Edited by Seo Hae Lan
Translated Kim Hoyeun
Lee Seung Gi, an all-round entertainer who can sing and act, is back with a romance drama alongside The Red Sleeve star Lee Se Young. Based on the web novel of the same name, The Law Cafe, set against the “Law Cafe,” a legal counseling cafe, tells the love story of Jung Ho and Yu Ri, who have been friends for half of their lives. If the novel focuses on the process of the two falling in love, the drama keeps the basic framework of romance but instead strengthens the characteristic of a legal drama by showing the characters solving various cases as attorneys.
Having been called the “queen of losing” by taking all of the public interest cases at a famous law firm, Kim Yu Ri finally resigns and works for something she’s envisioned for a long time – running a cafe where people get legal advice for the price of a cup of coffee. However, the landlord of the place she found after much effort is Kim Jung Ho. The two used to be rivals for top grades in high school, classmates in college, and best friends of 17 years who suddenly grew apart. After much bickering, Yu Ri finally opens her cafe and boldly resolves various cases in the neighborhood. Jung Ho is worried about Yu Ri, who so willingly chose a rocky road, and whenever she finds herself backed up against the wall, he reaches out to help. And in the meantime, the feelings they have for one another and the reason Jung Ho’s been keeping Yu Ri at arm’s length are revealed.
The drama adaptation took the core setting of the novel but strengthened the details of the profession of “attorney.” Yu Ri’s cases show how we can solve cases that we just might find around us, the “everyday” cases that require legal assistance such as noise complaint issues, child abuse, school violence, etc. Yu Ri keeps her shoulder to the wheel, negotiating and reaching an agreement for both sides of the lawsuit; all the while Jung Ho is worried about her and helps her break through the cases with ingenious ideas. Emphasizing the concept of “an attorney who anyone who’s in need of help can meet,” The Law Cafe showcases that a legal drama can be interesting even if the story doesn’t revolve around a courtroom.
The story zeros in on the space and the characters. The cafe, one of the main spaces of the drama, is where Yu Ri “reveals” herself. People gather and interact in the cafe, presenting Yu Ri’s identity as a “friendly attorney in the neighborhood.” Another key place, the rooftop, is originally Jung Ho’s world, but Yu Ri slowly makes her claim in the area, eventually making the space “theirs.” Events take place around these two places, and Yu Ri and Jung Ho’s love for each other deepens. Other characters are given different weights and personalities from the original novel. Barista Eun Kang (Ahn Dong Goo), part-timer Bae Jun (Kim Do Hoon), as well as local residents are all used methodically in unraveling the various events. On the other hand, there are only a limited number of characters who know the long history of Jung Ho and Yu Ri. However, their narrative is shown through flashback scenes, and Jung Ho and Yu Ri open up about their feelings, almost “confiding” in the viewers, in the form of an interview.
The Law Cafe is, most importantly, a romance drama. The emotional flow of Jung Ho and Yu Ri and the changes in their relationship are what lead the show. Jung Ho has had a crush on Yu Ri for 17 years but pushes her away because of the guilt, while Yu Ri realizes that she considers Jung Ho as more than just friends only after penetrating into his life deep enough. The moment she notices her true feelings for Jung Ho, she boldly makes her move, which accidentally gets entangled with a sexual harrassment case that she was asked to defend, adding laughter to the two’s relationship. But in the meantime, the episode conveys the message “yes means yes” – no matter how much the two people might like each other, displaying affection that could in any way pressure the other or touching without consent is not okay. Nevertheless, their feelings for one another don’t waver; they only deepen. Jung Ho wishes to uncover the truth about the death of Yu Ri’s father for Yu Ri, even if that means hurting his own family.
The Law Cafe, now halfway into the story, draws out Yu Ri and Jung Ho going through various incidents together, confirming their love and building up the romance between them, while Jung Ho digs into the truth about Yu Ri’s father’s case in his own way. Moreover, the two will face not only the final boss Lee Pyun Woong (Cho Han Cheul) but also the power that he symbolizes – the power that covers up the truth – together. Since it’s said that Yu Ri and Jung Ho will go all out for both romance and work, we can just look forward to how they’ll blossom their love in the end after the many events. (7/10)
Editor Seo Hae Lan: I’m not picky and like all genres. I am in constant search of a balance between criticism and a fan’s heart.