I was so excited for Ji Sung to return to dramaland and so far, “Defendant” is hitting all the right notes for me. And with 14.5 & 14.9 ratings for the first two episodes, I’d say it’s hitting the right spots with viewers too. Ji Sung never fails to deliver and his performance here as the Prosecutor-Turned-Accused-Murdered Park Jung Woo might be one of his best.
As a Prosecutor, Jung Woo (Ji Sung) is a skilled lawyer but also a bit of a risk-taker. Fielding offers from private law firms, his loving wife makes it clear that his job is NOT about money – which makes me love her immediately. He’s tough at work (although a bit of a smart ass) but a softer, dorky side comes out when he’s with his family. His wife Ji-Soo and 6-year-old daughter Ha-Yeon both seem to adore him and it appears he has a very happy family life.
Until he wakes up in a prison cell and is told he murdered his wife & child…something he has absolutely no memory of. Worse yet, he’s been in prison for 3 months! We then learn that 4 months earlier, he met twin brothers Cha Sun-Ho and Cha Min-Ho (Uhn Ki Joon) when he questioned Cha Min Ho about a vicious attack on a woman from a club that took place at Cha Min Ho’s villa. The woman is dead, Min-Ho is about to be arrested for murder. And in flashbacks, we see he did it.
Sun-Ho finds his brother hiding out and offers to go with him when he turns himself in. Min-Ho refuses, he wants Sun-Ho to help his disappear and in return – he will leave everything to Sun-Ho. Instead they argue, Min-Ho kills his own brother by throwing him over a balcony and then assumes his identity – becoming Sun-Ho. He returns to Sun-Ho’s apartment but his brother’s wife, Yeon Hee (Uhm Hyun Kyung) knows he is Min-Ho. He must have something on her because he doesn’t seem the least bit worried that she’ll open her mouth. He then hears the news that his brother is not dead, he’s in the hospital.
Jung Woo discovers Min-Ho was drunk that night and gets pressured from the Chief Prosecutor to close the murdered woman’s case because of pressure from higher-ups. Later Jung Woo learns there was little or no alcohol in the patients blood and with CCTV footage from the hotel, he also learns Sun-Ho was the last person to see Min-Ho. Jung Woo meets the fake Sun-Ho at his brothers bedside but of course, the real Sun-Ho dies.
Since twins do have the same DNA, the only possible way to tell them apart is fingerprints – which I’m going to guess no one has. Proving the fake Sun-Ho is really Min-Ho doesn’t seem (to me) that it would be that difficult but I’m going to guess doing that from jail is impossible – which is most likely why Jung Woo ends up in jail, framed for murdering his family.
It did seem a bit ridiculous that even the twins father, Chairman Cha didn’t notice it was Min-Ho and not Sun-Ho but we’ll just go with it. (LOL) OR he is fully aware the remaining son is Min-Ho but doesn’t want to lose them both so he’s burying his head in the sand. His mother, who seems to be suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s recognized him immediately, calling him Min-Ho.
This drama is smart. Everything I wondered or questioned was almost immediately brought forward – like the DNA and fingerprints ideas. Of course, the fingerprints are somehow fudged, the doctor who preformed the autopsy is murdered and Jung Woo is forced to close the investigation. Meanwhile, stock in ChaMyung Group rises because everyone believes the “troublemaker” son is now dead.
I had assumed the monster who murdered Jung Woo’s family was either Chairman Cha or the fake Sun-Ho but realized rather quickly that they must have had help – someone close to Jung Woo – which is heartbreaking to even think about. I said the drama was smart but then it immediately went off into stupid-ville when the uppers convinced the Chief Prosecutor to not even investigate the murders of Jung Woo’s family and instead – to just throw him to the wolves to protect the Prosecutors office. WUT?
The public defender Eun Hye (Yuri), who ends up taking his case has a bit of history with him but doesn’t let that deter her. She’s shown to us as a no-nonsense public defender who is earnest, hard-working, honest and determined but a pain-in-the-ass (to judges, etc) for never letting go or giving up on a case once she digs her heels in.
Jung Woo learns his friend, Prosecutor Joon Hyuk (Oh Chang Suk) is in charge of his case. The part I was waiting for, evidence of Jung Woo’s guilt finally came at the end of episode 2. He’s shown pictures that seem to show he suspected his wife, Ji Soo of having an affair. Is that supposed to be his motive for killing both Ji Soo and his 6-year-old daughter? I’m not buying it but everyone else seems to. We learn that 6-year-old child’s body has not been found so where is Ha Yeon? The only thing I saw in the “evidence” file was newspaper clippings with headlines blaring out his guilt. How is that evidence? We also have a doctor who is convinced Jung Woo is suppressing his memories on purpose because he can’t handle the fact that he murdered his wife & child. Pfffttttt. At the end, we see the Prison warden on a phone call with fake Sun-Ho, which kinda clears things up as to who framed Jung Woo.
I guess I’ll have to be extremely patient with this mystery. And that’s actually fine because both Ji Sung and Uhm Ki Joon have me on the edge of my seat with their brilliant performances. Can’t wait for next week!