Review: Defendant

Genre: Legal, Thriller
Written by: Choi Soo-jin, Choi Chang-hwan
Directed by: Jo Young-kwang, Jung Dong-yoon
Starring: Ji Sung, Uhm Ki-joon
Number of episodes: 18
Average rating: 17.65% (TNmS)
Original network: SBS

Hi guys! I will cut this brief very short in a second because I just need to get into the review part straight away.

Side fact about me: I used to think that SBS is the best Korean network as most of my favorite dramas of all time (My Love From Another Star, I Hear Your Voice, That Winter The Wind Blows) are released by SBS. But then, they started to kind of disappoint me by releasing average and mediocre dramas subsequently that I can’t even bring myself to finish. With this one, I think they finally step up they game again.

This is the kind of drama that will give you an emotional ride, your heart fluttering, butterflies in your stomach, all those at the same time. My conclusion is you need to watch this drama in your life.

What’s it about?

This is the journey of this man who is a great father, husband, and prosecutor. Then one day he woke up losing everything including his memory. Now he needs to do everything he could to unfold the mystery before he lost the very last thing, his life. This is not an ordinary story, but rather a dark and dangerous journey to walk.

What to expect?

  • Every inch of your soul be blown away by Ji Sung
  • Amazing performance by the cast
  • Villain that you will remember for the rest of your life
  • Lies, betrayals, crimes, and love
  • Comical scenes
  • A crazy emotional ride packed with actions
  • Minor female roles
  • Mediocre pacing plot
  • Heartwarming father-daughter scenes
  • And all the amazingness you can expect from Ji Sung and Uhm Ki-joon

What not to expect?

  • Beautiful OST with poetic script
  • A heroine in action
  • Much of mystery and thinking
  • Lot of court-room scenes
  • Romance and kisses

My long review starts here

Spoiler alert.

I’m ashamed to admit that I have never watched any of Ji Sung’s dramas in my life. And I never realized how amazing he is as an actor until this drama. I know that many people praised him for his roles in Kill Me, Heal Me as well. But I’m personally unable to connect with Double Identity Disorder (DID) romance, especially after my horrible experience with its comrade Hyde, Jekill, Me.

I don’t know if he’s always been this good or he just gave it all in this drama. I fell in love with those eyes of his that reflect so many kind of emotions accurately  throughout this drama. Not only the good, but also those ugly and dark emotions as well. He is one of the most if not the most engaging, passionate, and charismatic main character I have ever seen. I felt myself smiling, angry, and crying with him during those emotional scenes. He started as a badass Mr. Prosecutor to a crazy amnesiac and hopeless death-row prisoner to come back being his old self in the end.

I’m not sure if this has to do with him who is also a husband and father in real life, but he nailed that every single moment with Ha-yeon. I would have believed that she was his real daughter if someone told me that. He owned every single moment of him being a father perfectly. Both heartbreaking and relatable at the same time.

I wish I could go on with how fascinated I am with Ji Sung’s performance but I know I ought to move on this second.

I’m going to start with a more general review of the plot before moving on to the more detailed parts.

Truthfully, I become interested in legal drama ever since I watched I Hear Your Voice few years back but I have yet to find another drama that is that good. This drama, however, is not that legal drama I’m looking for. I honestly expect many court-room scenes of Eun-hye battling Joon-hyuk which in the end resulting in her winning the case and Jung-woo finally being released. But I’m not even a tad bit disappointed by how the story unfold surpassing my original expectation.

For some people, the pace of this drama may be a bit slow comparing to other dramas in this genre. But personally I was too busy savouring every single moment to complain. I think what makes this drama felt kinda slow is how powerless our main character and how dominant and strong our villain is in the early episodes. At that point, I felt hopeless on the inside because despite every attempt they have tried to save Jung-woo, nothing worked at all. I could feel Jung Woo’s despair and frustration as he went from the happy life with his little family to losing everything in one night with no memories of it. If it was not for her daughter that was alive out there, I strongly think that Jung-woo would have already gone crazy. 

At the other hand, I’m equally impressed with Uhm Ki-joon’s performance as with Ji Sung’s. He succeeded in portraying the crazy, psychotic, and cruel Cha Min-ho with no doubt. He knew how to use his expression do deliver his parts. Well done.

As for other characters, I do have complain for the writer not giving us a female heroine alongside Ji Sung here. Yu-ri as Eun-hye did not get enough part as supposed a third main character should have. After her past encounter with Jung-woo, I did wish that she was the one in the end that saved Jung-woo and as her first winning case in the courtroom. I feel like even Yeon-hee got a bigger part in this drama than her. I admit that Yu-ri was indeed still green compared to Ji-Sung and Uhm Ki-joon’ outstanding performances, but she was decent at her job in my opinion.

Yeon-hee at the other hand had totally won me over. I watched her before in the drama Good Doctor and I feel a lot of similarity between those 2 roles she’s in. Both are characters with bitterness and broken hearts. One of the highlight in this drama is hands down the love between Min-ho and Yeon-hee. Despite all the evilness Min-ho possessed, he still has bit of humane inside him that goes to Yeon-hee and their son. Deep down inside, Min-ho is someone who craved for love from people around him that tend to give all the love to his brother, Seon-ho instead. But he has this love from one person which Seon-ho will never have, it’s from Yeon-hee. He realized that and loved her back unconditionally despite her betrayal in the end. What a tragic love story!

Another aspect in this drama that warmed up my heart is the interaction between our cellmates. I kinda got the same feeling as with Miracle in Cell Number 7 during those prison moments. I love when Shin Cheol-sik worked together with Jung-woo as partners—both in crime and justice. I love the caring and brave Sung-gyu (but hate the writer for killing him instead of giving us more Sung-gyu – Ha-yeon moment), the comical Mong-chi, the wise Milyang, the bold Rockfish and Pil-jae. I love them all so much and definitely going to miss them for giving us times to breath throughout this intense drama. 

Some minor “plot holes” that I found in this drama are: how Jung-woo despite having his memory back never succeed to confide in Tae-soo as someone he could trust in the prison, and during the moment of escape why didn’t Tae-soo untie the rope immediately to keep them from being discovered straight away, and also how poorly Jun-hyuk’s character was developed comparing to the others in this drama. Although the writer succeeded in giving us the Is-he-a-friend-or-an-enemy feeling toward Jun-hyuk in the early episodes, he was going downhill since then for turning into a monster and back to his old self as Jung-woo’s best friend in such a short period of time—as if he’s been possessed this whole time.

But regardless, this drama has quickly become one of my favorite of all time period. (Insert the guitar music that plays right before something badass is about to happen)


Objective: 9.5/10
Subjective: 10/10

Last but not least

Although this drama is probably not for everyone, I will still recommend you to give it a shot because it will worth every single second of your time! If you have watched it, please let me know what do you think of this drama in the comment section below, Then I will see you in my next post 🙂


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