Whisper (2017)

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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 904 users
Reviews: 3 users

Shin Young Joo is a female detective, a section chief with charisma, although she spends most of her time with petty criminals. She has to pay the debt of her family and often speaks harshly, but inside she has a golden heart. Lee Dong Joon is a righteous elite judge, brilliant in mind, but with a warm heart and he always has a friendly ear for those who are weak. Both work read moretogether to solve a case of corruption, involving the greatest law firm of the nation, Taebak, which turns out to be one of the biggest scandals ever.

*from writer Park Kyung Soo (Punch, Empire of Gold, Chaser)

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  • Also Known as:

    Gwitsongmal; Advance; 진격;

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12 people found this review helpful
Other reviews by this user
May 22, 2017
  • Overall 7.5
  • Story 7.0
  • Acting/Cast 9.0
  • Music 6.0
  • Rewatch Value 4.0
A drama which generates mixed feelings. But the feeling of "so near, yet so far" dominates them all. It had a bit of various genres, but not enough of any. A story with the backdrop of a law firm, but the law is overshadowed by politics. There isn't enough intuitive crime detection to call it a crime/investigation drama. Just some sprinkle of romance here and there, so can't be called a romantic read more one either.

Yet another saga of how power corrupts people who in turn corrupt others as well. An honest judge is forced to convict an innocent man. The convicted man's daughter who is a cop, decides to set things right. Things start off badly between the protagonists, but they gradually come to understand each other and work together. It starts off with a lot of promise, but it gradually turns out to be a tug-of-war. Expected things happen, but the audience are kept waiting in the tussle between (good and evil?)

The actors have done a decent job, but the major expressions in the drama are poker face and smirk, and not all of them seem natural. A bit more of joy would've been nice.

Rewatch value is kinda low for me. The last two episodes kinda killed it all.

It's definitely worth a one time watch, start with no expectations and you might be in for a surprise!
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11 people found this review helpful
Other reviews by this user
May 24, 2017
  • Overall 8.5
  • Story 8.0
  • Acting/Cast 10
  • Music 6.5
  • Rewatch Value 8.0
What to expect: a festival of backstabbing.
Don't watch it if you despise convenient plot points, because almost every single twist and turn here is exactly this.
Imagine a storyboard, an intricate and tensed network of possible outcomes. As the story flows, it forces some lines to close down. Some chess pieces are bound on their positions, limiting the movement of others. Some are taken down (destroying evidence is a read more recurring theme of the first half or so - which, realistically speaking isn't a wisest move on a characters' part, but it's necessary for the plot to move forward; once a deal is finished, it's impossible to restore the former status (but hey, there's a twist on this too!)).
The first episode is a gateway of sorts, filtering out the viewers who aren't for this kind of story (the controversial part is even in the official trailer). A journalist gets killed, his friend framed for it, and a judge known for his integrity blackmailed to announce him guilty. Framed man's daughter seeks the judge's help, but feels betrayed in the end and sets him up, trying to create a pressure point on him. He ends ups tangled between Taebaek law firm's all-reaching influences and her blackmail, facing an impossible choice. Sprinkle with hints of latest political scandals from real life and you have a Taebaekgate of your own.

There are no right choices here. It's a bleak and ruthless world in which power overcomes truth and justice can be bought. Everyone important knows each other and sits in Taebaek pocket. The law firm serves as a symbol here: it recruits its employees from the elite lawyers, prosecutors and judges by orchestrating their downfall from behind and generously offering them a place to stay. Then it feeds on their former reputation and abilities.
Many people complained that a hero introducted as just and incorruptible breaks so easily and turns shattered and 'spineless' during first few eps, but that's the point. 'Whisper' suceeds in creating a sense of encirlement, hopelessness and inevitability.

Characters' cunnery manifests in being in right places at right time with right people and smirking knowingly. They're smart enough to forsee one or more moves of the opponent ahead, but it doesn't mean they don't lower their guard from time to time. And yes, deadpan and smirk (and furrowed brows…) are dominant expressions, but first, I don't think it was actors choice, two, there's much more to it (a honourable mention for Hyung Mook, let's hope to see more of him in the dramas).
There's no clear, progressic character development, only people being poked from different angles and reacting accordingly. In a sense, it's not about Dong Joon and Yeong Joo substantially changing at all, because those two (especially she) were badass from the start, only their means were limited. For them, it's about achieving their goals. They come to their original point, only stronger and calmer. What changes the most is everyone around them losing their comfort, realising that the rotten world they know so well affects them too, that they too could also fall prey of a betrayal, not just stage it for others, and that people they trust and love won't always put their good first. All the sense of comradery in crime falls apart.

