Updated: Sep 22
The last episode of Hospital Playlist Season 2 has aired, leaving a Yulje-sized void in our lives. Although there really isn't any drama that combines medicine, friendship, romance, and music the way this slice-of-life series does, the Hospital Playlist fandom is blessed with variety-show content and the deep filmographies of its talented cast to help ease our separation anxiety.
It’s hard enough to say goodbye to characters we’ve grown to love over just one season, so parting with our favorite hospital gang is going to be doubly hard. Since we first met them in March 2020, Lee Ik-jun (Jo Jung-suk), Chae Song-hwa (Jeon Mi-do), Yang Seok-hyung (Kim Dae-myung), Kim Jun-wan (Jung Kyung-ho), and Ahn Jeong-won (Yoo Yeon-seok), along with all their families and the Yulje staff, have come to feel like friends who greet us with warm hugs every Thursday night.
Millions of viewers tuned in for the season finale of Hospital Playlist 2, scoring an average nationwide rating of 14.1%—the highest ever for the popular medical/slice-of-life drama. It was the most-watched program across all channels in its time slot. Although it is one of tvN's most successful dramas, a third season is still up in the air.
According to Soompi, the Hospital Playlist production team has responded to news of it ending with Season 2 by saying, “All of the production team and cast members have the definite will to unite if a new season is planned someday, but as of now, there are no specific plans.”
If you’re feeling separation anxiety like we are, fear not! Additional fresh content featuring our favorite TV doctors/bandmates will be released over the following weeks. And fortunately, the talented cast has many past dramas where you can see their versatility at work. As we hope and pray for news of a new season, here are some variety shows and dramas that can help tide us over.
If you want to watch the '99ers hang out in real life...
Wise Camping Life/Camping Playlist feat. The Game Caterers (Mar. 2021)
For at least a few more hours, you can spend some extra time with the ‘99ers, this time outside of their scrubs and characters as they go camping for two days/one night. Watch them set up camp (Yoo Yeon-seok is definitely a pro at this), discuss their meals, and then get unceremoniously interrupted by PD Na Young-suk. It’s Na-ception as the popular producer brings the variety show The Game Caterers to five unsuspecting actors. A few games are played, and lots of laughter ensue. Then, it’s back to the camping life. The series of healing and heartwarming episodes might soften the blow of having no new episodes of Hospital Playlist to look forward to for the foreseeable future. (Or, it might make you miss them more.)
Click here for the full playlist.
Mountain Village Playlist (Oct. 2021)
As a gift to Hospital Playlist fans for their love and support, the cast and production staff have come up with a special variety show entitled Mountain Village Playlist. According to the staff, "The show was planned with the mindset of extending the warmth and emotions from Hospital Playlist just a little longer." Mountain Village Playlist will take the whole gang of ‘99ers on a getaway where they have to prepare their own meals, a format similar to the popular variety show Three Meals A Day. Other cast members, including Kim Hae-sook (Rosa) and Shin Hyun-been (Dr. Jang Gyeo-ul), will visit them as special guests.
This new "healing" variety show will start airing on October 8.
Behind-the-Scenes Footage and Special Episodes
With two seasons' worth of promotional and behind-the-scenes footage, it's easy to fall down the Hospital Playlist rabbit hole on YouTube.
Plus, we can look forward to a special episode with commentary by U-ju coming out this Thursday, September 23. The episode will include a Q&A with Yulje doctors, a loveline commentary with the actors, and never-before-seen behind-the-scenes footage.
Just search for "Hospital Playlist English subs" on YouTube for hours of entertainment!
If you want more Shin-Lee dramas...
Before bringing Hospital Playlist to life in 2020, the duo of director Shin Won-ho and writer Lee Woo-jung were already well-known for creating popular slice-of-life k-dramas featuring large ensemble casts that audiences also grew to love. If you're new to the Shin-Lee Universe, you'll see many familiar faces, like Jung Kyung-ho and Yoo Yeon-seok, plus several actors from previous Shin-Lee dramas who made cameos in Hospital Playlist 1 and 2!
Prison Playbook (2017-18)
Hospital Playlist's literal title is Wise Doctor Life, and it is the second installment in the "wise life" series. The first installment is Wise Prison Life, otherwise known as Prison Playbook. Trade doctors in white coats and a hospital for convicts in prison overalls and a penitentiary, and you’ve basically got another entertaining cast of Shin-Lee characters to fall in love with. This series is centered around a superstar baseball player, Kim Je-hyuk (Park Hae-soo), who finds himself in jail after assaulting a man who tried to rape his sister. But it’s really the camaraderie between him, his fellow convicts, and even the prison guards that will draw you in and keep you watching. If that’s not enough reason for you to watch, Jung Kyung-ho stars here as a prison guard and Kim Je-hyuk’s best friend!
