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Signal: Episode 1

Heart-pounding and intense, tvN’s newest crime thriller Signal pulls out all the stops in its premiere, and boy am I diggin’ it. An unexpected connection is made when a two-way radio links the past to the present, adding to the already eerie mystery that surrounds a cold case. When a dogged profiler pairs up with a detective determined to get to the bottom of the truth, you can rest assured that they won’t call it quits anytime soon.

Even with all the information crammed into the first hour, Signal does a fine job of laying down the groundwork for what should be an exciting series ahead. Ratings-wise, the premiere pulled in an impressive 5.145%. All aboard for Signal!

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Royal Pirates – “Run Away” [ Download ]

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EPISODE 1 RECAP

July 29, 2000. In a rowdy elementary schoolyard, a girl looks curiously at the only boy not playing with the other kids. Her friendly smile is met with rebuff. Seeing as he’s still in his normal clothes, he must be a loner.

She seemingly disappears for a moment before reappearing with a tennis racquet so they can play together. He silently rejects this kind gesture as well.

It’s raining heavily by the time school lets out, and the boy waits to leave until the other students have left with their parents. The girl is still there when he heads out, so he timidly hides his umbrella behind him. Again, she smiles at him.

He runs out into the rain instead, leaving her surprised and hurt. He briefly stops to stare at a finely dressed woman with red lips and heels — she’s been standing there since school ended — and turns his head once more to see the girl leave with the woman.

The boy doesn’t think much of it until he eats dinner at home alone and sees the news report that the girl Yoon-jung has been kidnapped. Reporters swarm around the school entrance the next day to inquire about the door, but the sight brings up terrible memories for the boy: screaming for his convicted hyung, being separated from his mother.

He’s confused when he hears that the prime suspect is a young man, when he definitely saw that a woman took Yoon-jung. He tries pleading with the police at the station, but his efforts are futile.

After Yoon-jung’s body is discovered, the police continue their search for her murderer. The primary suspect flees, and the months and years pass by as the boy sees Yoon-jung’s mother standing outside the police station to publicize her daughter’s case.

Over the years, we see that the boy who gets into fights at school grows into a young man who gets into fights at the pool hall. A news reporter states that the statute of limitations on Yoon-jung’s murder runs out on July 29, 2015—a date indicated in red as “The End” on a calendar.

July 27, 2015. D-3 until the statute of limitations expires. That little boy is now known as profiler PARK HAE-YOUNG (Lee Je-hoon) who goes snooping around for celebrity gossip. His most notable find to date: that actors Im Shi-wan and Kang So-ra are an item (hello Misaeng callback!).

Rather than today’s celebrity couple reveal, the reporter is more interested in how Hae-young knew to be at the right place at the right time to blow the stars’ cover. As Hae-young launches into his lengthy explanation, he doesn’t miss the woman walking into the cafe.

The details are astute and precise, from Im’s concert schedule to the psychological reasoning behind the time and location of their secret date—dark and secluded. It’s certainly impressive, but Hae-young isn’t done yet; he’s got more dirt… this time on Ji Sung and Lee Bo-young.

Before he can answer how he knows they’re dating (is this a world where they’re not married yet?), the woman answers, “By looking through the trash.”

This is detective CHA SOO-HYUN (Kim Hye-soo), who then takes Hae-young downtown. He’s affronted when he hears that he’s been marked as a stalker, and defends that his actions are no more offensive than a bum digging through trash.

He may be a cop (a lieutenant, at that) but he isn’t some pervert nor is he collecting money in exchange for tips—it’s just a hobby, Hae-young retorts. He scoffs at how his actions are harmful to an officer’s “dignity”, pointing out how the huge stacks of cases on Soo-hyun’s desk is evidence that she’s detaining him to lessen her casehold.

Furthermore, he plucks a picture of Batman from her desk to show that people like her always carry something to justify themselves. He moves on to the other cop’s desk because he’s sure that Lee Bo-young’s manager is among his contacts. This all means they were keeping tabs on him on said manager’s request. Why else would a violent crimes detective deal with him?

Soo-hyun knocks Hae-young off of his soapbox with the rejoinder that no cop is dignified—why, he stooped low enough to dig up trash. Just then, they’re interrupted by a call informing them that Lee Bo-young’s side has dropped the charges. She immediately calls Hae-young’s bluff to report them to their superiors, saying that it’ll only end up in embarrassment for him.

Her stare is unwavering, so Hae-young collects his things and walks out, though it’s Soo-hyun who has the final word: Find a new career path because he isn’t cut out to be a cop.

Hae-young doesn’t get very far before he realizes that these empty halls feel much too familiar. When he turns the corner to the elevator and the grandfather clock, he imagines his younger self seemingly looking back at him.

The camera pans around, and we’re back in the past again: A younger Hae-young crashes into an officer in the stairwell but doesn’t stop. Unbeknownst to him, he loses the note he’d tightly gripped in his hand.

August 3, 2000. Five days and five hours following Yoon-jung’s abduction. The briefing is held by the detective we saw earlier: LEE JAE-HAN (Jo Jin-woong). Here are the details: a ransom note was discovered approximately an hour after Yoon-jung was reported missing; they identified a suspect—medical student Seo who suffers from debt and is already on the run.

Director of Investigations KIM BUM-JOO (Jang Hyun-sung) remarks that the world is littered with bad people and criticizes the team for being unable to nab the suspect. Jae-han says he found that Seo had a girlfriend who bought many a luxury item with his credit card, but her identity is yet unknown.

Knowledge of a new ransom note comes in just then, and Jae-han argues that he can’t shake off the feeling that Seo is just a red herring. Only a thumbprint was found on the initial ransom note and on the table at the cafe—it’s as if someone deliberately framed him.

He believes they should look into the girlfriend, a lead that Director Kim says he can dig up on his own and advises that Jae-han watch his back. He’s alone when Soo-hyun drops by in her police uniform, and just as she’s about to bring up a previous conversation they had, Jae-han says they can talk after the weekend, once this case is over.

He places a hand on her shoulder, and she smiles. With that, we briefly transition back to the present, as Soo-hyun tucks the Batman picture on her desk and organize her caseload.

