Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deulho Episode 1 RECAP

The Spring of dramas is here! SEE THE POURING RAIN OF ENGROSSING DRAMAS and sigh with pleasant relief and contentment.  Then, come watch Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deulho for a quick hour of laughing and getting your heart squeezed.  The first episode follows a naive but quick and quirky up and coming prosecutor who falls hard when he goes after a chaebol.  However, his sense of justice doesn’t stay away forever and he returns when one of his own decisions may lead to an innocent man getting prosecuted for murder.

THE RECAP

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Meet our zany and definitely quirky prosecutor Jo Deul-Ho.  He sits in the prosecutor’s seat and takes the first attack on CEO Jung the defendant and CEO of Daewa Group who gets wheeled in. He notes that he knows Jung is going to ask for an extension  due to his health condition.  So, he promises to ask a few questions and let Jung go. After quietly whispering to Jung that he knows that Jung  is lying, he pretends to drop a tarantula on Jung. Jung falls for it and jumps up shouting like crazy, effectively killing his argument for an extension.  Deulho smiles victoriously and announces impishly that Jung has been miraculously cured.

The defending lawyer gets up and asks Jung if he wants to say anything. Jung breaks down in fake sobs and confesses that if he has done anything wrong in his life, it is giving a bribe to a prosecutor. He then points to Jung as the prosecutor whom he bribed. Next, the defending lawyer brings up pictures of Jung looking chummy with Deulho as well as screencaps of the alleged account in which Jung transferred money to Deulho.

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Deulho gets up slowly and processes the situation. He walks out of the court room in a daze and runs past all of his fellow prosecutors out to arrest him on the Chief Prosecutor’s order.

Meanwhile, plot twist. The defending lawyer? It was Deulho’s ex-wife (Jang Hye Kyung).

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Deulho manages to catch his father-in-law in his car as it leaves… He’s the head of the best law firm in Korea – Geum San.  But daddy-in-law’s response? That he was wrong to let Deulho into the  family who ended up being a liability.

Hye Kyung goes to visit Deulho in prison. She offers a deal. He gives up all custody rights over their daughter Soobin and she will let him off with one year of probation. She notes that they didn’t marry for love and didn’t match each other… He should go back to his rightful place… Deulho refuses and ends up with six months of prison, one year of probation and a financial fine.

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Fast forward three years. We meet our female protagonist (Eunjo). She’s a first year associate at the law firm Geum San.  She’s adorably and almost sickenly sweetly naive and bubbly – running to her first day of work in heels instead of just switching to heels in the office? Ah, must not nitpick…

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Eunjo gets her first assignment from who seems like a partner. She’s supposed to find the homeless man who sold his Korean social security number for their case. Instead of giving the task to the firm’s prosecutor, she goes off to look herself.

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Eunjo ends up looking among the homeless people as they are the usual folks who sell their social security numbers for richer corrupt people to create false accounts. She also runs into Deulho under a tunnel… First meeting! It ends quickly when Deulho growls at her and Eunjo runs away after putting the cardboard box back on Deulho so that he can sleep in peace.

Deulho wakes up and goes for his free meal. But then there are two other homeless guys that overheard that  Deulho used to be a prosecutor. One of them (Hwang) has a case where his wife used his social security number to get a loan from a loan shark (Bae Daesoo) who is demanding an usurious amount in repayment. Deulho tries to run away from the two but they stick to him like glue.

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So, Deulho goes to Daesoo. Turns out Daesoo remembers Deulho. Deulho even forces his way to a cafe with Daesoo where he asks Daesoo if it’s true that he leant $3000 and asked for $6000. Daesoo denies it so Deulho brings Hwang in.

Daesoo begins to yell at Hwang so Deulho cuts in. Deulho reminds Daesoo that he was caught for importing counterfeit products… The statute of limitations isn’t over yet… Cue Daesoo handing over the money over the legal interest rate cap.  Deulho and his two beggar friends leave and Daesoo sighs to his minions that he only gave the money as allowance because he felt bad.

