k-dramas

‘Miss Hammurabi’ First Impressions

I’ve been slowly watching, re-watching, and savoring Miss Hammurabi. Any time I decide to share my thoughts on any drama I’m watching, I like to have a good feel for the story, characters, and acting before I report any first impressions. When you’re reading subtitles, sometimes it’s all too easy to miss details, and since I don’t watch/follow many legal dramas, I wanted to make sure I had a solid understanding of everything going on.

Go Ara’s character acts blindly and irrationally—so much so that it can border as eye-roll worthy. Her heart and intentions are in the right place, but she has a one-track mind when it comes to injustice and crimes that she sometimes fails to realize she’s doing more harm than good. In the first episode alone, she’s inadvertently stirring up trouble by leaping without thinking. As I said, she honestly means well. It’s also important to note that she is a rookie judge, so we’re more than likely to see a few screw ups and mistakes along the way.

She has a bright personality and her focus is really on helping others. In the second episode, we learn more about her history that really explains a lot of her character quirks and her choice in job. I won’t say what’s happened in her past, but it puts a lot of things in perspective. One of her current downfalls is that she becomes so emotionally invested in these cases that she has a hard time remaining physically impartial during trials.

On the other hand, we have L’s character. He’s very straight-and-arrow when it comes to cases. He works, doesn’t show much emotion, and doesn’t get emotionally invested in cases. His judge approach is more clinical, but also more realistic to how we would portray a judge. He works hard and does his best. He lives with his parents who are struggling financially and it’s amazing to see that the stress and emotional impact hasn’t affected his work. He’s also known Go Ara’s character when he was in high school, so when they work together, they actually know each other.

It’s interesting to see how Go Ara’s character, Oh Reum, is affecting L ‘s character, Ba Reun, and bringing more life and spark. He’s also gone out of his way to help Go Ara when she’s acted blindly and gotten into trouble. Honestly, L seems to be doing a pretty good job here. We haven’t see a lot of range with his character yet, but he’s already showing glimmers of being affected by Go Ara’s character, so I’m really interested in seeing his metamorphosis.

Then there’s the senior judge played by Sung Dong Il. He’s sharp-tongued and tough on the rookies. Actually, he’s quite intimidating for the most part until our rookie judges witness his complete change when he talks on the phone to his wife. And while he can be harsh with Go Ara’s character, he’s trying to help mold her into the best judge she can be. It’s hard to feel personally attached by the Chief Judge, but as you work your way through a couple of episodes, you start to see and understand him in a new light.

There are a lot of different components going on in this story that I won’t dig into with a first impressions post. I will say, if you don’t mind courtroom dramas, this one is quite interesting and I like the some of the cases presented so far. Part of me wonders if the real Chief Judge of Seoul Eastern District Court is loosely basing stories from cases that came to trial or if these are 100% made up.

All in all, Miss Hammurabi seems to be off to an engaging start. Even though you may have to suspend a bit of disbelief with our two rookie judges due to their youthfulness and age, the story, content, and acting are all present. Even more, the story is being written by a real Chief Judge of Seoul Eastern District Court in South Korea, which makes me feel confident that we’re seeing a real depiction and birds-eye view of the legal system and all the behind-the-scene details we may miss otherwise.

Additional notes:

*This is one of four dramas produced for JTBC from the Descendants of the Sun production team.

*This is 100% pre-produced, meaning that all episodes have already been filmed, so I have high hopes that the content, editing, and effects will be top-notch here. I’m hoping the writing stays tight and that we get to enjoy these rookie judges on their journey to being confident, successful, and the best possible judges they can be.

*This was originally a novel by the screenwriter, Moon Yoo Seok (Chief Judge of Seoul Eastern District Court) and he adapted his story into a screenplay.

*Miss Hammurabi is the standard 16 episode format. New episodes air every Monday and Tuesday on JTBC.

*This drama premiered to pretty good ratings on JTBC. From my understanding, it doubled the ratings of another cable drama that didn’t premiere as well.

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