We then cut back to the year 2000, as a young Hae-young retraces his steps back to the police station for the fallen note an hour later. Speaking of which, Jae-han reads the note in his car, about how the kidnapper was in fact a woman.

Jae-han looks at his walkie-talkie before driving off to follow a lead: a note indicating today’s date and a rundown Seonil Psychiatric Hospital. Over in the year 2015, Hae-young gripes over a parked truck blocking his car and Soo-hyun reviews her cases.

When the clocks hit 11:23 PM in both timelines, Jae-han speaks into his two-way radio. Hearing the static, Hae-young follows the voice and listens as Jae-han reports that he’s found Seo’s body hung from a waste disposal railing with a missing thumb.

Wide-eyed, Hae-young digs through the trash bag to find a walkie-talkie from which Jae-han’s voice states that Seo was killed and made to look like suicide and that Yoon-jung’s murderer is someone else.

Speaking into the radio, Hae-young demands to know who’s on the other end of this transmission. Just as Jae-han responds, a shadow moves behind him. Creepy. When he asks (who he thinks is another cop) why he was advised not to come here, the shadow hits him over the head.

Hae-young hears the noise from his end, but his demands to know who he’s speaking to goes unanswered. He tries literally slapping himself out of it, only to wince from the pain. Heh.

After seeing Yoon-jung’s mother still standing outside, Hae-young heads back to his precinct where he learns that the old walkie-talkie doesn’t even have any batteries. He tucks it into his drawer, but then recalls Jae-han’s voice about the suspect Seo.

Next thing we know, Hae-young breaks into the long abandoned psychiatric hospital. He walks through the grimy, cobwebbed halls towards the back of the hospital. He stops short upon seeing the grate, remembering that this is where the voice said he discovered the body.

Hae-young musters up the courage to step forward and shine his flashlight into the grate. Nothing. He wonders what the hell he’s doing, following a voice from a walkie-talkie that shouldn’t even work. Figuring that he’s wasting his time, he doubles back…

… and that’s when he sees another grate. Deciding to check it out, Hae-young peers in, then jumps back in alarm. When he shines his flashlight over it again, we see it: a noose and a skeleton. And what does Hae-young do? He runs.

Forensics is on the scene the next morning, and Soo-hyun walks up to a jumpy Hae-young to ask how he discovered the corpse and why he called her. He knows it’s going to sound crazy, but he asks that the team test the skeleton’s DNA to suspect Seo who was linked to Yoon-jung’s kidnapping-murder fifteen years ago.

The forensic pathologist states that it may not be who Soo-hyun is looking for, but this man was in his 20s when he died and his thumb was likely forcibly sliced with a scalpel. Hae-young, meanwhile, can’t believe that none of the detectives named Lee Jae-han know nothing about Yoon-jung’s murder. “Was he a ghost then?” he asks.

He barely has a moment to entertain the thought that he might actually be crazy before Soo-hyun grabs him and asks how he knew that was Seo’s body. That’s news to him, and Soo-hyun sorts through her mind of how the police only found Seo’s thumbprint fifteen years ago, and now his body is missing an appendage.

According to that logic, the only person who knew where Seo’s body was has to be his murderer. But how did Hae-young know?

Their standoff is interrupted by Section Chief AHN CHI-SOO, who leads the Special Crimes Squad. He’s also the cop who got up in Jae-han’s face about investigating the Yoon-jung case on his own. Section Chief Ahn demands all the paperwork on Seo, and before Hae-young can protest, Soo-hyun beats him to it.

They need to find out who truly killed Seo, she argues, but Section Chief Ahn shuts her down. There’s less than 29 hours before the statute of limitations on this cold case expires—does she honestly believe she can figure it out before then?

Hae-young is appalled when Section Chief Ahn snatches the paperwork out of her hands, but there’s nothing he can do about it.

Section Chief Ahn beelines for Director Kim’s office and reports that Jae-han’s hunch was right: Seo’s skeleton was missing a thumb. Director Kim asks if Section Chief Ahn is prepared to open the can of worms by going public with this info because they’ll need to address Jae-han’s case too. Why? What else happened that night in 2000?

Hae-young confronts Soo-hyun at the police station to state that yes, he saw the actual person responsible for Yoon-jung’s kidnapping-murder. He adds that he didn’t quite see her face, but it was indeed a woman who took Yoon-jung.

When asked why he didn’t come forward earlier, Hae-young spits back that he tried, but no one took notice of him. Still, he naively believed that the police would find the kidnapper, but as time went on, nothing happened.

So when he was older, he returned to the police, only to be dismissed once more. And it was only then he learned why his voice was never heard—because to re-open a case means that the police would have to admit they were wrong. “Because the police would have to wear shame on their faces!”

As Director Kim walks outside the station to face a ragged-looking Yoon-jung’s mother, Hae-young asks bitterly, “Will you also pretend not to hear me like the other detectives did?”

He follows her when Soo-hyun walks past him without an answer, and she explains why working on cold cases is the worst: unlike other cases, you don’t know who killed your loved ones and why, which essentially makes each day like living in hell.

In the sight of the reporters, Director Kim hands over the autopsy results on Seo with the public apology that Seo ended his life shortly after the crime. Yoon-jung’s mother breaks down in tears.

“So are you going to close the case then?” Hae-young asks. “No, I’m saying I’ll catch her,” Soo-hyun replies. But that isn’t a good enough answer for Hae-young, who demands to know how Soo-hyun plans to catch a woman he barely saw on her own.

“Let’s do it together. I’ll help you,” he pleads. She flatly refuses, reminding him that he’s not fit to be a cop. She tries to get through the swarm of reporters downstairs, and when one of them asks if the police is certain that Seo committed suicide, Hae-young declares, “No, it wasn’t suicide.”

The swarm surrounds Hae-young, who boldly asserts that Seo was killed by Yoon-jung’s murderer. He names himself as the one who found the body and describes the true killer as a female nurse in her 30s who worked at the old Seonil Psychiatric Hospital.

The reporters eat up all the information Hae-young provides, and he declares open war against the murderer—the truth will come out soon enough.

Soo-hyun finally gets through the crowd to grab Hae-young by the shirtfront. “You said you’d catch her. This is the only way,” he defends. They’ve only got 27 hours left, so this is their final shot.

