Suspicious Partner (수상한 파트너; Susanghan Pateuneo) is a 2017 South Korean television series starring Ji Chang-wook and Nam Ji-hyun, with Choi Tae-joon and Kwon Nara. It aired on SBS from May 10 to July 13, 2017 at 22:00 (KST) on Wednesdays and Thursdays for 40 episodes.
Back to Korean dramaland, after being lost at the awesomeness of Misaeng, I decided going back to legal dramas with a punch of rom-com and with the amount of K-dramas in my folders I had picked Suspicious Partner, especially considering my love, Ji Chang Wook is starring in it. You know him? That jaw-dropping handsomeness sent back down from heaven to satisfy your action-packed drama cravings. Yeah, that guy.
Anyway, I was excited when this drama came out because of him but didn’t just have the time to really watch, so now that I have the resources to binge watch dramas, I chose him as my next actor subject.
This is the first time I’m seeing Wook act in a less-action packed role in a series so it really made me curious how he was going to act in a less serious manner or whether it would fit him. Nonetheless, I’m pretty positive that he shone on this drama, too.
To have an in-depth read of the drama below are some details and my personal review.
Ji Chang-wook as Noh Ji-wook
Nam Ji-hyun as Eun Bong-hee
Choi Tae-joon as Ji Eun-hyuk
Kwon Nara as Cha Yoo-jung
About Noh Ji-wook, a prosecutor and Eun Bong-hee, a prosecutor trainee and how they work together on a mysterious case involving a sly psychopath murderer.
The drama kicks off with the unexpected meeting of Eun Bong Hee and No Ji Wook in a train which led to a series of drama and bad blood when innocent Ji Wook was wrongly accused by Bong Hee of feeling up her bottom. Considering Bong Hee’s character, who is quirky, straight up blunt and playfully vengeful, it wouldn’t really be a wonder how much embarrassment this caused Prosecutor No afterwards (when in fact the culprit was another person who Bong Hee later meets at the prosecutor’s office with the same offense).
They separate ways after the incident at the train but things go downhill from there for Bong Hee, who later finds out her boyfriend Hee Jun is actually cheating on her and even sees him at a hotel together with another girl. They fight over it and Hee Jun being a jackass shamelessly confesses his faults but won’t really feel regretful about it, saying that Bong Hee is still the one he likes the most. Of course, hurt by the deed, Bong Hee tells him they will soon be even and that the first guy she bumps with is the person she’ll sleep with. That sounds pretty lame and at first I really prayed it wasn’t going to be Ji Wook, but Ji Wook who witnessed everything just had to act and save her day.
To his credit, because of his past experience with a cheating ex-girlfriend, Bong Hee gains his sympathy and they eventually ended up drinking together as if there is no tomorrow. And you know what sometimes happen after that, right? Yes, the deed. Bong Hee couldn’t exactly remember what happened to her and Ji Wook the night before, but she was so spooked by the fact she was at Ji Wook’s place and the possibility of her doing something unspeakable with Ji Wook made her really flustered she fled the scene like a mad woman.
Fast forward, a few months after their fateful meeting, Bong Hee finds herself suddenly the scapegoat to her and Hee Jun’s breakup. Hee Jun has been spreading the news while walking around with his arm around another girl, Ji Hye, the other party. This angers Bong Hee that as a little revenge, whenever she sees the two of them and feels like her blood is boiling at the prospect of seeing the two cheating people, she sang them an amusing curse song with every chance she got.
Then as their legal training approaches, Bong Hee begins working under the wing of a mentor in the Prosecution. It just so happen Prosecutor No Ji Wook is a notorious one and they really don’t get along after that first meeting–which didn’t really go well–that Bong Hee suffers under his supervision and gets what Ji Wook thought she deserves after all. They still don’t get along, but with the mood swings of their hate-hate relationship going on, Ji Wook finds himself helping her once more when she faces Hee Jun and Ji Hye one day, acting as her boyfriend despite her dirty self (Bong Hee doesn’t really take a lot of baths, hehe).
