Cruel City: Eps 1-6

Drama ReviewsKorean Dramas

After hearing all of the rants and raves about this drama, I decided I had to give it a go.  After all I have a soft spot for the undercover-agent plot, which has been done wonderfully in Hong Kong dramas and even in the j-drama remake of Infernal Affairs.  (DOUBLE FACE, a must-watch!)  I’m glad I waited a while before starting Cruel City…(also known as Heartless City…but is the city really heartless? 😉 )  Instead of waiting a few weeks to get to episode 6, I just watched all six episodes in a few days.  BWAHAHA.  So I know 6 episodes is a lot to cover in one post but…better late than never, eh?

*Warning: Spoilers ahead up through episode 6!*

I know, I’ve been living in a bubble. I haven’t heard of Jung Kyung Jo until I watched this drama.  T__T”  BUT I HAVE BEEN ENLIGHTENED NOW.  ADMIT IT, I bet you are watching for this guy!

Jung Kyung Jo plays Shi Hyun, aka “Doctor’s Son” (his nickname) aka “Park Sa” (his untranslated nickname).  Right from the start it is obvious that he is meant to be the hero or antihero of the drama, even though he is a calculating gang member who is rising to power.  Just look at him in his snappy suits, his suit vests, his slicked back hair, and his STRIPED SOCKS (see pic below)…it is like he is perfectly groomed for the role of the good-bad-guy.


^LOL I just had to mention that.

But wait!  HE’S ACTUALLY AN UNDERCOVER POLICE AGENT!  Ah yes, I could just hear the sighs of relief of all of the Shi Hyun fangirls, not only is their beloved Doctor’s Son a handsome BAMF, he is also a good guy at heart!   Uh no.  I enjoy Shi Hyun’s character but I still feel like he is too much in the good-guy territory. I’m sure people will admit that he has hurt/killed a lot of people, but then they can go and say “wellllll…he’s an UNDERCOVER AGENT SO…”.  NO.  Shi Hyun’s being an undercover agent means that he gains the trust of the people around him (including his besties) only to eventually back-stab them and bring them to justice in the end.  It is deception and it hurts both sides all around.  And he isn’t just ‘acting’ like a baddie, he has to  become the baddie.  The thing I love about undercover-agent stories is that they blur the boundaries between good and bad.  An undercover agent is not completely good and I don’t want to see Shi Hyun being touted as a ‘good guy’ nor do I want to see him praised as the cold-mysterious-guy-that-has-a-heart.   There is a great moral conflict to be explored here and I’m looking forward to seeing how Shi Hyun will come to terms with his two conflicting identities.

I’m mainly interested in Shi Hyun’s relationships with his closest friends in the gang, one of them being his ‘auntie’ Jin Sook.  Guess what, my favorite character so far isn’t Shi Hyun (OH THE BLASPHEMY)!  It’s Jin Sook!  She is so awesome, it makes me wish I could call her “unni” too!  I love how she is like an older sister/mother figure to Shi Hyun.  Shi Hyun obviously loves Jin Sook because she took care of him after his mother’s death and has always been a pillar of strength for him.  Shi Hyun attempts to protect her and push her away by mysteriously asking her to leave the business.  Of course it doesn’t work.  Augh what if Shi Hyun’s work will eventually lead to Jin Sook’s downfall as well?!?!

Don’t worry there’s also bromance between Shi Hyun and his bestie, Hyun Soo.  The two of them have been through thick and thin together, and Shi Hyun obviously cares about Hyun Soo A LOT.  There is this one scene where Hyun Soo is near-death and Shi Hyun carries him on HIS BACK to the hospital.  YES that is true bromance and not just acting.  Shi Hyun also tries to ‘warn’ Hyun Soo because once everything goes down, all of the people around Shi Hyun will inevitably be implicated.

^GEE I wonder why Hyung Min doesn’t follow what he was taught!

