20 Interesting Signal K-Drama Facts You Need To Know!

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Signal Featured Image
Signal Credits: (tvN)

South Korean Drama “Signal” is a fantasy-based crime and thriller drama that was aired in 2016 on tvN. The story includes time travel and revolves around a criminal profiler name Park Hae-young, played by Lee Je-hoon, from the year 2015, who one day miraculously communicated with a detective from the past named Lee Jae-Han, played by Jo Jin-Woong.

Signal sets its story around solving cold cases and preventing the most dreadful crimes from happening with the concept of time travel, with is done with the help of a walkie-talkie by Lee Jae-Han.

Signal, written by Kim Eun-hee, who is known for her crime, action, and thriller genre in Misaeng and My Mister, pulled off a great storyline that, by the final episode in 2016, gained a viewership rating of 12.5% with a massive Success. The Signal became a rising bar to influence the k-drama Industry for the production of crime and thriller dramas with the incorporation of Fantasy and time travel.

The Gist Of The Drama Signal

The Signal is a Korean drama that was aired in 2016 on tvN and premiered on Netflix and amazon prime video. Signal Follows a story from two time periods, i.e., 2015 and 1989, where the two detectives, Park Hae-young (in the time period 2015) and Lee Jae-Han (in the time period 1989), communicate with each other with a magical walkie-talkie both did not know how it was possible.

And through the walkie-talkies, they solved the cases held from the time period 1989 to 2015. The main character, Park Hae-young, is a Korean and critical criminal case profiler who solves cold cases and tries to bring the justice needed for the victims and the victim’s families who were in vain for a long period of time.

With the skeptical power of the walkie-talkie, he finds it in the trash bag, and he begins to solve the unsolved cold cases from the year 1989 with the help of Lee Jae-Han, the older and experienced detective from the year 1989. Lee Jae-Han, played by Cho Jin-Woong, is a complex character of a detective who tries to solve the cases in his time period of 1989 but fails because of the corruption in the police department.

Even through the hardships, he showed the importance of determination and also reflected the trait of what being honest means. He, with the help of Hae-young, tries to solve the cases in his time period by following the information present in the future about the case.

Signal Main Poster
Signal Credits: TvN

Cha Soo-Hyun, played by Kim Hye-soo, is also one of the main characters of the drama Signal, who is the team leader of the Seoul Cold Case squad. Soo-Hyun was a character of a strong independent female officer who dedicated her life to the job and to solving the cases to bring justice.

Cha Soo-Hyun’s relationship with Hae-young and Jae-Han is one of the most integral parts of the show, and her interactions of her with both of them are different, but those connections provide some of the most emotional scenes in the Drama.

Soo-Hyun is a strong and independent character who is dedicated to her job and is determined to bring criminals to justice. She is initially skeptical of the walkie-talkie’s powers, but she gradually begins to see its potential in solving cold cases. Soo-hyun’s relationship with both Hae-young and Jae-han is a key part of the show, and her interactions with them provide some of the most emotional and memorable scenes.

Along with these powerful main characters, Signal showcases a strong cast of police officers, prosecutors, and criminals. Signal not only portrayed the criminal underworld in the most realistic manner but also showcased the complex motivations and emotions that drive people to commit crimes and become criminals.

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1. The Cast

Signal drama, Known for its storyline, also gained attention because of the casting of talented artists from the drama industry. The cast included Lee Je-hoon as Park Hae-Young, the criminal profiler who, with the help of a walkie-talkie, solves cold cases.

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Kim Hye-soo as Cha Soo-Hyun, the first women police officer who is the team leader of the Seoul cold case squad, Cho Jin-Woong as Lee Jae-Han, the police officer who did his duty honestly and, as a result, went missing and talked to Park Hae-young with the help of walkie-talkie to change the past.

Signal Main Poster
Signal Credits: TvN

The police department included actor Jang Hyun-sung and Kim Bum-Joo, who was the police superintendent. Jung Hae-Kyun as Ahn Chi-soo, who was the senior detective and became the commander chief of the Seoul cold case squad.

