Kang Yo Han’s (Ji Sung) Corvette speeds through dystopian Seoul at night.
At the Social Responsibility Foundation, President Heo Joong-Se (Baek Hyun-Jin) gives a passionate speech about the Gwanghamun riot that started because of the clash between the haves and the have-nots. The entire nation watches the broadcast. He addresses the unemployment issue in the poverty-stricken economy caused due to a plague spreading throughout the country. He promises to change it all.
Yo Han drives past the rioters as the city goes up in flames.
A digital board keeps ticking in the foundation as the donations pour in. Seo Jeong Hak (Jung In-Gyeom)(Chairman of the Social Responsibility Foundation), Cha Kyung Hee (Jang Young-Nam) (the minister of Justice), Min Yong Shik (Minbo Group Chairman), Park Du Man (Saram Media Chairman), are socialising in the gathering.
Heo Joong Se promises to create jobs and make Korea into what it was before. Jung Sun A (Kim Min-Jung) tells Seo that Heo always overacts when the camera is rolling.
Kang Yo Han walks into the Social Responsibility foundation just as Heo announces that he has passed a bill where the whole nation can participate as jurors in a live court. He says the ruthless judge Kang Yo Han will be the trial judge in it.
Kang Yo Han draws the attention of the journalists as he walks in. He takes the dais and answers their questions. The reporters voice their concerns that a live court is unconstitutional and Yo Han’s punishments are inconsiderate on the weak.
Yo Han says he doesn’t care if the defendant has power or not. He is asked if he will be able to hand down a hefty sentence to Chairman Ju Il Do despite his powerful connections.
Yo Han is authoritative as he says that he is the power. He says he exercises the judicial power vested in him by The sovereign of Korea. He says nobody is above the people as people are the power. Yo Han is greeted with cheers and applause as he walks down from the dais.
Everyone seems impressed. Jung Sun-A walks up to Yo Han and passes him a flute of champagne. He takes it. She says they should clink their glasses and he complies. She says, “To sexy power”. Yo Han seems disinterested as he takes a sip of champagne.
Min takes Ga-on to the temple of Justice. Next, they go to the court where the live trials will take place. Min says Yo Han is not a normal judge. He says he is a revolutionist who will eradicate corruption in the courtroom. He says he is the devastated nation’s only hope. Min says Yo Han doesn’t think like a juror but thinks like a politician.
Ga-on asks why Min wants Ga-on to be on the bench while he hates Yo Han. Min says there has to be someone who has to keep his eyes open against the wind. Ga-on asks if he has to be Judas. Min says what he always says, “In the human world, there is no such thing as easy justice.”
Ga-on goes to Yo Han’s office and introduces himself. Yo Han walks up to him and puts out his hand, “Welcome to the battlefield.” He returns back to the desk. Ga-on goes out.
Yo Han opens the file on his desk which has an article about a conned restaurant couple who committed suicide. Beneath it lies a document containing Ga-on’s biodata.
Yo Han comments that Ga-on looks just like him, better than he expected.
Meanwhile, Ga-on goes to his office and finds Associate Judge Oh Jin-Joo (Kim Jae-Kyung) there. She says she is from small-town and this her first job in Seoul. She says she will pull all-nighters to impress the boss. In an attempt to be polite, Ga-on says he looks forward to working with her.
Jin-joo says that she and Ga-on were recruited for the live show because they are charming and people tend to believe the words of charming people. She takes out Yo Han’s photo and says she is his huge fan.
Meanwhile, Judge Ji Yoon-Sik asks Yo Han if he is sure that he wants JU chemical’s case to be the first live trial case. Yo Han is stubborn as he says there is nothing to worry about as they will go by the law.
Ji Yoon Sik says that only 10% of people have trust in the court and the judgement will deviate from the people’s emotions. He asks why Yo Han has to take this case. Yo Han says the purpose of the trial is to make the trials transparent and not to satisfy people’s emotions.
Ga-on walks out of the courthouse after work. He notices a school bus speeding towards the building. The guards are alerted and they are ready to shoot.
