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Tell Me That You Love Me: Episode 1 (First Impressions)

Two artists cross paths on Jeju and again in Seoul at the start of an ever-so-slowly unfolding love story in ENA’s Tell Me That You Love Me. High on visual craftwork and low on verbal conversation, this one promises a lot of wandering, wondering, and longing — as well as some later-in-life love.

Editor’s note: Weekly drama coverage will continue.
 
EPISODE 1

Tell Me That You Love Me: Episode 1 (First Impressions)

If I didn’t already know this drama has the same director as Our Beloved Summer, I might have guessed it in the opening sequence. It’s got a similar palette and an artful eye for composition that gets right to the heart of the story.

In a series of intro shots, we see two side-by-side images of our leads in distinct locales, doing similar things at the same time. They’re both alone, introspective, writing or drawing, and looking out at the sea. Overtop, there’s voiceover, asking questions about love and difference, and whether or not it’s okay to be together when two people are very different. The whole setup tells us we’ll have to pay close attention to what’s on the screen and to the things that are not being said.

Finally the two frames join when the leads are on a beach and our heroine’s scarf blows over to our hero in the wind. He picks it up and returns it, she says thank you, and they go their separate ways. Over the next hour, we’ll slowly and quietly learn bits and pieces about their lives, as they glean things about each other.

JUNG MO-EUN (Shin Hyun-bin) is a former flight attendant who’s now struggling to be an actress. We see her on set at the beach, where she has no lines, but is fired from her role because she can’t convey the expression the director wants. Afterward, she decides to stay on Jeju for a few days to eat, walk, and vacation since she’s there anyway.

Tell Me That You Love Me: Episode 1 (First Impressions)

CHA JIN-WOO (Jung Woo-sung in a long-awaited return to dramaland) is an artist who appears to make his living by drawing and painting. He’s on Jeju sketching the scenery, and the two leads keep meeting each other as they walk around the island. Mo-eun tries to talk to Jin-woo on various occasions, not realizing he can’t hear.

One day, they’re both at the rooftop of a restaurant, when a kitchen fire sends smoke through the entire building and everyone has to evacuate. Jin-woo is gazing off the roof at whatever he’s drawing and doesn’t see everyone leave. Mo-eun, who’s just realized that he’s deaf, rushes against traffic to go back upstairs and help him get outside.

In his reluctance to move through the smoke, we get a glimpse of a flashback — and he appears to have some fire-related trauma that I’m sure we’ll get to know better later. But I have to say, this whole scene with the restaurant fire is presented as high drama and feels a bit disjointed from the rest of the episode, which is slight and seated in reality. The way the exaggerated action is jammed in here has me a little worried about what’s to come with the story.

Because of the smoke exposure, Mo-eun and Jin-woo end up side by side in the hospital. They begin to communicate through writing and texting, but he can also read lips, which is handy because she doesn’t know any sign language. When they leave, she’s hungry, but it’s late, so they go to where he’s camped out and cook ramen in the open air. He smiles, telling her, “It feels lively for the first time in a long time.” And I can only imagine how lonely he must be if sitting out there in the dark feels lively.

Tell Me That You Love Me: Episode 1 (First Impressions)

After they part, they’re still thinking of each other. She’s online studying a sign language dictionary and he’s picturing her face as she tried to coax him out of the fire. The next day, Mo-eun is leaving her hotel and finds that Jin-woo has left his sketchbook for her at the front desk. Inside, she sees a drawing of herself, standing on the beach the day she was fired. He took a photo of her then, not knowing she was being let go. On the drawing he’s written, “To Ms. Actress.” This means a lot to her since no one has ever called her an actress before (only an extra).

Three weeks later, they’re both back in Seoul and both still thinking of each other. They didn’t exchange names or contact info and it’s unlikely they’ll ever see each other again (in their minds, not in dramaland rules). We see Mo-eun struggle, working a waitress job in between going to her acting group and trying out for a role where she’s rejected, insulted, and then low-key sexually harassed.

Jin-woo seems established in his career already and we see him teaching art to a trio of young people, all communicating in sign language, where he tells them he’ll help them find their true selves. (An interesting storytelling note, in comparison with the recently aired drama Twinkling Watermelon, there is no voiceover for the sign language here, which I quite like.)

Then one night, on a street corner in Seoul, our leads spot each other. From the opposite side of the street, Mo-eun uses her newly learned sign language to say, “Hello.” We hear Jin-woo think, “I always thought I was the one who should make an effort to live in harmony with others.” He felt that way since most everyone around him can hear and he’s in the minority. But here Mo-eun comes and makes an effort to say hi to him first. He wants to like it — to make something of it — but tells himself that maybe he’s overthinking it.

That’s the close of Episode 1 and it hooked me right in. This is a slow story but it has the chance to unfold into something very lovely. Here are two people who feel beaten down by life. They’re older, not at the age for young love anymore, and each a bit lonely. But they’re thrown together by circumstance and have this inexplicable connection that both want to explore.

