Can a young man who has been in the defendant’s chair on multiple occasions secretly pull off being a judge? In Kdramaland he can. Find out how he accomplishes such an amazing task in the new courtroom drama Your Honor.
After being released from prison for the fifth time, Han Kang-Ho goes over to his twin brother’s home and, through a case of mistaken identity, finds himself posing as his judge brother. He has no intention of keeping up the masquerade until he begins to see the good he can do with a gavel in his hand. With the help of his overzealous legal aide in training, Kang-Ho is successful at measuring out justice and even decides to go after some rotten guys who, because their money and power, have never had to pay for their evil deeds. But just how long will Kang-Ho be able to get away with posing as a judge? Where is his brother, the real Judge Han Soo-Ho, and what will happen to Kang-Ho if he returns?
Ever since he was a little boy Han Kang-Ho felt like an outsider in his own family. His mother told him he wasn’t as good as his older brother, Soo-Ho, and she wished he had never been born. As a teenager, poor Kang-Jo discovered his mother had allowed a family member to adopt him (on paper) because the man had no sons. When Kang-Ho came to his brothers defense, while still in high school, Soo-Ho deliberately falsely testified against Kang-Ho resulting in his first prison stay. After that, things went downhill quickly – injury, assault, fraud, violent attack, damaging currency – five times convicted criminal Kang-Ho begins to change little by little as he sees the justice system from the other side of the judge’s bench and comes to realize “… the law is the standard with which we divide the world.”
After she watched her sister’s rapist get off with just a fine, Song So-Eun decided to make law her career and is a student at the Judicial Research and Training Institute. She has received defense training and just finished working in the prosecutor’s office alongside a sleazy man named Hong Jung-Soo. She is currently a judicial trainee assigned to Judge Han Soo-Ho. When the legal system failed to bring her sister’s attacker to justice, So-Eun stopped her distraught sister from committing suicide on two different occasions and then, one day, her sister just disappeared. So-Eun has been looking for her for several years.
Oh Sang-Cheol is a defense attorney whose father owns the biggest, most prestigious law firm in the country. Since he has never been able to please his father he’s decided to turn against him and send him to prison on tax evasion charges so he can take over the company. Attorney Oh is as crooked as they come and sees the law as his ticket to power and fortune. So-Eun went to school with Sang-Cheol and, although she only thinks of him strictly as a special friend, he wants to marry her.
The sibling rivalry that began as small children only worsened as the Han brothers got older. Han Soo-Ho took advantage of the fact that he was his mother’s favorite which served to drive a wedge through the brothers’ relationship. Soo-Ho is intelligent and driven which paid off well as he took first in the nation on every school exam. When he became a judge he allowed himself to be bought and didn’t always commit to making sure justice was served. In fact, because of one of his rulings there is someone who would like to see him dead.
Anchorwoman Joo-Eun was Soo-Ho’s girlfriend but when he began to act unethically they broke up. She still loves him but refuses to reconcile until he has given back the money he accepted due to illegal practices.
You can read about the actor who plays Han Kang-Ho and Han Soo-Ho in my review of Hit the Top.
Twenty-eight year old Lee Yoo-Young, who plays the part of Song So-Eun, appeared in some short films before making her debut in the 2014 motion picture Late Spring for which she won the Best Actress award at the 14th Milan International Film Festival, making her the first South Korean to receive that honor. She mostly appeared in movies until her role in the Kdrama Tunnel in which she played a professor of criminal psychology. She was in a relationship with her Yourself and Yours costar, Kim Joo-Hyuk, until his death in October of last year (2017).
With the help of his trusty sidekick So-Eun, Judge Kang-Ho learns some pretty valuable lessons – “Lawyers have money, prosecutors have power, judges have stress,” and “There is only one rule to ruling. The pain of the punishment must be greater than the benefit of the crime.” Throughout the story he is the judge in several different trials such as a 911 emergency worker accused of harming a patient, a factory worker whose father lost his sight due to battery, an actress involved in drugs, and a mother accused of assault in defense of her blind daughter.
