A varied legal drama that thrives in large part thanks to its quirky titular character.
We review the Netflix K-Drama series Divorce Attorney Shin Season 1, which contains minor spoilers.
Divorces are tricky things. On the one hand, they can provide one (or two) people with an escape, a chance at solace away from an unhappy relationship in which they’ve found themselves trapped. On the other hand, it could be an unwelcome last resort, a decision born from the pure exhaustion of every other conceivable way of patching things up. Then, there’s the not-so-simple impact that follows the split. Custody battles, property rights, family feuds; a divorce can, to put it mildly, spawn all manner of complications.
Divorce Attorney Shin Season 1 Review and Plot Summary
In this regard, Divorce Attorney Shin does a commendable job of dealing with its difficult subject matter. The opening case, which focuses on a fired radio DJ, Lee Seo-jin (Han Hye-jin), sturdily balances grounded, candid rawness with the usual emotional tension in a television drama but adds intriguing commentary on accountability.
You feel sympathy for the protagonist who, despite her communicated flaws from the fact she did have an affair which caused her to neglect her son, was utterly suffocated by Hui-seop. Thus, audiences are still likely to root for Seo-jin to win out, to work on her issues, and to be there for Hyeon-u, a child deserving of a better life than one where he is made to stay with a father so manipulative he’s willing to show a young child a sex tape in a bid to get one over on his wife.
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Of course, this isn’t a drama about separation and all that comes with it. As the show’s title suggests, Attorney Shin (Cho Seung-woo) is the subject of a lot of writer Yoo Young-a’s focus, with his life taking center-stage across all the other ongoings. A quirky former piano professor in Germany, Sung-han makes for a refreshingly charismatic lead who may have entered the legal arena quite late in the day but has a real mind for the cases he tackles. Additionally, the attorney has an everyman appeal, with scenes showing him drinking and singing alongside friends chipping away at the occasionally sturdy mystique that can occasionally shroud legal representatives in television.
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To his credit, Cho Seung-woo wholly encompasses the role of Shin Sung-han and does all he can to make himself stand out. From the hyperbolic trot singalongs to drinking soju out of upmarket wine glasses to the cluttered office, there’s a consistent sense of engaging uniqueness given to the titular character, depicted with keen range. He isn’t just a silly man but a highly-skilled lawyer and perhaps a subtly tragic figure, given his inability to be drawn away from his past as a musician. With a lot more to come of the season, it’ll be intriguing to see how Sung-han’s backstory comes into play and how it’ll add more depth to an already likable lead.
On that note, praising some of the characters operating on the peripheral is also worth praising. Kim Sung-kyun and Jung Moon-sung work well in their comedic roles; Han Hye-jin is excellent as a mother working to move past her controversies to become a better person (and parent), while Hwang Jung-min gives an awe-inspiring performance as Park Ae-ran, a burnt out breadwinner exhausted from her mother-in-law’s unrelenting mistreatment. Solid too are the backdrops afforded to these characters, with the atmosphere of scenes often complemented by their surroundings.
Is the K-Drama Divorce Attorney Shin good?
Overall, Divorce Attorney Shin is a show full of promise. It deals with its subject matter carefully, breaks the tension with well-executed comic relief, and gives weight to those affected by romantic separation.
Driven by a committed lead whose acting helps ensure the character-driven plot points work, this 12-episode K-Drama is a worthy investment.
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