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The Devil Judge: Episode 1

The charismatic Ji Sung is back as a mysterious celebrity judge in the ruthless world of tVN’s newest offering The Devil Judge. Amid social turmoil, the powers that be decide to appease the masses by allowing for reality TV style trials in which the public gets a vote in the accused’s fate. Not everyone is thrilled at this prospect, including an idealistic young judge played by Jinyoung. This sleek drama is almost apocalyptic in its framing of classist conflict and a world in which those greedy for power wield “democracy” as a tool of suppression.

 
EPISODE 1 RECAP

Our opening shots are all glitz and glamour as KANG YO-HAN (Ji Sung) drives his flashy sports car through the nighttime streets of Seoul. At a swanky event by the Social Responsibility Foundation [SRF], the country’s PRESIDENT HEO (Baek Hyun-jin) gives an impassioned speech that’s broadcast to the nation.

We see a very different Seoul as Yo-han drives past a barricade of police in riot gear and through fire-lit streets that look like a war zone. President Heo rails about the “groundless” persecution of rich people that’s leading to arson and terrorism in the streets and has culminated in the Gwanghwamun Riot. His speech is intercut with shots of protesting, looting, and clashes between citizens and police.

President Heo calls the high unemployment rates and economic strife a thing of the past and vows to change everything. The virus has finally been overcome, and it’s time to move forward.

As destruction ravages the streets, the SRF’s CHAIRMAN SEO (Jung In-kyeom) schmoozes with the elite at his fundraiser. Everyone from the Minister of Justice MINISTER CHA (Jang Young-nam) to prominent chairmen of conglomerates are in attendance.

President Heo promises bolster the economy through job creation and restore Korea to its former glory. Everyone cheers and donations come rolling in, but JUNG SUN-AH (Kim Min-jung) and Chairman Seo critique the president’s habit of going overboard when cameras roll.

Yo-han arrives as President Heo announces his new judicial reform bill that will allow the entire nation to serve as jurors under the “ruthless” presiding judge. Yo-han receives a warm welcome from attendees and takes questions from skeptical journalists about the ethicality of this new system.

He dismisses any notion that offenders, regardless of class or ability status, are anything other than criminals deserving of the harsh sentences he doles out. Concerned murmurs run through the crowd when Yo-han shouts that he holds the power and will not allow anyone to influence his sentences. No one is above the people: “The people are the power.” Sun-ah approaches him after his speech to offer her congratulations, and they toast to power.

The following day, KIM GA-ON (Jinyoung) heads to his new job as a judge on the controversial new trial show. He shows his ID badge to get past the police line into the courthouse where he reports to JUSTICE MIN (Ahn Nae-sang).

Justice Min gives him the tour of the performance-ready courtroom for the broadcast trials. He’s no fan of Yo-han, disparaging the ludicrous bills he’s passed and observing, “A monster emerges in turbulent times.” Justice Min appointed his former student Ga-on to be a foil for Yo-han and fight for true justice.

Ga-on makes a trip to Yo-han’s office to introduce himself. Yo-han scrutinizes him for a long moment before returning his greeting and dismissing him. Once Ga-on leaves, Yo-han opens a file containing an article about a couple who killed themselves after being scammed and Ga-on’s resume. “He looks more like him than I expected,” Yo-han mutters.

Ga-on gets set up in the office he’ll be sharing with fellow young judge OH JIN-JOO (Kim Jae-kyung). She’s the friendly, outgoing type in contrast to Ga-on’s more reserved demeanor.

Jin-joo observes that all the judges must’ve been chosen in part for their looks – the public trusts image more than truth – and whips out a picture of Yo-han she puts on her desk. She’s a fangirl.

CHIEF JUSTICE JI (Seo Sang-won) tries to dissuade Yo-han from making the JU Chemicals case the first, but Yo-han is insistent. It doesn’t matter if the people are incited – it’s not their courtroom. The trials are merely to provide transparency.

As Ga-on steps out of the courthouse that evening, he sees a bus careening down the street. Police ready to shoot after it bursts through the barricade and barrels toward the courthouse. In the chaos, a little girl falls on the street, right in the path of the bus.

Ga-on runs into the street to save her. But before he can pick her up, a shot rings out, and Ga-on covers the girl with his body. Yo-han put a bullet through the bus’s windshield and readies to fire again. The bus swerves and tips over onto its side, missing Ga-on and the little girl by inches.

After shakily checking on the girl, Ga-on stares in shock at Yo-han who chides the officer for not shooting. Yo-han spots Ga-on running over to check on the trapped driver. He watches with interest as Ga-on extracts and carries the man out of the bus just before it explodes.

The explosion sends Ga-on and the driver to the ground. Ga-on stumbles up and tries to rouse the unconscious driver, looking around for assistance which doesn’t come. Yo-han turns and walks away from the wreckage.

The news reports the kindergarten bus driver was upset over the suspension of the arrest warrant for Chairman Ju of JU Chemicals. Sun-ah calls it a desperate cry, like the futile actions of a trapped, starving rat.

President Heo requests more funding from the SRF and jokes that CHAIRMAN PARK (Lee Seo-hwan) better make this trial show a hit; Minister Cha has a personal stake in it. Her expression stoic, she slams down her glass and cuts off the men’s tittering.

That night, Ga-on walks through the desolate, litter-filled streets as a PA announcement about Korea’s safety plays. His friend YOON SOO-HYUN (Park Kyu-young), a police lieutenant, stops by after hearing about bus incident. Ga-on lies that he steered clear of the danger.

They have drinks on Ga-on’s little patio, and Soo-hyun notes his reticence when she brings up Yo-han. She mentions Yo-han’s “moving” backstory as the heir to a fortune and survivor of an accident. Ga-on scoffs that it’s quite different to his own backstory.

Soo-hyun encourages him to move to a better neighborhood, but he wants to stay since it reminds him of his parents. When he offers to cook her dinner, she jokingly responds he’ll make her confess her feelings again. He’s already rejected her five times since kindergarten. “I love you!” she shouts. He responds with finger hearts.

At JU Chemicals, the legal team goes over strategy for the trial. They’ll be pleading not guilty. How could Chairman Ju have known there were toxins in the industrial waste?

Worst case scenario, he’ll be charged with negligence resulting in death with a maximum sentence of five years. Chairman Ju is poised to throw a fit, but Attorney Ko assures him he’ll only have to serve a year or so before getting released on parole. And they both know who he can ask for help if necessary.

At the courthouse, Ga-on thanks Yo-han for saving his life. Would he have killed the driver? Yo-han would’ve, if necessary, but that wouldn’t have changed the bus’s path. Ga-on realizes he intentionally made the driver crash the bus since saving two lives was worth the driver’s possible death.

Justice Min suspects Yo-han has an ulterior motive for insisting the JU chemicals case be the first broadcast trial. Chairman Ju is the biggest donor to the SRF which, along with Minister Cha, supported Yo-han’s judicial reform plan. Yo-han must have a reason to put himself in this awkward position.

The judges discuss the bus driver, and Chief Justice Ji wants to go easy on him to avoid a scandal whereas Yo-han is all for harsh punishment. Ga-on clashes with Yo-han on ideology, arguing that motive matters. The driver’s three-year-old daughter died because of JU Chemicals, after which her maternal grandmother committed suicide. Yo-han isn’t moved.