Director Kim’s smug face falls when he sees the shocking news report on TV that directly contradicts his own statement. Section Chief Ahn tenses. In a hospital, a female nurse backs away slightly when she hears Hae-young’s public declaration of war.

The nurses start whispering about who worked at Seonil Psychiatric, and the camera hones in on one nametag: Kim Se-young.

When Section Chief Ahn storms into the station, Soo-hyun immediately stands up for Hae-young. She defends the idea that she was following procedure, and Hae-young says he saw the culprit.

He can estimate the woman’s height based on the jungle gym and wore fancy clothes. Seeing as she’d kidnap a little girl, the killer likely suffers from narcissistic personality disorder and intended to act alone because she wouldn’t trust anyone.

But if Seo came home to see what she had done, he may have demanded her to turn herself in, and she could’ve killed him out of anger. She would’ve chosen a familiar place—her old workplace, Seonil Psychiatric—and used lethal injection since Seo could physically overpower her.

Hae-young’s tone becomes more heated as he explains that unlike her flashy attire, the woman kept her nails clean. This means her profession restricted her from manicures and her skill with a scalpel increases the chances of her being a nurse who works in the operating room.

When Section Chief Ahn asks Soo-hyun believes these groundless claims, Soo-hyun says it all adds up: the body was found in a secluded, restricted area of the hospital grounds, and the cause of death and missing appendage were confirmed by forensics.

Soo-hyun has documentation to show that there were only two female doctors when Seonil Psychiatric Hospital shut down and neither fit the criteria. Furthermore, Seo’s credit card purchases aligns with the shopping habits of a woman in her 20s…. which puts the killer in her mid-30s, just like Hae-young described.

Section Chief Ahn is doubtful that that’s enough to catch the murderer, because that description could apply to hundreds of women. “Do you intend to meet them all?” “You don’t have to,” Hae-young says.

He made that announcement so that the public could help him dwindle those numbers for him. We see that it worked because a nurse at Youngin Hospital remembers that Kang Se-young used to work at Seonil Psychiatric, but no one has made a call to the police yet.

Hae-young claims that there needs to be a window of time for co-workers to spot any suspicious behavior—once they spot it, they’ll make the call. In addition, he exaggerated about having irrefutable evidence so that the murderer would think her cover’s about to be blown.

She’ll naturally act out of character, and that’s how they’ll know. A call comes in just then, followed by another. Soo-hyun turns to Section Chief Ahn for the green light to follow up on this case—it only takes one piece of evidence to find their killer. When she doesn’t get an answer right away, Soo-hyun says she’ll take full responsibility if things go south.

But Section Chief Ahn takes that burden off her shoulders and repeats that her team has 24 hours to find irrefutable evidence or get a confession. 20 hours before the statute of limitations is up, Hae-young confirms that the credit card usage fits the description.

The female murderer loves luxury items, follows fashion trends, and likely carries a compact mirror for vanity reasons. The first lead is a bust, as Hae-young notes that a narcissist wouldn’t care about another life, let alone a pet.

We see that Kang Se-young is already on the road, and her supervisor Nurse Yoon, contemplates whether to make the call. D-6 hours, and none of the leads have gotten the cops anywhere until they get a call from Youngin Hospital.

Following up on that lead finally gets them somewhere: a calendar with the days marked down to July 29, and more importantly, a pair of red heels. Soo-hyun and Hae-young try to get updates while they’re stuck in traffic, though they’re told that Kang Se-young is still missing.

They let out a frustrated sigh when they find out that Kang has checked into a hotel in Busan. Since time is of the essence, Section Chief Ahn demands that they get in contact with the Busan police force.

They finally make it back to the station with one hour and forty minutes remaining, but neither of them can bring themselves to say anything to Yoon-jung’s heartbroken mother. The good news is that they have Kang Se-young in custody, but they’ve got less than 90 minutes to get a confession out of her.

In the interrogation room, Soo-hyun cuts right to the chase, though Kang denies killing anyone and claims not to know who suspect Seo was. She asks why Kang ran for it following the news broadcast, but Kang refutes that too.

Hae-young is told to go home now that it’s nearly over, but he doesn’t understand why someone obsessed with brand name clothes would leave her flashy red heels behind. So he asks the detectives if they saw what kind of shoes she was wearing.

Upon hearing that they were tan, Hae-young bursts into the interrogation room and confirms that they have the wrong woman. Everything in that locker suggests that the owner is left-handed, and it dawns on Soo-hyun that it could be the woman who called…

… as Nurse Yoon abandons her cell phone and puts on red lipstick in her car. Turns out she’d seen Kang Se-young freeze in place because they both worked at Seonil Psychiatric. So Nurse Yoon had given Kang the day off so she freely could switch the locker nametags and call it in just before the deadline.

So Kang Se-young was simply a red herring to waste the police’s time. “I was wrong,” Hae-young cries. “I was so sure that she’d run. But she misled us because we were impatient and desperate.” Oh god, how creepy is that stare over the cop’s shoulder?

“We cannot let it end like this,” Hae-young strains. Nurse Yoon must think that she’s manipulating the police like marionettes, and he’s positive that she must be nearby, enjoying the show.

Hae-young dashes out of the station and into the rain, while Soo-hyun makes the call to review the hospital’s CCTV shortly after the police dropped by.

D-40 minutes. After scouring the footage, the security team finds footage of Nurse Yoon getting into her car. At the same time, Hae-young stops running and then looks up to right where Nurse Yoon is sitting, warm and dry.

Hae-young runs upstairs to find her seat empty and hurries to chase Nurse Yoon out into the street. He tries braving oncoming traffic but to no avail, and can only watch as Nurse Yoon clicks her heels away from him.

A truck obstructs his view, and when it finally drives off, Hae-young sees Nurse Yoon… with Soo-hyun standing two feet from her. Hae-young catches up to them, and Nurse Yoon looks at him with a look of contempt.

 

COMMENTS

Be still, my beating heart because that was awesome. Not that I’d expect any less from a solid director like PD Kim Won-seok (Misaeng, Sungkyunkwan Scandal) and a veteran writer like Kim Eun-hee (Three Days, Sign, Ghost). Still, I wanted to approach Signal with the same kind of cautious optimism as I would with any other project, and man… my hands are still shaking from the intensity of this first episode.

