Drama Recaps
Padam Padam: Halftime report
by | January 14, 2012 | 94 Comments

We’re past the halfway mark for cable drama Padam Padam… The Sound of His and Her Heartbeats, which means there’s no time like the present to check in. Shot with an intimate, art house sort of vibe and lacking an episodic format, it’s a drama that ends up feeling and looking the most like a long movie. (That’s not a criticism, as that kind of style and atmosphere work really well here.) It was only recently that I saw that the director’s previous credits include A Love to Kill – which, despite being a mixed bag, had some impressive cinematography. Luckily though, this show has that great drama trifecta of writing, acting, and directing going for it – because when you’re trying to juggle an engaging character drama with fantasy elements, it’s all in the execution.

 
EPISODES 2-10

At the end of the last episode, Kang-chil found himself brought back to life after he was executed for the inadvertent murder of the Warden. He gets to relive his moments up until that fateful accident, and by a force of will (or a miracle), he’s able to hold back – and in doing so, he changes his future. Gook-soo, who’s declared himself time and time again as an angel, informs his charge that he’ll have two more miracles happen to him. Why? Because all miracles come in threes.

The world of the drama proves itself quite small when we find out that the man Kang-chil was accused of murdering was Ji-na’s uncle, explaining why her father once beat the daylights out of a young Kang-chil. There’s certainly no shortage of daddy issues here – not only does Ji-na blame her violent father for the death of her mother, but Kang-chil’s dad holds responsibility for the death of his brother, Kang-woo. Ji-na is rightfully traumatized by her father, whose rage issues would cause him to beat her mother over visiting Kang-chil in prison. He tries to justify his actions under the umbrella of grief for his brother, but like Ji-na, I’m not buying it.

Kang-chil and Ji-na have their first meeting since his prison release, and when he accidentally lets that fact slip she responds pretty well… by dropping him off in front of a police station when he tries to hitch a ride the next morning. I guess that’s a normal reaction to someone fixing your car by breaking into it first.

Something I really adore about this show is how well it handles complicated relationships. Take Kang-chil and his Mom, who didn’t see each other even once while he was in prison. Though he holds the memory of her hanging up on him in his hour of need against her, that doesn’t do anything to diminish his love for her.

Even with that huge misunderstanding still between them, Kang-chil takes up living at her house and she puts up a front, when in reality she’s happy to accept him. She’s also unwittingly adopted another son – Gook-soo – who everyone believes to be a little slow. She takes him in as part and parcel with her son, even though he has a tendency to be nearly naked first thing in the morning. When she asks him about it, his reply comes with his trademark grin, “Mom, I’m an angel so I can’t sleep with clothes on.” A-dorable.

Their family is a misfit one, especially with HYO-SOOK, an old high-school flame of Kang-chil’s who’s been acting as a loyal daughter to his mom all these years. It’s here where we get more information on Gook-soo, such as the reason for his prison stay. To pay the hospital fees for his mother’s cancer, he took an ax to an ATM and sort-of-almost threatened a police officer. That’s what netted him the attempted murder charge on top of the robbery charge.

His mother’s dying wish was apparently for Gook-soo to become an angel, and whether the show is going to delve further into how this heavenly business runs or not remains to be seen.

An interestingly-handled development occurs when Kang-chil finds out he has advanced liver cancer, with an expensive transplant being the only option for him to live. Normally, The Big C is enough for me to jump ship, but the way it’s handled helps set the tone for how we’re to handle everything else in the drama. The cancer isn’t there so Kang-chil can cry all day and rend his garments in grief, it’s just a display of how really crappy things can happen to anyone. Just because Kang-chil’s had it hard doesn’t mean he’s excluded, which is an interesting take on the theme of second chances that this drama explores. Normally second-chance occurrences like this are because the main character deserves it in some way, which Kang-chil does. But the cancer card throws that all into whack, because to die from liver cancer after he’s been given a literal second chance at life seems silly and unfair.

When Kang-chil has the inevitable moment of “why me?”, Gook-soo’s answer is… well, why can’t it be him? Would it be more fair if his mother got cancer? Or the Warden, who took Kang-chil to the hospital to get checked out? What matters is what he does from now on, and that’s pretty much all the grief we get on this. I really like that the cancer isn’t considered the end, or used as a means to an end – it’s just there. What this development seems to be telling us is that Shit Happens, so we better get used to it now.

There’s something really magical in the scene where Kang-chil starts to gorge himself on street vendor food, despite Ji-na trying to urge him away to eat a proper meal. This is where her veterinarian background comes into play as she handles him like he’s a big animal – gentle, yet firm. It’s a testament to the scriptwriter that we can understand Kang-chil’s worldview just through this scene, in how he’s unwilling to take instant gratification for granted now that he has the freedom to do what he wants when he wants to do it. Inevitably, their conversation about whether he should or should not Eat Junkfood Now draws attention to a bigger, looming question: how do you live your life when you don’t have much of it left?

But at least Ji-na is starting to see Kang-chil for who he is – and not just his reputation as an ex-convict. Their scene watching fireworks together – a first for him – is just one in a series of many first experiences she shows him. He really is like a child to the world because he’s been away from it for so much of his youth, and Ji-na dutifully takes up the role as his guide and moral compass.

As Kang-chil’s guardian angel, Gook-soo has taken it upon himself to coerce Kang-chil’s newly-found son, Jung, to live with them. He doesn’t do this because he wants Kang-chil to have more family as much as he does it to save his life – strictly because Kang-chil can use him for a liver transplant. Being called heartless by Kang-chil brings the normally effervescent Gook-soo to his breaking point.