In their office, Jin-joo and Ga-on watch a news report on the driver and his family, as well as the 11 deaths and 47 injuries due to JU Chemicals’ toxic wastewater. Both having grown up poor, the case hits them hard. Ga-on asks for her read on Yo-han, but Jin-joo avoids “useless curiosity” about her superiors.

Ga-on confronts Yo-han yet again after reading through his proposal to use a voting app to determine verdicts. Why even have associate judges, then? Yo-han leaves Ga-on speechless when he admits they’re mainly there for the aesthetics and as an “emergency measure.”

Later, Ga-on gets Justice Min to give him a key to the storage room so he can (illegally) access Chairman Ju’s 20-year-old court records. Minister Cha was then a prosecutor who quietly helped Chairman Ju out of trouble. When she later ran for Assembly, he assisted her campaign.

Now, Minister Cha is just standing by while Yo-han, who she has been strongly supporting, publicly tries Chairman Ju. Even knowing this could wreck his career, Ga-on isn’t about to sit back and watch a sham trial to conceal Chairman Ju’s crimes.

While driving home that night, Soo-hyun hears a teenage girl screaming for help as she struggles against two men. One of the men escapes, but Soo-hyun apprehends the other. She hugs the crying girl underneath a poster promising a safe Korea.

Sun-ah pays a visit to Minister Cha to discuss the SRF’s worries about the upcoming trial. The purpose is to appease citizens by publicly punishing petty criminals – targeting a businessman would set a problematic precedent.

Minister Cha scathingly calls out the SRF’s arrogance for stepping on her turf and telling her how to do her job. The steely look in Sun-ah’s eye belies her submissive manner and polite apology for overstepping. She respectfully reminds Minister Cha who foots the bill for her luxurious lifestyle and supplements the Ministry’s budget. “I wonder who is actually serving the country?”

Meanwhile, Ga-on asks Soo-hyun for a listening device but won’t tell her why he needs it. She sets it up for him anyway and helps him test it out. “Will you marry me? Just kidding. Love you,” she says into the microphone. He smiles while listening to the recording a few times after she leaves.

Elsewhere, Yo-han skulks around an abandoned warehouse where many unhoused individuals are seeking shelter. He seems to be searching for someone as he peers at young men’s faces and, oddly, checks their wrists. When a man grabs him, Yo-han mercilessly beats him down.

Ga-on takes the opportunity to slip into Yo-han’s office and searches for a good spot to plant the bug. Of course, Yo-han returns before Ga-on has a chance to sneak back out, so he pretends he was there to borrow a book from Yo-han’s sizable collection.

Yo-han scrutinizes Ga-on before pushing him against the bookshelf by the shoulder. Does he live alone? Confused, Ga-on says yes. Yo-han smooths Ga-on’s rumpled shirt and says that living alone is tough. After Ga-on leaves, Yo-han chuckles that he’s a funny kid.

Throughout the day, Ga-on listens in on Yo-han’s phone conversations. He hears Yo-han assure Minister Cha the trial will go “according to the law.” Yo-han also asks someone about a meeting with a doctor and promises to speak with the lawyer. That night, Ga-on follows him to a meeting with Attorney Ko, Chairman Ju’s lawyer.

Ga-on shares his findings with Justice Min, but they both know there’s not enough evidence to prove wrongdoing. The only thing they can do is keep an eye on Yo-han at tomorrow’s trial.

It’s the day of the trial, and everyone from President Heo to ordinary citizens eagerly tune in. Backstage, Yo-han stares at his judicial robe, memories of a fire in a church consuming his thoughts.

The trial is intended to restore the public’s waning trust in the courts, but it kicks off more like a gameshow, complete with an MC who explains how to vote via app. The judges make a striking entrance, Yo-han clad in white flanked by Jin-joo and Ga-on in black.

Yo-han vows that the judicial process will be transparent and account for the people’s will. “This court belongs to you, the people.” (That’s not what you said in private, sir.)

The trial opens with the prosecution laying out the case against JU Chemicals for dumping toxic waste into local rivers, leaving 11 dead and many more with disabilities. After the prosecutor’s emotional appeal to the jury in which he calls JU Chemicals a murderer, 70% of viewers already vote guilty.

The defense scoffs at the prosecution’s inflammatory speech and chides the prosecutor for his theatrics. Attorney Ko argues the wastewater treatment facilities were damaged after an embankment collapse, but JU Chemicals only took an hour to shut it down and fix the leak.

For some reason, opening statements become a free-for-all with the lawyers arguing back and forth like they’re in a poorly moderated debate. Even the defendant cuts in to disparage the prosecutor for defaming him without evidence and goes on a rant about how many employees he provides for.

Yo-han finally intervenes, stepping down from his podium to approach Chairman Ju. He tells him to sit and makes him take a deep breath. Then, he orders a short recess.

Upon reconvening, Jin-joo questions the defense on the strange timing of this “accident” that damaged the facilities a mere day after the first death. He argues that the first death can’t be tied to the case since there was no autopsy done.

Ga-on perks up when the defense calls a doctor to the stand, assuming this is who Yo-han arranged a meeting with. The doctor testifies that the water does contain heavy metals but argues they could’ve come from any number of pollutants. Now the guilty vote has gone from well over 70% to slightly over 50%.

Yo-han smiles when Ga-on asks for clarification on the specific pollutants found in the water. Ga-on gets the doctor to reluctantly admit that the most prevalent pollutant was cyanide. The defense tries to do damage control and argues cyanide sounds worse than it is – it’s only harmful in high concentrations.

The doctor patronizingly tells Ga-on he’s the expert here, but before Ga-on can fire back, Yo-han puts a stop to the discussion. He suggests they give the doctor some water.

As the doctor starts to drink, Yo-han concernedly checks to make sure they didn’t accidently give him water bottle with the river sample. The doctor spits the water out in a panic, proving that the river water is dangerous.

The doctor berates himself for agreeing to testify as he drives away from the courthouse. He starts having a coughing fit and swerves into the path of an oncoming Truck of Doom. Was he actually served the poison water?!

In another blow to the defense, a factory employee flips on the stand and reveals there were contamination issues from before the embankment “accident.” He even reported the issue to Chairman Ju who dismissed his concerns and said he didn’t care what happened to elderly residents who’d already lived a full life.

Chairman Ju denies the allegations, but the employee continues. Ga-on looks up sharply when he says his nickname is Doctor Safety for his adherence to the safety guidelines. It looks like there’s more than one possibility for the “doctor” in Yo-han’s pocket.

The guilty votes climb past 90% as Chairman Ju’s denials get more desperate. Yo-han pushes him into a corner, calling his actions murder by gross negligence. Chairman Ju changes tactics. He cries and apologizes, admitting he was told about the contamination but didn’t think it cause so much pain.

In line with Attorney Ko’s worst-case scenario, Yo-han confirms that Chairman Ju is admitting to professional negligence resulting in death. Ga-on realizes this was the outcome Yo-han worked toward all along.

During the break before the reading of the verdict, Chairman Ju is livid and barely stops himself from confronting the employee. “Why would he tell such a lie?” he grits out. Ooh.

In the hall, the PD excitedly reports that the show was a hit. Yo-han barely spares him a nod while Ga-on finds treating a trial like a variety show distasteful. Chairman Park and his cohort are thrilled, however.

