Pride and Prejudice is a 2014 crime thriller drama, starring Choi Jin-hyuk, Choi Woo-shik and some other people (haha). It was twisty, dark, has a good romance, and a lot of emotion!
PLEASE NOTE: I wrote this review forever ago on a different blog site and am reposting it here now! which means my thoughts on this drama are from a long time ago, but I sort of can’t be bothered updating it, as I am quite lazy! 🙂 Also, I used to write the review as I watched each episode, so my opinions often change a lot throughout the discussion!
This drama is definitely different to how I expected it might be, and my first impressions after watching the first two episodes was that it was different in a really really good way.
In fact, in spite of my utter love of Choi Jin Hyuk (rawr!) I did think this one looked a bit boring when I first heard about it (especially after discovering it was not in fact a Joseon-set love story starring a certain Mr Darcy – boo!) yet it turns out it is well scripted, well-shot and there is some seriously intriguing elements to the story.
Turns out that maybe prosecutor stories are kind of my thing, I love a drama with a bit of danger and intrigue, a nice team of quirky characters and a romance that is a big focus of the story yet still not the only plotline on offer. This drama certainly delivers all those elements that I enjoy so much, and dives right into a story that is well thought out (a few plot holes but not enough to put me off) and really quite intriguing throughout.
And I really mean it dives right in!
The drama opens so suddenly it had me checking if I had missed something, and yet I really loved this fresh approach, it was simmering with tension despite the playful conversation the leads engage in within the first few opening minutes and it led me to immediately be dying to know what was going on between them, cos it certainly seemed complicated.
The drama opens with our female lead, Yeol Moo, standing frozen in the middle of an intersection as she stares at a man, our male lead, Dong Chi, across the street. She can barely breathe as she stares at him, watching as a girl gifts him with a tidy lunchbox of fruit, staring at him until finally cars begin honking and it breaks the spell.
Immediately Yeol Moo squares her shoulders and walks right on into the prosecutor’s office past him, ignoring Dong Chi who catches a glimpse of her and tears after her to stop her. And when he catches up they just stare at each other in silence, the moment filled with an absolute intensity that belies the bantering, bickering conversation that follows.
It is a pretty intense opener, laying down the vibe of this couple whilst hinting very heavily at something much deeper between them, despite a 5 year separation. In short, I was hooked.
I also love the mix of dramatics, cute bickering, heavy intensity and even danger mixed into this story, it keeps things fresh and gives the main characters something to work with, and the team of prosecutors are a pretty quirky bunch, which is something I approve of.
Yeol Moo on her first day as a junior prosecutor is assigned to Dong Chi, and I like her attitude a lot. I have never seen this actress in a drama before but I quite like her here, she brings this interesting mix of vulnerability, fearlessness, smirky attitude, morality but also darkness to the role, and of course is also totally gorgeous (and teeny tiny next to her leading men!).
Choi Jin Hyuk is also great, reminding me he can actually act on top of just being ridiculously handsome, and I liked that his character isn’t exactly your typical jerkface, as much as they try to paint him that way. We see he is efficient and very good at his job, he cares about the victims and believes in what he does. At first there is this delicious mystery about how on earth these two are tied together in the past and there is this awful moment where Dong Chi says in a really rude flippant way to their super tall and cute trainee investigator (who is already totally crushing on Yeol Moo) that they both used to date, and she must be embarrassed because she confessed to him back then.
It is really shocking the way he says it, so uncaring of how it makes her look in front of their colleagues or how spiteful he sounds when bringing it up. Yet later we see how they met (a gorgeously romantic and compelling flashback – gosh I loved it!) and it is revealed that one day after finally admitting (after 10 months!) that she does like Dong Chi, Yeol Moo just gets up and leaves him behind, never to be seen again.
And hell, the look on Dong Chi’s face when she does. He is beyond crushed, and with absolutely no idea why she might be doing this, he is confused and hurt beyond belief. It is so sad as Dong Chi stands there just staring at her across the street, watching her cry as she looks at him for the last time, unable to reach her but knowing somehow that something is very badly desperately wrong, though he has no way of understanding what it could be.
It is hardcore! And I am pretty sure he was in love with her, was since the first moment he saw her it would seem. And I am not overly surprised either, her vulnerability and sadness, immediately covered up by this sweet guileless cheery smile. She is so sweet and unaffected whilst still being ridiculously charming in her innocence.
But then she is gone. And that is it.
But us viewers see that Yeol Moo found something in Dong Chi’s bag accidentally, that this piece of ripped paper had rocked her to the very core and caused her to flee immediately away from him in horror, for some reason completely grief-stricken.
