The biggest mystery in the Kdrama Queen of Mystery is: where did the ending go? Ten minutes before the end of episode 16 I thought, “If they don’t hurry, this show’s going to have one of those abrupt endings I hate.” Well, I was wrong. They didn’t hurry and, surprisingly, the ending wasn’t abrupt… because it wasn’t there at all! Frantically, I checked to see if there really was only 16 episodes and, yep, that’s all they wrote, folks. So, is the writer planning a sequel or are we just left to our own imagination? Aahhhhh!
As Detective Ha Wan-Seung and his partner are staking out a big time drug dealer things go horribly wrong. A woman named Yoo Seol-Ok unwittingly messes up his plans. Even though she gets in his way, he’s still able to arrest the suspect but, when he finds out Seol-Ok ruined his plans because she was also hunting down the guy, he becomes furious. After scolding Seol-Ok and taking her home, Detective Ha gives her fair warning – if she ever interferes in official police business again he will personally have her arrested. But Seol-Ok loves a good mystery and Detective Ha’s threat goes unheeded as she continues to help Chief Hong Joon-Oh solve crimes in her neighborhood. Although Detective Ha initially thinks of her as a busy-body housewife, once he discovers just how right her crime solving instincts are he decides to team up with her, and the crime fighting duo becomes an unstoppable team.
When Yoo Seol-Ok was a teenager she was given horrible news – her parents had been found dead inside her father’s taxi. Seol-Ok begged the police to investigate and find the person responsible for the death of her parents but since the situation looked like they had deliberately ended their own lives the case was simply closed as a double suicide. It was then Seol-Ok decided if the police weren’t going to track down the killer, she would. On her own, she studied criminal profiling, learning details about how criminals think and, as a result, there isn’t a mystery she can’t solve. She and her prosecutor husband live with his mother and younger sister. Seol-Ok works part time for her friend who runs a take-out food place, often using her job there as a cover for when she secretly helps the police with a case. When they can’t figure out something, Seol-Ok steps in and helps with her amazing investigative talents, always careful to keep her moonlighting a secret from her family.
As a young adult Ha Wan-Seung fell in love with a young, wannabe stage actress. To be with her, he, too, decided to peruse acting as a career. One night, he found her alone, bloody, and barely conscious in a deserted building. Shocked and devastated, he carried her to the hospital and that was the last time he ever saw her. It was then his career path took a sharp turn and he became a cop, intent on finding out what happened to the woman he loved. His father is a rich and powerful attorney who owns his own law firm and he isn’t happy his son turned his back on his inheritance solely for the reason of being a police officer. Wan-Seung is an excellent detective, tenacious, fearless, and intelligent. He’s even referred to as a dog because he can sniff out drugs so well. Although he pays careful attention to the facts, it’s his gut feeling he trusts when trying to solve a case.
Forty year old Choi Kang-Hee’s acting debut came in 1995 when she was cast in the drama The New Generation Report: Adults Don’t Know. She continued doing work for TV and then in 1998 she landed a role on the big screen in a horror film entitled Whispering Corridors. Aside from acting, Kang-Hee is a radio DJ on KBS Cool FM. Throughout her career she has earned many Best Actress awards but it’s the awards she got that have nothing to do with her acting skills that I find fascinating – in 1995 she won the Johnson & Johnson Best Clean Face award and the Miss Ramona Most Refreshing award. In 2006, at the 13th Korean Entertainment Awards, she was chosen Best Radio Host. Then in 2008 the 4th Brand Academy awarded her with the title Best Female Advertising Model and at the 6th Seoul Social Work Conference she was presented with a Social Welfare Award. She’s wonderful as Yoo Seol-Ok, but then she’s good at whatever character she plays.
Kwon Sang-Woo began his entertainment career as a fashion model. His first acting opportunity came in the form of the TV drama Delicious Proposal. His big screen debut came that same year in the martial arts movie Volcano High. However, it was the 2003 popular Kdrama Stairway to Heaven (I sobbed watching it) that turned him into a regional star. After his phenomenal success with that show he was in a bunch of films and dramas that weren’t received nearly as well and he unfortunately experienced a career slump. Trying to expand his career throughout Asia, he was cast in two Chinese films. The first was Shadows of Love and the other was CZ12 in which he co-starred along side global super star Jackie Chan. His business ventures include being the owner, CEO, and model of the cosmetics firm Natural Tears, opening a cafe’ called Tea’Us, and he’s the biggest shareholder in the resort Ocean Blue Hotel in Bali. Oh, one more fun piece of information, fans gave him the nickname Mr. Tears in honor of his tear-jerking performance in Stairway to Heaven. His incredible acting abilities allow him to play the part of tough Detective Ha just as well as he does his handsome cheabol roles.
I really enjoyed Wan-Seung and Seol-Ok’s chemistry/relationship. They respect each other and even like one another but they argue like crazy. Even though Seol-Ok proved herself time and time again Wan-Seung kept wanting to treat her like she was a simple-minded housewife. There’s no romance between them but if Wan-Seung can get past his girlfriend’s disappearance and Seol-Ok can walk away from a rotten husband, there just might be a chance for a little romance to blossom if there’s a Queen of Mystery part two.
There are several different crimes for Seol-Ok, Detective Ha and their team to solve. The cases they work on are varied and interesting. They have to track down a panty thief, a serial killer, a kidnapper, a murderer, a drug dealer, and the person who poisons someone. However, the two main stories consist of the disappearance of Ha Wan-Seung’s girlfriend, and the death of Yoo Seol-Ok’s parents. Don’t expect closure on those cases because they don’t have an ending. That’s why I’m thinking there has to be a Queen of Mystery part two planned. Please, oh please, let there be a part two!
The show had a couple “oops” but they didn’t have any effect on the characters solving the crimes. In one scene Seol-Ok gets soaking wet in the rain but she’s only slightly damp a little later in the scene. She also falls in some mud while following a kidnapper but her clothes aren’t nearly as muddy as they should have been when she gets home. No big problems, just a couple noticed inconsistencies.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, the ending of Queen of Mystery is nonexistent. Literally seconds before the ending credits start to roll we see and hear something that makes us go “Ah ha!” Why? Why bring out something we wanted to see and not elaborate on it?
A lot of the music is instrumental and very subtle. The best song with lyrics, in my opinion, is From Far Away. It’s quite similar to the song Auditory Hallucination from the Kdrama Kill Me, Heal Me although Auditory Hallucination has a hip-hop sound where as From Far Away is more R&B. In Auditory Hallucination rapper NaShow raps the verses and the chorus is sung by Jang Jae-In. In From Far Away Jang Ja-In sings the verses and Hanhae, from the hip-hop trio Phantom, raps the chorus. Both are excellent in their own way.
The scenery is interesting, complimenting the storyline, although nothing really stands out. There isn’t an amazing house or a really cool office building because plain old normal backgrounds are what fit in with the characters and their lives. Seol-Ok and Wan-Seung follow a kidnapper to a tiny island but that’s pretty much it for what I would consider lovely scenery.
If you like cop shows, you’re going to enjoy Queen of Mystery. It’s unique plot is refreshing, the writing is very good, the main characters are personable and their chemistry is great. However, if you have to have a definitive ending to things you watch, this show will drive you nuts. It may be over in 16 episodes but it’s definitely not finished then. I hope we don’t have to wait long for a sequel. I need to know who those two new characters were at the end!
The way Seol-Ok figures things out
Seol-Ok and Wan-Seung’s chemistry
A couple minor inconsistencies