Review

K-Drama Premiere: “Suits” Baffles & Blows Your Mind – In A Good Way

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Suit up and prepare for the gripping and clever first episode of legal drama Suits!

The Korean adaptation of the American legal drama series with the same name finally starts its run on television!

KBS2 TV brings out Park Hyung Sik and Jang Dong Gun as two attorneys at Korea’s most prominent law firm and their journey as new partners.

The pilot week delves into the first meeting of Korea’s top corporate lawyer and a college drop-out with an amazing photographic memory.

After the latter goes on the run from authorities and is mistaken for an applicant at the former’s law firm, his life takes a turn as he gets a chance to set his life straight and make use of his talent. He finds a mentor in the former and together, they take on the complicated world of legal jargon and lawsuits.

Suits starts off strong on its pilot week as it premieres in first place, beating SBS’ Switch and MBC’s Hold Me Tight which share the same timeslot. According to Nielsen Korea, the drama recorded viewership ratings of 7.4 percent nationwide – certainly a feat for the new legal drama we have all been looking forward to!

Here’s a rundown of the enthusing pilot episode’s highlights:

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Photo from KBS

The Prestigious Lawyers of Kang & Ham

Kang & Ham is a law firm known for its lineup of esteemed lawyers. Because of its reputation, it is considered the crème of the crop in the entire country. The pilot episode introduces us to three of their top players: Kang Ha Yeon (Jin Hee Kyung), Chae Geun Sik (Choi Gwi Ha), and Choi Kang Seok (Jang Dong Gun).

Kang Ha Yeon exudes the aura of the fiercest and coolest girl boss in town. She is the one who puts the “Kang” in Kang & Ham, and she greatly believes in Choi Kang Seok’s ability as a lawyer. Chae Geun Sik, despite all his efforts, does not measure up to Choi Kang Seok. Despite his acknowledgment of this fact, he views the other as his greatest competitor – not just at work, but also for Ms. Kang Ha Yeon’s attention. Choi Kang Seok is the firm’s best lawyer, who never fails to have a number of tricks up his sleeve.

The Genius Go Yeon Woo

Go Yeon Woo (Park Hyung Sik) is a genius who has an extraordinary talent of remembering everything he lays his eyes on. He displays his abilities right away by playing a betting game with a client, who turns out to be a conglomerate’s son, at a club. After hearing from Yeon Woo’s friend Cheol Soon (Lee Sang Yi) that Yeon Woo is a genius, the client decides to challenge his abilities. He offers to ask him three impossible questions – and for every answer he gets right, he can take the money, but for every wrong answer, he must take a shot of alcohol. To his surprise, Yeon Woo replies with all the correct answers – including a perfect explanation of the inflation theory and a description of the dish abbacchio alla cattora.

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Photo from KBS

However, Yeon Woo gets angry and tries to leave when he catches the guy mixing drugs with the alcohol he drinks. The guy gets furious and challenges Yeon Woo, who, much to his disappointment, outright refuses. Yeon Woo and Cheol Soon leaves, but the guy calls up Cheol Soon again. In an act of retaliation, he asks him to pick up a narcotic herb for him and have it delivered by Yeon Woo only.

Cheol Soon agrees and puts the narcotics in a suitcase, asking Yeon Woo to deliver it for him as a favor. Yeon Woo initially refuses and tells Cheol Soon to get rid of the suitcase, without knowing what it actually contains.

Yeon Woo visits his grandmother at the hospital, where a nurse tells him that his grandmother needs to move out after a month. He is obviously struggling to cover his grandma’s hospital bill, and when he gets back home, he tells Cheol Soon that he has changed his mind and agrees to deliver the suitcase.

Fate Is Decided By The Choices You Make

Kang Seok gets promoted to a senior lawyer, and Ms. Kang tells him that getting this position means he has to hire an associate as his partner. Kang Seok expresses how he does not want to follow what seems to be the company’s habit of hiring only those from elite universities. To his delight, Ms. Kang tells him she’ll let him choose an associate for himself.

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Photo from KBS

In addition to the applicant interviews, Kang Seok comes up with his own, quirky way of screening the applicants. He leaves a figurine on the table of his secretary Ms. Hong Da Ham (Chae Jung An), and tells her to ask the applicants and give him a sign should one recognize the figurine. He tells her that this is his way of finding someone who may be like him, but at the same time, is different from him. Many applicants have attempted to name the figurine, but none had emerged successful – yet.

Meanwhile, Yeon Woo heads out to deliver the suitcase – coincidentally in the same place where the Kang & Ham Associates Interview is being held. He goes to the room number that the conglomerate’s son had texted but he sees two hotel employees at the door once he gets there. He realizes that he was being trapped and is set to be framed and arrested. He bolts out, and the hotel employees chase him out.  The conglomerate’s son calls him and tells him that he messed with the wrong person, thus Yeon Woo should face his plot to even out the score.

In an attempt to hide from the hotel employees, Yeon Woo runs into the applicant interview and pretends to be someone else. Ms. Hong asks him about the figurine and much to her surprise, Yeon Woo recognizes it as Kairos, the god of opportunity.

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Photo from KBS

Road to Redemption

Kang Seok asks Yeon Woo to tell him more about the figurine of Kairos – which Yeon Woo manages to do astoundingly. The firm’s topnotch lawyer is impressed, but when he asks Yeon Woo to take a seat, he trips and the suitcase opens, revealing the narcotics inside. Yeon Woo explains the truth behind the situation and manages to recite the Narcotics Article Act word-by-word, which further astonishes Kang Seok.