And we also see that in the present she has the other half of that ripped paper, has possibly come back as a prosecutor to find Dong Chi just to steal whatever it is off of him, searching his office desperately in the dead of night.
Could it have something to do with the children’s things that were being fought over when this couple first met? Is Dong Chi somehow responsible for something terrible to do with this possibly dead child? It is a mystery and I am very intrigued.
Not to mention the chemistry between these two and the lingering raw feelings that both are trying to hide. It is strong and intense and the hurt in Dong Chi so often bubbles up to the surface when he speaks with her, and he is just so angry, still so confused even after all these years.
There is this great scene where he asks her why she disappeared all those years ago and she answers he only asked her to see him for 10 months, so she did what he asked. He stares at her and asks if she was playing with him, and then says seriously and intently he tells her that he wasn’t playing around with her. He was real.
And I love this about him. He isn’t going to lie about it to protect his own feelings and pretend it meant nothing. It is such a lovely quality to see in a male lead. He just tells it like it is, not in an overly sentimental way or anything, he is still cool and calm, but he is also not a liar. It is a little bit attractive actually.
And then later when Yeol Moo gets into a bad situation when chasing down some criminals, and for a moment Dong Chi doesn’t know what has happened to her, doesn’t know if she is alive or dead, can’t reach her. He absolutely panics, freaking out, and when she does turn up, safe and sound and a bit of a hero after causing these dudes to be caught when the mission was nearly a disaster, he tells her furiously (in front of everyone) to stop disappearing.
He stares at her and it is all written there in his eyes.
Don’t get me wrong, the romance isn’t what this show is all about, they spend the majority of the episode investigating cases, catching criminals and interrogating them, creating a professional dynamic between them within the team when they all work together, and I really like that. I like it because it makes the romantic chemistry intensive bits all the better because they are not the only thing the story has going for it.
And then Yeol Moo actually moves into the same boarding house as Dong Chi and also the rookie investigator, Kang Soo, and although Dong Chi looks quite enamoured (in a sexy way) to see her in his house (it is kind of his house…sort of), I am not entirely sure that her motives might be less likeable than what it seems. I get the impression this woman is on a deep dark mission, and already she has pushed her own feelings to the side because of it (for it is certain it hurt her to leave Dong Chi all those years ago too) so I don’t doubt she will continue to push down her own desires to get whatever it is she is after.
Which is an interesting character trait because she is also filled with a strong sense of right and wrong, she has a very clear idea of morality (as evidenced by her reaction during the criminal investigations) which makes me think she can’t be seeking revenge exactly, she can’t be wanting to hurt Dong Chi as a punishment for whatever is on that paper which was in his possession. It doesn’t seem like actually harming another person would sit right with her.
But maybe that is misleading in itself, as this story is certainly got a slow burning character driven plotline, and the past is only being revealed in the slightest snapshots, which just makes everything all the more interesting and intriguing.
The truth is quite different to what I expected and a hell of a lot more heartbreaking. This show is good at agony and emotional ravaging, as evidenced by the intense episodes which reveals what happened to Yeol Moo’s brother, and why her mother, and maybe deep down herself, believe it was all her fault.
After the initial opening episodes, this show is really quite upfront about what is going on, and surprisingly, instead of going for mystery, it just goes straight for heartbreak.
Like hardcore, hardcore heartbreak!
In no time at all, we discover that it is Yeol Moo’s brother’s death that has destroyed her family, it is his death that has caused her to work so hard to become a prosecutor and it is his death that made her leave Dong Chi five years ago.
Because she believes him to be responsible.
It is a bit sad really, because when he realises that she truly believes he killed her brother, poor Dong Chi is seriously hurt. I think her turning up again in his life was a bit of a miracle and I get the impression that finding out what she really thinks of him is a bit of a sobering experience.
It is sort of frustrating that Yeol Moo just accuses Dong Chi of this horrendous crime without letting him explain himself, without asking questions to find out if he really did it, but at the same time I can sort of understand it. She has obviously been believing he was the murderer ever since she was still a kid herself, probably when the loss of her brother was still fresh and she was basically a kid jumping to conclusions as a way to face the horror of having an unsolved case and no justice served. I get the impression that she has grown up believing that Dong Chi must be the killer with such a one track mind that she is unable to let it go, even now that she is older and perhaps she realises there are a lot of other possibilities.
