Disney+ K-drama May It Please the Court: Jung Ryeo-won returns in familiar yet confident new legal drama
- Jung, who played a prosecutor three years ago in Diary of a Prosecutor, is back as a hotshot workaholic lawyer
- She represents a pharmaceutical company being sued by a former employee, and ends up being relegated to a small-town firm
Three years after appearing in Diary of a Prosecutor, Jung Ryeo-won returns to screens with a slight job title change. She’s switched her desk from a district attorney’s office into a swanky law firm in the new Disney+ legal drama May It Please the Court.
Jung is hotshot lawyer Noh Chakhee, a fearsome workaholic who has been known to rack up as many as 124 billable hours in a week and who leads her firm with a staggering 92 per cent win rate in court.
She fuels her long days with a jar filled with nicotine gum. Whenever she struts through the halls she strikes fear into the firm’s minions, who have taken to nicknaming her ‘dark lord’.
Cool, elegant and dressed to the nines, with her clicking heels announcing her arrival as they resonate through the halls, Chakhee knows how to make an entrance.
So does May It Please the Court, which kicks off in stylish fashion, as it literally drops us into its world of old money and high power. We follow a raindrop hurtling through the air until it smacks the asphalt of a bridge on a dark and stormy day.
A stream of black cars cross this bridge and wind around several halls of power, including the National Assembly and the presidential Blue House, until it stops in a stately cemetery.
Powerful tycoon Jang Byungchun (Jeon Mu-song) steps out, flanked by family members, including Jang Gido (Jung Jin-young), the head of the Jangsan Law Firm, as well as Chakhee. Each character is introduced in slow motion while nervy music booms in the soundtrack in the bombastic intro.
Chakhee isn’t directly related to Byungchun, but his clear affection for her has sparked rumours that she may be his granddaughter. In actuality, she is the granddaughter of a former housekeeper of his.
Chakhee is on a partner track at Jangsan, but her determination to succeed at the firm seems to be driven by more than naked ambition. There’s history between Chakhee and Byungchun’s family that is bound to come out at some point. What’s more, not all of his family is pleased with Chakhee’s success.
The case that is consuming Chakhee’s time as the show opens concerns Kangsung Pharm, a drug manufacturer run by Jo Hyunshik (Ryoo Sung-hyun), another member of the Jang family.
Kangsung is being sued by a former employee claiming that their birth control pills have serious side effects. Representing that employee is Jwa Sibaek (Lee Kyu-hyung), a public defender who soon locks horns with Chakhee.
Chakhee finds a way to protect Kangsung, but only by sneakily revealing unseemly details of Hyunshik’s personal life. He’s compelled to suck it up, but far from happy about it. But Kangsung’s woes are only beginning.
Lee Soonyoung (Kim Ju-yeon), the proprietor of a spicy rice cake snack shop, has just been arrested for killing her husband, but her random act of violence may have been directly caused by side effects from Kangsung’s pills.
Chakhee, who happens to know Soonyoung – they spent time at a children’s home together – is once again charged with fixing Kangsung’s mess.
She succeeds and this lands her the partner job at Jangsan, but someone throws her under the bus, revealing the terrible tactic she employed to protect Kangsung. Chakhee immediately falls from grace, facing a one-year suspension.
Gido decides to send her out to pasture her a year, forcing her to become a lowly public defender in an out-of-the-way office in sleepy Jungha.
Her heels click once more as she traipses down a hall, but this time it’s Sibaek who is struck with dread – Chakhee has just been assigned to his office.
Familiar though it is, the set-up is executed cleanly and Jung’s fiery command of the screen quickly draws us into the show.
Also providing cause for optimism is her scrappy relationship with Sibaek, who has all of Chakhee’s confidence but no airs about him. We first meet him in a pharmacy where he buys Kangsung’s birth control pills and is completely unbothered by the pharmacist’s alarm after he tries the pills himself.
Their enjoyable repartee is reason enough to tune in, but soon after they begin working side-by-side a more sinister plotline emerges, involving a violent killer targeting people in Byungchun’s orbit, which adds some bite to the show’s lighter pleasures.
In a year filled with legal dramas, May It Please the Court struggles to define itself as something special, even if its cocktail of familiar pleasures may be enough to please most viewers.
May It Please the Court is streaming on Disney+.