2023 Korean Drama Vigilante Review & Explained 4 highlights


“Vigilante” is a Korean drama that explores a theme commonly seen in Korean dramas – seeking justice through vigilante actions. While this may not be an uncommon theme, it remains captivating as it reflects the harsh realities of society and resonates with viewers. If there were a real-life “Dark Hero” who could enforce justice, would you support or oppose them?

Vigilante kdrama trailer

Vigilante kdrama 2023 Plot and Cast

The story of this drama revolves around Kim Ji-Yong, whose mother was brutally beaten to death by a violent ex-convict when he was young. The perpetrator received only a three-and-a-half-year prison sentence for his crime.

As an adult, Kim Ji-Yong witnesses that the person responsible for his mother’s murder has shown no remorse or change.

Determined to make him pay, Kim Ji-Yong takes matters into his own hands and decides to punish him until he repents.

From then on, Kim Ji-Yong leads two completely different lives – during the day, he is a student at the police academy; on weekends, he becomes the “Dark Hero,” punishing and judging criminals who have escaped legal consequences.”

  • Nam Joo-Hyuk (portraying Kim Ji-Yong): A college student at the police academy, also known as “Vigilante” in the world of “Dark Here”. He enters the police academy with the intention of seeking revenge for his parents and spends every weekend “judging” criminals who roam society.
  • Lee Joon-Hyuk (portraying Jo Gang-Ok): Vice President of DK Group, he is the mastermind behind transforming Kim Ji-Yong into a true hero. As a child, he dreamt of becoming a real hero after watching Batman but faced harsh realities. Nevertheless, through meticulous planning, he successfully creates “Vigilante”.
  • Yoo Ji-Tae (portraying Jo Heon): Chief of Investigation Unit in the Wide-Area Search Team. He has been an outstanding talent since his time at the police academy and is known as the “Monster Captain”.
  • Kim So-Jin (portraying Choi Mi-Ryeo): A journalist reporting on incidents related to “Vigilante”. Although she initially reports on these events for her own reputation, she holds strong beliefs and confidence in her work as a journalist.

2023 Vigilante kdrama review & explained

2023 Korean Drama Vigilante Review & Explained 4 highlights

2023 Vigilante REVIEW : Night after night on the road, you’re bound to encounter Vigilante Dark Here.

“How come you’re not in prison but wandering outside?”

“That’s because the law has decided so!”

At the beginning of this drama, there is a huge social shock surrounding the character of Kim Ji-Yong. It portrays a child who cannot seek justice for his mother through the law, while villains continue to wreak havoc in this world. The writer and director have created a society and world within Kim Ji-Yong’s inner self that is filled with “loopholes in the law”.

For a child, what should be obvious and easily determined as justice becomes incredibly difficult. This drama starts from Kim Ji-Yong’s childhood and plants the seed of “unwillingness to accept” injustice.

I think this is a brilliant design because within an innocent child’s heart, there exists dissatisfaction and desire for revenge. His perception of the world was greatly shattered at that time. Usually, when we were young, we hoped for heroes to come save our world.

Therefore, it can be assumed that since he was young, Kim Ji-Yong decided to become a Dark Hero.

I really liked the scene where Dark Here teaches Choi Sung-Soo in the premiere episode. Besides showcasing Nam Joo-Hyuk’s skills, what I found clever was setting the scene in a “dark alley”, perfectly matching Kim Ji-Yong hiding behind dark forces of justice within the law.

At first, we couldn’t see Kim Ji-Yong’s face (the audience also had difficulty seeing his initial appearance), until blood started splattering on his face during their final torture session.

The director used visual effects by incorporating vivid red into darkness which created great tension on screen because it represented 12 years’ worth of anger accumulated inside him; it allowed Kim Ji-Yong to punish wrongdoers swiftly using extreme methods only possible in secret places like these private trials conducted under cover of darkness.

The director did well with visually portraying Kim Ji-Yong transforming into Dark Here; I felt it wasn’t exaggerated at all. Just like mentioned earlier about conducting trials in a dark alley, the silhouette of the hero was extremely low-key and intimidating.