But in an expected twist of events, Bong Hee suddenly becomes the murder suspect to her ex=boyfriend Hee Jun. She is terrified and traumatized of seeing Hee Jun lying on the floor of her apartment in his own blood, but had done the right thing and called for help. Yet, she is locked up because Ji Hye insisted she has long wanted to kill Hee Jun (the karma of singing a curse song at your cheating ex-boyfriend).
Shaken by the traumatizing events, Bong Hee’s world turns upside down, yet in this situation she believes in one person only, Prosecutor No. He believes in justice so much that he has his own doubts about criminals always being the bad guy and that they should all be punished. This belief, however, is shaken by the disaster that struck Bong Hee.
Ji Wook is convinced Bong Hee may be the murderer, but a part of him that has grown affection–somewhat–for Bong Hee told him otherwise that he seeks the help of his estranged best friend, Ji Eun Hyuk, who is a lawyer. Ji Wook has been constantly ignoring Eun Hyuk for what he has done in the past, but because deep down he knew he wanted to make sure that Bong Hee will have a fair fight in court that he still decided to call Eun Hyuk who was more than a decent lawyer.
In court, Ji Wook as a prosecutor acts unforgiving, but his resolve wavers and he unintentionally finds himself doing his best to look at every aspects of the crime to see whether Bong Hee is being truthful that she didn’t kill Hee Jun. In his search, he finds the fabricated evidence in Bong Hee’s tiny apartment and also finds the real evidence thrown somewhere by the real culprit. This shakes up Ji Wook even more and finds himself in doubt.
Yet, despite knowing the consequences of his actions, as he steps in court with Bong Hee on the defendant’s seat, he delivers his final speech, absolving Bong Hee from being the prime suspect to the murder of Hee Jun, who happens to be the District Attorney’s son.
Later, Ji Wook is remove from his position as prosecutor. He meets Bong Hee on his way out, who shyly confesses to him that she likes him. Ji Wook, however, considers meeting her bad luck and halfheartedly says for them not to meet again. Bong Hee is hurt but doesn’t give up easily. Since then, she watches him from afar; Ji Wook becoming her source of strength especially when life is tough.
Ji Wook joins CEO Byun’s lawfirm and becomes a lawyer who defends even bad people. He hates his job so much that he starts losing his passion and couldn’t really care less about his clients who often only gets away from their crimes because of money and power. It is so awful for him he can’t even stand the way how his co-workers look at him nor bothered to try and get to know them. His friends were reduced to the walls, his only companion minus Eun Hyuk, who he would rather ignore, and Mr. Byun, who he never listens to.
Coincidentally, Ji Wook sometimes meets Bong Hee out of nowhere or at court and though they do have a lot of trivial things to fight over with (and things for Bong Hee to get over with like her feelings for him), Ji Wook ends up offering his home to Bong Hee since she has been haunted by the real culprit to Hee Jun’s case. You see, for years, Bong Hee has tried searching for eye witnesses to free herself completely of the blame, and that is one of the first encounters she has with the killer; when the person actually left her a gift in her tiny office and a threat along with it not to find him.
Bong Hee is determined to find the culprit more than before after that and Ji Wook willingly offers his help this time, finally convinced Bong Hee isn’t really a bad person. He has grown quite an affection for her (even though he will not admit it) and somehow feels responsible for her even if Bong Hee wants nothing more from him since she has been blaming herself for stringing him along her own problem. Yet, Ji Wook firmly deflects all her attempts to shoo him away and eventually opens his own firm where they build a team soon solving cases and winning them.
They, of course, face trivial and complicated legal cases that lead them to know the mysterious Jung Hyun Soo, who will be the very most important key in resolving Bong Hee’s old murder case.