A woman escorts a group of children across the road. She tells the children to run as she notices the speeding bus. One of the children falls. Ga-on rushes to the child and shields her with his body bracing for impact.
Just then, he hears a bullet shot and looks up. Yo Han shoots at the windshield of the bus. He fires another shot and the bus skids over and topples to the side, missing Ga-on and the child closely.
Yo Han puts the gun back in the guard’s hand asking why he has a gun when he doesn’t use it. Just then, the bus catches fire.
Yo Han watches as Ga-on rushes into the bus to save the driver. They come out just in time as the bus explodes.
Everyone stoops and shields themselves from the explosion except Yo Han who watches without moving an inch. Yo Han walks away after seeing Ga-on checking if the driver is fine.
In the evening news, it is mentioned that the bus driver was angered because the arrest warrant for JU chemical’s chairman was rejected. Minister Cha is with the bigshots as she explains that this was to challenge the authorities. Sun-A intervenes saying that it looks like it was more of an outcry.
Heo asks Chairman Seo for some help as they have spent a lot during the epidemic. Heo then tells Chairman Park to work hard on the live trial. Heo laughs saying that Minister Cha has a particular interest in that case. Cha looks grim.
Go-on heads home as night falls. He brings home a plant that he finds on the way and plants it in a pot.
Detective Yoon Soo-Hyun (Park Gyu-Young) visits him. She asks him about the terror attack on the supreme court.
Later, they have a drink on the terrace. She asks him to treat her to dinner as he is going to be on a live show with Kang Yo han. She says he is an heir to a fortune and survivor of a tragic event. She says people love to hear stories like that. She asks him to move to a nicer neighbourhood as he is a judge now. Ga-on says this is the only place that reminds him of his parents.
He tells her that she has lost weight. She says if he does this she will ask him out again. She points out that he has rejected her 5 times now since kindergarten. Ga-on says he doesn’t want to lose his best friend. She calls him a heartless jerk as he walks away.
JU Chemical’s legal team is at work. They say they can claim that the chairman had no knowledge of the accidental discharge of the chemical waste.
Attorney Ko meets with chairman Ju. Ju is in a bad mood. He says he has created so many job opportunities but the people are being ungrateful. Attorney Ko says that they will plead not guilty and they may be charged with professional negligence if things go south. He says the maximum jail term would be 5 years. When Ju says he needs a comfortable bed, he adds that Ju can come out on parole post the sentencing. Ju asks if he can trust Ko. Ko says Ju knows whom to ask for help if he cant trust Ko.
Ga-on speaks with Yo-han when he comes to work. He thanks Yo Han for saving him and Yo Han smiles. Ga-on points out that Yo han didn’t hesitate to shoot and asks if he would have killed that man.
Yo Han says he would have if he had to. He says the bus would have headed straight if he had killed the driver so he fired a shot to scare him.
Ga-on says the man could have died. Yo-han says that is the math- 2 is greater than 1. Ga-on comments that he shouldn’t be a smaller number in front of Yo Han in that case. Yo Han responds with, “Whatever.”
Later, Min wonders why Yo Han chose Ju’s case as his first live trial case. Ga-on thinks it is because it’s the hottest case. Min says Chairman Ju is the biggest donor of the Social Responsibility Foundation and the live trial was possible because Chairman Ju supported the idea. Min feels Yo Han has an ulterior motive.
Later, Ji Yoon Sik asks Yo Han to indict the bus driver and later on preside his trial. he says he doesn’t want a scandal, especially after yesterday’s incident. Yo Han asks if he has to be nice to a terrorist. He says he only attracted attention to himself from yesterday’s incident. He says he has to be incarcerated.
Ga-on intervenes and says the driver’s 3-year-old daughter is one among the deceased in the JU Chemicals case. He says her grandmother also committed suicide following that.
He points out that Yo Han rejected the arrest warrant against Chairman Ju but wants to incarcerate the bus driver.