Everyone is on the edge of their seats when Yo-han returns to announce the verdict. There’s not enough evidence for intent to murder, but negligence is clear. The maximum sentence for professional negligence resulting in death is five years. Disappointment ripples through the crowd.

However, a recent bill allows Yo-han to deliver a cumulative sentence accounting for all victims. The lights go down, leaving only Yo-han dramatically illuminated. He reads all the victims’ names while their pictures scroll on the screen. The family members in the gallery cry. Minister Cha watches from her office in wordless shock.

Yo-han addresses Chairman Ju, blaming his greed for the harm and loss of innocent lives. For that, he’s sentenced to 235 years in prison. Damn. The final vote: 97% guilty, 3% innocent.

Ga-on and Jin-joo stare in disbelief as cheers resound inside and outside the courtroom. The camera zooms in on the lone tear that rolls down Yo-han’s face.

Before security whisks Chairman Ju away, Yo-han whispers in his ear that he wishes him a long life. The older sister of the grandmother who committed suicide approaches the bench. She drops to her knees and bows, crying and thanking Yo-han profusely.

Yo-han kneels beside her and pulls her into a hug when she reveals she tried to kill herself too. He pats her back while she sobs … and then he yawns. Ga-on watches, stunned, and catches Yo-han’s eye.

Ga-on thinks back to all Yo-han’s manipulation and dramatics during the trial. Once more, a single tear falls down Yo-han’s face as he smiles right at Ga-on who stares with contempt.

As he looks at Ga-on, Yo-han again flashes back to the burning church. He reaches his hand out, seeing in his mind’s eye someone who greatly resembles Ga-on standing across from him in the rubble. Then, he’s kneeling on the ground beside the Ga-on lookalike who lies unconscious. Yo-han comes back to the present and smiles at Ga-on.

 
COMMENTS

Color me intrigued. The juxtaposition of the privileged and underprivileged in the opening sequence immediately set the tone and dropped us into this harsh alternate reality that isn’t such a far cry from our own. The stylistics stood out right off, particularly how the blue color palette gives everything a futuristic and sterile feel. Everything is sleek, cold, and detached in a way that highlights the veneer put forth by the wealthy. This is class struggle on steroids with the elite safe in their ivory towers while the streets literally burn. I’m guessing we’ll learn more about what set off this social war, but I actually like that we were dropped in without any expositional backstory. It was jarring in a good way. Despite only being one episode in, this bleak world feels pretty lived-in, and it’s clear how things operate and who benefits. For now, there’s just the right amount of mystery and the unknown to keep things interesting and create a sense of foreboding.

No one is quite as mysterious as our harsh celebrity judge Yo-han. Despite the character’s reticence, Ji Sung gives him such presence and nuance. Yo-han is entirely untrustworthy and unpredictable, in part because his motives are so hidden. I have no idea what he wants, but I know he’s after something. He seems the type to always be two steps ahead and have a motive for everything he does. The question is whose side that motive puts him on. We know he’s not overly concerned with ethics given his interference in the case and playacting in the courtroom, but whether he’s out for revenge, a harsh form of justice, or this is just how he gets his kicks remains to be seen.

And then, there was that strange incident with Yo-han sneaking around that warehouse and going overboard in attacking that man. He appears to be secretly looking for someone, and I’m guessing it’s related to the fire he keeps seeing in flashbacks. All we know so far is that the incident is also somehow related to Ga-on. From Yo-han’s comment about Ga-on’s resemblance to someone and that final flashback, I’m assuming that was Ga-on’s father at the church. The way Yo-han looks at Ga-on makes me think he and Ga-on’s relative were close, but who knows?

Ga-on is Yo-han’s opposite, not just in ideology but in his transparency. He’s exactly what you see: an empathetic, idealistic young judge who wants to make a difference. Ga-on isn’t a revolutionary character, but I think his straightforwardness works well in opposition to Yo-han’s mystique. Sometimes these sorts of altruistic or “pure-hearted” characters can end up one-dimensional and unengaging, but Jinyoung makes Ga-on likable and easy to root for. I’m looking forward to his interactions with Yo-han as they spend more time together. But the character who really has my attention is Sun-ah. She has such a great vibe. Glimpses alone are enough to know that is a woman not to be messed with. I’m excited to see more of her and figure out what her game is.

This drama might technically involve the law, but it’s not what I would call a legal drama. The courtroom antics were ridiculous, although seeing as this is an alternate reality, I’m willing to suspend my disbelief about the workings of the judicial system. Because the point here is decidedly not the law or legal proceedings. Turning the law itself into a reality TV game show foregrounds the performativity of it all. Reality can be harder to define with social media and entertainment blurring the lines between the real and the cultivated. People may believe their voices are being heard, but the democracy offered to them here is purely performative. Power remains firmly grasped by the same small percentage of elites who, as we saw, entirely decided the outcome before “democratic” justice was served. Not that civilians should have the power to convict en masse from their homes with the click of a button. That kind of anonymity and lack of accountability in deciding someone’s fate presents a different kind of concerning and potentially dangerous scenario.

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Too over-the-top for my taste, and I think the judge's robes are goofy.

Also

carries the man out of the bus just before it explodes.

Imagine my surprise that a kdrama wreck explodes, or that a rampaging vehicle has someone in it's path who needs rescuing. Sigh. I'm shocked :)

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I guess their robe is intentionally religious. Believing blindly on anything, like legal system, can be very toxic.

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That is how you make a fantastic entrance/debut episode. Over the top colours, tone, music and sets. It pays in the solid 5+% rating though.

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The bus crash was a really great way to give us a glimpse into how Yo-han makes his decisions: "It's math, 2 is bigger than 1". And I really liked Ga-on's answer: "I guess I should never be the smaller number in front of you".

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I totally agree with you, @maria15, so I just add this: Yohan is very calculating, and his every action is under heavy consideration. Gaon, on the other hand, shows that he cares every life, no one less. This is exactly that bus crash incident shows us.

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“I think this kind of society is the perfect stage for a devil judge to rise as a hero by putting on a flashy trial show amidst the anger and discontent of the public.
“Sadly, from a certain point on, rather than a kind and just protagonist, people started preferring to have an extremely powerful person on their side, no matter what their motives are. That’s the fantasy that this new era demands.”

I quote Moon Yoo Suk, the screenwriter of this very drama in one of my comment, on my own wall. Until he finished his last screenplay, i.e., Miss Hammurabi, he was an active judge of Seoul East District Court, and comparing this The Devil Judge with his last one, this one is his university thesis to his last one as kindergarten homework.

Yohan's intention may be a lot more clear when we go to Episode 2. For the time being, I would say this story is an amazing concept. I keep on saying this when I watched Vincenzo and Law School, with such legal background like Screenwriter/Former Senior Judge Moon, I am looking forward to him giving us another look on the discussion of Justice. He is giving us even more: After all, as the Ahn Nae-sang character (whom I am always reminded of his faulty legal professor/former prosecutor role in Law School: I guess he repented in this incarnation) said to Gaon: "There is no easy justice in this world." (Just a reminder: Ahn's character, Chief Justice Min, happened to be Gaon's professor in the Law School, as Gaon first addressed him). The society's problem cannot simply be solved by a harsh legal system alone, let alone a court with popular vote as its jury. There is always more to be fixed, and by showing us this Dystopian Korea, Screenwriter Moon is obviously showing us this.

