Among my stillness was a pounding heart ….

padam padam his and her heartbeats

If pain must come, may it come quickly. Because I have a life to live, and I need to live it in the best way possible 

Paulo Coelho, By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept

Title
Padam Padam:   The Sound of His & Her Heartbeats (2011)
Also known as
Padam Padam:   Music of Their Hearts
Genre
Fantasy,    Romance
Written by
Noh Hee-kyung
Directed by
Kim Kyu-tae
Starring
Country of Origin
South Korea
Episodes
20

oh! brief

The kdrama follows the lives of two convicted criminals.

The first, Yang Kang-chil, is a man serving 16 years for murder. The second, Gook-soo, is a much younger man convinced he is a guardian angel and is serving time for thieving.  The convicted murderer experiences two miracles during his time in prison His guardian angel, the younger convict, informs him that he will receive three near-death miracles that he will only survive if he learnt a lesson from the experience.

Following their release, Kang-chil becomes a carpenter and falls in love with a veterinarian Jang Ji-na. She displays compulsive, rude, and selfish traits. Even so, she finds herself drawn to Kang-chil and falls deeply in love with him. Unfortunately, not everything is as it seems.

oh! … talks drama

Do you believe in miracles? Do you believe in God or perhaps a superior being or a higher power? How about destiny and fate? Do you believe in these, or one more than the other? If you answered a resounding yes to at least two of these questions, then, you likely will appreciate this kdrama. You don’t have to believe, it’s not a prerequisite! It’ll help with the believability of what you will be presented with. That’s the point I’m trying to get across. There are miracles, both fate and destiny are at play, sometimes hand-in-hand, sometimes walking alongside each other and at least once, combined together in a resounding crescendo!

Without giving away the plot and too many details of what does take place in this kdrama which begins with a reverse-storyline. Starting at the end and then going back in time to portray the steps to get to the end. But that isn’t exactly what happens either. It is this scheming by the writer and director to keep the audience just a tad unbalanced as the story of Kang-chil’s life unfolds and perhaps adds to an overlying idea that life, for some, can be very hard and heartbreaking and unbalanced. It’s elegantly accomplished.

The introduction to Kang-chil is masterful. This guzzling, manic, rough, bug-eyed man who shows no fear or shame is exactly Kang-chil, and then some. Gone is perhaps the man he would have been. He may not have been a thug, to begin with, but he certainly has a thuggish air about him. And he doesn’t lose this hardened appearance or attitude it simply softens when he is with certain characters.

We are taken on a wild roller-coaster ride of emotions with Kang-chil.

We live his ferocity and anger, his brash bravado, his utter desperation and hope to clear his name. He is blunt, but at the same time truthful

We are amused with his blatantly social awkwardness, his naivety, his comedic antics and even his unintentional groping scene.

And we root for the bromance between Kang-chil and Gook-soo, which I didn’t want to even try and understand or justify. I simply accepted it as being a coping mechanism of life inside prison. They share an intense friendship (even though Kang-chil is convinced that Gook-soo is crazy) and share a common trait of fiercely protecting those they love. But there were tender moments shared between the two that just resonated with their predicament and their final outcomes. And when they were both deliriously happy my heart soared for them.

We watch in disbelief the devastating news and the soul-shattering cry Kang-chil renders, “Why me?” We live that moment with him, but also the hope that follows, and the possibility of a happy ending.

Under the surface, we witness a tender side to Kang-chil, well-hidden and protected – his kindness, gentle quiet spirit, his romantic and loving manners and sexiness. It’s all there!

It’s obvious that Kang-chil’s destiny is intertwined with both Gook-soo and Ji Na and nothing is going to change it – it is fate, whether good or bad. His past, his present and his future collide with her life and that of her family. Their repeated encounters are almost comical, especially when his overt behaviour scares her or highlights his immaturity. But, his growing love for her changes them both. Because of their love, we foolishly believe that Kang-chil will figure his way out of all the predicaments. As if he can reverse everything just by willing it so.

I did warn you, this kdrama is one intense ride! When you add in the criminal sub-plot which is not a genre this series advertises itself as, you include suspenseful intrigue and violence, not to mention fighting – lots of it! This drama plunges into the larger issue of conflict but doesn’t offer simple answers. It is thought-provoking, causing the viewer to ask questions and ponder the answers.

We’re lead to believe this story is all about a man who simply wants to live his life out with the woman he loves and have his good name restored because he has been given a second chance and three miracles. The reality is somewhat different, though. The story is about finding the beauty in the unlikeliest of places, the frailty of the ties that bring people together, that love is more than a feeling and an emotion, and most importantly, how to find peace while dying.

