Legal dramas, or courtroom dramas, which center on legal practices and the justice system, are generally stereotyped as serious and sometimes boring hence only appeal to a certain demographics.
Miss Hammurabi is a legal drama starring Go Ara, best known for her roles in Reply 1994 (2013), Hwarang: The Poet Warrior Youth (2016-17) and Black (2017), Kim Myung-soo, widely known as L of boy band Infinite whose more recent projects included a drama special The Day after we broke up (2016) and The Emperor: Owner of the Mask (2017), and Sung Dong-il, one of South Korea’s respected and popular supporting actors known for his roles in the popular dramas Reply 1997 (2012) and its spin-offs, Reply 1994 (2013) and Reply 1988 (2015), Legend of the Blue Sea (2016) and Hwarang: The Poet Warrior Youth (2016).
Miss Hammurabi Trailer
I am not an avid fan of this genre so when I decided to watch it mainly because of the lead actors, the only thing I expected were the stressful and emotional courtroom scenes. I even thought I might decide not to finish the whole series if it got too tedious or monotonous. Fast forward and 16 episodes later, it is now officially one of my favorite legal dramas. Here are my five reasons why:
1. It highlighted current societal issues in simple, realistic and relatable ways.
Our society is currently being stirred by issues like gender equality, huge social gap between the rich and the poor and abuses of people in power. Miss Hammurabi did not shy away and showed the most debatable modern issues today. I liked that the overall story-telling was not too complex and now and then injected with humor yet the seriousness of the issues were never undermined.
2. Good and appropriate casts with some acting, noteworthy.
The lead actors Go Ara, Kim Myung-soo and Sung Dong-il were great, a good match for their individual roles and complemented each other.
Go Ara as Park Cha Oh-reum gave justice to her character. She was comfortable and in her best in front of the camera. She has come a long way compare to her early days of acting. There were some scenes that I kind of questioned if what she did was absolutely necessary but I guess those displays of emotions is needed to establish Oh-reum’s individuality.
Kim Myung-soo as Im Ba-reun was an eye candy. He was just too good looking sometimes it was distracting! Acting wise, he did well in this drama although there were some scenes that gave me the impression that he was still camera conscious. Considering this was one of his first lead roles, I am sure he could still improve as he gets more similar projects.
Sung Dong-il as Han Se-sang was one of my favorite characters. His interpretation of the complex presiding judge was so effective it made me watch out what he’ll do or how he’ll react next. I got so absorbed with his character, he made me sigh and cry one scene then burst into laughter the next.
The rest of the supporting casts also fitted very well in their roles. I enjoyed the performance of Lee Elijah as the stenographer Lee Do-yeon, I hated Cha Soon-bae as Sung Gong-choong and I was moved with Kim Young-ok’s portrayal as O-reum's grandmother.
3. Remarkable story-telling and well-balanced plot.
The application of the rule of law is usually too dull or too complex for the general public thus legal dramas only appeal to law enthusiasts. This is one of the main challenges the Miss Hammurabi crew overcame when they successfully created a quality drama under this genre.
While watching the series, one of the things that really stood out to me was the simple, creative and sincere storytelling and how the scenes were tailored to move the hearts and minds of the general viewers.
I enjoyed the entertaining introduction of the main characters and how the story gradually showed their motivations as the episodes progressed. I appreciated the realistic depiction of the judges’ seemingly monotonous life in the office overwhelmed with paper works. Some of the drama’s legal and criminal cases were very interesting they made me think whilst I wait for the following week’s episode. Some courtroom scenes were totally exaggerated and hilarious but is there something more entertaining? Totally forgivable, in my opinion. The comicality and office romance made me giggle like a teenager. I also liked the appropriate and neither over-the-top nor too melodramatic conclusion. Judge Moon Yoo Seok and Director Kwak Jung Hwan certainly set the legal drama standard way up there.
4. This drama highlighted the humanity of the judges.
Judges are treated with high regard in the society. Much are expected of them especially that the result of their work could make or ruin lives. It’s a must that they perform their duties and handle their cases without prejudices. But judges are also human beings.
Written by Judge Moon Yoo Seok, I loved that this drama showed how the judges, with different values and personalities, deal with the day-to-day pressure in the workplace, how they handle personal issues while being confronted with other peoples’ legal disputes, how they deal with the usual ludicrous office politics, how it is when they fall in love in the workplace and their constant struggles of always making sure they do not cross the thin line between the ethical and unethical grounds. This drama absolutely changed my perception and point of view on few things.
5. The lessons I learned are very much applicable in real life.
While in the middle of watching this series, I caught myself thinking deeply about the things I realized. I liked that the lessons the Miss Hammurabi team tried to teach its viewers are very much applicable in our day-to-day lives.
I appreciated that the story focused on the basic unit of the society; the family. The drama featured various types of families each with its own strengths and dysfunctions. It showed that being family is not just dependent on the fact that you share the same blood. It also showed how greed of power and money could result in ruins and how generation gap and unfair judgement could be bridged and amended by an open mind and honest communication. Those were just some of the lessons and there’s much more sprinkled all throughout the 16 episodes.
Those were my five reasons why I liked Miss Hammurabi. I did not expect to appreciate and favor a legal drama as much as I have this series. If this drama is not yet on your must-watch list, I encourage you to update your list and start the first episode soon. Enjoy!
Share Your Thoughts
© 2018 Sheila Navio-Pornan
Eva Gonzales from Philippines on June 17, 2020:
Thank you for your insights. I’ll definitely add this on my to watch list.