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[Herald Interview] Focus on viewer empathy, attention to details spell success

Producer Shin Won-ho discusses making ‘Hospital Playlist’

Producer Shin Won-ho (left) and actor Kim Dae-myung (tvN)
Producer Shin Won-ho (left) and actor Kim Dae-myung (tvN)

Just as they did with their previous shows, including the three “Reply” series and “Prison Playbook,” producer Shin Won-ho and screenwriter Lee Woo-jung captured the hearts of viewers with likeable characters and heartwarming stories in “Hospital Playlist.”

The 12-episode series racked up a 14.1 percent viewership rating on its final episode last month.

“I feel relieved. While my previous works left me feeling ‘done’ with them, because ‘Hospital Playlist’ has another season upcoming, I feel like I can’t relax completely,” Shin said through an email interview.

“From the new airing schedule to the story structure made up of small stories, lacking a clear plotline, the drama was a big challenge for us, and we’re grateful to the viewers who have endured the time with us,” Shin said.

Shin, who said his goal in making this drama series was “empathy” from viewers, feels more than satisfied with how the drama has been received.

“The reactions from the viewers were even warmer than we had expected. There were many online comments saying they felt ‘healed’ by the drama or felt ‘warm.’ Some of the people around me, who seemed like they’d never watch a drama, sent me very touching comments about the series,” Shin said. “Such reactions are what keeps me going as a producer.” 


Producer Shin Won-ho (center) of tvN’s “Hospital Playlist” poses with lead actors of the series. (tvN)
Producer Shin Won-ho (center) of tvN’s “Hospital Playlist” poses with lead actors of the series. (tvN)

While “Hospital Playlist” revolves around five friends who are doctors in the same hospital, the producer had stressed the series was not a typical Korean medical drama. Rather than focusing on the urgent life-and-death situations, the series followed the daily lives of the five doctors and their relationships with patients, friends and families.

Nevertheless, a lot of effort went into capturing the details of a hospital environment, according to the director. Planning for “Hospital Playlist” and the earlier “Prison Playbook” started at the same time.

“We prepared for ‘Hospital Playlist’ for around four years, and while we were shooting ‘Prison Playbook,’ our writers continued their research for ‘Hospital Playlist.’ The script was completed over a period of four years through communications with our advisers in each of the hospital departments.”

Preparing for surgery scenes was the biggest ordeal, Shin said. “From washing hands before going into surgery to all the gestures taken during the surgery, and even putting on the gown, we had to ask about everything and could not take a single step without the help of the advisory doctors.”

Thanks to such efforts, the detailed portrayal of hospital life received high acclaim from doctors. 


 
Producer Shin Won-ho of “Hospital Playlist” (tvN)
Producer Shin Won-ho of “Hospital Playlist” (tvN)

“I recently watched some of the review content created by doctors. There were moments when I couldn’t understand what the professor was talking about as we made the drama, and the review content helped a lot in many such parts. It’s interesting to see how the content I created connect with creators on a different platform to form a new content,” Shin said.

The second season of the drama series is slated to air next year, with shooting expected to start around the end of this year.

Shin, 44, started his television career as a variety show producer in 2001. Producing entertainment shows for KBS until 2011, Shin joined CJ E&M where he has switched to drama production. Among the hits he has helmed are “Reply 1997” in 2012, “Reply 1994” in 2013, which catapulted him to stardom, and “Reply 1988” in 2015, which scored record-high viewership ratings for a cable network drama.



By Choi Ji-won (jwc@heraldcorp.com)
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