The Crime K-Drama Binge

Being hooked on Korean dramas (K-dramas) at 2020 may seem to be too late. The trend started in the Philippines on 2004 with shows like Autumn in My Heart, Stairway to Heaven and Full House. With romance and melodrama as the common theme of most of the shows, I eventually lost interest in them.

At some point in 2020, I felt like I ran out of shows to watch. I binge a lot of shows on Netflix and being able to sit through a whole season in around 24 hours can be both a gift and a curse. While that skill can help me catch up with as many shows as I want, it may also lead to me running out of things to watch or getting impatient for the next season- if there is.

So, I asked my sister, having watched a lot of K-Dramas, for recommendations. And because she is aware of the type of shows that I could be interested in, one of the titles she highly recommended is Signal. (Along with Signal, she also recommended Sky Castle and also mentioned Mr. Sunshine albeit with much hesitation.)

Signal (2016) is a police procedural drama with a bit of a fantasy element. It was said to have adapted the premise of the American film Frequency (2000) but the cases are inspired by real incidents in South Korea. The show starts quite slow. Well given that I watched Sky Castle before this, I can’t help but to compare the pace of the two. However, it picks up pace. The show is so good that I started looking for more shows with the similar genre.

Cho Jin-woong as Lee Jae-han, Kim Hye-soo as Cha Soo-hyun and
Lee Je-hoon as Park Hae-yong in Signal

I recall my sister telling me that she checks the list of nominees from the Baeksang Art awards in considering dramas. That lead me to Flower of Evil and Beyond Evil which we both nominated for 2021, with the latter winning best Drama and nominated for the Daesang (Grand Prize).

Flower of Evil (악의 꽃) tells the story of Baek Hee-sung, a man who tried to leave behind his dark past. He married a homicide detective and they both started a family. However, his wife started to uncover the dark past he tries to leave behind. I love how they paced this show that I kept going for the next episode after I finished one. And the lead character is amazing.

Beyond Evil (괴물; literal translation: Monster) is a psychological thriller which follows the story of Lee Dong Sik and the rest of the police in a small rural town. A series of murders took place in their town. The murders have been very similar to the ones that took place decades ago – the case which Lee Dong Sik was accused of. This one is a slow burn but the pace is consistent that kept at the edge of my seat the whole time. It feels so underrated and deserves more recognition.

In between episodes of Beyond Evil, I read about another suspense crime drama which centers on the question: “What if we could identify the psychopaths even before their birth?” In Mouse, Detective Go Moo-Chi and rookie police officer, Jung Ba-Reum, attempts to catch a serial killer that has caused immense fear in the nation. However, this show goes beyond catching that killer. The added premise made this show more than just a crime mystery. It allows us to think beyond the crime and the other thing surrounding it.

The next one I watched leans more on Action than suspense. In Taxi Driver (모범택시, literal translation: Model Taxi), Kim Do-gi works as a taxi-driver who offers a special service for people who wishes to exact revenge to those who wronged them. Like Signal, the cases in this series are inspired by crimes that happened in South Korea.

So, if you are interested in crime thrillers and haven’t watched any of these shows, go give it them a try. Two or three of these shows are on my personal top ten highly recommended K-drama list. Signal, Flower of Evil, Beyond Evil and Taxi Driver are available on Netflix. You can catch Mouse, Flower of Evil, Beyond Evil and Taxi Driver on Viu.

What other K-Drama would you want to recommend me?

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