picture credits to: http://wiki.d-addicts.com/Padam_Padam…_The_Sound_of_His_and_Her_Heartbeats
I picked up Padam Padam for one reason: the acclaimed scritpwriter, Noh Hee Kyung.
She wrote the wonderfully-written and one of my all-time favorite dramas, Worlds Within, and here she did it again with Padam Padam: The Sound of His and Her Heartbeats (which, from here onwards will be abbreviated to simply Padam Padam). I am a late-entry to this drama’s fanbase – I knew I would eventually pick it up because of my deep respect towards the writer, but I admit I was not entirely taken by the cast – something that is habitually A Big Deal in my drama-watching choices – that it really took me awhile. Plus, the fact that it aired on cable and cable’s available videos to download are inconsistent really turned me off… then a month ago I (finally) signed up to DramaFever and oh hey, there’s Padam Padam there, all subbed and iPad-version ready!
I digress, I apologize.
There is no doubt that Padam Padam is an extremely well-written drama and also incredibly well-shot. The cinematographic scenes are reminiscent of Winter Sonata – nature playing such an integral role, also such a winning one – and more than that, the characters are so intrinsically written, so richly layered that this is a drama not only for the ages – it is a drama that honest-to-God, is worthy of the heaps of praises its been flung all around. It basically redefines drama as how it ought to be viewed, in my opinion (read: art).
What I loved most about Padam Padam is the fact that this show gives no easy answers. It doesn’t exaggerate issues, like how Kdramas tend to do, rather it delves into a conflict, or several, but always presents more than two sides of looking at it. Most winning of all is hands down, the characters. At the core is Yang Kang Chil as portrayed by Jung Woo Sung, a former inmate who served 16 long years in prison and has recently been released. Together with him is Lee Gook Soo – played so brilliantly by Kim Bum who really seems to have grown leaps and bound both acting-wise and appearance-wise – who believes so wholeheartedly that he is indeed a guardian angel with big purposes to fulfill. Because of the supernatural elements of the plot, the repeated run-ins between Kang Chil and Jung Ji Na (Han Ji Min) didn’t seem ridiculous because already the writer has pretty much defined that Fate is definitely at work here. Once that wheel has been set in motion, the consequent turn-of-events seem to work seamlessly to give a suspenseful storyline layered with heart.
I root for Kang Chil – acted so effortlessly by Jung Woo Sung (I admit, I have never watched him in anything before) – as he tries to reclaim the life he had put on hold for 16 years because of a crime he was framed for. I love him for being so positive in his outlook about life, especially despite having been dealt an unfair card in life. More so than that, for always staying true to himself: a person with a good heart who wishes no evil to anyone, yet just keep experiencing tough luck, to put it loosely.
To me, the strongest scene that made me emotionally invested to the show is the scene when Kang Chil finds out he has liver cancer. It’s that scene of him, the prison official, and Gook Soo drinking away this fact. He questioned aloud, “why me?” repeatedly, as if life hasn’t already dealt him a hard enough set of cards previously, now this too? Gook Soo remained unmoved by his words, before finally snapping, “Why not you? Do you think it makes it any more fair if it had struck your mother? Me? …” The dialogue – ah, the writer and drama-watcher in me remain in awe.
I also particularly loved scenes involving Kang Chil and his mother – played by ever-awesome veteran actress Na Moon Hee – because her character just reminded me so much of my own mother: that strong attitude, that life-won’t-get-me-down spirit. Ah, love. It broke my heart a little, I admit, when at the end he decided to live with Ji Na rather than be at home with his mother in his supposed final days… yet I see the realism in the decision too, including the coolly nonchalant way the mother accepted his decision. It breaks my heart, but I appreciate that slice of reality, for whatever it is worth.
There’s also an actor worthy of mention here: Choi Tae Joon. He played Im Jung, i.e. Kang Chil’s son – blood be damned, if it really comes down to this – and man oh man, was this guy totally owning the character or what? I felt so much for him from the very beginning and was so emotionally invested to see him have his happy ending …which he kind of did, but also with such realism that it gave me mixed feelings. I loved his character for being so innocent, in that naive way young men are. I loved the way he portrayed that innocence, especially when I think of him growing up for 16 years or so without any real family members who would call him their own. Plus.. fine, okay, I’ll admit this: dude is so swoonworthy AND he happens to be ’91-er as myself. Hot damn.
In a nutshell, what makes Padam Padam such a solid drama for me is the fact that it is really an introspective look into each richly layered characters: Kang Chil, Ji Na, Gook Soo, Hyo Sook, Jung and Mother. Questions are asked, but there are no easy answers. It is a drama that holds its viewer with respect – not undermining us in the sense where they think we can’t think for ourselves if not presented with the elements – and I have to say, I expected nothing less from Noh Hee Kyung and so glad to say she did indeed deliver.
From start to finish, while tonally it did drag a little bit in episodes 17, 18 or so – all that sadness, oh man – both the start and especially the ending were really, in my opinion, brilliantly presented. I loved the fact that she didn’t quite go for an unconventional ending – yet the arc she took was one I didn’t see coming either. Hence, simply put: well done.
Final verdict: 9/10.
A point short because while it pulled me and had me emotionally invested and reflecting for days – it only moved me insomuch. It’s weird to be admitting this, I know, especially because I’ve garnered it with so much praises (which it deserves) but that’s my only qualm: it has my respect, no doubt, but it didn’t quite own my heart enough to count.
Yet, no matter – Padam Padam is a fine example of a drama that knows what it is, what it aimed for, and trusts not only itself to deliver, but also its viewers. As a drama veteran (well kinda), my deepest respect to such a wonderfully produced drama that it is.