Are you looking for a review of kdrama Police Unit 38? If you are, you either liked the show a lot and want somebody to share it with or you’re on the fence and want to know if it’s something you should go ahead and watch.
If you like action, suspense, good guys getting the bad guys by playing THEIR game, and Seo In-Guk oppa, you’ll enjoy Police Unit 38, or 38 Task Force as it’s also called.
POLICE UNIT 38 DRAMA TRAILER
Here’s a little taste of the drama. If you think tax collectors are boring, think again!
POLICE UNIT 38 KDRAMA SUMMARY
Baek Sung-Il (Ma Dong-Seok) is a task force chief of Seoul City Hall. His team (one of several) collects taxes from delinquent payers. It’s a tough job as they’re physically manhandled and harrassed by the people they try to collect from.
It’s a pitiful life for Sung-Il as he cycles through each boring, humiliating and pathetic day. Still, we see Sung-Il holding on for love of his wife, mother, and child.
Things change when catalysts force Sung-Il’s hand. The first is when Sung-Il earns the ire of Ma Jin-seok, their richest and worst tax evader ever with connections to Sung-Il’s bosses. The second catalyst is when Sung-Il gets scammed out of his remaining $5,000 by slick, glib, and just-out-of-prison conman Yang Jung-Do.
Sung-Il will have to shed his passive public servant self of 20 years and become a force to be reckoned with to save the day.
POLICE UNIT 38 TRIVIA
Police Unit 38 is by OCN and when I read OCN, I automatically think crime/action/suspense/mystery because that’s the stuff this channel is great at. Some of my latest favorites with them are Vampire Prosecutor, Bad Guys, and Ghost-Seeing Detective Cheo Yong. It took over for Vampire Detective which I also enjoyed (and which I need to finish my review of… dang it!)
Instead of two romantic leads, we get two awesome actors for this drama — Ma Dong-Seok and Seo In-Guk.
We’re used to seeing Ma Dong-Seok as a tough guy like his character in Bad Guys so it’s totally something new for me to see him so downtrodden and being bullied for a change.
For Police Unit 38, Ma Dong-Seok reunites with Bad Guys director Kim Jung-Min and writer Han Jung-Hoon. Bad Guys was an awesome 11-episode crime thriller drama so expectations are running high for this reunion.
In addition, the writer also wrote Vampire Prosecutor Seasons 1 and 2 so ya know, raise that bar even higher!
And then of course, we have sweetie pie Seo In-Guk who’s just been killing it lately with dramas like Reply 1997 and King of High School Life. (Ooh I also enjoyed the movie No Breathing!)
And I gotta insert a poster of No Breathing simply because my two fave actors are in it, duh! Oh my gosh why is it suddenly hot in here??!
POLICE UNIT 38 FIRST IMPRESSION
Truth be told, I hated the first episode of Police Unit 38. I hated the story, the super pathetic lead, and the super arrogant young one. I mean really, when Jung-Do strutted out of that convenience store after a successful scam to that soundtrack, I didn’t know if Show wanted me to gush over how cool he was.
All I wanted was to punch the living daylights out of him!!!! Scum of the Earth, you bastard!
It took me awhile to realize that Show was setting him up as a Robin Hood of sorts (thanks to the clue by that cool detective). I’m not a native Korean speaker and I depend on subtitles (or else I’m incredibly dense) so I didn’t immediately get the fact that Jung-Do scammed the wrong Sung-Il.
I remember clearly that after the credits to Episode 1 started rolling, I was just sitting there with an incredibly sour face while clutching my teddy Tubby. I was thoroughly disgusted and depressed. Son even asked what was wrong with me. Heh. I was so depressed up until the next day when I finally watched Episode 2.
All I can say is that thank goodness Show aired when it did because if it had aired later than Doctors and Beautiful Mind, I wouldn’t even have touched Episode 2 with a 10 foot pole. But I did. And I’m glad.
Here’s all the things that made me interested after all…
1. I can’t wait to see the fierce Sung Il, or Mother Holiday Sung-Il
The cute detective guy let slip that Sung Il used to be a really tough guy and that he only turned soft when he became a public official. When asked why he calls Sung Il Mother Holiday, he retorted that Sung Il was fiercer than a mother-in-law on a holiday, whatever that means. (Guys, correct me if I got it wrong!) Whatever the reference, I get that Sung Il used to be ferocious!
2. A case of mistaken identity
When Jung-Do was scamming Sung Il, I thought, what a fucked up guy! I ain’t rooting for this character! And then it turns out that it was the wrong Sung Il. As detective guy pointed out (again), he got the wrong guy and he got the guy with only $5k in his bank account at that.
Finding out that Jung-Do was going after bad guys was a 180 for me.
3. I like Chun Sung-Hee and can’t wait for her role to develop
She reminds me of Kang So-Ra/Lee Eun-Zo in My Lawyer, Mr. Jo. I honestly dropped that drama but as supporting characters who are introduced at the beginning of the show, I like Sooyoung’s character more. She’s quieter and yet deeper. She has more depth and substance even if she only shows up in a few scenes and doesn’t even have much speaking lines at that. I can’t wait to see what the Show has in store for her. (Because obvs, she had a past run-in with our conman Jung-Do.)
4. The supporting characters are amusing me … tee hee!
I have a crush on Sung-Il’s detective friend Park Deok-Bae (Oh Man-Seok). It’s more the character than the actor. He plays such a cool, strong, competent, level-headed friend and detective that I can’t help but cheer when he shows up. Because right now, who can I crush on? Def not sad Sung-Il or lost boy Jung-Do.
The cameos are also fine fine fine! Did you see Baek Hee’s Back Kim Sung-Oh? His beautiful eyes are impossible to miss!
And their scene where they were acting so tough only to be beaten up real bad was HILARIOUS. (There’s supposed to be meta when the gang boss shows up. It sailed over my head as I am ignorant of said drama but I can imagine it’s really funny! Something about a cameo with Park Sung-woong character from New World?)
And when Deok-Bae tells the gangsters to eat their food like a man, they were milliseconds to bursing out laughing! I bet the director had to cut that scene! (I suppose they’re really good friends in realsies?)
5. The social commentary
Corruption and greed are everywhere so I am sure that whatever country you come from, the social commentary this drama makes will hit home. Sung-Il says as they make a collection on a dirt poor family, “The law is like a bully. It is strong against the poor and it is weak against the rich.”
This is one of the reasons this drama makes me sad but this will also just make the payoff at the end infinitely sweeter, right?
I’m not sure where I’m going to find time but like a true drama addict, I’ll just pretend that there’s 48 hours to a day so I can watch ALL the great dramas that are coming around.
This drama isn’t on top of my list right now but Police Unit 38, be that Show that gets better and Better and BETTER!
My love to you,