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Hospital Playlist: Episode 12 (Final)
The final episode of Hospital Playlist is a long one, but every minute feels worth it knowing that this is the end. Filled with heart-wrenching moments as well as gut-busting scenes, it’s an emotional rollercoaster from start to finish. The show leaves its viewers with some satisfying answers, but with another season in the works, don’t expect all to be revealed quite yet.
EPISODE 12 RECAP
After meeting with Gyu-wool, Rosa lies to Jung-won about having plans with Jong-soo and runs away. Back in the garden, Ik-joon spots Gyu-wool sitting in a daze, and he guesses her problem is related to Jung-won. He wonders when her crush started, and she stares at him blankly, as if it should be obvious.
Chi-hong visits Song-hwa in her office and tells her that he wants to move to Sokcho as well. She shoots down his idea since he would be giving up his chief position, and advises him to think of his career. To her surprise, Chi-hong says that he’ll decide for himself and leaves.
Love problems seem to be in the air as Joon-wan stares at his couple rings before calling Ik-soon. Though it’s late, he tells her that he’s coming to see her.
Ik-joon and Song-hwa pop into Seok-hyung’s office to ask if he wants dinner, and they immediately notice his glum expression. Flashing back to earlier that day, Seok-hyung and his mother read Chairman Yang’s will: he left all his assets to his son, Seok-hyung.
When asked about the will’s date, the lawyer told them that the chairman wrote it up the day he learned of the mistress’s pregnancy and left her nothing. Mom scoffed at her late husband’s selfishness, disgusted by his lack of responsibility and morals.
Back in Seok-hyung’s office, Song-hwa and Ik-joon ask if the chairman at least left his family any last words, and Seok-hyung says that he did. However, instead of repentance, the chairman was selfish to the end, ordering Seok-hyung to quit his job and take over the company. Ik-joon asks if he’ll quit, but Seok-hyung only sighs.
Residents and interns line outside of Song-hwa’s office for consultations, and even Seok-min is there for dating advice. Ik-joon cuts the line to take Song-hwa out to lunch, but she waves aside her friend since Jae-hak is next. The chief resident pushes his way in and chants praises for Song-hwa, which even includes a dance. Heh.
Without his usual lunch buddy, Ik-joon pops into Joon-wan and Jung-won’s office, but neither of them is there. Rummaging through their desks, Ik-joon steals chocolates from Joon-wan, but when he opens Jung-won’s drawer, he only finds a Bible and rosaries.
An emergency liver laceration patient arrives, so Jung-won calls Gyu-wool to set up an operating room. She stops mid-meal and runs out of the room without even the slightest hesitation.
In the end, Ik-joon has lunch with Min-ha, and she tells him that she’s helping Seok-hyung with his paper. When Seok-hyung joins them, Ik-joon scolds him for asking a resident to help with his research, but his friend looks at him confused. Watching Min-ha’s reaction, Ik-joon puts the clues together and excuses himself from the room.
After lunch, Ik-joon meets with a family and tells them that couples have to register their marriage for a year before they can donate. He asks why they haven’t registered their marriage yet even though they held the ceremony months ago, and the husband’s mother speaks up. Since her son was diagnosed with liver cirrhosis, she didn’t want to leave someone’s precious daughter a widow. It’s an unfortunate situation, but the wife promises to maintain her health and come back in a year to donate.
Once the family leaves, Ik-joon swivels around and throws a pop question at Hong-do. The medical student guesses how the couple met, and the others giggle at his silly answer. Ik-joon explains that he was asking about the criteria needed to qualify for a brain-dead donor, and Hong-do hangs his head since he doesn’t know.
Jung-won operates on his emergency patient with Gyu-wool as his assistant, but since she hasn’t eaten, her stomach gurgles. The anesthesiologist mentions how he sees Gyu-wool the most and suggests to Jung-won that he buy her a meal afterwards. She says that it’s okay, but Jung-won offers to treat her after the patient heals.
Song-hwa drops by the residents’ office and invites Chi-hong and Yoon-bok to dinner since the faculty cafeteria only has one table available. Since Chi-hong is the new chief resident and Yoon-bok will be an intern, Seon-bin and Seok-min are left behind.
Seon-bin is amazed by Song-hwa’s forethought, but Seok-min confesses that she did it for him. He told Song-hwa about his crush on Seon-bin, and uses this moment to indirectly confess his feelings. She sits there in shock, so he puts off dinner for next time and leaves.