16 episodes. Available on Netflix.
Reply 1997 (2012)
The k-drama that started it all for Reply fans! The first of the Reply series aired in 2012 and anchored itself around six main characters and their lives in Busan. The story jumps between 1997, where the six friends are navigating their senior year in high school, and 2012, where they have all gathered for a reunion. The hook is that their 2012 selves have a newly-engaged couple in their midst, but the big reveal doesn’t happen until the very end. What stands out in this anthology are: the unlikely love triangle, the revelation of someone’s gender identity, and the nod to the intensity of idol fandom at a time when k-pop was starting to take hold in pop culture.
16 episodes. Available on Netflix until September 30.
Reply 1994 (2013)
The second of three stand-alone serials, Reply 1994’s Seoul boarding house setting allowed the k-drama to showcase different characters, all college students—including a young Yoo Yeon-seok—hailing from various parts of South Korea. At the center of it is Na-jung, the daughter of the boarding house’s owners, whose marriage in 2013 is the carrot that the show dangles for its viewers. The boys’ names are all kept hidden from viewers to avoid spoilers. Their characters are given nicknames instead, mostly of the baseball teams that were popular in 1994.
As the plot moves—and sometimes thickens—we are given a glimpse of not only the life of a Korean teenager in the mid-90s, but also of some significant events in the country that year, including the tragic Sampoong Department Store collapse that has been referenced many times by other dramas as well. Through all the twists and narratives, one question keeps the viewers riveted until the end—who did Na-jung finally say “I do” to?
16 episodes. Available on Netflix until September 30.
Reply 1988 (2015-16)
Nostalgia is the name of the game, and Reply 1988 is proof that k-drama can ace the game as well—if not better—than anyone else. A hilarious family drama about five friends who live in the same neighborhood entirely set in 1988 Seoul, Reply 1988 is carved on many k-drama fans’ hearts because of its warmhearted and hilarious take on ‘80s life and love. The phones! The bangs! The denim jackets! The cringey dance productions! Reply 1988 is so immersive and so entertaining that you’d think you grew up with the gang in Seoul, too.
20 episodes. Available on Netflix until September 30, and on Viu indefinitely.
If you want more heartwarming slice-of-life dramas...
Dear My Friends (2016)
Penned by Noh Hee-kyung (It’s Okay, That’s Love), another master of the slice-of-life genre, Dear My Friends features a powerhouse ensemble composed of some of the most awarded and beloved senior actors in Korea, acting as lifelong friends. Park Wan (Go Hyun-jung), a 30-something translator, reluctantly keeps getting roped into the drama of her headstrong mother Jang Nan-hee (Go Doo-shim) and her fellow senior-citizen friends (Youn Yuh-jung, Kim Hye-ja, Na Moon-hee, Park Won-sook, and Shin Goo) and gives in to their requests to document their life stories. Along the way, she learns valuable life lessons. Incredibly poignant, surprisingly funny, and featuring the beautiful sights of Slovenia and Croatia, Dear My Friends is a healing, life-affirming celebration of friends who have become family, and the beauty of growing old with them by your side.
16 episodes. Available on Netflix.
Racket Boys (2021)
Racket Boys is an easy-to-watch sports drama that centers on the lives of teenaged badminton players with dreams of making it to the South Korean Junior National Team.
It all begins with Yoon Hyeon-jong (Kim Sang-kyung), who was once a great badminton player in his youth. Now a father of two, he has become a mediocre coach who has lost his passion for the sport. Needing a financial boost for his family, he takes a job in Haenam, a countryside that is seemingly the opposite of Seoul in pace and lifestyle. His task? To revive a middle school badminton team that is on the verge of being cancelled by the school district. In tow are his surly teenaged son Hae-kang (Tang Joon-sang) and adorable daughter Hae-in (Ahn Se-bin). It definitely won’t be easy, but at least for the viewers, it’s incredibly entertaining. Check out our full review here!
16 episodes. Available on Netflix.
Hello, My Twenties! / Age of Youth Seasons 1 and 2 (2016, 2017)
Hello, My Twenties! walks us through the lives of a group of young women who live in Belle Epoque. The drama depicts typical growing pains, such as transitioning to college life, facing financial struggles, and—yes, everyone's favorite—dealing with romantic relationships. On paper, it sounds like any other barkada drama, but if viewers were to look beyond the tropey plot points and character descriptions, they will find serious discussions on social justice and women's rights. Hello, My Twenties! uses trippy cut scenes and hilarious commentary to point out society's expectations on women: "Women should keep quiet about their struggles. They should always smile through hardships.” As we get to know more about these women, including their fears and struggles (such as workplace harassment and toxic relationships), we realize that this drama is more than your typical slice-of-life barkada show. It's actually a realistic depiction of women who are learning to "adult". A fair warning though, there are definitely plot holes ahead and a confusing change of cast in season 2 that will trip viewers out.
