Hospital Playlist Season 2 (2021) Episode 6: First Look

It’s a given that everybody makes mistakes especially when a lack of experience is a factor. Knowing that however doesn’t necessarily help the transgressor feel better right off the bat especially when the “offence” is motivated by goodwill or an underlying eagerness to please. Added to the mix of course is the gravity of the error and its implications. That was seen in this focus on interns, residents and even a newly minted fellow in the form of Jang Gyeo-ul. I can add without hesitation that in the vast majority of professions, experience is almost everything so it boggles my mind that it is so undervalued in a world where the bottom line of maximizing profits is what dominates the managerial landscape. As my mother used to say in another context —penny wise pound foolish. Short-term gain resulting in long-term pain. This is not say that there shouldn’t be a training/mentoring regime in place to develop new generation of professionals but those with extensive experience (unless they’re just dreadful) should definitely have a place in our youth-obsessed world.

Not every negative event that happens in life is a result of human error although there is a temptation to do so because it is much easier to play the blame game than to accept that there are many things between heaven and earth that are beyond our control. The pre-eclampsia mother with her oesophageal atresia baby is a case in point. Jeong-won, who makes a deliberate mistake about the relationship between the two women, is quick to point out to the mother-in-law that the daughter-in-law is not to blame for the baby’s congenital condition. With the advancement of medical science in particular, it may be that physicians are looked upon as miracle workers — the gods of our age, saving lives as par for the course. There are dangers in that belief — primarily a kind of hubris that the medical profession has all the answers when in reality it’s in a constant state of evolution. There’s a fine line between wanting to assure patients that the staff will do their best and that the outcomes will be what everyone hopes for. And it is also right to expect the best kind of medical care that our society has to offer although I don’t take it for granted. Medical science doesn’t have answers to everything. Little Chang-min can’t be saved despite everyone’s best efforts. Grief is a reality that awaits his family who will no doubt play second-guess in time to come.

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It’s good to be able to look back on one’s past and laugh at all the ridiculous mistakes made and find community in that. The Flawed Five gather together to have fried chicken ie. comfort food to reminisce over their greener, younger selves stumbling around trying to find their feet. Ik-jun is embarrassed to acknowledge a humorous blunder in his past and attributes the event to Jeong-won. Jeong-won is embarrassed about being fingered as culprit for this mistake that he immediately calls Gyeo-ul to set the record straight. Buddha at the Hospital can’t possibly have a blemish on his record at least not where his girlfriend is concerned. Ik-jun has a point though. Perfection is hard to relate to. In fact, perfect can appear intimidating and even judgemental to mere mortals. Personally I find a great deal of comfort in knowing that other parents struggle with their kids as much as I have with mine over the years. Knowing that every parent second-guesses themselves even 30, 40 years after their offspring have left home can be a great relief to those still raising them. As Jun-wan tells Chang-min — we’re only human so we’re bound to slip up despite all best intentions and efforts.

Speaking of Jun-wan, what else can we say that we haven’t already said? He hasn’t moved on and he can’t because he didn’t really have much of a say in the ending of that relationship. Not surprisingly, he’s been living in limbo for a year and will continue to be so unless there’s some kind of definitive resolution to the madness. Lately he’s in an inverse relationship with Ik-jun. Ik-jun is now the one in the room who is sharing a secret with Ik-sun. The show hasn’t gone full makjang on us but it still feels like a makjang because Jun-wan is wandering around the hospital moping about his single status. In a real enough way he is living the nightmare of his own makjang while everyone around him seems to be on a different travelator to personal fulfilment. He’s good at his job and gets a certain amount of satisfaction but it’s definitely no substitute for a long-term relationship. with a woman of his choosing. If the writer is trying to convince us of the idiocy of noble idiocy, she’s doing a stellar job of it.

I thought I had covered noble idiocy exhaustively in previous posts but apparently not. Looking at Jun-wan in a sorry state of funk, made me realise that those who initiate the process assume that the other party or parties think the same way they do. The initiator of the break-up, as is the case here, thinks that the other party will somehow be grateful in the long run that they made this move on their behalf once the dust settles and life will go as it did before. It may well be an oversimplification on my part but that’s how it seems like. According to the logic in operation here, it’s short term pain for long term gain. Presumably. Except that no human has any kind of omniscience to be sure that the pain is ever short or long term.

The contrast between Jun-wan and Jeong-won has been purposefully laid out especially in these recent episodes when we see so much of them together and apart. In a moment of desperate hilarity Jun-wan asks Jeong-won if he can move in with the happy couple once they marry. That speaks to Jun-wan’s continuing state of mind. The break-up was not his idea, yet it was foisted on him for his “own good” except that so far no real good has been achieved. Whatever suffering he was enduring previously in a long distance relationship seems to be compounded by a no-relationship scenario. He was fully committed — and seriously contemplated marriage with her — that’s why it’s doubly difficult.

Talk of matrimony seems to be in the air at Yulje. Jeong-won seems to be considering marriage with Gyeo-ul with a high level of seriousness. I don’t imagine that a man who was once an aspirant to the priesthood would be taking a decision of this nature lightly. I know that there are those in the Hospital Playlist fandom who think that this dynamic is a flash in the pan but there’s nothing in the narrative that I can see points to that. Ahn Jeong-won could have given his heart to anyone at anytime in the last 20 years but he didn’t. Not for any lack of female admirers either. They just seem to fall out of the broom closet at random. Jeong-won seems to be every woman’s “style”. This is why I doubt that they can keep this under wraps for very much longer. There are plenty of women who would love to be in Gyeo-ul’s shoes and that’s something she will have to take into account when considering a future together with him. This is why I suspect that wedding bells will be ringing sooner for them rather than later. Judging from her reaction to Seok-min’s sudden marriage proposal to Seon-bin, she doesn’t seem averse to the idea of matrimony in principle.

On the one hand, the show seems to be giving a lot of attention to Ik-jun and Song-hwa’s relationship and yet it seems to me still that Song-hwa, as we catch glimpses of her is content with the status quo. On appearance, she likes things as they are with her male friends. It’s comfortable and part of the rhythm and hum of her routine. At her time of life, she’s probably not really looking for a great deal of change but to maintain what she already has to a large extent. Because she is single, she can devote herself much more to mentoring her residents. Unlike Jun-wan, she’s not craving an exclusive relationship because it seems to me that she’s getting what she wants from male companionship from her four friends at this point in time while maintaining her independence. They’re all still single for now. But once the others start finding life partners and settling down, that could change her perspective.

The mentoring structure at least presented in this drama is a healthy representation of what hierarchies can achieve when they are optimized for the purpose they were intended for. They are meant to teach and to protect rather than for those at the top to lord it over their subordinates. Judging from what the residents and fellows say it takes years before confidence can be built so that surgeons can be safely sent out into the big wide world of medical practice. It also an acknowledgement that mistakes will be made along the way during the training period and a form of mitigation is needed. The holder of the title of professor is meant to be a teacher and a counsellor. It’s a position of privilege but also of responsibility with enormous power to influence and affect lives in all respects.