So despite the episode length (76 minutes), it really did feel like every minute was meant to be there, almost to the point where it was frantic to cram as much information in to lay down the narrative groundwork. More importantly, as a viewer, the episode didn’t feel any longer than any other standard 60-minute episode. I consider that a huge plus, since sometimes getting through an hour feels like pulling teeth. This all goes to say how engaging the storyline is from the beginning, something I hope will continue for the rest of the series.

Speaking of which, I have to admit that the two-way radio connecting the past and present premise to solve cold cases reminds me a lot of the 2000 film Frequency (in short, it’s about a father and son who communicate through radio to find Dad’s murderer). The jury’s out on how Signal will carry on this connection, and if Hae-young will be the only one who hears Jae-han’s voice or if Soo-hyun will hear it as well. Which brings me to the whole mystery surrounding Jae-han, because while he’s alive and well in 2000 (save for the blunt injury to the head), he’s spoken of like a memory in 2015. It’s safe to say that we’ll see far more of Jo Jin-woong since he’s the link to the past, but what happened to him in the interim is still shrouded in mystery.

On a technical note, you may notice that the video aspect ratio appears different whenever we’re in the past. Characters’ faces appear thin and/or stretched, and if you were to ask me why that’s the case, I honestly wouldn’t be able to tell you. There could be a number of reasons behind it, from a deliberate choice on the PD’s part or a rookie editor who pressed a wrong button. For the purposes of not making our characters look like they went through the stretcher, I’ll be tweaking the screencaps in the recaps.

That aside, there’s so much to learn about our characters themselves, especially in Lee Je-hoon’s character Hae-young. His ties to our other detectives may start with Yoon-jung’s case, but his frustration towards the police is a longstanding one that originates to the snippets of his past. As a timid child, his voice went unheard, and even now as a bold young cop, his claims aren’t always taken seriously. His career as a profiler makes him an interesting character with high intelligence and keen observational skills. When finding Yoon-jung’s kidnapper, I loved how we could see how surprised he was that his details matched up with other kinds of evidence, and conversely, how grave his own errors can be. His mile-a-minute delivery makes me wonder how much the people around him actually pick up, but I get it—there’s a lot of information to dump with so little time.

I do like his rapport with Kim Hye-soo’s character Soo-hyun, a no-nonsense veteran detective who will stand up for what she believes is right. Mostly I like how dogged Hae-young is when he finds out that someone will actually listen to him, and how she doesn’t put up with Hae-young’s petulant tendencies. Soo-hyun’s ties to Jae-han are more unclear (though the official character descriptions give it all away) but there are hints that she regards him as more than just a sunbae.

This is all to say that I like what I see in Signal so far, from its solid storytelling to its intriguing characters. So you can count my fingers crossed, and hope that we’re in for one helluva ride.

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Yes I have been waiting for this Thanks gummimochi now off to read :)

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This show is very interesting so far I rather like the premise and I cannot wait for what it's to come. I have never seen frequency but I guess I should watch it now.

In what concerns about the choice in ratio aspect of the past I feel like it is very much done on purpose. It really gives the feeling of watching an old movie. I might be wrong but I think the movie "Memories of murders" also used this aspect ratio and the stories are somewhat connected as they both are based on the same murders.

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I do wonder about the choice in aspect ratio, and playing the episode on only one of these makes the other look wonky. Hopefully the screencaps will make up for this difference!

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We might find out if they decide to make a behind the scenes special and explain their choices, I noticed a difference in those scenes they did look different but I couldn't put my finger on it until you said they looked like their faces were elongated. But to me it looked like those old movies, it was also most likely do to the filter they were using.The past looks yellowish while the present looks more blueish.

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But you know it is up to you how you post the pictures, I am not against that, I was just kind of guessing why indeed they chose that. :)

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Thanks for confirming it wasn't weirdness on the part of the streaming service app!

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Thank you so much gummimochi!

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Yay! Thank you.

I hope it'll stay this good or better. I don't have the heart to be critical cause I love this main cast to pieces.

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The writing is a bit weak but it's not that bad, and I think the cast will balance it out (I love them too!). Plus Kim Won-seok might be a little overrated, but at the end of the day, he's a good, solid PD, and so far he wins at style points.

My biggest concern coming out of the first episode is how thin Jo Jin-woong has gotten lol (I thought he was quite cute when he was chubby). On a more serious note, I'm definitely hoping for a little more out of this once it gets going, but I agree, it's fine as it is now.

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I was surprised with his weight loss! He totally lost a LOT of weight so now he looks even taller.

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Yeah, I thought his character was going to be from the sixties, so I kept holding out for him to show up and squinting at the guy in the 90s going, is that reaaaaally JJW?

He does look tall.

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I thought Jo Jin-woong was stunningly sexy in A Hard Day. So suave, smooth and deliciously evil. So his weight loss is a bit concerning as I think chubby guys are quite cute as well. But he looks good with the weigh loss none the less, not emaciated and in dire need of a good meal.

I really enjoyed the first episode and am looking forward to seeing how it is going to develop.

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Yeah, at least it looks like he lost weight the right way. I just hope he did it for himself and didn't feel pressured by the culture of thinness in the industry lol. I guess I'm just a little sad--he was very cute lol.

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Yes there certainly is just as much pressure on men in the industry as women by the culture of thinness. I think of So Ji-sub and Lee Jun-ki as examples of actors who are just too skinny today for my taste compared to the SJS of Cain and Abel and the LJK of Time Between Dog and Wolf. But an actor like Jo Jin-woong has made his name in character parts, not as leading man material (although I wouldn't be complaining if he was cast as the romantic male lead because, to me, he's sexy!) so his weight isn't so much of an issue for the parts he is up for. If it's a personal choice for his health etc that he has lot the weight, though, good for him!

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Love him in Hard Day :). Some of his performance!

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*best*

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yeah, I think episode 2 is where things will really kick off, with the eponymous signal finally coming into play.

I've just come off season 2 of Fargo (FANTASTIC series btw) so I can't possibly expect this to be even close to as good as that, but it has the potential to be good in its own right.

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I would like to answer with the obligatory "Yah, you betcha there! it's good," but I haven't gotten around to watching it yet lol. I really loved the movie, that's for sure. I'm just so behind on western TV.