Highly amusing and hilarious, women will definitely relate to these young ladies as they make amends with their past and bravely live out their youth in the present moment.
Season 1 has 12 episodes, while Season 2 has 14. Both are available on Netflix.
*Trigger Warning: Violence against Women, Sexual Abuse on Minors, Mental Health Issues
If you want more medical dramas...
Dr. Romantic 1 & 2 (2016 & 2020)
If you want to see Yoo Yeon-seok in a doctor's coat again, then this should be next on your watchlist. In this two-season series (with a third in the pipeline) Boo Young-joo (Han Suk-kyu) is a doctor nicknamed the “Hand of God” because of his preternatural surgical skills. He was a triple board-certified doctor at the top of his game in one of the largest hospitals in Seoul—until tragedy struck. Traumatized and unable to recover fast enough, Young-joo left the high life and the messy hospital politics in favor of a quieter and more hermit-like existence. These days, he continues to save lives under a different name (Kim Sa-bu) in an unremarkable hospital in the middle of nowhere. But despite Doldam Hospital’s humble set-up, Kim Sa-bu is able to lead his small team—including Yoo Yeon-seok in season 1—and finds himself mentoring and sharing his hard-won wisdom to other promising doctors whose fates are similar to his own.
Season 1 has 20 episodes, while Season 2 has16. Both are available on Netflix.
Doctor John (2019)
After serving a prison sentence for illegally euthanizing a terminally ill patient, brilliant anesthesiologist Doctor Cha Yo-han (Ji Sung) returns to medical practice as a professor and head of the Pain Management Clinic at Seoul Hanse Medical Center. There, young doctors have been trained to focus on symptoms and to keep their patients at arm’s length. The series follows Dr. John as he imparts valuable wisdom with his students: “To understand a person’s pain is to understand that person.”
16 episodes. Available on Netflix and Viu.
For a longer list of medical dramas, check out our previous article, "Saranghae, Frontliner" here.
If you want more of Jo Jung-suk...
Jealousy Incarnate / Don't Dare to Dream (2016)
As its title suggests, this hilarious rom-com is about the many incarnations that jealousy takes. Jo Jung-suk plays Lee Hwa-sin, a cocky, ambitious news reporter who finds himself battling his impossibly dreamy best friend (Go Kyung-po) for the affections of a weather forecaster (Gong Hyo-jin). Set in the chaotic work environment of the fictional Seoul Broadcasting Corporation, Jealousy Incarnate is populated with colorful characters brought to life by an outstanding ensemble cast, multiple love triangles (not all romantic), and full of memorable, hilarious scenes that are worth repeating. Jo Jung-suk's fans will be delighted to see him bust out his singing* and dancing moves, and will be moved by the depth of his performance as a male breast cancer patient.
24 episodes, available on Netflix (as "Don't Dare to Dream") and Viu. *We recommend watching this on Viu for the full experience, as some song numbers are not in the Netflix version.
The Nokdu Flower (2019)
To see Jo Jung-suk in a completely different role, you may want to check out the historical drama The Nokdu Flower. Set during the painful Donghak Peasant Revolution of 1894-95, a major event in Korean history, this sageuk tells the story of two half-brothers from different mothers.
Jo Jung-suk plays Baek Yi-kang, who, as the eldest son of a mother from a lower social status, does everything he can to gain the respect and acceptance of his powerful father, even becoming like his henchman. Baek Yi-kang's poignant relationship with his younger but legitimate brother, Baek Yi-hyun (Yoon Shi-yoon), is key in the surprising turn of events and in how differently both men turn out. Based on real events, this series is an emotional experience for its viewers.
48 35-minutes episodes. Available on Netflix.
Oh My Ghost (2015)
Jo Jung-suk plays Kang Sung-woo, a prickly chef who slowly falls for his meek but highly talented staff cook Na Bong-sun (Park Bo-young), but gets terribly confused when she starts showing a whole different personality. Unbeknownst to him, his cute chef is actually a powerful spirit medium, and the woman he's falling for has been possessed by a rather aggressive virgin ghost. Expect a lot of laughter, some tears, and a whole lot of cooking from this memorable romantic comedy about death and the afterlife.
16 episodes. Available on Netflix (until September 30) and Viu.
If you want more of Jung Kyung-ho...
Life on Mars (2018)
This remake of the BBC series was so well-done that even the BBC tweeted their admiration. Life on Mars succeeds where other k-crime fantasy dramas don’t by being able to balance the heavy sleuthing with a massive dose of nostalgic entertainment. Jung Kyung-ho is adorable as the misplaced modern detective trying his best to survive the analogue life of ‘80s Busan. While comatose, he realizes that his brain is somehow stuck in 1988. After the usual fish-out-of-water (or time) hilarity, he cleverly realizes that he can solve the modern murders if he can somehow prevent them in the past.
