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
    abeer Apr 25, 2017 - edited

    The last two episodes were a great disappointment, didn't like them at all, i'm thinking of dropping the drama.

  • Reply
    giocare Apr 21, 2017 - edited

    Has the extension been confirmed?

    • Reply
      namopanik Apr 23, 2017

      yes, +1 episode. But no episode on May 9 because of the election.

  • Reply
    suju5 Apr 20, 2017

    Ok, am I the only one who finds Dongjun's straight and neat hear annoying ?

  • Reply
    namopanik Apr 20, 2017 - edited
    Reveal Spoiler »
  • Reply
    nuka Apr 19, 2017

    she is not that smart, ouri Soo Yeon!

  • Reply
    namopanik Apr 19, 2017 - edited

    Ok, is there anything similar to this drama? A combination of chess-like power struggles, flawed characters and sophisticated visuals (and I primarily mean visuals)? I'm fine with jdramas too.

    • Reply
      3ngin33r Apr 25, 2017

      Shiroi Kyoto

    • Reply
      namopanik Apr 25, 2017

      I heard about that one. Does it have a lot of medical scenes, or just uses hospital background?

    • Reply
      3ngin33r Apr 25, 2017

      Everyone and their grandmothers are scheming non stop with hospital as a setting

    • Reply
      usagi Apr 27, 2017 - edited

      There is another based on a novel by Yamasaki Toyoko (the famous author who wrote the books that Shiroi Kyoto and Karei Naru Ichizoku are adapted from) that I believe I remember being shot quite nicely (w/ a higher budget than usual), if that's your #1 thing you're looking for...it's called Unmei no Hito, and certainly has flawed characters and power struggles.

      Also, what about the recent kdrama The Good Wife? Have you seen that? If I recall, I think it has all of the above too, and is also a legal drama like Whisper. Awesome that you care about lighting...there have been films I was completely not into but enjoyed watching for the beautiful lighting. heh heh

    • Reply
      namopanik Apr 28, 2017

      I'll give them a look. I feel you about watching films not for their plot only, if it worked that way people would just read a synopsis and save their eyes. If done well, it can save an otherwise meaningless work.

  • Reply
    Olivia Apr 18, 2017 - edited

    Although I love this drama I can say that although I can see where Yeong Joo is a badass female ... she also is a hot head. There are moments that she thinks before pulling the trigger && other times she's just trigger happy & not thinking about how her being rash affects the people around her. It's sometimes annoying but at the same time understandable. This drama has me rooting for people that I'm not sure if I like or dislike them.

  • Reply
    Sash Apr 18, 2017 - edited
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    Ziran Apr 18, 2017 - edited

    But I much preferred the director's choice of background music in Punch. It was powerful, thrilling and blended perfectly with the show's many suspenseful moments. Music isn't bad here (And I get the director's reasoning for going the ambient route, given the show's title), but looking back at Punch—one could wish Whisper had more captivating instrumentals.

  • Reply
    Ziran Apr 18, 2017 - edited

    This drama is all quality but I'm not surprised—writer Park Gyeong Su never disappoints! I've adored all of his previous works as well; The Chaser, Empire of Gold and Punch. I love how he uncompromisingly explores the darker sides of human nature; and that he does it with wit, intelligence, and excellent world building.

  • Reply
    XIIVX Apr 18, 2017 - edited
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    • Reply
      namopanik Apr 20, 2017
      Reveal Spoiler »
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    inspirit91 Apr 18, 2017
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    ines Apr 17, 2017

    I guess this drama is not for everyone, but I'm absolutely loving it. I get so into the story while watching each episode. Usually this type of plot involving revenge and legal stuff isn't my style... I don't know why I find this drama so interesting.

  • Reply
    Poia Apr 17, 2017

    I wasn't sure about this one. Revenge and endless backstabbing it's not my favorite genre, specially with legal or political plot. But I have to admit the first 4 episode interested me enough to keep watching. Still a long road to 16 episode or more!?

  • Reply
    displacedmoon Apr 16, 2017

    i think the reason i like this drama so much is that it reminds me of some of the outlandish latin telenovelas i grew up watching -- very little is realistic, crazy nonsensical plots suck you in but go absolutely nowhere, everyone is out for their own necks, and the backstabbing is vindictive as hell. lol. this drama is definitely not for everyone.


  • 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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