As a personal thought, I must say that the drama is satisfactory. I mean, my point is that I really thought it will pay more attention to the legal aspects while being a rom-com, but sometimes I feel like it lacks some fire to the legal aspect of things. I am obviously looking for more spice, but I guess the story is more leaned towards the fluffy side of things. Considering that there are so many issues at hand–Ji Wook and Bong Hee’s love story topping the list, Bong Hee’s hatred towards Ji Hye, their mothers’ rivalry, Ji Wook’s dead parents, Bong Hee’s dad who became the scapegoat to a crime, Ji Wook’s mistrust towards Yoo Jung and Eun Hyuk, the killings, the search for Hee Jun’s killer, their groundless suspicion towards Hyun Soo, etc.–I think, though, that this is what is best for the drama. Not focusing on one thing would have made it kind of directionless or straying away from the main point. Plus, I am saying this after watching a couple of legal dramas in the past which made it a bit more on edge and yet was still able to pull off the romance equally.
Anyway, now that I feel like I am starting to name some of the cons regarding Suspicious Partner, I want to say I am a bit skeptical about the part when Ji Wook is still able to prosecute Jung Hyun Soo at court even though they already have bad history before that. I mean, a thought-through legal drama would have excluded Ji Wook from the case to avoid biased judgement and all. Get the point? Another thing is that I didn’t get to see either Ji Wook or Mr. Bang or Bong Hee testify even though they had past encounters which can help prove Hyun Soo guilty. It would have been nice to actually see them try and testify in court. I would have also loved if Ji Hye ends up finding someone, considering that lovebirds flock around her constantly. That poor thing. I really hated her at first, but the drama made me discover she isn’t that bad of a bitch. Plus, I would have really loved, too, if there was more bromance between Ji Wook and Eun Hyuk (this time without Ji Wook forever rejecting Hyuk’s love for him) and also more screen time for the mothers who constantly bickered and bragged about their sons and daughters, also it would have been great if the girls were able to hangout more as friends, because having them drunk is probably one of the most hilarious things in the drama.
Nonetheless, I must say that these shortcomings and hopes are foreshadowed by the compelling plot, of the unexpected twists (referencing especially to when Ji Wook revealed Hyun Soo was one of the seven violators in the Park So Young case though he went on a killing spree because he wants to avenge her), of the absolutely wonderful acting of the actors, protagonists and villain alike, and just like the impression I had about Misaeng, I am pleased how the characters are portrayed by the writer–how they aren’t just bad or just good, but rather both. They are characters with mind, heart and soul.
The exploration on traumas and what it can do to the human mind also leaves a lasting impression on me. Like how it made Ji Wook forget what really happened to his parents and who really the culprit was. Or like how Hyun Soo had a self-inflicted dissociative amnesia because apparently although he did nothing to hurt So Young (who he had a crush on at that time), he was there among his friends, watching helplessly while they violated her. He has separated himself from the crime out of guilt and decided the only way to free himself of the guilt is begin a killing spree, which hurt a lot more people than he intended to. This idea has made more depth to the story and contributed a lot to the growth of the characters while struggling.
Plus, considering it’s a legal drama (I love this genre the most nowadays) altogether with an equal amount of romance, sarcastic humor and cuteness overload, I am somehow okay with how it came to be. How it’s serious and then not. How justice is served despite of some misses in judgement. How it’s so chaotic at first and then how normal and promising the end and future was.
I had my own doubts about Nam Jihyun to be honest. I was only able to watch her as a mini Goo Hye Sun in the drama Angel Eyes so I didn’t know what to expect of her as Eun Bong Hee. I even thought her acting at the beginning of the drama was exaggerating, but may be it was just the character acting.
And I didn’t really find her attractive during that point I had my doubts at her. I felt like she wouldn’t really shine on her own alongside Ji Chang Wook, but Nam Ji Hyun has proven otherwise. Throughout the drama she has shown her cute, crazy and sassy charms. She channeled Eun Bong Hee so well that you won’t think she’s still the actress Nam Ji Hyun but instead her character in the story. Eun Bong Hee who is compassionate, who seeks for the truth, who is patient, forgiving and sometimes a little vengeful in her crazy way. She grew so much from the mundane mentee to a beautiful woman, if you look a little longer, inside and out.