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
    AmauryLindy Apr 16, 2017 - edited

    2 eps in and it's just getting worst for me.. the male lead is pretty much everyone's slave. He's just not likable at this point.. I wanna continue but I mean just how much longer until he grows a spine? The main reason he was likable as a character disappeared in the first ep.
    It gets better in he starts to stand up for himself.

    • Reply
      Ziran Apr 18, 2017

      i had the same experience as you, but thankfully his portrayal as a weak and indecisive character only persisted in episode 2-3.

    • Reply
      KatySarang_TGeyes Apr 18, 2017

      Really??? Because I'm sorry watching a kdrama about a man who has no balls is BORING

  • Reply
    KatySarang_TGeyes Apr 16, 2017
    Reveal Spoiler »
  • Reply
    Banada6 Apr 15, 2017 - edited

    The only thing i don't understand why she didn't make copies for papers or even the sound files . She just gave them easily with so much trust. Like who still an idiot and trust people with the only thing to get her father out of prison.. seriously!

  • Reply
    rachel Apr 15, 2017 - edited

    Honestly, I don't get the bad comments and low rating (on DL) because personally, I'm very fond of this drama. It has been one of the better dramas I've seen lately (and it's my first non rom-com drama). Decided to give it a try because of LSY and LBY from MDSY. I've got to say it's a far cry from disappointment. I'm hooked. That's all for now. I'm going to write a series review once this series ends it run, and I'm hoping the writer-nim doesn't screw up towards the end...

    • Reply
      Gongyoooppa Apr 15, 2017 - edited

      How do you know if mdl has bad comments or good reviews on this drama if you just made an account? Just because some users create multiple accounts and start upvoting dramas they are obsessed with doesnt change the fact that the drama sucks ifs depressing to see :(
      Reminds me of youtube singers who post their lyrics on every youtube video then creat multiple accounts to upvote their awful lyrics and comment stuff n their own YT post like - bruhh you are great.
      If you want this drama to be cool on mdl (which is really weird) ill verify my account right now and give it a 10.

    • Reply
      rachel Apr 16, 2017 - edited

      Honestly, I've no intentions of making this drama a "cool" one on MDL. I was just stating my opinions (mainly positive ones) of the show, and I couldn't understand why the comments I read through are largely negative (doesn't mean I am not open to criticisms on the drama I'm "obsessed" with..)

      I may be new on MDL but that doesn't mean I have no knowledge on the ratings, reviews and even comments.. because I read them single-handedly before deciding to create an account - to raise my opinions.

      If that's really displeasing to you, or if you find it unacceptable that a "rookie" on MDL shouldn't be allowed to give encouraging comments to the drama he/she likes, then I'd say I'm sorry for that.. If I sound harsh in any ways, do forgive me. Not trying to pick up a fight because I was just trying to address a genuine concern of yours!

      P.S. I don't have multiple accounts. This is my first account on MDL, and it'll also be my sole account so fret not.

    • Reply
      namopanik Apr 18, 2017 - edited

      Lurking is a thing, even on multiple sites and those places have different level of discussion. It doesn't take years to notice. It's not like everyone makes a MDL account to celebrate watching his or hers first Asian drama. I wonder how you came to fake accounts from that.

    • Reply
      Eunha Apr 19, 2017

      I think 8 is a pretty good rating. Honestly I think it is hard for a non rom-com to get popular. While this drama is really amazing, like an intense chess game, I have to say that most times I'd rather watch a flawed rom-com because it is more enjoyable. I think it was the actors here that sold this drama for me, they are just brilliant and I really want to know how it ends. Like how do you end a story where everyone has committed a crime.

      I'm really scared about what the writer will do, bc so far it is good but there are like 8 more to go and I'm scared we will run in circles.

      I'm also super super confused.....why in the wold does she need a derm appointment.Her skin is flawless.lol

  • Reply
    soepspaansenler Apr 14, 2017 - edited
    Reveal Spoiler »
  • Reply
    Sani Apr 14, 2017

    EP06 really and amazing series, i love it

  • Reply
    KatySarang_TGeyes Apr 13, 2017 - edited

    I really like lee bo young and want to see her in this drama, but is it worth it? I heard the writing is bad. Is it better or worse than the missing 9 writing?

