The Devil Judge – K-Drama Episode 1 Recap & Review

Devil Is In The Details

Episode 1 of The Devil Judge begins in Seoul with chaos gripping the streets. Korea is consumed in a perpetual state of despair, with placards reading “virus” and fire rising angrily in the streets. Seizing this opportunity, the Social Responsibility Foundation send out a press conference.

Joong-Se promises to bring Korea back, with a power shift allowing the whole nation to participate as jurors. In other words, court cases are going to be televised. On top of that, he’s also brought in a ruthless Judge called Yo-Han who will hand out sentences and oversee reformation across Korea.

Yo-Han arrives before the people and remains dead-set on exercising the power given to him. The Supreme Court, and specifically Jung-Jo, exhibits concerns. He’s not a normal judge and tasks Ga-On with keeping an eye on him. Specifically, acting like his Judas in this fable.

After an unnerving meeting, Ga-On has more luck with Jin-Joo, who decides to use her charm and looks to win the people over. After all, if this is going to be televised then she deduces that she needs to look her best.

That afternoon, drama ensues outside the courthouse. A speeding bus careers toward the Supreme Court and a whole school of kids, who scream and cross the road. One falls, prompting Ga-On to jump in and try to help.

While he does, Yo-Han wastes little time grabbing a gun and shooting in the driver’s direction. The bus careers out of control, prompting Ga-On to scramble in and save the driver. He’s just in time too, as the bus explodes into a fiery inferno.

It turns out this was an act of protest against Chairman Joo Il Do, who has been discharging toxic waste water. As news of this breaks, Chairman Joo prepares for it being brought to a court of law. They are, of course, going to plead not guilty. Even in the unlikely event that the Chairman is found guilty, the maximum length of imprisonment is 5 years.

Although Yo-Han is going to be the judge, Jung-Ho reveals the link he has back to the Ministry of Justice. This certainly gives him a bit of favoritism, which Ga-On is quick to jump on and exploit.

While sat together, he questions Yo-Han’s motivations. After all, 11 people have died in all this and yet it looks like the company is going to get away unscathed. In fact, Yo-Han decides to turn this into  a game of sorts, making the verdict determined based on votes from an app. Despite the very real lives wrapped up in all this, he wants to reduce this to a TV show.

So what is the motive with this Joo-Ik case? Well, we’ll have to wait and see. One thing’s for sure though, the sponsors are exhibiting concerns. Sun-A visits Kung-Hee at the Ministry of Justice, reminding her that the Foundation have paid for the things she has.

Meanwhile, a police officer called Soo-Hyun saves a high school girl from being attacked out in the street. She happens to be Ga-On’s flat-mate and long-time friend. However, it seems like there’s more going on as they joke about getting married and love. Well, he clearly doesn’t trust Yo-Han and plants a bug in his office that evening. He listens in on all the conversations he has, determined to figure out if he’s crooked or not. It doesn’t help though. and in the end they’re forced to wait for the trial.

As the trial looks set to begin, Yo-Han dons his robs which includes what looks to be a vestment. It’s show-time. Yo-Han shows up to applause as  the nation is gripped by this app which allows watchers to vote. It’s basically reality TV, and it doesn’t take long for everything to explode into a flurry of back and forth verbal spars.

Yo-Han is having none of it and forces them all to take a recess. When they return, Dr Yu shows up as a witness. He’s an expert with metal poisonings but Ga-On is uncomfortable. After all, this seems to be the same doctor Yo-Han mentioned on the phone.

Ga-On immediately presses him on cyanide being present in the water but Yo-Han stops him. To prove a point, he mentions how the Chairman’s water may have been mixed up and Dr Yoo immediately spits the water out. Guilty conscience much?

Well, it turns out the next witness is far more useful. This man is nicknamed Dr Safety – the real Doctor that Yo-Han was on the phone to before! Eventually he snaps, especially seeing overwhelming support for him being incarcerated. Joo-Ik admits he didn’t think the leak was that bad, eventually admitting to professional negligence resulting in death.

Yo-Han comes to his decision and decides that there was intent to murder. Five years is the maximum but given a bill passed down a year prior, he can make up an accumulated sentence based on those victims. In suitably dramatic reality-TV fashion, Chairman Joo lowers the lights and blinds to show off all the victims caught up thanks to the Chemical Case. With 11 dead and 36 disabilities, the result is an eyewatering 235 years imprisonment. He’s going to spend the rest of his life behind bars. Wow.

After the court trial though, an old lady is in tears and thanks Yo-Han for his help. Only, he yawns noticeably while they hug, which Ga-On picks up on. The two exchange glances, as he figures out there’s something going on with him. Quite what though remains unknown for now.

The Episode Review

Well that was very good. Anyone else get chills during that verdict being read out and the moments after the trial? There’s a raw energy to this show that really helps it stand out next to other law dramas. So far The Devil Judge feels relevant and with a tinge of satire too.

There’s an accessibility to this missing from shows like Law School and Hyena, while the overarching story is full of interesting characters with secrets hidden in their past. What is going on with Yo-Han’s character?

Clearly there’s been a fire at some point in a church which could explain his behaviour. Likewise, Ga-On is onto Yo-Han and seems to know there’s something untoward about him. In that respect, this show definitely has some Beyond Evil vibes; you just can’t figure out what Yo-Han’s end-game is.

The Devil Judge looks like it’s going to be taking an episodic approach to its different cases. This introduction with the chemicals works to really lay the foundations for the season ahead.

Either way though, the door is left wide open for more after an enthralling and highly enjoyable opening episode.

Next Episode

Expect A Full Season Write-Up When This Season Concludes!
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1 thought on “The Devil Judge – K-Drama Episode 1 Recap & Review”

  1. I agree! It was a great episode and I am completely intrigued with Yo Han’s relationship to Ga On’s parents. Was the flashback to the fire at the end because Ga On looked like his father from the past?

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