Yo Han says in the trial Ju would just be a defendant whereas the bus driver was caught on the scene. He says victims don’t have the right to hurt others. Ga-on objects that the driver is hurt. Yo han is emphatic as he says there are doctors at the detention centre too.
The news relays that 11 deaths and 36 cases needing treatment have occurred due to leakage of toxic wastewater at JU Chemicals.
Jin Joo says it reminds her of a case back in her hometown.
Ga-on asks what she thinks about Yo Han. She says curiosity about the boss of forbidden. She tells him to go through the annoying trial statute. Ga-on frowns as he reads it.
Ga-on finds Yo Han and asks him why he wants to hand out the verdict based on public opinion using an app. Yo Han says this is democracy. Ga-on asks why he needs associate judges when it is going to be a democratic trial. Yo Han says it is a TV show and it would be nice if two people are sitting on either side of him. Yo Han gets into the car and drives away.
Later, Ga-on obtains the spare key to the supreme court record room after convincing Min by promising that Min won’t be getting into any trouble.
Later, in the records room, Ga-on finds what he is looking for.
The next day, Ga-on meets Min over lunch. He says 20 years ago Minister Cha was a prosecutor. He says she helped Chairman Ju 3 times when he got into trouble while expanding the business.
She says Chairman Ju was the head of her campaign club when she ran to be assemblywoman.
Min realises that Ju was Cha’s sponsor and now Yo Han wants to put him on trial. He comments that Cha is quietly watching this. Ga-on asks if this is the trial to reveal his crimes or hide them. Min suddenly asks how Jae Hee is doing. Ga-on is caught off guard and chokes on the noodle soup. He smiles.
Yoon Soo Hyun is driving down the street when Ga-on calls her up and asks her for listening devices. Just then, she notices a couple of men assaulting a schoolgirl. Yoon rushes to her and saves her after fighting off the assailants.
Meanwhile, Jung Sun-A visits Minister Cha at her office. She says she is here to run an errand for Chairman Seo. She says that the live trial was brought to try petty criminals. She says everyone is concerned about the JU chemical case. She says if Ju receives a serious punishment it will set a bad precedent for the other businessmen.
Cha says Yo Han never makes a mistake with his case. Sun A asks why Cha is being adamant on this case. Cha asks why the alliance of the wealthy (Social Responsibility Foundation) interested in how a country is run. She calls her arrogant.
Sun-A apologises for overstepping her boundary and walks away. Before she leaves, she says she has one thing to say by overstepping the boundary. She says the chair and desk which Cha uses, the paintings on the walls, the car which she drives is all paid for by the foundation because the ministry was short on the budget. She says there is a shortage of prisons too and the foundation may have to build private ones too. She wonders who is serving the country.
Meanwhile, Yoon brings the listening devices to Ga-on’s house. She assumes that he wants to listen in on his cheating girlfriend. He smiles but doesn’t respond. She tells him to go on the roof to test it.
Ga-on is on the roof. Yoon asks if he will marry her. He smiles and comments that her voice is nice. Yoon comes up and he says the device works. She asks his answer to her question. He says you are not supposed to show that you heard it. She gives up and walks away. Ga-on replays her voice on his phone.
AT night Kang Yo Han wears a black hoodie jacket and goes to an abandoned railway line. There are many sick people and he goes over to one man. He checks the man and starts walking away. The man comes over to him and puts a hand on Yo Han’s shoulder. Yo Han turns around and beats up the man. he places his boot over the man’s neck and presses down on it.
Meanwhile, Ga-on places listening devices in Yo Han’s office (under the desk, behind the painting etc).
Kang Yo Han walks into his office and finds Ga-on in there. Ga-on says he is reading up on the trial as the library is closed. Yo Han asks why the lights are off. Ga-on says he can see well in the dark.
Ga-on is about to walk off when Yo Han puts out his hand and stops him. He asks if Ga-on lives alone as his shirt is crumpled. Ga-on confirms it. Yo Han smiles as Ga-on goes away.
In the morning, Jin Joo prepares for the trial. Ga-on listens to Yo Han’s conversations.