I don’t think she can bear to let this belief go, because if she does, she has worked so hard to become a prosecutor to get near to Dong Chi and if it isn’t him, then the alternative is just too terrifying. It means she has no idea who it might be, and that ocean is just too deep and frightening to wade into.
So her one track mind in regards to Dong Chi being guilty is kind of annoying, but as a character trait I do actually get it.
I also really like the way he deals with this accusation.
First up her tells her straight out he didn’t do it. He tells her it hurts him that she believes he did. But then he doesn’t push it anymore. He starts naming a million other possibilities just to get the ideas in her mind, it could have been his father, a stranger could have picked up his report card and dropped it at the scene, he is trying to make her think like a prosecutor and realise for herself that he didn’t do it.
And meanwhile he just pushes her to become better at what she does, to focus on the cases at hand, taking a firm hand with her, but helping her in the process even if at the moment she is unable to see it.
And then there are these moments where, for instance after ribbing her out for not paying attention, telling her to get a move on and trying to push her to do better, he watches her walk away and mutters to himself that she has lost more weight, and you can see how worried he is, how much it upsets him.
I like his character a lot because of all this, not in the least because inside he is still absolutely and utterly haunted by what happened between him and Yeol Moo’s little brother, Dong Chi was just a kid himself and he wasn’t smart enough, wasn’t fast enough, couldn’t do enough.
And the little boy died.
This is obviously what pushed him to change from a hopeful doctor wannabe into becoming a prosecutor, he has obviously kept that file in his desk all these years because he wanted to solve it, and it is interesting that his and Yeol Moo’s reasons for being who they are and doing what they do is actually exactly the same.
It hurts Dong Chi badly that Yeol Moo cannot see this and when she accuses him of being a criminal he asks seriously if she can’t just tell by feeling that he is not. He cares for her deeply and I think he is positive that what he feels is not one sided, so in a way he just expects her to know that he would never do what she accuses him of, she should just feel that he couldn’t possibly have done it, she should know him. And when she says she can’t tell that way he says he has proof and then he leans in to kiss her. Bam!
Wait! Was that a dream kiss? It wasn’t real right? It was a little confusing but I definitely got the impression it was inside Dong Chi’s head.
Swoon. Actually I love that even more! It shows how badly he is hurting every time she accuses him, how badly he wants to solve this problem between them. I think he is completely in love with her.
I kind of loved this scene, it is so emotional and kind of lovely too. We get to see inside Dong Chi’s mind and we also hear from Yeol Moo that she doesn’t necessarily believe he killed her brother, but she believes he was there and the fact that he never came forward as a witness is just as bad. Poor Dong Chi can say nothing to that, just staring at her with tears in his eyes. Ohhh…
It is actually quite horrific the way this terrible incident has wound itself through all these lives and how badly it still effects everybody, how no one can ever let go because no justice was delivered, like they are still just living in limbo with no resolution.
And finally Dong Chi tells Yeol Moo his side of the story. He was there. He was scared and he was stupid and he ran away. Her brother was scared and afterwards Dong Chi didn’t come forward because he was afraid they would think he did it.
But it is the reason he became a prosecutor, to find the killer, and what he does know is that the killer is a prosecutor.
With Dong Chi agreeing to work together with Yeol Moo on her brother’s case, her opinion of him starts to rise and in no time at all he is hitting on her and asking to date as a reward for helping! Well he certainly knows what he wants I guess!
I do like that these two are now on the same side and spending all their time together being cute and adorable (and you know, solving crimes and shit) but I do also kind of miss the crackling sizzling chemistry they demonstrated at the start of the drama too. There is still something there and these two are still one of the best things about the drama but now they are really quite cute instead of hot. Which I guess I can live with. Though I liked the other one better.
Meanwhile about a million crazy things are happening in all their cases (is it wrong that I basically don’t understand any of this plotting stuff at all? It makes no sense to me…..and I don’t even care! Weird.) and for some crazy reason all of these cases are connected. It looks like it is revealing a very high up conspiracy that will involve a hell of a lot of powerful people, something very difficult to win against for a small group of ragtag prosecutors. Scary stuff.
Towards The End.
So what gets really interesting is how Kang Soo fits into all this.
The poor boy is waking up sweaty and crying with nightmares every night and all of this seems to point to him actually being Han Byul, Yeol Moo’s murdered baby brother!
I kind of loved this because it really did seem so obvious that is who Kang Soo is, even though we already know there were two little boys on the scene and he could be either one. I loved the way Yeol Moo freaks out in the hope that her brother is still alive and has turned into Kang Soo, and how upset Kang Soo is as he searches for his true past, clearly hoping he is Han Byul if only to ease Yeol Moo’s suffering.
