Tell Me That You Love Me
사랑한다고 말해줘
Genie TV / ENA (2023-24) 16 Episodes
Romantic Melodrama
Masterpiece, Grade A+

Korean Drama Review by Jill, USA
(Some Spoilers)
Update: Drama Now Playing On Hulu
After My Request - Thank You Hulu!

Based on a popular classic 1995 Japanese drama with the same title, South Korea's 2023-24 drama version of Tell Me That You Love Me featured outstanding performances and breathtaking cinematography, some of it filmed on beautiful Jeju Island, Korea's Hawaii. I knew immediately that I would watch it when I saw lead actor Woo Sung Jung's name in the cast list. I've enjoyed his performances for twenty years in both films like A Moment To Remember, The Good The Bad The Weird, Daisy, Sad Movie, and Innocent Witness, and exceptional dramas such as Padam Padam and Dream Racers aka Asphalt Man. In Tell Me That You Love Me he plays a character who is deaf and he had to learn sign language for his role. Yet another jaw-dropping performance from this always attractive and compelling actor! Then I was delighted to see his leading lady was Shin Hyun Bin from my favorite short drama Mimi. So nice to see her in a leading role here instead of supporting like in other dramas. I truly sympathized with her lovely character as a hearing actress who falls in love with a non-hearing artist. To draw closer to him she learns sign language too! These two thespians must have worked so hard on these roles. Superb! 

I had read that Disney+ was going to stream this drama but when I joined I was disappointed to discover that the drama was nowhere to be seen for America. I hate these region differences internationally! When you pay money you should see EVERYTHING the company is streaming. It's dishonest to lure people in, have them pay a fee, and then you can't watch your intended show or film if you are in certain countries. I was forced to go the bootleg route to watch it, and after I finished the drama even that bootleg website has removed it!

I actually called Disney+ out of frustration and they said "Check with Hulu". So I called Hulu and put in a request for it; a nice lady said she would promote adding it after I explained what a beautiful drama it was, and lo and behold, now that the series is concluded Hulu is adding it ... it says Upcoming and all the episodes are featured. Whew! Sometimes it pays to ask. Now I can re-watch favorite scenes on my big screen TV. Whenever I ask Netflix to add something they claim they cannot. Disappointing. So now I would advise K-drama fans to watch it streaming on Hulu, which you can access if you purchase the Disney+ / Hulu Bundle. This is no drama to watch on a bootleg web site anyway. The cinematography is too gorgeous. You need to ideally watch it in Super HD on a legitimate streaming site on a large screen HDTV.

The Story:

Cha Jin Woo (Woo Sung Jung) has been deaf since he was young and has largely secluded himself from the world since he was bullied so much as a child. As an adult he makes his living as an independent artist and by teaching sign language to young people. On a trip to Jeju Island he is enjoying himself taking photographs of beautiful scenery and homes which he can use as inspiration for his paintings in future. Suddenly from a distance away he notices a film crew on the beach and in one particular moment spots the same woman he had run into earlier in the day, a quiet lady who had lost her scarf in the wind. He had returned it to her and they had separated. He takes a picture of her on the beach but doesn't notice from a distance that she looks sad.

Her name is Jung Mo Eun (Shin Hyun Bin) and she is an aspiring actress who is having trouble pleasing the director of the film she was cast in. They have to take repeated shots and then they tell her to leave the set because she apparently isn't getting the emotions of the scene down well enough. She begs the director for another chance but he walks away from her.

Mo Eun returns to her hotel and notices that the man she had briefly met on the beach is at the hotel too, admiring the setting sun on the rooftop. Soon she is alerted that there is a fire in the hotel and all the patrons quickly leave the building. Mo Eun notices that Jin Woo doesn't seem aware that there is a fire hazard in the hotel and she runs to the rooftop to alert him. Since he is deaf he had not heard the commotion about the fire. She essentially saves his life by warning him.

They both end up at the hospital to get checked out and are placed in adjacent beds. Mo Eun realizes that Jin Woo is deaf, but instead of being afraid of him she is fascinated by him. Thankfully he is an excellent lip reader so they communicate that way, and by pantomime and texting each other on cell phones. She explains she was once a flight attendant but her real ambition is to become an actress. Meanwhile she works hard in a cafe in Seoul to make ends meet while waiting for her big acting break. They decide to make some ramen together since she jokes that she is very hungry. They grow closer in a short period of time. Their chemistry together seems to be off the charts. 

However, life goes on and there are bills to pay. They soon return to Seoul separately and wonder if their paths will ever cross again. Of course fate steps in and they do meet again, as they spy each other on the street one night, and smile brightly at each other. They continue to meet when they can and eventually fall in love. Mo Eun learns sign language and Jin Woo is very touched by her efforts. He has never met a woman quite like her before, with such empathy for the disabled.

Family and friends of the couple grow concerned about their developing romantic relationship, including Na Ae Soo (wonderful Kim Mi Kyung) and Jung Ji Pyeong (equally wonderful Kang Shin Il), Mo Eun's parents, her younger brother fitness trainer Jung Mo Dam (Shin Jae Hwi), and her best friend since their school years Oh Ji Yu (delightful Park Jin Joo, Encounter, Jealousy Incarnate, Angel Eyes) who seems to grow a silly crush on Mo Dam, which provides some comic relief in the story. Would-Be Competitors in the love department for our main couple are an art gallery owner - former lover of Jin Woo's named Song Seo Kyung (Kim Ji Hyun) who reappears in his life to try and jealously cause trouble; and for Mo Eun it's her long time male admirer named Yoon Jo Han (Lee Jae Kyoon), who is a rather eccentric composer and music producer, and is not too pleased with her new romance. Will they have any chance of disrupting the special relationship developing so strongly between Mo Dam and Jin Woo?

Life's stresses can certainly get in the way of love and romance, that's pretty realistic, and a trial period does eventually come to disrupt the closeness of our special loving couple. Both characters begin to experience greater professional success in their careers, and that could threaten to separate them as well. However, will any separation be permanent, or can Love Truly Conquer All in the end?

If you admire gentle love stories that progress at a leisurely, spiritual, and introspective pace, with no tiresome subplots about evil people like gangsters, loan sharks, serial killers, nasty corporate CEOs, etc., a story that is more like the beloved Four Seasons' Korean dramas that began the Hallyu Wave worldwide two decades ago, then you definitely should not miss Tell Me That You Love Me. Indeed, it's truly beautiful, and will help to restore your faith in humanity. Enjoy!