Can a young judge who claims his “head goes blank in front of women” and a cute furniture maker find love in the arms of one another? They can if there are Special Laws of Romance in play.
As Jung Eun-Chan is on his way to work, a young woman runs straight into him, getting her hair tangled in one of his shirt buttons. Once he is able to unknot the mess, and the two come face to face with each other, both instantly like what they see. However, to avoid being late to their destinations, the strangers run off in their own directions, likely never to see one another again. But fate works its magic, the two again meet as volunteers at a youth recovery center and from there, sparks begin to fly in both directions. But Eun-Chan’s roommate, Kang Se-Woong, doesn’t think love is moving at a fast enough pace for his friend so he decides to help things along.
Jung Eun-Chan (Jeong Ui-Chan) has put his career as a judge first and foremost, claiming he is “married to the law,” mainly going from his house to the court and back again. Although his social life leaves a lot to be desired, he’s still the most popular person in the court and affectionately known as “the idol of the legal world.” The man is studious, meticulous, and Se-Woong calls him “subtly detailed.”
Seo Ji-Hye runs a small furniture workshop called Chorong Workroom. Because her parents run a youth recovery center outside of Seoul, she happily volunteers at the one nearby that is almost ready to open. Although she and Se-Woong went to school together she hasn’t seen him in years and doesn’t recognize him at first. She likes Eun-Chan right away and isn’t happy when she sees him on friendly terms with another woman. Ji-Hye enjoys playing the ukulele during her downtime.
Because Kang Se-Woong was a wayward teenager, Judge Lee decided to help the young man make something of his life by giving him a place to live. Although he would have preferred to play, Se-Woong studied alongside Eun-Chan (who was preparing to take the bar exam), took the college entrance examination, and is now an administrative assistant at the same court where Judges Lee and Jung work. Se-Wong spends his free time socializing and drinking. He also fancies himself an expert when it comes to wooing women.
Senior Judge Lee Dong-Hoon is a gentleman with a sensitive heart. Since he and his wife are a “weekend couple,” living and working in different areas, he has kindly offered to share his home with Eun-Chan and Se-Woong. He is the proud father of a darling little girl and he looks forward to being with his family each weekend. The man is an avid reader, often falling asleep with several books around him. He is interested in, and supports, the new youth recovery center that is soon set to open.
I’ve already written a bit about Kim Min-Kyu, the actor who plays Judge Jung Eun-Chan, so you’re welcome to read about him by going to my Selection: The War Between Women review. (Quick question- Is it just me or does anyone else think this darling guy looks like he could be Park Bo-Gum’s brother?)
The role of Seo Ji-Hye is played by Apink’s lovely Park Cho-Rong. Since her father was a master in the art of Hapkido, Cho-Rong was a student of that martial art for eight years, subsequently earning a third-degree black belt. In 2009, she made it to the final round of JYP Entertainment’s fifth official audition before she was eliminated. However, Cube Entertainment noticed a good thing when they saw it and signed her to be a trainee. On April 21, 2011, she debuted as a member, and the leader, of Apink. Cho-Rong’s musical abilities don’t stop at singing, she’s also written a huge handful of songs the group has performed. She moved onto acting in 2010 when she appeared in the sitcom All My Love. She’s been in several TV dramas and made her big-screen debut this year (2020) in a main role in the movie Road Family.
Best known by his stage name Hyuk, Han Sang-Hyuk’s character in this show is Kang Se-Woong. At Hanlim Multi Art School he studied Practical Music and then became a K-Pop Performance major (I had no idea that was a legitimate field of study) at Dong-Ah Institute of Media and Arts. In May of 2012, he debuted as a member of the boy group VIXX and branched out to acting in 2016 with the comedy-action film Chasing, for which he won a Best Action Movie New Performer Award. (A fun note: Kim Min-Kyu was also in Chasing so Special Laws of Romance was a reunion show for the two men.) Hyuk is also a songwriter.
Forty-seven-year-old Ryu Jin, born Im Yoo-Jin, began his career with the 1997 film Deep Sorrow and then went on to appear in a ton of TV dramas. I first saw him in the absolutely horrible Loving You a Thousand Times (yuck, yuck, yuck), where he played a character who begins an affair because his wife lies to him about being pregnant and hires a stranger to be the surrogate mother of his son, and then in the not-so-great Summer Scent where he plays a kidnapper/attempted rapist/blackmailer businessman. I was so glad he played a kind character, Senior Judge Lee Dong-Hoon, this time around.
With two male characters in this story working in the legal profession, we get to view a few interesting court cases/trials which allow us to see how both judges feel about their jobs and the people they serve. There’s a woman who is sued for pouring hot coffee on a man, mediation between a guy who claims his hair was ruined and the stylist who was responsible for styling it, and a single father who breaks into a storeroom to steal food for his baby. These scenes aren’t any less engaging than some of the courtroom scenes we see in full-length dramas. Good writing, good acting, good directing.
I wish Special Laws of Romance had been given enough time to stretch out. (It’s only six short episodes, which makes the whole thing just a little over an hour and a half long.) What had taken place that made Kang Se-Woong have such a tough time as a teenager and what was his personality like while socializing/drinking/dating? What did his job consist of? How did Jung Eun-Chan know Judge Lee Dong-Hoon and come to live in his home? How far away was Judge Lee’s family and what did his wife do that made them unable to live together full time? Why was Seo Ji-Hye living on her own and not with her family? Did she design and build the furniture or just sell it? My biggest complaint with Special Laws of Romance is that it had so much potential but, being a webdrama, wasn’t given enough time to fill in the holes, which left me very unsatisfied. It would have been great to have had more time to explore these character’s lives, backgrounds, and personalities in more depth. To have seen Judge Lee with his family and Se-Woong socializing and finally finding one woman he wanted to concentrate on would have given these men some dimension. A bit more conflict in the main characters’ romance would have also added “umph” to the relationship and, therefore, the story. Nothing horrible, just something that would have given them some character growth. We also know very little about Ji-Hye. Is she someone that Eun-Chan would be happy with or is there possibly another girl out there that would have fit his personality better? Also, the court scenes were very interesting and added so much to who these men were. I would like to have seen more of the legal side of their lives. What, exactly, did Se-Woong do there as an administrative assistant? Too bad the writer didn’t get time to explore these kinds of ideas.
The music in this webdrama could rival many full-length Kdrama soundtracks. Kim Min-Kyu not only stars in the show but sings as well. He lends his beautiful voice to the ballad Drawing Paper. The harmony in the song is lovely. I just wish I knew if he was harmonizing with himself (on a different layer) or if another singer was brought in to do it. Full marks on that song. Park Cho-Rong also sings one of the songs, but I don’t know the title. Sorry. I wouldn’t be surprised if Hyuk sang something as well. If I had been able to find more information about the show’s soundtrack I could tell you, but I’m just not sure. Special Laws of Romance’s music is another aspect that proves how well this webdrama could have fit in with the big guys.
This show’s aesthetics is another thing that shouts full-length drama from beginning to end. The courtrooms, the youth center, the street scenes, Judge Lee’s small house, Ji-Hye’s furniture shop, outdoors… it’s all excellent.
In my opinion, there’s not one single major problem with this show. The only weakness this webdrama has is its lack of depth, for the story as well as its characters. But I blame that on the time constraint all webdramas have to battle. Special Laws of Romance is good, but it could have been so much better had it been given ten more hours to fill.
(Could have scored much higher if they had allowed it to go into more depth by giving it a decent amount of episodes.)
Guys’ (roommates) relationship
Not allowed to go into more character and relationship details due to time constraints