Gook-soo: “You really don’t think it’s unfair? You waste sixteen years in prison for something you never did. And you finally get out, get a job, and are about to be a good son to your mom. But in the end it’s liver cancer. Isn’t that unfair? A young kid giving some of his liver won’t kill him. He can give you some of his liver and he saves a life, so he can go to heaven later on. You can send him to college – he wants to go to America. He’s a smart kid. Let’s send him. It’s a total top-notch college… if we work our asses off we can do it. It’s fine! It’s been sixteen years since you got out. Isn’t it amazing? When you open your eyes tomorrow morning, this isn’t solitary confinement or a cell! Isn’t it crazy and amazing that you’re with your mother, even if this place is a shithole? Don’t you love being able to see your mother and say hello to her every day? Coming back into the world, everything seems amazing. It’s amazing for you too. You need to date a girl too. You need to love someone like everyone else too. Like a human being. At least once, like a human being. Let’s be filial to Mom at least once. Let’s earn her some money. Let’s allow her to boast about her son to the people in the market. ‘Look at my son, my son is this great.’ Come on, Kang-chil. You don’t have to feel ashamed to heaven, not at all. Trust me.”

This turns out to be exactly the sort of severely long monologue Kang-chil needs, as he finds his will to live recharged. It doesn’t help that Jung is about as awesome a son as he could hope for.

With the table-setting out of the way we get to see romance blossom as all of our characters become more and more intertwined. It’s clear that Ji-na feels something for Kang-chil, as she takes him on a train ride and a trip to the zoo – all of the things he’d never experienced before but always wanted to. He’s a very literal sort of person, so he takes her being nice to him as a sign of interest and kisses her in the heat of the moment. It’s unwelcome on her end, and effectively changes the relationship dynamic for a couple of episodes as she chooses to avoid him and deny her own feelings.

Gook-soo gets his own curious developments in the fantasy aspect of the show, with many a Black Swan moment highlighting the growth of wings on his back. Every time his wings make an appearance, however, he grows sickly, pale, and becomes prone to fainting. As far as the angel storyline goes, I think the more ambiguous the better – we don’t want to start getting mired down into details that will ruin the magic. It’s not as though there’s an absence of rules – we get a lot of lines from Gook-soo about things he can’t do as an angel, like wear clothes when he sleeps, drink alcohol, or kiss. But as for what he is exactly – whether it be a fledgling angel, a half-man half-angel, or something in between – we’re still not sure.

Gook-soo continues to have premonitions about Kang-chil’s future, and one of them comes true. When Kang-chil happens upon Ji-na’s dad taking out his rage on an innocent man, he recognizes him as the brother of the boy he was framed for murdering. Therefore, that makes the woman who visited in prison – the only woman who believed he was innocent and cared for him – Ji-na’s deceased mother.

The man who framed him, Chan-gul, hasn’t changed his terrible ways and orders Kang-chil to be murdered when he becomes too troublesome. This is the premonition Gook-soo saw before, and we have another moment like the hanging scene where Kang-chil is subsequently killed (via a truck to the phone booth he’s in) and brought back to life. Back in the phone booth and unable to move, he places a desperate call to Gook-soo, who realizes that this is all part of some bigger plan for Kang-chil to realize something. There’s an interesting moment when Gook-soo is put in some sort of time-warp that renders him unable to physically help Kang-chil, as it shows us that Gook-soo, too, is just as much a puppet as Kang-chil. Just because he has some heavenly ties doesn’t make him any less human, which is what keeps his character so grounded and relatable.

“First of all, you won’t die,” he tells his hyung. “Because I’m with you.” He urges Kang-chil to pay attention and to see what higher forces are clearly trying to show him. Kang-chil is taken into the past when his mother hung up on him that fateful night, only now he gets to see the reason why – she was trying to protect him from his deadbeat and drunken father(?) who had come looking for him. Once he realizes all of these truths – about Ji-na, her father, and his mother – he’s able to escape the phone booth before it gets hit by a truck and live.

Speaking of living, it turns out that Kang-chil’s cancer is on the serious mend, so much so that it’s considered a medical anomaly (read: miracle) by his doctor. It’s not explained explicitly, but it seems as though this last round of dying/living cured him. I was left scratching my head a bit at this development, and I’m waiting to see if it becomes an issue again.

Now with all the misunderstandings cleared, family bonding time ensues. I can’t say enough how much I love when everyone’s together, but one of my favorite relationships in the show is the one between Kang-chil and his maybe-son, Jung. I say ‘maybe’ because we’re getting pieces of a puzzle that may prove that Kang-chil isn’t his real father – and Jung, despite knowing this, begins to bond with Kang-chil as a son anyway. This quickly endears him as one of my favorite characters. Like his maybe-grandmother, he possesses a tough exterior that hides the little kid within him that only wants a dad.

Jung proves that blood-relations are not the end-all-be-all, as he chides his maybe-dad for saying that the world has nothing to lose if he dies. How can he think that way when he has a mother and a son? It’s a great moment, because it’s the first time Jung admits that he’s his son. (Or is he?)

Ji-na finally recovers from that awkward first kiss. She had made it a point to avoid Kang-chil for a good while – not because she didn’t like him, but because she was afraid of her feelings. They share a real, no-frills connection while taking a midnight swim in a swamp – er, lake – and he picks a pretty picturesque moment to ask her to go out with him.

She wants time to think, and in true Kang-chil fashion he asks her how long she needs… because he hates waiting. I love that he dogs her on this, not in a petulant way but just in keeping with his honest nature. Because he thinks of everything in simple black-and-white terms he has a hard time understanding her hesitation. If she likes him, she should go out with him. If she doesn’t like him, then she shouldn’t. Why is that so complicated?

Hyo-sook is always around to hang out with the Yang family, and though she’s shown jealousy over Kang-chil and Ji-na it seemed doubtful that she had a real emotional stake in him. She’s just a nice girl who’s been divorced, and sees Kang-chil as a simple and easy option for the future. He doesn’t feel the same way, of course, which deeply wounds her feelings. Aww.

Tensions have been rising between Ji-na’s ex-boyfriend, veterinarian Kim Young-cheol, and Kang-chil. What’s great about their relationship is that Kang-chil proves to be the more adult one, as he takes care of Young-cheol even after he picks a fight over Ji-na’s honor. Between the two of them Young-cheol is the more petulant and just plain petty one, so he’s frequently humiliated by Kang-chil’s simple and to-the-point views on life and his relationship with Ji-na. What’s even more adorable is that Kang-chil is dead set on the two of them becoming friends, despite Young-cheol trying his hardest to hate Kang-chil’s guts.