The reconnection in Seoul struck me as really beautiful — not for the connection itself — but his questioning of it. He can see she’s made an effort to learn how to communicate with him, which means she’s thought of him since they last met. But then he counters himself, not fully trusting what it might mean. And that slight insecurity has me invested already. I can’t wait to see what it means and how this romance will gently develop, maybe healing a little of that hurt, loneliness, and distrust.

Tell Me That You Love Me: Episode 1 (First Impressions)

There’s one other thing that has me fully intrigued and that’s Park Jin-ju playing Mo-eun’s housemate and bestie, OH JI-YOO. I’m a big fan of Park Jin-ju to begin with, but if I’m not mistaken, we have a side romance coming on in the noona department.

In a brief scene, Mo-eun’s younger brother, JUNG MO-DAM (Shin Jae-hwi) gets discharged from his military service and shows up at his sister’s house needing a place to stay. All we got was a few seconds of flirtatious dislike between Ji-yoo and Mo-dam, but that’s all I needed. Sold! See you next episode.

 
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It is melo and pretty moody. I approve ❤💯

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Is it a Melo? I guess @ndlessjoie was right in that I seem to be into Melos more than other genres. And yes, I approve of this 100%.

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The opening sequence is really reminiscent of Our Beloved Summer. I am a fan of the PD now and looking forward to more gorgeous scenes from this new drama. This is just the type of drama that you can savor and sit through on a cold night with hot cocoa as you look at the beautiful Jeju Island. It is still in the beginning stages of the story and they do return to Seoul. The bgm also adds to the melo mood perfectly and it just makes you want to see more.

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I also found the sounds of the waves very soothing in the scenes in Jeju.

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There is a 13 year age difference between the leads IIRC but it doesn’t get mentioned and this kind of relationship doesn’t have a name but the converse is mentioned and has a name. I look forward to a day when at least nominally, there is some parity.

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Blame that on the citizens and viewers themselves who cry and whine until a name is given. I'll never forget what they did to Crash Course In Romance.

My Dearest had a 13 and 10 year difference. Hospital Playlist had 11.

Let it be that the FL is a day older IRL and we'll have viewers clamoring for it to be termed a Noona romance.

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I loved every bit of this. My 1 year+ patience payed off well.

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I really liked the first episode. It was calm and sweet, totally my style. But the fire scene made me nervous, I don't want a big melodrama. I hope they keep the slice of life vibe to the max and the tragedy and/or trauma doesn't steal/become the whole show.

My favorite moments were
(1) the art class. The students are adorable, and the teacher too.
(2) the ML calling the FL an actress. That meant so much to her, it was beautiful watch her do the sign a million times.
(3) the FL practicing how to say "hello" and her name in sign language, like the title of the episode, "Greeting".

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I looked everywhere and I can’t find this show. Where is this streaming in the USA?

Is it going to randomly pop up under Hulu with zero fanfare and no advanced notice? Like all other Hulu Kdramas ?

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Still not on Hulu unless different name. So annoying!

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I’m watching Tell Me That You Love Me now on Hulu in US. I think it dropped Jan 24th here. I love it so far.

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The drama makes me feel that "not all those who wander are lost".

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Completely agree.

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Watching this Is like a balm to the soul, it’s gorgeous.

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This sounds like the perfect moody holiday watch for me... will wait for a few more episodes and then check it out before deciding if I like it. Thank you for the recap!

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I'm fangirl watching it for Jung Woo-sung. I'll give it 4 episodes plus the final episodes.
I'm burnt out after My Dearest.

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Sorry about the burn out. I dropped MD with only 4 episodes to go but am burned out too. This drama sounds like a good change of pace and does not require history lenses. Also Jeju. I will at least watch Ep. 1 for Jeju.

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Melo makes me want to run away. LOL
I'm enjoying "A Journey To Love." I've been waiting for it since it was announced. Liu Shi Shi is my wuxia girl, and so far so good. I ended up paying for a VIP account @ iQIYI. Silly things that I do when I'm bored.

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I still have 3 episodes of My Dearest to watch. I dont know how to finish them.

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Don't, period. That's how. 😅

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I love the first ep, if that indicates anything. ^^
It's just my type of shows, if you know what I mean.

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I liked it and I think Shin Hyun Bin is doing great here. She has good chemistry with Jung Woo Sung too. It is hilarious because they are fully misunderstanding each other, but it doesn't matter because they are communicating in other ways.

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In the first half of the first ep, her acting was superb to the point that I thought her acting was more natural than the ML's. But as the story progressed, I thought the ML's acting was more natural and consistent (which ofc, is what was expected of the actor). I thought the young actress who plays the FL here holds up to him well, though, which says a lot already. In all, I'm impressed with both. ^^

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The premiere treasure hunt watch. The first episode felt like a combination of OUR BLUES meeting ONE DAY OFF. Disabilities are rarely the centerpiece for a drama. Jung Woo-Sung’s return to the small screen with a quiet character is a challenge. I am not familiar with Shin Hyun-Bin but I read many believe she is an average actress (which ironically the role she is playing in this series). The slow pace and parallel missed connections suit the mood. This is not a forced destiny trope but an organic coincidence. Both leads are living their lives with their obstacles. Jin Woo has his passion for photography and art and he has a normal job teaching deaf students. Mo-Eun has a passion for acting but has no experience in emotional situations to convey it to casting directors so she is working at a restaurant and going to auditions. We know they can learn from each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

The quiet pace of the show does enhance the mood of the lead characters drifting through their barriers in life. The show did have many unique scenes of acknowledgement, acceptance and affection. What I like so far that the show is different than other conventional dramas.