Also, that shadow when Kim Ji-Yong takes action again and leaves his house was just beautiful! The director truly created a style with a strong heroic vibe through visuals. Although it’s not as flamboyant as “Batman”, that sense of being a lone hero combined with this corrupt and decadent city gradually cultivates an invisible dawn for the victims.

Similar to Batman, Kim Ji-Yong roams amidst darkness devouring those villains; he will eventually make criminals fear his existence. In the darkest depths of criminal nature, I believe what Kim Ji-Yong wants to create is not just revenge for victims in need but also to fill the “fear of justice” within these wrongdoers because throughout the plot, it constantly emphasizes how criminals are not afraid of the law.

In private, Kim Ji-Yong wants to create an invisible “power of justice” that would make criminals fear the most and deter more and more villains from being arrogant. Especially with the news coverage by journalist Choi Mi-Ryeo, this dark force of justice is likely to become even stronger.

That’s why in front of his peers, Kim Ji-Yong said that statement as a warning, implying that doing wrong will result in such consequences. And indeed, the crime rate for that month has actually decreased because of it. Dark Here is truly more effective than the police and the law.

2023 Vigilante REVIEW : The law fails to adequately protect citizens, and what people want most now is this kind of Dark Here.

However, how should Kim Ji-Yong, who became a police officer, think about the legal system? The writer brings up the question of how our laws can eliminate those despicable villains by addressing the problems and loopholes in the law. A significant portion of the plot satirizes the imperfections in our legal system.

For example, the request for detention in the station attack case was unexpectedly rejected. Based on news reports, we learn that the court believed there was no risk of escape for the suspect and therefore did not grant detention. This caused great fear among victims who were worried about potential retaliation from the accused.

This drama shows us that “bad people escaping legal punishment” is an issue that needs to be resolved. However, because society has been unable to improve its sanctions and regulations regarding law enforcement, it is similar to what Kim Ji-Yong realizes – that after 12 years, there has been no improvement in this society’s laws at all.

That’s why there is a scene where Kim Ji-Yong and other students ask questions in class but ultimately find no solution; it becomes an unsolvable problem that police officers must contemplate through generations. It also satirizes how these flaws in our legal system have not been addressed.

Of course, this highlights why Kim Ji-Yong becomes Dark Here and his original intention: “The law cannot protect citizens properly; it stands on the side of perpetrators. Someone is punishing them and making sure they receive appropriate punishment.”

What people want now is this kind of Dark Here or Vigilante existence which reflects public despair towards justice. Especially Choi Mi-Ryeo as a journalist represents public opinion when looking at this mysterious figure called Vigilante or Dark Here; she plays a key role in amplifying public anger towards justice: “

The Si-Yoon case was named after a victim’s name; why do we need to hide these scoundrels who harm others? Until when do we have to protect the human rights of criminals?”

At the same time, it also lures out Vigilante or Dark Here and forms a force that Kim Ji-Yong must confront and face. It should be said that even Kim Ji-Yong himself knows that what he is doing is actually against legal norms. Even though it may be considered “justice in punishing perpetrators,” this kind of Dark Here behavior is still illegal to some extent. Otherwise, Kim Ji-Yong wouldn’t need to hide and evade like this.

2023 Vigilante REVIEW : “Is he really reflecting on his actions?”

In the news, there are speculations about Dark Here’s “Vigilante” and whether it falls under the category of good or evil. The use of violence as a form of punishment raises questions about Kim Ji-Yong’s intentions when he says, “Is he reflecting on his actions?”

This implies that Kim Ji-Yong himself may have doubts about his judgmental power. The plot also touches upon the question of what degree of punishment is appropriate. People can pretend in front of the justice system, so how should Kim Ji-Yong balance teaching a lesson to wrongdoers without going too far? Is there a risk of crossing boundaries?

The storyline emphasizes that preventing retaliatory crimes requires both thorough punishment and protection for victims. Kim Ji-Yong believes that perpetrators rationalize their actions by thinking they will be arrested because they were victimized, which leads them to commit crimes again.