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I watch BBC and Jimmy Fallon for laughs and that's it. I haven't seen Fargo (movie) yet.

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The movie is good. I think it's one of the Coen brothers' better films.

I watched Mad Men but that ended last year. Now I just watch BBC (mostly older stuff) and Orphan Black. Sometimes I'll go back and revisit old favorites, like Buffy, Star Trek or the X-Files, but that's pretty much it. I should really pay more attention lol--there's a lot of amazing stuff going on with western TV right now.

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btw, you don't have to watch the movie or even Season 1 of the show first - Season 2 stands as an independent story in its own right but I guess knowing the movie and especially season 1, makes for some nice easter egg experiences.

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Yes he dropped a lot of weight and even more noticeable now in a full episode compared to the trailer.
I thought he looked great as Warrior Moo-hyul in TWDR. He was chubby but fit.

I'm just nervous about the writer more than anything because this is the kind of genre where we pay attention to details and it's easy to find fault with the writing. This cast is capable, director is reliable so I hope it'll be good. I'll take decent too lol.

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Moo-hyul <3

Yeah, I'm kind of nervous too. In the first episode I thought the PD and the cast did enough to make things feel pretty tense even if the twists felt kind of obvious, but in the long run, the writing is going to matter a lot more.

Yeah, basically the bottom line for me is it has to stay watchable. It'll be a huge waste of talent if it doesn't (kind of like the last drama Lee Je-hoon starred in lol).

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Secret Door *facepalm* I was so excited for that show but...

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Secret Door is still the biggest disappointment sageuk to me. I wish I could block it from my memory.

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@Kiara @earthna. Yes, me three. The first five episodes or so were so good...I don't know what happened. The second half of the drama put me to sleep, and sageuk never puts me to sleep lol.

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i was hoping this show would be recapped!

first episode was insane. just so. good. the cast is amazing. lee je-hoon was mesmerizing. i was very aware that he was intense and dramatic, but none of it felt off or unnatural or overdone. he just reeled me in.

jo jin-woong—great actor. great to watch. DAMN he's really slimmed down. i first saw him in that family weekend drama i believe in love or something a few years ago. then i started seeing him here and there in movies and dramas and he's been getting slimmer and slimmer. practically a whole different person now, and can pull off the badass charismatic cop thing convincingly.

super keen to see where this show goes. we already seem to have our murderess, so there must be a whole lot more. i'm sort of getting god's gift vibes, which is not a bad thing, so long as the the ending holds up...

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new drama crack hehehehe

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Not a huge fan of detective dramas, but I am loving this so far. Such a solid drama, please don't turn into Remember and let the plot disintegrate half way through the show's run.

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THIS WAS AN AWESOME EPISODE!!!! THANKS FOR THE RECAP!

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After the two episodes, I can say Signal is absolutely thrilling. My heart rate was racing and sped up as the mystery in the episodes escalate and more looks into the key characters are revealed.

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I was torn between watching Signal or Madame Antoine but I have enough of romance on my plate and need something serious. I haven't seen an episode or read the recap (no to spoilers) but from the various comments and praises this show is getting, it won't disappoint.

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YAY! this is just what I have been craving.

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Thanks gummi.. I was waiting for a recap so as to decide whether to start this show or not. It sounds promising so I am off to watch the first 2 episodes now :)

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I liked it. It was a good first episode and it made me watch the next ep. raw because I wanted to know what happened next. The PD is good as always, and the writing's good too (though this is the first time I've liked her work). I just found Lee Je-hoon to be kind of overacting sometimes or maybe kind of exaggerated in how he talks but all in all a good show to follow.

This show reminded me of the film Frequency. I hope the thrills continue on, and since they're basing the show on something that happened in real life, I'd like it if they have a fictional resolution instead of leaving the case unresolved.

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I agree that Le Jehoon seem to be overacting in the first episode, but he's a really good actor. I think he'll make adjustments and get better in the upcoming episodes.

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The subs for ep 2 is out.. go watch it.. if you havent watch this episode, go watch it.. this drama's really good!!

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Yes! I'm so happy this is getting recapped. I needed other people to share my feels with.

The transitions from past to present can get confusing but I got used to it after a while. Ohhhh the acting is just superb! I had wine while watching this but this episode was so intense, I got sober midway. lol. That nurse was hella scary.

I just want a happy ending for Jaehan whether he's dead or alive somewhere. Please let us see him until the end. Jo Jin Woong is straight up Oppa level now. I can't handle my feels.

Thanks for the recaps gummi!

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impessive start ! thanks for the recap. Good start and storyline

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Damn Lee Je Hoon is awesome. Thank you gummimochi for recapping this. Episode 2 is even better.

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so. good. i saw k-netizens comment that it feels like you're watching BBC's Sherlock, and i get that vibe too. i'm optimistic about the writing actually - love the entire concept. it was so intense i had to pause a little just to gather myself together.

soo-hyun is badass, i love that woman. i was dying of happiness because in the crime drama scene, we need to have more female cops that are strong, intelligent, and not afraid to stand their ground. (i mourn kang ye won's character in OCN's Bad Guys... it could have been much better).

the directing is really great though. i had my hopes up already because it's Misaeng's PD, and i adore Misaeng's entire cinematography + music (practically everything, really). so to have this show meet the expectations was just so satisfying. so far, i think the past-present thing is handled quite nicely; i actually really loved the transitions. and yeah -- i noticed something different about the video aspect ratio for the scenes in the past; it seemed like a conscious choice to me but we'll see.

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Wow some people are comparing it to Sherlock (I am not sold ) really ? that is totally unexpected ..signal is totally good the characterization and directing I agree,but that is going a bit overboard..

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yeah, Signal is a lot better than your average Korean detective drama, but comparisons to Sherlock of all series (especially the first season) are really going overboard - nothing here matches the sheer commanding presence of Benedict Cumberbatch, or his rapport with Martin Freeman.

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Agreed every word you mentioned,Benedict and Martin are impeccable ..Sherlock is another league ..you know what I meant right ?

And yes signal is so much better then your average korea dramas (I love them,I am an addict ) but please don't compare it to Sherlock that's it ..

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Benedict and Martin are just too good for words.

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Sherlock is solid as can be from Season 1 to 3. Steven Moffat is a brilliant writer. This writer has nothing on him so I wouldn't compare the 2 series.

