TV shows

Corruption, murder and intrigue by the truckloads in gripping South Korean TV show ‘Stranger’

In the Netflix acquisition ‘Stranger’, originally titled ‘Secret Forest, a public prosecutor goes deep inside the graft-ridden Korean police force.

South Korean filmmakers, from Joon Ho Bong to Chan-wook Park, are feted the world over for their gripping tales of crime and redemption. But the country’s television is not too far behind. A new series, which is ratcheting up the ratings, is both sophisticated and sassy, twin hallmarks of Korean crime dramas.

Secret Forest, which Netflix has picked up, goes deep inside the Korean police force to uncover a tale of corruption, malice and intrigue. Prosecutor Hwang Shi-Mok (Jo Seung-woo) is called upon to investigate the murder of businessman Park Moo-sung who had a history of providing favours to top members of the police in return for lax investigation into tax evasion, insider trading and other corporate malfeasance.

Shi-Mok is widely believed to be incorruptible, living alone as a bachelor and sharing a testy relationship with his parents. As he goes about the investigation, he seeks the help of Han Yeo-jin (the internationally known Bae Doo-na), a young and idealistic policewoman who shares his enthusiasm for cleaning up the service.

Both find themselves getting pulled into a thicket that grows darker at every turn. At the centre of the controversy is Kwon Min-ah (Park Yoo-na), an underage sex worker who is believed to have provided services to a battery of top officials, including Shi-mok’s and Yeo-jin’s bosses. She also has some connection to Seo Dong-Jae (Lee Jun-hyuk), Shi-Mok’s colleague and a man who, chameleon-like, has the ability of extricate himself out of any predicament.

At the other end of the spectrum is a former minister who is implicated in taking bribes from the dead Moo-sung and whose daughter now works as a prosecutor under Shi-Mok. A third pole is brought in by Deputy Chief Lee (Jae-Myung Yoo) who, apart from being Shi-Mok’s boss and a morally dubious character, is son-in-law to one of Korea’s most powerful industrialists.


With so many overlapping strands, Secret Forest (it runs under the name Stranger on Netflix) was in danger of drowning. But the show maintains a taut grip on the events, mingling action and investigation to craft a satisfying narrative. Intentions are frequently questioned, and no one, not even the victim’s mother and son, are allowed the benefit of the doubt.

Procedural dramas tend to lag when the focus shift to the action at the expense of the whodunit. Secret Forest studiously avoids this trap. Especially interesting are the scenes in which Shi-Mok imagines himself at the scene of the crime which are thus shot by the director, giving his line of reasoning greater heft.

Jo Seung-woo and Bae Doo-na are excellent as the team that complements one another. He is instinctive but reserved while she is driven and cheery. At this stage, they are as much in danger of rubbing the higher-ups the wrong way as they are on the edge of a triumphant discovery. Since the original series is currently running in Korea, Netflix makes two episodes available every Friday. The wait is as delicious as the cliffhangers that end every episode.

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Putting the patient first - insights for hospitals to meet customer service expectations

These emerging solutions are a fine balance between technology and the human touch.

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The evolving patient

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The need for such initiatives and the evolving nature of patient care were among the central themes of the recently concluded Abbott Hospital Leadership Summit. The speakers included pundits from marketing and customer relations along with leaders in the healthcare space.

Among them was the illustrious speaker Larry Hochman, a globally recognised name in customer service. According to Mr. Hochman, who has worked with British Airways and Air Miles, patients are rapidly evolving from passive recipients of treatment to active consumers who are evaluating their overall experience with a hospital on social media and creating a ‘word-of-mouth’ economy. He talks about this in the video below.


As the video says, with social media and other public platforms being available today to share experiences, hospitals need to ensure that every customer walks away with a good experience.

The promise gap

In his address, Mr. Hochman also spoke at length about the ‘promise gap’ — the difference between what a company promises to deliver and what it actually delivers. In the video given below, he explains the concept in detail. As the gap grows wider, the potential for customer dissatisfaction increases.


So how do hospitals differentiate themselves with this evolved set of customers? How do they ensure that the promise gap remains small? “You can create a unique value only through relationships, because that is something that is not manufactured. It is about people, it’s a human thing,” says Mr. Hochman in the video below.


As Mr. Hochman and others in the discussion panel point out, the key to delivering a good customer experience is to instil a culture of empathy and hospitality across the organisation. Whether it is small things like smiling at patients, educating them at every step about their illness or listening to them to understand their fears, every action needs to be geared towards making the customer feel that they made the correct decision by getting treated at that hospital. This is also why, Dr. Nandkumar Jairam, Chairman and Group Medical Director, Columbia Asia, talked about the need for hospitals to train and hire people with soft skills and qualities such as empathy and the ability to listen.

Striking the balance

Bridging the promise gap also involves a balance between technology and the human touch. Dr. Robert Pearl, Executive Director and CEO of The Permanente Medical Group, who also spoke at the event, wrote about the example of Dr. Devi Shetty’s Narayana Health Hospitals. He writes that their team of surgeons typically performs about 900 procedures a month which is equivalent to what most U.S. university hospitals do in a year. The hospitals employ cutting edge technology and other simple innovations to improve efficiency and patient care.

The insights gained from Narayana’s model show that while technology increases efficiency of processes, what really makes a difference to customers are the human touch-points. As Mr. Hochman says, “Human touch points matter more because there are less and less of them today and are therefore crucial to the whole customer experience.”


By putting customers at the core of their thinking, many hospitals have been able to apply innovative solutions to solve age old problems. For example, Max Healthcare, introduced paramedics on motorcycles to circumvent heavy traffic and respond faster to critical emergencies. While ambulances reach 30 minutes after a call, the motorcycles reach in just 17 minutes. In the first three months, two lives were saved because of this customer-centric innovation.

Hospitals are also looking at data and consumer research to identify consumer pain points. Rajit Mehta, the MD and CEO of Max Healthcare Institute, who was a panelist at the summit, spoke of the importance of data to understand patient needs. His organisation used consumer research to identify three critical areas that needed work - discharge and admission processes for IPD patients and wait-time for OPD patients. To improve wait-time, they incentivised people to book appointments online. They also installed digital kiosks where customers could punch in their details to get an appointment quickly.

These were just some of the insights on healthcare management gleaned from the Hospital Leadership Summit hosted by Abbott. In over 150 countries, Abbott is working with hospitals and healthcare professionals to improve the quality of health services.

To read more content on best practices for hospital leaders, visit Abbott’s Bringing Health to Life portal here.

This article was produced on behalf of Abbott by the marketing team and not by the editorial staff.