The only “bleh” moments I’ve had with this show have usually been in relation to Ji-na – whether it’s her feeding wild animals in her spare time, disarming bear traps for wild animals in her spare time, so on and so forth. I do honestly like her character, but in terms of how big of a heart she has: I get it. We all get it, Padam.

Her urge to save every and all animal on earth leads to one of my favorite scenes – because it’s just so cringe-worthy. Because she constantly saves animals that have trouble crossing a creek bed out in the forest, Kang-chil basically builds a habitrail system so little white bunnies can make it across. I have nothing against bunnies, I just have something against her abnormal hobbies.

I also like that we get so little of Chan-gul, but also just enough. We don’t need to know what he’s like on his own time, but we get little glimpses of what he’s doing behind the scenes as we go. So far his one goal is to retrieve the murder weapon from Yong-hak, the third man involved in the murder. In his haste to retrieve it he attempts to murder Yong-hak via a car to the face, but his former co-conspirator manages to barely survive.

We’ve been hearing about it and waiting for it for ten episodes – and it finally happens. Gook-soo gets his wings! I was honestly surprised at how well this was handled, because it’s just rife with the possibility to be terribly corny. It isn’t – and it is something of an awe-inspiring moment as Kang-chil looks up at his guardian angel in complete wonder… until Gook-soo comes tumbling to the ground with his wings swiftly disappearing into his back. He hasn’t quite gotten the knack of flying yet.

Though it was always Gook-soo clinging to Kang-chil, our hero has grown and matured even over such a short span of time and has clearly come to love and respect him. He wonders if they’ll have to be apart if Gook-soo flies to heaven, and Gook-soo replies by asking if Kang-chil is afraid to live without him. “If I say yes, will you stay even if you get wings?” Awww. AWWW. (And a freebie: Awwwww!)

Understandably, it’s a pretty big deal when Ji-na finds out that Kang-chil is the man convicted of killing her uncle. The part that seems a little manufactured? She’s less concerned that he’s a convicted killer than she is about the idea that he wants revenge on her father. So, she does what she does best in their romantic times of trouble – she completely avoids any sort of contact with Kang-chil. I think this is round three. I’ve lost count.

Gook-soo is the one to jump to his hyung’s aid… by breaking into her house to talk to her. He’s very thoughtful, at least, and sends her a text beforehand that reads: “I’m Gook-soo. I’m climbing over your fence.” Ha! Too cute.

He explains Kang-chil’s position to Ji-na, pointing out that Kang-chil didn’t kill her uncle. “There’s no evidence that he’s not the murderer, though,” she counters. Gook-soo operates on belief, though, and says he believed Kang-chil wholeheartedly ever since his hyung took beatings on his behalf. That takes a good person, and Kang-chil is good down to the core.

Kang-chil has overheard the conversation between them, but still urges her to talk to him openly. She yells at him instead, blaming him for her mother’s death (since the final fight between Mom and Dad was over Mom visiting him in prison) as well as her uncle’s. Who does he think he is?

Kang-chil: “Someone your mom believed in.”

Aww. He tells her that he’ll find the evidence to clear his name no matter what… but even if that’s the case, Ji-na says they’re over.

 
COMMENTS

This show is a really perfect example of a lot of little moments coming together to make a cohesive and powerful whole. Everything is in the nuance and character growth, so the real narrative drive is in the details as much as it’s in the grander plot movements – which, when they happen, are consistently fantastic.

I was both excited and concerned for the fantasy aspect of this show, which has been deftly handled so far. (Really, I was cringing out of nervousness during Gook-soo’s flying scene… and then it turned out to be a killer scene.) I also like that the world in which these characters live and breathe isn’t romanticized – it’s just the opposite, and presents a grittier reality. That tends to change whenever we have Kang-chil and Ji-na on screen, which might be intentional or just a result of prettier date locations. Either way, the camerawork excels in bringing us up close and personal with our characters just as much as the soundtrack works as a barometer for how seriously we should be taking certain scenes.

And while I do feel that this show has set up a brilliantly engaging romance, I’m far more invested in the maybe-father/maybe-son relationship. We haven’t been given a whole lot through this first half, but it’s the little things – like the bonding trip to the sauna, or Kang-chil protecting Jung when he faced a gang of bullies – that just add this extra layer of magic. On some level they operate with a father/son sort of mentality, but more often than not they seem to act more like friends. And for all accounts they could be – we’re being prepared for the eventuality that Kang-chil may not be his dad, after all. Even if that ends up being the case, I still hope that they’ll just eschew blood ties and decide to call each other family anyway.

It helps that everyone seems perfectly cast for their roles. I can’t imagine Kang-chil in more capable hands, as Jung Woo-sung can convey both ferocity and vulnerability all in one gaze – at times deliriously happy, at times heart-wrenchingly sad. Kim Bum, too, seems made for the role of Gook-soo – who manages to be one of the most accessible characters while still retaining a great deal of mystery. I’m excited to see more of his story, and how Kang-chil’s circumstances may or may not impact his earthly tenure.

This show brings to mind a famous short story by Ambrose Bierce, called “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”. (Published in 1890, the story has been adapted over the years into an internationally award-winning French film, as well as television shows like The Twilight Zone.) It depicts a man of thirty-five (Kang-chil’s stated age), who’s sentenced to death by hanging – only to miraculously return to life afterward. Like Kang-chil, evidence from having been hanged remains in the form of a mark around his neck. And like Kang-chil, the protagonist of that story was held accountable for a crime he was lured into. The protagonist basically gets to live after he’s supposed to have died, returning to his wife before the twist ending is revealed – that in reality he never came back to life, and everything he imagined after the hanging was all a dream. Whether the tie is intentional or not, the similarities were interesting to take a look at.

But above all else, I love that this show poses questions that come up again and again throughout the series – and rightfully so, since there are no easy answers. Whether someone can or should receive second chances because they deserve them, whether someone’s suffering can be measured and weighed in worth… I just love it when a show causes our hero – and those caught up in his world – to consider what’s right and just in the world as much as it causes us to consider the same.

