Data from Nielsen Korea reveal that MBC’s new medical drama, Hospital Ship, premiered Wednesday night with double-digit nationwide ratings of 10.6 % and 12.4 % for its first and second episode, respectively. The new series starring Ha Ji-won has become the sixth weekday prime time drama airing on free-to-air TV channels to premiere with ratings above 10 %.
Competition among television programs these days are tougher than ever with the rise of pay television shows over at cable channels in Korea such as tvN and JTBC. Thus, a double-digit television rating is difficult to attain. So far this year, 25 Korean dramas have aired on KBS, MBC, and SBS and only 6 out of this total number, including Hospital Ship, managed to start their runs with nationwide audience share surpassing 10 %. SBS’ Defendant became the first drama to achieve such a record, posting a remarkable 14.5 %. This record was quickly overtaken by Saimdang Light’s Diary’s 16.3 % which up to this day remains the highest-rated pilot episode for a free-to-air drama in 2017. Completing the said six shows are Whisper (13.9 %), Mystery Queen (11.2 %), and the currently airing Falsify (11.6 %) and Hospital Ship.
The success of Hospital Ship’s first night of broadcast caused its rivals to suffer from drop in ratings. SBS’s Reunited Worlds recorded 5.4 % and 6.8 % for its two episodes last night. These numbers are lower than the 5.9 % and 7.1 % it recorded last week. Meanwhile, KBS’s Manhole: Feel So Good saw a decrease from 2.1 % last week to 2.0 % in its latest episode.
Hospital Ship seems poised to duplicate the achievement of its predecessor, Man Who Dies To Live, which managed to have a successful run despite the controversy it faced in its first week of airing. The medical drama follows the lives of young doctors aboard a hospital ship that sails to different islands in need of medical facilities and services. It deals with their personal and professional growth as doctors and tells stories that reflect today’ society. Starring in the drama with leading roles are Ha Ji-won, who is best known for her roles in Secret Garden and Empress Ki, and relatively rookie actors Kang Min-hyuk (Entertainer) and Lee Seo-won (The Liar and His Lover).