Can You Hear My Heart

Reviewed by: sukting

December 28, 2013

Rating: two-point-five

How long
30 episodes

Dong Zhu is deaf but pretends that he can hear. You Li is a woman who is intelligent but pretends to be dim-witted to protect the dignity of her mentally handicapped stepfather. She has been looking for her step brother, Ma Lu, who has run away for 16 years.

She finds out is that Jun He, Dong Zhu's brother, is Ma Lu himself. Can she accept the fact that Ma Lu's father causes her mother's death? Will this hinder her from loving Dong Zhu? This drama is about the reality of love, kinship, family and fate.

Story/Introduction on characters
1. Kim Jae-won as Che Dong Zhu
Dong Zhu witnesses how Zheng Zhe kills his grandfather when he is 13 years old. He gets so frightened that he falls off the stairs and becomes deaf. He lives in fear but tries hard to overcome the pain to face life positively. He does not know that Zheng Zhe fathers a son with his secretary to cause Ma Lu's existence. Xian Shu then adopts Ma Lu to become his elder brother to seek revenge.

When he is a child, he strikes a deal with You Li to teach her to play the piano but breaks his promise due to the accident. He stays in the US for 16 years before returning to Korea to seize back the cosmetics company, energy cell, that his dead father sets up and Zheng Zhe has gained control.

You Li cures the pain in his heart and he showers her with the love that she has not been getting for years. Both become inseparable and even though his stepfather causes her mother's death, she has never blamed him. It is through You Li that he learns he doesn't need to hide himself from the world, pretending he can hear. He chooses to reveal his secret. He yearns most to listen to her heartbeat.
As usual, Jae-won's smiles steal the show and warm everyone. He shows maturity here, through little gestures like lip-reading to depict a deaf person.

2. Hwang Jung-eum as Peng You Li Her deaf mother remarries Ying Kui before dying in a factory fire caused by Zheng Zhe as she works there. She treats Ma Lu like her elder brother although they are not related. She then grows up in a poor but blissful family with Ying Kui and Shu Zhen. Ever since Ma Lu goes missing 16 years ago, she has not stopped looking for him. she meets Dong Zhu has thought that he is Ma Lu.

Through Dong Zhu, she quits her car salesperson job and gets a beautician job at his cosmetics company. She later becomes his assistant and accompanies him through his ups or downs. She resembles Song Ji Hyo at first glance. She is a singer so her acting is raw at times. I find her too chirpy but blame it on the script – a person can't be this cheery after so many misfortunes. Her persistence to want to change Jun He back to Ma Lu puts me off – can't she use other methods?

3. Namgoong Min as Zhang Jun He/Peng Ma Lu All along, he dislikes his father who is intellectually challenged. He also doesn't want to accept a deaf stepmother and another younger sister. He is a smart and kind child but he doesn't want to stay with his family. He forsakes them to be with Xian Shu. He wants a better life for himself. He changes his name and returns to Korea with them. His foster father is Dr Zhang, a doctor who also trains him to be a doctor.

He treats Dong Zhu like his own younger brother and guards him well. He is willing to be a good son. He helps to manage the company due to Dong Zhu. His exterior weakens upon meeting You Li ass he feels guilty over her being burden by what he should be doing in taking care of his family. He finally learns to love his family again to show them more concern.

However, the revenge motive is exposed and his whole world collapses upon knowing that Xian Shu is only making use of him. Still, he manages to find his conscience and becomes a doctor again. This role is more realistic as a complex person with a dark side due to circumstances. He is forced to be evil and he is aware that Zheng Zhe doesn't trust him like Xian Shu too.

4. Go Joon-hee as Jiang Min Xiu Her father is an important figure in the company. She is beautiful and also kind. She has love Dogn Zhu all along and helps him out in his career. She knows that her father has done the company wrong and Dong Zhu can never love her but she never stops giving up. She injects an air of happiness whenever she is present.

