Park Hae-yong (Lee Je-hoon), a criminal profiler in 2015, receives a mysterious walkie-talkie transmission from Lee Jae-han (Cho Jin-woong), a police officer in the past. The two cops, together with senior detective Cha Soo-yun (Kim Hye-soo), solve a series of cold cases that change the past and the present and cause unforeseen consequences. (Note: Cold cases are crimes that haven’t been fully resolved.)
To be honest, I watched Signal on Netflix because I was curious about K-drama actor Lee Je-hoon. His remarkable performance in Where Stars Land had me ardently searching for all his K-dramas on Netflix. But if you’d ask me if I regret watching Signal, most definitely not! In fact, I enjoyed it and watched it intently without skipping any scenes or peeking into the succeeding episodes. In other words, I was hooked!
Signal successfully weaves time travel and crime thriller together for a story that keeps you gripped and glued to your seat. It’s the kind of story that makes you NOT want to end right away because you still want to see more. In short, you can’t enough of it!
You’ll go ballistic for every injustice you see happening in the story. You’ll also feel ecstatic when justice is served. Your heart will melt seeing the young Park Hae-yong hungry and forlorn. And you’ll be in awe of Lee Jae-han’s magnanimity towards the young Park Hae-yong.
It’s equally interesting to note that they referenced real-life cases in this Korean drama, like the 1994 Collapse of Seongsu Bridge (for the Collapse of Hanyoung Bridge in Signal), Great Thief Jo Se Hyung (for the Gyesu-dong robberies), and the 2005-2006 Sinjeong-dong serial murders (for the Hongwon-dong serial murders), among others. Solving one cold case after another is one factor that makes this Korean detective drama totally binge-worthy.
I’ve seen Kim Hye-soo in Hyena, and there’s no doubt that she’s a good actress. In Signal, she transforms from a pushover and naïve junior police officer to a confident and tough team leader. Lee Je-hoon is also perfect for his role as a headstrong police profiler who shares Lee Jae-han’s passion for exacting justice at all costs.
The real revelation for me here is Cho Jin-woong as detective Lee Jae-han. Highly principled and idealistic, he believes those who commit crimes should be punished regardless of their social standing or political connections. He goes out of his way to obtain justice for those who are wronged. He truly cares for others that when he cried, you’ll find yourself sobbing, too.
It seems to me that the overall theme of this K-drama is to always do the right thing, as exemplified by detective Lee Jae-han. While his place of work was fraught with corruption, he didn’t succumb to temptation or pressure. Instead, he holds his ground, defies his corrupt superior, and continues doing what he believes is right. He even risks his own life in the pursuit of justice.
How great it is to see morally upright cops! The idealist in me hopes that this doesn’t happen only in Korean dramas or movies but in real life. In a world mired in greed and selfish pursuits, seeing a real-life Lee Jae-han in our midst might seem far-fetched but not entirely impossible.
2016 Baeksang Arts Awards
Signal bagged three (3) awards at the 52nd Baeksang Arts Awards in 2016. It won Best Drama, Best Screenplay (Kim Eun-hee), and Best Actress (Kim Hye-soo). This is more than enough reason to watch it, don’t you think?