Divorce Attorney Shin Season 1 Episode 1 Recap – who is Leo Seo-jin?

By Nathan Sartain
Published: March 5, 2023 (Last updated: March 19, 2024)
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A strong opener that sets a very intriguing scene for what’s to come.

We recap the Netflix K-Drama series Divorce Attorney Shin Season 1 Episode 1, which contains spoilers.

Starting proceedings with a bang, Divorce Attorney Shin jumps straight into the thick of things with its opener. Layered, intelligent, and able to add astute moments of comedy, it was an hour of excellent entertainment, with hopefully much more to come as it progresses.

Divorce Attorney Shin Season 1 Episode 1 Recap

Introductions to Attorney Shin and Lee Seo-jin

We begin with an introduction to Shin Sung-han, a somewhat quirky divorce attorney who takes his job extremely seriously. In the opening case, he utilizes everything from bar owner statements on caressed faces to the digital forensic analysis of a mobile phone to prove his client fell victim to an unfaithful husband. This determined way of working helps his client receive compensation for “psychological damage,” in addition to defamation, given that she had been accused of being “pathologically jealous” for suspecting her partner was up to no good.

As Lee Seo-jin interestingly tries to ignore the gaze of everyone in her daily life, Sung-han returns to his office, accepting the congratulations of his peers for his recent victory. Here, we get more context on the titular attorney, who entered the field quite late in the game, but handwaves this as beginning his studies “at an age where my brain cells weren’t all that active.” Nevertheless, Sung-han did manage to pass the bar exam in half the average time.

Continuing, Sung-han refutes Hyeong-geun’s claim that he should be “taking on a broader range of cases,” stating that he believes divorce suits are the most important kind. In this scene, however, we get some far more important information. The previously introduced Lee Seo-jin has become a disgraced DJ of sorts, booted from her show because of a leaked sex tape, while her actual status as a victim is seemingly ignored.

Lee Seo-jin’s case

Fortunately, Attorney Shin can help. Or at least it seems that way initially until he informs the arriving Seo-jin that he cannot offer his services if the goal is a “good divorce” with her husband, given the circumstances. Though the DJ does manage to change Sung-han’s mind, thanks to her willingness to accept further misery, a messy lawsuit, and a potential loss so long as she has a chance of getting custody of her child.

Soon, we see Seo-jin is treated with contempt by her young son, Hyeon-u, who sternly instructs her to “get out” when she brings him some fruit. To make things worse, the DJ’s abusive husband wants her to go elsewhere, making things physical during his request for her to depart “while I’m being nice,” clearly believing she is only here to help her chances of gaining custody of their child. In response, the DJ threatens to “expose” him, glossing over his bitter reminders of her affair. During this ordeal, Hyeon-u fixates on his gaming, ensuring the volume is high enough to shut out his bickering parents.

Following real-estate agent Jo Jung-sik’s successful dodging of having to create an alibi for now owning a sports car in spite of being behind on paying his friend Sung-han’s rent comes the attorney’s meeting with his new client. This allows for some fact-checking, centered around Seo-jin’s year-long affair with a chef introduced to her by her former producer, Ho-yeong. “It felt nice to know that someone still had butterflies for me,” the DJ explains, before detailing how the restaurant she would consistently return to help her “feel radiant,” as well as escape from a husband so controlling he memorized, and kept a record of, all of her underwear. Then, Seo-jin clarifies her husband only discovered the affair when the sex tape was leaked.

Seo-jin and Sung-han head to court

During the first court session, things get pretty heated. Firstly, Seo-jin’s husband shares how she never showed up for Hyeon-u’s “parent participation day” at school nor picked up her phone when the youngster was hospitalized for falling when climbing over a wall, leaving the boy deeply upset. Instead, the DJ was busy being enamored by the chef she was having an affair with, the same person who was secretly filming the couple together.

When the attorney of Seo-jin’s husband alleges Hyeon-u mightn’t be able to cope with being left with his mother due to her appearance in an “explicit video,” Sung-han chimes in. He claims the DJ didn’t cheat “out of loneliness” and details sad facts on how she wasn’t invited to her closest friend’s wedding, as those acquainted with the celebrity were “fed up” with her having to send a picture of herself, and the people she was with, to her partner every 30 minutes.

More information soon comes, too. Sung-han explains that Seo-jin never attended a team dinner out of fear of “creating an awkward situation” and notes all of the people in the DJ’s life have severed ties with her. There are also sticky notes her husband would leave in all areas of the house, all of which contained bizarre critiques, hurtful comments, and “suffocating” security cameras placed around their home. Thus, Sung-han alleges his client doesn’t have sole fault for what transpired and that her “inhumane” acting husband should carry the blame for his actions.

As it’s floated around that Hyeon-u could struggle if he is to ever come across his mother’s “explicit video,” Sung-han tells the court he has had the material “wiped off the internet” and says the assailant, Jung Ji-hun, is now incarcerated. Nevertheless, this point is disputed, with the opposing attorney claiming her client found the sex tape the night before this hearing, meaning Hyeon-u could discover the video himself “in the near future.” This, it’s said, would mean Seo-jin having custody of her child is wrong.

In labeling his adversary’s constant bringing up of Seo-jin’s sex tape as a case of “secondary victimization,” standing firm in his opinion, she should face no discrimination in this suit for being the victim of a crime; the first mediation session comes to an end. When both parties next convene, they are to go over Hyeon-u’s psychotherapy results, which we soon see were manipulated by the DJ’s husband, who had told his son the specifics of what to do for all possible questions.

Sung-han meets Hyeon-u

The next day, Hyeong-geun informs Sung-han that the police believe they were on top of the leak early, given they’d deleted the video from Ji-hun’s hard drive and cloud. Thus, Attorney Shin begins to believe the claim of this explicit content still being circulated could have been a deception.

Later, Sung-han meets with Hyeon-u over a burger, and the two talk openly. The youngster is curious about who he will live with (though he doesn’t share his preference) and shares how playing games is a good stress reliever. “I wish I had bad memory,” Hyeon-u soon solemnly states, sharing that he wishes to forget certain things he’s witnessed. However, the young boy quickly becomes fidgety and swiftly prepares to depart alone for the academy he attends.

When Sung-han calls Hyeon-u “the strongest third-grader” he knows, the youngster tells the attorney he “hates” his mother because she rejected the phone call from his teacher. “I waited a long time at the hospital. But my dad came instead,” he says, wanting to completely forget about Seo-jin. This revelation, in turn, upsets Sung-han.

Divorce Attorney Shin Season 1 Episode 1 Ending Explained

At night, Hyeon-u breaks down screaming and even throws his father’s phone away to prevent him from calling 911. Of course, it doesn’t stop the youngster from eventually being hospitalized, but it makes Seo-jin request she and Sung-han “stop here.” After all, the DJ believes she should be “more worried” about her child now.

Yet Sung-han thinks differently. He wants Seo-jin to “eat a hearty meal” once Hyeon-u calms down, as she will now need to prepare for a divorce trial, not a mediation. “We will win,” the attorney confidently states, ending the episode.

What did you think of the K-Drama Divorce Attorney Shin Season 1 Episode 1? Comment below.

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