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94 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. _onewcondition

    I’m addicted to this show! :D

    • 1.1 ilovemandoo

      Your username <3

  2. ana

    i looove this drama. i agree with you on everything. i am usually more invested in the romantic relationship, but in this drama every relationship has my attention. i’m the fast forwarding type, however when i watch this drama the only part i fast forward are the main female leads, her character is sooo blahhhh.
    and how hot is ki bum. yay thanks for growing up.

    • 2.1 Pirie

      Question, does Han Ji Min always act in a blah and uninteresting character that people have to fast forward her scenes as in “Resurrection” too???? Or is she is just plain bad and boring????

  3. Stacey

    I just love this show!
    I love most of the relationships in it.
    Most because I’m not so keen on Ji-Na. I think that Kang Chil is way too nice and she doesn’t deserve his kindness.
    I smell possible romance in the air for Gook Soo and Hyo Sook which will be interesting to see! Kim Bum is brilliant!

  4. Yeepski

    This show really does sound amazing; I’m considering giving it a go. Your recaps are awesome, as always, and I do see how Padam could resemble Ambrose Bierce’s “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”, in that Kang-chil’s freedom might also be a creation of his own mind, a la “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”, but I think that’s where the similarity ends. The protagonist in Owl Creek was a Southerner during the Civil War, who identified fiercely with the South’s cause and ideology, including racism and slavery, who willingly went out with the intention of committing a crime (though the Northern spy planted the idea in his head, the protagonist acted of his own free will), whereas Kang-chil is a good person who was wrongly pinned for a serious crime that he had no part in committing.

    • 4.1 AuntieMame

      Since we’ve not been shown the reason(s) leading up to the murder, I think we may not know if Kang Chil is entirely innocent. I can accept that he didn’t do the stabbing because we were shown the knife being placed in his hand. But, the fact that he was at the scene, at all, raise the question of why he was there, in the first place. Just as how we were shown the reason for his mother hanging up on him, on a wider perspective, we may, yet, see the murder incident from a wider angle that would give us a reality of what happened. Perhaps, Kang Chil is not totally so innocent.

      • 4.1.1 Z

        Jina’s Dad mentioned something about the boys “fighting just to see who was stringer.” I guess implying that it was horseplay that got out of had. Don’t know if that’s the true story or just the version that he believes.

  5. Lorelai

    I have a thing for skinny guy. I could not handle my drools looking at Ki Bum’s body. ooohhh eye candies…..

  6. Alvina

    That was a beautiful recap OP. Thank you for taking your time to do this.

    I watched upto episode 3 but dropped it because it just made me too sad. Something about this drama was so bittersweet that it made me remember that, in real life, I wont have an angel to give me any second chances…

    I dunno, but with all the happy dramas coming up, I couldn’t watch something that made me reflect upon my own regrets lol :(

  7. alexe

    Overaddicted ! Thanks for the comments but sad to know about the possible ending …

  8. Banjak

    This show had been firing on all cylinders, what a great example of complicated relationships – and I don’t mean JN and KC. Like you, I find their scenes to be the most rote and predictable. But, KC, surprise, you’ve got a son… oh, wait, maybe not. GS, you’re an angel… but I’m gonna confuse you with it for a little longer. What’s truly made this show for me is the acting, particularly the two lead men. This is the first I’ve seen JWS, he’s simply fantastic as he conveys two-sided weariness and wonderment. And I’m so proud of KB… what a progression of talent and depth he’s shown here. I applaud his choices in dramas, I just can’t wait to see what he does next… Not to mention how GS’s storyline wraps up here!

  9. missyu_who

    HeadsNo2–you write beautifully! Thank you for this recap and all the others you’ve been providing recently. I wanted to watch this one but 1) didn’t have the time, and 2) rom-coms are more up my alley. But your recap was so evocative that it’s making me reconsider this one! Also…hello? MANCANDY! ^_^

  10. 10 Currypoker

    I’m totally invested in the father/son relationship between kang-chil and jung. They don’t explicitly display their love and concern with each other, but it’s through those subtle actions that really moved me. My fav scene gotta be the kang chil and gook so fighting the bullies in their own unique way. Haha. It was heartmoving and hilarious at the same time!

  11. 11 Mystisith

    That drama is awesome. I would like to use a cosmologic analogy here : It attracts you like a massive black hole, but it also gives you hope that a white fountain is on the other side. I too think than Ji Na is the weak point in that grandiose tapestry, for now : I hope to see her gaining her own pair of wings ( figuratively or not ), a healthy functiuning heart and a well implanted head.
    For those interested, i join you the link to a 1985 song video called ” All i need is a miracle ” by Mike and the Mechanics : Bad quality and english non-sub, but the song is awesome, and the story endearing : Bad luck, good luck ? That’s how life goes…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAMLa5ZC-B4

    • 11.1 Shukmeister

      Good recap. I have read the short story mentioned, and I definitely have heard the Mike and the Mechanics song – lol.

      I’m enjoying the interactions between the characters, although I’m puzzled at Ji Na ex-bf. He’s too lukewarm to form a triangle, so what’s the purpose of his existence in the plot? As a foil for her father? An alternate sawbones for Kang Chil’s injuries? To me, he is just seems to be a waste of airtime. I hope he does have some purpose that comes to light by the end of the arc.

  12. 12 Leaf

    It’s awesome :D

    That’s all I’m gonna say :D

  13. 13 TiaC

    Yeeesss! Thanks, HeadsNo2!

    Padam Padam is now one of my all time favorites. It’s a drama I could never marathon, simply because its so rich and substantial, I watch it slowly, scene by scene, to take it all in. There is nothing I love more than an expertly handled drama with fantasy elements, and this series is that and more. I CANNOT recommend this drama enough.

    I agree that this show definitely has Twilight Zone elements, but if I were to draw a comparison, I’d probably say PdPd is closer to the updated Battlestar Galactica – both are essentially human dramas that use fantasy/supernatural elements to raise the stakes for the characters.

