Korean Dramas that star anti-heroes seem to be a secret key in garnering the number of Korean viewers. From Vincenzo to Taxi Driver and now with TvN’s newest drama ‘The Devil Judge’. The first four episodes showed a constant increase in ratings from the public. From 5.552% of its pilot episode to 6.294% of the 4th episode in its time slot, the drama proves to be a strong contender in Korean viewership. This might be due to the drama’s subject and plot structure which allowed the public to see themselves through the key players of the drama.
When the trailer of this drama was released, I was already excited because I know that moral conflicts will be one of the central elements and driving forces that will propel the story forward and I love narratives that are heavy on moral conflicts. When I am given the opportunity to question character decisions, I live for it and this drama has that.
The Devil Judge is a drama set in a dystopian Korea where social chaos is prevalent and the elite relish in their power. Kang Yo-han, the main judge of this drama, has put criminal trials on national television. He punishes criminals and offenders as if hunting for prey. In so doing, he receives the public’s support to the point of veneration as that of a messiah. His court is joined by Kim Ga-on and Oh Jin-joo.
However, what seemed to be a court helmed by a man with a strong willpower to bring out justice especially to the poor, Kang Yo-han hides a secret that could be the main motive of his character’s actions. It would be interesting to see how devil of a judge Kang Yo-han is as he continues to chase and put to scales of justice the threat to Korea’s social peace.
Character Introduction: Major Key Players
Ji Sung as the judge Kang Yo-han
He is the chief judge of the televised court of Korea where the public can participate in passing judgments. His character is downright mysterious. He hides a secret that could be his main motivation.
Jin Young as Kim Ga-on
He is one of the judges of the supreme court. He comes from humble beginnings who, from the fourth episode, could be somewhat related to Kang Yo-han and his late brother because of how uncanny they look alike. Will his character be a moral compass for Kang Yo-han or will he be his accomplice?
Kim Jae-kyung as Oh Jin-joo
She is one of the judges of the court. From the get-go she seemed to be a passionate judge who desires fair justice for the people albeit she is also ambitious.
Kim Min-jung as Jung Sung-a
Her character is very interesting and also mysterious. At the outset, she is the secretary of the chairman of the Social Responsibility Foundation. But behind this facade, she seemed to be a ruthless and scheming woman with her own dark motivations.
Jang Young-nam as Cha Kyung-hee
She is the present Ministry of Justice who also dreamed of claiming power for herself. She is embroiled in a conflict of morals when her son was put on trial of which she chose her ambition over being a mother- that truly says a lot about her character.
Baek Huyn-jin as President Heo Joong-se
He is the president of dystopian Korea who seemed to have the people’s best interest but not quite. He too has his own agenda and motivations.
Park Gyu-young as Yoon Soon-hyun
She is Kim Ga-on’s friend who always has his back. Their friendship goes a long way. From the get-go, it is obvious that she has feelings for him. It would be interesting to see how these feelings progress whilst they fight for justice on each of their sides.
From the themes alone I know I’ll be bingeing this drama, not to mention that Ji Sung possesses a certain charisma and dark aura that is both sexy and quite scary. I guess typical anti-heroes are structured this way. It got me sold. Apart from Ji Sung’s character, there are three major things that The Devil Judge had me hooked on.
The unorthodox court proceedings
The court proceedings in this drama are truly unorthodox. Apart from the fact that the proceedings are televised, the population is part of the jury and that they have a say in the execution of judgment. This excites me because of the underlying ethical and moral conflicts in such a set-up. Whilst it is good that the public can participate in the trial, it creates an effect that devalues justice and the sacredness of the court. At first glance, it would seem that the court provides the public with the power of choice, but underneath they are merely manipulated by Kang Yo-han. This twisted picture of this court creates an atmosphere that will truly grab your interest as you anticipate the execution of punishment. Interesting, dark, twisted, and laced with malice and revenge. When these combine, you know you’re in for a good drama ride.
The differing representations of Ji Sung’s and Jin Young’s characters
The two major characters in this drama represent the perpetual dark versus good structure. Kang Yo-han symbolizes that darker side whilst Kim Ga-on represents moral reason. The actions of Kim Ga-on in the first two episodes are clear manifestations of this character structure; how he isn’t sold to all of Kang Yo-han’s judgements and that he is suspicious of his true character and motive. This will surely be one of the show’s conflict vehicles.
The mystery and secrets of the characters
One thing I observed from this drama is the mystery and the secrets that surround the characters. Kang Yo-han holds a secret from his past and childhood. Moreover, the secretary of the Social Responsibility Foundation is also very intriguing. Her character is very promising for dynamics and expansion. The uncanny similarity of Kim Ga-on’s looks with that of Kang Yo-han’s older brother is also one of the mysteries that intrigued me so much. Could it be that he is a son of Kang Yo-han’s brother? (I’m being a clown here…). These mysteries and secrets add layers to these characters making them very interesting as opposed to just being flat. As an audience, I live for dynamic and round characters. Their developments are always fun to watch. So, yes this drama seems to have that making me want to watch it all the way.
What do you think? Are you ready to binge another drama that stars an anti-hero? Do you agree with a trial that allows the public to participate and pass on judgments? Let us know what you think in the comment section below and let’s have a conversation.