Who seem to be nowhere but, in reality, can be anywhere: story of Heroes who live among us
‘Miss Hammurabi’ – Synopsis
Park Cha Oh Reum is a newly appointed judge who is assigned to the 44th Civil Affairs Department at the Seoul Central District. She is always on the lookout for injustice and is able to profoundly empathize with others. Compared to her, Im Ba Reun is a cool-headed man of principle with the creed of ‘Court that is equal to all’, and he is displeased with junior judge Park Chao Reum who is overtly sympathetic when it comes to cases.
Based on the novel “Ms Hammurabi” by Moon Yoo-Seok
Alternative title/ Native title: 미스함무라비; Miseu Hammurabi; Ms Hammurabi;
Country: South Korea
Director: Kwak Jung Hwan
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Cast: Go Ah Ra, Kim Myung Soo (L of INFINITE), Sung Dong Il, Ryu Deok Hwan, Lee Elijah, Lee Tae Sung, Ahn Nae Sang
‘Miss Hammurabi’ – Review
I didn’t really have a particular interest in watching Miss Hammurabi before starting it. It was a random pick amongst the currently airing dramas but I surely do not regret it. I especially loved it for the actor Sung Dong Il who played Chief Judge Han Se Sang.
An optimistic young judge with a zeal for justice and passion for helping the weak enters the world of judges and causes disruption and chaos within the age-old structures of strict hierarchy and untold laws which everybody seems to adhere by but not out dear Judge Park Cha Oh Reum (Go Ara). She joins the office with Im Ba Reun (Kim Myung Soo/INFINITE’S L), a classmate from her high-school days.
At first, Im Ba Reun seems to be haughty and uncaring for his job which irks Park Cha Oh Reum greatly because her sole motive for becoming a Judge was to help the weak and bring a change in the world. Her overly eager personality that immediately empathizes with the people she gets to know through her cases clashes with Im Ba Reun’s objective approach to every case based on facts and evidence only.
But, Oh Reum has a superpower, with her positive spirit and grid determination, she can bring change in the people around her. Her personality and antics result in people giving her the nickname ‘Miss Hammurabi’.
Hammurabi, popularly known in the law community for this Code of Hammurabi, was the sixth king in the Babylonian dynasty, which ruled in central Mesopotamia. Hammurabi Code has been accepted as codes for justice which are believed to have influenced several cultures. Hammurabi also fought for the weaker sections of society which are reflected in quotes such as, “The first duty of government is to protect the powerless from the powerful.” Click To Tweet
This is why Park Cha Oh Reum’s nickname came to be ‘Miss Hammurabi’. Click here to read more about Hammurabi.
I really liked that this drama gave a glance into the world of Judges. I don’t think I have ever seen a drama or movie which solely revolved around Judges, upholders or laws, who actually seem to be like beings with divine powers to decide the fate of a human being. I loved how the drama delved into the vulnerability and humanity of a Judge and the dilemmas they face in making life or death decisions. It was really spectacular.
The second plus point is the fabulous acting! I mean, each and every actor was perfect in their roles. The main leads were so brilliant that I cried and laughed with them. The scriptwriting was also powerful that I got thoroughly involved in the cases and actually wished I could delve into them further. In fact, this drama made me want to become a judge myself. I could watch this drama all over again just for the acting (especially for Sung Dong Il, Kim Myung Soo or L and Lee Elijah).
Also, I am not sure if I am a fan of the acting or of the character but I loved the seeing Ahn Nae Sung (as the chief presiding judge) on screen. At first, he gave the vibes that he was cunning and ruthless but over time I came to see him as a strict leader who had the best interests, of his organization and its people, at heart. His calm but the fierce presence on screen completely won me over.
The character development of the leads and the supporting actors’ characters were also beautifully portrayed. They were all so lovable and enjoyable to watch. I felt like I was becoming part of the family. Especially the aunts of Oh Reum and Oh Reum’s grandmother were really cute and funny.
Even though the plot had many sidelines to it, it never really took away the focus from the main plot which the drama kept true to till the very end. By the end of the drama, the ending did not seem rushed and all the strings were neatly tied-up in pretty little bows. Even though I was crying by the end of the drama, the end could not have been handled better. Korean dramas tend to mess-up endings so this came as a real surprise to me.
The dialogues were stunning too. Some of them were so inspiring and thought-provoking. The drama also tackled issues of women in the workforce, discrimination based on gender, exploitation of the poor or weak classes of society, challenging the dominant hierarchy system in South Korea, the questions of what is justice and equality. All these themes worked well together because they were shown as small parts of everyday life and did not completely take over the show. There was no clear-cut answer to these problems because change cannot be brought overnight but Miss Hammurabi showed that dialogues and perspectives have to be brought-up and conversations need to be started in order to bring any change. One of the best dialogues regarding this was mentioned in the last episode:
Even if it feels like striking a rock with an egg, this action can change the world. If only someone raises a question, a question which no one is willing to ask but is a question which must be asked, then sometimes, this can change the world.
Im Ba Reun says this in narration mode about one of the incidents where a reporter raises a question which exposes a Chaebol (Powerful Korean Business people) of committing various crimes. (I have slightly rephrased the quote here because if I wrote it in dialogue format then it wouldn’t make sense)
The problem that I had with this drama was that it would get a little slow for me every now and then. Sometimes I wanted to skip a few scenes. The main reason was, I think, that this drama was trying to please everybody by including everything from personal life issues to family drama to workplace drama to romance and rivalry and love triangles. So, even though the drama producers managed everything quite well, it did leave me bored every now and then because I was just not interested in some aspects that the drama was covering.
Another issue the drama is actually more personal. I just did not like the character of Park Cha Oh Reum. I found her really annoying and aggravating at times and neither am I a big fan of Go Ah Ra’s acting. It felt dull to me compared to the other actors and lacked depth. Not saying that she was bad, but she was not great either. I feel that Go Ah Ra is an overrated actress who has been doing the same type of acting for every character that she has played which leaves her with a very limited palette of expressions to play with and this showed in this drama. Till the very end, her character bugged me even though I do feel that she got slightly better half-way through.
I also wished that they would have shown a little more about Lee Do Yeon’s (Lee Elijah) character. I found her character to be refreshing and superbly played. The mysterious aura around her really made me even more curious about her background but the drama maintained the curtain of suspense till the very end which led to even more questions about her past! I wouldn’t mind a mini-series or a web drama about just her character actually~ Her strong, powerful persona and no-nonsense attitude really is an inspiration to me.
In addition, I would have liked to seen more scenes of Judge Han Se Sang (Sung Dong Il) with his family, colleagues and his younger days as a newbie judge. He is such an amazing actor who never fails to entertain. Let’s have a mini-series with him as well!!
This drama is really amazing. It has a new premise and deals with problems which are current issues in present-day South Korean society and the workforce as well. The script, direction, cinematography and acting are all top-notch and will leave you satisfied, emotional and maybe even embed a seed of curiosity and inquisitiveness about issues like justice, law, equality and more.
Have you seen ‘Miss Hammurabi’? What are your thoughts on it? Do you plan to watch it after reading this review?