  14. 14 Hipployta

    I’ve only watched episode one due to life’s madness but I’m looking forward to coming back to it

  15. 15 clover

    i love this show. kim bum and JSW’s acting is top notch and their bromance is believable. am enjoying the show cos the bad guys are not being used to build the drama. this is cool and different

  16. 16 Z

    One of my favorite shows I’ve ever watched… in any language. So good without being corny or overly angsty (yett, praying that keeps up). And how awesome is it that the family relationships are the best part? To be honest… the show could leave out all the parts about clearing his name or getting revenge or whatever and I would be perfectly happy. Great, great, great show!

  17. 17 Petirrojo

    I concur! On many levels, this is (for me) one of the most compelling dramas I’ve ever seen – though I have to add (with no little fear) the caveat “so far.” I’ve watched through 10 as well and I hope and pray (Ya! Can a girl get her own Gook-soo angel down here to help with that?!) that it will continue to be such an excellent work.

    From that opening shot, the artistic closeup of Kang-chil eating chicken with care and thoroughness in the prison I was hooked. Jung Woo-sung is amazing on so many levels, it’s hard to know how to stop spouting examples. Physically, he’s given Kang-chil this gangly stoop and loping walk, and in that I sense the boy who was confined to the confining and restrictive space (prison) during his peak years of physical growth and development. It’s a small thing, but it’s part of the complete package. When you are called upon to be facially expressive (and in such tight closeups!), there’s a fine line between overdoing it and honestly revealing your emotions and JWS never crosses the line into mugging. I love how his character is so candid, but not above hiding his feelings (the way a convict might), especially about love.

    Han Ji-min is one of those actresses who I always felt had more to her, but often could be too “cute” in her roles for my liking (Great Inheritance). I think she’s never been more beautiful than in this role and I like the real emotional conflicts she faces in trusting Kang-chil (and her ex-boyfriend and father as well). She has her reasons and they’re valid, though Gook-soo’s chiding her choice to believe more in evidence than her intuition hits home. The scene in the lake was a beautiful balance between JWS and HJM. I particularly like the wariness in her eyes…

    Kim Bum brings a slightly shifty and cunning, yet pragmatic tone to his “almost” angel, but it works. Oh, it works! I had to gasp when he fetches Jung to Kang-chil’s side to be a potential organ donor because his first obligation is to Kang-chil as his guardian angel! I wondered if he was delusional about seeing the wings growing in, but when Kang-chil sees him fly (beautiful scene!), either they’re both suffering from the same delusion or it’s really happening. Either is possible!

    I have to say that Yeong-chul, Ji-na’s ex, is one of my favorite characters for how real he’s been written and is portrayed. We’ve got a cheating boyfriend (and hey, they’ve apparently been in a sexual relationship and are they friends with benefits as he’s always at her apartment in the wee hours?) who proposes marriage when he gets jealous. He’s petty, but he makes amends – guardedly.

    Finally (and sorry for the long response, but I have had 10 episodes pent up inside me!), the setting for this drama is incredibly effective, from the harbor views, the hilltop home of Kang-chil’s mom, to the abandoned mill that becomes his workshop, it’s all beautifully selected, framed, and captured for us to enjoy. Gorgeous!

  18. 18 Joy

    This is the second drama that I am so addicted to, after SeGa! I Love this drama. It’s well written and very refreshing. It offers a slice of real life in a way, it’s about the injustice and second chances. Jung Woo Sung acting is off the chart. I knew that his an amazing actor but, dang, he’s just showing his acting prowess in a different dimention. As far as Kim Bum, he is progressing as far as acting. I love the bromance between Kang Chil and Gook So it’s so endearing to watch. Let’s put it this way, I love everything about this show! :)

  19. 19 hpn88

    I’m still liking this show a lot. The cinematography for this show is just gorgeous beyond anything. I love the fact that is being shot near Pusan because its a different locale and the nature shots are just breathtaking.
    I concur with a lot of people. Ji-na is sort of a dead in the water character for me. I can’t make myself like her. She’s just too soft-spoken, too passive for me to see whats so great about her. Most of the time, I’m just waiting for the romantic stuff to end, so I can get more of Kang-chil and the makeshift family. I can’t express in words how much I love the relationship between Kang-chil and Jung. Its just too precious.

  20. 20 Cynthia

    Thanks for the mid-term recap, HeadsNo2. I was hoping that you hadn’t dropped this one from your reviewing list.

    I am absolutely taken aback at just how good JWS is in this. I liked him in ATHENA, but this finely-etched portrayal of Kang Chil’s character just puts JWS in a totally different acting league. It’s a jaw-dropping performance.

    And Bummie? Boy has hit it out of the park on this one. He worked hard to lose those chubby cheeks of his and has metamorphosed into a new man – he retains the sweetness of his personality but now it’s a minor aspect, not a major one. He’s finally found the pair of acting shoes that fit him – his past projects were a mite painful to watch. Like JWS, KB has opened many new eyes to the talented actor he is.

    One question for you, HeadsNo2 – “Kang-chil’s dad holds responsibility for the death of his brother, Kang-woo.”
    Huh? What did I miss here?

    • 20.1 Senris

      “Kang-chil’s dad holds responsibility for the death of his brother, Kang-woo.”

      It’s a very minor plotline, and one I hope will be revisited, but it’s the reason Kang-chil’s mom hung up on him when he called after he was stabbed, since her husband was there and she wanted Kang-chil to have NOTHING to do to him. She didn’t want him either to find out about the truth behind his brother’s death (I think Kang-chil believes his brother died in a car accident), or to be hurt by his father, too.

      • 20.1.1 Cynthia

        Thanks – I adore this drama and totally blanked on that info. His bicep tattoo is the brother’s name, right? Did they say how he really died?
        My brain cells must be taking a vacation…
        :)

      • 20.1.2 Z

        I thought Kang Chil already knew about that. He’s mentioned more than once that the accident that killed Kang Woo came about because he was running away from their father after taking a beating in Kang Chil’s place.

