There’s plenty to like about this show once you get past the initial assault on the senses. No doubt there’s a lot to contend with in the that first episode but after a rewatch, it’s confirmed a few things about Yang Jong-hoon aka “Yangcrates” that I had been tossing around in my head throughout later episodes. Overall it’s excellent television and a slightly different take on a well-trodden path. But I think what makes this show particularly good are the personalities that occupy the narrative landscape most especially Yang Jong-hoon who is superbly written (and portrayed) from start to finish. He is without a doubt the single best thing about the show and it has to be said, is ably supported by a fine ensemble of younger and seasoned campaigners.
Two days later I’m done with 15 episodes with little use of the FF button because the show is just that good. I’m doing a gradual rewatch because I’m sure I must have missed something along the way. But I’m keenly fascinated by the intrepid professor and his unorthodox pedagogy in and out of the lecture halls. Yang Jong-hoon is not only a teacher but a lawyer as well as a crusader. All three aspects of his stoic personality are wonderfully woven into the larger tapestry concerning the efficaciousness of the law being dependant on who it is that wields the sword. Drowning oneself in the intricacies of the law is all well and good but it’s the nimble application of it that really matters.
My impression as I’ve been ruminating through the bigger picture is that the good prof never minded being suspected, arrested or even indicted. It’s almost as if he welcomed all of that with an unholy relish. And he certainly didn’t mind sending the cops on rabbit trails (and wild goose chases) to ensure that no stone was ever left unturned. Law enforcement may have thought that he was toying with them but in truth, the hit and run that involved Lee Man-ho and Seo Byung-joo has never left him. Especially when someone is kind enough to send him footage of the accident not long before the Seo Byung-ho’s demise. In his overactive mind the downward moral trajectory of his former mentor and colleague never entirely made sense to him and so he used the opportunity to ingratiate himself into the investigation as the suspect giving himself a rare second chance to poke around in places where others fear to tread. It may sound absurd but from the way the show is set up, it’s entirely possible. And Yangcrates is just the kind of daredevil to rock the boat. On top of that he is pragmatic enough to use it as an invaluable learning experience for the students who are fortunate enough to catch his shrewd eye. The man wastes no opportunity that lands on his lap to dish out pearls from his years of experience of a prosecutor. Teaching is now his life and he’ll do it any which way he can.
Yang Jong-hoon might be the reputed king of the socratic method in Hankuk Law School but he is equally capable of adding the personal touch when exhorting his bedraggled pupils to persevere through trials and tribulations. He commands a whole variety of relationships with his most eager disciples. With Kang Sol [A] he is provocative and combative forcing her to rely less on her gut instincts and to go to the letter of the law as her first port of call. Hitting the books and acquiring facts is what she needs to be the kind of lawyer she’s capable of becoming. Being dogged and caring are important but that needs to be tampered with convincing objective arguments. Caring about clients is good but she’s no good to anyone if she can’t pass law school. Kang Sol [B] on the other hand is a walking automaton spitting out facts and figures at will. She comes from a family of lawyers and the expectation is for her to become a judge. But then she becomes the subject of a plagiarism scandal and Yang Jang-hoon is adamant that she needs to be accountable. Sol [B] might have the smarts but she lacks honesty as shown in her adamant refusal to admit wrongdoing. As her father rightly points out she doesn’t qualify despite her intelligence. All of this speaks to character which has to be a prerequisite for a member of the judiciary. No one can be or should be above the law even if they are “special”.
As well as being a teacher, Yang Jong-hoon is a crusader. He is a man with a mission to save lives and that also includes Prosecutor Jin Hyung-woo who’s a rather smug adversary. I am struck that rather than taking Jin Hyung-woo down with the primary villain, Yang Jong-hoon gives him the heads up thereby giving him the chance to get his act together before the raid and arrest of the man at the top of the villainy food chain. When Ye-seul breaks down during her trial, his modus operandi is to compel her to defend herself publicly. True to form he insists once again that it is incumbent on the learner to discover the answers on their own and save themselves from the predicament when they themselves are the key to unlocking the truth. He refuses to let Kang Sol [B] off the hook until she took her entitled attitude off the table. Clearly his teaching methods are unorthodox in comparison to other professors but the real world opportunities presented here are the godsend practicum for his students who may never ever again see another murder right on their doorstep. Unless we get another season that is.
The world is his classroom and the classroom is his world. Yang Jong-hoon’s pedagogical concerns are simple. Every case, every event are ripe with lessons not just about the law but about life itself.