K-Drama

Hallyu Spotlight: 5 things to know about Disney+’s newest K-drama Tell Me That You Love Me

Tell Me That You Love Me is a 16-part drama which stars veteran actors Jung Woo-sung and Shin Hyun-bin.

Ashley Cheah

| December 1, 2023
Tell Me That You Love Me
A still from Tell Me That You Love Me. Photo: Disney+

When it comes to romance K-dramas, the usual stereotype would be having the male and female leads wooing each other, after being colleagues, or after an accidental encounter. But it seems like Disney+’s newest K-drama is straying away from these archetypes.

K-drama Tell Me That You Love Me follows in the footsteps of recent K-dramas spotlighting main leads with special needs or are differently abled.

The 16-part drama stars veteran actors Jung Woo-sung and Shin Hyun-bin. And it is based on the 1995 hit Japanese drama, Aishiteiru to Itte Kure.

The drama is centred around a hearing-impaired painter, Cha Jin-woo (Jung Woo-sung), who lost his hearing due to a childhood illness and expresses himself through his works. As well as Jung Mo-eun (Shin Hyun-bin), an aspiring actress who faces obstacles in her career. The essence of the drama revolves around communication; depicting how the duo communicate with each other in their own language.

Jung Woo-sung and Shin Hyun-bin in a still from Tell Me That You Love Me. Photo: Disney+

Here are five things you should know about the series.

1. It is Jung Woo-sung’s romance drama after 11 years

Veteran actor Jung Woo-sung is a common figure when it comes to Korean action and crime series. He has received accolades for his work, most of which even earned him recognition and awards to his name.

He previously starred in espionage TV series Athena: Goddess of War (2010), thriller film Steel Rain and more. But Jung is coming back to roles in romance dramas after 11 years. His last was Padam Padam (2011), where he played a wronged convict.

Tell Me That You Love Me marks a refreshing change for both Jung and viewers as he returns to the romance side of K-dramas.

2. Jung Woo-sung bought IP rights for the K-drama

Inspired by the original story and personally relating to it, Jung Woo-sung purchased intellectual property (IP) rights to produce Tell Me That You Love Me. The story tugged at his heartstrings, as it revolves around a character who is hearing-impaired.

Jung is also both the producer and leading male actor in this romance drama.

Tell Me That You Love Me
Jung Woo-sung plays Cha Jin-woo, a deaf artist who lost his hearing since young. Photo: Disney+

The actor shared that he was drawn towards the male lead, Cha Jin-woo. He is a realistic character in his 30s to 40s whose outlooks on life and love are incorporated into the Korean remake.

3. The core of the story lies in communication

Both Jung Woo-sung and Shin Hyun-bin shared their thoughts on the different forms of communication covered in this production – sign and spoken language.

Shin focused on sign language to ensure it comes off as authentic as possible. With the guidance of a sign language coach on set, they delivered the crux of these emotions despite some difficulties faced on set.

She placed importance on emotions and expressions and revealed that the main cast practised using sign language even off-set.

4. Receptiveness of audience and shift in media landscape made the drama possible

Jung took on this project with no intention to create an impact. But in a press conference, he emphasised that he would greatly appreciate it if the show “helps refresh the minds with regards to disability”.

He went on further to touch on the evolution of the entertainment industry. Now, the audience are more receptive towards a main lead with special needs or that is differently abled.

Case in point: dramas like Move To Heaven (2021), and Extraordinary Attorney Woo (2022) are testament to the shift in mindsets and content consumption of the audience.

 As translated by the live interpreter, Jung said: “We are in a day and age where people consume content via reading subtitles.” Times have changed as people are more receptive. This shift in the media landscape and societal perspectives make this production a great chance to entertain and educate others through such a drama. 

5. A drama relatable to those in their 30s and 40s

Helmed by the same director behind romantic comedy series Our Beloved Summer (2021), Director Kim Yoon-jin made this drama to target those predominantly in their 30s and 40s.

The drama is for all age groups. But it will particularly resonate with those in that age group since the main characters fall within that age category. Through the series, viewers can experience the wave of emotions that both leads are expressing, from hesitance and uncertainty to love, and its accompanying challenges.  

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