After the surgery, Jung-won’s patient moves to the PICU, and her family huddles by the door, hoping for a peek inside. Jung-won goes out to explain the patient’s condition to them and promises to stay nearby until the worst is over.
Though it’s past one in the morning, Jung-won remains in the PICU, Seok-hyung works on his paper, Joon-wan is still operating, Song-hwa is studying, and Ik-joon works on his presentation. On his break, Jung-won stops by Song-hwa’s office and offers to rescind his request about the Daddy-Long-Legs program since Song-hwa’s health comes first. She rejects his suggestion and explains how eager she’s been about the program.
Seok-hyung visits Ik-joon on his way out to confirm the cancelled band practices for the next two weeks. Before he leaves, Ik-joon spins in his seat and tells his friend that Min-ha likes him. Of course, this isn’t news to Seok-hyung, and he tells his friend about Min-ha’s confession.
However, he already turned her down, and lists all the reasons why they shouldn’t date. Ik-joon points out that Seok-hyung didn’t mention not liking her back, but Seok-hyung says that he likes being alone. Though having friends is great, Ik-joon tells Seok-hyung that family is important, too, and it pains him to see his friend cut ties to other people.
Seok-hyung confesses that he doesn’t want to hurt people like he did to his ex-wife, and wonders if he’s pitiful. Ik-joon shakes his head and suggests getting drinks. The two bicker as they leave, and end up entangled in a tango-esque position as they guide each other out.
Joon-wan goes home after finishing his surgery and talks with Ik-soon over the phone. As he stands by the curb for a taxi, he tells Ik-soon that there’s a person who looks just like her. As the familiar silhouette comes closer, Joon-wan smiles since it is her! She runs into his arms, and embracing each other, they kiss.
Jung-won seems almost as relieved as the parents to see his emergency patient improve, and the parents watch him with appreciation as he treats their daughter with love and care. Unfortunately, not everyone hears good news today as Song-hwa tells her patient that his cancer relapsed. She offers to schedule a surgery, but the patient wants to think about it first. Song-hwa understands his decision since he already experienced the difficult process once before.
Ik-joon studies Spanish in his office—a stack of how-to books on his desk—when Joon-wan comes to see him. He asks if he’s going to the airport tomorrow to see Ik-soon off, and Ik-joon wonders how he knew about his sister’s departure date. Joon-wan asks Ik-joon out for drinks, but as usual, Ik-joon turns him down. Before Joon-wan can protest, he receives a call about an emergency patient.
While Song-hwa is on her rounds, Dr. Min’s patient asks her a question about his upcoming tests. Though Seon-bin is the resident in charge, Chi-hong steps in and answers the patient’s question—even covering for his colleague so Song-hwa won’t misunderstand.
As expected, it’s a busy day at the hospital with Joon-wan having an emergency operation and Ik-joon checking on his patient (the one whose family pressured his wife to donate). It’s already 10 at night when the friends can eat, though Joon-wan is still in the operating room and Jung-won is in the PICU.
Even more family members of Jung-won’s emergency patient arrive at the hospital, and Jung-won tells the small crowd about the patient’s improvements. The family thanks him for saving their daughter, recognizing the many nights he stayed up because of it.
Jung-won eats dinner in Song-hwa’s office with a smile plastered on his face, and it’s immediately obvious to Song-hwa that his patient improved. He wonders how she knew, and Song-hwa laughs, calling it a lucky guess. Between mouthfuls, he asks about her move, which also coincides with Ik-joon’s departure date.
Despite operating for twelve hours, Joon-wan fails to stop the bleeding and decides to move the patient to the ICU. He informs the guardians of the situation, and that night, he sleeps in his office to stay close.
Outside Seok-hyung’s office, patients occupy every seat down the long corridor and complain about the wait. Min-ha tries to explain to a cranky mother that today isn’t even their busiest day, but Seok-hyung stops her.
Dr. Kwon’s patient can no longer receive a liver because of a heart attack, which puts their coordinator in a bind. Meanwhile, Joon-wan decides to meet with his patient’s guardians and tells them that the bleeding won’t stop. The mom breaks down and begs him to let her touch her son one last time.
The next patient in Seok-hyung’s long line is called into his office, and another patient asks the nurse how long the wait will be. The pregnant lady is clearly agitated (which is reasonable since the hospital scheduling system is flawed), but the nurse remains kind and helpful—her professionalism defusing the tension just a bit.