But luckily it turns out he isn’t, because he is actually also hardcore crushing on her and that would have been quite awkward cos he already told Dong Chi he would fight against him for Yeol Moo.
Anyway I really loved this twist, the twist that he isn’t Han Byul.
It was such an emotional wallop for Yeol Moo and seeing her and also Kang Soo’s pain really brings a lot of heart and desperation into the show. And the other thing I liked is that now Dong Chi finally knows the little boy he couldn’t save still stayed alive and grew up. He did stop the murder, there is no blood on his hands. I can’t imagine how much relief he must feel at learning this after all those agonising guilt filled years. Poor Dong Chi.
And also poor Yeol Moo, having her brother killed all over again after the seed of hope had been ignited.
And poor Kang Soo for being so lost and filled with confusion about his own past, the poor boy is breaking my heart with his terror of having been abandoned, not to mention the horror he will experience when he realises who it is who did kill his mother. In an accident on the road.
I am going to admit that whenever Chief Moon monologues about whatever in his crazy accent, I totally never have any idea what he is talking about. I probably also don’t really always understand all the little details of the plot but I absolutely love the main story arc. It is so emotional, it is so hardcore and I also really like the team. (I think maybe I am also super shallow because Kang Soo and especially Dong Chi (sigh….Choi Jin Hyuk) are super nice to watch onscreen).
But seriously this story is beyond heartbreaking, it is so distressing and deeply sad. And now Kang Soo is being drawn into the mix, he may not be Han Byul, but he was certainly there at the scene of the crime, and something so incredibly terrible has happened to him that he has suppressed it deep within and lost his memory.
Which frightens me no end because when he gets it back his whole world will shatter. Although Dong Chi and Yeol Moo are the main characters, Kang Soo is certainly the beating heart of this story. He is such a tragic character, made even more so by his sweet awkward and gentle personality. How can you not adore him, how can you not want to shelter him from the storm you know is coming his way?
Slowly our team investigates this series of seemingly unconnected events which all come together to this one event. Someone within the prosecutor office is trying to cover up a terrible crime. Someone was meant to kill Kang Soo, and made a mistake and somehow it is Han Byul who died. Which is horrifying for both Yeol Moo and Kang Soo. Already these two are close, he has a crush on her, and to her he is the embodiment of what her brother could have been if he had lived. And this development is so awful because now they know that Han Byul died because of Kang Soo. Gosh this isn’t Kang Soo’s fault by any stretch but it is still a fact, and when they find out both Yeol Moo and him are beyond crushed. It is so awful and raw and terrifying.
Meanwhile Dong Chi is attracting the attention of some scary people, refusing to leave his job, refusing to transfer, refusing to give up the case. And Chief Moon is so ambiguous I can’t tell if he is trying to protect Dong Chi or kill him. But either way, Dong Chi is on the hit list and the higher ups are taking aim.
Dong Chi and Yeol Moo’s relationship has changed quite a bit by now from their fiery bickering chemistry at the start of the drama. Now they are quiet and almost easy together, though Dong Chi takes every opportunity to remind her he is in love with her. I love this about his character. He is all seriousness and dogged determination at work but with Yeol Moo he is mischievous and sweet, slightly pushing her to acknowledge him but also careful of her when she is hurt and needs comfort without any strings attached.
And of course Yeol Moo loves him back, even though she will never admit it. Basically because she doesn’t believe she deserves to be happy, not when her brother is dead and never got the chance to live or be happy himself. She is a pretty traumatised girl really, her whole family in shreds, and I think Dong Chi is good for her, he is serious and strong but also lighter than she is, I think.
I love the running theme in this drama of how do you investigate corruption when it is within your own office. Our team of prosecutors are threatened with everything, Dong Chi being transferred, Kang Soo and the cut car breaks, (probably meant to kill Dong Chi as I am pretty sure the baddies want him dead now) and even the whole department being closed down. The pressure on them to give up is immense.
And yet they don’t. They keep pushing, keep fighting Chief Moon’s weirdly ambiguous advice/warnings and continue on to actually set up the big police Chief to confess so they can arrest him. (With Chief Moon’s help too I might add! Phheww! So he was good? Sort of? What about the hit and run? But that was bad. Is he not in trouble for that? Huh.) So finally little Byul’s case is closed.
Or is it?
For a little while everyone acts as if it is all over.