Yo Han is on a call with Cha. She says she trusts him on this. He tells her not to worry as this will go by way of the law.
Later Yo Han is on a call with someone and asks if he met with the doctor. He commends the person on the other end and says he will meet with the lawyer.
Ga-on follows Yo Han on his bike. He finds Yo Han’s car in a building. He notices Chairman Ju’s lawyer walking into the building and ask for Kang Yo Han.
Ga-on meets Min and he says Yo Han could be discussing the case with the attorney and he told Cha that he will go by the law. Min is frustrated as they don’t have anything solid on Yo Han. Ga-on says they will have to watch him closely in court.
The Social Responsibility Foundation gets ready to view the trial.
Yo Han waits in his office watching the Judicial robe.
We see a montage of a boy standing in a burning church as the ceiling collapses. We hear a voice-over saying, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing”.
At present, Yo Han shakes away the memory. he is helped into his robes and walks to the courtroom with Jin Joo and Ga-on.
Meanwhile, the nation tunes in to the live court. The host explains how voting works. He says the judges will be able to see the voting in real-time.
Kang Yo Han tells the people that this is a court owned by the people. He says they will listen to the public and all cases will be transparent. He says the people’s opinion and law will count on the judgement.
The trial starts as the prosecution presents the case. He says that there is a town abandoned by youngsters, that has a population of 47 people. The average age of the people is 72. He says 11 people have passed away, 23 of them are in the ICU while the thirteen who have been discharged are having lifelong disabilities. He also mentions that a 3-year-old child was also a victim and her grandmother committed suicide. He says JU Chemicals was situated 5 kilometres from the town. He says the toxic waste was mixed with the water supply of the town. He points at Chairman Ju and says he is the one responsible for their deaths. He says this is murder.
The people’s votes show up on the screen.
Ju’s attorney asks which company will want to kill people. The prosecutor says discharging toxic waste in the water knowing that it would kill people is called negligent homicide.
He adds that the embankment behind the hill of the factory had collapsed. It had caused the minor discharge. He says it is the government’s duty to maintain the embankment. He goes on to say that the factory was closed down and the embankment was repaired immediately. He says the discharge didn’t last longer than one hour. He says this is beyond his client’s control.
The prosecutor says the leak might have been happening in the old facilities before and they are using the embankment as an excuse. He accuses them of repairing faulty parts in the factory during the emergency repair. He goes on to say that an estimated 1 hour of discharge wasn’t enough to cause health issues in the townsfolk.
The attorney points out that the prosecution doesn’t have evidence.
Just then Chairman Ju gets up and asks how the prosecutor dared to accuse him. He says he has been providing employment to many 17400 people. he says with families and subcontractors life included 100000 lives depend on him.
The prosecutor tells him to respect the court.
Ju yells that he has the right to speak.
Yo Han shouts in a deafening voice, “Defendant!”, and the courtroom goes silent as Yo Han doesn’t complete the sentence.
Yo Han asks the attorney to return to his seat and the attorney walks away. Yo Han then gets up and slowly walks up to Chairman Ju. He tells the chairman to sit down. After Ju is seated, Yo Han gestures for him to take a deep breath. As Ju does so, Yo Han walks away with a smile. He says they will take a recess before they continue.
After the break, Jin Joo tells the attorney that the first person in the town passed away just a day before the embankment broke. She asks how this coincidental thing happened and removed all the evidence. The attorney says the cause of death of the first victim is uncertain. He says it isn’t related to the case. She says the first victim also suffered the same symptoms as the other cases.
The attorney says it is just an assumption and there was no autopsy done to prove that cause of death was due to toxic chemicals. The attorney calls Dr Yu as a witness.
Ga-on recalls listening in on Yo Han conversing about a doctor. The sample of the stream water produced as evidence is presented in the courtroom. Dr Yu says there was heavy metal poisoning in the bodies but it is uncertain if it came from the wastewater. He says everyone consumes metal in some form from many items like food or make-up. He says it is the first village to be affected by metals in the fine dust. He says there are some of the pollutants in the stream water.