And if any of you are worrying about annoyances with Nam Gyu Ri’s character, don’t worry.  There’s an even MORE annoying character instead!  Hyung Min is the leader of the investigation team who is bent on bringing Shi Hyun to justice.  From the start I knew his whole storyline would not turn out well because he starts out his job with a workplace romance with another police officer, Kyung Mi.  Kyung Mi is sent in on an undercover mission (with the goal of nabbing Doctor’s Son) but is killed by a sniper.  Hyung Min assumes that the killer was Shi Hyun.  He doesn’t even assume it, he believes it wholeheartedly even without hard evidence.  PLUS he doesn’t know that Kyung Mi and Shi Hyun were childhood friends (meaning that Kyung Mi probably wouldn’t want Shi Hyun to seek revenge on Doctor’s Son), or that Doctor’s Son is an undercover cop.  OOPS.

In Hyung Min’s case, the line between good and bad is blurred WAY TOO MUCH.  He is so excessively bent on revenge and uses such extreme tactics that I have no idea how he still has his badge.  And how is he even still in charge of this case when he is personally connected to it now?  Hyung Min is like this one-man-show who is blindly raging onwards and destructing everything in his path.  I fear for his team because Hyung Min only put them all in danger with his rashness and his drive for revenge.

Well by now you should realize that Hyung Min has no sense of logic whatsoever, and even moreso after his lover’s death.  IT GETS WORSE.  Nam Gyu Ri plays Soo Min, the younger sister of Kyung Mi.  She is determined to go undercover to finish what her sister started.  Ok, first of all, I appreciate Soo Min’s belief that she can’t let her sister die in vain.  It is not 100% revenge-driven.  But Soo Min seems like she has no idea what she is getting into.  She is all, “la la la let’s go undercover, even though I have no experience or training whatsoever~~~”.  *FACEPALM*  What makes this even worse is that Hyung Min AGREES WITH SOO MIN, and sends her undercover to get close to Jin Sook.  No matter how vengeful and irrational Hyung Min is, I have no clue what makes him think that sending in Kyung Mi’s sister as an undercover agent will let Kyung Mi rest in peace. 

Anyways Nam Gyu Ri can get on my nerves but she isn’t as bad as expected.  There is more to Soo Min than meets the eye.  Her innocent look is actually quite fitting because she seems like this lost lamb that Jin Sook can’t help but take under her wing.  But then there are random moments when Soo Min will get this dangerous look in her eyes and shows an unexpected display of bravery, tenacity and quick wit.  I am much more content now that Soo Min is under Jin Sook’s care because Jin Sook is AWESOME~

I have very little empathy for some of the main characters (*cough* Hyung Min), but I have to say, a lot of the side characters are amazing.  I included these caps of one of the side characters, Suh Young, who is a police officer but secretly works for one of the higher ups (who is in cahoots with a high-ranking gang leader) because somehow I felt way more for her than I did for Kyung Mi or Soo Min combined.  I have no idea why but I enjoyed her character a lot.  If you need an idea of how vengeful Hyung Min is, the guy sets up an elaborate scheme to trap Suh Young into confessing.  He lures her into an abandoned warehouse and then HE HIDES AS A SNIPER AND STARTS SHOOTING AT HER.  OMG.  I gotta hand it to Suh Young, she held up pretty well.  Plus later on she got to meet with Doctor’s Son face-to-face.  Hopefully they don’t kill her off!!!

Cruel City has its cliches–the childhood friends, the revenge-driven cop, the dad issues, the orphan, etc.–but it still has a sense of mysteriousness that makes me want to watch.  It’s hard to describe but I feel like we have only seen a small drop in the ocean; all of the things that happened so far will eventually factor into one grand scheme.  I’m not sure if it is a conspiracy, but there is something fishy going on with the higher ups in the police force!  I am curious to see why Doctor’s Son is undercover and how his work relates to the higher ups’ relations to the gangs.  This drama has a lot of potential and I can’t wait for the next episodes!

On a side note, a lot of people said it is a really gritty and dark drama but I didn’t feel like it was too dark/gritty.  Maybe I am just too heartless? 😛  I was also surprised that they blurred out all of the knives’ blades, apparently it is because of censorship in which blades are banned on TV? O_O”  Really?  Why don’t they blur out the guns while they’re at it too? *sarcasm*

And another gripe I have is that Shi Hyun is suddenly popping up all over the place to confront people face-to-face.  Also Hyun Soo reveals his identity on security camera footage when he personally goes to visit an assassin that he hired in a prison.  WHERE ARE THE MINIONS?  Shi Hyun & Hyun Soo are some of the top dogs, but they go around doing all of the work themselves, at the risk of leaving behind clues about their identities.  What do they think the minions are for!?!?  (I know, there are trust issues of course, but I still think they need some loyal minions.)

