I Hear Your Voice: the Review

I hear your voice photo ihearyourvoice_zps1aabf958.jpgI Hear Your Voice
air date: 6.5.2013 through 8.1.2013
number of episodes: 18
I watched it: an intense, no pause for breathing, marathon

In a nutshell: You could say it’s about the law and the balance between justice and vengeance. You could say it’s about the struggle between love and greed, forgiveness and obsession. You could say it’s about the deep desire to be heard and what it takes to really listen. But what is it that keeps you stuck to your screen, watching into the small hours of the night? A romance that is hot like burning cleverly disguised as an adorable, dorky, puppy-love. There’s a reason this show bear-hugs you with the grip of a grizzly — and it ain’t got nothing to do with theme or plot. But theme and plot are there — thoroughly discussed and clearly presented. That the drama doesn’t get sloppy with either its motif or its pacing gives the story’s beating heart a good, solid body to reside in. Which makes it a very good watch indeed.

Motif:  There is, of course, a love triangle. hyesung photo hyesung_zps83f78211.jpgBut this one does more than kick-start the romance, it also sets out the theme. We meet our leading lady, Jang Hye-sung (Lee Bo-young) sleepwalking through her job as a defense attorney. She’s already so jaded the only reason she wants to become a public defender is the steady, government paycheck.

Opposite Hye-sung’s definitely not listening method of dealing with clients is ex-cop,  photo kwonwoo_zps0d980d54.jpgCha Kwan-woo (Yoon Sang-hyun). He’s idealistic and passionate and wants to become a public defender to serve the greater good. He’s even learned sign-language so any clients’ actual deafness won’t stop him from hearing them.

The final leg of the romantic triangle is high school student, Park Su-ha (Lee Jong-seuk). suha photo suha_zpsa509f1b5.jpgHe can read minds. Which gives him a uniquely mature perspective on people. He, more than anyone, knows there’s a lot more to people than their surface impression because he can hear what they won’t or cannot say.

[Fun fact: Yoon Sang-hyun and Lee Jong-seuk have worked a love triangle together before. Though it shook out a little differently. In Secret Garden Lee Jong-seuk played a composer pining after Yoon Sang-hyun’s character.]

Between them, three different ways of approaching the criminal justice world are shown. Hye-sung grinds people through the system as quickly and easily as possible. surprisekw photo surprisekw_zpsc2c2b948.jpgKwan-woo pours everything he has into each case, believing in his clients perhaps a tiiiny bit too much. And then there’s Su-ha. With his ability he’s well practiced in seeing that there’s two sides to a story and that both sides need to be heard.

(I loved that the drama was so thorough in its look into the criminal justice system, by the way. I’m not at all familiar with court procedure in the Republic of Korea, so I’m definitely talking thematically here. surprisesh photo surprisesh_zps3df714fb.jpgI do suspect, based off of past tv-watching experience and a few eyebrow raising occurrences within the drama itself, that some of the usual practices and methodologies were bent. But the desperation of the accused, the anger of the victims, the need for both sides to get a fair hearing, to be listened to — they get that part very right. Someone with the proper legal familiarity will probably find many nits (or even gnats) to pick. But getting the emotions right was enough for me to wave away any technicalities that niggled.)

Plot: There is, as it turns out, a reason our Hye-sung is already so jaded. Despite a supportive and just plain awesome mom, mom photo mom_zpsf8e1c7d0.jpg(the always delightful, Kim Hae-sook) Hye-sung’s been shaped by two big events from her past. She’s used to not being heard and she’s learned that involvement leads to pain. Within the first episode the drama sets forth those events and opens the path for some key-players to reenter Hye-sung’s life.

The first involves her high school nemesis. Who of course shows up as a newly minted Prosecutor. She and Hye-sung face off in, and out of, the courtroom and their clashes are interesting and insightful and oftentimes hilarious. justice photo justice_zps6e9767ff.jpgI loved that Prosecutor Seo Do-yeon (Lee Da-hee) was given her own depth and complexity. It enabled both sides of the courtroom to be seen as equally interested in pursuing truth and justice. And it gave both Do-yeon and Hye-sung room to learn and grow from their interactions. (Which they usually handled with amusing reluctance and lack of grace — they made for entertaining frenemies.)

vengeance photo defense_zpsad57961d.jpgThe second event is a lot scarier and pumps the drama full of adrenaline and action to a level I had not expected and very much enjoyed. Young Hye-sung witnessed a crime and the criminal (an unexpectedly terrifying Jung Woong-in) is not one to let that slide. Which brought an interesting dimension to the Prosecute versus Defend dynamic. Our public defender has intimate knowledge of the dangers an unchecked criminal can bring to society.

Heart: So we’re given solid plot bones with the ongoing fallout from Hye-sung’s past. And we’re given a strong body with the thorough examination of what justice truly means. But the beating heart of this drama is the romance.

