First Impression: The Fiery Priest

While our priests in other Kdramaland’s shows have their hands full in exorcising literal demons, Hae-il here has a bigger fish to fry. He has to exorcise the biggest demon of all – Corruption.

Main cast:

  • Kim Nam-gil (from Live Up to Your Name) as Priest Kim Hae-il. He is termed fiery cos he has a pretty short fuse, especially with bullies. Unfortunately, he also has low patience for people he thinks are commonsense-less idiots (which, generally, is everybody).
  • Kim Sung-kyun (from Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo) as Detective Koo Dae-young. While earnest…he belongs to the latter group which Hae-il has zero tolerance for. I dunno if it is his lack of streetsmart-ness, but poor Dae-young always ends up with the shortest end of the stick.
  • Honey Lee (from Come Back, Mister) as Prosecutor Park Kyung-sun. While touted to be the dubious “villain” of Fiery, at the moment, I only see her as someone who is rather obstinate and principled.

Synopsis:

We open with a shaman conducting a sham ghost-busting ceremony — which Hae-il gatecrashes and promptly puts an end to. He traces the source of the fraud shaman group to a local moneylender and goes off to trash his place, which earns him a stay overnight in the local police station.

And that’s where we learn this isn’t the first time Hae-il has “disrupted” the town’s peace. So in order to prevent the local church from getting into trouble, Hae-il is packed back home to his mentor, Father Lee.

The other 2 characters, Dae-young and Kyung-sun, both work in law enforcement in Hae-il’s hometown. However, other than a similar profession, the two can’t be more dissimilar. Dae-young may be of a senior level in his team, but you can see why he is passed over for promotions, and why he is always the one who ends up having to take on jobs (which everyone dislikes) such as (the ironic) public promotion of crime prevention, etc — and his colleagues go out of the way to ostracise him from raids and post-work gatherings too.

While Dae-young may be all passionate about his job, his head…isn’t really in the right place. Plus, as a policeman, he is pretty timid (though with no one wanting to back him up, I can empathise with him). He unwittingly walks into a mobster’s lair (while his colleagues chalks up the monthly quota on a “staged raid”), and walks out of the lair beaten, and stark naked.

On the other hand, Kyung-sun as a prosecutor, is the opposite end of the spectrum. She is ambitious, but isn’t without principles. In a surprise street interview meant to slander the Prosecution, Kyung-sun loudly proclaims that she and the prosecution team are not in the wrong. Though with the background of a city which is so corrupted…I may take her word with a pinch of salt.

Review:

Like I said, Fiery isn’t the previous offerings from Kdramaland, where our black cassocked priests run around trying to capture (or contain) the supernatural. In Hae-il’s case, it’s more a David (on fire) bringing down the proverbial Goliath. While the corruption theme is really done and dealt with in Kdramaland, having a new spin on things may make Fiery a bearable watch.

We have the usual underdog characters — testy (and unpriest-like) Hae-il, the bumbling Dae-young, and the questionable Kyung-sun — taking on the Goliath’s representatives — Politician Jung and her lackey, Cheol-bum. They represent the seething corruption that goes literally unchecked in the city, where policemen work hand-in-hand with the hoodlums.

So while Dae-young was mercilessly stripped and beaten, his colleagues were “celebrating” a “successful” raid on the other side of town — basically, the gangsters regularly rotate themselves in and out of jail in order to “satisfy” the police that crime “fighting” is successful. The ending of ep2, where the police turn a literal blind eye to a group of citizens who are bashed to death by the mob for protesting against an unlawful land purchase by Politician Jung, goes only to show how deep rooted the rot is in the city.

And it is up to Hae-il and his fiery brand of exorcising (which involves mainly his fists) to help cleanse the city.

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