Ms. Hong knocks and interrupts the two to inform them that there are police officers outside. Kang Seok lets the police officers in and tells Yeon Woo to defend himself as if he was a lawyer on his first trial. He successfully does so by mentioning several laws in detail and as a last resort, the police officers ask him to show them the contents of the suitcase. Yeon Woo opens it, revealing law books in place of the narcotics.

The police officers leave, and it is shown that Yeon Woo had hidden the narcotics under the couch before the officers walked in. Kang Seok asks him about his ability and tells him that it would be put in good use if he decides to be a lawyer.

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Photo from KBS

The Joker Card

Yeon Woo tells him that he had always aspired to be a lawyer. He gets a flashback to the time he took a law exam in lieu for someone else and passed it. He says he badly needed money at that time, so even if it was against his will, he took the exam. Apparently, both of his parents died because of a drunken hit-and-run, and he was left to support himself and his sickly grandmother.

Yeon Woo says he would like to redeem himself if given the proper chance because he had already experienced the harsh consequences of a mistake. Kang Seok informs him that he had passed the interview and is now hired as his associate, despite not having a degree in law. The lawyer tells him that he now has a chance to set his life straight.

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Photo from KBS

Kang Seok gives Yeon Woo a joker card – and it is revealed that it holds the same connotation and significance to them. They both see it as something that may mean nothing as of the moment, but has the capability to be anything later on – to which they relate with.

This marks the start of Yeon Woo’s life as a part of the Kang & Ham law firm. However, on his first day of work, Kang Seok tells him that he is fired.

Start of the Journey

Ms. Kang tells Kang Seok that by hiring Yeon Woo and getting involved in the mess he’s in, he is putting the law firm in potential jeopardy. She threatens to take away his promotion, but Kang Seok stands his ground. He passes the message to Yeon Woo, who, despite his surprise and disappointment, displays his bravado and determination to be the prestigious lawyer’s associate.

Kang Seok decides he’s convinced of Yeon Woo’s capabilities as he sees similarities between his and the rookie lawyer’s characteristics. He agrees to keep him and says he has to go through six months of compulsory training and make sure that he can qualify for the bar exam.

Ms. Kang lets Kang Seok keep his promotion, but lays out her terms for him. First, he has to face President Park’s case against him, and second, she makes him take on a pro bono case. However, he passes the pro bono case to Yeon Woo and tells him not to let Ms. Kang catch him working on it.

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Photo from KBS

He meets Kim Ji Na (Ko Sung Hee), the firm’s paralegal, who is assigned to give him his newcomer’s orientation. They immediately launch into banter as she tours him around the office.

Meanwhile, Kang Seok faces an obstacle with the lawsuit filed by President Park against him, and he finds out that Geun Sik leaked some information to President Park. Because of this, he starts working and gathering information on the case immediately.

Yeon Woo starts working on the pro bono case too, which is a harassment case filed by Kim Mi Sook against her employer. Without knowing that the conglomerate’s son sent people to Cheol Soon and have beaten him up, he goes to his grandma in the hospital and informs her that he got a job.

The First Act

Geun Sik summons Yeon Woo to his office and introduces himself as the supervising mentor of Kang & Ham’s probationary associates. He tells Yeon Woo that he will be keeping an eye on him and waiting for him to make a mistake.

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Photo from KBS

Yeon Woo and Kang Seok find out that the conglomerate’s son who set Yeon Woo up with the drugs is the son of Joseong Group’s President Park. Yeon Woo calls him. Kang Seok goes to the son, who is intoxicated at the club and tells him that the cops are coming. He informs him that the only way to get out of it is to sign the contract saying Kang Seok will defend him in court. On the other hand, Yeon Woo goes to President Park to inform him of the situation, handing over a phone call with Kang Seok as President Park’s son begs him for help. Kang Seok makes a negotiation with President Park, telling him to drop the lawsuit against him in exchange for defending his son. President Park is left with no choice and ultimately agrees.

After their successful act, Yeon Woo goes home and finds Se Hee (Lee Si Won) crying. Cheol Soon and Yeon Woo’s house is in disarray, and they realize that its President Park’s son’s doing. Se Hee finds out that Kang Seok is now a rookie lawyer, and she confronts him about keeping her in the dark.

Pilot Episode Verdict:

Despite being a remake, Suits seems to be shaping the story as its own. It provides a fresh take on the original Suits’ framework, plot, and characterization without overly sticking to it, giving both new watchers and fans of the original US series something to look forward to.

The premiere episode kept a balance between being a slow burn and keeping the viewers at the edge of their seats.

The characters are perfectly casted – in fact, we could already tell that Jin Hee Kyung will do a great job as Kang & Ham’s ultimate girl boss. Jang Dong Gun, who makes his comeback on the small screen after six years with Suits, also showed off a good start – although admittedly, Park Hyung Sik had overshadowed him in some of their scenes together.

As expected, Hyung Sik shows off an exceptional performance and never fails to dazzle the viewers in his every scene. He exudes a very different vibe as Yeon Woo in comparison to his previous roles, yet he still manages to make the character his own from top to bottom. He and Ko Sung Hee also display chemistry as they simultaneously bicker and work with each other, which will definitely play out interestingly in the story.

Suits Jang Dong Gun, Park Hyung Sik

Photo from KBS

Each scene was successful to keep our eyes glued to the screen – and that ending definitely had us waiting for more!

Suits airs on KBS every Wednesdays and Thursdays.


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