        From how I understood it, Mi Ja hung up because Drunk Dad was there looking for Kang Chil and threatening to kill him. And she never explained because she didn’t want him to know that Dad wanted to kill him or that she took the beating instead (not sure which but either was, she didn’t want him to know the whole story). At least that’s how I’ve understood it but I could be wrong.

  21. 21 DeeDee315

    Beautiful recap for a drama that could make my all time favorite list if it continues as strongly as it’s started. I sure hope it’s remembered come award time because this jTBC cable channel drama is the whole package; acting, production, writing & direction are all top-notch.

    Hope the 3 major networks are taking notice because this drama proves cable can produce quality work. I read an article which said this drama would have flopped at one of the big 3 networks. Perhaps that’s true, there are no pyrotechnics, car chases or Kpop singer/actors. It is a small intimate drama that appeals to an audience looking for substance.

  22. 22 kayana20

    I am addicted to this drama their relationship is so real and loving. As KC says live for the moment and the love you share. Super excited for monday to see how they face Jina dad. Ahh I need to rewatch from Episode 1 because it’s getting intense.

  23. 23 come2noona

    Thank you HeadsNo2! Your recaps are excellent! I love this drama too!

  24. 24 Senris

    Thanks for this recap! I’ve been so sad to see this drama getting very little attention, because with how quiet and understated it is it’s also breathtaking, heartbreaking, and frequently heartwarming as well.

    Others have already mentioned the fantastic writing, acting, and cinematography, so I’ll put in a MUCH more shallow plug: Gook-soo and Kang-chil are shirtless (or wearing even less) at least once in almost every episode. If anyone has been disappointed by the lack of abs in recent dramas, this is the one to tune in to!

    (Awesomely, however, it’s not just gratuitous fanservice. A five-minute scene at a public bath serves to show an amazing moment of growth and bonding between Kang-chil and Jung. Gook-soo sleeps shirtless because he believes he’s an angel, and his faith in his coming wings is both adorable and a little awe-inspiring. )

  25. 25 inagaki

    So happy you guys finnally a recapped. I hope the ending wont be crappy. I’ve just declared this the drama of my life.

  26. 26 getoba

    All drama is like a long movie. it’s the quality of kdrama and jdrama, the story is doing like a movie with the way of tell the story and the directing with the use of the space. and the use of the music. A love to kill and padam padam are the same director, the same style and quality of directing, the only difference is the camera, bad camera for a love to kill, and canon 5d with padam padam.

  27. 27 Biscuit

    During the episode where Kangchil experienced the second miracle, did anyone else get the shivers? Just like the first miracle where Kangchil didn’t want to get into a fight and was calling for Gooksoo because he couldn’t stop his legs, Kangchil was screaming for Gooksoo in the telephone booth. Oof!

    This drama gets me in the guts when it comes to these people’s relationship with each other.

    Although Jung Woo Sung does bother me with his creepy big eyes at times… where he’s staring and not blinking, all the while with this grin on.

  28. 28 omo

    Yeah, I think Jina’s character is the most boring of the lot. Even if they had done away with her character, there’s still enough story to carry the show forward. Such an insipid character and HJM is looking insipid at times too. Maybe that’s the whole point to her character. Anyway, I hope they downplay the romance bit further. I’m too invested in the KC-maybe son, KC-mom, KC-Gook Soo and KC-enemies relationships. Thanks for the half time review.

  29. 29 kopytko

    A great drama! HeadsNo2, thanks for your report – it really touches all the important issues and I know I wouldn’t express it myself.
    I am really fascinated by most characters (except for JiNa – what vet feeds wild animals in summer, when there is luscious vegetation – really, they made her an idiot in my eyes and she will never regain all my respect).
    The other thing that keeps me addicted to the drama is the way the reality and supernatural elements are intertwined. I can accept fantasy inserts only if they are cohesive and – in their own way – logical. And WOW that is what I get in this drama.
    On the one hand I am looking forward to every next episode but on the other hand I do not want this drama to end too quickly :)

  30. 30 Devin

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; headno2, you are a wrecking ball. I loved the recap; concise, poignant, and a lick of witty. I’m not planning to watch the drama, but your recaps will be my gateway to how the mystery unfolds. Thanks for the lovely recap.

  31. 31 pdmpdm

    omg yesssss! thank you for the awesome halftime report. i am in love with this drama…mainly b/c of the relationships between family members. and i seriously think the mains’ chemistry is beautiful… the fantasy element kinda threw me off at first b/c i dont like fantasy stuff, but like you, i was captivated by GS and his scenes. can’t wait to hear your thoughts on the rest!

  32. 32 glace

    this is by far most well-written and emotionally engaging drama I’ve personally ever seen. I’ve never been so attached to a character before as I am with Kang Chil. I cried at the end of ep 10.

    I, too, was a bit frustrated with Ji Na, but honestly, it’s probably how most people would act when holding so much anger and pain inside. She happens to care for animals, so she became obsessed with it to pre-occupy her mind.

    I think Gook Soo isn’t necessarily slow, but he’s a bit “off” mentally. But he’s still incredibly smart and logical.

  33. 33 Ani

    I’m currently now watching this show, but thanks for the update HeadsNo2. The relationships are so cool. I think for the sake of those who love this show that it’s not just a dream. That all this is happening. X)

  34. 34 Sukispop

    Thanks for the excellent halftime report, HeadsNo2!

    Right now, there are two currently running dramas that have really hooked me- History of a Salaryman(what a great, quirky drama…and so funny!)…and this one, Padam Padam.

    I just finished Episode 12 last night, and was thinking to myself- “Why aren’t any of the drama blogs reviewing this great drama?” And then, wa-la, here’s the halftime report, courtesy of my favorite drama blog! I really love all of the principal characters, here, and credit must be given to the actors playing their roles. Also, awesome writing and directing are driving these wonderful performances.

    I hope all three remain brilliant, right to the very end.

