K-drama review: Two Cops

In Two Cops, Jo Jung-suk (left), Lee Hye-ri and Kim Seon-ho form a love triangle with a difference.

The last few K-dramas I watched didn’t really hold my attention, but this one was a big success. Two Cops (MBC 2017–2018) is a crime-solving, body-swapping (sort of) action romantic comedy drama with supernatural elements thrown in for good measure.

Cha Dong-tak (Jo Jong-suk, probably my favourite Korean actor, who I loved in Don’t Dare to Dream and Oh My Ghost) is a Seoul detective in the violent crimes unit. He’s a little rough around the edges, a skilled martial artist and hyper-focused on solving the murder of his former partner, despite attempts from his superiors to get him to concentrate on current cases instead.

One suspect in this case is Gong Su-chang (Kim Seon-ho), a smooth-talking small-time crook. When circumstances conspire to land Su-chang in a coma, his spirit is left roaming the world and has the ability to possess Detective Cha’s body. But a medium tells him he has to find a way to resolve his unfinished business within 49 days or he will die. He has to find a way to work with the detective despite their very different personalities and careers.

The show treads the line between drama and comedy very well. Jong-suk is a good enough actor to pull off the dual role with elan, and the apparent wild switches in his personality make for some very funny scenes early on. There are also supporting roles that are largely comedic, such as nightclub owner Yong-pal (Lee Si-eon, from Reply 1997) and Cha’s new partner Dokgo Sung-hyeok (Hoya, also from Reply 1997).

Much comedy is derived from the fact that only Detective Cha can see and hear the spirit of Su-chang when he isn’t possessed, resulting in many misunderstandings with his partner Dokgo (right).

The drama centres around corruption, with senior figures in the police and public prosecutor’s office under suspicion. There is an unlikely proliferation of orphans, to provide some red herrings. And there’s a killer on the loose who for some reason switches to a mysteriously non-lethal series of attacks that undermine the tension somewhat.

Inevitably, there is a romance at the show’s centre. Song Ji-an (Lee Hye-ri, star of Reply 1988) is a reporter who smells that Cha is digging into something secretly and sparks immediately fly between them. But their budding romance is somewhat complicated by Cha’s body being intermittently possessed by Su-chang, who has also taken a shine to Ji-an. It’s a different take on the inevitable love triangle, and the way the truth is revealed is well handled.

I really enjoyed this show. It avoids most cliches and, though the police are all male, it doesn’t come across as misogynistic. Some moments are cheesy and/or over-earnest. This isn’t going to top Don’t Dare to Dream as my favourite Jo Jung-suk role, but it’s a good watch.