This drama is one of those shows I was unable to see before DramaFever closed its site but, thanks to good ol’ Viki.com picking it up, I can now check it off my list. Miss Hammurabi is thumbs up A+ entertainment with a few feel good messages hidden inside and my favorite law genre Kdrama bar none.
Before she even sat in her new office at the 44th Civil Court, Judge Park Cha Oh-Reum had made a name for herself, and the higher-ups aren’t all that happy about it. In fact, she doesn’t seem to be making a good impression at all. Not so lovingly nicknamed Miss Hammurabi, Oh-Reum just wants to be a good judge and see that justice is served. Could it be the judge’s robe is a little too heavy for her?
Oh-Reum has a way of stirring things up wherever she goes. It’s just in her nature. She can’t stand back and watch injustice succeed, not while she’s around. She wants to help the weak, bring justice to society, and change the world. Some say she has a sense of justice and duty while others say she is too aggressive and emotional. Her cheerful smile may lead you to believe she’s never had to face a single trial in life but that is far from the truth. Although she was raised in a wealthy household things weren’t all roses for Oh-Reum. It wasn’t uncommon for her to come home from school to find her mother beaten and bruised courtesy of her abusive father and, sadly, she found out as a teenager what it’s like to be on the receiving end of unwanted sexual advances. But those weren’t her only trials – her father went bankrupt and ended up killing himself while she was still in high school, and because her mother suffers from some mental issues and is in a care facility Oh-Reum lives with her maternal grandmother and three other women her grandmother took in.
Right Associate Judge Im Ba-Reun insists he doesn’t like people. The man is very much a loner and as far as his duties as a judge goes he’s resolved to “be cold and follow the rules, like artificial intelligence.” He got into law school with top grades and was famous for his sharp questions to professors during training. He also doesn’t mind pointing out when other people are wrong. While he was at the Judicial Research and Training Institute he worked as a probationary judicial officer at a prosecutor’s office. He’s had his share of life’s trials, too. His father was a reporter but retired because of some incident and turned to drinking, so his mother has been the bread winner, selling things like insurance and makeup. Because of his family’s financial struggles he had to work hard to get where he is. Bo-Reun doesn’t really have big ambitions, he just wants to take care of himself and his family.
According to Oh-Reum, Senior Judge Han Se-Sang has a slouched neck and thick lenses in his glasses from reading case files his entire life, a potbelly from his lack of exercise, and his suit is quintessentially middle-aged man. In other words, you can tell just by looking at the man that he has been a dedicated judge for over 20 years. Judge Han considers each and every case with respect toward the people involved. Although he loves his job, he misses being able to spend more time with his wife and two teenage daughters.
If the courthouse had a personality contest Judge Jung Bo-Wang, of the 43rd Civil Court team, would win the Mr. Congeniality award. He went to school with Ba-Reun and Oh-Reum and is still very friendly with both of them, although he’s not on their legal team. He is an energetic, positive person who works hard but also knows how to play. Judge Jung has a humongous crush on Lee Do-Yeon of the 44th Civil Court.
Stenographer Lee Do-Yeon is beautiful, brilliant, and excellent at what she does. She is cordial but not what you would consider outgoing. She mostly keeps to herself and there is an air of mystery surrounding her. She’s a no nonsense stenographer during the day with a secret job at night.
I’ve seen several things Go Ara has been in (Who Are You?, Heading to the Ground, You’re All Surrounded, Producer [just a cameo appearance], Hwarang, and Black) and although I’ve been impressed with her acting every time, she never made it onto my favorite actresses list – until today. Her performance as Judge Park Cha Oh-Reum finally got her there. To read about Go Ara you can go to my You’re All Surrounded review.
Twenty-seven year old Kim Myung-Soo, professionally known as L, began his entertainment career when he debuted nine years ago as a singer with the group Infinite. The following year he made his acting debut in the Japanese drama Jiu Keishicho Tokushuhan Sousagakari. He released a photo book in 2010, called L’s Bravo Viewtiful, filled with pictures he had taken himself and the book was a best seller, reaching #1 in preorders on some online bookstores. I saw him play a guitarist in Shut Up Flower Boy Band, the younger version of So Ji-Sub’s character in Master’s Sun, and a supporting role in Cunning Single Lady, but it wasn’t until his role as a member of a boy band in My Lovable Girl that I really took notice of him. His acting reached new heights as Judge Im Ba-Reun. I can’t wait to see him in the now-airing drama Angel’s Last Mission: Love.