5. Lee Kyu-han as Lee Sheng Zhe He grows up with You Li and thinks that she is his since they have spent 16 years together. He keeps stealing her money and spends it away. He is a headache for his parents as he also keeps asking them for money. He later becomes serious to get a stable job. He is kind and also frank. He doesn't want You Li to get bullied and is jealous whenever she is with Ma Lu or Dong Zhu.

6. Jung Bo-suk as Peng Ying Jiu He only has the intelligence of a 7 year old. He is kind and innocent so Dong Zhu doesn't hide his disability in front of him. Both of them are like children to become good friends right from the start. He works as a gardener and Dong Zhu helps to keep his job. I seriously think that most Korean artistes do not show a true picture of intellectually challenged people. The way shown here is still not in depth and I am not convinced by it. Still, I like the part where Dong Zhu asks for his consent to marry You Li – that is very hilarious!

7. Lee Hye-young as Tai Xian Shu She is Dong Zhu's mother who knows of the truth of her father's death but she still stays with her enemy. She is heartbroken over Dong Zhu's condition but still wants him to pretend to be normal as to make a comeback. She has never been able to accept this. She learns of his adultery but also bears with it. She adopts his son and has to suppress her hatred every time Ma Lu calls her mother. She seems to be the only person who can't listen to anything at all.

She causes Jun He to be detained in the cell and gives Zheng Zhe trouble. She keeps her father's will that announces Dong Zhu as the next successor so she finally regains the company. She misses Ma Lu and later begs for his forgiveness. I find her acting too over-the-top. Definitely overly melodramatic. I still prefer her as Ju Jun Biao's cold mother in ‘Boys over flowers'.

8. Song Seung-hwan as Cui Zheng Zhe He marries Xian Shu but keeps Xin Ai as his mistress. Upon knowing that she is pregnant, he wants her to abort her baby but she gives birth to Ma Lu. He despises a young Ma Lu as he is poor after marrying Xian Shu. But he doesn't know that he is his son. Seeing him as a thorn in his flesh, he tries to get rid of him. He only realizes his mistake and brings him back to the company to take over Dong Zhu's position. Retribution comes when he becomes seriously ill later.

9. Yoon Yeo-jeong as Huang Shun Zhen She is Xin Ai's mother who has to take care of Ma Lu when Xin Ai dumps him to her. Not wanting him to be fatherless, she registers him under Ying Kui's name. She has completely neglected Ma Lu's feelings as Ma Lu has thought of Ying Kui to be his biological father to feel shameful of him to leave home. Ma Lu suffers a bigger blow to learn that the jerk, Zheng Zhe is his father instead.

She is apologetic when meeting Ma Lu again. Knowing that she is growing senile, she keeps Ma Lu's identify from Xin Ai. She later dies peacefully upon seeing the brothers patching up. Her acting is better in the beginning than the end.

10. Kang Moon-young as Jin Xin Ai She is Ma Lu's mother who deserts him to be with Zheng Zhe. She is Zheng Zhe's secretary cum mistress who stays in his company. When she faces a teenage Ma Lu, she doesn't recognize him and even lies that she just returns from overseas. She does worry when Ma Lu goes missing but can't find him too. Ma Lu only knows that she is his mother but doesn't know that Zheng Zhe is his father when he grows up.

After Ma Lu stays with Zheng Zhe, he does the same to her – throw her out of his home and he doesn't want to see her again. Even getting Shun Zhen doesn't help at all. It takes a long time for Ma Lu to accept her again.

11. Kim Yeo-jin as Na Ying Shu She is a deaf hairdresser who later dies of mishap. Mei Shu is a successful but arrogant beautician. Chancing upon the family portrait, she realizes why You Li is shocked to see her and she treats You Li like a daughter. She later stays with You Li's family and is interested in Ying Kui. A bit unbelievable, isn't it?

12. Lee Sung-min as Sheng Zhe's father He is always sarcastic to say that Ying Kui is stupid but in reality, he is quite kind although stingy.

