With a satisfying start, The Korean remake of the popular American series Suits may mark itself as a favourite legal drama.
A successful corporate Lawyer, Choi Kang Seok (Jang Dong Gun) hires Go Yeon Woo (Park Hyung Shik) a genius young man with no law degree as his associate at Kang and Ham, a distinguished law firm. Kang Seok and Yeon Woo have to conceal Yeon Woo’s identity from their fellow colleagues with the help of Choi’s Secretary, Hong Da Ham (Chae Jung An) while dealing with power struggles within the firm along with the cases they encounter.
As someone who has seen the original series, I think the Korean remake is doing a great job with this adaption, mainly when it comes to the characters themselves and how the story can be transmitted within a ‘Korean’ setting.
Park Hyung Shik is definitely garnering attention and impressing us all as Go Yeon Woo with his memorization skills and improvement in acting. This role is a huge step in a different direction considering his previous projects that were light and had him playing the romantic male lead or everyone’s favourite neighbourhood son. I’m still skeptical of whether I see Harvey Specter in Jang Dong Gun but I certainly see Mike Ross through Park Hyung Shik but that may be due to the fact that Mike Ross had more emotional transparency in the beginning of the tv series.
The actors seem quite young when considering their American counterparts but I think in terms of casting it was a fair decision to pick younger actors especially in regards to Park Hyung Shik and Ko Sung Hee. A lot of Yeon Woo’s vulnerability and inner innocence can be easily expressed through him simply being young – something I didn’t totally buy in the original series. I find it more believable that someone young can make some of the most stupidest decisions while still being a complete genius, a trait that rubbed me the wrong way with Mike Ross in the original Suits.
There are at least two distinct things I like more about this adaption in comparison to the original series, and that would be toning it down with all the drugs and drug use and the internal power struggle within the law firm coupled with hierarchical issues.
The American series seemed to glamorize drugs and the use of it, that might just be a personal opinion but it really halted some of the show’s progression as a legal series centring around legal cases, the essence of the entire series itself. It marked Mike Ross’ character as someone of the struggling lower class, trying to get by and hanging around the wrong crowd simply because that was the only company he could ‘afford.’ So I appreciate how the Korean show tones down the drug arch of the story and of course, I doubt there will be any sex scenes since that won’t sit well with a Korean audience so as we’ve all expected, this is the clean version. Who says PG can’t be entertaining? You do you KBS!
Another thing that’s been toned down is Louis – how could I possibly talk about Suits without bringing him up? Choi Gwi Hwa’s portrayal of the eccentric character has been given a a brush up to make Chae Geun Sik (the Korean counterpart of Louis) far more believable and less crazy. The essence of the character remains the same with a fair amount of quirkiness but one we can all believe. The man works at an elitist, top-of-the-class law firm after all.
Nepotism, seniority, and hierarchy really come to light in this version of Suits as aspects knitted and intricately woven into Korean society with losses and gains for those in power or within legal circles. As a viewer, I can understand and find it a lot easier to follow along with Kang and Ham’s civil war with lawyers all vying to be partners or seniors at the firm, as well as the importance of having conglomerate clients and Politicians standing behind the firm.
Of course when it comes to technicalities, law in South Korea isn’t the same as law in America so I’m expecting to see a new take on the social complexities along with the cultural ones the Korean adaption will have to tackle. K-dramas tend to glorify the roles of Prosecutors more than anything, so interactions between our corporate Lawyers and Prosecution is something I look forward to see.
This isn’t a total replication of the original either. It doesn’t set out to be an imitation of the American version, offering characters that are shaped and portrayed differently. It’s a remake with Korean flair and a K-drama formatting. And that’s something we should all keep in mind while watching this.
The chemistry between the cast is spot on even within the first two episodes so it will be interesting to see relationships be built or broken as the drama continues. Someone better hand Jang Dong Gun and Park Hyung Shik a couple award for best legal bromance! And that’ a category that’s never been done before….I’m also hoping Park Hyung Shik lands himself in a commercial for Converse.
We’ve all seen our fair share of successful or rubbish remakes of coveted American series but I think it’s safe to say this one is a fresh take on a show loved by many. And if this is your first encounter with Suits then as a stand-alone drama, the Korean version may be a great watch for law enthusiasts or those who simply like a well-executed show that’s polished, gleaming with more sophistication and maturity than the average K-drama.