Miss Hammurabi was written by Moon Yoo-Seok, the chief judge of Seoul Eastern District Court, and is based on his book of the same name. Not only is it awesome that the screenwriter of the drama is the same person that wrote the book, but it’s extra fun that the author is, in fact, a Seoul Court judge. I can’t help but wonder how much of this show was taken from real life cases.
Miss Hammurabi handles several interesting cases which are usually introduced and wrapped up in the same episode. We watch the folks of the 44th Civil Court work on a sexual harassment case, a medical malpractice case, an inheritance dispute, drug abuse among kids, a bodily injury case, and others. One happens to be a child custody case although the end of the episode flashes these words on the screen as a clarifier, “Cases involving families are usually handled in family courts but we changed things up to portray a unique case.” The one concerning drug abuse among teens ends with the words, “This episode is based on the real life efforts of Judge Shim Jae-Wan and Paster Myung Sung-Jin, who worked hard to solve the inhalant abuse crisis.” In the last few episodes of the drama the criminal courts are backed up and give a couple of their cases to the 44th Civil Court – one rape case and one murder case.
This drama sincerely shows us the overwhelming emotional trials that come with being a judge. At the beginning of the show Judge Im tells Oh-Reum, “We don’t see the good exteriors of people. We see the ugly, disgusting insides of people. You should prepare yourself.” A little later on she tells him, “I feel like my lifespan is shortening while I’m in court.” She also admits, “Now that I’m a judge, I see that there are so many bad people in the world. They never admit they’re wrong and they never back down. There are so many of them that I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.” Hats off to good judges everywhere. What an overwhelmingly difficult job they have!
If you’ve been wondering if there’s any romance in Miss Hammurabi, wonder no more – there are two couples that we get to see come together. Sadly, there’s only one kiss per couple and neither kiss is great but it’s the build up, the sexual tension, that grabs us.
One thing I learned watching this drama is that in South Korea a judge cannot be fired. Unless they go through impeachment or there is a criminal charge and a sentence to prison, a judge cannot be expelled. I wonder what other countries have that ruling?
I have no idea why but, for some reason, Park Cha Oh-Reum wears lots of coats throughout the show – indoors and out. Pay careful attention to her wardrobe. You’ll be amazed at how many times she has on a coat. And the outfit she wears while playing tennis makes no sense at all. Everyone else in the show looks great but poor Go Ara’s wardrobe is horribly unflattering.
I only caught one “oops.” Judge Im Ba-Reun holds up a withered rose from a bouquet and, while thinking, pulls one pedal off and lets it fall just as Judge Jung Bo-Wang comes into the room and wakes him from his trance. When it shows the table top, there are about five rose pedals on it, even though Judge Im only pulled off one. Oops!
You Are the Apple of My Eye, is my favorite song on the soundtrack. It’s a pretty ballad sung in English – and the words are grammatically correct! Woo Hoo! My second favorite, Like We Just Met sung by Hwang Seon-Ho, is also a ballad but this one has a very pretty guitar solo in the middle of the song. Everyday in You, performed by ILLUWA BAND, is my third place song. The one I wasn’t thrilled with is called Someday, Somehow. Like You Are the Apple of My Eye, it is also sung in English but, unfortunately, its words aren’t perfect and the music isn’t all that great. It is played way too often throughout the drama, is too loud, and the vocal sounds twangy. I just didn’t care for it. Interestingly enough, U-mb5 performs both You Are the Apple of My Eye and Someday, Somehow – my favorite song and least favorite song on Miss Hammurabi’s soundtrack.
As you would expect, the courthouse is the main focus/background of the drama. We see Judge Im’s house often but I only recall one visit to Judge Park’s place (not counting the home where she lived as a child) and that doesn’t come until closer to the end of the show. There’s a fun clubbing scene, a tennis scene, and a couple times we visit the crowded marketplace where Oh-Reum’s “Aunts” work.
Miss Hammurabi is excellent Kdrama entertainment. The story is packed with lots of different law cases, the characters are varied and (for the most part) personable, and the romances are fun. It’s already a year old so don’t put off watching it any longer.
Cases don’t drag on several episodes
Cast has great chemistry
Very good acting
Screenwriter is the same as the book’s author
The song Someday, Somehow
Go Ara’s not-so-flattering wardrobe