16 episodes. Available on other streaming sites.
Cruel City/Heartless City (2013)
Jung Kyung-ho stars in a career-defining role as an orphaned drug courier and boss of a small gang, known only as "The Doctor's Son," who has bigger dreams for himself. When he is accused of murder, he finds himself crossing paths with another orphan, and soon becomes embroiled in a web of love, betrayal, and revenge.
20 episodes. Available on other streaming sites.
If you want more of Kim Dae-myung...
Misaeng: Incomplete Life (2014)
Based on a popular webtoon about the everyday struggles of office workers at a large trading company, Misaeng: Incomplete Life became a pan-Asian cultural phenomenon in 2014, achieving the highest ratings in Korean cable TV history, and inspiring remakes in Japan and China.
While the workplace drama centers on Jang Geu-rae (Yim Si-wan), a baduk prodigy who struggles in a corporate setting after failing to make it as a professional player, Misaeng features a large ensemble of talented actors including Lee Sung-min, Kang Ha-neul, Kang So-ra, and Byun Yo-han, who accurately portray the different personalities you'll typically find yourself working with. Kim Dae-myung, sporting a curly mop of hair to match his webtoon character, plays Kim Dong-sik, a kind and overworked team member of Jang Geu-rae in Sales Team 3.
20 episodes. Available on Netflix.
The Sound of Your Heart (2016)
Without even knowing it, you’ve probably already seen a number of k-dramas adapted from webtoons, but none of them will prepare you for the craziness that this offbeat comedy web series has in store. The Sound of Your Heart actually feels like comic characters have been brought to life, with funny man Lee Kwang-soo starring as an aspiring webtoon artist who uses the hilarious antics of his colorful family as inspiration. Kim Dae-myung plays his older brother, a role that could not be farther from the serious and introverted Dr. Kim Seok-hyung! (You may want to skip this if you have zero tolerance for toilet humor).
10 30-minute episodes. Available on Netflix.
If you want more of Yoo Yeon-seok...
Mr. Sunshine (2018)
Yoo Yeon-seok stars as Gu Dong-mae, the mercenary soldier caught in turn-of-the-century Korea, whose love for a noblewoman (Kim Tae-ri) puts his principles and loyalty to the test. His dishevelled and bloodied samurai look may be a far cry from the wholesome and affectionate pediatrician we see in Yulje Hospital, but trust us on this one: he can certainly rock the warrior look and is at home with bloody sword fights. With its stellar cast and massive budget, Mr Sunshine has everything you could want in a turn-of-the century drama. While some may need a bit of context in Korean history to fully enjoy the scale and the symbolisms of the drama, it is enjoyable in and of itself.
24 episodes. Available on Netflix.
Warm and Cozy (2015)
Warm and Cozy is a small-town MBC series starring Kang So-ra and Yoo Yeon-seok, set in both Seoul and Jeju Island. Yoo Yeon-seok stars as Baek Gun-woo, who runs a café that he opened because of a first love. There, he serves meals that are as pleasing to the eye as the man himself. After a series of very unfortunate events, Lee Jung-joo (Kang So-ra) finds her way to the island as well. She is completely down on her luck. He is a chaebol who drifts along with his whims. She thinks they might have been separated at birth. There’s definitely a connection between them but it can’t be DNA, right? The story as well as those of the people around them slowly unfolds, set against the enchanting backdrop of a seaside town that isn’t as quiet as it appears on the surface.
16 episodes. Available on Netflix.
If you want more of Jeon Mi-do...
Jeon Mi-do's first television role is in the Baeksang Arts Award Best Drama winner Mother, starring Lee Bo-young and child acting phenomenon Heo Yool. In this suspense drama about a substitute teacher who goes on the run with one of her students after realizing the child is being abused at home, Jeon Mi-do plays the small but pivotal role of a woman with links to the child's abuser. Read our full review of this masterpiece here.
Thirty, Nine (2022)
Since Hospital Playlist was theater-veteran Jeon Mi-do's first major screen role, we'll all have to wait a few months to see her in the lead of another television drama. We believe it will totally be worth the wait, as she appears in the female-centric slice-of-life drama Thirty, Nine along with Hallyu superstar Son Ye-jin and fellow musical theater actress Kim Ji-hyun. The upcoming JTBC drama follows the lives and loves of three high school friends on the verge of turning 40. Jeon Mi-do will be playing an acting coach named Jeon Chan-young. Filming has just started, and while no official premier date has been announced, we can look forward to watching this in the first half of 2022.
And when all else fails...
Rewatch both seasons of Hospital Playlist!