The end has arrived for "Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho", but the food for thought it leaves us with makes this goodbye a satisfying one. The time for our criminals to receive their just rewards has come and they all face the situation in a different way. We have some surprises when it comes to the future of our heroes and life goes on for everyone involved. Despite Deul-ho's constant success in the courtroom, the show's moral is realistic and therefore incredibly profound.
I will not downplay the effect the drama's flaws have had on my enjoyment of it at times, but I am always surprised by how quickly it addresses the things that stand out the most as problematic. In the last episode, I wondered why Yeong-il (Kim Kap-soo) made unnecessarily cruel decisions and Deul-ho (Park Shin-yang) now asks the same, showing us just how blinded Yeong-il is by power. I wondered why Deul-ho did not record things and now we are shown that he does and so does anyone who needs evidence.
The series has plenty of other issues, but it feels good to see some self-awareness from the creators on some of them. Despite the show's idealistic nature, it is truly a breath of fresh air to see how realistically it handles the closure of some topics. From the smaller things, like how Deul-ho and Hae-kyeong (Park Sol-mi) do not miraculously overcome years of a painful marriage and instead remain friends, to bigger ones, such as the way in which the antagonists handle their downfall and its aftermath.
I still feel the redemption of the show's one-dimensionally wicked villains is a result of Dramaland's constant need for happy endings, but the writing makes the most of it. Chairman Jeong (Jung Won-joong) makes his change not for any ideals, but to help his son. I feel his emotional reaction to Deul-ho is cheesy, but he is still human and the prospect of being trapped in his own body for life is a big enough thing to jolt anyone awake. Sin-woo (Kang Shin-il) is the one who truly wants to follow worthy principles and pays for his crimes in order to do that.
Yeong-il on the other hand is still lost. His interrogation scene with Ji-wook (Ryu Soo-young) is heart-wrenching, because he accepts his fate not for justice, but to let his son gain people's trust so that he can go after power as he himself did. His refusal to take Deul-ho's hand reveals the same reluctance to truly face his crimes. Most importantly, this scene reveals to us that Deul-ho's did not betray his principles when representing Sin-woo. He reinforced them.
The epilogue asserts that the outcome of a trial and the application of the law affect us differently. The law is not fair. It is simply the only measure, or rather illusion of justice we have to go by and we cannot foresee every ripple our actions will cause. Deul-ho is not Superman. He just understands the value of reaching out to those who need saving or those who can be saved. That is all we can do and "Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho" tells us that it is good enough.
Written by: Orion from 'Orion's Ramblings'
Vasia, also known as Orion or Ori online, is currently doing opinion pieces and database upkeep. She has a love for good TV and a penchant for rambling in written form. Vasia can be contacted via email@example.com.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho" Episode 20 Final"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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