The transplant coordinator makes a few calls, but no one is ready to receive the liver in time. Suddenly, it dawns on Ik-joon that his patient matches, and he rushes out of the lounge to prepare for the transplant.
Joon-wan and Jae-hak watch as the patient’s parents place his baby clothes over his chest. The mom wonders when her son got so big and tells him that she isn’t ready to let him go. With the dad’s muffled cries in the background, the mom asks her son not to leave them just yet. Oof, I’m already crying.
Seok-hyung’s patient tells him that her baby has been quiet for the last couple of days, and his face falls at the news. He suggests an ultrasound, and looking at the monitor, his expression darkens. Back in the ICU, Jae-hak cautiously asks Joon-wan if they could operate from the front, and Joon-wan looks up in surprise. After checking the patient’s status, he agrees to Jae-hak’s suggestion.
Seok-hyung tells his patient the bad news: her baby’s heart has stopped. Unable to accept reality, the patient asks if her baby is dead, and Seok-hyung confirms it. She breaks down, and her cries echo in silent hall.
The patient apologizes for taking up his time, but Seok-hyung hands her a tissue and tells her to stay as long as she needs. Min-ha offers to make up some excuse to tell the people waiting, but Seok-hyung says that there’s no need. Outside, all the expectant mothers hold onto their stomachs—each of them aware of the tragedy that just transpired.
Song-hwa informs her patient’s family that she’s brain-dead and will likely die in a week or two. As the family cries, so does Yoon-bok in the back. Afterwards, Song-hwa tells Chi-hong and Yoon-bok about a patient she had during her residency, and how similar the situations are—even their names are the same.
Yoon-bok tears up, realizing the doctor from her youth was Song-hwa all along. As Yoon-bok hugs her, Song-hwa asks what’s wrong, and she sobs that she misses her mom. Song-hwa seems to put the pieces together, and wipes away Yoon-bok’s tears, telling her that her mom would be so proud of her.
Chi-hong finds an old patient waiting for him outside the office (it’s the police officer who got the courage to try again thanks to him). The officer hands him a gift, hoping the resident might make an exception just this once. He claims that it’s a cheap pen, but regardless of the monetary value, he wants it to serve as a reminder to Chi-hong during the hard times that he saved a patient’s life.
Ik-joon tells the family about the successful transplant, and then uses sign language to communicate with the young son. Flashing back to the family’s first consultation, Ik-joon realized the child was deaf, so he wrote on a piece of paper, telling the son to hug his crying mom. The perfect person might not exist, but dang, Ik-joon sure is close to it!
In her office, Song-hwa tells Jung-won that she agrees with his decision before he even tells her. She explains that there are three types of people in the world. The first are those who are the happiest when they eat—prime examples are Ik-joon and Joon-wan. Cut to: Joon-wan stealing ramyun from Ik-joon who tries to steal it back.
The second type is people who are happiest when eating alone. The perfect example is Seok-hyung, who laughs while watching variety shows on his phone in his office, but his face falls when someone knocks on his door. Min-ha comes in with her own bowl of ramyun and joins Seok-hyung who doesn’t seem to mind her company.
The last type is those who are happiest when seeing others eat, and Song-hwa tells Jung-won that he’s the third.
In the lounge, Ik-joon mentions his sister and how she’s probably in the air, and Joon-wan jumps up screaming. After coming to terms with his blunder, Joon-wan sits numbly at his desk and reads the messages Ik-soon sent him before she left.
Though she missed him, she understood his busy schedule and was more worried that something terrible might have happened to him. She promised to call him after the plane lands and told him that she loved him. Joon-wan hangs his head and tells Jae-hak that no one’s here when he comes knocking.
However, Joon-wan changes his mind and invites his chief resident for some fresh air. In the garden, Jae-hak confesses his doubts about the profession. His biggest fault is his indecisiveness, yet being a doctor requires making important decisions every moment. He turns to Joon-wan for guidance, and his mentor tells him to just come ask him. Aw, I love these two.
This time, Joon-wan turns to Jae-hak for advice on his love life, and wonders if he should give Ik-soon the ring. Jae-hak tells him to ask her directly because she has the answer. With the tables turned, he shakes his head at Joon-wan and comments on how he’s so bad at dating. Pfft.
Ik-joon says bye to Woo-joo before his trip, and asks his son to repeat the acrostic poem he learned at school. Ik-joon is over the moon after hearing his son’s adorable poem, but it turns out, Woo-joo ends all his poems with “bye-bye” regardless of the last syllable. He’s so cute!
