Evil, corruption, greed, cover ups, blackmail, fear, lies, power – all the makings of a riveting, fast paced Kdrama entitled Whisper. “In hell, sinners get punished. Hell is much fairer than this world.” – Lee Dong-Joon
When a reporter is murdered, in an attempt to stop him from releasing information, Officer Shin Young-Joo’s father, also a reporter, is the one framed for the death. Detective Shin tenaciously goes in search of evidence that will clear her father of the charges and once it’s found, brings it to the judge, proving it was impossible her father could have committed the murder. However, when it’s time to declare the verdict, she is shocked to hear Judge Lee Dong-Joon pronounce her father guilty. Just how far is Detective Shin willing to go in order to prove her father’s innocence? And why would Judge Lee rule against Young-Joo’s father when he clearly received evidence that proved the man was innocent? Detective Shin is determined to find the answers to those questions and bring the real killer to justice, even if that means she has to battle South Korea’s largest law firm, Tae Baek, to do it.
Lee Dong-Joon is known for being a fair, incorruptible judge. He has presided over cases involving wealthy, prominent families and hasn’t been afraid to hand down sever sentences. His father is the CEO of a hospital and, through connections, has been appointed personal physician to the president. His mother runs a nursing home where terminally ill patients go to live out the remainder of their life. What would make this law abiding judge go against his conscience and rule guilty, knowing full well the defendant was innocent?
Detective Shin Young-Joo is a dedicated cop of ten years who leads her own team. She goes by the book and expects others to do the same. Her father is a senior reporter and her mother runs a side dish restaurant. When her father is arrested for a murder he did not commit, she vows to find evidence that will exonerate him and, in doing so, ends up being kicked off the force. Young-Joo has no problem breaking the laws she used to enforce as long as it will help her find the real killer.
Choi Il-Hwan’s parents were servants to Kang Yoo-Taek’s parents when he was a boy and has always felt the Kangs cheated his family out of what was rightfully theirs. Although he and Yoo-Taek claim to be friends, there is an underlying mutual hatred between the two. CEO Choi refuses to accept his daughter’s relationship with Yoo-Taek’s son because he’s not about to give his company over to that family.
Kang Jung-Il comes from a very wealthy family and is one of Tae Baek’s top attorneys. His father, Kang Yoo-Taek, is the owner and Chairman of Bo Gook Industries. Jung-Il studied in the United States which is where he met and fell in love with Choi Soo-Yeon. He is very ambitious and wants to take control of Tae Baek some day. Jung-Il believes, “Law is not about how to judge, but how to compromise. Not how to judge the offenders but how a compromise is made among the offenders.”
Choi Soo-Yeon is the spoiled, selfish daughter of Tae Baek’s CEO Choi Il-Hwan. She loves Kang Jung-Il and will side with him even over her father. Although she studied in the U.S. she was never able to pass the bar, however that doesn’t stop her from working at the Tae Baek law firm.
In 2000 Lee Bo-Young, who plays Detective Shin Young-Joo, won the Miss Korea beauty pageant in Daejeon and the surrounding South Chungcheong Province. She had hoped to be a news presenter but when that fell through she decided to give modeling a try and became Asiana Airways’ exclusive advertising model. She made her acting debut in 2003 and the following year met her future husband, Ji Sung, on the set of Save the Last Dance for Me. She played the role of the girl that was obsessed with his character, and I wasn’t impressed at all with her performance. It was very amateurish acting but, in her defense, she had only been in four dramas before that one. She’s definitely gotten better with time and experience but, sadly, I’m really not a big Lee Bo-Young fan.
At the age of 24, Lee Sang-Yoon, whose character is Judge Lee Dong-Joon, was literally discovered as he walked down a crowded street in Yeouido. His acting debut was a beer commercial and from there he went on to appear in many Kdramas like the tragic melodrama Angel Eyes, the endearing romance Twenty Again, and the psychological thriller Liar Game. The man has a darling smile that lights up a whole room, and he’s brilliant as well. In 2013 he graduated from the prestigious Seoul National University with a Physics degree! Handsome, smart, and talented – the guy’s a triple threat!
Attorney Kang Jung-Il is played by Kwon Yul (born Kwon Se-In). Amazingly, his acting debut came in the form of a starring role in the high school sitcom Mackerel Run. He has performed on TV, film, and the stage. The Kdramas I’ve seen him in are My Fair Lady, Lie to Me, Just an Ordinary Love Story, One More Happy Ending, and Let’s Fight Ghost, all of which I thought were excellent.
