If you like law shows you’ll probably enjoy Woman With a Suitcase. It’s not a riveting 16 episode Kdrama, but I’m glad I saw it. Hey, it’s got Joo Jin-Mo. It’s worth watching just to see him act.
Park Hye-Joo may be a defense attorney with a 100% win track record but it’s all thanks to her multi-talented big sister, paralegal Cha Geum-Joo. After failing the law exam multiple times, Geum-Joo resigned herself to being the best paralegal in the business. She is “the wind beneath her sister’s wings” and together they make an unstoppable team. However, Cha Geum-Joo is sentenced to one year in prison for violating an attorney law so Hye-Joo, realizing she needs her sister to succeed, goes off to America to study. When Geum-Joo is released she has to start her career over from square one and it’s definitely an uphill battle. Hye-Joo returns from the U.S. a woman hell bent on showing her sister, the world, and herself that she doesn’t need Geum-Joo in order to make it to the top, she’ll get there on her own no matter what it takes.
Cha Geum-Joo is a brilliant woman who has yet to realize her dream of being a defender of the weak. She knows the law backwards and forwards but suffers from examination phobia, failing multiple times to even complete the test. After spending a year in prison she has to face the harsh reality of starting her career over. And if that isn’t difficult enough, her husband wants a divorce. Luckily, Geum-Joo meets rookie attorney, Ma Seok-Woo who is in need of a paralegal mastermind such as herself and is willing to give her a chance. Could this be her new beginning?
Once a great prosecutor, Ham Bok-Geo quit right in the middle of questioning a witness and started a paparazzi media company called K-fact. After going up against Cha Geum-Joo in court, CEO Ham realizes she is just the type of person he wants on his side. When she gets out of prison he makes her an offer she can’t refuse – he’ll start a law firm just for her. She can hire whatever lawyer she wants to work with but, in the mean time, she has to get her law degree.
Ma Seok-Woo is the new attorney on the block. He is up to his neck in bills and could really use some help, however, he doesn’t have money to pay for an assistant. No problem, fresh-out-of-prison paralegal Cha just wants an opportunity to show what she can do and is willing to, free of charge, help him work his first case. They make a good team and when she is offered her own law firm from CEO Ham Bok-Geo, he’s the lawyer she seeks to recruit.
Park Hye-Joo knows she needs her sister by her side in order to be the excellent lawyer she is, but she’s determined to make it on her own merits even if it means she has to go about it unethically. Her end goal is fame, fortune, and status and she doesn’t care how she gets there just as long as she arrives.
Choi Ji-Woo (Cha Geum-Joo) has been acting in both film and TV since 1995 but it was her role as Yoo-Jin in Winter Sonata that shot her to pan-Asian fame, especially in Japan where she was given the nickname “Princess Ji-Woo”. In 2009 she was the highest paid Korean actress at the time, earning 48 million won per episode of the Kdrama Star’s Lover. She is best known for playing melodramatic roles but has recently moved her focus stating, in 2011, that she has had the same image for years as “the melodrama queen” but now wants to be known as the “romantic comedy queen.” I still have yet to see her in an actual “ha-ha, I laughed out loud” comedy role.
Park Jin-Tae (CEO Ham Bok-Geo) began his acting career borrowing his manager’s name, Joo Jin-Mo, and has been known as such ever since. I first became acquainted with him in the 2015 melodrama My Love Eun-Dong. I instantly fell in love with his facial expressions. The man needs no lines to convey his feelings to the audience. We understand his heart just by seeing his face. Jin-Mo has been in motion pictures, TV, and even theater, playing the male lead in the musical Gone With the Wind. I’d love to see him on stage as Rhett Butler!
After dancing for only one month, former MBLAQ member Lee Joon (attorney Ma Seok-Woo) won second place in a dance competition and a scholarship to Seoul Arts High School and then went on to train under Rain. As I watched Woman With a Suitcase I kept thinking Lee Joon looked very familiar to me but it wasn’t until I began reading about him that I realized he was the son in the Kdrama Mr. Baek and played the title role in Vampire Detective.
Jeon Hye-Bin (attorney Park Hye-Joo) debuted as a member of the girl group LUV which was only together for a year before the group disbanded and all three girls went on to peruse different aspersions. Hye-Bin enjoys fitness and exercise and participated in the 2011 Nike: We Run Seoul 10k. In that same year she also released a beauty and fashion book. She was the CEO and model of her own online shopping mall but it closed in 2014. In 2005 she was the ambassador for the Make-A-Wish Foundation in South Korea, donating all the proceeds from a hair dryer she designed to the foundation in 2012. She has had a solo singing career and has been in TV (the second thing she acted in was the wonderful Kdrama Sang-Doo, Let’s Go to School), motion pictures (her first was a 2004 horror film called Dear Friend), and on stage (playing Ophelia in Hamlet in 2008.) Recently she was in the awesome Kdrama Another Oh Hae-Young, playing the “pretty” Hae-Young.
I’m sorry to say I wasn’t thrilled with Woman With a Suitcase. It’s not a bad show but it wasn’t as good as a Kdrama starring Choi Ji-Woo and Joo Jin-Mo could be. There are a few inconsistencies here and there, like why is Geun-Joo’s hair damp when she leaves her room and it’s completely dry when she gets to K-fact? and why wasn’t Geum-Joo charged with aiding and abetting a fugitive? – things like that. But the biggest problem it has is time. There are two different occasions where time is flashed on the screen – “two years later” and “three years later” plus a year when paralegal Cha is in prison, plus the regular passage of time – it just didn’t seem to fit well in my mind. Also, the love story end of things isn’t very believable. Ham Bok-Geo falls in love with Cha Geum-Joo without a single date, without holding her hand, without a kiss, without any real bonding moment. Sadly, I found their romance fairly shallow, consisting mostly of one-sided teasing. I love teasing when it’s rooted in good old sexual tension, but theirs didn’t seem to be part of that. And the ending is too goody-goody. I don’t like it when the plot spends 15 episodes working the bad guys up to be horrible monsters and then in the last 60 minutes all is forgiven and everyone lives happily ever after. Hey, Kdrama writers, how about having your characters experience some consequences for their evil deeds?
Woman With a Suitcase boasts a fairly decent soundtrack. If You Can Come, performed by 10cm is a wonderful easy listening song you can’t help but snap your fingers to. Kim E-Z from GGot Jam Project sings Closer and solo artist Esbee softly croons Connect in Our Time.
The scenery is just right for the plot – courtroom, law firm offices, the K-fact building… normal everyday kind of things.
Woman With a Suitcase isn’t anywhere near awesome but it’s worth the 16 hours it takes to watch it. Here’s my suggestion, put it on your watch list and when you’ve finished the ones you’ve really looked forward to, then start this one.
Very interesting courtroom scenes
Not very believable romance
Too much passage of time
Wasn’t thrilled with the ending