Ga-on interrupts and asks for the pollutants that were found in the water. Dr Yu hesitates as he mentions potassium cyanide. Ga-on asks for the common name and Yu says cyanide. The room is filled with murmurs. Dr Yu says cyanide is found in almonds, apple seeds, etc.
Ga-on asks if Yu is implying that they found an insignificant amount of cyanide. Dr Yu says he is an expert in this field.
Yo Han intervenes and tells Ga-on to stop. He tells Dr Yu to take a seat and orders a glass of water to be given.
As Dr Yu gulps it down, Yo Han asks if the water Dr Yu is drinking isn’t the stream water. Dr Yu spits out the water in shock.
The staff clarifies that it is not the stream water.
The crowd murmurs at Dr Yu’s reaction.
Yo Han smiles a Ga-on as he asks Dr Yu to leave.
Later, Dr Yu drives back. he curses himself for reacting that way. Suddenly he has a coughing fit and he meets with an accident.
Meanwhile, the next witness is Jang, the caretaker of the factory. The attorney asks if the factory had any leakages prior to the embankment break. Jang is quiet. He says he has a lot of thoughts in his mind.
Chairman Ju shouts Jang’s name in a threatening manner. Yo Han asks him to sit.
Jang says the wastewater had leaked before the embankment broke. He says he doesn’t know how the embankment broke either. He says he brought the issue to Ju’s notice.
The attorney tries to stop Jang from saying further. Yo Han tells the attorney to sit down and tells Jang to speak comfortably.
Jang says the chairman had said the factory will shift to Southeast Asia next year and they needn’t waste money on something so insignificant.
Yo Han asks what happened after that. Jang says he asked what would happen to the elders. Chairman Ju had asked who cared about old people who had lived their lives.
Yo Han lets out a laugh when Ju denies this. Jang says he thought this is murder. Ju maintains that he didn’t say that.
Jang says his nickname was Dr Safety. he says he lived his entire life following the safety manual. He says he wants to die.
Ga-on realises that Jang was the doctor Yo Han was talking about.
Public opinion status
Innocent-14% Guilty- 86%
Innocent-11% Guilty- 89%
Ju maintains that he didn’t say that old people lived full lives. Yo Han asks Ju what his response was after hearing Jang’s concerns. Yo Han points out that Ju isn’t denying meeting with Jang.
Public opinion status
Innocent-10% Guilty- 90%
Yo Han asks him to answer.
Chairman Ju says he doesn’t recall what he said as he is in charge of a lot of work. Yo Han replays footage of Ju saying he remembers clearly that he didn’t say that sentence.
Yo Han asks if Ju thinks the public is a fool. He says Ju asked who cared if the old people died. He accuses Ju of not caring for people’s lives as long as he made money. He says this is murder by gross negligence.
Ju’s attorney writes “professional negligence” and passes it to him.
Yo Han bellows, “Are you aware of that Defendant?!”
Public opinion status
Innocent-4% Guilty- 96%
Immediately Ju bursts into tears and apologises to the court. Yo Han accuses Ju of not caring about people’s lives.
Minister Cha is frustrated as she wonders what Yo Han is doing.
Chairman Ju says he didn’t think it would be this bad.
Yo Han asks if Ju is denying that it was gross negligence resulting in death but it was professional negligence resulting in death. He also says Ju was planning to move the factory.
Ju confirms it and cries bowing his head.
Cha looks relieved.
The attorney requests Yo Han to hand over judgement based on the constitution. He says he will deliver the verdict after a break.
During the recess, Ju’s lawyer tells Ju that though the sentence is 5 years the parole is not on the judge but on the Ministry of Justice. Ju asks why Jang would tell such a lie.
The PD comes running over to Yo Han saying that the show is a great success. Yo Han walks away without responding. Ga-on asks if a trial is a variety show. The PD says it just shows the public’s interest. After he leaves, Jin Joo tells the PD that Ga-on is always gruff.
Chairman Park is overjoyed to see the show on his channel doing well.