  35. 35 Suzi Q

    The romance between Ji-na and Kang Chil is starting to bore me because she runs hot and cold too many times.Her story line regarding the animal traps, etc. really slowed down the drama. It got more interesting with the plot between Kang Chil with his son, his mom and Gook-soo.
    I really like Kim Bum who has lost his babyface and finally grown into a nice looking young man. He’s really good as the Guardian Angel -to-be.
    JWS kind of reminds me of Forest Gump character in this drama. I’ve seen him in Musa, The Good, the Bad, the Weird, and Athena, Goddess of war.He’s really great in whatever role he is in however, I think his image got tarnished with his romance with Lee Ji-ah’s scandal. Too bad.
    I’ve really enjoy this wonderful fantasy drama thus far.

  36. 36 observantzani

    I love this drama! The realism and mystery were well meshed. And the way the story is told, makes you feel compelled to watch the next episodes.

  37. 37 Andre

    du-geun du-geun

  38. 38 dancinfff

    I loved this show! From episode 1 to now, even though I skipped both 9 and 10. I wasn’t ready to face “the part in the plot where the family of the hero dislikes the fact that he’s dating her and vice versa”, but everything has been so perfect. Especially episode 8(?) Where he’s in the phone booth.

    Ji-Na and Kang Chil’s relationship gives me goosebumps, it’s just too mushy, but I always melt, and end up covering my eyes because it makes me embarrassed (something I started doing because of how big of a deal kissing is in KDRAMAS)

    I love the Bromance between Gook Soo and Kang Chil, as well as Gook Soo with Kang Chil’s mom, and Hyo Sook and the family’s relationship. But my absolute favorite is with Jung and his possible dad. They are so cute together, and JUNG IS SOO HOT, like his dad. (If you don’t take anything else away from this comment, take this).

    I was wondering why they didn’t choose a prettier place to film in, but you’re right about how the setting really adds to the mood of realism and reality, I really appreciate them letting us see another side of Korea and not just the touristy places(:

    Anyway, 10 STARS! I know I won’t be disappointed!

    • 38.1 dancinfff

      woops, I mean *love

  39. 39 funnibee

    Kang-chil and his son are too cute together! Love them :D

    I’m getting really sick of the romance and Ji-Na too. It’s so repetitive and I just don’t really like her as a character. Yeah it’s really ‘kind’ and ‘big-hearted’ of her to feed wild animals and stuff in her spare time, but are you really supposed to do that? Aren’t wild animals wild for a reason? They’re supposed to find food on their own. If you keep feeding them, what happens when you suddenly can’t feed them anymore? Then they won’t be able to survive since they’ve lost the ability to find food for themselves. Anyway, Ji-Na’s hot-and-cold personality is getting on my nerves too.

    I’m also getting a really bad feeling that Gook-soo is gonna die in the end… :(

    • 39.1 Z

      That’s what I think every time I see Jina out there feeding animals. Isn’t that a big no-no? I’m pretty sure I’ve heard that somewhere.

  40. 40 elle loves kdrama

    What a great drama! I admit to crying many many times while watching it. I can’t wait to see how it ends.

  41. 41 Jo

    I honestly adore all the characters. I actually like Ji-Na and I can’t imagine any other actress playing her. I think if someone else did, they might come off as too haughty or too precocious. She acts so that she feels natural, or like a real person. I love that she isn’t over-dramatic, or cutesy, or stupid!

    Anyway, but I do have to agree that the strengths of this show is the FAMILY! I adore when the family is together–Jung (Ilovehimsomuch! I feel like, though, he isn’t Kang Chil’s son and that breaks my heart!!!!!), Mom, Gooksoo, Hyosung, and Kang Chil.
    <333

    • 41.1 sally_b

      @Jo re: “I actually like Ji-Na and I can’t imagine any other actress playing her. I think if someone else did, they might come off as too haughty or too precocious. She acts so that she feels natural, or like a real person. I love that she isn’t over-dramatic, or cutesy, or stupid! ”

      SPOT ON. She is neither haughty nor precocious…her character is a ‘damaged’ person..and she plays it quietly/subtley. I have known people throughout my life who actually HAVE bastard, angry, physically abusive fathers like Jina’s. The two in particular I can think of…are exactly like Jina…very emotionally reserved on the surface, but deeply loving. One is a hospice care nurse and the other does…drumroll ~~ animal rescue fostering.

      They’ve taken all thats tender within them (even after horrific childhoods) and turned it into gifts of love. So…sorry for rambling…but I *get* Jina’s character. Plus even though WE know KangChil didn’t do the murder…up until recent episodes….Jina had no real reason to believe he didn’t.

      I’m fine with her portrayal of Jina…even if it isn’t *showy*. :)

      • 41.1.1 Altari

        I so agree with both of your opinions about Jina.
        I’m really impressed with her acting in this drama. It’s understated but she manages to convey everything that Jina is feeling.
        I have a pet peeve with cutsy characters that think aloud all the time.

  42. 42 hamsandwich

    Thanks for the recap, ever since the episode 1 post I’ve been curious about how the show was playing out what with there being angels and all.

  43. 43 Sisa

    Thanks for giving us an update! I was wondering why there wasn’t recaps for this and some of the others but i love what you guys do recap though. Superb work as always!

  44. 44 Allarine

    I kind of miss Kim Bum’s baby face…

  45. 45 judith

    Thank you for the recap! I am so watching this drama now.. just for the sake of watching Kim Bum flying with a wing *grin from ear to ear*

  46. 46 Celexa

    HeadsNo2

    I was hesitant to read this because I didn’t want to read any possible spoilers since I’m following it on Dramafever.

    I was not disappointed… I love your writing style and insight THANK YOU!

    This melodrama is by far one of my favorites. I had the pleasure of watching Jung Woo-Sung in “The Good, The Bad & The Weird” and I captivated by his action style acting. I just started watching him in Athena… I vote for him to be the next James Bond!

    He is the consummate actor and he delivers in this drama as he projects Kang-Chil’s character nuances. He is amazing to watch… mesmerizing is a better word.

    I admit that I superficially squee over Flower Boys and Kim Bum is holding up his end very well, but Jung Woo-Sung has my heart.

