[Review] Padam Padam – 빠담빠담

DUGEUN DUGEUN?

Padam Padam… The Sound of His or Her Heartbeats (빠담빠담… 그와 그녀의 심장박동소리).  Siiigh.  Oy, that title is long.  Yang Kang Chil (Jung Woo Sung) is a man who served 16 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit.  After being allowed a temporary release, he goes to Seoul accompanied by fellow inmate and guardian angel, Lee Gook Soo (Kim Bum).  By chance, Kang Chil meets Jung Ji Na (Han Ji Min), a veterinarian, and thus begins their love story.

Noul – For the Purpose of Living (살기 위해서)

노을 – 살기 위해서

The plot of the drama is a bit hard to explain, as there is a supernatural element to it, which allows Yang Kang Chil several do-overs.  The story starts in jail and then our main characters head to Seoul because Kang Chil and Gook Soo get a temporary release.  When the two head back to prison, Kang Chil tries to defend a defenseless inmate and in turn catches the ire of a bully inmate.

While fighting that inmate, a warden tries to break it up and gets killed instead.

Therefore, Kang Chil is sentenced to hang but then time seems to reverse and Kang Chil begins to see that for some reason a guy who is down on his luck is getting another chance at life.

There are a couple of theme elements that is the basis for this drama.  There’s the issue of Kang Chil’s wrong imprisonment,

the mystery of Gook Soo’s powers as a guardian angel

and the love story that’s supposed to be the saving grace of all the hardships that Kang Chil and Ji Na goes through.

At first I wasn’t sure how to take Jung Woo Sung’s personality in this drama as Kang Chil is kind of a dimwit.  And I don’t mean that in a bad way or at least I hope it doesn’t come off that way.  He’s simple, uneducated and boyish.  In fact he’s kind of like an adorable dog, which is something that’s brought up in the drama.  However it is interesting to see the deliberate choices that were made to show the vast difference between the worlds of Kang Chil and Ji Na.  That divide makes the love story that much more imperative.

Ji Na is the type of person to help the helpless.  She has a difficult relationship with her father who has major anger management issues.  However, I wasn’t so moved by Han Ji Min’s character.  She’s that same stereotypical Korean drama heroine that pushes and pulls our hero at key moments in the drama to keep it going.

I did like the relationship between Kang Chil and Gook Soo.  Saving Gook Soo’s life in prison bonded him to Kang Chil. As Kang Chil deals with trying to prove his innocence and his cancer, Gook Soo vows to protect him as the real villain is still out there.

Gook Soo is sweet but a bit of a manchild himself so he and Kang Chil get along really well together.

On the subject of Gook Soo’s powers, it either can play a big role in the drama or not.  The drama created this intriguing air of mystery at the beginning and Gook Soo was so sure of what he was.  However, Gook Soo the character gets pushed to the background as the love story and trying to prove Kang Chil’s innocence takes precedence.  I’m actually disappointed that this angel aspect wasn’t wrapped up in a neater bow because in the latter half of the drama Gook Soo’s story really didn’t go anywhere.

I think the drama starts off pretty strong but halfway through the plot ceases to move in a forward direction.  My interests gets peaked again in Episode 14 with the reintroduction of the supernatural elements but it doesn’t change the pacing or really become a significant gamechanger.  It feels like it’s there to add color to a bland plot.

Also, the villain, Chan Gul (Kim Joon Sung) is a pretty boring character.  Even the camera is bored of him as the way he’s filmed doesn’t change much from episode to episode.  I love when villains or antagonists continually change the rules of the game to serve their evil purpose because it keeps us, the viewers, on our toes.  Chan Gul just threatens, gets his henchmen to do the damage and hunts for that vital piece of evidence that would prove him guilty.  I mean, we all know he’s going down, right?  However, I’m more interested in the way he’s going down and Chan Gul’s scenes were so predictable.

Some good things about the drama. The cinematography is beautiful highlighting the beauty of winter and nature.  I like how the shots are simple and it features the emotions of the drama.  Here are some of pretty shots filmed for this drama.

