The Devil Judge review: A chaotic dystopian circus of greed and corruption

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Kang Yo Han (Ji Sung, middle), Kim Ga On (Park Jin Young, right) and Oh Jin Joo (Kim Jae Kyung) are presiding judges in a nationwide trial broadcast in The Devil Judge

This review covers episodes 1-10 of The Devil Judge, which is currently streaming on Viu.

Theatrics. Drama. Pageantry.

These are all the shameless hallmarks of The Devil Judge, currently streaming on Viu. The drama continues to make waves as it became No.1 on Good Data Corporation’s weekly list of the dramas that generated the most buzz.

It's easy to see why. There's a sense of vainglorious bravado as the Devil Judge himself, Kang Yo Han, played by actor Ji Sung, swaggers from scene to scene in his flowing cassock, doling out seemingly arbitrary punishments in his trademark, almost theocratic manner to corrupt defendants in a trial that is broadcast to the entirety of South Korea.

The premise of The Devil Judge centres around a judge who is appointed to hold high profile trials like reality shows in a dystopian Korea. If anyone could embody the mantle of chaotic good, that would be Kang Yo Han. He descends from a noble and wealthy family as an only survivor, sheathes himself in impeccably tailored suits when not in his judge's cassock, and unleashes his frustration from unresolved childhood issues on the homeless and defendants in his trials who have wronged him or are connected to the people who have wronged him.

You might be forgiven for thinking that he might be that bad guy, given his merciless and violent streak. His fellow judge Kim Ga On (Park Jin Young from GOT7) also seems to have serious misgivings about his boss's intentions, even trying to bug his office and using his police lieutenant friend Yoon Soo Hyun (Park Gyu Young) to dig up dirt on judge Kang.

Kang Yo Han (Ji Sung, left) and Kim Ga On (Park Jin Young) attend a glitzy fundraising dinner event in The Devil Judge
Kang Yo Han and Kim Ga On attend a glitzy fundraising dinner event.

But things have progressed since then, and Ga On has slowly gleaned much more insight into judge Kang's past and his harrowing childhood, in the process building a relationship with Kang's spiteful niece, Kang Elijah (Jeon Chae Eun). He even bears a remarkable semblance to Elijah's late father, which of course is no coincidence.

But let's talk about the disgusting greed and corruption of the supporting cast, all of whom are villains and antagonists in varying degrees.

Leading the pack of miscreants is Chairwoman of the Social Responsibility Foundation, Jung Sung Ah (Kim Min Jung), whose portrayal of a materialistic and sadistic woman, who clawed her way from absolute poverty to the top through murder, blackmail and seduction, is spine-chillingly brilliant.

Having disposed of the Foundation's greasy ex-chairman, Seo Jung Hak (Jung In Gyeom), Jung has set her vengeful sights squarely on Kang Yo Han, having formerly worked for him as a maid and also a massive crush on him (which he spurned previously). Her motives are currently unknown, but her work to undermine judge Kang and his plans seem on track. We can expect more havoc to reign in the episodes to come as the series prepares to wrap up.

All the civil servants in The Devil Judge are massively corrupt, including President Heo Jong Se (Baek Hyun Jin), who posts propaganda videos on social media regularly and has a bad habit of yelling dramatically at everyone and in his public speeches.

Justice Minister Cha Kyung Hee (Jang Young Nam from It's Okay Not To Be Okay) is a power-hungry plenipotentiary, setting her sights on the Presidency despite having been sidelined for her ambitions. The other two chairmen of the Minbo Group and Saram Media, Min Yong Sik (Hong Seo un) and Park Du Man (Lee Seo Hwan) complete the group with their gleeful laughter and greedy hand-rubbing gestures.

Park Jin Young has been spectacularly pleasurable to watch. The young actor is extremely authentic in his portrayal of the tortured and righteous associate judge Kim Ga On, and his ambiguous romantic feelings towards his friend Yoon Soo Hyun adds flavour to the side plot, and his presence adds a lighter and youthful dimension in contrast to Kang Yo Han's direct and merciless methods.

The Devil Judge has been an explosively dramatic series so far and keeps getting better as it reaches its climactic finale, and there are definitely high hopes that the villains will all get what they will eventually deserve.

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