‘Joseon Attorney’ Review: Charming Characters Fuel a Spirited Legal Adventure

Edited by Seo Hae Lan
Translated by Kim Hoyeun

Credit: MBC

“Oejibu (litigation experts)” were legal representatives during the Joseon Dynasty who handled lawsuits on behalf of those who were ignorant of the law, regardless of their social status or gender – essentially the modern equivalent of “attorneys.” Although they occasionally appeared in historical dramas, there had never been one that focused solely on this profession. With a delightful mix of characters, story, fast-paced plot, elegant visuals, and editing, Joseon Attorney captivatingly highlights this unfamiliar occupation, leaving a lasting impression beyond “it’s quite enjoyable.”

In a fictional Joseon, a skilled attorney named Kang Han Soo appears in the capital city, Hanyang. With a photographic memory and extensive knowledge of law and precedent, Han Soo’s way with words is impressive and convincing, resulting in an undefeated record in all the cases he has taken on. His sole objective is revenge. He is after those who killed his father after framing him for a crime he did not commit and staged his mother’s death as a suicide. Upon arriving in Hanyang, Han Soo takes on a lawsuit related to alcohol distribution and strikes a blow to the largest merchant group in Hanyang, the Jangga. His flashy and boisterous entrance catches the eye of Princess Yeon Joo, the daughter of the deceased king. Hiding her identity, Yeon Joo runs a brothel, helping those in need. Through Han Soo, she realizes the power of law and those who wield it well and decides to recruit and use the cunning and opportunistic Han Soo for her own purposes.

Joseon Attorney depicts Han Soo’s performances with a lively rhythm. Much like modern legal dramas, each episode revolves around a specific case, with Han Soo investigating, gathering clues, unraveling the truth, and making his arguments before an audience as if he’s performing a one-man show. The exhilarating story of a protagonist who knows his purpose and has the ability to achieve it, solving cases and ultimately winning, delivers a satisfying experience, regardless of the era or setting. Meanwhile, each episode’s story is linked to Han Soo’s ultimate goal: revenge. Han-Soo became an attorney to find and bring down those responsible for his parents’ deaths. And as a master of lawsuits, he targets those who framed his father. Hearing the testimonies of the people he’d brought down, he gets to the bottom of who framed his prestigious legal official father, manipulated his mother’s death, and utterly ruined their family.

From this perspective, Han Soo may appear as someone solely fixated on achieving his personal goals. To him, his profession and the “law” serve merely as tools to fulfill his objectives. However, the arrival of Yeon Joo in his life serves as a brake on his actions. As a princess, she has tried to help as many people as possible but has often felt like her efforts were in vain. Witnessing Han Soo’s ability to change a person’s fate with his knowledge and eloquence, Yeon-Joo believes his skills can be crucial to achieving her goals. She approaches Han Soo disguised as a servant, observing and experiencing his work up close. Through Yeon Joo’s eyes, we see that despite his willingness to do anything for his goals, Han Soo doesn’t always make selfish choices and harbors pain within him that he cannot share with others.

Credit: MBC

As mentioned earlier, since Joseon Attorney centers around Kang Han Soo, the acting skills of the actor playing this role are crucial. So far, Woo Do Hwan’s interpretation and performance of the character have been more than satisfactory. Returning to the screen after his military service, this must have been both a challenge and a burden for him. However, his portrayal of Han Soo leaves a strong impression in every scene. His radiant smile can quickly turn into a sharp gaze when the situation calls for seriousness, allowing the audience to easily and quickly grasp the character’s traits. Bona, who plays Yeon Joo, charmingly portrays the principled, strong-willed, and action-oriented princess. The chemistry between the two is quite impressive. The moments when Han Soo and Yeon Joo open up to each other are even sweeter than some dramas that solely focus on romantic themes. It feels like discovering an unexpected romantic gem while watching a hero’s tale.

Having aired up to episode 6, Joseon Attorney is more thrilling than expected. The story is easy to follow, with clear conflicts and antagonists, and the clear-cut battle between good and evil raises the expectation for an exciting finale. If the drama maintains the quality seen in the initial episodes, it will undoubtedly become more captivating. At this point, the only regrets are the ratings and the strong competition the show faces. (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.

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