At the hospital, Joon-wan holds a package addressed to Ik-soon, and the two promise to wear it at all times. After he hangs up, he stares at the ring on his finger.
Seok-min visits the hospital, saying that he’s looking for Chi-hong, but he’s really there to ask Seon-bin out to dinner. Yoon-bok she pretends to get an emergency call from Hong-do to give the two some space, but her phone rings on her way out (argh, so embarrassing). Left alone, Seok-min invites Seon-bin to dinner, and she accepts.
Ik-joon visits Song-hwa at her new apartment and asks for advice. He started liking an old friend and doesn’t know what to do. He’s worried that confessing will make their relationship awkward, but if he doesn’t confess this time, he might regret it for the rest of his life. Song-hwa doesn’t know what to say, and Ik-joon tells her to take her time.
Chi-hong opens a package at his new apartment, and unboxes a pair of shoes that have “chief” written on them. He reads the note from Song-hwa, which includes three pieces of advice for him on how to be a better doctor. As he stares at the shoes, he thinks back on his memories with her from his confession to the day he noticed her worn shoes.
It’s December 23rd, and the five friends are gathered for band practice. Ik-joon and Song-hwa asks Seok-hyung what he decided, and inform the others about the chairman’s will. After Ik-joon shakes Seok-hyung into answering, Seok-hyung looks at his friends who wait with bated breaths. He tells them that he isn’t quitting, and everyone is relieved to hear it.
Joon-wan decides to play devil’s advocate, telling him to accept the position for a while, but Seok-hyung thinks it’s a waste of time. He wants to do the things he wants from now on, and confesses that he used his friends to start the band for that very reason. The others call him absurd, and they share a good laugh together.
Song-hwa gulps down a cup of raw eggs since she has a line in this next song, and the others (minus Ik-joon) copy Song-hwa’s vocal warm-ups. Heh. The song today is “Me to You, You to Me” and each friend sings a verse, though Song-hwa’s voice cracks as she sings. Pffft.
Christmas Eve arrives, and Jung-won is busy watching patients in the PICU. He steps outside and is greeted by his old patient with the large family. The little girl hugs Jung-won, and the mom explains how he was in their thoughts during the holidays.
As for Joon-wan, his patient is discharged today, and the happy family goes home to eat a home-cooked meal together. The same goes for Ik-joon who tells his patient to vacate his room since he’s all better now. In the hall, Ik-joon throws a pop quiz at Hong-do, and this time, the student gets it right. Yeah!
The patient who experienced multiple miscarriages cries in Seok-hyung’s office, and her usually stoic husband weeps next to her. She asks Seok-hyung to repeat the good news again, so he tells them that they don’t have to worry about a premature birth anymore.
Christmas arrives, and Joon-wan looks for nail clippers in his office. He looks through Jung-won’s desk, but stops when he opens a drawer. On his way out, he receives a call about a package—the ring was returned.
Gyu-wool visits Jung-won in his office, and with her lips quivering, she confesses her feelings to him. She asks if he could stay at the hospital and remain at her side. Jung-won stares back at her, his eyes glistening with tears as well, and he approaches her. He pats her head and then moves in for a kiss.
Winter garden has sailed! I repeat, winter garden has sailed!
We finally get to hear Gyu-wool’s answer of when she first liked Jung-won, and as Ik-joon dreaded, it was love at first sight. (Can you blame her?) As for Jung-won, Min-ha was right when she said he would have come if he loved her, since Jung-won did go to the emergency room after hearing about Gyu-wool’s illness, but he wasn’t able to go inside.
Flashing back to his earlier conversation with Song-hwa, she told Jung-won that he made the right decision, knowing that he chose to remain at the hospital. He asked her not to tell the others yet because he wanted to inform someone else first. Song-hwa agreed, a knowing smile on her face, and she looked out the window, commenting on how winter (aka, “Gyu-wool”) has arrived. Hehehe.
The scene goes back to Joon-wan looking through Jung-won’s desk, and his usual drawer filled with rosaries and a Bible is now empty. Back in the present, Jung-won stares at Gyu-wool and then goes in for another kiss.
On his way out, Seok-hyung receives a text from Min-ha, inviting him out for dinner on Christmas. He texts back, “sorry” and writes out “Merry Christmas” before erasing it. As he leaves, he receives a call from Shin-hye, his ex-wife. He closes his eyes, as if mentally preparing himself, and answers.