Finally, but not least, special thanks to @quirkycase to recap this show. The opening 10 minutes is a masterpiece in terms of style as well setting up the background of the show, and it is pretty difficult to recap the feeling of that. Your effort is truely appreciated. And by the way, the music behind the opening is from Australia, and this is the full song, please enjoy.

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Another interesting thing to note from the director Choi Jung-gyu who said:
https://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/art/2021/07/688_311636.html

"Director Choi Jung-gyu, whose work includes the MBC mystery series "Children of Nobody," noted that the series questions the growing popularity of shows about a dark hero, such as recently wrapped "Taxi Driver" and "Vincenzo."

"Most dark hero series have action and are about fighting bad with bad. But with this series, the writer is making us think, 'Why are people crazy about dark heroes," he said. "The central theme which will be laid out through Ji's character is the biggest difference between our drama and previous series."

As Zoolander would say "Anti heroes are so... hawt right now!"

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Good saying, @soulsearch12!

"I had trouble understanding the character… (at first) I thought of the character as a good person who embraces evil. But he is just evil. Depending on the perspective, the evil character wasn't just fascinating but was depressing and agonizing."
——Ji Sung, playing the title character

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There was another interview where Ji Sung said he thought he was playing :

About his character Kang Yo Han, the titular “devil judge,” Ji Sung said, “He’s not a nice character like in other dramas. He’s a judge who uses evil to combat evil. It reminds me of Goethe’s tragedy ‘Faust.’ I wanted to portray him as a character whose kindness takes strength from evil, but the writer told me, ‘You’ve got it all wrong. You’re not Faust, but rather Faust’s tempter, Mephistopheles.’ I was shocked by that revelation.”

https://www.soompi.com/article/1477513wpp/ji-sung-talks-about-filming-at-the-same-time-as-wife-lee-bo-young-working-with-kim-min-jung-and-got7s-jinyoung-in-the-devil-judge-and-more

Both he, the director, and writer gave interesting/in-depth answers about the show!

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It is true. Afterall, Vaiśravaṇa/Bisamuncheon (the god claimed Vincenzo claim himself to be) is an imagination we project on the gods, but Kang Yohan is more realistic.

(The Dystopian Korea is realistic, too: think about the mystic pandemic is COVID-19 we are having right now, for example. It can be one possibility every democracy can experience)

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I suddenly think of a term: Show Trial.

This is a "court proceeding" notorious during the Soviet Great Purge (1930's). Everything is under the law, but the evidence as well the trial is manipulated so the people believe those "criminals" deserve the punishment. Yohan's court and his every verdict are all follow the laws (yes, there are law backing up his 235-year jail verdict), but his "justice" is based on the "popular will" which he manipulates during the proceeding/show trial(that bottle water the professor was drinking, for example). This is the "democracy" he creates for his own use.

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Wowza, they're referencing Faust? I might need to check this out!

Also, anti-heroes have ALWAYS been popular in Western media, so not sure why people are acting like surprised Pikachus about their popularity. Maybe South Korea is just getting on the bandwagon?

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Anti-heroes is not that new in K-drama, @songxrising, for I at least found this article that list some of those (although I may define some on the list as "Dark Heroes" instead of "Anti-Heroes": they want to do good but they can't). Dystopia is new on K-drama, although not quite rare on K-cinema (Illang: The Wolf Brigade is one of those, although it was originate from Japan).

However, I would argue either anti-heroes and dystopia doesn't always portrayed in K-drama, partly because the audience of TV Drama is pretty different from Cinema, the cinemagoers are more tolerable to newer concept, as the TV audience is more conservative (so we have more idiocy love on TV then anti-heroes), and they probably want their drama more direct in terms of message. On the other hand, South Korean have seen a real life dystopia sitting in the north of their country, and there are more dystopian-like scenarios in their history (like A Taxi Driver and 1987), so except this dystopia concept is new and fresh, I would doubt if they like to see another of those.

I guess The Devil Judge opens up some new discussion because comparing its titular character to that of, let's say, Vincenzo. You would probably like Vincenzo Cassano, although you know he is a bad guy; but you don't do that to Yohan. I think that's why The Devil Judge is standing out.

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I loved your recent reply about dark heroes! Yes, for the longest time, K audiences have been perceived to have been females. But in recent years, K-dramas have breached out a bit. Esp. this year, we see dramas like this, Vincenzo, Taxi Driver, and Mouse w/ dark heroes which is given to the Main characters, which seems like a first.

K-cinema can experiment/take chances than K-dramas can't do. No offense, but Taxi Driver fell victim to that b/c it was on SBS, they couldn't go as further as they could w/ their analysis. Cable can go a bit deeper, but even then, K-dramas still have a long way to go imo when it comes to pushing the boundaries. Off topic, but Taekashi Miike is doing a K-drama, so we shall see lol!

I really hope b/c this show already finished and is now in post-production, that we don't have weird writing hiccups like Vincenzo/Taxi Driver had. I hope they go all the way w/ Yo Han's character. My one quibble is while the world building is grand, I do feel like we need to know that we're in a dystopian world. Something to make us remember this is dystopia. Hope to see more dystopian settings in K-dramas, Netflix Korea is making some dramas w/ those settings, and Kim Woo Bin got offered to do one just now! Hope that goes through, b/c given the budget they can give/technology, it'll be so fun/cool to see another dystopian/sci-fi world that we often see in the West but in K-dramas full size!!

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Films/Drama concerning dystopia need a huge vision to do so. I am hoping to see more often showing up in K-Cinema.

I think I love Screenwriter Moon treat his drama with utmost care: The set up in Ep. 1 is in fact being done beautifully, then Ep. 2 is focus more on the 2 main characters, yet he can give us enough hint for question we are going to solve. It is also good that the drama has wrapped up all the shooting, so the story will be more complete. Vincenzo is good, and it is wrapped up pretty well, but Taxi Driver is not that good. I guess I am also hoping more K-drama shows plan ahead on their story, if they cannot finish it all before it's aired ...

By the way, sorry to ask that, are you talking about Hirokazu Koreeda? His shooting of Baby, Box, Broker has just wrapped up, and now in post-production ...

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@imperialtitus Oops, I meant to say for K-drama audiences they're generally perceived to be mostly women! I too would love to see more K cinema take more sci-dystopian themes/budgets but $$ is the issue. I notice Netflix and other sites that'll soon join, might be the ones to shoulder some of that budget. As the films that have showcased them didn't do as expected :/ Maybe a co Hollywood/Korea production? The Son Ye Jin/Andrew Niccool film was suppose to film around this time but has been pushed back unfortunately.

The fact that Screenwriter Moon was a former judge has more oomph to his show. Plus the Ancient Greek tragedies/references pique my interest.

"I guess I am also hoping more K-drama shows plan ahead on their story, if they cannot finish it all before it's aired ..." That would be great, but I feel they've a long way to go before so (talking about the Cable/Public channels). They'll film 50-60% of the show and then finish the rest as its ending, which I still feel iffy about. Maybe w/ the rise of streaming/OTT platforms, I foresee more pre-produced stories, but even then I'm not sure b/c Moving is a Next Studio and Disney+ collaboration, so even then its still operating under a half pre-shoot/live-shooting schedule.

Ooh, what were your issues w/ Taxi Driver, since there's no recap for that but similar themes presented in all 3 shows! Was it the acting? Or the story w/ justice? The cases? Thanks!