Anyways, I will leave you all with a line from a Cruel City review that is quite epic..

“C’est sombre. C’est brutal. C’est noir.” -Kaa @ In Between Dreams


I'm heisui, an Asian drama blogger and the creator of My Drama Tea. I love stories and writing, so I watch dramas and blog. I especially have a penchant for Japanese and Chinese dramas, and those hidden gems that are waiting to be discovered. Oh, and I'm Legend of Zhen Huan-obsessed!
Itazura na Kiss: Ep 10
Last Cinderella: Ep 10
  • *Gasp* omo! How can I miss this?! It’s Jung Kyung Ho new drama! I just can’t take two regions drama at the same time it seems. If I’m watching J-drama then I’ll neglect all together what K-drama’s offering, no matter how many of pretty faces flaunts in front of me. Ugh.

    Will definitely catch up on you!

  • Hah, I didn’t know my review was epic :p Thanks! =)

    I think people (and me) find Cruel City very dark precisely because there is no “good” or “evil”, there is also no one to trust (not even yourself), while love (and deep friendship) might be fatal for everyone involved…;)

  • heisui!! i read your recap yesterday and start watching this drama 6 episode in a row..i cannot count how may times i said “shit!shit!shit!’ during watching it.. the storyline give a vibe of infernal affairs and marks no yama which is why i adore so is cruel,dark, never scared to show the violence,fast,revenge and confusing..i love it as i felt like i am watching a movie instead of drama..maybe u can try to watch marks no yama s quite similar atmosphere..i cant wait to watch later episode!

    • Yay pdat I’m glad you’re on board with this drama! *w* I haven’t seen Marks no Yama but from what I’ve heard, it is an excellent drama. I know I need to add that to my list of dramas to watch.

  • Cruel city..,why so amazing? I will never tell the story is just perfect but all drama,overall is just perfect.
    I love JKHo he is heart and soul of this drama. I always thought he is good actor,but this is amazing. Doctor’s Son is one of the best characters I saw in awhile,and I saw a lot. After 3min of this drama I new it will be crack for me,why,because I like how it is filmed. Love all rooftop scenes,how camera moves to the little pieces.
    Bromance is on the spot too.
    Last but the most important,I love Paksa suited up,and I mean a lot.
    Recommend this drama.

    • Yup, Doctor’s Son in a suit = PERFECT. I also think that Shi Hyun’s character is part of the reason why this drama is so good. If there were no Shi Hyun, I would be stuck with Hyung Min, who just annoys me. T_T

      • In that case I would drop this drama…I always have to have 1 if not more characters to love and care.
        I’m finishing Rondo which is perfect,and CC can look up.

  • lol, you too, have fallen prey to this drama. Nice.
    I swear there are other dramas where they didn’t blur out such things…but maybe because of the network this drama is one, they have to do that.
    I find it annoying in Thai dramas because they blur out drugs, alcohol, guns, knives, etc. We all know what is there, so WHY blur it out?

    I was laughing when Jin Sook was about to get raped and in the next scene she’s son the bed beating the guy senseless with her shoe. This woman is not that bad. She’s got spunk, and yeah, she did do some bad things, but you know its all out of love for her boy. I’m curious to see if Jin Sook will really bring about a change in Soo Min or not. That girl…she’s an interesting character. She seems all hopeless and naive, but we learn she was quite an orphan delinquent. One moment she’s that lost little kitten and the next her claws are out and she’s quite vicious. Go figure.

    • Yes, I have, haha! Yeah maybe it is just the specific network that has this policy or something? I didn’t know Thai dramas blur out EVERYTHING, omg O_O I know, blurring it out isn’t gonna do anything, it just makes it even more distracting. I wish they didn’t blur out the knives, it really gets on my nerves.

      I know, at first I thought Jin Sook had a knife so I was all OMG OMG but then..I saw it was her high heel!!!! AHAHA! I hope we get to see more lady characters besides Jin Sook and the other woman who is on Safari’s side. I can’t really figure out Soo Min, she is naive but yet she somehow sharpens a chicken bone for a home-made knife!?!? Huh?

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