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yeah Sherlock is far from perfect but this is not even in the same league - if it turns out good, it can join the ranks of the really good j-procedurals like BORDER (they have a similar supernatural element involved in crime-solving), but certainly not legendary dramas like Sherlock, The Killing or even Fargo/True Detective 1.

I wasn't quite feeling Lee Je-hoon this ep, but I think that will fade as he settles into his role.

(and I find it funny how almost the entire cast of Coin Locker Girl has now been on tvN simultaneously/in very close proximity. Go Kyung-pyo, Park Bo-gum and even Lee Soo-kyung in Answer Me 1988, Kim Go-eun herself in Cheese in the Trap, and now Kim Hye-soo in Signal)

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@kiara yes comparison is not acceptable here true he is just brilliant
@pogo true detective season one is kickass ..and how you mentioned about coin locker girl yes I just noticed what a coincident

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Misaeng was pretty much a flawless series, the writing, directing, acting and visualisation of that world were just so perfectly executed - I can't possibly expect the same of this, but it is really good.

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absolutely loving this drama right now. Very interested about je hoon's character and his past regarding his brother's convictions. I absolutely find his psychoanalysing and profiling soooo fascinating haha it may be a bit early to say, but heck, i think this is my new favourite drama :)

I hope you continue to recap the next eps ^^ love hearing your thoughts :)

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Why choose married couple Ji Sung and Lee Boyoung??
There better be an explanation in the later episodes...

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Just "wow" haven't seen it, but just by reading it from the recaps made me felt like I run a mile!! Great start SIGNAL!!

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I really liked the opening week even if I was confused and a bit put off by the second half of episode one through the first half of two, but by the end in my opinion we're back on track.

I loved the opening background sequence I loved that it had minimal dialogue mostly background chatter just letting the letting the actors tell the story by acting for the most part.

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My heart was beating so fast just from reading the recap..i think i will give it a try...

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Am I watching a movie or a korean drama?? It's so intense, I couldn't even move from my seat!

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I love this drama, This drama is a powerful healer, I was finally able to escape from the shadow Replay 1988. I love Lee Je Hoon i know him when he play with Yoo ah in at Fashion king. He great actor with strong characher.

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I watch the first episode and it makes my heart race as the clues comes up. Totally a must watch

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http://kkuljaem.blogspot.com/2016/01/spoilers-madame-antoine-pilot-signal_22.html?m=1
^ some knetz comments there!

Yeah, some really are likening it to watching Sherlock. I do get a similar "this is such a brilliant treat to watch" from Signal though, but I'm still a little bit cautious about the comparison. Sherlock is just awesome in so many ways - if Signal can eventually reach similar heights I would be deeply impressed.

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Thanks gummimochi!

Fantastic start! I was sitting on the edge of my seat and quite ready to jump and scream at the end if Nurse Yoon was not there. So much stress and tension over a show! LOL.

Just a minor nit-pick over the unbelievably amazing ability of our profiler who could determine with so much assurance a narcissistic personality from that one glance at Yoon and that one kidnapping. The success in apprehending Yoon totally hinged on that, so ok, I guess we'll go with it. :)

From the recap it sounded like the supernatural connection between Jae Han and Hae Young was a first time for Hae Young, but not necessarily for Jae Han. Jae Han addressed him as Park from the very beginning, expecting him to understand ... also Jae Han had that information that led him to the hospital. Could it have been one of those mind-scrambling, circular time travel cases where "one version of" Hae Young had told Jae Han where to go to find the body in a time before that night, although the version of Hae Young of that night, had yet to find the radio? So deliciously convoluted! :D

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I agree with your viewpoint. It seems to me that it's a repetitive time sequence thing, especially the 11:23 PM time. It can't be a coincidence. And Jae Han happens to be the man that Soo Hyun has feelings for and Soo Hyun is now working with Hae Young. I can't wait to know what happens when Soo Hyun discovers that Hae Young can talk to Jae Han from the past.

It does feel a bit creepy and scary. I better tell my best friend about this drama :D.

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Also, the drama is obviously about the real case in Korean. But the fact that Jae Han helped Hae Young to solve the abduction case and now Hae Young is helping Jae Han with the case AND they're connected by a walkie-talkie. I wonder how did the writer come up with these ideas aside from the movie Frequency and the real events. I just hope the drama won't disappoint me since I watched both Gap-dong and Memories of Murder.

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@ HANAZUMI

I'm glad you like this show too! And that's interesting... I didn't really read that up... what was the real case that this story was based on? Was it also a kidnapping and murder but without the time-warp-connection thing?

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So the current case in the drama Gyeongsan Nambu Serial Case is based on the real serial case called Hwaseong serial murders (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hwaseong_serial_murders). This case is very famous and well-known and tragic in South Korea for its method of operation. The criminal is believed to be a psychopath and the police still haven't caught the perpetrator. The statute of limitations ran out after 15 years. Wikipedia states that: "Ten women from the ages of fourteen to seventy-one were found gagged, raped, and murdered over a four-year, seven-month period in the rural city of Hwaseong in Gyeonggi Province. Most of the women were strangled to death by use of their own clothes, such as pantyhose and socks. The evidence compiled led to a description of a man in his twenties weighing between 165 and 170 pounds and having the blood type B based on forensic testimony."

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"Just a minor nit-pick over the unbelievably amazing ability of our profiler who could determine with so much assurance a narcissistic personality from that one glance at Yoon and that one kidnapping. "

He followed the case for 15 years and studied it for who knows how long. There's evidence in the ransom money and spending history (via her boyfriend's account). As a profiler and based on evidence, he's supposed to come up w/ different theories of a suspect's character, behavior pattern and motive. If he wasn't on point (and not all theories will be - which is why he missed the detail that maybe she wouldn't flee but would try to frame her co-worker), he wouldn't be a criminal profiler.

The time sequence reminds me a lot of Nine. It'll be interesting to see how they play w/ time and how the changes in the past will affect the future. I'm sure at some point, Hae-Young discovered that Jae-Han died at that moment, so he had warned him not to go to the hospital. Also, the only time they can communicate is at 11:23pm, so that time is really significant and I can't wait to find out!

