Korean dramas are finally getting the recognition they deserve after so many years, releasing some of the best TV series you can watch. The Korean entertainment industry has a bit of everything for everyone, managing to cover all possible target audiences. Thanks to Squid Game, audiences from around the world are paying more attention to each new release, and there are many TV shows worthy of your time. Inspector Koo is one of those new releases. And while it isn’t on the same level as Squid Game in terms of production values or violence, it is still a great example of what Korean TV is ready to offer.
Inspector Koo stars Lee Young-ae as the main character Koo Kyung-yi, Kim Hye-jum, and Baek Sung-chul. The show tells the story of Koo Kyung-yi, an intelligent ex police officer who has now become sort of a recluse and works as an inspector for an insurance company. Koo Kyung-yi is dragged into a case that reveals to her that one of her former students has become a criminal. Can Koo Kyung-yi stop her before it is too late?
Like many Korean shows, Inspector Koo mixes a good dose of thrills, action, and mystery with lots of comedy to make it more palatable for all audiences. This kind of whiplash effect in tone might not be standard here in the west, but in Asian entertainment, the mix is a staple. Maybe, as more and more people get into Asian entertainment, this characteristic won’t be a problem in the future, but it might alienate a part of the audience that wants a more serious affair.
But don’t get confused, even if comedy is a huge part of the show, the main focus is on how Koo and her assistant Santa go about and get involved in some very serious cases. These cases involve some sort of insurance clause or another, but soon they become more about the people involved and how these people react to the situations at hand. There is a huge amount of social commentary in the show. And while part of it is very focused on Korea as a country, audiences from around the world will feel identified with the more universal issues that the characters will face.
The show is structured in a sort of “case of the week” style, with each new episode presenting a new case and a new set of characters to meet and discover. However, in the background, each episode also builds the relationship between the character of Koo and this former student who has gone down the wrong road. The show uses flashbacks to explore this relationship, and it works very well in creating a mystery around the main character, as the past and present versions of herself are just so different. This sort of structure is great for casual viewers and benefits that part of the audience that wants to discover everything about the characters and how they end up being who they are.
Lee Young-ae is a fantastic actress, and her performance as Koo Kyung-yi just shows how good she is. The role demands that the actress be able to go from pathetic to heroic in a matter of seconds, and Young-ae does it effortlessly. Young-ae holds the show on his back, she’s a true star, but the rest of the cast is equally good and fun to watch. Even the actors that appear in just one of the episodes, put their best work on the screen for the time they appear on-screen. There are a lot of good vibes around the show’s tone and atmosphere.
On the downside, and just being a bit nit picky here, the pacing of the show suffers a bit thanks to the running time of each episode. We are talking about episodes that go over the hour mark. Sometimes it is clear that the episode could have been edited a bit more. Other than that, which is something that might not even bother a huge section of the audience, the show is a good way to pass the time.
Inspector Koo can be seen on Netflix and will run for about 16 episodes. That is a good chunk of content there to be excited about. This is a section of Korean entertainment that is often torn apart as being cheap or not of the same quality as the most popular shows. But Inspector Koo has the quality writing and performances that will allow it to find a modest-sized audience around the world.
There are many other options for Korean entertainment on Netflix, but if what you want is something that can make you laugh, gasp, and bite your nails all at the same time, then Inspector Koo is the show for you.