k-drama · Review

Stranger (Secret Forest) Is A Law Thriller Masterpiece You Need To Watch

While the 2017 law thriller k-drama Stranger has been pretty much gathering a legendary status among the watchers, I am a bit late to it. Nevertheless, I now realize why this Bae Doona and Jo Seungwoo masterpiece got such high praises as you will see in our review today.

Stranger is tvN’s 2017 masterpiece and I now see why. I watched this one again with my mom and we finished it in 5 days because we literally couldn’t wait to see what happens next. It was both a great and a horrible idea because while we did enjoy it much it also left an enormous hole in my life now that we’ve finished it. Not only was the plot of the drama compelling and captivating enough to want to binge it immediately, but the cast of Stranger really did some magic here – everyone was incredible and the chemistry between the main leads as well as the main group of characters was off the charts. Stranger deals with a lot of serious issues but it still manages to keep a slightly humorous tone thanks to the unusual characters but I will talk more about that in the actual review below.

From MyDramaList: Hwang Shi Mok underwent brain surgery as a child to curb his violent temper, which left him devoid of emotions. Hwang becomes a prosecutor known for his piercing intelligence and logic, but he is ostracized because he lacks empathy and social skills. He is also one of only a handful of upright prosecutors who have refused to take bribes. One day, he encounters a stabbing victim while investigating corruption. He meets Lieutenant Han Yeo Jin at the crime scene. They join forces to root out corruption at the prosecutors’ office and solve a serial murder case.

No spoilers ahead so proceed:

Source: vavaharrison on Tumblr

I started Stranger with almost no previous knowledge of the plot except what you can read in the summary – the main character Hwang Shi Mok is supposed to be apathetic due to his brain surgery but also insanely intelligent and righteous. That definitely was true but Hwang Shi Mok was far from a completely detached human as I expected him to be from the summary – he really led the whole drama and the entire plot with his antics, ideas and actions all while being uniquely charming to the point where you really get attached to him. While he really was the star of the show and Jo Seungwoo absolutely nailed his role, it was Bae Doona’s character, Lieutenant Han Yeo Jin who brought out his most charming points and carried the drama in a different, simpler way. She was a wonderful character and almost the complete opposite of Shi Mok in her overly humane ways and yet they were an incredible duo with insane amounts of chemistry.

If you’re a fan of law-crime-thriller combination, then Stranger is your drama. I enjoyed the plot immensely and I was quite surprised by how much you’re kept in the dark about certain things right until the end. This gave Stranger a mysterious note and it also played with your expectations – none of the major plot lines were revealed immediately but rather left for you to find out alongside the lead characters. This was one of my favourite aspects of the drama as you kept being suspicious of everyone and trying to figure out who is behind what. The prosecutors were the absolute stars of the drama no matter if they were more on the good or the bad side of things – Hwang Shi Mok, Young Eun Soo, Seo Dong Jae and Lee Chang Joon were all interesting characters and kept the drama going. Not only were the main characters phenomenal, but the array of supporting characters as well, most notably Kim Jeong Bon, Yoon Se Won and Jang Geon.

Source: vavaharrison on Tumblr

The plot was constantly moving forward, the suspense was nicely kept until the end, the plot twists were solidly done and the ending was more on the realistic side of things instead of trying to portray the ultimate happy ending. Even if the plot isn’t your thing that much, Jo Seungwoo’s portrayal of Hwang Shi Mok is enough to keep you going. He was absolutely perfect for this role and managed to bring even the slightest changes in Shi Mok’s emotions in the best way. It’s impossible to watch Stranger and not like the two leads because they’re both great individuals and also an even better crime solving duo. While the drama offered almost zero romantic aspects, the chemistry between them was wonderful. I’m not saying that dramas written by women hit differently but Stranger is written by the amazing Lee Soo Yeon after all and that’s all I have to say. You do the math.

I saw that the drama has a second season but I’m scared that it won’t live up to the expectations the first season left me with so if any of you watched both seasons do tell me if I should hop onto it as well. The first season of Stranger was 10/10 without a doubt and the perfect first drama of 2022 for me. I’m off to lurk through Jo Seungwoo’s filmography.

Header Image Source: tvN

5 thoughts on “Stranger (Secret Forest) Is A Law Thriller Masterpiece You Need To Watch

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