K-drama review: 'Law School' hampered by complex convolution of cases

Fred Hawson

Posted at Jun 10 2021 11:46 AM

Kim Myung-min (left) leads the cast of the Korean drama 'Law School'

Yang Jong-hoon (Kim Myung-min) is a former prosecutor who was now a professor of criminal law at the prestigious Hankuk University Law School. He was very strict, used unorthodox methods in teaching law and made very difficult exams, earning him the nickname of "Yangcrates" from his students. One day, he became the prime suspect in the murder of a senior professor Seo Byung-ju (Ahn Nae-sang), who was found dead in the lounge. 

There was a group of law students who were also in the vicinity of the crime scene, and were thus included in the investigation. Class topnotcher Han Joon-hwi (Kim Bum) was Prof. Seo's nephew, and the beneficiary of his will, which gave him a good motive for wanting Seo dead. Kang Sol A (Ryu Hye-young) was challenged both financially and scholastically as a law student, but was very active in social justice cases. 

Kang Sol B (Lee Soo-kyung) was an A-student involved in a plagiarism case. Seo Ji-ho (Lee David) bore a grudge against a prosecutor because of his father's suicide. Yoo Seung-jae (Hyun Woo) was a medical doctor turned law student, involved in a hacking case. Jeon Ye-seul (Go Yoon-jung) was physically abused by her boyfriend. The other members of their study group were Min Bok-gi (Lee Kang-ji) and Jo Ye-beom (Kim Min-seok).

Being complex and heavy, this series would not be an easy one to binge. Even if we just watched two episodes a week, the legal manipulation twists and turns of the multilayered, multi-branched story involving numerous characters at a time were not always easy to understand fully at all times. This was specially true in the first 10 episodes, where the slow pace may be discouraging for some to follow through, or too fast to comprehend the issues. The earworm theme song "X (It's Driving Me Crazy)" can be so appropriate. 

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It seemed too ideal to be true that these law students were given so much access into police investigations and court proceedings, where they were actually able to express opinions during actual cases. Many scenes required suspension of disbelief given the boldness of the students' behavior when they were addressing their professors, prosecutors like Jin Hyeong-u (Park Hyuk-kwon), public defenders like Park Geun-tae (Lee Chun-hee) or even politicians like Assemblyman Ko Hyeong-su (Jung Won-joong). 

Aside from Kim Myung-min, the other senior actors playing the teachers were all convincing as law professors, especially Kim Eun-sook (Lee Jung-eun, memorable as the housekeeper in Bong Joon-ho's "Parasite") a judge-turned-professor who teaches civil law. While Kim Bum, Lee David and Lee Soo-kyung actually looked like smart law students, Ryu Hye-young felt miscast -- both as the whiny Kang Sol A, and later as Sol's fierce twin sister Erica. 

Upon reaching Episodes 14 and 15, the main culprit was basically already known. It was just a matter of how his guilt can be proven so he can face the music. The Episode 16 finale, however, the wrap-up of the series felt rushed and anti-climactic. While the virtues symbolized by Lady Justice in the school lobby were generally upheld, this series seemed to have bitten off more than it can chew with its complex convolution of cases and advocacies. 

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."