I Wanna Hear Your Song happens to be one drama that deserves more praise than what it’s received. It is a well thought out, eyebrow-raising, original, romance mystery that kept me guessing through most of its 32 half hour episodes.
Hong Yi-Young was in a tragic accident in which she lost the memory of everything three months prior to and three months after the incident, the trauma of the whole thing resulting in her living with chronic insomnia and reoccurring nightmares. One rainy evening she meets a kind young man, Jang Yoon, who offers her his umbrella. She doesn’t really give the encounter much thought but when she bumps into him a couple more times around the neighborhood she begins to wonder if he may be trying to hit on her. That idea is quickly dismissed when Jang Yoon explains he simply wants to let her know he is interested in making money and happily willing to do odd jobs (like carrying heavy things, making calls…) for a buck. In desperation for a good night’s sleep, Yo-Young hires him to call and sing her to sleep each night and is pleasantly surprised when his off-key singing does exactly that. When Jang Yoon rents an apartment below hers and gets a job playing in the same symphony as Yi-Young, it could just be coincidence or even fate, but in all reality Jang Yoon has carefully orchestrated the whole thing in order to get to know Yi-Young better. You see, he’s under the impression she may have murdered his younger brother a year ago.
When Hong Yi-Young was just five years old she and her parents were in a car accident in which both her father and mother passed away. Sadly, the incident was so traumatizing that she developed short term dissociative amnesia and did not speak for a year. A kind aunt and uncle took her in and raised her alongside their own daughter. As a young child she played the piano for three years and then her uncle took her to see a Marine Rescue parade. The drums captivated her interest and she began playing timpani when she was just 12. Now, at the age of 27, she teaches children how to play the drums while attending auditions in hopes of playing timpani in a symphony.
Jang Yoon’s father is the CEO of a mid-sized company so he comes from a wealthy family. While growing up he was good at soccer and was so intelligent that he was the class president. Although he played the piano he never attended a music college. Jang Yoon’s younger half-brother, Kim Ian, died a year ago in a hit and run accident. Although the driver of the vehicle later turned himself in and served a year in prison for the offense, Jang Yoon has serious doubts things happened the way they were revealed in the trial. Because a knife wound was found in Kim Ian’s stomach, Jang Yoon believes there was foul play involved and he’s determined to discover what really happened to his brother that night. The one person that may be able to shed light on his brother’s death is the girl Ian liked, Hong Yi-Young.
Nam Joo-Wan was raised by his grandmother in a small rural town. He wanted to play the cello but because money was tight, he worked hard for a year in order to earn the used one his grandmother eventually got for him. He moved to Seoul when he was 16 and was taken under the wing of one of his professors. He has just been given his first permanent position as conductor of the Sinyeong Philharmonic Orchestra. Maestro Nam gives Yi-Young a chance to play timpani with the symphony but when she messes up and he has to kick her out, he kindly hires her as his assistant. Although he and violinist Ha Eun-Joo may have had a relationship at one point in time, he doesn’t seem interested in being anything more than friends now.
Ha Eun-Joo is arrogant and selfish but an excellent violinist. She had a one night stand with Yi-Young’s boyfriend so there is understandably some bad blood between the two women. She teaches private violin lesson to kids from wealthy families through a school connected to the Philharmonic. Sadly, she has developed problems with her wrist which might spell the end of her career if she’s not careful. She likes Conductor Nam and isn’t happy he is on friendly terms with Yi-Young.
The part of Hong Yo-Young came to life thanks to actress Kim Se-Jeong. You can read about her in my review of School 2017.
I wrote a few sentences about Song Jae-Rim, the actor who plays Conductor Nam Joo-Wan, in my review of Nail Shop Paris. At the end of each review I write a quick good and bad piece and the only thing I wrote under “The Good” is “Song Jae-Rim.” He was the best part of that show. Let’s see, Song Jae-Rim began his entertainment career as a model, appearing in lots of magazines (such as Bazaar Korea, Vogue Girl Korea, GQ Korea, Esquire Korea, and many others). He began acting in 2009, appearing in the movie Actress and then branched out to TV. In 2015 he was on We Got Married as Kim So-Eun’s virtual husband. They partnered once again the following year to play opposite each other in the Kdrama Our Gap-Soon. They shared the Best Couple award in both those shows! I last saw him in Clean with Passion for Now.