According to him, criminals rarely feel remorse and even blame their faults on the victims, seeking revenge once more. This echoes Kim Ji-Yong’s own question: “Is he truly reflecting?”

Especially when Kim Ji-Yong encounters someone like Jeong Deok-Heung who shamelessly appears before him, he resorts to more violent methods to teach a lesson. This fully answers his own question: “These people never intended to reflect.”

Therefore, at the end of episode one, Kim Ji-Yong makes up his mind: “The law has loopholes; tolerating bad people who shouldn’t be tolerated anymore is not acceptable. Now I will fill that gap; this is true justice.” Even if it means plunging into darkness himself, Kim Ji-Yong chooses to navigate through it while executing his own sense of justice.

Plot commentary: He is doing something good; why do they see him as a murderer?

Dark Here has already caught the attention of the police force; Professor Jung from Police University pays close attention to Kim Ji-Yong (he may even be assigned to assist in the investigation, which means he might discover that Kim Ji-Yong is Dark Here). This inevitably leads to a discussion about whether Kim Ji-Yong’s vigilante actions are truly justifiable as the plot progresses.

When Kim Ji-Yong’s true identity is exposed, will the judicial and police systems really consider his actions justified? Throughout the plot, the screenwriter and director have consistently portrayed “Vigilante” from the perspective of the police.

The professor at the police academy believes that as a police officer, one should not blindly praise Dark Here along with the public. In particular, both within the storyline of the police station and at the police academy, it is stated that “we are police officers, Vigilante is also a murderer.”

From this point alone, it can be seen that the thinking within the police system adheres strictly to established rules and considers serving justice for law enforcement. In this plot, law enforcers are depicted as adversaries who do not stand on behalf of society.

This is why there is a scene where a female student confronts a policeman saying: “Why do you have any right to investigate Vigilante? He’s doing good things; why treat him like a murderer?” This irony highlights how different “justice according to law” is from what people desire.

The law prioritizes protecting defendants’ interests when there are doubts in play. The plot satirizes South Korean laws being lax which leads to such widespread public resentment and support for Dark Here. Thus, there exists this cycle of cause and effect – if laws were originally perfect and justifiable, then Dark Here would not be necessary.

In conclusion, ultimately, the real problem lies in loopholes within our legal system. To some extent, these imperfections and loopholes (such as insufficient investigation into cases or perpetrators fabricating evidence through collusion) also serve as punishment for victims themselves.

The cruelty inflicted upon victims by our justice system can be considered another form of vigilante justice; so where did Dark Here go wrong? What Kim Ji-Yong desires is simply for these wrongdoers to feel remorse! This is something that our legal system cannot achieve.

Korean Drama Vigilante Review Conclusion

The overall evaluation of the Korean drama “Vigilante” is that although it follows the familiar pattern of satirizing legal loopholes and the resulting injustice, this drama has a tight pace. It is not too long in length and explores various social issues (which I quite like). It doesn’t keep repeating the same topics already discussed, so viewers can have new insights and thoughts with each episode.

Whether from the perspective of law enforcement or Dark Here, there are different perspectives to ponder. I feel that the writers of this drama don’t intend to glorify the legitimacy of Vigilante or Dark Here through the plot, but rather they want to stimulate critical thinking among viewers. Are vigilante methods really the only way to address legal loopholes?

Therefore, personally, I highly recommend this drama. It differs from other Korean dramas with similar satirical themes in some ways. It also allows viewers to see how unfair laws can be and how society deals with such injustices.

Overall, there are many reasons why I enjoy this drama; one main reason being its intricate storytelling. Moreover, Nam Joo-Hyuk’s acting skills in this role are truly impressive. He appears more mature than before in “Start-Up” both in terms of his appearance and breakthroughs in his performance. His comeback definitely didn’t disappoint me!

  • More Korean Dramas Review and Recaps 👉 Go!
  • More Movies 👉 Go!
  • More TV Shows 👉 Go!