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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho" Episode 18

2016/05/24 | 668 views |  | Permalink

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Deul-ho and Ji-wook are pulled towards their respective loved ones and away from justice. Eun-jo voices her worries over this and reminds Deul-ho and us what this series has been about. With only two episodes left, it is time for the fight against Yeong-il to get dirty and the dirt sadly touches our heroes as well. This is the first time "Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho" has missed some marks on its hero, but I hope the end brings justice back.

Automatic forgiveness of past transgressions because of family bonds is a pet peeve of mine in Korean drama. I have seen horrible characters being given a free pass at redemption without having worked for it or seen them suddenly grow a conscience to justify it. Wanting to support loved ones is a noble cause and a human, and therefore understandable desire. It is the execution which often fails the idea. I think this drama does a lot of things about it right.

Hae-kyeong and Deul-hoEun-jo

What gives Deul-ho's (Park Shin-yang) decision to help Sin-woo (Kang Shin-il) logic within the series is that it is at least addressed by the writing. Sin-woo was horrible to his family and Deul-ho, but it is Deul-ho's choice as a person to forgive and help him. I appreciate the fact that Eun-jo (Kang So-ra) reminds Deul-ho about how this goes against what he has been fighting for. It is a moment of weakness for him and he does betray his principles.

However, the series still paints his choice as heroic and does not pause enough on the fact that it is not, by its own previous standards. In fact, it goes to great lengths to present it as the same heroism he has been practicing when helping those unfairly charged. When you drive your hero down a different path, you need adequate development for it. I feel the series is adapting its approach to its need for a hero, essentially sugar-coating his choice.

Ji-wook and Sin-wooDeul-ho and Sin-woo

Deu-ho keeps preaching to Ji-wook (Ryu Soo-young) about obeying his father, but he turns a blind eye for his own. One is presented as regrettable, the other as admirable and it comes complete with the pity-treatment. I feel disrespected as a viewer when the creators show me Chairman Jeong (Jung Won-joong) and Sin-woo as poor sick old men. Using sympathy to avoid justice is the very thing they criticized through Chairman Jeong's summon-evading tricks.

The sad thing is, the drama does not need this. Most viewers probably love Deul-ho enough to forgive him and understand his motivation. I hope the series can come back to the point it has been making. We all love our own, be it money, power or family, but shielding the privileged does not make this world better. I hope Ji-wook and Deul-ho can let their loved ones pay for their sins and rebuild a better life.

"Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho" is directed by Lee Jung-seob, written by Lee Hyang-hee and features Park Shin-yang, Kang So-ra, Ryu Soo-young and Park Sol-mi.

Written by: Orion from 'Orion's Ramblings'

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