Kim Won-Hae as Kim Gye-Chul, who worked on the violent cases and then solved the cold cases with the squad. Lee Yoo-Jun as Jung Han-ki as the forensic scientist and member of the Seoul cold case squad.

2. The Storyline

The Signal was one of the first Korean dramas that used a non-linear storyline structure, effortlessly showing the communication and linkage between the past and Present. Signal’s storyline, which was written by Kim Eun-Hee, is inspired by the sci-fiction thriller drama film Frequency written by Tomy Emmerich.

Signal Storyline glimpse
Signal Credits: TvN

Signal surely created a suspenseful and engaging atmosphere throughout the Drama, keeping the viewers on the edge of their seats.

3. The Cast of Signal Went on Police Training!

Before the filming of Signal, Actors Lee Je-hoon and Kim Hye-soo attended the police training sessions to get a real-life experience with detectives and learn about police workflow and tactics. The cast of Signal added authenticity to their performances in order to better understand the characters they were playing by putting themselves in the shoes of the characters.

Kim Hye Soo practice Training before filming
Signal (Credit: tvN)

4. Actor Lee Je-Hoon First Fantasy drama

Lee Je-Hoon, when cast for the drama Signal, hesitated at first to take the role as Signal was his first Drama that had supernatural elements in it. Lee Jae-Hoon, who played the lead role of Park Hae-Young, took the role as he had never played in a drama that was crime based with supernatural elements in it. Also, Lee Jae-Hoon, along with being fascinated by the Signal’s storyline, was excited to work with the talented actors cast along with him.

Lee Jae Joon During Signal Shooting
Signal (Credit: tvN)

5. The Professionalism Of Kim Hye-soo

Kim Hye-soo, who played the role of Cha Soo-Hyun, the female officer who is the team leader of Seoul Cold Case Squad, during the shooting performed all the stunts involved in the Drama by herself without using and stung double as she wanted to live the Drama as the police officer Cha Soo-Hyun and didn’t want any shortcuts that can disgrace the personality of the character.

Kim Hye Soo During Shoot
Signal (Credit: tvN)

6. Based on Real-Life Cases

Signal amalgamates Fantasy with crime to produce a thrilling and heart-pounding storyline. While the show is fictional, not the cases shown in the drama Signal. In episode 9, the case of Hongwon-Dong case is discussed.

The case is an infamous case in South Korea by serial killer Lee Choon-Jae in the time period 1986 to 1981. The case was very sensitive and critical as it involved a series of rapes and murders that occurred in the rural city of Hwaseong in Gyeonggi Province of South Korea.

Episode 4 serial Killing Case
Signal (Credit: tvN)

In the Drama, the profiler Park Hae-young and Detective Lee Jae-Han talked over a walkie-talkie to find the serial killer in the time period Hae-young, no information about the case was there, but Detective Lee Jae han was working on that case.

The case showed a young man in his 20s who goes after the victims who are suffering from depression. In the Drama, the culprit was found in the memory of Kim Hye-Soo, the team leader who was the survivor of the case.

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7. The Present changes if the past is changed!

Signal focused on this, i.e., “The Present changes if the past is changed,” which was the main reason why the communication between Park Hae-young and Lee Jae-Han started. Both the detectives continued their talk through a walkie-talkie so as to change what had happened in the past, i.e., in the time period of 1989 to 2000, to change the effect of it in 2015. As a result of it, there were many twists and turns in the Drama.

Transmission through walkie talkie
Signal (Credit: tvN)

8. Nominated with the Top Awards in the Industry

The Signal had claimed critical reviews and had been praised for its unique concept, intricate plot, and originality of the storyline. With its massive success in the history of crime dramas in South Korea, Signal was awarded the prestigious 52nd Baeksang Arts Award for Best Drama, Best Actress, and Best Screenplay in the year 2016. Along with this, Signal had won the 5th APAN Star Award, tvN10 Award,1st Asian Artist award, and 18th MNET Asian Music Award.

