Every now and again, I like to watch a thriller/mystery drama. Since it’s been a while since my last one, (Voice starring Jang Hyuk) I was feeling compelled to give Untouchable a shot. This year, I’ve made the goal to watch as many dramas as I can. My driving force for trying Untouchable was Jin Goo and Jung Eun Ji, who both caught my attention in their previous dramas (Descendants of the Sun, Sassy Go Go).
So, what exactly is Untouchable about? I briefly mentioned it on my January 18th post. All in all, it took some time after I finished this drama to digest my final thoughts.
Untouchable is a gritty, darker look into the wealthy and powerful world of Bukcheon, a fictional city in South Korea. In Bukcheon, the Jang family have served as leaders for three generations. Their reign and rule of the city has been anything but clean and honest. If there’s any kind of corruption going on in Bukcheon, it seems like there’s always a direct connection to the Jang family. Their presence is felt everywhere — from the police station to low-level criminals.
At the core of Untouchable is the very morally corrupt Jang family, who are as dysfunctional as it gets.
Jang Beom Ho – The former, deceased Mayor of Bukcheon, who has a radical following. He and his father are revered for making Bukcheon a better place. He has two sons: Jeon Seo and Gi Seo.
Jang Gi Seo – The eldest Jang sibling, who is running for Mayor of Bukcheon. He has corrupt and dark tendencies just like his father, but he has soft and gentler moments that it make it hard to gauge what kind of person he is.
Jang Joon Seo – The younger Jang sibling, who escaped his corrupt family to become a section chief at a police precinct in Seoul. He returns, reluctantly, to Bukcheon when his wife’s tragic death has ties to the people there.
What’s interesting about Jang Beom Ho is his thirst for power and his gratification-seeking behaviors. Behind closed doors, he will do anything within his power to sculpt Bukcheon as he sees fit. There’s a lot of death, torturing, framing, and secret-keeping. Beom Ho is not a good man – he’s equivalent to a monster. Even his own children aren’t safe as he fakes his death to continue his reign of power and influence over Bukcheon. Even when Gi Seo dies tragically, Beom Ho just scoffs his son for being too weak and soft-hearted.
Joon Seo has always been the strongest and, naturally, Beom Ho wants him to succeed and rule Bukcheon. But he’s got another thing coming because Joon Seo doesn’t care about that. He spends most of the series chasing down who killed his wife only to realize that it was orchestrated by his own flesh and blood. Ouch.
While on the hunt, he teams up with Bukcheon Prosector Seo Yi Ra (Jung Eun Ji). Yi Ra was college friends with Joon Seo’s wife, Yoon Jung Hye. On first meeting, Yi Ra and Joon Seo don’t like each other. In fact, they often clash. It’s only when they start working together to bring justice to Jung Hye (along with a few other Bukcheon detectives) that things improve.
Joon Seo is broody, angry, and in so much emotional and physical anguish from his loss. Before Jung Hye came into his life, he was a bit of a loss canon, and that mentality returns when she dies. He’s not the easiest lead, but his sorrow and heartbreak is relatable. He’s out for revenge and blood to bring justice to his wife.
Jin Goo reigns in his character and plays Joon Seo the best that he can, but I feel it’s just not enough to make this good drama outstanding. I feel like the drama stalls out in the middle.
Then there’s Gi Seo, the older brother. Along with Joon Seo when they were just children, they watched their father brutally beat and murder another. While Joon Seo is able to escape the corruption and evilness of his family, Gi Seo is left behind.
Gi Seo takes over and is running for Mayor after the passing of his father, Beom Ho. He is in a political marriage and it’s easy to see that there’s no love between the two. Interestingly enough, they do grow to care about each other to a certain extent. After killing another and realizing that Gi Seo is transforming into a monster, he manages to save his wife by pushing her car off the road but he falls victim to the k-drama truck of doom — just like Joon Seo’s wife.
Now, this drama is very political. It’s chalk full of power plays, corruption, and family feuding to name a few. Political dramas embroiled in corruption and a thirst for money and power aren’t my cup of tea, personally. You’ll see these are not dramas that I seek out. From that standpoint, the political and family wars did grow tiring. So much backstabbing, ya’all. There are so many shades of grey that sometimes you wonder who has the best moral compass.
But through it all, there were so nice moments. Yi Ra ends up developing feelings for Joon Seo. She knows it’s not ideal and that he’s suffering through heartbreak, but that doesn’t change her feelings.
In a rather brave moment, she actually confesses to liking the steely Joon Seo. I love when we get to see a female lead that actually speaks her mind and doesn’t keep things to herself to drag on unnecessary misunderstandings.
There’s a lot going on in this drama, but I thoroughly enjoyed when Yi Ra and Joon Seo interacted. As they grew closer and had each others back, it really showcased some nice, lighter moments, especially since this was such a dark, tiring drama. Also, as a whole, when the “good detectives” banded together with Joon Seo, there was some fun moments there as well.
Speaking of relationships, I really enjoyed Yi Ra and her police chief mother.
I know this review is a bit all over the place. It wasn’t my favorite by any measure, but I don’t think it was a waste of time, either. I’d probably watch it again, but I might fast forward through all of the political and family warring. At it’s core, Untouchable has a solid foundation. The only thing to keep in mind is that it’s not anything particularly new or refreshing. And, as I mentioned earlier, the plot does become a bit muddled halfway through and towards the end.
What I really found interesting was how they chose to keep Jang Beom Ho’s crimes under wraps. All of Bukcheon, except for the select few who knew the truth, idolized him for making Bukcheon such a great place. The truth is, until the very end, the residents support Jang Beom Ho without knowing what a brutal, evil man he truly was.
So, it poses the question: is it a right to keep his evil-doings under wraps for the greater good?