K-Drama Premiere: “Leverage” Does Not Disappoint On Its Premiere Week

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Lee Dong Gun returns to the small screen backed up with an unexpected team of misfits.

Taking on the lead role of Lee Tae Joon, a father racing against time to rescue his son. In a desperate attempt, Lee delves into the black market to obtain an illegal drug guaranteed to help his son.


Spinning off from the original American TV drama of the same name, the Korean version highlights the struggles of Tae Joon. Backed up by a solid career as an insurance fraud investigator, Tae Joon struggles with seeing his sick son. He makes the decision that ultimately seals his fate, but it may be too late.



Lee Tae Joon: A Terror To Con Artists

Leverage starts off with Ko Na Byeol (Kim Sae Ron) and Jung Ui Sung (Yeo Hoi Hyeon) in the middle of  heist. Na Byeol skillfully dodges security personnel while Ui Sung guides her as he hacks into the museum’s system. Na Byeol has acrobatic skills like a cat and avoids laser security, much to Ui Sung’s amazement. However, security catches up on them after Na Byeol trips on an alarm, with Ui Sung deserting Na Byeol.


Well-known insurance fraud investigator Tae Joon arrives at the scene and carefully investigates. Con artists have no luck against the wise Tae Joon. He’s known as the “Grim Reaper”and con artists are afraid of him. Tae Joon can immediately call their bluff and catch them in the act. Dreaded by the artists, Tae Joon is diligent and confident in his skills and his position. He loves what he does because he knows he can do it well. Knowing this, Lee correctly deducts that the owner of the museum has an ongoing fraud of pretending to be robbed so she can claim insurance payments.

Asana Can Save Tae Joon’s Son


However, Tae Joon puts his entire career on the line for the sake of his son, who is suffering from leukemia. With only three months left to live,  the doctor informs him about Asana. This is a new drug developed by Mirae Biomedical, but is currently not available yet.

Upon the advice of the doctor, Tae Joon needs the drug to save his son. He meets with the the developer, a Chinese man named So Ma. The shady man tells him how he was cheated into coming to Korea. The developer then claims that Asana was stolen from him. If Tae Joon wants to heal his son, he has to do as he is asked.  But once there, he is told he has to steal the drug back from Mirae Biomedical.

Tae Joon Assembles His Team

Because time is not on his side, Tae Joon acts quickly. First he resigns from his job to avoid trouble with the company. Next he selects and assembles his team. He quickly recruits the con artists that he once captured. Ko Na Byeol is still upset with Jung Ui Sung for their last unsuccessful heist and Tae Joon intervenes. He promises to double the payment that they didn’t get from the botched theft. Tae Joon explains this will be his one and only theft. After his son is healed, he plans to turn himself in.


Tae Joon, Na Byeol and Ui Sung set up camp adjacent to Mirae Biomedical. He decides to execute the theft the following day, while the security manager Roy Ryu is out. Roy boasts of an impressive record, as he was a mercenary that used to be part of the US Marine Corps.

The Staged Theft Fails

Unfortunately for Tae Joon and his crew, they were set up. Roy was anonymously tipped of the theft happening in Mirae Biomedical. He is able to quickly mobilize his men and trap Tae Joon and his team. Although they manage to retrieve and send the data, they were fooled and told that it was unsuccessful. Furthermore, Na Byeol and Ui Sung are trapped in an elevator that crashes down.

Tae J0on is captured, but pleads to his hyung Ki Ho to give him one week. He finds out there are no remains inside the elevator and Tae Joon looks devastated. Meanwhile, the police caught up with Tae Joon’s wife in the hospital. They quickly fill her in on what happened to Tae Joon. Shocked, she tries to call him, but does not get any answer.


Tae Joon quickly goes to Hwang Soo Kyung, another con artist he previously captured. She works at a stage theater she owns, and is a frustrated actress. Soo Kyung blames Tae Joon for her failure in acting, but agrees to help him.

Roy Ryu Held Liable

Tae Joon and the rest are gathered in Soo Kyung’s theater. They plot how they plan to gain payback. They find out that So Ma staged the whole thing in order to get Tae Joon to steal the data for him. Because Mirae Biomedical lost Asana, their value in the stock market plummeted. So Ma meets with them and expresses his interest to buy the company.

Based on his contract, Roy is held liable for the theft that occurred. In addition, he must pay 12 million dollars to the company for the damage. Needless to say, his contract is also terminated.

On the other hand, Tae Joon finally locates Ui Sung and Na Byeol. Apparently, they escaped from the elevator before it crashed.


Tae Joon sketches they will post an announcement that they stole the data and will sell it to the highest bidder. As the plan rolls into action, Tae Joon receives word that his son has gotten worse. After seeing his son in the hospital, Tae Joon mysteriously disappears.

The rest of the team worry about Tae Joon when he turns up with Roy Ryu. Tae Joon quickly fills Roy in about his intention to steal the drug. Roy is surprised about Tae Joon’s reason behind the theft. After Tae Joon reveals that he only wants the drug for his son, Roy is visibly less hostile to Tae Joon.  Tae Joon proposes that they should work together to retrieve the drug for Tae Joon’s son and the data for Roy. Roy rounds up their team as the last recruited member.


The team then finds out that So Ma has contacted several companies and offered to sell the Asana data. Soo Kyung poses as the regional CEO of Maizuru Pharmaceutical to So Ma. She also pretends to be So Ma’s representative as she meets Mirae Biomedical.

However, things almost fail when Tae Joon learns of his son’s deteriorating state. Soo Kyung manages to steal a bottle of Asana for him. Unfortunately for Tae Joon, he doesn’t make it in time.


Premiere Week Afterthoughts

I always find it risky when I hear about remakes because there is that level of comparison between both versions. In this case, I didn’t watch the original US version of Leverage, so I’m picking up on the drama as it is, a Korean drama about con artists.

On the preset, I love the chemistry between the main cast members. Ui Sung and Na Byeol’s characters in particular are unique and charming, giving much needed comic relief. Jeon Hye Bin’s role is equally fun as the flighty but extremely talented Soo Kyung.

Lee Dong Gun is surprisingly refreshing in this drama. Seeing him in villain roles caused a bad taste for him for me. Fortunately, his devoted love for his son and willingness to do anything warmed my heart.

I look forward to catching up on this drama every week. The story is refreshing and reminds me of Ocean’s Eleven. I love good con dramas, and I sincerely hope this won’t disappoint.


Image Credit: TV Chosun