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Oooh, I really enjoyed Nine : Nine Times TimeTravel (or whatever the show was called). It had one of the most interesting ways of going back to the past. And a version of the time travel paradox.

If in the past a person dies, how does his future self ever have existed to have gone back into the past?

We may have a mind-twisting time paradox here ... in this present Jae Han dies but after Hae Young knows when and how Jae Han dies, will he prevent his death in the next 'present time' that comes around? Didn't Jae Han also say something like, "Why did you tell me not to come to this place?"

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Nine was awesome and I actually did not expect them to have time paradox here, but it's a pleasant surprise and I'm curious to see how it'll unfold.

Yes, JH did say that, and I hope they can prevent his death.

I'm continuing the conversation in your other conversation below.

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@Growingbeautifully I noticed that too.That Jae Han started talking to Hae Young as usually,like he already knew who he was talking to..Also,I wonder if that was the first time for Hae Young was having this blast from the past phonecall,then who told Jae Han to go to that hospital,and who told him that it was not a good idea to go there?
That their interaction has happened before, was shown on episode 2,so here I'd be giving a bit of spoiler...
From the second episode we already know that Jae Han is aware of the fact that the conversations actually go 'backward in time'..So while for Hae Young the conversation started first in 2015 and then goes further,for Jae han the first interaction was on 2000 and then the second one occurred in 1989,so it's going backward for him.And the future Jae Han knows already that his past self would need to have a reminder from Hae Young about the fact that they know each other.Don't know if all these make sense lol.

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wow, this was much better than i expected....i got so hooked in the second half. It's so fast paced and intense.

But i noticed the idea of the plot is the same of this old hong kong tvb drama i watched, it had flora chan and kwok chun on in it, and it was about the hero being able to get through to his dad from like 20yrs ago or something like that through a walkie talkie. lol. but it was to prove his dads innocence in a case i think. (oh, just wiki'd title: To Get Unstuck In Time - anyone seen that?)

But this drama is executed so much better, and so much more interesting and captivating...i'm so addicted...haha

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I was so curious about this. Thanks for recapping!

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Thank you gummimochi!
I've just finished watching Signal ep 1 and 2. I can say for those 2 episodes, i'm impressed. I agree with your recap that the solid storyline so far is its strength. hope this will be consistent through out episodes *fingers crossed* I cant wait to learn more about the character and their connection.

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I wasn't interested in the premise before because I expected it to be like the movie Frequency. Well it did turn out to be pretty much like that Signal is so much more intense.

This is one of the best first episodes ever. It only took less than 5 minutes to make me all intrigued, scared (a bit. But everything feels so eerie) and absorbed. It was pretty heavy for a first ep; there was so many info and hints and well, feelings but I didn't feel overwhelmed at all. I was ready to take every single frame and word. The pace was amazing regardless of how fast Lee Jehoon talks (I get it though. It was necessary)

The characters are actually pretty basic, but the actors played them with such ease and heart that it doesn't matter anymore. I also love how the writers build the characters' relationship with each other. It feels incredibly natural. Haeyoung has so many layers I'm dying to peel off; I believe we're getting there since his past hasn't been completely revealed, and there's something that makes my heart breaks everytime I see Soohyun. She seems composed but also so broken, and while this also applies to Haeyoung (okay, he's not exactly 'composed', but you what I mean), there's this sorrow in Soohyun's eyes that I'm really amazed of. This probably relates to Jaehan since it's clear that something happens between them.

The writing isn't specifically special but the pace and the delivery are seriously superb and the whole plot is neat so far. I'm impressed. And I really love the directing too, especially how they create such a perfect solemn but chaotic scenes.

This ep was so good it's almost surreal but congratulations Signal you've made my list!

P.S. I was hoping Jang Hyunseung's character would be nice FOR ONCE but I guess I have to wait. Again.

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I can understand why Hae-Young speaks so fast (besides the fact that they have a limited time to solve the case). As a profiler, I'm sure the information in his head is going a mile a minute, and as he explains it to people, he's also working out the details out loud to himself. I think it's part of his character.

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Hey, he's nice in Heard it Through the Grapevine and The End of the World! But yeah, Jang Hyunsung does play the bad guy. A lot. He's really good at acting unpleasant, though, I have to say.

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I am so freaking excited for this drama. I loved the hong kong version and i'm sure this one will be a blast too

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Just finished this episode. What a ride, it was so intense my heart rate has gone through the roof and my palms are sweaty from clenching so hard. Love the cast! Thanks for the recap!
on a another note, the statute of limitations makes for a great suspensive storytelling, but I hate that there is still a statute of limitations on such a heinous crime.

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I wonder if some type of supernatural connection was established between Jaehan and Haeyoung when the latter lost the note he had written regarding the kidnapper being female and the former found it and took it with him. It is interesting that Jaehan was holding both Haeyoung's note and the anonymous hint leading him to the psychiatric hospital. Then, if I am not mistaken, when Jaehan is speaking through the walkie-talkie, doesn't he ask the person (Haeyoung) on the other end why he left him that tip about the hospital? Haeyoung is confused at that point because he doesn't know to what Jaehan is referring. Sorry if this doesn't make sense. I'm not sure how to formulate my thoughts at this point.

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I don't remember Jaehan asking HY about the tip, but Jaehan seemed to already know him.

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Something must've changed in the past which affected the sequence of events in the future, so the previous times they communicated were removed from HY's timeline.

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@ Peridot

Nice catch... yes, he was holding both notes. I was guessing that they both may have come from Hae Young of different times. Jae Han did seem to know to whom he was speaking... as if he'd been told in advance that on this day, at this time, you'll be talking to so-and-so on the walkie-talkie. And I re-watched that part... Jae Han said where he was ..."the place where you said..." So he did get his info from Hae Young!!! Circular, back-in-time communication with the possibility of a time paradox??!!

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Whoa, now that's food for thought.

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Hi gummimochi

Yes, this show really gets the thinking twisted - in a good way! :)

Knowledge paradox: Jae Han from the past can maybe get to tell "Version 1 Hae Young" (the one who does not know who Jae Han is) about stuff that the "Version 2 Hae Young" knew to tell him!!! So if the version 2 HY tells version 1 stuff, then surely crimes might have been prevented which would make it unlikely that he'd end up partners with Soo Hyun!!! Which then means he'd have no need to have come across that walkie-talkie! And everything we've seen didn't happen!!!