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Deulho and his new friends end up getting stiffed at a lounge which refuses to let them in while Eunjo sees a pickpocket take the wallet of a drunkard at the subway station.  They all cross paths when the pickpocket runs through Deulho’s tunnel and knocks over Soobin’s picture which Deulho had been talking to…

Off Deulho goes! He chases down the pickpocket and ends up pinning the ground.  When he takes off the cap, Deulho pauses as he recognizes the pickpocket at Kang Ilkook.  Ilkook sees the police and Eunjo running over and leaves…When the police stop Deulho, they find the stolen wallet in Deulho’s pocket.
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They all go to the police station where Deulho refuses to confess to the crime or identify Ilkook.  The officer starts to yell at Deulho to tell the truth.  That’s when Eunjo steps in and tells him that it’s not right to coerce a confession.  She also offers to represent him if he needs representation since everyone has a right to representation.
Deulho looks up in surprise but doesn’t say anything.  Later that night, he remembers his time as a junior prosecutor.  The Chief Prosecutor had taken him to a meeting with CEO Jung.  Deulho had awkwardly stood on the side before he decided to make the party more lively by singing and dancing…  CEO Jung had loved it and approved.  It was pictures from after this meeting that got Deulho in trouble… Yet, after the dinner, the Chief Prosecutor took Deulho to a bar and told him not to do anything in the future that could make the prosecutor’s office lose face…He also handed over a small case for Deulho to handle on behalf of CEO Jung.
The next day, Deulho reviews the case file.  It’s for Kang Ilkook… He had confessed to setting fire to a construction space where someone had died in the resulting fire.  Deulho refuses to believe it and grabs Ilkook’s  collar to force him to tell the truth…
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Then Deulho waits for the Chief Prosecutor.  He explains that he found out that CEO Jung’s son had actually set fire to the construction.  Ilkook had only confessed because CEO Jung promised to support the orphanage from now on…The Chief Prosecutor doesn’t seem surprised.  Deulho asks that the Chief Prosecutor allow him to drop the case and he promises to destroy all of the evidence.  The Chief Prosecutor agrees.
Deulho’s ex-chief of staff Ae-Ra comes to the rescue and sets him free.  However, on his way out, he runs into Eunjo.  She apologizes for thinking that he was an accomplice of the pick pocket and offers to buy Deulho lunch instead.  So, Deulho orders five servings of barbecue beef and asks Eunjo why she became a lawyer.  Eunjo replies confidently that she wanted to make sure that innocent people don’t go to jail.  Deulho immediately dismisses her answer and tells her to give him the real answer – not the fairy tale version.  Eunjo frowns that she gave him the true answer and Deulho leaves.
At the same time, the closed case comes back to life… Except, they have a new suspect.  The police have caught a homeless man whom they believe set the fire.  CEO Jung tells the Chief Prosecutor to fix the situation correctly this time.  The Chief Prosecutor promises to fix it and gives it to his son Shin Jiwook….And, to keep everyone connected, Geum San takes on defending the homeless guy.  Eunjo the newbie is assigned to this pro bono case.
Later that evening, Deulho goes to find Ilkook.  He offers some of the barbecue beef.  Ilkook refuses the beef and smirks that Deulho has no right to come to him now…Deulho is the one who had made him into an ex-felon so he couldn’t get a job.  Then the all high and mighty Deulho went off and took a bribe falling so low… Ilkook calls Deulho a piece of trash ever since he became a prosecutor and stopped coming back to the orphanage.
This sets off Deulho who throws the rest of the beef at Ilkook and grabs Ilkook by his collar. Deulho yells that he did nothing wrong and could have avoided this situation if he had just let things go three years ago….But what has Ilkook done during the time?  One of Ilkook’s buddies come to lkook’s rescue and smashes a pipe on Deulho’s back.  Ilkook calls off his boys and they leave.
Deulho lays on the ground remembering where it all went wrong.  He was under the mentorship of the Chief Prosecutor when Ilkook brought some of the younger boys from the orphanage to see him with kimchi from the orphanage… Deulho had tried to give them money to go away and not come back…
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However, our little Ilkook is a softie.  He shows up in Deulho’s tunnel and they go to a convenience store for instant ramen and some ice cream.  Like old pals, they decide to let bygones be bygones.  Ilkook walks off promising to give Deulho an allowance if he needs it…And gets hit by the truck of doom…. At the funeral, we find out that Ilkook had been pickpocketing to support the orphanage…. The priest that runs the orphanage tells Deulho that Ilkook already felt grateful to Deulho.
The three day funeral ends and Ilkook is cremated.  Deulho walks out in a daze to see the reopened case in the news.  He realizes that it’s all his fault for closing the case without solving it.  Suddenly, he’s back.  He tosses off all of the rags, gets his hair  cut and some new clothes…
We turn to the courtroom where the case is about to be heard.  Suddenly, Deulho walks in and announces that he’s the defendant’s lawyer.  Turns out that he had gone to see the defendant and asked him to sign an engagement letter convincing the guy that having two lawyers is better than one.

