Signal [First Impression]

How to even start with this one?!!! Signal (시그널) is nothing but perfection so far. I don’t regret live-watching this show because it means that I’m not being left out. Signal is thriller-crime-suspense-whatever it is, the drama is going to keep you at the edge of your seat for 60 minutes straight! I was already excited at the casting lineup because, hey, we have Kim Hye Soo and Jo Jin Woong here. For that alone, the script is guaranteed to be something out of this world. Then they threw in Lee Je Hoon and great supporting casts, I AM IN!

This first impression is 1,000,000% biased but you can go and read other bloggers’ posts, you won’t be able to find any negative blog entry about this drama. That’s just how great the drama is. Casting-wise? It’s fabulous. Everyone’s great at acting. Each of them bursting with charm and I’m not complaining about Lee Je Hoon’s acting. He is damn fine you haters. He acts so well! The thing is, Kim Hye Soo and Jo Jin Woong act so so so great and kind of overshadowing Lee Je Hoon. But still, Lee Je Hoon is damn great in acting.

Rating-wise, it’s a monster rating! The rating keeps raising and raising (the rating of ep 4 dropped though). 8% for a cable drama? Man, that’s like 30% for public dramas. Even some public dramas are struggling to hit 5%. Plot-wise? Don’t even start! It’s been a while since the last time I watch something this nerve wreaking in one sitting.

Now, let’s dive a little bit deeper.

5 minutes into episode 1, we get to know the child Park Hae Young (played by Lee Je Hoon) and the first victim of the show, Kim Yoon Jung (played by Lee Young Eun). 15 years later the adult Park Hae Young is in a cafe and in the middle of “sharing” dating information to a journalist. And this scene really cracked me up. When Im Si Wan, Byun Yo Han and Kang So Ra appeared on my phone’s screen I couldn’t help but thought they were in REAL love triangle lol and laughed so hard. The Lee Bo Young and Ji Sung appeared next, Park Hae Young said they were dating while in real life they are a married couple. This kind of witty element cracked me up! I really loved this.

At 8:48 mark the two leads, Park Hae Young and Cha Soo Hyun (played by Kim Hye Soo) finally meet. That’s really fast. Usually it takes up to 30 minutes until the two leads meet especially when they don’t know each other. It can even take up to 50 minutes.

Then Officer Lee Jae Han (played by Jo Jin Woong) is on our screen. We are brought to the year 2000 where it’s only 5 days after Kim Yoon Jung’s kidnapping. I don’t know how to call this, the resolution?? They change the style of the resolution when they show the past like it’s being pressed(???) making the casts’ faces become super long lmao.

In episode 1, we can clearly see that Park Hae Young feels guilty for not lending Kim Yoon Jung his umbrella. If only he lent it to her probably Kim Yoon Jung would still be alive. Then he finds an old radio that transmits to the past, and he can talk to Officer Lee using that radio in the next episodes. In episode 1 Park Hae Young receives an important information about the Kim Yoon Jung’s killer. He follows what he hears from the radio and goes to an old abandoned hospital and find skeleton and BOOM the plot gets really thick from here.

Episode 2 is really intense. What I mean by intense is…… I N T E N S E. The basic plot for the first 11 minutes is time-is-running-out. It is very very intense there’s nothing I can say anymore it’s just really nerve wreaking. The killer doesn’t confess her crime until the statute of limitations goes into effect. If I could choke her I would love too! I hope there’s no people like her in real life. She’s scary. How could she manage to kill 2 persons and lived her life like nothing happened at all.

The statute of limitations goes into effect and the woman still keeps saying she didn’t kill her -Yoon Jung-. The countdown made my heart beat in such irregular pattern. I held my breath and bit my lips out of nervousness as if I was there. That’s just how great the casts are! That psycho woman especially.

Then the cold case squad is formed. The team consists of Park Hae Young, Cha Soo Hyun, Kim Hye Ghul (played  by Kim Won Hae), and Jung Hun Gi (played by Lee Yoo Joon). Their first case as cold case squad is Gyeonggi Nambu serial murder (Hwaseong serial murder). It’s a tough tough case. It happened 26 years ago, no evidence, no leads, no files nor documentation, in other words, it’s an impossible mission. But by episode 4 everything is resolved. The journey to resolve the case is very well scripted. The suspense is so strong. Episode 4, so far, is the best episode. What’s brilliant about this drama is, every single episode is a masterpiece. Just when you think this episode is the best, you’re forced to admit that the next episode is better than the previous ones. The drama just keeps getting better and better and if the writer can keep this up until the end, Signal is going to be one of the best dramas of 2016. And possibly, one of the best drama of the decade.

The last scene in episode 4, where Officer Lee cries alone in the theater while everyone else is laughing, I find it so heartbreaking. You can feel his pain for losing someone he truly loves. He’s supposed to watch the movie with Won Kyung but he couldn’t save Won Kyung even after knowing that the murderer is after her. His guilt, his pain, his regret, you can see and feel it clearly in this scene and in that one scene where Won Kyung’s mother comes to his house and gives him the two tickets Won Kyung originally wanted to give him. The two scenes break my heart to pieces.

The plot moves super fast and doesn’t give you any rest. The drama builds up great tension and it makes you hold your breath many times while watching one episode. What makes transmission between Officer Lee Jae Han and Park Hae Young possible is still mystery and even though their first transmission is in episode 1 but for Officer Lee, it seems their first transmission is when he is in search for the 8th victim’s body of  Gyeonggi Nambu serial murder which is in episode 2. Officer Lee’s timeline in episode 1 is 2000 and episode 2 is 1989. And in 2000 it seems that it’s Lee and Park’s last transmission. If so, then it means -according to Officer Lee’s timeline- they’ve been communicating for 11 year already.

Even though I’m sure they won’t be transmitting for 11 years straight but I’m curious to what and how they solve cold cases together. I’m also curious about Officer Lee’s death. Who is “They” that Officer Lee is referring? What does Officer Lee mean in their suppose to be last transmission? How did Officer Lee die? Can Park Hae Young save Officer Lee? Is Park Hae Young ever going to tell Cha Soo Hyun about his mystical transmission with Officer Lee? Those questions are begging to be answered and that’s why I’m full with anticipation for the next episodes.

The Gyeonggi Nambu (Hwaseong) serial murder case has already passed the limit for prosecution since 2006 and yes, the drama doesn’t lie. South Korea in 2015 removed the time limit on prosecuting murderers that means there will be no limit for murder cases and that means polices can re-open this case and who know, maybe things like in Signal could happen in real life and the person behind Hwaseong serial murder is caught and prosecuted.

Last but not least, here’s a link to a great reading about Gyeonggi Nambu aka Hwaseong serial murder -> more complete than wikipedia.

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