Synopsis: Park Jung-Woo is a prosecutor at Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office. One day, he wakes up and finds himself in locked up at the police station. He has temporary amnesia. Park Jung-Woo is falsely accused and is sentenced to death. He must struggle to prove his innocence.
What I was expecting: I’m slightly nervous, because kdramas tend to let me down more often than I’d like them to. Even if they do wow me in the beginning, they tend to lose steam once the romance aspect comes in or near the end of the series. (Yong Pal is a good example of this. I loved it in the beginning, but it got stupid fast and the ending was annoying)
But at the same time, this doesn’t seem to have a romance angle to it, since Ji Sung’s character is trying to figure out the mystery about why he’s in death row, so I’m happy about that. This is a mystery thriller, which is one of my favourite genres, so I’m anxiously optimistic that this will be okay.
How it really was: The first episode left me with mixed feelings. It starts off with Park Jung Woo, played by Ji Sung, enjoying life as a prosecutor and family man. He’s happy, he’s somewhat reckless, but he’s enjoying every moment of his life.
That’s all fine and dandy, but this portion was the weakest part of the episode. It was meant to establish the kind of life Jung Woo lived before he found himself in prison, but everything felt forced here. The scene with the gang was especially cringey and I almost stopped playing it during that part.
Thankfully, it does start to pick up once he goes to jail and doesn’t remember anything that happened in the past 4 months. I was intrigued at this part and want to see where this takes us, even though I’m assuming he’s going to escape fairly soon.
The show then switches gears and introduces us to a Cha Min-Ho, a rich worthless excuse of a human being who blames everyone else for his own stupidity. Wah, I’m sad because my twin brother is smarter and better than me at everything. Wah, people like him more because he’s responsible while I like picking up girls with awesome lines like “I’ve had every girl here, but the only one I haven’t had is you. Want to come home with me tonight?” Wah, it didn’t work and she’s not moved by my sick pick-up lines. Wah, the girl wanted my brother and not me, but is still willing to settle with sleeping with me because I have money. Wah, I tried to kill her and now the police and prosecutors are searching for me. Wah, I now need to kill my brother so I can live freely by living as my brother from now on. Wah, my brother is now dead. Wah, no one likes me because I’m horrible and they’re happy that I\m gone. Wah, Wah, Waaaaaah!
What a waste of space Min Ho is. He’s probably our main antagonist who is responsible for setting up Jung Woo, but so far he’s incredibly one note.
The thing I find funny is that he killed his brother because he was afraid of being in jail for 15 years, since the girl he tried to murder isn’t technically dead yet. But he’s rich and comes from a family of power. If there’s one thing I know it’s that rich people don’t go to jail that long.
I also found it strange that the police didn’t talk to him after finding the body of his brother. After hearing a loud thump, I’m sure people would have rushed to see what was going on and the CCTV tape shows Min-Ho leaving the suite after the body fell.
It’s also strange that the doctors in the hospital didn’t hear Min Ho wishing for his brother’s death even when they are within ear shot. He’s acting so suspiciously and no one is the wiser. It’s like in LA Noire when you’re asking questions and trying to see if someone’s lying. In the earlier cases, the suspects make it really obvious that they’re not trustworthy. Min Ho is acting the same way. It’s not even subtle.
If the police are this incompetent, then surely Min Ho had nothing to worry about when it comes to jail time. His actions make no sense. If he’s this quick to kill people, then he must be a major serial killer. Someone with that short of a fuse is clearly killing people left and right, but I think we’re meant to believe that he’s only killed one, maybe two people and it all happened in this episode.
In the second episode, I was left wondering why they didn’t try to identify the dead brother via dental records or something else? And why purposely go out of your way to antagonize someone who has power to get away with murder? Jung Woo, why are you acting so stupid. Min Ho is stupid enough, you don’t need to add on to that.
And Min Ho getting the person who does the autopsy killed is stupid. Why? Why would he purposely bring more attention to himself?
Overall: I have a feeling like this will be a popular drama for both korean and international fans. I mean, it stars Ji Sung who usually gets amazing ratings, because he’s fantastic actor.
But I didn’t really care for this. I’d have to suspend my disbelief to a crazy extend in order to be okay with some really major flaws here. The police are so dumb here. Min Ho acts way to suspicious. And Jung Woo really should have talked to people about his suspicions and stopped acting like a big shot to someone who seems to be getting away with murder. Yuri’s character acts like a typical female lead, so it’s better to stop now and be okay with how she is then to keep watching and have her character slowly ruined.
I’m definitely in the minority with this opinion though. I’ve seen some comments here and there and they’ve all sung the praises for Defendant. So if you feel like this is something you’d enjoy, then give it a shot. Unfortunately, I’m going to quit now because I didn’t like this at all.