Nope! https://www.kdramapal.com/studio-dragon-work-japanese-film-auteur-takashi-miike/ "According to industry insiders, Studio Dragon and Takashi Miike are working together for a new drama reportedly called CONNECT." Very random ngl lol.

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Oh my god, @soulsearch12, Takashi Miike! That's truely news to me! Only CJ E&M can do this kind of stuffs (They also own tvN and OCN, that's why)!!

I actually cannot catch too many shows at the same time. I didn't watch Taxi Driver because I heard they switch the lead screenwriter in the middle of the show, and the style somehow more tamed, which I don't quite like. I do say a lot about Vincenzo, Law School because I've watched both, even halfway through Beyond Evil ... Sorry I have to choose shows to watch ...

"K-drama audiences they're generally perceived to be mostly women ..." It is pretty true, I guess, around 2018. Netflix's involvement really changed the environment of K-Drama production, as Netflix put in half of the production cost (according to some reports, there is never a confirm number how much Netflix has paid) on Mr. Sunshine to get the international right, as well fully invested in Kingdom series. I guess since then the K-drama field is being more diversified. Now Kakao even invests in shorter web-dramas, so there will be more audience to be attract into this genre. On the other hand, I found lately (I guess after 2nd quarter of 2020, after Crash Landing on You and Itaewon Class) some K-dramas are repeating themselves, like Doom at Your Service and Mystic Pop-up Bar repeating Goblin and Hotel del Luna, as well some series is getting season 2, 3, and 4 (excluding Hospital Playlist and Forest of Secret, they both at least tried something new, and the Season 2 is somewhat better then Season 1). Some of them dare not try new things, which I am a little bit concern. I wish K-dramas going international but at the same time keep their own characteristics (for example, time to revive Arthdal Chronicles now) ...

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@imperialtitus Random indeed. Now if a famous Western director like David Fincher did a K-drama, I would be over the moon!?

Taxi Driver's writer change imo didn't really shift the whole show for me. But it was more they finally used Esom's talents which were wasted in the 1st half. Good show, but it was too much of the one man show (LJH). Could've been more dynamic w/ its message too.

There was an article about the audiences. Netflix did change the game. Now a days, in order to have Hallyu success, a show needs to be on Netflix. 2018 was the starting point, w/ Mr. Sunshine/Memories of the Alhambra. But to me, 2019 is when they started to do more than just producing but also marketing, as they want that Asian market. Netflix K-dramas still do operate under the dramas we've seen, save for a few risky/fresh choices. If Netflix continues to be successful, we could see more risk taking!

While ratings will still hold weight, b/c of how many OTT sites are popping up, it seems its not the be all end all. A lot of writers/stations must have insider info, b/c there are many cases where I too feel similarities (dramas that air close to one another/are about to). Ex. Snowdrop/Youth of May, Vincenzo/Taxi Driver, You are my spring/Psycho but its ok, and etc.

Multiple seasons is still eh to me. Even Taxi Driver is in talks for S2 meh. Stranger S1 was a masterpiece, S2 wasn't in the same league. So are there trying to do up to S3 or S2, I wish it was more clear. There trying to go the Hollywood route, & its starting to lose its flavor imo.

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Talking about rating, @soulsearch12, there is a scene in this episode about the PD telling the 3 judges the People's Court's rating is great (11% in first episode! We all remember the current record holder in real life is Hospital Playlist 2, which is 10%). The show even has time to mock the TV station airing this very show ...

Yes, you are right, Netflix may have set up shop in South Korea since 2016, but they didn't really get into the business until 2019. Mr. Sunshine, I guess we all agree that it is them testing water--certainly, in terms of doing testing, it is a pretty save choice. But if you realize, they treated the drama pretty well, they even have weekly preview in the Netflix Asia YouTube Channel. Certainly they're going big is when they started "The Swoon" channel on YouTube, and that is a totally different game.

According to the show you've mentioned, Stranger 2 maybe not as good as Season 1, but I guess it is because they switched the director, and the rhythm is a bit slower, as well the issue is about the power sharing between prosecutor and police, which may not be that familiar outside of South Korea (but it was news in the country, President Moon Jae-in even lost a Minister of Justice in the middle of the reform). It maybe harder for us non-South Korean having the same feeling ... Song Joong-ki says well: people should hold back and stop in a suitable time (He was talking about no Season 2 for Vincenzo); but you know, companies' greed is endless ...

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Just one more thing, @soulsearch12. I am not going against Season 2. If there is better stories to tell, just go ahead. Lately I am following 2 K-drama, the other one is a Season 2 (Hospital Playlist 2)

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@imperialtitus

Yes, you are right, Netflix may have set up shop in South Korea since 2016, but they didn't really get into the business until 2019. Mr. Sunshine, I guess we all agree that it is them testing water--certainly, in terms of doing testing, it is a pretty save choice. But if you realize, they treated the drama pretty well, they even have weekly preview in the Netflix Asia YouTube Channel. Certainly they're going big is when they started "The Swoon" channel on YouTube, and that is a totally different game.

Mr. Sunshine was their first true dip into producing/funding K-dramas, and it worked out very well. But that was before the creation of The Swoon, notice how they cater more to K-dramas than other Asian content. The shipping wars, shipping couples/co-stars, are what drive their popularity. It would be nice for them to give that same push to other less romance/non-romance shows. I know they did a good job w/ Kingdom, but that being their flagship show, they didn't promote it this much the 2nd time around imo. Altho that show made people who never watched a K-drama watch it, interestingly enough on their Top 10 of most watched K-dramas, Kingdom S2 is nowhere to be found, unless that's for shows they distributed instead of created...Also really curious how Move to Heaven did, b/c that show got dumped and forgotten about by Netflix after 1 week.

"Song Joong-ki says well: people should hold back and stop in a suitable time (He was talking about no Season 2 for Vincenzo); but you know, companies' greed is endless." Thank goodness, he clarified that S1 was definitive, b/c you know they would've loved a S2. Sometimes, I miss when K-dramas just had a clear definitive ending. Open endings annoy me b/c majority of the time, going into production, these folks assumed only 1 season. But b/c it got more popular than expected, they add another season and an open ending, sometimes we get another season, but most times nada. It's frustrating lol.

Stranger S2 was more dense, and more about the fight between the prosecutors/police line. For me, solid story/text, it is dense, but it was missing that suspense/thriller aspect from S1 imo. Altho S1 of Stranger is so well written/directed, that its hard for most shows to top it. S3 seems like a thing given the ending of S2, but alas nothing has been confirmed yet. CSW said until he gets grey hair, he wants to do this until S4/S5 :O. Very BBC like lol.

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@imperialtitus Lol, my apologies, I copy/pasted your first paragraph. Oops, so ignore that pls lol!

Netflix has put over $700 million onto Korean content (films/variety/dramas/stand ups) since 2016, and in 2021 ($500 million). They want that Asian market since their Western market is stagnant. K-content knows how to entice viewers/fans alike. The Swoon is corny lol, but it knows exactly what it's doing w/ making people/fans talk. K-variety seldom allow the talents to talk calmly/naturally, more Couch Talk instead of Jenga/Ping Pong! Netflix Asia (I feel most rabid fans go to The Swoon instead).