There's a love line and it stopped me for some time from even starting this. (Two, actually, but I don't want to completely rob you out of feeling smart and perceptive in a first few eps.) Its existence may or may not feel a little forced. It develops gradually and for the better part of the show consists mainly of male lead spacing out watching female lead being awesome, his gaze tinted with guilt. If you don't feel like watching a drama with a romance tag, you can safely ignore that for the first 12 episodes or so and pretend they're just partners with a hostile start, reaching an adorable intimacy later [here would be a gif of Dong Joon stealing a bite of Yeong Joo's salad from her plate].
However, the important part is: they both have agency during the show, can act separately and aren't overly protective. In the end, them developing feelings for each other serves as just another pressure point.
I could say there's a 'strong female lead' (and it applies to both to various extent), but the thing is, not a single character is gender-limited to begin with. They aren't forced to act or behave like males or females at all.
Also - the poster is right. It's not about main couple and their vengance only, all four characters are equally important. I'd even argue that the other two carry the story once the things between the former are roughly settled.
What it doesn't depicts, are four fathers. There's a rivalry and resentment between Choi Il Hwan and Kang Yoo Taek and it cast a shadow on their children. Lee Dong Joon has family issues too. But all of this is treated as a mean to a purpuse.

I tend to avoid crime/law/suspense/mystery/… dramas longer than 10-12 episodes, because stretching it further calls for people running in circles like a headless chickens and creating misunderstandings that could have been easily avoided if they just stopped and used their brains for once. Not a case here. On the contrary, obstacles come from constant betrayals on every front and people trying to protect oneself on other's expense. The pacing is fine. It takes some time to dismantle stalemates within stalemates and get enough power to force the truth. When this drama does prolong some event or a threat, it does it in such a manner to close all exits but one. For example, you can see someone soon-to-be framed for something at the beginning of the episode, but it takes some preparations to make sure that person will have little to no possibility to get out, and if s/he was taken sooner, s/he could save him/herself much easier (enters a fire destoying what little evidence have left). It's logical and kinda mechanical.
Anyway. I didn't skip a scene, which is something to brag for me these days. There was a week-long break forced with the presidental election coverage, but it's not noticeable. Recaps and flashbacks are minimal if any during the better part of the show, but there's more towards the end, because it was originally written as a 16 episode drama.
It's not super realistic in details, but uncanny in essence. The story is cleared out of all the accidental clutter and wholly focuses on the main plot and connected subplots showcasing the main players. Don't expect much of legal cases or police investigation. They do work, but it mostly serves as a setting since they don't meet mundane problems or unrelated cases. If something comes up, it's used as an exposure point, to reveal something from the past or to create a new problem that can be used against someone. Characters have only skeletal backstories - and for me it works. For many it doesn't.
Generally speaking, if you don't feel an urge to cheer for your characters, but rather shake them, throw on an arena and see who'll last, you've found yourself something to watch.

Tolerable and sparsely used for a kdrama standards, mostly instrumentals and background noises (clock ticking etc). Main theme is a latin chorus (with a hint to an early plot point), but it's nowhere near as pretentious as say, K2.

That's the biggest forte for me. First, it's stylish, two, it's fitting. It heavily relies on contrasts. Taebaek resides in a fortress-like building, a huge grey cube with slot-like windows. (Of course it has an open roof for dramatic conversations in the wind, duh.) It's interior is all glass, chromium, highly polished marble and some rough stone on the walls. Tight, dimly lit corridor leading to the owner's office ends with an anti-chamber filled with a terra cotta army and two hostess taking away all electronic devices from the guests. It's an example, but there are many locations and they all match the common theme. Interior decorations items are used within the plot. People mostly wear elegantly matte fabrics and everyone is coordinated for the sake of coherent screencaps. Even PPL doesn't hurt the eyes that much. The lighting is cold, blueish and artificial and it bonds all the scenes for the scale I haven't seen before in a kdrama. It's on par with Cruel City's grittiness and darkness or W clear division between two worlds when it comes to a coherent worldbuilding.

'My father is not here today, they are having a praying meeting in their community, so the embezzlement of the temple funds won't be found out.'

- Highly motivated, flawed, charismatic characters
- Reasonably smart intrigue (forming alliances and shuttering it, finding weak points and exploiting it)
- Good acting
- Even pacing, engaging power struggles, focused storytelling, clear and somewhat elegant structure
- Visually pleasing (and it's an integral part of the worldbuilding)
- Comic relief isn't overused, neither is the story too dry and serious
- not makjang.

