Prosecutor Princess or Geomsa Peurinseseu — episodes 1 to 4
Prosecutor Princess or Geomsa Peurinseseu is playing a similar game to Hollywood’s Legally Blonde in which a girl who has always traded on her looks to get what she wants finds herself inadvertently becoming a lawyer. In neither case is this her decision, of course. In the Korean drama version, she spends two years discovering that, despite her passion for shoes and handbags, she has no talent as a fashion designer. Her real passion is wearing fashion, preferring the branded goods others have created and subconsciously copying them until her father takes away her credit cards and threatens to throw her out of the house unless she passes the bar exams. Much to everyone’s surprise, it turns out that, despite the usual association between dumbness and fashionistas, she has a brain. It may not be capable of deep thought, but it does at least enable her to win a rather important case. That of convincing her father to return her credit cards.
Now let’s meet Ma Hye Ri (Kim So Yun). She’s a young woman from a family where money has been intermittently showered on her when her father allows it. She flies through the bar exams and is appointed a prosecutor except she has no real interest in the job. Indeed, instead of attending the first major orientation seminar, she takes herself off to a ski resort where she proves accident prone. Someone steals her phone and credit cards, she loses her hotel booking, and her car has a puncture. Not deterred, she attends the charity auction where she fails to buy the celebrity shoes she has been pursuing for years. The one apparently good thing to come out of all this is her meeting with Seo In Woo (Park Shi Hoo following on from Iljimae and Family’s Honor). They share the same suite and he gives her the shoes from the charity auction. Unfortunately, she looses the piece of paper on which he writes his telephone number. Fortunately, he comes into the prosecutor’s offices to discuss a case. Yes, he’s a lawyer and, not surprisingly, he wants his money.
While at the ski resort she disrupts an investigation by Yoon Se Joon (Han Jung Soo), one of the prosecutors and his young assistant, Lee Min Suk (Yoo Gun). Embarrassingly, she’s to work for him. Jin Jung Sun (Choi Song Hyun) is delegated to show her the ropes, but they could not be more different. She’s obsequious and dresses as if in a convent. The result is our heroine makes a total commitment 9 to 5 but, come the secondhand clicking to quitting time, she’s gone. When challenged, she points out she’s not paid overtime. If the Government wants the work done, it’s for them to pay the staff to work longer hours or recruit more lawyers. Meanwhile she pays back Seo In Woo. He suspects she will offer him low denomination notes so angers her by bringing a machine to count them.
Now we get to see her at work on a case of alleged assault. Two women seem to have fallen out over the same man. The wife suspected the other of seducing her husband so slapped the viper. Since neither is prepared to change her story, our heroine loses interest and disappears into the toilet with a juicy case file involving celebrities to read. Unfortunately she leaves it behind. Yoon Se Joon has to explain the importance of the prosecutor’s role in compensating for lazy police officers and actually doing something objectively for justice. At home, Jin Jung Sun is getting stick for not finding someone to marry, and we catch sight of Yoon Se Joon living a lonely life. At this point, a monster case comes into the Prosecutor’s Office, forcing a reorganisation. They all decide they would rather Ma Hye Ri found another job so send her to Coventry. At first, she doesn’t realise this marginalisation. When she does, she goes out, gets drunk and is arrested. Sadly, photographs and all the gossip from the office are published on the internet. Now her father, Ma Sang Tae (Choi Jung Woo, continuing in father roles from Brilliant Legacy), and mother Park Ae Ja (Yang Hee Kyung) are on the case. Daddy is humiliated because his daughter is publicly branded a complete failure. No-one will want to marry her now. He gives her two weeks to recover her good standing or lose the credit cards again.
Now we learn a little about the background. Yoon Se Joon has a young daughter, his wife having died. Jin Jung Sun is doing her best to attract his attention, offering some care for his daughter. It seems Seo In Woo knew Ma Hye Ri when they were children and before he went off to America. That’s why he’s predisposed to help her recover her position. He arranges for her to go into a gambling den undercover. Not wanting to reveal this to her fellow prosecutors, she fails to set up proper protocols to ensure she can be rescued should anything go wrong. Except, when it does go wrong, she’s rescued by Yoon Se Joon with covert support from Seo In Woo. Both turn out to be accomplished fighters, but Seo In Woo leaves quietly — it would be inconvenient if it became known a private attorney was helping a prosecutor.
Back at the office, Yoon Se Joon stands up for her and she’s not fired. Instead she’s given a child molestation case. Frankly this is a ludicrous decision. She’s completely inexperienced. More to the point, she’s psychologically damaged and would never be able to relate to a seven-year-old victim. Still she gives it a try and makes such an impression, the victim’s mother demands she be removed from the case. The original assault case then returns and Yoon Se Joon proves the accused had been framed by the alleged victim. To get her revenge, the innocent woman returns with cameras and publicly humiliates Ma Hye Ri whose picture is all over the internet again. She decides to run away, this time to Japan. Fortunately, Seo In Woo intercepts her at the airport and, with the subtlety of a bull rhino, provokes her into staying to face the storm. Once back in the office, Ma Hye Ri admits she failed in the assault case and refuses to file charges against the attacker for assault. She then sets off to prove the case against the alleged molester.
I find Prosecutor Princess or Geomsa Peurinseseu fascinating in a rather macabre way. The newbie prosecutor as played by Kim So Yun is unnaturally shallow. Her obsession for clothes and almost complete lack of empathy place her on the borderline of a psychological disorder. She has absolutely no conception of what it means to be a prosecutor and completely fails in creating any kind of relationships whether with the other members of the office or the individuals whose cases she’s supposed to investigate and evaluate. More importantly, she lacks any kind of critical self-awareness. She doesn’t understand what she’s doing wrong and doesn’t realise she’s been shut out of the system. When she goes undercover, she checks out some gambling addicts and then assumes the role of a slightly deranged housewife. It’s not a pretty sight. More generally, when she fails to get her own way, she pouts and hides. Her life seems to have been based on the assumption she can wait out her father’s tantrums and then carry on as before. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work in the real world. The contrast with the rest of the prosecutors could not be more stark. They are all highly professional, but none of them want to take any responsibility for either teaching her or firing her. It’s incomprehensible. No-one straight from university would be let loose on cases without positive supervision. I feel particularly sorry for Park Shi Hoo who must follow this accident-waiting-to-happen, picking up the pieces and offering advice. This is supposedly a top-class lawyer, but we never see him earning a living to pay for his swanky office. He seems far more interested in role-playing and stalking his childhood sweetheart. That said, he does manage quite an air of casual cool which is watchable despite the creepy things he’s given to do. The only one allowed to retain any dignity in all this is Han Jung Soo. He’s at least serious-minded, hard working and good at martial arts. The fact he’s completely unaware of Choi Song Hyun’s mousey co-worker is standard in this type of drama. Without such romantic blindness, these Korean drama shows would wither on the vine.
For the reviews of all episodes, see:
Prosecutor Princess or Geomsa Peurinseseu — episodes 1 to 4
Prosecutor Princess or Geomsa Peurinseseu — episodes 5 to 8
Prosecutor Princess or Geomsa Peurinseseu — episodes 9 to 12
Prosecutor Princess or Geomsa Peurinseseu — episodes 13 to end
For those of you who are fans of Park Shi Hoo, there’s a fan site at http://parksihoo4u.com/