K Drama Review and Recap – The Devil Judge

“The Devil Judge”

First episode of Devil Judge and I am hooked.  The story line is just wow, the characters are all powerful and the intensity of the show had me chasing the story non-stop.  The court room play is unlike any other usual drama court scene.  Each trial verdict and execution is just phenomenal and this was shown in the first trial verdict.  After that you just want more of the trials and you will stay hook to know what kind of punishment would Judge Kang Yo-han (Ji Sung) executes.  The story is all about how the powerful and the rich oppressing the weak.   Money, status, ranking is power and the system has no place for power.  The weak are marginalized and the victims either disappears or rose up for justice. 

Ji-sung plays the character of Judge Kang Yo-han so well, so perfect, full of energy, charisma and yet dark and vulnerable at the same time.  As a young child he was abused by his father and lives in the basement of the father’s mansion.   He is broken and distant from everyone around him and in school he is known as a devil and a monster.  The person he is close to is his elder brother Kang Isaac (Park Jin-young).  He was devastated by the death of his brother when a fire broke out in a church during a donation event.   Yo-han witness how in the midst of mishaps, the people in the church who are mostly the rich politicians and businessman scrambled to save themselves, neglecting those around them.  In the chaos, Yo-han’s brother Kang Isaac and his wife died while their daughter Kang Elijah (Jeon Chae-eun) broke her legs when she was being trampled on.  Yo-han himself was crushed by a falling debris but managed to survive with Elijah.  Due to Yo-han’s dark childhood, everyone in the family suspected him of deliberately setting off the fire, killing the brother, making him the heir of the family’s wealth. 

Ten years passed and Yo-han plans his revenge.   He is seen as being supported by the same politicians, ministers and businessman who was at the church.  Unknown to them, he targets his revenge by bringing them down one by one. 

He is aided by Judge Kim Ga-on (Park Jin-young) who coincidentally looked like Yo-han’s elder brother Kang Isaac who died in the fire.   Because of this, Yo-han despite his tough demeanor has a soft spot for Ga-on, even when Go-on continuously doubted him and also betrayed him.   Their relationship is truly a brotherly love, with fights and arguments and conflicts and yet with admiration and love at the same time. Both fought their own internal battles but yet are similar with each other where both has experience pain and death of people they love. 

As Ga-on was hurt while saving Yo-han from a planned explosion in his office, Ga-on took refuge in Yo-han’s house and become very much like a family where he also form a special bond with Elijah and the housekeeper.  There were many warm moments between Ga-on, Yo-han and Elijah where because of his warmth, brings lots of laughter and cheer to the family.  In one of the episode, Yo-han was seen narrating that he will be okay so long as he has both Elijah and Go-on with him. 

As a righteous person, Ga-on believes that the law is everything.   Yo-han showed him the real world of the rich and powerful and how law and system cannot win over power.  Knowing about the truth of how the convict who caused his parents death was actually swapped and was enjoying freedom instead of in jail, Ga-on decided to join force with Yo-han. 

However, when Yo-han placed a death sentence to one of President Heo Joong-se accomplice, Ga-on not wanting Yo-han to loose himself by killing, held a press conference together with Min Jeong-ho (Ahn Nae-sang) and declared that Yo-han has been manipulating his past cases in court.   In his office room, Yo-han tells Ga-on since he has stabbed him in his back, there is nothing else to talk about.  Ga-on tells him that he is there to say his goodbye and that he does not want to see Yo-han go to a place where he cannot turn back from. 