  47. 47 Verónica

    Thank you for recapping this AMAZING drama!!!!! This is one of a kind drama, where the flawless acting has made this story so heartfelt yet with a grim edge. I haven’t seen a tv show ever that has made me cry in every episode. Not from sadness, not from happiness, it’s just…awe!! It’s so intensely engaging with its amazing camera work and well written characters that you get completely absorbed by it. I could watch Goo Suk, Kang Chil and his son going around all day and not get tired. :)

  48. 48 moomincandylalala

    thanks for writing this…i appreciate the comparisons u brought up in your comments. I keep dreading the ending because I am afraid it might break my heart like 49 days, or leave me with the feeling after watching Bjork’s Dancer in the Dark (that movie is like a black hole) Every time when it feels like KC is getting a break, he can’t seem to enjoy it, or just even breathe long enough for him to get beat down again… he’s such a beautiful and tortured person. While I am invested in this show and its wonderful moments and the relationships between the characters, how cruel this dramaland is to KC is sometimes a bit too much for me too take.

    • 48.1 DeeDee315

      Oh I think this one will “turn out” in the end, but at a high cost & unfortunately I think our Kim Bum will pay the price. Pay off will be, he earns his wings the hard way. Stock up on the Kleenex.

  49. 49 mayadee

    “And while I do feel that this show has set up a brilliantly engaging romance, I’m far more invested in the maybe-father/maybe-son relationship”

    THIS.

    I even took screen caps of those moments (Noraebang scene, sauna scene, gang bullies, and when KC got beaten by JN’s father, JH to the rescue!) Awwww~~

    Two male leads, JWS & KB is really awesome. I can not say the same for HJM, she’s so far hasn’t yet moved me with her antics. her character sometimes annoyed me instead.

    I’m so amazed with JWS, he definitely shows the character’s strength & weakness at the same time. Such a complex character, yet he could convey it perfectly. I never like his character in Athena, but he stole my heart with Kang Chil. Awesomeness!!

    I’m quite surprised with KB’s improvement too! Well, surely in BOF he’s still a newcomer so I didn’t expect too much with his performance back then. In Dream & TWWSMTM well, his characters there were mediocre. nevermind with the lame storyline all he did back then was just only smile and all the females’ heart would melt. I can totally picture GS’s 4D-ness here. And his bromance with JWS is just amazing.

    So far my favorite scenes are the ones that include family bonding times. LOVE IT!

    Watching Padam Padam is like watching good quality J-drama, honestly I’ve never ever had this goosebumps watching Kdrama until I watch Padam2.

    • 49.1 mayadee

      And I forgot to share my thoughts about the possible bittersweet ending, I think Gooksoo is most probably going to die in the end. It’s going to be heartbreaking, but I do feel it’s necessary, it’s always been his wish to be with his mother in Heaven right???
      And oh, Choi Tae Joon (Jung Hee/KC’s maybe son) is one hot young lad. He gives off the same vibe like Big Bang’s TOP. That piercing stare & manly charm. RAWR!

      Thanks for the amazing recaps HeadsNo2!!

      • 49.1.1 ay

        I agree that Choi Tae Joon gives off the same vibe like T.O.P.!! I love ‘em both! :D

      • 49.1.2 DeeDee315

        Totally agree abt the ending. Sad but necessary.

      • 49.1.3 DeeDee315

        Funny you say that about TOP, because Choi Tae Joon is good friends with Big Bang’s Seungri.

  50. 50 ay

    This drama is one of the best in Kdramaland.
    The cinematography, the actors and the storyline are perfect. At the end of EVERY damn episode I have the urge to watch the next asap.

    To be honest, I don’t like Ji Na’s character for many reasons like how she’s so unsure of her feelings towards Kang Chil and describes it as “sympahty” in the beginning then afterwards accepts her feelings but then don’t has the guts to officially date him because he’s an ex-con and can’t face other people when she’s with him because she’s ashamed of her own feelings and how in the end (before she finds out about his relationship with her mum) she wants to date him in secret instead.

    She’s egoistic and gives a damn *hit what other people might think of her.

    Many questions occured, like “GIRL, WHERE THE HELL IS YOUR CONFIDENCE??”, “HOW LONG CAN YOUR “LOVE”, YOU’RE ASHAMED OF, LAST?” and “WAS SHE SERIOUSLY GOING TO DATE IN THE MOUNTAINS AND IN THE WORKSHOP OF KANG CHIL’s where nobody could see them (if there wouldn’t be the case with her mum)?”

    However, when she finds out about her mothers relationship with Kang Chil first she goes mad and is caught up in misunderstandings, ignores him, all of a sudden is a good daughter to her dad (of whom she thinks that he’s at fault of her mum’s death) but in the same time is interested what bond her mum had with Kang Chil.
    When KC explains that her father isn’t the person he wants to take revenge of and didn’t approach her because of that she tries to believe BUT that’s right “TRIES TO BELIEVE”!! Seriously can’t she see from his actions how innocent and naive he is?? Man, that ego and fantasy of hers kills me.

    Well yes she tries to believe that he was framed (cuz her mum believed in that) but still wants him to prove it. The questuion is now: Does she want to be sure that he didn’t murder her uncle and doesn’t want to take revenge of her dad so that she can date him officially and isn’t ashamed, or what?

    Why can’t she believe in him wholeheartedly like her mum did? She should be able to trust her mum’s feelings, shouldn’t she? Why would her mum believe and help Kang Chil when she doesn’t know anything anyways? The scene when she dies in the car she first was talking to the prosecutor who said that there was evidence. That clearly shows that she’s justifiably supporting him. Why can’t JiNa back him up and support him together with Gook Soo. Yep, that would be a great help and the face off with her father would be too awesome. Then again, Gook Soo said that he will leave Kang Chil’s side when Ji Na is. That means that she won’t believe him till he has the evidence.

    Now is she protecting her father OR does she even want to believe in her mother and Kang Chil (I think she’s somewhere in between) or does she want the whole thing to be confirmed for her own good so that she can decide which path to take
    a.) Leave him.
    b.) Don’t leave him.

    Her love isn’t that great to believe in him and stay by his side no matter what.

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