Yeol Moo finally tells Dong Chi she wants to date him and they share some kissing on the balcony (Sigh. Choi Jin-Hyuk…. **Drools**). Yeol Moo tells her mum that the man who ordered the killing is now caught which is a touching and heartbreaking scene, because we know that her mother can never really let it go, the tragedy has destroyed her already and there is not really enough of her left, the loss of Byul has become a part of who she is and she will never leave it behind her. Which is gut wrenching.
I think catching the killer is what Yeol Moo herself really needed so she can feel some sort of closure. It is also what Dong Chi needed too. Kang Soo just wants to find himself, but Yeol Moo’s mum is too far gone either way, I don’t really believe she will ever feel any sense of closure, not really.
But then the other shoe drops (what a weird saying) and it turns out that Dong Chi really did kill the hired assassin guy who kidnapped Byul and Kang Soo, when he was fourteen and saving Kang Soo. And on top of this, it seems Dong Chi’s prosecutor mate had something to do with it all. As in he has everything to do with it. As in he was behind it all.
So the gang take him to court to prosecute him, despite not having enough evidence, despite the fact that the trial may actually bring Dong-Chi’s own crime to light in a negative way (but hang on, Dong Chi was just fourteen and acting to save a kid from murder, does that not count for something? Nope? Oh, okay). And poor Kang Soo, his memories have returned, but because of his age at the time of the crime and his closeness to the case, his evidence is rejected as being unreliable. It all goes terribly wrong, but then they find some magical evidence (Grandma had it all along! Grandma!) and everything goes sort of right. Except Dong Chi is charged with murder. Wait, is that what happened? I am a bit confused. Does that mean he is going to jail now?
And then the worst bit, a part of the story that shocked me but that somehow I felt really worked, is that Chief Moon finally stood up against all odds for the thing he felt was right, and ultimately he pays the final price. He gets into his car after the trial to find a man waiting for him, and Chief Moon doesn’t fight it, he just lets it happen. I think he knows that if he escapes this attempt somehow, it would only be the first one. That there will be more and that there is no getting away from it.
He lets it happen and he dies.
How shocking and sad, but somehow in a strange way it feels like a fitting ending to the story. You can’t do so much bad and then turn around after one good move and have your slate wiped clean. Or at least I guess that’s what Chief Moon felt anyway. I think he was done with it all, done with fighting, done with himself for becoming the exact person his younger, more idealistic self would most likely have once been fighting against.
It is a sad ending for a such a strange ambiguous character.
The camera then pans around the empty prosecutor’s office, leaving a strange ghostly feeling of emptiness and sadness. What was it all for? Was it worth it?
Then a few years later we get a totally weird shift in mood to see a happy meet cute between Yeol Moo and Dong Chi, acting like they haven’t been hanging out all this time and are now going to finally start dating for real……..what?
My thoughts on the ending was I really liked the court case stuff. Yes the resolution and sudden appearance of evidence was a little weak, but this story was never about the police stuff to me. That side of the story was always riddled with coincidence and silliness, and not always a hell of a lot of sense.
But emotionally, I really liked the ending.
I liked how tense the court scenes were, how awful it was for Kang Soo to get through it, the scene where Yeol Moo’s mum tells Kang Soo to live his own life for himself now, that she will carry Byul and he doesn’t need to….gah. Heart wrenching.
Dong Chi too, making a choice to do the right thing over saving himself, is reminiscent of the choice that Chief Moon and the neighborhood ahjussi were faced with so many years ago because of their hit and run, but Dong Chi takes a different route. He remains who he wants to be. Then the ending with Chief Moon was so unsettling, and the empty office was so eerie to see.
So emotionally it really worked. I probably could have done with some more information on what happened to the team directly after the trial (like did Dong Chi go to jail? Why aren’t he and Yeol Moo together anymore? Is Kang Soo okay? How does he live his life now? Are he and little Chan happy? Is Yeol Moo’s mum alright?). And I could have used a hell of a lot less of the weird tacked on cute scene flash-forward at the end which felt so out of place I am just going to ignore it.
All in all I really loved this drama.
It really made me sad, it made me cry, it made me really feel for these characters a lot. Yes I could have done with a little more fiery intense romance like was present at the beginning, the plot could have made a hell of a lot more sense, and the ending could have been fixed up a bit too. Also Chief Moon needed a personal translator as I never had any clue what the hell he was saying.
Yet somehow despite its many flaws I still really loved this drama. It really got inside me and made me care.
Thank you for reading, please feel free to leave a comment below!
LEE EVIE is a podcaster, blogger and author of dark historical fiction set in old Korea. Discover Lee Evie’s historical fiction novels by clicking on the images below!