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Shin Hyun Bin is good in more meatier roles perhaps. Her roles in Hospital Playlist and Reborn Rich were not very fleshed out. But she was pretty good in Reflection of You and Sunset in my Hometown (movie).

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I think she is doing a terrific job here, though I did agree that I didn't find her to be that interesting in HP.

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I agree with you. I couldn't get into any dramas this year (besides My Lovely Liar which I found the ML's overcoming his trauma cathartic), but I knew I found another one just a few minutes into this show. It is slow and gentle with few words spoken, but in that slowness and apparent silence so many things were conveyed and communicated among the two of them and between them and me, a viewer. It's like an art piece. I can't help but think @oldawyer might also like this.

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As a person who doesn't specially like Shin Hyun-Bin's acting, I found the scenes about her acting very funny, sadly not all the directors are so good :p

I like really like the fact they didn't use voiceover for the sign language, it's a better way to share at least a bit of his world.

For now, the episode rested only on the direction and the Magic of Jeju Island rather than the characters .

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I have considered for well over 20 years that Jung Woo-sung is the most handsome Korean man. I’m yet to find anyone who won’t find him attractive in A Moment To Remember - so gorgeous and sexy there.

Somehow, I’m not motivated to watch this. The trailer gives me the vibe of those Korean movies from 20 years ago. So, I’ll follow the Beanies verdict to decide if I’ll follow them to Jeju.

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I still consider Jung Woo-sung as one of the DB oppas I can almost hear JB and GF squeeing somewhere.😀

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I think he is a very charming and talented actor indeed! I think I’ll put him in the same level as KNG: super talented and handsome.

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Right? After many years in action movie, I still can't believe he will be accepting another melo drama script.
Gosh, his face expression and his hairstyle just right for this character! Swoonies 😍😍😍

I am glad to see another work by PDnim, as OBS is always on my top of my list. Cross-finger the writernim is doing fine as well (although I did not managed to finish all her works before) 🤞

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And to think about how much time he did spend to be able to look fluent in signing! That is some work and dedication there! The way he walked, with his showers leaning forward showing how not very confident he is, how his facial expressions are normally not showing feelings (unless he is with his good friends). This guy has a lot to give, doesn’t he? He is so so talented and dedicated.

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I neither liked it nor plan on watching it. The original J-drama had excellent acting, scripting and story. It involved a romantic relationship between a middle-aged successful introverted hearing impaired painter and a much-younger bubbly extroverted social struggling actress-wannabe. Their relationship explored not just their attraction despite an age difference, the different times in their career graphs, but also what problems can crack such a relationship between a deaf person and a non-deaf person who were polar opposites even in personalities.

What this K-drama has done is turned into a Korean schtick low on depth and high on visuals with the same tropes seen in every K-drama: the struggling actress is actually over the hill and too mature (35!) to not see what she is getting into with the deaf Jung Woo Sung! He has no intensity nor charisma, walking around like a robot as if his life is over! This is not what the original was about and this is nothing more than a cheap soul-less adaptation.

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Technically he's not in episode 1 so I can't post about Bead Boy being a fluffy feral goblin child of a character and me living for it????? Lol.

(I'm actually scared about how much I liked the first 2 episodes so I'm not gonna say anything more lest I jinx it.)

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I totally agree with your second paragraph. So let's see how it takes us from here.

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So I finally began my second Kdrama this year. It's this one.

There were moments that I shed some tears and moments that I chuckled and grinned throughout the story. The pacing is perfect for me and my mood, and the acting, superb. I can't expect anything less than absolutely fascinating from the actor who plays the ML, but the actress who plays the FL did surprise me with better-than-expected acting.

If you know me, this is exactly my cup of tea.

But as @sicarius said above, I'll reserve my further comment for the greater good.

And thank you very much for this weecap, @dramaddictally. I love your "High on visual craftwork and low on verbal conversation" comment. This, together with impeccable acting and ordinarily struggling characters is what I call a healing and gentle drama.

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And please someone his that man's head who sexually-harassed her at the end of the interview? Nobody will know that you're an airhead if you keep your mouth shut. Urgh.

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I don't know why being a flight attendant was depicted as a low class, demeaning job. It is very difficult to get a Korean airline job. And the job itself is demanding especially on international flights. When I went to Seoul on KAL, the flight attendants spoke multiple languages and were very professional.

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He is shallow and very rude. His opinion suggests he is misogynistic. And yes, Korean flight attendants speak really good English and are very helpful from what I’ve seen. They are so very pretty, too. Some of them look like they can be cast to be actresses.

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