I am a great believer that we are all our own worst enemy partly because of our own insecurities and partly because we all think to some degree that we know best. Complacency creeps in and the belief that all is well sets in until the screws loosen and the wheels begin to fall off the wagon. One of the biggest malaise of our time perhaps the biggest is that individuals think that the world revolves around them. They look at the world entirely from how they feel. Social media feeds into all that. This is exactly the problem with noble idiocy because the offender sees the situation only from their perspective with no consultation or negotiation. That’s the whole point I would imagine. Once their minds are made up they don’t want to be persuaded from the course they’ve chosen with no recourse for the others. The reality is that Jun-wan might end up being more stressed by what Ik-sun just did than being relieved of a burden as she hopes.

It’s also unhealthy to avoid conflict in a relationship altogether. Some conflict is inevitable and it’s part of growing as a human being. Frankly I believe that Ik-sun not only robbed Jun-wan of his agency but also of an opportunity to demonstrate how committed he is to her. Yes, he is ridiculously tired and stressed but I think from all that I’ve seen… that he thrives on the challenges of the job. It certainly doesn’t diminish him as a doctor or a boyfriend.

As I’ve said elsewhere I don’t think it’s any kind of accident that the “bildugi” incident was juxtaposed with Seon-bin and Seok-min’s tiff. The difference is that the tiff is based on both parties being honest with each other. Maybe a bit on the tactless side but they were speaking their minds and airing differences. What Song-hwa said makes sense. And of course she’s the relationship expert. “As long as you both want to make it work, and aren’t too far apart, just wait and see. Then something will come along. So many things can happen even in the span of a day, you know. Things happen, whether good or bad. And sometimes you have to call and meet up because of something that happens.”

Despite all that I’ve said, I don’t think it’s the last we’ll see of the bildugi dynamic.