Prison Playbook: Looking below the surface

Prison continues to surprise me (pleasantly) with its myriad of quirky characters that I forget at times they are prisoners. Though to be fair, other than Min-chul (who is serving life sentence for gang related crimes), the others in Je-hyuk’s cell are petty thieves and small time crooks. So they aren’t your murderers or rapists, but the “milder” kind of criminals.

And then we find out that 2 of them (or 3 if you add in our lucked out protagonist) are in jail for the wrong reason: Dr Go stupidly agreed to his bosses’ “pleas” to take the rap of embezzlement for them — and they are now asking him to re-volunteer for an increased sentence cos they are just too greedy. And Capt Yoo — he is the unwilling scapegoat for a politician’s son, who is a bully and a psycho in the army camp. We also have the poor-student-turned-murderer (cos he fell asleep at the wheel) who is denied parole cos of a super stingy and stuck in the mud prison guard. Kind of gives the impression that Korean prisons are keeping the wrong types of people locked up.

Surprising backstories of cell mates aside, the interpersonal relationship between them is also a hoot to watch. I especially love Kaist and his love-hate thing with Han-yang (his nick is too long to type). While Kaist may seem to be roughing Han-yang up a lot, most of the time, he deserves it for putting his foot in his mouth and saying the most inappropriate things. But the funniest bit is when Han-yang manages to get his hands on flu meds (thanks to Kaist)…and he becomes…seriously normal. And brilliantly so as well. So thanks to Han-yang, Kaist manages to get his bootleg of cigarettes into jail, and from that day on, it is very obvious he treats Han-yang MUCH better. Well, he still socks him once or twice but I see their push-pull as more of an endearment than anything malicious.

We also begin to revise our opinion of Je-hyuk. True, he may appear to be kind of wooden and is still not good in anything other than baseball (carpentry: no; soccer: no), he isn’t totally clueless on what is happening around him. I suppose he is like those people who will watch and process quietly at the sidelines but step in at the critical moment to help out. Exactly what Je-hyuk does all the time. Although Joon-ho has reminded him time and again to lie low, and what happens to his cellmates are “none of his business”, Je-hyuk is those who feel pretty deeply (but doesn’t show it). Explains how he can be in love with Ji-ho since ages ago, but still manages to keep it under wraps until she proposes to date. Thus, he can’t just “let things be” and serve his sentence quietly for the next 10 months.

So he willingly agrees to Dr Go’s suggestion to run for the carpentry’s workshop team leader, and also pretends to be asleep and have the dream of his coach goading him to take up baseball again…cos he knows people around him need him or someone like him to stand up for them or for them to look up to.

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3 thoughts on “Prison Playbook: Looking below the surface

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  1. i don’t really mind the long episodes, but waiting for the subs to come out is quite tiring.
    after watching few episodes, it make me wander why the enviroment sooo bright compare to the prison environment in the drama Defendant. despite being locked up, the prisoners does seems to have quite a bit of freedom…

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