Jung-I (Choi Tae Joon), the son that Kang Chil learns about after he’s released from prison.  He’s a very intelligent kid and although the adults around him tell him that he’s Kang Chil’s son, he suspects differently.  So he searches for his birth father using clues from his mother’s past.

However, he’s also the new kid in a small school and the other classmates don’t take too kindly to his standoffish attitude at first.  You can’t blame him as the school isn’t at the education level that Seoul city schools are at.  Because of the bullying, Jung-I realizes that he’s got some good backup in Kang Chil and Gook Soo.

Jung-I grows from a strong dislike to indifference to loving his new family.  The progression was gradual and believable and it really showcased this young actor’s talent.  I can’t wait to see him in future projects.

Also, I loved Kang Chil’s mother (Na Moon Hee).  She’s a veteran actress but I didn’t expect her to play such a big role in the drama.  I loved that while we were initially led to believe that she abandoned her son to the law because she believed he was a murderer, we then discovered how she protected Kang Chil in the only way she knew how.

My favorite scene is the angsty scene when Kang Chil decides to leave Ji Na and accept his fate.  He lies down next to his mother while she’s sleeping and just sobs.  She wakes up and turns over to embrace him.  In the hands of lesser actors, that scene wouldn’t have been as touching.

And it was nice to see that Kang Chil, who had nobody to lean on when he was accused of murder, suddenly finds himself surrounded by family.

The drama is 20 episodes and it feels long because of the issues with the banality of the plot.  The drama’s writer is pretty popular in the industry but I just don’t think that this drama delivers on all fronts.  While 49 Days is a different drama, it’s comparable because it explores the topics of getting 2nd chances and life and death and I think 49 Days handled it better.

Rating

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2 thoughts on “[Review] Padam Padam – 빠담빠담

  1. I have to agree with most of the things you said. What hooked me into this drama in the first place was Kim Bum and the mystery behind this angel-miracle thing. It was indeed beautifully shot. I was really engaged into the story but it ended on a flat tone in my opinion. I’m was really disappointed how things fell apart after the third miracle. I couldn’t understand what direction they were going from there. From that point onwards, they had unnecessary and prolonged angst of “I have to sacrifice and die. There’s no hope—- oh woe is to me” sort of thing. They forgot about Gook Soo then started focusing on Ji Na and Kang Chil’s relationship, which was a tiresome back and forth thing. It’s true what you said how Ji Na’s character is so typical. Nothing new or exciting about her. That goes for the villian itself. He had the same face the whole time…… I loved Jung I and Kang Chil’s father-son relationship the most. It had the angle, which was most refreshing to me. How do you accept a father who you never knew except that he was a prisoner? Although upcoming drama Suitei Yuuzai (JDrama) will be showing that premise so I guess what I want will be satisfied. Anyway, I have reservations about recommending this drama but I guess it was a bumpy ride. The ending’s meaning was nice. It was really but it didn’t amaze me due to sloppy execution. What do you think?

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    • To be completely honest, I was going to skip this drama in the beginning. It seemed like your traditional melo and I’ll admit to not being a fervent advocate of melos. The supernatural thing was pleasantly surprising so I guess that’s what I looked forward to. It was disappointing that the drama didn’t explore that more. I also think they could have explored more of Jung-I and Kang Chil’s relationship but I am satisfied with that although I wish they spread it out more so it didn’t seem like they ran out of material halfway through. In terms of recommending this drama, it was eh but that doesn’t make it a terrible drama. Padam Padam was fortunate to have aired on Mon/Tue and in that timeslot as it was a bit earlier in the primetime lineup. And for me, I didn’t have a ton of shows to watch on Mon/Tue so they were really lucky on that front. If I had to go by the same rating system as my End of the Year Reports, I’d say if you were bored you should give this drama a try.

      Edit: Oh since it’s the same concept, let me know if that J-Drama does it better.

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