K-Drama – Prosectutor Princess

Now this is an interesting one. After finishing up “Hero”, I was looking for a new K-Drama to satisfy my addiction. “Prosecutor Princess” seemed to be the latest available, and the little reviews I saw were promising. However, I could not get more than 20 minutes into the first episode. Something was not clicking with me, and I very nearly gave up.

However, the third time is the charm, and I eventually made it through that first episode, and saw enough to make me want to try more. Suddenly I was halfway through the 16 episodes, and eagerly awaiting online subtitles for those last few episodes. I think the fault was that the opening episode is actually rather atypical of the other 15, and this is not just because it is setting the scene.

Kim So-yeon plays Ma Hye-ri, a rich spoilt girl who by virtue of natural ability is a recent member of Korea’s Public Prosecutor Office. She is beautiful, but selfish and annoying, only willing to put in the hours that she is paid to do, and somewhat ignorant of the real world. This really is the story of her personal growth.

She falls in love with her senior Prosecutor, Yoon Se-joon (Han Jung Soo), and man who is hard and driven. His wife has died in the past couple of years, and he seems to have withdrawn from the emotional side of life – to the extent that is young daughter, Bin, now lives with his young colleague Jin Jeong-seon (Choi Song Hyun). Jeong-seon of course holds a candle for Prosecutor Yoon as well.

Into the mix comes the young and dynamic Lawyer See In-woo (Park Si-hoo), who seems to intersect with Hye-ri’s life at many tangents. However, this handsome fellow is not quite the altruistic sort and comes with some rather deep and dark secrets.

So it all sounds like a love triangle or two right? Well, yes of course it is, but this show is actually cleverer than that. People seriously grow and change in this show.

Now there are 16 episodes, each having a running time of about 70 minutes. This equates to over 18 1/2 hours of drama. If you look at a similar US drama, you get around 24 episodes running at 40 minutes which equates to 16 hours. I think this is where I was struggling with this show – each episode is like watching back to back episodes of a US drama, and is therefore quite draining. The show is deliberately opaque about a number of storylines, drip feeding the viewer the minimum amount of back story, which can be rather frustrating.

There is nothing here to shock the audience – I think every plot twist is completely expected, but things are teased out slowly, and I do wonder if many Western Audiences could stomach the pacing. It also keeps changing style – occasionally there are rather tense subplots, as well as rather odd comic moments – but it manages to usually keep the core story on rails.

It does of course also struggle with the fact that all the main characters are “eye-candy”, and that a “200lb Beauty” sub-plot is takes up a couple of episodes, which whilst providing some character motivation, really adds very little to the forward growth of the story. Seo In-woo’s Machiavellian over-arching plot seems a little far-fetched also, but that is the nature of TV drama.

I did struggle a few episodes from the end, where a resolution seemed to have occurred between Hye-ri and In-woo, that by the next episode appeared to have mutually broken down with little or no in-story discussion. However, once I had understood what had happened, all was well.

When I finished the show I was shocked to see quite how Kim So-yeon had impressed me. Originally I found her rather annoying and somewhat one dimensional, but by the 11th episode she had matured, and her Hye-ri had become rather multi-layered.

Just like “Hero”, the show ends a little abruptly halfway through the final episode, and goes for a “1 Year Later” coda. However, this actually worked, and showed serious forward growth for all the characters, and gave us the happy ending that the previous 5 or 6 hours had threatened to take away. It is typically Korean with little more than holding hands, but I am rather fond of that approach.

If it has a big fault, then it is merely that I think the relationship and backstory Jin Jeong-seon and Yoon Se-joon could have been given more screen time – Jeong-seon seemed be be a very interesting character that should have been explored a lot more than “A Beuty Hiding Behind Glasses”.

It is a very charming show, and therefore becomes… Recommended.

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