Yo Han comes to the centre of the courtroom to announce the verdict.
He says he considered the public opinion and based on the evidence it cant be said that there was an intention to murder. He says he accepts the charges of professional negligence. He says 5 years is the maximum penalty for this charge. He says that based on a judicial bill passed last year, he can hand down an accumulated sentence to account for all victims.
Minister Cha is nervous as she watches this from her office.
The lights dim in the courtroom as the photos of all the victims come up on the screen. Yo Han reads out the names of all the victims. He says 47 people have suffered because of Ju’s greed. He says the verdict is 235 years.
The public celebrates as they hear this. Minister Cha cannot believe her ears. Chairman Park smiles as the viewership skyrockets.
Tears streak down Yo Han’s face as he smiles.
Jin Joo is teary-eyed as the verdict sinks in.
Yo Han walks up to Ju and tells him to live a long and healthy life. The attorney watches as Ju is dragged away. The trial concludes amidst applause.
The courtroom is almost empty when Yo Han is about to leave. As he gets up, an old woman calls out to him. He looks back to see her thanking him as she sobs. He goes down to her and holds her as she bows to him. She tells him that the child’s grandmother was her younger sister. She says she tried to kill herself many times but failed. She says she can die peacefully now.
Jin Joo looks away as she wipes away her tears. Yo Han holds the old woman close as he comforts her. He yawns as she cries. Ga-on is taken aback seeing this.
He recalls seeing Yo Han hand over a flash drive and asking it to be telecasted on screen while he reads the names.
At present, Yo Han smiles at Ga-on.
Yo Han stands in the courtroom looking up at Ga-on as tears fill his eyes. We see a montage of the boy standing inside the blazing church.
We see a younger Kang Yo Han standing across a person wearing a coat who resembles Ga-on .Yo Han crouches beside the lifeless form.
Yo Han stretches his hand out towards Ga-on and then lowers it. He looks away with a smile.
The first episode was impressive and fast-paced.
The series is set in a dystopian Korea which is poverty-stricken. The massive gap between the haves and the have-nots has been portrayed well.
The live trial was well made as it had a touch of drama but it didn’t lose the essence of the proceedings. The trial by itself was immersive and it goes to show how difficult it is to convict defendants holding immense power.
The Social Responsibility Foundation seems to be an association of the most powerful people in the country.
Kang Yo Han’s character is intriguing. He carries a no-nonsense attitude. He is intent on enforcing the law using the power vested in him. He is disinterested in anything that doesn’t concern justice. He seems busy with himself and is immersed in his own world.
Yo Han comes across as an empathetic judge who stands for justice. It does look like he enforces the law using unorthodox means but in the end, justice is served. He seems to have a difficult past. His well-mannered demeanour throws one off guard when he yawns with a bored look towards the end of the episode while comforting the old woman. But he did shed a tear after delivering the verdict. One cant help but wonder if he has a hidden agenda behind that enigmatic smile.
Kim Ga-on is a straightforward character. Though he is appointed as an associate judge in the live trial, he does cut Yo Han some slack. He also is calm, centred and empathetic towards the people.
The scene with the speeding bus showed the contrast between Yo Han and Ga-on’s character. Ga-on tried to save the victim(child) while Kang Yo Han tackled the problem at the source (the driver).
it was interesting to see Chairman Ju Il Do’s attitude throughout the episode. He seems to think that it is alright to kill people because he provides employment.
Kang Yo Han seems to have a sad past involving Ga-on.
The antagonists are large in number and are powerful. It looks like they are making sure that the economy is chaotic so they can continue to feed their greed.
Jin Joo and Ga-on followed the conservative method in presiding over the trial but couldn’t succeed. Yo Han, on the other hand, seemed extremely lenient to the attorney and the defendant in the beginning but he succeeded in manipulating the defendant effortlessly in the end, tipping the scales in his favour.
Often one sees the attorneys using the loopholes in the law to win a case. It was interesting to see the protagonist use the provisions in the law for
indicting a criminal.
This was a fabulous start to the drama.
-By Soul Sword-