As we thought that is the end of it, it is especially more heart breaking when Ga-on under the influence of Min Jeong-ho accuses Yo-han of murdering Soo-hyun which resulted in Yo-han being arrested.  Ga-on was devastated to find out later that he has been played by Jeong-ho who was working with Jung Sun-ah (Kim Min-jung).  And it was Sun-ah who directs the killing which cause the death of Soo-hyun.  It was also revealed that the real cause of the fire at the church was an accident cause by young Elijah who brush over a candle that causes the church to light up.  This is the truth that Yo-han desperately hides from everyone and also put himself as a suspect for causing the death of his own brother. So I guess now Ga-on finally realizes the real deal about Yo-han but it was too late.  Ga-on narrates that it is at this time that he really wanted to die for the betrayal towards Yo-han.

Ga-on promises Elijah that he will do whatever he can to get Yo-han out of prison, even if it means risking his own life.  Ga-on went on his plan to try get the evidence of the wrong doings of the foundation. He enters into the Dream Home Medical Centre with the help of Lawyer Ko In-guk (Park Hyoung-soo) and records the scene of the centre where humans were made as a test subject.  President Heo Joong-se (Baek Hyun-jin), Chairman Min Yong-sik (Hong Seo-jun) and Chairman Park Du-man (Lee Seo-hwan) together with their wives were caught in the recordings.

As Ga-on tries to get Yo-han out of prison, news later spread that Yo-han was killed in the prison.  He was devastated by the news and in his last attempt to bring down the bad guys, Ga-on attempt to blow himself up together with Jeong-ho and plans for the unveiling of the video clip to all media after his death.   With just minutes away from being blown up, suddenly Yo-han appear by his side and stopped him.  It was a heartwarming moment of two brothers coming together.  And this time we know that Ga-on will forever be fighting along Yo-han. 

At the final episode, Judge Kang Yo-han who had everyone gathered at the same court room, where everyone thought that he has died, suddenly pops up on the screen and put all of them on live trial. He discloses the video clip of the centre and the test subject. 

He locks up all of them with explosives in the court room.  He then put them to a test where he gave them a chance to escape but only the first to get out of the room will be safe.  This scene is similar to the repeat of the fire incident where the scene turns ugly and everyone scramble to save themselves.  In his final act, Judge Kang Yo-han announces that he will perish together with the rest of them and that Ga-on will be the who will address the nation after he is gone.

Hearing that, Ga-on rushes to the court room and tells Yo-han to not do it. Yo-han tells him that there is no turning back for him and that there Ga-on can be a hero and there is no need to have another monster. Ga-on cries out and tells Yo-han that he will die with him but Yo-han pushes him out of the court room. The court room then blows up in flames.  Again, this is the second time that Ga-on breaks down on knowing the death of Yo-han.

As Ga-on visited Yo-han’s home, he finds the house empty.  As he went looking Yo-han, he found a plan of the courtroom showing how Yo-han plans for his exit. Realizing that Yo-han could be alive, the housekeeper step in and affirms that Yo-han was here and has left with Elijah.  They were heading to Switzerland to a rehabilitation centre in getting Elijah to walk again. Hearing that, Ga-on was relief and happy.

As Ga-on was celebrated as a hero and attending a meeting of a new ruling party, he shared this sentiments that the law should protect the people so as there is no creation of a monster amongst people. As he talk, he realizes that nothing will change. As he sat pondering, he heard a voice telling him that he better do his job well, otherwise he will come looking for him.  He saw Yo-han and rushes out after him. Running after him, he calls out for Yo-han.  They stood apart from each other, looking at each other with tears in their eyes and a smile. Just like that – no words and that was the finale.

I can’t help thinking that there should and could be a season two of the drama. It is just too good to just end it and stop. Probably along the line of a more matured Kim Ga-on as the devil judge with Kang Yo-han as his confidante. Their chemistry is just so perfect and real and we just want more of them don’t we? I love how Park Jin-young has so much emotions in the drama and we all know that the toughest scene to act are emotional scenes. Ji Sung is definitely a veteran in acting and without him the role of Judge Kang Yo-han will not be enough. Definitely a refreshing power pack drama with so much bromance – something different than the usual love drama we see.

Review by: E Beul-lin
Credit : Viu & TVN

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