Violinist Ha Eun-Joo is played by Park Ji-Yeon. Her career officially began in 2009 when she debuted as a member of the girl group T-ara. In 2014 she debuted as a solo artist, making a huge splash in China where her song Never Ever ranked number one on China’s biggest music video site for two weeks in a row. Although Park Ji-Yeon has been in a drama a year (only skipping 2013, 2017, and 2018) since 2007, the only other one I’ve seen her in is Master of Study (which is excellent, by the way). Early in her acting career the media gave her the nickname “Little Kim Tae-Hee” because of her slight resemblance to that actress.
I Wanna Hear Your Song’s writing is really good, thanks to Kim Min-Joo. It’s not the kind of show I’d loose sleep over because it’s too compelling to turn off and go to bed but definitely one I was anxious to get back to the next day. The characters are strong, independent people who don’t allow others to decide what they should do. Yes, they get the usual unsolicited advice but ultimately make their own choice. “You should stay away from that Jang Yoon guy, Yi-Young. Don’t see him ever again.” “Sorry, I can’t do that!” That kind of writing is realistic and very refreshing. No one I have ever known has given up on love simply because someone told them to. Real people ultimately do what they want to do, and Kim Min-Joo wrote real people into this script. As for the story, the mystery is really good. It took me guessing back and forth through many episodes to narrow down what I thought might have happened. I didn’t get it all correct but I figured out a good chunk.
A big shout-out goes to director Lee Jung-Mi. I enjoyed the camera angels which are fresh and interesting – looking at a person’s face from the high shine of a piece of furniture… thumbs up. Because it’s very difficult for actors to convincingly look like they are playing an instrument they don’t really know how to play, good directing/camera angels play a pivotal part in helping us believe what we are seeing is authenticity connected to what we are hearing. Good job, Director Lee.
When the drama begins Jang Yoon’s brother, Kim Ian, has been dead for a year, but through flashbacks we get to know this important character. The entire story centers around his mysterious death. Kim Si-Hoo, who plays the part of Kim Ian, does an excellent job in being darling and down-right charming. He has a sweet smile, is very kind, and possesses a positive attitude. (He reminded me of Park Bo-Gum’s lovable character in Encounter.) I hope we get to see this talented actor in a leading man role soon.
As you can probably guess, with a story that centers around people in an orchestra, the music in this drama is absolutely excellent. We get to hear so many different classical pieces from various famous composers. It reminded me a bit of Tomorrow’s Cantabile (which Lee Jung-Mi also directed), packed full of beautiful, memorable, musical pieces. Oh, and you’ll love the song Jang Yoon plays when he introduces himself to the orchestra members – a whimsical rendition of “Baby Shark do do do do do do.”
The main background in the show is the symphony hall building. There’s also a scene where Yi-Young goes with Conductor Nam to the countryside to visit his grandmother. The house is one of those typical old-style houses that has seen better days but that just adds to the charm of the scene. Yi-Young’s anut and uncle own a flower shop we see now and then. One thing I found questionable was the fact that Yi-Young’s apartment is very small but Jang Yoon’s, which is directly under hers, is big enough to fit a baby grand piano in the living room. Maybe apartments are like that in South Korea but it just seemed off to me.
A brand new colleague at work just mentioned she had spent a year and a half in South Korea and has come to enjoy Kdramas. She said she was ready to start a new one and I suggested I Wanna Hear Your Song. I told her it’s a great mystery with a decent romance and then added, “I’d give it a solid eight.” On my way home I began wondering why I hadn’t given it a higher score and when I couldn’t come up with anything I decided to give it a nine instead. Don’t miss this one, folks.