What an interesting topic we dived into! Very curious where Netflix will take K-content beyond from now! And very curious how other competitors will fare (Disney+/Apple+/etc), I'm sure for Korean talents, they're very thrilled/happy international interest/companies want to work w/ them. This is a much better deal than China for sure.

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Exactly, as you said, @soulsearch12, Western market is stagnant for Netflix, therefore currently Netflix put on a lot of foreign shows. Other then K-drama, I watched Baahubali (Part 1&2) on Netflix, this is the most expensive Indian movie produced for the time being, and it is not in the most common Hindi produced in Mumbai (which called "Bollywood"), but Talugu in Hyderabad, so you'll probably watch some not so mainstream Indian productions.

Another show I would love to recommend on Netflix is Occupied in Norwegian, this 24-episode in 3 seasons show layout another Dystopian situation: at a time Mideast can't export oil due to civil unrest and US out of NATO (First Season aired in 2015, think about what Donald Trump said merely 2 years after), the EU cannot bear Norway elected a Green Party Prime Minister and stop all oil production to go environmental, so they have a secret agreement with Russia and ask the latter to invade Norway and force them to resume oil and gas production ... What next? You should watch yourself.

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“I think this kind of society is the perfect stage for a devil judge to rise as a hero by putting on a flashy trial show amidst the anger and discontent of the public."
This is very true. There will always be people who will take advantage of any situation in order to paint themselves as saviors/heroes. Ji Sung's character understand his audience and he knows how to manipulate their emotions.

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Yes to this show being recapped!

Solid premiere episode. The tone and world building were spot on. Ji Sung is as formidable as ever. Is it just me or he has become more refined and natural as a performer? Truly my eyes were going towards him the whole time, what a great actor! Yo Han is a mysterious character, who is he and why is he doing the things that he's doing? Its all unclear, & I believe that's intentional too.

Ga on is so judgmental, check his side eye glances lol. They've this sultry dynamic going on, the angel to Yo Han's shoulder? Also Veronica Park is back! She's a klutz, but could be more than meets the eye.Overall, I like how this show gives off these sexy mixed with chaotic vibes! Please be good till the end!!

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Kim Jae-kyung (aka Veronica Park) as Oh Jin-joo is a klutz LOL. Her character annoyed me so much. Why oh why does she have to be the way she is? She introduces herself as a fangirl; she's messy; she turns off the television when someone is watching it; she is more aware of herself in the trial while so much else was happening; she believes she was hired for her looks; and she poses at the fashion parade. To be fair her cross-examination was good, but why can't she be a professional and keep her personal insecurities out of the workplace? Perhaps there is hope and she too is playing a double game. Good grief. For the women of the world, I hope so. BTW all the other women are reprehensible as well. I'm giving the detective a pass for the moment: but what game is she playing?

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There was so much happening in Ep 1/2, that I feel like any character annoyances didn't affect me yet. Maybe down the line? Also, prior goodwill to Kim Jae-kyung for Veronica Park (Which is such a memorable character esp. for 2nd FL's), that I was like "Omg, its her?!"

She is a klutz, Oh Jin-hoo loves fame/attention despite acting like she doesn't. Seems harmless for now, but could be either comic relief or sinister depending on how the show shapes out. She does seem to despite her oddball tendencies, as implied by her sleeping at the office that she is serious about her work, when needed.

The female characters we've thus far are seem intriguing with each of them having their own hidden agendas. As I said below, I would like this to be more character focused, as each of our central characters have room to explore!

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I had some issues with the way female characters - especially the 'good' female characters - were portrayed in this and it's a longstanding issue for me. The detective annoyed me less because she was known to be somewhat competent at her job.

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I'm so excited this is getting recapped! I felt like some things got lost in translation for me, so it always helps to read the recaps after I've watched. I thought this first episode was great. I actually loved that the trial seemed over the top with costumes and everything.

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Man, looks like I found my drama crack after Vincenzo! Ji Sung is a powerhouse himself. His presence uplifts a drama to a height. We have to see how the story-line goes from here but I will be tuning in just ti see Ji Sung's performance.

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Ji Sung is nothing without eyeliner, kidding 😂, at least he is better than Song Joong-ki any day, way more believable.

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The cast from top to bottom cannot be faulted but I've got to say I fled American (/Canadian/British) fare specifically to escape all the dystopian storylines.

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These are new for Korean dramas

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Yeah, because kdramas are not formulated. 😐

This comment is embarrassing.

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This isn't for you then. Go back to your fluffy romcoms.

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I didn't watch it yet bu, by watching these pictures, it looks more a TV show about a cult and its guru than a drama about justice.

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It was never supposed to be a drama about justice. As someone else said, this whole religious imagery is probably meant to show how blindly believing in something (the justice system, in this case) is very toxic.

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This was everything I wanted since I first heard the writer describe it as The Dark Knight + The Hunger Games in a courtroom. It was chaotic, OTT, weird and intriguing. The cinematography is amazing and the first scene immediately set the mood. I like the OST too.

I loved how Ji Sung played Yo-han: A mysterious, refined showman with dubious motives. I’m interested in learning his connection to Ga-on and just what his endgame is. Ga-on is not as interesting as the young, idealistic, upright judge, but Jinyoung played him well, and I like his interactions with Yo-han. He’s in way over his head there.

The live court show is ridiculous, as it is supposed to be. It’s not actually about justice. The judge’s robes really do look like something the pope and his cardinals would where, but I imagine that is intentional given some of the dialogue and religious imagery.

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this drama would be much better without the CGI

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The Hunger Games tip is interesting and makes a lot of sense, although I like the really over the top outfits of the ruling class in the Hunger Games better. Here the styling is more like in Mine. I still have to decide whether I like this drama, but because of the writer and Ji Sung I will stick with it for now.

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It was fine. The case was a very basic legal drama case. The court stuff is the most boring to me. However, ther personal interactions are more interesting. I don't even particularly care about Yo Han's backstory. Frankly he is the least interesting character to me, I feel a sense of been there done that, so he is whatever. Su Nah is the most interesting to me, she obviously isn't just a secretary. I want to know more about her character. Everyone else is a character I've seen and everything else is a story I have seen. I'm hoping it gets better though.

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I understand what you said "boring", @kafiyah-bello; however, I would say it like that: Episode 1 is to set up the world as well the rules of the "People's Court", a simplier case will make people concentrate the set up part.

On the other hand, I agree with you that the personal interactions are more interesting. Other then the interaction among all sides in the courtroom (I do feel goosebump when Yohan spell out his verdict: it is basically Vincenzo killing Junwoo all over again, but this time I don't feel justice is served, but a greater terror) Two relationship around Gaon are the most interesting. First is him with Supreme Court Justice Min. This obviously mentor-mentee relationship may be the opposition to the current "judicial reform," as well telling us a lot of counter argument towards Yohan's position.

The other one is him with Soohyun. I guess it would be tiring if I confess to a wall 5 times and keep on trying, as well the recipient who received confession for 5 times. There must be a reason they won't go one step further, and they probably know that, and I am looking forward for what they are going to go.

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That is fair. Luckily, the court room stuff doesn't seem to be the focal point. I do totally agree about Ga On's relationship. Is his mentor actually friend or foe? Also him and Soo Hyun are adorable, so watching that play out should be interesting, it is nice that they are actually friends.

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Ga On's relationship with Supreme Court Justice Min will prove to be dodgy, I'm sure. Ga On's wiretap shows that the law is expendable to both of them, as well.

