For the uninitiated, Korean drama series are usually at least 16 episodes, sometimes 20 or 24 but this is not cast in stone. Reason being, Korean drama series are being shot at the same time as they are broadcasted so broadcasting stations may commission for more or less episodes depending on viewer response (heck, they even change the storyline to please viewers at times). And usually, they are broadcasted twice a week – Mon+Tue, Wed+Thu or Sat+Sun. There are some exceptions to this algorithm, for example family sitcoms that run every weekday evening and can stretch anything between 50-100+ episodes. But in general, most drama series fall into the stereotype.
Which is why sometimes we see a character being written off abruptly or we see a ‘special broadcast’ that is effectively a mishmash of previous episodes. This happens when something happened on the set for example an injury or a strike occurred at the broadcasting station etc. It’s all very interesting and dynamic but I sometimes wish the industry doesn’t cut it so fine – there have been reports of too many injuries on the set due to impossible working hours.
As a general rule of thumb I don’t like ‘chasing after’ Korean drama series that are in the midst of broadcasting because I have to wait a week after watching 2 episodes. The wait can be agonising if I am especially hooked to a particular drama series hence I usually wait until the whole series has wrapped up before I start watching. Exceptions are accorded for drama series that Siwon is involved in, for obvious reasons. And recently, I made another exception. The drama in question here is I Hear Your Voice (너의 목소리가 들려), a project 3 of my favourite actors/actress are involved in.
Lee Bo Young (이보영), the female protagonist, is someone H and I both liked after watching The Ballad of Suh Dong (서동요) many, many years back. She is not known to be a terribly great actress but she is likeable enough onscreen, and she brings in ratings. I haven’t been watching her latest works since catching a couple of episodes of The Equator Man (적도의 남자) but I’ve heard raving reviews of her in My Daughter Seo Young (내 딸 서영이). This is the next drama I’m hoping to catch up on since many fans said it is arguably Lee Bo Young’s best work thus far.
Yoon Sang Hyun (윤상현), despite his age (40 this year by western reckoning) is a relatively new face on the drama scene, having become an actor only at the age of 32. Most people who watch Korean drama series are likely to remember him as Oska from Secret Garden (시크릿 가든). Not H and I. We first saw him in Queen of Housewives (내조의 여왕). He had somewhat a minor role in the drama series but left a deep impression. Subsequently he also pitted his acting skills against the Choi Ji Woo (최지우) in Can’t Lose (지고는 못살아) and didn’t fare too badly. I deduced he is definitely someone to watch, and he hasn’t disappointed although I feel that he is slowly becoming stereotyped in his roles.
And last but not the least, the model-turned-actor Lee Jong Suk (이종석). Again, most people would have gotten to know him from Secret Garden but not me (that particular drama series, despite all the hype, just did not appeal to me). It was one of his later works – High Kick 3 – that I noticed him. Definitely one of the up and coming young actors who can really act. And if he stretches it, he isn’t due for military service in another 5 years. So that’s a lot of time for him to build up his experience and fan base. But looking at the way things go for this particular drama series, he is on his way to becoming the next Kim Soo Hyun (김수현). I do hope that he stays grounded and humble because many reports out there have hinted that Kim Soo Hyun is now anything but.
<– SPOILER ALERT –>
I’m hopelessly hooked on this drama series. So is H. The problem with some melodramatic Korean drama series lies in the how slow-paced they can be. I like it that I Hear Your Voice is nothing like that. Now, 8 episodes into the drama series and every single episode is still able to surprise me. We the viewers know that Min Joon Gook, the murderer of Soo Ha’s father would come after Jang Hye Sung sooner or later. By which manner though, we cannot fathom. And in one of the previous episodes, I really actually thought Joon Gook was rethinking his vengeful plan after Hye Sung’s mother showed him so much kindness. Then the following week, he just went on to kill her in cold blood. So many twists so far I am completely spellbound.
Conversely, I’m much less invested in the romantic relationships. Many viewers out there are Hye Sung-Soo Ha shippers. Less so for me because I’m traditional in my thinking and an age gap of 9 years with Hye Sung being the older one just seems too much of a stretch. Especially when she has Cha Kwan Woo as the other more viable option. Instead, I want Hye Sung and Soo Ha to become real family and be there for each other although it’s kind of warped now that their connection is that his father and her mother share the same murderer. Have no idea how the scriptwriter wants to continue developing the storyline. There is still a lot of room for manoeuvre considering that this series is slated for 20 episodes and we are only into the 8th episode. Who knows, it may even get extended if the ratings hit the roof.