These two hours were filled with laughs and tears with the first half dealing with tales of loss. Though each circumstance was different, the overarching emotion was the same, revealing the complexity of grief as well as its universality. The first moment came from the parents and their adult son. Unlike the others, their story ended up on a happy note. They portrayed the potential of loss and the grief that comes with knowing your loved ones are dying. It’s hard to give up, and even more so when that person is your child because no matter how much they grow up, they’ll still remain a baby to their parents. Hearing the father cry in the background, unable to say a word, while the mother held back her tears to talk to her son was heart wrenching because it’s never easy to say good-bye, especially when it’s unexpected.
Next came the mother who lost her child. The wave of emotions that flashed across her face as she slowly came to terms with her loss was amazingly portrayed (an applause to all the actors who played side characters; they really completed the show). Contrary to the older couple, she never got to see her child grow up, but that doesn’t make her loss any less tragic. I also found it poignant that even during this moment of heartache, the patient thought of the other mothers waiting outside, but just as she was considerate of others, they were thoughtful, too. The silent moment of solidarity of the patients waiting outside, each holding onto to their child, only emphasized the weight of the loss and the shared understanding of loss and grief.
Then the show caps off with Yoon-bok as she recalls the loss of her mom. While the other groups focused on the parents, this moment was about the child and their perspective. Not only was this a brilliant way for the show to bring back Yoon-bok’s story about the resident who motivated the siblings, but it served as a wonderful contrast to the stories of loss before it. What elevated the moment was the fact that it wasn’t about Song-hwa or finding the resident from the past, but about Yoon-bok. Though it’s been years since she lost her mother, Yoon-bok still misses her, and that longing will probably never go away. It’s especially heartfelt that it was Yoon-bok who got to experience this moment since she was the one who seemed more composed when talking about the past. However, just as much as Hong-do, Yoon-bok is grieving, and I’m glad Song-hwa was there to comfort her. While most children know that they have to say good-bye to their parents one day, it doesn’t make the loss any easier or less painful.
While I did cry buckets of tears, not all was doom and gloom in the last episode. For the all the winter garden shippers, rejoice! Of all the possible romantic pairings the show set up, it was Gyu-wool and Jung-won that was confirmed at the end. While I would have liked a bit more insight into Jung-won’s mind, I liked the way the show played out their confession and affirmation. Instead of seeing every interaction as romantic, we watched these two characters grow as mentor and mentee. Over this past season, Gyu-wool grew as a doctor because of Jung-won, and I’m glad the show developed this aspect of their relationship first. Rather than put Gyu-wool into a box and make her story all about her crush, she was a doctor, first and foremost, with struggles just like Jung-won. For the most part, she kept her crush a secret (though as the saying goes, you can’t hide sneezing or love), and it was only at the end that she let herself be completely vulnerable in a final attempt to keep him from leaving.
In some ways, the confession felt rushed, but I think that was the point. By setting a deadline, Gyu-wool was forced to make a decision, and for these two slowpokes, I think the external push factor was needed. Luckily, Jung-won finally came to a conclusion by then, and returned her feelings. Though the other characters seem to think he’s an open book, I thought Jung-won and his feelings for Gyu-wool were opaque on the whole. Granted, keeping certain scenes hidden from viewers does make the final reveal feel grand, but it can also be frustrating when the show keeps too many secrets just for a surprise. In this case, though, the final reveal didn’t feel like a gotcha moment, and besides the emergency room scene, there really wasn’t a lot of information withheld. Since Jung-won was still wrestling with his emotions and life calling, the audience wasn’t privy to his emotional state because he, himself, was unsure of how he felt. Thus, the confusion surrounding Jung-won’s feelings for Gyu-wool is more a characteristic of Jung-won as a person than solely a narrative choice by the writer.
In a time of unrest and great injustice in the world, Hospital Playlist offered a moment of comfort. Even if for just a few hours a week, watching this show felt like a glimpse at a world that still had hope and love. Where those in power wielded their authority with wisdom and grace. Where people still cared for each other. Though it was a show about doctors, more importantly, it was a story about people. It’s a shame to let these lovable characters go because it feels like there’s still so much story to tell (curse you seasons format!), but instead of seeing this as the “end,” I’ll treat it as a break. Hopefully making the show in seasons means better working environments for the production crew, writers, and actors, so when they come back, it’s even better than before. Until then, stay healthy and happy watching.