    • Reply
      KatySarang_TGeyes Apr 13, 2017

      I guess I just want to know if the characterizations are consistent and if the plot makes sense.

    • Reply
      Lourdes Apr 14, 2017

      In my opinion Whisper is much better than Missing 9.

    • Reply
      KatySarang_TGeyes Apr 14, 2017

      Ok good. Because that drama was godawful

    • Reply
      Pripri99 Apr 17, 2017

      It is certainly way better than Missing 9 but the writing is still somewhat lacking for me. Korean writers really need to improve their skills. I am tired of seeing good acting wasted by shaky plots. I would encourage you to try the first 3 episodes and see yourself.

    • Reply
      KatySarang_TGeyes Apr 17, 2017
      Reveal Spoiler »
  • Reply
    Eunha Apr 13, 2017

    Not my usual choice but loving this power struggle and the interesting roles of our leads. I really have no idea what they will do.

  • Reply
    SaraXD Apr 13, 2017

    It's like the usual roles of the female and male lead are swtiched LOL
    Male lead always getting hurt/kidnapped, female lead always saving him HAHA I love the twist.

  • Reply
    nayelii Apr 12, 2017

    I'm really enjoying this show, yes it does has some flaws in areas (and sometimes I do get a little confused), but so far I really like the dynamic and it does surprise me. The chemistry between the two leads is just amazing. The cliffhangers can be killer... I just want it to be next week :)

  • Reply
    bossmama Apr 12, 2017

    Why the discouraging comments lol. Sure this show has flaws like plot conveniences, characters share similar personality traits with one another (ruthless, wicked, selfish, smart-mouthed, etc (which can be a plus for those who like these kind of characters, and each character does have distinct motive and nuance)), and the performance from four leads is sort of lacking. BUT those flaws don't really take the fun out of this show, which is mostly contributed by interesting dynamic among the characters, ever-changing and balanced power game, and sharp dialogues. At least that's how it is so far. And I don't see the need to mention other shows as comparison, if anything they are all flawed the same xD

  • Reply
    marys Apr 12, 2017 - edited

    I enjoy this drama more than Tunnel, really.

  • Reply
    rian Apr 12, 2017 - edited

    wow! so much hate comments :D still rating is 8.....

    • Reply
      Sandy_Haqqy Apr 13, 2017

      its a bring this show down campaign i wonder why they care so much

  • Reply
    Sandy_Haqqy Apr 12, 2017 - edited

    its enough that we have a strong immoral interesting heroine for once ... and sharp smart dialogue and a jab at the political situation in korea with social commentary ... the doctor villain is a genius character ...and its far more entertaining than any other show by this writer ... even though we have similarity all over the place ... the fake marriage is from empire of money ...the relationship between YJ & DJ is similar to punch ... and the revenge is similar to the chaser
    it does have flaws like every show mostly by the PD but for me its great compared to the stupid shows of these days like prison break parody and serial killers abuse shows and time travel ...and LBY is amazing

    • Reply
      Gongyoooppa Apr 12, 2017

      Its great if you compare it to shit dramas.
      Its shitty if you compare it to good dramas.
      So its mediocre at best but no its the worst of the writers work. Punch and kim rae won are superior to this sad excuse of a drama.

    • Reply
      Sandy_Haqqy Apr 12, 2017 - edited

      its a point of view ...i though kim rae won was pretty overrated cause his character was cool .. and punch was boring in my opinion ...and had the same issues the melo part was awful and the endless circle of backstabbing and blackmail...can you explain what is it you dislike about whisper...I mean no one said its punch part 2 so why the comparison still it does have all the writers elements and seems like a marriage of the chaser & empire of gold... if the characters are more flawed and not that cool that makes them sympathetic ...

  • Reply
    Sandy_Haqqy Apr 12, 2017

    finally YJ is showing her human side and showing regret and honesty ...dont care what others say this is a good show its just not kdrama material ...


  • 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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