And this is where things get tricky because I don’t want to spoil a thing. [Spoilers are in the comments.] So I’ll only point out one cool aspect. With both of Hye-sung’s potential beaus,  photo poke_zpscf63bf81.jpgthe dorky and idealistic Kwan-woo, and the insightful but vulnerable Su-ha, the dynamic was fascinatingly and intriguingly gender reversed.

Hye-sung is prickly and aloof but also refreshingly sure of herself. Yes, much of it is pure bravado (which is what keeps it refreshing rather than annoying) but she never (or rarely) betrays doubt that she’s someone worthy of being wooed. (Lee Bo-young does a wonderful job bringing Hye-sung to life, having her stalk and strut her way through the world, catch photo catch_zpsadf9186a.jpga slight widening of her eyes and freezing of her smirk the one tell that maybe she’s faking it — just a little.)

It’s up to both Kwon-woo and Su-ha to bring the empathy and gentleness. They have to work to get her to drop her barriers, let go of her jadedness, to essentially let her know she’s being heard but also encourage her to do some listening herself. In many ways the romance is about Hye-sung getting her groove back. A process that becomes something unexpectedly engrossing.

In Conclusion: There is so much to love about this drama. It’s entertaining and funny and heartbreaking and scary. It gives us a deeply felt romance that should seem standard but becomes something much greater than its parts. It sneaks up on you, this drama. And once its got you, you won’t want it to let go.

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8 thoughts on “I Hear Your Voice: the Review

  1. Eeee!! Your review is out! And what a lovely read it is, as always. Yes, it IS the romance that takes a big chomp at you, and then won’t let go! I can’t help melting at Lee Jong Suk on my screen, honestly. ❤ I’m still just two-thirds of the way through, and I’m impressed at how disciplined I’m being about NOT diving into the last third until I push out my King of Dramas review. I think I deserve a cookie. Or, at least, an extra ogle ;D

    • That is some serious discipline you’re showing right there! I think I tried a couple of times to give myself a pause, check in with a reaction post or something but, nope. Couldn’t do it. I’d start typing up my thoughts and next thing I knew, I was watching the next episode. 😛 (I’d say you’ve earned both a cookie and an ogle.)

      Also, thank you! 😀

  2. I loved the relationship between Hyesung and Soo ha but wasn’t invested in the romance part of it much….they were more like friends to me….and I never felt giddy or skipped a beat in their love line…I might be the only one I guess….but that’s how it is…they were very adorable but never made my heart flutter…..
    that said, IHYV is a really good show….well written, never boring, good characterization and the dynamics with a lot of heart…

    • *nods* I really appreciated how strong they were with all the surrounding stuff. For me the romance worked but good — but it wasn’t the only thing working.

      (I was pulled in by how much Su-ha loved her but pretended it was all just a casual, friends, just the “little brother next door” thing. So every moment of closeness meant so much to him and… *gah* That worked for me. Especially since Hye-sung was going through the same thing — though in her case she was denying it to herself, too.)

  3. And then there’s me who once again is the odd one out. 😉 I found the tonal shifts in the first few episodes really jarring and that threw me out of the story so thoroughly that I gave up right there. I might have give it a 2nd chance if it really had been a gritty crime story but unfortunately as the main core was the romance…… nah. I’m a grumpy old curmudgeon allright. 🙂

    • Hee! But this is how you’ve earned such strong curmudgeon credits, right? 😉

      And yes, the main core was the romance. The criminal stuff was there, and sometimes got surprisingly gritty for the genre — but I’m definitely talking relatively here. This was an adventurous rom-com, not an adventure with some romance thrown in. (The tonal shifts remained — laughter to outrage to terror to tears — but they somehow managed to balance them, for me. I think by keeping the reactions sincere? Characters didn’t just get over stuff, though they still said and did funny things.)

  4. What i liked about this show was that the love triangle wasn’t really a love triangle. She liked Kwan Woo for a little while but she wasn’t really serious about him. The only reason they chucked that in at all was so we could have some “SuHa is jealous” scenes (which i think were to show how immature SuHa was, something we needed to see so that we knew when he’s grown up a bit). I never particularly cared for Kwan Woo. They needed the character, but he didn’t need to be a love interest, and I think they recognised that. All we needed was SuHa and Hye Sung together because that’s where all of the chemistry and heart was.

    • *nods* That’s probably why I enjoyed the triangle — because it wasn’t really one in the first place. 😉 In general I’m not a fan of them because someone will get hurt. But since Kwan-woo fairly consistently misunderstood Hye-sung, he put himself out of the running fairly early on. They worked better as friends and colleagues.

      But! I really did love that it was the unconventional love interest that ended up being the actual love interest. Su-ha was awesome but he was a high school student and had some maturing to do (though, not nearly as much as an ordinary students needs) and it was a nice twist that he managed to win the girl even with that handicap. (Which is why I decided to go as non-spoilery as possible in the actual review. It’s not a well kept secret, of course. But I thought I’d err on the side of coy. ;))

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