For some reasons, the title juz can’t seem to stick, I was thinking is it “Detective Housewife”?, “Sleuthing Housewife”? or something along that line.
- Choi Kang-hee (from Heart to Heart) as Yoo Seol-ok. Your typical (but not exactly the best one around) housewife but with a strong penchant for solving crimes. Her husband (suspiciously MIA) is a prosecutor and works in Seoul, leaving her to deal with a rather picky mother-in-law (Mdm Park) and sis-in-law (Ho-soon).
- Kwon Sang-woo (from Medical Top Team) as Detective Ha Wan-seung. Previously from the Homicide Team, he is demoted and transferred to a suburban police post cos he was caught on camera hitting an underaged mobster. More of the brawny than brainy type of policeman, he is better suited to capturing mobsters than engaging in Sherlockian-type of mental gymnastics.
- Lee Won-guen (from The Good Wife) as Officer Hong Joon-oh. He is the chief of the small town police post where Seol-ok (whom he refers to as “Teacher Yoo”) lives and where Wan-seung is later transferred to. Despite being promoted to Head of Precinct, we wonder how he manages to get past Police Academy, given his rather clueless nature.
This is up to ep3.
We are first introduced to loads of activity on screen, as Wan-seung and his team members give it their all to take down a bunch of gangsters. Said bunch of gangsters, headed by a man called Jang Do-jang, deal in drugs trafficking. Although Wan-seung gets knocked down by Do-jang’s teenage underling, he manages to recover without much damage.
Unfortunately, the police team did not manage to nail the drug trafficking offence to the mobsters, cos the goods were not seized on site. So Do-jang gets to go scot-free. However, Wan-seung’s boss, Team Leader Bae, shows Wan-seung a locker key from Bangtan Market. From Do-jang’s reluctant testimonial, they guess that the goods (aka the drugs) are hidden in Bangtan Market’s locker, and Do-jang will likely retrieve it himself. Wan-seung and his buddy, Dong-ki, stake out the market.
Bangtan Market happens to be located around the area where our heroine, Seol-ok, stays, with her mother-in-law and sis-in-law. Her husband is a prosecutor (someone whom Wan-seung despises) and works in Seoul, so he isn’t home most days. While Seol-ok goes around her days as a normal housewife and filial daughter-in-law, she cannot help it when she sees crimes happening around her – she NEEDS to crack them. Even if it means jumping through all the hoops, bells and whistles to avoid detection by her stern mother-in-law.
Her hobby leads her to befriend the new police precinct’s chief, Joon-oh, who is young – and rather dim-witted. Thanks to Seol-ok, Joon-oh manages to solve those cases that happen around the small town. So when Bangtan Market’s lockers are found to be ripped apart by someone, Seol-ok is called in for “consultation”, as usual.
Seol-ok deduces that the offender is looking for a hidden drug stash, and pinpoints a burly Wan-seung (who has been caught on CCTV hanging around the lockers) as a potential suspect. The night before the removal of the broken lockers, Seol-ok stakes out the area. And of cos, she runs into Wan-seung, panicks, and thinks she has met the drug trafficker. Wan-seung later proves to Joon-oh he is a detective.
Of all luck, Seol-ok does encounter the REAL drug trafficker, aka Do-jang. Wan-seung saves her from getting stabbed but isn’t amused by “this ahjumma” interfering with police work. Subsequently, he threatens Seol-ok with arrest if she dares to show her face at crime scenes.
Well, Seol-ok manages to get around that by cajoling Joon-oh to help her. Their next case is that of a possible murder. The murder is posited by Seol-ok, though Joon-oh and Wan-seung think it’s a simple case of break-in. Wan-seung later has to eat humble pie, when he realizes Seol-ok is correct in her observations and they tie in with forensic evidence.
Grudgingly, he now asks her for help and Seol-ok has a field day “training a puppy”. (lol) It seems that there is a reason why Wan-seung has not been promoted (a fact he laments to Team Leader Bae). Cos Wan-seung is better with his fists than his brains. Seol-ok has to literally step-by-step lead him through the obvious clues on who was murdered, and who was the murderer.
It is not uncommon in Korea (or Japan) for a woman to give up her career once she is married (likewise, husbands are “expected” to bring in the dole and solely support the family financially). So while it may seem amusing watching Seol-ok hide her hobby behind her mother-in-law’s back, and having to endure her mother-in-law’s snide remarks that she is “lucky” to be married to a prosecutor, given her “poor education background”, blahblah…such things do happen frequently in Korean culture (even today).
While watching Queen, I feel frustrated even though I laugh at the slapstick moments where Seol-ok thinks up the most harebrained ideas to evade detection (like pretending to have constipation in order to sneak out of a locked toilet). A large part of me wants Seol-ok to bite the bullet and proclaim that she isn’t the “stupid housewife” everyone thinks she is – Wan-seung being the (pretty loud) mouthpiece for the stereotypes that surround married, stay-home mums and wives. They are “ahjummas” who are expected to be only good at housekeeping, cooking, and gossiping with other housewives – like Mdm Park.
Instead, we have this lady who clearly is not only creative (at evading detection), but is extremely smart and observant. Even if the men in Queen are pretty much a useless bunch, Seol-ok continues to impress with her deductive skills and her eagle eyes. We are shown the exact same things Seol-ok sees/touches at a crime scene, but until she verbally guides Joon-oh/Wan-seung — and us – through, we can’t see the connections.
To cut Wan-seung some slack, he does pick up on Seol-ok’s usefulness and is contritely apologetic once he realizes she has hit bulls-eye on all the scraps of overlooked evidence in the “burglar-ed house”. He will prove to be a good partner for Seol-ok. Cos Seol-ok’s excitement at solving cases sometimes make her overlook her personal safety – like why in the world does she strike up a conversation with Do-jang when it is OBVIOUS he is the drug trafficker the police are after?? Wan-seung (who is touted as the Ironman-type by his colleagues) would be a reliable body guard for Seol-ok.
On the romance front – I have a strong hunch that Seol-ok’s marriage “didn’t happen”. She and her prosecutor husband may have carried out the wedding ceremony, but I got a strong suspicion her husband probably conveniently forgot to include her name in the family registrar (which will legally bind the union). Or, Mr Prosecutor could be having an affair, and he (and his family) had been abusing Seol-ok’s trust and love – and her savings – cos she paid for sis-in-law’s uni’s studies. (i suspect Mr Prosecutor could have been her high school crush turned husband) A glimpse into Wan-seung’s past also revealed that he used to have a girlfriend (who was stabbed) older than him, which means there’s a chance he doesn’t mind a noona-romance.
Putting these two slips of tidbits together, it’s my guess that Wan-seung and Seol-ok will have more than juz a “working relationship”.