Divorce Attorney Shin – K-drama Episode 1 Recap & Review

The Sex Tape Scandal

Episode 1 of Divorce Attorney Shin starts with a look at our protagonist, Shin Sung-han. He’s certainly unconventional, and works as a divorce attorney, managing to effortlessly win on behalf of his clients by exposing his opponent’s weaknesses and getting good settlements.

As he leaves the courthouse after his latest win, singing in his car the whole way, he happens to be parked up alongside Lee Seo-jin, a woman with a very different outlook in life. She’s down in the dumps, working as a DJ and having recently just left her job. She’s not in a good headspace right now because of a horrible scandal that’s spread across about her. This involved a leaked sex tape but we’ll return to her shortly!

For now though, Sung-han returns to his law office, where his associates help to give a bit of exposition over our main character’s values. He barely passed the bar exam and he’s pretty old for a lawyer. Sung-han though, argues that he passed the exam triumphantly after 2 years of grueling effort at a time when his brain cells weren’t fully developed.

But to be fair, passing in 2 years rather than the usual 4 certainly speaks more about Sung-han, who has decided that divorce settlements are where he wants to put all his effort in.

Seo-jin shows up at the law firm and while Sung-han is nonchalant to her arrival, Jang Hyeong-geun (Sung-han’s assistant) can hardly contain his excitement about seeing her. In fact, he gets some drinks but his hands are visibly shaking as he takes a seat. But of course, he’s ushered out the room as Seo-jin wants some privacy with the attorney.

Seo-jin wants Sung-han to help with her husband’s divorce, deciding that all should go smoothly. “Please help me,” She says. Sung-han isn’t sure, given how public this whole ordeal is, and tries to work out a best course of action. The only thing Seo-jin wants is custody of her child, Hyeon-u, but she knows that things aren’t looking good for her right now.

Sung-han warns that things could get a lot worse before they get better but as Seo-jin is aware of this, she shakes on it and Attorney Shin’s latest case goes ahead. Of course, there is still a danger that she could lose everything. Seo-jin seems to trust him though and believes she’ll get the right outcome. Although our Divorce Attorney is certainly an odd character!

Seo-jin heads home and while her husband is really frosty with her, Hyeon-u is busy playing videogames in a dark room. Seo-jin’s husband grabs his wife’s hair and looks set to hurt her but Seo-jin is adamant she wants to try and expose his true face. She calls him below human and eventually grabs ehr stuff to leave.

The thing is, their horrible arguments and shouting is having a negative effect on Hyeon-u, who turns up the volume on his headphones and tries to drown this out.

The next day at Shin’s office, Seo-jin speaks about her past, including how she never meant for anything scandalous to occur between her and the other guy. The barman clearly has a thing for Seo-jin and she admits that it felt nice to be wanted. This is to be expected though given how awfully Seo-jin has been treated by her husband. He’s not only controlling but also meticulous to the point of outrageous. He memorized all of her underwear, including the number and even the ones that were given as gifts. He has records of them all.

As for Seo-jin, the affair was only known about since the tape leaked. She bemoans her luck of running from one asshole to another. Having heard all of this, Sung-han tries to come up with a plan before their mediation date. As he heads home and begins writing up the paperwork needed for the case, he ends up in an impromptu karaoke session. The nusic is way too loud though and his neighbours inevitably complain, forcing him to turn it off.

At court the next day, we see more of Seo-jin and her lover together. Hyeon-u ended up needing to be picked up but Seo-jin was indisposed with her lover. If that wasn’t enough, he tricked her. He started filming after telling her he stopped the video when in reality, he propped the phone up nearby to record everything.

As the attention turns to Seo-jin’s moral compass around cheating, Sung-han turns it around and brings up her husband’s awful controlling nature. You see, Seo-jin wasn’t even invited to her best friend’s wedding, nor was she able to see her friends. Her husband demanded she take a picture and confirm her location every 30 minutes.

She’s never gone to a team dinner as a result and she’s had to cut ties socially with everyone because of her husband’s behaviour. If that wasn’t enough, he also had a whole bunch of post-it notes from the last 7 years put up across the house, wearing her down mentally and calling out what an awful person she is. Oh, and he also installed 6 security cameras in the house, including the dressing room.

Despite the sex tape still being on the net being a point of contention, Sung-han argues that Seo-jin is the real victim in all this. In fact, when her husband’s lawyer questions Seo-jin’s ability to parent Hyeon-u, Sung-han points out that she’s not doing her client any favours. At the next session though, they’ll be going over Hyeon-u’s psychotherapy reports to see what impact this has had on her.

When the session is adjourned for the day, Sung-han decides to talk to Hyeon-u himself after gaining permission. At the same time, he also uses Hyeong-geun to track down the truth of this whole sex tape ordeal, with rumours being that it’s still out in the open. But is all of this one big bluff?

Sung-han heads out with Hyeon-u and they end up eating together. Hyeon-u admits he wishes he had a bad memory and could forget some of the things he’s seen. Things involving his parents. It’s definitely something bad, as Hyeon-u tenses up, clenching his fists and unable to speak. When he stands up, he bemoans his mum not showing up at the hospital and wishes that he could erase her from his memory.

Hyeon-u is in a rough way and that night, after a big nightmare, Seo-jin gets cold feet and decides to cancel everything. Sung-han has no such plans and in fact, instead of a mediation, tells Seo-jin on the phone that he intends to take this to court and promises her that they’re going to win.

The Episode Review

Divorce Attorney Shin (which isn’t a sequel to Attorney Woo, despite the similar titles!) sets up a very tantalizing episodic law drama to follow. There’s a delicate balance here between comedy and tragedy and for the most part, Divorce Attorney Shin does a good job of keeping that in check.

The early moments featuring Hyeong-Geun as the comedy relief is a mainstay but it’s relegated to the backburner as we learn more about Seo-jin’s case.

As anyone who has been in a controlling relationship will tell you, these horrific instances and behaviour becomes the norm when you’re trapped on in the inside, and you feel like you’re stuck in a black hole with no way out. That’s not a nice place to be and even worse, little Hyeon-u is caught right in the middle of this situation. He’s definitely seen something awful but quite what remains to be seen.

Sung-han is a wonderful protagonist though and Cho Seung-woo brings the eccentric divorce attorney to life in the best way, with a mix of humour, depth and gravitas. It’ll be interesting to see here this one goes over the weeks but this could be another solid weekend K-drama offering.

Next Episode

Expect A Full Season Write-Up When This Season Concludes!
  • Episode Rating

Leave a comment