When I watched the first episode of The Devil Judge, I thought, “Wow, this feels different!”. The story itself is different since it sets in a dystopian world of South Korea, but then the stylish cinematography makes this drama visually pleasing, while the neo-noir undertone darkens the bleak depiction of South Korean politics and social panorama.
The Devil Judge refers to Kang Yohan who punishes the bad with no mercy and therefore is loved by people who distrust justice. However, Yohan’s justice is not obtained through constitutional means. In fact, he believes that justice is a mere game and nonexistent in front of power, and he uses his court to make that point. He is like V from V for Vendetta, only he becomes a part of the system and creates chaos from within.
In this drama, the Government is fascist and the media is used for propaganda. Meanwhile, people are a tool to gain power. But what makes this satirical drama very disturbing to watch is not so much because of its ugly portrayal of power, but how Yohan views human beings in his surrounding. For Yohan, human is a self-pitying creature and their hypocrisy will be shown in front of greed. The human in Yohan’s eyes is weak and can be easily manipulated. He understands this so he uses them to destroy his enemies.
I think Yohan’s view on humans lacks virtue. I don’t believe humans are that helpless. I want to reject his view. However, I can’t help but ask myself if what I do and what I perceived as truth is really my liberty, or does everything is preconditioned?
Yohan’s partner is Kim Ga-on. He is a young judge who has a strong sense of justice. Although he wants to expose Yohan’s sinister plot, he can see the powerlessness of justice that Yohan tries to point and understand that Yohan isn’t an evil criminal. While Yohan’s character is a challenge for the system, Ga-on who sees worth in humans symbolises hope for a better and fairer system.