Curious about the legal system in South Korea? While K-dramas are, of course, more fiction than fact, it's intriguing to get a glimpse of the courtroom and learn about how the law works when we watch our fave shows. Here's a look at some of the most recent legal dramas South Korea has released. Which one do you like best?
Must-watch legal K-dramas
1. Law School (2021)
When a professor at Hankuk University Law School ends up dead while students are conducting a mock trial, everyone's a suspect. Professor Yang Jong Hoon (Myung Min), who used to be a prosecutor, gets caught in the crossfire along with top freshman student Han Joon Hwi (Kim Bum). With some help from Kang Sol Ah (Ryu Hye Young from Reply 1988), a special admissions freshman, and other students in school, they work to uncover the truth behind the incident.
2. The Devil Judge (2021)
In this mystery drama, South Korea is a dystopia run by corrupt government officials. The citizens are restless, and they release some of their ire through a television show where trials are held and anyone can have their say. Heading the show is Chief Judge Kang Yo Han (Ji Sung), a mysterious man who's not afraid to make ruthless decisions. He has a fraught relationship with Jung Sun Ah (Min Jung), a member of an influential foundation that controls the government's decisions. Meanwhile, Associate Judge Kim Ga On (Jinyoung) tries to temper Yo Han's extreme behavior on the show with his dedication to following the law.
3. One Ordinary Day (2021)
Who’s in it: Kim Soo Hyun, Cha Seung Won, Kim Sung Kyu
In this gritty drama, ordinary college student Kim Hyun Soo (Kim Soo Hyun) gets the surprise of his life when he wakes up in bed next to a dead woman and becomes the prime suspect in her murder. Hyun Soo is too naive for prison life, but he gets guidance from fellow inmate Do Ji Tae (Sung Kyu). Meanwhile, Hyun Soo's well-meaning lawyer Shin Joong Han (Seung Won) has a bad reputation. Can he save Hyun Soo's life before it's too late? The drama paints a gristly picture of the justice system in Korea, and the whodunnit aspect will have you guessing until the very end.
4. Juvenile Justice (2022)
Who's in it: Kim Hye Soo, Kim Mu Yeol, Lee Sung Min
Judge Shim Eun Seok (Kim Hye Soo) has a stellar record, but her ice-cold persona and seeming hatred for juveniles make her public enemy no. one when she gets assigned to the Juvenile Court. Cha Tae Joo (Kim Mu Yeol), a fellow judge at her new jurisdiction, tries to lead with compassion, but he soon learns a thing or two from Eun Seok and starts to wonder if her way is the right way. The series has them tackling new cases every episode, and you might find yourself thinking just like Eun Seok. It raises the question: Should juveniles be punished less for their crimes just because they're young?
5. Why Her (2022)
This drama has a little bit of everything on top of being law-themed. It's got some melo, romance, and a dash of mystery too. It tells the story of Oh Soo Jae (Seo Hyun Jin), lawyer extraordinaire and partner at TK Law Firm. When a case ends with her getting demoted, she has to work as a professor at a law school and crawl her way back up to her place at the firm. There, she meets Gong Chan (Hwang In Yeop), a student who falls for her and becomes her support as she works on reviving her career.
6. Doctor Lawyer (2022)
So Ji Sub is back on the small screen again, years after his last drama, My Secret Terrius, ended. This time around, he plays lawyer Han Yi Han who specializes in medical litigation. He used to be a surgeon, but his career took a nosedive after a failed operation. As a lawyer, he works with prosecutor Geum Seok Yeong (Im Soo Hyang) to make sure the bad guys pay for their crimes.
7. Extraordinary Attorney Woo (2022)
Attorney Woo Young Woo (Park Eun Bin), a lawyer with autism spectrum disorder, works hard on cases at Hanbada Law Firm. Along the way, she learns more about herself and discovers what it means to fall in love. While initially against hiring Young Woo, senior Attorney Jung Myung Seok (Kang Ki Young) becomes her mentor and staunch advocate at Hanbada. Meanwhile, Lee Joon Ho (Kang Tae Oh) from the legal team becomes Young Woo's support in more ways than one as he helps her on cases and gives her the freedom to be herself (aka a whale lover who enjoys talking about them nonstop). This drama is the perfect mix of heartwarming and adorable. Each episode leaves us wanting more. The special effects (often whale-related) are also pretty cool.
8. Big Mouth (2022)
Who's in it: Lee Jong Suk, Girls' Generation's Yoona, Kim Joo Hun
This drama just started airing, and we're already in love! It's Lee Jong Suk's comeback drama after his stint in the military. He plays Park Chang Ho, a lawyer whose success rate leaves much to be desired (read: he only wins 1 in 10 cases). He's the titular "Big Mouth" who tends to be all talk, no action. His life takes a strange turn, thanks to a case of mistaken identity. People seem to think he's the swindler "Big Mouse." Go Mi Ho (Yoona), Chang Ho's wife, soon becomes involved in the case as she works hard to help clear his name. Can Chang Ho survive the threats to his life and discover who the real "Big Mouse" is?
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