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[K-Drama Review] ‘Through the Darkness’: A Crime Drama That Truly Explores the Desperate Struggles

Edited by Hong Hyun Jung
Translated by Changhyun Kim

Kdrama Through the Darkness Review
Credit: SBS

A new drama series is here to please thriller fans. It is SBS’ Through the Darkness, which is based on a non-fiction novel co-written by novelist Ko Na Moo and criminal profiler Kwon Il Yong. The show tells the story of the first South Korean criminal profiler who struggled to catch serial killers when random murders began to ravage the country. Like Criminal Mind and Mind Hunter, the series follows profilers. However, it takes a different approach to its investigation process, unlike the preexisting crime shows. The charm of Through the Darkness starts from here.

Most of the preexisting Korean crime shows have focused on brutal acts following a cat-and-mouse narrative between the investigator and the criminal. While this made the plot highly intriguing and suspenseful, it made the viewers feel uneasy about watching the unnecessarily brutal scenes of crimes. However, Through the Darkness breaks away from the conventional format and sheds light on those who look into the cases. It focuses on the minds of the investigators who pursue violent crimes. This unique approach is notable as it does not portray crimes as mere entertainment.

Gook Young Soo (Jin Seon Kyu), a veteran detective, was the first to acknowledge the need for criminal profilers. He claims that South Korea should bring in profilers like the United States does, as the number of motiveless murders is expected to rise in the future. Young Soo believes that his favorite colleague named Song Ha Young (Kim Nam Gil) would be perfect for the profiler role. Ha Young is a rather grumpy and unsociable police officer who quietly does his job regardless of what others think about him. Ha Young takes a different approach to criminal cases as he empathizes with the mindset and mentality of those who committed such acts. And while doing so, he also cares for the victims and their families. With his keen analytical skills, persistence, and ability to empathize, Song Ha Young has been already working as a criminal profiler instinctively.

Unfortunately, the concept of analyzing the evidence and forming a psychological pattern out of it was completely new at that time. What made things worse was detective Park Dae Woong (Jun Man Sik), the crime squad leader who consistently gets in Ha Young’s way. He would jump to conclusions only with visible evidence and close the case at his will. Other members in the station were not very helpful either. They would think of the analysis team as a hassle that hinders their operation. The rest of the police also lacks the understanding of criminal profiling, as shown in the scene where Mobile Investigation Unit leader Yoon Tae Goo (Kim So Jin) asks them, “Do you seriously believe in this silly MBTI type of tests?”

Kdrama Through the Darkness Review
Credit: SBS

This is the part where Through the Darkness differentiates itself from other crime shows. Rather than simply showing the heroic story of police detectives with a new investigation technique, the show focuses on depicting the investigation scene of that time realistically. By doing so, it takes the genre to another level. Watching the perception of profiling change – from an unfamiliar and unrefined technique to a significant branch of investigation – is as enjoyable as much as watching the actual criminal pursuit. Moreover, the show enriches its story by highlighting a female police officer named Yoon Tae Goo, who fiercely fights against prejudice in a male-dominated organization. Despite all the difficulties, Gook Young Soo, Song Ha Young, and Yoon Tae Goo do their best to bring about justice for victims. The show clearly shows that brutal crime leaves the victims in agony, and thus it is unforgivable. Perhaps that is why we get so immersed in the story of these three investigators who keep their faith in what they pursue.

The brilliant performance of the actors adds depth to the show and the characters they play. Kim Nam Gil, who plays the crucial character in the series, shows a strong presence. While his character does not have turbulent emotions, the actor effectively brings out his character’s calm and meticulous personality. He casually leads the show by building suspense in the scenes where he faces a criminal in person. Jin Seon Kyu and Kim So Jin also play an essential role in balancing the show’s mood. Jin Seon Kye’s character builds the tension in the show with his easygoing personality, and Kim So Jin portrays a charismatic police detective who has an entirely different vibe from anyone in the Criminal Behavior Analysis team.

The only thing that made viewers stop watching the show was its three-week hiatus during the Beijing Winter Olympics. The show has hinted at a new case in the upcoming episode with the serial killer still on the loose. The three-week break at this point leaves the viewers frustrated, as it cuts the show’s flow. Additionally, since the show’s first half focused on the difficulties that profilers go through every day, some might feel that the story is a little slow and without much promise of things to come.

Through the Darkness will return with part 2 on February 25th. The second part is about a famous serial killer who caused quite a stir in the 2000s. Since the show is about criminal pursuit, the Behavior Analysis team is expected to show more heroic acts in the upcoming episodes.

 

Edited Hong Hyun Jung: I am a K-content guide who publishes various articles for people to enjoy Korean movies and dramas deeper and richer. I’ll introduce you to the works that you can laugh, cry and sympathize with.

Translator Changhyun Kim: Hello, K-pop, K-drama, and K-movie lovers! I will provide you with accurate and reliable Korean Entertainment news.

 

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