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Signal cast nominated for tvN10 awards
Signal (Credit: tvN)

9. The Walkie-Talkie

Signal though had a lot of details in the Drama, but one of the most noticeable and important pieces is the magical walkie-talkie which belonged to detective Lee Jae-Han who went missing in the year 2000 and in the year 2015, was found by Par Hae-young in the trash bag outside the police station through which he connected with Lee Jae-Han from the year 2000, which was the beginning of the twists which were yet to come in the story ahead.

Transmission Between Hae-young and Jae-han
Signal (Credit: tvN)

The iconic walkie-talkie used in the Drama was specially designed for the show only and is a popular souvenir for the fans. Also, with the use of the device and the interesting plot, there was a huge demand for walkie-talkies and police badges in the market.

10. The Top-Rated Drama!

Signal, because of its unique concept of time travel combined with criminal investigations, leads to the attention of viewers. The Signal is the first Korean Drama that used the concept of time travel as a key link in Drama. The series was a massive hit in South Korea, with its final episode being the highest-rated drama episode on South Korean cable television at the time it was aired.

tvN10 awards
Signal (Credit: tvN)

The series also led to a surge in the interest of people in cold cases in South Korea, which led to the viewers sending tips and information to the police stations regarding the cold cases being pending for the past 20 years.

11. The Precision in detail!

Signal director Kim Won-Seok, is known for his meticulous and outstanding attention to each and every detail to be added in the drama Signal. Director Kim Won-Seok Kim Won-Seok closely worked with the production tea in order to make sure that every aspect of the show was well-versed and detailed, showing the historical references accurately because of the storyline, which included the years from 1989 to 2015.

Hae-young at the police station
Signal (Credit: tvN)

From the costumes to the props for the set design and lighting, Director Won-Seok worked precisely on it so as to have realistic features.

12. What Happens If the Past Changes!

The Signal has a two-time period story arc where it connects two time periods through a walkie-talkie to change the Present by amending what happened in the past. But if the past changes, what happens in the Present? The answer to this question is one of the more mind-wrecking scenes in the Drama.

When Park Hae-young first contacted Jae-Han through the walkie-talkie, it was the time when Jae-Han was having his last breaths, i.e., in the year 2000 when he went missing, and he told him to force him in the year 1989.

Park Hae young and Soo -Hyun with Lee Jae-han
Signal (Credit: tvN)

In the Next transmission between the two detectives, Hae-young gets connected with Jae-Han when he is searching for the case of serial killing when Hae-young tells him when the next killing will be, and where, which consequently leads to the case being solved and all the victims who were saved from being killed because of the transmissions came back to life in the Present which was surely left all the viewers in shock that what happened.

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13. The Meaning Of “Later”

Signal though it follows a crime storyline, also has some emotional pieces in it, which are more like the broken heart pieces of the Drama. We see that when Jae-Han worked with Soo-Hyun in the year 2000 went to unfold the truth behind the case he was working on and left behind Cha Soo-Hyun, who was waiting for his answer, but instead, Jae-Han said that he would talk later once all of the things are over.

Soo-hyun and Jae-han when they were co-workers.
Signal (Credit: tvN)

But that later never came leaving to Jae-Han being missing person for 15 years and Soo-Hyun in the wait to meet Jae-Han one more time, alive or dead. Signal with the same small details brings out some emotional and bitter situations of life which are hard to forget!

14. The Soundtrack

Signal, with its strong storyline, didn’t jeopardize its soundtrack too. Signal’s main theme song, “I Will Forget You” by Jeong Cha Sik, became incredibly popular and remained in the top charts in South Korea for a long time. The soundtrack of the Signal is an excellent mix of haunting, suspenseful, and emotional pieces that add ups to each scene in the Drama.

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Signal Soundtrack Original Poster
Signal’s soundtrack poster (Credit: tvN)

15. The Legacy of the Signal

Signal, with its complex characters, strong plot, and amazing storyline, developed a huge fan base. The Signal was initially planned to be only a one-season drama, but the fandom for the Drama led to a season 2 following the same plot of crime and time travel though it has not been announced when it will be aired.

Signal Season 2

16. The Message

The Signal is not just a fantasy crime thriller drama but a drama that showcases how the corruption in the police department leads to destroying someone’s life. Signal showcased the virtues of justice and morality, which consequently led to the role of Law enforcement and the justice system in society.

