Profession? Or a Symbol of Success?
We may easily see that the symbol of teenagers’ learning achievement is ‘Seoul National University College of Medicine’ if we watch the drama <Sky Castle> describing a picture of the upper class parents wanting to inherit their position and their children accordingly exposed to the limitless competition. In the drama the parents not only lay out their money but also do not refuse to attempt an unlawful thing in order to make their son and daughter enter the College of Medicine. Like this, ‘medical doctor’, these days in this Korean society, has become an example of a successful life and a job of both wealth and honor.
The fact is that medical doctor is the middle and high schoolers’ most ideal profession. One or two top students of all in a high school apply for medical schools and teachers map out a strategy for a medical school project every year as if they executed a momentous operation. It is a natural thing that the hard-working students should approve themselves by entering highranked colleges but the problem is that medical doctor as a job is much more deified and it’s not because the doctors work for the public benefits but because it is simply a symbol of success.
So we may find further more special meanings in the drama <Hospital Playlist> we are to talk about today. The reason is so simple: “They are just the common people whose jobs are medical doctors.” This is the most proper sentence by which the five friends working in Yulje Hospital can be described.
Just a Human Being
I was a big fan of <Reply 1997>. At the time I was an elementary school girl and could not watch it on TV alone in the living room because it broadcasted late in the midnight (Grandmother scolded me if I watched TV late in the night); so I pulled the quilt over my head, wired the earphone with my phone and, by live, watched every episode in secret with DMB of a bad picture quality. (I remember the model of the phone. It was a foldable pink Candy phone which used to make a ‘click’ sound if folded. The sound was so loud that two or three times grandmother noticed it because I happened to fold the phone by mistake.) After school I watched every episode repeatedly on the laptop computer, downloaded the ost the hero and heroine had sung themselves in an mp3 player and sang the song in harmony with my younger brother hundreds of times. I might say with no hesitation that the most beloved drama in my whole life is <Reply 1997> if asked.
And the reason why I became a big fan of <Reply 1997> was the warm affection for human being it contains. Unlike other dramas drawing attention from the audience by trouble-making matters, <Reply 1997> was the drama with a warm view of people backing up and loving each other and living bonding together above and beyond age, gender, relationship and other things.
Producer Shin Won-ho and writer Lee Woo-jung always showing the most common people’s lives and their incompatibly precious warm hearts made a new record in the drama <Hospital Playlist>. Of course, their latest work <Prison Playbook> also had its distinctiveness of characters and stories because the background was the prison. But as for <Hospital Playlist>, they subtract the storytelling distinctiveness and have the different way of doing in taking as a main matter ‘medical doctor’ which has been genre dramas’ subject matter or used for explaining an ‘elite’ character.
Shin Won-ho/Lee Woo-jung combination describes medical doctors through the main characters, the Yulje Hospital quintet, as only their job, neither more of it nor less of it. Rather it is more likely to be a setting to show easily various kinds of lives and many traces of the society in which people of diversity live together. Lee Ik-jun, Chae Song-hwa, Ahn Jeong-won, Yang Seok-hyeong, Kim Jun-wan are medical doctors; so to speak, they make their living as doctors. They live their everyday lives, just the same like other people. They are not described as heroes sacrificing themselves for a greater goal or as highly-educated elites seizing honorable and successful lives. Instead, their ‘stories as a human being’ are zoomed in. Their stories are a little bit childish or even seem so humble but these common personal lives mixed with complex agony draw the audience. Unlike other medical dramas, there is not any scene of medical emergency in which a life is at stake. In <Reply 1994> the characters were set as Yonsei University students, because the writer could easily put Shinchon college streets in the list of the backgrounds of the drama, then. Like this, also in <Hospital Playlist> ‘medical doctor’ is only one of the tools to show an individual life.
In this time when elitism prevails and hated surges against poverty and the weak, it is because of it that I must say the way to describe the elite group in <Hospital Playlist> is special to me. The Yulje Hospital quintet are more of ‘just medical doctors’, not the ones of excellent brains winning after the fierce competition for college entrance exams. At the same time, they are our neighbors we might easily come across anywhere; not the ones around whose head a halo appear when passing by the streets. This kind of approach makes the audience experience intimacy as ‘a human being’, instead of admiring ‘a highly-educated noble elite’, and quietly but to a remarkable extent, has changed the image of medical doctors especially for the younger students, the main college entrance exam competitors, among the MZ generation who live in this mass media golden age. The young generation’s supporting voice for <Hospital Playlist> is all about their ‘human lives’. They do not focus on ‘doctors’; they do focus on the ‘lives’ or the whole ‘doctors’ lives’. So we may find it attractive to watch <Hospital Playlist>, because it may calm down many young people’s instinctive, unrefined feeling who live in this time of Korean dark ages when they have distorted desires to rise in class.
Wise, Wise Enough
Sometimes when I talk about the Korean education system with other people they ask me a question like this, “So you are going to recommend to drop out?” Then I always answer this way. “If you want to be a medical doctor and apply for it, there is no problem. But many people think that is the way to have the best success. They think there is only one way, one job, one dream that can approve one’s efforts and the only example of the social success. That’s the problem. Like in <Hospital Playlist> , we need not to extremely take a peculiar life superior to others’ and to focus on many possibilities and stories in the common individuals.” And whenever I pick <Hospital Playlist> as an example, I think the title is perfect(“Doctor’s Wise Life” in Korean) and there is not any drama like this which tells the life so wisely and shows it so colorfully.
Nowadays the Korean society is ill in many ways; above all, judging the people by their job is the serious problem. The understanding that efforts bring about wealth is widely spread among us. The young generation has grown seeing the more life models but it is ironical they are more accustomed to the more massive and discriminative view than before.
But <Hospital Playlist> taught the MZ generation how to treat each other as the same human being and in a proper temperature and speed taught the fact that life background or job or educational background is not enough to judge the person so we need to love nothing but ‘the person’ himself. As a twenty-year-old young man who live in 2021 when many people sink into the reckless behavior like roughly stepping on the accelerator and hurriedly braking, I applause, today, to Shin Won-ho/Lee Woo-jung combination’s wisdom who pleases us with the stories of the Yulje Hospital quintet and the people in their world, a little lacking and unskilled but warm-hearted.
Ham Eun-se / Translated by Park Eun-sun