 

MY TWO CENTS

First the basics:

Name: Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deulho a/k/a My Lawyer Mr. Jo

Episodes: 20

Airs: Mondays & Tuesdays

Now, on to my ramblings.  As a background I want to first convey the general wisdom of the Korean legal-sphere.  In Korea until the past year (or so), legal jobs were decided by a special governmental exam.  You usually major in law in undergraduate school and then take the exam.   I have been told that only like 15% passed each year.  Then you go study for 2 years at yeonsuwon where your grades determine your job. Depending on your grades, you either became a judge, a prosecutor or a lawyer.  Gross simplification top 5% are offered the option to become judges, the next 5% are offered the option to become prosecutors and the rest become lawyers at a commercial law firm.  [Note, this has changed recently (like last five years) because Korea has decided to get rid of its national exam system and institute graduate law schools.  But that change was literally within the last 3ish? years.]  Originally, it had been more prestigious to become a judge or prosecutor first.  However, in the recent decades, more people even though they scored in the top 5% opted to go to the top law firms for the better pay.  Additionally, there is a revolving door as some judges retire into law firms…So, you get this interesting scenario where the younger judge is presiding over a case being litigated by two of his sunbaes at different law firms.  Anyways, the fight for law firms for retiring judges to join their litigation practices is a topic for another rambling day…Today, we return to Deulho!

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So, presumably Deulho is one of the best and brightest of the brightest.  He would have passed an exam that only like 15% pass and then graduated in the top 10% of his class at yeonsuwon. He was also special enough that the Chief Prosecutor decided to take him under his wing… It was interesting to see how the bright eyed and bushy tailed junior prosecutor Deulho try his best to entertain the great and important CEO Jung.  (Not to mention Hye Kyung’s accusation that Deulho didn’t marry her (the daughter of the head of Geum San) out of love….) You see how he feels uncomfortable when he finds out that his friend Ilkook is on the hook for a crime that Jung junior committed. Yet, he doesn’t try to go after Jung junior.  He offers to make it go away, if it means that he can protect his friend…

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Somewhere along the way, his conscious came back with a vengeance…which leads us to the first scene where he’s directly attacking CEO Jung and it all backfires on him.  The background that we learned in the rest of the episode really made Deulho human for me.  If he had began guns blazing, I would have been skeptical.  But, you see him try to curry favor and climb the ladder before he turns to be the knight of legal justice… Also, it was horrible to see the whole prosecutorial institution turn on Deulho but it made sense that a young and cocky prosecutor can’t fix everything easily.  Plus, it gives us a reason to watch the rest of the series.

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Once, we leave Deulho…The storyline takes a lot more artistic license and is less OMG I LOVE IT RIGHT AWAY. For example, Eunjo is supposed to be Deulho’s future love interest as well as his mirror…She’s still bright eyed and bushy tailed.  She may even be more naive than Deulho because she still believes that she (as a corporate attorney) is there to make a difference for the little guys.  I love the premise of her character but something about her made the character lack the final 2%… Is it the fact that she runs in heels instead of keeping heels at work? Is it the fact that she seems way too dolled up all the time when first years that the number one firm would usually spend their first year working until 2 to 3 AM? Not sure…Something about her character was too storybook Candy for me to fall in love as much as I loved the fallen Deulho.

However, all in all? LOVED the first two episodes. In fact, I can tell you episode 2 cinched it for me and I will be recapping this series.  A lot of veterans appear in this drama… Ryu Soo Young, Kim Gab Soo, Jung Won Joong, Jung Kyu Soo… And, Park Shin Yang. Do I have to say more? Park Shin Yang completely carried the first episode as the dorky overzealous nerd!  Kang Sora’s character might have been slightly annoying but her acting was solid as well.  I look forward to really getting to know these characters more.

 

(CC BY-NC-ND) DRAMAFEED 2016.

MY LAWYER MR. JO RECAP by DRAMAFEED | Copy & Paste Guidelines – Always put a link back to the source.

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