Jung Woo Sung who played Kang-chil was undeniably convincing in this role. Wow! I believe that he took the idea for this character and tore it down to the bare bones, only to rebuild (the character) with this incredibly raw, manic emotion that he articulated so well – verbally and physically. That is a natural talent, not something you can teach at drama school. You’re either born with it or not! And he’s born with it, baby!

He made no effort whatsoever to make his character look handsome or eligible or even noble. One simply accepts the character as Jung Woo Soo delivers him because there is no alternative. But if you look closely you see the hidden gem of a man beneath the rough exterior – his shy smile, the gentle upturn of his eyes when he smiles, the quietly thinking and contemplating in between the wild and scary. Jung Woo Sung mastered this role by becoming Kang-chil, not portraying him, but, becoming him.

And he wasn’t alone in nailing his character.

Gook-Soo played by Kim Bum was just as talented at delivering his performance. When he states time and again that he is a guardian angel, he believes it, and so do you. When he talks about earning his wings to return to heaven and his rightful place, you believe it too. And yes, maybe it is because Kim Bum is so endearing? Maybe because he pulls off the whole playful, charismatic, precocious, fantasy character? But, I think it is harder to pull off fantasy characters like angels, demons or mythical creatures because they are fantastical. We don’t have a copy to model off of. He nailed it! He hit just the right tone and quietly poignant notes with his character, but also mastered the sometimes snarky disposition.

Plots, subplots, angst and conflict aside, Ji Na played by Han Ji-min was a wise decision. Not only did she share great chemistry with Jung Woo Sung, they complemented each other in physical attributes and approach to their roles. She pulled off, without a doubt, the prickly, awkward and socially inept Ji Na. She mastered the stiff vulnerability and conflicting emotions so completely, it was a pleasure to watch her perform. I came to understand the reason why Ji Na was prickly, rude and stiff, it is because she built up a wall to protect herself and to keep the rough world at bay. Breaking through or breaking down the wall has to be her choice. Han Ja-min conveyed femininity and soft aspects of her character and drew the audience to her. I wanted to see her happy after suffering so much. From early on I rooted for the time when both she and Kang-chil would find that moment where their heartbeats beat as one and they did – they found it and it was pure and charming.

Noh Hee-kyung broke out her writing skills for this production. I was sceptical at first because so many dramas have the same plots, the same genres and the same ploys. This one outshone many others on the market. The dialogue was exceptional – the storyline and screenplay came together so well and the character development was spot on from start to bitter end. This was truly an honest portrayal of a man whose entire life had been riddled with the sad twists of fate and would not find the happily-ever-after ending he hoped for.

This is a great segue-way to some of the more apparent powerful and deep messaging hidden in the layers of this drama series:

  • Understanding that both good and evil, or light and dark exist in the world, how we live in it (the world) is our own choice.
  • Where precisely does destiny or fate for that matter, end and free will begin?
  • Is it truly possible to defy the course of life?
  • How does one master finding peace while dying?
  • Can we measure and weigh someone’s suffering to find it’s worth or value?

No, I am not going to attempt an answer to those questions or justify the statement — that’s a conversation you have to have with yourself.  Although I’m open to hearing your thoughts in the comments section!

The cinematography matched the writing – visceral at times, elegant at times, breathtaking at times. The expertise that went into this production cannot be criticised, it was seamless. The set-ups were skilful and subtle. The production hit all the right notes – heartwarming, endearing, comedic, thrilling, intriguing and suspenseful. The accompanying soundtrack was haunting and well-suited.

oh! that’s a wrap

What is there to write that I haven’t already said about this drama? Not too much! Honestly, I revelled in this drama because the characters breathed life into the story, painted the lives of their individual characters, their joys, love and sorrow visible. Like the shades of a rainbow in the sky, you can’t help but be entranced. Rainbows are spectacular. Padam Padam is a kdrama classic.

You’ll enjoy watching these characters as they come to life before your very eyes – every epic second!

oh! tidbits

Kim Bum lost a significant amount of weight to play the ethereal angel in this drama —he worked out every day and dieted on bananas, sweet potatoes and coffee with milk.

Totally off the scales here, but I thought it was interesting given this drama. Partial androgen deficiency of the ageing male (PADAM) is male menopause! The symptoms — hot flushes, sweating, nervousness all accurately describe our male lead! Oh, come on now … it’s funny!!

oh! … soundtrack

 

oh! … gallery

This gallery is compiled from some of my favourites, some behind the scenes photos and some official-styled photos from

oh!  … trailer

 

 

oh! … nooz

Padam Padam Hits the Highest Rating for General Programming Channels

Kim Bum confirmed for upcoming drama, ‘Padam Padam’ 

Han Ji Min Turns into Teenager Girl in Padam Padam

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