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@quirkycase Thank you for the recap. I agree with what you said that civilians should never be given the power to decide an individual's fate via the press of an app. I kept thinking back to people condemning others via social media, based on hearsay or limited facts, and how damaging this can be to a person's professional and personal life. This was a strong first episode and I look forward to watching more.

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I was thinking that too. There is very little that is futuristic in this dystopian world. It's all happening right now, especially the trials by media.

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This was not good and it continues to show that Ji Sung is not a great actor and his female leads have to pick up the slack and talent to carry on. Kim Ming Jung is gonna do it this time around and people are still going to put Sung on a pedestal at the expense of a more talented supporting cast.

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Ji Sung is not good? Wow, he basically won a daesang b4.

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And???

There are plenty of one trick ponies out there.

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I disagree! I saw a 3 of his dramas and he’s excellent! He won Daesang twice if i’m not mistaken.

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You've a right to your opinion! From what I recall, some of his naysayers say he's too theatrical (a lot of 1st/2nd generation Korean drama actors tend to fall into that camp). Altho from Ep 1/2, he knows when to pull back and not chew up scenery when he could for this role.

As for one trick pony, type casting is something all actors face. There are worse examples of actors who always does cheesy romance or same stoic expressions. I notice Ji Sung tends to do more odd balls/unlikable characters, but for on the dramatic side. He did do P.S My Partner/Protect the Boss/Kill Me Heal Me which showed off his comedic chops. Perhaps, his style/acting isn't your taste? Altho on the inter webs, Kim Min Jung is being lambasted for her 'unnatural' performance, so everyone's opinion is diff!

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When the writer said he wanted Yo-han to have a Joker-like personality, I feared scenery chewing. He's one of my favorite actors, but he needs a director who can hold him back, which I think he got here.

I think Ji Sung's been pretty successful avoiding typecasting, especially compared to some in his age group. He's went back and forth between dramatic and comedic roles, pretty much doing a different genre with each drama.

I love Kim Min-jung and while I wouldn't call her performance unnatural like some knetz, there is something a little off for me so far. Maybe I just expected something different or it's been awhile since I've seen her. I think her character is one of the most interesting so I want to love her.

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Yo Han was described by the director as Batman who wants to be the Joker. "Asked to describe his character, Kang Yo Han, Ji Sung says, “He’s like a devil Batman. He has it all and he’s cool. I think the screenwriter got too greedy and gave him all sorts of appealing traits, so it’s very difficult to play him as an actor."

"Writer Moon had been telling me that since he covered stories about good judges in Ms. Hammurabi, he wants to portray an evil judge, acting like a Batman or Joker, set in a fictional world. And he finally made it into a series."

It seems Yo Han is a complex/dynamic character, and surely for Ji Sung, its a treat and could be that role where he could get some accolades from it again. Watching Ep 1/2, other than the Joker laugh, he was Yo Han, no Ji Sung there! No over the top expressions/behavior, it was refreshing, Ji Sung told Jin Young advice that people want to see you become that role and have the words you say be natural, and I see he himself has put that to good use here! He's also married/w kids which prop. lessens the romance roles, but generally he tries to do diff genres like Secret (Makjang/melo romance), KMHM (Psychological/Dramedy), Defendant (Crime/Law), Familiar Wife (Family/Rom-com), Dr. John (Medical/Romance), & Devil Judge (Thriller/Sci-Fi/Law). Perhaps, nuance acting isn't his forte (When he did Feng Sei/he got some criticism for his over acting).

As for Kim Min-jung, she has a unique look that can be a bit off putting at first. But she has this devil may care attitude? Like My Fellow Citizens type role here. She does well w/ those sassy/rule breaking female roles. She said her role is a femme fatale/her and Yo Han are def. going to go at it, which sounds fun!

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He has a degree in Theater and Film. Plus, most of his roles require him to pull off the required theatric skills (Innocent Defendant and etc). If he is a poor actor, i don't think many directors will ask him to star in their dramas. He can easily retire and just fate out easily.

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Ji Sung is not a great actor?

I think he has a great aura as a Chief Judge without knowing he is black or white. Sometimes, as a director of the show (I study theatre directing in university, although not an active director, so I know some of those stuff), what I want is an actor/actress to fit in a role, not interpret the character as they please. Ji Sung is good in this role, I actually can fear him at the same time hate him, yet some of his justice I can applaud for ... in short, it is complicate. I can't say for sure about his acting, because this is the first time I see him (I watch the other 3 main leads for several times, though, they are great actors/actresses).

I know I have to respect your opinion, but I can't help but saying this: You must be kidding, right?

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"(I study theatre directing in university)." Ooh! Nice!

I bet due to their studies that when you watch K-dramas, you can tell which actor/actress is a good one vs a bad one. I would ask you which talents you find stand out. The bad ones too, but that might be controversial :D. I notice the great actors change their diction/voice, and use their body language. Also, how they interpret their text too. I watched an American actor talk about his acting/craft, and it was fascinating! Def. do feel theater/actors who were trained in acting tend to be the best, b/c they don't just act out their role but they become them.

Personally, Jin Young in this drama seems like the weakest link imo. As in he seems a bit green, and if his role is the 2nd foil to Ji Sung, then he has to bring it! I know he said in a new interview that even if wasn't pleased w/ his performance, but it was a good learning experience.

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I guess among the leading 4 actors/actresses, Jinyoung is not the one I concern the most. At least he's done his job (although I feel he smiles in some odd places sometimes), and comparing the 3 judges, he is the greenest one (he sits at the chief's left), so as long as he plays out his "greenliness", it will be okay.

The one I concern the most, however, is Park Kyu-young (who plays Soohyun, the one who confess to Gaon 5 times since kindergarten). She looks sweet when she is playing the love interest of Gaon, but she doesn't look strong in terms of an experienced police lieutenant. I know she can play a lot of roles, from the Mama Baby in Romance is a Bonus Book , a caring nurse in It's Okay to Not Be Okay, even the bass gaitarist in Sweet Home. But she doesn't have that aura, and she can't play that out. I would rather have someone like Kim Taeri, Kim Dami or even IU (although the last is a bit marginal: she is okay as a fighter in her Lilac MV, but the one in Hotel del Luna ... well, her My Ajusshi shows that she can be strong and complicate, but her fighting skill ...) to play that role.

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Interestingly I heard Gyuyoung is actually quite good at boxing? Maybe the rain but her punch on Gaon looked powerful enough lol Gaon's ear piece even dropped out after she punched him haha

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I would rather say this, @peachietime, I just concern, I am not thinking she is bad. That would have because there is some image I have on the actress. Therefore I am not saying that for sure. Afterall, Park Kyu-young is a great actress, since she has tried so many roles (as I listed my my last post). I will have my final verdict after more observation, maybe even clean up some of my presumption on her.

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His green-ness/earnestness does work for his role. Although he does need to ease down on the squinting and eye glances though lol. I would much rather have this be character driven, so I hope to see all of our characters that we've introduced in a prominent way some depth along the way.

As for Park Kyu-young, I would've maybe switched her out to the FL position instead of 2nd FL. I think she has this tomboy moxie to her that I dig. She did a good job w/ punching the suspect, it was believable. Don't think Kim Tae Ri/IU could pull off an action/police role yet, they don't have the punching vibe to me at least. Someone like Lee Si Young though does.