But since it seems to have happened, are we looping back in time? Discombobulation! LOL!

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It's crazy if both the tips (1. the murderer is a woman by young HY and 2. where her boyfriend's body is located by older HY) given at different times to JH finally comes full circle to exist in one time while he's talking to HY. That means three different time sequences came together in one event, right?

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Yes @ news! That's exactly right! Sooo intriguing how it's going to play out. Someone is supposed to die and because of the back-in-time communication, he/she doesn't... so what does that mean? Does the future present we have seen then, no longer exist as we saw it?

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Thank you, Growingbeautifully :)! LOL, I'm still not sure who left the tip about the hospital. But if another 'version' of Haeyong left it, then this story is becoming more and more interesting. I'm wondering if by the end of the show, the past will be changed so much that the little girl kidnapped by the nurse might have a second chance at life. I might have some additional comments after the the recap for the second episode is uploaded.

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I really hope both the little girl and JH will be saved.

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@Peridot @Growingbeautifully, could it be that there is a specific time limit between which both Jae Han and Hae Young would have memory of knowing each other? So if it's like a loop and when it gets expired,the two needs to remind the other one about the history they've shared so far?

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gummimochi ~

Thanks for the recap. Enjoyed it. Seemed more like a film rather than a tv drama. I enjoyed Kim Hye-Soo' s acting. The female child actor is busy, wasn't she in One More Happy Ending as well? Looking forward to the next recap.

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Hi John,

Yes the little girl was also in One More Happy Ending. So another show to watch with the wife? :)

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Kim Hye-Soo is my favorite so far.

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This is my new drama crack. I was so upset when I finished episode 2 and thought, DAMN! I have to wait a week now!"

This is one seriously well-written show. Even with the kdrama coincidences, the story is surprisingly organic and there isn't too much easy plotting. One of the reasons I couldn't watch Identity was how easily the experts figured stuff out and got to the bad guys. But this... yes...we have writer who has had time to think things through and get all the subtle twists and permutations on paper. Like Six Flying Dragons, this drama makes me feel I'm in good hands.

So many questions: who was the person who conked our Jae Jan on the head at the mental institution?

Will slackish lazy lout cop redeem himself and become a better cop in the end?

What will change in the future when all the world is set right?

How much does dying Jae-Han know about the frequency-style walkie-talkie?

I love time manipulation stories and now that we have Jae Han in three phases: Before the trauma on the head, suffering with trauma and possible death, and dead-and/or missing in the present, i'm waiting to see how it all will come out.

It took me a while to warm up to lady cop though. She is typical of these serious women cops...just a might too nasty and badass. I understand she met our hero under the wrong circumstances but really? Being badass doesn't mean nasty.

Other than that, it's looking so good! Thanks so much for the recap.

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I'm so hooked on this drama. The wait is seriously killing me. I noticed a lot of dramas lately that start amazing and then become really bad / meh during towards the ending. I hope this one won't turn out to be like that!

As for the stretched screen I'm pretty sure it is on purpose or that would be a really stupid mistake (episode 2 looks the same). I remember watching older Korean movies and they are generally stretched too.. Maybe to give it more of a film look to it.

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i was waiting for you to recap this. it was so good!!!

i kind of found our lead character kind of frustrating but i guess he's just very angry and hurt . i just wish he would stop lashing out and shouting everywhere lol.

kim hye soo my god i haven't seen her in anything before so i was blown away by her presence. i went on to watch coin locker after seeing her in this and holy crap she is amazing.

i also watched frequency after someone mentioned it in a post regarding this drama and it was a fantastic movie. i actually got goosebumps when jo jin woong was talking to him from the past totally gave me the chills in the way they did it.

ok now i'm going to go watch a hard day yay! :)

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please stay good please stay good!!!!

the story telling, cinematography and the performances so far are are so great. The first 1.5 episodes could have been a movie - so great.

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Loved the first episode. Reminds me of a favorite movie from the 90's -- FREQUENCY with Dennis Quaid and Jim Caviezel. Will be interesting to see how the interaction b/t past and present and any alterations to time line play out in the end in this drama.

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Reading all the comments...okay, so I have to watch this! Been in a funk after reply 88 is over...it's ridiculous, I was listening to its OST while doing weekly cleaning, and had to hold my tears for missing the characters!

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I had no idea Kim Hye-soo did dramas until now... I've only ever seen her in movies.

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"Don't come" -> "you are cordially invited" is the cue for brave solo cops, right?
just tryin' to think out loud, because this drama deserves a space in my head. Been a while since I enjoyed a drama episode this delicious. :>

But anyways, how come no one says anything about Siwan accused of being 'someone who's so full of himself'? TT He's angelic, why say things like that, writer-nim TT #fangirlhurt LOL

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Ok, I am trying SO HARD to find the beautiful song at the beginning of this episode (they play it again in epi two as well) but the ost isn't out yet and I can't find it anywhere.

Does anyone know the name of the song, or who sings it?? I would love to know!

Thanks in advance!

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got some real goosebumps in this episode. this seems like a strong one. I hope it keeps up. I just hate the "narcissist killer" arc - it's cliche and predictable.

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I'm not into horror one. And actually Signal is not kind of horror, maybe. This drama is so amazing that I should watch it with mirroring in this recap, start in that hall scene, if somehow suddenly someone or something appear, and my heart can't take that, lol.

So thank you very much @Gummimochi, you save me :'D

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This drama is SO good.

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Who is that stunning little girl that played Yoon-jung. She was gorgeous I hope she does a lot more work in the future! I was sick when I realized she was the murder victim. Perfect actress for creating a sympathetic character. I have to admit that Korea really gets great kids with a LOT of talent. This drama has me hooked!

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While I mostly read recaps only instead of actually watching the dramas (it swallows too much time while recaps are read in few minutes), Signal is one of hose rare gems I decided to pick to watch (and not dropping actually). Lee Young-Eun is the sole reason the drama got me hypedin the first place - she is so beautiful. I hope she can get a lead one day perhaps in a teen drama when she is older? Although she appered only briefly we need to give her a big credit :3 and great recap btw :)

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Wow wow wow

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