The joy to see Ji Chang Wook back, swapping his secret agent garb for neatly tailored suits, in his first ever romantic comedy, Suspicious Partner, was absolutely great. He looked drop-dead gorgeous in his lead role as Prosecutor No Ji Wook, and well, I’m all eyes for him, always.
Moving onto the story, which is set in the judiciary, it tells the tale of essentially three people. Firstly we have Eun Bong Hee, played by the spunky Nam Ji Hyun, a fresh law graduate, interning at Prosecutor No Ji Wook’s office. She had caught her boyfriend cheating on her recently and had dumped him afterwards, only to find his dying body in her apartment a few weeks later, while she’s interning. Nobody believes her innocence, and No Ji Wook is the prosecutor of her case, who condemns her to go to prison, and also goes onto reveal the fabricated evidence that was used to convict her in the first place.This lays the primary conflict that the show goes onto deal with: innocence vs guilt based on evidence, may not be the easiest way to pin a criminal down. We see this motif continuing from Bong Hee’s conviction, to that of her father, when she was a young girl, as well as with regards to the central antagonist of the show: Jung Hyun Soo, played by Dong Ha.
Prosecutor No Ji Wook, has a history of his own, having lost his parents to a possible arson carried out when he was a very small child, the effects of which, can be felt in his entire personality. He is untrustworthy of others and tends to maintain a distance for he is never sure of what the intentions of other people are towards him. Though he always dreamed of being a prosecutor, like his father, all his life, he loses his job after changing parties in Eun Bong Hee’s case. By revealing evidence that the lawyer for a convict should have produced, he can no longer serve in the capacity of a prosecutor. That is when he starts his own law firm. Bong Hee, who no firm wants to accept on account of her past, ends up working with him because of the fact that she is being chased by a stalker, and is forced to leave her office cum house.
The second most important theme in this drama was the significance of memory, especially when it proves to be a crucial piece of evidence in a case. Just like fabricated physical evidence, there can be fabricated memories, causing people to unconsciously lie in a court of law. The way that we saw all the characters questioning their own memories as reality or fiction makes for a fascinating case study. From Eun Bong Hee’s eyesight, to No Ji Wook’s testifying as a child, and Hyun Soo’s recollections of a crime, all showed us time and time again, that even witnesses may second guess what they see, just like a perpetrator.
Even though the romantic chemistry between Ji Chang Wook and Nam Ji Hyun was out of this world and despite Dong Ha’s awesome, diabolical acting, the fact that this show was stretched out to 20~40 episodes, made it lose some of its charm. I was deeply invested in the drama initially, despite the fact that I had been prepared for an all-out romantic comedy but I got a first episode with a murder in it. The fact that the show cut to the chase and did exactly what it was aiming for impressed me greatly. Ji Chang Wook, was made a more vulnerable person as No Ji Wook, by the change from leather jackets to three piece suits. By stretching the story out, though, the drama lost some of its charm for me. At certain points I felt as if the scriptwriter was stalling for time and trying to create new situations to extend the plot. It wasn’t until the last two~four penultimate episodes in which we were able to see the zippy dialogues and great chemistry all over again. I was already impressed by Dong Ha in both Beautiful Mind and Chief Kim, and so him taking on such a crazy role, similar to Park Solomon’s in Lookout, was just incredible. Dong Ha brings this strange intensity to his roles with his half-whispered dialogue delivery, and I always sense an urgency in his speech that adds character to his roles. Suspicious Partner was Ji Chang Wook’s first romantic comedy, and considering what all he has done before this, it turned out seemingly well. Now that he is off to serve in the military, I wish him all the luck, and I hope he comes back to show us a softer side through his roles.