13. Hwang Young-hee as Sheng Zhe's mother

She often grumbles about Shun Zhen's senility but allows the family to stay after getting rent from You Li. She can be too much – upon seeing Dong Zhu arriving, she provides the best food for him, very much to the jealousy of her husband as he can only see the dishes during his birthdays or New Year.

Interesting facts
The script writer of 'Staircase to Heaven' combined efforts with the director of 'Fantasy Couple' to create this drama. This drama spelt Jaw-won's return to the small screen after 5 years – it was his smiling return to present his gentleness, perfection, innocence and melting smiles to deal with pain and life. It was a smart move – many offers came after he completed his national service.

He was attracted by the storyline and also the title. This was a partly idol, partly family drama that catered to all age groups. It was also a challenge to him to play a handicap person. The brotherhood and power struggles could also attract female fans too. The ratings were often below 20% - highest at 18% although the feedback was positive.

2011 MBC Drama Awards:
Mini Series Excellence Award, Actor (Kim Jae Won)
Mini Series Excellence Award, Actress (Hwang Jung Eum)
Popularity Award (Kim Jae Won)
Mini Series Golden Acting Award (Jung Bo Suk)

Most favourite character
Dong Zhu, he isn't deterred by setbacks. Even though Min Xiu wants him to part with You Li so that she can help him to regain his company, he rejects her as he doesn't want to lie like his mother.

Most hated character
Sheng Zhe, nothing matters to him more than power and wealth. A close second is Xian Shu – she is too blinded by revenge to notice that Ma Lu is really filial to her.

This drama is like 'Tale of Autumn', wanting to get children stars to create a big bang before the older cast comes in. But I don't find them that appealing. To me, this whole drama is more about deception or lies than family ties.

When Xian Shu begs Dong Zhu not to reveal the truth of his disability, her expression is totally fake. She must be the most resourceful person in the drama to learn about Ma Lu's parentage earlier than anyone else. Shun Zhen is also impossible to live off her son-in-law who has zero relationship with her just to bring up her grandson. She tells all who his mother is but not the father. You Li can still call her …aunt?!
You Li pretends to be dim-witted while Dong Zhu pretends to be normal. Ma Lu lives under another identity. Zheng Zhe hides the fact of killing Xian Shu's father. Xin Ai pretends to be happy being the mistress but she is often at Zheng Zhe's mercy to threaten to drive her away. Sheng Zhe keeps lying to get his way. Min Xiu likes to be deceived that Dong Zhu likes her. Don't these people depend on lying for a living...oh...

There are much soap opera that forces down my throat. There are too many unacceptable turns in the plot for me. I still can't imagine how Ying Kui can attract two women. Being kind isn't good enough. One of them perhaps of her disability and also having a child to feel inferior, lowers her expectations. But…another is a career woman who has a clear mind – can this be possible??

As for Dong Zhu, it is strange that Zheng Zhe doesn't find anything amiss when he doesn't sit beside him in the car but prefers to sing in the front seat to do lip-reading through the car mirror. It is not once but many times – how can he be getting away with this?

I find the family ties scenes long-winded and unnecessary. When Xian Shu keeps laughing in front of the adulterous pair as Jun He is detained due to her, I also feel that her portrayal is like a mad woman. The two have thought that the blow is too big for her. Who will react like her after being slapped or scolded? It looks that she is like a robot which has lost a screw in her head and she is malfunctioning – not like a person happy over her revenge. A deranged person will not react like this.

Also, villains are forgiven too easily. The bad father and bad mothers who ruin the lives of the two sons should be severely dealt with. The two mothers with Jun He in the picnic for the last scene sends too many question marks to my head – I don't like it! They should suffer as long as they live in my dictionary.
Although it won numerous awards, I felt let down by it. Perhaps, I have placed too high expectations. 30 episodes are way too long – 16 should be the length although the love scenes are well-done.

Sukting's ratings :
On acting : *** (Scale of 5)
On story : **1/2 (Scale of 5)

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