Original Air Date: May – July 2017
Suspicious Partner is a crime thriller legal romantic comedy starring Ji Chang Wook and Nam Ji Hoon as a prosecutor and lawyer, respectively. They become entwined in a murder case. As they work together, they also discover a common past an ill-fated future.
Suspicious Partner is one of my favorite crime/legal shows in the Korean drama world. I am a fan of shows about the law (in the American realm, I loved shows like Boston Legal, Bull, Suits, and Law and Order). At one point in my youth, I even wanted to become a lawyer! It’s interesting watching South Korean dramas to learn about how their legal system works. Suspicious Partner falls in line with the phase of Korean dramas that blended psychopaths with their romcoms (e.g. Strong Woman Bong Soon and My Love from the Star). But for the most part, I thought the writers handled the balance well. What was captivating about the villain in this drama was how complex and multifaceted he was. In other dramas, the villain was very black and evil and psychotic. But in this one, there are times that you actually sympathize with how he ended up the way he did and why he is killing people. I also think it’s a testament to the actor, Dong Ha and his fantastic job or portraying his character with such nuances and duality.
The major appeal of this show is the relationship of Ji Wook, whose name is confusingly similar to his real name of Ji Chang Wook and Bong Hee (Nam Ji Hoon). They had adorable interactions as their relationship evolved from bickering strangers to coworkers to advisories to forced cohabitation to coworkers again to romance to well…let’s just say there were a lot of turns in their journey to being a couple! Their whole journey felt real and the slow growth to coupledom was well handled. Yes, there were a lot of troupes and clichés to their relationship, but the made me laugh and swoon all at the same time.
I also really enjoyed the side characters and legal team of Assistant Bang Eun Ho (Jang Hyk Jin), CEO Byun Young Hee (Lee Deok Hwa), Lawyer Ji Eun Hyuk (Choi Tae Joon who was the lead in So I Married the Anti-Fan, and is dating Park Shin Hye). Their dynamic with each other brought another layer of fun and heart to the drama.
The drama wasn’t perfect. There was a little drag to the end and I wished they wrapped up the murder case a little quicker. I also wasn’t a big fan of the two female side characters, although they did grow on me slightly by the end. I watched this early on in my Korean drama experience, so the troupes were relatively new to me, so I didn’t mind any of them. But if you have been watching for a while, you may roll your eyes a little at some of the plot points of amnesia, childhood trauma, and fated destiny.
Overall, Suspicious Partner is a really enjoyable watch. The lead couple’s chemistry, interactions, and relationship growth is worth the binge. The law firm side characters are all endearing with their humor and family-like bickering and love for each other. I enjoyed the legal angle to the show and the exploration of the role of a prosecutor, the need for a thorough investigation to find the truth, how eye witness memory is unreliable, the care needed when handling child eyewitnesses, and general ethics lawyers and prosecutors face when practicing law. It may be a little troupe for some, but I absolutely loved it. This drama along with Healer elevated Ji Chang Wook to one of my favorite Korean actors.
Final Opinion: Must See! Favorite! Although Healer is definitely #1 to watch of the JCW dramas, this one is #2!