- Convenience everywhere. Some things that never have any business be written take tangible form.
- Music fits the mood and action, although it ranges from forgettable to 'dear lord, not K2 again'
- Romance feels forced an unneeded.
- Not very engaging on an emotional level (there's a lame attempt of holding the viewer hostage with making one character badly sick in the middle, but I still don't really care for anyone or anything). It brings out repulsion, pity maybe, a satisfaction from people meeting their end and justice triumphing, but that's it.
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Make a Recommendation More recs (1)Recommendations

Both dramas include lawyers who solve a crime that is close to home. In Defendant the victims were his wife and daughter whilst in Whisper the assailant is his new bride and her lover (so he his less inclined at the beginning to solve it). In both dramas they have a female helping them solve the crime. Both have similar feeling to them as well.
Recommended by AmynaA
Both dramas deal with powerful plotting women and men that are changing sides. In both dramas a murderer plays an important role and involves nearly all the people.
Although the K2 has more action to offer for now, the suspense and the mystery and plotting between the characters is a lot similar.
Recommended by zuojenn

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Comments (329)

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  • Reply
    Dreamwalker May 23, 2017

    Probably the best cameos I have seen in a drama. Couldn't have fit more perfectly.

  • Reply
    dayidream May 23, 2017 - edited

    I couldn't say don't like it but something's off especially at romance aspect , even though I like Lee Sang Yoon and his acting whenever there is romantic scene with Lee Bo Young is felt like fake.
    There is something wrong with script, it went on so fast towards to the ending. Nearly I couldn't catch up whats happening. The script gets very tiring when it goes too fast.
    About acting Lee Sang Yoon , Park Se Young and Kwon Yool are good but I din't like Lee Bo Young.
    Overall my rate is 7/10

    • Reply
      inspirit91 May 24, 2017

      I completely agree with you about how something went wrong with the script and how it felt rushed towards the ending.

  • Reply
    suju5 May 23, 2017

    A perfect ending for a perfect drama

  • Reply
    Nina May 23, 2017 - edited

    Maybe I have low standards, but I loved this drama!

    • Reply
      giocare May 23, 2017

      Samee. Everyone seems to hate it but I loved it so much

  • Reply
    MrBanana May 23, 2017 - edited

    So I have been catching up on this and seriously I can't recommend it that much. Extremely flawed and just "meh", I would give it 5.5 so far. No one will remember this drama in a year or two.

  • Reply
    Ziran May 17, 2017 - edited

    Whisper's second half is a letdown. Drop in quality, drop in excitement. What should be thrilling, now feels commonplace. Much is due to the acting; the second leads by far outperform their main counterparts—which makes the show's execution unbalanced.

    Park Se Young is solid and believable in her role all-throughout. And while I adored Lee Bo Young in 'I Hear Your Voice' & 'My Daughter Seo Young' — here, she's underwhelming. The emoting is flat and anticlimactic, and the repetitive huffing and puffing she does whenever a bad situation arises - is tiresome to watch.

    Also, Kwon Yool is simply riveting.. Every expression is genuine, and he's effortlessly able to express his dark and complex character. As for Lee Sang Yoon.. He's not bad. Rather solid actually.. But he's not able to fully sell the portrayal of an amoral and multifaceted character, that the role requires of him.

    Also at gripes with the directing.. There were a lot of plot conveniences early on, but this didn't detract from the show at large - since there was still an overall narrative being communicated. But the experience when watching the later episodes, is that the direction feels microscopic, bland, a lack of creative effort..

    • Reply
      VishalIngle May 17, 2017 - edited

      in my opinion, it was the first half that was a bit all over the place, plotwise, since it was still defining the characters and the premise.
      to me, Lee Sang Yoon was pretty convincing when he tried to be a negative character. but it is in his morals that made him came back to being good people.
      Park Se Young and Kwon Yool,I admit that they are doing a good job in the role they're given but it's like when you're playing a negative role, there comes the freedom of acting as wickedly as you can while the good guys have to think of the morals and things like that. so they have that much complexities to their roles.
      acting wise, the only thing off about it was when LDJ tries to act affectionately towards SYJ. that didn't come out as natural, to me. but towards the tail-end episodes, it is looking good. And her tears too. her crying always looked a little odd to me but in the 14 episode, it looked good.

    • Reply
      Lourdes May 18, 2017

      I think the same. Second half is being a little boring for me.

    • Reply
      Ziran May 18, 2017 - edited

      @VishalIngle Good insight. I think you're spot on about the characterization being all over the place in the beginning (especially for LDJ). However, Whisper's first half still resonated with me tonally — which is why I favour it over the second one.

      Lee Sang Yoon's transition - to a caring and an affectionate character (towards SYJ) - indeed makes his role less believable. And for me this unevenness permeates even in his darker role that now feels less genuine in some aspects. But rather than his acting, this is more of a fault in the execution of the narrative — the progression in LDJ's & SYJ's relationship isn't exactly handled well..

    • Reply
      VishalIngle May 18, 2017 - edited

      I guess the amount of things that were going on one after another, makers couldn't find a balance between content and characterization.
      but I like 2nd half too, as all the things have some sequence to it, they have an order to them.
      also, having seen Lee Sang Yoon in Angel Eyes, Twenty Again & On The Way To The Airport, which are sweet romance dramas, watching even a tiny bit of dark shade to his character is excitement enough for me

    • Reply
      inspirit91 May 24, 2017

      I thought the same first half was way better!

