In spite of a story about something as desolate as prison and a name as overtly dramatic as Flower in Prison 옥중화, it manages to come across as hopeful and pleasantly engaging, especially after 15-year-old actress Jung Da Bin‘s appearance, making for one of the rarer moments where I seriously wouldn’t mind that she stay on, though it would be weird opposite a much older Go Soo.
Episode 1 depicts the harsh realities of prison. A man and a woman caught meeting in secret are severely beaten until one of their cellmates, Jung Nan Jung (Park Joo Mi), heedlessly confronts the abusive chief.
As it turns out, Jung Nan Jung is the head mistress of Sosoru, the most famous gisaeng house in Hanyang and she is released shortly after the incident. As a thank you to warden Ji Chun Deuk, Nan Jung extends an invitation to Sosoru, which he heartily accepts.
Somewhere in the distance, a pregnant woman and her companion are chased by men in uniform. Her companion sacrifices his life in a last ditch effort to buy time while the pregnant woman begs anyone and everyone for help.
She collapses into Ji Chun Deuk’s arms leaving him no choice but to take her in. Unfortunately, the pregnant woman’s injuries prove fatal as she draws her final breath upon giving birth to a baby girl.
First Impressions: Oddly enough, seeing a young Ok Nyeo (Jung Da Bin) go about her seemingly mundane activities is plenty entertaining, converting a cold hard prison into a homely abode.
Her adoptive family may be unconventional but their quirkiness certainly creates an interesting dynamic with Ji Chun Deuk as the father figure lacking in ways made up for by his sensitivity.
There is also the renegade scholar serving as Ok Nyeo’s literary teacher, thieves that share tips of their trade and female wardens who are both strict and motherly. But of course, Ok Nyeo steals the show as the most captivating character bringing a level of complexity to an otherwise innocent and cheery persona.
I’m a few episodes in and Flower in Prison doesn’t seem to be the type of drama that keeps you at the edge of your seat, meaning I don’t feel compelled enough to finish all 50 episodes but for what it’s worth, it is a decent production.
As for the one-dimensional bad guy who will stop at nothing to kill Ok Nyeo, my bet is that he is her father or uncle because clearly, there has to be some connection there.
Release Date: April 30, 2016 (eng subs on Viki)