Edited by Young Jun Yang
Translated by Kim Hoyeun
Talk about a contradictory yet intriguing title. Deceiving others for personal gain is an undeniable crime, so how can it be ‘”beneficial”? Perhaps it’s from the perspective of a con artist? Grabbing attention with its unique title, tvN’s Monday-Tuesday drama Delightfully Deceitful debuted on May 29th. Will the content of the drama capture viewers as the name has done?
A teenage girl was sentenced to 15 years in prison for killing her parents. The shock was greater when it was revealed that she was none other than once-celebrated Lee Ro Um (Chun Woo Hee), a child prodigy that once captured the nation’s attention. About a decade later, just as everyone had forgotten the horrific family tragedy, the actual killer shows up, and the recording that this audacious killer’s lawyer releases turns the nation upside down. Now cleared of all charges, Ro Um resolves to use this very lawyer to exact her revenge.
The lawyer in question Han Mu Yeong (Kim Dong Wook) is portrayed as so cold that he could bleed ice—earning him the nickname ‘Vampire’. Contrary to his reputation, he actually suffers from a case of “hyper-empathy syndrome,” causing him to feel other people’s emotions too intensely. After discovering the truth about the “Genius Girl’s Familicide,” he decides to stand with the weak once again. The problem, however, is that Ro Um, despite her name, is a sociopath, the kind of person Mu Yeong must avoid.
Delightfully Deceitful is a potpourri of genres. Beneath the overarching revenge plot, there is a buddy genre where two people with completely different characteristics collaborate, caper elements, black comedy, crime thrillers, and human drama. While it’s true that such an amalgamation could run the risk of feeling excessive, so far, each genre adds a unique and impactful flavor to the overall story. The (highly likely) addition of romance is another layer to anticipate.
The acting performances and chemistry between the actors add vitality to the story. Chun Woo Hee, in particular, in the role of Lee Ro Um brings admiration with her versatile acting, well deserving of her epithet “chameleon.” Her cheekiness when breaking the fourth wall, her shamelessness when pursuing her goal, and the occasional violence spotted in her expressions – all contribute to the magnetism of her character. Kim Dong Wook, playing Han Mu Yeong, is equally impressive. Through his consistently maintained expressionless demeanor, the viewer gets to fully perceive who Mu-yeong is, feeling his empathy, compassion, and internal conflicts toward others. The interplay between these two and the supporting characters – lax probation officer Go Yo Han (Yoon Park) and Ro Um’s accomplice Jung Da Jeong (Lee Yeon) – promises further intrigue.
Yet, the risk of mixing numerous genres is a double-edged sword for Delightfully Deceitful. If blended correctly, it could enhance the appeal; if not, it could turn the production into an ambiguous mush. The director’s unique way of communicating with the viewers could also be seen as either something that divides opinions. Externally, it is unfortunate that Kim Dong Wook’s other drama My Perfect Stranger overlaps with this one in terms of scheduling.
While it might be a bit early to judge based on the first week’s episodes, the initial impression is promising. Both the characters and the story have a magnetic allure, and the performances by the actors are noteworthy. The narrative promises an exciting unraveling: Ro Um and Mu Yeong”s past, the truth behind the Jakmok Foundation that took young Ro Um, and the activities of the other “Jakmok Kids.” Will Ro Um and Mu Yeong’s scam turn out to be a truly “delightful deceit” that upholds justice? For now, it seems worth sticking around to watch their collaboration unfold. (8/10)
Editor Yang Young Jun: There is at least one good part in every movie or TV series. A media geek who isn’t picky with genres.