  • Reply
    TeenMaleModel Faces May 15, 2017

    Lee bo young where are you . Where have u been after watchıbg her and the guy who playıng sxhool not kım woo bın the other beauty. I want somethıng like that

  • Reply
    lyzeyu May 10, 2017 - edited

    At first, i did not expect much that i would enjoy this drama coz i am more into romance/melodrama or romance/comedy, i'm only watching because i love Lee Sang Yoon. But to my surprise, i'm really enjoying the intense suspense of every episode. It really got me into the edge of my seat each time. Each episodes makes you think how the characters will come up with brilliant plots to twist the truth and frame each other. I really hope that it will have a very good ending and the romance that i am looking for will not disappoint me, so i can finally rate it to perfect 10.

    • Reply
      Nina May 10, 2017

      LEE SANG YOON FANS UNITE! WOOHOO! I only see comments about Lee Bo Young and I'm just here like "where the Lee Sang Yoon fans at doh?"

    • Reply
      lyzeyu May 11, 2017

      Yah, Lee Sang Yoon is actually on my personal top 10 list of favorite leading actors in dramas. I think he's one of the best there is in korean entertainment.

  • Reply
    Jaylan May 10, 2017 - edited

    WOW what a low rate comparing to the beginning ???
    what happened guys??
    i didn't watch it yet i'll wait till it ends

    • Reply
      Randz May 16, 2017

      its actually good go ahead and watch it, it depends on your taste in the end

    • Reply
      usagi May 17, 2017 - edited

      I keep hearing people say it's continuously going downhill, with smart characters getting dumber just to drag out the story. But as I also heard so many good things about it when it began, I'm also going to wait till it's finished to decide whether or not to invest the time!

    • Reply
      namopanik May 17, 2017 - edited

      I don't think they are getting dumber in that way that usually prolongs the story. Their vices are turning against them. They have weak points being exploited by other characters who know them well. Some have sudden realisations, making one think they were always dumb or just partly blind. It's all believable for me.
      There was maybe a point or two when I couldn't believe a years-long relationship could just break in one moment or a cunning and guarded person could have a moment of an idiotic weakne.ss Recently one character got too cocky, as if to prepare for the reversal, but the rest is generally plausible. Even that is thinkable in the context of the personalities of those particular people and their situation.
      Plus, the police are rather competent, they get things done which is a rarity (rotten apples aside, but that's a matter of corruption or pettiness).

      Was the rate ever high? I though it was always around 8 and there was even a discussion than non-romcoms are rarely rated high here. People were put off with 'rape'/blackmail thing and didn't even give it a try.
      /The tv ratings are rather good though! All double digits, around 13-18%. And it got an extension, something badly received shows don't get (whether it's a good thing dramawise is a completely different story).
      /last edit, I swear/ One thing I don't like, PPL is getting worse every week. More and more scenes in a certain fast food place, more sponsored gifts with glaring brand name and so on.

    • Reply
      usagi May 17, 2017

      Thanks for your insightful take on it. That makes sense...it sounded like the writing was just getting weaker, but if it's believable character/story development instead of gimmick, that interests me. I'd be very interested to hear your take on it next week when it finishes...maybe write a review if you feel like it?

    • Reply
      SHIRLEYMOLINA May 17, 2017

      I am impressed with your insight and agree with usagi that you should write a review , you have certainly made me rethink my outlook on the drama.

  • Reply
    hanguklover May 9, 2017 - edited

    is there no ep 14 today?? any news?? is it cancelled?? what is happening??

  • Reply
    namopanik May 9, 2017 - edited

    I really enjoy this despite its flaws. Yes, everything that happens is awfully convenient. All the story structure is there, glaring at the viewer and not even trying to conceal itself. Most of the characters share common traits and move like chess figures, appearing when and where needed, having their sudden revelations on cue. Evidence is destroyed on a daily basis only to close a path and force the flow in a certain direction. It's like a machine.

  • Reply
    inspirit91 May 9, 2017
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    Daisy Lili May 9, 2017 - edited
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      inspirit91 May 9, 2017
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      namopanik May 9, 2017
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    Daisy Lili May 9, 2017
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    MrBanana May 8, 2017 - edited

    Drama veterans, is this a masterpiece 10/10?

    • Reply
      Daisy Lili May 9, 2017
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      AmauryLindy May 12, 2017



  • Country:

    South Korea
  • Type:

  • Episodes:

  • Aired:

    Mar 27, 2017 to May 23, 2017
  • Aired On:

    Monday, Tuesday
  • Network:

  • Duration:

    60 min.


  • Score:

    7.9 (scored by 904 users)
  • Ranked:

  • Popularity:


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