Park Hae Young Message
Signal (Credit: tvN)

Also, even though the whole-time travel is about changing the Present by changing the past, still in the series, if the crime in the past is stopped, still the people who had to die died in the Present, just the cause of death changed.

17. The reunion of love from past

As we saw that there was a chemistry between Lee Jae-Han and Soo-Hyun, which was torn apart as Jae-Han went missing for 15 years. In episode 14, Soo-Hyun, while investigating a case with Hae-Young, comes across the truth behind the walkie-talkie, which belonged to Jae-Han and was with Hae-Young.

Signal Episode 16, Jae-han and Soo-Hyun
Signal (Credit: tvN)

S00-Hyun, while questioning Hae-young, asking for an explanation, the transmission comes from Jae-Han, which leads Soo-Hyun to tears as it was a shock for her as she hasn’t seen or talked to him for 15 years. The reunion of Soo-Hyun and Jae-Han over a walkie-talkie was one of the emotional scenes in the Drama.

18. The mystery of 23:23 PM

The walkie-talkie in the drama Signal, which connected the two-time stamps of 2015 and 2019 throughout the series, gave transmission only at the time 23:23 pm, which in the start was a mystery as the transmission was not done at any other time nor was continuous.

23:23 transmission time
Signal (Credit: tvN)

The mystery behind the time stamp of 23:23 pm is that in the year 2000, when Lee Jae-Han went to investigate the serial killing case at the Seonil Mental Hospital was attacked and shot to death, where he sent his last transmission to Hae-young in 2015 and died at 23:23 pm.

19. The regrets 

The Signal is a thriller yet emotional dram which, while solving the cold cases, leaves behind regrets of separation and deeds done in the past. Lee Jae-Han regrated how he was not able to stop the criminals while he knew who it was and was helpless when a high school kid was wrongfully accused and sent to jail.

Action Crime
Signal (Credit: tvN)

Park Hae-young regrated the childhood he spent when he was not able to help his older brother Sun-woo from dying and the only girl who showed care for him from being kidnapped and eventually dying even though he knew the criminal.

Soo-Hyun regretted that she was not able to find Jae-Han for over 15 years and never had enough time to confess her love for him. Commander Ahn regretted his deeds, where he killed Jae han in 2002 on the orders of superintendent Kim Bum-Joo and adopted all the corrupt practices.

20 The Finale

The Signal Final episode was the highest-rated finale in South Korean cable television history. In the finale, we came to see a total spin-off where Soo-Hyun and Hae-young try to save Jae-Han from dying in the year 2000 by sending the transmission, after which the whole story takes a turn over where Hae-young, who was shot by a bullet in his home with his parents alive and fit.

Soo-Hyun was in the car sleeping, which doesn’t add up to what happened. When Hae-young visited his police station, no one knew who he was and also that he worked with them. With this confusion, he went to find Soo-Hyun and Jae-Han, who were not around, and found out Soo-Hyun was also in shock at the change in the Present that was happening.

Later they both found that Jae-Han was alive and was shown as a patient in the hospital. The flashback was shown when Jae-Han was saved when he transmitted his last transmission to Hae-young.

Finale of Signal
Signal (Credit: tvN)

At that moment, the team from his station came and saved him. But it is a mystery how they came to know that Jae-Han was there. This twisted finale surely left viewers with mixed emotions of happiness and shock at the same moment.

Signal has an innovative concept and intricate storyline, which makes it a masterpiece that captures the heart of the viewers, keeping them in suspense by giving a suspenseful yet interesting story to watch.

The Signal is a timeless classic because of the outstanding performance of the cast and crew, the cinematography it showed, and the unique approach to crime investigation. Adding every detail towards realism will always be a beloved drama for everyone in Korean drama history.

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By Riya Ahuja

Riya is 20-year-old Bachelor of Architecture student currently studying in Pune and content writer with a passion for K-dramas and anime.Apart from designing buildings, She is fascinated by worlds of Korean and Japanese entertainment, exploring her favorite shows and characters.You can reach her out at ahujariya13023@gmail.com

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