I Hear Your Voice, episodes 1 to 4

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I was going to sweep this into a quick cap post with Heartless City and Shark since they all started at roughly the same time, but I’m going to give this its own post because I LURVE IT. Oh and it’s been a really long time since I devoted some quality time to write a drama post :’(

So I really didn’t expect to like this, because the premise seemed kitschy and the cast was kind of head-scratchy, but this does come from the writer of “Dream High,” which I adored. Blah blah blah about judging a book by its cover because it’s preeeeetty frackin great.

To give a quick rundown: As a little boy, Park Soo-ha (Lee Jong-seok) watched his father get viciously bludgeoned to death after they’re both injured in a car accident. The car accident was premeditated and when the crash doesn’t kill Soo-ha and his dad in one clean swoop, the driver beats Soo-ha’s dad to death. Before he gets a chance to off Soo-ha, a girl named Hye-sung accidentally distracts the killer when taking a picture of the attempted murder in action.

The killer threatens Hye-sung that if she even considers showing up to court to act as witness to the crime, he’ll come after her and her family and kill all of them.

At court, Soo-ha is too young to make an effective witness in addition to his inability to speak, due to an accident-related brain injury. However, the tide turns when Hye-sung steps into court to act as a witness, this time changing the indictment from a mere traffic offense to one of homicide, and the killer Joon-kook is taken away to jail. Joon-kook’s last words before being carted off to jail are words of warning: once he gets released, he will find Hye-sung.

ews20130617icanhearyourvoice2Fast forward approximately a decade, Soo-ha is a high school student with the curious ability to read other people’s minds, an after effect from his brain injury from years earlier. Hye-sung becomes a public defender, not because she’s in love with justice and truth, but because she thinks it’s the easiest job she can take that can bring her a stable income. Gotta love that passion, right?

In the years since Soo-ha first laid eyes on Hye-sung, the older sister figure who stepped into court dramatically to tell the people the truth, Soo-ha has built an image of Hye-sung up in his head, where she’s the world’s prettiest, most honest, most dedicated, and most courageous. He’s sorely disappointed when he meets her again in the present, and she has taken on a case with his friend as the defendant. Hye-sung takes the easy way out, seeks a resolution that will create the least amount of work for her, and doesn’t make an attempt to side with the person she’s defending. We’re on our way to seeing more of what’s got Hye-sung so jaded, but we’re not there yet, and I’m fine with that.

To be honest, I wasn’t crazy about the overly idealistic Hye-sung, who was stuck on principal and divorced from reality. As a viewer, it’s easier to swallow when they’re coming from a character 16 years old (16 year olds are the worst! Blargh! Where’s my cane?!), but if she had remained exactly the same as an adult, I don’t think I would’ve been able to sit through the drama. Of course, the Hye-sung of the present is too far on the opposite side of the spectrum for it to be believable — no person changes like that — so there I do foresee a lot of character exploring.

I think Hye-sung’s defining traits — righteousness, loyalty, persistence — are ones that viewers relate to easily, because on a sliding scale of morality, those are the ones that most people have deemed to be just and worthy. So when a character becomes a flippant antithesis of a former admirable self, we’re just waiting for him or her to revert back, because we believe those traits will prevail. I personally don’t want her to be as much of an annoying stickler as she was before, but I do want to know why Hye-sung has become so jaded and lazy.

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I have never ever taken an interest in any role Lee Bo-young has taken, and the trajectory of her career was what gave me pause when she was cast in this, because I was afraid it would just be a continuation of all the other roles she’s done before. But I love that her character is kinda abrasive, kinda dismissive, uber lazy, sometimes haughty, but also super well-meaning. She has a backbone and can step up to the plate when needed. And Lee Bo-young is really doing it for me delivery-wise, and I think I judge a lot of an actor/actress’ abilities on their speaking and line delivery. She adds a flit of whimsical humor in her monologues and has great timing and enunciation.

I’m not going to lie, when I saw the stills for the drama prior to premiere date, I thought Lee Jong-seok was basically doing the same character he did in “School 2013,” which was essentially similar-ish to his character in “High Kick 3.” Hopefully this will be his last high schooler roles, and if it is, I’m glad he’s going out with this one. I love his chemistry with Lee Bo-young, and was worried that I wouldn’t be to get over the 10 year age gap, but they bicker perfectly perfectly and there’s a super youthful quality to Lee Bo-young that makes her not at all like a nagging older sister, but more just like an older love interest.

ews20130617icanhearyourvoice4One thing I really like about their interactions is that moment when grown-up Soo-ha meets Hye-sung again after not having seen her for a number of years, and she completely shatters all his fantasies of her. I love this, because I’ve always hated the trope that This One Girl is the accumulation of all these fantasies and ideals that A Guy has created of her in his mind; it’s unfair and unrealistic, and is a trope that has long worn-off its lustre and draw. And this fantasy of the Perfect Person is often of the Perfect Girl, so it’s also incredibly sexist and ain’t nobody have time for that. I kind of like how Hye-sung kills Soo-ha’s fantasies down with, “99% of females are like this [dirty, messy, unkempt], so you should cut that fantasy shit out now.”

This drama has a great storyline going, but it’s not without its flaws, its biggest one being how to actually tackle the law-aspect of the story. I think K-dramas are in general pretty weak with career-oriented plots, but especially so with law-related ones. I want to be proven wrong, but the law component in “I Hear Your Voice” already seems pretty weak to me, and aided with a character who can read criminals’ and witnesses’ minds, the writers kind of set their stories up for a deus ex machina at every turn, and I really hope that won’t be the case.

(I’m not a lawyer — I just watch a lot of “The Good Wife” and “Suits,” okay???? — but I took offense to how Hye-sung could just in one split second decide that she was going to plead not guilty for her defendant despite having planned to just accept a guilty verdict, and then make up the arguments as she was going, and still win the case. Hours and days go into that shit! And then you get a guy who determines that a witness is lying because he can read her mind, and my eyes just rolled themselves straight out of my damn sockets.)

  • jiabu

    Ohh~~ Thanks for this! I’m so glad I checked this one out, when it was announced I found the premise uninteresting and the cast underwhelming at best.

    I think she didn’t change in a totally random way – she regrets having entered that courtroom and the image of the murderer still haunts her 10 years later. That’s why she chose the easy way out, I believe: she won’t be in danger again, and she won’t stand out. She’s also pretty jaded after being kicked out so unfairly, and she seems to be pretty traumatised by those events. Of course, the drama requires her to change her ways, find motivation, and crush her nemesis, so they found a reasonable way to put her in that office: her mum gave her an ultimatum, which speaks so much about her character – she won’t do anything daring unless forced.

    I’m onboard now, let’s hope they don’t ruin it ^^