Park Se-Young, who plays the part of Choi Soo-Yeon, made her acting debut as a young teenager but only appeared in two TV dramas before leaving show business behind in favor of schooling. I can’t help but wonder if that was her choice or her parents’ idea. In 2011 she made her official return to acting appearing in the acoustic version of Jay Park’s Know Your Name music video. Then it was full speed ahead as she was cast in four different dramas in 2012. Most of her acting has been for TV but she has been in two feature films.
So many characters in this show believed what one of the bad guys voiced, “The law isn’t something to abide by; it’s something to be used.” Whisper reminded me of Golden Cross in that there are corrupt people all over the place. Even the ones we consider good guys end up compromising their principles, making immoral / illegal choices to accomplish their goals. It eludes to the idea that everyone has a breaking point where they are willing to go against their core beliefs.
If you’ve ever played a difficult game of chess you may understand the feeling behind the storyline of this show better than someone who hasn’t. The entire 17 episode drama goes back and forth, back and forth – the good guy proclaims “check” and the bad guy’s move not only gets himself out of that predicament but allows him to holler “check.” Then it’s back to the good guy and he wiggles out of the trap shouting “check!” So now it’s the bad guy’s turn and he finds a way out while gloating “check”… On and on it goes, good guys are cornered, bad guys are cornered, good guys, bad guys… for 17 hours. It may sound monotonous but all that back and forth “check” is what propels the show forward so I was okay with it. It all moves so quickly we don’t have time to get bored waiting for the next “check.” In one scene the good guys talk about their plan to get the bad guys and in the very next scene, seconds later, we hear the bad guys talking about how their plan will “check” the one the good guys were just discussing. Boom, boom, boom… so quick. On several different occasions I thought, “Why doesn’t he just kill his opponent instead of trying to out-think him?” and “I’d just secretly record the conversation and play it for the cops.” I was pretty happy when the writer was able to perceive my thoughts and actually followed through on both my ideas. But of course neither idea resulted in a “checkmate” that ended the game right away, but both were instrumental in helping things wind down to a close.
I applaud Park Kyung-Soo for Whisper‘s writing. I’m sure the guy is a master at chess, always looking several moves ahead at his opponent’s pieces because that’s exactly what he had to have done with Whisper‘s script. I was amazed at how that man was able to plan out all this intricate stuff. His writing, in and of itself, gets a 10 from me. He keeps the battle between good and evil going from the first minute to the last, handing us a wonderful moral of “do what you know is right.” And the ending is perfect.
I’m aware some people have compared Whisper to Defendant, so I thought it would be fun for me to do that. Whisper‘s highest rating was 21.8% while Defendant‘s highest was a whopping 30.3% Whisper stars Lee Bo-Young who has earned a total of 17 acting awards while Defendant‘s star is her husband, Ji Sung, who has received 20 different awards for his acting. That’s not surprising though because Ji Sung has had four more years of acting experience than his wife. He has been in 25 Kdramas and seven movies. She’s appeared in 20 dramas and five movies. On viki.com Whisper was rated by 658 people and given a score of 9.4 out of 10, whereas Defendant was rated by 1,185 viewers and received a 9.8 score. All facts aside, although both shows are very good, I agree with the ratings – I enjoyed Defendant more than Whisper.
The music is the usual intense instrumental stuff with a strong choir of voices singing, what sounds to me like, Latin. It’s great for a “check” show. There is a ballad called Dream On sung in English but I wasn’t impressed with the female voice that sings it. Sorry, but I don’t know who the artist is that performs that particular song.
The thing that stands out in my mind about the scenery / background in this drama is the fortress-like office of CEO Choi Il-Hwan inside Tae Baek’s law firm. On the way there people have to walk down this long hall lined with replicas of the Terracotta Warriors in Shaanxi Province, China – a very unsubtle way of letting people know CEO Choi is the Emperor of Tae Baek and as such, he is all powerful and needs to be obeyed without question. So cool.
This is one of the better, more entertaining crime shows I’ve seen lately. I thought a quote from the drama might be a good way to end this review. Come closely and I’ll Whisper it to you… “If you want to beat evil, you have to be more diligent than the evil.”
Excellent writing (often intense)
Holds your attention
Music fits well
Good character development of Lee Dong-Joon and Shin Young-Joo