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Ji Sung plays a character with lots of secrets, and not like to share his thinking to others, and yet he is somehow a showman, so his exaggerating gesture in the courtroom and reservist move outside of it is very suitable, and he even has some authority bringing with him. Jinyoung, on the other hand, is an open book, and not a revolutionary, so his warm smile and "commoner approach" is good to go. Kim Min-Jung's Jung Sun-ah is the most interesting character, and I guess I love her the most among the 4.

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Actually thought Gaon is supposed to FEEL very green. If we were to talk about getting into the role, that green, young, rushed, and rookie vibe is how audience should feel about Gaon. As Jisung was saying, Jinyoung said that he isn't good enough out of being humble - of course no one young actor can say they did a good job especially in front of Jisung lol. 99% young actors/actresses have a long way to go if compared to Jisung.

Honestly to me everyone from the main 4 leads have been doing their jobs being their roles. We haven't seen much from Sunah and I have not seen her performance before, so it's not "same old same old" to me. So will be looking forward to seeing her shine in the later episodes.

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Sunah is not there a lot, but everytime she's there, she's like WOW (using Ikjun's gesture/Hospital Playlist S2E4) ... It's just hard to neglect her presence.

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I think jin young is supposed to feel green with ga on being thrust straight into the court with no prior experience only because his professor wants someone he trusts keeping an eye on Yo han

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I would recommend Secret Love (great performances by all) , for Ji Sung fix.

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jisung is great actor..he's just not good at picking dramas sometimes..i can't watch his dramas after Defendant just simply because it doesn't fit my taste not because of his acting

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Ooh this has turned out some interesting responses! To be honest, I feel all actors (bad or good) have their shares of hits and misses. It must be luck and gamble when one finds a hit project that connects w/ the audience. Secret kickstarted it (He won an award for it, and he said this was his 1st major award as an actor). It shows you that even w/ Main Leads prior to then, you can still be under appreciated. (Didn't finish Protect the Boss, but people said he let loose/good at comedy!).

I also feel like once stars marry/have kids, their selection decreases. We ought to have those Career Analysis posts on this site again. His career can be cut into 3 parts (1-after his breakthrough w/ All In, 2- after military which were mostly duds, and 3- after Kill Me Heal Me, which finally gave him the recognition that escaped him. Reading his interviews, he's def. a big family man. Wouldn't be shocked if he decreases his work when he gets older. Hope not, but if his roles do dry up, he'll prob. be content raising his kids/taking care of his wife.

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Have you watched all his shows to give the comments. Her is a very versatile and talented actor. Also can sing and dance.

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I loved every second of it and thought Ji Sung put in the best performance from him I've ever seen. He was mesmerising and ambiguous and subtle. So that mileage really does vary.

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In my mind, this makes a trilogy with Vincenzo and Law School. Justice is Evil ( Vincenzo), Justice is Humane (Law School), Justice is a Farce (Devil Judge)..

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I would say that Vincenzo said that Justice is Nonexistent but with the sentiment I agree.

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This is such a great recap! Thank you for noticing Gaon was about to pick up the girl but with the bullet he went back to protect the girl lol I have seen people saying he was so dumb to just stand there not trying to leave lol

Also I saw many people misunderstood what this drama is. It's barely a legal drama. It talks about justice but not really a legal drama. The way the court is so ridiculous and religious is exactly the point. I really hope Yohan isn't just a typical anti hero, who truly cares for the people or justice. It would be so much more interesting.

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For once the farcical nature of TV court did not annoy me because this was a farcical TV court by design.

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*Not that civilians should have the power to convict en masse from their homes with the click of a button.* Isn't that what happens now with trial by media?

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I'm having mixed feelings to the premiere. The court room and judges robes were gorgeous but by making the trial looks something like a reality show feels like mocking a court. People clapping in the courtroom? It's like the court lost its 'holiness'. The system in which people can vote to punish the defendant (pros and cons are there) was interesting though. And also Ga On certainly had enough time to save the little girl and also himself from the impending doom. I'm still watching it for now, let's fingerscrossed it'll get better!

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I think that's exactly the point of making the court a show. It's for the drama to discuss about how ridiculous this is and what this all would actually harm the system. The writer is a former leading judge in Seoul, so you can see he really wants to go deep in this topic.

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I agree that's exactly the point and there was dialogue in Episode 2 that touched on this.

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Honestly, I don't see the advantage to have an old judge to write this drama. The extravagant elements took over the real topic. They didn't have talk about the real trials before jumping in this comedy trial. It was rushed.

All the bus accident was kinda ridiculous, there were a lot of cops but it's the Judge who ran to save the little girl, then another judge who shot and again the young judge who saved the driver...

Jin-Young as Judge is really funny, I already had issues with L and Go Ara... These actors look young for their age, so it's hard to imagine they did college, training as judge or as a lawyer, then had some years of experience as judge...

The direction is really good and beautiful.

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But the birthday on Gaon's profile was Nov 1997, which is even younger than Jinyoung? Jinyoung is 1994 I checked.

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How it's possible? Law school, then judge school, then experience outside of Seoul? And in the middle of that, he had to do 2 years of army...

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Not sure which system this drama is using lol Back when the writer himself became a judge, he was still under the old system which you don't need a graduate degree to take the bar so the age of becoming a judge can be much younger. It is only after 2007 or 2009 it became more like the US where you need to graduate college (probably at age 21-22) and then 3 years law schools to take the bar (24-25). You are not required to go to army until the age of 28-29. So being 27 years old (Jinyoung's age) could pass as one of these young rookie judges. As it sounds like from soohyun, gaon has just started as well. But not sure about the law school system in the drama. Also actually not really sure what year is this drama setting haha. Maybe it isn't even 2021.

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I still remember in Your Honour the male lead got asked how he became a judge and gave a very detailed answer that explained exactly how miscast the actor was - by about a decade.

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Oh Dear, I love JiSung, but not only couldn't follow the 1st episode, but can't follow the recap! Help!

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Thank you for pointing out that Gaon was about to carry the kid but couldnt because of Yohan already pulled the trigger, but I think the bus scene is to highlight more on Yohan and Gaon’s character & relationship in the drama. Gaon is this righteous brave young man who doesnt think twice to do and say what he think is the right thing to do/say. Meanwhile Yohan is this crazy lunatic strong man who stick to his motive and knows what he wants. It described more on conversation between the two the next day. “It’s a math, 2 is better than 1” said Yohan, and then Gaon said “i guess i should never be the smaller number in front of you”. So it isnt about portraying what people would do in real situation, but to show the main leads character & relationship more. With that being said, i actually confuse why people want things to be as real as it could be in this drama, maybe because people think this is a usual “legal drama” which in my opinion it’s not. From the start its already described as a dystopian world, it’s not to resemblance the real world, so maybe change your perspective and expectation..? 😅 (sorry for my bad english, and this wasnt meant for anyone in particular, just my opinion)

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I loved every second of this, it was mesmerising. From the first scenes where they depicted a dystopian Seoul just from filming the city from a slightly different angle to the whole construction of reality in the televised trial. It was well written and I was surprised how restrained Ji Sung was (I've often found him ridiculously over the top and nearly didn't watch this because of it).

If I have an issue with it, it's the sheer volume of characters that were barely introduced. But I guess that's why we have recaps.

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