The biggest obstacle for me about Your Honor was Yoon Si-Yoon’s acting as Han Kang-Ho. He way over acted the gangster part of Kang-Ho’s personality. His posture is hunched, he walks with his legs wide apart, he sounds uneducated when he speaks… it was all too over the top to be natural, and isn’t acting supposed to seem natural? People who knew the reserved, egotistical Judge Han would have seen the outlandish change in his character once Kang-Ho took over the job. It was blatantly obvious he wasn’t Soo-Ho so the fact that he managed to fool those around him just wasn’t convincing to me. I can’t fault the actor because it’s the director who decides how a character is to be played but it was all too much. Kang-Ho is a wonderful character we can easily sympathize with but he was played too stereotypically tough-guyish for my liking. At times it was even distracting.
The show has a few subplots that are given the perfect amount of airtime. I wish I could explain what I mean a bit better but I don’t want give give away too much. Locating So-Eun’s sister, the Han boys’ mother, Oh Sang-Cheol trying to take over his father’s position, the rich bad guy, So-Eun dealing with a sleazy prosecutor, the person who wants to kill Soo-Ho… all of those subjects are juggled well and given just the right amount of time in the story. The writing is extremely well balanced.
With Yoon Si-Yoon playing the parts of both the Han brothers you might think some things would seem off, like when they talk to each other face to face, but technology has gotten pretty good because those scenes are excellent. The editing is superb especially when they come to blows on two different occasions. I really looked carefully in order to find mistakes but there were none. The director’s blocking and filming angles are absolutely flawless.
Lee Ho-Sung, the rich, evil guy in this story, tries to resemble Namgung Min’s deeply troubled character, Nam Gyoo-Man, in Remember, but doesn’t even come close. Lee Ho-Sung is portrayed as a crazy, selfish, spoiled man who has no regard for others while Nam Gyoo-Man was an abused child who became a psychotic killer. To me, it seemed as though Yoon Na-Moo (the actor who plays Lee Ho-Sung) tried to copy Namgung Min’s award winning performance. If that was his objective he fell short, but then I don’t think anyone could duplicate the kind of acting Namgung Min gave us back in 2015 for which he won the Excellence Award, Actor in a Miniseries.
Lee Yoo-Young is perfect in the role of Song So-Eun. She is sweet, soft spoken, tiny, innocent, and delicate – much like Jang Na-Ra’s character, Mi-Young, in Fated to Love You. Every time I saw her darling face and heard her gentle voice I thought the only other actress that could have played her part that well might have been Jang Na-Ra. I’d love to see Lee Yoo-Young play Mi-Young and see how she does. That would be a fun experiment.
The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Your Honor‘s music is its volume. The songs are way too loud. I found myself turning the volume down on my iPad as songs would play. The music never overpowers the speech but it booms when we’re just watching something happen. Not good. The two songs that do that the most are Comfort and I See You. I even had to turn down the volume when I listened to them on YouTube. My favorite song on the soundtrack is called Shine, performed by Kim EZ. I love her peaceful voice. The song entitled Home, sung by Raina, is very pretty, too. Her voice compliments the music well.
The show has some fun backgrounds/scenery. The one that stands out most in my memory is the rollercoaster. Now you might be thinking, “But, Sara, other Kdramas have had their characters ride rollercoasters. What’s so memorable about this one?” And the answer is – this show has the characters walk down the rollercoaster at night! It’s an awesome looking scene! They also show Kang-Ho and So-Eun at an arcade but they don’t do shooting games, the batting cage, or that giant claw like most Kdrama characters do. The arcade in this show is all virtual reality games. So cool! This show has usual kinds of things with an extra ordinary twist.
Your Honor is an enjoyable romance set among the legal profession. It’s about righting wrongs, growth through failure, and forgiving others and ourself. I believe it’s 16 hours well spent.
“More important… than the guilty being punished is that the innocent is shielded from pain.” – Your Honor
Kang-Ho and So-Eun’s chemistry
Kang-Ho & Soo-Ho’s character growth
Interesting court cases
Excellent balanced writing
Han Kang-Ho’s gangster-ness is over acted
The bad guy is trying to hard to be like the bad guy in Remember